Monday, April 6, 2020

The right "stuff" ...

"Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'" - Luke 12:15
In 2011 our family sold the home my in-laws lived in for a good many years. This was a major down sizing and we ended up renting a dumpster to achieve the goal. At first we thought the rental unit would be too large, but by the time we were done it was overflowing. The truth is; abundance of possessions isn't always a good thing.
Whether we are greedy or just hoarders, having too much of a good thing is just that; too much. This mindset can rob you of satisfaction and the pleasure of eternal values. Jesus gave a clear warning ... "Watch out! Be on your guard" Your life consists of far more important treasures than the "stuff" you accumulate.
Paul gave us considerable food for thought in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, "For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy."  It's not about abundance of possessions my friend, it's all about people. How many people are you accumulating for Jesus?


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Good Hands ...

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -- John 10:27-30
The well known insurance company slogan "You're in good hands with Allstate" has been around since 1950. The original thought originated from the company commitment to the insured individual. The safety and welfare of clients was of utmost importance to Allstate. Where else can we find such security today?
Security is a very significant word that springs from this passage. Jesus wanted to convey to his followers the thought of protection and provision for all eternity. Like sheep who rest in the ever faithful and watchful care of their shepherd, Jesus carries his flock in his powerful, yet gentle hands... hands that were pierced for them.
How is it possible for you to be fearful in the face of eternity? If you belong to the Good Shepherd, you are someone for whom he laid his life down. Since his hands were pierced for you and still took death by the throat in victory, are they not sufficient to hold you firmly forever? Be secure my friend... be eternally secure!

Great Work - Pocket Fuel Daily Devotional

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Great light...

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” - Luke 11:33-36
One year we traveled north for the holidays, through a heavy snow storm. Since our trip was made at night, every now and then we had to stop to clean the snow and ice off the headlights. Within a few miles the lights were once again reduced to a very dim condition. We had power and we had bulbs, but we had little light.
In the same way, when we travel through the storms of life we need good eyes. We need eyes that provide the body with light so we can shine in the darkness and not be filled with darkness. The light of Jesus brings us all the light we could ever need. The more we learn from the Lord the more light shines within. But, while we can have the availability of light, if we don't focus our eyes on Jesus, we have little light.
Simply put, the more time you spend with Jesus, the more light you will have. Do you want to shine for the Lord today? Remember that you can only shine with the light that he gives. It's what you choose to read and watch that really makes your eyes good. If you take in too much "snow" your eyes and life will be dim. But if you take in the Word and things that are worthy, your eyes will be good. Your whole life will shine in the darkness for Jesus, because you have great light.






Friday, April 3, 2020

You have to choose...

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." - Luke 11:23
On the field of play the team distinction is quite simple. There are those on one team and those who are not. On the field of battle the distinction is the same. There are those who are patriots and those who are not. Apart from horseshoes, there are very few situations in life where "almost" is accepted.
As Jesus points out, spiritual matters are the very same way. No one can be on both teams or in both armies at the same time. If you are not with the Lord, you have chosen to stand against Him. If you are not gathering for the kingdom, you have chosen to scatter. When it comes to eternity, "almost" doesn't exist.
The world in which you live would like to be "gray" and ride the fence my friend. But the Lord is looking for those who will choose Him above all else. It is so stated in Ezekiel 22:30, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land..." The Lord desires those who will stand in the gap with Him. All others are not almost, they are simple against Him. The choice is yours... but you have to choose.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Context...

"Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come... And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" - Luke 11:2, 9
Context! Our constitution provides us with freedom of speech. Yet, we can find ourselves in court for the crime of slander. We have the right to speak our heart whenever and wherever, but we have other laws that call for certain veracity in our claims and accusations. This is simply freedom in context.
Jesus invited us to ask, seek and knock. He promised that our requests would be granted. But we find that things don't always go the exact way that we pray. We often wonder why this occurs. The answer is found in one word... "context". When the heart is in tune with our heavenly Father and we desire nothing less than His holiness and kingdom work, our requests are made with greater precision. Then it will be given, found and opened. This is simply prayer in context.
As you begin each day my friend, take time to be tuned to your heavenly Father's heart. Make your one and foremost desire to live for the holiness and kingdom work of God. Then as the needs arise, ask, seek and knock with confidence. When Biblical truth is practiced in context, great blessing will always follow.
Verse of the Day - 1 John 5:14-15

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

One thing ...

"But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." - Luke 10:41-42
Every season has the potential to overwhelm a person with stress. Particularly on Easter, many families will come from miles around for food and fellowship. In addition to this, special programs will often be planned at church or school. As the calendar begins to fill up, there just doesn't seem to be enough hours and days to get it all done. If we're not very careful, we will become "anxious and troubled about many things."
When the above words of counsel were given, do you think that Jesus was suggesting that food was not necessary? Or was He encouraging Martha to slow down and follow the example of Mary? Being sure that we have quality time to sit at the feet of Jesus makes every day so much easier. When we put the Lord first, everything else falls in place in just the right way.
"One thing is necessary"! In simple words my friend, let's keep the main thing, the main thing. Martin Luther put it this way, "If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day." Life must go on... but it always goes best when we start with Jesus.

Mark 1:35 — Berea Project

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What really matters...

"Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." - Luke 10:20
Have you ever noticed when a NASCAR race is won the driver is given the greatest attention? The car may be a superior vehicle with a well built engine. The tires may be the finest make available and the pit crew highly skilled. But at the end of the day, it's simply the name of the driver that really matters.  
In a way, our spiritual life is very much the same. We might have a super gifted life with ministry skills galore. Our accomplishments may fill a list a mile long, but the real issue is who and whose we are. The famous and not so famous still face the same question: Is your name written in heaven?
Be careful not to put so much importance on your accomplishments my friend. The most important day in your life was when you became a child of the King. And the next most important day will be when you shall see Him face to face because your name is written in heaven. Sometimes life is just that simple.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Follow HIM...

"When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice." -- John 10:4
Do you remember some trip or special occasion when you were somewhere unfamiliar? The most secure moments were when you heard familiar voices. You found great assurance when you were surrounded by your traveling companions. Being all alone can be frightening.
Life is a journey into the unknown. We need someone who will go ahead and lead the way. We need someone who calls us His own and calls us by name. We need a voice that will set us at ease and calm our fears. That someone is Jesus.
When moments press in and bring unfounded fear, where do you turn? To whom do you look when you feel lost and unsettled? Turn your eyes upon Jesus my friend, and listen to His voice as He speaks softly from His Word. As He leads the way, He calls you by name and reminds you that you're His. Follow Him and fear not.
_________________________________________________________________

JESUS LED ME ALL THE WAY
John W. Peterson, 1954

Some day life's journey will be o're.
And I shall reach that distant shore;
I'll sing while ent'ring heaven's door,
"Jesus led me all the way."

Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,
"Jesus led me all the way."

If God should let me there review
The winding paths of earth I knew,
It would be proven clear and true -
"Jesus led me all the way."

Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,
"Jesus led me all the way."

And hither to my Lord hath led,
Today He guides each step I tread;
And soon in heav'n it will be said,
"Jesus led me all the way."

Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,

"Jesus led me all the way."

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Only TODAY...

"As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." -- John 9:4
Every morning, Monday through Friday, parkways across this land are usually jam packed with people heading to work. Then, as evening approaches, those same people make their way back home after a a busy day. While time passes and progress leads to great change, the work day remains much the same. The majority of people work "as long as it is day".
Some have called it the "Puritan Work Ethic", but the idea of working hard was embraced by our Lord long before there were Puritan Divines. He came to do all the work given by the Father in heaven while it was day. He led a focused life of productive effort accomplishing the tasks assigned. The Lord knew that night was coming "when no one can work."
How diligent are you in the work of the Lord? Have you a clear sense of his purpose for your life? Time flies for everyone of us and the night is coming. Will you be able to say that you made the most of the "day" you were given to accomplish the task assigned to you by the Lord? Work hard my friend, because "TODAY" is the only promise you have.



Saturday, March 28, 2020

Future vision...

"Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." - John 8:56
Some years ago I received a pair of binoculars as a birthday gift. As a result I no longer needed to pay a fee to use the ones at the park and seaside. It is always a joy to have a closer look at God's creation and these simple optical aids make that possible. 
When we consider the great patriarchs of the Older Testament, we often wonder what they understood about God's future plan. Were they only aware of a few details that needed to be connected over time? Or were they given spiritual optical aids to see the future more clearly? This passage tells us that they knew a great deal about the future and it brought them reason to rejoice.
Through faithful study of the Scriptures you too can have a view of the future my friend. God has provided spiritual optical aid through a vast number of prophetic writings. Why is it important that we read them you might ask? Consider the joy that Abraham had when he saw the future coming of Messiah. This joy can also be yours when you envision His second coming and Kingdom reign.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Free indeed...

"Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." -- John 8:34-36
Over the years I've ministered to various people who have suffered from substance abuse. For a very long time they believe that they are not addicted. They would say, "It's just one drink, now and then". I grew up with family members that would have "just one drink, now and then." The truth was they were slaves to alcohol.
It doesn't matter how you package it, when you're addicted, you're a slave. We are sinners by nature and by action, and "everyone who sins is a slave to sin". You can deceive yourself by saying, "It's just one sin, now and then", but you're addicted. Freedom will only come to those who admit their condition and turn to the Son of God to set them free.
Will you stop and be true to yourself my friend? "... A slave has no permanent place in the family of God, but a son belongs to it forever." Sin must be admitted before freedom and a place in the family can be granted. Do you want to continue in life as a slave, or do you want to be "free indeed"?


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Light up your life...

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  - John 8:12
I own more flashlights than most. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I want to see where I'm walking and be able to read my books during a power failure. I prefer battery-operated flashlights. I know some people who are sold on the "shake it to light it" type. The interesting fact is, whether the light is run by battery, shaking or even cranking ... the light finally goes out. You will eventually walk in darkness.
So it is with every man-made source of light for the soul. We live in darkness and we will die in darkness because our self-powered lights will always go out. The only hope for lasting light is to find the true "Eveready" or "Diehard" source of light, and it's not the Energizer Bunny!
The truth is, that Jesus is the light that never fails. He doesn't need shaking, cranking or new and better batteries. He alone will light the way of every soul that follows Him. You don't need to walk in darkness today. Come to Jesus and He will ... "light up your life" ...  forever!

Image result for light of the world

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Divided...

"Thus the people were divided because of Jesus." -- John 7:43
People are divided for many reasons. Some hold different political views, others have different ethnic backgrounds and still others differ on social issues. There are those who will even fight for their favorite ball team. Still, none of the above can divide the entire human race.
Our verse for thought is factual and profoundly timeless. While no small passing issue can divide everyone for all time, Jesus does. He is the eternal watershed that divides all mankind. This is clearly stated in John 3:18, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned". There it is; Jesus is the Mason-Dixon Line of history. There are those who believe and those who don't believe. The entire human race is divided because of Jesus.
What about you my friend? You have chosen or will choose to believe or not to believe and your eternal future lies in the balance. This is not a minor issue that you can ignore until it goes away. Every day you check the date on a calendar that is broken at the coming of Christ; B.C. and A.D. As time, so people, some are without Christ and some are with Christ... which are you?


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Living Water...

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” - John 7:37-38
"Poland Spring", "Crystal Spring", "Saratoga Spring" and "Spring of Life" are just a few names for drinking water companies. The names elicit thoughts of fresh, rushing, mountain springs of cool refreshing water. The thought of such waterways almost quenches the thirst by the very idea. We are never moved in the same way with stagnant water from a city reservoir. Our thirst is best quenched by living water.
In truth, we are all aware that many water bottles are processed far from any mountain spring. But, we still raise the bottle to our lips with hopes that we have a small slice of the great outdoors. In contrast the Lord offers all who believe the real deal for their souls. He invites those who are thirsty to come and drink of living waters. He doesn't quench the thirst of the soul with old stagnant water. He promises fresh water, and He offers us water that will flow deep and wide like a river.
Does your soul feel dry and parched my friend? Have you tried the bottles of man-made water that have that stagnant taste that never satisfies? Well, come to Jesus and experience the wonderful outpouring of His Holy Spirit within your heart. Your thirst will be more than quenched with living water that flows deep and wide like a river.


Monday, March 23, 2020

God's Will...

"If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority." -- John 7:17
Have you ever gotten lost? Was it due to someone giving you wrong directions? Or was your GPS miscalculating? Well, no matter how sincere we may be, wrong directions will get us lost every time. While this maxim may always be true, when we genuinely desire the Lord's direction, we will always find His way.
Jesus spoke to those that questioned his teaching. He revealed this truth; that when you're willing to do God's will you will know His leading. His path will open before you like a wide open country road. Those who might worry about missing the way as they seek the Lord's leading should take this to heart and move forward with utmost confidence.
Are you seeking the will of God in your daily walk? Is His leading first and foremost in your mind? But, do you fear that you might lose your way my friend? Have no fear; God will never lead astray those who have a willing heart to do His will. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." - Psalm 32:8


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Forgiveness...

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ -- Matthew 18:32-33 
What's the difference between a silk flower and a real one? A lot! Depth and texture are hard to reproduce, but some have come close. Yet, the distinct floral fragrance is just not going to happen. The real deal has a God given scent that most people find quite pleasant. Silk flowers may look nice, but you'll never get out, what hasn't been put in by God.
In the same way, forgiveness is a Christian fragrance. Paul gave instructions to the believers in Ephesus to, "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2) God loved us so much that he forgave us for a lifetime of sin. When we face the offense of another, shouldn't we have mercy as the Lord has had on us? This is one significant difference between a religious person and a true believer. The believer has been forgiven in love and exudes a fragrance of loving forgiveness toward others.
Are you a forgiving person? Just as you can't find fragrance in a silk flower, you'll never have a fragrance of forgiveness if you're just religious. But, if you're the real deal, you have been given a scent of loving forgiveness as the Lord forgave you, "while you were still a sinner". (Romans 5:8) If you refuse to forgive, one of two facts are true. You have never been born again as a forgiven child of God, or you are living in sin. Be a flower from God every day my friend and "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Back to the basics...

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?''... Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" - Matthew 18:1, 4
"Fortune 500", "Success", "Smart Money", "Fortune", "Upscale", "The Prosper Magazine" and "Fast Company" are a number of periodicals that regularly highlight business success. If these weren't enough to boil the pot, you will find any number of articles in Christian periodicals that emphasize the pursuit of "Christian Success". The question continues to haunt us ... "Who is the greatest?" 
"We've come a long way Baby" from the teachings of Jesus. Today, rather than teaching the multitudes on a hillside or from a fishing boat, we need a Crystal Cathedral. Instead of washing the feet of our friends we sit together and sip our Lattes in the church Jacuzzi. But Jesus lifted up a child and pointed to child-like humility and simplicity as the true path to kingdom success. We need to get back to the basics.
What are your priorities my friend? Are you so driven by the pursuit of worldly success that you're of little heavenly good? Do you even remember the days of child-like faith that changed your life? Where have the joys and satisfaction gone that came from simple Bible study, prayer and serving others? Let's find greatness in being a child again and get back to the basics.


Friday, March 20, 2020

Real life...

"On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child." - Luke 9:37-38
Vacations are great, but eventually they end. Work awaits and the daily routine demands our attention. Even in retirement the demands of daily life call upon us when we return from trips to see grandchildren and other enjoyable diversions. Special occasions and getaways are important for good health and emotional well-being, but real life is what we are all about.
In the same way, we need to have spiritual retreats and special times with our Lord. Such occasions may be a week away at a Christian camp or Sunday celebration at church. Then again, it could be the simple but refreshing devotional time alone with the Lord every morning. But when we "come down from the mountain" the daily routine demands our attention and ministry to others is waiting. The truth is, times with Lord fill us up so we can be ready to tackle real life for Jesus.
Do you often wish that your mountain top experiences could be the norm my friend? If they were, who would bring the Lord's blessings to those in need? Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that the Lord "comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction". Be sure to take special times of refreshment with the Lord, but "come down from the mountain" ready to tackle real life for Jesus.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Just Ask...

"But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." - Mark 9:32
How often were we told by our teachers not to be afraid to ask questions? How many questions did we ask? There are so many reasons why we don't ask questions when we are in doubt. Sometimes we are too proud, sometimes too embarrassed and sometimes too afraid. But whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The disciples were walking with the Lord Jesus day by day. He taught them great truths that changed their lives and his wisdom was beyond measure. What a wonderful opportunity to ask the Lord about everything they ever wondered about. Yet, they were afraid to ask about the Lord's death and resurrection. The result was tremendous sadness and frustration during the days of his Crucifixion and resurrection. I often wonder if they would have been better prepared by having asked questions. Whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The Lord has opened a door of opportunity for us in the words of Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" and James added in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Be confident to ask, and you will grow in your understanding. Be willing to ask, and you will be certain to learn.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

He can fix it...

"And Jesus said to him, 'If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.' Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief!'" - Mark 9:23-24
When my vehicle is in need of repair I take it to the auto shop. I walk in, tell my tale of woe, hand them the keys and sit down in the waiting room. Usually, in a short time the car is back to normal and I'm on the road again. I take my auto needs to those in whom I have confidence because I believe they can fix the problem.
For this father belief in the ability of Jesus was his first hurdle. The Lord dealt with the issue as quickly as the words were spoken. "All things are possible for one who believes." The response was one of great wisdom, "I believe, help my unbelief". In the face of struggles and storms we can always come to Jesus. But we need to have confidence that He can fix the problem.
Are you in the waiting room, resting in the power and abilities of Jesus my friend? Have you placed your life with all its hardships in his capable hands? When doubt raises its ugly head remember to "TRUST in the Lord with ALL YOUR HEART, and do not lean on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). Join this father in prayer with the simple request, "I believe; help my unbelief".


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Listen to Him!

"While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”"  -- Matthew 17:5
When a presidential inauguration comes about, people travel from miles around to participate and observe. There are a vast number of speakers and the program is filled with inspiring moments. While the entire event is quite an experience, only one person is the ultimate focus... the newly elected president. People from all around the world listen to him.
Peter, James and John were overwhelmed with the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus and they were greatly inspired. Peter suggested they have three booths erected for each important personality. But the heavenly Father responded with clarity... "This is my Son... Listen to Him". Many people make the same mistake today as they see various Bible characters as equally inspiring, yet only one person should be the ultimate focus. Jesus alone is the Son of God, so listen to him!
There may be many books on your shelf today, but only one book has the message of life. There may be many people that bless your life, but only one person is the way, truth and life. At the end of the day my friend, choose to be a person of one book and one person. Heed the voice of your heavenly Father, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”


Monday, March 16, 2020

Fame?

"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? " - Luke 9:24-25
Someone recently questioned the pursuit of high political office due to the lower salary package. They couldn't understand why someone who could be paid mega bucks would settle for less. One answer is reasonably clear; fame. Many people will give up almost everything in life to be famous.
Jesus gave us another principle to live by when He spoke the words "whoever would save his life will lose it". He offers a new and abundant life to those who are willing to step aside and allow Him to be the "Famous" One. Consider the lyrics of two songs. In the Broadway song "Fame" we hear, "Remember my name, FAME, I'm gonna live forever, I'm gonna learn to how to fly, FAME, I feel it coming together, People will see me and cry, FAME, I'm gonna make it to heaven, Light up the sky like a flame, FAME". In contrast, we hear the words of "The Famous One" by Chris Tomlin, "You are the Lord, The Famous One, Famous One, Great is your name in all the earth, The heavens declare You're glorious, glorious, Great is Your Name beyond the earth." The truth is this; it's all about HIM and when we live for the Lord's fame, we gain everything.
What profit is there in being famous my friend? In a generation or so, no one will ever remember you lived on the earth. But, when you live for Jesus, the glory of eternity is yours and your place in heaven is secure. The original question is a good one, why would anyone seek to gain world-wide fame at the cost of their own soul?


Sunday, March 15, 2020

He has a plan...

"And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly." -- Mark 8:22-25
I broke my ankle in a motorcycle accident a number of years ago. The damage was far more extensive than expected and the recovery took a lot longer than usual. But, as the Doctor promised, time and rest brought healing. Such is the case with the human body, for we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:1). A good physician considers all the differing needs of his patient and has a plan.
When the Lord performs surgery on us he considers every need we have from top to bottom. Sometimes, as with this blind man, the personal need may require a very different approach than past occasions. The Lord is concerned with our body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). As the Great Physician, the Lord takes each of us into his care with individual attention and he has a plan.
Too often, we grow impatient with the Lord's work in our lives. We expected healing, improvement or change to come in our way. Then the Lord gives us a thorough "scan" and chooses a different way to proceed. Will you trust the Great Physician for what he does best my friend? Will you wait for his unique and individual care to bring you his blessing? Remember, he has a plan... and his plan is always PERFECT!!


Saturday, March 14, 2020

The details of life...

“I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” - Mark 8:2-3
Just after returning from college, my mother suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for quite some time. The church family was greatly concerned for our family and prayed for us faithfully. There were some dear folks though that were very practical in their concern and invited my father and me over for supper more than once. Their compassion was in the details of life.
Jesus spent three days with four thousand people and at the end of the "conference" He was quite aware of their needs. The Lord had concern for the crowd as He so often did, but more than this He considered the practical outcome of their long trip home. Jesus' compassion was in the details of life.
Do you find yourself wondering if the Lord ever considers all the little things that weigh upon you my friend? Yes, you know that He is aware of your big needs, such as a new job, restored health, reconciled family or financial provision. But, is He concerned about a sandwich for today's lunch? I believe that He is just as focused on the practical needs of every day as the bigger picture. His compassion is also in the details of life.



Friday, March 13, 2020

His things... Not ours!

"But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'" - Matthew 16:23
I flew out to Lackland Air Force base in June of 1969 for military basic training. The experience was quite an education. I discovered that one major goal of the training was to break each enlistee from thinking as individuals. It was necessary for us to think as a team in ready response to our leadership. We needed to set our minds on the things of the Air Force and not on our own things.
It seems odd that Peter would be rebuked so strongly by Jesus. But Peter, like all of us, was drawn by his human nature to see things in a very different way than the Lord. The Biblical record of Isaiah 55:8 spoke of this difference in the following way; "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." Jesus rightly corrected Peter and clearly pointed to the source of such divergent thinking in the words, "Get behind me, Satan!"
Is it true that you have a better idea than the Lord my friend? Do you believe that your experience and wisdom puts you on equal ground with Jesus? Stop and consider the first few words of rebuke that the Lord spoke in Job 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding." God alone reigns and knows best, therefore we would be wise to set our minds His things, not ours.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

What are you seeking?

"An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”" -- Matthew 16:4
The world is full of skeptics who will never really believe. I remember hearing Apologist Josh McDowell tell of an encounter with a college student after one of his lectures. After a lengthy defense of the faith, the student still had questions. McDowell finally asked, "If I were to answer every one your questions about the claims of Christ, would you be willing to believe?" The young man said without hesitancy, "No, it would demand to great a change in my lifestyle". "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign".
The Pharisees and Sadducees were always looking for a sign from heaven. Hundreds of years have passed and people are still looking for such signs. While the greatest sign known to man has been shown in the resurrection of Jesus, they still look and doubt. Abraham said in Luke 16:31, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign".
The truth is; people just don't want to believe. Are you someone who has a legion of questions that keep you from Christ? If all your questions are answered are you willing to believe? Don't look for any other sign than the sign of Jonah. The evidence is clear, "...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Stop seeking for some other sign. Seek the Lord and you will be surprised with joy, for he said in Jeremiah 29:13-14, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you”


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Bedside manner...

"After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”).” - Mark 7:33-34
Bedside manner! How often have we had doctors who were quite skilled professionally but not very gifted in the area of compassion? The best doctor we ever had was a Christian who was truly moved by our distress over the pain of our child. He was touched by our feelings.
Jesus healed the sick and infirmed. He did so, on a daily basis, but he never became compassion-challenged. In this case, Jesus was moved with a deep sigh over the hardship of the man he healed. As the Great Physician, Jesus had true bedside manner and he did everything well. Jesus was touched by their feelings.
In the words of John W. Peterson, "No one understands like Jesus; ev’ry woe He sees and feels; tenderly He whispers comfort, and the broken heart He heals." And in the thought of Hebrews 4:15, Jesus is a high priest who is able to "sympathize with our weaknesses". Never hesitate to bring your needs to Jesus... He is touched with your feelings.



Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Attention Please...

"Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."" -- Matthew 15:32
How short our attention span is these days. If a movie is too long it gets bad reviews from the critics. If a classic book is too long it will come out in an abridged edition. If the Baccalaureate speaker is too long-winded he gets booed off the platform. We have become a people who just can't stay focused for very long. Attention takes effort.
Think about the scene before us in this passage. Great crowds came to the Lord for healing and they spent three days with him. His works and words were taken in like water by the parched tongue. One must believe that these people had homes, families and responsibilities, but they found someone who was worth spending unlimited time. They lingered and listened, weary and hungry. Their attention took effort, but was rewarded.
How much time do you spend with the Lord my friend? Do you run in and out of his presence each day with so much on your mind that you can't really concentrate? Are you in a hurry to "wrap it up" on Sunday mornings during the worship service? When was the last time you spent three days with the Lord? Maybe you could start by spending a good quality hour with him. If you make the effort to give him your attention the reward will be great.


Monday, March 9, 2020

Rules!

“ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” -- Matthew 15:8-9
Rules! Ah yes, families, businesses, missions and ministries have all started with heartfelt dreams and great passion. The early days were so simple and quite exciting. But as the years passed rules came into the picture. There were rules to prevent errors, rules to promote success, rules to preserve safety and rules to produce harmony. Over the years the passion was lost and the list of rules became the major goal. The heart was replaced with rules.
The Lord reminded the Pharisees of what they lost and what they had become. They lost their heartfelt desire for God and turned their attention to man-made rules. They spent so much time splitting hairs over the legalism of their teachings, that they lost sight of their love for God and his love for them. The passion was lost and their list of rules was all that was left. The heart was replaced with rules.
While the Bible certainly has rules to live by, man-made rules are a very different story. God's rules are intended to protect us from all that would draw us away from him. They are given to help us grow more in love with him and have a stronger spiritual walk. God's rules are heart strengthening, while men's rules are heartbreaking. May we always remember our first love for the Lord and never allow the rules of men to replace our hearts.




Sunday, March 8, 2020

Lost?

"Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life," - John 6:68
It has been said that real men never ask directions. As a real man I can attest to the truth of that statement. There seems to be a deep sense of determination within every man's heart that drives him forward, lost or not. To seek directions from a credible source would bring his very manhood into question. Therefore, the world is full of real men who are lost.
After a vast number of followers have turned back from walking with Jesus, the Lord asks the twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" To this question, Peter responds as no other real man would, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Peter was tired of being a real man who was lost. He believed that it was time to be a smart man and seek directions as he moved toward eternity.
Are you lost my friend? I mean really lost? Are you determined to find your own way without assistance from anyone else? Man or woman, are you so self assured that you don't need help on the journey toward eternity? Rather than being lost, be smart and turn to the only one who has the words of eternal life!


Saturday, March 7, 2020

Stuff that spoils...

"Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” -- John 6:26-27
Not long ago a news item mentioned opposition to McDonald's "Happy Meal"  toys. Some people believe that children only ask for happy meals to get the toy; they don't really care about the food in the box. Just imagine someone being more concerned with a toy that breaks in no time rather than a nourishing meal. Don't work for the stuff that spoils.
Speaking of food, there were numerous people who would follow Jesus anywhere, as long as he fed them. They were all about the momentary pleasure of a full stomach. But Jesus wanted more; he asked that people follow him for eternal reasons that would nourish the soul. He didn't want anyone working for the stuff that spoils.
Why do you follow the Lord my friend? Do you want some blessing in your job or special provision for your future? Are you satisfied with the immediate, and not really interested in the eternal? Jesus counsels every person who shortchanges themselves by seeking the toys of this world. He has so much more to offer... so don't work for the stuff that spoils.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Questions...

"He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do." -- John 6:6
Have you ever asked someone a question just to hear what they would say? You already knew the answer, but you were interested in knowing the thoughts of the other person. At times such answers will reveal more than just thoughts; they might open the door to their entire belief system... or unbelief.
Jesus wanted to test the faith and vision of Philip with his question. The Lord will also press our hearts with questions that rise from our time in the Word and prayer. He has already decided what He will do and how He will do it, but He probes our hearts. This is a time for deeper faith and spiritual growth.
Don't just passively read and pray my friend. Pay close attention to the questions that rise and allow time to open your heart to the Lord. Make room for God to do greater things than you have seen before and never place limits through unbelief. Remember... they gathered twelve baskets of fragments from the five barley loaves.