Archive for July, 2014

Paying a great price (Jeremiah 26, Mark 12)

July 30, 2014

‘But as for me, I am in your hands.  Do with me as seems good and right to you.” Jeremiah 26:14

Yes, it is true, “The price of everything has gone up.”  I never thought I would pay the prices I pay for gas each time I fill up my tank.  But as the world economy changes, so changes the price.

Question, “Have you ever complained about elevated prices?”  Certainly all of us would have to answer, “Yes.”

Consider the following:  Anything of value will be costly to our lives.

Think it through:

In the book of Jeremiah we discover how costly obeying God really was for Jeremiah.  In this chapter he has been arrested and is facing those who would take his life.  By the grace of God he would be spared this death.

Look deeply behind the scenes.  Jeremiah was paying a great price because he was simply giving forth the Word of God.

In many places in our world, this same circumstance is taking place.

Maybe you are not facing the price of your life on a cross, but still you are facing a great price.

1.  You are a mother, who pays the price of long hours in sharing your life with your children.  Be assured the price is worth it, when you see your children coming to the Lord and serving the Lord.

2.  You are a father, who pays the price of giving of yourself to your family.  Be assured the price is worth it, when you experience the maturity of faith in your family.

3.  You are a son or daughter, who is paying a great price for serving the Lord.  Be assured it will be worth it when you stand before Jesus to receive the great reward for your sacrifice.

Our response:

Is the Lord dealing with you about some area where it seems He is asking you to pay a great price?  Your answer will depend on the amount of love you have for Jesus.  In Mk. 12 the widow gave out of her substance.  She gave all she had. Yes, this was a great price.  But there was great reward in that her story encourages us to be a people who give to Jesus out of love.

I want to challenge you to be willing to sacrifice whatever it takes for God’s glory to be made known.  Truly it is worth it.

Responding to the indictment (Jeremiah 25, Mark 11)

July 29, 2014

“The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against the nations, he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 25:31

Imagine the horror of receiving a summons to appear in court!  I have had to appear in court on two different occasions as a character witness for two different people.  I can still remember how nervous I was, even though I was not the one on trial.

This days scripture reading in Jeremiah reminds us of the following fact, “Someday the entire world will stand before God to be judged.”

Think it through:

The prophet of God is tasked with giving forth the indictment against Judah, Vs: 6, “you have not obeyed the voice of God’s Words.”

Israel would face 70 years of captivity because of her rebellion against God.  When Jeremiah read the indictment, there was no need for rebuttal because the indictment is truthful.  All that remained was for the sentence to be carried out.

Brothers and sisters, this same indictment is in our lives.  We have also rebelled against God.  We are awaiting the judgment to come.  We along with the nations of the world are facing the cup of God’s Wrath!!!

What is our hope?  What should be our response?

We have only one hope, “Jesus Christ.”  Our hope is that we can settle out of court!!!  We have the opportunity by grace to go free because of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus!  Check out I John 2:1-2

This morning I do not fear entering God’s court simply because I have settled out of court.

Your response:

Have you settled out of court?  If not, do so today!!!

Do others know, they can settle out of court? You and I must spread this news around the world.

Are you a part of the support group of people who have settled out of court?  If not, join one of these groups today.  These groups are called, “a local church.”

Looking Through The Eyes of Love (Mark 10; Jeremiah 24)

July 28, 2014

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘you lack one thing, go, sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'” Mk. 10:21

“So many people and so many personalities.”  These words had to have, from time to time, been on the minds of the disciples of Christ.  Each chapter in the gospel of Mark is filled with encounters with people who were at times in radically different places.  But with divine precession, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter in each case.

Think it through:

In Mark 10 Jesus with 5 different circumstances representing 5 different personalities.

1.  In Vs: 1-12, Jesus ministers to Pharisees who have a hard heart.

2.  In Vs: 13-16, Jesus ministers to Disciples who fail to have the heart of a child.

3.  In Vs: 17-31, Jesus deals with a Rich man who is trying to save himself.

4.  In Vs: 35-45, Jesus deals with Disciples who want to lead, but need to be servants.

5.  In Vs: 46-52, Jesus deals with a man who wants to be healed.

In each of these circumstances Jesus ministers with such perfect precession!!!

Question:   “Do you and I handle every circumstance with such precession?”

I wish my answer could be, “Yes.”  But sadly, there are moments when I am like a person shooting at a chipmunk with a scatter gun.

The key to such precession is in looking through the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus spoke with discernment.  He knew exactly what was in men’s hearts (John 2:28).

Jesus spoke with dedication.  He was going to the cross to redeem men’s hearts (Mk. 10:45).

Jesus spoke with direction.  He would give men new hearts (Mk. 10:27).

Our response:

We must become a people who so dedicate ourselves to Jesus, that we can have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5).  This mind will then lead us to a discerning spirit that believes God can change the direction of every heart.

Lord, help me to see others through your eyes.

Tradition Vs Truth (Mark 7, Jeremiah 21)

July 25, 2014

“You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”  Mk. 7:8

One of the toughest moments in a teacher’s life is when one of his or her students decides to reject their teaching.  I can remember Paul’s shock with the people in the church at Galatia.  He thought it unimaginable that the people would “turn so soon to another gospel,”  Gal. 1:6

Brothers and sisters, “Truth is always under attack.”  Today’s passage in the Gospel of Mark should be a powerful reminder of our need to known the truth.

Think it through:  

The religious leaders have elevated the oral law (unwritten) to an equal value or even higher value than God’s Word.  These leaders claimed that Moses spoke more laws that the one’s given in His Word.  To these they laid the greater emphasis in carrying out.

To this Jesus addressed Himself in Mark 7.

At best tradition is a covering for the outside of man.  It covers the inner corruption of the heart.  But deeper still only God’s truth can change the heart.  Out of the heart flows the reality of our lives.

Only God’s truth can change the heart!!!

Question, “Are you fighting for truth or are you fighting for your tradition?”  I want to fight for the truth!!!

Our response:

Each day we must test our viewpoints against the Word of God.  Each day we must choose to forsake the tradition and follow the truth.  This may be hard for some who have followed tradition so very long that it has become in their minds, truth.  But the journey is worth it because we should want to be different from the inside out and not just the outside only.

At Home and On The Road (Mark 6; Jeremiah 20)

July 24, 2014

“And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household,” Mark 6:4

Here he was, simply trying to make a difference in his hometown.  He loved his fellow people and he loved his nation, but in this moment the people in the nation did not love him.  In fact Jeremiah was a hated man.  There were even those who were trying to kill him.

Hear his cry to God, “Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?”  

Here he was, simply trying to share with his hometown the difference he was about to make.  His love for his fellow-men has been well stated on the pages of scripture, John 3:16.  But at home, in his hometown, he could do very few miracles because of the people’s unbelief.

There are many differences between Jeremiah and Jesus, but one stands out here: “Jeremiah was ministering at home and Jesus was ministering away from home.”  But both found it hard.

But both found great success because they were faithful to their call.

Think it through:

Where has God called you to spend the bulk of your time ministering?  Is it at home or on the road?

In either place there will be moments of difficulty as you seek to be obedient to God the Father.  But if you are faithful to your call, success will come for God’s glory.  Keep this one thing in mind;  “Where you are home or on the road, you are really on a foreign field.”  This world is not our home.  We will not have ease on this earth.  Our goal is to prepare people for the world to come.

Our response:

Don’t give up on home or the road.  Be faithful to share the gospel until Jesus comes!!!

Who Is This Man? (Mark 5, Jeremiah 17)

July 23, 2014

“And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was 12 years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.”  Mk. 5:42

Last week our church family experienced a great loss in the passing of one of our deacons, Rick Raines.  During my first three plus months here, his name has been mentioned more than any other.  I feel as if I have gotten to know him through not only personal encounters but through his precious wife Diane ,who adored him, as well as the many hundreds of people who have shared story after story of his life.  Through the years, Rich has made so much gospel impact on the lives of so many.  It is truly a joy to dedicate today’s bog to his honor.

Question, “is there anyone in your life that has truly become a great influence?” In Mark 5 we discover the stories of three individuals whose lives were greatly impacted by one man.  Here is a quick bio on each:

1.  A man who is living a life out of control.  He is so out of control that no-one could even keep him from hurting himself.  But then this man shows up.  Here is what Mark writes about his life after his encounter with this man, “Sitting there , clothed and in his right mind.”

2.  A woman who is living a life with extreme pain.  She is only getting worse day by day.  But this man shows up.  Here is what Mark writes about her life after her encounter with this man, “And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”

3.  A 12-year-old girl who was beyond hope. She has died.  But this man shows up.  Here is what Mark writes about her life after her encounter with this man, “And immediately this girl got up…”

Think it through:

It would be so easy to get caught up in telling the stories of these people.  But we must look beyond their stories to the story of the man who did all these things.

Who is this man?  His name is Jesus Christ.  This man has authority over demons, demon possession, disease, and even death.

The first person who had been touched by Jesus went out into his city and began to proclaim how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

My prayer last week was for Jesus name to be made famous in the home going of Rich Raines.  His life was as it was because years ago he met this man, Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus power, Rich is cancer free today. He is more alive than ever before.

Diane’s life will continue with much determination and success because she too met this man, the God-man, Jesus Christ.  Please pray that every day Diane and her family will experience life with the man.

Our response:

May we know the man the way Rick Raines knew the man.  Rick we will see you soon!!!

Working at the Wheel (Jeremiah 17, Mark 3)

July 22, 2014

“So I went down to the potters house, and there he was working at his wheel.”  Jeremiah 17:3

Question, “Who is at the wheel in your life?”  This question assumes that one understands the metaphorical connection in the question.  In a car, it is the steering wheel that is connected to the tires in-order to govern the direction the car will travel.  In the car of your life, someone or something is at the wheel.

Consider this reality:  In infancy it is the stomach that steers the child to crying.  In childhood it is the passion that steers the child to explore everything.  In the teenager years it is the flesh that steers the student to want to do their own thing.  In the college years it is the steering wheel of individuality that leads them in different directions.  Finally in the adult years, it is the steering wheel of adventure that keeps us on certain paths.

Bottom line:  Through it all one is governed by someone or something that is steering the wheel of life.

Consider what God is teaching Jeremiah through the metaphor of a potter at the wheel working the clay.

Think it through:

As the earthly potter is at the wheel working physical clay so is God at the wheel of humanity working as He chooses for His glory.

Unlike the earthly potter who works with clay that is already in existence, God creates the clay he works with (Ephesians 1:4).  The early potter had in his mind what he wanted to create, so to does God have in His mind what He wants to create in us (Psalm 51:10).  The earthly potter works with the clay and so to does God work with the clay of His people (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Footnote:  “If the clay does not conform to the potters hand, he will refashion the clay.”  In a similar way, “When God’s people do not conform to the work of His hand, He chastens the spiritual clay to make them as He intends for them to be.”

Judah would not conform to God’s hand.  She wanted to be at the wheel of her own life.  She wanted to design her own course in life and she wanted to direct her own course in life.  The result was captivity and cave-in.  She became a worthless piece of pottery.

In Mark 4 Jesus speaks about 4 kinds of soil (Soil turns into mud when water is added, hence clay can come).  Only the soil that is receptive to the makers hand (Word or direction) produces a crop!!!

Our response:

Are you at the wheel of your life?  If so, expect rough roads ahead.  If this is you, “repent of this action.”  Surrender the wheel to the only one who can take you in purposeful directions!!!

Is God at the wheel of your life?  If so, trust in that He knows what He is doing.  Walk in faith through every shaping moment.  Check out Mark 4:35-41.

Heavenly Father, “You alone are Lord of the wheel of my life.  Direct me in correct paths for your glory.”  

Being In the family (Jeremiah 17, Mark 3)

July 21, 2014

“Behold they say to me, ‘Where is the word of the Lord?’ Let it come,” Jeremiah 17:15

Sometimes being in a family can be a messy deal.  For example,” The struggle of raising a family can be a difficult time, especially when your children reach the age of making their own decisions.”

Consider the struggle Jeremiah is locked in.  Here we find the man of God being challenged to stand in the gate of the city (Vs: 19) and proclaim God’s message.  Back in chapter 7 he was challenged to stand at another gate (The gate of the temple) and proclaim the word of the Lord.

Here was the Word of God:  God’s judgment is coming as the spoil for the people’s sin (Vs: 3).  The Lord has tested the heart of these people (Vs: 9).  The heart of man is deceitful above all things.  God is going to give every man the reward for what he has done, (Vs: 10).

Jeremiah is being accused of being a false prophet (Vs: 14-18).  But the opposite is the case, he is speaking the Word of the Lord, (Vs: 15).

Question: “Do you ever feel like you are like Jeremiah speaking to your family?”  The more you try to point them to God, the more they seem to blame you for standing in the gate?  Consider what Jeremiah is told to proclaim:

I.  Judah, you are to honor the Lord on His day, Vs: 21-26

If they honored the Lord on His day, then they would be honoring Him above all things.  God would honor them by giving them the Kingdom of God.

II.  Judah, would not honor the Lord on any day, Vs: 27

Think it through:

There are days when we think our family is really at odds with us.  But deeper still is the fact that they are at odds with God.  We must be consistent in standing at the gate sharing the Love of Christ with our families.  In Mark’s gospel we find the other side of the coin,  “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother,” Mk. 3:35

Our response:

This day I chose to rejoice that I am in God’s family.  This day I believe that my family is worth the effort to work through all the things that cause us sorrow because we know that joy comes in the morning.

Take time today to pray for those in your family that need a great movement of God!!!

Standing In the Gate (Jeremiah 7, Matthew 21)

July 11, 2014

“Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord.”  Jeremiah 7:2

I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Jeremiah to stand in the gate (the entry way from the court of the women into the inner court) and proclaim God’s message.  Here was God’s message:

1. Amend your ways, Vs: 2-7

God’s people were sinful in every way.  These people were corrupt in character, worship, and deeds.

2.  Actions were clearly seen, Vs: 8-15

Footnote:  Jeremiah was to preach to these people, but he was not to plead for these people.  Israel has already rejected every attempt by God to turn them around, Vs:21-29.  They were going back instead of going forward (Vs: 24).

3. The announcement of slaughter, 7:30-8:3

These people would be removed from their land.  The laughter in the streets would be no more.

Think it through:

What will happen to where you live if you do not stand in the gate and proclaim the message of the Lord?  Certainly I know that for some who read this, there is the immediate response, “Do you know how hard it is to stand in the gate in my city?”

I truly cannot understand every context.  There are people reading this blog from all corners of the world.  I believe the Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “Be instant (stand at the gate) in season and out of season,”  II Ti. 4:2. Paul speaks of standing in the gate when it is popular and when it is not popular.

Your gate could be as a parent who faces children who are struggling.  Here God’s charge, “Stay at the gate, your children’s lives are at stake.”  Your gate could be your work place.  Here God’s charge, “You are the sole light at the gate.  They cannot see me apart from you.”  Still others are at the gate of the nations.  Here God’s charge, “This gospel must be proclaimed to the end of the world and the end will come.”

Our response:

I have made my choice, “I will stand at the gate.”  For the sake of the souls of men, I plead with you to stand at the gate!!!

Desiring Greatness (Jeremiah 6, Matthew 20)

July 10, 2014

“Take what belongs to you and go, I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to be?  Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last.”  Matt. 20:16

As you read this blog, I am on a mission trip in the nation of Honduras. We have a team of 30 people who are doing a large variety of mission work.  We are conducting a medical clinic, a children’s camp, a Vet camp, village evangelism, morning and night crusades.  This team is extremely busy in its work.  No one on the team has a free minute.

This mornings devotion from Matthew 20 has much to say about those who are called to be engaged in the work of the kingdom.  Jesus calls people to work in his vineyard (Kingdom work).  They are called at different times with different assignments, but they are all apart of the kingdom.

We discover in Vs: 10-14 that there were some who thought they deserved more for their work in the kingdom.  These workers were missing the point.  Here is the point:  “We are only in the kingdom because of the mighty grace of God.”  Those we minister to have been given the same opportunity of grace as have we.

Think it through:

1.  Grace changes our viewpoint toward others.  Everyone is called to come to Jesus because of grace.

2.  Grace changes our viewpoint about our own lives. We are called to serve others in the gospel because this is what our Lord did when he came to this earth.  “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”

Our response:

There are objects of God’s grace all around us (Vs: 29-34).  They were around Jesus, they are around us on this foreign field, and they are around you in your context.

Our goal must be, “Live like Jesus.”

“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”