Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Joy in the results ...

"As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” - Matthew 13:23
As you browse through any book store you may find such titles as "Three Steps to Success " or " Four Keys to a Better You". Such books suggest a guaranteed accomplishment if the right moves are made. But, we will find that life is less predictable. Some people are more fruitful than others and the same steps will often produce varied results. Wisdom suggests to do our very best and find joy in the results.

When we read about the seed that was sown on good soil, it is a relief to find differing outcomes. No matter how "good" the soil may be and how carefully it is nurtured, the yield may be a hundredfold, or sixty or thirty. The soil is what it is, and there is no five step secret that will produce a hundredfold. Do your very best and find joy in the results.

Are you driven toward goals achieved by others my friend? Do you feel as if you've failed when you don't have a "big win"? Have you been brainwashed into believing that "second place" is "first loser"? Why not serve the Lord by doing your very best and rejoice in the results?  

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Family of God ...

"He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."" -- Matthew 12:48-50
I have a friend in Pennsylvania. He is a brother in the Lord and as much a brother in life as any family member. When we are together we share the events of life, our visits to doctors and other family members. Most of all we share the things of the Lord as he talks about the ministry of his church and I talk about ours. I have other such brothers and sisters in the Lord and our relationship runs far deeper than most parents and siblings. While the latter may be related by "blood", the former are related by "His Blood".

Jesus loved his earthly family without question. As he hung on the cross his thoughts included his mother Mary as he entrusted her care to his disciple John. But apart from this 'family" the Lord highly valued his spiritual family even more. Why? The earthly family is just that; earthly. The family of God is both now and eternal. Our elder brother is Jesus (Hebrews 2:11) and as we love him, so should we love one another.

It's only right to care for your earthly family and spend quality time with them. But, never allow earthly ties to reduce your commitment to those who are your brothers and sisters in "His Blood". Being the family of God is a great privilege and an eternal one. How will you encourage and show love to your spiritual family this week?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A breath of fresh air...

"He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope." - Matthew 12:19-21
Political debates can be interesting to watch. Many people enjoy listening for the zingers that will cut the opponent to the core. The media will often emphasize the most sharp and abrasive comments and give winning points for them. While very few points are ever given for kind words. But, what kind of people are we most drawn to...abrasive or affirming?

Within the religious community of Jesus' time there were many voices that spoke with sharp and cutting legalism. They had little or no concern for the struggles and sorrows of their fellow travelers. They spoke words that cut to the core, making it clear that it was their way or the highway. Then, along came Jesus...a kind and gracious Savior who spoke gentle words that brought healing to the soul. As a result, the multitudes avoided the abrasive leaders and embraced the affirming Lord.

Proverbs 15:4 tells us that "A gentle tongue is a tree of life". To whom are you most drawn my friend... those who are abrasive or those who are affirming? And how do you admonish and counsel others with the Word of God? Are you a hot wind with a cutting edge, or a breath of fresh air, gentle and gracious? Consider this...abrasive words hurt, but affirming words heal.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

His Easy Yoke...

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -- Matthew 11:28-30
There is nothing I enjoy more than ministry. Preaching and teaching are incredible blessings and give great fulfillment. The only weariness that comes is a physical exhaustion after a long day or week of service. Within my heart I am rested and at peace. Sleep comes easy and joy comes in the morning. I have found rest in Jesus at the same time I have taken his yoke.

The above comment is my testimony of finding rest in serving the Lord. Jesus offers to all who will come, rest from their worries, guilt, discouragement, bitterness, heartaches and anxieties. He brings peace and purpose that satisfies to everyone who will follow him. The rest Jesus offers isn't cessation from work; it's a new labor of love that fulfills the soul and brings joy to the life. What a privilege to be   partners with the Lord as we wear his easy yoke.

Are you following the Lord in your daily life? Have you taken on his yoke, learned from him and found rest for your soul? The invitation has been given and now it's up to you. Rest is not illusive and unattainable; it's a genuine offer to all who will come to Jesus. The promise is his and the privilege is ours... will you come to Jesus today? 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Don't be afraid...

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." -- Matthew 10:29-30
One of the world's best-known and most abundant small birds is the "House Sparrow". It lives in towns and on farms worldwide, having accompanied Europeans from its original home in Eurasia and northern Africa. Introduced into North America in 1852, it spread across the continent within a century. A little bird, beyond counting, blessed with God's caring.
Jesus spoke of dangerous times of opposition and persecution for the Christian. But there is never a time that the Lord isn't with every believer, just as he is with the sparrow. The time never comes that Jesus doesn't care. We may feel as if we are one among so many, but the Lord watches over every one of his children. He values those who are His.
Do you feel that you are so very small in the works of the kingdom? Or, that your struggles are not to be compared to the needs of others? Remember that a high price was paid and you are greatly valued by your Lord. You may be one among the countless billions, but you are one assured of countless blessings!  "So... don't be afraid."

Thursday, January 14, 2021

His Gain and Glory...

"And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean  spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these... and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him." - Matthew 10:1-2, 4
Have you ever wondered who your favorite actor or actress truly is in real life? Acting is just that, acting. A good actor can convince the world that they are wonderful or horrifically evil, all in the same year in two different films. They exercise God given abilities and use them for their own gain and glory.

Jesus had a variety of reasons for choosing a man who would later betray Him. But focusing on Judas Iscariot proves to be an interesting study. Here is an individual that was blessed with the incredible privilege of being called by Jesus and equipped with divine power. To the world, Judas appeared to be a true disciple of the Lord and he performed the part quite well. But, he chose to exercise God given abilities for his own gain and glory.

The lesson is sobering my friend. You may have heard the call of God in your life, and been blessed with great skills to serve His church. But without God's saving grace that gives you a new heart, you will only be an actor or actress. You will be exercising your God given abilities for your own gain and glory.
Take care to heed the words of 2 Peter 1:10, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure..." Be the real deal and be true to the Lord who saved you by exercising your God given abilities for HIS gain and glory.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

What do you see?

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." -- Matthew 9:36
Crowds may mean very little to you, but where I grew up there were crowds of all kinds. We lived in the metropolitan region of New York City. People were in abundance and they were everywhere. The interesting question is this: what goes through the mind when we are surrounded by crowds? Do we see them as a burden, or do we see their burdens?

Jesus was never impersonal or uncaring about the multitudes that followed him. He saw their emptiness and their need for someone to care. He saw their broken and storm ravaged lives and he was moved with compassion. Their need for the Shepherd touched him to the core. To Jesus, they were never a burden; with eyes of love he just saw their burdens.

Are you upset and irritated when you are surrounded by too many people at the mall, on the road or in the grocery store? What do you see with your "born again" transformed eyes? Do you see them as Jesus sees them? Do you see that … "People need the Lord"?