Friday, January 31, 2014

Dad Can Fix It

Dad Can Fix It
Scripture Reading: Luke 18:35-43
Then Jesus asked the man, “What do you want me to do?” “Lord,” he pleaded, “I want to see!” And Jesus said, “All right you can see! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” (Lk 18:41-42 NLT)
When I was young I loved to make things: slingshots, pea shooters, bows and arrows, and scooters. One day, my younger brother, Sterling, was playing with my scooter. I found him sitting on the sidewalk with tears running down his cheeks. “What the matter?” I asked. “I broke your scooter,” he replied. I could see that he was scared because I had warned him not to mess with it. After he stopped crying I said, “Don’t worry, Dad can fix it!” I wasn’t worried because I knew that my father could fix anything.
     The same statement could be made about our heavenly Father. God’s son, Jesus Christ was a great fixer upper. He fixed a woman who had a threatening issue of blood disease. One touch of his garment and she was healed. He fixed the loaves and fishes through prayer and over five thousand people ate until they were filled. He fixed his friend Lazarus when he raised him from the dead.
     I remember the first time that I took my grandson fishing. He didn’t know how to bait the hook or cast the line into the water. I gave him a few lessons and after a little practice he managed to make a pretty good cast. I walked off a few yards to sit down and watch. It wasn’t long before I heard his pleading little voice saying, “Grandpa, my line is all tangled up, can you fix it?” Needless to say, I spent a lot of time untangling lines that day.
     Our heavenly father is an expert at fixing the messes that we make of our lives. There is nothing that is impossible for God. When we believe in God and trust him to fix it, he will not let us down. Jesus is our supernatural fixer-upper. He voluntarily went to the cross and fixed our sin problem by giving his life for us. When we occasionally sin, we can go to the Lord in prayer and confession and say to Him, “Father, I sinned, can you fix it?”
     Regardless of where our troubles come in this life, whether from a broken relationship, a failed assignment, or a discouraging report from a doctor, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that our Father in heaven can fix it.
     After all, he’s in the “fix it business”.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are the one that is able to fix all my problems. Help me to remember to take them to you by faith.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Claiming Your Inheritance

Claiming Your Inheritance
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:1-15
“Furthermore, because of Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us from the beginning, and all things happen just as he decided long ago. (Eph. 1:11 NLT)
Reading Joshua chapters 13-19 is like sitting in an attorney’s office and listening to the reading of a last will and testament. Moses and Joshua served as executors of Jacob’s estate. All the descendants of Jacob gathered around the executors to receive their allotments in the Land of Promise.
     “Half the tribe of Manassah and the tribes of Reuben and Gad had already received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan, for Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously assigned this land to them” (Joshua 13:8 NLT).
     The remaining nine and a half tribes received their allotments on the western side of the Jordan River by means of sacred lots. The priestly tribe of Levi did not receive an allotment. Instead, they received something far greater—a special relationship with the Lord God of Israel. They were assigned the task of acting as God’s earthly representatives to the people.
     I have two very dear friends living in a town near Portsmouth, England who have the use of a piece of ground called an “allotment.” The town set aside a tract of land that is divided among the residents for gardens. They raise all kinds of fruits and vegetables in their tiny plot of ground. In fact, the last time my wife and I visited them, we brought home some of Ute’s homemade jellies and jams. Yummm!
     Our heavenly Father has given to believers a wealth of precious promises. One of those promises is an inheritance that the Apostle Peter says, “is imperishable, and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:4 NASB). Our inheritance is given as a present reality even though we will not realize its benefits until that day when we step through the pearly gates into heaven itself.
     You and I have an eternal allotment given to us through faith in Jesus Christ. What are you planting in your space? Are they seeds of kindness, and acts of humility and devotion?  The Bible says, “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! (Gal. 6:7 NLT)
     Get excited! Don’t wait another second. Start enjoying your inheritance now—you’ll have all eternity to enjoy it.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I love the chorus, “I’ve got a home in glory land that outshines the sun.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

God's Anointed Spared

God’s Anointed Spared
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 24:1-22
And he (Saul) said to David, “You are better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. Yes, you have been wonderfully kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it.” (1 Sam. 24:17-18 NLT)
King Saul spent many days and weeks chasing David in the wilderness of En-gedi. 1 Samuel 24:3 says, “At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding in that very cave.”
     David had Saul right where he wanted him. His men urged him to put an end to Saul’s life. The temptation must have been great, but David refused to carry out the threat. He said, “It is a serious thing to attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him” (1 Sam. 24:6 NLT).
     This story reminds me of a time when I was tempted to strike back at a group of people who had betrayed my trust. Refusing to follow the leadership of the Lord’s anointed often results in serious repercussions. Battle lines are drawn. Resistance stiffens. Sides are taken putting friendships in jeopardy. A stalemate emerges. Relationships are broken and trust erodes. More often than not a split occurs, and the testimony in the community is weakened. In those times we need to exercise a lot of grace. That is what David did in the cave at En-gedi.
     Why is it so difficult to forgive those who we think have offended us? Is it because of pride? Are we being selfish? Is stubbornness the reason? What part does a self-righteous attitude play in our decisions?
     Forgiveness does not come naturally. Forgiving someone may not seem like a risky business to you, but I assure you it will not be easy. There is a war going on between the flesh and the spirit, and the flesh does not want to lose the battle. I’m sure that David faced that battle, but he remembered the grace of God that brought him forgiveness, and decided to show that same grace to King Saul. Like David, we can show our understanding of God’s forgiveness towards us by the way we forgive others. It is difficult if not impossible to worship God when we harbor an unforgiving spirit.
     Isn’t it time to put aside that old hurt, those unkind words, that snub, and whatever else keeps you from worshipping the Lord with a clear conscience? Asking God for forgiveness and then forgiving others will bring freedom and release from your emotional baggage. Do it today!

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for your grace and mercy that provides me with forgiveness, and I ask that you give me a forgiving heart. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hang Unto the Rock

Hang Unto the Rock
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 2:1-11
“No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”    (1 Sam. 2:2 NLT)
Have you ever wondered what went through the minds of Hannah, Rachel, and Sarah who were childless?  When they passed by, other women turned away from them and whispered behind their backs, “They are childless.”  They were looked down upon, scorned, shunned, ignored, despised, and ostracized from the group. In those days, a barren women felt a sense of shame that something was wrong about themselves. Let’s take a brief look at these three women.
First, Hannah was tormented, mocked and ridiculed. These were just a few of the unkind, sarcastic remarks that Hannah had to endure from the lips of her husband’s other wife, Peninnah. Peninnah felt no sympathy, and gave no slack in her persistent harassment of Hannah. They were both aware that going childless in Israel meant a loss of respect and value.
Second, Rachel felt the same shame and grief when she failed to give children to her husband, Jacob. Leah, Jacob’s other wife, felt unloved and took full advantage of every opportunity to belittle Rachel in front of her husband. When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children she became jealous of her sister and complained to Jacob, “Give me children or I’ll die.” Jacob flew into a rage, “Am I God?” he asked. “He is the only one able to give you children! (Gen. 30:1-2 NLT).
Third, Sarah, Abram’s wife, was barren and not able to have children. She was so full of shame and regret that she took her servant, an Egyptian woman named Hagar, and gave her to Abram so she could bear his children. She said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having any children. Go, sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” (Gen. 16:2 NLT)
     As a child, I knew what it meant to be shunned, made fun of, harassed by bigger kids, and left out of games and activities. I was always the last one to be chosen for the baseball team. I was bullied by the neighborhood kids because I was small. This left me with an inferiority complex, and fear of other kids. If only I had known that God was right close by waiting for me to call upon him for help and protection, those early years would have been different.
     How thankful I am that God never quits in his pursuit of sinners! I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of twenty-three while serving in the U.S. Navy on a base at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, Ca. You too can “Hang Unto the Rock” by putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He is waiting for you to call upon Him.

Prayer: Dear Lord, as long as I live, I am clinging to the Rock of my salvation. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Finish Line

The Finish Line
Scripture Reading: Acts 20:1-24
“But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the good news about God’s wonderful kindness and love.  (Acts 20:24 NLT)
It takes determination, dedication, and commitment to run a marathon.  My daughter took up the sport of running, and trained for months in preparation for a marathon race in Olathe, Kansas. It was a cool November morning as we waited at the starting line for the beginning of the race. We met her at the twenty mile mark and urged her to continue. I told her, “We’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.” My wife and I waited anxiously for the first sight of her coming down the home stretch. We shouted with joy as she crossed the line and received a medal for her effort. Afterward we asked her how it went, “She said, the first half of the race went well, but the last half was a grueling battle between mind and body. The last six miles, when the legs begin to cramp and the body threatens to shut down, were the worst.”  What an achievement!
     A runner has one goal in mind—the finish line. In a hundred yard dash, one quick glance back at an opponent can mean the difference between first and fourth place. This is why coaches emphasize over and over—keep your eye on the tape at the finish line. Only one person can win the gold medal—the victor.
     The Apostle Paul made it his life’s goal to tell everyone the good news that Jesus came to save them from their sins. He feared that if he looked back or turned aside he’d become a castaway. Nothing could deter him from his assigned mission. No amount of beatings, prison cells, shipwrecks, or trials could cause him to lose his focus. The finish line was always in view.
     Why is it that in the race of life we are so easily distracted and lose our focus on the person who has called us to spread the good news? If we have divided loyalties between serving Jesus and self-interests, those self-interests will surely cause us to lose the race.
     We see this in the life of the wealthiest, wisest, and most powerful king who ever lived—Solomon. Twice God visited him and blessed him more than any other man in Israel’s history. In his later life, Solomon allowed his foreign wives to turn his affections away from the true God to other false gods. He lost his focus and failed to keep his eyes fastened on God’s finish line.
     The key to success in winning the race of life is—commitment. What is your level of commitment? Are you prepared for a marathon? Begin your training today by exercising in the word of God. The Bible is our training manual, and it’s precepts worth mastering.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to endure and keep my eyes focused on the finish line. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Living Example

A Living Example
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 5:14-19
“I devoted myself to the work on the wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.”  (Neh. 5:16 NIV)
I know of no New Testament apostle who was a greater living example than the Apostle Paul. He encouraged the believers in the church of Thessalonica by saying, “you became imitators of me and of the Lord…” (1 Thess. 1:6) Paul lived a model life worth imitating.
     D. L. Moody once said, “A holy life will produce the deepest expression. Lighthouses blow no horns, they only shine.”
     Nehemiah was a living example, and let his light shine so that others might follow him and the Lord. What kind of example did Nehemiah set?
First, he and his assistants did not use their official expense account to feed themselves, nor did they tax the people in order to eat (5:14). Wouldn’t it be refreshing if some of our government officials would pay their own way instead of using tax payer monies?
Second, Nehemiah and his assistants did not use their positions to “feather their own cap” and gain personal wealth at the expense of the people (5:15). If that sounds familiar, it is because we see that happening on a regular basis in our country both in and out of politics.
Third, Nehemiah and his assistants were not merely advisors, but put their shoulders to the work. They stood shoulder to shoulder with the workers, and got the same blisters, bruises, and backaches as others (5:16).  When my wife and I went on a construction team mission trip to Nurlu, France, we worked alongside other Christian workers in a cooperative effort to get the work project completed. When the missionary family (they had eight children) returned home, they found their home completely remodeled and ready for use. What a blessing it was to them! Jesus said, “I am with you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27 NIV).
Fourth, Nehemiah not only paid for his own food, but he shared what he had with those in need (5:17-18). He was generous and asked for no reward. The same principle applied to all of our mission trips. We paid for our own transportation, insurance, visas, food, and lodging. If there is to be a reward, it does not come in this lifetime, except for the joy and satisfaction that we fulfilled the will of God.
Fifth, Nehemiah did all of these things as a service to the Lord. He was interested only in seeing that the work was done.
What important life lessons can we learn from Nehemiah’s experience?
Lesson 1 – expect problems in ministry. Where there are people—there are potential problems. Christian brothers are not exempt from personal differences.
Lesson 2 – confront the problems as soon as they occur. Don’t make the mistake of sweeping them under the rug thinking they will disappear by themselves. They never do.
Lesson 3 – let it be said of you, what God says of Job—“He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 3:8 NIV).
Lesson 4 – every problem presents an opportunity for the Lord to act.
     What kind of example do we offer to a world that lays in darkness? Are we lights that shine forth the gospel of Christ or burnt out bulbs?
Prayer: Dear Lord, I’m giving all my problems to you today and seek 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 6:12-19
“Then it  happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of her window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” (2 Sam. 6:16 NASB)
The people in Yaounde, Cameroon celebrate the Lord with gusto. When I first attended one of their worship services I was amazed at the sheer joy they showed in their singing. It seemed impossible for them to stand perfectly still and sing. They clapped, shouted, twirled around, and swayed to the music. It was not done in a disorderly manner, nor was it disrespectful to the Lord. It reminded me of David’s experience when the ark of the Lord was brought back to Jerusalem. The Cameroonians did not show any inhibitions or negative emotions. To them celebrate really means celebrate. We see the same kind of enthusiasm in many of our African American churches today.
     For other people, praise and worship are internal processes with little or no show of emotion. Songs are sung while standing or sitting without any body movement. They clap to certain songs and some will sing with uplifted hands, but not everyone partakes in the same manner. They are just as joyful, but worship in a silent manner. That may not be the way it is in all Caucasian churches, but it is what I have experienced in the churches I’ve attended over the past fifty years.
     King David definitely fell into the first group. He showed his joy and praise by leaping and dancing before the Lord. He wasn’t deterred by the criticism of others. All that mattered to him was raising his voice and lifting up his heart to God. David didn’t mind making a fool of himself as long as God was being glorified. Michal didn’t like what she saw and held him in contempt. God was pleased and accepted David’s actions, but punished Michal by withholding children from her for the rest of her life. She paid a bitter price for her hatred and despite.
     I thoroughly enjoyed worshipping with the African people in Cameroon. It is impossible to stand like a statue when all around you people are clapping and singing so joyfully to the Lord. You could see in their faces and body movements how much they loved the Lord and desired to celebrate him.
     What kind of worshiper are you? Do you stand like a statue and sing with your lips barely moving, or do you vocalize with great joy and enthusiasm? It is not my place to pass judgment on what your method of worship might be, but I do believe that God wants us to celebrate and glorify him in our worship. If our worship does not have the Lord as the sole object of affection and devotion, then it is not really worship.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to worship you with joy knowing that you are worthy of my praise. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Depth of Trust

Depth of Trust
Scripture Reading: John 21:1-14
“At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was.  When they got there they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.”  (Jn. 21:4, 9 NLT)
Trust is a word with copious meanings.  As a noun, it means “an assured reliance on the character, strength, or truth of someone or something, a basis of reliance, faith, or hope.  As a verb, it means to entrust, depend, believe or have confidence in someone.”  (The Merriam Webster Dictionary, new addition, 2005).
     The first disciples put their trust in a man who claimed to be the long awaited Messiah.  They had spent three years under his tutelage and yet failed to really understand who he was.  Peter, who declared his allegiance and willingness to die for the Lord, when challenged by an insignificant nobody, failed to acknowledge he even knew Jesus.  On another occasion he bungled his attempt to walk on the water.  On the night that Jesus was betrayed they all forsook him and fled.  Every attempt they made to prove their worthiness fell short of his expectations.  Their level of trust was weighed in the balance and found wanting. 
     In spite of their lack of trust and unworthiness, we see Jesus on the seashore cooking breakfast unmindful of the disciples’ failures, undeterred by their denials, reassuring them of his loyalty and trust.  His depth of trust in them far exceeded their level of trust in him.  The disciples were an intricate part of Plan A to reach the world with the good news of his death, burial, and resurrection, and there was no Plan B.  His commitment to them was beyond all question.
     Jesus was willing to embrace the failures and frailties of this group of men just as he is with you and me.  How many times have I failed to take advantage of opportunities to witness for my Savior, or pulled back when instructed to move forward?  Perhaps you are like me and have a hard time overcoming the fear of rejection, and shrink at the thought of reaching out to the unsaved.  My first encounter with knocking on doors to inquire about the spiritual relationship with the occupants was a total disaster.  When the door was slammed in my face it left a stigma of fear that took a long time to overcome.  Eventually as my depth of faith grew a new boldness took over and sharing Christ and his work became less threatening. 
     Knowing our deficiencies, Jesus continues to offer acceptance, understanding, and love.  He is willing to use us even though our faith is weak.  There is no Plan B.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to overcome the fear of rejection by increasing my depth of trust.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Convictions--What are they?

Convictions—What are They?
Scripture Reading: Genesis 39:1-18
Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully.  “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded.  But Joseph refused.  How could I do such a wicked thing?  It would be a great sin against God.  (Gen. 39:6b,7a,9b NLT)
Joseph was a man of principle and conviction.  When Potiphar’s wife attempted to get Joseph to commit adultery he refused and defended his actions by claiming such action would be a great sin against God.  Not a sin against her or her husband, but a sin against his Holy God. It is apparent from this context that Joseph believed in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman for life.
     Around the lake where I live there are approximately forty or fifty ducks and geese.  Whenever it rains (we’ve had a wet spring) puddles of water gather on our sidewalk and in the back yard.  A beautiful Mallard duck and his mate (they mate for life) spend most of their time splashing around in the water.  The male does not allow any of the other ducks or geese to interfere with his relationship with his mate.  When any other duck or goose gets too friendly he chases them away.
     Joseph had the same conviction as our ducks and geese friends.  He had no intention of interfering with the relationship between his master and his wife.  Of course, the same was not true of Potiphar’s wife as she persisted in her attempts to seduce Joseph.  Joseph made a final refusal and ran away from her leaving her with a vindictive spirit, whereupon she accused him of rape.  Without being given an opportunity to defend himself against the false accusation, Joseph was thrown into prison.
     What do we mean when we say, “We have convictions?”  We are claiming to have a system of belief about certain issues of life.  Upon what should our convictions or belief be based?  Biblical convictions must be based upon truths found in the Word of God.  God’s word is our standard by which we compare and judge truth or untruth. 
     Periodically, we need to stop and check our belief system.  What do we believe about the sanctity of marriage?  Is it God ordained?  Is marriage between one man and one woman?  Is it for life?  Or do we believe it’s okay to bail out whenever it becomes inconvenient or something better comes along?  The word of God has answers to all these searching questions. 
     Trust the Holy Spirit dwelling within you to guide you in finding the truth, and allow God to mold your convictions based upon the Scriptures. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that my convictions will be supported by the word of God.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Chasing Lions on a Snowy Day

Chasing Lions on a Snowy Day
Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 11:10-25
“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 Chron. 11:22 NLT)
Sitting and watching snowflakes fall lazily from the sky; I am mesmerized by their size and shape.  Some are tiny little pin like dots while others are big and fluffy.  Covering the landscape they take on the picture of solidarity.  There is something ethereal about the feeling of snow as it touches your face and covers your eyebrows and hair.  As kids, we loved to catch snowflakes on our tongues.  We made snowmen and snow forts, had snowball battles, made angels in the snow, and played tag around a huge snow wheel created in the yard.  Then we’d go in the house and dunk raisin filled cookies in hot chocolate.  Those were the “good old days.”
     According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, there are twenty-five verses in the Scriptures where the words snow or snowy are mentioned.
     One of my favorite verses 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 be face to face with a ferocious man eating lion in a pit.  Wow!  No way!
     Have you ever been called upon to face a lion? Such lions as loss of job or home, fractured friendships, conflicts within the family, health issues, a depressed spirit, or any number of other lions.  Every lion we come in contact with appears ferocious and ready to destroy us. 
     How do we face these lions?  Where did Benaiah get the strength and courage to chase his lion?  Did he do it in his own strength or did he have outside help? If we try to face the lions in our life by our own strength, we will surely fail.  But if we seek the Lord and call upon him for guidance and strength, victory is assured. 
     A little boy was walking along holding the hand of Jesus when he saw a vicious lion alongside the road ready to pounce upon him.  He spoke to the lion and pointed to Jesus and said, “I’m with Him!”  Isn’t that what we need to do when we face the Satanic lions of this world?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I am facing some fierce looking lions today.  Would you take me by the hand and protect me from their destructive powers?  I’m with you Lord.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bits and Pieces

Scripture Reading: Job 16:1-17
“God has handed me over to sinners.  He has tossed me into the hands of the wicked.  I was living quietly until he shattered me.  He took me by the neck and broke me in pieces.”            (Job 16:11 NLT)
What’s in your closet?  My closet contains shirts, sweaters, coats, shoes, blankets, quilts, hats, luggage, and an assortment of puzzles and games.  Out of all the stuff that hangs or sits in my closet, not one single item is made from a single piece of material.  Every item is fashioned either from bits and pieces of fabric, leather, vinyl, or other materials. 
     My wife, Elaine, is an quilter.  Every one of her quilts is a collage of bits and pieces of fabric sewn together with perfectly placed seams.  If you were to ask to see one of her quilts, she would reply, “I don’t want anyone to see my mistakes.”  I have completed many counted cross stitch pictures and not one of them is perfect.  If you look close enough, you can see the imperfections.  It is easy to miscount and sometimes you can’t go back and undo the mistakes. 
     What is true of garments, quilts, and cross stitch pictures can also be applied to our lives as well.  None of us can claim to be seamless and perfect.  We are a collection of bits and pieces—broken relationships, shattered dreams, unfulfilled promises, dashed hopes, and sinful practices. 
     Jesus faced his share of trials and difficulties: brothers who denied his deity, religious leaders who accused him of blasphemy and plotted against him, one of his chosen disciples betrayed him, and one denied that he even knew him, while the rest ran away in a blatant act of desertion.  Yet, like us, Jesus took the bits and pieces of their lives and fashioned them into a worthy garment.  We are Jesus’s “Opus!”
      The only perfect seamless garment ever made was worn by Jesus at his trial and crucifixion.  It says in John 19:23, “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.”  (NASB)  This seamless tunic was symbolic of his life—a life lived with perfection, a life uncomplicated by sin, a life void of bad choices, a life without broken dreams, and a life that was well pleasing to the Father.
     Jesus is the master tailor who is fashioning a perfect garment called—“You!”

Prayer: Dear Lord, take the bits and pieces of my life and fashion them in a way that will bring glory to your name.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Be Still and Know

Be Still and Know
Scripture Reading: Psalm 46:1-11
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 KJV)
The psalmist gave us two exhortations that I find most difficult to follow. One is recorded in Psalm 27:14 where it says “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” The other exhortation is found in Psalm 46:10a, “Be still and know that I am God:”
     Which of these two commands do you find harder to obey? I know you’re probably thinking, aren’t they the same? Not for me. Here’s why! I am not normally a patient person, but waiting is easier for me than being still. To be perfectly still means to “cease striving, be silent, calm down, stop fighting, and let go of your concerns.” Even in the quietness of the first awakening in the morning my mind is racing a mile a minute. All kinds of  thoughts, plans, ideas, and problems surface. Somehow our society or culture has instilled within us the idea that it is honorable and right to be constantly busy.
     People are constantly on the move. Have you ever seen a video of the morning rush hour in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, or Orlando? People racing to get to their workplace. What a mess! Pushing and shoving to get on the subway. They don’t ride up the escalators; they literally run. You’d better get out of the way or they’ll run over you.  They don’t sit down to eat lunch; they grab a hot dog or burger at one of the sidewalk fast food joints. It’s a madhouse!
     I am much better at waiting on the Lord because I can do a lot of things while waiting. I can plan, think through problems, set up schedules and meetings, talk to clients, and even mow the lawn. But to be still—that seems next to impossible. It’s like trying to get a small child to sit perfectly still during a concert, play, or worship service.
     I remember hearing a story about a little boy who wanted desperately to learn to whistle. During a worship service, right in the middle of the preaching, a loud shrill whistle was heard in the sanctuary. The boy’s mother was shocked and took the boy out into the foyer and said, “Tommy, what in the world possessed you to do such a thing?” The boy replied, “I asked the Lord to teach me how to whistle, and he just did.”
     What does it mean to be still? The Lord is not asking us to sit with a blank mind. Fill your mind with all the great things you know about God, and watch the world fade away.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me learn to be patient and remain still in your presence

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Place Called Home

A Place Called Home
Scripture Reading: Psalm 84:1-12
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies? I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.” (Ps. 84:1,2 NLT)
KSDK television in St. Louis sponsors a program called, “A Place Called Home.” The purpose is to find homes for children who do not have a family or a home to call their own. There are literally thousands of children who are living in foster care, and have no permanent place to call home. In the year (2011) the call went out on the air waves seeking individuals, businesses, and churches who would provide over three thousand “little wishes” for children who are in foster care waiting to find A Place Called Home.
     In other parts of our war torn world you will find a soldier sitting on an army cot or alongside a vehicle dreaming of home. Home, where family and friends gather to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or holiday. Home, with a comfortable chair or bed, and home cooked meals. Home, where one feels safe and secure. Home, with familiar surroundings.
     As you read Psalm eighty-four, you can’t help but feel the writer’s longing for home—to escape the hassles and cares of this world and enter into the presence of the Lord. His desire is to worship God in his holy Temple. Just as thousands of children cry out for a place called home, and the lonely soldier yearns for home, the Psalmist had an urgent desire “to enter the courts of the Lord.” (Ps. 84:2)
     Because of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden a great wall of separation existed between God and his created beings. We see this continued in the erection of the tabernacle and the temple. The holy was separated from the holiest by a huge thick curtain. But when Jesus Christ died on the cross, the veil in the temple was rent from top to the bottom allowing access into the presence of God. Since that time God has taken up residence in the hearts of believers through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. (Col. 1:21-22; Col. 1:27)
     How about you? Where do you feel safe and secure? Do you consider your house of worship a safe place? Whatever situation you find yourself in, rest assured that God has promised to not fail or abandon you. He is residing in your house (heart) right now longing to enjoy fellowship with you. Are you happy in his presence?
Prayer: Dear Lord, how I love to spend my time in the house of the Lord. Wherever you are is where I want to be. I look forward to the day when we will be together.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Life Saving Tree

A Life Saving Tree
Scripture Reading: Acts 5:17-32
“The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.”  (Acts 5:30 NIV)
We never know when we will have to face a life and death situation.  One such occasion happened to my wife and I on our drive home from an AWANA club meeting at church.  The roads were coated with ice and covered with snow.  As we approached the interstate seventy interchange we saw a long line of cars blocking the access.  We decided to take the service road west to the next junction.  We drove about three miles and saw a semi-trailer jackknifed across the two lane road.  We managed to turn around and head back to Warrenton.  The falling snow made it difficult to see.  Suddenly my right wheel slipped off the edge of the road and I lost control of the vehicle.  We glanced off a truck on the other lane and slowly began to slide backwards towards an embankment on the left.  I warned my wife to brace herself because we were going to go down the embankment and turn over.  It was a precarious situation.  Just as our car started over the edge the rear bumper caught on a small tree and we stopped abruptly.  When we exited the car we saw to our amazement that the cars momentum had been stopped by a small sapling.  A tree that God had planted saved our lives from a possible fatal accident. 
     This was my second experience with a lifesaving tree.  Back in nineteen fifty-three on a ship tied to a dock at Mare Island Naval Shipyard I had my first experience with a lifesaving tree.  It was also a tree that God had planted. 
     A little over two thousand years ago the tree was cut down and sawed into planks.  The planks were then put together to form a cross.  A man called Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, was brought before Pontius Pilate by the Jewish High Priest and accused of various crimes including sedition.  After much deliberation involving spitting, flogging, false witnesses, and cries of crucify him, he was pronounced guilty and taken out to a hill and hung on a tree that had been formed into a cross.  The placard on the cross read: Jesus, the King of the Jews. 
     On a foggy night while standing watch on the ship YR-71, I was introduced to the man Jesus Christ who gave his life for me on that cross many years ago.  I had no idea that a simple tree with the Savior of the world hanging on it could be such a lifesaving experience for me—but it was.  I’ll never forget that night when I placed my faith and trust in Jesus as Savior. 
     Do you want peace that comes knowing your sins are forgiven?  Turn to Jesus and believe that he died for you, and embrace his gift of salvation. 
Prayer: Dear Lord, how I thank you for the gift of salvation that comes through faith in 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Working Outside the Box

Working Outside the Box
Read: Ezra 1:1-11
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing.”  (Ezra 1:1 NASB)
            We are not surprised or overly concerned when we witness God using believers to accomplish a divine task.  In fact, we rejoice along with them and praise the Lord together.  A much different reaction occurs when we learn that God has used a person who appears to be outside the mainstream of Christianity.  Can God use someone who is purely secular, an unbelieving friend, or even a pagan ruler to fulfill his plans?  Would he use someone who was his enemy?  What do the Scriptures reveal about God “working outside the box?”
            Consider Samson who was born into a godly family.  He became defiant, unruly, disobedient, prideful; yet God used him to defeat the Philistines and rescue the Jewish people.
            God stirred up the armies of Assyria to defeat the northern kingdom of Israel and take the people captive.  Because of their idol worship and defiance of God, He dispersed them to the point that the northern kingdom ceased to exist.  On more than one occasion God used pagan kings and armies to accomplish his purpose and judgments. 
            Jesus certainly worked outside the box in choosing the disciples.  Among his choices was Matthew (a hated tax collector), Simon the Zealot (who was noted for stirring up trouble with Rome), and Judas Iscariot (who was an unbeliever and traitor). 
            Since God is Sovereign, he has the right and authority to work through whatever means available.  On one occasion Jesus said, “If they (followers) keep quiet, the stones along the road will cry out.”  (Luke 19:40 NLT)  This proves that nothing is outside God’s power to control. 
            It behooves us as believers to “think outside the box.”  We are so prone to operate through sacred rituals, formats, schedules, programs, and traditions.  The Lord is not restricted to our set way of doing things.  He does not operate on preconceived ideas. 
             Is God using people (believers and unbelievers) in your life to bring you closer to Him?  Take time to “think outside the box

Friday, January 10, 2014

Workers Needed

Workers Needed
Read: Matthew 9:27-38
Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”  (Matthew 9:37-38 NLT)
            An advert by Sir Ernest Shackleton alleged to have appeared in a London newspaper prior to his Antarctic Endurance trip in 1914 read as follows:
“Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful.  Honor and recognition in case of success.”
            What would an advert placed in a newspaper for workers in Jesus’ day look like?  It no doubt would read something like this:
“Men and women wanted for difficult task of taking the gospel to heathen lands.  You will be misunderstood, even by those working with you.  You will face constant attacks from an invisible enemy.  You will be maligned by the media, accused of being an extremist, labeled as a fundamentalist, and shunned by your fellowman.  You may not see the results of your labor, and little recognition will be given.  It may cost you your home, family, ambitions, even your life.  Faint in heart need not apply.”
            If this ad were to appear in today’s leading Christian journals, how many applications would be received?  Would there be a long line and a sign reading, “No further applicants needed.”  Hardly!
            I thank God for the brave-hearted who are stepping up to the plate and committing their lives for a life time of service.  With many of our faithful missionaries nearing retirement age (many are still serving well past sixty-five), there is an urgent need for more volunteers.  We need young people who are willing to study linguistics and train to become our future Bible translators.  There is also a need for more teachers, computer technicians, accountants, construction workers, electricians, mechanics, secretaries, and public relations people.  If these needs are not met, Bible translation will be severely handicapped. 
            We as parents need to encourage our youth to get involved in ministry.  Better still, we need to set the example and get out of the bleachers and step up to the plate and swing away.  We may not get a homerun every time, but we can at least hit the ball somewhere.  It’s amazing what God can do when we give him our all. 

            Will you be willing to apply?  Jesus is still looking for workers for his harvest fields.

Monday, January 6, 2014

True Devotion

True Devotion
“Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of my burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” (John 12:7-8 NKJ)
The word devotion as used in the Bible refers to a person who has a: “strong attachment, dedicated loyalty, willingness to serve God, selfless affection, or a feeling of ardent love.”
     Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, displayed all of these characteristics when she bowed at the feet of Jesus. In the Hebrew, to sit at someone’s feet showed a willingness to learn from that person. The idiom describes the intent of a person to submit to someone else’s teaching, authority, and way of life.
     This was not the first time that Mary showed her love and worship by bowing at the feet of Jesus. When her brother Lazarus died the Bible says, “Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet saying to him, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’” (John 11:32) Now, we see her again positioning herself at the feet of Jesus and “taking a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair.” (John 12:3) We learn to worship Jesus when we follow Mary’s example of spending time in worship.
     Mary was also very generous when she took her most costly possession and poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair. A Hebrew woman’s hair was the most honored part of her body, and Mary used it to clean the lowliest and dirtiest part of Jesus’ body. What a beautiful act of true devotion and worship!
     Mary could have used the perfume to anoint the body of her brother Lazarus when he died; instead she saved it for the burial of the body of Jesus (John 12:7-8).
     Judas Iscariot showed his lack of true devotion by complaining that Mary’s use of the costly spikenard should have been sold and the money distributed to the poor, “not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box.” (John 12:5) 
     Mary’s act of true devotion is a picture of the kind of worship that Jesus wants from each one of us. It is not our service, our monies, our time, or other possessions that Jesus wants, but rather our hearts devoted wholly and completely to him. The most valuable item that we possess is our relationship to the Savior.
     The real question that we must answer in the New Year is: How much of ourselves will we give to our Lord and Savior during 2014.
Prayer: Dear Lord, We are facing a new year with all its challenges. There will be times when we may be tempted to throw in the towel, but help us to be strong, and give you our full devotion. Increase my faith that I may trust you completely throughout this new year

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Vanity -- all is Vanity

Vanity – All is Vanity
Read: Psalm 144:1-15
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”  What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?                  (Ecclesiastes 1:1,2 NKJV)
            The word vanity catches our attention in the book of Ecclesiastes, and appears over 30 times. 
            Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, etc.”  A person who is vain has a lack of real value.  The word carries the connotation of hollowness, worthlessness, and selfishness.  Activities related to vanity are trivial and pointless.  “In its modern sense, vanity is considered a form of self-idolatry, in which one rejects God for the sake of his own image, thereby divorcing himself from the graces of God. (Wikipedia, article on Vanity)
            Solomon’s use of the term vanity refers to emptiness like a vapor that appears and soon vanishes.  The Message paraphrases verse 1 and 2 as follows: 
            These are the words of the Quester, David’s son and king in Jerusalem.  “Smoke, nothing but smoke (That’s what the Quester says.)  There’s nothing to anything – it’s all smoke.”

            Can you imagine the great King Solomon reaching the pinnacle of his career and finding that the meaning of life to be nothing but smoke, illusion, vapor, nothingness, and emptiness? 
            Dr. David Jeremiah asks the question in his book “Searching for Heaven on Earth,” What did you find at the Everest of your own life?  Perhaps you received a promotion, won the lottery, made the dream vacation, got the book published – all for the thorny crown of unexpected despondency.”  (xxi) 
            I remember the feeling of exultation and let-down after self-publishing my first devotional book, “A-Z Daily Devotional Journal” back in 2010.  Joy is often followed by emptiness after reaching a climatic experience.  That is apparently what happened to Solomon as his sensual appetites pulled his attention away from God, and focused it upon worldly things.  “The drifting came slowly, deceptively, but the further he moved from the Lord and Creator, the greater became his emptiness, frustration, and confusion.”  (Searching for Heaven on Earth, Dr. David Jeremiah, p. xviii)

            How many are there in this world who feel life is worthless and empty – nothing but smoke?  Jesus is the only answer to the true meaning of life.  Do you know him?  Have you claimed his promise of salvation through faith in his work on the cross?