Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Led by the Spirit

That day the Spirit led him into the temple.  (Luke 2:27a NLT)

   On numerous occasions the Bible tells us that people were led by the Spirit.  Jesus was led by the Spirit to be temped in the wilderness (Luke 4:1); Simeon was led to the temple to fulfill a prophecy (Luke 2:27); Paul and Barnabas were set apart and led by the Spirit to go out from Antioch and preach the gospel to the Gentiles; and Peter was led by the Spirit to talk to Cornelius.

   My wife and I were led by the Spirit to volunteer our services to several Christian organizations.  We made eight trips overseas to Peru, France, Papua New Guinea, and Cameroon with Wycliffe Associates holding VBS sessions with missionary kids.  We spent a month at a time serving with the Navigators at Glen Eyrie conference center in Colorado Springs. We volunteer on a regular basis with Child Evangelism Fellowship's "Truth Chasers Club" in our home town of Warrenton, Mo.

   We mention this solely to encourage believers to listen to the prompting of the Spirit of God who is able to place the desire in their hearts to serve the Lord.  Take time to seek out Christian organizations to find out what opportunities are available to volunteer your services.  The two key words in serving the Lord are: "availability and flexibility."  Be prepared to go wherever the Spirit leads you no matter what the cost.

   Are you open to the Spirit's prompting and willing to obey the command given in Matthew 28:19?

Monday, January 28, 2013


But when the leading priests and other leaders made their accusations against Him, Jesus remained silent.  "Don't you hear their many charges against you?" Pilate demanded.  But Jesus said nothing, much to the governor's great surprise.  (Matthew 27:12-14)

   What if you could not see, hear, or speak?  What would your world be like?  How would you be able to function in a world of darkness and silence?

   My grandson, Jonathan, has spent twenty-one years of his life without the ability to speak.  In Jesus' day there were people who were blind, deaf, and mute.  Many of them were healed either by the touch of Jesus, or by a word from his mouth.  Yet when Jesus had the opportunity to defend himself -- he remained silent.

   The prophet Isaiah said, "All of us like sheep, have strayed away.  We have left God's paths to follow our own.  Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.  He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.  He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth."  (Isaiah 53:6-7 NLT)

   Jesus was The Truth, no defense was necessary.  A King does not need to defend himself.  For this reason he came.

   Are you able to speak?  Someone needs to tell the world about Jesus.  If we don't spread the truth, the false prophets and teachers will spread their lies.  Let's not be "speechless."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Specially Chosen

You did not chose me but I chose you  John 15:16 NASB

  "Pitch the ball in there, Jimmy!  Come on; give it your best shot!" the kids yelled.  With longing and yearning known only to me, I stood on the sidelines watching the neighborhood kids play stickball.  The old left-out feeling swept over me, and I wandered away shedding a few tears.  Once again, I had not been chosen.

   For many years I suffered with distasteful memories of being a child not chosen.  Lacking friends and living with an absentee father and a mother who worked full time, led to feelings of insecurity and inferiority.  It wasn't until I came into a relationship with Jesus Christ that I discovered I was a chosen one all along.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes."  (Ephesians 1:4 NLT)  

   Are you one of God's chosen ones?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sound Sleep

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.  Mark 4:38a NLT

   After completing a full day of teaching, Jesus was exhausted.  He instructed the disciples to get into a boat and go over to the other side.  He went into the stern and fell sound asleep on a cushion.

   A fierce storm arose, water was cascading into the boat, and the disciples feared for their lives.  None of this bothered Jesus because he was at peace with the wind and the waves.  After all, wasn't he their master?

   Jesus needed rest from his labors, and so do we.  We can push our bodies just so far before fatigue sets in and the body functions shut down.  Peter, James, and John experienced this when they fell asleep from exhaustion in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Soldiers know this when they have to stay on alert for forty-eight or seventy-two hours.  They suffer what is called "battle fatigue."  R & R is necessary for the body and mind to stay fresh and alert.

   I have found that it is much easier to gain a sound sleep when all is well between my and the Savior.  I can have the "peace of God that surpasses all comprehension" that Paul talks about in Philippians 4:8.

   Ask yourself, "Do I have peace with God?" If you do, then the peace of God is available to you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jeremiah Confronted by a False Prophet

Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in pieces.  And Hananiah said again to the crowd that had gathered, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Just as this yoke has been broken, within two years I will break the yoke of oppression from all the nations now subject to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’”  (Jeremiah 28:10-11 NLT)
            There are many voices competing for the attention of people both here in the United States and around the world.  Some of them are worthy servants of God who are preaching true Biblical theology, and are proclaiming the gospel as set forth by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.  Others such as those associated with the New Apostolic Reformation, the Emergent church, Word of Faith, the New Religious Right along with others who according to Brannon Howse in his book Religious Trojan Horse (Worldview Weekend Publishing 2012) are preaching a false gospel that Paul says in Galatians 1:8 is accursed.
            Jeremiah was confronted in the courtyard of the Temple by Hananiah, who claimed to be a prophet from the Lord.  Hananiah declared that the subjection of the people to King Nebuchadnezzar would be broken in two years and the captives and treasures would be returned.  Jeremiah responded in what I believe was a sarcastic manner,
“Amen!  May your prophecies come true.  I hope the Lord does everything you say.  I hope he does bring back from Babylon the treasures of this Temple and all the captives.”  (Jer. 28:6)
            But remember this, “A prophet who predicts peace must show he is right.  Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 28:9)
            Jeremiah knew that Hananiah was a false prophet because God had told him that the captives would spend seventy years in captivity before being released to return to their land. 
            Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah!  The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies.”  (Jeremiah 28:15)
            People are believing the lies of false prophets today who are leading people astray with their “pagan spirituality, dominion theology, communitarianism, and other foolish notions” that have no basis in Biblical theology. 
            Sadly, many so-called conservative theologians are allowing themselves to be used and duped by the doublespeak of these false prophets. 
            Jesus said, “For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.”  (Matthew 24:24 NLT). 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jeremiah Wears an Ox Yoke

“But the nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let remain on its land,” declares the Lord, “and they will till it and dwell in it.”  (Jeremiah 27:11 NASB)
            Once again, Jeremiah makes use of an “action sermon” to get the attention of King Zedekiah and neighboring emissaries.  The king and his allies were planning a strategy to stop Nebuchadnezzar and his army.  God was planning to destroy Jerusalem unless they surrendered.
            What was Jeremiah trying to convey with his action sermon of wearing the yoke?  What did the people think when they saw him walking around with the yoke across his shoulders?  What is the Biblical meaning behind the use of a yoke?
            Two different kinds of yokes were used as a means of pulling or carrying heavy burdens.  A single yoke laid across the shoulders enabled laborers to balance and carry heavy loads more easily.  While down in Peru I saw numerous people use this method to carry buckets of produce, water, and rocks up and down mountain trails.  Another type of yoke is a double yoke.  This is used as a collar on oxen to force them to pull heavy loads together on carts and wagons.
            A yoke speaks of submission and that was the message that Jeremiah was trying to get across to Judah and the surrounding nations.  God was planning to use Nebuchadnezzar and his army to punish Judah and the nations for their wickedness and worship of idols.  His message was clear: submit and live; resist and die. 
            Jesus used the symbol of a yoke in his call to believers in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yours souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
            What is involved when we accept Jesus’ yoke?  Two things are required: (1) willing submission to his authority, and (2) actions in harmony with the work he did, and the way he lived.  As a carpenter, Jesus knew how to fashion a yoke so that it would maximize the work with the least amount of effort. 
            The Lord promises to make our load easy and burden light.  Are you willing to submit to his authority and take on the yoke of obedience and service?  

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Blank Check

That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, "What do you want?  Ask, and I will give it to you!"  (1 Kings 3:5 NLT)

   How would you like for someone to give you a blank check and say, "Write in the amount!"  Wow!  Wouldn't that be the greatest?

    That's exactly what happened to the newly crowned King Solomon.  God saw that Solomon loved him and followed the way of his father David.  God came to him in a dream and said, "Name it and its yours!"
I wonder what flashed through Solomon's mind at that point?  Did he see dollar signs?  Flashy clothes?  Piles of gold and silver?  Racing horses?  None of these -- Solomon asked for "wisdom."  God not only granted his desire, but gave him all the other things as well.

   Solomon, the wisest king who every lived, bowed in humble submission to the Almighty God.  Certainly you and I would be wise to do the same.  No one knows our shortcomings better than we do, so wisdom from on high is what we need.  If we come to God like Solomon did, we can have the assurance that God will direct our paths in the right way.

   Acknowledge the areas in your life where you need to trust God.  Write them on a 3 x 5 card and post them on your refrigerator door for constant surveillance.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Refining Process

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.  (1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT)
            What kind of fabric would you choose if you wanted the most comfortable, durable, long-lasting garment?  Would it be worsted wool – tough and warm in winter, but hot and heavy in the summer?  Or would it be the softer cotton that tends to wrinkle and requires ironing.  Or you might try other fabrics such as Rayon and Dacron.  Would it surprise you to learn that the most sought after fabric for durability and comfort throughout the Old and New Testament times was linen?  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance linen is mentioned more than 85 times in the O.T. and almost 20 times in the N.T.
            When God gave Moses the material list for constructing the tent of meeting it included “blue, purple, scarlet materials, fine linen, goat hair, ram’s skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, etc.”  (Exodus 25:4-7) 
            When Joseph was promoted to Prime Minister of Egypt, “Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.”  (Genesis 41:42)
  Linen fabrics may be beautiful, but a brutal process is required to produce them.  David Jeremiah in his August edition of Turning Points explains this painful process as “rippling, retting, breaking, scutching, heckling, spinning, weaving, and finishing.”  (P. 9-10)   In order for the fibers of the flax plant to achieve their fine linen quality, they must endure a painful process of transformation.
            The same holds true in the Christian life.  The events and circumstances, as harsh and painful as they might be, are necessary in our transformation process of conforming to the image of Christ.  (Romans 8:28-29)
            Our refining process is no different than what our Savior endured at the hands of sinful men.  Hebrews 5:8 says, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.”  (NLT)
            The garment that the master weaver is making out of our lives is one that will last for eternity.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Great Designer

“Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being.”  (Psalm 148:5 NASB)
            Quilt designers are some of the most creative people on earth.  Such famous quilts as: “Dresden Plate, Sunbonnet Sue, Double Nine Patch, Tumbling Blocks, Mariner’s Compass, Pine Tree, and Log Cabin grace the walls of Quilt Museums around the world.  These designers spent countless hours piecing together a multitude of fabrics to create the perfect masterpiece.  Think of the manpower and effort that went into their creations.
 Every designer puts their unique mark on the finished product.  This designer’s mark reflects the nature of the designer.  Quilt labels have long been a tradition, allowing quilt designers a way to identify themselves, along with pertinent information about the quilt.  This information is valuable for collectors and museums.  The most prestigious quilt designs are much sought after by collectors worldwide.
            If human designers can make museum type quilts out of scraps of material, where thousands of people view and admire them annually, think of what “The Great Designer” of the universe can do in a moment of time.  What human designers took hours and months to fabricate, the Great Designer did instantly by the word of His mouth.   It is worth noting that God not only put his designer’s label on his creation, but he has placed his design mark on all believers in the person of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Spirit’s task to bring God’s grand design to completion.  The Apostle Paul says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ”  (Philippians 1:6 NASB).  Paul also says, “We are his masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB). 
            Our lives are in the hands of the Master Designer who takes the multi-colored scraps of material – including the bad choices, misfortunes, wrecked relationships, failed marriages, mismanagements, and fashions them into a glorious covering that reflect his love and affection. 
            Are you willing to “surrender all” in the hands of The Great Designer and allow him to fashion a masterpiece that allows others to see Jesus?