Friday, December 30, 2011

Hearing God-12/30/2011 (rp)

"A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul." Acts 16:14

It is not important where we are from or what we do for a living. It is important that we worship our God. We must always worship Him in spirit and in truth for He desires such. It is our faith that separates us from those that do not believe. There is a difference between being a child of God and those who are not.

In our worship, we must be attentive to that which God has to say to us. He has many ways of communicating with us. We must attend to His word, be it preached, taught or read. We must also pursue active prayer lives, for truly the Spirit conveys His will to us. He will send the spirit of discernment by which we can learn to hear God above the noise of life's many distractions.

When we accomplish these things we will find that our hearts will be opened. And what is it to have our hearts opened but to have our minds opened? The scripture does not refer to that which pumps blood to the body, but to our intellect, our understanding and our emotion. Once we have an understanding of who God is, limited though it may be, and what His purpose is for our lives, we will have no choice but to respond.

Beloved, we were made through love, of love, by Love. By the grace of Almighty God, through His son and our Savior, we respond to Love.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Count Your Blessings-12/29/2011

"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. " Matt 6:31-33

Anyone who even casually examines his or her life must acknowledge that they are blessed. Our Father is so benevolent, so kind, so long suffering, so gracious and so merciful, how could any deny it? How could anyone miss it?

In reality, we miss it all the time. We miss it because of God's over abundance, Eph 3:20-21. This gives us the very interesting trait of focusing on the things that are wrong, challenging, inconvenient, painful or wanting in our lives. It is as if we expect to lead lives where every whim is satisfied, and every desire is delivered. That is just not reality for anyone. The more we get the more we want and are thus never satisfied.

What is in fact reality is that all of us could lead lives that are far worse, regardless of our current circumstance. Fortunately we serve a God who not only knows our needs, but supplies them (and ever so many of our wants). Whom do you know that is without food, drink, clothing and shelter, even if it is supplied by others?

If we would take the time to count our blessings, we would see how vastly they outweigh the things we think are wanting. We serve a glorious Creator. How could we do anything less than seek His righteousness and His kingdom?

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Value of "Church"-12/28/2011 (rp)

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Isa 2:3

It has been said that church (organized corporate worship) is fading into irrelevance. Today there are so many distractions that take away from our coming together. People are choosing social media to connect. Many stay at home and watch televangelists, citing no need to go to a house of worship. Then there are those that consider the Christian lifestyle and the belief in Jesus Christ as too restrictive and tend toward a more open "spirituality." Finally, there are those who do not believe at all. These are the folks you see playing golf, going to the gym, tailgating at professional sporting events, etc., on your way to worship.

Somewhere along the way we have forgotten (or turned our backs on) the importance of worship. There was a time when this was the center of our lives. Our social, spiritual and even physical needs were met via the gathering of ourselves together. The church was with whom we communed while communing with God.

Beloved, there is no substitute for our corporate worship: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Heb 10:23-25. Let us always endeavor to meet together and learn of our God and then share what we have learned with all whom we meet.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

About Worrying-12/27/2011

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matt 6:34

There was a woman once whose son came home with the type of news no proud parent wants to hear. He had received a one day suspension from school for horseplay. It seems that he caused a young lady to fall and hit her head. Unfortunately this required stitches.

As you can imagine, the mother went into full frantic mode. "Is the girl alright?" "Is my son in trouble?" "Will the parents sue?" "Will my son be brought up on charges?" Things were made worse by the fact that there was an attempt to phone the mother of the young lady, but the call was neither answered or returned.

To be sure, it is good and right to be concerned about the welfare of another, particularly in an at fault situation. Concern, however, is the immediate neighbor of worry. Worry, in this context, is composed of anxiety. Anxiety my beloved, is like foam; it is derived from something real and tangible but is both useless, temporary and full of air. You see, unlike fear, which can prepare the mind and body for fight or flight, worry simply weighs one down with no benefit. It consumes energy and interrupts the thought process. It derails logic and threatens faith. It accomplishes absolutely nothing. No amount of worrying influences any outcome.

As it turned out, the mother of the young lady eventually called. She said that she was over being upset. She also said she did some checking to see what kind of young man the woman's son is and found the reports to be good. As a result, she felt sure that it was an accident and that everything was OK.

Just like that, the woman's worry, like foam, evaporated, having served no purpose and accomplishing no good. It had only caused discomfort and exasperation...and then was gone. Jesus asks, "And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span? "If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?" Luke 12:25-26. Perhaps a better use of our time in situations like these is prayer.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, December 23, 2011

Giving vs. Receiving-12/23/2011

"It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35

To many, Christmas is all about gifts. Yes it is a time when families come together. There are celebrations of love, togetherness...and food. But the focal point is the gifts. It exceeds the scope of this writing to go into detail about the pagan origin of gift giving (or for a December 25th Christmas for that matter). Suffice it to say that some trace gifts to the benevolence of Nicholas, who would become the Santa Claus legend or the gift giving of the wise men.

We look forward with great anticipation to the things that we will receive. We are taught from an early age to make lists. When we were kids, we sat on Santa's lap and told him everything we wanted. Even now, we enter the season with many things that we desire in mind and sometimes on our lips. And on Christmas morning, we regale callers and well wishers with the great things we have received and likewise, ask the same of them. We even go so far as to mark the particular Christmas by what was received that year.

Beloved, why are we so focused on what we get? The question we as Christians should be asking is, "What did you give?" Surely, the giving is the superior part. In a day and age that most of have more than we need and have so many of our wants, why not concentrate on helping to provide for the needs of those who are challenged to obtain the very basics of life? Perhaps the best gift we can give is one that we ourselves have received. Let us give the gift of the love of God's only begotten, Jesus the Christ.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Advent Myths-12/22/2011

"For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge." Rom 10:2

The season the world celebrates the birth of Christ is to many the most beloved and happiest of all times. People seem to be a bit nicer. The spirit of giving is awakened and so many feel an inner warmth and peace emanating from inside. We truly experience good will toward mankind.

Despite this season based on the bible, there are a healthy number of misconceptions and outright fabrications about what is written there concerning the advent of our Savior:
  • Jesus was born on December 25th. In actuality, the bible does not mention the actual date of his birth. Many scholars feel that he was born in the September to October time frame but no one is sure. The bible, however, does mention in Luke 2:8 that there were shepherds in the field at night tending their flocks. During December, the temperature there is freezing with occasional snow. This is not typical pasture weather.
  • Jesus was found in a barn full of animals. This is another guess based most likely on the manger, a feeding trough. Nowhere in scripture is a barn mentioned despite one being featured in most nativity scenes. Most animals were kept in caves or open pens. Luke 2:7 simply says that he was in a manger and wrapped in cloths.
  • Three Kings were present at Jesus birth. Matt 2:1 mentions that magi came from the east. Magi is the word from which we derive magician. They are also known as wise men. The understanding at the time, was that they were men of astrology and science. They are never referred to as kings in the bible. Further, they are never numbered. Though they brought three gifts, it may have been 2 or 52 magi. Finally, Matt 2:10 says that they were led by a star to the house where the baby was. In fact, it is likely that this occurred as much as two years after the birth. Matt 2:16 says that threatened King Herod began killing boys two years and younger based on the time the magi had told him.

Beloved these are just a few examples of biblical misconceptions. The better we know the word, the more readily we will be able discern truth and recognize error. Only when we have a good understanding of the scriptures can we live lives aligned with them and in turn, correctly share it with others. Nothing less than our very spiritual lives depend on this. Let us not be guilty of having zeal without knowledge.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Give the Greatest Gift-12/21/11

"The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them." Luke 2:20

There are some 300 prophecies concerning Christ. As hope filled as each of them was, nothing matched the actual announcement of his birth: "But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. " This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, " Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." Luke 2:10-14.

The prophecies had been fulfilled. The Messiah had arrived. Reconciliation with God was now possible. The gift of salvation was now available. Our great benefit found its genesis at this moment. The question, then, must be, "what now?"

Beloved, I suggest that we now do what those who first heard the best of all news did. They glorified God, praised Him, and according to verses 17 and 18, they shared the good news with others. You see, it is not important when Christ was born but that he was born. God is surely to be praised for the amazing gift of his only begotten son. For our benefit as well as that of all mankind, it is a gift that can be shared with any and everyone to the glory of God.

As you consider what you will give, consider giving the greatest gift of all: the good news of the Savior.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Son of Man-12/20/2011

"Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse." Matt 1:5

No consideration of Christ's birth could be complete without recognition of his lineage. To the glory of God, we know that His Spirit came upon Mary and caused her to give birth to the Savior despite the fact that she was a virgin. Nevertheless, a lineage through Mary and Joseph are provided in the Holy and Divinely inspired scriptures. It requires study that exceeds the scope of this writing to prove that the Luke genealogy went through Mary but suffice it to say that Romans 1:3 unquestioningly shows that Christ is a fleshly descendant of David which would necessarily include Mary.

The point to be made here involves the individuals who are members of that genealogy:

  • Tamar (Gen 38:6) was both a deceiver and a Canaanite

  • Rahab (Josh 2:1,17) was a harlot and a Canaanite

  • Ruth (Book of Ruth) was a Moabite

  • Bathsheba (2Sam 11:12,24) was an adulteress and a Hittite

  • Solomon was an idolater

Beloved, from this list, it can be seen that God's love covers both sinners and foreigners. He could very easily have inspired a purer genealogy for His only begotten, however, Jesus was sent to be an atoning sacrifice for all mankind. Our entire faith rests on the fact that our Creator put on flesh and came to this earth to save us from ourselves. And he did so, not by being born rich in a palace or as an elitist, far above the reach of the poor and wretched that needed him most. No. Even his lineage contains the poor and wretched. If the Son of Man is of us, surely he is for us. "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." Heb 4:15

Let us reflect on this amazing benefit as we consider his birth.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, December 19, 2011


*Beloved, on the occasion of the holidays, this week I will re-post the Advent Series from last year. Merry Christmas and may God continue to richly bless you!-Lee

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isa 9:6

It is this, a scripture that is among the greatest and most important prophecies of all time, that heralds the coming of the Messiah: the Savior of all mankind. During this time of year, more than any other time of the year, most of the world turns it's thoughts to the birth of Christ.

The goal is not to debate the timing of the birth of Christ. The bible gives us clues that it probably did not occur during the winter, but does not reveal to us the date or time of his advent. This being the case, it can only be taken that the information is not critical to our salvation or our relationship with the Lord. The relevant issue is that he was born. His birth and life, death and resurrection fulfilled all scripture.

Beloved, regardless of when we mark the time of his arrival, we should always celebrate the fact and more importantly, the result, in our hearts. He came that we might have life and that more abundantly. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to feed, heal and teach. And he came to prepare us. He came to love.

This (and all) season(s), let us give glory and honor to God for his bountiful gift of the son.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, December 16, 2011

Selective Hearing-12/16/2011

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,"
2 Tim 4:3

The apostle Paul gave this great warning to his young protege, Timothy. Though it is a message to ministers even to this day, it is likewise a message to all believers. In fact, the men of God have always been unpopular among some. Noah, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jesus, among others, come to mind as those whose message was not welcome.

Now as then, people do not want to hear the things of God that are contrary to the sensual way they wish to lead their lives. Whether it involves worshipping other gods, indulging in immoral lifestyles, failure to obey or consistently indulging in a variety of temptations, most have no desire to hear that they are wrong and that their habits are outside the will of God.

This is a big enough problem but it multiplies exponentially when we warp the worship of God around our indulgences. Whether this is building a religious organization around something God condemns or simply hiring a preacher that only talks about the "good and happy stuff," the issue is the same.

Beloved, all of God's word is for us. Through it, He blesses us and chastises us. He does both of these because He loves us. We need to hear that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We also need to hear that we were lost because of sin. We need to hear that all of our needs will be supplied. We also need to hear that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We need to hear that we should love each other. We also need to hear that we should love our enemies.

Let us always pursue the whole will of God and not just the parts that we want to hear. The soundness of the doctrine (teaching) is in its truth and its completeness.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

He Said, She Said-12/15/2011

"Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others." Eccl 7:21-22

Contextually, Solomon is extolling the virtues of wisdom while simultaneously imparting it. Here we are cautioned to not pay too much attention to the expressions of others where we are concerned. Very often we actively seek or present an inquiring ear for the positive things people say about us. It is human nature to want to hear flowery compliments about our personality, abilities, accomplishments, expressions and the like. This can lead to a false sense of security and reputation that does not represent the whole picture.

Likewise, we must not give undo credence to those who would criticize. People are very quick to form opinions and express them, often based on limited experience and understanding regarding that which they speak. Giving undo credence to these can lead to an ill advised response or an unnecessary alteration.

Perhaps the greatest wisdom contained in the passage is the gentle reminder that we ourselves have been guilty of speaking out of turn about others. The scripture says this has been the case "many times." Sobering. It is well known that everyone has something to say about everyone else. We are card carrying members of "everyone."

Beloved, let us take the whole of Solomon's advice. The apostle Paul put it this way, "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me."
1 Cor 4:3-4

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The God of Second Chances-12/14/2011 (rp)

"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you." So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord." Jonah 3:1-3

We all know what it is like to make a mistake. Many times we find ourselves wide of where we should be and what we should be doing. There are times when this is a result of pure unintended accident and times when it is through malicious rebelliousness. In any case, having had the opportunity to rethink our decision, usually due to consequences that range from guilt to something, let us say, a bit more substantial, there is not much we would not do for a second chance.

The good news beloved, is that more often than not, our God is a God of second chances. Time after time, His people have gone against Him, betrayed Him, been disobedient to Him and even left Him. And time after time, He has come to their aid. For one example of this, see Judges 10. Our God is long suffering toward us and loving of us in ways that some could not possibly understand and others no only to well.

Let us not take his kindness for granted. Our goal should ever be to live our lives in a way that second chances are not needed. That having been said, it is good to know that they, through the grace of God, are available to us.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

He Hears-12/13/2011

"Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you."
2 Kings 20:4

Many of us struggle in our prayer life. We sometimes wonder if our prayers make it beyond the ceiling. We sometimes wonder if God is home or if He cares at all. It may be that we feel this way because we don't always get what we want. Make no mistake, it is understood that some of the things we want are entirely and sometimes urgently needful. We pray out of pain, fear, concern for another, worry, imminent danger and other things we consider critical. We are subject to becoming despondent and shaken in our faith if we feel God does not look at things the way that we do.

Beloved, it is our faith that should carry us through the times when it seems that God is missing in action. It is our trust in Him that should remind us that all things work together for good to them that are the called according to his purpose, even and especially when things seem that they are at their worst. We need to remember the agony suffered by God's only begotten in the garden of Gethsemane. Remember that God did not allow that cup to pass. Remember that if He had, there would be no salvation for you and I today. Remember that despite Christ's great suffering at our hands and on our behalf, he is even now at the right hand of the Father advocating for us. We can only hope that the times that God may say "no" would accomplish an end so noble and beneficial. Lastly, remember that God is never absent. He is everywhere at all times knowing all things with every ability. That said, he also has the ability to be silent.

Let us also not forget the times when we have prayed and received an immediate response. Many of us cite those times as proof of His existence in our own minds. Whatever it is that you think, understand that His ways are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth. God knows exactly what He is doing. We must know that fact too.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, December 9, 2011

Avoiding Extremes-12/9/2011 (rp)

"Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?"
Eccl 7:16-17

It is said that this is one of the most difficult passages in the book of Ecclesiastes. How do we take its advice and remain the holy people God has called us to be? A careful examination of what is being imparted to us reveals this: avoid extremes.

Throughout the course of history, every religion has adherents who tend toward asceticism or an exaggerated and feverish form of religious life. A person like this "denies himself all pleasures through the fear of sin; he separates himself, not merely from vicious indulgences, but from occupations and amusements which he admits are innocent enough and lawful enough for those who have not the end in view he has set before himself. He is not content with the good works commanded by the Law of God; he must have his works of supererogation [doing more than duty requires]." (from The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.) You may have met this person in Luke 18:9-14 or perhaps in your own congregation. The purpose of such behavior is to store up merit and to place oneself above others in both the affections and rewards of God. It does not work that way. God is not subject to the extortion of good works.

Concerning wickedness and foolishness, many will take the sometimes lack of immediate consequences as license to misbehave. Solomon gives this advice because he says, "I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness." Eccl 7:15. It sometimes seems that the worse a person is, the more that they are rewarded. Without the conditioning of immediate reward for good and punishment for bad, many tend to do what feels good and is right in their own mind rather than follow the instruction of God. His patience and longsuffering should not be taken as unawareness or in any way interpreted as His level of concern. His overriding justice may be slow but it is sure.

Beloved, we are to lead moderate and temperate lives. We must judge the expediency in all things. The object of a godly life is neither to attempt to deserve God's grace nor to see how much we can get away with that His grace may abound. He has given us this life to enjoy , and to live in manner that glorifies Him and expresses our adoration. Think on these things.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Filling Half Full Faith-12/8/2011 (rp)

"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Rev 2:10

Scriptures like these can have a depressing effect on Christians, particularly those who are either new or weak in their faith. It can give one a "glass half empty" view of the faith. It may cause some to ask if it is worth it to pursue the kind of life that seems to necessarily include suffering.

A more careful view of the scriptures can alleviate some of the concerns brought to bear by passages such as these. First, it is important to know that this particular verse is found in the book of Revelation. Suffice it to say that there are several different ways that people interpret this book. One such way of looking at it is called the "preterist" view. In short, it states that the events in all but the last four chapters of Revelation occurred some 2000 years ago, shortly after John penned it. Therefore, the specific suffering and commensurate jailing by the devil was a warning to the people of that time.

Second, advice and direction is given which will enable those subject to suffering to endure: be faithful, even up to death. When we think about the fact that Christ never faltered in his faith and that he maintained it throughout the entire crucifixion experience, he is our example and encouragement. Though the message was to the people of that time, it represents a transcendent principle that still applies to us today. We are told throughout scripture to maintain our faith.

Finally, we are reassured of an eventual reward for maintaining our faith. The bible records that we will receive a crown of life. We will receive the promises of God that include our salvation, everlasting life and entry into His presence forever and ever. Is this not the goal of leading the Christian life?

Beloved, we are so often blown off course by the things and circumstances around us. We must see past the difficulties that Jesus told us would be ours in order to receive the blessings which he likewise told us would be ours. Most of us know nothing of the suffering endured by our ancestors in the faith. It is not likely that we know or have even heard of anyone who has been martyred. We must therefore then, thank God for His goodness and his protection and look forward to that which He has promised, despite any discomforts that may be associated with living the Christian life. This is not a "glass half full" faith, but one that is in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over!

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Into Each Life-12/7/2011

"And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Mark 4:39

It was the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who described part of the human condition when he immortalized the words, "Into each life some rain must fall." Without a doubt storms come into all of our lives, whether they be gentle and quiet or raging and thunderous. None of us escape life's more challenging times.

The apostles were particularly frightened by their storm. You will recall that they woke Jesus who was asleep on the ship transporting them. They asked if he cared whether they perished or not.

Beloved during our worst and lowest times, we can sometimes feel that Jesus is asleep at the switch and does not care about our suffering. We would do well to remember three things. First, Jesus is with us as he was with them. He is right there in the middle of the storm with us. Second, he is the master of time, space, the elements and your circumstances. Remember, he is the creator of all things and nothing that was made was made without him, John 1:1-3. He has the ability to deliver you from your storms just as he delivered the apostles.

Lastly, Jesus' followers asked themselves what manner of man he was once they saw their deliverance. We as Christians must know and have faith in our hearts exactly what manner of man he is. He is our deliverer, the resurrection, the way, the truth, the life, the Son of God and our salvation from every storm. Let this knowledge bring you peace and calm in the middle of your storms.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blessed Rest and Fellowship-12/6/2011

"The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves." Mark 6:30-32

The work of the Lord can be challenging, demanding and exhausting. Jesus had recently sent the apostles out in twos with nothing except their staffs to preach that men should repent. In so doing they "cast out devils and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them" Matt 6:13. They were now being welcomed back from their mission with an invitation of sweet seclusion and rest.

Beloved, fellowship is a precious gift. We who are of the family of God have a common belief, a common goal, a common task and a common testimony. Ours is to obediently perform that which we have been equipped and directed to accomplish. Depending upon the gift that you have been given, that may mean something different. Some may be called upon to teach while others to encourage, others still to finance and some to labor. Each in his own way is to serve the Lord with gladness of heart because it is that Lord who has labored and been obedient to the Father to save us.

From time to time it is good and necessary for us to withdraw from labor, gather ourselves together and rest. During this time we share wisdom, heal each other's wounds, feed one another, experience blessed solitude with the Lord and worship. This strengthens us to return to the task at the appointed time. Even Jesus occasionally withdrew to spend time alone with God and to rest before returning to the mission field. This friends, prefigures the ultimate rest when all work is done. We will be called to heavenly eternity where we will enjoy the presence of God, see Jesus face to face and experience fellowship with one another without end. Let us work toward that day, not to earn it but because of love, because of obedience and because it has already been prepared for us.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, December 5, 2011

Beginning With Jesus-12/5/2010

"A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse — after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well." Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction." Mark 5:25-29

There is so much available in Jesus. Unfortunately many of us do not realize this until we are at the bitter end of what is available in and of ourselves. Far too often we start with us rather than Jesus. Case in point is the hemorrhagic woman. She had suffered for years, gone to many doctors, exhausted all of her funds and found herself down to no options except one.

Beloved think of the pain, suffering, heartache and utter despair that could be saved by beginning with Jesus. He has been described as a heart fixer, a mind regulator, a balm in Gilead and the Great Physician. There is no ill that we suffer that Jesus cannot fix. We should endeavor to begin with faith strong enough to call on him and believe that he what we need is available in him rather than arriving at that point when there is nothing else we can do. This is the true essence and benefit of a relationship with the Savior.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, December 2, 2011

Taking Care of Our Own 12/2/2011

He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. "For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH';
but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."
Mark 7:9-13

In this passage, Jesus is rebuking the so called spiritual leaders of the time. At some point, they lost sight of the spirit of the law and became outrageously consumed with the letter of the law. Their traditions became more important than the work of God. Offered as an example was the way they treated their parents and by extension the elderly of what we would today call the church. What they should have known from the commandments they so revered is that to honor mother and father was 1) the fifth commandment, 2) the first of those directed toward our treatment and love for others and 3) the first with a promise attached to it ("that your days may be prolonged in the land)." The Pharisees were teaching that people should take that which they would ordinarily support or assist their parents and give it to the Lord. This goes against everything that the God intended and commanded.

Beloved, there was a time that the care of our parents and the elderly of the church was a no-brainer. It was just done. However in these days of "me first" those who raised and taught us are cast to the side and left to their own devices. Not so rarely, the family waits at a distance, consumed by their own lives, and waits for death to come that the spoils might be divided. This makes it that much more important that the church be there to step in. We must be involved in counseling the families to do what is right as well as being there ourselves. James said that "True religion is this: visiting the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and keeping oneself spotless from the world."

We have a moral obligation to care for those who once cared for us. Let us never use the fact that we must give to God or go to this or that church function as an excuse to care not for our blood or spiritual family. Serving God's children is giving to God. One day, through the grace of God, our days may be long on this earth and we may know what it means to have need while others make excuses.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Choosing to be Godly-12/1/2011 (rp)

"The Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.'" Job 1:8

Most of us are familiar with Job. His name is synonymous with patience, virtue and suffering with grace. Many of us turn to the pages on which his story is recorded for inspiration and reassurance during times of trouble.

Though the answer may seem to be obvious, have we really ever considered Job? Satan accused God of protecting him and thereby allowing him to maintain such integrity. I believe his statements were tantamount to saying that Job had been made that way by God. This is proven not to be the case. God merely identified him as a unique individual among all men. Noah was so identified in his time as well. They were both men that chose to lead godly lives and in Job's case, continued to make that choice under the most extreme conditions.

Beloved we all have trials and tribulations that we endure in this life. We suffer discomfort, want and loss at various times throughout our lives. Who among us, however, can claim to have endured what Job did? And if any among us can, who can claim to have steadfastly maintained such a beautiful perspective on his relationship with God and the realities of life? Who among us has avoided sin regardless of those trials and tribulations?

We all have the same ability to choose. We all serve that very same God. We can all look forward to the same rewards. Why do we seem to wilt under much lighter circumstances? Was Job anything special? Being just a man who made the ultimate choice to remain faithful no matter what, I would say so. But you and I have that same ability.

One last thought: It is amazing that Job lived such a life among men that it was known in heaven and offered as proof that we as His creation have the ability to truly live and serve as intended. Further, God had so much confidence in Job and his steadfastness that He allowed him to be tested severely. As much confidence as we have in God, can you imagine what it would be like for God to have that much confidence in you?

It could happen.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost Slipped-11/30/2011 (rp)

"Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Ps 73:1-3

To this day, many are concerned with "keeping up with the Joneses." We look at their lives, the possessions they own, the jobs they have and the things they are able to do. We also take note that often, they are not members of the body of Christ. Whether the "Joneses" are luminaries like the Gates' and Oprah, or the guy with the biggest house and the nicest neighborhood, we some how feel that it is all so unfair.

Beloved, we must be careful about thoughts like this. To the Christian, life should not be about the material. Jesus said, that we are not to concern ourselves with earthly possessions, but to store up our treasures in heaven.

Though the wicked may seem to prosper for a time, it is not worth losing our inheritance to do what they did to get what they got. There is a consequence for unrighteousness, be it prosperous or not. The Psalmist further relates, "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my mind until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!" Ps 73:16-19

Let us maintain our footing in the Lord.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Righteousness is as Righteousness Does-11/29/2011

"Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous" 1 John 3:7

What comes to mind when you think of the word "righteous?" Think of integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness and correctness of thinking, feeling and acting. The apostle John, in his penning of this epistle, was addressing a scourge and a threat to the young Christian faith called Gnosticism. This system was a belief that involved among other things, the thought that pure knowledge was the key to salvation and that only things of the spirit mattered while things of the flesh did not. This, in turn, gave them license to behave in any fleshly way they chose because it did not affect their protected spiritual side. Of course a fuller treatment of Gnosticism exceeds the scope of this writing but suffice it to say that they viewed righteousness as separate and apart from the things they actually did.

Beloved, scripture is replete with exhortations for us to "walk in the light," "accomplish what is good," "put to death the misdeeds of the body," "season your words" and the like. There should be no confusion by anyone that God has expectations of us that involve behaving in a righteous manner in word, thought and deed. In fact, we are commanded to be holy because He is holy. We are without excuse when it comes to conducting ourselves in any other way. Further, seeking other interpretations, understandings or even religions that are counter to this teaching only gives place to that which God has prohibited.

Conversely, righteous thinking, speaking, acting and believing is in fact righteousness. In so doing, we gain the approval of God and participate in His righteousness. This is a far better plan than trying to live unrighteously and calling it righteousness. Let us pursue what the Lord says.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, November 28, 2011

The Gift of Time-11/28/2011

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet 3:9

Contextually, Peter is addressing the taunts of those who question, at worst, the existence of God and at best, the prophesied return of the Lord. He reminds his audience that God is not on man’s timetable. Before we ever existed, He created all that there is and that there was never a time that He did not exist. Citing that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” he establishes that God is above and beyond time. This said, Peter further relates that God is doing us a tremendous favor by delaying the end of the age.

Beloved, there are some that are anxious for the return of the Lord. Looking as we do at the prevailing condition of this world and the people who occupy it, some are hungry for righteousness and justice to prevail and things to be set right by He who is the Master of the Universe. Others are not so anxious for the day to come due to the root cause of a lack of readiness. Regardless of one’s position, all should rejoice in the wisdom and love of the Lord. For those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, know that the delay is due to God’s fervent desire that none are lost. What could be more righteous? For those who are “not ready” you are the object of His longsuffering. His coming, however, is as certain as the fact that the past has already occurred. In that when the time comes it will take place in an instant and that we do not know when that time will come, we only have this moment to be ready. The next moment is not promised. We therefore must not delay as He has done on our behalf. Surely whatever motives anyone has for doing so are nonsensical. The time He is giving is a gift and that gift has an unknown expiration date. Better use it. Now.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, November 25, 2011


"Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isa 6:8

Far too often we are settled in our Christianity and in our faith. Once we have "made it in," we tend to have a seat and wait for whatever is coming. Though we are grateful, we sometimes feel entitled and that we have done all we need to do. Surely our benevolent God will provide for all of our needs and send us through a minimum of inconvenience and discomfort, right?

I wonder if we are acquainted with God at all. Throughout the divinely inspired scriptures, He is shown to be a God of action. He is never one to sit idly by and just let things happen. There is always a purpose for what He does and what He allows. Further, a casual survey of the scriptures reveal that He almost always requires something of us. Noah had to build the ark. Abraham had to leave his country. Moses had to lift his hands to part the sea. David had to pick up the 5 smooth stones. God is fully capable but requires us to do our part.

Beloved God is not looking for us to do things grudgingly nor out of necessity either. He loves it when we give of ourselves cheerfully. I believes that He enjoys enthusiasm and zeal as well. When we are commanded of God, we should run to the task like no other. Never should we shrink back and do the minimum if anything at all. God has given us so much that there is no task from which we should run as Jonah did, but in all things do as Isaiah did and volunteer to be sent!

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks-11/23/2011

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations." Ps 100:4-5

We are taught from the earliest age to simply say "thank you" when anyone gives to us or does for us. Michelle and I have a 20 month old grandson who is still formulating his vocabulary but "thank you" can already be found in his limited repetoire. It is one of the most polite yet fundamental things we can say in response to everything from the a "God bless you" when we sneeze to the very sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

Beloved as our nation and the world set aside this day to stop, reflect and be thankful, let us as Christians, in our own way, lead this effort. Let us do so by placing our thanks where they belong, at the God's throne of grace. Let us do so by encouraging one another to count blessings rather than complaings. Let us give as we have been given. And let us do so not just on the 3rd Thurssday of November, but every moment of our lives. Surely God blesses us so.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Loving Like Jesus,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Keep Going and Going and Going...11/21/2011 (rp)

"But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good." 2 Thess 3:13

The Christian life lived right involves a lot of work. To be sure, the work is good, fulfilling, rewarding, beneficial and the right thing to do. In fact, we were made for it. It can, however, get tiresome from time to time.

We all lead busy lives. While most of our "mandatory" time is spent earning a living, getting an education or taking care of a household, for some of us, most of the rest of our time is built on pursuing the things of the Lord. There are classes to be prepared for and taught. There are members to visit in both homes and hospitals. There are things to be done to maintain the place of worship. There are meetings to be had, people to be counseled, administrative work to be done and prayer time to be spent.

Sounds exhausting right? For those who are doing it, there is no doubt that it can be and often is. But the encouragement today beloved, is to not become weary in the good that you are doing. Let us continually be motivated by the tiresome good that is done to us by God, despite the fact that we could not possibly hope to deserve it. Let us also be encouraged by the promises that have been made to us. The greatest of rewards awaits those who remain diligent.

The Christian life is a race of endurance rather than of speed. We need to remain consistent, steadfast and committed to doing that for which we were made. Let us be living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. When He calls for us, let us not be asleep, but working while it is day, for night surely is on its way.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Rewards for Works-11/8/2011

"For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints." Heb 6:10

Have you ever done something for someone and walked away feeling un(der) appreciated? Oddly enough, this is particularly likely if you are doing the work of the Lord. Christ himself experienced this phenomenon:
  • "As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When He saw them, He said to them, " Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? " Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" Luke 17:12-18

The good news beloved, is that God never forgets. The scriptures tells us that the things done in secret are rewarded publicly by the Lord. The key, however, is to do things for which to be rewarded. Though salvation is full and freely given by the grace of God through faith, not of works, we were indeed created for good works and have been encouraged to "work out" our salvation. In short, we need to be busy for the Lord, just as those who have shared with us have been busy.

If we do His work, not out of the expectation to receive, but because we have ALREADY received His great love, sacrifice and bounty, we will find that God is generous in His recognition and appreciation.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being An Example-11/17/2011

"Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." 1 Cor 11:1

The apostle Paul offers himself as an example to a young church in trouble. The church at Corinth was located in the New York City of its day and was subject to the outside influences that could be found there. There were issues with quarreling among members about who they were to follow, shameful incestuous behaviors, lack of concern for the needs of the poor, idolatry and failures in compassion to their fellow human beings. The church that was supposed to be helping others, itself needed help.

Beloved the world should be able to look to those who are members of the Lord's body to understand what love, grace and mercy are all about. It is not suggested for a moment that perfection is involved, but there should be an observable difference when the world looks at Christians. If there is not, how will any be won to him? Why would anyone even believe that God is? Instead, we earn the label of hypocrites for claiming to be one thing and actually being something quite different, something quite like a non-believer.

We have been called to a better way, to better behavior, to better practices and to a better life by He who made us. In so doing, we are called to share this illumination with others who remain in darkness. Paul offers himself as an example of one who was converted from some pretty bad ways to a devout follower of Christ willing to sacrifice all to know him and to share him. Each of us should strive to be able to make that same offer to those with whom we come into contact.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can You Hear Him Now?-11/16/2011

"So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.' Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy. And Eli said to Samuel,"'Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, 'Speak, for Your servant is listening.'" 1 Sam 3:8-10

God in His divine wisdom saw fit to call a young boy into his service. Samuel was a product of a devout father and a mother who struggled to bear children. For years she cried and prayed that God would bless her and that if He did, she would give the child to Him. God answered her prayer and she kept her promise. She left the boy with God's man Eli at a tender age and he began to be instructed in the way of the Lord. Then at a God determined point in his life, he was called into service by the very voice of the Almighty.

Beloved, there are many things that call to us today. We are inundated with messages from a variety of media that contend for our attention. Some of these messages are positive, some neutral and some negative. We must ask ourselves, however, if we are tuned in to God. It is His call that is quiet but firm, powerful and consistent. He placed within each of us to recognize His voice. Paul writes, "...that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" Rom 1:19-20. Contextually, this is a chastisement for those who have ignored the call of God and have acted unrighteously. But it clearly reveals that He has placed within us the ability to know and Him.

Further, His voice can be heard in our morality; our sense of right and wrong. Whether one is a believer or not, we all have a sense of what would we should do over against what we should not. This is then the God channel. It is not here stated that we hear God's audible call today. In fact Heb 1:1-2 tells us a bit of the history of His communication with us. The point is He still speaks. Be it through observed nature that make His existence evident or the conscience He has placed within us to respond to Him, He still speaks. When He calls, we need to turn everything else off and respond, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Can You See Him Now?-11/15/2011

"Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly." Mark 8:25

This passage is merely the midpoint of a fascinating trilogy of stories concerning faith, understanding and the identity of God's son. There was a man born blind found in the city of Bethsaida whom the residents brought to Jesus to be healed. Jesus responded favorably to the request due to his compassion for the man suffering. He would not, however, perform the miracle within the bounds of Bethsaida because they had not repented despite his many miracles previously performed there. Jesus proceeded to apply healing to him, but when first asked if he could see, his reply was in the affirmative but only partially so. Jesus applied additional healing and he was then able to see clearly. Do not doubt that Jesus could not have healed him on the first try if that was his aim. He is in fact making a point.

The first episode of this trilogy occurred among Jesus' apostles. Having just come from feeding the 4000, they entered a boat to journey to the other side of the lake. One of them discovered that they had very little food and began to worry. Jesus instructed them to "beware of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees and of King Herod." They mistook his words to be chastisement for not bringing more bread. When Jesus detected these thoughts, he reminded them of all that was left over from the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 when they had begun with so little. His reprooving question to them was, "Do you not see clearly? Have you no understanding?"

Part 3 of the narrative involved Jesus' famous question of the apostles regarding who the general population thought he was compared to who they thought he was. Peter supplied the answer, "You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God." This confession was evidence that the apostles could now see clearly who is.

Beloved, before we meet the Lord, we are blind, struggling in spiritual darkness, unable to find our way and without hope. Yes we live our lives and raise our families, but without Christ, we have not received illumination beyond this secular world. When we do meet him, we do not experience immediate clarity because a relationship is a process. The apostles had been with him for some time and witnessed things never seen before on earth, yet they, those closest to him, still didn't quite understand. They only saw partially. In the end, however, the experienced perfect understanding of who he is to the universe and more importantly, who he was to them.

Let us, in all that we do, pursue clarity of who Jesus is that we may understand all he has, does and will mean to our lives and eternal souls.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, November 14, 2011

Embracing Your Role-11/14/2011

"Thus he said to him, " Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also." 1 Sam 23:17

Beloved there are times when we have the grandest of plans for our own lives. We pursue education, athletics, apprenticeship in construction or the arts with the greatest of intentions to make a significant impact on the world. Whether through hard work or birthright, we sometimes feel that we deserve to have a particular function or station in life.

Consider Jonathan, the son of King Saul. In monarchy, it is a foregone conclusion that the son follows the father to the throne and that the family would rule in perpetuity. Johnathan had every right to expect to become king after his father. Scripture reveals, however, that God had other plans. He had already chosen David to be the next king early in Saul's reign.

Despite what we think or plan, we must realize that we do not have all of the answers and that God has His own ideas about what He wants us to do and where He wants us to be. We may serve His purpose best by working at a not for profit organization rather than holding the office of CEO at a Fortune 500 organization. It may be that we are placed with a spouse of questionable values and morals rather than a steadfast and upright mate for the glory of God.

Surely we must place ourselves in the hollow of the Father's hand and embrace whatever role He has for us with gladness. Not only was Jonathan not angry about David being the future king, but he made a covenant with him and "...he loved him as he loved his own life." 1 Sam 20:17 It may very well be that God put you exactly where you are. It is from there that you can get to exactly where He is.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Cost of Christianity-11/11/2011 (rp)

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

What an eloquent verse this is that describes the requirements of the Christian faith.

First, you must believe. Heb 11:6 tells us that "He that cometh unto God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Following Jesus necessarily involves belief. No one would get on a plane that they did not feel could fly nor a boat they did not think could float. The desire to follow him means that the individual has been compelled to do so by recommendation, personal experience, need or fear of the alternative. All of these have belief as a foundational component.

Denying oneself contextually means to die to oneself. Clarity is found in Rom 12: 1 where we are told to make our bodies a living sacrifice. Otherwise said, we are no longer our own but now are to lead lives dedicated to the service of the Lord. Through baptism, we die to the flesh spiritually, are buried as dead and are resurrected into the newness of life even as Christ was. In so doing, we live lives dedicated to the accomplishing of his will rather than our own.

Taking up our cross demonstrates that our commitment is not to be entered into lightly. It involves the gritty reality of suffering, pain, ridicule, persecution, sacrifice and potentially, literal and figurative death. The cross is a heavy burden, but it is one that Christ shouldered for us. He now invites all that are weary and burdened to come to him from whom rest is available.

Finally beloved, we cannot just talk about it, but we must be about it. Calling ourselves Christians is meaningless without living the life that exemplifies that calling. A young man of many great possessions and authority was once invited to follow Christ but turned it down, once he heard what it involved. We must follow him in word, thought and deed regardless of the cost. Remember that we are bought with a price paid for by the blood of our savior.

One might ask why we should endure such things since they have already been done for us. The answer is that we should endure such things because they have been done for us. By taking up his own cross, Christ serves as an example for us. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us. Though we may sometimes find our faith to be challenging to maintain, we will find that the benefits to doing so are out of this world.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Forgiving Yourself Because You Are Forgiven 11/10/2011

"He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep." John 21:17

As any of us might imagine and certainly feel if we were in his place, Peter was wracked with guilt over what could easily be the second greatest sin of all time (the "original sin" being the first). He had denied his Lord and Savior not once or twice but three times. You will recall that he even cursed while doing it. Having had his Lord restored to him after the greatest miracle known to man, he was forced to endure what he felt was the shame of having to profess his love for the the Lord not once or twice but a third time.

Beloved, Peter need not have felt this way. Rather than being persecuted by the Lord, he was actually being restored by the Lord. If any among the apostles were a leader, it was surely him. Though he was arguably closest to Jesus and therefore committed the greatest seen by denying him, he was now being given the ultimate forgiveness. More importantly than this, however, is Jesus' implicit message that Peter needs to forgive himself. It can clearly be seen that Jesus is over it (if in fact he was ever bothered by it) evidenced by his charging him to shepherd the flock. Peter was not in a position to wallow in his own misery. Jesus had work for him to do.

Forgiving ourselves can be among the most difficult things in life to do. We have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. We all have skeletons in the closet. We all have things we regret. If we allow those things to weigh us down and keep us in guilt laden misery, we will never be able to do the things with which we have been charged by our Lord. Whatever it is that you have done and repented of, know that Christ has forgiven you. Forgive yourself. Get to work.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Proximity Warning-11/8/2011

"Now the men of Sodom were wicked and sinning greatly against the Lord." Gen 13:13

It is now as it was then that we live in a wicked world. One need scarcely cast a glance to see that the effects of sin are all around us. It is piped into our homes via the television and the internet. It is broadcast into our ears via the radio and popular music. Our eyes are assaulted by morally impure billboards and magazine covers. None of us need go looking for its evidences. It is all around us.

So it was in Lot's time. You will recall that at the time it became necessary for he and his uncle Abraham to part ways, Lot was given a choice. He chose the lush and fertile plains and "pitched his tent near Sodom." Chapter 19 finds him sitting at the gates of and ostensibly living in the city itself. It was already well known what type of place this was yet he evidently chose to live there.

Beloved we must be aware of our proximity to wickedness. Often times we watch certain movies or television shows, listen to certain radio programs and read certain books and maintain certain relationships that are not in keeping with what is best for our spiritual development. We tell ourselves that we are mature enough, strong enough and discerning enough to glean from them without becoming subject to them. 2 Cor 6:14 asks, "What fellowship does light have with darkness?" What would we be missing from our lives if we rejected and eliminated the unholy and the impure from our lives?

Lot began his life in close proximity to God. By the end of his life, he had lost his possesions during the destruction of the city, his wife, who could not distance herself from her past and he unknowingly fathered children by his wicked and incestuous daughters. From these children came the Moabites who then became enemies of God's people. These are ample enough reasons to watch your proximity to wickedness.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, November 7, 2011

You Did It To Me-11/7/2011

"The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’" Matt 25:40

Judgment for some will be a great day. Jesus here relates a scene from the throne at which is said, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world" Matt 25:34. He then proceeds to relate to them all of the things that they had done that contributed to their favorable judgment. Those things outlined each involved caring for others.

Beloved, we should never think that we can earn salvation, however, Phil 2:12-13 instructs us to "work out" our salvation, stating that it is God who works in us to fulfill his purpose. In essence, we have work to do because we are saved by grace through faith rather than working to become saved. Among other things, that work involves being God's representatives on earth. When we visit the sick in the hospital, God is there with us and in us to minister to those in need. The same is true if we buy a bag of groceries for someone who is hungry or babysit for a couple who has no other support system but could use some alone time. There are countless ways to serve others. The Lord has said that when we do so for others, we are doing so for him. For this, there are rewards.

Additionally, we must understand that while today we have the power to provide God's presence to others, there may very well be a time of need when He shows up at our bedside in the presence of a brother or a sister. Let us all continually do our part to carry out His will.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, November 4, 2011

The Gain of Pain-11/4/2011

"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Matt 5:12

Too often we suffer from spiritual myopia. In our shortsightedness we are too focused on things that are right in front of us rather than the things that are yet to come. To our human side, this is understandable. How could one not be concerned with the things that are happening now? To our spiritual side, however, it should be another matter entirely.

Contextually, Jesus is preaching his famous sermon on the mount and relating how "blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." The two important things to note here are the fact of persecution and the reason for it.

If we are living our Christian lives correctly, we should expect to be persecuted. Jesus has said that the world will hate us because it first hated him. This will only happen, however, if you are actually doing the work of the Lord.

Beloved the point of all this assumes that we are leading Christ like lives. The encouragement is to not be downtrodden of heart. Many of our spiritual ancestors experienced the same and worse. The Savior is telling us that we should be glad to be counted worthy to suffer for his namesake. It is true that no one wants to suffer, but this is the kind of pain that comes with great gain.

Know that Christ suffered the ultimate for you. Any stripes you may endure have already been healed. If we would look just up the road a bit, we would see the light of our awaiting reward.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Overreaching Our Grasp-11/3/2011

"Better is a handful with quietness than two handfuls with labor and striving after wind."
Ecc 4:6

It is a beautiful thing to go about your life taking care of your responsibilities to God, family and man in peace and harmony. To do anything less is a denial of the faith and causes one to sink to the level of an infidel, 1 Tim 5:8. God designed our lives to be lived in a way that we would never know want, pain, hunger or even extremes of temperature. He intended for us to always be in close physical proximity to Him as He cared for us. As evidence of this, consider the ethereal existence in Eden. Even the word is used as a metaphor for the perfect paradise.

Tragically, we could not be satisfied with having all of our needs met. We began to experience want. When these misguided, ill advised desires (lusts) caused us to reach beyond our grasp, we violated God's law and cost ourselves perfection. For a mere bite of fruit, the consequences amounted to the worst relationship and real estate transaction in the history of time. We were shut out of paradise and forced to labor and travail for our needs.

Beloved, we can all come up with things that we want despite having our basic needs met. There is nothing wrong with wanting to provide your family or your fellow man nice things in life. When we lose sight of what is important and commanded of God, however, we make the same mistake our progenitors did. When our desires outweigh our obedience, we fall into idolatry and again cost ourselves paradise. Then as now, for all our efforts, all we will end up with is a handful of hot wind. Let us bend our backs to His righteous labor. He will supply all of our needs and many of our wants.

Loving Like Jesus,


P.S. If you have been sharing this devotional with friends and would like them to receive it automatically, have them click here or email me directly at to be added to the group.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Benefit of Being Good-11/2/2011

"For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 1 Pet 3:12

It is not a stretch to say that we are drawn to the pleasant and the positive. Given a choice, we would much rather spend time with someone who is friendly and kind than one who is mean and nasty. We delight in being in the company of someone with a sunny disposition and an encouraging word to say as opposed to those who are grouchy, always complaining and constantly negative.

It stands to reason then beloved, that our Lord enjoys those who attend to his teaching through love and obedience. We know from the Gospels that he calls those who do his friends. We are known as his followers by the love we share with one another. He has said that where we are gathered in his name, there he shall also be. And he has promised to prepare a place for his friends that where he is, we may be also. As we seek the kingdom and the righteousness of God, we can look forward to all of our needs being met.

Though his watchful eye favors the righteous, his protective face is against those who would bring us harm. As a parent is inspired to protect a child from all threats, Jesus stands at the gate to ensure that we are spiritually safe. As long as we attend to him and do not leave the gate, we can look forward to all of his benefits.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Choosing to be Godly-11/1/2011

"The Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.'" Job 1:8

Most of us are familiar with Job. His name is synonymous with patience, virtue and suffering with grace. Many of us turn to the pages on which his story is recorded for inspiration and reassurance during times of trouble.

Though the answer may seem to be obvious, have we really ever considered Job? Satan accused God of protecting him and thereby allowing him to maintain such integrity. I believe his statements were tantamount to saying that Job had been made that way by God. This is proven not to be the case. God merely identified him as a unique individual among all men. Noah was so identified in his time as well. They were both men that chose to lead godly lives and in Job's case, continued to make that choice under the most extreme conditions.

Beloved we all have trials and tribulations that we endure in this life. We suffer discomfort, want and loss at various times throughout our lives. Who among us, however, can claim to have endured what Job did? And if any among us can, who can claim to have steadfastly maintained such a beautiful perspective on his relationship with God and the realities of life? Who among us has avoided sin regardless of those trials and tribulations?

We all have the same ability to choose. We all serve that very same God. We can all look forward to the same rewards. Why do we seem to wilt under much lighter circumstances? Was Job anything special? Being just a man who made the ultimate choice to remain faithful no matter what, I would say so. But you and I have that same ability.

One last thought: It is amazing that Job lived such a life among men that it was known in heaven and offered as proof that we as His creation have the ability to truly live and serve as intended. Further, God had so much confidence in Job and his steadfastness that He allowed him to be tested severely. As much confidence as we have in God, can you imagine what it would be like for God to have that much confidence in you?

It could happen.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, October 31, 2011

The Answer-10/31/2011

"Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see:"
Matt 11:2-4

Dear John was truly in a bad way when his faith seemingly slipped. By all accounts he had lived a righteous life and now found himself in prison for doing nothing more than that which is right. As despondent as any of us might be in his situation, he sent his followers to ask a question that was critically important to him then as it is to us today.

This, however, is not about John's questions. It is about Christ's answer. Christ is not reported to have been annoyed at the question though he could easily have been. You see it was John that baptized him, witnessed the Holy Spirit landing on his head like a Dove and heard the voice of God verify that he indeed was His son. No, Christ answered with indulgence and evidence.

As much as this is about Christ's answer, it is about your answer. Most of us who have obeyed the gospel do a less than stellar job sharing that same gospel. It is like receiving a cure for a fatal disease and then refusing to share it with others who need it because we do not know how it works. Beloved, if you are fortunate enough to have someone ask about the source of your faith because of what they have observed in your walk, you do not have to be a theologian to answer the question. You only have to tell them what Christ has done and is doing in your life. Tell them about how far he has brought you from who you used to be and that even now, he is working in your life. Tell them about the different way you look at and respond to things based on what you have been taught by and about him. Tell them how you fell in love with him. Tell them what you have heard and seen.

Remarkably, this same information is not just an excellent answer, but it is also an excellent conversation starter.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, October 28, 2011

The Golden Life 10/28/2011 (rp)

"Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." Luke 6:31

Whether you ever knew that the "Golden Rule" came from scripture or not, you will recognize this most basic tenant of both Christianity and humanity. It makes so much sense that it is difficult to fathom why we do not all ascribe to it.

We spend so much time being unhappy in our relationships. Usually this is because someone has done something to us or failed to do something for us. We start out being displeased, then upset, then disagreeable and then hostile. We begin to display un-Christ-like behavior and could potentially lose our faith altogether, not because of what Christ has or has not done, but because of man. Is our faith so weak? Are we so short sighted?

The real tragedy is that we often view ourselves as passive in these situations. We take the stance that these things just happen to us through no fault of our own. What we fail to do is to examine our role in relationships that are less than optimal and less than loving. We rarely ask ourselves the tough questions, "What could I have done to prevent this?" or "What can I do to fix it?"

Beloved if we spent more time being the friend that we desire, we might find that we would have the friends we desire.
  • Do you want someone to celebrate your accomplishments with you? Celebrate with others.
  • Do you want your birthday remembered? Acknowledge others'.
  • Do you want to be forgiven when you offend? Be forgiving.
  • Do you want help when it is needed? Lend a hand to someone else.
  • Do you want visits or phone calls when you are down? Be there for your brothers and sisters.
  • Do you want understanding? Provide it.
  • Do you want to see God? Be His representative to those in your world.

It takes more effort to maintain grudges, to remember to be hard hearted and to remain angry than it does to cast those things off and decide to be happy. This is the way of God.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Best Predictor of Future Performance-10/27/2011

"Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying." Matt 28:5-6

One of the many responsibilities of human resources professionals is to evaluate candidates for potential employment. This is a critical task in every business. The HR professional must evaluate a previously unknown individual to determine whether they would be an asset or a liability to the company. One of the most important tools used to accomplish this is known as behavioral interviewing. The theory behind this practice is, "The best predictor of future performance is past performance."

Beloved, we play the role of HR professional in our lives every day. The only reason we get on planes is because we've seen them take off and more importantly, land safely. We eat at restaurants where we do not actually see our food being prepared, because of the health department rating in every window. We believe in Jesus because he did what he said he would.

Jesus frequently told his disciples that he would give up his life but that he would take it up again. Though they did not fully understand it at the time (and Thomas not believing it all until he saw the ressurected Savior), they continued to follow him. They had seen him heal the sick, feed the hungry, minister to those in need, withstand hypocritical authorities and perform miracles never before seen. His performance lead to the establishment of their faith. They believed him so much that they completely changed their lives and began to live for him.

Jesus has said, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2-3. On those rare occasions when your faith may get a little shaky, remember his past performance and look forward to his future performance. Jesus will do just what he said he would just as he always has.

Loving like Jesus,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Purpose of the Thorn-10/26/2011

"And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch." 2 Cor 12:7

Most Christians and many non-Christians are familiar with the plight of Paul's thorn in the flesh. He attributes it to having visited heaven and witnessed things too amazing to describe. He then specifically states that the discomfort he was given (not a literal thorn in literal flesh) was given, for all intents and purposes, to keep him humble.

Beloved there are at least two messages here. To the Christian, the benefits of a relationship with God should be obvious. In fact, it would exceed the available space to even try to list them all, however, this would be a great place to pause and give quiet thought to how good God has been to you throughout your lifetime. That done, none of us have to look far to see those who have been so blessed by God that they think they have accomplished and acquired everything in and of themselves and therefore do not need God. These folks have missed the point entirely. In situations like this, it would be better to have some sort of reminder of both the hierarchy associated with our very existence and the source of every blessing than to lose sight of both because of His overwhelming goodness. One might think, "Why does such a reminder necessarily involve pain?" We should not assume that Paul's malady involved pain, however we know that whatever it was not only kept him in line but served as an example to others and glorified God. Have you ever been inspired by the faith of someone less fortunate than you?

To the non-Christian considering membership in God's family, it should be known that it is not all cookies and cream. God never promised us an easy row to hoe. In fact, there is full disclosure given regarding the difficulties that can be expected from faithfully living the Christian life. Our purpose in life is to glorify Him through our praise, worship, love, obedience and sharing with others. In so doing, we may become scuffed or inconvenienced, but the benefits of being a child of God are beyond imagination and eternal. Paul experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, but learned ultimately to depend on God for everything and accept His will in all things. That is the purpose of the thorn.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It is Time to Get Up and Go to Work-10/25/2011

"And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." Rom 13:11

Every morning we are blessed to see a new day. As some of us bound out of bed toward an invigorating cup of coffee and all the exciting tasks the day brings (or as some of us hang on to our pillows and the last shreds of unconsciousness as if it were the cure to all of life's ills), let us be reminded of what it means to wake up and get up. We do so because there is a time for sleeping and a time for waking. There is a time for resting and a time for working. There is a time for being still and a time for being active. Sleep, rest and stillness merely serve to recharge us for the things that must be done.

Beloved, far too often we clutch the pillow of neglect in our spiritual lives. Times when we are called to go to the harvest, visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, work while it is day and to rejoice and be glad in that day, we instead pull the covers over our heads while slapping the alarm clock to silence. In so doing, we are clinging to the darkness in our lives and it is a darkness from which we have been saved. In so doing, we are neglecting that salvation. The Hebrew writer asked rhetorically, "How shall we escape [just punishment]if we neglect so great a salvation?" Heb 2:3.

We must wake up and, as Jesus said, "Work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes when no man can work." John 9:4. Just as in the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant, there will come a time when a season (or a lifetime) of idleness and improvidence will show up demanding payment, at which time it will be too late to attempt to get things done. Do you remember the people of Noah's time?

There are no easy chairs in the house of the Lord. Let us focus on accomplishing what we were saved to do. Let us rise with glad hearts, thankful for the blessing of waking and the ability to accomplish. And let us cheerfully seek and accomplish the work of the Lord. "For they that sleep sleep in the night: and they that are drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love' and for a helmet, the hope of salvation." 1 Thes 5:7.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, October 24, 2011


"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 2 Cor 5:1-2

It is no secret to any of us that we are but mortals. None of us in our current form will live forever. In fact, death is as much a part of life as living is. Though we experience fear, mourning, despair and sorrow at the thought of passing from this life, we also know that it is necessary in order to gain the next. The interesting thing is that as much as we may fear leaving this life, so many of us are dissatisfied with it.

Beloved, Jesus has told us that he has gone to prepare a place for us. Paul has informed us that the "perishable must put on the imperishable" in order to gain heaven. These to facts alone should fill us with confidence that where we are now is not where we will ultimately be. Though we were placed on this earth for a time and given things we must accomplish in the service of the Lord, this life is nowhere near what is meant for the Christian.

Let us remember that these fallible bodies, subject to all kinds of defects and breakdowns are temporary vessels to one day be replaced with perfect ones. The pains of this world will not last always. Let us remember that this fallible existence full of all kinds of discomforts, temptations and unwholesome desires will be replaced by the presence of the Father. Let us look forward to an upgrade that is out of this world.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, October 21, 2011

Our Protector-10/21/2011

"Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you." Deut 23:14

It is important that we know God is intimately involved in our individual and corporate lives. We are his people and He is our God. He knows all, can do everything and is everywhere at all times. Having created us, He has chosen to provide for us, forgive us, extend His grace and mercy to us and even take on flesh to live among us. He indeed is in the midst of our very lives.

In this context, His purpose is revealed in one of His many names, Jehovah-Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, our Protector, Psa 46:7. Not only is He present, but He is actively engaged in establishing a hedge of safety around us. You will recall, however, that where God is, sin cannot be. Moses was required to remove his shoes when He was on holy ground. When Jesus asked, "Why have you forsaken me?" it was because God could not be where sin was, even to comfort His own son on whose shoulders the sins of the world hung.

Beloved, we should not be under any illusion that anything has changed. God is still holy and still requires holiness of us. We must be ever diligent as it relates to our individual lives and the lives of our congregations. God will not be where sin is and where God is not actively protecting, the enemy can walk right in and destroy. Do not be caught dead without Him.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Invitation-10/20/2011 (rp)

"Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and maimed and blind and lame." Luke 14:21

This passage of scripture immediately follows an effort by a certain man to entertain guest at a fabulous feast. In this analogy of heaven, each of the invited guest had an excuse as to why they could not make it. One had just bought land he needed to survey, another bought oxen that had to be tried and still another had just married a wife.

Beloved, the cares of this world will cost many their heavenly reward. God has invited us to the biggest banquet imaginable. Can you imagine not being willing to go because of materialism? You will recall the rich young ruler that walked away from the heaven he sought because of the earthly possessions he was unwilling to leave behind.

Those who do not live a life of opulence have no such hindrances. The certain man commanded that the less fortunate be sought to attend the banquet, ensuring that it would not go to waste. I observed on a mission trip last year that it was not the well to do that were coming to the Lord, but those who have no one else on whom to depend. The maimed, halt, hungry and blind lined up for hours to get medical and dental attention. They also received the word of God. It is amazing how many of them believe.

As for those who would make excuses, "For I say unto you that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper." Luke 14:24

Loving Like Jesus


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just Believe-10/19/2011

"If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" John 3:12

God's wisdom is so amazing. Though He is a God whose ways are as higher than ours as the heaven's are above the earth, He has always chosen to communicate and relate to us in ways that we could understand. In fact, John 1:14 states that He even put on flesh and dwelt among us. He has done everything to equip us to know Him.

In His fleshly state, He often taught in parables. The commonly understood definition of a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Even a cursory examination of the parables involve things such as sheep, farming, relationships between relatives, banquets, the poor, etc. These were all things that were then and in some cases now. We all come into contact with most of them almost daily. These stories, however, were designed to relate the principles of Christianity and godliness.

There was one small problem. There were some who either could not or would not understand. When the apostles asked why he even spoke in parables, he replied, "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. " In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING,BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.' But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear." Matt 13:13-16.

Beloved, on our personal journey to both a meaningful relationship with our Savior and to heaven, the first step is believing what we have been told about him. We must believe he gospel message. We must believe that He is. We then can go on to spiritual maturity which will allow us to shed the earthly in favor of the heavenly. Let us not disdain our eternal inheritance by wrestling over that which should be obvious, Rom 1:20.

Loving Like Jesus,