Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Kind of Jesus People Want

The Son reflects God's own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly.  He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command.  After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3 NLT)

  We are living in a day when the deity of Jesus is being denied.  People have made every attempt to strip Jesus of his deity so he can resemble them.  By doing so, they can discount his authority over their lives and lives as they please.

   I learned in Dr. David Jeremiah's book entitled, "I never thought I'd see the Day: (pp. 79-81) that Thomas Jefferson, who proclaimed to be a deist, used a razor blade to cut out verses of Jesus' teaching from the four gospels and pasted them together in chronological order to form the Jefferson bible.  At the same time he omitted any references to the deity of Jesus lowering him to a mere moral man.

   How do you view Jesus?  Is he a mere mortal man with high moral standards, or is he much, much more?  The Bible declares Jesus to be God and God himself addresses Jesus as God in Hebrews 1:8, But to his Son he (God) says, "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever."  

   What would our world be like without Jesus to hold it together?  (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:16,17)  Were He to abandon this function as sustained of the universe, it would disintegrate into chaos.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Brain and the Brawn

Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.  (Exodus 25:9 NIV)

   I learned from personal experience what it takes to build a house.  First, there has to be a designer and a design.  The architect draws up the plans and give you a list of specifications and materials.  Second, the materials needed to build the structure have to be purchased.  Next you need workers who can follow the plans and put the structure together.  Finally, the house has to pass certain inspections and safety codes before it can be occupied.

   When the Tabernacle was being constructed, God was both the Brain (designer (architect) and the general contractor.  Moses was the foreman who saw that God's plans were carried out, and the children of Israel were the Brawn (workers).  The people had the responsibility of supplying the materials for the constructions.

   Whenever we determined to perform a task for the Lord we need to go to the Master builder to get a plan. God has a design and a plan all prepared for us to follow.  We can labor at projects that seem meritorious, but if they are not in accordance with God's will, our efforts will be in vain.

   What are your plans?  Do you have a course of action?  Ask God to be your architect and master planner.  Thank him for his willingness to make you a part of the crew.  Let him guide you as to what nail should strike.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Winning Recipe

I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has balled me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 NIV)

   In the game of life, we all want to be winners.  No prize is given to the loser.  To come in second gives some satisfaction, but to come in last is downright shameful.  That's life!  What does God say about winning?  It might come as a surprise, but God wants you to win.  In fact, he has guaranteed that those who follow him will end up winners.  Consider the text of the following verses:

   "If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God and carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always have the upper hand."  (Deut. 28:13 NLT)_

   "How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (1 Cor. 15:57 NLT)

   "For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory."  (1 John 5:4 NLT)

   What do these verses tell us about "the winning recipe?"  Take notice that the connection between these verses is that our winning is dependent upon our relationship to God and his Son, Jesus Christ.  In him we win -- outside of him, we lose.

God's Disguise

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  (John 14:20 NIV)

   How pleasant was the experience with God sitting down and talking with Adam and Eve in the Garden!  The jovial communication, however, was broken when they both sinned in disobedience.  God could no longer live in a dirty house so he vacated the premises and forced Adam to fend for himself in a hostile environment.  Sin created a great gulf between God and his creation, but he had a plan.

   God disguised himself in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ and came to live among mankind.  What do you supposed it felt like for Jesus to sit around a campfire and openly discuss the problems of the day with his twelve friends?  Was this what God in Christ had always longed for?  Did it remind him of his original time in the Garden of Eden?

   The disciples spent three years with Jesus, but had no clue that the one walking, talking, and teaching them was God in the flesh.  Near the end of his life, Jesus attempted to remove the disguise.  He said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  (John 14:9-10 NIV)

   There it is -- God disguised in Jesus, His Son.  Do you know the Father?  You do, if you know and believe in Jesus -- his Son.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Daisy Petal Game

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be walled the children of God.  And that is what we are!  (1 John 3:1 NIV)

   When we were kids my sister and I played the Daisy Petal game.  It was a romantic fantasy.  We'd pick a daisy and pick off the petals, one by one saying, "She loves me, she loves me not" until all the petals were gone.  If the game didn't end on a positive note, we'd pick another daisy and start all over again.

   Did you know that believers play the same game with God?  We pull off the petals of our circumstances to try and determine if God really loves us on a moment by moment basis.  Here's how it works:

   I just got a promotion -- he loves me.  I lost my temper with my neighbor -- he loves me not.  On and on it goes with uncertainty growing by the minute.  I'm afraid many Christians have played this game most of their lives wondering how God felt about them personally.

   God's love is not a hit and miss proposition.  He loves us all the time unconditionally without demanding anything in return.  If you don't believe me just go to John 3:36 and I John 3:1-4.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Treasure of Wisdom and Good Sense

For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He grants a "treasure of good sense" to the godly.  (Proverbs 2:6-7 NLT)

  Decisions, decisions, decisions!  Every day we are faced with small and large decisions.  Choices -- what clothes should I wear?  Alternatives -- what should should I attend?  Judgments -- which candidate should I vote for?  How we yearn for concrete evidence that the decision or choice we make is the right one!  As Solomon reviews his past decision making, he reveals how badly we need a "treasure of good sense" to help deal with the complexities of life.  Nothing we face is beyond the understanding of the Lord.

   How do we obtain this kind of "good sense?"  According to James, we have to ask for it.  "If you need wisdom -- if you want to know what God wants you to do -- ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking."  (James 1:5 NLT)

   Matthew 7:7 says, "Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for."  (NLT)

   There lies the formula for successful decision making.  God's wisdom is available to those who ask for it.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?  Not so fast!  There's only one catch -- you have to ask in faith believing God will provide.  (James 1:6)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chasing Lions on a Snowy Day

There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel.  He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab.  Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it.  (1 Chronicles 11:22 NLT)

   Snow has been hard to find here in Missouri this year.  We've had only about 3-5 inches compared to over 20 inches last year.  I love to watch the snow fall and feel the soft touch of it on my face, but I don't necessarily like running in it.

   One of my favorite verses in Scripture is 1 Chronicles 11:22.  Here we find a great warrior named Benaiah who "on a snowy day chased a lion down into a pit and killed it."  Are you kidding me?  Chased a lion in the snow?  How absurd!  No one in his right mind chases lions, especially in the snow.

   I can understand a lion chasing me, but not vice versa.  I can just see Benaiah chasing the lion and the lion falling into a pit with Benaiah sliding in after it.  It's bad enough chasing the lion, but to come face to face with a ferocious man eating lion in a pit.  Wow!  No way!

   Are you prepared to face up to a lion today?  Such lions as loss of job or home, fractured friendships, conflict within the family, health issues, a depressed spirit, or any number of other lions.

   How do we face these lions?  One thing is for sure, you can't do it in your own strength.  The only way you can chase one of these lions is in the strength of the Lord.  Call upon him today and seek his grace, wisdom, and strength to help you defeat the lion.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Musical Memories

David and his army commanders then appointed men from the families of Asaph, Heman, and Jjeduthum to proclaim God's messages to the accompaniment of harps, lyres, and cymbals.  (1 Chronicles 25:1)

   Forgetfulness -- it plagues us all.  How is your memory?  Have you been embarrassed lately at meeting an old friend and not remembering his name?  Yes, it happens to the best of us.  When you are over 55, you call it a senior moment.

   David devised a way for his people to remember God's messages,  He appointed men to put the messages into musical lyrics.  It may seem weird, but putting Scriptures to music makes remembering easier.  We can sing bible verses over and over until they become part of us.  No wonder so many of the Psalms were sung!

   Try listening to worship music as you work around the house or drive back and forth to work.  Guess what?  While you are humming or singing God's words, you are worshiping him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mountain Climbing

So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and went up to the mountain of God. (Exodus 24:13 NASB)

   On the mountain across from our home in southwestern Colorado was an outcropping called Shark's Tooth.  One day our friend, Bob Plummer decided to take my wife and I up to see it.  We took his jeep as far as we could, and hiked the rest of the way.  Climbing up the mountain didn't seem to difficult, but coming down was a different story for Elaine.  The smooth soles on her tennis shoes caused her to slip repeatedly.  Once when she reached down to break her fall, she sprained her wrist.  We finally got her down by form a chain with Elaine holding on to Bob's belt and I right behind I held on to her collar.

   This experience echoes the difficulties we have in our spiritual lives.  There are some mountains that are difficult to climb and falling down is paramount to disaster.  We are in danger of getting bruised and embarrassed.  Stay away and you'll sidestep a lot of stress and grief.

   One of these mountains is self.  When we climb the mountain of self-sufficiency, self-ambition, and self-indulgence, a disaster is waiting at the top.  For many years my mountain climbing was all about ME.  I was selfish and ambitious.  Nothing could stand in my way.  Then a miraculous event took place.  I came face to face with the claims of Jesus Christ.

   Beware of the mountain of self-effort?  Take it from me, the only way to gain access to a joyful life is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Saintly Mother

Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman?  The Lord's with you."  (Luke 1:28 NLT)

   The world today seems to have forgotten that the highest calling of womanhood is to become a saintly, Christian mother.  God chose a young Jewish virgin to be the mother of His beloved Son.  I picture the mother of Jesus as being mild, gentle, loving, and kind.  She showed great concern when he was discovered missing after the Passover feast in Jerusalem.

   My mother possessed a loving, caring, and gentle humble spirit.  No one every went away from her table hungry.  She reached out to friends and neighbors alike.  Hobos beat a path to her door for a free meal on the back porch.  When asked why she fed them she'd say, "they might be angels in disguise."

   Another mother who possessed similar qualities is my wife, Elaine.  I would describe her as fiercely loyal to her family, responsive to their needs, and faithful in serving her Lord.  Those same qualities were handed down to our daughter who has shown love and concern for her handicapped son for over twenty one years in spite of the fact that she's never heard him utter a single word.

   Proverbs 31:26-29 describe best the lives of a mother and daughter, "When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.  Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her: there are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all."  

   Wouldn't you like to have these words said of you?  It can only be done through Jesus.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Monumental Rebellion

Let's build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies -- a monument to our greatness!  This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world.  (Genesis 11:4)

   The Nimrod Gazette headline read: MAN'S GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT.

   The tower of Babel stood as a memorial to man's efforts to reach human greatness apart from God.  The structure represented what man can do through human effort.  The article went on to elevate Nimrod as a god of achievement.

   When God looked down from heaven and saw man's achievement, he was not pleased.  God's command to Noah and his generation was, "Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth."  (Genesis 9:1)  God saw the rebellion in man's heart.

   Man has sought to do his own thing ever since that time, and the world still lies in darkness and decay.  Are you seeking to build a personal monument by obtaining more and more temporal possessions, striving for  pleasure and achievements, or are you seeking to build a monument that brings glory to God?  Every day we are confronted with opportunities to choose man's way or God's.

   Make a list of ways you could build monuments to reflect God's glory rather than your own.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Moments of Regret

And as he went, David cried, "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!  If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom my son, my son."  (2 Samuel 18:33b NLT)

   Have you ever played the "if only.. what if....should have... could have" game?

       If only I had shown more love to my kids.
       If only I could go back and do it all over again.
       What if I had learned a different trade?
        What if I hadn't taken that first drink?  Regrets, hindsight, do over, should haves and could haves can plague us for years.

   I'm sure David spent many sleepless nights soaking his bed with tears over the "if onlys and what ifs in his life.  I can hear him saying, "If only I hadn't taken that first look," and "what if I had gone to battle with the army," or "what if I had spent more time with my son, Absalom?"  David was a great King, but a lousy father.

   We can waste a lot of energy focusing on our regrets,  The problem is --- nothing is solved by such meanderings.  Are you running the race of life in such a way as to gain the victory and receive the reward?  Let's lay aside the weight of all the "if onlys" -- "what ifs" and run the race with faith and vigor.  Take a lesson from the Apostle Paul and put aside the regrets.  They serve no valuable purpose and only weigh us down and hinder the race.  





Monday, February 6, 2012

Moment of Blindness

On that day the deaf will hear the words of the book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.  (Isaiah 29:18 NASB)

   My oldest son and his bride stood before me.  As I opened my Bible and looked down, a wave of panic swept over me.  I could not see a single word.  Had I gone blind?  Then it dawned on me that in my nervousness I had forgotten to put on my glasses.

   How often do we miss out on God's blessings because we forget or neglect the essential functions of life.  Such things a daily meditation and prayer are often forgotten.  Jesus looked for opportunities to meet people's urgent needs.  He gave sight to the blind and lifted up the crippled.  He gave hope to the hopeless.  He modeled the kind of life he wants us to live.

   Ask yourself: What can I do today to relieve the agony of a suffering spouse, a window or widower, a child abandoned by father or mother.  There is someone out there who has lost hope and needs a lot of encouragement.  Ask God to direct you to some needy person today.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Mirror Reflection

And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. 
(Revelation 15:2 NASB)

   Nestled at the 9,600 foot elevation with a view of the Beckwith Mountains is Lost Lake and Dollar Lake.  Stunning scenery, hiking trails, canoeing and fishing along with nineteen campsites await the outdoor adventurer.  The surrounding mountain peaks are reflected in the clear blue water, and no better place can be found for quietness and solitude.

   Early morning devotions by the glass like lake reminded me that we are to mirror God's image; to magnify, exalt, and glorify our Creator.  People who don't know God personally should be able to see his reflection in us. Someone has said, "We are the only Bible some people will ever see."

   What happens when you throw a stone in the water?  The perfect reflection is distorted.  God's image in us is distorted when we allow sin to enter and upset our relationship.  Are you protecting the relationship by getting rid of the stones?

A Bold Plan

I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me.  I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem.  (Nehemiah 2:12 NLT)

   One thing we learn from Nehemiah is that he did not set about to execute his passion before first asking God to help him devise a plan.  When the king asked him, "Well, how can I help you," Nehemiah was prepared.  He boldly asked for letters of authority for a safe passage, and letters to Asaph, the manager of the king's forest, instructing him to supply the necessary timbers for the work.  The Scripture says, "And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me."  (Neh. 2:7-8 NLT)

   When God calls us to step out by faith he will not only give us a plan, but he will also provide the materials, ability, determination, and expertise to carry out the plan he has given us.