Friday, January 21, 2022

You Gotta' Believe!

 Today's Readings: OT - Judges 20:1-21 / NT - Matthew 13:44-14:12

"And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." -- Matthew 13:58
No matter how skilled and well trained a physician may be, if the patient has no faith in him, there can be little accomplished. Without faith the patient will fail to cooperate with the doctor's directions. The resources for healing may be abundant, but when doubt prevails we will remain as sick as ever. You've got to believe.

The need for faith in spiritual matters is even more significant. While the Lord alone brings about the miraculous, he looks for believers. He is the abundant resource of all that we need for spiritual and tangible needs. But are we people of faith or doubt? As we read in James 1:6-7, "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord" You've got to believe.

How much is the Lord doing in your life today? Are you seeing a powerful work of spiritual growth and dramatic provision day by day? Or are you doubtful that God will do anything in your life? The writer of Hebrews noted the sad outcome of those who lacked faith in 4:2, "...but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." He is still a God of the miraculous, but to experience his power, you've got to believe.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Judges 20:22-48 /  NT - Matthew 14:13-36

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Running from the Wind...

 Today's Readings: OT - Judges 19:22-30 / NT - Matthew 13:24-43

"But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn." - Matthew 13:29-30
Down through the years people have made interesting choices of segregation. Many families have chosen to send their children to parochial or church schools, segregating them from the secular educational system. Other folks live in their own communities, totally segregated from the world, such as the Amish. But, whatever avenue is followed, the world and all its secular ways is still ever present. You can't run from the wind.

In this parable, Jesus makes it clear that in His time, and only in His time, will the weeds of the world be removed. He intends for the wheat to grow together with the weeds. While the parable doesn't give us a wide array of reasons for this integration, the Lord leaves segregation for the harvest. The thought provoking concept is this: grow where the Lord plants you, and stop running from the wind.

The great oak grows strong against the pressure of a mighty wind. Believers can also grow strong against the secular winds of unbelief. Integration forces us to stand firm in the faith and give a reason for the hope that is within. It's your choice to make a difference my friend. Grow where the Lord has planted you and stop running from the wind.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Judges 20:1-21 /  NT - Matthew 13:44-14:12

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Your very best...

 Today's Readings: OT - Judges 19:1-21 / NT - Matthew 13:1-23

"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?  

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Judges 19:22-30 /  NT - Matthew 13:24-43

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

In "His Blood"...

 Today's Readings: OT - Judges 18 / NT - Matthew 12:33-50

"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?

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Judges 19:1-21 /  NT - Matthew 13:1-23

Monday, January 17, 2022

Hurt or Heal?

 Today's Readings: OT - Judges 17 / NT - Matthew 12:1-32

"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.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Judges 18 /  NT - Matthew 12:33-50

Sunday, January 16, 2022

His Easy Yoke...

 Today's Readings: OT - Judges 16:23-31 / NT - Matthew 11

“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 is an incredible blessing and 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? 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Judges 17 /  NT - Matthew 12:1-32

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Don't be Afraid...

 Today's Readings: OT - Judges 16:1-22 / NT - Matthew 10:24-42

"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 bird 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." 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Judges 16:23-31 /  NT - Matthew 11