Sunday, June 30, 2019

Family

30 June

I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.  Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.  (1 Cor 10:15-17; NIV)

There are many things that will draw Christians together, but none more so than the partaking of the Lord's Supper.  I have been to Communion Services where hundreds of people from many different denominations have come to share in the experience with other Christians.  It's a wonderful time, a time when we can put aside those denominational boundaries to fellowship with each other.  I think Paul sums it up when he says, "Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."

Jesus, the Christ, died and rose again for all people.  His body was broken for all people, and his blood was shed for all people.  But since then we have spent a great deal of time putting up walls between "all people."  Sure, there are going to be some differences, I even have differences with my family at times, but I still love them and always will.

As Christians, we all sit at the same table, sharing in the same loaf, becoming one body in the Lord.  We may not always agree with each other's doctrines or in the way we conduct our services, but we all sit at the same table.  It may be at different times and in different locations but it is the same table, partaking of the same feast in remembrance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ.

So, the next time you take Communion, think about the person across town who is partaking of the same table.  The person in the next state or even in another country all are celebrating the Lord's Supper with you.  What a great big family we have!!


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Faith to Move Stones

29 June

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb  and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  (Mark 16:1-4; NIV)

Not only did they find the stone rolled away that day, but they also discovered Jesus was not there, he had risen just as he said he would.

How often in life do we run into big stones in our way?  When we do run into those stones what do we do?

Some people who run into obstacles just stop!  They feel as if there is nothing they can do to overcome those obstacles, those stones, so they just stop.  Others happily try going around the stone, trying not to confront it.  They would rather spend their time looking for another route instead of going head-on with the stone.  Then there is the group that decides to trust God because he is able to do anything, even if that anything is not what we had in mind, after all, God knows what's best.

Early that morning when the ladies went to anoint Jesus' body, they thought about that stone.  They thought about the size of it and even asked themselves, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"  They did not decide there was nothing they could do about the stone and go back home.  And they did not decide to try and find another way into the tomb.  Whey they found that morning when they got to the tomb was that God had taken care of the problem, the obstacle, the stone.  He removed the obstacle that was keeping them from seeing Jesus had risen.  God even sent someone to tell them that Jesus was no longer dead but had risen.

When someone wants to get to Jesus, no matter what the obstacle is, God will remove it.  If he can move stones from in front of tombs, then I'm sure he can remove stones from in front of the hearts of those who are seeking him.


Friday, June 28, 2019

Genuine Love

28 June

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; (Rom 12:9; NRSV)

I was attending a junior stock show when a grand-champion lamb, owned by a little girl, was being auctioned.  As the bids reached five dollars per pound, the little girl, standing beside the lamb in the arena, began to cry.  At ten dollars, the tears were streaming down her face and she clasped her arms tightly around the lamb's neck.  The higher the bids rose, the more she cried.  Finally, a local businessman bought the lamb for more than $1000.00 but then announced that he was donating it to the little girl.  The crowd applauded and cheered.  Months later, I was judging some statewide essays when I came across one from a girl who told about the time her grand-champion lamb had been auctioned.  "The prices began to get so high during the bidding," she wrote, "that I started to cry from happiness."  She continued with: "The man who bought the lamb for so much more than I ever dreamed I would get returned the lamb to me, and when I got home, Daddy barbecued the lamb -- and it was really delicious."  (Joe Wagner, in Reader's Digest)

As I started reading this illustration one morning, my heart started to break for the little girl, but of course, by the end, I had busted out laughing.  Not so much at the end of the story, but that I had been taken in by the little girl, just like the man who paid a $1000.00 for the lamb and then gave it back to the little girl . . . who ate it!

Paul said our love must be genuine or sincere, but I believe many people don't know what that is.  We have learned to fake love, often when said, "I love you," there is no meaning at all behind it.  Children today are growing up never hearing the word, except on TV when love means a person wants something.  Many parents and I include myself here, don't say it enough to their children and they don't show it in how they respond to their spouses.  They don't know how to treat a spouse because they come from single-parent homes or because they confuse love with lust; two totally different things.

As Christians, we need to look at the greatest example of love that has ever been -- God's love for us in sending his son, and the son's love of the father by doing God's will and sacrificing himself for us.  When we focus on God, our love should be more sincere and it should show up in all we do.  They should see the love in what we do.  They should hear love in our words and our voices.  They should feel loved by just being with us.  That's how it is when we are in God's love; we see it, hear it, and feel it constantly because we are with him constantly.  Love is not a dirty word if it's genuine and sincere, and when you have true love you will hate what is evil and will cling to what is good --- or better yet --- you will cling to "Who is Good!"


Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Faithful God

27 June

“Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (Deut 7:9; NKJV)

I was standing outside the church talking with one of our members when another man walked up.  I asked him how he was doing and he replied that he was still kicking.  I said, "Well, that's good to hear."  The first man said, "Any time you find that you're still above ground is a good day."  I told him that I did not agree.  "When this body is laid to rest and I find myself in glory . . . that will be a GREAT day!"  Moses said that we are to remember that the Lord our God is God and that he is faithful, he will keep his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.  Think about that.  Those that don't know God are living their lives not knowing what's ahead for them.

When I first wrote this devotion, Y2K was the big scare.  I had people come up to me and tell me how they KNEW this was the end of the world and I would just look them in the eye and say, "If he does come back on New Year's Eve, Praise the Lord!  If he doesn't come back on New Year's Eve, Praise the Lord!"  You see, I know God is faithful and he will do just what he said he is going to do.  He is going to come back to claim his own.  I believe this with all my heart and soul.  I don't care when it happens, I just rest assured knowing it WILL HAPPEN!  Should the Lord wait until some future date to come back, that just means we have more time to tell others about the Kingdom and about the grace God had poured out on us.

So, let's not worry about when he will come back, let's be concerned with how many get the opportunity to accept him as Lord and Savior.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Dwelt Among Us

26 June

John 1:10-14; NIV
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

Ruffly two thousand years have passed since John wrote these words and yet they are still true today.  Christ came into the world and even though the world was made through him, the world did not know him.  Some people can look at a painting and tell you who the master painter was without hesitation, some can look at a car speeding by and tell you the make, model, year, horsepower, and color of the socks of the person driving (OK, not really).  But many of these same people are unable to tell you who made the stars, clouds, animals, children, or even life, itself.  They are able to see minor creators but cannot see the Great Creator.

Jesus' own people did not see him for who he really was.  They rejected and laughed at him.  But we have been shown the wonderful grace of God because we are told, "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," to be born of God.  In other words, we no longer belong to this world but belong to God.  He loved us so much that he became flesh and dwelt among us.  He felt the same things we feel.  He laughed and cried, just like we do.  He felt the pains of being rejected even more than we have, and he did it all for us.  We have seen his glory and have received it for ourselves and now it is up to us to show others that if they were to look closely at the things around them they would see God's handiwork.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Manual for Living -- Proverbs 1:3-4


Proverbs 1:3-4; The Message

A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.

Each year parents will spend thousands of dollars raising children.  We clothe, feed, and provide for their entertainment and we will also educate them.  That last one, "educate them," has taken on a very broad meaning because it no longer means getting the child ready to face the world as an adult by teaching them reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Many parents believe it is the responsibility of the school and more specifically the teacher to teach discipline to their children.  When the child turns to drugs, gangs, mass shootings or calling in false reports so that first responders show up just to shoot them, we tend to blame the teacher.  Parents have a responsibility to their children to discipline them, to teach them to be just and fair, to give them a grasp on reality.

Parents will spend a great deal of money on "how to raise your children" books when most already have a copy of the book that has been around the longest; The Bible.  The book of Proverbs tells us in the 3rd and 4th verses why Solomon wrote it.  He said it was a "manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality."  Does this mean a child will never go "bad?"  Of course not.  There is still "free will" but it does give both the child AND the parent some things to think about.

So, let's go through these with an open mind.  Some will make us laugh, while others will make us think, "oh, yeah," and still others will cause us to drop to our knees and say, "that's where I'm at God.  What do I need to do now?"


Dust Yourself Off

25 June

Acts 14:15-20; NIV
“Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.  In the past, he let all nations go their own way.  Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”  Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.  Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.  But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. 

Paul had just healed a crippled man in the town of Lystra and now the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices to both he and Barnabas.  The crowds believed the two men were gods because of what they were able to do.  Paul kept his head and started to tell the people about the real God, the One who brings the rains and the crops, the One that created heaven and earth and all in them.  Paul did not let the words and actions of the people create something that was not true.  He was not a god.

How many times over the years have we seen a good person, one that is working for the Lord, turn from God?  Often they forget it was by the hand of God that good things were happening to them.  They let the things of this world take over and they start to listen to the crowds, especially if they are heaping praise on you.  They start believing what they're being told, about how they are number one.  They fail to remember, we are humans and it is only by the grace of God that we are able to do anything, he allows us to help him; preach, teach, witnessing, healing, loving.

The amazing part of this passage is when the Jews came and won the crowds over, they took Paul outside of the city walls and stoned him.  The man they had just tried to make a god, was taken outside, stoned and left for dead.  This is not the amazing part but what happened next is!  Scripture says, "But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city."  Paul did not let a little thing like a stoning stop him.  He rose and went back into the city!  How many of us would have gone right back into the lion's den?  How many of us get our feelings hurt when we tell someone about Jesus and we ask if they are ready to accept the Lord and they say "No."  When we are told "no" we look as if we had just lost our best friend.  I have to tell you, there is a HUGE difference between being told, "no" and being stoned to DEAD!

When we get verbally stoned, let's get back up and go right back into the city and try it again, after all, there are people there that need to hear about God's grace and love.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Don't Doubt

24 June

Mark 11:20-25
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” 

It's nice to know Peter was a normal man.  We don't hear much about the blunders the others made, but poor Peter.  Every time he turned around he was placing his foot in his mouth (I know the feeling).

He said he trusted Jesus and wanted to walk on the water with him.  As soon as he got on the water, Peter started looking around and realized what he was doing, and it was then he began to doubt the power of Jesus.  He said that Jesus was the Son of God and was commended for saying this, but later he was reprimanded for telling Jesus not to talk about his coming death.  He said he would fight unto death for his savior, yet later that night, he swore he did not know the man called Jesus.  After everything, Peter has seen Jesus do, he is still surprised when he sees the withered fig tree that Jesus had cursed. 

In this story about the withered fig tree, Peter is surprised at what Jesus is able to do, but is reminded that with God all things are possible.  When we have those times of doubt, not just about spiritual matters but about anything, we need to remember God is always there.  He is ready to hear our prayers and he will answer us.  Having faith does not mean we will never have questions or doubts, it only means we know who to contact to get the answers.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Divine Power

23 June

2 Cor 10:3-4; NIV
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

My boys have grown past the stage where everything they touch becomes a weapon of some kind.  I cannot begin to come up with the number of times I have been shot by the crust off of a sandwich, a twig from the yard, an empty toilet paper roll, or the number of times I have had a sword fight with they empty wrapping paper roll.  Does this mean my boys are or were violent?  No, they're just boys and now they are going through the same things with their children.  They in time will learn the same thing my boys learned.  We may have to defend our friends, our families, or our country at times (I, all three of our boys, and two of our daughter-in-laws all served in the military) and yet our greatest defense is God.

The power of God is beyond match.  We could not spend enough on our national defense or the brain power to develop weapons to come up with anything to equal the divine power of God.  He has given us this power of his through Sword, the Living Word, the Bible.  He empowers us with the Holy Spirit and keeps in communication with us through prayer.  "Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."

Why don't we start using his divine power to take back our neighborhoods, our cities and towns, our states and our country?  There is not a stronghold that any drug dealer has set up that God cannot destroy through the prayer of his children.  There's no gang stronghold that God cannot wipe out, and there's no life that God cannot change by the use of his divine power and love. 


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Did You See That?

22 June

Exodus 14:27-31; NIV
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea.  The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.  But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.  That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.  And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. 

How much like the Israelites are we?  When God showed his power they put their trust in him.  When things were going along fine and he was not showing his power, they began to doubt and find other things to trust in.  We tend to equate God with miracles and punishments and nothing in between.  We say things like, "The wonderful workings of God can be seen in this newborn baby" and "God must be punishing me for something I did that's why I received that ticket this morning."  For many, the only time they call on God is when they need help.  There is nothing wrong with this but isn't the same God there when things are going good and shouldn't we thank him for that also?

God was with the Israelites during the plagues, nothing would happen to them, even though the Egyptians were all around them were inflicted with flies, boils, locusts, and more.  This was not enough for the Israelites, they still wanted Moses to leave them alone, to let them continue to be slaves to the Egyptians.  When Pharoah did let Israelites God went before them leading the way as a pillar of smoke or cloud during the day and as a pillar of fire at night, and still they did not trust God.  When Moses parted the sea and they crossed over on dry land, they did not put their trust in the mighty works of God.  What does it take for us to see the mighty hand of God and trust in him even in the good and calm times?  For me?  All I have to see is sunrise or sunset or hear the singing birds.  I see his mighty hand in the beauty of slowly falling snow, or the laughter of a child.  We really don't have to search high and low for God's wonderful works, they are all around us, we just need to open our eyes. 


Friday, June 21, 2019

Deposits

21 June

Eph 1:13-14: NIV
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. 

We put deposits on everything; houses, cars, layaway items, and some states even have you make a deposit on bottles and cans.  I remember as a kid going around with my cousins collecting pop bottles in our neighborhood.  We would return them to the story in exchange for the deposit that had been placed on them.  Funny how we take some things for granted.  Few people thought much about the deposit they paid for bottles.  The amount of the deposit has changed over the years; one, three, five, ten cents, less than a dollar was spent as a deposit but for a kid with a wagon and a neighborhood willing to give up their bottles there was money to be made.

We will not think twice about the deposit we put on soda bottles and cans, but the deposit we place on a house we are looking to buy we would do all we could to keep that deposit.  We tend to equate the price of the deposit with the items worth.  With that being the case, most of us would never think about giving our child as a deposit.  But that is exactly what God did, he gave up his one and only son as a deposit, to ensure my life. And our heavenly Father never leaves us by ourselves because when Jesus left this world to return to his father, God sent the Holy Spirit to be the deposit.

That deposit was sent to everyone, Christian and non-Christian, the difference being, non-Christians have decided the deposit isn't worth much and they don't want to have to bother with the redemption.  The Christian, on the other hand, wants to cash in on the deposit and have everlasting life.  We have a guarantee, God's trusted Holy Spirit, and I want to give him back to God in exchange for the great reward he has in store for me.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Comfort

20 June

2 Cor 1:3-5; NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 

What comforts you?  Many believe they can find comfort in alcohol, drugs, pornography, or money but they find out these do not provide any comfort and actually add to our troubles.  There is only one who can bring true comfort; our heavenly Father.  He is, as Paul says, "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort," so why would anyone turn to something else?  When people look to other means for comfort they usually find that over time they need more and more, because they become numb to their effects, not comforted.  With God, we have true comfort.  He does not numb us to what is going on around us, he helps us to overcome those troubled areas.

As learning how to accept his help and comfort we find we are in a position to give comfort and support to others and isn't that what brotherly love is all about?  Many people will not turn to God for comfort and support but will instead turn to other people.  It is in times like these that we can help the most, by being the person they turn to, because if we are not there they may just turn to the person with the bottle or the needle.

There are times when we will have some suffering and troubles flow into our lives, but like Paul said, "through Christ our comfort overflows."  That means there is more than enough for me and I should share that comfort with others.

Do you know someone who needs to be comforted?  Let your excess comfort spill over onto them and let them know it came from the Great Comforter!


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Change is Good!

19 June

1 Cor 9:22-23; NIV
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Some years ago I applied for a job and was told during my interview that most of the people I would be working with would not be dressed as nice as I was (shirt and tie).  "Would that be a problem?"  I told the interviewer it would only be a problem if I had to dress like that all the time.  I went on to tell the interviewer I was more comfortable in jeans and a flannel shirt; which fit in at this location.  On the other hand, I did services at a few other locations that if I showed up dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, it would be looked down on and I would not be accepted as a minister.  We must become all things to all men.  I don't think Paul was talking about fashions when he said this, but it does fit today. 

The different levels of society tend to look back or down at other levels; the higher up you are the better or more expensive clothes you may wear.  Sometimes even Christians will do this.  We look down on someone coming into our church service if they are not dressed the same way we are when what we should be doing is celebrating that someone new is at church.  We often forget what being a Christian is all about.  Would Jesus have looked down on someone because of what they were wearing?  I don't think so.

 I know someone right now is reading this and saying, "If I don't dress up then I'm showing disrespect to God." I think showing someone they are not welcome into the house of God because of what they are wearing is a bigger disrespect.  Sometimes we have to get down off our high horse and get right down into the dirt and mud and play with the other kids.  Isn't that what God did?  Didn't he have his son leave his throne and come to earth to live the same way we are living?  Didn't he come and eat the same things we were eating, wearing the same things we were wearing.  He did not go to the kings of the time though he was and is the greatest King, he came to be all things to all people.  To the Pharisees, he would sit and talk about the law, and speak with great knowledge.  To the sinner, he speaks without talking over their heads, about the Kingdome to come and eternal life.

Become all things to all people for the sake of the gospel!


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Can't Run

18 June



Jonah 1:1-4; NIV
The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.  Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.

When God asks us to do something, he really wants us to do it!  Jonah found this out the hard way.  He did not want to go to Nineveh to preach because it was such a bad place and he felt they deserved whatever the Lord was going to punish them with.  But God convinced Jonah to go to Nineveh by providing a storm that threatened to capsize the ship he booked passage on when trying to run from God.  Then after the crew threw Jonah overboard in order to save the ship and themselves, at his request, Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great fish.  I'm sure those three days were spent in prayer and reflection.  After those three days, Jonah understood it would be in his best interests to go to Nineveh and proclaim God's Word.

When the people heard Jonah preach they repented every one of them, from the king on down.  The king even had the animals fast and wear sackcloth.  And when God saw this he had compassion on the Ninevites and did not bring destruction on them.

What can we learn from this?  Jesus, God's son, said we should go into all the world and preach the gospel of Good News.  When was the last time we mentioned the Good News to our neighbors or coworkers or family member?  Does this mean we are going to be swallowed up by a great fish?  I don't think so, but look again at what happened when Jonah went to Nineveh; they repented of their wrongdoings and God had compassion on them.

God has made it known that all who forsake him will perish, but all who believe upon his word and call upon him for forgiveness will have everlasting life.  How can they hear about this great life in store for them unless someone tells them?  Don't try to run and hide from your assigned task like Jonah or you may end up like him.  Instead, reach out and tell someone about God, after all, their life depends on it.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Don't Make it Hard

17 June

Romans 10:9-10; NRSV
because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

Why do we make becoming a Christian so hard?  Many believe they have to become 'good' first.  Some say, "God won't want me until I get my life straightened out."  If that were the case, no one would ever become a child of God.  Sometimes we make the easy things hard or we overlook the easy way and opt for the hard. 

Some years back our ladies group started an outreach project where they made meals for some of the people in our church neighborhood.  The first night I went with one of the ladies who was taking a meal to an older gentleman I knew.  She presented the meal to him and said, "All you need to do is heat it up in the microwave."  He responded, "I don't have a microwave."  "Well, you could heat it up in the oven then," she replied.

The next day I received a phone call from this man telling me he had an accident to report.  I thought he had fallen and broke something so I was grabbing my coat and heading out the door when he told me the rest of the story.  He had been heating his meal up . . . plastic and all.  We laughed about it and then he told me he was going to frame it.  "Did it melt into a nice shape?"  "No, but if I frame it  and place it over the oven it will remind me to never put plastic in the oven again!"

Sometimes we make the simple hard.  Paul said all we have to do is "confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  Of course, this means something more than lip service; you must 'believe' in your heart when you do, the things of the past start fading and the things of the future start to get brighter; things like spending eternity in glory with our Lord and Savior.

Don't make things harder than they are; confess to God and believe in your heart, and start living the Christian life.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

But I'm Scared

16 June

1 Cor 2:1-5; NIV
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 

Not too long ago, I was talking to a group of people about the fear of witnessing.  Many have it for some reason and it's good to see that even Paul had a fear like this.  He talks about not being able to speak with "eloquence or superior wisdom" but he goes on to say that he knew nothing but "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" and that was good enough.  It seems to me Paul is saying that it makes no difference how you speak as long as we tell others about Jesus.

He also talks about the fear he had and how he trembled as he was bringing the message.  Can you picture Paul, the great missionary and witness for he Lord, with his knees knocking?  We tend to picture people in the Bible as being so strong and sure of their faith that they never fear anything when they witness to others about the love of Jesus Christ, but here is Paul telling us he was afraid -- just like me!

His preaching and witnessing were not with "wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power."  True preaching and witnessing are done by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are only the means by which this is accomplished.  We have to learn to trust in the Holy Spirit, to call on Him to help us in our everyday lives, to give us the courage to talk to others even when our knees are knocking and our mouths are dry.  I believe what Paul was saying was, without the power of God and the Holy Spirit he was nothing.  How true in my own life.

So cast off the excuses for not witnessing and call on the Holy Spirit to strengthen you.  That does not mean your knees will not knock, but it does mean we have the great Supporter and Comforter on our side and he will be with us always.  That's enough for me!


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Be Innocent But Not Ignorant

15 June

Romans 16:17-20; NIV
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.  Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 

"I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil."  This statement has been passed on through the ages, usually from parent to child, but Paul was giving it to the Romans and to us.  It would seem that many of us are quick to tell others to be innocent about what is evil, while we ourselves dabble in it.  We have seen some of the biggest names in religion, names who people trusted and listened to, fall as they decided not to be innocent about evil anymore.

I think Paul is trying to tell us to be innocent but not ignorant about evil.  There is a fine line here and if we happen to cross over we may not be able to get back, but we do need to know what evil is.  When our boys were in school they would come home and tell me about different things happening in and around the school.  On the outside, these "things" did not sound bad, but as they explained what was really going on (dumbing it down for dad), I found I was not innocent but ignorant of the evil going on around me, and that is a bad way to be.  Some people equate being innocent of evil with denying it is even out there, bringing them a very false sense of security.  Not only that, but they can never really arm themselves with what it takes to fight the evil around them.  We have to know it's there, how to fight it, and how to save others from it.

Take a good look around you, is there evil there?  Don't give into it, but develop a battle plan to keep it from taking over.


Friday, June 14, 2019

Based on Love

14 June

Eph 2:3-5; NIV
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh m and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

Because of the way we used to live before becoming Christians, we were objects of wrath, but now because of God's amazing mercy and grace, we have been saved!

How easy is it for us to forgive someone who has wronged us?  We seem to base our forgiveness on what it was they did to us.  If it was something small, we forgive very easily,  if it were something big, forgiveness comes a lot harder.  We should base our forgiveness on the way God forgives.  He even sent his son to tell us about the wonderful place the father is preparing for us and we did not believe him.  He even nailed him to a tree, but God looked at us and said, "I forgive you."  Wow, is that love or what.  He is ready to accept us at any time, all we have to do is ask him to forgive us for what we have done.

Just like a parent and a child.  The child did something wrong and the parent knows what it was and who did it, but he waits.  Finally, the child comes to the parent and lets him know that he has done wrong and the parent looks at him and says, "I forgive you."  That's love.  And that's the way we should look at forgiving others.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Remember when?

13 June

Deut. 6:4-7; NCV
Listen, people of Israel! The LORD our God is the only LORD.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  Always remember these commands I give you today.  Teach them to your children, and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

"My concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God's side,  for God is always right." (A. Lincoln)

There was a time in our country's past when we kept God's commandments, we knew them, and we loved them and our God.  But it would seem that time has changed.  Children take guns to school, sex is openly displayed on T.V. and on the big screen, you name it and we can see it every day.  What has happened?  Parents want to blame the school system, the school system wants to blame parents, but I believe the real problem is because we have forgotten God.  When God was the focus, as it should be, we lived better lives.  That's not to say we never had problems because we did, it just means we knew who to go to with those problems.  Today "help" is found in all the wrong places; bars, T.V., movies, drugs, sex, and the list goes on, the only place where people fail to look for answers to their problems is in the church.

What about returning to God and asking his forgiveness?  What about teaching our children the Ten Commandments?  If you find yourself saying, "That's too many to learn."  Well then, how about teaching them just two.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength (seems like Moses said that too) and the second was like it; love your neighbor as your self.

When we turn to God and learn to love the way he does, all things will be better!  It's time we take back our world from the grips of Satan and start teaching our children how to love, and maybe one of the best ways to do that is to show them what love and God are all about in our own lives.  Let's get down on our knees and pray that we get back on God's side and start talking about God, attending services, and getting into his word.  In other words, put God first!


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Aroma of Christ

12 June

2 Cor 2:14-17; NIV
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?  Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

Did you ever notice you can tell when you are around "Jesus people?"  I mean those brothers and sisters who show Jesus in everything they do.  Paul calls this "the fragrance of the knowledge of Him," and we can sense the presence of Jesus in their lives.  For some this sense of the presence of Jesus means life and yet for others, it means death.

We went to a parent-teacher conference some years ago and were talking to one of our boy's math teacher.  He was telling me about having to take math in college and I mentioned that I was taking Algebra that summer.  He asked me what I did and when I told him I was the outreach minister at a local church his eyes lit up, it was like he had received the aroma of Christ.  He told me he was a Christian and had been for "X" number of years and then he told me which church it was he attended.  I needed that just as much as he did.  I'm sure he does not get to talk about Christ very much at parent-teacher conferences and I'm sure I don't normally give off the aroma of Christ during these events either.  But for that moment in time, the two of us found a bond that ties us together, Jesus.  I will know him a thousand years from now and we can sit back and say, "remember when we met in the school lunchroom and we talked about Jesus?"  And we will talk about what a great day it was. 

That parent-teacher conference reminded me that we should not choose when and where we give off the aroma of Christ, it should be something we give off at all times.  Others should not have to ask if we are Christians but should only have to ask, "How do I get what you've got?"


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Are you judge or Judge?

11 June

1 Cor 4:1-5; ESV
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.  But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.  For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.  Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Has anyone ever asked you if what they were doing was right or wrong, and you knew it was wrong because of your Christian beliefs?  What did you tell them?  Did you say something like, "I can't judge you or your life?"  Now I realize this could bring up all kinds of arguments but hear me out.  When you tell a person, they are living wrongly or not according to what the Bible says, you are not making a judgment.

Look at our court system.  A judge is not the one (usually) who determines if a person has committed the crime, they are the one who tells the person what their punishment will be.  Usually, when we say to a person, "I cannot judge you," we have already decided in our minds whether the person was doing right or not.  Again, we have to be careful here, how can we tell someone that their house is dirty if we have to push aside the trash in our own just to find a place to sit.

We may not totally agree with what a person is doing, and we can tell them, but as Paul reminds us, we do not know what is down deep inside a person, only God knows that.  Let me see if I can clear this up just a little before I get messages back telling me I'm way out in left field - - You see a brother from your church goes into a store and takes a loaf of bread without paying for it.  Most of us would like to pass judgment on him by saying we should kick him out of the church, that is not the thing for a Christian to do (passing judgment on others).  Most of the time, we would not even talk to the person about the incident.  But God can see what is in the hearts of men.  On the great day of judgment, we see this same brother standing before God, and he says, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  We are shocked!  We know he stole a loaf of bread.  We tell God, "This person stole a loaf of bread, he should not be allowed to enter heaven."  What we don't know is that the loaf of bread was the only food his family had that week.  Does that make it right?  I don't know, only God can answer that one.  If we could have told our brother when we saw him stealing the loaf of bread that it was wrong, we may have gotten the whole story and may have been able to help him out the spot he was in.  Instead, we decided to pass judgment on him.  Who really deserves punishment?



Monday, June 10, 2019

Anxiety

10 Jun

Luke 21:33-36
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” 

There are times when it seems the "things" of life weigh on us so much that instead of turning more towards God we turn away and take our sight off him completely.  I know when this has happened to me in the past something has come along to make me want to regain sight with my heavenly father. 

In this passage, Jesus was telling the disciples about the "end times."  Jesus said, "The anxieties of life" can weigh down our hearts, and when that happens we may not see the last days close in on us "unexpectedly like a trap."

How many of us parents, grandparents, or caregivers have gotten so wrapped up in our own lives, jobs, education, relationships, . . . that we do not see what is happening to our own children's lives?  I am guilty.  And when they get into trouble or have some major problems, we quickly ask them, "How could YOU let this happen?"  A better question to ask would be to ourselves, "How could I not have seen what was going on in the life of someone so important to me?"

Could this have been what Jesus was talking about?  If we get so involved in the "things" of the world and let them weigh us down with worry, fear, and anxieties that we may not see the end times come upon us?  That time which will be so glorious for the Christian may just slip in on us without us realizing it.

So, what are we to do?  Go to the Lord when things start weighing us down.  I have found no matter what I take to God, he is able to handle and he helps me get back on track.  That's an awesome God!

How was your week?  Did it drag you down?  Did you ignore your children when they needed you most?  Maybe it's time to give God a call.  It' a free call and he is always home.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

An Invitation

9 Jun

Luke 14:16-24; NIV
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.  At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’" 

We have all been invited to the banquet, not just those who have accepted Christ, but everyone.  God does not show favoritism when it comes to invitations.  And many people in the world accept the invitation. But when it comes time for the banquet they for some reason back out.

I met a man years ago who, at one time, had accepted the invitation to the banquet and for a while even helped prepare for it by becoming a minister.  But the things of this life drew him away from the preparation, and now he also comes up with excuses for not going.

I think he has become aware of the fact that the second part of Jesus' story is coming up, and he may be one of those who will not get to taste the banquet.  But the significant part is, God leaves it as an open invitation!  As long as we come to God before the feast starts, he will let us in and even embrace us as we come through the door.  It makes no difference to God what we have done in our lives, how much we have run from him, how much we have denied him, or how much we have forsaken him because God as never left us.  God has always been there no matter what we have gone through, he may not have liked what we were doing, but he is there waiting to pick up the pieces.

Do you know of someone who has rejected the open invitation to the banquet from God?  There are many out there, one of them may be in the same room with you now.  Don't you think it's about time we start telling others about what they are going to miss if they don't come to the banquet?




Saturday, June 8, 2019

Accept All

8 Jun

Rom 14:1-5; NIV
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.  One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.  Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.  One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.

Have you ever heard someone talk about how another person could not be a Christian because of the way they dress?  We look at some people and say they are not honoring God because they have holes in their clothes, "Who in their right mind would wear something like that to church?"  Why am I relating clothing to food?  Because we don't have much problem today with what another person eats or doesn't eat, but we do tend to judge our brothers and sisters on their appearance.

I know I have done this very thing from time to time until I remind myself it does not make any difference what the person is wearing to church, just that they are there.  God can look at us and see who we indeed are, he does not judge us by the clothes we wear.  He looks at a person's soul, the real person, that's what he is concerned about.  Just because a person looks good on the outside does not mean they look good on the inside, and God knows that.

Our God is great!  He takes us just as we are, not how others would want us to be.


Friday, June 7, 2019

All Things Are Possible

7 June

Mark 9:20-24; NIV
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.  Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”  “From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”  “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

This story does have a happy ending.  The boy is healed, and the evil spirits are driven out.  What's so amazing is the boy's father came to Jesus and said, "If you can."  He may have come to Jesus knowing he could heal his son, but after the disciples tried to heal him with no success, he may have figured no one could.  His faith faltered a bit until Jesus reminded him that "everything is possible for him who believes."

How often do we find ourselves in this father's shoes?  Have you ever talked to someone about Jesus, "knowing" they won't except him, or prayed for something while at the same time telling yourself it was no use?  We tend to read this account and think why didn't the father just have faith to start with?  While at the same time keeping some unbelief in our own hearts.

Having a little unbelief in your heart is like going to a job interview with the attitude that no matter what I say or do, I'm not going to get the job anyhow, so why try?  Chances are, you won't get the job, because that attitude will shine through.  Going to someone with doubt and unbelief to tell them about God, will also show through.

Sometimes we need to take a deep look at ourselves and pray the same thing this father did, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"  And we can do this because we know all things are possible with God!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Real Giver

6 June

Mark 12:41-44; NIV
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” 

I received a letter from a "religious" organization just before the end of 1996.  They were asking for donations and were quick to add a statement saying they knew no one would give just for the tax break, but made sure we knew that our gift would be tax deductible.  

We all want to get as much back from our taxes as possible, and I don't believe any church would turn down a gift just because the giver wanted to include it in their taxes.  If tax deductions are the only reason to give, then they have missed the mark.

Jesus watched as people were placing their offings in the treasury and noticed the rich put in large sums of money.  He also saw a poor widow who had come in to give, and though her gift was much smaller she gave from the heart and gave all she could.

Some years ago, while I was attending college, I worked for the Salvation Army, so Jonie, the boys, and I attended Sunday service there also.  Joshua, our youngest, was around nine or ten at the time when one Sunday I noticed two things; one, Josh had not asked if he put the tithe in the offering plate, which was strange, he always asked to do this.  And two; the boys had spread themselves out so that there was one in each of the rows leading up to the altar.  When it came time for the offering to be taken, Josh still had not asked if he could place the offering in the plate and as I watched the offering plates being passed, I found out why.  All three boys had brought their own tithe to put in the offering.  I watched as our youngest pull the coins from his pocket and place them in the plate, the expression on his face was that of joy and excitement.

That day, the gifts our boys put in the offering, though much smaller, far exceeded the gift Jonie and I put in and it taught me a lesson I have never forgotten; giving is a form of celebration and our faces and lives should show that it comes from the heart with pure joy.













Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Beast of Burden?

5 June

Lk 19:29-35; NIV
As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,  “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”  Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.  As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”  They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 

Most of us know this story as the "Triumphal Entry," where Jesus returns to Jerusalem for his showdown with the religious leaders, his death, and his glorious resurrection.  My question is, have you ever thought about the owner of the colt?  When he saw the two disciples untying it he asked, "Why are you untying the colt?"  And the answer they gave was the one Jesus had told them to give, "The Lord needs it."  That was enough for the man, he had no more questions and let the disciples and the colt go on their way.  This was really a big sacrifice for the man because he did not know if he would ever see this treasured animal again, but because it was for the Lord, he gave it without question.

Let me put this in perspective.  You are sitting on your deck having a cup of coffee when you notice two men breaking into your car.  You yell at them and ask, "What do you think you are doing!?"  To which they reply, "The President (or governor, or top sports figure.  You get the idea) needs it."  So you calmly sit back down, sip your coffee and say, "Ok.  See you later."  This might happen this way, but the chances are slim.  So, back to the owner of the colt.

Sometimes we look at this story and the man, thinking that he was privileged and must have felt honored to be able to provide the means for Jesus' entry into the city.  Wouldn't we have liked to have been in his sandals, well, you are!  Think about it.  When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you carry him wherever you go.  Do you display him proudly or do you keep him hidden from view?  We look at the owner of the colt in this story and think about how proud he was, but when it comes time for us to carry our Lord into the workplace, the store, the ballgame, our school, or even our home, many times instead of placing our cloaks on the ground in front of him, we use our cloaks to cover him up.

Jesus told us to go into all the world, preach to everyone, everywhere, and as children of God we should do this with honor and love.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

What Suffering?

4 June

Rom. 8:18-19; NRSV
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.

I sometimes stop and think about my sufferings -- Ok, they're only sufferings to me and nothing compared to other people's problems.  But when I do start thinking about myself, I am reminded of these verses from Paul, "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us."

What a powerful verse!  There is nothing in this world that can overcome the glory we will see.  Let me change that, there is nothing in this world that can overcome the glory we see now and the greater glory we will see later.  No amount of hardships or pain can compare to the glory God has for us.  Just look at some of the sufferings in this world and how God can take dare of it.

We might say, "I went hungry", and Scripture tells us, "we will feast at the banquet table in heaven;  I don't have a nice home and still others say, "I don't have a home."  Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you."  I was sad . . . there will be no more tears or sorrow, no more heartache or pain; there will be no more parting . . . it will be peace forevermore on that happy golden shore (OK, I think this comes from a song, but it is true). What a day, wonderful day that will be!!  Our sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.  Did you catch that?  All of creation is eagerly waiting for the children of God to get home.

When I was younger, much younger, I could hardly wait for Christmas morning; the presents under the tree drove me crazy.  I found myself wide awake at night thinking about the presents under the tree; the size, and the shape, about how many were mine (before I learned it was better receiving than giving.  Scratch that!  Flip it!  It is better to give than to receive and it's more fun).  I picture all of creation is like me on Christmas Eve.  They keep hearing about the children of God and so they wait with great expectation to see who will be walking through the gate.  I like to think if I listen close I can hear all creation cheering me (us) on and the closer I get, the louder they get and that makes me want to press on all the more.

So, the next time you think about your sufferings remember, they are nothing compared to the glory that is being and will be revealed in and to you.  And don't forget you are being cheered on by all of creation . . . can you hear them?


Monday, June 3, 2019

You're Sending Who?

3 Jun

Jer 1:5-7; NIV
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 

When I read verses like these, I wonder how many people hear God calling them, but they refuse to listen?  Jeremiah was "trying" to argue with God by saying things like, "I do not know how to speak," and "I am too young" (we don't know how young, but most commentators believe Jeremiah was in his teens or early twenties).  It seems as though God knew what Jeremiah's argument was going to be, so he started out this discussion by reminding Jeremiah, "before I formed you in the womb, I knew you".  It wasn't just God knowing Jeremiah's name because the word "knew" indicates that God knew Jeremiah intimately, the same way he knows all of us intimately.

We are like Jeremiah in many ways.  Even though God knows us intimately, when we hear him calling us, we try to argue with things like, "I am too young / old", "I don't have the time", "I have lips of clay", and the list goes on and on.  I'm sure God has heard every excuse we can come up with; he's been doing this for a year or two.

Have you heard God calling you to the mission field, or to teach a Bible class, or maybe even to preach?  Have you ever heard him calling you to witness and share the gospel to your neighbor or a family member?  Just remember, God did not ask Jeremiah to go he told him, "You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you." And who can argue with that?


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Worthy is the Lamb

2 June

Rev 5:4-6
I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.  Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.

What a powerful picture!  No one could be found who was worthy to open the scroll, no one in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, but then when all hope looked lost all eyes turned toward the Lion of Judah.  When John heard that the Lion was worthy, he looked and may have expected to see a mighty, majestic, all powerful lion but what he really saw was a meek, kind, all loving lamb.  One that did not fight and did not come to destroy, but to show kindness and love, to remind us that God really does love us.

There are very few people in this world which would climb into a cage with a full-grown lion.  We have heard of all the things lions are able to do to a man.  Their paws are huge and are able to bring down the greatest of animals.  A lamb on the other hand is very timid and even children will try to pet them.  What a difference there is in their attitudes and actions.

As Christians, there should be a marked difference between our actions and attitudes and those of the world.  We should be as great as a lion, able to conquer and stand strong against the things of this world, but at the same time being as meek as a lamb, showing compassion and love to those around us.

There is a picture I've seen at the bookstore which shows a great lion and if you look at his face you can see the face of a lamb there also, showing strength and confidence, love and compassion.

Try being that kind of Christian, one with strength and confidence but at the same time showing love and compassion.




Saturday, June 1, 2019

Wonders

1 June

Ps. 40:5; NIV
Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.  None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

Here is another of those verses that I really like in a different version; The Message:

The world’s a huge stockpile of GOD-wonders and God-thoughts.  Nothing and no one comes close to you!  I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words.  Neither numbers nor words account for you.

This is not some shallow statement but a fact!  I am still amazed every time I see a sunrise or sunset, the colors can be so vibrant and powerful at times and then there are times when they are pastel and soft; no two are the same.  I understand how the colors happen scientifically, but it was God who started it all.

Shortly after I retired from the Air Force and was attending college, we lived in a house that had a couple of trees in the backyard and these trees came complete with a squirrel.  Now we had a dog at the time, and you would think this would be the makings of a bad situation, but just the opposite because they would spend hours playing.

During the week of finals there were times I would watch these two play for hours.  The squirrel would come down the tree just low enough that no matter how high our dog jumped she just missed the squirrel.  If our dog was not outside, the squirrel would come up on the deck to the sliding doors and "chatter" until our dog came running to answer him and be let out so their play time could continue.  I feel this little distraction may have been coming from my heavenly father, who knew I needed to give my mind a bit of a break.  That a "wonder" to me.

How about the wonder of a newborn baby and the joy it gives?  How can anyone NOT see the hand of God in a child so small?  If you can look around you and not see God, then you must be looking through the foggy lenses of the world, because he is all around us.  The house I'm sitting in and my ministry were provided by God, just when we needed them.  My children were provided by God (though were times when I thought God was playing a practical joke on me) and are a great blessing, and best of all, my wife was provided by God.

Look around you today and see how many times you can see God.  I think the Psalmist said it best, "were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare."  So, thank him for the wonders, and be on the lookout for one of his most precious wonders; laughter, because it is contagious.