Friday, February 28, 2014

Unbelief or Faith?

"And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief." -- Mark 6:5-6 
The great Bible scholar G. Campbell Morgan grew up in a Christian home and never questioned that the Bible was the Word of God. But in college, his faith was severely challenged by the philosophies of the day, and he began to entertain doubts. After a steady exposure to skepticism and unbelief, he wrote, "There came a moment when I was sure of nothing.”
The time had come for the very presence of the Lord of creation to be in their midst. The One who, in surrounding communities healed the sick, restored sight to the blind and raised the dead. Yet, neighbors and friends could only ask questions of doubt, failing to look beyond the surface to see the supernatural. The Lord could do no mighty works because the people were filled with the "impossibilities" of unbelief.
Unbelief cripples the soul and hinders the mighty work of God. The Lord responds to unbelief and belief. Where there is doubt there is bondage. Where there is faith there is freedom. What is your "Faith Quotient" today my friend? Jesus said in Mark 9:23, "All things are possible for one who believes". Is your life marked by the "impossibilities" of unbelief or the "possibilities" of faith?

Thursday, February 27, 2014


"After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat." - Mark 5:40-43 
We occasionally read about an amazing new medication that will rock the world of health. We read all the testimonies that report unbelievable results from many people who have been helped. We're convinced that this treatment will bring hope and healing to a loved one but... it's not available to the public. We need the powerful to become personal.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Every Easter we celebrate his resurrection with joy and singing. We study the Biblical account of the Lord's miraculous victory over death. We are reminded that the resurrection of Christ is the very foundation of our faith. But hearing and singing about it doesn't bring a change until it comes home. When the risen Savior brings new life to a loved one or friend... the powerful becomes personal.
While resurrection day is yet future, it begins when the Lord brings us from death to life, from darkness to the light, from bondage to freedom. We need the Lord to come home in our hearts before we can be at home in heaven. As Job said in Job 42:5... "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you."  The wonderful truth about the risen Christ is... the powerful became personal.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Take a Vacation

"And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid." - Mark 5:15
In the comedy "What About Bob", a psychiatrist writes his patient a prescription to "take a vacation from his problems". As a result the patient (Bob) finds an uncommon relief and emotional freedom. For many people such a prescription would be just right, but only if the vacation from their problems was permanent.
In this passage Jesus confronts a demoniac and the legion of demons that possessed the man. With divine authority the Lord sends the demons into a herd of pigs and relieves the man of a horrifying condition. As the crowd arrived they found that this man was now "in his right mind",  "taking a vacation from his problems"And since his deliverance was from Jesus, this vacation was permanent.
Does the idea of taking a vacation from your problems sound good my friend? Maybe you have tried a variety of resources and each one has fallen to pieces. Well, if you really want the kind of relief that will restore your "right mind", then turn to the Lord. Only Jesus can provide you with a "vacation from your problems" permanently.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why are you so afraid?

"And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  - Mark 4:39-40
Over the years we have owned four dogs. Each one has been unique in their own right. They have been funny in some ways, pushy in other ways and anxious toward certain sounds or events. As for their fears, it never mattered how many times we would assure them that everything was alright, they were still frightened. Apparently, they had little faith in what we said.
Is it not amazing that the wind and sea responded so quickly at the words of our Lord? Jesus spoke and "the wind ceased, and there was a great calm". Yet, the disciples were completely unable to experience the same peaceful calm in their hearts. This is far too often the case; the words of Jesus were just not enough to calm their nerves. Apparently they had little faith in what He said.
Is this your story as well my friend? Can you recall numerous verses that tell of God's great power and faithful care of His children? And yet, in the face of stormy situations do you find that you are still often afraid? Is it true that no matter how much you know, you just can't settle down and be at peace? Well, maybe you need a little more faith in the One who "makes the clouds his chariot"... and "rides the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3). You need to give your fear to the One who says "Peace! Be still" and find your own "great calm".

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hopeful planters

"But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” -- Mark 4:20
Every spring we plant new grass seed. The results are always the same. Some of the seed is eaten up by birds, some just sit on the soil and dry up and some grow for a while and brown out. But, we still plant every spring because we know that some will take root and become green and beautiful. We are hopeful planters.
The gospel is carried throughout the world every day by believers. As usual, many will reject the message as nothing more than foolishness. Yet, there will be a select few that will receive the truth with great joy. Their lives will be changed and in the years ahead they will produce a wonderful spiritual harvest. This happens only because there are hopeful planters. 
What kind of planter are you? Do you carry the gospel to your family, friends, and neighbors? Are you always ready with the truth of the Word to be planted in the fresh soil of human souls? Or have you become discouraged because so many reject or fall away? Keep planting my friend, and believe that some will accept and bear fruit. Be a hopeful planter!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


"For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." - Mark 3:35
What really is "family"? We are told by some that it's all about our blood line and ancestors. As a result there can often be a dramatic and tenacious loyalty to the "family" over all other relationships. Some people will refuse to embrace Christ as Savior because they are afraid of offending the "family". The will of God becomes secondary to the will of the family.
Our Lord was raised in a godly family. As a young boy we are told in Luke 2:51 that "he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart." But in time submission to God the Father became priority. This was so significant that He spoke of being a member of a new "family".  His brothers and sisters were not just those who adhered to family loyalty, but were those who did the will of God.
You too have a "family" my friend. And your family is one that can be traced through a very significant "blood-line". Your eternal brothers and sisters are those that are washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus. While your earthly "family" is of great value, remember that the most important family members are those who do the will of God.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Open hearts

"He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored." - Mark 3:5 
“The millennium is at hand. Man has invented everything that can be invented. He has done all he can do.” These words were spoken by a bishop at a church gathering in 1870. Someone commented, “I think man will learn to fly.” The bishop replied that this was blasphemy. “Don’t you know that flight is reserved for angels?” The bishop was Rev. Milton Wright, father of Orville and Wilbur. Only open hearts can fly.
Jesus found the very same attitude among the religious elite of his day. God had broken into their lives and they were closed to the possibilities. They had reached the point where they worshiped their traditions more than God. If the miraculous couldn't fit into the traditional setting, it was rejected. The stubborn heart distressed Jesus because he knew that only open hearts could fly.
Are you ready for God to do the miraculous in your life my friend? Will you allow him to break into your life in ways that may challenge your traditions? When you pray for the Lord's intervention are you prepared for the change he might bring? Remember, only open hearts can fly.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bringing them to Jesus

"Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” - Mark 2:3-5 
One afternoon, during my college years, I broke my ankle while trail riding on my motorcycle. I was quite a distance from the road and a hospital. My friend, who was riding with me, took me out of the brush on his motorcycle and to another friend's house. From there they took me to the hospital, transported in the back of an old Volkswagen Bug. The rides were creative and bumpy, but they got me to the physician.
Bringing people to the Lord can be just as difficult. The paralytic in this passage was blessed with four friends who were determined to bring him to Jesus. They were willing to do anything necessary to make this happen. With a little creativity and hard work, four men succeeded in bringing their friend to the Great Physician.
Every day the Lord uses creativity and hard work to bring people to himself. Are you ready and willing to be one of those who will bring others to him? Do you know someone who needs the Lord today? Will you make the effort to carry your friend or neighbor out of the brush and down the road to the Great Physician?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's your plan?

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Hero

"The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him." - Mark 1:12-13
Someone once said that heroes are made, not born. Well, after his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and three other non-commissioned officers had become casualties, Corporeal Alvin C. York, a conscientious objector of World War I, assumed command.  Fearlessly leading seven men, he charged a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with four officers and one hundred twenty-eight men and several guns. York was promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor and nearly fifty more decorations for his heroism. By going where no one would want to go and doing what no one would want to do, York became a hero.
Jesus left heaven's glory, came to earth and was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness. The battle ground was not desirable nor the fight pleasurable. But our Lord went where He was told to go and became our eternal hero. He charged the bastion of Hell and confronted the great enemy with the Sword of the Word and won the day. As with any war there were many more battle that followed, but the victory was achieved by the One who went where no one would want to go and did what no one would want to do and became our hero.
This simple point comes to this my friend; has the Lord directed you into a situation that no one would want to go? Have you hesitated and questioned the wisdom of such leading? Is it possible that the Lord has set the stage for you to do what needs to be done so others might be blessed? Yes, the Spirit still drives His people into the wilderness, but with eternal purpose in mind. You too can win the day and be a hero... by going where no one would want to go and doing what no one would want to do, for the Glory of God and blessing of others.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Glorious Triumph

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." -- Matthew 28:19-20
In 1776, General George Washington led his small and bedraggled army in a daring raid on British and Hessian troops at Trenton, New Jersey, during the American Revolution. Just prior to launching boats from McKonkey's Ferry across the Delaware River, Washington had an excerpt from Thomas Paine's inspirational pamphlet The Crisis--published two days earlier--read aloud to the army. The pamphlet began: “These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
The beginning and developing years of the early church were going to be a great challenge and would certainly try the souls of believers. Before the day of march, Jesus gave a great commission and words of encouragement. The work would change people and nations for God and the Lord himself would accompany His army. While the tyranny of sin was rampant and the conflict hard, through the power of Christ, the triumph would be glorious.
Do you often feel like the battle is too great and the resources are too little? Be strong in the Lord and stand firm in the face of evil. The Lord has called you to be far more than a summer soldier or sunshine patriot. He promised to stand by your side as you set people free from the tyranny of sin through the power of His gospel. No matter how hard the conflict, keep making disciples for Jesus and the triumph will be glorious.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Never Secure

"So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard." - Matthew 27:66
During his lifetime Harry Houdini became a legendary escape artist. He broke free from jails, handcuffs, chains, ropes and straitjackets. Having been thrown overboard in a nailed and roped crate, as well as submerged in a sealed casket, his escapes from both were successful. Then, after years of breaking free from impossible situations he finally failed one last escape attempt. Harry Houdini died on October 31,1926 and his tomb has been secure ever since.
Throughout his career, many challengers attempted to defeat Houdini. After a while these attempts became somewhat humorous. Yet, there were none so laughable as the attempt made by the Pharisees who sealed the tomb of Jesus. When men tried to deny, bury, and hold down the Living Savior, they quickly found that the tomb was never secure.
Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead and the tomb is empty. You can make every attempt to bury Him in the past or in religious confusion, but you'll never be able to hold Him down. So be ready my friend, because Jesus lives and is coming soon, since His tomb was never secure.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Stay the Course!

"They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said." - Matthew 27:28-29
Due to his preaching against the persecution of the Nazi Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested by the Gestapo and on July 23, 1943 was indicted on the charge of subversion. He spent 18 months in prison, till October 8, 1944. He was transferred to the Gestapo prisons at Berlin and Buchenwald, then taken to the concentration camp at Flossenburg, where he was hanged on the morning of April 9, 1945. The prison doctor wrote that after the sentence had been read out, Pastor Bonhoeffer knelt on the floor and prayed fervently to his God. "I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed. So devout and so certain that God heard his prayer". Why would the Lord allow the persecution and death of such a godly man?
In the midst of such opposition and rejection from unbelievers we might step back and consider the events recorded in today's reading. Our Lord was humiliated and mocked, even before he suffered the agony of scourging and crucifixion. Concerning this experience our Lord said in John 15:20, "Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." 
Never believe that God's children are meant to live a well received and respected life in this world my friend. No matter how much we try, at the end of the day those who follow Jesus will also be mocked and humiliated. While God allows such persecution, He also provides the strength and grace to say "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Be true to your Master my friend, and stay the course!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Who is Responsible?

"When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”" -- Matthew 27:24-25 
Kitty Genovese was attacked by a maniac as she returned home from work at 3:00 a.m. on March 13, 1964. Thirty-eight of her neighbors in Kew Gardens came to their windows when she cried out for help; no one responded to her pleas even though her stalker took over half an hour to murder her. Not one person thought to call the police. She died. Andrew Mormille was stabbed in the stomach by two young men as he rode the A train home to Manhattan in 1965. Eleven other passengers watched the seventeen-year-old boy as he bled to death; no one came to his aid even though his attackers had left the car. He died. When is someone expected to be responsible?
Social responsibility may be open to discussion, but spiritual responsibility is another matter entirely. When each person stands before God after they breathe their last, one question will be asked. "What have you done, in response to my Son?" Pilate wanted to be innocent of the blood of Jesus, but was that possible? Since "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23) and only "the blood of Jesus... purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) " shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3) Eventually, every individual person will be held responsible.
Have you found ways to "pass the buck"? Is the concept of personal responsibility archaic and  irrelevant to you? Are you aware that you have already made a decision about Jesus Christ, and you are responsible? John said it in 1 John 5:12, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." What have you done, in response to the Son? The truth is; no one is innocent and everyone is responsible.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fear or Faith

"After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly."  - Matthew 26:73-75
The stories of prisoners of war can be most distressful. The mistreatment and humiliation can be overwhelming for the strongest soldier. As time passes some are unable to hold on and they eventually betray their allegiance to home and country. Fear can be an overpowering influence.
Peter was filled with fear. The events of the previous hours included a determined promise that now concluded in devastating failure. The will to prevail gave way to a humiliating betrayal. Peter crumbled under the pressure of opposition and the threat of death. "I don't know the man!"... Fear can be an overpowering influence.
In the battle for spiritual victory, you will face overwhelming opposition. There will be moments when the pressure will be unbearable. Fear will fill your heart and tempt you to deny the Lord in one way another. But remember the words of an older and wiser Peter in 1 Peter 5:9, 11 "standing firm in the faith" the Lord will "make you strong, firm and steadfast." Faith can be an overpowering influence.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The right fit

"Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”  - Matthew 26:53-54
Occasionally I purchase a chair or small appliance that requires assembly. The process moves along quite well until I come to that one piece just won't fit. Now I have two choices; I can return to the store and exchange the piece for one that actually fits, or I can force the original one into place. Whenever I choose to force the process, things just don't work. The right fit is the best fit.
The time came for the atoning work of Jesus. It would involve tremendous sacrifice and distress for our Savior, but this was the only way for redemption to be achieved. Furthermore, the crown awaited our Lord, but only through the cross. Jesus could have called twelve legions of angels and forced the process, but the right fit is the best fit.
There are times that the Lord calls you to make serious sacrifices my friend. You might be tempted to force the issue to another path that would seem better and easier. The price to achieve the goal may seem too great, uncomfortable and undesirable. But as you reflect on the choice our Savior made when he went to Calvary, consider that the right choice is always fulfilling the Lord's will. Remember, the right fit is always the best fit.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Never a waste!

"And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me." -- Matthew 26:8-10 
With the intention to evangelize the previously unreached Huaorani, five young missionaries began making regular flights over Huaorani settlements in September 1955, dropping gifts. After several months of exchanging gifts, on January 3, 1956, they established a camp at "Palm Beach", a sandbar along the Curaray River, a few kilometres from Huaorani settlements. Their efforts came to an end on January 8, 1956, when all five — Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming and Roger Youderian — were attacked and speared by a group of Huaorani warriors. Some people at the time may have said, "Why this waste?"
This dear woman, Mary of Bethany as mentioned in John 12:3, poured out a personal sacrifice to honor the Lord. No matter what the sacrifice, great or small, Jesus sees it as a beautiful thing. It is never a waste when we give our all to worship and serve the Lord. He sees the value in a far different manner than others. The moments to serve pass quickly and the wise servant will redeem the moments for the Glory of God. Our sacrifices for Jesus are never a waste.
When you evaluate your efforts made for the kingdom of God and wonder if it was worth it, remember that his ways are higher than your ways and his thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9) and "He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) In retrospect, a number of those Huaorani tribesmen responsible for the above martyrdom became strong followers of Christ and powerful preachers of the Gospel. In addition, over the years, many young people were inspired to give their lives for Missionary work. No sacrifice for Jesus is a waste!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Toys or ...

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." -- Matthew 25:34
I recently read about a man who built a replica of the Ohio State University football stadium with LEGO toy blocks. The end product is valued at $75,000. Well, no matter how long it took him, or how much the stadium is worth, it doesn't compare the real thing. At the end of the day, toys are just toys.
Jesus speaks of a kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. This kingdom is the real thing. Everything that we build in this world is temporal and quite small in contrast to the real thing. In fact the things of this life are very much like LEGO toy blocks. At the end of the day they are little more than toys.
The kingdom has been prepared for those who know the King and live for him. Rather than spending time building the temporal with toys, why not touch the lives of others in the name of Jesus? This is real preparation for the real kingdom prepared for the flock of God.

Monday, February 10, 2014


"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’" - Matthew 25:21 
Prior to entering the ministry I was employed by a number of companies. In three such jobs I was given promotions and an increase in salary. Why? I showed up on time, stayed later than others and worked hard. As a result I was honored with greater responsibility. It pays to be faithful.
While the truth of grace is widely proclaimed throughout the Scriptures, the principle of faithfulness is also clearly taught and expected. Notice the following verses in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." God gives the victory, but it still pays to be faithful.
In light of God's grace, how then shall we live? He has blessed us with spiritual victory and gifts in Christ. Simply put, we have been saved to serve. In all things God is more gracious than any earthly employer. He will honor those who show up on time, stay later than others and work hard. It pays to be faithful.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


"Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." -- Matthew 25:11-13
I stood in the foyer of a hotel some years ago and watched as a fellow traveler became quite animated when he was told that there was no reservation and no room for him. He was absolutely sure that he had a reservation, but the hotel had no record of such and they had no rooms available. No matter how sure he was, the record was clear... his name was not found.
"At midnight the cry came out: 'Here's the bridegroom'" The midnight cry is coming and we have no way of knowing when. The door will be open for all those who have reservations. But when it shuts, those left outside will be without hope. No matter how sincerely we believe that we have reservations, if we don't have the oil of salvation in the lamp of our souls, all we will hear are the words, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you". If we don't know the bridegroom (Jesus) in this life, our name won't be found in the reservation book.
For some, the midnight cry is expected with great anticipation. What about you? Have you trusted Jesus Christ as the only means for your salvation? If you have done so, you have been filled and sealed with the Holy Spirit and your lamp is ready for the wedding banquet.  Don't wait until the last moment to come knocking at the shut door. Make sure that your name is found in the reservation book.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Are you ready?

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." -- Matthew 24:42-44
We live in a metropolitan area that has certain criminal activity. From the time we moved into our neighborhood I took definite defensive steps to be prepared in the event of a robbery. Sixteen years have passed, virtually crime free, but I am no less expectant today than I was at the beginning. I don't live in fear, I just remain ready.
The Lord chose this very picture to illustrate his imminent return. He will return for his church and after seven years of tribulation, he will return to bring judgment on unbelievers and reign on his throne, as detailed in this chapter and the next. Whether the wait is for the catching up of his church or his return to reign, careless living would be most unwise. It's best to be expectant and remain ready.
As believers, we await the Lord's coming in the clouds; the rapture of the church (Acts 1:11/1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). For us, the judgment seat of Christ is coming (2 Corinthian 5:10). This day will show the quality of our work for Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13). Are you ready for such a moment?  If you don't know Christ as your Savior, this chapter speaks a sure warning to you. The day will come when one will be left to live and serve in the kingdom, and another will be taken into eternal judgment where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth". Are you ready for that day?

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Knight

"Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." - Matthew 24:30-31
The book or movie grips your interest and gradually leads you to the very edge of your seat. "What will happen next?" you might think. Will evil finally win the day? Is there any hope for good to gain the victory? Well, in the classic morality theme good always wins. But is this just a fictional story line that doesn't happen in real life? Is there really a knight in shining armor on the way?
Well, the Knight himself has spoken. He exists and is most definitely on His way! He doesn't leave the reader with a Disney World fantasy about the future though. The days that ahead will be dark and full of trouble. Trials and hardships are upon us even as I write. But for the children of the King, the Son of Man is coming in the clouds! Yes Virginia, there is a Knight in Shining armor!
Don't give up my fellow believer. In His time, the Lord will sound a trumpet and gather his elect from the four winds. As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

God's plan

"Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."" -- Matthew 24:1-2
Since 1650 there has been a vital gospel ministry in London called the Tabernacle Fellowship. Through the years such men as Benjamin Keach, John Gill and C.H. Spurgeon served as pastors. The Tabernacle of Spurgeon's day was burned down in 1898, and then rebuilt only to be burned down a second time during World War Two. The ministry continues to this day as a viable ministry of God. Buildings come and go, but the work of God continues just as He the hearts and lives of His people.
As the disciples marveled at the great buildings of the Temple, Jesus pointed out their eventual destruction. In fact, in 70 A.D. the Roman Military Commander Titus Flavius Vespasianus led a 143 day siege with 30,000 troops and destroyed the Temple buildings and burned Jerusalem to the ground. While Jesus spoke of this horrific destruction, he continued to foretell of many more prophetic events, including his second coming. Buildings will come and go, but the work of God continues just as He the hearts and lives of His people.
As we take this passage under consideration my friend, stop for a moment and consider the building in which you worship. Are you caught with its splendor or historic characteristic? Do you think that the gospel ministry taking place in this building depends on the edifice? Remember, buildings come and go, but the work of God continues just as He the hearts and lives of His people.

My dear brother or sister... do you ever feel as if the hands of God are just too busy with planning and building the kingdom? Have you ever wondered where you fit into such an immense program? Does your God have time to be interested in your private troubles and pain? Oh, if you only knew the depth of our Lord's compassion and love for you! 
May I remind you that the Lord has "engraved you on the palms of his hands" (Isaiah 49:16)?  Or, do you know that "The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms"? (Deuteronomy 33:27) Be encouraged then, because He said... "even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, I will bear; I will carry and will save." (Isaiah 46:4)
See, there is no building on earth or kingdom work that can take the place of you in the heart of God. He is determined to carry you to the very end of this life and into eternal glory. I know this to be true because, "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6) Be blessed my friend.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

True Beauty

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." -- Matthew 23:25-26
The inside of my kitchen coffee pot can get pretty caked with old coffee residue. Yes, that is quite disgusting, but the pot looks quite impressive when it's all shined up outside. Now, if the pot remains in this sad condition it may look good but the coffee doesn't taste too good. You see, the outside will never change the flavor of the coffee, but when the inside is clean the coffee tastes great and the pot is truly beautiful.
The principle is quite the same when it comes to the souls of men. Jesus made it very clear as he spoke to the scribes and Pharisees referring to them as hypocrites. No matter how well dressed they were or well behaved, when the soul is vile and decayed with sin the whole life is distasteful. The only way to change everything for the better is to acquire a clean heart and then one's life will taste great and will be truly beautiful.
Hypocrisy is acting like you're something that you're not. Are you the real deal my friend? Is your life full of good flavor coming from a clean heart? Don't think that a new suit or dress and a few pleasant words are all you need. True beauty always begins within.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Whats Love Got to Do With It?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. "-- Matthew 22:36-39
In 1984 the song "Whats Love Got to Do with It?" was released on Tina Turner's fifth solo album. The song ranked # 309 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". It also ranked # 38 on "Songs of the Century". In 2012 this song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. While the song has been more than popular, the title is ever haunting. What does love got to do with it?
As Jesus responded to a Pharisee's inquiry with the above statement, he highlighted the importance of love. While the world may try to define and design ways to please and know God better, it all begins with love. Healthy relationships begin and grow in hearts that are transformed by faith in Christ and filled with an all encompassing love for Him. The fact is; love has everything to do with it.
How much do you love the Lord today my friend? Does he have your undying devotion that draws your heart, soul and mind into total commitment? Is the Lord the reason for your living? When love for the Lord is the driving force in your life, you can't help loving your neighbor as yourself. And that's what love has to do with it.'

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Map for Life

"Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." -- Matthew 22:29
Have you ever been lost in a city? You stop and ask someone for directions and they give you a rather nebulous response. A few blocks later you have to stop again. This time you have an interchange with two or three bystanders and the discussion becomes even more confusing. Oh, for a map! (Quite often more dependable than any GPS)
The Scriptures are God's map for life. We can sit around and discuss many ideas about spiritual matters, but if we don't study the map, we will get lost. A good map not only shows the right roads to take, but also has the power to provide us the distance and time our trip will take. God's Word gives clear direction and his power brings possibilities into reality. 
Be careful when theological discussions move toward perplexity. The study of the Scriptures will always give insight and the power of God will always give confidence for the future. Don't stay lost in a labyrinth of spiritual confusion. Study the Scriptures and find the direction and power you need for the journey.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Truly Devoted

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." -- Matthew 21:28-31
I had a friend some years ago that would argue to great lengths to explain why he wouldn't or couldn't do some task requested of him. It was a curiosity though, that on just about every occasion he came around and quietly did the work. On the other hand, there have been a vast number of committee members in every circle of my life that have failed to fulfill their assigned tasks after accepting them. Which of the two were truly devoted?
Living for the Kingdom of God is far more than saying the right thing. Jesus pointed out that one needs to walk the talk, not just talk the walk. The walk does not provide entrance into the kingdom; it only verifies that one has been truly changed from within by the Spirit of God. Saying you've been changed and showing you've been changed are two different things. Which of the two are truly devoted?
You may have grown up in a church and may know the right lingo. But, has your heart been changed by Jesus? And if your heart is new in Christ, does your faithful walk evidence this fact? Some church goers have passive "religious" ties and some have active "relational" ties. Which of the two are truly devoted?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Business or Prayer?

"He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers." -- Matthew 21:13
The family outing at local a restaurant was once a time of social interaction. You gathered to talk with one another and share the joys and sorrows of life over a meal. Today when you look around the dining room tables you often find fathers, mothers and sometimes younger family members doing business on their cell phones. The family communion of the past has been replaced with the preoccupation of fast paced business.
In the same way business goals led to a preoccupation in the Temple courts. What was originally intended to be a place of communion with the Lord had become a place of self focused gaining of profit. The money changing of those days has become the church business pursuits of today. While there are those who are satisfied that nothing is sold in the foyer of the church, we find more church business being transacted than prayerful communion.
Where are the prayer circles in church today? Do you attend your church with the intention to join your brothers and sisters in communion with the Lord? Does this quality time to seek the face of God hold a priority in your church life? Do you reserve the discussion of church business for other times and places? Remember, His house was and always is to be a place of prayer, not business.