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,