Saturday, February 22, 2020

Fruit of the Word...

"But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” -- Mark 4:20
The gospel is carried throughout the world every day. As usual, many will reject the message as nothing more than foolishness. Yet, there will be a select few that will receive the truth with great joy. Their lives will be changed and in the years ahead they will produce a wonderful spiritual harvest.
What kind of soil are you today my friend? Has the gospel story fallen upon your heart and produced a great crop of thirty, sixty or even a hundred fold? Or has this message passed from your memory like the morning dew? 
May the good news about Jesus change your life and deliver you from the fruitless pursuit of worldly gain and unending worries! Search the Word everyday for spiritual light and share the Lord with those who still walk in darkness.


Friday, February 21, 2020

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. On occasion 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!


Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Life saving blessing...

"She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased." - Luke 8:44
Penicillin based antibiotics were a tremendous discovery. Serious life-threatening diseases were stopped in their tracks as the medicine was administered. The devastating expectations that plagued families in years gone by were no longer feared. Long term deterioration of health was simply arrested by a short term treatment. Finally, a life saving blessing.
The lady that we are reading about in the above passage was worn down by twelve years of illness and failed efforts of treatments. The heartache had become as much a condition of despondency and frustration as the illness itself. No matter where she turned, there was absolutely no hope. But, then the day came when she "touched the fringe of His garment". Finally, a life saving blessing.
Have you come to end of the road in search of an answer my friend? Have you been plagued with spiritual, emotional and physical devastation and discouragement for years? Has any degree of hope simply slipped through your fingers? Well, take a moment to reach out and "touch the fringe of His garment". Come to Jesus in faith and you will find... Finally, a life saving blessing.



Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"He Worked for You"...

"Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." - Luke 8:37-39
You will often see an ad that highlights an average person who gives testimony for some new medicinal treatment. They will talk about their physical problem and they may mention many others who suffer in the same way. Then you are given the amazing details of how this new product can help you, because in the words of an average person like you, they say..."It worked for me".
Sometimes we resist the actual source of help. We may be intimidated or just filled with doubt. We need to know someone like us who has been helped. The day Jesus cured a demon possessed man was one of those occasions. Jesus was asked to leave because the locals were "overcome with fear". Jesus left in a boat, but not in his heart. He sent the cured man, an average person like them, back to say "Jesus can help you" because... "He worked for me".
Has the Lord done great things for you? Has he changed your life and set you free from sin, guilt and fear? There are those in your world who resist the preacher and church. But they know you; work with you, live next door to you. You're an average person just like them and you've been helped by Jesus. Take time today to tell someone you know, how much Jesus can do for them, because... "He worked for you".


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Use it or lose it ...

"Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him." - Luke 8:18
In the Gym there is a phrase; "Use it or Lose it". Such is the case when you fail to work a certain muscle group. The tight muscular look softens up and the strength of the muscle lessens over time. If you haven't worked that area for a while, you painfully realize how much you've lost when you go back to training.
In spiritual matters the above phrase is just as apropos; "Use it or Lose it". The Lord is not suggesting a mean and uncaring robbery of some to bless others. The point is simple; when you value the truth and nurture it in your soul, more understanding will come. But, when you blow off the process of learning and growth, you will even lose what you have. 
I have met many believers that have known the Lord for a long time. Some of them are well established in spiritual and Biblical wisdom, but others know very little. The words for today my friend are: "consider carefully how you listen". Remember, "Use it or Lose it".

Image result for proverbs 9:9

Monday, February 17, 2020

You've got to believe ...

"And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." -- Matthew 13:58
No matter how skilled and well trained a physician may be, if the patient has no faith in him, there can be little accomplished. Without faith the patient will fail to cooperate with the doctor's directions. The resources for healing may be abundant, but when doubt prevails we will remain as sick as ever. You've got to believe.
The need for faith in spiritual matters is even more significant. While the Lord alone brings about the miraculous, he looks for believers. He is the abundant resource of all that we need for spiritual and tangible needs. But are we people of faith or doubt? As we read in James 1:6-7, "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord" You've got to believe.
How much is the Lord doing in your life today? Are you seeing a powerful work of spiritual growth and dramatic provision day by day? Or are you doubtful that God will do anything in your life? The writer of Hebrews noted the sad outcome of those who lacked faith in 4:2, "...but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." He is still a God of the miraculous, but to experience his power, you've got to believe.

Image result for hebrews 4:2

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Weeds or Wheat?

"Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn." - Matthew 13:30
Have you ever noticed when you weed your garden that you occasionally pull out a flower while pulling the weeds? The roots of some weeds intertwine so much with the flower you just can't separate the two. While there are other measures you can take to rectify the problem, sometimes you just have to lose the flower.
The church can be much the same as your garden. Jesus knew that unbelievers were going to be found in the church. His counsel was to leave them alone until His coming. Unlike the garden, apart from extenuating circumstances, we are not directed to pull them out. The wisdom in this counsel is multifaceted. Over time unbelievers very well might be converted, and during this time believers will hopefully grow stronger and more secure in the Lord.
This parable should alert us to the fact of unbelievers sitting in church pews. The difference between believers and unbelievers may often be difficult to discern on the surface. So every believer should be faithful in their conduct, testimony and witness; especially with the church family. And be careful my friend to consider the words of  2 Peter 1:10, " Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure..."


Image result for matthew 7:22-23

Saturday, February 15, 2020

No root... No fruit...!

"... And since they had no root, they withered away." - Matthew 13:6
There was a tree in our back yard that we had removed. Over the years the roots of this tree had surfaced  and were compromised to the degree of being cut off. From that time on the limbs grew dry and the leaves were fewer every spring. The bottom line was: "No root, no fruit".
As Jesus began the teaching about the sower, He brought to light the significance of healthy roots. The Pharisees and Scribes were well versed in the Scriptures, as many are today. But a spiritually productive lifestyle was definitely missing. The bottom line was: "No root, no fruit".
Beyond a doubt, life brings scorching seasons that will overwhelm the best of us. But, believers in Jesus will never wither away. The psalmist spoke of the godly person this way in Psalm 1:3, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither." While "No root, no fruit" is true, when you're rooted in Jesus there will always be great fruit.


Friday, February 14, 2020

The line is drawn...

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." - Matthew 12:30
Jim and John Harbaugh grew up as brothers in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For over four decades they did what many brothers do as good friends. But on November 24, 2011 their life decisions placed them on opposite sides of the field in a national competition.  That night Jim, as the coach of the San Francisco 49ers would stand against John, the coach of the Baltimore Ravens and only one team would conquer. The line was drawn in the sand.
Jesus knew the hearts of all men and with that knowledge came the understanding of those who were against Him. The possibility of remaining neutral was not an option. All religious views now came to a moment of decision and the outcome was simple, but sobering. Those who were not with Jesus were against Him and He alone would conquer. The line was drawn in the sand.
Brothers, relatives and friends must eventually come to the great dividing line of life. You cannot be neutral when it comes to the person of Christ my friend. He has achieved the ultimate victory from an empty tomb and is preparing for the day of His return as the King of Kings. Those who trust in Him in this life will join Him in His triumph. Those who are against Him will stand on the opposite side of the field in eternity, having lost all hope. The line is drawn in the sand. Which side are you on?


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Finding rest...

“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 is an incredible blessing and 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?


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Who are you?

"And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. ... And he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'" - Luke 7:37-38, 50
Who are you? You are a man or woman of your community. Your name is known by some, but unknown by far more. You may be just a number to the IRS, your bank and creditors and at the end of the journey your name will be listed with a long list of others that slipped away that day. As the dew of the morning you will be here today and gone tomorrow. Who are you?
Yet, there is Someone to who cares very much for you. He has heard your every prayer and He has touched your life with grace and forgiveness in response to your faith. He receives your gratitude and worship with open arms of love. While the world moves along, caught in it's own sense of importance, He is moved by your every tear and heartache. The answer to the question "Who are you?" is simple... you are His.
Love Him with all your heart my friend. Take time today at the feet of your Savior and kiss His feet with prayers of gratitude and praise. Be encouraged by the fact that you are cared for by the most important person in all of time and space. Who are you? You are the one that Jesus has forgiven and you are His forever.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Love them like Jesus ...

"And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." - Luke 7:22-23
Over the years, various church groups have regularly volunteered in local city missions. The men they reach are broken, beaten down and without hope. The mission is the last stop to nowhere. Yet, like our Savior, many faithful brothers and sisters reach out to these men with the love of Christ.
Such was the ministry and calling card of our Lord. He embraced the down-trodden, war-torn and social rejects. He brought them love, hope and good news from heaven. There were many who were disturbed over this fact, but there was great blessing to all those who were not offended by our Lord's compassionate care.
This is what Christ-like ministry is all about my friend. If you have been led to believe ministry is all about big crowds and palatial buildings, you have been misled. Stop and look around and you will see people who are hurting in every possible way. They need hope. They need love. They need compassionate care. They need Jesus and you may be the only "Jesus" they will ever meet. Love them like Jesus my friend, love them like Jesus.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Restored and Reassured ...

"And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, 'Do not  weep.'" - Luke 7:13
Over the years we have had physicians who were skilled in restoring our health and we also had those who were skilled in reassuring the heart. Thankfully, we have been blessed with those who were able to do both, at those times when we needed them the most.
Jesus is the Great Physician. This passage reveals the degree of His healing ability. Our Lord brought life from the grave in the most miraculous manner. But in addition to His ability to restore, Jesus reassured the widow's heart by His compassionate words "Do not weep". As the writer of Hebrews wrote in 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses..."
When you are hurting, both inside and out my friend, turn to Jesus. As David writes in Psalm 34:18-19, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." The Lord knows how to both restore and reassure.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

"Just do it"...

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." -- Matthew 7:24-25
People spend millions of dollars every year attending instructional conferences, workshops and reading numerous handbooks. Their purpose is improvement of skills or life in general. Sadly, there are many whose skills or lives never change. The reason is simple: they fail to put their learning into practice.
Many Christians suffer from the same experience. They study the Scriptures and read any number of books on spiritual growth. They attend conferences and listen to speakers galore but see little to no change in their spiritual lives. The endless cycle only discourages the average believer as they crumble in the midst of every storm that comes their way. The missing element is always the same: they fail to put their learning into practice.
If you hope to have a strong life, built on the rock, practice is required. You can't just know it my friend, you need to do it. We learn how to pray by praying, we learn how to serve by serving, we learn how to trust by trusting, we learn how to love by loving and we learn how to forgive by forgiving. As always, we can only learn by doing. NIKE made the point well years ago in their commercial: "Just Do It".


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Where is YOUR treasure?

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -- Matthew 6:21
My parents bought their first and only house in 1961. They chose to have a house built for them in a new housing development. During the months that followed they visited the hole in the ground, the foundation, the shell and the latter days of completion. There were times that they spent more time inspecting the process than anything else. Through the coming years they also spent an abundance of time on upkeep and improvement of their house. Their heart was in that house.
Jesus taught us a great principle as he spoke the above words in their context. Choose your treasure wisely, for your choice will rule your life. The house I mentioned above was sold in 1973 and my parents never looked back. All the hours, days, weeks and years of effort were past with little to show for the future. Houses and other tangible things are temporal at best. They carry no eternal value, but provide a means to better serve God's Kingdom work. The question is... will you serve a thing, or the King? Only one can have your heart.
Choose your treasure wisely my friend. That choice will most definitely rule your time, talents and toil. But, what will it bring you in the end? The idea has been well worded this way: "Only one life twill soon be passed, Only what’s done for Christ will last."


Friday, February 7, 2020

Be centered ...

"Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.'" - Matthew 6:9
Some time ago we hung a picture on our living room wall. I took great care to center this beauty from the right and left as well as from top to bottom. If this piece of framed art was off by the least little bit everything around it would be affected. Life is very much the same way; if you're off center everything else is going to be wrong.
The Lord taught us to follow a certain pattern in prayer and life. He gave us the key to having a well centered prayer experience and daily lifestyle. That key is found in these words, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." If we are centered on hallowing God's name in prayer and life, everything around you will be affected for the good. 
Someone has once said, "Love God with all your heart and then do whatever you please". They suggested that in so doing you would never go astray. In the same spirit, when you determine every day to keep the Lord's Name Holy in your all your requests and actions, your life will be centered my friend; and everything around you will be centered as well.
Image result for matthew 6:33"

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The right stuff inside ...

"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:20
When I was a kid we all had toy rockets. Some rockets were powered by water, others were powered by elastic, and others were powered by black powder and chemicals. The one common factor about these rockets was their inability to break out of the earth's atmosphere and successfully make it to the moon. No matter how cool they looked or how much we believed, the little guys just didn't have the right stuff inside.
As Jesus taught on the subject of righteous living, He made it clear that the only one kind of life that would make it to heaven. This life would have to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. Such people would have to have much more than good looks and actions. They would have to have the right stuff inside.
Will you make it out of the earth's atmosphere and successfully make it to heaven my friend? Well, it won't be because you cross your t's and dot your i's the right way. It won't be because you dress like Jesus or talk like Paul. You need more than your own righteousness; you need what Paul wrote about in Romans 1:17, "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” The only way to get to heaven is by having the right stuff inside.

Image result for genesis 15:6"

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Be tasty ...

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet." - Matthew 5:13
Not  long ago I watched a cuisine show in which a local chef was informed of the taste value of salt. He was depending on the various ingredients of his recipe to satisfy the taste bud, but when salt was added these ingredients literally came to life. Salt is a very desirable addition to many dishes, yet if it should lose its taste its value is gone.
Jesus informs us that we are "the salt of the earth". When the Holy Spirit is present and active in the life of a believer, they are quite a tasteful addition to their world. They bring flavor to relationships as well as bring out the best in other people. Like salt, believers are taken for granted, but their contribution in improving their surroundings for Jesus' sake is invaluable.
Do you live a Spirit led life, seeking to reflect the presence of Christ my friend? If you are, you are truly the salt of the earth. Your presence among family, friends and peers is highly significant. While it may not be noticed, you bring life to situations and improve the outcome in the Name of Jesus. Don't stay in the salt-shaker though, get out and make a difference in your world.

Image result for colossians 4:6"

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

What we are looking through?

"How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye." - Luke 6:42

Occasionally I notice that my laptop screen is distorted and marked with various specks. After putting up with the annoyance for a while I take time to clean the little fellow. I use the best cleaner and make certain that I leave no scratches or marks behind. Then I kick back to resume my work only finding the distortion and marks still present. In a fit of desperation I remove my glasses, wipe my forehead and glance back at a crystal clear screen. What? Where did the marks go? Hmm... the problem wasn't what I was looking at, but what I was looking through.
The Lord gives us such insightful counsel when He directs us to "take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly". Before we can ever assist others in their spiritual needs, wisdom tells us to clean up our own life. The amazing truth is that when we clean our glasses (or life) we see things much differently. Not only are we able to help others better, but we see them in a less critical light.  It's not always what we are looking at, but what we are looking through.
Consider what Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1 my friend, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." Yes, we should always be available to assist others in their spiritual walk. But let us be sure to be personally "spiritual" and watchful ourselves; because, it not only matters what we are looking at, but what we are looking through.

Image result for matt 6:22"

Monday, February 3, 2020

"Prayer-paration" ...

"In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God." - Luke 6:12

This last Sunday evening two football teams took the field to determine a world championship. In a way, these players had been gearing up for this game all year. But more specifically there was a major concentration all last week to be ready for the competition. Let's face it, decisive plans require demanding preparation.
Jesus was about to select twelve men as His apostles. These men would come from almost every walk of life and intentionally include a traitor. They would sit under His teaching for the next three years and carry the Gospel into the world after His ascension. This moment was far more important than any football game. This decisive plan required demanding preparation. 
My friend, do you see prayer as the best way to get ready for decisions in life? If so, how much effort do you give to such a pursuit? If Jesus saw the need to pray all night before this historic moment, how about you? Remember, decisive plans require demanding... "Prayer-paration"

Image result for Philippians 4:6=7"

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Family ...

"For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." - Mark 3:35
What really is "family"? We are told by some that it's all about our blood line and ancestors. As a result there can often be a dramatic and tenacious loyalty to the "family" over all other relationships. Some people will refuse to embrace Christ as Savior because they are afraid of offending the "family". The will of God becomes secondary to the will of the family.
Our Lord was raised in a godly family. As a young boy we are told in Luke 2:51 that "he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart." But in time submission to God the Father became priority. This was so significant that He spoke of being a member of a new "family".  His brothers and sisters were not just those who adhered to family loyalty, but were those who did the will of God.
You too have a "family" my friend. And your family is one that can be traced through a very significant "blood-line". Your eternal brothers and sisters are those that are washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus. While your earthly "family" is of great value, remember that the most important family members are those who do the will of God above all else.

Image result for Philippians 2:15"

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Open hearts ...

"He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored." - Mark 3:5 
"The millennium is at hand. Man has invented everything that can be invented. He has done all he can do." These words were spoken by a Bishop during a church gathering in 1870. Someone commented, "I think man will learn to fly." The Bishop replied that this was blasphemy. "Don't you know that flight is reserved for angels?" The Bishop was Rev. Milton Wright, father of Orville and Wilbur. Only open hearts can fly.
Jesus found the very same attitude among the religious elite of his day. God had broken into their lives and they were closed to the possibilities. They had reached the point where they worshiped their traditions more than God. If the miraculous couldn't fit into the traditional setting, it was rejected. The stubborn heart distressed Jesus because he knew that only open hearts could fly.
Are you ready for God to do the miraculous in your life today? Will you allow him to break into your life in ways that may challenge your traditions? When you pray for the Lord's intervention are you prepared for the change he might bring? Remember, only open hearts can fly.

Image result for luke 1:37"