Archive for November, 2014

Black Friday (Luke 12; Micah 3)

November 28, 2014

“Its head gives judgment for a bribe; its priest teach for a prize; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say,’It not the Lord in our midst? No disaster shall come upon us.”  Micah 3:11

In the US, the season of gift buying for Christmas is officially underway.  Americans are standing in long lines hoping to get the gift they wanted for an amazing discount price.  This crazy day is called, “Black Friday.”

As I opened my Bible to Micah 3, I read of the prophet of God who was called to write about a true black day coming in the future.  It was a day when Israel would be judged.  Micah writes, “Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field.”

Question:  “What was the cause of this black day?”

Micah identifies three reasons:  1.  The political leaders were corrupt.  2.  The priest’s were corrupt.  3. The prophets were corrupt.

Think it through:

If God decides to judge today as he did then, it could be a black Friday for our nation.  Certainly we know that God has extended grace in the coming of Jesus.  But in Luke 12 we discover that man is to fear the Lord because he is both the author and judge of eternal life.

As a Christ follower, I desire to see our political leaders, spiritual leaders, and vision leaders following Christ.  If this is to happen we who are followers of Christ must stand up for the glory of God.

My prayer is that we would find the same power as did Micah, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”  

Our response:

We must seek his power through the Holy Spirit.  As we walk in His power we are changed to walk in right ways with justice as our goal.  We want the glory of God.

If this happens, our black Friday could turn into a joyous Sunday for Christ!!!

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True Thanksgiving (Luke 11; Micah 2)

November 27, 2014

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you.”  Luke 11:9

On this day, America celebrates a national Holiday, “Thanksgiving.”  This day has been set aside for our nation to give thanks to God for all she has been given.  Sadly, for most people this will simply be a day of something else other than true thanksgiving.

Before us in Luke 11 we find a passage, Vs: 5-14 where Jesus teaches us about the importance and blessing of prayer.

The chapter begins with the disciples wanted to be taught how to pray.  Jesus gladly gives them an outline for praying:

There must be adoration and alignment (We must come before God in submitting our preferences to his preferences).

We are to both petition God for our needs as well as confess our sins to God.

We are to forgive others and we are seek his protection of our lives. 

This model prayer is followed by a true reason for giving thanks.  Jesus teaches us the following:

I.  We are to pray consistently (Daily coming to ask, seek, and to find).

II.  We are to pray confidently (Daily we come before a God who loves us and will provide for what we need).

III.  We are to pray with clarity (Daily we are to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our prayer life).

Think it through:

On this Thanksgiving day, you and I as followers of Christ have the honor of coming before the God of the universe.  This God loves us and He is at work within us!!!

Our response:

This day and every day we must spend time with God.  This truly gives us a reason to give thanks!!!

The unheard of life (Luke 9; Jonah 4)

November 25, 2014

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23

There is so much debate today concerning every facet of our faith.  It seems that everyone except Jesus is given a voice to speak into the so-called Christian faith.  But it seems to me that what Jesus has to say is really, in many American churches, the unheard of life.

Consider the following:

Jesus said:  The life of a Christian is radically different from the life that men pursue.

Notice two important implications of this truth:

1.  The way a person becomes a Christian, Vs: 23

He or she must deny themselves (Turn from their sin).  He or she must take up the cross (Trust in the work of Jesus on the cross for their salvation).  This life begins with the viewpoint that man is pursuing the wrong course because he or she is born on the wrong course.  Christ came so that men might be able to walk a different course.

2.  The wisdom of a person who becomes a Christian, Vs: 24-26

He or she realizes if they do not deny themselves, eternity will be hell.  He or she realizes if they do deny themselves, eternity will be heaven.  This by no means speaks of earning salvation.  It speaks about placing our trust totally in Christ.

Jesus also said: “The love of a Christian is radically different from the love men pursue, Vs: 57-62

This person has counted the cost of following Jesus and they have determined, “It is worth the cost.”  This person values Christ above everything else, “They would never look back.”

Our response:

Each person must decide to either follow the Christ way or to follow the Christ-less way.  Many have been fooled into not seeing that the world has attempted to muddy the line! There is not a thin line between the two ways.  The line is clear.  Oh how I pray that the church wakes us and cries out, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

The worm in our midst (Jonah 4; Luke 8)

November 24, 2014

“But when the dawn came the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered.”  Jonah 4:7

Yes, it is true, “There are things at work beneath the surface of our lives.” Paul identifies this as spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-13.  Solomon describes it as follows, “out of the heart flows the issues of life.”  Question, “Are you aware of the work that is going on beneath the surface in your life?”

Think it through:

Consider Jonah, the prophet of God before us.  He is a national hero to his people.  He has a specific assignment, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”  He has a beneath the surface problem, “He hates the people of Nineveh.”

Here in chapter four we see that the worm represents the judgment of God against the hard-heartedness of Jonah.  Please spend time reading Jonah 4.

Here is God’s heart:  “God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”

Here is Jonah’s heart: “He was more concerned for his comfort than he was for the eternal destination of his enemy.”

3 realties come into play as we think it through:

1.  Jonah was almost destroyed because of the worm of hatred, Jonah 1:16-2:10

2. Jonah would have destroyed the people he hated, Jonah 1,4

3.  Jonah was derailed because of his hatred, Jonah 4:9-11

Question:  “Are you facing a worm in your life because you are not dealing with the under the surface things in your heart?”

Our response:

You and I must be careful to never allow anything of sinfulness to get in our hearts, Hebrews 12:14-16.

You and I must be careful to strive to have the heart of God in all matters, Matt. 22:37-38; Phil. 2:5-11.

You and I must be careful to confess to God the sin that so easily enslaves us, Hebrews 12:1-2.

Personal encounters (Luke 5; Obadiah 1)

November 21, 2014

“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth.  And he said to him. “Follow me.”  Luke 5:27

As I began my devotion time with Dr. John Joseph, I asked him the following question:  “What were the most important personal encounters of your life to this point?”  To which he replied, “The encounter with aliens as they delivered me to this family.”  In this moment we both laughed at this silly moment.  But very quickly we became serious as we thought about the many people who live their lives without ever embracing the gospel.  This means they never enter into a relationship with Christ.  Which means they are eternally lost.

Think it through:

In Luke 5 Jesus had 4 personal encounters with individuals:

1.  Jesus encounters Peter at work, Vs: 1-12

Here we see a move from weak faith to wonderful faith.  Peter leaves everything to follow Jesus.

2. Jesus engages a leper in the world, Vs: 13-16

Here we see a move from pleading faith to producing faith. Jesus heals this man.

3. Jesus encounters a paralytic in a home, Vs: 17-26

Here we see a move from sacrificial faith to salvation faith. His sins are forgiven.

4. Jesus encounters a tax collector in his work, Vs: 27-33

Here we see a move from zero faith to sold out faith. This man leaves everything to follow Jesus.

Question:  Has your personal encounters with Jesus changed your life?

Our response:

God has called each of us as His followers (Having a daily encounter with Him) to engage people in all walks of life with the simple gospel message that speaks of the encounters we are daily having with God.

This truth drives me to awaken to my need to daily encounter God through Bible study and prayer.

This truth drives me to awaken to my need to share the gospel with people who have never encountered God.

The Life and Times of Jesus (Luke 4; Amos 9)

November 20, 2014

“But he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.'” Luke 4:43

This morning I was suddenly engaged with Luke’s account of the life and times of Jesus.  Luke 4 begins with the temptation of Jesus in which he was victories as the Son of God.  I was amazed how nothing keep him from his purpose!!!

Luke then moves in his narrative to different events in the life of Jesus.  Here they are in snap-shot form:

1.  Jesus is rejected in his hometown, Vs: 12-31

2.  Jesus is resisted in the synagogue, Vs: 31-37

3.  Jesus is recognized as he serves, Vs: 38-41

4.  Jesus is resolved to stay the course, Vs: 42-44

Think it through:

In every circumstance Jesus did not lose focus!!!  Jesus came for the purpose of the redemption of mankind.  To accomplish this Jesus would have to face the temptation of serving self instead of others.  To accomplish this Jesus would face the opposition of those who would stand against his purpose.  To accomplish this Jesus would face the demons of hell.  To accomplish this, Jesus would have to give his life in the conflict.

Brothers and sisters, in all these things Jesus remained focused.  Question, “What do we gain from the life and times of Jesus?”  The answers are many, however I want to focus only on one answer, “A resolve to fulfill our purpose.”

Our purpose is to preach the good news of the gospel in every place.

This can only be accomplished as every believer lives his or her life following the example of Christ.

We must resist the temptation of serving ourselves instead of serving Christ.  We must not back down in fear when we are told we cannot preach the gospel.  We must boldly proclaim the gospel in every part of the world.  Yes, like Christ we must give our lives to the conflict.

Our response:

When the story of your life is being told, “What will be written?”  I pray that it will be written, “They gave their all for the gospel.”

He never forgets (Amos 8; Luke 3)

November 19, 2014

“The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob; Surely I will never forget any of their deeds,” Amos 8:7

A husband in the midst of an argument with his wife, said to her: “You have the mind of an elephant.”  She responded, “How so?”  To which he responded, “You never forget anything.”  Translation, “You never forgive anything.”

Question:  “Do you and I struggle with forgetting?”  An even more important question is this; “Does God struggle with forgetting?”

Think it through:

The prophet Amos is in the midst of recording God’s Word to the rebellious people of Israel and Judah.  In particular, chapter 8 leads us to make two observations:

1.  The deeds of Israel are clear, Vs: 4-6

These people are guilty of the following; “mistreating the poor, disregarding the Sabbath, and dishonestly in business practices.”

2.  The destruction of Israel is coming, Vs: 7-14

The payday will be severe.  Consider the following:  “a mighty army will come reaching destruction like that of a flood, creation will turn against the people, there will be mourning everywhere, the Word of God will cease, and in the end total destruction.”

In this moment I wonder, “What hope is there for such a people?”  At the same time I wonder, what hope is there for our nation that is guilty of the same deeds as Israel?

Will God forget our sins?

Brothers and sisters, God’s answer is clear, “Forgiveness must proceed forgetfulness.”  

You and I must confess our sins to God, repent of our sins, and chose to walk in a different path.  When this happens, “God will forget our sins because they have been paid for on the cross.”

Our response:

This day I challenge you to reach the following passages of scripture, “Micah 6:8; 7:17-19, Colossians 2:12-14, Hebrews 9:9-13, Romans 3:11-25.

This day I challenge you to pray for the nations in that they might come to know the only one who can bring them to a place of forgiveness and freedom!!!

Judgment day (Luke 2; Amos 6)

November 18, 2014

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem , whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him,” Luke 2:25

Last week in South Korea the court system handed down a verdict of 36 years imprisonment for the captain of the doomed ferry that cost almost 300 people their lives.  The headlines read, “Judgment day.”  As I read through the article I could not help but think about the radical difference between the crew of the ferry and the captain of my ship (Jesus Christ).

Consider the scene in Luke 2.  Before us is the birth of the Son of God.  At His coming the angels proclaim the glory of His coming.  The shepherds spread widely the news of His coming.  These are so familiar scenes for us.  But there is a scene that maybe is not so familiar.

We see an elder man who was a righteous man.  He was living by faith believing there was coming a Messiah.  God had revealed to him that he would see this Messiah before he died.  In Luke 2 we read of his seeing the Baby Jesus.  Here is what He said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared for all people’s.”  

In this moment we see the only one who could do anything about the judgment that is to come to this world.

Think it through:

1.  Here is the Prince of Peace who is coming to make peace between God and man, I Timothy 2:3-5.  This one will bring comfort to His people.

Oh how radically different from the crew of the doomed South Korean ferry who failed to protect their passengers.  Jesus protected us by taking our place on the cross.  Jesus also makes us into a new people who live a different way.

2.  Here is the Redeemer of His people, Vs: 38.

You and I are able to walk in a righteous way before the Lord because He has made us righteous.  When Judgment Day comes, we will stand before the Lord righteous because our Redeemer was faithful to complete His assignment on the cross.

Our response:

What should our response be to what we have read?

1.  We should spend time worshipping the one who came to be our redeemer!!!

2.  We should spend time reaching out to those who are trusting in the wrong person.  Each day many people have captains that are destroying their lives.  May we point people to the Prince of Peace.

3.  We should spend time discovering more and more of who this Redeemer really is.

What the rich and poor have in common (Amos 6; Luke 1:39-80)

November 17, 2014

“For behold the Lord commands, and the great house shall be struck down into fragments, and the little house into bits.” Amos 6:11

It has often been the case in my experience of life that mostly the rich and the poor think they have nothing in common.  And what is worse is that they both dislike each other.  I have seen this played out in the world here in America and around the world.  Sadly, I have even seen it played out in churches around the world.

But consider this:  “There are at least two things the rich and poor have in common.”

Think it through:

1.  They are both sinners, Amos 6:1-8

The prophet Amos is giving forth a strong prophecy against both the northern and southern tribes of Israel.  We see the rich living in luxury without any thought to those in need.  They were living as if everything existed for their own benefit.

At the same time the poor were living (Yes, with much less) as if what little they had was for their own benefit.

Both groups were living lives filled with sin.

2.  They are both under the wrath of God, Amos 6:9-14

Here is what God said, “I abhor the pride of Jacob…”  The Lord would send a nation from afar that would place both rich and poor under the same judgment.

These are the two things that both the rich and poor have in common!!!

At this point I find myself crying out to God the following, “What hope is there for such people?”   God’s answer, “His mercy is on those who fear him,” Luke 1:50.

If either the rich man or the poor man will come to God in humility confessing his sinfulness and his need of a Savior, then God will give abundant mercy!!!  Sadly, Israel chose not to repent!!!

Our response:

Question:  “Are you rich or poor?”  Answer, “It really does not matter.”  Both groups need the Lord!!!

It is my pray that you would be poor unto yourself (Matthew 5:4) and rich unto God (Matthew 5:6)

Who’s leading the family? (Amos 3; Psalm 146-147)

November 14, 2014

“Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought out of the land of Egypt: you only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”  Amos 3:1-2

In recent days our nation has been deeply divided concerning the issue of same-sex marriages.  The issue became even more intense when the Catholic church began considering a different approach to the subject.  In this debate one thing is clear to me, “God has not changed his approach to the subject.”

As I opened my Bible to Amos three I understood God was speaking through his prophet (3:7) about the coming judgment upon a people he called his own family.  This chapter shows us the love that God has in keeping his family accountable to their covenant.  This chapter shows us the grace of God in that he does not completely destroy this family for their rebellion.

The question that comes to my mind is this:  “How could God’s chosen people get so far away from God’s design?”  Answer, “They began to follow a different leader in the family.”

Think it through:

In Psalm 146 we are challenged by this reality: “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.”

Anytime a family decides that someone other than God should be the leader, that family is headed for certain destruction.

We see this all over our land as family after family has decided that the creator of the family does not have the oversight to say how the family is to function.

In Psalm 146 the author helps us to see that God alone is the correct leader for every family.

Our response:

Please take time to read both Psalm 146-147 in your quite time this day.  Spend time writing down the things that our Creator offers those who are in his family.  Spend time praising him for who he is.  Finally spend time, sharing with someone about the leader in your family.  Spend time asking God to open the eyes of all people to their need of a new leader in their family.