Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Never give up...

"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. They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said." - Acts 14:19-22
As we follow the Olympic games when scheduled, there are occasional reminders of past years. Stories are brought back about athletes that pressed through great pain to win the gold. They struggled through practice runs, but were determined to compete well on the day of competition. This is what being an Olympic athlete is all about... you never give up.
Paul was an Olympic Christian... he took a beating and kept on ticking! Not only did Paul continue on his mission trip, but he chose to return to the same towns that participated in his stoning. His passion for the gospel message and believers was undaunted by any amount of persecution. He knew that believers "must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God". Therefore... he never gave up.
Are you an Olympic Christian today? What will it take to stop you from fulfilling your mission for Christ? There may be pain and persecution of all kinds, but press on my friend. The leading of souls to Jesus is the greatest reward and the building up of believers is a valuable prize as well. But these rewards only go to Olympic Christians... that never give up.
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY
  
Have you ever noticed that world-class runners have a "kick?" A kick is a technical runner's term that means when they get to that last one hundred yards or so, the runner can still sprint. No matter how much he's run before, he can sprint that last leg to the finish line and win that race. God wants you to have a kick. No matter what your circumstance, 
God wants you to finish strong.
-- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish,"

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Freedom...

"Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." -- Acts 13:38-39
Laws are written because men are sinful. Society would be chaotic without legal guidelines and the nature of man reinforces this everyday as laws are broken. Mankind is bound to laws by chains of sin and true freedom is out of reach. Where can one turn to be free?
The message of Paul alerts us to the great fact of freedom in Christ. As we are forgiven, we are set free from the power of sin to live for God. Our new found freedom is given so we might live as we should, not as we want. There is no law that could ever set us free in this way.
What are you doing with your freedom in Christ my friend? Are you living as you want, or are you living as you should? Do you yearn for God's will and way in your life, or have you returned to bondage of sin? Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." 
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A Quote for the Day

"The important thing about a man is not where he goes when he is compelled to go,
 but where he goes when he is free to go where he will."
~ A. W. Tozer

Monday, July 13, 2020

Make time...

"In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." - Acts 13:1-3
With the advent of cell phones the question "when will it be convenient to call?" has become more significant than ever. When will we be best prepared to receive a call from someone? The real issue is when will we have the time to listen and respond? But for some special people in our lives we are always willing to "make the time'.
The prophets and teachers of Acts 13 had gathered together to worship the Lord. Even in a busy ministry schedule they slowed down and stepped aside to worship and fast. It was in this setting that the Holy Spirit extended a fresh and challenging call to Barnabas and Saul. They heard his call and responded because they had "made the time".
When will it be convenient for you to take a call from the Lord? Is there time in your daily and weekly schedule when you simply stop the busyness to worship? In those quiet moments you are saying to the Lord "Speak, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10) God always has a fresh and challenging word for you if you will "make the time". 
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

 "To stand by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask?  Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth.  
I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him."   

   -- Jim Elliot in The Journals of Jim Elliot

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Little faith?

"When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished." - Acts 12:12-16
There are some people who hear the weatherman announcing rain, and choose to leave for work without their umbrella. Why are they so quick to reject the news? Why not take the update seriously and prepare for the storm? The answer is simple... they have little faith in the report.
The disciples were gathered together in prayer, but did they believe that God would answer? At first blush I am sure they would claim a great confidence in the Lord. But, when Peter came to knock, they were overwhelmed with shock. They had little faith in the Lord.
When you pray for rain, do you bring your umbrella? When you ask the Lord to intervene and provide for your needs, do you expect great things? Or are you surprised when He suddenly does the impossible? When you pray, are looking for real answers, or do you have little faith?
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QUOTE FOR THE DAY

"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand 
that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand."
 - Augustine

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Are you?

"...The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." - Acts 11:26
I attended a college in Tennessee during the seventies and worked full time to pay the freight. When I spent time with fellow workers from the area I was often tagged a "New Yorker". I spoke a little different than they did and I had an urban lifestyle that reflected where I was raised. It was simple; I was called a "New Yorker" because I was!
There are three occasions in the New Testament that believers are called "Christians"; in the above passage, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. The term was originally a derogatory tag. But it was a term that expressed one truth about the believers... they were "Christ Ones". Their speech was different and their lifestyle reflected the One they followed. It was simple; they were called "Christians" because they were!
Today people are called "Christians" for the most unwarranted reasons. To many, it is nothing more than an empty religious tag, but, what about you? If you are called a "Christian" or "Christ One", is it true? Is your speech different and does your lifestyle reflect the One you follow? Are you called a "Christian" because you are?

Have You Been With Jesus? | H.B. Charles Jr.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Savior ... or Judge!

"And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."" -- Acts 10:42-43
We often read about crimes committed and the long process of trials and imprisonments. The details include the police, lawyers and juries. Along with these officers of the court we are regularly exposed to the court of public opinion. But, at the end of the day the final sentencing is given by one person... the Judge. 
There is only One who has been appointed to be judge of the living and the dead. Jesus Christ was foretold of by the prophets and belief in him alone will bring forgiveness of sins. He is more than a prophet, more than a teacher and more than a great religious leader. He alone is the Judge to whom all mankind is accountable.
This message has been the same since the early church to this very day my friend. The only way to prepare for eternity and your standing before the Lord is to trust Him as your Savior. Otherwise, you will face Him as your Judge with no appeal.


Romans 2:16 | Photo quotes, Christian quotes, Romans 2

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Changed?

"The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends...  Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people... “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." - Acts 10:24, 27, 47
The summer months, prior to covid-19, used to bring a vast number of opportunities for inviting people to your home. The occasions may have been holidays, celebrations or just plain fun. At the end of the day everyone would leave, well fed and filled with fond memories. But, were they changed?
Cornelius was a man with great social prestige. I'm sure that he had many occasions to entertain family and friends.  Yet, this gathering was different than any other before. People didn't gather to eat, drink and be merry. They came together in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord had commanded Peter to tell them. (Verse 33) At the end of the night no one wanted to leave, because... they had been changed.
This is the question: will your home be open in the future for others to gather to hear the good news of Jesus? Will you make plans through the coming years to invite family and friends to hear a missionary, see a Gospel movie or have a Bible Study? Cornelius wasn't even converted yet, and he filled his house to evangelize. When was the last time someone left your home having been changed?

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Everyone needs a Barnabas...

"When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus." - Acts 9:26-27
I well remember the first year or two after Bible College. I was seeking the Lord's direction for ministry and looking for any opportunity to preach. My pastor was a kind and gracious man who took me to ministerial fellowships and introduced me to fellow pastors. As a result, I was invited to preach at different churches and eventually one called me as their pastor. My pastor, George Bogan, (who later became my father-in-law) was a true "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36) to me. Everyone needs a Barnabas.
Paul shook his world for Jesus. He had the courage and tenacity that very few men have. He traveled throughout his world three times with the gospel message and debated with the wisest men of the day. He wrote volumes of deep doctrinal truth that even Peter found hard to understand. (2 Peter 3:15-16) Yet, Paul needed an encourager to come along side and introduce him to the disciples in Jerusalem. Paul needed a Barnabas.
Be wise my friend, and don't try to go it alone. We all need someone who will be an encourager on the road of life. At the same time, there is someone that the Lord has brought into your life that needs you to be their encourager. Will you answer that call? Just remember... Everyone needs a Barnabas.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron Sharpens Iron - Free Bible Verse Art Downloads ...

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

No gain without pain...

"For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."" -- Acts 9:16
Suffer or success... Here we find two opposite polls. Many people are willing to give all they have to succeed, but not many are willing to suffer. They want great gain without any pain. But, what kind of gain will they have?
Paul was chosen of the Lord to suffer for the sake of his name. It was all about the cause of Christ. Today there are many who believe that Christians should be successful and prosperous. Yet, if they have to suffer for the Lord's name, they back off. They want great gain without any pain; even if the gain is the cause of Christ.
As we serve the Lord my friend, let us remember his words in John 15:20, "'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." If the cause of Christ will be our gain, there will be pain. But, oh what a gain it will be!


Monday, July 6, 2020

How are you led?

"And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” ... And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing." -- Acts 8:29, 39
Some people are led toward making money. Others are driven toward success at any cost. Still others are all about living the "good life". In a very real sense, everyone is led by something. What is it that leads you?
Philip was led by the Holy Spirit. He willingly dropped everything to go where the Lord wanted him. When he had accomplished his task, he was off again, led by the Spirit elsewhere. As a result of going where he was led, Philip had the privilege to share the good news of Jesus with someone who was ready to believe. All this happened because he was at the right place at the right time.
That is the key to being led correctly my friend. When the Lord is the one leading you, it will be certain that you will be at the right place at the right time. Make the right choice every day; look for the Spirit of God to lead you step by step and you will be surprised how he will use you.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

God's blessings are NOT for sale...

"But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God." - Acts 8:20-21
We hear it all the time; "Everyone has their price!" There seems to be a general sense that everything in life can be bought. People have been known to buy freedom from justice, positions of power, as well as academic recognition. Some even believe that the good things of God are for sale. The truth is, God's blessings are reserved for those whose hearts are right with Him.
Centuries have come and gone, but very little has changed in the misunderstanding about the things of God. As much as Simon believed that the gift of God could be purchased, there are those today that give large sums of money to the church with ulterior motives in mind. They are persuaded that God will bring success to their business, and eventually they will have a special place reserved in heaven. But, they tend to forget, God's blessings are reserved for those whose hearts are right with Him.
Have you been convinced that God can be bought my friend? When you are ill do you seek His healing work by doing good works or giving large gifts? Such thinking is not far from the ways of Simon the magician. God freely cares for His children out of love and grace. These are gifts that can never be bought. Remember, God's blessings are reserved for those whose hearts are right with Him.

TBC RADIO - #Heaven #Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in ...

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Great gain...

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria... Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." - Acts 8:1, 4

On two occasions, our family has moved to new church ministries. Both times the change has been quite a shock to our lifestyle. Yet, each change brought spiritual challenge and significant growth. When the Lord is in the change, it can be of great value. Change for the sake of change can be a real pain, but... change for God's sake will bring great gain.
The intriguing truth of this passage is found in this fact; Acts 1:8 begins to unfold in Acts 8:1. Persecution brought change in lifestyle and led to many believers moving to new and unfamiliar regions. Yet, wherever they went, they preached the Word and people came to Christ. While the change was frightening and very unsettling, it was for God's sake and... it brought great gain.
Great persecution may not be breaking out in your life, but events may be occurring that are bringing unexpected change. Since God is always in control, you can be sure that this change has divine purpose. Will you pray for the Lord's wisdom to get the most spiritual value out this change? Remember, when God is in the change, there will be great gain!


Friday, July 3, 2020

Tragedy to Triumph...

“Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord" - Acts 7:30-31
D. L. Moody was a powerful and productive american evangelist of the nineteenth century. From his conversion in 1855 throughout the 1860s Moody grew to be quite the Christian worker and preacher. But on Sunday, October 8, 1871 he concluded his evening sermon in Chicago and shortly afterward a fire broke out, burning on until Tuesday afternoon, consuming much of what Moody had built. In the months that followed the young preacher came to realize that he needed to stop moving forward on his own, but first wait on the Lord for for His direction. Tragedy became triumph in Moody's life.
Moses had launched out on his own and murdered a man in the process. He was forced to flee for his life and spend the next forty years on the far side of the desert, shepherding flocks. At a ripe old age of eighty one would think that his usefulness was ended. All his youthful dreams and fervency were long gone with the passing years. But, the lesson was clear, until we breath our last, God is not finished with us. In the hands of God, the greatest tragedy can become a triumph.
Have you had a few fires or desert years my friend? Have your dreams and personal aspirations all gone up in smoke? Well, come alone to the wilderness bush and find the divine fire of new dreams and aspirations. Take time and listen for the voice of God and let him turn your tragedies into triumphs!


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Rescued...

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household." - Acts 7:9-10
Martin Luther was a man of great conviction and courage. As a result, he found himself hiding in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach. During this stay at Wartburg, which he referred to as "my Patmos", Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German and produced a wide array of theological writings. As God was with him, in time he was rescued from his afflictions and returned to Wittenberg.
The story seems to be the same throughout the ages. Those who serve the Lord may suffer persecution in many ways, but God is with them. As we think about Joseph we must realize that he spent thirteen years in servitude and prison. The time was sufficient to embitter the best of us, but Joseph only grew stronger and more effective for His God. In the end, God rescued him and blessed him abundantly.
Are you in the Wartburg Castles or Egyptian dungeons of life my friend? In such dark hours find a way to carry on with great purpose for your Lord. Seek to be a blessing by blooming where you are, and in time... the Lord will rescue you out of your afflictions too.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Specialists...

"And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit... And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." -- Acts 6:5, 7
In addition to the physician, there are a number of people who are able to help the patient toward good health. Within the medical field there are a wide variety of specialists who are assigned different tasks. If each one will exercise their skills to the full, patients will be greatly benefited. 
As for the spiritual welfare of the church there are those who are called to be pastors, or in other words, physicians of the soul. The major task of these men is to be devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word. In addition there are a variety of specialists who are full of faith and the Holy Spirit. If they exercise their spiritual gifts to the full, the church will be greatly blessed.
If you are a pastor, remember to keep the main thing the main thing and leave the rest to spiritually gifted specialists. If you are not a pastor my friend, you are a specialist with God-given gifts and assignments. If, being full of faith and led by the Holy Spirit, you will fulfill your calling, your church will be greatly blessed.

1 Peter 4:10 eCard - Free Facebook Greeting Cards Online

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Get in the game!

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." - Acts 5:41-42
Most summers bring the national pastime… baseball. Week in and week out, every team will play hard with dreams of being the world champion. Since only one team will win that coveted trophy, the rest will finish the season disappointed, but determined to play again next year, with renewed focus on the big prize. They are passionate about the competition and willing to suffer the pain and even the losses to play. They want to be in the game.
The apostles were persecuted for their faith and threatened. They suffered the humiliation with joy and pressed on with passion. They were determined to reach others with the good news at any cost. They would continue to experience setbacks of opposition, but they would never stop speaking for Jesus. They wanted to be in the game.
 Are you passionate about your faith? Are you determined to tell others the good news about Jesus? Paul said there is a prize to press toward... "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Don't sit on the sideline; make a choice today... get in the game!


Monday, June 29, 2020

Great fear...

"And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things." -- Acts 5:11
Over time the church of Jesus Christ has become a comfortable place to gather. It is seen by many believers as a club to join, with varied benefits for members. Accountability for spiritual conduct and wholesome living isn't part of the package. We live in a day of Christian liberty gone amuck. There is no fear of God or his displeasure.
The early church began on sure footing. There was spiritual power and great life changes. God was working miracles in every corner. Then along came two believers that took accountability and Godly living lightly. They chose to be deceptive, having no thought of God or his church. The story is sobering to say the least and a healthy fear spread throughout the whole church.
Do you take church and Godly living seriously my friend? Are you aware that accountability before the Lord is of great importance? The Lord is not in the habit of overlooking unrepentant and unconfessed sin. The healthy church is a place where Godliness is expected and reverence for the Lord is required.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Beauty out of ashes...

"Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness"  - Acts 4:27-29 

When my father retired, he had no health insurance and my mother had a major stroke which left her partially paralyzed. At the time, I needed to set aside my academic pursuits and help my parents through a very discouraging process. But, as a result of my being with them during those days, I began ministering in our church with a lovely young lady, who eventually became my wife. From our marriage, came two fine young men who are both serving the Lord. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.
The events of our Lord's crucifixion were devastating if left by themselves. The hours that followed the Lord's death were frightening and distressful for the disciples. But, in this passage we see a new boldness that found courage in the Sovereign work of God. As a result of Calvary, came the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.
Does your life look like a pile of ashes today? Have the events of life left you discouraged and confused? Remember, the path of the cross was followed by resurrection, Pentecost, and the power to serve.  David said it right in Psalm 30:5, "... weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."  Pray for courage and walk in faith, believing that... God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.

Pin on Psalms

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Who have you been with?

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus." - Acts 4:13
As far back as the 12th century, apprenticeships were a large part of learning a trade. Parents would often place their teenage son under the instruction of a Guild's Master craftsman. After 5 to 9 years the young man would most likely become highly skilled in the specified trade. His future success as a craftsman would depend on who he had been with during his years of training.
While the disciples were uneducated, common men, they had spent three years with Jesus. They sat under his teaching and joined him in a great many ministry activities. They had become highly skilled servants and preachers of the Gospel. But, what was most significant was not so much the lessons learned as the One they had been with during their years of training.
When you minister from week to week my friend, what do people observe most of all? Are they impressed with your Bible knowledge, or is it your vast church experience? Do you have an impressive resume from the best Bible Colleges and Seminaries? These will never have the same lasting impact as who you spent time with in preparation. Every day and every week, your skill in ministry should be rooted in this fact: that you have been with Jesus.


Friday, June 26, 2020

God grows the flower...

"By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." - Acts 3:16
My wife loves to plant flowers in the spring. She makes plans and arranges everything in her garden to look a certain way. She plants, fertilizes and faithfully waters the little guys. After a while our house looks like "Better Homes and Gardens". While Jayne does a lot of work and learns better gardening skills every year, the truth remains... God grows the flower.
When Peter spoke to the man crippled from birth, he jumped to his feet and walked. People came from all around to see the miracle. Did Peter call attention to himself or the Lord as the healer? Peter was given the privilege to plant seeds of faith in the Lord's garden, but... God grows the flower.
As you venture into the Lord's garden today, keep in mind that you are serving with the Master. You will be given opportunities to plant seeds of truth and faith, and people will be greatly blessed. Some lives may be dramatically changed and blossom in beautiful ways, but after you've diligently labored, remember... God grows the flower.

Verse of the Day - Philippians 2:13 - iDisciple

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Cut to the heart...

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”" - Acts 2:36-37 
I cut my finger. Yes, I wasn't being careful and with a slip of the hand a very well sharpened knife sliced right into the little digit. I always make sure that my knives are sharp as razors and when they are properly used they are great tools. But this time, with a misguided flex of muscle, the blade literally "cut to the bone".
When Peter spoke the Word of God in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, people responded. They were moved to conviction and knew a decision was needed. When the Scriptures are used with God empowered precision, they are "... living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..." (Hebrews 4:12) With a well guided flex of the Spirit, the Word will literally "cut to the heart".
Paul counseled Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to do his best to rightly handle the Word of truth. Are you doing your best in the study of the Bible? Are you skilled in using it to bring truth to bear in your life and in the lives of others? Remember my friend, the Word of God is a sharp tool of spiritual value, intended to "cut to the heart".


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Our foremost purpose...

"both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians — we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." - Acts 2:11
I have a Subaru Outback. It can serve as a luggage carrier, shelter from rain and snow, mini concert hall and small conference center. But at the end of the day, this mighty motor driven vehicle has one foremost purpose in life: transportation. It gets me from point A to point B, and it does this admirably.
God bestowed spiritual gifts in a similar way. While the giftedness of believers may differ in many ways and be used to accomplish many goals, God has given them to expand His kingdom. They may be desired and nurtured for various reasons, but after all is said and done, these supernatural abilities have one foremost purpose: to glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.
Once again my friend it's not about us, it's all about HIM. The lesson is clear; identify your spiritual gifts, regularly exercise them and seek the one foremost purpose: glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

"Be Pray-pared"...

"They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." - Acts 1:14
The first phrase I learned as a Scout was "Be Prepared". According to the Scout handbook, the idea is: "Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best." Big moments in life come without warning and it's too late to prepare. So, the best plan of action is to always "Be Prepared".
One of those big moments was coming for the disciples. They had been through so much over the previous months, but they still needed to get ready. They were instructed to wait for power from on high and they did just that. But, how did they wait? They joined together constantly in prayer. What were they praying for and why did they pray constantly? Above all other considerations, they joined together in prayer to "Be Prepared".
Is your prayer life just a matter of asking for the needs of the moment? Do you just "put out fires" through prayer? Or do you spend time seeking spiritual wisdom and strength "to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best."? The best plan of action is to "Be Pray-pared".


Monday, June 22, 2020

A simple meal...

"Jesus said to them,“Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish." -- John 21:12-13
For over forty years I have been a Pastor to people from almost every culture. While there are a variety of differences from one culture to the next, I have noticed one similarity. The time of socializing is most often shared around meals. The breaking of bread among neighbors, friends and family has always served as a casual door to deeper moments of sharing. A simple meal can be a valuable moment of significant communion.
This timeless practice was a common event in the ministry of Jesus. He fed multitudes that came to learn, as well as shared deep truths during an evening meal just hours before his crucifixion. His invitation to the Church of Laodicea was "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)  A simple meal can be a valuable moment of significant communion.
How has the last week been for you and yours my friend? Have you been pressured by plans of getting back to work with demanding schedules ahead? As you move forward, will you make time to regularly sit down with loved ones or friends and share your heart over a few bites of refreshment? You will find hearts more open to spiritual truths when sharing in a casual atmosphere. A simple meal can be a valuable moment of significant communion.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Mountain tops...

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."  - John 20:19-20
During my teen years our church youth group went on a summer retreat in Canada. A family in the church had a cabin right on the water in the Thousand Islands region. The scenery was beautiful, the surroundings were serene and the weather was perfect. It was just the place to spend time with the Lord. We came back home rejoicing from our "mountaintop" experience.
Retreats are great, but are they always necessary for a serious encounter with Jesus? The disciples were gathered together, locked up in a house, afraid for their very lives. There were no gentle breezes blowing, no soothing sounds of a lake and no warm rays of the sun to bask under. The atmosphere was far from being a "mountaintop" setting. But then, Jesus came and stood among them and they were overjoyed.
Jesus will meet us anywhere, anytime in any setting. We just need to take the time to patiently seek his face and the "mountaintop" will come to us. May your joy never be determined by the beauty of the creation my friend, but may it overflow from the beauty of the Creator.  "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."


Saturday, June 20, 2020

By name ...

"Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher)." -- John 20:16
To whom does the honor go of experiencing the first meeting with the resurrected Christ? Like the first Bethlehem viewing having gone to simple shepherds, so this occasion went to a humble, but devoted woman. While Jesus appeared to the disciples soon after, this moment belonged to Mary. She was called by name and given the blessed assurance of the resurrection. 
As you rise to worship the living Savior from morning to morning, remember that each one of us is loved and blessed by name. Our relationship with the Lord is quite unique and most personal. We read earlier in John 10:3, "The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name..." 
Before you head out to face the day my friend, take time to quietly meet with the One who has risen from the dead. Visit with your Lord, listen for His voice, and bow before Him in humble adoration and worship. Draw close to the One who calls you by name. 


Friday, June 19, 2020

The Key...

"He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." - Luke 24:44-45
Some years ago I purchased an audio set that promised to open a whole new world of foreign language. This set was supposed to be the key that would bring instant understanding with very little effort. Well, after some time I disposed of them because I couldn't find the promised "key" to instant understanding.
As Jesus shared with the disciples, he didn't offer them an audio set or any other academic program. He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. As a result, as time passed we read, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13) Jesus is the "key" to instant understanding.
Don't be afraid to open the pages of your Bible. Pray for understanding and read on. The Lord will give what you need and each day you will find new insight from him. Take the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation and look for the Lord on every page and you will find the "key" to instant understanding.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Is He really wanted?

"So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them." - Luke 24:28-29
"Stop in sometime!" These words are heard quite often, but do they express a genuine invitation? For some people who live quite casually, the answer is yes. But for most, such words are just a social nicety. In most cases we only stop in and visit when there is a sincere request for our presence. We need to know that we are really wanted.
This is quite an interesting moment as the Lord travels on the road to Emmaus. We are told that "He acted as if he were going farther". But those with whom He conversed "urged Him strongly" to stay with them. They were quite serious about their invitation and the Lord responded accordingly, "So He went in to stay with them". The Lord is no different than we are in this matter; He needs to know that He is really wanted.
Each day brings a new opportunity for close fellowship with the Lord my friend. The question is, do you extend a sincere invitation and "urge Him strongly" to commune with your heart in the quiet hours? He said it best in Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." He needs to know that He is really wanted.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Friday or Sunday outlook?

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him,  just as he told you.’ ” - Mark 16:6-7
Job said, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:5) The occasions that I have been told something and forgotten the information is legendary. On a similar note, I am always amazed how often we announce events at our church that are never heard. As my Dad would often say, "some things go in one ear, and out the other."
The day that Jesus rose from the dead was an amazing morning. To the disciples though, it was an unexpected event, but how could that be, since they were told time and again by our Lord? He had taught so much and the most important truth was his promised resurrection. While the followers of Jesus could have lived from Friday to Sunday with great expectations, they were saddened with overwhelming hopelessness. What Jesus had said about rising again, went in one ear, and out the other.
Jesus is coming again. There is no doubt in my mind, because he said he would. If we have heard and read this, do we live in expectation? Or do we live with a hopeless Friday to Sunday outlook? Jesus will meet us in the air, just as we've been told. How then shall we live? May this great truth go in one ear... and change our lives.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

"...to Completion!"

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -- Matthew 28:20
On April 18, 1942, four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle led a retaliation raid on Tokyo, Japan. General Henry Arnold, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Corps, directed Doolittle to just train pilots for the mission, believing that he was far too valuable to lose in battle. Doolittle chose not only to train the men, but also fly with them. He led the mission to its completion.
As much as those pilots were inspired and encouraged by the presence of their leader in 1942, so should every soldier of Christ be today. In an older Bible translation we find Jesus referred to as the "captain" of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). The word in the Greek language is archēgós, which means pioneer leader. Our Lord not only trains us for spiritual battle, he also leads the way, for he is "with us always, to the very end of the age". Jesus leads the mission to its completion.
Do you often feel like you're all alone in the battle of life? Are you pressed on every side with no one to whom you can turn? Well my friend, you have a leader who is with you and is leading the way. He is the "captain" of your salvation and as you face the challenges of every mission, remember to fix your "eyes on Jesus, the author (archēgós) and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). He leads the mission to its completion.


Monday, June 15, 2020

God NEVER fails...

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:30
Whenever I drive past an unfinished building that appears to be abandoned I feel sad. Someone had dreams of a new venture that failed. The economy, unexpected events or just poor planning led to an unfinished project. The hopes someone had were gone and all they left behind was a deteriorating signpost that read "failure".
Thankfully, God knows no such concept as "failure". What he begins, he finishes. Jesus went to the cross on purpose and only when he "finished" the work of redemption did he give up his spirit. In the words of a builder, the work of Christ was a "turn-key" job. When you trust Christ for your salvation and eternal life, he just hands you the key. The project is complete; all you have to do is take residence.
Just as God started and finished the work of redemption for us, he is working today to make us more like Jesus. May we be encouraged that God never fails at what he starts..."he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" - Philippians 1:6



Sunday, June 14, 2020

Who is your King?

"... He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” -- John 19:14-15
Many Sovereigns around the world have been killed in insurrections. Is it possible that you have recently executed your King? This is done by selfish choices of many kinds every day. We face each day beholding our King and yet, at various moments throughout the day we state "We have no king but..." Who is your king my friend?
Don't pigeon hole these Jews as a hardened people who are just opposed to Jesus. Yes, Pilate presented them with a final opportunity to set the Lord free, and they rejected Him. But to claim Caesar as their king was an outright political ploy to get what they wanted. Are you any less open to embracing new kings that provide the means to push Jesus away?
The end of this thought is found in the fact that we can have only one king in life my friend. Jesus stated it this way in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." The crowd was right in saying, "We have no other king but..." Who is your king today?