Archive for January, 2018

Bad Attitudes (Luke 6)

January 31, 2018

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. Luke 6:24-26

Sitting at the feet of Jesus is an amazing blessing and honor that is overlooked by most of the world.  The fact is, much of the world has a bad attitude toward Jesus. As I opened my Bible to our reading plan for today, I recognized the fact that this is the second time I am reading Luke 6 in a matter of one week.

Last week I focused on the attitudes that God blesses.  This week the Holy Spirit penetrated my heart with the attitudes that God does not bless.  Jesus refers to those attitudes in verses 24-26.

Question: What is your attitude toward Jesus today?

Here are four attitudes each introduced by the prophetic word, “woe,” which always is an announcement of doom:

  • Woe to those who believe they are good enough to get to heaven on their own.  To such people the reward is eternal poverty in hell.
  • Woe to those who are satisfied with the unrighteousness of the world.  To such people the reward will be eternal dissatisfaction in hell.
  • Woe to those who are fulfilled with the sin of the world.  To such people the reward will be eternal damnation.
  • Woe to those who seeking to please the crowds. To such people the reward will be the eternal destruction of endless pain in a Christless hell.

Each day the world is filled with people who believe they are as good as everyone else.  They are satisfied to fill their live with sin.  They go with the majority view on everything in life.

Meeting such people with bad attitudes can be difficult.  But so go you and I if not for the eye-opening grace of God.  Think through this with me.  For over 2000 years Jesus has been extending kindness and grace to people who have bad attitudes.

God has convicted me of my sometimes bad attitude toward those God shows kindness and grace to.  This day I want to have Jesus attitude toward those with a bad attitude.  I believe Jesus is in the business of changing attitudes.

So lets work on our attitudes by being hungry for God and His Word!!!

 

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Help from a servant? (Isaiah 42)

January 30, 2018

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations. Isaiah 42:1

Last Friday I attended a pastors conference in Florida for a time of refreshment and recharging of my spiritual batteries.  One of the speakers did a very unusual thing. He did a role play with the audience.  He took the role of an atheist and asked the audience to ask questions with the intent of convincing him that Jesus is real.

Brothers and sisters, it was a power-packed 45 minutes.  And to be honest, there were moments when I wondered if some of the participants really knew who Jesus was.

This is one of the many reasons we are spending this year, “At the feet of Jesus.” Consider with me, Isaiah 42.  The prophet of God is warning Israel of the coming judgment of God.  The nation will be placed under rule of the Assyrian empire, 722.  Judah will face in 605 B.C.  But in the midst of their rebellion, Isaiah prophecies of a coming servant that would bring hope to the world.

Question: “How can a servant help anyone?”  Answer, “If that servant is Jesus.”  In this chapter the prophet describes the ministry of Jesus:

  • He is God’s chosen servant, Vs: 1-2

God the Father delights in Him.  We are reminded of this at Jesus baptism, Mk. 1:11-12.  The Spirit of the living God is on Him.

  • He is fulfilling God’s chosen plan, Vs: 3-4.

He is coming to establish justice on the earth.  He will come to be our Savior not a superstar. He will redeem the broken.  He will not give up or give in.  He will fulfill His purpose.

  • He will establish a new covenant with the people, Vs: 5-9.

Because of this the entire world will have the opportunity to be right with God.  Matt. 12:21 “In Him the Gentiles will have hope.”

Brothers and sisters, The God I serve has come and died on the cross in my place.  He has risen from the dead and He has ascended to the Father and He is coming again.

As His servant, this is my calling to serve Him by sharing Him with others.  Question: “Are you His servant?”  If you are, you are called to the most important task in our day.  I am praying that you serve well today.

An Attitude Adjustment (Matthew 5)

January 26, 2018

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

From my earliest memories of my Dad and his many sayings comes this idiom “You need an attitude adjustment.”  At our home this meant that the whippings were about to commence.

Are there moments in our journey with Jesus when He speaks to us about our need of an attitude adjustment?  Consider Matthew 5 in your answer:

Jesus is on a mountain side with His disciples.  Jesus sits down in a particular place and begins to teach.  Matthew 5-7 gives us the details of His teachings.  Verses 3 through 12 are called the “Beatitudes.”  Someone wrote, “these are the attitudes God blesses.”

When I read the above quote, I asked myself this question: Why would God bless our attitudes? Here is God’s answer:

  • To be “poor in spirit” is to cry out to God, I am spiritually bankrupt and I cannot save myself.
  • To be “in mourning” is to be broken over my sin knowing that I have sinned against God.”
  • To be “meek” is to cry out to Jesus for salvation.  Christ alone is able to save.
  • To “hunger and thirst for righteousness” means that I am now seeking God’s way of living and I am no longer seeking the way of sin.
  • To be “merciful” is to give to others what God has extended to me.
  • To be “pure in heart” is to be clean before God and clinging to His righteousness.
  • To be “a peacemaker” is to seek to see all men reconciled to God.
  • To be “persecuted for righteousness sake” is to live a life that is worthy of the gospel.

Yes, it is true, God does bless such attitudes because they are the attitudes of someone who has come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Such a person now becomes “salt and light” before the world.

Question: “Do you and I need an attitude adjustment today?”

I know God has adjusted my eternal destination.  But I also know that daily He is adjusting me to His will.  My prayer for you is simply this: “May Jesus marks of adjustment be evident in your life every day.”

Can I trust in this Jesus? (Colossians 2)

January 25, 2018

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

Years ago I was ministering with a team in Romania.  The team was staying with our mission partners who lead World Wide Orphans In Need.  The director had just installed a bride across the river.  He asked he to walk across the bridge with him.  I can still remember the first thoughts that went through my mind.  I wondered if this box car turned into a bride would stand or would it slide into the river with us in it.  My brother assured me that it was ok.  I remember trusting him and walking across.

In Colossians 2 Paul is assuring the believers that they can place their full trust in Jesus for their salvation before God.  The teaching in this chapter is rich in building one’s faith in Jesus.

Our faith needs the full understanding of God’s Word each day in order that we would every day walk across the bridge of faith.  Notice with me two particular bridge building texts in chapter 2:

In verses 6 and 7 we are reminded that our faith grows as we stay connected (rooted) to Jesus.  We draw our strength from the root of Jesus.  We learn to walk through His Word and we do walk through the Spirit’s direction of our lives.

Never does God ask us to live the Christian life in our power!!!

In verses 8-9 we are reminded that Jesus, who was fully God, came to be fully man.  It is His power that brings us to new life.  It is His blood that wipes away our sin debt.  It is His power that overcomes the forces of evil.

You and I can trust Jesus.  We can cross every bridge no matter how shaky it may seem.  We trust in a power that saves us and that will see us faithfully home!!!

Enjoy the lyrics to a wonder praise chorus, “More than enough.”

Jehovah Jireh My Provider
You are more than enough for me
Jehovah Raepha You’re my healer
By your stripes I’ve been set free
Jehovah Shammah You are with me
To Supply All My Needs
You are more than enough
More than enough
You are more than enough for me

A boat load of truth (Luke 6; Matthew 12)

January 24, 2018

40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40

Luke six begins with teaching concerning the Lord’s day and Luke six ends with teaching concerning our salvation.  In between there is a boat load of truth.

Here is something that I have learned over the years.  I cannot personally just filter through some many things in one setting.  I have to take time to digest each truth one at a time.

As you spent this year as an apprentice of Jesus, take the time to digest each truth fully.  This takes time.  It would be good to have a journal to take notes in.  You could cover one part in your morning devotion.  Take your lunch break to look at another.  Spend your evening quiet time with one more.

This morning I am going to look only at two things I need to digest in this day:

  1. Loving my enemies, Vs: 27-36.
  2. Proper judgment of others, Vs: 37-42.

Loving others:

Jesus gives us a direct command: “Love your enemies.”  I ask the question, How can I do this?  Jesus said, “when they hate you, love them by doing good.”  Jesus said, “when they curse you, bless them in response.”  Jesus said, “When they abuse you, pray for them.”  Jesus said, “when they strike out at you, do not strike back.”  Jesus said, “when they steal, offer more than they take.”

Honestly, in this moment I have people in mind who are enemies.  I cry out to God, help me to do this.  Show me the way.  Jesus responds:

  • Connect with my Father-He is a God of mercy and He is kind to those who are ungrateful.
  • Train at the feet of Jesus. Each day allow His life to mold your life.

Proper judgment of others:

I believe Jesus is clear here.  We are to begin with self inspection.  This self inspection is a process where you and I start with God’s Word.  We then bow and meditate on what God has said.  We then test what is said with our accountability partners.

After this process we are ready to clearly help others.

Again, I need to be at Jesus feet, training every day!!!

This is a boat load of truth.  But remember, Jesus is in the boat with you!!!

Stoning Jesus (Luke 4; Hosea 8)

January 23, 2018

28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:28-30

Yes, it is true, not everyone loves Jesus!  The fact is, more people hate Jesus than love Jesus.  As a person who has become a student of Scripture and a preacher of the gospel I have over and over seen the truth of this fact.

How could anyone reject Jesus?  How could anyone not want to follow the one who does the following:

  • Proclaims good news to the poor.
  • Proclaims liberty to the captives.
  • Heals the sick and sets at liberty those who are oppressed.

The darkness in men’s hearts blinds their eyes to the truth.  This is clearly seen in Jesus own home town.

Jesus comes to their synagogue.  He is invited to give the message.  He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2.  He completes His reading by saying, I am the Messiah.  The people are impressed with His knowledge and with His miracles in other places.  However, they refuse to believe He is  God’s Son.  So they attempt to stone the Son of God.

Yes, they attempt to stone the Son of God.

In this day of unrest and hate in our nation, we are called to be Jesus ambassadors of love.  Jesus could have called down fire from heaven and destroyed the people.  But He did not.  He simply passed through their midst.  Brothers and sisters there is a strong message in this for us today.

Take time to praise Him for opening your eyes to the truth.  Take time to prepare yourself for the battle that waits for you at work, in class, or in the home.  As the Father was with Jesus, so to is the Son with you in every trial.

How do we know He is Lord? (Exodus 20; Leviticus 23)

January 22, 2018

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

As I sit down to write this blog I have already finished my personal devotion time and I have just completed my workout.  So I can say, “I am spiritually charged but physically exhausted.”

It seems to me that God has me in a good place to write to you about today’s question.  Here is the question: How do we know He is Lord?  In Exodus 20 we find ten indicators of Christ’s Lordship of our lives.  We label these indicators as 10 commandments.  This morning I took the time to make them personal to my own life in my journey.  I confess to you that I was not keeping all ten without failure.  The truth is I am a sinner who can never perfectly keep the commandments.  But I strive in the New Nature to obey them all.

For our time this morning I want to focus on Commandment number 4.   I wrote the following in my journal: “I will set aside one day each week for my Lord.”

Take a moment and truly allow this to sink down into your being.  Does anyone have a day they can just take off from working?  Bill Gates is quoted as saying, “One of the main reasons I am not a Christian is because I cannot follow a God who tells me to waste one day a week.”

Brothers and sisters could we be secretly saying the same thing about the Lord’s day?  In my life, Sunday is the day where I have a calling to serve.  So for me, I attempt to take Friday as my day to give to God.  It is on this day that I focus more on God through rest, reflection, and renewal with Him.

  • I rest as I refuse to allow my mind to focus on work and worries.  I truly do things that allow me to focus totally on Him.
  • I reflect as I spend time in the word.  I watch or listen to someone preach the Word of God.  I read a good book.  I spend time outdoors focusing on His glorious work among men.
  • I refuel as I anticipate what God is going to do in the next week. Pray is sweet.  Time with my family lifts me up.

With these three things accomplished I am ready for what is coming in the week.  You see, when we are rested, refreshed, and reflecting on the greatness of God we live our lives proclaiming, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Choice verses responsibility (Romans 9)

January 19, 2018

16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. Romans 9:16-18

Whoever first said, “life is filled with choices,” really knew what they were talking about.  In a lifetime you and I will make untold numbers of choices.

Here is a big deal truth: We have responsibility for every choice.  Question: What choices are before you today?

Your choice maybe in buying a car or maybe where to eat tonight.  It could be more serious, a choice of marriage, a choice of career, or the choice to retire.

In Romans 9 we find 2 choices being made:

  • Paul chose to love his fellow countrymen.

He was so burned for their souls that he was willing to give his own life if it would mean their salvation.  However, he knew this could not be.  Despite the love of God poured out through Paul, most of Paul’s countrymen would not turn to Jesus.

  • God chose to show mercy to those He desired.

In God’s providence he chose to have mercy on Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many of Israel.  He also chose to have mercy on Gentiles.  Pay close attention to what I am about to write: “Somethings are beyond our understanding.”  This part of Romans falls in the somethings.

Many people read Romans 9 and say, “So my sin is not my own fault.”  God responds, “Not so, you are responsible for your own decisions.”

God is sovereign in the affairs of this world.  God’s church is tasked with sowing the gospel in all the world.  God is sovereign in saving all who say “yes” to Jesus.  God is also just in judging all who say no to Jesus.

My calling and your calling is to praise Him for His mercy and to proclaim His gospel to the nations.

This very day, I am at peace because God is at work.  But at the same time I am productive because I know I am going to be judged for my choices when He returns.  I leave you with I Corinthians 3:10-16

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled[b] master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

What did you see? (Matthew 9)

January 18, 2018

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Each morning for many years I have arisen to my time in the word.  Each morning I offer a short prayer before I read.  Here is the prayer: “Let me see what you intend for me to see.” This very morning I needed a second look at Matthew 8 before my spiritual eyes adjusted to the text.

Question: What did you see when you read Matthew 8?

From the text, here are 8 things I got to see:

  • In Capernaum Jesus heals a man soul and heals his paralysis, Vs: 1-7.
  • By the sea Jesus calls a tax-collector to follow Him, Vs: 8-9.
  • We meet Jesus as the “Great Physician” in Matthews house, Vs: 10-12.
  • In the city Jesus teaches us about the importance of the new life, Vs: 13-17.
  • As Jesus went on his way, He heals a sick woman and raises a father’s daughter from the dead, Vs: 18-26.
  • Next there was the blind men who were healed.
  • Lastly, we see the healing of a mute man.

Brothers and sisters, in the span of one chapter we read of six miracles in the lives of people who were hurting.  Question: Did you see these things in your first reading of the text?

Ed Stetzer said, in a message on this passage:  “Consistent prayer gives you the eyes to see the needs of the world.”

This comes directly from the last two verses of Matthew 9.  Here they are for you to see once again:

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

If you and I desire better spiritual sight we ned to lean into prayer and we need to look into God’s Word more and more every day.  Here is how we know when we are doing this correctly, We will become more and more compassionate.

Remember what Jesus said in this very chapter: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice, go and learn what this means.”

My story and your story (Romans 3)

January 17, 2018

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

This morning I watched a clip from and NBA game where two players got into a heated argument. As I watched I heard the announcer comment, “This is reality TV.”  I can honestly say I was saddened by what I saw.

I also can say that my sadness intensified as I read the first 20 verses of Romans 3. As I opened the Bible I was thinking, I am glad I am not like those guys.  Twenty-verses later I know I am like those guys without Jesus!!!

Romans 3 is Paul’s theological discussion concerning the state of every man and the salvation that is offered to every man apart from the Law.  The Jewish people had a great advantage in knowing these things, but they chose to try to justify their sinfulness before God.  However, it was clear, their excuses had no merit.

Beginning in Vs: 9 we see the true state of all men:

  • Before God, our position is unrighteous, Vs: 9-10.
  • Before God, our path is wicked, Vs: 11-18.
  • Before God, our sentence is justified, Vs: 19-20.

When I read these verses I realize I am worse off, without Christ, than those two guys arguing in the NBA game.  But God has not left us without hope.

Beginning in Vs: 21 we see the salvation that is provided for all who repent and believe:

  • A person can be right with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
  •  A person is made right through the declaration of God (justification) when he or she repents of their sins and evidences faith before God, trusting in the atoning work of Jesus for their sins.

Praise God for Jesus being just and the justifier of all men who come to Him by faith!!!

In the NBA game both players were ejected from the court because they were both wrong.  In eternity, all who have rejected the truth about their state and have rejected the way of salvation will know they have been ejected from the possibility of heaven because of their own choices.

The old hymn comes to mind, “Redeemed.”  Enjoy it in your devotion today:

  1. Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
    Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
    Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
    His child and forever I am.

    • Refrain:
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      His child and forever I am.
  2. Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
    No language my rapture can tell;
    I know that the light of His presence
    With me doth continually dwell.
  3. I think of my blessed Redeemer,
    I think of Him all the day long:
    I sing, for I cannot be silent;
    His love is the theme of my song.
  4. I know I shall see in His beauty
    The King in whose law I delight;
    Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
    And giveth me songs in the night.
  5. I know there’s a crown that is waiting
    In yonder bright mansion for me,
    And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
    At home with the Lord I shall be.