Monday, January 20, 2020

Grace upon grace...

"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." - John 1:16
I grew up on eastern Long Island. The ocean was my constant haunt and the beach is to this day my favorite place to relax and reflect. Two days ago I turned 69 and the Atlantic waves have pounded through most of those years. Yes, sometimes in quiet moments I can hear the crashing surf hammering the shore, one wave followed by the next... wave upon wave.
The works and wonders of God's creation speak to us daily of His amazing grace. This grace is the spectacular gift of God that comes to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His grace we are saved (Ephesians 2:8) and by His grace that we are strengthened (2 Corinthians 12:9). On the day I came to Christ His grace came crashing into my life and every day thereafter His grace has hammered the shores of my very soul... grace upon grace.
Are you distressed by the pressures of life my friend? Do you feel overwhelmed by unending demands from every corner? Well, come to the shores of Calvary and be swept away by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Allow this amazing grace to cast your every sin into its depths (Micah 7:19) and restore your life like a newborn babe (1 Peter 2:2). And if that day has already occurred some time ago, then be refreshed and strengthened by that same grace that saved your soul... let it wash over you, grace upon grace.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

What are your Priorities?

"Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?" - Luke 5:23
Which is easier... to build a house or a home? To build a house one only needs various building supplies and tools coupled with the right skills. The work can be completed in a few short weeks for anyone to purchase. On the other hand a home takes intangible qualities and innumerable years to achieve. The measure of a Godly home far outshines a well built house.
Likewise, a forgiven soul far outshines a healthy body. To bring healing cost the Lord only a well spoken word, but providing forgiveness cost Him his very life. Consider this; that which is easy lasts but a moment, but that which is hard lasts forever. Yet, we tend to put much more value on that which grows old and easily slips off the scene.
Are you all about the soul or the body my friend? Are your prayers filled with a wide variety of physical needs? Do you spend significant amount of time building the body for good health and looks? That's easy to do, but how committed are you to that which is hard? Jesus made the hard spiritual issue His priority and the easy physical issue secondary. What are your priorities?

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Go Deeper...

"And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” - Luke 5:4-5
During the gold rush of the nineteenth century R. U. Darby quit digging for gold and sold his machinery to a junk man. The junk man sought good engineering advice and picked up where Darby left off. The junk man found an abundance of gold just three feet from where Darby quit. Sometimes it pays to go deeper.
Peter and company were tired and discouraged when the Lord asked them to "Put out into the deep". Yet, out of obedient hearts they followed His counsel and let down their nets. As a result "they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking." (Luke 5:6) The Lord always knows when we should press on and when we follow His advice great blessings will come. It pays to go deeper with Jesus.
Have you grown tired in your spiritual digs my friend? Are you weary in your kingdom labors? Has the fruit been minimal and benefits few? Don't give up, just seek the counsel of the Lord and press on with all your might. In His time and by His grace... it will pay to go deeper.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Whole Story...

"And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth... When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath." - Luke 4:22, 28
I grew up in the New York metropolitan area and have been a New York Yankee fan since the days of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. This is not very unique since there are more Yankee fans than anyone could number. There is one characteristic about New York fans that proves to be a tough nut to swallow; when the team wins they're loved and when they lose it's the wrath of Khan!
From the very beginning of His ministry the Lord experienced a similar contrast. When His words were gracious, the crowds loved it and when He spoke convicting truth they were filled with wrath. Such people are still with us today; those who are happy to feel good about themselves but never guilty before God.
When you speak to others about Christ my friend, never hesitate to give the bad news and good news. While many people only want to hear comforting words, without the whole truth hearts will never experience conviction. And without conviction there won't be repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. The Lord always told the whole story and so should we.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Success or service?

"And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him... Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." - Matthew 4:19,20,22
We all know the testimony of Tim Tebow, a professed believer, who became a well known sports figure. He merged his faith with his career and drew a lot of attention to himself and his teams. Most significantly is the fact that Tim had his priorities right. During his years playing football he made it a habit to invite some struggling, hurting or devastated person to each game; pay for their flight, room and meals. He would have them seated in prime seats, visit with them before and after the game and encourage them in their life issues. Tim knew the difference between winning a game and winning a life.
Jesus came along the shore and invited the disciples to follow Him and become fishers of men. He called them away from lucrative businesses and offered them nothing of material gain. He offered them the opportunity to win people to God and a new start in life. These men dropped everything and "Immediately" followed Him. You see, they had their priorities right; they knew the difference between catching a "sole" and catching a "soul"!
As you move into this New Year my friend, do you have your priorities right? Or are you still running the "rat race" looking for the next promotion, pay raise or popularity win? Jesus and such people as Tim Tebow are all about greater values in life. What are your values? Do you know the difference between a life of selfish success and a life of selfless service? Which will you choose?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Soul Bread...

"But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4
We have a number of great bakeries in our community. Their cakes, pies and pastries are just great. But the breads are a real drawing card. You can find any kind of bread that you need or want; hot, fresh and quite tasty. The only problem comes when we eat too much bakery bread and not enough of soul bread.
In the face of spiritual battle Jesus drew upon the Word of God over and over again. He knew the Word and the way of proper application. Apart from His being the very Son of God, our Lord had grown up in a pious home where the Word was taught and practiced. He was well nurtured with more soul bread than bakery bread.
Are you in the early stages of a New Years diet my friend? Are you limiting your visits to the bakery this month? Well, this may be a good decision for your physical health, but be careful about your spiritual health as well. Rather than reducing your intake of soul bread, chow down and fill your life with "every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Connection and Conduct...

"Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham." - Luke 3:8
I attended Bible College at a school that was centered in a mega-church. People came down the aisle to profess faith in Christ at every service and there were baptisms every week. Yet I would often meet the most evil people in the community that were "saved" and baptized in that church. They claimed a godly connection without a godly conduct.
John cut to the core of true conversion with the words "Bear fruits in keeping with repentance". He took away all hope of being a child of God through family or religious relationship. It really doesn't matter where someone grows up and attends church. Genuine connection with God begins with a repentant conversion that leads to godly conduct.
Where do you trace your beginning with Jesus my friend? That moment may bring nostalgic warmth to your heart, but has your life changed for the better since that time? Have you become more godly and Christ-like from year to year?  Consider the words of 2 Peter 1:10, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." Remember, true godly connection produces godly conduct.