Thursday, November 15, 2018

He still weeps ...

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see,  Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept." -- John 11:33-35
The Doctor that delivered my first-born was a believer and a man of great empathy. When we would bring our son to his office with serious pain, Dr. Kolb would receive us with such kindness and understanding. This physician friend was always moved by our sadness and turmoil for our son, and his medical care was marked by his compassion.
The scene before us is so often presented with greater focus on the Lord's message and miracle rather than his incredible empathy. The shortest verse in the Bible may very well be the deepest verse in concept. The creator, sustainer, redeemer and coming King was deeply moved by the sorrow of friends and wept. His message and miracle was marked by his compassion.
Do you ever hesitate to take your sorrows and heartache to Jesus? While you know full well that he has the power to turn your world upside down and inside out, is he really moved by your brokenness? Be assured my friend, Jesus is deeply moved and I believe that He still weeps when his children weep.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Eternally Secure ...

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -- John 10:27-30
The well known insurance company slogan "You're in good hands with Allstate" has been around since 1950. The original thought originated from the company commitment to the insured individual. The safety and welfare of clients was of utmost importance to Allstate. Where else can we find such security today?
Security is a very significant word that springs from this passage. Jesus wanted to convey to his followers the thought of protection and provision for all eternity. Like sheep who rest in the ever faithful and watchful care of their shepherd, Jesus carries his flock in his powerful, yet gentle hands... hands that were pierced for them.
How is it possible for you to be fearful in the face of eternity? If you belong to the Good Shepherd, you are someone for whom he laid his life down. Since his hands were pierced for you and still took death by the throat in victory, are they not sufficient to hold you firmly forever? Be secure my friend... be eternally secure!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

No record ...

"If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you." -- Psalm 130:3-4
I recently came across my sixth grade report card. Sixth grade wasn't my most stellar year academically. Yet, there it was, a written unchanging record of less than commendable grades. I suppose I could shred it or use it as kindling to start a warm winter fire, but the record still stands. It sure would be nice if some records just didn't exist.
How absolutely amazing, that the Omniscient God of the Universe has no record of his children's sins. With the Lord there is forgiveness and this gracious act is a most comforting and encouraging expression of love. Once forgiven, we'll never find an old time worn record of our sins anywhere. It just doesn't exist.
So, now you're forgiven my friend. What will you do with such a marvelous gift of love as this? Will you live any way that you want or will you strive to serve the Lord, with reverence? We have been forgiven with grace and purpose, live a life worthy of the One who keeps no record of your sins.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Only Today ...

"As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." -- John 9:4
Every morning, Monday through Friday, parkways across this land are jam packed with people headed to work. Then, as evening approaches, those same people make their way back home after a a busy day. While time passes and progress leads to great change, the work day remains much the same. The majority of people work "as long as it is day".
Some have called it the "Puritan Work Ethic", but the idea of working hard was embraced by our Lord long before there were Puritan Divines. He came to do all the work given by the Father in heaven while it was day. He led a focused life of productive effort accomplishing the tasks assigned. The Lord knew that night was coming "when no one can work."
How diligent are you in the work of the Lord? Have you a clear sense of his purpose for your life? Time flies for everyone of us and the night is coming. Will you be able to say that you made the most of the "day" you were given to accomplish the task assigned to you by the Lord? Work hard my friend, because "today" is the only promise you have.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Free Indeed ...

"Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." -- John 8:34-36
Over the years I've ministered to people who have suffered from substance abuse. For a very long time they believe that they are not addicted. They say, "It's just one drink, now and then". I grew up with family members that would have "just one drink, now and then." The truth was they were slaves to alcohol.
It doesn't matter how you package it, when you're addicted, you're a slave. We are sinners by nature and by action, and "everyone who sins is a slave to sin". You can deceive yourself by saying, "It's just one sin, now and then", but you're addicted. Freedom will only come to those who admit their condition and turn to the Son of God to set them free.
Will you stop and be true to yourself my friend? "... A slave has no permanent place in the family of God, but a son belongs to it forever." Sin must be admitted before freedom and a place in the family can be granted. Do you want to continue in life as a slave, or do you want to be "free indeed"?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Divided ...

"Thus the people were divided because of Jesus." -- John 7:43
People are divided for many reasons. Some hold different political views, others have different ethnic backgrounds and still others differ on social issues. There are those who will even fight for their favorite ball team. Still, none of the above can divide the entire human race.
Our verse for thought is factual and profoundly timeless. While no small passing issue can divide everyone for all time, Jesus does. He is the eternal watershed that divides all mankind. This is clearly stated in John 3:18, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned". There it is; Jesus is the Mason-Dixon Line of history. There are those who believe and those who don't believe. The entire human race is divided because of Jesus.
What about you my friend? You have chosen or will choose to believe or not to believe and your eternal future lies in the balance. This is not a minor issue that you can ignore until it goes away. Every day you check the date on a calendar that is broken at the coming of Christ; B.C. and A.D. As time, so people, some are without Christ and some are with Christ... which are you?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Stuff that spoils...

"Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” -- John 6:26-27
Over the years there has been opposition to McDonald's Happy Meal toys. Some people believe that children only ask for happy meals to get the toy; they don't really care about the food in the box. Just imagine someone being more concerned with a toy that breaks in no time rather than a nourishing meal. Don't work for the stuff that spoils.
Speaking of food, there were numerous people who would follow Jesus anywhere, as long as he fed them. They were all about the momentary pleasure of a full stomach. But Jesus wanted more; he asked that people follow him for eternal reasons that would nourish the soul. He didn't want anyone working for the stuff that spoils.
Why do you follow the Lord my friend? Do you want some blessing in your job or special provision for your future? Are you satisfied with the immediate, and not really interested in the eternal? Jesus counsels every person who shortchanges themselves by seeking the toys of this world. He has so much more to offer... so don't work for the stuff that spoils.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Don't feed the fire...

"Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down." -- Proverbs 26:20
This last year brought more unfounded stories about publc figures. In most cases the reports were either totally untrue or gross exaggerations of minor incidents. These stories succeeded in causing uproar and in some cases damaged reputations. People are all too quick to believe such tales and the fires they cause can burn on for years. It's best not to feed the fire.
It is sad to find the very same conduct in the church. From week to week certain people will carry unfounded stories and exaggerated details that will fire up the congregation. The purpose is quite different than political tales, but nonetheless great damage is done. If the tale bearer would hold their tongue and others would refuse to listen, peace would prevail. It's best not to feed the fire.
The counsel is timeless and significant my friend. Think before you speak, and if you must speak, tell the Lord first in prayer. If someone tries to get your ear with all kinds of gossip, encourage them to drop the subject and pray for those they are talking about. Remember; it's best not to feed the fire.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The MOST dependable Builder...

"Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." -- Psalm 127:1
My wife and I used to watch the HGTV program "Holmes on Homes". The stories of poor construction and careless contractors were repeated weekly. In response, Mike Holmes would come in with a team of skilled builders to save the day. The conclusion was always the same; every project should be done by a reputable and dependable builder.
Jesus spoke of our spiritual houses in Matthew 7:24-27 and the Psalmist called our attention to the best builder. We can hammer and saw away every day, but unless the LORD builds our spiritual house, all our work is in vain. We will have leaky pipes, rotten floors and faulty electric. The conclusion is simple; every spiritual building should have THE reputable and dependable Builder.
The process is just as basic as the program "Holmes on Homes". When we are ready to build, we need to seek the only One who knows how to build spiritual homes. Don't try to be the "Tool-man" and end up with a mess on your hands. Take your need to the Lord and ask for HIS plans. Read his Word and you will find the building details laid out with precision. Before you build, take note my friend; you need a reputable and dependable Builder... you need the LORD.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

No Middle Ground ...

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned." -- John 5:28-29
We go through school and receive grades according to our academic performance. The more we study, the better our grade. Then comes that frightful day when we take the road test for our driver's license. We don't get a better grade if we study more. We don't get an "A", "B" or "C" license; we either pass or fail by our actions. It's one way or the other, there's no middle ground.
Eternity is one of those tests that one either passes or fails. It's all a matter of choice in this life. If we choose life in Jesus and are changed into righteous people, we will pass into eternal life. On the other hand, should we choose to embrace evil throughout life, we will fail into eternal condemnation. It's one way or the other, there's no middle ground.
There are many people who expect their eternal destiny to be determined on a graded scale. You may figure that enough good works will bring a good grade and a well deserved place in heaven.  But the simple truth is, we pass or fail by our action of choice. Jesus is the only way, there's no middle ground. How will you choose?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Stay the Course ...

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." -- John 4:34-35 
Having lived in old houses all our married life has given our family an appreciation for the ongoing work that is needed. The list of jobs is never-ending and it keeps you going from one spare moment to the next. At times you might think the work is finished, but then you open your eyes and there is much more to be done. Some responsibilities take a lifetime and more.
Jesus was focused on a pressing task and all other pursuits came afterward. He was totally committed to finish the task assigned by the Father. At the same time he points out the ever present harvest of souls standing before us, if we will only open our eyes. The responsibility of reaching the lost and helpless multitude with the gospel is never truly finished. The task will take a lifetime, only to be passed on to the next generation.
Open your eyes my friend, and what do you see? Is it your neighbor, friend, fellow worker, classmate or family member? Do you see the crowds on your way to work or while you're shopping? How many of them are lost and helpless, in need of the Savior? The harvest will take a lifetime, and must be passed on to the next generation. Stay the course and never give up!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Light changes everything...

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." -- John 3:19
Studies tell us that one of the simplest steps of crime prevention is the flood light. As a result of that knowledge we have a number of flood lights installed around our home. I also have more flashlights than can be counted for the same reason. Light changes everything.
Criminals will always run from the light to hide their actions. Darkness hides evil from correction just as it hides vermin and insects from extermination. There are those who live in the dark purposely, so they can continue in their immoral or illegal ways. Other people choose the light of Jesus because they want to change their evil ways. Light changes everything.
Have you chosen to live in the dark, hiding your lifestyle from the light of the Lord? The verdict tells us why some make this choice, but it also tells us that Light has come to provide a way out. Will you make that choice? Remember, Light changes everything.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

More amazing over time...

"... Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” -- John 2:9-10
You shop for a new car. The salesman treats you like a long lost brother and after your purchase you're lost again. The car you buy is absolutely amazing for a while, then time passes and it's not so amazing anymore. That's how life is: things seem to get less amazing every day. Is there anything that gets more amazing over time?
Our Lord's first miracle tells us so much about his future ministry in our lives. When we first come to the Lord it is so amazing. The sense of peace and joy is overwhelming and we wonder if the feelings will last. But as time passes the peace and joy only grows stronger and deeper. Far from the way of our world, when the Lord does his work, it only gets more amazing over time.
It was best said in Isaiah 55:2, "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare." Choose wisely my friend and look to the Lord for his provision. When he blesses, it only gets more amazing over time. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Share your joy!

"Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus." -- John 1:40-42
I wanted to tell the world the day I was engaged. I also wanted to tell the world the two days that my sons were born. We all have exciting life changing moments that motivate us to tell the good news to as many people as possible. Why do we make such an effort to spread the news? It's because we want everyone to share in our joy. 
When Andrew found the Lord and spent time with him, the very first thing he did was tell his brother. He was excited about finding the long awaited Messiah and he wanted everyone to know. He was overjoyed with his discovery and couldn't keep it to himself. He wanted everyone to share his joy.
Since you came to the knowledge of the Lord how has your life changed? Has the Lord blessed you in tremendous ways? Who have you told about these wonderful things? Why not be an Andrew today and share your joy with everyone?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Surrounded by the Almighty...

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore." -- Psalm 125:1-2
After our recent move, we are now surrounded by the mountains of Pennsylvania. Our days are quite pleasant, being surrounded by the hillsides, protected from wild coastal winds. In addition, we are often blessed with the splendor of beautiful rainbows and unparalleled valley sunsets. These mountains are the same for us as they were for the first settlers; they have never been shaken.
With such a picture the Psalmist likens the care and protection of the Lord. For the Lord surrounds his people like an unshaken mountain. The storms may come with ferocity and power, but the children of God are well protected in the "cleft of the rock" (Exodus 33:22). We are held in the palm of his great providential hands. And to put it simply, you're in good hands with the Almighty.
On any given day, you may feel threatened by the unknown and uncontrollable. Anxiety may press upon you like a heart attack, but all you have to do is stop, and take a look. Lift up your eyes to the hills and remember, from whence comes your help? It comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, who surrounds you as the mountains surround Jerusalem... both now and forevermore!