Monday, November 30, 2009

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble."  - Proverbs 28:13-14
For years I had a paper weight on my desk in the shape of a submarine. It even had the appearance of water on the deck. This little treasure was made during my early school years in art class. We were given clay to form into something of our choosing. I learned that while the clay was soft and pliable in my hands I was able to form it into something of beauty and purpose.
Being soft and pliable is the key to molding clay and it's the key to molding hearts. How does one stay soft and pliable? Solomon writes about confession of sin and reverence to our Lord. If we are quick to renounce our sins and careful to fear the Lord, we will always be soft and pliable in his hands. He will be free to form us into something of beauty and purpose.
Will you place yourself in the hands of your Creator today and allow him the freedom to mold your heart? Will you allow him to form you into the likeness of his Son? (Romans 8:29) Remember to be soft and pliable because...  "he who hardens his heart falls into trouble".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”... Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”.... The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”" - John 21:15, 16, 17 (NIV)
 A young man told his sweetheart, "I love you so much that I'd climb the highest mountain for you, I'd swim the largest ocean for you, I'd walk around the world for you... and by the way, I'll be over to see you tonight if it doesn't rain." Songs, cards and letters are written everyday proclaiming an undying love to someone. And in no time at all those same relationships break apart for the lack of true love. True love is the necessary element.
Jesus took Peter aside to restore him to fellowship and service after a most painful denial. Many things could have been said, but Jesus focused on the most important factor, "do you truly love me" The words meant, do you love me selflessly and sacrificially? To rightly serve the Lord, one must love him first, more than anything.
Are you preparing to serve the Lord today? Will you be busy in some ministry this week? Before you begin, ask yourself the BIG question. Do you truly love the Lord today, more than anything? Your love for him is the necessary element.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."  - John 20:19-20 (NIV)
During my teen years our church youth went on a summer retreat in Canada. A family in the church had a cabin right on the water in the Thousand Islands region. The scenery was beautiful, the surroundings were serene and the weather was perfect. It was just the place to spend time with the Lord. We came back home rejoicing from our "mountaintop" experience.
Retreats are great, but are they always necessary for a serious encounter with Jesus? The disciples were gathered together, locked up in a house, afraid for their very lives. There were no gentle breezes blowing, no soothing sounds of a lake and no warm rays of the sun to bask under. The atmosphere was far from being a "mountaintop" setting. But then, Jesus came and stood among them and they were overjoyed.
Jesus will meet us anywhere, anytime in any setting. We just need to take the time to patiently seek his face and the "mountaintop" will come to us. May our joy never be determined by the beauty of the creation, but may it overflow from the beauty of the Creator.  "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:28-30 (NIV)
Whenever I drive past an unfinished building that appears to be abandoned I feel sad. Someone had dreams of a new venture that failed. The economy, unexpected events or just poor planning led to an unfinished project. The hopes someone had were gone and all they left behind was a deteriorating signpost that read "failure".
Thankfully, God knows no such concept as "failure". What he begins, he finishes. Jesus went the cross on purpose and only when he "finished" the work of redemption did he give up his spirit. In the words of a builder, the work of Christ was a "turn-key" job. When you trust Christ for your salvation and eternal life, he just hands you the key. The project is complete; all you have to do is take residence.
 Just as God started and finished the work of redemption for us, he is working today to make us more like Jesus. May we be encouraged that God never fails at what he starts..."he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" - Philippians 1:6  

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out..." - John 18:1-4 (NIV)
 It was a morning not unlike this morning. Some were still sleeping and others were having breakfast, preparing to attend church. They were at peace on an island that God blessed with beauty and tranquility. Then, at 7:51 the peace was broken and in a very short time 2,350 souls would enter eternity. War had come to Pearl Harbor and the world would never be the same again.
Spiritual warfare will often come to us in the same way. We are in the olive grove with the Lord and all is calm. And then the enemy comes with a detachment of soldiers. We are surprised, but Jesus is not, because he always knows what is going to happen and is prepared. Peace may be shaken, but the protective care of Jesus is always fulfilled:  “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” (vs. 9) 
We can never hide from spiritual battles; they will even come to us in the olive grove. But unlike Pearl Harbor, we have a Savior who stands between us and defeat. He tasted death for us, that we might have everlasting victory. Put your battles in the hands of Jesus and your world will never be the same again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever... Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever." - Psalm 136:1-3, 26 (NIV)
Once upon a time when I was much younger, I coached my son's soccer team. Our team wasn't the best team in the league, but we got better as the season progressed. The reason we got better is due to practice. We drilled and drilled and drilled. The boys wanted to scrimmage all the time, but because practicing the basics improves one's game, we drilled.
There are certain basics in the spiritual life and the only way we will ever improve on them is through practice. Psalm 136 is a spiritual drill to improve the ability of thanksgiving. God's love endures through every event of life; therefore every day should be filled with thanksgiving to the Lord. The more often we give thanks, the stronger our attitude of gratitude grows.
Drills are rarely fun, but they will eventually make good players. Take a lesson from this Psalm and make a list of the Lord's blessings and provisions in your life. After every item repeat such words as His love endures forever and give thanks. Include this in your daily devotional time and you will begin to see a great improvement in your ability of thanksgiving. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion." - Psalm 134 (NIV)
For most people night is a time to rest after a busy day. Everything goes on hold at night while we renew our energy for new challenges ahead. For some though, night is their time to work while others sleep. Whatever the schedule, days are broken up into work, leisure and sleep. When then, do we give praise to our Lord, morning, noon or night?
The psalmist called for God to be worshipped and praised twenty-four hours a day. In his heart praise was never to be put on hold for any reason. Heaven is no different, as we read in Revelation 4:8, "Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Why do we set aside only certain times to give praise and thanks? Is He not worthy of constant praise?
Our church family gathers together every year at this time for a "Praise Service" to give thanks to the Lord for His blessings. The event is always a joy and most encouraging. But why wait for such a service or wait for Sunday morning? Take time through every morning, afternoon, and night to give praise to your Lord and May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you!!   

Monday, November 23, 2009

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." - John 17:20-23 (NIV)
In the film "Backdraft" you hear this phrase periodically, "You go, we go". The thought behind it is simple. Firefighters serve as one man, committed to die for one another if necessary. Such camaraderie is quite rare in most circles of life. The "one man" scenario seems to be reserved for firefighters, policemen and certain military units. Rarely does one find such a spirit of "one man" devotion in the church.
Should we seek this kind of oneness in the church today? Is it really important enough to make it happen? Jesus places supreme importance on the spirit of oneness in the fact that he prays for unity. He also identifies Christian unity as the great apologetic as he prayed, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me". The Lord's Prayer is really, that we would be one as He and the Father are one. This is a lifetime commitment and a life-changing one as well.
Are you "one" with your brothers and sisters in Christ today? Does the world see a very unique camaraderie within your church? Are you willing to say, in the most pressing moments, "You go, we go"? Jesus prayed that we would.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." - John 16:21-22 (NIV)
Two days ago we celebrated my oldest son Jeremy's twenty-sixth birthday. We had a great meal, talked, laughed and just had a joyful time together as a family. Twenty-six years ago it was a little different, as I sat with my dear wife during her twelve-plus hours of labor. The delivery itself was quite painful and seriously complicated for both Jayne and the little guy. And here he is today, not so little, still quite complicated, but a joy to behold.
The disciples were about to enter into a seriously complicated time of pain. Grief would overwhelm them and fear would haunt them. Questions and doubt would rob them of sleep and prevent them from experiencing any peace or joy. But Jesus promised that they would see him again, the grief would be gone and then they would rejoice.
Our lives are often filled with great sorrow and we wonder where or when we will find relief. Jesus promised in John fourteen that in him, we would have peace to carry us through the storms of life. But one day, Jesus will come from heaven for us, as he came from the tomb to meet the disciples. When that day comes, there will be no more sorrow "and no one will take away your joy". Perhaps TODAY!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." - John 15:9-12
"Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong, They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me!" So the words begin in the familiar Sunday school song written by Anna B. Warner. Yes Jesus loves us, and in that love our joy may be complete. Yet love is a living entity and it needs to be nurtured to stay strong and not grow stagnant.
Love in the marriage, family or any relationship is only as strong as it is nurtured. We give of ourselves to others, thus showing them our love. We invest in their lives every day, not just on holidays and special occasions. As a result, we experience a lasting joy that runs deep within our hearts. Jesus gives such a love and rightfully asks of us to return the same.
To remain in the love of Jesus, one needs to obey his commands, which include loving each other as he loves us. This is the way to nurture a love relationship with the Lord. Yes, Jesus loves us, that we might love him and others to the Father's glory. And in such nurtured love, our joy may be complete.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27 (NIV)
I don't do roller coasters. I rode one once and almost had a heart attack. The ride up is sweet and the view is often quite gorgeous, but then comes the drop. Some people like my sons think it's such a rush, but I think I'm going to die. Life is very much like a roller coaster. There are those peaceful moments that lift us up to the sky and fill our hearts with great joy. Then the bottom falls out from underneath and we're troubled and afraid. The amusement park ride may be a rush, but real life can be a fright.
Jesus speaks about a peace that is very different than what the world offers. He doesn't promise to flatten the road ahead or fill our lives with all ups and no downs. He does promise to give us a peace that doesn't slip away when the bottom falls out. The promise was made to his disciples just before their ride with him moved into an incredible downward flight. There was no rush there; it was life at its most alarming moment, but in Jesus they were promised peace.
Do you have peace today? There is a peace for anyone who rests in the all-powerful grip of the Lord. The bottom may fall, but Jesus has a tight hold on you so, "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." - John 13:15-17
Every generation strives to rise above the previous one with greater achievements and lifestyles. When I was younger, we talked about a future 32-hour workweek with oodles of time for fun. Some futuristic thinkers saw life with robotic servants. We looked for better, brighter and of course, easier days ahead.
The same phenomenon exists in the Christian life. My church life, my devotional life or my ministry life needs to be better, brighter and of course, easier than my predecessors. Yet, our Lord brings us back to the basics. He sets a timeless example of what ministry is, and always should be about. We are servants, and we are called to serve in the same way that our Master served. Not better, brighter or easier; just the same.
 What is your goal today? Are you looking to be served, or are you seeking to serve others, just like Jesus? The example is before you, and "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted… the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel… Do not forsake your friend… As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” - Proverbs 6, 9, 10, 17 (NIV)

People come into our lives like the tides of the sea. They come in at high tide and are gone with the outgoing. There are some people though, that stay with us through the seasons of life until the very last leaf has fallen. Down through the years, I have had a good number of acquaintances, but only a few friends.
If there were a book written on  "Friendship for Dummies", the first chapter would be entitled, "To Have a Friend, You Must Be A Friend". Solomon speaks of being a friend that gives loving correction that can be trusted. He speaks of giving earnest counsel that refreshes the heart of a friend. He encourages faithfulness to a friend in their troubles and trials. As a result, a person is better equipped and "sharper" for the challenges of life when they have such a friend.
Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) How good it is to have such a friend as Jesus. His friendship is more valuable than gold. But consider this, we are friends with Jesus because he befriended us first. Remember, "to have a friend, you must be a friend".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool - arise, O Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy.” - Psalm 132:7-9
I grew up on eastern Long Island, long before the rest of the world moved there. When we first moved to the area, our family attended a vast number of churches until we found the right one. I remember a wide variety of worship, ministers and people. But, what I remember best is the church where we settled; because it was there that I met Jesus.
Why is it so important to find the "right" church? What is it that makes a church "right"? I believe the psalmist answers these questions quite well. A right church is one where God dwells, His might is seen and He is worshipped. A right church is where the leadership serves the Lord with integrity and righteousness. A right church is where people sing to the Lord with joy in their hearts. A right church is where people come to meet Jesus at the footstool of the Cross.
Have you found the "right" church yet? Maybe you haven't found "church" yet. Take the time this week to find a church where God is worshipped, leaders are spiritual and people are joyful... find a church where you will meet Jesus.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - John 12:23-26 (NIV)
I am not a gardener nor the son of one. Although as a young boy, I sold flower seeds in the spring to earn prizes from the Scout magazine. The seeds were neatly packed in envelopes with pictures of beautiful flowers. In each small envelope, were found seeds that produced flowers, but only if they were planted. Seeds on the shelf are nothing more than that.
So it is with life. Jesus didn't come to just live a good life. He came to intentionally die that we might eternally live. In turn he calls us to serve by following his example. Like seeds, Jesus wants us to plant ourselves in this life and not remain on the shelf. Yes, when we are planted in his service, our own agendas and selfish plans die, but the beauty of his grace and glory blossoms.
Will you step out of your little envelope, and be planted? Will you be used of the Lord to "produce many seeds"? In whose life will you plant yourself today? Seeds left on the shelf never produce anything.     

Sunday, November 15, 2009

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died...  When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” - John 11:21,32 (NIV)

I recently read a book entitled, "The Collected 'WHAT IF?' - Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been". It's a long title, but a much longer book of thought provoking content. "If" is a small word with a big "might of been." Historians may question the movements of the past, but is it right for believers to question the movements of the Lord? Would life have been better "if" God had only intervened?
Martha and Mary suffered tremendous grief, not to mention the illness and death of poor Lazarus. God was fully aware of the heartache and pain, but had plans for both grace and glory. The Lord purposed this death to bring the grace of resurrection and "God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it" (verse 4). "If" Jesus had been there, this plan would not have unfolded and history would have lost a true story of timeless consolation.
Has the painful events of your life caused you to say, "Lord, if you had been here"? My friend, never doubt the one who has promised to never leave you. Never doubt that your Lord is at work in ways beyond your understanding. There are no "ifs" in the plans of God. From one man's death Jesus sent the message across the ages... “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (verse 25)  His question still stands... "Do you believe this?”

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"... He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." - John 10:3-4 (NIV)
If it's not bad enough that we have been reduced to mere numbers by most companies that we deal with, others can never get our names right. I get mail every day, addressed to Mr. Jimmie Sant, Mr. Sant Van, Mr. Van J. Sant and other mind-boggling mistakes. Does anyone, other my dear wife and children, really know my name?
Well, there is someone who not only knows my name, but also cares for me in a very personal way. He knows when I lay down to sleep and when I wake. He greets me in the morning, having already been there to prepare the way. "He" is Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I'm not a number to him, because I am one of his sheep, and there is no greater encouragement in life.
If Jesus is not your Shepherd today, He is calling you by name, to a brand new life. If Jesus is your Shepherd today, he is calling you by name, into a whole new day. He has gone ahead of you and simply asks that you follow him. He has laid down his life for you so "you may have life, and have it to the full" (verse 10). Jesus is calling... just listen to his voice and follow HIM.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning." - Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)
I think that over half of my life has been spent waiting. I have waited for people to arrive for appointments, dinners, church services, weddings and yes, even funerals. I would like to believe that my patience has increased exponentially, but sad to say, I still grow weary of the lateness of others. I know they will eventually arrive, so with hopeful anticipation... I wait.
The psalmist, in the midst of great troubles, waited for the Lord to redeem Israel. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months turned into years. But, he waited for the Lord "more than watchmen wait for the morning". He knew that "with the Lord is unfailing love" (verse 7) therefore in hope... he waited.
How long have you waited my friend? Have your trials, pains, hardships and struggles been overwhelming? It has been said that God is never late. His Word and the experiences of His people testify to this fact. Be sure of this; the morning will come. Every night leads into morning, therefore in hope... wait for the Lord.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." - John 9:39-41 (NIV)

When I grew up, Doctors would visit the home when you were sick and today, we visit them. When I was young, I was rarely interested in having such a visit. Little has changed over the years, because I would rather be healthy any day, than need to visit a medical professional. But when I'm hurting... I get my tired old bones up and off we go to get better. If I'm sick, I go to the Doc.
The real issue is not who makes the visit, but that the visit is made. When we are sick we need a physician. Going deeper though, is the question of whether we are willing to admit that we are sick. It's the same with our spirtitual sickness. Jesus sad, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin". In other words, if you will admit to your blind and sin-sick condition, there is a cure. If you're sick... go to the Doc.
You may be seperated from God because you're sick with sin. You may know the Lord and still be sick with sin. As long as "you claim you can see, your guilt remains". Jesus came as the Great Physician "so that the blind will see". If you're willing to admit to your illness, there is a cure in Jesus.  If you're sick... go to the Doc!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”" - John 8:12 (NIV)
I own more flashlights than most. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I want to see where I'm walking and be able to read my books during a power failure. I prefer battery-operated flashlights. My in-laws are sold on the "shake it to light it" type. The interesting fact is, whether the light is run by battery, shaking or even cranking ... the light finally goes out. You will eventually walk in darkness.
So it is with every man-made source of light for the soul. We live in darkness and we will die in darkness because our self-powered lights will always go out. The only hope for lasting light is to find the true "Eveready" or "Diehard" source of light, and it's not the Energizer Bunny!
The truth is, that Jesus is the light that never fails. He doesn't need shaking, cranking or new and better batteries. He alone will light the way of every soul that follows Him. You don't need to walk in darkness today. Come to Jesus and He will ... "light up your life" ...  forever!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." - John 7:37-39 (NIV)
Have you ever watched a stray dog lick stagnant water from a gutter, to quench his thirst? Did you ever think, "How sad; is there no fresh water for this thirsty animal?" Then there are such dogs as ours, who won't drink any water unless it is fresh water. Where do you go to quench your thirst?
Every soul thirsts. On the day that Jesus spoke, the Jewish community celebrated the promise of Isaiah 55:1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters..." as they brought their great feast to a joyful conclusion. Jesus invited the people to move from ceremony to reality ... "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." Where do you go to quench your thirst?
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have been given the very presence of the Spirit of God. He is always fresh and ever flowing within the depths of our souls. In trusting Christ to be your Savior, your thirst can finally be quenched. In daily walking with Christ, "streams of living water will flow from within". Where will you go today to quench your thirst?

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs 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. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”"  - John 6:26-27 (NIV)
Why? Why do we do what we do at any time in life? Why do we pursue an education? Why do we marry that certain someone? Why do we choose one job over another? Why do we drive one car rather than another? Why, Why, Why. The most important of all the whys should be ... Why do you seek Jesus?
Little has changed over the years since Jesus fed the five thousand. People still seek Jesus for strictly temporal reasons. Feed me, bless me, enrich me ... give me stuff, stuff and more stuff. Is this all there is my friend? The answer is not found blowing in the wind ... the answer is found in the words of Jesus ... seek the "food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."
Why will you seek Jesus today? Will you seek him for eternal life? Will you seek Him for eternal values in the hours ahead? Will you seek Him for ... HIM? Missionary Jim Elliot said it best when he wrote, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.  As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife."   - Proverbs 26:20-21 (NIV)

Ah, the cool brisk days of fall. Golden leaves are gently blowing across the yard, and the smell of fireplaces fill the air. A fire in the hearth is good. A fire in the house is bad. A fire in the heart for the Lord is good. A fire in the head with anger is bad. Be careful which fire you feed today.
Be a carrier of the gospel (good news), not gossip (bad news). When you speak to others, be a blessing, not a burden. When you speak about others, may it be kind and gracious words of honor and hope. Don't put wood on the fire of discord.
Always have a hot heart for Jesus and a cool head toward others. Stoke the fire of spiritual ferver and dampen the fire of smoldering fury. The choice is yours ... be careful which fire you feed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them." The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." - Psalm 126:1-2 (NIV)

Are you living in "a dream come true"? What is the "stuff" of which your dreams are made? Young love? A new car? A new house? A precious little baby? What are your dreams, and will they ever come true?
Stop for moment and consider ... what was life like before Jesus? What would life be like today, without the Lord? He reached down from heaven, found you in the chains of sin, broke those chains and brought you back from captivity. He brought you from languish to laughter, from remorse to rejoicing and from sorrow to singing. Is this not the "stuff" of which real dreams are made?
Our home, as every home, has known sorrow, sickness and sadness at one time or another. But out of every such occasion, "The Lord has done great things for us". As much as He brought us out of captivity in the beginning of our spiritual journey, He continues to bring us out of the captivities that darken our paths. When we walk with Jesus, "we are filled with joy" and in this ... our dreams have come true!

Friday, November 6, 2009

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." - John 5:39-40 (NIV)
How many Bibles do you own? How many "study" Bibles, "family" Bibles and various translations do you have around the house? How often do you read and reread your many Bibles ... daily, weekly or ... ? What do you find when you thoughtfully and prayerfully search those well worn pages? The more important query should be, who do you find within those precious pages of timeless truth?
As you enter this day, the joys, sorrows, hopes, fears, pleasures or pains of life are dancing in your head and heart. You turn to the Scriptures for a moment of counsel, comfort or courage. You find a verse or a phrase that hits the spot. You launch into the day prepared for the best and the worst.
Something is missing. Or should we say, someone is missing. As a popular devotional has been entitled, "Encounter with God", we really need an encounter with Jesus, not just a factual and inspiring word. It is Jesus that waits for you on every page to bring you fresh life for every day. "These are the Scriptures that testify about me ..." Slow down, and seek the face, voice and touch of Jesus in your Bible reading and find life for the day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her ..." -- John 4:6-7 (NIV)

Are you tired from your journey today? Are you weary of the demands of others and the pressures of life? Do you seek a place to just sit and rest, away from the din of the crowd?
Take a moment and consider the Lord as He sits by the well; hot, dry, hungry and quite worn out from travel. The disciples have gone into town for food, so the moment is now quiet and restful. Suddenly, but most providentially, a lonely soul slips into sight and "Jesus said to her ...". So begins a wonderful exchange that leads to a woman's quenched thirst and a great harvest of souls.
In your weariness, will you make time today to greet the lonely souls that God brings into your path. Will you, as our Lord, engage in just one more encounter for the sake of their unquenched thirst? Then, as suddenly as such moments come, so will your own soul be refreshed. "“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." -- John 4:34 (NIV)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:27-30 (NIV)

John's ministry was difficult at best. It all ended abruptly without any great success. But, was it really unsuccessful? Some say yes, but there is a very different view from heaven.
We who serve the King of Kings labor in the highest positions known to man. Wherever our Master chooses for us to serve is a privilege. We would be more encouraged if we would reflect on this fact, "It's not about us, it's about HIM" and it's His world, His work and His Glory. It all belongs to Him, and "a man can only receive what is given him from heaven."
May we daily "wait and listen for Him". Our greatest joy should be the sound of His voice as He directs our steps and expresses His pleasure in our spiritual progress. In all that we strive to accomplish today, may every moment be filled with one single goal ... that He becomes greater; and we become less. There is no greater success!