Friday, May 18, 2018

More Than a Brother.

John 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him.

Imagine, growing up in the same household with Jesus, witnessing a perfect sibling, never disobedient, never mean, never unkind, intolerant of sin and mischief and yet forgiving, obedient to parents, helpful to others, skilled in carpentry, proficient in the Scriptures, loving to all, respectful of others, deeply spiritual, constant in prayer, happy in spirit, content in life, joyful in setbacks, victorious in spirit, and yet, two of His brothers never bothered to believe in Him!

Messiahs show up in other families. You never expect them to sleep in your bedroom or eat your mother's matzah. You don't suspect that God in the flesh changed your diaper or wiped your snotty nose. You can't believe, like your sisters have, or a couple of your brothers did, that your babysitter, though He never left you, nor forsook you, is the Almighty.

I mean, how can you expect to be wearing Hand-me-downs from the One Who wore robes of righteousness?

God is good, God is great! But really, how could these two boys suspect that they were thanking their own brother for their food when they bowed at the supper table?

And so, they went on throughout their lives rejecting the notion that their Brother could double as their Savior. They were so close to the Tree of Life, the Branch, the True Vine, that they couldn't see the forest of His divinity.

And that reminds me of kids who grow up in church, teething on the back of the pew in front of them, turning their Sunday school classrooms into chaos, occupying the van's back seat on the way to youth camps and teen activities. And they never come into a personal, vital relationship with the One they have casually known all their life.

It makes me think of the seminary student whose Bible has become his textbook. The wonderful words of life are, at worst mere mistranslations, or spiritualized allegories or, at best, memory verses.

I also consider the minister who serves the Lord via Bible study, sermon prep, hospital and shut in visitation, but ceases to grow in his relationship with his Redeemer.

As with His siblings, Jesus is our elder Brother. He is always there for us, caring for us, loving us, wishing for a deeper relationship than blood siblings. He desires that we be best friends, sticking closer than brothers. He offers to be our fortress, our sanctuary, our advocate, our prayer-hearing, miracle-working, saving, healing, encouraging God.

Can you look beyond the familiarity of a familial relationship and believe that the God of glory is in your home, your room and wants to dwell in your heart by faith?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Nanny Nanny Boo Boo"

Wine is a Mocker

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Wine (in snarky mocking tone):
"Jesus drank wine."
"Just a glass or so every day with supper is okay."
"As long as it's in moderation."
"Jesus turned the water into wine."
"Oh, you tee-totalers!"
"Paul told Timothy to drink wine."
"It's sophisticated to drink wine."
"A fine red wine with a thick juicy steak can't be beat!"
"But the Bible says wine is a medicine, a sedative, a joy, a gift from God...drink up!"
"The alcohol will cook out."

23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Wine (with condescending tone): "You stupid wino!!!"

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Gods and Goats

Acts 14:18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

Oh what a difference a verse makes!

In verse 18, Paul and Barnabas are doing all they can to dissuade the Lystrans from cutting up a calf as a sacrifice and doing obescence to them.

The city was divided, those who chose to maintain their paganism and those, both Jews and Gentiles, who received the message of the Gospel and believed.

But just one verse later, the apostle's detractors were present in force to silence these Gospel preachers once and for all. The Judaizers persuaded the pagans to pummel Paul with stones, thus sending him on to glory, resulting in the original version of "90 Minutes on Heaven."

One moment, they were the gods, the next, the goats. Oh how fickle people can be! Paul desired neither the calf nor the cuts, the sacrifice nor the stones. He only desired free course in doing the work of God.

Believer, soul-winner, preacher, missionary, can you relate?? It seems, in our work, we go from preaching to a receptive crowd to being confronted by some curmudgeon about our use of a Greek word.

One day we are winning a few souls for the kingdom, the next, we are called on the carpet for choosing the wrong color of carpet.

On the one hand, we rejoice in a miraculously answered prayer and on the other, Satan is buffeting us with a thorn in the flesh.

One side of the coin has us rejoicing in worship, the flip side has us stewing over a difficult budget.

And the rollercoaster never ends until we behold the Lord face to face.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Heart Prepared

Proverbs 16 and the heart
1¶The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

Here we see an iteration of the words of our Lord in Matt 12:34, ...for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.

If our heart is properly prepared, that is, it is the abode of Christ by His holy Spirit, and is principled by the Word of the Lord, then the tongue will bring forth the heart's overflow.

Four types of hearts are shown in this chapter:
The Proud heart - vs 5
The Planning heart - vs 9
The Prudent heart - vs 21
The Pliable heart - vs 23

God, let my plans for this day be inspired by your Word and your Spirit. I pray that my heart would a repository of your wisdom and prudence. And finally, Lord, keep my mind and heart open to the lessons you have for me today. Amen!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An Active Relationship - Psalm 63

I often hear of others who KNOW they are saved. They know they have Jesus as their Savior, but they admit that they really don’t have much of a personal relationship with Him. I am afraid this is something all of us must develop. Relationships are developed by spending time with each other and sharing each other’s hearts. Please bear these in mind as you consider this simple outline of the 63rd Psalm.

Note the title of the Psalm - [[A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.]]
David was on the run…again! It is hard for us to imagine living this way. If nothing else, it would get our prayer lives on track. But really, aren’t we all on the run? We are running in circles, running to keep up, running to pursue dreams, running from our past, running to put out fires, running, running, running.

May I suggest that, rather than running, we become active in productive ways, building our relationship with Him? Here is what we find David actively doing, while on the run…

We find him:
Seeking   1
Thirsting   1
Longing   1
Seeing   2
Praising   3
Blessing   4
Lifting   4
Remembering   6
Meditating  6
Rejoicing  7
Following  8
Rejoicing  11
Swearing  11
Glorying  11

Let’s actively pursue the God Who is always pursuing us. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What is He to Me

Psalm 62. What is He to Me?

My Hope 1
My Salvation  1
My Rock  2
My Defense 2
My Stability 2
My Expectation  5
My Glory  7
My Strength 7
My Refuge  7
My Power 11
My Reward  12

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"Jesus is Beside Himself."

Mark 3:21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

He is beside himself???

Jesus' own friends were so concerned about the abuse of their Master, pressed into service, restless days and sleepless nights, lack of sustenance, disease all about, that they talked one another into the belief that He didn't realize what He was doing.

Who were these friends? Well, there were his new friends, the disciples. Then there were his neighbors - because he lived in Capernaum now. And possibly even some of his family.

Contrast the concern of these well-meaning friends with the spite of the enemies who accused Him of being demonized.

But His reasoning in 23-29 proved all of them misguided.

23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.
27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. 28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

Truth is, it is Satan who is beside himself, and, to be honest, it is often we who are beside ourselves. He knows exactly what He is doing at all times. Best to take our hands off the wheel and cede the controls to Him.