Sunday, July 7, 2019

Remember Me

Remember Me
July 8, 2019
Psalm 106:4  "Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them."

The Lord knows when a sparrow falls from the sky. That is a familiar phrase from Scripture. It was actually Jesus speaking, and comparing our worth as humans to that of a small sparrow. A small sparrow is insignificant, not able to be counted in a flock of birds. You've seen thousands of small birds in the sky, in a giant swarm, almost appearing as a swarm of bees. If one of those small birds is taken out of the count, would you even notice? Jesus said the Lord would notice and in fact if the Lord desires that specific sparrow to stay in the flock, it could not fall. If a sparrow does fall out of that flock of birds, the Lord is more than aware, involved even. Jesus said we are far more valuable than those teeny birds, to the Lord, and He knows about everything that goes on. Not only is the Lord aware of us, but we are valuable to Him.

The Lord knows all, sees all, certainly you. Do you ever think that the Lord has forgotten you? In readying the psalms, the writers are often deeply vulnerable, exposing their feelings and the fullest raw portions of their humanity. In Psalm 106, David was confessing on behalf of the entire nation of Israelites. He asked the Lord to remember them. Specifically, he was repenting of the nation's sins and begging the Lord to remember them when it was time to save everyone. Fast forward to the death of Jesus on the cross, the moment of salvation and there was a sinner on a cross next to Him. The sinner acknowledged and confessed his sin, then asked Jesus to remember him when it was time to save. Neither men, David or the sinner on the cross, needed to use the phrase, "remember me." How could the Lord forget? Both of those men, and all the Children of Israel, were valuable to Him.

When you and I have items of value, we do not forget them. Parents understand this well, a child is not easily forgotten. When I prepare a meal for my children, the middle child does not have to say, "remember me" as I'm setting enough plates for the family or in making sure there is enough food. How could I forget my own son? If I love my son, and he is valuable to me, forgetting is not something I could do. Similarly, the Lord remembers you at all times. But like the psalmist, sometimes we think the Lord has forgotten us. If we fear the Lord has forgotten us, then we have devalued ourselves, perceiving ourselves unworthy of His love. As humans, it is difficult to understand the love of the Father, since we can only love as humans love. But He loves us with a supernatural love that we cannot understand. He does not approve of our sin, but He loves us nonetheless, not able to forget us. Maybe judging by your own sin, you think that has now made you unlovable and must beg the Lord to remember you once again.  He loves you, knowing your sin, and has not forgotten you.  

If you think the Lord no longer remembers you, the correct prayer is not to beg the Lord to remember you, rather remind you of His love for you. The Lord neither forgets us or stops loving us, we simply lose sight of how much He loves us. If you think the Lord has forgotten you, ask Him to remind you how much He loves you. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 138:1-18, Ps 139:2, Job 23:8, Matt 10:29-31, Lk 23:42

Sunday, June 30, 2019

One Day

One Day
July 1, 2019
Zechariah 14:9 "The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name."

The Lord is Lord, even if you don't acknowledge it. He is Almighty, Sovereign, and Ruler over all creation. He is either Lord of your life or not, but that does not change the fact that He is still Lord. You can agree or disagree, neither changes His identity. Atheists will one day have to acknowledge that He is Lord. They may choose to deny His existence now, but there will be a time when they not only have to acknowledge His existence but they will also honor Him as Lord. One day every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord. For those of us who understand this, it gives us opportunity to do this now.

There are many religions today, and gods who go by many different names. Those who serve those gods will one day realize an unfortunate truth, that those gods had no name, that those gods were not even real. People spend their lives in service to these gods, only it is for nothing. Those gods cannot save them in the end, and in the end those who serve those gods will not be saved. Those people, however, will still have to acknowledge that the Lord is Lord, that the Lord is the one true God over heaven and earth. We can acknowledge now and later or be forced to only acknowledge it later.  You and I, we chose to acknowledge Him now. We know Him as Lord and Savior, but do we honor Him as Lord of our lives, honoring Him as Lord every moment.

Sure, in the end, we will bow down and acknowledge Him as Lord, and in general, we acknowledge Him as Lord, but what about each and every secret moment. One day we will all honor Him as Lord publicly, the atheist and the Christian alike. But in the secret moments, when no one can see you, do you still acknowledge and honor Him as Lord? When the Lord comes back, making Himself known and destroying the old ways of heaven and earth, it will be the obvious moment to declare Him as Lord. This will be the opportunity to bow before Him in humility, as a Christian, and bow before Him in embarrassment and shame as a previous atheist.

But if the Lord came back at this very moment, as a Christian would He find you honoring Him or would you be embarrassed by your actions in the moment. Consider yourself at your worst moment yesterday, if the Lord had chosen that moment to appear in all His majesty and glory, would He be pleased or would your actions be akin to those of an atheist? One day every knee will bow and tongue confess, but is that one day in the future for you or is one day really and truly everyday? One day is for the atheist, everyday is for the Christian.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Phil 2:9-10, Rom 14:10-13

Sunday, June 23, 2019

It Was Good

It Was Good
June 24, 2019
Genesis 3:6  "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."

Adam and Eve were set up in the Garden of Eden and it was good. The Bible says that all of creation was good, as the Lord was building and designing and creating, and the Lord declared it all as good. He put the man and the woman in the good garden, and placed boundaries around them. The Lord also placed the a tree in the middle, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. No one will ever know why He placed that tree there, a tree that would be tempting to someone along the way. But it did not take long for Adam and Eve to figure out the tree in the middle of the garden, the one that grew forbidden fruit, was good, too. Eve inspected it and decided the fruit was good for something, it was quality food and would open their eyes. No one will ever know what went through her mind just before Eve took the first bite of the fruit, but she reasoned it was good. She reasoned the fruit was good and the experience would be good and it was going to be good thing to do.

It wasn't good, however, eating that forbidden fruit. The sole reason it was not good was because the Lord had told them not to eat it, never to eat it. The fruit was good but the eating of the fruit was not good. The Lord creates everything in our lives, all good things, but it does not mean that everything is permissible or good for us to partake. If the Lord creates a boundary, a limitation, then we need to respect the boundary line as good. Eve did not asses the boundary line as good. She assessed the boundary line as just a line, that was passable if she deemed passing it was good. That's where Adam and Eve went wrong. They assessed that crossing the line was possibly in their interest, best interests even.  Here lies the difference between God and man. God can declare something as good, but man does not possess all knowledge to understand what the Lord understands.

In having a children, the parents set up boundary lines. Maybe a boundary line is as simple as not playing the street. The child may assess the street as a desirable place to ride a bicycle or kick a ball, but the parent is aware of so many more dangers and hazards. Playing in the street may seem good, but it is not. Parents often know far more than children do, but it is the same nature, that Adam and Eve had, to deny the boundary line if crossing the boundary line seems good. Parents don't always have the time to explain to a child why something is not good, nor does a child possess all the understanding required to comprehend why something is not good. This is often true with the Lord. He does not always explain why the boundary line is good and participating is not good, but nonetheless He put the line there not to be crossed.

You and I, we think we know better than the Lord. Eve clearly reasoned she knew better when she decided to eat the fruit. Maybe the fruit was good but maybe the boundary line was good, too; maybe the boundary line was better than the fruit. You have boundaries placed all around you. They are in your marital relationship, or lack thereof, they are in your workplace and finances, they are even in your walk with the Lord. The Lord sets up good boundary lines, as He knows best how to take care of His children. He knows all the reasons why the boundary line is put in place but does not always express to us why it is there. We want to know why the boundary line is there to assess if the Lord is correct, but the Lord wants us to trust Him and follow Him. There is where the rub lies, sometimes. We want to know all that the Lord knows and make our own decision. If you think about it, maybe the Lord is best equipped to make our decisions for us.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 3, Deut 34:12,  Ps 16:6, Jer 5:22, Hos 5:10, Rom 8:28

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Obeying is Sacrifice

Obeying is Sacrifice
June 17, 2019
1 Samuel 15:22  ". . . has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the voice of the Lord. . . ?"

The Lord said that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. This was said after an act of disobedience. The Lord had given Saul clear and concise directions, very specific and direct instructions. Saul disobeyed. Back then, when you sinned, the Lord had made a way for you to make it right. You had to offer a sin offering, basically bringing something of value, usually a live animal, and destroying its value to you.  It cost you something to make it right when you disobeyed. The Lord said it was far better to obey rather than pay the price for the sin. In fact, you could offer a sacrifice to the Lord just because, destroying something of value to you simply in honor to the Lord and yet the Lord said he'd prefer you and me to just obey. The Lord doesn't want you to pay the price for your sin; He wants you to obey.

There are two ways to obey. The first is the easier of the two. If the Lord tells you to NOT do something, then don't do it. If He tells you to not lie, then don't lie. If He you tells you to not murder, then don't murder. It's pretty easy to not murder, at least for most of us. If you violated these few rules, then you would be required to pay the sacrifice for the sin. He said it was better to obey than to offer a sacrifice. The second way to obey is move out and do something that He specifically tells you to do. This requires you to acknowledge His voice and directions, then to step out and take action. It brings honor to the Lord when you step out in obedience to do something for Him. When the Lord told Saul it was better to obey than sacrifice, Saul was clearly hoping to offer a sacrifice in hindsight to make up for his lack of follow through. This did not, and does not honor the Lord. Many people feel guilty for not stepping out in obedience to the Lord's leading in their lives. Many people give and give and give to make up for their disobedience and their feeling of guilt. Even as Christians we feel guilty when we don't do something we know we are supposed to do, so we give something to appease our guilt. The Lord would say to keep your gift. He would prefer the obedience.

I would tell you that to obey the Lord is a sacrifice, however. It requires you and me to lay down our own wants in order to do what the Lord wants us to do. Sometimes the Lord asks a great feat from us, to step out and do something that is bold or scary or even painful. It takes great faith and courage to obey when this type of command is as stake. It takes a great sacrifice sometimes to obey the Lord. Jesus told Peter to lay down his net and follow Him. Following the Lord, obeying him, was a sacrifice for Peter. In my own life, my family has followed a difficult path, one we knew the Lord asked of us, but would be painful and difficult. We could have chosen to disobey, then attempt to appease our guilt by giving to the Lord, but the Lord doesn't want our giving, He wants our obedience. 

You can sacrifice until you are blue in the face, but it does not take the place of obedience. Obedience, however, still requires a sacrifice and if you think obeying the Lord does not bring Him honor then you are playing the part of a fool. The Lord is well aware of the sacrifice involved with obedience and it brings Him great honor and joy and you find favor in His eyes when you do that. The Lord says your life will go well for you when you obey Him, when you step out and do the things He has for you to do. It is better to obey and find favor in the eyes of the Lord than it is to offer a sacrifice to Him that He did not request.  He requests obedience, not the offering you'd like to bring.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 1 Sam 15:1-23, Jer 7:21-23, John 21:15-19, Eph 6:1-4

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Lacking One Thing

Lacking One Thing
June 10, 2019
Mark 10:21  "Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One think you lack, He said. Go and sell everything yo have and give it to the poor. . . . '"

A rich young man fell at the feet of Jesus and wanted to earn eternal life. He specifically asked Jesus what he had to do. If you are a rich person, chances are there was a lot of hard work and sacrifice involved with attaining the wealth. This man knew there would be a cost and he was essentially asking Jesus what sacrifice would be required to accomplish salvation. At this point, Jesus had not died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, so efforts were still tied to a rule-based system. The rich young man understood a rule-based system quite well; he did follow the 10 Commandments. He likely understood banking and financial systems quite well, too. He was not really asking Jesus how to buy his way into heaven, but we wanted a certificate of deposit, a guarantee.  Jesus did not offer him the guarantee, however, rather looked into his heart and loved him.

Jesus agreed with the man that he had followed all the 10 Commandments since he was a boy, but still lacked one thing. He told the man to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and follow Jesus. The man went away sad because that was not a price tag the rich young ruler was expecting. The man actually did not understand the requirement from Jesus. It wasn't a price tag, it was a condition of the heart. The man followed the 10 Commandments but not the Lord. The man followed instructions and laws and rules, but not God. The man liked the rule-based system because it was a set of lines he could follow, but the Lord is not a set of lines. Jesus wanted the man to follow him, not a set of lines but that was all that the rich young ruler understood. The man knew how to follow the lines, not how to follow the Lord. It was a relationship the Lord was, and is, after, not a rule book and concrete work/reward system. Following a work/reward system and the follower is working for the reward, not for the individual.

The man couldn't do it. It is possible he never sold all that he had to give it to the poor to follow Jesus. Since his heart was never in following the Lord, rather only the rules, he didn't understand what Jesus was asking. The man did not understand that Jesus wanted to be Lord of that man's life, money or no money. The man was his own master, had great wealth, and yet was lacking. He lacked understanding of who the Lord was, and is, and what it really was all about. The man lacked a relationship with the Lord, the man wasn't even following the Lord; he was following rules. When Jesus looked at the man, the Bible says the Lord loved him. But it never says the man loved the Lord. The man went away sad when the Lord asked him to sell all he had and live for him; obviously the man loved his wealth and only following rules. 

You love something. What is it? Do you love your stability, or your control over your life? Do you love your career or status among friends, maybe your social media followers? The Lord says if you follow Him, you are likely to lose all that you have in this world that is dear to you but the Lord will repay you for it. The man never understood that if he sold all he had and gave it to the poor and followed Him, that He would give it all back to him and then some. But the man didn't trust that rule; the man didn't even know about that rule. The Lord will repay you for all that you sacrifice for Him, only you have to give it up first, truly and willingly give it up. In doing so, you are proving who the Lord of your life is and the Lord promises to repay it in this life or the next. The man was lacking one thing, Jesus as Lord of his life.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Mark 10:17-31

Sunday, June 2, 2019

No Prisoner

No Prisoner
June 3, 2019
Ephesians 3:1  "For this reason, I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ. . . ."

Paul was one of the most influential Christians of his time. Being once a huge persecutor of Christians and then becoming a follower of Christ, made him rather well known in religious circles. He was a polar opposite for Christianity at one time in his life or another, a zealous man for whatever cause he believed. When he became a Christian, those opposed to Christianity put a target on Paul's back, knowing he would be a strong influencer for Christ. Satan likely took notice as well, knowing he would cause significant damage to the dark kingdom once he became a proponent for Christ. Jesus saw it all too. The Lord knew of Paul's passion and the lengths he would go to in order to spread his passion.

Paul's passion for Christ eventually landed him in prison. He was actually in prison several times, but he wrote his prison epistles over the course of two years' incarceration at one point. Paul was preaching the gospel and it landed him in jail. Interesting to note, was Paul's perspective on his prison term. Paul's enemies were the ones who wanted him in jail. They were certainly glad for his incarceration. They thought their attack on him was working, that it would stop Paul from being effective for Christ. Paul, however, had a completely different point of view. Paul never blamed his captures for the jail time, or his enemies, or Satan, or the government official who approved of the prison term, or even the government that put him there. Paul didn't even blame the Lord. He gave full credit and responsibility to the Lord for allowing him in prison, but he never blamed God. Paul said he was a prisoner for Christ, suggesting that it was certainly Christ who willingly allowed Paul in prison.

Paul's perspective was one of submission to the Lord and whatever strange work He was doing by allowing Paul to be put in chains. In hindsight, we can see the benefit of Paul's incarceration, if anything we have several books of the Bible as a result, with Paul having plenty of time to sit and write. But Paul was effective for the Lord on the inside, too. Paul was preaching the good news inside the prison walls, and word spread that this zealous man was gladly willing to sit in prison because he followed Christ. Paul likely could have left prison if he renounced the Lord, and apologized to the sinful society. Paul's relationship with the Lord was far more important. Paul could have left jail if he played his cards right, but he chose not to play their game, rather follow the Lord wherever that meant.

Your situating right now may feel like a prison sentence. It is not. The Lord has allowed it.  It is not beyond His control. Don't blame others, don't blame the enemy, and certainly don't blame the Lord. You can, however, give responsibility over to the Lord for allowing this current prison sentence, as likely there is something far bigger than you and I can imagine going on. Reading through scripture, the times when the Lord is most at work, is when the story's protagonist is being persecuted, punished, and imprisoned. But the Lord would say to you today, you're not really in prison, you are working for the Lord and this place right here and right now is where He has allowed you. Some how, some way, you have to submit to where you are and let the Lord do His work. In the meantime, your job is to be effective for Christ in this moment, during the seeming prison sentence. You are a prison of Christ, not of anyone else. This situation is working out exactly according to His plan; it isn't a prison sentence at all. This, yes, whatever you are dealing with today, is not prison and you're not really a prisoner, you are an influencer for Christ.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  John 21:15-19, Rom 8:28, Eph 3:1-13, Eph 4:1-7

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Praise Him

Praise Him
May 20, 2019
Psalm 145:3  "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom."

People can do some valiant things in life and as humans we do a halfway decent hob of giving them honor when honor is due. We award people medals for valor, for bravery, for achieving a victory. We even heap praise onto people for being so amazing, gushing about how wonderful they can be and the accomplishments they have put forth. We find value in them and make sure to express it. Sometimes we do this as a motivator, to continue to reward good behavior in an effort to solicit more good behavior. Whatever the reason, we give praise, making sure we have outlined the reason for the praise. Seldom do we praise people for nothing, however, making sure to express the logic behind the praise or affirmation.

But the Lord, He is worthy to be praised for reasons beyond human comprehension. In fact the Bible says we should praise Him just because, without even trying to understand why He is so worthy. People sometimes do good things that are worthy of praise, but the Bible says if a human is worthy of praise, then the Lord is MOST worthy of praise. You and I cannot even fathom the reasons why He should be praised, as in our brains are too simple to understand His majesty. He is majestic, every moment of the day, and yet we have trouble finding a reason to praise Him sometimes. Sure, yesterday He did a good thing for us and we praised Him yesterday, but today we are waiting for Him to perform, so we can praise Him today. No, He is worthy of praise everyday, despite our inability to perceive it.

To be more specific, we are required to praise Him. The Bible says it is our job to perform praise and give worship unto His majesty. If we cannot do it, then the rocks will cry out. It is our job to praise the Lord, as free-thinking rational beings if we cannot find a reason to praise Him then the lessor objects will be called up to replace you and me. That's right, your job is to praise Him and if you chose not to do your job then you and I will be replaced.

Whatever you are going through, whatever struggle, it does not warrant you sitting on the sidelines, folding your arms, waiting for the Lord to show up so you can praise Him. It doesn't work that way. He is not a human that you must find a reason to praise Him, to reward Him so He is motivated to do it again. He is beyond comprehension, yet you are still trying to match the praise with the purpose. There is no reason necessary, nor does one have to be given, and there is no time better than the immediate. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Psalm 148, Psalm 150, Luke 19:37-40

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Worn Out Shoes

Worn Out Shoes
May 6, 2019
Deuteronomy 29:5  "Yet the Lord says, 'During the forty years that I let you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.'"

After the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, it was finally time the Lord allowed them to move on, into the promised land. The work that He set out to accomplish was complete, and now it was time to move on to the next phase of His plan. Recall that the Lord performed many miracles in Egypt, prior to their release from slavery. Those miracles were in the minds of the Israelites as they were wandering in the wilderness. But the original set of Israelites, the original slaves set free, never made it to the Promised Land, that generation died off over the 40 years' commute for a three week trip. All those Israelites who were about to take possession of the Promised Land, they were a new generation who had never witnessed the original miracles, signs, and wonders back in Egypt. They never saw how the Lord worked it out for them to leave. In fact they never saw a miracle, only heard tales about them.

Prior to entering the Promised Land, Moses addressed the assembly and reminded them of all that occurred. He reminded them of the miracles in Egypt, but also pointed out a new one. During their time in the desert, the Lord had provided for them. His own words addressed the miracle provision of food and resources. He said their clothes and shoes did not wear out. While it might seem odd to think of someone wearing the same pair of shoes for 40 years, the Lord was really making a point about the greater situation. They had spent 40 years in a desert. Sometimes the trail was referred to as a desert and sometimes a wilderness. Regardless of the layout of the land, they were isolated from outside resources, limited to what was naturally there. The Lord had to provide quail and manna because the land did not allow for row crops or livestock enough to feed them. Shoes were of animal skin, but you cannot stretch a quail hide to manufacture a shoe sole. The Israelites were isolated in a remote area, without resources and without access to other people groups with whom to trade goods and services. 

When the Lord pointed out that their clothes and shoes did not wear out and that they had enough food to eat, He was pointing out provision for them in the absence of resources. The Lord was reminding them of a miracle right under their feet, miraculous provision out of nothing. The Lord was the one who took them through the desert but the lessons needing taught during that time were of more importance than shoes or even food. The work of the Lord in their lives was more critical than the provision of resources, so the Lord provided the resources.

I've had the soles of my shoes wear out, holes present with water and debris getting inside. But I've also had access to resources to replace those shoes. I've always had opportunity to work in order to provide for resources to acquire shoes. I've  never needed that miracle of shoes not wearing out because the Lord has never led me through a wasteland. The Lord has led me through many other things, however, and likely you, too. When the Lord has led me, it was (and is) for my own good. He takes notice of all that must take place during the trials and lessons and learning exercises, providing for all the trivial things aside. You might not think food to eat is trivial, but to the Lord it is nothing. Submit to the work of the Lord in your life and He will provide for what needs provision. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Deut 29:1-18, Matt 6:25-34, Rom 8:28

Monday, April 29, 2019

I Didn't Sign Up

I Didn't Sign Up
April 29, 2019
John 21:18  "'Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.'"

I found myself discouraged by my situation this past week and having a conversation with the Lord about it.  The conversation went like this.  "Lord, I didn't sign up for this when I agreed to be a Christian."  He let me speak the foolish sentence, to which he replied, "Yes, you did."  That was pretty much the whole conversation.  He spoke to me in a somewhat sarcastic tone, as if to tell me I should know better than to suggest such a silly thought.  (If the Lord never speaks to you with sarcasm in His voice, you're probably a better listener than me.)  He wasn't trying to insult me, but reminding me of what I already know in my heart to be true, reminding me of all I have learned in life and through Scripture.  He was telling me that my life, once I handed it over to Him so long ago, was and is not my own.  He was reminding me of who was truly in control over my situations, especially the situation I thought should be different.

Scripture is rife with stories and scenarios where the protagonist undergoes a heavy burden, only to find the Lord was still involved, possibly even causing the situation for an intended benefit.  If you don't think the Lord causes difficult situations in life, then you don't know the Lord.  He causes OR allows anything and everything that happens to you and it is always for a good reason.  The Lord isn't into pointless suffering; it is for your personal benefit or His.  Either way, you can rest assured there WILL be a point, possibly only revealed to you in Heaven.  Your job, is to accept what happens to you in life with the understanding you will allow it to shape you for good or use it for His glory.  I will admit, as with my conversation with the Lord this past week, we will seldom, if ever, understand the situation DURING the situation.

What happens to you in your life is never beyond His reach or His ability to redeem.  Haman tried to frame Mordecai, but Mordecai was lifted to honor.  King Saul tried to kill David, but David was given the throne.  Satan tried to destroy Job, but Job was blessed.  The Lord allowed a man to be born blind, but the Lord restored his sight so the world could see the Lord's authority.  Jesus was tortured and murdered, but Jesus ended up with the keys to eternal life.  The apostle John was put on prisoner island, but it was there the Lord wrote the book of Revelation.  I cannot find anywhere in Scripture where the Lord simply abandoned an individual to their situation.  There is resolution or an end result to each story, suggesting the Lord is a God who works through to completion.  Even if the story ended in an untimely death, the death brought more people to the Lord, a cause certainly worth dying for in the big picture of things.

If you find yourself on a course in life, one in which you didn't pick or necessarily deserve, then you can rejoice in knowing there is a Higher Authority at work for an intended benefit.  If you feel the situation, the one you didn't sign up for, could only be reversed by a miraculous move of the Lord, then sit back and be patient for Him to work.  If you could get yourself out of the situation on your own efforts, then it wouldn't benefit you OR the Lord.  The situations I find beneficial for myself or the Lord, are like the ones I read about in the Bible, the ones where only the Lord could resolve in a delightful manner.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  1 Sam 19, Es 6:6-12, Is 44:6, Is 48:17, John 9:9-12, John 21:15-23, James 1:2-4

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Jesus Can't

Jesus Can't
April 22, 2019
Mark 6:5  "He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them."

To put a limit on what the Lord can or could do in your life is a travesty. There is nothing outside the Lord's ability or power to accomplish. The Lord may be willing and wanting to do so much more in your life, but the limiting factor for His miracles is  not the Lord. While it is true, the Lord tests your motives when you ask of Him, you likely have left many miracles in your life on the table, not receiving them. There is an aspect to the Lord's character that often gets overlooked, but our limiting factors actually become the Lord's limiting factors. The foundational element to the Christian walk is faith, and when we have a limited faith, then the Lord has limited power in our lives. There are actually many miracles that the Lord cannot perform, simply because of our faith. The Lord cannot overcome our own faith in order to perform wonders in our lives. Faith is the fuel for a miracle, and if you've not gotten the miracle you require, then maybe your faith has put a limiter on Him.

Jesus sat teaching many people,  out in the open, to masses of people. He would not only teach, but perform miracles in connection with the teaching. As He was teaching, I would venture to guess He could see their faith gauge changing inside their hearts. Some people, when hearing His words, were doubters and their hearts actually sealed off even more. Others, upon hearing Hum teaching, opened their hearts wider, believing in the message that He was bringing. On one occasion, Jesus sat teaching those who knew Him, who had years of history with Him. The Bible says He left there and could not perform miracles among them because of their unbelief. Their unbelief actually limited the power of Jesus. They heard His words and chose to harden their hearts. His miracles walked away from them when He walked away from them. Jesus cannot perform a miracle for the one who does not believe.

When Jesus left the area, unable to perform miracles because of their unbelief, He had just finished explaining that all it took was faith as a mustard seed. Believing that the Lord has power is not enough; you must believe that He is willing and able to help your specific cause. The demons believe He has power, that in and of itself is not the limiting factor; they know who He is and what He can do. The limiting factor is not belief in the Lord's power, but the Lord's power over  your life.

Many people walk through life thinking that the Lord does not give notice to them, that the Lord is busy and could not be bothered with such a simple person or simple request. This belief, this heart-and-mind set, is the limiting factor. In this instance, Jesus can't and so He won't. But it isn't the fault of the Lord that you might be missing your miracle. Believe and know that He is standing there, excited to be part of your life, wanting to do so much more, to fix your brokenness and heal your wounds. But the Lord won't, unless you want Him to and unless you believe that He wants to be a part of your life. Jesus is not only alive, but wanting to be active  in your life, but He can't unless you invite Him to be a part of that. It takes faith to activate that miracle.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matthew 13:31-58, Mark 6:1-6, James 2:19, James 4:2-3 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Witchcraft

Witchcraft
April 15, 2019
1 Samuel 15:23  "For rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. . ."

There are very few who would argue the point that witchcraft is in opposition to Christianity.  Christians would never dabble with witchcraft, thinking it OK to conjure demons or pray to Satan or work against the Lord. Casting spells is not something to play with and most Christians understand this to be an abomination to the Lord.  Yet, there is sin within a Christian, all Christians at some point in their lives, that is akin to witchcraft. The Bible says that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is the sin of worshiping idols (a self-idol).

To understand the context of this, the Lord said it directly to Saul, the first king over Israel in the Old Testament. The Lord had given Saul specific instructions and Saul carried them out in the manner Saul saw fit, though not in perfect alignment with the Lord's design. The Lord was sad, grieved that He had made Saul king because of the disobedience. The Lord called it rebellion, because Saul was not following the Lord's wishes. It came down to the fact that Saul was not completely on the Lord's team, he was on his own. Saul was allowed to do things how he saw fit, unless it was in regard to a specific instruction. Saul did not follow the instructions according to the Lord's design, therefore the Lord said he was in rebellion against the Lord's plan.

If you are not for the Lord, then He considers you against Him. Saul was in it for his own design, not the Lords and the Lord considered His rebellion as retched as witchcraft. Even stubbornness, the determination to retain an attitude or position against something is as bad as worshiping a false idol. The Lord is very clear that worshiping another god is hatred toward Himself. Being stubborn against the Lord or anything in the Bible is akin to worshiping another god. The Lord considers it the same. 

While you may not think you are in direct rebellion against the Lord, if you've ever done something the Lord wanted and put your own twist on it, then you've likely made Him sad. Following through 90 percent is still not following the Lord's instructions. Being obstinate against doing the right thing is putting another god in front of the Lord. Hopefully you view witchcraft and idol worship to be detestable, but do you view a rebellious heart or stubborn attitude in the same way?  The Lord says its the same to Him. If you are a stubborn person, then you're not submitted to the Lord fully, still in it for yourself at times. You are not your own god. Either you submit to the Lord or not, there is no middle ground. You and I have been stubborn before and you've followed your own heart when you were supposed to follow the Lords. The Lord says this is disgusting in His eyes. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Exodus 20:1-17, 1 Samuel 15 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

I Am Sorry

I Am Sorry
April 8, 2019
Matthew 18:21  ".....Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

What if someone wronged you and you never heard them say the words, 'I am sorry'? It is rather a rhetorical question, because most of us have hurt that has never been addressed by those who hurt us. Even Jesus lived through that at the crucifixion. Jesus forgave those who were crucifying Him, while they were actively crucifying Him. He did not hold it against them, or want revenge. Most of those involved honestly believed they were right in hating Him, right in believing He was a heretic. They murdered Him in the most horrific manner, and yet He asked His father not to hold it against them. After Jesus rose from the dead, it is never documented that anyone who took part in the crucifixion apologized. They never once said the words 'I am sorry'.   He was harmed and He never heard someone ask forgiveness for murdering Him.

Jesus taught about forgiveness because someone asked Him about it. Jesus, how many times do I have to forgive someone before I can hold them accountable for the wrong they have caused me? Jesus said we should keep forgiving. And then there was the woman caught in adultery, and they were ready to stone her. Surely, they had a right to hold her accountable for her wrongs. They were holding stones ready to kill her and called Jesus over to agree. The Bible does not say if the woman was begging for her life, for forgiveness. Jesus said they could hold her accountable if they were without sin themselves. Eventually they all walked away, realizing their own sin at some point warranted punishment, with forgiveness being sought. The truth is, we have all been the woman caught in adultery, needing to apologize for the wrong, but we all have been those holding the stones ready to administer justice to the one who has committed the wrong. But as a stone-holder, have you ever remembered your own sin, the one you got away with, the one you never received punishment for or sought forgiveness or apologized. As a stone-holder, have you dropped the stone and said the words 'I am sorry'?

You and I get offended by people, truly hurt even by those who call themselves Christians, and you will never hear the words 'I am sorry'. Somehow you have to live with that, wrestling through the pain and discomfort, unable to convince an audience that you're right and justified while the offender gets off free of charge to do it again. And then, to make matters worse, when the offending party walks away unapologetic, the Lord says we have to forgive. Sometimes the pain of forgiving someone without hearing the words 'I am sorry' is worse than the pain from the original offense.

Jesus, in the hours leading up to His crucifixion, heard Peter deny Him three times. Peter was the one who asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive his brother over and over again. I know Peter is grateful for the forgiveness. There were those who received the forgiveness of Jesus for the act of crucifying Him and yet they weren't grateful. You will have to forgive those who are not grateful for it. It isn't easy. You will never hear the words 'I am sorry' and for that I am sorry. It's painful and hard, and ugly and simply wrong in every sense of the word. Sometimes there is not solace in it, with only time able to heal. Just know, however, that you, too, have been forgiven likely more than you deserve, as well. Jesus said if we do not forgive, then the Lord will deal with us harshly. I am sorry.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matt 18:21-35, Lk 23:34, Rom 8:28, Eph 4:32

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Is It OK To Wrestle

Is It OK To Wrestle
April 1, 2019
Genesis 32:28  "Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.'"

Jacob was called a deceiver, a supplanter, one who was conniving and always angling to manipulate the situation. He was not known as a humble man or a gentle man but one who was a trickster, at least that was his typical fall-back behavior. Despite Jacob's typical disposition, the Lord still desired to use him intricately in His master plan to start the Jewish people. Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel, was the original Jew.  Before the Lord changed his name to Israel, the father of the Jews, the Lord tested his mettle, moreover the Lord wrestled with Jacob, or was it that Jacob wrestled with God?

Browsing Bible stories, you never read of a man who was audacious enough to wrestle with God. Moses was told to take off his shoes or hide his face in fear of the Lord.  Isaiah trembled in fear on the ground before the Lord. The disciples called Jesus "Master" out of respect for the authority, but not Jacob. Jacob was willing to fight, literally and physically. The Bible says that Jacob wrestled all through the night and when Jacob never submitted or yielded in the struggle, he was finally hobbled to end the battle. Jacob was not willing to quit, he never realized his place. No one ever wrestled with the Lord before, at least not in the literal sense; no one has ever been that bold. Was it a wise thing or a foolish thing to wrestle with the Lord? He was never going to win. Many people say the wrestling was a figurative battle, because it was all through the night, that it was really in a dream. Maybe he awoke and had been sleeping wrong on his hip, hence waking up with a limp.  And what were they wrestling about, why? There is never mention as to the reason. A wrestling match between men is typically to prove who is stronger, who is the alpha male, did Jacob really think he would win that match?

No one will ever know why the Lord decided to wrestle with Jacob in the first place, why he even entertained it. Maybe it was to teach Jacob to finally submit, to realize he was not the alpha male, leaving him permanently scared as a result. Some of you have scars on your mind and body, wounds that may have healed but not without leaving evidence of a battle permanently etched into soul. Those battles, they changed you, some for the good and others not so much. Jacob came away humbled from the fight, with every step that he took thereafter, walking with a limp. Did Jacob regret it in hindsight; was it worth it in the end? It changed Jacob, that's for sure; he was left with a limp and a new name, Israel.

Wrestling in life will certainly change a person; we are often mature or grow during the struggle. Sometimes it shows us what we can do and who we really are and sometimes it leaves us with a permanent limp. This is the same with the Lord as well. He is big enough to let you struggle with Him, knowing that it might be a process you have to go through to come out a changed person. But when you wrestle with God, battling through what you believe and why you believe it, be prepared for the Lord to win and be prepared to leave your old person behind. You will not be the same when you decide to wrestle through things with the Lord. If you have a problem, then dive into Scripture, ask the tough questions, have some heavy conversations with the Lord and wrestle through it. It will be a struggle and it may not be pleasant, but the knowledge and wisdom you should come away with could be the turning point for what the Lord has for you next, just like Jacob. It is OK to wrestle with the Lord, as long as you realize you will not win. When Jacob wrestled, it turned out to be a good thing, despite the battle wound.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 32:22-31

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Let the Prodigal

Let the Prodigal
March 11, 2019
Luke 15:20 3:11 "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for his; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

The story of the prodigal son is famous enough that it can be summed up in a few words. A man had two sons and the younger wanted his inheritance early. So the man divided up his property and the young son left to live in wild living and lost all his wealth. The young son finally came home, humbled, hoping his father might take him back as a hired hand, but the father rejoiced when his son came home and welcomed him back as a son. When the story if reviewed in the Bible, it is just a few short verses. No one knows further detail than this simple parable that Jesus told. The point of the story was the son returning and the Father welcoming him home, similar to the Lord taking us back. But a part of the parable is seldom discusses, the part when the father has to watch his son go, when the father has to let his prodigal son go.

The parable Jesus told never suggested the father begged and pleaded that the son would stay, the father gave the son the gift of a free choice. The father new he could not control his son, forcing him to do something he did not want to do, that would have made his son rebel all the more. Fortunately, and unfortunately, the son was given a free will to make all his own mistakes, possibly rebuking any wisdom from his father.  When I read the story in its entirety, knowing how the father rejoiced and welcomed him back, I know the father deeply loved him and missed his son. I know that watching his son leave was possibly the most painful thing he had ever experienced. The parable is always told from the point of the prodigal son returning, but no one ever discusses the father having to let his son go. Its not that the father is disowning his son, but allowing him the freedom to choose his own path, even if he has been warned that it leads to danger and destruction. I can only imagine the sleepless nights the father went through, wondering if his son was OK, if he was even alive.

The full parable references the Heavenly Father as the father in the story, that he welcomes his children home when they are willing to return. But no one ever discusses the heartache the children cause the father, the turmoil of watching them utilize their free will toward a path that leads to death. The prodigal son's father had to watch him go, had to let him go, and our Heavenly Father does the same thing. The Lord gives us a free will, warns us of all the paths, and then has to let us go if we want to go. I don't know which is more painful, the prodigal son being humbled on the destructive path or the father watching his son leave and knowing what is about to happen.

Your choices, Christian, do not just affect you, they affect those around you and oftentimes they break the heart of God. You decisions have caused the Lord so much emotional turmoil, possible more than you've experienced when making the bad choices. And yet, the Lord still chooses it this way, to love you as a child knowing you are going to break his heart at some point. Anytime you have made a bad decision in life or if you are going to make one in the future, the Lord has given you the freedom to make that choice; He has to let you go if you want to go. But know that He is standing there waiting, without sleep, in eager anticipation to take you back.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Pr 1:7, Pr 10:1, Pr 12:15, Luke 15:11-32

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis
March 4, 2019
Exodus 3:11 "But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'"

Moses was born when the Pharaoh was killing the Hebrew babies, so Moses' mother hid him. When Pharaoh's daughter found the baby, she paid Moses' mother to nurse him (she did not  know she was his mother). But Pharaoh's daughter had not named him Moses at that point. The Bible says that Moses own mother nursed him and then when the baby became a child, Moses mother had to give him to Pharaoh's daughter as her own son. It is likely that Moses was born under a different name, a name only his birth mother knew, a name Moses had never heard spoken. When Moses' mother gave him over to Pharaoh's daughter after he had been weaned, maybe two years old or so, Pharaoh's daughter named him Moses at that point and became his mother. Now Moses was raised in Pharaoh's household, clearly identified as a Hebrew but raised as an Egyptian, under the name Moses. He had two mothers, two names, and two cultures.

Some time in his adulthood, still identifying as a Hebrew, he killed an Egyptian to save a slave from being beaten. But the Hebrews rejected Moses as one of their own, they saw him as an Egyptian. Pharaoh now wanted to kill Moses for the murder, seeing him as a Hebrew  and a threat. So Moses fled. He was now rejected by both groups of people, with no family, not belonging anywhere. Moses fled into the desert and finally found a clan that accepted him, when Moses was married and had a son, he named him Gershom, meaning "I have become a foreigner in a foreign land." Moses did not know how to identify himself anymore, so he referred to himself as a foreigner. Needless to say, he was having an identity crisis

That identity crisis carried over into his relationship with the Lord. When the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt to free the slaves, Moses argued with the Lord, saying he had become a nobody, not able to do anything for the Lord because he lacked a strong identity. The Lord's response was to re-direct Moses from referring to himself and refer to the Lord. It wasn't critical that Moses had a strong human identity, it was critical that Moses had a connection with the Lord. The Lord told Moses not to worry about his identity, simply to make sure that the Lord was with him in front of Pharaoh. In short, Moses' relationship with the Lord was far more important than Moses' personal identity. Moses was supposed to get his identity from his relationship with the Lord. 

In your own life, you are probably known by what you do or who some of your family members are. But the Lord wants you to be known as His child, known as His own from a deep and personal relationship with Him. If you have that, a rooted relationship with Himself, it does not matter what name your mother calls you or what family you come from, or what nationality you are born under. All that matters is that you are known for having a relationship with the Father. When you have that, you won't even desire to be known by anything else.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ex 2-3

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Returning to Victories

Returning to Victories
February 25, 2019
Judges 14:8 "Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he returned aside to look at the lion's carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey."

Sampson was a Nazarite, hence his long hair. Part of the Nazarite vow, besides not cutting your hair, was that you could not consume alcohol or touch a dead body. The first mention in the Bible of Sampson's strength was tearing apart a lion with his bare hands. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with Sampson killing the lion, no major sin or violation of his Nazarite vow, but that event created the opportunity for sin. Sampson was not a humble man and he slowly let the sin of pride and arrogance creep in. He slowly began to think he was invincible, and that transcended into being invincible over sin. He wasn't invincible however.

He came across the location of the lion's carcass, as he may have wanted to revel in his success over the animal. In looking at the carcass, he undoubtedly relived the moment in his mind, possibly feeling triumphant and heroic, rejoicing in the moment again. He saw that there was a swarm of bees in the carcass, not likely with flesh still on it, but a hive of bees inside the dried bones is documented. There was honey in the hive, meaning the bees had been working weeks, maybe months to produce the honey. Sampson felt he deserved some spoils from the bees and reached into the carcass to take the honey for himself. Sampson knew at that moment, in reaching into the carcass, that he was violating his Nazarite vow. He was now in sin, possibly the first time he broke his vow. The Bible documents that he did not tell his parents about the honey, demonstrating that Sampson was also now hiding his sin.

Follow his story further and you see he is now married to a Philistine woman and desperately wanted to brag about his endeavor with the lion. So he makes up a riddle, hoping to keep his sin secret still while being prideful of his victory. His wife finally gets the story out of him and tells the Philistines the meaning of the riddle, that honey came from the carcass of the dead lion. But in doing so, Sampson wasn't revealed for eating honey, his sin of violating his vow was now made public. This sets him on the path to maintaining his sin, violating all aspects of his Nazarite vow which eventually leads to his mighty strength being taken from him.

His mighty strength was taken from him, all stemming from the act of using his mighty strength over the lion. Sampson returned to that victory, but it was the start of his sin. He rejoiced in the spoils of his victory. He didn't stop there, and continued to return to his sin, all because of his success. He wasn't in sin regarding the death of the lion, but that moment of victory was enough to put Sampson on a path to hell, a path that he returned to time and again until the Lord was no longer willing to stand by his side for further victories.

Sampson returned to that victory, but it was the start of his sin. Maybe if Sampson had to reveled in the victory as his own but acknowledged it was the Lord who gave him that strength, maybe if Sampson had done that he never would have lost his strength. Was the victory over the lion Sampson's victory or the Lord's victory? Sampson made it his own victory, which lead to his sin. Sampson is not the only human in history to have physical or mental strengths and giftings. You and I have been given many abilities by the Lord, but do we revel in the success when those strengths are utilized or do we give honor to the Lord for those strengths? We both have likely made a mistake or two in regard to our strengths and victories, but do we continue in that pattern like Sampson or do we turn from our victories and turn from our sin?  Returning to your victories in life could be the most deadly thing you do.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ex 15:8-10, Judges 14

Monday, February 18, 2019

Therefore Gentleness

Therefore Gentleness
February 18, 2019
Philippians 4:5  "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."

The letter Paul wrote to the church of Philippi is one of the most succinct books in the Bible, yet pact with so much advice for daily living. Paul was writing this letter while placed under arrest. He was jailed for preaching the gospel and the letter to the Philippians was to encourage them, yet give them key instructions on how to be an effective Christian. He constructs the whole book in perfect form, very clear to understand. He uses his life as an example and tells them what has been working. He knew from first-hand experience what as working.

In Chapter 1 he says we are to conduct our lives worthy of the gospel, meaning parallel with the teachings in the Bible. While this seems obvious to some, it must be said that if someone is not living in parallel with Scripture, and knows what the Bible says, they cannot truly call themselves a Christian without harming the name. Paul's reminds us not to bring harm to the name of Christ by our actions. In Chapter 2 he says we should imitate the humility of Christ, being humble is paramount in our walk and being an effective demonstrator of Christ. Along with that humility is to live life without complaining or grumbling. This is probable the biggest area of weakness for Christians. We like to complain and we like to get out of whatever it is we are complaining about. Paul says don't avoid the situation, walk through it with a good attitude. In Chapter 3 he warns against fakes, not to imitate them. Today there are so many overt Christians in social media and people think they are real and true. Paul warns there is a good chance that if they are keeping themselves in the public and getting glory for it, then they are fake Christians. Paul's warns against watching their lives to emulate them. He said to emulate his own life which was following the same road as Jesus, actually suffering for the gospel. Few of us even know what it means to suffer, surely the social media darlings may not either.

Then in Chapter 4, Paul says the word "therefore." This is his obvious summary statement of the letter, cleaning up his remarks. Immediately following Paul's word "therefore," you'll see the word "rejoice." He wasn't saying "Therefore rejoice" as his summary, the word "rejoice" can be confusing because he actually says "rejoice" many times throughout the entire letter. His summary really starts, "therefore, let your gentleness be evident." Paul was saying that the most effective way to live your life as a Christian, to display the gospel, was to live with an attitude of gentleness about you. This was part of his first argument in Chapter 1 when he said we are to live our lives parallel with the gospel. Jesus was a gentle man, not a blow hard or a jerk or a braggart or obnoxious. Jesus was not rude or arrogant or generally insulting. Jesus did not make others feel insecure or belittle them. Being gentle is being patient and kind at all times. Paul was saying that this is one of the most effective ways you can live your life in parallel with Scripture and one of the most effective tools in demonstrating your Christianity.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Rom 12:12, 1 Cor 13:4, Eph 4:2, Phil 4

Sunday, February 10, 2019

How Dedicated

How Dedicated
February 11, 2019
Matthew 5:19  "Whey they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus."

Jesus was in town, teaching to a packed house. It was literally in a house. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit was enabling Him to heal the sick, but the day He was in this particular house He was in teaching mode. Word had spread that He had been healing the sick, so four friends carried their paralytic friend into town, to request a healing. When they arrived at the packed house, they tried to find a way to push past the crowds to get to Jesus, but it was too difficult to get five people through such a tight squeeze. Rather than sending one of the friends inside to find Jesus and make the request which could risk being denied, they decided to figure out a way to present him the Jesus. They thought surely if the Lord could see him, Jesus would instantly have compassion on him and perform the healing. They rationed it was a good idea to lower him through the roof.

The house was not made of a normal roof with solid structure that we typically think. It was not a full, load-bearing roof. Some roofs you could walk on but this roof was described as having roofing tiles. Roofing tiles were not load-bearing, they were stiffened, clay shingles that kept the weather out, not to bear the weight of one or five humans. But the men risked walking on the beams of the roof, risked falling through with one poorly placed step, risked knocking tiles onto the people down below, in order to anchor their friend through a hole to get to Jesus. These four men dismembered the integrity of the roof to find a way to access Jesus. They couldn't lower him vertically, they apparently had to lower him almost lying down on a mat. There was significant risk to damaging the wholeness of the roof, with five men up there, but the risk was worth it to these men. They were desperate for their friend to be healed. The Bible mentions this paralytic as not necessarily having family. Back then this paralytic was likely a beggar. It wasn't his mom and dad that brought him to Jesus, it was a few dedicated friends. 

These men were determined to get their friend in front of Jesus, knowing Jesus would do the rest of the work. It was likely a daunting trek to get him there and an arduous task, risky, to lower him through the roof. But they were determined. They cared enough about this man to get him in front of Jesus.

If you were paralyzed, and there was a chance for healing, you'd want four dedicated friends to get you in front of Jesus. Surely you'd like to receive all that Jesus had to offer you. But what if you were one of those four friends? Are you like one of those four friends today, for someone else? If you were to write the tale of your exploits on behalf of putting others in front of Jesus, how long would it be? Would there be enough to write a full-length autobiography of all that you've done for others, to bring them to Jesus? Or would it be a short story, maybe a paragraph or two. How dedicated are you to others, to make sure they meet Jesus? What efforts are you willing to put forth, what dedication are you showing, what determination are you living out to bring people to Jesus? What have you risked to put others in front of Christ? Are you dedicated to yourself or are you dedicated to make sure others have all the opportunity in the world to meet Jesus? 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matt 5:17-26, Matt 9:35-38, John 15:13-17

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Called Away

Called Away
February 4, 2019
John 21:3 "'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.'  So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing."

Before meeting Jesus, Peter was a fisherman by trade. Fishing was his profession, and that was all he knew. Enter Jesus. Jesus called Peter away from fishing and told him he would no longer fish but now be a fisher of men. Jesus called him out of his vocation as a fisherman and put him into ministry. He was called away from his former way of life. For the next several years, Peter was a disciple of Jesus and in full time ministry spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus had so many plans for Peter; He said that Peter was going to be a rock upon which He would build His church. Forget fishing, Jesus had other plans for Peter. Peter was no longer a fisherman, he was a rock.

But after Peter denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion, Peter forgot the new plans that Jesus had for him. He forgot He was a rock. Peter, somehow, decided that it would be better to return to fishing, even though God had called him away from that life. (This is the exact same position Peter was in when Jesus called him away the first time.) You'll read in scripture that after Jesus rose from the dead, He went to look for His old friend, Peter. And you know where He found Peter? Back at his old profession, in a boat, trying to catch fish. Peter didn't catch any fish this time either. He had spent the whole night fishing but to no avail. He couldn't fish anymore. He had forgotten that God had called him away from fishing, and fishing was no longer what God wanted him to do. Peter's efforts were futile because that was not what he was supposed to be doing. God's call on Peter's life still stood firm, and fishing was not it.

God has called each of us out of something and into a marvelous light. That light is the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Savior and with it comes a new life. You cannot go back to your old life; God has called you out from it. You'll find that it is unfulfilling, empty, and futile. No matter whom you were or what you did, that is no longer you. You are a new creation. You have a new identity and with it something you are supposed to do. I don't know what that is for you, but you do. You know, as you read these words, what the Lord has for you and are well aware of the old life to which you so easily return. Recognize that your old way of life is unfulfilling. Continue walking in what the Lord has for you. Even if you failed the Lord, like Peter did, you cannot return to your old life. God still wants you to follow Him.

You've been called away from something and called into something else, a form of ministry that only you can fulfill. Just like Peter was called away from being a fisherman to become a rock on which the church was built, so you have been called to be something different for the Lord.  Jesus went to look for Peter again, and found him at his old way of life. Not only that, but Peter had taken others with him. Be carefully, if you decide to return to your old way of life that you do not invite others along. They have been called away from their former way of life, too. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Deut 7:6, Isaiah 43:10, Matt 4:18-19, I Peter 1:2, I Peter 2:9