Thursday, January 28, 2016

Be Strong 1/28/2016

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." Eph 6:10

It is a true statement that we humans are weak creatures. We are easily given over to the whims of that which makes us feel good in mind and body or that which eases pain. These things are readily apparent when we consider all the addictions to which we fall. Perhaps more insidious, however, are the smaller and quieter things within our own thought processes as we make choices throughout the day. This involves everything from failing to give as we have prospered when the plate passes on Sunday morning, to eating that donut we know we do not need.

We must realize that as we have the ability to choose wrong, we also have the ability to chose right. Yes we are subject to the weakness of our own flesh (minds), but we have an amazing power source to assist us when we are willing to access it.

Beloved, we need not rely on our own limited strength. We are encouraged to be strong, not through our own means, but through the might of almighty God. He has promised us access to all that we need to live successful spiritual lives. He has given us His full armor that wholly protects us from those things that are arrayed against us. We can be covered from head to toe.

It is important to know though, that neither the power nor the armor will be forced upon us. We must be willing to take it in and put it on. Only then will the power of God see its manifestation in our lives. Only then can we stand firm against those things that attack us. Only then can we fight. Be strong. Put it on.

Practically speaking,


Thursday, January 14, 2016

You Know and You Know You Know It 1/14/2016

"Why do you complain to him
    that he responds to no one’s words?
 For God does speak—now one way, now another
    though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they slumber in their beds,
 he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,
to turn them from wrongdoing
    and keep them from pride,
to preserve them from the pit,
    their lives from perishing by the sword."

Job 33:14-18 (NIV)

When Job famously experienced some of the worst tragedies known to man, he eventually began to question God.  He justified himself, wondered aloud to his friends why God was punishing him and most importantly complained about God's lack of response (Job 33:8-13).

So often we find ourselves in Job's frame of mind.  We think more of ourselves than we ought.  While in the moment we think our circumstance is worse than it really is.  And when our faith fails, we somehow think that God is not only absent but unaware.

Beloved, what we must know and believe is that God is all present, all knowing and all powerful.  There is nothing that escapes His eye (Matthew 10:29-31).  Not only does He know your situation and hear your cries, He answers!  Have you ever come to the crossroads of a decision to do right or wrong and hear that voice in your head saying, "Now you know what you should do don't you?"  Have you ever gone to bed with a dilemma and arisen the next morning with a decision about what you will do?  Have you ever gone to a friend with a problem, hoping that they would tell you what you wanted to hear only to have them tell you what you actually needed to hear?

You see, God speaks to us in many ways.  If we do not know it consciously, we most certainly know it subconsciously.  In fact many of us refer to this phenomenon as our conscience, typically depicted by an angel on our shoulder arguing against the devil on the other one.  My mom always taught me to do what I know is right.  It turns out that she received that advice from God (James 4:17).  The fact is that we know right from wrong and good from bad and we make our own choices.  The more spiritually mature among us know that God is present with us and offers us guidance every day of our lives.  Though we may fail to realize it, or worse, claim to the contrary, God knows, hears and answers.  We know it.  We know we know it.  We just need to listen attentively and stop giving ourselves excuses to do other than what we know is right as we accuse Him of not being present.  He is.

Practically speaking,


Friday, January 8, 2016

Go Fish 1/8/2016

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”  Matthew 4:18-20

Almost immediately after Jesus formally began his ministry, he called his first followers into service.  There was already an existing acquaintance between them (John 1:35-42) but at that time the work of the Lord had not yet begun in earnest.  There was a period of time when the opportunity was given to get to know him and to begin to understand who he is.  When the time came to execute on his purpose for coming to earth, a precedent worthy of note was set.

The first four of the called were employed in the fishing trade.  As Jesus would go on to do almost exclusively, he communicated a heavenly message to them in earthly terms with which they could easily identify.  The first item was an invitation to follow him.  In the rabbinical tradition, the master teacher took on students (disciples if you will) who lived with him and learned by both direct instruction and direct observation.  You will note that in the Gospels, there was rarely a time when at least some of the apostles were not with him.  Secondly, Jesus informed them that there was work for them to do and he analogized it in a way that resonated deeply with them.  The message was that as you catch fish for a living, you will now capture souls for life.

Beloved, it is both a simple and common thing to claim acquaintance with Jesus.  We all have stories of how and where we met him, who introduced us to him and what the circumstances were at the time.  Some of us may even claim to be followers in that we attend worship on Sundays, attend bible study mid-week and Sunday morning and generally try to observe his commands.  The issue most of us have is that we come just short of being actual disciples.  This is seen in that we do not do the very first thing we were called to do as his followers and follow one of the very last instructions that he gave, which he himself demonstrated throughout his ministry.  We are not actively engaged in seeking and saving the lost.

Imagine being a doctor who studied under a research physician who discovered the cure for cancer.  Imagine that research physician instructing his charge to offer it to all mankind that the disease may once and for all be eradicated.  Imagine the teacher and mentor further wisely advising his student that there would be plenty who would be skeptical and would not accept the cure, perhaps even going so far as to become antagonistic and accusatory about what they believe to be false hope.  Now imagine the student taking the cure for himself and storing the formula away in a safe where it stays.  Finally, imagine people all over the world continuing to die from cancer.

We have been given both a great gift and a great responsibility.  Jesus has saved us from the ultimate death and he has commanded us to do all we can to save others (Matthew 18:19-20).  We know something about fishing.  Let us apply that skill in a way that benefits those in critical need as it was once applied to us.

Practically speaking,