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!