Sunday, January 31, 2016

Slip Sliding Away!

"In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils." -- Isaiah 3:18-23
In 1986 Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were forced out of their palace in Manila and into exile. Upon leaving, Imelda left behind 15 mink coats, 508 gowns, 1000 handbags and 3000 pairs of shoes. The drive of greed is overwhelming. Yet, in a very short time everything can change and all the treasures that we have sought after might disappear. When Solomon wrote about wealth in Proverbs 23:4-5, he noted that in a moment it's "... gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven."
As the words of Isaiah spoke of the Lord's displeasure with the pride of his people, this great finery is mentioned. In arrogance, the people of Israel became so preoccupied with the luxuries of life that they lost sight of the Lord. Such can become a disease in the heart of even the strongest believer. We are tempted by the wealth of the world and the message of the prosperity gospel. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".
Be careful out there my friend. Israel slipped away from the Lord very slowly and so can we. When we start living for ourselves we seek the pleasures of life with fervor. We become the center of our universe and the Lord is pushed out. Before long our hearts are rooted in the things of this world, and those treasures will one day sprout wings and fly away.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Lord Alone

"The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day ... And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day." -- Isaiah 2:11, 17
Every week we read of dictators and powerful world leaders who rule their countries with an iron fist and threaten other world powers. Recently, North Korea carried out the promise made by Kim Jong Un, by testing a hydrogen bomb, intimidating the rest of the world. Other leaders, proud and defiant in their power, are threatening surrounding countries with similar nuclear holocaust. Will the devastating pride of men ever be brought down?
The day is coming when all the powers of the earth will be brought under the sovereignty of the Lord Almighty. Great men who have brought sorrow and heartache to the world will finally be humbled. In the very midst of rebellious turmoil, the Lord speaks words of hope through Isaiah. The day of the Lord is coming to bring order out of chaos.
As you begin reading this marvelous prophecy my friend, be encouraged. Yes, the pages will speak of coming judgment and the chastening hand of the Lord. But, they also bring promise of coming peace that will only be possible when the arrogant pride of man falls before the sovereign rule of the Lord. Such hope and peace can become personal when you bow before the Lord's rule in your heart. He greatly desires to bless your life by bringing order out of chaos.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Do Not Fear

"But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay ...  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” -- Matthew 28:5-6, 10
I have a fear of heights. I remember having a job that required my climbing to the top of a natural gas tower in times of emergency. Thankfully no such occasions ever came, because I found that half way up the stairs I froze and was unable to move forward and was almost unable to back down the stairs. I am living proof that fear is a power that can seriously cripple someone.
In light of the power that fear had over the women, the angel and Jesus quickly spoke to the issue. "Do not fear" was the message and the resurrection of our Lord was all that anyone needed to trade fear for courage. It's just not enough for someone to say "Do not fear", but when all the evidence around you gives hope and security you can be brave. This is what the risen Savior offers to everyone who comes to him... courage.
I have found that I can be confident at any height when I am standing on firm footing surrounded by a protective wall. Fear disappears when we have something or someone in which to trust. Jesus is that someone my friend, because he is the risen Savior. Step out of the dark and hear his words to you today... "Do not fear".

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Make the Right Call

"Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself."" -- Matthew 27:3-4
A few years ago, Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce made an errant call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga the victory of a "perfect" game. While MLB Commissioner Bud Selig clearly acknowledged the call to be in error, he refused to overturn the call. With great emotion, Jim Joyce apologized to Galarraga at the beginning of the next game, but while the apology was kindly accepted, nothing could change the call that cost a "perfect" game.
In a far more significant set of circumstances, another call was made that couldn't be reversed. Judas was disturbed at the outcome of his betrayal and changed his mind, but it was too late. He had walked with Jesus for three years and never fully trusted the Lord as his Savior. When he realized his error, he acknowledged having "... sinned by betraying innocent blood". No amount of remorse could change the call that led to Calvary for Jesus and eternal condemnation for Judas.
Making a wrong call can be quite life changing. The most significant call in life is how you respond to the Lord Jesus Christ. This call can never be reversed in eternity. You may apologize all that you want, but nothing will change the lost condition of your soul. Be wise my friend and make the right call about Jesus... your "perfect" eternity depends on it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Best 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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

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 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!

Monday, January 25, 2016


"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.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Midnight Cry

"Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." -- Matthew 25:11-13
On occasion I would visit a local post office with everything in order, only to arrive five minutes too late. I could see the clerk working at his counter through the window and he would even see me, but he was closed for the day. I would always be quite frustrated as I walked back to my car, knowing that I couldn't do anything to change the situation. It didn't matter how well I had prepared my package, I started too late and the door was shut.
Jesus painted a picture of the "midnight cry" at his second coming quite well for his listeners. The day is coming without delay and the only time we can prepare is today, not then. It won't matter if we get things together after the door is shut, because it will be too late. We can call out all we want, but if the Lord doesn't know us today, he won't know us then and he won't open the door.
Have you trusted the Lord Jesus as your only means of salvation my friend? Are you prepared for his coming, having been born again (John 3:3) and filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)? Does the Lord know you today and are you walking in his strength and grace? He is coming again, but only for those who know him and are known by him. Are you prepared for that day and living in expectation of the "midnight cry"?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Work of God

"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 planned.
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 planned.
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 planned.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Begin Within

“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.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What the World Needs

“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 1965 Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote "What the world needs now is love, sweet love, It's the only thing that there's just too little of."  The song reached number 7 on the US charts in May of that year. Apparently this message hit a nerve that resonated for quite some time. But then again has there been any improvement over the last fifty years? Isn't there still a great need for love?
As Jesus responded to a Pharisee's inquiry with the above statement, he highlighted the greater love that was needed. While the world may join together in a call for loving one another, this love will never be what it needs to be without the greater love for God. Until the heart is converted and grows with an all encompassing love for God, loving others will always be more than difficult. Yes, what the world needs now is love, sweet love... for God.
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. Such a love for God and others is "not just for some but for everyone".

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Place of 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 coffee shop was once a place of social interaction. People gathered to talk with one another and share the joys and sorrows of life. Today when you stop by most coffee shops you will find tables with just one person bent over their laptop computer. The friendly communion of the past has been replaced with the self focused preoccupation of progress.
In the same way progress 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 changers of those days have become the church business pursuits of today. While there are those who are satisfied that nothing is sold in the foyer of the church, the fact that more church business is transacted than prayer is sad.
Where are the prayer warriors 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.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fair or Generous?

"Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last." - Matthew 20:15-16
Some years ago I entered a fast food restaurant with my family and thought that I was at the back of a line. When the next register was open I began to move up when I heard the loudest outcry that I ever experienced in a public place. "Hey, that's not FAIR!!" Apparently I had failed to notice this person lingering in the back and didn't realize that they were waiting to be served. I quickly stepped aside because I would never want to be "unfair".
What exactly is "fair" in this life? And on what basis do we believe that everything should be "fair"? The account that Jesus relates in this passage clearly reveals the freedom that God has to deal with his servants as he chooses. He is generous beyond belief and yet there are those who will always complain that the Good Lord is somehow "unfair". The Lord's call is to be faithful and his promise is to provide for our needs. While "the last will be first, and the first last" may seem "unfair", in everything the Lord is always generous.
Who knows our needs better than the Lord who created us and shows us his care? The Scripture says it best in Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Be careful when you accuse the Lord of not being "fair" my friend. He loves you and pours out his grace every day with divine generosity.

Monday, January 18, 2016


"Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." -- Matthew 19:21-22
When once asked, "How much money is enough money?" John D. Rockefeller replied, "Just a little bit more." As for this extremely wealthy man, he believed that his purpose in life was to make as much money as possible and then use it wisely to improve the lot of mankind. From his very first paycheck, he tithed ten percent of his earnings to his church. As his wealth grew, so did his giving, primarily to educational and public health causes, but also for basic sciences and the arts. All told, Rockefeller gave away about $550 million. While Rockefeller possessed great wealth, his wealth never possessed him.
Jesus set a rather high standard for the young man in our reading. His demand was quite personal due to a heart condition. The young man was righteous in his actions, but his worship was compromised. His roots were tied down to his great wealth and in many ways it had become his god. He lived for the possessions of this life so much that he lost sight of treasure in heaven through spiritual pursuits. Unlike Rockefeller, this was a man who was possessed by his wealth.
Your salvation is a free gift my friend. Jesus never asks us to purchase eternal life. Yet, our belief in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus demands a total trust in him alone. He desires our uncompromising faith and worship. Furthermore, our spiritual growth and ministry will only be a strong as our focus on eternal values. Life and all that comes with it is to be possessed and used for the Glory of God.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Our Brother's Keeper

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." -- Matthew 18:5-6
America was built on the independent spirit. Worldly success is based on personal effort at any cost. If someone is offended or led astray in the process, it doesn't matter if we achieve our goal. The way of the world is as old as the world. As Cain said to God, "... am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) The question remains; Are we our brother's keeper?"
Jesus taught a simple message for life. Be receptive and caring of others. Take special care in all that you do, not to cause someone to sin or stumble. This is the Biblical basis for "no man is an island". The Lord never meant for us to live so independently that we lose sight of one another. In answer to the above question; yes, we are our brother's keeper.
There are others that look up to you and follow your lead my friend. You may not realize this truth, but your conduct, in some way influences someone. As you take each step and make each decision, ask yourself how it will affect others. May we never lead our brothers or sisters astray, because it matters a great deal to our Lord. We have been given a trust to be our brother's keeper.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

One Voice

"He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."" -- Matthew 17:5
In many circumstances there is the need for only one voice. The orchestra needs one voice of the conductor. The football huddle needs one voice of the quarterback. The flight crew needs one voice of the captain. The surgical team needs one voice of the surgeon. Whether a symphony, game, flight or surgery, the voice to which we listen makes all the difference.
The disciples were overwhelmed with the presence and voices of three persons. Jesus, Moses and Elijah were impressive in their own right and Peter wanted the moment to last and the voices to linger. Yet, they were directed by the heavenly Father to listen to only one voice. "This is my beloved Son... listen to him". Whether it is our personal walk or ministry walk, the voice to which we listen makes all the difference.
There are many voices for us to listen to today. There are voices of the past and voices of present renown. The choices are unending and there seems to be a special voice for every situation. But, the writer of Hebrews tells us that " these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son." (Hebrews 1:2) Be wise my friend and remember... the voice to which we listen makes all the difference.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Signs of the Times

"He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." -- Matthew 16:2-3
It never ceases to amaze me how so many people are experts on the weather. They must be experts since they talk about the weather so much. Conversations begin with the current weather and continue on, focused on the forecast, as well as the weather patterns from last year at this time. They know the paths that the clouds make, but they don't know the Maker of the clouds.
The times have little changed since the days Jesus walked on the earth. There were those who were well versed in the movement of the heavens but they were completely unfamiliar with the Maker of the heavens. They could monitor the coming storm, but they were unable to recognize the coming Spiritual storm. As then, so now, people all around are blind to the "signs of the times".
While you may find it easy to start a conversation by discussing the weather, remember that the clouds of today will soon give way to the clouds of prophecy. We are watchmen my friend, and as the weathermen warn others that dangerous weather is approaching, so we need to warn our world that the judgment of God is riding the winds with certainty. Watch and point others to the "signs of the times" for their spiritual safety.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Attention Please!

"Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."" -- Matthew 15:32 (ESV)
How short our attention span is these days. If a movie is too long it gets bad reviews from the critics. If a classic book is too long it will come out in an abridged edition. If the Baccalaureate speaker is too long-winded he gets booed off the platform. We have become a people who just can't stay focused for very long. Attention takes effort.
Think about the scene before us in this passage. Great crowds came to the Lord for healing and they spent three days with him. His works and words were taken in like water by the  parched tongue. One must believe that these people had homes, families and responsibilities, but they found someone who was worth spending unlimited time. They lingered and listened, weary and hungry. Their attention took effort, but was rewarded.
How much time do you spend with the Lord my friend? Do you run in and out of his presence each day with so much on your mind that you can't really concentrate? Are you in a hurry to "wrap it up" on Sunday mornings during the worship service? When was the last time you spent three days with the Lord? Maybe you could start by spending a good quality hour with him. If you make the effort to give him your attention the reward will be great.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Alone with God

"Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself... And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone" -- Matthew 14:13, 23
In our western culture social interaction has become overwhelming. There never seems to be a quiet moment to be found. We go from meetings to celebrations to games to parties to community events with little time between. Most of us are constantly surrounded by people, from family members to church members. Many of us actually choose this lifestyle because we don't know how to deal with extended quiet moments. Is there any value in being alone?
Jesus had just heard about the death of his cousin John the Baptist. He was grieved over the death and sought a quiet place to be alone and pray. When pressed by the crowds he responded with gracious compassion. Yet, when this ministry was completed, the Lord slipped away by himself to pray. Jesus knew the value of quiet time with his Father.
I am sure that you have heard the phrase "take time to smell the roses". But we need to do far more than "smell the roses". Spiritual health needs quiet time to reflect and commune with the Lord. We need time to rest and seek His face with our joys and sorrows. As the Lord sought time to be alone, be encouraged my friend, and make time to be alone with God.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Be a winner

"And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief." -- Matthew 13:58
"Some years ago a Long Island resident purchased an extremely sensitive barometer from a respected company, Abercrombie and Fitch. When the instrument arrived at his home he was disappointed to discover that the indicating needle appeared to be stuck pointing to the sector marked “Hurricane.” After shaking the barometer vigorously several times and never getting the point to move, the new owner wrote a scathing letter to the store, and, on the following morning, on the way to his office in New York City, mailed it. That evening he returned to Long Island to find not only the barometer missing but his house as well! The needle of the instrument had been pointing correctly. The month was September; the year was 1938, the day of the terrible hurricane that almost leveled Long Island."* Unbelief can be such a loser.
The very Creator and Sustainer of the universe arrived in town prepared to do the amazing. Sadly, he did nothing due to the complete lack of faith. There were opportunities throughout the Scriptures for God to do great and mighty works, but he didn't. Again and again divine power or the miraculous was set aside due to unbelief. All the pieces were present with clear evidence that God was ready to do something special and then... nothing. Unbelief can be such a loser.
Has the Lord called you to a new challenge, preparing to meet every need, only to be pushed aside because of your unbelief? In the face of a New Year are you ready to take the Lord as his word and allow him to do great and mighty things in your life my friend? Be wise and step out in faith and believe in the Lord's ability and promises. Belief can be a real winner!!

* — Adapted from Bits and Pieces, quoted in Lloyd Cory, Quote Unquote

Monday, January 11, 2016

Newer may not be better

"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them,“An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." -- Matthew 12:38-40 
Has anyone ever built a better mousetrap? Well, there may have been different traps, but never better. Many people may ask for improvement and believe that the current version is past date. But no matter what others may think, old time mouse traps still work like a charm. Some things in life are sufficient enough with no need for any other alternative.
The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day were no different than the skeptics of our day. There are always people looking for some kind of new and different sign to prove the reality of God and his power. They fail to accept the one most profound sign of all time... the resurrection of Jesus. The Lord took our sins to the grave and rose from the dead three days later. No other alternative will ever be needed.
Do you often find yourself frustrated with unbelievers when you share your faith? Do they press you for proof that God exists? You need nothing new or better evidence than the resurrected Christ. Jesus was satisfied with this sign and has never provided any other alternative. Paul made it clear in Romans 10:9, "...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Sunday, January 10, 2016


“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” -- Matthew 12:18-21
We have the homeless stop into the church occasionally to get warm. These are often people who were once healthy and reasonably well ordered in a good job and home. Today they are drifting and may be emotionally or mentally confused. We accept these neighbors into our fold according to their need and limitations. There are always people who need to be gently cared for and loved in the name of the One who never breaks a bruised reed nor quenches a smoldering wick.
Out of the same heart that calls disciples to take their cross and follow Him is a gentleness that accepts the broken and downtrodden. The Lord Jesus was foreseen by the prophet Isaiah as recorded in Isaiah 42:1-4. The prophet saw a Messiah who would accept us in our need and limitations and deal with us graciously. This is the Savior who extends this call in Matthew 11:29"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." 
Our Lord encourages us to find rest in his gentleness and graciousness. In this we find hope to carry on in his strength, but how do we receive others who are struggling? Be careful my friend to gently care for and love the poor soul that is a bruised reed and smoldering wick. They need to see Jesus... and you may be the only Jesus they will ever see.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Do you love Him more?

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." -- Matthew 10:37-38
As a pastor I have experienced many family reactions to ministry commitments. There have been parents that refused to support their son's or daughter's steps toward mission work. There were those who failed to carry out ministry responsibilities to celebrate a relative's birthday. The question always came to mind... who did they love more; their family or the Lord?
As we read this high calling that Jesus places before us, remember the greater context of his teaching. While Jesus hung on the cross, providing for payment for our sins, he also took time to provide for his mother Mary. (John 19:26-27) As you keep this moment in mind, please be assured that the Lord expects us to care for our families. But, no matter how much we care for our loved ones, our love for the Lord must always come first and foremost.
In light of this word from the Lord, do you better understand the idea of taking your cross and following Jesus? Carrying your cross is making the hard and costly decisions in life to follow the Lord. Following Jesus is placing personal and family desires second to the Lord's calling. The question will always remain my friend... who do you love more?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Never above the Master

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household." -- Matthew 10:24-25 
Parents want the very best for their children. They hope for a better life than they had as well as an easier path to that end. Quite often the younger generation will surpass the expectations of their family and have a far more successful life. As a result some people have a common belief that the student is better than the teacher.
Jesus taught us that no matter how successful the disciple might be, the cost of discipleship will always be the same. As the Lord was persecuted for his teaching, every student or disciple will suffer for their faith. A lesson worth learning at a time that western Christians believe that all believers have an inalienable right to a persecution-free life.
Is your faith worth suffering for my friend? Or do you believe that experiencing persecution is something for another time or place? Whether physical or emotional, being ridiculed or abused for the faith began with Jesus and will continue until he returns. So "endure to the end" as a true disciple, because the servant will always be like the Master.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Workers are few!

"Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” -- Matthew 9:37-38
Until recently, available jobs seemed to be slipping away faster than ever. The number of workers surpassed the opportunities to work. There was a growing need for new jobs to fill the demands of unemployment. But, there was just not enough work to go around. This was a time when workers were plentiful while jobs were few.
Times change and days of plenty may often be followed by days of little. But, as Jesus spoke of a plentiful harvest of souls in his day, the harvest has only grown over the years. As the need for laborers was great in his time, the need is greater today than ever. No matter how few jobs there may be these days, the harvest is still plentiful and the workers are few.
Is your schedule packed with more work than you can handle? Or are you sitting there not sure what the day will bring? No matter what your circumstance, the harvest of souls continues to grow and the Lord seeks laborers. Will you take the time to join in the work of harvest? Don't ever think that you aren't needed, because to this very day, the workers are few.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Can you see clearly?

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." -- Matthew 7:3-5
A number of years ago there was a brother who helped me install a sound system in our church sanctuary. He had been a musician in a band years before and he was quite familiar with all the technical stuff. One afternoon when we were working on sound levels and balance I noticed that he wasn't getting it right. Do you wonder why he had trouble? His had lost most of his ability to hear in earlier years and he wore hearing aids. He knew the specifics but he couldn't hear the sounds. 
Along that same line, there are those who know the right and wrong in life, but they fail to practice it personally. They have been blinded by misconduct and yet try to help others see their way into righteous living. Jesus gave us a rather comical picture of a man who had a log in his eye, trying to help remove a speck from his brother's eye. It's like the blind leading the blind or the deaf fine tuning the sound system.
What does Jesus tell us to do when our sight is blocked my friend? Rather than attempting to remove the misconduct from a brother, take the time first and foremost to get your own life right. Clear your sight to see the Lord's leading and clean your ears out to hear the Lord's voice. Then, and only then can you be a true blessing to your brother.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Empty Phrases?

"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." -- Matthew 6:7-8
I'm sure that you have met some children who could talk your ear off and say very little. As they grow older, their conversations mature and what they have to say becomes quite valuable. As the years pass they take more time to think and choose their words carefully. They no longer "heap up empty phrases". 
Do we ever considered and evaluated our prayers in the same way? Jesus encourages us to pray thoughtfully, with mature content. God is not impressed with the multitude of words when they say very little from our heart. He wants to hear words that come from the depth of our being to the depth of his being. The Lord gives a pattern of prayer to protect us from heaping up "empty phrases".
When you take time to talk with your heavenly Father my friend, are your words well thought through? Do you remember that he already knows what you need? Does your prayerful conversation express worship, surrender, dependence and obedience? (verses 9-13) Is your heart seeking his heart in every word? Slow down and consider... are you heaping up "empty phrases"?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Love and Prayer

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. ... But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  " -- Matthew 5:21-22, 44 
We are surrounded with the age of anger and rage. Everywhere we turn we see people venting their anger on one another. The condition is so prevalent that "anger management" has become a regular prescription for the condition. While there is such a program to help diffuse anger, is there any way to reverse the attitude?
From two of the Lord's lessons we find a word of rebuke and a word of instruction. He allows no room for believers to nurture and express anger and he calls for an opposite response. The answer to reverse anger and rage is quite simple: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". 
As a believer, have you found complete victory over your anger and rage my friend? If not, why does this attitude visit you so frequently? It could be that you have left an open door for such feelings to enter. Why not take care and lock the door with the padlocks of love and prayer? 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Follow Him

"And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him." -- Matthew 4:19-20 
For a great many years apprenticeship has been a way to train a new generation in a particular skill. This training is done on the job while working with a specialist who helps the apprentice learn their trade. The young apprentice stays close to the master craftsman, day by day, in all that he does. As he follows, he learns.
As believers we are called to a new life and purpose. The Lord has entrusted to us the privilege of leading people to Him. Jesus calls this fishing for men. The best way to learn this skill is to stay close to the Master, day by day, in all that he does. As we follow him, we learn.
The phrase "more is caught than taught" is appropriate in this case. The closer we walk with the Lord and the more that we study his ministry, the more we become like him. As we study the ways of the Master fisherman the better we will be in fishing for men. His promise is sure my friend, "I will make you fishers of men". As we follow him, we learn.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

No Root... No Fruit

"Bear fruit in keeping with repentance." -- Matthew 3:8
You've seen the commercials many times. They ask various people to participate in a blind taste test. The goal is to find out which soda tastes better. The taste test verifies which soda has the most outstanding flavor. Without flavor there is no taste.
Spiritual reality is much the same. John was not asking for a life change before repentance. He was looking for the result, or "fruit" of real repentance within. He saw people coming who had practiced a very detailed religious life, but they had no depth and were quite shallow. These were those who had no root, therefore they had no fruit.
Take a moment my friend and consider your own religious condition. Are you well versed in Bible verses and your church's teaching? Do you have a nice looking presence that tells people that you are a Christian? But more significantly, is there "fruit" or "flavor" in your life that bears witness of real repentance before the Lord? Where there is no root, there is no fruit.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Giving to Get


"And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and
the morning star rises in your hearts" 2 Peter 1:19 (ESV) 

Welcome to a New Year, with another wonderful opportunity to search the Scriptures every day. May the Lord bless your efforts and give you wisdom and understanding in every reading. This year we will take an exciting journey through the Prophetic books of the Old Testament mixed with readings from the entire New Testament. May we "pay attention as to a lamp in a dark place", to find new light for every challenge. So, now we begin...

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." ~ Matthew 2:10-11 (ESV) 
Some people worship their cars, others worship their houses and still others worship health or wealth. In doing this they look for joy and fulfillment. The expectation is centered on the gain to be had from the thing worshiped. But, is worship getting or giving?
This wonderful account of the Magi traveling from afar to worship the King of the Jews is quite revealing. The fact that they came so very far with a single focus in mind tells us much about their heart. They came to bow in homage and worship a king. They came bearing treasures to show their honor and in doing so "they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy". For the wise men worship was giving, which resulted in getting.
What do you seek to accomplish when you enter the sanctuary every week my friend? Do you come to worship with a selfless heart of devotion to the Lord? Are you satisfied in giving of your time, talents and treasures, willing to receive nothing in return? Is your joy found in the simple expression of love to your King? Be wise this week and come to give worship and as a result you will get great joy.