Monday, December 31, 2012

God's Way Home

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."   John 14:6, NIV

Jesus did not say that He knew the way to heaven; He said that He Himself is the only Way to get there!

During the Vietnam War, a story was reported about a paratrooper who had been air-dropped into the jungle and couldn't find his way out. A native guide had to be sent into the jungle to find the lost man then lead him safely to his base. The guide became the man's way to safety-his "way home." In the same manner, Jesus is "God's Guide," heaven-dropped into the world to lead lost sinners safely "Home." It stands to reason that if you refuse to acknowledge that you are "lost," then you will not accept God's Way home. But for those of us who know we have been lost, our overwhelming gratitude for the Guide is enough to compel us to tell others about Him - about the truth of their lost condition and the truth about the Way out.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Created Equal

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.   Galatians 6:10, NKJV

When God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (Gen. 2:7, NIV), all human life became sacred because it came directly from God. Whether a person is a murderer on death row or the most beloved person in town, each one is to be treated with respect if for no other reason than human life comes from God.

Are you prejudiced toward someone? A person of a different race or educational background or economic level? Someone from another culture or denomination or religion? Someone with a different language or social status or skin color? There is absolutely no room for prejudice of any kind in a life that follows the Creator's directions. All men are created equal, not in abilities or opportunities, but in the eyes of God because all men derive their lives from God.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Do You Believe This?

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."   John 11:25, NIV

Do you believe this? Do you believe that . . .

when there is no hope,

when there is no recourse,

when there is no answer,

when there is no help,

when there is no way,

when there is no remedy,

when there is no solution,

when there is nobody,

.........there is hope if you have Jesus?! 

Do you believe that Jesus can make a way when there is no way?

With Jesus, all things are possible!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty GOD, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the 
throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with 
judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the 
LORD of hosts will perform this.   
Isaiah 9:6-7

The Christmas Perspective


The Christmas Perspective
It was a Saturday afternoon; a man is relaxing, reading his paper. His wife walks in and gushing with excitement says, "Honey, you know your brand new sports car? Well the air bags work." And with that, she marched out of the room.
That's one perspective isn't it? The air bags work.

There's a cartoon I found several months ago that I thought was worth keeping. A couple is being welcomed into eternity with these words: "Welcome to eternity. Please note our super wide screen television that plays non-stop football, pro wrestling and Arnold Schwarzenegger action flicks."

The husband pumps his fist in the air and says, "Yahoo! I made it to heaven!" His wife standing next to him thinks to herself, "Yikes, I ended up in hell." It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

What's your perspective, your outlook this morning? Without the right perspective, without the correct outlook, it's easy to miss something important.

Wilbur and Orville Wright repeatedly tried to make their plane take flights. It was design, experiment, failure, redesign, experiment, failure, and so on till one December day, off the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they did what man had never done before. They actually flew. Elated they wired their sister Katherine. "We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas." Hastily Katherine ran down the street and shoved the telegram - with the news scoop of the century - at the city editor of the local newspaper. He carefully read the telegram, smiled and said, "Well, well, how nice. The boys will be home for Christmas."

Perhaps the most tragic example of some wrong perspective occurred as two US soldiers observed something on radar. They reported it to their supervisor, a rather young, inexperienced Lieutenant. It was a peaceful Sunday morning, nobody else around and this young man, thinking it was planes on maneuvers from California said, "Don't worry about it." Those 353 planes were still a couple of hours away from Pearl Harbor when first spotted on Dec. 7th, 1941 but one person's perspective was, "Don't worry about it!"

How about this for an insightful perspective on more recent happenings?

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed after the September 11, 2001 attacks. She was asked, "How could God let something like this happen?" Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful answer. She said, "I believe that God is deeply saddened by this just as we are. But for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives and being the gentleman that he is, I believe that he has calmly back out. How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand he leave us alone?"

What's your perspective on God's involvement in the world? What's your perspective on the endless rounds of debates as to where we can hold a baccalaureate service or where we can post the 10 Commandments or where we can display a Nativity scene? Isn't it sad that our courts feel those are issues they need to rule on and restrict?

The events of September 11 notwithstanding, public schools across the nation are again squelching the Christmas spirit. The Washington Times cited several examples of school officials overstepping their bounds, inconsistently banning expressions of Christmas while allowing symbols of other religions:
* Frederick County school employees were prohibited from handing out Christmas cards because those with a Christian message "may not be a legally protected right on a public school campus."
* Two middle school students in Rochester, Minn., were disciplined for wearing red and green scarves in a Christmas skit and ending the presentation by wishing the audience, "Merry Christmas."
* A teacher in Plymouth, Ill., was warned not to read a book about Christmas to her second grade students even though it was in the school's library.
* Students in Silverton, Ore., had to remove "religious" holiday decorations from their lockers, but were allowed to leave secular ones.
* The county school board in Covington, Ga., deleted the word "Christmas" from the school calendar after the ACLU threatened legal action.
* A New York public schools policy allows the display of the Jewish menorah and the Muslim crescent, but not the Christian nativity. A memo from the general counsel of the New York City Public Schools chancellor said, "The display of secular holiday symbol decorations is permitted. Such symbols include, but are not limited to, Christmas trees, menorahs, and the star and crescent."

A preacher friend of mine said he's getting tired of all the controversy from people who don't want any religious emphasis in Christmas that he decided that maybe we should just give in to the secular crowd and cut a deal. He said we'll give them all the non-religious stuff and we'll keep the things of Christmas that promote all the controversy, the religious side. The way he figures it, here's how it will work out. First of all, he's not a politically correct kind of guy so he says bluntly; "They get the fat guy in the red suit." But, they don't get his name because that's a derivative of Saint Nicholas, an obvious religious connection. Further, they don't get gifts because that traces back to the wise men. So now his sack is empty. We get most of the music, in fact we get the best music (Handel's Messiah, the great Christmas Carols) and they get Rudolph, Frosty and Jingle Bells. My friend says they get Christmas trees because they aren't in the Bible but I have heard that it was Martin Luther, a religious leader, who popularized them and put candles on to represent Christ, the light of the world so the trees are debatable. In fact, we get most of the decorations, including lights and tinsel because tinsel represents the gold given by the wise men. He says they get the date because it's really unknown as to when Christ was actually born so maybe we can just join the Orthodox brethren who celebrate on January 7th.

They can call their celebration Sparkle Season or Winter Celebration but we get Christmas because obviously the name Christ is right in it. So when you break it all down, they get a date, an anonymous fat guy with an empty sack, accompanied by Jingle Bells & Frosty oh and they get the fruitcake! The point is that obviously without Christ, there just isn't much left to Christmas.

Last year around this time, I received a wonderful perspective on Christmas. It's entitled, "How terrible if My Dream was Real."
     "I had a dream, Joseph. I don't understand it, not really, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our Son. I think that was what it was all about. The people had been preparing for it for about six weeks. They had decorated the house and bought new clothes. They'd gone shopping many times and bought elaborate gifts.
     "It was peculiar though, because the presents weren't for our Son. They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows and stacked them under a tree. Yes, a tree, Joseph, right in their house. They'd decorated the tree also. There was a figure on the top of the tree. I think it was supposed to represent an angel. Oh, it was beautiful. Everyone was laughing and happy. They were all excited about the gifts. They gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our Son. I don't think they even knew Him. They never mentioned His name. Doesn't it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someone's birthday if they don't know Him? I had the strangest feeling that if our Son had gone to this celebration He would have been intruding. Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everyone was so happy, but it made me want to cry. How sad for Jesus - not to be wanted at His own birthday party. "I'm glad it was only a dream. How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real." 

What's your perspective? What will your Christmas celebration be like this year? The one whose birth we celebrate also said this, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that." (Luke 6:32, 33)

If our Christmas celebration is limited to an exchange of gifts with those who love us, we haven't even begun to take the first steps of faith in our Christmas celebration. Be sure to keep the right Christmas perspective this year.

Have you ever done anything to deliberately celebrate the birth of Christ during Christmas? Or is your Christmas celebration the same thing you've always done - the same traditions your family has always observed? Perhaps the same traditions your family observed even before you or they were Christians? If you were not a Christian, would your celebration be any different?

In the Denver zoo some years ago they were undergoing a major renovation. The polar bear enclosure was being changed to a natural environment. A polar bear arrived before renovation was completed so the new bear was enclosed in a small cage that allowed it to take three, nice swinging steps in one direction, whirl around and take three steps back in the other direction. Back and forth it went, month in, month out till the renovations were complete. The bear was then let loose in it's new environment and do you know what it did? Three steps in one direction, whirled around and back the other way. Three steps in one direction, whirled around and back the other way. Over and over without stopping, the polar bear continued as if the cage was still there.

That's how people can be. That's how Christians can be. Some call it a rut. We do the same thing over and over without varying. That's how our Christmas celebration can be. We do the same thing year after year. Ever watch people while they're in the mall or store, you know the long lines waiting to see you know who - the cashier. Ever hear them talk - how hurried they are, how frustrated. What would it take to give you a new perspective on Christmas? What would it take to celebrate the birth of the one who said as a man, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?" There's nothing of a Christian perspective in buying expensive gifts for our own family and friends - that's loving those who love us. Challenge your Christmas perspective this year. Challenge yourself with the words of the one whose birth we say we are celebrating.

Matthew 10:32, 33 "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

Perhaps there's someone to whom you can share a word of witness - what an opportunity when someone speaks of how hectic their Christmas preparations are - what an opportunity to say, "Hey, have you forgotten about what the season is all about?"

Matthew 6:14, 15 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Is there someone you need to forgive? What a gift to Jesus that would be! To just say, Lord, I don't know how I can do this but in faith I'll trust you if you will help me to forgive this person.

On Dec. 7th, 2001, survivors of the attack on both sides met and shook hands. A Japanese pilot was there - who knows how many Americans he killed but 60 years later, he shook hands with some of those he had once fought against. How meaningful your Christmas would be to Christ if you forgave from the heart - a note, a phone call, a prayer, a visit to say, "Hey, let's put this old quarrel to rest."

You know we all get a bit weary this Christmas season. We all get a bit weary buying gifts, waiting in the lines, cleaning the house, decorating the house, bringing a live tree into the house so we can have a bigger mess to clean later, so we can step on pine needles in March. We all get a bit tired of the baking, cooking and it's so hard, it's just too hard, preacher to squeeze in time to visit the shut-ins, preacher. I've heard that - we're so busy celebrating Jesus' birth that we can't do the things Jesus said. Isn't that a bit strange?

Matthew 25:35, 36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Does your Christmas perspective include any room for those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, shut-ins, in prison etc?

Friends of ours once worked the night shift in a kind of a halfway house that was run by a Christian organization. Dave and Vicky said they felt they had to do that to tell Jesus how thankful they were for their home. That's an interesting perspective isn't it? They also said later that you get a new perspective talking with people there in the house; some grateful for the service they were receiving, some angry at the world and wanting even more and feeling that the world owed them a living. What's your perspective this morning? What's your Christmas perspective? Is it just a holiday, a day off, a day of giving and receiving gifts? Or is it the celebration of the one who has drastically changed your life and provided eternal life for you? And does your celebration include acts of gratitude to the one who gave his life for you? With all the blessings we have received and continue to reap, is it too much to ask for a bit of sacrifice, a gift to Jesus even now when we feel we're just so busy. Sure we all get a bit weary in this Christmas season, but isn't the King whose birth we celebrate worth whatever sacrifice and gift we can give, isn't the King of Kings worth all of that and even a bit more?

Isn't that the right perspective?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Coming into the Presence of God

In His Hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.  The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.  
                                                                       Psalm 95:4-6

Whenever we come into God's presence, we must come with thanksgiving. The Lord is to be praised; we do not want matter, it were well if we did not want a heart. How great is that God, whose the whole earth is, and the fullness thereof; who directs and disposes of all!, The Lord Jesus, whom we are here taught to praise, is a great God; the mighty God is one of his titles, and God over all, blessed for evermore. To him all power is given, both in heaven and earth. 

He is our God, and we should praise him. He is our Saviour, and the Author of our blessedness. The gospel church is his flock, Christ is the great and good Shepherd of believers; he sought them when lost, and brought them to his fold.

Attracted to Weakness

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God.  1 Corinthians 1:30, NIV

Who do you say you can't witness to because he or she is an intellectual, or highly educated, and you are not? Or maybe the person has a seminary degree and you have just started going to church. Remember, it was Joseph, a Hebrew teenager and slave, not the wise men of Egypt, who interpreted Pharaoh's dreams. It was another Hebrew slave, Daniel, not the wise men of Babylon, who deciphered the mysterious writing on the wall of Belshazzar's palace. It was the unlettered fishermen, not the Scribes and the Pharisees, who were taken into the confidence of Christ and used of God to build His church.

Do you feel inadequate intellectually, educationally, socially, theologically? Good! God can use you! He states clearly that He "chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him" (1 Cor. 1:27-28, NIV)

God is attracted to your weakness!


Friday, December 21, 2012

The Destructiveness of Sin

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:11, NKJV

The longing of God's heart, if it can be expressed as such, is to be known, loved, glorified, and enjoyed by His creation. Although in His plural nature God has ultimate fellowship, love, and harmony within the Trinity, He also desired fellowship and friendship with Adam and Eve.

But early in their lives Adam and Eve made one choice that broke their relationship with God and cost them their happiness at the present and their destiny for the future, devastating their family for every generation to come. This devastation was inevitable because life is made up of relationships with God, with others, and with ourselves, and the choice to sin through disobedience destroyed all three relationships. Sin destroys our relationship with God through guiltiness. It destroys our relationship with others through lovelessness. It destroys our relationship with ourselves through meaninglessness. 

What sin is worth such destructive consequences?


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The God of All Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . who comforts us in all our tribulation.   2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NKJV

Medical studies have proven that worry attacks the central nervous system, the circulatory system, and the digestive system of our bodies. Charles Mayo, of the Mayo Clinic, said, "You can worry yourself to death, but you cannot worry yourself to a longer life."

Noah was exposed to such frightening experiences he could have worried himself to death; after all, he survived the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust. While Sunday school stories conjure up in our minds the picture of Noah as a quaint, folksy, old zookeeper with a plump, rosy-cheeked wife, he was in fact a very strong, courageous man of character and faith who could have been tremendously traumatized by the most violent catastrophe in history.

Surely Noah knew the paralysis of fear and the total paranoia of worry. But he also knew by experience that the God of the storm is also the God of all comfort, able to calm his fears as he kept his faith in God and his focus on God.


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Choice to Rejoice

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4, NIV

The apostle Paul knew the secret of victory when he and Silas were thrown into the inner cell of a prison, their feet fastened in stocks, because they had preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God" (Acts 16:24-25, NIV). As a result of their praise, an earthquake collapsed the prison, the jailor was converted, and they were set free! Paul maintained that spirit of praise until the end of his life when he once again found himself in chains in a Roman prison, yet emphatically declared, "I will continue to rejoice" (Phil 1:18, NIV).

I doubt if, during either of those imprisonments, Paul felt like praising. But he had learned to walk by faith, not by his feelings. And today he commands you and me to exercise our will, making the deliberate, conscious choice to "rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pass It On

You are a chosen generation, . . . that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.   1 Peter 2:9, NKJV

"By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain did. . . . And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead" (Heb. 11:4, NIV). Abel's life, although brief, was not wasted because of his faith in God, expressed through his witness.

Have you ever wondered what people will think of you when you're gone? What will your grandchildren know about you? Wouldn't it be wonderful, if, like Abel, you are remembered throughout all the generations to follow as one who lived by faith in God?

Abel passed the baton of truth that leads to faith to the next generation, which was represented by his little brother, Seth. If you are single or childless, you are not exempt from the privilege as well as the responsibility of relaying the baton. While unable to relay it to your own children, you can relay it to someone else's. The possibilities are limitless. So . . . pass it on!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Mighty Name of Jesus

"I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father."   John 14:13, NIV

Jesus' name has meaning that reveals Who He is. His name is LORD, which means Jehovah God. He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament Who revealed Himself to His people. Today Jesus reveals God to you and me. His name is also Jesus, which means Savior, because He came to save us from the penalty and power of our sin. And His name is Christ, which is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament name Messiah. He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that pointed to the Anointed One of God Who would come down to reign and rule on the earth.

To pray in Jesus' name means we come to God believing that Jesus is our Lord -- believing He has revealed God to us and in response we have submitted to His authority. To pray in Jesus' name means we believe He is our only Savior Whose death on the cross provides atonement for our sin. And it means we acknowledge that He is the Christ, Who is coming again to rule the world in peace and righteousness. Do you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Consider the Consequences

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  Galatians 6:7, NKJV

Satan never mentions the consequences of sin. He never mentions the psychological trauma that follows an abortion. He never mentions the dirty feeling of being used after sleeping with your date that haunts your marriage relationship years later. He never mentions the panic and fear that grip you every time you answer the phone after cheating on your tax return. There are serious consequences to sin. Always. Without exception. Adam ate the forbidden fruit his wife had offered, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked" (Gen. 3:7, NIV).

Satan had told Eve her eyes would be opened and she would be like God, knowing good and evil. In one sense he had been right. Eve's eyes were opened, but in a grotesque way. She knew good, but also that she was separated from it. She knew evil because now she was saturated in it. She knew good and evil in a way God never intended her to know -- through her own experience. And she was deeply ashamed.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Washed in the Blood

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, . . . be glory and dominion forever and ever.   Revelation 1:5-6, NKJV

In our pleasure-seeking, anything-goes, feel-good society, guilt is anathema. We run from it through frantic activity, drown it in alcohol, escape it through entertainment, talk about it to a therapist, blame it on someone else, suppress it through mental gymnastics, but we can't rid ourselves of it! It's like a stain that won't come out of our clothes no matter how many wash cycles we put it through or what kind of detergent we use because the stain has become part of the fabric! The only thing that can "wash away" our sin and guilt before God is the blood of Jesus Christ. So God has given us a conscience with a guilt alarm that goes off when sin enters so that we might go to Jesus Christ for cleansing.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Risk-Taking Obedience

We ought to obey God rather than men.   Acts 5:29, NKJV

At the wedding in Cana, Jesus issued a command to the servants that seemed to have nothing to do with the shortage of wine: "Fill the jars with water" (John 2:7, NIV). The servants must have stolen furtive looks at each other, but without question, resistance, or argument, "they filled them to the brim" (John 2:7, NIV).

Why did the servants obey? What made them risk their reputations and their jobs and carry out His instructions? Surely it wasn't just because Mary told them to do whatever He said. It must have been something about Jesus Himself that thrust them out on the limb of risk-taking obedience.

Was it His clear, firm gaze of authority?

Was it the quiet confidence of His demeanor?

Was it the unwavering strength of His tone of voice?

Whatever the reason was, they obeyed and experienced the thrill of seeing the water they poured into the jars, pour out as wine!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trust Him!

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  Psalm 37:5, NKJV

At times our understanding is limited. We simply have to trust our heavenly Father to know best. We have to trust God's silences and respect God's mysteries and wait for God's answers.

When we pray for the healing of a loved one, and he dies . . .

When we pray for release from a financial burden, and we go bankrupt . . .

When we pray for reconciliation, and we are handed divorce papers . . .

When we pray for our career, and we get laid off . . .

When we pray for protection, and we are robbed . . .

We just have to trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Our Heavenly Home

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  John 14:3, NKJV

The first book in the Bible, Genesis, gives us an unforgettable picture of the Lord God. After at least five "days" of intensely creative work, He "planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground -- trees that were pleasing to the eye" (Gen. 2:8-9, NIV). In my mind's eye, I can see Him on His hands and knees, grubbing in the dirt, planting trees and flowers and shrubs and grass, watering and pruning and landscaping. God Himself was the first homemaker, preparing a place for His children, Adam and Eve, that would be pleasing to the eye. We can only imagine the joyful eagerness of the divine Gardener as He presented Adam with his lovingly prepared home that was not just adequate or sufficient to meet his needs, but extravagant in its lush beauty and comfort.

But the preparations made for that first earthly home . . . are nothing compared with the preparations being made for our heavenly home!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Pattern for Discipline

A faithful man will abound with blessings.  Proverbs 28:20, NKJV

Our society is increasingly becoming undisciplined. We work if we want to, show up on time if we can make it, and see a job through to the finish if we feel like it, all the while complaining about the pay or seeking more lucrative benefits. God worked persistently and consistently every day, all day long, until the job of creating everything was finished. God understands what it's like to begin each day in the morning, go to work, apply yourself to the project at hand, accomplish a portion of the goal day after day until you complete the job satisfactorily. God's weekly work was timely, orderly, precise, neat, thorough, planned, and goal oriented.

How closely does the way you do your weekly work reflect His?


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Doing Things God's Way

He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  John 15:5, NKJV

After following Jesus' instructions to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, the disciples hauled in a huge catch of fish. Back on the beach, He invited them to "come and have breakfast" (John 21:12, NIV). With furtive glances and downcast faces, "none of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?'" (John 21:12, NIV). They knew. And on that early spring morning beside the sparkling sea, Jesus took the bread and fish from the fire and fed His disciples breakfast! They feasted and were satisfied, not only by the food He had provided, but also by the fish they had caught.

Jesus was teaching them an important life lesson. They had been out in the boat, apparently trying to meet their own needs, doing what they were naturally good at, but basically living their lives without Him. And they had come up empty. Unfulfilled. But when He was in their lives, and they obeyed His Word, and they served Him in His way, not only were they successful, but they were also satisfied!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

That's Disgusting!

"You are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!"  Revelation 3:15, NIV

I love hot, black coffee and usually have a cup beside me as I work at my desk. But I will get so engrossed in what I am doing that time will pass more quickly than I realize. Again and again, while concentrating on my work, I will absent-mindedly pick up the cup of coffee only to find it is lukewarm. I am glad I am working in private, because my instinctive reaction is to immediately spit the coffee back into the cup!

What an eternal shame it would be if my life caused the Lord to react in the same disgusted way! Yet indifference to Christ was, and still is, disgusting to the Lord! It is incomprehensible to glimpse the glory of Jesus-

The Lord of glory . . .

The Rose of Sharon . . .

The bright Morning Star . . .

and simply shrug! That's disgusting!

What will you do, instead, to live a life that delights Him?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Drastic Pruning

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit."  John 15:2, NIV

The fruit of the vineyard is only borne in abundance on tender, fairly new growth. As the wood of a branch gets older, it tends to get harder. So even though a branch is living and is connected to the vine, it can become barren. Still leaving the branch connected to the vine, the gardener cuts back the old, hard wood, forcing it into new growth that will produce fruit instead of just more wood and leaves. In fact, there are times when he cuts the branch back so drastically all that is left of it is the connection to the vine.

Jesus described this drastic pruning in a believer's life when He explained that the Gardener "cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit." There are times when God cuts everything out of our lives except our relationship with Jesus. He forces us to pay attention to our relationship with Him because that's all we have. And in the process, our "connection" to the Vine is enlarged and fruit is produced.


Friday, November 23, 2012

An Added Dimension

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.  Psalm 119:14, NKJV

While God's Word is not like a magic wand, it does have the power, when applied by the Holy Spirit, to give a new dimension to your mind and emotions and also to your will. Have you lacked the willpower to stay on a diet, conquer a bad habit, or develop disciplines necessary for character? Until I began to receive God's Word daily, I never had the willpower to get up early in the morning for a time of prayer. I lacked what has been called "blanket victory"-victory over those blankets in the early-morning hours! But God has given my will an added dimension so that I am now able to do what I formerly could not.

Does your life feel confined? Do you sometimes have the uneasy feeling that something is missing, that there must be something more to life than what you are experiencing? That you are not fulfilling your potential? Then open your heart and mind to God's Word and ask Him to give your life an added dimension.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Open Your Heart to God

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me. Psalm 139:23-24, NKJV

Have you erected a shield around your heart? A shield . . . of pride or doubt

or shame

or anger?

Did you think that if you opened your heart and let God see inside, that He would blame you for what you have or haven't done? Or rebuke you for your lack of faith?

You and I can be so foolish! Why do we think we can hide our feelings from God? Why would we want to hide our feelings from God? Would you open up your heart and show it to Him? Let Him see exactly how you feel and what you think. Don't hide it or repress it or cover it up or pretend it's not there. Just pour it all out to Him, and then wait expectantly for His response.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Look to Jesus!

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23, NIV

The wonderful good news of the Gospel was shouted out so clearly by the apostle Paul that it still resounds today: The wages of sin is physical death and spiritual deadness as well. BUT the gift of God is eternal life, spiritual life, abundant life through faith in Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God.

What did you think you had to add to your existence in order to experience real life?

Increasing your investment portfolio?

Traveling to more exotic destinations?

Possessing the latest car or computer?

Achieving public recognition?

Reaching your professional goal?

Wearing the trendiest fashion?

If you want purpose and meaning and satisfaction and fulfillment and peace and hope and joy and abundant life that lasts forever, look to Jesus!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Way Up Is Down

He humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:8, NIV

What opinion do you have of yourself? Because of the lofty position you hold, at least in your own eyes, what service do you think is degrading and "beneath" you? Washing dishes? Baby-sitting children? Visiting prisoners?

The apostle Paul, writing from a Roman prison cell, exhorted you and me to have the same attitude of Jesus, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:6-8, NIV) How repulsive and prideful to think anything-any job, any person, any position, any service, any task, any place-is beneath you and me when Jesus, Lord of glory, Creator of the universe, left heaven's throne and took upon Himself the form of a servant! The way up is down!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Built to Last

The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  Revelation 21:14, NIV

My Father's House is a home built to last, not just for a lifetime, but forever! As John continued to gaze on the spectacular vision God gave him, he described Heaven as a city with foundations: "The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. . . . The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone" (Rev. 21:14, 19). The walls of Heaven are actually built on twelve foundations, each one decorated with a different gem. In addition to the spectacular beauty that is implied, we can be assured that Heaven is eternal and unshakable. It's permanent!

Our world is a very unstable place. We can never be certain of the future for ourselves or for the next generation. The fear and apprehension of what's around the corner of our lives can be paralyzing. But when we get to Heaven, we will be certain and sure of absolute, total, infinite stability. Heaven is built to last!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

God Takes the Initiative

Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor?   Isaiah 40:13, NIV

"Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor?" The answer that reverberates through the millenniums is . . . no one . . . no one. God stands in the august solitude of Himself. When He acts, it is because He Himself has taken the initiative and made the decision to do so.

God took the initiative

to create the universe: "And God said . . . ,"

to create man: "Let us make man in our image . . . ,"

to create woman: "I will make a helper. . . ."

And God took the initiative to send His Son to be our Savior.

How unbelievably awesome is the One Who created everything!

Our heads should bow,

our wills should yield,

our hearts should love

the One Who took the initiative and revealed His glory through His eternity, deity, and activity.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Revelation of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  John 1:1-2, NIV

John's choice of wording in the Greek language is significant. His Greek for "Word," which he emphasized by repeating three times in the first verse, is logos, the outward expression of the mind and will that rules the universe.

As we meditate on John's words, we realize that the Logos who was in the beginning with God is a living Person . . . but He is more. He is the living expression of what is on God's mind. But He is more. He is the living expression of what is on God's heart. But He is even more. He is the very heart of the Almighty God of the universe laid bare for all to see!

Do you want to know what is on the mind of God? Then look at Jesus! Do you want to know the will of God? Then look at Jesus! Do you want to know what is in the heart of God? Then look at Jesus! He is the exact revelation of God!


Friday, November 9, 2012

A Promise of Hope!

The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  

1 Corinthians 15:52, NIV

What will it be like on that day when we hear the clarion call of the archangel's trumpet? Quicker than you or I can blink an eye, believers will feel their feet lifting up off the ground, we will be aware of certain changes taking place in our bodies that will enable us to physically live in eternity, and we will look up-into the face of Jesus! We will be swept into the clouds of His glory! And if we can drag our eyes away from His beautiful face, we will see that Jesus is surrounded by our loved ones who had trusted Him by faith and who had been raised from the dead!

Jesus Christ is coming! He is coming! On any day, at any moment, "in the twinkling of an eye . . . at an hour when you do not expect him . . . he who is coming will come and will not delay" (1 Cor. 15:52; Luke 12:40; Heb. 10:37). Now that's a promise that gives us HOPE!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God Is Greater than Creation

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  John 1:3, NIV

God is not one of several gods. He is absolutely supreme over everything! 
God is greater than creation. 

This means there is nothing in my life-

no circumstance or crisis,

no habit or heartache,

no sickness or grief,

nothing visible or invisible-

nothing that is greater than God!

What are you facing that is greater than you are?

A habit?

A person?

A problem?

Praise God for His deity! He is the Creator Who is in authority over everything, 
fully able to control that which not only seems but is beyond our abilities to handle.


Monday, November 5, 2012

The Focus of Our Faith

We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  

Romans 5:2, NKJV

Sometimes, when faced with great problems, our tendency is to focus on the hands of God-what He has not done for us and what we want Him to do for us-instead of focusing on the face of God-simply Who He is. Our depression can deepen through this kind of self-preoccupation. Often, in the midst of great problems, we stop short of the real blessing God has for us, which is a fresh vision of Who He is. When we stop focusing on our problems and on ourselves and focus instead on our almighty and omnipresent God, our problems, as the old hymn promises, "grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

Have you grown so impatient, wanting your problems solved now, that you are missing the vision of His glory God has for you? Get your eyes off yourself, your problems, your circumstances, and look to the face of Christ!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Never Separated Again

Neither death nor life . . . nor things present nor things to come, . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God.  Romans 8:38-39, NKJV

I love the sea. Every summer, I spend as much time there as I am able. I love to see the vast expanse of sky and water. I love to hear the waves crashing on the shore. I love to walk along the beach and feel the sand beneath my feet and the breeze blowing gently in my face. But the sea separates families and friends and entire continents from each other! In Heaven, there will be nothing to separate us from each other or from God. Ever!

No hard feelings or hurt feelings,

No misunderstandings or critical spirits,

No divorce or death, . . .

No sickness or weakness,

No dangers or hardships. . . .

Nothing will ever separate us in My Father's House.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Heirs Together

Husbands, . . . dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life. 1 Peter 3:7, NKJV

The Bible clearly teaches there is to be an equality between man and woman, husband and wife. "In the image of God, . . . male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it'" (Gen. 1:27-28, NIV).

Dominion over everything was given to the woman as well as to the man. The woman was not inferior to the man; nor was the man greater than the woman. Men and women, husbands and wives, were and are equal. The New Testament reaffirms the principle of equality when it says men and women are "heirs together of the grace of life."

God in His wisdom created man and woman equal in His sight, and this equality is to be reflected in the marriage relationship. Husbands and wives are to give each other respect, appreciation, and understanding as equal partners.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let Go!

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  Hebrews 12:1, NIV

Jesus Christ has set you and me free as surely as He raised Lazarus from the dead,
 but we have to take off the grave clothes and let them go!

The writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to throw off the grave clothes and "everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Don't wallow in your "whys?"

Don't throw a pity-party.

Don't remain in your misery.

Understand that you may not understand this side of heaven.

Trust God to sort it all out in the end.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nature's Witness

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.  Genesis 8:21-22, NIV

In spite of the sin and rebellion that God knew lurked in the very next generation of Noah's sons and would increase with every subsequent generation, God committed Himself to spare the earth His previous judgments. While He did not remove the curse He had placed on Planet Earth following Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden, He vowed He would not increase the curse. And He promised that never again would He destroy all life on the planet as He had done during the Flood.

As evidence that He was good and would keep His promise, God pointed to the very cycles in nature. As you and I see the winter snows give way to spring flowers and the summer's heat give way to autumn's briskness, we are reminded that in back of the changes is the God Who never changes. The sun that rises every morning and sets every evening, the stars that come out in the night sky, and the moon that goes through its monthly phases-all reveal the glory of God, Who is good! How do your daily habits and lifestyle bear witness to the glory of God?


Friday, October 26, 2012

God Is With You

I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  Psalm 13:5, NIV

The apostle John, suffering in exile on Patmos near the end of his life, must have prayed earnestly to be restored to his church and to his ministry. He must have begged God to get him off of the remote island so he could continue preaching and serving as a pastor and evangelist. Yet God didn't answer his prayers. Instead, John related that it was on Patmos that God drew near to him and gave him a vision of the glory of Jesus Christ-a vision he recorded for the encouragement of every generation of believers since that time in the Book of Revelation. Jesus was with him in exile on Patmos!

What is your Patmos? A place where you are seemingly cut off and exiled from ministry and family? Is it a hospital bed? Or a small home with small children? Is it a workplace where you are surrounded by politically correct hostility to Christ?

Then look up! God is with you!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Run from Temptation!

Flee . . . evil desires . . .and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. 2 Timothy 2:22, NIV

Eve became dissatisfied with God's will when Satan was able to focus her attention on the one thing God had said she could not have-the forbidden fruit. The temptation that confronted Eve intensified because she tolerated it by actually talking to the Serpent about it.

But the basic problem was not what she said; it was that she said anything at all! As she conversed with the Serpent she got into deeper trouble, because he responded, "You will not surely die" (Gen. 3:4, NIV). That was an absolute, deliberate contradiction of what God did say! Eve was confronted with Satan's word against God's Word. Who would she choose to believe?

Jesus said we are to cut temptation out of our lives by severing ourselves from whatever is causing us to be tempted. (Matt. 5:29-30) The apostle Paul said we should run from it. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to talk about it! Unless we do our talking with the Lord. So . . . cut it out! And pray while you run from temptation!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Energized and Strengthened

We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God. 1 Corinthians 2:12, NKJV

The Holy Spirit Who now lives in you is the same Holy Spirit in Genesis 1 Who hovered over the formless, empty, dark blob of earth that dangled in space. As He powerfully energized and pulsated the atmosphere, He prepared the planet to receive God's Word and be transformed into a place of purpose and beauty that ultimately, in the end, reflected the image of God.

That same Holy Spirit is now powerfully at work in your life, hovering over your heart, preparing you to love God and be fully aware of His love for you. He hovers over your mind, preparing you to understand spiritual things and the truth of His Word. He hovers over your will, preparing you to make decisions that are pleasing to Him. All the power of God-the same power that hung the stars in place and put the planets in their courses and transformed Earth-now resides in you to energize and strengthen you to become the person God created you to be.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.   Psalm 13:2, NIV

King David knew that the secret of victory over adversity was a conscious choice to praise God. Again and again, as he cries out to God in prayer, we hear his choice to praise: "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? . . . Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. . . . But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me" (Ps. 13:2-6, NIV). David, hounded by Saul and living as a fugitive for years in a nation where he was the national hero as well as the anointed king, exercised his will to praise God even when he just didn't feel like it.

Praise is the switch that turns on the light of joy in our lives even when it's "dark" outside. And the resulting "light" causes others to see the glory of God in our lives.