Sunday, January 17, 2021

A breath of fresh air...

"He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope." - Matthew 12:19-21
Political debates can be interesting to watch. Many people enjoy listening for the zingers that will cut the opponent to the core. The media will often emphasize the most sharp and abrasive comments and give winning points for them. While very few points are ever given for kind words. But, what kind of people are we most drawn to...abrasive or affirming?

Within the religious community of Jesus' time there were many voices that spoke with sharp and cutting legalism. They had little or no concern for the struggles and sorrows of their fellow travelers. They spoke words that cut to the core, making it clear that it was their way or the highway. Then, along came Jesus...a kind and gracious Savior who spoke gentle words that brought healing to the soul. As a result, the multitudes avoided the abrasive leaders and embraced the affirming Lord.

Proverbs 15:4 tells us that "A gentle tongue is a tree of life". To whom are you most drawn my friend... those who are abrasive or those who are affirming? And how do you admonish and counsel others with the Word of God? Are you a hot wind with a cutting edge, or a breath of fresh air, gentle and gracious? Consider this...abrasive words hurt, but affirming words heal.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

His Easy Yoke...

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -- Matthew 11:28-30
There is nothing I enjoy more than ministry. Preaching and teaching are incredible blessings and give great fulfillment. The only weariness that comes is a physical exhaustion after a long day or week of service. Within my heart I am rested and at peace. Sleep comes easy and joy comes in the morning. I have found rest in Jesus at the same time I have taken his yoke.

The above comment is my testimony of finding rest in serving the Lord. Jesus offers to all who will come, rest from their worries, guilt, discouragement, bitterness, heartaches and anxieties. He brings peace and purpose that satisfies to everyone who will follow him. The rest Jesus offers isn't cessation from work; it's a new labor of love that fulfills the soul and brings joy to the life. What a privilege to be   partners with the Lord as we wear his easy yoke.

Are you following the Lord in your daily life? Have you taken on his yoke, learned from him and found rest for your soul? The invitation has been given and now it's up to you. Rest is not illusive and unattainable; it's a genuine offer to all who will come to Jesus. The promise is his and the privilege is ours... will you come to Jesus today? 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Don't be afraid...

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." -- Matthew 10:29-30
One of the world's best-known and most abundant small birds is the "House Sparrow". It lives in towns and on farms worldwide, having accompanied Europeans from its original home in Eurasia and northern Africa. Introduced into North America in 1852, it spread across the continent within a century. A little bird, beyond counting, blessed with God's caring.
Jesus spoke of dangerous times of opposition and persecution for the Christian. But there is never a time that the Lord isn't with every believer, just as he is with the sparrow. The time never comes that Jesus doesn't care. We may feel as if we are one among so many, but the Lord watches over every one of his children. He values those who are His.
Do you feel that you are so very small in the works of the kingdom? Or, that your struggles are not to be compared to the needs of others? Remember that a high price was paid and you are greatly valued by your Lord. You may be one among the countless billions, but you are one assured of countless blessings. "So... don't be afraid."

Thursday, January 14, 2021

His Gain and Glory...

"And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean  spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these... and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him." - Matthew 10:1-2, 4
Have you ever wondered who your favorite actor or actress truly is in real life? Acting is just that, acting. A good actor can convince the world that they are wonderful or horrifically evil, all in the same year in two different films. They exercise God given abilities and use them for their own gain and glory.

Jesus had a variety of reasons for choosing a man who would later betray Him. But focusing on Judas Iscariot proves to be an interesting study. Here is an individual that was blessed with the incredible privilege of being called by Jesus and equipped with divine power. To the world, Judas appeared to be a true disciple of the Lord and he performed the part quite well. But, he chose to exercise God given abilities for his own gain and glory.

The lesson is sobering my friend. You may have heard the call of God in your life, and been blessed with great skills to serve His church. But without God's saving grace that gives you a new heart, you will only be an actor or actress. You will be exercising your God given abilities for your own gain and glory.
Take care to heed the words of 2 Peter 1:10, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure..." Be the real deal and be true to the Lord who saved you by exercising your God given abilities for HIS gain and glory.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

What do you see?

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." -- Matthew 9:36
Crowds may mean very little to you, but where I grew up there were crowds of all kinds. We lived in the metropolitan region of New York City. People were in abundance and they were everywhere. The interesting question is this: what goes through the mind when we are surrounded by crowds? Do we see them as a burden, or do we see their burdens?

Jesus was never impersonal or uncaring about the multitudes that followed him. He saw their emptiness and their need for someone to care. He saw their broken and storm ravaged lives and he was moved with compassion. Their need for the Shepherd touched him to the core. To Jesus, they were never a burden; with eyes of love he just saw their burdens.

Are you upset and irritated when you are surrounded by too many people at the mall, on the road or in the grocery store? What do you see with your "born again" transformed eyes? Do you see them as Jesus sees them? Do you see that … "People need the Lord"?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

What do you need?

"And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." - Matthew 9:11-12 
Some years ago, a member of our congregation suddenly slipped into eternity. His death was a shock to the family and friends because he claimed to be in good health. But an autopsy revealed that this dear brother was far from healthy. It was clear that he should have seen a physician months, or even years earlier, but he refused to admit his need.

This is the same situation for those who are soul-sick. Many people hear the Word of God preached or read the pages of Scripture and conclude that they are perfectly well. They ignore the warning signs of sin-sickness and boast of spiritual health. The opportunities for soul healing come and go, but they only get sicker. The sobering truth is this: there is no help for those who refuse to admit their need.

Are you on a path of spiritual decline my friend? Have you denied your condition with some flippant comment such as, "I'm fine"? Do you wonder why the Lord seems so far away and your life seems so empty? Well, our Lord is certainly the "Great Physician" of the soul, but only to those who are willing to admit their need.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Main Thing...

"Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”" -- Matthew 8:21-22
Life can become so busy that we lose sight of our priorities. I've been so busy preparing for a trip that I forgot to fill the gas tank. I had a family in our church years ago so preoccupied after church that they left without their daughter. There are some matters that should hold our interest above all else. We need to keep the main thing, the main thing.

Jesus may seem to be quite cruel at this point in his response to this disciple. But, he knew far more about this man than words can express. He knew the heart of the matter and there was something in the picture that was keeping this disciple from the goal. We may have excuses galore that explain why we need to put off spiritual callings. Yet, the Lord knows when we have just lost sight of our priorities.

Have you proposed reasons for putting off the spiritual disciplines and demands of today for another time? Has the Lord called you to a task that you are procrastinating over? Don't lose sight of the goal my friend, and keep the main thing, the main thing!