Friday, January 17, 2020

"And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth... When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath." - Luke 4:22, 28
I grew up in the New York metropolitan area and have been a New York Yankee fan since the days of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. This is not very unique since there are more Yankee fans than anyone could number. There is one characteristic about New York fans that proves to be a tough nut to swallow; when the team wins they're loved and when they lose it's the wrath of Khan!
From the very beginning of His ministry the Lord experienced a similar contrast. When His words were gracious, the crowds loved it and when He spoke convicting truth they were filled with wrath. Such people are still with us today; those who are happy to feel good about themselves but never guilty before God.
When you speak to others about Christ my friend, never hesitate to give the bad news and good news. While many people only want to hear comforting words, without the whole truth hearts will never experience conviction. And without conviction there won't be repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. The Lord always told the whole story and so should we.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

"And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him... Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." - Matthew 4:19,20,22
We all know the testimony of Tim Tebow, a professed believer, who became a well known sports figure. He merged his faith with his career and drew a lot of attention to himself and his teams. Most significantly is the fact that Tim had his priorities right. During his years playing football he made it a habit to invite some struggling, hurting or devastated person to each game; pay for their flight, room and meals. He would have them seated in prime seats, visit with them before and after the game and encourage them in their life issues. Tim knew the difference between winning a game and winning a life.
Jesus came along the shore and invited the disciples to follow Him and become fishers of men. He called them away from lucrative businesses and offered them nothing of material gain. He offered them the opportunity to win people to God and a new start in life. These men dropped everything and "Immediately" followed Him. You see, they had their priorities right; they knew the difference between catching a "sole" and catching a "soul"!
As you move into this New Year my friend, do you have your priorities right? Or are you still running the "rat race" looking for the next promotion, pay raise or popularity win? Jesus and such people as Tim Tebow are all about greater values in life. What are your values? Do you know the difference between a life of selfish success and a life of selfless service? Which will you choose?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

"But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4
We have a number of great bakeries in our community. Their cakes, pies and pastries are just great. But the breads are a real drawing card. You can find any kind of bread that you need or want; hot, fresh and quite tasty. The only problem comes when we eat too much bakery bread and not enough of soul bread.
In the face of spiritual battle Jesus drew upon the Word of God over and over again. He knew the Word and the way of proper application. Apart from His being the very Son of God, our Lord had grown up in a pious home where the Word was taught and practiced. He was well nurtured with more soul bread than bakery bread.
Are you in the early stages of a New Years diet my friend? Are you limiting your visits to the bakery this month? Well, this may be a good decision for your physical health, but be careful about your spiritual health as well. Rather than reducing your intake of soul bread, chow down and fill your life with "every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

"Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham." - Luke 3:8
I attended Bible College at a school that was centered in a mega-church. People came down the aisle to profess faith in Christ at every service and there were baptisms every week. Yet I would often meet the most evil people in the community that were "saved" and baptized in that church. They claimed a godly connection without a godly conduct.
John cut to the core of true conversion with the words "Bear fruits in keeping with repentance". He took away all hope of being a child of God through family or religious relationship. It really doesn't matter where someone grows up and attends church. Genuine connection with God begins with a repentant conversion that leads to godly conduct.
Where do you trace your beginning with Jesus my friend? That moment may bring nostalgic warmth to your heart, but has your life changed for the better since that time? Have you become more godly and Christ-like from year to year?  Consider the words of 2 Peter 1:10, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." Remember, true godly connection produces godly conduct.

Monday, January 13, 2020

"And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, 'If you will, you can make me clean'. Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will; be clean.'" - Mark 1:40-41
How do you ask for something? Do you frequently say, "If you don't mind would you...?" or "Would you be willing to...?" or "If it wouldn't be too much of a bother would you...?" The intent is to show respect and consideration for the one we are approaching. We are careful not to take them for granted.
This leper approached Jesus with the very same respect and consideration. He was fully confident that the Lord was able to make him clean in the words "you can". But he understood that there was a great difference in what Jesus "can" do and "will" do. While he came with certain faith, he was careful not to take the Lord for granted.
In the passage above we have more than a request made to a friend. This leper came to the Lord of the universe with a very personal need. He came with respect and consideration of the "will" and wisdom of God. Take note my friend and the next time you approach the Lord with a request, give Him the respect that He deserves and the consideration that He knows what is best for His child. Be careful not to take Him for granted.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

"And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them." - Mark 1:31
People desire good health for a number of reasons. They yearn for renewed strength to travel, play sports or make more money. There is also the undying hunger for "eternal youth" without any real goal. Some people make every effort to prolong the "looks" of youthfulness even when age has taken its debilitating toll. But, what good is health without a plan to use it well.
Peter's mother-in-law didn't hesitate to put her healing to good use for others. When the Lord touched her and lifted her up she immediately began to serve. Her renewed strength was a blessing and she knew just how to show her gratitude. She served the Lord and those who joined Him in ministry. She had new-found health and had a plan to use it well.  r
Are you praying for healing and new strength for the days ahead my friend? Should the Lord bless you, what will you do with what He gives? Give it some thought; when you finally have a new lease on life with health and vigor, what's your plan?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him." - Mark 1:12-13 

Someone once said that heroes are made, not born. Well, after his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other non-commissioned officers had become casualties, Corporeal Alvin C. York, a conscientious objector of World War I, assumed command.  Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns. York was promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor and nearly 50 more decorations for his heroism. By going where no one would want to go and doing what no one would want to do, York became a hero.
Jesus left heaven's glory, came to earth and was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness. The battle ground was not desirable nor the fight pleasurable. But our Lord went where He was told to go and became our eternal hero. He charged the bastion of Hell and confronted the great enemy with the Sword of the Word and won the day. As with any war there were many more battles that followed, but the victory was achieved by the One who went where no one would want to go and did what no one would want to do and became our hero.
This simple point comes to this my friend; has the Lord directed you into a situation that no one would want to go? Have you hesitated and questioned the wisdom of such leading? Is it possible that the Lord has set the stage for you to do what needs to be done so others might be blessed? Yes, the Spirit still drives His people into the wilderness, but with eternal purpose in mind. You too can win the day... by going where no one would want to go and doing what no one would want to do, for the Glory of God and blessing of others... and become a hero.