Sunday, June 30, 2013
Jesus looked straight at Peter and asked persistently for the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" (John 21:17, NIV). Under the direct, searching gaze of his Lord, Peter must have known he was being asked whether he loved Jesus more than himself. This time did Peter squirm uncomfortably? Did he love Jesus more than the opinions of others, such as the servant girl in the courtyard? More than his own safety and comfort, as he would now be dangerously identified with Someone Who had been executed as an enemy of Rome? More than his own reputation? More than his memories of sin and failure?
Jesus reached into Peter's heart and put His finger on Peter's motivation for service. Peter's motivation to live for Jesus and to serve Jesus was not to be an attempt to stave off guilt, or to earn forgiveness, or to avoid criticism, or to prove something to someone, or to gain approval or recognition. Peter's sole motivation in service was to be his love for Jesus, pure and simple.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Your mercy is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the clouds. Psalm 108:4, NKJV
When have you observed the blazing glory of a tropical sunset
or the soft, silvery shimmer of moonlight on the ocean waves,
or a baby's birth and first lusty cry,
or a bird weaving her nest, hatching and feeding her young
and wondered, who made it?
When we thoughtfully consider the world around us, we instinctively know our environment is not some haphazard cosmic accident but the handiwork of a Master Designer. The earth did not come about by the snap of some giant fingers but was deliberately planned and prepared in an orderly progression of events. Like Planet Earth around us, your life is not a haphazard cosmos, either. You were deliberately planned to be filled with the beauty of love and joy and peace and purpose-filled with God Himself.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
"I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20, NKJVFollowing the resurrection of Jesus Christ but before His ascension, He spent forty days and nights, coming and going among His disciples. At one point, two of His disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus when suddenly Jesus appeared, walking with them. Then, just as suddenly, when they broke bread together, He disappeared. At another time that same day, His disciples were gathered together in the Upper Room in Jerusalem with the windows barred and the doors locked. Suddenly Jesus was in their midst; then just as suddenly He disappeared. Jesus appeared again suddenly to His disciples on the shore of Galilee after they had been out all night fishing.
During the forty days when Jesus suddenly appeared to His disciples then just as suddenly disappeared, could it be He was teaching His disciples to live by faith? Whether or not they could see Him, He seemed to be teaching them to be confident He was actively present and involved in their lives.
Even though you cannot see Him, you can know He is near because He says He is!
Monday, June 24, 2013
He is not here, but is risen! Luke 24:6, NKJVIt was early Sunday morning before dawn. An elite, handpicked Roman guard was watching the tomb in which Jesus of Nazareth had been laid. Knowing their very lives depended upon their vigilance, the eyes of the soldiers never dimmed, their bodies never relaxed as they carried out their assignment to keep any and all away from the tomb. No one was to get in. Certainly no one was to get out!
Suddenly, in the darkness, the ground began to rumble and shake as though a mighty rocket was being launched, and a violent earthquake erupted. Then, before the horror-filled gaze of the guards, against the inky blackness of night, an angel clothed in light as dazzling as new snow under a noonday sun descended from heaven, walked over to the tomb, rolled away the stone, and sat down on it! The guards passed out in terrified unconsciousness because they had seen past the angel and the rolled-away stone into the tomb! And the tomb was empty!
JESUS OF NAZARETH HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD! HE'S ALIVE!
Saturday, June 22, 2013
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14, NIV
We can only imagine the concentrated thoughts that occupied the divine Mind and the gentle, skillful touch of the divine Hand that first shaped man from the dust. Where did the Creator begin? Did He start with a skeletal frame? Did He then cover it with an outside layer of skin, which at no place is thicker than three-sixteenths of an inch, is packed with nerve endings to enable man to feel the outside world, and is virtually waterproof? Into the skin stretched over the frame did He next place the heart that pumps seventy-two times a minute, forty million times a year? When did He hang the lungs in their sealed compartments so that the rivers of blood necessary for life can deposit the carbon dioxide and pick up oxygen to be carried to every single one of the more than twenty-six trillion cells in the body? When did He place the brain inside the bony skull and program it to send messages that travel faster than three hundred miles an hour along the nervous system to the entire body? Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully and lovingly and personally created by an awe-inspiring, loving Creator!
Thursday, June 20, 2013
You have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. 1 Peter 1:22, NKJV
Is God silent in your life? Could it be that He has given you Truth to which you have not responded obediently? Has He given you truth through a Bible study,
or your pastor's sermon,
or your daily devotions,
or an inspirational book,
or a godly friend,
that you have yet to apply and obey? Have you been frustrated because the Bible doesn't seem to make sense to you? And when you pray, is it as though your prayers hit the ceiling of your room and bounce back? Have you felt as though God has abandoned you? If so, you need to go back to the last thing you can remember that He told you and act on it. If you can't remember, just return to the Cross by faith. In prayer, confess your sin of disobedience whether it was willful or not. Ask God to break His silence in your life.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22, NIVThe New Testament describes the characteristics of Christ that are to be revealed in our lives as spiritual "fruit." Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is the fruit of the Spirit that ought to be bountifully present in our homes. What kind of "fruit" are your children eating within your home? Does their "diet" consist of nagging, complaining, anger, bickering, gossip, impatience, meanness, selfishness, and rudeness? Or are they learning to be loving when someone is not lovable, to have joy when life is not fun, to have peace in the midst of pressure, to be kind when treated roughly, to be unselfish when they don't get their way, to forgive when they are wronged? How easy do you make it for your children to "eat healthy"?
Our homes should be places of rich, bountiful, moral, and spiritual teaching for our children. But that is only possible if we ourselves are moral and spiritual people, fulfilling God's purpose for our lives.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23, NKJVBefore the Flood, God had said, "Come into the ark" (Gen. 7:1, NKJV). The clear implication was that God was already inside, inviting Noah to join Him there. After the Flood, when God said, "Come out of the ark" (Gen. 8:16, NIV), the implication is that He had left and was asking Noah to follow. The great God of the Exodus Who led His people out of bondage to slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea to allow them to pass on dry ground and so escape the armies of Pharaoh - that same great God led Noah, his wife, his sons, his sons' wives, and all the animals out of the ark!
God's greatness has not been diluted in any way over the years of time. He is just as great today as He has been in the past. So why do you think He cannot lead you out of trouble? Why would you think He cannot lead your entire life so that you find peace and fulfillment? Why do you think He is unable to lead your children in the right direction that will be pleasing to Him and good for them? God is great!
Friday, June 14, 2013
That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3, NKJVWhen I was growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, every Sunday afternoon, weather permitting, my parents, my siblings, and I would go hiking. Inevitably, our climbs would take us to the ridge where the trees were so enormous we could all hold hands and still not be able to encircle the trunks. When I asked my mother why the trees were so much larger on the ridge than anywhere else, she replied that it was because the winds were the strongest and the storms were the fiercest on the ridge. With nothing to shelter the trees from the full brunt of nature's wrath, they either broke and fell, or they became incredibly strong and resilient.
God plants you and me in our faith as tender saplings then grows us up into "trees of righteousness," using the elements of adversity to make us strong. And He leads us to endure, not just somehow, but triumphantly as we choose to praise Him, regardless of the storms swirling within us or the winds howling outside of us.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6, NKJV
God is looking for a few good men and women. Men and women who are willing
to go against the current of popular opinion,
to hold firm convictions in a world where "anything goes,"
to speak the truth when it is not politically correct,
to walk with God when everyone else is running away from Him.
God is looking for those who believe
that what He says is more important than what anyone else says,
that what He thinks is more important than what anyone else thinks,
that what He wants is more important than what anyone else wants.
that His will is more important than their own.
God is looking for another Noah. Another Meshach. Another Shadrach. Another Abednego.
One person with God is not alone but a majority!
Monday, June 10, 2013
They received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11, NIVFollowing the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, His disciples fanned out all over the known world, telling people they could now be reconciled with God through faith in Jesus Christ. How were the religious faithful to know if this was true? How could they discern the true Shepherd's voice?
A fascinating glimpse is given to us when the apostle Paul, who had started heated debates and even riots in practically every synagogue and city where he preached the Gospel, slipped into the little town of Berea. As was his custom, he went straight to the synagogue in order to share the wonderful good news that the Messiah had come. This time when he preached, "they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
We will recognize our Shepherd's voice when we listen with our eyes on the pages of our Bibles.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:21, NIVIf the apostle John hasn't already conveyed to us that My Father's House is spectacular, his description of the streets surely does. But I wonder if there is a subtle message to us contained in his description - a message that my wise mother, with her characteristic humor, pointed out to me when she dryly exclaimed that you can tell what God thinks of gold because He paves the streets of heaven with it! Gold is really just heavenly asphalt! In other words, there are many things down here on earth that we give a top priority to, which in eternity will be inconsequential and insignificant.
It's sobering to contemplate how much time, effort, sacrifice, compromise, and attention we give to acquiring and increasing our supply of something that is totally insignificant in eternity. What are your priorities? As you live them out, will they have eternal value and significance?
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Psalm 32:1, NKJVYour heavenly Father has been waiting for you to come home to Him, waiting for you to confess your sin of resentment and rebellion, waiting to celebrate the joy and love and pleasure He wants you to have in relationship with Him. Don't make excuses; don't rationalize your bitterness. Go to God; ask Him to cleanse you of your sin. Ask Him to uproot your bitterness. Invite Him into your life to take control of everything, including past memories of abandonment or abuse or adultery, present circumstances of injury or injustice, and future dreams and disappointments.
Follow the example of the psalmist, who wrote, "I will confess my transgression to the Lord" (Ps. 32:5, NIV).
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."
Wouldn't you rather be blessed than bitter?
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body . . . and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:13, NIVWhen you and I received the Holy Spirit into our lives, we became members of the larger body of Christ that includes other believers. Perhaps without realizing it, at the moment of conversion, we became part of the family of God; Jesus is the Head, and other believers are our brothers and sisters. Paul describes this new identity as being "baptized by one Spirit into one body." But the new privilege of belonging to God's family brings with it new responsibilities to care for and build up the other family members. For that purpose, the Holy Spirit gives us each gifts that enable us to be contributing family members. These gifts are not natural talents although they can enhance what we have developed ourselves. These gifts are supernatural and only come from the Spirit at His discretion. (1 Cor. 12:11)
What is your spiritual gift? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what it is so you can use it to enrich the family!
Sunday, June 2, 2013
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11, NKJV
"The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:12, NIV).
Through the power of His Word, God brought beauty to the barrenness and added color to the drabness. God did not create anything new. He just called it forth from what was already present, because apparently that which was necessary for plant life was in the soil.
It doesn't matter if your life has always been dry, barren, bleak, desolate, and ugly, or if it has become that way because of some tragedy or crisis. If you submit your life to the skillful touch of the Creator, He has the power to transform you into someone who is beautiful - beautiful not because of a toned physique or flawless skin or a perfect figure or manageable hair but because the life of Christ radiates from within you: His joy sparkling from your eyes, His love lighting up your face.