Friday, September 30, 2011

Leaving the Promised Land-9/30/2011

"Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there." Ruth 1:1-2

Times were tough during the reign of the judges in Israel's history. In fact, the last verse in the book of Judges (21:25) states, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit." An even cursory reading of the text shows that the people were their own biggest enemy. God had given specific instructions to clear the land of its inhabitants because He had given it to them. Instead, they equivocated, failed to follow God's instructions, began to worship the Gods of the land's inhabitants and began to suffer at their hands. Evident from Ruth 1:1, even nature suffered in that the "land of milk and honey" now became challenged to produce.

This is the backdrop for a man named Elimilech making the decision to move his family out of Israel. The implication of this decision is vast. Remember that the children of Israel had been given the land as a promise. It had been given to them as a gift and a legacy by the God who had taken care of all of their needs. Recall also that they had recently completed wandering landless for 40 years. For a Hebrew to leave the land and therefore provision of God was a display of no confidence in God.

Beloved, when we look at our circumstances, be they the congregation we attend, the Christian friends we have or the righteous lives we strive to lead, and find them perhaps wanting, we must truly evaluate our position. Many will depart based on what they perceive to be famine conditions. We must all ask ourselves honestly what our contribution to the famine has been. We must remember how we got to where we are. Did God guide and direct us there? Did we think so when we arrived? Is there a way to be part of the solution for self and others by staying and working? Would God be pleased if you departed?

The reality of the situation regarding Elimelech's decision is that in a relatively short amount of time, both he and his sons died, leaving three widows to fend for themselves. Further, one of the daughters-in-law, a local, also departed. This left wife Naomi and daughter-in-law Ruth (who steadfastly refused to leave her side) to fend for themselves. Naomi decided to return home (to the promised land) and was ultimately fed, redeemed, fulfilled and saved by God through His people in the land.

Let us think long and hard before leaving the place where the Lord has brought us. As the saying goes, the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Free Indeed-9/29/2011 (rp)

"Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses." Exodus 14:30-31

This passage is easily recognized as the epilogue of the Red Sea experience. After 430 years of slavery to the Egyptians and an even longer time of residence in a foreign land, the people of God had been delivered in the most miraculous of ways. It is scarecely imaginable what it must have been like to move through a canyon of water while the ground underneath was dry. When the Hebrews came up out of the sea, they were free from that which held them captive for so long.

God has likewise delivered us from slavery, darkness, hopelessness and death. He did it by exercising His great love and power by sending His Son as a necessary and atoning sacrifice. He did it by sending us through the Red Sea of baptism, 1 Cor 10:1-2. He did it by causing us to come up out of that baptism free from the old man of sin, Rom 6:6-7. He did it that we might ever live with Him, clothed in His glory, mercy, grace and love.

We must therefore saints, live as a free people. We should not imitate our ancestors in the faith and dig up the old man desiring to live again in slavery. We must live in a manner befitting our new found blood bought status. We are free to worship. We are free to lead righteous lives. We are free to have hope. We are free from that which can cause the destruction of our souls.

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Luck?-9/28/2011

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" Eph 1:3

Have you ever uttered the words, "Good Luck?" Of course you have. We all have. We tend to think of luck as some sort of positive happenstance that will bring fortune our way. We've written books about it, written songs about it, made movies about it and developed all sort of symbols of it. One of example of a good luck symbol is the rabbit's foot; apparently not too lucky for the rabbit.

I submit to you that for the Christian, there is no such thing as luck. In fact, luck is a pagan and idolatrous concept. The Roman goddess Fortuna, also known as Tyche to the Greeks, was the personification of luck in the religion of Rome. It was said that she could bring fortune or misfortune; good luck or bad luck. In fact, she was at times depicted blindfolded much as our image of Justice is represented in drawings and statues. She came to represent the variability of life, chance and fate.

Beloved we do not serve a God who is in any way capricious in nature. He is a God of certainty and one whose are eyes are never shut. Our great blessing is to be able to go to Him in the name of Jesus and ask for that which we desire. Whether the answer be yes, no or not yet, there is no luck, chance or fate involved. There is the very certain and deliberate nature of the Father's actions as it relates to how He interacts with us.

There is no such thing as luck. There is, however, one God and Father who is above all, through all and in all. So the next time you consider wishing someone the best of luck, pray that it will be in God's will to grant them specific blessings.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, September 26, 2011

Stone Praise-9/26/2011 (rp)

"I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
Luke 19:38

When Jesus made his triumphant yet ill fated entrance into Jerusalem, the bible records that the people spread their clothes on the ground for his mount to walk upon and that "they began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen." Naturally, not everyone felt that same jubilation. In fact there were those who did not understand what all the fuss was about and were clearly irritated. They asked Jesus to shut them up.

Beloved it is right for the people of God to praise Him. The scriptures are replete with encouragements to "praise ye the Lord!" There are also many scriptural examples of people who stood against the Lord and those that praise Him. Now as then, the sons and daughters of the Almighty should never allow anyone to legislate nor dictate our adoration for the Lord. He is indeed worthy of any and all glory and honor we can muster, for He is the great I AM! The redeemed of the Lord who have seen His mighty hand ought to say so!

If we do not praise our Father for all He has done, is doing and is about to do, the very stones of the earth will cry out. I don't know about you, but I'm not about to let a rock out praise me!


Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, September 23, 2011

The Slippery Slope of Sin-9/23/2011

"To him therefore that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin." James 4:17

A popular anecdote relates the following:

If you were to toss a frog into boiling water, it would hop out immediately.
If you were to place a frog in temperate water and slowly increase the heat, it would stay there and boil to death.

Sin can be a lot like that.

Faced with things that offend our Christian sensibilities and that we might find egregious in nature, we typically avoid quite easily. We know the difference between right and wrong and for the most part avoid the wrong, particularly if it is blatantly and obviously so. We will give that type of sin a wide berth and go a long way to avoid it. In fact, we may even speak out against it warning others of its harmful nature, just like we would boiling water.

The challenge comes when we allow the "little things" to creep in. You know those things by some of the following names:
  • little white lies
  • minor indiscretions
  • no big deal
  • just a little
  • slight exaggeration
  • everyone else does it
  • at least it's not _______
  • it was just once

It is these things that begin to drive up the temperature of the waters of our Christian lives. When you participate in whatever your particular variety of sin might be, you may find that you experience all types of remorse, anguish and depression over your transgression. But when the opportunity comes around again, you find that it's just a little bit easier the next time and the pain of godly sorrow is a little less. It is in fact, a slippery slope that will speed your descent into a pattern of regular and premeditated sin.

Brothers and sisters, this will ultimately introduce you to temperatures I am confident you will not find comfortable.

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren." James 1:14-16

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sin is Sin-9/22/2011

"Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." 1 Cor 6:11

This scripture is found right in the middle of a passage in which Paul is both encouraging Christians to behave righteously and admonishing them for failing to do so. An area of specific focus is a representative list of "wrongdoings" (NIV)that will prevent the inheritance of the kingdom. It so happens that found within this list is homosexuality.

Over the past decade or so, homosexuality has come into greater and greater prominence in our society. Whereas public opinion for most of our country's history was decidedly against, the pendulum has swung to a point where legislatures are legalizing same sex marriage and those who are critical of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) lifestyle are themselves criticized and at times, publicly castigated.

Beloved, the point of all of this is not a campaign against homosexuality. It is a campaign against sin. Homosexuality is highlighted because it is so polarizing and affects people at a core level. It is, in fact, the issue of the moment. Older Christians will remember Rock and Roll and the fornication it lead to as the scourge of society. What we need to realize is that in Paul's list of wrongdoings, homosexuality comes after sexual immorality, idolatry and adultery. Also included on the list is theft, greed, slander and swindling. This in no way is meant to be a ranking of sin. The purpose here is to say that we should not be unduly focused on homosexuality, but sin itself. James 2:11 says that if a person is guilty of one aspect of the law, they are guilty of the whole. He provides the example, "If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker."

As Christians, we need to guard ourselves because as Paul states, it is we who were formerly guilty of the things he lists. We also need to view those who are still struggling in these areas as the mission field. If we spend all of our time judging and distancing ourselves from wrongdoers, what hope is there that they can ever be saved? Let us pursue righteousness, avoid wrongdoing and help those who are struggling.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Appreciating the Gift-9/21/2011

"But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another." 1 Thess 5:12-13

God has given us great earthly gifts to help us and guide us on our journey toward heaven. "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints..." Eph 4:11-12. He has placed these men among us and before us to lead us in our spiritual walk. They are worthy of our respect and appreciation, if not for their own sake then for the fact that they are chosen of the Lord.

Beloved, in every aspect of our lives, there are authority figures. We have them on our jobs, in our schools, in our government, in our neighborhood associations and even in our families. In every case, we respond to leadership through abiding by laws, statues, ordinances or directions for the greater good of society and ourselves. Much more should we then respond to those whom God has sent to guide us in areas that supercede the temporal. Whether you refer to them as elders, bishops, presbyters, shepherds, overseers or pastors, their responsibility is to first be men of God. In so doing, they are to be examples of Christian virtues. They are to teach us in order that we may better know God and His will for our lives. They are to minister to those who are in need through whatever means God has gifted them individually. They are to protect the flock from all threats, particularly those that are spiritual. They are to serve God through serving the church.

It is a tragedy that some find it as easy to disrespect and disregard these men as they do the far more distant and much less personally impactful President of the United States(whoever that may be at any given point in our lives). Because it is perceived by some that our elders are not tied directly to our ability to sustain ourselves and our families, some find it easy to discount and, by extension, disrespect them.

Consider these two situations. In Numbers 12:1-16, we are shown the consequences of Aaron and Miriam in particular, speaking against God's annointed, Moses. It did not go well for Miriam, but it was Moses who prayed for her restoration. Secondly, it is well known that Saul constantly sought the life of innocent David. In 1 Sam 24:1-10, David has the opportunity to take Saul's life but said, "I will not put forth my hand against my lord for he is the Lord's anoninted."

Let us be sure to thank God for his amazing gift of earthly leadership. Let us thank Him for equipping us through those whom He has placed among us. Let us honor God by honoring our elders. They are indeed worthy.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preparation and Provision-9/20/2011

"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

God has always set us up for success. He has done so through preparation and provision. Think about it. He prepared the earth as a dwelling place full of all we need to live. In the midst of our disobedience, He prepared a way for us to multiply and to be fruitful. When we went our own way and did our own thing, He set aside a people through whom salvation for all mankind would come. He provided them with love, laws and land to preserve them. Through them He prepared a savior who would provide the opportunity for both restoration to the originally intended relationship with Himself and deliverance from that which would keep us in spiritual darkness and cause our ultimate destruction.

Even now, beloved, that preparation continues. As a bird builds a nest, as a parent prepares the nursery, Jesus is preparing a place for those who desire to be with him. Note that we are to be housed together as a family. Note also that we are not simply left to find our way but that he is coming to retrieve us.

As we go through the ups and downs of our daily lives and the worries and cares of this world, let our spirits be lifted by the fact that preparations are being made for us. Let us be encouraged that our separation from He who made us will come to a permanent end. Let us experience joy that just as with the return of the prodigal son, a great banquet, robe of righteousness and a signet ring of identification awaits us.

One day, we will all go home.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Denying Jesus-9/19/2011

"'You will all fall away,' Jesus told them, 'for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'" Mk 14:27

Most will recognize this passage of scripture as Jesus' prediction of Peter's denial. You may recall that Peter was the zealot (both in attitude and in political affiliation) among the apostles. Always seeming to be on the cutting edge of things, he was the one who got out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus. He was the one who withstood Jesus about washing his feet. He was the one that, under the evident influence of Satan, told Jesus he would not suffer and die. He was the one that offered to build three shelters on the mountain of transfiguration. And of course, he was the one that, as predicted, denied Christ three times at a most critical moment.

Beloved we must answer within ourselves whether we are capable of such a thing. In fact, we must determine if we are doing such even now through the things we think, say or do. Like Peter, we may be zealous for the Lord, be willing to step out on faith, display humility, sometimes wrestle with the Devil and make decisions out of a lack of understanding. At a critical juncture, however, will we deny him? It could happen subtly in a conversation with a friend or better yet, a boss. It could happen at the ballot box. It could even happen by our mere presence at the wrong place doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

These are tough things to consider, but we must be on our guard at all times. Like Peter, any of us could be put into a highly tense and emotional situation at which our reputation, safety and even our very lives might be at stake. Let us always keep top of mind and deep in our hearts that Christ never denied us, but in fact suffered a loss of reputation among men, endured physical punishment and ultimately gave his life for us. Deny self before denying him.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, September 16, 2011

A Little Help From Our Friends-9/16/2011

"My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." James 5:19-20

The Beatles are famous for penning a lyric that states, "I get by with a little help from my friends." This points to the fact that none of us exists on an island or in a bubble. By necessity, we interact with and depend on one another. This is true of people that we know as well as those with whom we may not be acquainted. In Christian relationships, the importance of this increases exponentially. Why? Because we are talking about nothing less than our relationship with God and our eternal souls.

Beloved, God placed us in each other's lives for a reason. As siblings, we are to be a family. As His family, we are to care for one another in as near an approximation as we can to how He cares for us. We need to both celebrate and sorrow with one another. We need to fellowship in the glow of having Jesus in common. We need encourage one another. And sometimes we need to save each other.

Like the lost sheep that has wondered away from the flock, Christian family members sometimes go astray. It is at times like these when a little help is needed. Gal 6:1 famously says that "If a man be overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." In so doing, we prevent one who has been won from being lost again. Not only is it important that we provide this loving and compassionate service to our brothers and sisters but we truly need to count on the same from them if and when we find ourselves going a bit astray.

When we realize that any of us at any time is subject to losing our grip on constantly living a godly life, a little help from our friends is more valuable than gold and is as critical as breathing. Once restored to the fold, we can pick up the Beatles' next bit of wisdom, "I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends."

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's What You Do-9/15/2011 (rp)

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." James 1:22

If there is anything in the world that is easy to claim, it is certainly belief in God. In fact, a recent poll revealed that fully 92% of Americans believe in God or some higher power. Further, 83% of Americans claim to be Christians.

The question must be asked, however, that if that is so, why is this country in the shape that it is in? Violent crime is rampant, sin and debauchery are present at every echelon of society, same sex marriage is being legalized and God is being legislated out of our lives. More to the point, consider our own individual lives. What is it that we Christians see in the mirror every time we remove our public masks and gaze upon it?

Make no mistake, Jesus has already spoken about this: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Matt 7:21 My beloved, it is not about what we claim, it is all about what we do.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Giving Your Best-9/14/2011 (rp)

"But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts." Mal 1:8

Consider our behavior when we are trying to impress or to please. We will marshal the very best that we have in order to give it to another. I am reminded of preteens as they discover members of the opposite sex. The same gifts for which they used to sacrifice in order to show their adoration for a parent are now replaced with afterthoughts or nothing at all, while a new girlfriend or boyfriend receives the fruit of long labor. I am reminded of adults who give the best of themselves at their jobs, applying every skill and cheerfully working overtime in order to gain favor that will lead to a promotion. They will even give to the local charity or political action fund, not because of a deep seated belief, but because it is the "company" thing to do.

A person's priorities can always be seen in how and where they spend their time and resources. It becomes very clear what is most important in their lives. Abel famously gave the very best that he had to God while his brother evidently did not hold the Lord in as high esteem. Let us always remember that God has given us His very best.

Why then beloved, do we cheat God in the giving of our best? Be it prayers, resources, works, representation or obedience, we consistently treat Him as an afterthought. This would be unacceptable to our bosses, spouses and the IRS and in most cases, we would not think of giving less than our best. Why do we not reserve our very best, our first fruits for Him who gives us His? Surely we must re-prioritize our lives.

As the saying goes, "give God what's right, not what's left."

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Follow His Lead-9/13/2011

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psa 23:1

So begins one of the most beautiful and well known passages of scripture to be found within the pages of inspiration. Though we may know the words by heart, do we understand their meaning? Written by one who himself was once responsible for tending sheep, the correlation is more powerful than the words themselves.

We, analogized as sheep throughout scripture, have a need to be led. Even with leadership we tend to wander off and must be retrieved for our own good, lest we fall into peril, even death. We depend on the Shepherd to show us the safe and right way to go. This is in opposition to being driven like cattle. We do not respond well to being pushed from behind, but led from the front.

Our Shepherd likewise provides for all of our needs. This is accomplished because He knows what we need and knows how and where to lead us to obtain what is necessary for the extension of our lives. He provides things that we, in and of ourselves, would not be able to acquire.

What a wonderful Shepherd we have. He has said, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." John 10:14. If we would but follow where He leads, we will find ourselves in the ultimate eternal pasture.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Not About You-9/12/2011

"And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.' "But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.
"But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;"
Luke 15:27-29

You may recognize this interchange as what happens at the end of the story about the prodigal son. The larger context here is that Jesus' adversaries, the scribes and Pharisees, were grumbling against him for receiving and interacting with sinners. Jesus relates three stories featuring different views on recovering that which was lost. In this last rendering, he is specifically referring to the scribes and Pharisees in the person of the son who stayed.

Beloved so often we think of ourselves in situations that involve others. When we are learning lessons that will keep us on the path of righteousness, that is a good thing. When we are providing the lessons through our own failures, well, you get the point. The son in this story was focused on the wrong thing. Though his younger brother displayed incredibly bad judgment, he was returned to the family. His return should have elicited joy. Not only was his flesh and blood sibling with whom he had grown up safe, sound and home, the "loyal" son's standing was not in any way affected. He was more concerned about a party than the weightier matter of a family reunion.

This story was a message to Jesus' adversaries. By entertaining sinners, Jesus was doing what he came to do. He was seeking and saving the lost. In this case, the sinners in question were not Gentiles, but members of the house of Israel. Whereas the scribes and Pharisees should have been rejoicing at the possibility of their brethren being saved (something they should have been pursuing themselves), they were focused on maintaining their own standing and being critical of Jesus, the one whose sacrifice would make salvation possible for even them. Let us learn from their mistakes. Sometimes, it's just not about us.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, September 9, 2011

Proximity Warning-9/9/2011

"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,


Thursday, September 8, 2011

One With Another-9/8/2011

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Rom 12:15

As a Christian body, we are part of one another. We are affected and afflicted by those things which affect and afflict others in the body. As a Christian family, we are to sympathize with our brothers and sisters in the Lord, sharing in their emotions under the best and worst circumstances. After all of the calamities that Job endured, his close friends sat with him and wept with him. Likewise, at the return of the prodigal son, his friends and family celebrated,

Beloved, sharing a common eternity begins with sharing a common Father and a common Savior, then a common life. The New Testament is replete with advisements of how we are to encourage, support, edify and bear each other's burdens. We are to be kind, to be at peace and to love one another fervently. It is only through developing strong spiritual and familial bonds that these things are possible. The fact is, we need each other to gain heaven. How can we love the Father whom we have not seen and not love His other children, our brothers and sisters whom we have?

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If the Lord Wills-9/7/2011

"Come now, you who say, " Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, " If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." James 4:13-15

In this day and age, we busy ourselves with all kinds of pursuits. They are many and varied in their content and scope. These activities often involve setting goals, creating action steps and measuring impact or results. This is what every job teaches us to do. That training filters into our family life and becomes who we are.

I submit to you that there is a missing component in all of our grand planning. Too often, we fail to consult God. Surely he has equipped us with ability, however, the greater gift is His ability. The scriptures are replete with examples of times and events where God's direction was sought in prayer and times when it was not.

To be clear, prayer does not guarantee the success of our plans. The point is that He may have other plans for us or the situation. We are but a small component of the His grand plan and we do not often see or understand our place in it. This is where faith comes in. We must rely upon our Father to know what is best and to do what is best.

When you plan pray. When you pray always pray that your righteous desires will fit within the will of the Almighty.

[Memory verse of the week: Revelation 3:20-21]

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trust Him-9/6/11

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Rom 8:28

There are times when we all look to the heavens and cry "Why me Lord?" Whether medical malady, financial challenges, matters of the heart or just some perceived unfortunate happenstance, we wonder why bad things happen to good us.

The reality is that both good and bad happen to both "good" and "bad". For some reason, we as Christians feel as though bad should not happen to us, particularly if we are doing the best we can to lead upright lives. Christ clearly told us to expect adversity, if nothing else, because of our Christianity. As long as we live on this earth, we will be subject to what we consider happenstance and perhaps more importantly, consequences for our actions (a topic for another devotional).

While we are thinking, have we ever take time to look back over our lives, particularly the difficult times and seen the good that has come of it? Did losing one job pave the way for a better one? Did being sick in the hospital allow you to share the gospel with someone that needed it? Did experiencing the lowest of lows teach you that God is all you need?

There is ample scriptural evidence to support that God is in control and that he knows what He is doing. Do we ever stop to think about why Jesus had to endure what he did even though he lived a perfect life? More importantly, when we look at our own lives, we can see that we should trust Him.

[Memory verse of the week: Prov 3:5-6]

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, September 2, 2011

Faith Works-9/2/2011

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it," when you have it with you." Prov 3:27-28

So often we tell our brothers and sisters in need that we will pray for them. We, in all of our faithful piety trust that God will work a miracle in their lives. We'll start prayer chains, mention them to the church secretary to put in the bulletin and share the request with all the faithful people that we know.

While prayer is a wonderful and necessary thing, there is nothing like action. We are called upon to put our faith to work. James captures this thought beautifully in 2:14-15 of his eponymous epistle: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

Further, we may be completely magnanimous toward people we know or those who are members of our congregation, but what about he beggar on the street? What about the enclave of the homeless? What about those who are not friendly or loving toward us? What about our enemies? Matt 5:44-45 contains the very instructions of Jesus in these matters and reveals that God blesses all, regardless of station or status.

Beloved, when someone prays to God, it should be we, His earthen vessels, that show up, and that quickly.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Are You Ready-9/1/2011

"And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut." Matt 27:10

Foundational to our Christian belief is that we serve a risen Lord who has promised to come back for us one day, John 14:2-3. What has not been promised is that we would know when. According to Mark 13:32, this information is given neither to man, angels or even the Son, but remains with the Father.

There are numerous scriptures that discuss the return of Christ. Many of them feature phrases like, "in the twinkling of an eye," "as a thief in the night," and "suddenly." Since no one knows neither the date nor the time, the very best thing we can do is to be ready for his return at all times. As outlined in the parable of the 10 virgins, 5 were properly prepared and 5 were not. They who find themselves scrambling to get ready and get right when the Lord arrives will find that it will be too late. Those who are leading faithful lives, Rev 2:10, will find themselves recipients of the promises of the Lord.

We all understand the challenges to leading righteous lives in these perilous times however; we must cast our eyes back to all that has been suffered on our behalf and forward to all that has been prepared. Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us.

Jesus said, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Matt 24:44. Are you ready?

Loving Like Jesus,