Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Compel them...

"And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled." - Luke 14:23
Every week we are encouraged to participate in some extended auto warrenty program or new financial investment plan. There is no end to those who would sell us the Brooklyn Bridge if given the opportunity. On one hand, some of these dear people really believe in their hype and then others are just in it for the monetary gain. But, whatever the reason, they are determined to fill their quota.

The Lord portrays the Kingdom of God as a banquet. The invitations are systematically rejected with an ocean of excuses. Finally the direction is given to compel people from the highways and hedges to fill the house. This story has much truth to consider, but for the believer we are given a fresh call to invite others to accept our Savior's call. We believe the truth and it has given us great reason to compel others.

Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."  Be encouraged afresh my friend to "compel" and "implore" your world on behalf of Christ. It's well worth the effort!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

No Day Off...

"Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, 'There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.'" - Luke 13:14
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away and many light-years ago family Doctors were available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I know this to be true because I was raised in such a galaxy. When, as a young man, I suffered a head gash on a Sunday afternoon, the family Doc had me come directly to his office and he took care of my injury, right then and there. There was no day off for those in need.

The Lord often made it clear that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27) Yet, religious legal eagles restricted compassionate care for others to any other day than the Sabbath. Fundamentally, this group placed God in a box and refused to believe that He would work outside their man made limits. Little did they know that with God... there is no day off for those in need.

You may not be a strict Sabbatarian my friend, but do you ever place God in a man made box? Do you expect God to only work within your parameters and theological confines? Is it possible for the Lord to perform the miraculous as He chooses, when He chooses? Is it just possible that the Great Physician might be available twenty-four hours, seven days a week in the most unimaginable set of circumstances? Could it really be, that with God... there is no day off for those in need?

Monday, April 19, 2021

A Choice...

"Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three." - Luke 12:51-52
In the New York/New Jersey Metro area there are Yankee fans and Mets fans; Jets fans and Giants fans; Nets fans and Knicks fans; sports teams divide people. Life is full of division. There are shore people and mountain people, dog people and cat people, casual people and formal people. The bottom line is this: you have to make a choice.

Everyone thought that Jesus came to bring total world-wide peace. Their view of peace was, and is today a "let's get together" peace. The idea sounds great, but the Lord made it clear that no such utopia was going to happen in this age. He came to offer a new life with God which differed greatly from the way of the world. The message included repentance and consecration to Godly living. As a result, people have to make a choice.

Division is a sad truth my friend, but it is reality. While the good news that Jesus brought should bring an overwhelming peace and healing of the nations, it doesn't. Why, you may ask? Because not everyone wants a new life with God. They prefer to live for themselves and follow ungodly paths. Until the Lord returns, peace is a personal gift from God and with God. (Romans 5:1) But, you have to make a choice.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

All about that...

"And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." - Luke 12:22-23
Clothing and food has gone through many changes in my lifetime. Styles of dress have changed more times than I can count and specialty restaurants have flooded the market. While there are many people who are living hand to mouth in our country and around the world, there are also a vast number who worry about dressing in style and what menu to serve upcoming guests. Don't they realize that life is more than that?

Jesus addressed the multitudes with words of comfort and guidance. He assured them that there was no need to worry over the mundane issues of life. God will faithfully meet the needs of His people, just as He feeds the birds and clothes the lilies. With this truth clearly presented we can redirect all our energy and wealth into seeking God's kingdom. Life is all about that.

Whether you are struggling financially or so well off you can't decide which color to wear today, this message is for you. There is a higher calling and priority for every child of God. When we simply trust in the Lord for the basics and focus on the bigger issues of eternal value, everything falls in place. Life is really all about that!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Coming to light...

"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." - Luke 12:2 
Not too long ago we had our carpets cleaned. A great deal floor space was open for the process to be done, but there were some places that needed to be uncovered. My office was one location that needed a chair mat to be removed before the cleaning began. I could have left the mat in place but the carpet would have remained unclean until someone else moved into that room. The dirt would eventually come to light.

Jesus warned his followers that a day of accounting would be coming. No matter how well our sins and trespasses may be hidden from others, it won't last forever. There are times when we believe that our lives are even hidden from the Lord Himself. We can sweep it all under the rug, but one day everything will be discovered. The dirt will eventually come to light.

Is your faith only a surface experience my friend? Do you believe that the Lord only sees what you choose to reveal? Do you think if you ignore unconfessed sin long enough it will simply disappear? Have you swept more under the rug than you are willing to admit? Well, be aware that a day of accounting is coming. Whatever you haven't dealt with now, will most certainly come to light then!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Do Both!!

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." - Luke 11:42
Life is full of choices. You can have vanilla or chocolate ice cream. You can use hot sauce or sweet sauce. You can have strawberry or blueberry pie. You can have a hot or cold drink with your meal. But we are often told that "you can't have your cake and eat it too!" In other words, you can do one or the other, but certainly not both.

There are some people who believe this must be the same in spiritual matters. They settle themselves by doing well in one Biblical area, but not any other. As Jesus rebukes these Pharisees, He addresses the issue of doing it all. He teaches us that we can and must do one and the other by doing both.

In a phrase, are you a "holistic" believer my friend? Do you follow the tangible steps of tithing and various contributions, and at the same time find ways to show righteous support and loving care for those in need? We ought to do the first without neglecting the  latter. We don't have to choose one or the other, we can and should always do both.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Obvious...

"As the crowds increased, Jesus said, 'This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.'" - Luke 11:29 
There are currently some 500 members of the "Flat Earth Society". These people believe that the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole and is bounded along it's southern edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth. This only goes to prove that there will always be people who refuse to believe the obvious.

When our Lord spoke to the multitudes they were filled with unbelief and sought more miraculous signs. He knew that no matter how many signs would be given, unbelief would prevail. In God's divine design, only one distinct sign would be given... the resurrection. And yet, in a later account that Jesus speaks of in Luke 16:31 we read, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead". There will always be people who refuse to believe the obvious.

Two weeks ago we celebrated Resurrection Sunday.  The world simply recognizes the day as a holiday known as Easter. They give it no real credibility other than a time to give children Easter baskets with candy and goodies. Meanwhile, many people are still looking for that special miracle from God. But, the tomb is empty, He is Risen! What more does God need to do for anyone to believe? Why will you not believe the obvious? 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Never Give Up...

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." - Luke 11:9-10
Practically every political discussion will include expressed distaste for those people known as lobbyists. These are those people who legitimately, but obnoxiously seek to persuade members of congress to enact legislation that will benefit their group. They will press their issue, maneuver and manipulate until they succeed. They never give up.

In a way, the Lord invites us to be lobbyists as well. When we pray, we come to the our Heavenly Father, the very King of the Universe and seek His blessing and provision. He loves us dearly and desires the very best for us, but the prayer experience is a faith stretching event. We are instructed to press the issue again, and again; asking, seeking and knocking. We must never give up.

As you "lobby", or to be more biblical, "pray", take this ministry seriously my friend. While those who lobby in Washington D.C. may be a pain to congressmen, the children of God are never a imposition to Him. Our Father in heaven is always open to bless and provide good gifts for His family. Just remember, never give up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

"What's your 10-20?"

"However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” - Luke 10:20
A good many years ago my wife and I owned CB radios. They were popular for just about everybody on the road before there were cell phones. These archaic forms of communication served us in many ways. We would chat with each other when our schedules took us in different directions and we would share traffic information that would make our traveling easier. But, the most important information was our location.  This was given in answer to the CB slang "what's your 10-20?"

When the seventy-two evangelists returned from a successful outreach campaign they were overjoyed with the results. Miracles and spiritual victories were abundantly reported. The power of God thrilled their hearts and they couldn't say enough about His great provision. But the Lord redirected them to the most important of all works of God. He called them to rejoice in their names being written in heaven. The overshadowing question for every person should be this; when you leave this earth, what will be your 10-20?

You might have already noticed that our Scripture of reference today is a 10:20 passage. I would have you take this to heart my friend. There will never be any spiritual accomplishment or personal gain on this earth that will compare to whether your name is written in heaven or not. At the end of life's journey, the only important question that will remain is ... "What's your 10-20?"

Monday, April 12, 2021

Never Look Back...

"Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" - Luke 9:62
On February 19, 1916 Joseph T. Higgins of Holy Cross College gave away a victory to Dave Caldwell of Boston A.A. in the 1,000 yard invitation race. The loss was a true curiosity since Higgins was one of the country's top middle distance stars and the captain of the 1916 undefeated Holy Cross College track team. Why did he lose this race you may ask? Simple, he looked back...

When Jesus calls us to follow Him he means business. As the United States Marines put it, He's looking for "a few good men". Discipleship was never meant to be an easy path, but with full concentration on the Lord and His goals much can be accomplished for His glory. To achieve such a "win" in life every disciple must keep focused and never be distracted by looking back... 

Stay the course my friend. Plow the field for the glory of God and be faithful in all your labors. Run the race with your eyes always "looking to Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2) and set aside all that would get in your way. "Press on toward the goal" (Philippians 3:14)  and never be found looking back...

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The "Cutting Edge"...

"And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone..." - Luke 9:35-36
I have had knee pain for ages. Arthroscopic surgery has helped to some degree, but I still take a Glucosamine supplement. Before I refill the bottle, I usually take time and read about newer competitive products. It's always interesting to see how many additional ingredients are included that supposedly make the product "cutting edge". We never seem to be satisfied with the basics in life.

Peter, James and John had traveled with Jesus for three years. They experienced the teachings, miracles and abundant provisions of the Son of God. One would think that Jesus alone would be quite enough for these guys. But Peter, like so many down through the years, thought three would better than one. Then there was a word from the Father ...  “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” The message? Be satisfied with the basics in life.

Jesus is far more than just "basic" my friend. He is our all, and in all, according to Paul in Colossians 3:11. Jesus is... Alpha and Omega, Author of Salvation, Ancient of Days, Almighty, Bread of Life, Bridegroom, Bright Morning Star, Creator of all things, Cornerstone, Captain of Salvation, Chosen of God, Chief Shepherd, Days-man  Defender, Door of the Sheep, Day-star  Emmanuel, Firstborn, Fountain of Life, Good, Gracious, Great Physician, Head of the Body, Heir of all things, High Priest, Holy, The"I Am", King of Kings, King of the Ages, Lamb of God, The Life, Lily of the Valley, Light of the World, Lord of the Harvest, Lord of Lords, Love of God, Man of Sorrows, Merciful, Mighty God, Messiah, Master, Name above every name, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Passover Lamb, Redeemer, Rose of Sharon, The Resurrection, Righteous, Refuge, Rock, Root of David, Savior, Shepherd, Son of God, Shield, Sun, Star, The Truth, True Vine, Wonderful Counselor, Wisdom of God, The Way and The Word of God, just to name a few names and attributes. So,we really don't need more than Jesus alone. Let's get back to the "Basic One" of life... for Jesus is, and always will be "The Cutting Edge"! 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

What's waiting for you?

"For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" - Luke 9:25 
Yesterday, Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh died at the age of 99. On the same day Rapper DMX, born Earl Simmons, died at the age of 50. Two well known personalities from two different countries and two very different circles of life. They both left a footprint in time and memory for many people. The lingering thought still remains; while one may leave a huge legacy, what will they have in eternity?

Jesus taught a great lesson in spiritual economics. Our lives are a stewardship with which to we can invest. We choose every day to invest in either earthly recognition or heavenly reward. There is a cost for both achievements, but the one of greater value calls for greater commitment. It all boils down to this; "whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it".

Do you ever wonder what will be written or said about you when you check out my friend? What's more, have you considered how quickly you will be forgotten by this world? If all you do is invest in the "here and now", it will all be lost in the "then and gone". Be wise and labor for that which will be waiting for you in eternity! (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Friday, April 9, 2021

Great Expectation...

"Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him." - Luke 8:40
In the words of one sports commentator, March Madness may be best described as the "Super Bowl" of college sports. According to WalletHub, the starting retail price for a ticket to one of the 2021 Final Four games costs around $1,500. In addition, game distracted employees cost businesses a loss of approximately $13.3 billion dollars per year. The fans follow the games with great expectation.

There was a day when large crowds gathered to hear the Lord speak and see Him do great works of healing. They knew the occasion would be rewarding and quite memorable for the rest of their lives. The results of each encounter were unknown but people knew that only good things could come from Jesus. The people always waited with great expectation.

What about today my friend? As you rise each morning, the Lord is ready to do amazing things in your life. Every week as we gather at church, He has tremendous plans for all who attend. But, will we welcome Him like the crowds at the Georgia Dome received their favorite basketball players last night? Do we wait for the Lord each morning and every week with great expectation?

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Never Forget...

"'Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.' And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him." - Luke 8:39
There seems to be a general perception that ingratitude prevails in our world. At least Genghis Khan thought so, as he stated on his death bed, "My descendants will wear gold, they will eat the choicest meats, they will ride the finest horses... and they will forget to whom they owe it all." The old adage puts it well... "How soon we forget".

Jesus performed a profound, life changing work in the life of this man. This demoniac had been bound by evil "for a long time", and now he was free. While his first thought was to follow the Lord, he was told to spread the news. True gratitude is a lifestyle, not just a moment in time. When we consider to Whom we owe it all... we too should tell our world "How much He has done!"

While we are called to follow the Lord my friend, our lifestyle should always be one of incredible gratitude. May the world constantly hear our words of thanksgiving for the great blessings that God has given. In this way, we become "living epistles" as we proclaim "How much He has done!"

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Let It Shine!

"No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light." - Luke 8:16
On this day, April 7, 1959 radar from Stanford, California bounced off the Sun for the first time. While radar can give us an average sun-to-earth distance, it isn't needed to verify the sun's existence. Every morning this mighty God-created star greets us, even on a cloudy day. The truth of the matter is this: the light of the sun regularly shines in the face of the world!

Every believer has received the Light of Jesus and has become a shining light as well. Our Lord never hid His light and He sends us out to let our light shine in the same way. No one should ever need radar to detect our spiritual light. Jesus never intended for our light to be hidden; He wants it to regularly shine in the face of the world.

Every day is a new opportunity for us to enjoy the light of God's radiant sunshine. At the same time every day is a new opportunity for our neighbors, family and friends to enjoy the light of God's radiant SON shining through us. Don't hide your light my friend, let it regularly shine in the face of the world.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Love them like Jesus...

"And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." - Luke 7:22-23
Every month, teams of Christ-like men and women leave their churches, heading for local city missions. They gather together and make this trip to share in music, testimony and Bible message. The men they reach are broken, beaten down and without hope. The mission is the last stop to nowhere. Yet, like our Savior, my dear brothers and sisters will reach out to these men with the love of Christ.

Such was the ministry and calling card of our Lord. He embraced the down-trodden, war-torn and social rejects. He brought them love, hope and good news from heaven. There were many who were disturbed over this fact, but there was great blessing to all those who were not offended by our Lord's compassionate care.

This is what Christ-like ministry is all about my friend. If you have been led to believe ministry is all about big crowds and palatial buildings, you have been misled. Stop and look around and you will see people who are hurting in every possible way. They need hope. They need love. They need compassionate care. They need Jesus and you may be the only "Jesus" they will ever meet. Love them like Jesus my friend, love them like Jesus.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Respect...

"So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed." - Luke 7:6-7
In November 2009 Michaele Salahi, an American television personality and her then-husband, Tareq Salahi, gained national attention by breaching security without a formal invitation to attend a White House state dinner in honor of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Their attorney said, "They just went to party". People today are so flippant toward position and authority that they have no qualms about "crashing" by a presidential dinner. Respect has been lost.

The man was a rough and powerful Roman Centurion. He was revered and obeyed at many levels. But, when it came to Jesus, he considered himself undeserving of the Lord's presence. How interesting that a man of worldly authority approached the Lord with humility and honor and yet, so many of God's people come before the Lord of All Creation "just to party". Respect has been lost.

When you walk into the morning worship service each week how will you approach? While you have every reason to celebrate and rejoice, will you do so with a humble and worshipful attitude? Others may attend "just to party", but you choose how you will come before the Lord. If you will remember that we are all "undeserving" of standing before the Lord of Glory... Respect will be rediscovered.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Looking through...

"How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye." - Luke 6:42
Occasionally I notice that my computer screen is distorted and marked with various specks. After putting up with the annoyance for a while I take time to clean the beast. I use the best cleaner and make certain that I leave no scratches or marks behind. Then I kick back to resume my work only finding the distortion and marks still present. In a fit of desperation, I remove my glasses, wipe my forehead and glance back at a crystal-clear screen. What? Where did the marks go? Hmm... the problem wasn't what I was looking at, but what I was looking through.

The Lord gives us such insightful counsel when He directs us to "take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly". Before we can ever assist others in their spiritual needs, wisdom tells us to clean up our own life. The amazing truth is that when we clean our glasses (or life) we see things much differently. Not only are we able to help others better, but we see them in a less critical light.  It's not always what we are looking at, but what we are looking through.

Consider what Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1 my friend, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." Yes, we should always be available to assist others in their spiritual walk. But let us be sure to be personally "spiritual" and watchful ourselves. Because, it not only matters what we are looking at, but what we are looking through.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

"Prayer-paration" ...

"In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God." - Luke 6:12
This summer a large number of baseball teams will play toward the ultimate goal of becoming the 2021 World Champions. In many ways, these teams have been getting ready since last fall. But more specifically there will be a major concentration all spring to be set for the season. Let's face it, decisive plans require demanding preparation.

Jesus was about to select twelve men as His apostles. These men would come from almost every walk of life and intentionally include a traitor. They would sit under His teaching for the next three years and carry the Gospel into the world after His ascension. This moment was far more important than any baseball game. This decisive plan required demanding preparation.

My friend, do you see prayer as the best way to get ready for decisions in life? If so, how much effort do you give to such a pursuit? Jesus saw the need to pray all night before this historic moment, so how about you? Remember, decisive plans require demanding "prayer-paration".

Friday, April 2, 2021

Avoid Not!

"And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” - Luke 5:30-32
I have performed a vast number of funerals for people who would not visit their doctor when sick. Somehow such people believed that if they went to the doctor, clinic or hospital something would be discovered that would kill them. So, by avoiding medical care their assumed health killed them.

Spiritual illness is even more dangerous if ignored. In many ways the sinful heart is like high blood pressure... it's a silent killer. As long as we believe we are righteous and deserving of heaven, we are in serious danger. When we  acknowledge our sin sickness by coming to the Great Physician in repentance, we will be saved. But, when we avoid spiritual care, our assumed righteousness will kill us.

Be honest with yourself and the Lord my friend. We are all sin-sick rebels, separated from a Holy God and bound for eternal condemnation in hell. (Romans 3:23) None of us are righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10) We need the saving, healing touch of the Great Physician to give us new life. Remember, avoiding His spiritual care by assuming you're righteousness will ultimately kill you!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Jesus Knows Better...

"When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break." - Luke 5:4-6
Some years ago I knew a young man in who couldn't seem to hold a job for long. Shortly after beginning a new job, he would tell his boss ways to improve his business. For some unknown reason, his employers didn't appreciate his ideas very much. We rarely take advice from those who are inexperienced in our field of expertise. We certainly know better...

The day Jesus told Peter how to fish was one of those moments for the experienced fisherman. How could Jesus know anything about fishing since he had been a carpenter and now a teacher? Peter agreed, out of respect, but with a slightly disagreeable attitude. To his surprise and wonder, the catch was overwhelming. Jesus certainly knew better!

How many times has the Lord prodded you to do something other than what you planned? How often have you resisted, believing that you knew better? Were there moments when you tried and failed too many times, and you were completely void of any faith? Make a note for yourself... Jesus always knows what will work and what he asks of you is always right. Jesus certainly knows better!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

What's Your Plan?

"And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them." - Luke 4:38-39
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?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Whole Truth...

"And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth... When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath." - Luke 4:22, 28
I grew up in the New York metropolitan area and have been a New York Yankee fan since the days of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. This is not very unique since there are more Yankee fans than anyone could number. There is one characteristic about New York fans that proves to be a tough nut to swallow; when the team wins they're loved and when they lose it's the wrath of Khan!

From the very beginning of His ministry the Lord experienced a similar contrast. When His words were gracious, the crowds loved it and when He spoke convicting truth they were filled with wrath. Such people are still with us today; those who are happy to feel good about themselves but never guilty before God.

When you speak to others about Christ my friend, never hesitate to give the bad news and good news. While many people only want to hear comforting words without the whole truth, their hearts will never experience conviction. And without conviction there will never be repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. The Lord always told the whole story and so should we.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Prepared by Fire...

 "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry." - Luke 4:1-2

While in college I worked at a foundry that manufactured fire hydrants. The plant had three huge furnaces that melted down metal to be recast. Tons of steel would come into the yard by train and eventually be dropped into the fire. The furnaces would roar with heat as the purged molten steel would be poured into carefully prepared molds. The end product can be found on street corners throughout the country, prepared by fire to deal with fire.

Jesus was led into the fire of trials intentionally by the Holy Spirit. The trials were part of a process, preparing the Son of God for Gethsemane and finally the Cross. The desert experience of Satan's temptations did not come as a sudden surprise. These moments were planned by God to achieve his purpose and ultimate glory. Jesus was prepared by fire to deal with fire.

From day to day you and I are led by the Holy Spirit into the fire of trials. We are led by Divine design to prepare us for greater and more demanding moments ahead. Don't run from them; face them with the Word of God and the power of Christ, and be... prepared by fire to deal with fire.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Where's the Fruit?

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”  - Luke 3:10-14

When I was growing up, our family planted numerous trees around the house. One of those trees was a Mimosa tree. The promise of its unique beauty kept us in expectation, but after three leafless seasons, we concluded it was dead and dug it up. We were then shocked to find life in the roots, yet no fruit of leaves on the branches. How could there be root, but no fruit?

The Christian life is very much like a tree. When we're planted and rooted in Jesus, there is fair expectation of fruit. As John prepared the way for our Lord, he preached, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (vs. 8)  When asked what he meant by fruit, John gave practical and individual instructions. If someone has come to Christ in repentance and faith, they become new creations, like newly planted trees in the God's garden. When there's spiritual root, there should be spiritual fruit.

As you continue through the year of 2021, what fruit will be seen in your life? If you are spiritually rooted, Jeremiah 17:8 says you will never fail to bear fruit. Yet, what will that fruit be? With each new day ask , “What should I do then?” I have root, what should be my fruit?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Obedience before Oversight...

"And 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. 
 " - Luke 2:51
"But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 
 " - Matthew 3:15
Every sports team has one head coach and many players. Quite often the best coaches are those who were once players themselves. They are good leaders because they were good followers. A true "servant-leader" understands the value of both qualities in the game of life. Obedience is the prerequisite to oversight.

Jesus is our Lord and Master, yet at one time He was an obedient son and cooperative baptism candidate. He set the example for all "servant-leaders" as mentioned in Hebrews 5:8, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered." Obedience is the prerequisite to oversight.

Do you have the qualities to lead others my friend? God may have called and gifted you, but the lessons learned through submission to others are character building. And just as significantly, our continued surrender to the Lordship of Christ is imperative. Obedience is always the prerequisite to oversight.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Scoop...

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." - Luke 2:16-18 
There never seems to be a lack of gossip sheets in the grocery store. The competition is centered on getting the dirt out as fast as possible, whether it's right or wrong. The practice is a timeless drive called "getting the scoop". This fervor is also supported by the idea that "people need to know". Well, the real scoop is ... people need to know the truth.

The shepherds were given the scoop about Messiah's birth. First they traveled to Bethlehem to see the Child with their own eyes and then spread the story. These "wise shepherds" got the details straight before they spread the news. As a result, "all who heard it were amazed" since the scoop was life changing truth.

Are you quick to spread the news about the latest event? Do you have a craving to be the first to share the story? Have you ever been as excited about telling others about the Lord? There is no greater scoop than to tell someone who has never heard about Jesus the wonderful story of salvation. People need to know the truth!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Fresh Hope...

"because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high" - Luke 1:78
We move into spring with a number of expectations, some of which may have spiritual focus. We may intend to attend church more regularly, become more involved in some outreach ministry or plan to participate in a small group Bible study. But, are these hopes not similar to those of last fall or the beginning of the new year? Our walk with God is filled with many good intentions but failed efforts. How does the Lord put up with our dropping the ball again and again? Because of His tender mercy, the sun rises every morning.

The Hope of Israel and ours is found in the fulfilled promise of Malachi 4:2, "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall." For those who know, love and fear the Lord there is a tender mercy to allow us new beginnings every day. As little orphan Annie put it, "the sun will come out tomorrow", and when the "sun" is Messiah Jesus there will always be "healing in His wings".

Be encouraged my friend to enter the spring with fresh hope. When the Lord holds you in His eternal grip, He does so with tender mercy. And you can face every day with the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:22-23, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Our Greatest Need...

"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior'" - Luke 1:46–47
History serves us well, as long as we keep personalities in perspective. Great men and women of the past may be portrayed as heroes and heroins. They may have performed significant feats that qualify them as such, but the fact remains that they were just as human and frail as the next person. As David reminds us in Psalm 103:14, "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust". No pedestal of fame can change this fact.

Biblical history serves us well too. We will find a pantheon of spiritual giants as we skim through the Scriptures. They include those who were strong leaders, bold heralds of truth and skilled builders of God's kingdom. Among these personalities is the woman that gave birth to Jesus. Her name was Mary and she was blessed with great privilege. But her own words testify of a basic truth: she needed a Savior, and God met the need. Even Mary believed what David wrote in Psalm 14:3, "...there is none who is good, not even one." No pedestal of fame can change this fact.

If we learn anything from history, we understand that all people are sinners, in need of a Savior. If Mary, the mother of Jesus, rejoiced in God her Savior, everyone has the same need. No one is so heroic, strong, bold or skilled that they are not equally dust, without true goodness and God in this world. (Ephesians 2:12). There is no pedestal of fame high enough to lift you above the need for a Savior.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

"Show Up"...

"And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'" - Luke 1:38
When I was young, every guy in the neighborhood played sandlot baseball. I wasn't very good at the game, but I played every weekend. The reason I got to play was because I showed up early and played anywhere they put me. Someone has said that success is 10% skill and 90% showing up. That may be an over-simplification but it does emphasize the real issue of effective ministry. Those are most used who "show up" where needed.

Mary was a true and successful servant of the Lord. She showed up when called and was willing to serve in any way the Lord asked. No matter how embarrassing or demanding, the simple response to God's direction was, "let it be to me according to your word." Most believers would find greater joy and fulfillment if they would just be willing to show up and play wherever the coach put them.

How about you my friend? Are you serving in the way the Lord has called you? Or have you complicated matters by inserting your plans over and above God's will? Why not take the simple path of happiness and success by starting every day with the prayer, "let it be to me according to your word."

Monday, March 22, 2021

Just wait...

"And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years ... But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John' ...' 'Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.'” - Luke 1:6,7, 13, 25
Does it pay to live righteously? Are the godly always blessed with good things? Are their prayers always answered quickly with abundant and joyful results? Is God's timing always the best? Such questions occasionally haunt even the most faithful believer.

As we look at the experience of Zechariah and Elizabeth today we see a very relieved couple. Their "reproach" and "prayer" has finally been addressed. But for years they had been faithful to the Lord with an empty nest. In their day being barren was seen as a really bad thing. Was God displeased with them or did He have a very different plan?

Blessed are those who wait on the Lord my friend. And as you wait, be faithful. Be assured that your prayers are heard and your heartache is felt by the very "God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3). May you find rest in the fact that He makes all things beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) ... "And you will have joy and gladness" (Luke 1:14).

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Great Truth...Great Change

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” - Mark 16:6-7 
Job said, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:5) The occasions that I have been told something and forgotten the information is legendary. As well, I am always amazed how often we announce events at our church that are never heard. As my Dad would often say, "some things go in one ear, and out the other." 

The day that Jesus rose from the dead was an amazing morning. To the disciples though, it was an unexpected event, but how could that be, since they were told time and again by our Lord? He had taught so much and the most important truth was his promised resurrection. While the followers of Jesus could have lived from Friday to Sunday with great expectations, they were saddened with overwhelming hopelessness. What Jesus had said about rising again, went in one ear, and out the other.n

Jesus is coming again. There is no doubt in my mind, because he said he would. If we have heard and read this, do we live in expectation? Or do we live with a hopeless Friday to Sunday outlook? Jesus will meet us in the air, just as we've been told. How then shall we live? May this great truth go in one ear... and change our lives.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A New Day...

"And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." - Mark 15:37-38
On November 17, 1558, Mary Tudor died. That moment brought the end of a bloody reign of persecution which caused the death of some 300 protestants. The passing of this volatile queen opened the door for a new queen and the English Protestant Church. The curtain was finally torn.

Such was the day of our Lord's crucifixion. As He breathed His last, the days of legalism and ritualism were ended. A new day of grace and mercy had arrived for all who would embrace the finished work of Jesus. All who were religiously weary and burdened would find spiritual rest for their souls. The curtain was finally torn.

Why labor for that which has already been purchased my friend? Why carry the load of religious trappings and stained glass rituals when the door to spiritual freedom has been opened? Take the hand of the One who breathed His last for you and walk into the light. The curtain has been torn and it's a new day.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Against the Current...

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified." - Mark 15:15
It was said that comedian Milton Berle had his mother sit in the front row when he performed. She would laugh loudly and heartily when a joke fell flat and usually the audience followed. In this scenario each person would respond to the actions of others in complete contradiction to their own feelings. The influence of the majority has often led to wrong decisions that were regretted later. It takes courage to swim against the current.

Pilate was a significant political leader in his time. He was entrusted with serious and demanding responsibilities. Yet, in his leadership role, he was torn between what he knew was right and what he knew was politically correct. He fought hard, but eventually caved into the cries of the crowd. Filled with fear and political pressure, attempting to avoid further conflict, Pilate lost his courage to swim against the current.

Are you willing to stand alone with Jesus? Or does the crowd play a large part in your choices and conduct? Who do you strive to please from day to day? Are you led by God or by man? The day that you accepted Jesus as your only means of salvation, you stood apart from the crowd. As a follower of Christ today, will you be courageous enough to live the right way and swim against the current?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Do We Care?

"Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept." - Mark 14:72
Emotions greatly differ. Some people rejoice at weddings and others cry, some weep at funerals and others grow quiet, some rejoice at the moment of salvation and others shed tears. No matter how we show emotions, there are moments in life when our souls are touched to the core. The heart that cares is always moved in times of joy or pain and sorrow. The question is: Do we care?

Peter was quite confident that he would never betray his Lord. He followed Jesus to the courtyard and watched as the trial began. He was recognized and in fear he denied the Lord three times, just as Jesus predicted. Peter's emotions were moved at his failure and he wept because he cared.

Does betrayal of the Lord move your heart and emotions? Are you deeply saddened when you sin? Take a closer look at Peter today and then consider your own heart. Have you become so familiar with the process of sin and forgiveness that you no longer feel sorrow when you fail the Lord? We grieve the heart of God whenever we sin (Ephesians 4:30)... Do we care?

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Goals & Sacrifices...

"Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" - Mark 14:35-36
A young person desires to become a doctor. The path of education and internship is more than grueling. Another individual plans to become a Navy Seal. The training is more than overwhelming. Then there is an athlete that has an eye on an Olympic Gold medal. The preparation absolutely consumes their life. Great goals demand great sacrifices.

Our Lord saw the incredible cup of suffering that was ahead, and He prayed for possible deliverance. But as always, Jesus was fully committed to the will of the Father. He knew the value of our souls and our need for deliverance from sin. He went to the cross with his eyes wide open and heart surrendered. A great goal demanded a great sacrifice.

What has the Lord called you to accomplish my friend? Where has he placed you in His vineyard to labor? Is the work too demanding, or have the years been too discouraging? Have you come to the place where you have experienced your own "Gethsemane"? After you have poured out your heart, may you join the Lord in the words of surrender... "Yet, not what I will, but what you will." Why should you willingly yield? Because, great goals demand great sacrifices.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Words and Actions...

"And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same." - Mark 14:30-31
There was a time that a man's "word" was his bond. As devotional writer Oswald Chambers once wrote, "It is better to run the risk of being considered indecisive, better to be uncertain and not promise, than to promise and not fulfill." Words are good, but action is where real devotion comes alive.

Peter and all the other disciples spoke with great determination, but when the pressure came, where were they? Jesus knew the heart of everyone, as we read in John 2:25 that He... "needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." Words of faith take conviction, but steps of faith take courage.

In time the disciples came to know both conviction and courage as they fulfilled the great commission. Do you speak too quickly and make commitments without counting the cost my friend? Remember that at best, we all have feet of clay so, "... be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." (Ephesians 6:10) In His strength alone will words become action.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Stay Alert...

“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
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. 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? 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Real Deal...

"At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it.  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time." - Mark 13:21-23 
Henry Ford had no idea what the auto industry would become. From a simple form of transportation, to cars that cost far more than many homes. And along with the wide array of models to choose from comes the legendary "salesmen". As the industry has gone out of control, so has the sales floor. While you might occasionally find an honest salesperson, the truth is this: buyer beware, because deception rules the day.

Deception is in the wind and Jesus told us ahead of time. Being deceived over the price of a car is small potatoes compared to being led astray spiritually. Every town is peppered with car lots and churches. Anyone can find a car or a religion, but will it be the right one? While, you might be able to unload your "lemon" before you suffer too much loss, your loss will be eternal if you buy into a false religion. Buyer beware, because deception rules the day.

Jesus made it very clear in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." and again in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." While the Model T Ford has "come a long way baby", Jesus is still the same "yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) Deception may rule the day, but it doesn't have to rule your heart my friend. Be on your guard and trust in Jesus, because He alone is the real deal!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Power of God...

"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 twenty 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.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Much Fruit...

"At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard." - Mark 12:2
Maryhill Winery opened in 2001, but it wasn't long before it became the 15th largest winery in a state seemingly overflowing with successful wineries. Craig and Vicki Leuthold established this family business with the goal of creating a quality and beautiful destination winery. But, this would never have happened if there had been no fruit.

Why should the Lord's expectations be any different? He planted his people in a land of unbelief and idolatry. They were supposed to make a difference by influencing others with a thriving faith in the living God. By such a lifestyle they should have been very productive, but sad to say... no fruit.

Has the Lord's expectations changed for us? Hmmm... well, lets read John 15:8, "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." Let's not just be "busy" in ministry from year to year my friend. God placed us in His vineyard for His eternal purpose and glory... to bear much fruit.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Be Productive...

"And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs." - Mark 11:13
At the beginning of every baseball game both teams look like winners. Their uniforms are clean and pressed and their cleats are crisp and sharp to grip the field for a stellar game. From all appearances the game should produce amazing scores for both teams. But quite often the outcome will be disastrous for one or the other competitor. Looks never guarantee fruit.

While the reader might find the encounter of Jesus with the fig tree a puzzle, the illustrated point is quite clear. As with the leaf bearing fruitless tree, so were God's people of that day. From a distance they looked real good, but up close there was only emptiness. Spiritual looks never guarantees spiritual fruit.

You might be well prepared for your next ministry assignment my friend. But, it doesn't always matter how you dress or how you look. What really matters is a life of spiritual fruit. Don't just be satisfied with the pinstripes on your uniform or green leaves on your limbs... it's all about the hits and the fruit. Be productive for Jesus!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Keep on asking...

"And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” - Mark 10:47-48 
I often marvel at those who are facing situations that require the help of a specialist. I ask them if they have contacted the right person for an appointment and I am told that they called and left a message. Many weeks may pass by with no return call, so they give up. When you really want help... you've got to keep asking.

Blind Bartimaeus was weary of being blind and wanted relief. He heard that Jesus was passing by and cried out for help. The crowds rebuked him, but he was determined and wouldn't give up. When there appeared to be no answer, he "cried out all the more". This poor beggar recognized that he had to keep asking.

Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:7 to keep on askingkeep on seeking and keep on knocking. His reasoning had nothing to do with his being too busy or unable to hear. He wants us to exercise faith and determination in our asking. The issue comes to this: everyone needs help, but not everyone wants help. Those who really want help from the Lord will keep on asking.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Paying Attention...

“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.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Like a child...

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." - Mark 10:15
Statistics tell us that conversions to Christ are fewer in number during the latter years of life. One might think that the older a person is, the wiser they would become and therefore more prone to believe. But, too often age brings pride and self-sufficiency. On the other hand, children generally know nothing of either deficiency.

Yes, I speak of pride and self-sufficiency as deficiencies. Anything that inhibits an individual from receiving the kingdom of God is most definitely a deficiency. All too often, the more that we know, the greater our arrogance. The more we achieve, the greater our independence. Jesus came right to the point... keep it simple like a child, or you'll never get the picture of faith.

When was the last time you turned down the helping hand of someone my friend? Do you wonder why you did that? Was it really because you didn't want to impose? Or was it a deeper issue of personal pride and self-sufficiency? Accepting the helping hand of the Lord and embracing his grace demands nothing more and nothing less than a child-like faith.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Who's the greatest?

"They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?' But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest." - Mark 9:33-34
I've been told that at certain business luncheons the biggest moment is who gets to pay the check. The decision is made by who has had their American Express Gold card the longest. The earlier the year the most successful the person. It's all about being ahead of the rest of the crowd by being first.

Who is the greatest? While the argument was quite heated, it couldn't be answered by credit card memberships. Furthermore, when the disciples were asked to admit the subject of their discussion, they were rather quiet. Why not tell Jesus what was on their mind? Could it be that they already knew that to be first, one had to be servant of all?

We live in an upside down world my friend. Our Lord, Creator and Redeemer has made certain things quite clear. The way of worldly success is quite upside down. If you want to get ahead of the rest of the crowd, you can only get there by being the very last, and servant of all. Take a lesson from the one who... "did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Ask...

"But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." - 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, and you will grow in your understanding. Be willing to ask, and you will be certain to learn.

Friday, March 5, 2021

His Plan...

"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 broke my ankle in a motorcycle accident a number of years ago. The damage was far more extensive than expected and the recovery took a lot longer than usual. But, as the Doctor promised, time and rest brought healing. Such is the case with the human body, for we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:1). A good physician considers all the differing needs of 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, March 4, 2021

Compassion in the Details...

“I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” - Mark 8:2-3
Many years ago my mother suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for some time. The church family was greatly concerned for our family and prayed for us faithfully. There were some dear folks though that were very practical in their concern and invited my father and me over for supper more than once. Their compassion was in the details of life.

Jesus spent three days with four thousand people and at the end of the "conference" He was quite aware of their needs. The Lord had concern for the crowd as He so often did, but more than this He considered the practical outcome of their long trip home. Jesus' compassion was in the details of life.

Do you find yourself wondering if the Lord ever considers all the little things that weigh upon you my friend? Yes, you know that He is aware of your big needs, such as a new job, restored health, reconciled family or financial provision. But, is He concerned about a sandwich for today's lunch? I believe that He is just as focused on the practical needs of every day as the bigger picture. His compassion is also in the details of life.