Sunday, April 22, 2018

Gentleness & Respect...

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." - 1 Peter 3:15-16
During the 90's we would occasionally watch a political talk show called "The Capital Gang". My son, who was quite young at the time, would ask why the guys kept yelling at each other. He concluded that they were angry and to a young mind, that just didn't make sense. Belief and conviction is good, but it is best communicated with gentleness and respect.
Many Christians are quick to quote the above passage up to the word "But". They are armed to the hilt and ready for battle whenever questioned about their faith. Peter called believers to always be ready with an answer for their hope, "but" with gentleness and respect. It's not just what we speak that brings truth to light, but how we speak. Belief and conviction is good, but it is best communicated with gentleness and respect.
Always be well prepared with Biblical truth in the face of error my friend. But may truth come with love. Love the lost as Jesus did. Answer their queries with the grace that has changed your life as well. Be someone with a clear and concise conviction, but communicate it with gentleness and respect.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Entrusting to God...

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." - 1 Peter 2:21-23
I was quite moved while watching a "Voice of the Martyrs" video some years ago. A group of teenagers were on a V.O.M. visit to Vietnam and were asking a Christian leader if he felt anger when the authorities would often tear up his ministry center. He responded without ill feeling, that he was committed to reach his world for Christ, no matter how much opposition came his way. He entrusted himself to the Lord.
Persecution of any kind will bear witness to genuine faith and real discipleship. The fully surrendered Christian knows that there will be suffering for their faith. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted". Jesus is our example in this matter, as he suffered without retaliation or threats. He entrusted himself to the divine provision and purpose. 
My brethren, we're in a battle led by the Captain of our salvation. We will be persecuted and oppressed at every point. Some of us will suffer great loss and others will suffer humiliation, but commit your way to the Lord. As David wrote in Psalm 37:5-6, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Stay the course my friend, and entrust yourself to the Lord.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Our Imperishable life...

 "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you." - 1 Peter 1:23-25
From time to time I am acutely aware that "All men are like grass".  When I thumb through class yearbooks and see the faces of those that have already slipped into eternity. Or, when I read through our church prayer list and remember when those listed were much younger and healthier. Yet, through the years of change there can be hope in our imperishable life with God.
Peter wrote to fellow believers at a time when they suffered great persecution for being Christians. Their faith was severely tried, but they were encouraged by Peter to stay focused on their eternal and enduring inheritance in  heaven. Persecution and even the daily struggles of life can be more than discouraging. But when we live each day, looking for the coming of our Lord, we find our hope in him and are encouraged to press on in faith.
Being sick and emotionally unsettled can take its toll on us. But find strength and courage my friend, in the one who has given us his enduring word and everlasting life. Remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Great peace...

"A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace." - Psalm 37:10-11
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan offered him the kingdoms of the world and their splendor for his worship. Throughout time men have all but sold their souls for the gain of this world. Whether just a small plot of land down the road, or a mansion in Beverly Hills; the hunger for a claim on this earth has driven many to their death. All this when God's promise is sure... "the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace."
As Jesus responded to the tempter, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only”, so should we. The wealth and the splendor of this world will one day be no more. But David said five times in this one psalm that God's people would "inherit' the land (9, 11, 22, 29 and 34) and that this inheritance would endure forever. (18). Why labor for that which will not last when we are promised a future claim in the kingdom of God?
Jesus taught us that we should "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) He has called us to live in this world with spiritual priorities as we wait on the Lord and hope in him. Our roots are to be in his kingdom, not in the kingdom of this world. How are you investing your time, talents and treasures today? Are you working for more of this world, or more of God's kingdom? Remember, "the meek WILL inherit the land and enjoy great peace."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Now my eyes...

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” - Mark 16:6-7 
Job said, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:5) The occasions that I have been told something and forgotten the information is legendary. As well, I am always amazed how often we announce events at our church that are never heard. As my Dad would often say, "some things go in one ear, and out the other." 
The day that Jesus rose from the dead was an amazing morning. To the disciples though, it was an unexpected event, but how could that be, since they were told time and again by our Lord? He had taught so much and the most important truth was his promised resurrection. While the followers of Jesus could have lived from Friday to Sunday with great expectations, they were saddened with overwhelming hopelessness. What Jesus had said about rising again, went in one ear, and out the other.
Jesus is coming again. There is no doubt in my mind, because he said he would. If we have heard and read this, do we live in expectation? Or do we live with a hopeless Friday to Sunday outlook? Jesus will meet us in the air, just as we've been told. How then shall we live? May this great truth go in one ear... and change our lives.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Swimming against the current...

"Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified." - Mark 15:15
It is said that comedian Milton Berle had his mother sit in the front row when he performed. She would laugh loudly and heartily when a joke fell flat and usually the audience followed. In this scenario each person would respond to the actions of others in complete contradiction to their own feelings. The influence of the majority has often led to wrong decisions that were regretted later. It takes courage to swim against the current.
Pilate was a significant political leader in his time. He was entrusted with serious and demanding responsibilities. Yet, in his leadership role, he was torn between what he knew was right and what he knew was politically correct. He fought hard, but eventually caved into the cries of the crowd. Filled with fear and political pressure, attempting to avoid further conflict, Pilate lost his courage to swim against the current.
Are you willing to stand alone with Jesus? Or does the crowd play a large part in your choices and conduct? Who do you strive to please from day to day? Are you led by God or by man? The day that you accepted Jesus as your only means of salvation, you stood apart from the crowd. As a follower of Christ today, will you be courageous enough to live the right way and swim against the current?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Do we care?

"Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept." - Mark 14:72
Emotions greatly differ. Some people rejoice at weddings and others cry, some weep at funerals and others grow quiet, some rejoice at the moment of salvation and others shed tears. No matter how we show emotions, there are moments in life when our souls are touched to the core. The heart that cares is always moved in times of joy or pain and sorrow. The question is: Do we care?
Peter was quite confident that he would never betray his Lord. He followed Jesus to the courtyard and watched as the trial began. He was recognized and in fear he denied the Lord three times, just as Jesus predicted. Peter's emotions were moved at his failure and he wept because he cared.
Does betrayal of the Lord move your heart and emotions? Are you deeply saddened when you sin? Take a closer look at Peter today and then consider your own heart. Have you become so familiar with the process of sin and forgiveness that you no longer feel sorrow when you fail the Lord? We grieve the heart of God whenever we sin (Ephesians 4:30)... Do we care?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stay alert!

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” - Mark 13:32–37
During my college years I worked for a security company. My responsibilities included traveling to all our locations every night to be certain our guards were doing their jobs. I lost count of how many times I found guards asleep at their desks, in their cars or somewhere in the building. I never kept the same schedule, so they never knew when I would arrive. I learned that it takes real effort to stay alert.
Jesus taught a great deal concerning his second coming, but he never pinpointed a set time. He simply left his disciples and all believers with a word of council: Be on guard! Be alert! Watch! He intended for us to stay on top of our game as we waited for his return. He doesn't want sleepers; he wants his followers showing real effort to stay alert.
You can study prophecy for years and still live like the Lord's return will be sometime in the next millennium. The Lord calls us to be spiritually on point. What are you doing to redeem the time for the Lord today? When the Lord returns will he find you showing real effort to stay alert? 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The power of God...

"Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?" - Mark 12:24
I have a friend who is a great believer in the Microsoft program for computers. He rarely sees any need for other programs to accomplish computer tasks for our church. He has studied the product and has experienced the power it has for various jobs. As a result he can make any computer practically sing and dance. He knows the provisions and power.
Jesus spoke to those who should have known the Scriptures well, but they were too caught up in their traditions and arguments over minutiae. They had slipped into error and furthermore, they were oblivious to the power of God. As they drifted from truth, they also misunderstood the purpose and provision of God for the future. Hope was dashed due to lack of study and faith. They had little to offer those in need since they didn't know the Scriptures or the power of God.
Are you aware of all that you possess in the Word of God? Do you realize that the power of God can change your life and provide every need for now and all eternity? Do you study the Word to learn all that it has to offer? Do you trust the Lord for his capacity to do the impossible? You too can sing and dance when you know the Scriptures and the power of God.

Friday, April 13, 2018

A House or a Home?

"And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'" - Mark 11:17
Over the years I have visited many homes. Some were definitely "lived in" and others... well, they were show places, but certainly not much more. Some people love to "pimp" the larger part of their homes for others to see, but limit their living quarters. They have turned their homes into houses.
In a similar way, the religious leadership of Jesus' day was all about using God's Temple as house of profit rather than a home of praise. When Jesus arrived he was appalled at the loss of space which was intended for people of all nations to pray. He expressed rebuke toward a people who would misuse the Temple for their own gain, but would fail to use it for God's glory. It was time for God's Temple to be restored from a house to a home.
I have heard many believers show great disdain when a special speaker of musical group would sell books or music in the church foyer. I have been more intrigued in the absence of those same believers from prayer meeting. They want to protect the church from being misused, but they fail to use it as they should. Are you more concerned with the looks and use of your church rather than using it to the glory and praise of God yourself? Is your church a house or a home?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Both high and low...

"How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings." - Psalm 36:7
Every time I drive through Manhattan I marvel at the diversity of people. Yes, they are ethnically diverse, but I am also intrigued when I see a well dressed business executive walking down the same block with a homeless man. Cities are filled with people both high and low.
I notice the same thing in our church. On any given Sunday we will have physicians, business executives, and the homeless. They all come for the same reason. They seek the priceless unfailing love of the Lord. The good news is that refuge is available for both high and low.
Where are you in the diversity of life? Are you high or low? It really doesn't matter because we all need the love of the Lord. Refuge may take on different meaning for each of us, but it is refuge that we all need. Never hesitate to seek the Lord because of your diversity my friend. He is the Lord all and his love is a refuge for all who will seek him in faith... both high and low.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Without money...

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it... Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of  God!”... Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” - Mark 10:15, 23, 27
It has been said that you can't buy happiness. It is also true that you can't buy heaven. The simple truth is money can't buy everything. It can't buy relationships, love, or peace of mind. More often than not, those who fall into great wealth suddenly, fall into great troubles. On the other hand, when a child is born into a loving home, they have all that's needed and more... without money, just for the asking.
As Jesus taught on this particular day, there is a stark contrast between those who love money those who love God. It's hard to let go of our material dependencies and simply trust our heavenly Father. But this is where life truly begins. Heaven is a gift to the simple in heart, who, like a child will gladly receive it with thanksgiving. As hard as this may be for some, it's not impossible, God can change the heart. He invites us into a loving family where all our needs will be met... without money, just for the asking.
The simple joys in life and eternity can be yours. They are God's gift to those who will, with a child-like faith receive them. If you will turn to the Lord and trust his heart, he will gladly save you and bless you as his child. Your needs will be met, and so much more... without money, just for the asking.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Questions anyone?

"But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." - Mark 9:32
How often were we told by our teachers not to be afraid to ask questions? How many questions did we ask? There are so many reasons why we don't ask questions when we are in doubt. Sometimes we are too proud, sometimes too embarrassed and sometimes too afraid. But whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The disciples were walking with the Lord Jesus day by day. He taught them great truths that changed their lives and his wisdom was beyond measure. What a wonderful opportunity to ask the Lord about everything they ever wondered about. Yet, they were afraid to ask about the Lord's death and resurrection. The result was tremendous sadness and frustration during the days of his Crucifixion and resurrection. I often wonder if they would have been better prepared by having asked questions. Whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The Lord has opened a door of opportunity for us in the words of Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" and James added in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Be confident to ask, and you will grow in your understanding. Be willing to ask, and you will be certain to learn.

Monday, April 9, 2018

He has a plan...

"They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly."  - Mark 8:22-25
I had rotator cuff surgery a few years ago. The doctor considered the rather extensive damage in my shoulder and performed a complex procedure to alleviate the problem. Such is the case with the human body, for we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:1). When a good surgeon performs a procedure he considers all the differing needs in his patient and has a plan.
When the Lord performs surgery on us he considers every need we have from top to bottom. Sometimes, as with this blind man, the personal need may require a very different approach than past occasions. The Lord is concerned with our body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). As the Great Physician, the Lord takes each of us into his care with individual attention and he has a plan.
Too often, we grow impatient with the Lord's work in our lives. We expected healing, improvement or change to come in our way. Then the Lord gives us a thorough "scan" and chooses a different way to proceed. Will you trust the Great Physician for what he does best? Will you wait for his unique and individual care to bring you his blessing? Remember, he has a plan... and his plan is always PERFECT!!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Touched...

"After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” - Mark 7:33-37
Bedside manner! How often have we had doctors who were quite skilled professionally but not very gifted in the area of compassion? The best doctor we ever had was a Christian who was truly moved by our distress over the pain of our child. He was touched by our feelings.
Jesus healed the sick and infirmed. He did so, on a daily basis, but he never became compassion-challenged. In this case, Jesus was moved with a deep sigh over the hardship of the man he healed. As the Great Physician, Jesus had true bedside manner and he did everything well. Jesus was touched by their feelings.
In the words of John W. Peterson, "No one understands like Jesus; ev’ry woe He sees and feels; tenderly He whispers comfort, and the broken heart He heals." And in the thought of Hebrews 4:15, Jesus is a high priest who is able to "sympathize with our weaknesses". Never hesitate to bring your needs to Jesus... He is touched with your feelings.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Making progress...

"Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning." - Proverbs 9:9
When Pablo Casals reached 95, a young reporter threw him a question: “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” And Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” Those who are truly wise are those who are making progress.
When we come to Christ, our lives are changed forever. We have new hearts and the presence of the Holy Spirit to give us guidance. What more do we need? In answer to this question Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:18, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Spirituality is a forward movement of growing wiser every day. The righteous continually add to their learning and make progress.
What are you doing to add to your Biblical understanding? What are you reading this week that will improve your spiritual qualities? When was the last time you took a book of the Bible apart piece by piece to gain Godly wisdom? Be wise by making progress.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Wind blown...

"When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened." - Mark 6:47-52 
It's spring again. Just a week ago I was moving a snow blower back in place, getting ready for another storm. Now the flowers are blooming, the trees are budding and the grass is growing. I'm so caught up with the increasing allergy potential that I am oblivious to the miracles around me. Spring is amazing, and if I'm not careful I'll miss the beauty and wonder of it because wind blown pollen has hardened my heart.
Imagine the disciples walking with Jesus every day, watching him perform miracles again and again. They saw such wonderful works of God and yet they missed the point and didn't understand. How could this be you might ask. How could anyone participate in feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, having twelve baskets of food left over, and be oblivious to the miracle? Their wind blown fears hardened their hears.
God is doing tremendous things in your life right now. He's performing miracles moment by moment and if you're not careful, you're going to miss it. Stop and look at the flowers bloom today. Slow down and feel the breeze across your face. Watch the grass sprout up with new color and fresh life. Step back and watch the Spirit of God form your life into the likeness of Jesus. Don't let wind blown troubles harden your heart.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The powerful became personal...

"After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat." - Mark 5:40-43 
We read about an amazing new medication that will rock the world of health. We read all the testimonies about unbelievable results from many people who have been helped. We're convinced that this treatment will bring hope and healing to a loved one but... it's not available to the public. We need the powerful to become personal.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Yesterday we celebrated his resurrection with joy and singing. We studied the Biblical account of the Lord's miraculous victory over death. We were reminded that the resurrection of Christ is the very foundation of our faith. But hearing and singing about it doesn't bring a change until it comes home. When the risen Savior brings new life to a loved one or friend... the powerful becomes personal.
While resurrection day is yet future, it begins when the Lord brings us from death to life, from darkness to the light, from bondage to freedom. We need the Lord to come home in our hearts before we can be at home in heaven. As Job said in Job 42:5... "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you."  The wonderful truth about the risen Christ is... the powerful became personal.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Don't slip, slip away!

"Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”  - Mark 4:13-20
This last Sunday was Resurrection Sunday. The words were spoken throughout the world in various assemblies and churches... He is Risen! The day was filled with rejoicing and family gatherings. It was a day of joyful fellowship in the worship service and then around the dinner table with family. For many, that day was one of the only days in the year when they would take time to worship the risen Lord. They would hear the message again with great joy, but in the weeks ahead it will slip away because it wasn't accepted.
What kind of soil are you today? Has the resurrection story fallen upon your heart and produced a great crop of thirty, sixty or even a hundred fold? Or did the message of last Sunday already slip away like the morning dew? May the truth of "He is Risen" change your life and deliver you from the grave clothes of worldly pursuits and unending worries! Remember the Word with great joy and live the message today and every day with great acceptance.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Open hearts...

"He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored." - Mark 3:5 
“The millennium is at hand. Man has invented everything that can be invented. He has done all he can do.” These words were spoken by a bishop at a church gathering in 1870. Someone commented, “I think man will learn to fly.” The bishop replied that this was blasphemy. “Don’t you know that flight is reserved for angels?” The bishop was Rev. Milton Wright, father of Orville and Wilbur. Only open hearts can fly.
Jesus found the very same attitude among the religious elite of his day. God had broken into their lives and they were closed to the possibilities. They had reached the point where they worshiped their traditions more than God. If the miraculous couldn't fit into the traditional setting, it was rejected. The stubborn heart distressed Jesus because he knew that only open hearts could fly.
Are you ready for God to do the miraculous in your life today? Will you allow him to break into your life in ways that may challenge your traditions? When you pray for the Lord's intervention are you prepared for the change he might bring? Remember, only open hearts can fly.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Carrying friends...

"Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” - Mark 2:3-5 
One afternoon, during my college years, I broke my ankle while trail riding on my motorcycle. I was quite a distance from the road and a hospital. My friend, who was riding with me, took me out of the brush on his motorcycle and to another friend's house. From there they took me to the hospital, transported in the back of an old Volkswagen Bug. The rides were creative and bumpy, but they got me to the physician.
Bringing people to the Lord can be just as difficult. The paralytic in this passage was blessed with four friends who were determined to bring him to Jesus. They were willing to do anything necessary to make this happen. With a little creativity and hard work, four men succeeded in bringing their friend to the Great Physician.
Every day the Lord uses creativity and hard work to bring people to himself. Are you ready and willing to be one of those who will bring others to him? Do you know someone who needs the Lord today? Will you make the effort to carry your friend or neighbor out of the brush and down the road to the Great Physician?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

He prayed...

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." - Mark 1:35 
What more can be said? If the Master found it necessary to start the day in solitary prayer, what about his servants? The following quote comes from the writings of E. M. Bounds. Every believer would be abundantly blessed and deeply challenged by reading his works and following his lead in the school of prayer. 

"The men who have most fully illustrated Christ in their character, and have most powerfully affected the world for him, have been men who spent so much time with God as to make it a notable feature of their lives. Charles Simeon devoted the hours from four till eight in the morning to God. Mr. Wesley spent two hours daily in prayer. He began at four in the morning. Of him, one who knew him well wrote: “He thought prayer to be more his business than anything else and I have seen him come out of his closet with a serenity of face next to shining.” John Fletcher stained the walls of his room by the breath of his prayers. Sometimes he would pray all night; always, frequently, and with great earnestness. His whole life was a life of prayer. “I would not rise from my seat,” he said, “without lifting my heart to God.” Luther said: “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” He had a motto: “He that has prayed well has studied well.” - E. M. Bounds in Power through Prayer

If you're too busy to pray...  you're too busy.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

"One Two Punch"...

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles." - Psalm 34:4-6
The "one two punch" is defined as a combination of two blows delivered in rapid succession in boxing, especially a left lead followed by a right cross. When troubles come our way, we often face a "one two punch" from the outer circumstances and the fears within. We need to seek the Lord who delivers us from fear and saves us from troubles by his "one two punch".
David was in a serious mess as he faced a formidable enemy with nowhere to turn. He saw his life slipping away ever so quickly, so he sought the Lord. He asked for deliverance from his fears and to be saved from his troubles. David knew how overwhelming his fears were and how quickly they would sap him of strength, so this was his first request. Once free of his fears he prayed with great confidence to be saved from his troubles. God answered David's prayers with his "one two punch".
Never ignore the fears that haunt you my friend. Troubles come your way and fears follow close behind. Because fears will cripple and discourage you to the point of giving up, seek the Lord for his deliverance. Then bring your situation to his throne of grace to be saved from your troubles. Never be discouraged by the fears and troubles of life, just look to the Lord for his "one two punch".

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Healthy Partnership...

"So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me." - Philemon 17
Partners ride the trail together, run the business together and compete in the game together. They are on the same page, with the same goal. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up." A healthy partnership is a blessing for all seasons.
Paul had a partnership with Philemon and a growing partnership with Onesimus. Being a brother and spiritual father in the Lord is a great relationship. It is more than a moment in time or phase in life. We are partners in the work of the gospel for life and strong teamwork brings a good return for our work. A healthy partnership is a blessing for all seasons.
 Who are your partners in the gospel today? Do you work alongside with a welcoming heart and supportive spirit? Do you draw strength from them as you provide them encouragement? Christian partners work together, even through the most difficult situations, because they are partners with the Lord. A healthy partnership is a blessing for all seasons.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Daily Listener...

"Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.” - Proverbs 8:34-36
"Take it one day at a time". What does that phrase really mean?  We use this counsel regularly to encourage those who are struggling with the troubles of life. But, do we practice it every day, come sunshine or rain? And how do we take each day? Do we greet every morning with anticipation, watching and waiting at the door of God's wisdom? Blessings belong to the daily listener.
The Lord gives wisdom daily. Not weekly or monthly, but daily. Receiving his wisdom is like placing bricks in a wall. When we build a cathedral, we must do it one brick at a time. When we build a life, we must do it one day at a time. And the materials that we use will determine the ultimate quality of that life. Blessings belong to the daily listener.
How do you begin your day my friend? Are you so rushed in the morning hour that you have no time to watch and wait on the Lord? Do you try to make up for lost days once a week? Take... no, make the time every day to seek the Lord's wisdom in his Word and in prayer. Be still, and know that he is God. Blessings belong to the daily listener.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Our Hiding Place...

"Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah" - Psalm 32:6-7 
The Ohio River crested at 60.53 feet in February, making it the worst flood Cincinnati has seen since 1997. We have lived in three places over the years where flooding has taken homes and lives. Every time the storms come, anxiety runs high. When the mighty waters rise, we need a hiding place.
Early in this psalm David reflects on a forgiven life that is restored to fellowship with God. He builds up to the comforting result of finding security in God's unfailing love. There is no storm or trouble that will overcome the child of God when they rest in him. When the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. He will always be protected because the Lord is his hiding place.
Where is your protection from the floods today? Will the troubles of life take your song away? Pray, while the Lord may be found and see that he will protect you and surround you with songs of deliverance. When the waters rise, find rest in the One who is your hiding place.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Using His Power...

"This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." - Titus 3:8 
Our house is wired with electricity. It's great to have all the power we need for light, cooking, repair work, entertainment and overall comfort. The power is always just a plug away, but if we don't use the power what good is it? Having the power is only as good as using the power.
Titus 3 tells us of God's saving work, in which the Holy Spirit is poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ. Every believer is empowered with the very presence of God. We have all that we need to live for God and devote ourselves to doing what is good. The power is always just a prayer away, but if we don't use his power what good is it? Having his power is only as good as using his power.
Doing what is good comes from careful and thoughtful planning. We have the power, but do we have the devotion? What are you planning to do that's good today? Remember, having his power is only as good as using his power. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Fully trusted...

"... but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." - Titus 2:10
Over the years I've taken my vehicles down the street to Frank's garage whenever they needed repair. I also buy gas from Frank, even though his price is a little higher than other stations. Why in the world would I do such a thing you might ask? It's simple; Frank is friendly, honest and he does good work. He never replaces anything on my vehicle that doesn't need replacing. I am attracted to Frank's garage because he can be fully trusted.
The church grows when believers are genuine. Paul knew that being the real thing had to be seen in the work place as well as the worship center. The message of Christ is exciting, joyful and hopeful; it's full of promise in every way. But if the world can't see it working in the believer's life, they will never be attracted to Christ. They need to see that God's people are genuine and can be fully trusted.
You are being watched my brother and sister in Christ. When you think your employer and fellow employees, to whom you have witnessed, have turned a deaf ear, they are watching you. They are looking for the real thing and if they find that you are genuine in your daily conduct, they will be attracted to Christ, because you can be fully trusted.