Friday, September 30, 2011

 “Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever.” -- Amos 1:11
I received a call this week from a church member who was angry with another member. The call went on and on about the terrible thing that was done and how inconsiderate the individual was that committed the crime. There was no pity expressed, just fire and brimstone wrath. One can only imagine what would have been said if the caller weren't a forgiven, Spirit sealed, heaven bound saint?
Then I received a second call some time later. This call came from the same church member as before, but with a sweeter and calmer voice, now assuring me that a mistake had been made and all was well in Zion. What a relief, but what a disappointment to find such anger and wrath among the children of God. As the above passage enlightens us, God is never pleased with unforgiving perpetual anger and lifelong wrath toward a brother.
It was for good reason that Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26-27, "“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." Unchecked anger will always lead to spiritual defeat my friend. They who are wise will follow the further counsel of Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." - Galatians 6:14
The summer is past and recent graduates have found a sad end to a long academic pursuit; no job. There were hopes and dreams of a bright future, but alas, the economy has closed doors to most of them. The truth is sobering; having a diploma doesn't always lead to a meaningful life.
Paul brought everything in life down to the main thing - the cross of Christ. It's the cross that puts an end to our past failures and opens the door for a bright future. It's the cross that breaks the chains of sinful habits and sets us free to live for Christ. It's the cross of Christ that makes it possible for us to have hopes and dreams fulfilled.
As someone has best said it, "Keep the main thing the main thing". Never leave this basic truth behind and never lose its power to change you day by day. Having that diploma may or may not open the right doors my friend, but starting each day at the foot of the cross will always lead to a meaningful life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." - Galatians 5:13-15
One of the interesting results of the Alcoholic Anonymous program is the support given to others after sobriety is achieved. Recovering alcoholics know that they need each other to make the journey in life. For years they were bound to a lifestyle from which they are now free. They use this new found freedom to serve others.
Paul spoke to the Galatians about a new life in Christ that set them free from the law and sin. They were now a transformed people who were called upon to love others as themselves. Any other lifestyle would be devastating. This expectation was a timeless truth found as early as the giving of the law. God knew the need for his people to lovingly serve one another. 
All too often my friend, the church of Jesus Christ is guilty of shooting its own wounded soldiers. We give way to selfish agendas and critical attitudes. As we cut each other apart we lose the battle and the blessing. We have been set free from such ways. Use your freedom to love your brothers unconditionally and help them up. Be a brother or sister who lovingly serves others today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." - Galatians 4:4-5
The words from Alice in Wonderland often come to mind in this busy world we live in: "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date." Too many people, on too many occasions are late for very important dates. As a result, we tend to lower our expectations and even believe that the Lord will be late for our very important needs. But God... is never late!
Paul noted that Jesus came to be our Savior at just the right time. He didn't come too early, or too late. God had a time table that ticked away with exact precision and when the time had fully come, God sent his Son. To this very day God is following his time table and will bring life and blessing to each one of his children on time. Our God... is never late!
Trusting the Lord involves the patience that lives within God's time table. We need to wait on Him with utmost confidence that he will accomplish his will and our best in his time. Solomon said it in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Wait on the Lord my friend, for he is never late for a very important date!

Monday, September 26, 2011

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray." - Galatians 2:11-13
It has been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. There were times that I wanted to be just like my father and there have been times that my sons have wanted to be like me. From time to time, we are all influenced enough to imitate someone. But do we ever consider that we too are influencing others to the point of imitation? If we are imitated, are we leading others astray or into truth?
Paul was led to rebuke Peter to his face for hypocrisy. Peter's conduct was confusing and inconsistent with Biblical truth. While his personal practice was disturbing enough, the fact that others followed his lead was even worse. Peter's fear of men led him into error, followed by other Jews, and finally Barnabas. By imitating Peter, many were being led astray.
It doesn't really matter who we are, other people imitate us. There will always be someone who looks up to you and is influenced by your life. When you walk with the Lord and live a godly life, this can be a good thing. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Be a consistent and godly example to imitate my friend, for as you follow Christ, you will lead others into all truth.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10
The Sunday that I was being considered for the role as pastor at my first church, a young believer asked this question: "Do you serve God, or man?" The Next year Bob Dylan wrote the song "Gotta Serve Somebody". The issue is thought provoking and life directing. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters"
Paul faced quite a dilemma with the churches in Galatia. The believers had initially trusted in the finished work of Christ for their salvation, but now there were false teachers that sought their allegiance. These teachers were winsome and convincing, teaching a works salvation. They were seeking the approval of their own circle of peers and were determined to increase their followers. Paul sought the approval of the Lord alone and was simply saying, "No one can serve two masters"
There is no safer path than the one that follows the Lord alone. Do you seek the Lord's approval in every decision you make? Is His will the most important thing in your life? Serve the Lord and you will never go astray. Remember, "No one can serve two masters"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Multitudes, multitudes,  in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision." - Joel 3:14
Decisions! Decisions! Every day we make decisions that will determine the outcome of the future. Some decisions are greater than others, but every decision will make a difference. Of all the decisions that we ever make, there is one that is greater than all, for this decision will determine our eternal destiny.
Joel writes about the valley of decision. This will be the moment that God will pass judgment on the multitude of mankind. The outcome will be simple; the Lord will decide against those who have decided against Him in this life. God honors those who honor Him and rejects those who reject Him - for all eternity! And on that day ... "The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining." (verse 15)
Stop and think my friend. Have you decided for or against the Lord of Glory? There will be no reversing your decision after you breath your last on this earth. And you may be assured of this ... Love will not win then, if you have reject His love now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster." - Joel 2:12-13
Can you ever go home again? There have been so many young people who, over the years, have strayed from home and entered a life of desperation. They rejected the love and care of their family with years having passed by, leaving the haunting question; Can I ever go home again?
Jesus tells us the story of a prodigal son who had, in fact, strayed from home, only to return in repentance. Luke 15:20 records the father's response in these words, "...while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." In our passage from Joel we are given the basis for such a reception with our heavenly Father.
My friend, if you have strayed from the Lord and you are ready to return with all your heart then don't hesitate. The Lord is still  "... gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster." Yes, you can always come home again.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." -- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
It's that time of year when children and even adults "masquerade" as someone other than themselves. They dress in costumes for fun and entertainment, but there are those who regularly change their identity for evil purposes. Some wear masks to rob banks and others change names and appearances to deceive people out of money. The "masquerade" eventually leads to their condemnation.
In the spiritual life there are many who seek to lead others astray for personal gain. They talk the talk and appear to be true believers, but in fact they are simply false apostles. They preach and teach another Jesus than the Lord of the Bible. Paul wrote with great concern for his spiritual children, that they would not be deceived like Eve had been in the garden. Remember, if someone's righteousness is only a "masquerade", it will only lead to condemnation.
Costume parties may be fun for the moment, but we eventually need to take off our masks and embrace the truth. Be careful of those who are not the real deal and strive to lead you down the wrong path. Be discerning when listening to the teaching of others and settle for nothing short of the God of the Bible. Any other God is a "masquerade" and will only lead to condemnation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. "For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." -- 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
The lyrics to the Broadway song "Fame" include the following: “… I'm gonna make it to heaven, Light up the sky like a flame, Fame … I'm gonna live forever, Baby remember my name, RememberRemember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember my name” It's a catchy tune as well as a catchy concept. Many people live their whole life for "Fame".
A lot of people believe that living forever is being remembered for becoming someone famous. They commend themselves so often that they become legends in their own minds. But, Paul makes it clear that true "Fame" is only found in the Lord's approval. The lyrics of "The Famous One" written by Chris Tomlin are far more Biblical and true; “You are the Lord, The famous one, Famous one, Great is your name, In all the earth, The heavens declare, You're glorious, glorious, Great is your fame Beyond the earth” Wisdom says that we should live our whole life for God's "Fame".
Are you boasting in yourself or the Lord? Do you live for your own "Fame" or the "Fame" of God? The point is that the Lord is already the "Famous One". So, as you pursue "Fame" in your daily activities, let it be His "Fame"... not yours.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." -- 2 Corinthians 8:3-5
Time and again catastrophes occur and financial help is desperately needed. Money is quite often raised through concerts and similar fundraisers. People are touched by the needs of others, but they still need to be motivated to give. Part of such motivation involves providing the donor with some personal benefit from their donation. Selfless giving is a rare commodity.
Paul noted a very significant quality in the churches of Macedonia. These believers were motivated to give toward the needs of others without receiving personal benefits. Why, you may ask; because they made the choice to give themselves first to the Lord. As a result of such spiritual devotion they pleaded for the privilege to share in helping others in need. When the heart is given to the Lord first, selfless giving is never rare.
Do you struggle when asked to give to the needs of ministry and compassionate care for the hurting? Are you one of those who need to be motivated? Or have you given yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord and consider it a tremendous privilege to share in the ministry of giving? Once you've given yourself to the Lord, the privilege of giving is no longer rare, it becomes an exciting opportunity.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." -- 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
The fifth point in the Procrastinator's Creed states: "I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations." So, for a great many in our world, the sun will always come out "tomorrow", no matter how dire the circumstances. But, maybe not, for we only have the guarantee of TODAY.
On two counts Paul emphasizes the need for urgency. Those who have not yet accepted the Lord's favor and salvation should respond today. And those who have the opportunity to "urge" others to receive God's grace should always act quickly. While "tomorrow" may hold amazing possibilities, we only have the guarantee of TODAY.
What are you waiting for my friend? If you have chosen to put off God's amazing offer of forgiveness and new life in Jesus, don't wait another minute. And if you have received this wonderful gift, who has God brought into your life that needs to hear? Don't wait, because "tomorrow" on this earth may never come. Remember, we only have the guarantee of TODAY!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Friday, a number of onlookers were killed during a freak plane crash at the Reno National Championship Air Races. Saturday, Ted Kennedy's oldest daughter Kara died at a Washington area health club and Eleanor Mondale Poling, daughter of former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, died at her farm in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Both were 51. Life is short and unpredictable.
Since our physical lives are slipping away faster than we realize, what we focus on is more important than anything. Paul devoted his life to serve the Lord and His people. He focused on what is unseen; eternal values and eternal souls. As a result he rarely lost heart and always had reason to press on in ministry.
Yes, life is short and unpredictable my friend. We are all outwardly wasting away every day, but those who know and serve the Lord faithfully are being renewed every day as well. Stay on point and keep your focus where it counts, because, "what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” - 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
We often place spiritual leaders on a pedestal, believing that their lives are without struggles. After all, they walk closer to the Lord than most and His blessings are so great that life for them should be smooth as silk. This is particularly believed about ministry and spiritual pursuits. But, how true is this, and if not, is it only those who are failing leaders that struggle?
Look closely to the passage at hand and think about Paul's afflictions. He "despaired of life itself". Even a chosen apostle of the Lord can be burdened beyond his strength. While we might think such troubles come only to those who are distant from the Lord, consider Paul's reasoning; "But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God".
Troubles and burdens come to all God's children my friend. While your afflictions may be a result of careless living, they also may be given to draw you closer to the Lord. Don't despair in dark hours, but keep your eyes on "God who raises the dead".

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." - Hosea 14:9
Algebra was not my favorite subject in High School. I would come up with the answers easily enough, but the teacher always wanted to see "the work". So, without the right steps, even a right answer was marked down. Life is very much the same way; we might get to the goal, but if we don't do it the right way it just doesn't count.
The Israel of Hosea's time built her nation her own way, with her own worship. She made many alliances and gained great wealth. But the ways of the Lord were ignored and in the end she lost it all. Wisdom and discernment knows that the "ways of the Lord" are always right and need to be followed or getting to any goal just doesn't count.
Do you know "the ways of the Lord" my friend? Are you wise and discerning enough to walk in them? Or have you stumbled in them and lost the prize? Remember, there is only one God, and He is the LORD. And, there is only one way, and it's God's way.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” - Hosea 10:12
Over time circumstances in life along with sinful pursuits will harden the heart. A hard heart resists the gentle rain of counsel and correction from the Holy Spirit. The hard heart is soon joined by a deaf ear that fails to hear the still small voice of the Lord. This is a sad condition to say the least, but no a hopeless one.
As the farmer or gardener breaks up the soil in the spring to receive fresh seed and the gentle rains, so must we occasionally have our souls broken up to receive a fresh Word from God and the gentle rain of righteousness from the Holy Spirit.
Breaking up our souls to seek the Lord may be painful my friend, but hard hearts are no good for spiritual growth and health. There is no better time than the present to start the process, so the Lord may come afresh and rain down righteousness.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah?  Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away." - Hosea 6:4
Do you love the Lord? Well of course you love the Lord, doesn't everyone? Not really; and those who do love the Lord love in varied degrees. How deep is your love and how long does it last?
The Lord was quite frustrated with His people. Their love for Him lasted only as long as a morning cloud or early dew. When the heat of life pressed in their loved slipped away. Other interests, desires, passions and pursuits took a higher priority and the Lord was soon forgotten.
Are you persuaded that believers are free to choose how much they should love the Lord my friend? What guideline or standard should be followed when we measure our love for God? Instead of the morning cloud or early dew, how about Deuteronomy 6:5 or Luke 10:27..."You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind." 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed." -- Hosea 4:1-2
Should anyone ever say that the Bible and especially the Older Testament is irrelevant, they would do well to read this passage. This condition is front page news and is most definitely the current condition of our land. While our President might read from Psalm 46 at the 9/11 memorial service, there is still no real love for the Lord.
This passage was written about God's people hundreds of years ago, yet the sinful ways of men have not changed. Our lives are broken and dysfunctional at best, and we still need a Savior more than ever. We can deceive ourselves into believing that God's love will overlook our wickedness and evil, but the message of Hosea still rings true; "the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land".
The time for a spiritual revival is long overdue my friend. The Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever and when "there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; ... breaking all bounds, and bloodshed following bloodshed." within any nation, He is displeased. Seek the face of God and pray that He will heal this land, beginning with His church.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"And the LORD said to me, 'Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.'" -- Hosea 3:1
In a day when divorce is the first path of response to unfaithfulness, we find a lingering picture of redemptive love. As you read the prophecy of Hosea this week, keep in mind the theme of "God's Unquenchable Love". When we look into the love of God, we will always find that He loves His children with an "everlasting love". (Jeremiah 31:3)
In the opening pages we find Hosea commanded to marry Gomer, a women given to marital unfaithfulness. As the days pass, she becomes involved with another man, just as Israel had been involved with other gods. The above direction was given to visibly portray the forgiving and redeeming love of the Lord to the wayward soul. This occasion reminds us of Romans 5:8, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Have you experienced the love of God my friend? And if you have been forgiven by such love, have there been moments of sinful failure that made you think that all was lost with the Lord? Just remember that the love of God never changes, for "“…God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5) We who have been saved by such love and grace will always find forgiveness and renewal to begin again.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified." -- Mark 15:15
The crowd or Christ; such is the choice of all eternity. From our earliest days we are pressed by crowds. We face the influence of fellow students, neighborhood kids, college groups, workplace peers as well as community activists. In contrast to Christ there will always be "the crowd", but who will we choose?
People come and go in our lives, so why are we so inclined to "satisfy the crowd"? Why are we willing to support those who deny the Lord and in turn reject Him ourselves? Barabbas and the crowd disappeared off the pages of history, while Jesus has marked both history and all eternity. Pilate made the wrong choice.
Be careful my friend and choose wisely. Consider the words of Acts 4:19-20, "But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Choose wisely... for all eternity hangs on your choice.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”And he broke down and wept." -- Mark 14:72
The reason we need to regularly read the Scriptures is quite simple. As Peter "remembered" what Jesus said, so should we know God's Word for reflection. Peter's recollection brought a sense of guilt and tears of sorrow. But this burden and sorrow is what leads to Godly repentance.
Are you well read in the Scriptures and open hearted to its truth my friend? When the Spirit of God reminds you of a Word of correction, are you seriously moved with conviction? Always be filled with the light of God's Word to be lead in the right path.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?" -- Mark 14:3-4
I remember the day that I announced the call of God in my life to the Gospel ministry. My parents, who were believers, were somewhat disturbed that I would "waste" my life and as a result be poor. They believed that my skills were better used in more profitable pursuits. They failed to see the value of doing a "beauty thing" in serving Jesus.
Forty-four years have passed since that day and I can say without hesitation that it has been a "beautiful thing" to serve the Lord. The life that is lived for Jesus will never be a waste. As the story of this woman has been recorded in the Scriptures, her story has marked the lives a more than can be counted. Her honor has only been exceeded by her impact on those who have poured out everything for the sake of Christ. That my friend, is a "beautiful thing".
The words of the martyred missionary Jim Elliot still ring true... "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” - Mark 13:32–37 (NIV)
During my college years I worked for a security company. My responsibilities included traveling to all our locations every night to be certain our guards were doing their jobs. I lost count of how many times I found guards asleep at their desks, in their cars or somewhere in the building. I never kept the same schedule, so they never knew when I would arrive. I learned that it takes real effort to stay alert.
Jesus taught a great deal concerning his second coming, but he never pinpointed a set time. He simply left his disciples and all believers with a word of council: Be on guard! Be alert! Watch! He intended for us to stay on top of our game as we waited for his return. He doesn't want sleepers; he wants his followers showing real effort to stay alert.
You can study prophecy for years and still live like the Lord's return will be sometime in the next millennium. The Lord calls us to be spiritually on point my friend. What are you doing to redeem the time for the Lord today? When the Lord returns will he find you showing real effort to stay alert?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?" - Mark 12:24 (NIV)

My Bible software of choice is Logos. While I have other computer programs for Bible study and sermon preparation, I find this resource to be the best. After using Logos for over ten years I have only scratched the surface of its potential. Yet, while having a variety of font sizes, screen options, search formats and study guides, the real power is still in the Scriptures themselves.
Jesus spoke to those who should have known the Scriptures well, but they were too caught up in their traditions and arguments over minutiae. They had slipped into error and furthermore, they were oblivious to the power of God. As they drifted from truth, they also misunderstood the purpose and provision of God for the future. Hope was dashed due to lack of study and faith. They had little to offer those in need since they didn't know the Scriptures or the power of God.
Are you aware of all that you possess in the Word of God my friend? Do you realize that the power of God can change your life and provide every need for now and all eternity? Do you study the Word to learn all that it has to offer? Do you trust the Lord for his capacity to do the impossible? Imagine, even without a computer, you can know the Scriptures and the power of God.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'" - Mark 11:17 (NIV)
Over the years I have visited many homes. Some were definitely "lived in" and others... well, they were show places, but certainly not much more. Some people love to "pimp" the larger part of their homes for others to see, but limit their living quarters. They have turned their homes into houses.
In a similar way, the religious leadership of Jesus' day was all about using God's Temple as house of profit rather than a home of praise. When Jesus arrived he was appalled at the loss of space which was intended for people of all nations to pray. He expressed rebuke toward a people who would misuse the Temple for their own gain, but would fail to use it for God's glory. It was time for God's Temple to be restored from a house to a home.
I have heard many believers show great disdain when a special speaker or musical group would sell books or CD's in the church foyer. I have been more intrigued in the absence of those same believers from prayer meeting. They want to protect the church from being misused, but they fail to use it as they should. Are you more concerned with the looks and use of your church rather than using it to the glory and praise of God yourself? Is your church a house or a home?

Monday, September 5, 2011

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” -- Mark 10:33-36
Have you ever listened to a discussion between two children? Quite often you will hear two conversations about very different topics and neither child has any idea what the other is talking about. We can understand this phenomena occurring with children, but when it takes place with adults it is quite revealing. Someone isn't paying attention.
Jesus spoke of a series of dramatic events that would fall into place in a short time. These moments would be painful, challenging and life changing for everyone. Yet, in the very midst of this revelation James and John were focused on their own selfish desires. As a result, they totally missed the Lord's message. They weren't paying attention.
Do you ever come away from your devotions, Bible study or worship having missed the Lord's message my friend? Is it possible that He was speaking quite clearly, but you were preoccupied with your own selfish desires? In the spiritual school of life, great truths are only heard by those who pay close attention.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it... Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of  God!”... Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”" - Mark 10:15, 23, 27 (NIV)
It has been said that you can't buy happiness. It is also true that you can't buy heaven. The simple truth is money can't buy everything. It can't buy relationships, love, or peace of mind. More often than not, those who fall into great wealth suddenly, fall into great troubles. On the other hand, when a child is born into a loving home, they have all that's needed and more... without money, just for the asking.
As Jesus taught on this particular day, there is a stark contrast between those who love money those who love God. It's hard to let go of our material dependencies and simply trust our heavenly Father. But this is where life truly begins. Heaven is a gift to the simple in heart, who, like a child will gladly receive it with thanksgiving. As hard as this may be for some, it's not impossible, God can change the heart. He invites us into a loving family where all our needs will be met... without money, just for the asking.
The simple joys in life and eternity can be yours my friend. They are God's gift to those who will, with a child-like faith receive them. If you will turn to the Lord and trust his heart, he will gladly save you and bless you as his child. Your needs will be met, and so much more... without money, just for the asking.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him." - Mark 9:32
How often were we told by our teachers not to be afraid to ask questions? How many questions did we ask? There are so many reasons why we don't ask questions when we are in doubt. Sometimes we are too proud, sometimes too embarrassed and sometimes too afraid. But whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The disciples were walking with the Lord Jesus day by day. He taught them great truths that changed their lives and his wisdom was beyond measure. What a wonderful opportunity to ask the Lord about everything they ever wondered about. Yet, they were afraid to ask about the Lord's death and resurrection. The result was tremendous sadness and frustration during the days of his Crucifixion and resurrection. I often wonder if they would have been better prepared by having asked questions. Whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The Lord has opened a door of opportunity for us in the words of Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" and James added in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Be confident to ask my friend, and you will grow in your understanding. Be willing to ask, and you will be certain to learn.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly." -- Mark 8:22-25 

I had knee surgery one year ago. The damage was far more extensive than expected and the recovery took a lot longer than usual. But, as the Doctor promised, time has brought healing. Such is the case with the human body, for we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:1). When a good surgeon performs a procedure he considers all the differing needs in his patient and has a plan.
When the Lord performs surgery on us he considers every need we have from top to bottom. Sometimes, as with this blind man, the personal need may require a very different approach than past occasions. The Lord is concerned with our body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). As the Great Physician, the Lord takes each of us into his care with individual attention and he has a plan.
Too often, we grow impatient with the Lord's work in our lives. We expected healing, improvement or change to come in our way. Then the Lord gives us a thorough "scan" and chooses a different way to proceed. Will you trust the Great Physician for what he does best my friend? Will you wait for his unique and individual care to bring you his blessing? Remember, he has a plan... and his plan is always PERFECT!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” " -- Mark 7:3
Bedside manner! How often have we had doctors who were quite skilled professionally but not very gifted in the area of compassion? The best doctor we ever had was a Christian who was truly moved by our distress over the pain of our child. He was touched by our feelings.
Jesus healed the sick and infirmed. He did so, on a daily basis, but he never became compassion-challenged. In this case, Jesus was moved with a deep sigh over the hardship of the man he healed. As the Great Physician, Jesus had true bedside manner and he did everything well. Jesus was touched by their feelings.
In the words of John W. Peterson, "No one understands like Jesus; ev’ry woe He sees and feels; tenderly He whispers comfort, and the broken heart He heals." And in the thought of Hebrews 4:15, Jesus is a high priest who is able to "sympathize with our weaknesses". Never hesitate to bring your needs to Jesus my friend... He is touched with your feelings.