Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tax Time

Mat 17:24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

You talk about your withholding! The coin was being kept in the fish's mouth so Jesus could pay His taxes. In these verses, Peter has to "angle" for the tribute money.

I have noticed something this year that disturbs me. More and more people are totally dependent on tax returns for getting over the hump. When they don't get the amount they were expecting, or when it has to be applied to another need than for what it was earmarked or if it came in late, they were pretty perturbed. It shows that we shouldn't be depending on such things as uncertain riches which have a tendency to take wings and fly away. (I Tim 6:17, Prov 23:5)

A friend of mine, a little miffed by having to pay in this year rather than receiving a refund, asked me if the Bible says we have to pay taxes.

We began to look up the Scriptures which applied and were a bit overwhelmed by the vast amount of verses showing that it is right to do so.

But of all the verses, nowhere does it say that we are to be over-taxed or even that we are to pay them with joy and happiness. But, we are to pay taxes. Paul and Jesus taught that we are responsible, even under despots like Herod and Caesar!

I pray that God will give you grace to get your taxes paid and that you might have enough of a refund to be a blessing to His work this year.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It is Good for us to be Here!

Mat 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment
was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and
Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord,
it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles;
one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake,
behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the
cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear
ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were
sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be
not afraid.

This is the greatest understatement in history! Of course, poor "foot in the mouth," impetuous Peter was given to saying things before thinking them out:

* "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."
* "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water."
* "#$%^&@ I don't even know the man!"
* "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?"
* "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?"
* "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended."
* "What about John?"
* "I go a fishing."

Of course, that doesn't mean that he never got things right. Take a look at Mat 16:16, "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Yea Peter!

Perhaps you have a friend, co-worker or even a family member, who, much like Peter, is only comfortable when their mouth is running. Be honest, somebody’s face just popped into your mind!

Today's incident shows that Peter is going to force saying something, even if it causes others to look at him in bewilderment and think, "Duh, ya think?"

Jesus is transfigured before the sleepy eyes of Peter, James and John.

Revelation better describes what Jesus looks like in His heavenly state:

Rev 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Just think, John got to see Jesus in His glorified appearance twice!

It gets more intense. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear. I mean, imagine you seeing the Lord glorified and George Washington and Abe Lincoln flanking Him. Most of us would be speechless. Suddenly, your pal nudges you in the side with his elbow and exclaims, "Ya know, it sure is a good thing that we're here!"

But then it gets a bit sillier. "Um Lord, Moses, Elijah, hold on a minute would you? We're gonna build three tabernacles for you guys."

Peter, good brother, SHUT UP!!!!

In fact, that's basically what God from Heaven says next. May I paraphrase? "Peter, this is my beloved Son. Remember your confession just last week? 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God?' Obviously, it's time for you to stop talking and listen for once!"

So Peter and pals fall to their faces and tremble like scared little kids.

Funny thing is, Jesus had nothing to say after that. What they witnessed sufficed. He came and tapped them on their shoulders and said, "Come on boys, get up, nothing to be afraid of." (I know, Jesus would not have ended a sentence with a preposition, but work with me here.)

"Lord, it is good for us to be here." What an enormous understatement. Makes me think of some of the things I say:

* "Lord, it was good to be in your house today."
* "Thank you, Lord, for your blessings on me."
* "Lord, bless all the missionaries."

You get the idea. We don’t really have the verbal skills to adequately express ourselves, so we just blurt out what comes to mind. Paul felt the frustration of understatement when, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." II Cor 9:15

Sometimes, even well-intended words just don't suffice. We just need to hush up, be in awe and wonder as we listen to what the Lord has to say and witness His glory.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Waiting for the Change

Mat 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

As Jesus was quickly transfigured before the 3 apostles in just moments and was suddenly accompanied by Moses and Elijah, so shall we who believe be transfigured before Him in the twinkling of an eye. We will then immediately be in the presence of the saints who have gone before us.

We too shall have shining garments and faces, reflecting from the glory of the Savior.

1Co 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

I am awaiting my change, working for the Master in the meanwhile.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Counting the Cost of Following Jesus

Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

This is an invitation for which only "nuts" would rsvp. But once those nuts get tightened with a lock washer onto the right Bolt, they enter into a whole new, victorious, exciting way of living, or rather, dying.

Concerning their service for Christ, I have heard the phrase, "I'm all in" from well-meaning people who failed to count the cost. Soon, they were back to the old modus operandi. They waded waist deep into the sea of blessings and retreated to the shores of the familiar. Too bad they never made the plunge. They would not have been sorry.

Jesus gave a three-fold mandate for those who would come after Him:

1. Deny self - Slay that cursed independent will which separates you from God's greatest blessings. Die daily to the old man who wants to satisfy carnal desires and prideful ego.

*Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

*I Cor 15:31 I die daily.

*Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Steve Green's song "Enter In" expresses the sentiment so well...

Nothing chills the heart of man
Like passing through death's gate
Yet to him who enters daily
Death's a glorious fate
Dearly beloved we are gathered here
To be a holy bride
And daily cross death's threshold
To the holy life inside

Enter in, enter in
Surrender to the Spirit's call
To die and enter in
Enter in, find peace within
The holy life awaits you, enter in

The conflict still continues
Raging deep within my soul
My spirit wars against my flesh
In a struggle for control
My only hope is full surrender
So with each borrowed breath
I inhale the Spirit's will for me
To die a deeper death

Enter in, enter in
Surrender to the Spirit's call
To die and enter in
Enter in, find peace within
The holy life awaits you, enter in

If mourners should lament
Let them weep for those alive
For only when my will is killed
Can my soul survive

Enter in, enter in
Surrender to the Spirit's call
To die and enter in
Enter in, find peace within
The holy life awaits you, enter in

2. Take up the cross - What do we know about the cross we are invited to bear?

a. It is Individualized, your cross only fits you.

A man came to the Lord, bearing his cross. He said, “Lord, this cross is heavy and awkward, I am tired and worn. I beg that I may trade it in for another.” The Lord took him to a warehouse filled with all manner of crosses, different sizes, styles and weights. There were crosses made of wood, iron, even crosses made of stone. Some were smooth, others were rough-hewn. There were shiny crosses as well as dull and some, rusty. He hoisted them, one by one, to his shoulder and then took a few steps with each one in a small circle. Dissatisfied with the feel of cross after cross, he would lay one down and take up the next to test its carryability. Finally, nearing the far end of the warehouse, he spied one that looked as if he could lug it. He felt the wood with his fingers, smelled it's scent, then hoisted it to his shoulder. It felt just right. He carried it for a few steps and knew this would be the cross for him. He turned to the Lord and said that he would gladly carry this cross.

The Lord said to him, “My child, this is the very cross you brought with you to this warehouse, the one I designed for you and assigned to you long ago. Bless you as you bear it in my footsteps!”

b. It is Uncomfortable, yet, as Vance Havner said, "We need men of the cross, with the message of the cross, bearing the marks of the cross."

No cross-bearing is enjoyable, but it can be eternally profitable. Crosses are cumbersome to carry, but always necessary for our betterment.

c. It has a Tremendous trade in value if carried to completion. "There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below." CH Spurgeon.

3. Follow Jesus – follow Him to out of the way places, to out of their mind people and to out of this world experiences. As you follow Him, you will find yourself in the midst of storm –tossed seas. To foreign shores where demon-possessed men from tombs will greet you with tormented screams. To rugged, craggy hillsides where sockets in the ground await the implanting of your cross and the thirsty ground awaits the drops of your blood!

Ira Stamphill, the great old evangelist, who wrote such songs as "Mansion Over the Hilltop" and "He Washed My Eyes with Tears" penned these telling words:

I traveled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care,
The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair,
I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him so so tenderly,

"My feet were also weary upon the Calv'ry road,
The cross became so heavy I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful weary pilgrim, the morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to me."

"I work so hard for Jesus" I often boast and say,
"I've sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune; I'm worth a lot to thee,"
And then I heard Him gently say to me,

"I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross,
But now we'll make the journey with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to me."

Oh Jesus if I die upon a foreign field someday
'Twould be no more than love demands, no less could I repay,
"No greater love hath mortal man than for a friend to die,"
These are the words he gently spoke to me,

"If just a cup of water I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water is all that I demand,"
But if by death to living they can thy glory see,
I'll take my cross and follow close to thee.

To come after Jesus does not mean health, wealth and happiness, as many are trying to teach these days. It means enduring hardness as a good soldier. It means living a paradoxical life.
"The first shall be last and the last shall be first."
"He that loses his life for my sake, shall find it."
"Give and it shall be given unto you."
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that despitefully use you and persecute you."

Jesus' invitation to come after Him is extended to you today. Peter accepted that call. James followed. John answered. Will you also deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Little Dirt Never Hurt Anybody!

Mat 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
Mat 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

One Friday evening on a very cold, very wintery day in the Twin Cities, I was driving through a Hassidic neighborhood when I saw several bearded, black clad Jews converging on a synagogue. Having some time to kill I found a parking spot and followed the parade to their house of worship.

I was welcomed warmly to the Sabbath services, but warned sternly that there would be no “Christian missionary work” allowed.

The services were intriguing, to say the least. I was provided with a personal guide to help me understand the bobbing and weaving, the chanting and responsive readings.

Then came a part of the function that all faiths could well and fellowship. Now, I could feel at home!

But first, the ritualistic hand washing. Picture a surgeon scrubbing up before a procedure and you will get an idea of the ordeal. The water is poured over your hands, allowed to run down the forearms and drip off your elbows into the basin. If any of the dirty water were to get back on the hands again, then the process would have to be repeated. And all this for some hummus and Pepsi? It's not brain surgery, you know!

The fellowship to follow was a real delight. I was the center of attention as a bagel baker’s dozen Hassidim bombarded me with questions about our similarities and differences. A little "Christian missionary work" was allowed through the back door after all!

I treasure the experience and the skull cap they gave me.

I have now attended Ultra-Orthodox services in Newport, RI, St. Louis Park, MN and Tiberias, Israel. I am struck by one similarity between these precious souls and my Independent, fundamental, nary-a-piece-of-literature Baptist brethren. We tend to make a big deal out of things that aren't all that important while ignoring the things that are. We are prone to straining at gnats while swallowing camels.

Ask the average died-in-the-wool, fundamentalist preacher what would happen if a person were to inadvertently swallow a drop of alcohol or take one choreographic step while music plays or step into a movie theater and they start to shake. Sweat beads up on their brow, fingers tremble, nerves fray. Hell hath no fury like a Baptist tradition scorned!!!

But when a family in trouble is about to have their heat turned off, or when their electricity is about to have the plug pulled, or when they don't have the gas to get their kid to the hospital and they call that same straight-laced pastor for a bit of help, the preacher's religion tends to get pretty thin. (If applicable, delete “Baptist” and insert your own denomination)

After the phone call, they hurry to their wash basin and cleanse the filth of that hurting family's call from their hands, allowing the defiled water to drip from their elbows.

Then it's off to Burger King for a double Whopper with cheese, Coke and fries. Oh, and super-size that order, please!

A little dirt never hurt anybody. That's what my mom, and Jesus, said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Hem of the Garment

Mat 14:35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

The scribes and Pharisees were powerless hypocrites whose garment hems, "talits" represented the law. It is telling that many sought to touch the hem of the garments of this Healer and Teacher from Galilee with authority and truth, Who possessed real power.

It is foolish desperation to turn to a religious leader for that which only God can provide. Priests, prelates and pastors think they can somehow absolve the sins of poor penitents. Only God has this power.

Multitudes flock to fake, er, ah, faith healers for a healing touch from faulty hands when Jesus is the only One with healing in His wings.

All manner of needy souls bring their problems to those who are powerless to provide for them when they need simply to touch the hem of the garment of the One Who makes perfectly whole.

Do you have some great need today? Quit bothering men who are really powerless to help. Proceed boldly to the throne of grace where you will find mercy and grace in time of need.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stressful Day

Mat 14:12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. 13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

Jesus had just endured what could have been the most heart-rending, gut-wrenching
moment of His entire life. Not only his first cousin, but a top-notch servant of God and the greatest of all humans, John, was imprisoned and beheaded for preaching Jesus.

To make matters even worse, it was at a drunken party where that wicked, sorry,
adulterous Herod was so consumed with passion and lust for his mistress's daughter
after she had danced for him, that he acquiesced to Herodias' and daughter's plea to
bring them the head of John the Baptist on a serving tray. Insidiously sinister!

Perhaps you have had a bad day. But imagine getting this news, taking a little retreat to get away into the desert to just be alone with the guys and with God and several thousand people follow you. They were "in His face" everywhere He turned. Add to that the fact that not a one of them packed a lunch, so you-know-Who had to minister again when He really needed to be ministered to.

But His compassion failed not! He fed the multitudes with a little local boy's few fish and biscuits.

Now, perhaps Jesus could get some alone time with the Father? He sent the boys across the sea so He could pray alone up on the mountain. But about 3 in the morning He looks out over Galilee where the waves start getting very choppy. So He has to walk to them on the water and calm the waves and the hearts of the disciples.

That, my friend, is a busy, stress filled day! Did you notice though? It was about others, not about Himself. And listen to what He says to the guys, "Be of good cheer; It is I; be not afraid."

Monday, February 20, 2012


The Seeds of Mt 13

Imagine this, Jesus devotes an entire chapter, a lengthy one at that, to the sowing of seeds and the reaping of the harvest.

The Lord emphasizes three different aspects of horticulture:
1. Gospel Seeds - the character of the soils
2. Wheat and Tare Seeds - the character of the sowers
3. Mustard Seeds - the character of seeds

Ultimately, He challenges us with the words, "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." (vs 9) and "have ye understood all these things?" (vs 51)

Those who master this chapter have a good grasp on how things work in the kingdom of God. The dynamics of the receptiveness of the Gospel, the character of the sower and how effective the seed can be are expounded here.

It would do the servants of the King well to mine the wealth of the wisdom of Matthew 13.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We Choose the Pigs!

Mat 8:30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

Remember on the Price is Right, when someone had several hundreds of dollars in hand, but would choose curtain #3? The curtain drew back to reveal some cornball gag like a broken down rusty bicycle.

Crazy folks! Unwise choices!

*The Prodigal son chose the pig pen over the father's house.

*These Gergesenes would have rather had their beloved swine rather than 2 men clothed and in their right mind.

*And so many around us would rather have their drunkenness, drugs, illicit sex, prison and hell than a Savior!

You have to give the devil his due, he does his job well. His lies are effective. The cliff edge is near!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Going out of the Way

Mat 8:28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

Our Lord went way out of the way, to an obscure place, to Gentiles, to two possessed men to do ministry.

I hope you didn't miss the implications. It would be like Billy Graham in the heyday of his evangelism taking time out to take an oxcart to western North Dakota to find a couple of hermits so he could have George Beverly Shea sing "How Great Thou Art" to them, then preach to them, then have Cliff Barrows sing "Just as I am" so they could respond to the Gospel.

In fact, Jesus had that little "storm on the sea" episode to go through just to get to pig country to these two demon-possessed "nobodies" on the edge of nowhere.

How about the fact that He Whom angel hosts attend left the comforts of home to be born in a cow's stall, live in the back country of Israel, put up with the likes of lepers, demoniacs, zealots, Pharisees, Pilate and Herod just so He would be rewarded with a splintery cross, spittle, nails, a spear and a crown of thorns! And to think, He did it all for me!

One word comes to mind when I think of the great lengths He went to, the out of the way places, the inconveniences he endured... that word is MISSIONS!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Demons Beware!!!

Mat 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

Reader, how many demon possessed people have you observed in your entire life? If you are an American, chances are, you might answer, "not many, that I am aware of."

But on this one occasion, in Israel, many devil possessed people were brought to Jesus to have Him cast the devils out of them.

Think of it, more possession cases showed up in one day than you have been aware of in your whole life.

The Devil is a sly old fox.

In America, if demon possession was as overt as it is in the 3rd world, observers would have no recourse but to admit that there is an unseen spirit world, hence, good and evil, God and Satan, heaven and hell. They would be confronted with the reality of the unseen and their need to align themselves accordingly. In America, that would mean they might desire to turn to Christ.

In many parts of the 3rd world, the predominant alternative to the demonic is not biblical Christianity, but Catholicism, animism, shamanism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc.

In other words, in the 3rd world and in developing nations, Satan has no rival. He has no reason not to unleash the powers of hell upon a poor, unsuspecting populace. He has free reign to terrorize those with no valid answer, no effective weapon to combat to his evil.

Such was the case in Israel until Jesus came on the scene and wrought terror upon the forces of evil. But from now on, demons would flee at the name of Jesus. Possessed pigs would pile from precipices into the perilous waters. Devils would beg not to be sent to their place before their time.

When the Lord spoke authoritatively, as we are told in the final 2 verses of chapter 7, He not only put the government and religious leaders on notice, but He also served notice on the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness that their free reign of terror was over. Demons beware!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Where He Leads, I’ll Follow

Mat 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

So much talk about leadership principles these days. Books,
symposiums, conferences, videos, internet and magazine articles
promote leadership techniques. So much so that leadership training
has become a multi-million dollar industry.

Obviously, The Lord Jesus was, and is, the consummate leader.
Wherever He went, multitudes followed. They craved His type of
leadership. Why?

1. There was a climate which clamored for non-self-serving leadership.

Matt 8:3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

How different was this Healer from Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, the
Pharisees, Sadducees and lawyers which led them here-to-fore, all
greedy of advancing their own agendas.

2. There was a culture which craved authoritative instruction

Mat 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as
one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Word was spreading, “Nobody speaks like this man. He is very
different from the leaders we have been forced to follow. He knows
what He is talking about and actually practices what He preaches.”

3. There was a custom which cherished answers to simple faith.

Mat 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only,
and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Custom forbade a Jew to enter the house of a Gentile. The Centurion was well aware of this. What he learned was that this humble Jewish leader was his superior and was able to reward simple faith.

4. There was a creation which called for redemption

Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but
ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

All of creation has an insatiable desire to be redeemed from the curse. Even its rocks and palms stood poised to cry aloud “Hosanna!” had human voices failed to proclaim this leader as the heir apparent to David’s royal throne.

5. There was a conviction which considered that a new day had dawned.

Mat 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his
word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

There was a growing realization among the multitudes the Jesus was the long-awaited Promised One. They were willing to submit to His leadership.

Sweet are the promises, kind is the word,
Dearer far than any message man ever heard;
Pure was the mind of Christ, sinless I see;
He the great example is, and pattern for me.

Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow all the way.
Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow Jesus ev’ry day.

Sweet is the tender love Jesus hath shown,
Sweeter far than any love that mortals have known;
Kind to the erring one, faithful is He;
He the great example is, and pattern for me.

Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow all the way.
Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow Jesus ev’ry day.

List to His loving words, “Come unto Me”;
Weary, heavy laden, there is sweet rest for thee;
Trust in His promises, faithful and sure;
Lean upon the Savior, and thy soul is secure.

Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow all the way.
Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow Jesus ev’ry day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Authoritative Speech

Mat 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

We find these verses at the conclusion of the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5, 6 and 7 have had more impact on our society than all other speeches of all time.

The Beatitudes, salt and light, go the extra mile, love your neighbor, love your enemies, the prayer closet, don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing, the Lord's Prayer, lay up your treasures in heaven, no man can serve two masters, consider the lilies of the filed, seek first the kingdom, judge not that ye be not judged, take the beam out of your own eye first, don't cast your pearls before the swine, ask, seek and knock, enter in at the straight gate, you shall know them by their fruits, build your house upon the rock.

These are just a few of the lasting and dearly valued truths taught by the Lord in His 25 minute sermon on the Galilean hillside that afternoon.

They changed the world. When we say "It's the Christian thing to do," We probably are referring to some of the values Jesus taught that day.

Last evening, one of my teens told me that she used me in her school report that day as her example of the most moving speaker she has ever heard. My first thought was, she hasn't heard many speakers. But I was honored, humbled and moved to tears by her kind sentiments.

But I only wish I could have just one little infinitesimal modicum of the effect on people and society in a whole year of my sermons as Jesus did in that one powerful, authoritative sermon.

Read it again, love it, live it!

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Evil Day and A Blessed Day

Mat 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Several funerals over the past couple of weeks meant that a few sprays
of beautiful flowers were given to our church for display on the Lord's
day. Some of them were breathtakingly beautiful. I recall some
previous verses:

Mat 6:28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

6 deaths of people we know, either from our church, our family, our community or from the service of the Lord, have kept us amazed at our mortality.

Like those in the days of Noah, or in the days of Lot, as Jesus taught us, folks were going about their lives as if there was no eternity for which to prepare. We eat and drink, plant and reap and do our business, with hardly a heavenly glance. And then, BOOM, the stroke comes that does us in!

The fact is, we don't know what craziness a day holds. I plan to study, work, attempt to be a blessing to a few people, love my family, eat some good food, watch some TV. But God always has a few surprises in store… a call from an old friend, a flat tire, a leaky roof, a pink slip, or a call from law enforcement that a loved one is gone. You just never know.

So, it pays to keep short accounts. Be ready for the inevitable. Live as if each day could be the last. Live, learn, love, and do it with your whole heart. Most of all, trust God and serve Him, a daily investment in eternity for which we will not be sorry.

But don't worry about things. As they say, there are two rules: 1) Don't sweat the small stuff and 2) It's all small stuff. If we keep ourselves in the place of God's blessing, we know that He has our best interests at heart. He has put His Spirit within us, His hand upon us, His angels all around us and His promises before us. So what is there to worry about? Nada tostada enchilada!

Jesus tells us here that we ought to leave tomorrow up to the Lord, we have enough to say grace over today without borrowing from tomorrow's surprises.

I don't know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden's getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.
There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.

I don't know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I'm covered with His blood.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What's Waiting for Me

You can have your lands and gold
All earth’s wealth and all it holds
I’m content with what I possess
The grace of God, true happiness

I don’t need to be well known
That can’t compare to what I own
A street of gold, a mansion fair
And gates of pearl await me there.

And, while you have your fair weather friends
I have One who loves without end
You can have it all and be the best
But when that’s done, then comes the test

What will be your eternity?
Will you burn or live with me?
Will everything for you be past?
Or do you have the gift that lasts?

Death or life, Heaven or hell,
When tolls the final funeral bell
Will you have received that prize
Or did you fall for Satan’s lies?

Turn now, receive the love that’s free
Come unto God, and you will see
There’s so much more than we’ve been told
Of all our eyes will soon behold.

A rainbow round and emerald seat
Where sits the King as angels meet
Holy, Holy is their song
While sainted millions sing along

My home so fair is built above
In that place where all is love
It’s all because a gift was given
Eternal life and a place in heaven.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Preaching in the Wilderness

Matt 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

If a person were going to start preaching, normally, they'd find a crowd, set up their soap box and get with it. We generally preach in churches but there are those street corner preachers who find a busy spot downtown to proclaim the Word.

But John preached in the wilderness! The Essenes, who lived in a community near the Dead Sea were probably the first ones to hear him as he preached near the Jordan so he could baptize the converts. The crowds grew as word got out about his passion and his message, and eventually all of Jerusalem came out to hear him.

Soldiers, government types, the religious crowd and the common people were among John's audience who heard that they needed to repent for the kingdom was at hand.

He preached and they came to hear and see this country preacher, dressed in camel's hair and a leather girdle who ate locusts and wild honey.

The old time preacher said, "Build a fire in the pulpit and people will come to watch it burn."

And burn, John did. He burned with a passion for souls to repent and come to the Lord. His sermons were, "More of God, less of me," "The axe is laid to the root of the trees," "Do right," "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance," and "Behold the Lamb!"

God, give us some preachers who are concerned more with souls being saved than tip-toeing through the tithers! Preachers who are willing to go wherever you lead to preach the message you inspire to win the sinners you draw to yourself.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

A baby boy was born in Bethlehem and everybody in Jerusalem was troubled by it. Why? A new baby usually brings joy and congratulations. This One would bring sorrow and consternation.

Sorrow, as prophesied, would pierce His mother's heart 33.5 years later as He would be woefully treated. Consternation would crease the brows of the religious leaders as He proved their hollowness.

Why were so many troubled at the birth of Jesus?

1. He was a threat to the status quo. You would think the inhabitants of Jerusalem would crave change. Israel and the world were ripe for change and this birth would bring that change. Yet, people loathe change that they cannot grasp.

2. He would stir up the Romans. All this talk about a new King of the Jews would surely bring the Ire of Rome. Caesar was large and in charge and any challenge to his regime would be met with immediate and complete repression.

3. He would enrage Herod. Herod was a self-serving low life, but he had refurbished the temple and no one wanted to have his feathers ruffled.

Who would have thought the birth of a tiny little baby would stir up so much trouble? Well, Jesus said that those who fall upon Him would find comfort, but those upon whom He fell would be ground to powder. It's all about how you accept this child that made an eternal difference.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sometimes it Takes a Dream

Mat 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Was Joseph a man of faith? Of course he was, or he would not have been chosen to be the step father of Jesus. But why would he need a dream? Shouldn’t he just have believed Mary’s word? Maybe so, but sometimes that dream is just enough for us to have the truth confirmed.

The Scripture is replete with godly folks receiving instructions from the Lord or His angels by way of dreams.

Dreams were a way God used in speaking to people. We now have a complete revelation from God to man, the Bible. Heb 1:1, 2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; See also I Timothy 3:16, 17.

But even today, the Word of God and the people of God are not allowed access into different parts of the world. There, it seems God is speaking to people in dreams. In the Arab world, where poor souls are steeped in the darkness of Islam, God is lovingly telling people that Jesus is the Messiah via nocturnal meditations. And they are responding in large numbers.

But, let's change gears a bit to talk about a different type of dream, another type of vision which God uses. A lot of folks seem to lack inspiration and vision. They don't dream big, they have no goal, no ambition to do great things. Therefore, they don't step out by faith and take a stab at doing something lofty.

I remember standing with Dr. David Cavin in the foyer of the new building of High Street Baptist Church of Springfield, MO. It is a beautiful edifice for the Lord's work with an auditorium seating capacity of several thousand. He said to me, "This is the dream of an old man come true."

I remember hearing from my mentor how he had always dreamed of having 1000 in church on a Sunday morning and how blessed and humbled he was when it finally happened after several decades of ministry.

Martin Luther King had a dream. That dream was not completely accomplished in his lifetime, but it mostly came to pass in time.

I have always had a dream also, it seems to have been derailed by events in my life, but I haven't given up on that dream for the Lord. Granted, He has blessed me abundantly beyond that dream in so many other ways, that I will not be in the least bit disappointed if it is never fulfilled. Yet, I continue to dream and work toward that vision.

Do you have a dream? Something so big that only God can accomplish for you with your complete cooperation?

It's one thing to receive an angelic visitation in the middle of the night, but it is even better to work from the completed Scriptures to accomplish something so great that everyone will know, it was a "God thing."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snow "flakes"

Mark 13:18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

Please don't risk coming to church this Sunday. You know that tires only work in the snow when people are going to work, school, the gym, the store, the gas station or the restaurant, maybe the kid’s skating party. But they will not work when traveling to church in the snow. God will not allow that. He only blesses all the other events.

As well, when you have a sniffle and are sure a cold is coming on, you must not take a chance of going to church. School, work, the finger nail appointment, the horse show, the county fair, you must understand, these are things that have to be attended, but church, well, you know!

So, already, it has rained overnight and with temperatures in the lower 40s, they could suddenly drop and then the roads would freeze, so although Sunday is still 2 days away, better start planning on not being there. Its just not worth the attempt to drive in just for church, that would be foolish. Again, if it was a hair appointment, that would be completely different.

All church members should try being a pastor one winter and get these phone calls, emails and texts.

Hope it isn't snowing when the trumpet sounds! A lot of Baptists will have to miss the rapture!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Royal Blood

Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; etc., etc,

The blood which flowed through the veins of Christ was royal blood.
On one side, Abraham, David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah
contributed to His DNA. On the other side, it was the Holy Spirit who
lent genetics to the Son.

And it is that same blood which now covers me. All my sins, past,
present and future, are washed away by the royal blood of the Savior.

Without His shed blood, there is no remission of my sins. His blood
redeems, washes, cleanses, empowers, overcomes, makes white, bears
witness, sanctifies, covenants, provides access, purges, reconciles,
makes nigh, forgives, justifies, propitiates, purchases, unites, saves
and gives eternal life.

We believers are sometimes mocked and ridiculed by the modernists
and liberals. They say that ours is a slaughterhouse religion. But I am
thankful that God has made a way for me to come unto Him and that
way is through the blood bath I have received by the death of the
Savior, Jesus the Christ.

There is no other way to God. He demands innocent blood as an
offering for transgression. No church nor sacrament, no good works
or offerings can make us right with God. Only what He has declared
can suffice to bring us in innocence into His presence, the pure, holy
shed blood of Jesus.

Have you been washed in His blood?