Monthly Archives: October 2013

October 31

Mark 13:24-37; Matthew 24:29-51, 25:1-20; Luke 21:25-38, 19:11-27

I was ready to buy a new car. I had driven mine for about five years and was shopping for another when my brother-in-law, Ron, said he’d like to buy my old one. We agreed on a price and I turned over the keys. He got into the car and immediately adjusted the steering wheel. I said, “I didn’t know that did that.” Five years I drove my car with the steering wheel on my lap and never pressed the button that would raise it. Needless to say, my brother-in-law loved teasing me about that.

About five years later I was ready for a new car and once again Ron wanted to buy my old one. And once again, after agreeing on a price I gave him the keys. He got in and sat in the driver’s seat and started playing with the buttons. He asked, “Do you use the fog lights much?” I looked at him and sheepishly said, “I didn’t know I had fog lights.” Let’s just say he will never let me forget that one.

How foolish am I?

Our Creator God has give us so much. Are we using his gifts to the fullest? As Christians. he has given us life and love, grace, forgiveness, hope. What are we doing with those precious things? Do we use what we have for the purpose they were given – to lead lost souls to Jesus?

All that we have materially and spiritually we have for one reason only. To. Use. Them.

Jesus tells us in the parable of the talents that we who have been given much will be given even more if we are faithful with what we have. And what we have will be taken away if we refuse to use it for God’s glory. How foolish would that be?

Father, I pray that you will find us faithful. May we be grateful for the many blessings you shower upon us. And may we use each one to reach out to lost souls and draw them to you. May we use what you have given us and produce a crop that is pleasing to you.

October 30

Matthew 23:37-39, 24:1-28; Mark 12:41-44, 13:1-23; Luke 21:1-24

When people talk like the “last days” are something in the future I wonder. As I read what Jesus said about the end of the age I recognize things that happened in the first century and in every day since then. Ask the Christians in Egypt today what they think about a Great Tribulation.

There have always been wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, and liars claiming to be God. The first century Christians were tortured for their faith. They fled for their lives. Christians founded the Untied States of America because of persecution.

Are things going to get worse than they’e been? It undoubtedly will for us who live in the US. But there are brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who fear for their lives today because they love the Lord.

Here’s what I get out of the passages we read here. Matthew 24:27 promises us Jesus is coming again! He didn’t abandon us when he went to the Father.  “As lightening that comes for the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

He tells us life as a Christian on the earth won’t be easy. Bad things happen. But God wants to use even the bad to enable us to be witnesses of his great love and grace. He is all about winning the last willing soul.

But take heart. Jesus is going to come out of the heavens on that glorious day. We who know him will forever be with him. The cares and trials of this world will be behind us and we will experience God in his fullness for the very first time. Face to face. 

Now that’s a future to get excited about!

October 29

Mark 12:18-40; Matthew 22:23-46, 23:1-36; Luke 20:27-47, 10:25-37

What word would your family and friends say describes you best? Would it be ‘religious’ or ‘giving’, ‘athletic’ or ‘musical’, ‘parent’ or ‘grandparent’? Would they name your occupation? ‘Teacher’, ‘accountant’, ‘preacher’, ‘mechanic’? I hope it wouldn’t be things like ‘mean’ or ‘selfish’ or ‘gossip’. But I wonder what they would say.

After reading this Scripture today I realize I want the word ‘love’ to describe me. First of all, love for God. I want the people closest to me to know without a doubt that I am totally, passionately in love with my Lord. I want that love to be evident in my face, in the words I speak, and the things I do. I want to talk about him, share him, and please him so that everyone knows I love God with my heart, my soul, and my mind.

Then I want my family and friends to know I love them unconditionally. That doesn’t mean I’ll always agree with them or even approve of some of their choices. But I want them to know I love them no matter what so that they will understand God loves them, too.

And I want people I meet in all walks of life, in all skin colors, in all beliefs to feel God’s love through me. I want to see them through Jesus’ eyes.

Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your minds and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

May it be true in me.

Father, I love you. But I want to love you more. I love my family and friends. I want to love them better. I see people for whom you died. May I love them because you do. I pray that your love will flow in and through me today. And may I love you with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. You are worthy of all my love.

October 28

Mark 11:27-33, 12:1-17; Matthew 21:23-46, 22:1-22; Luke 20:1-26

The Parable of the Tenants is here in what we read today. The landowner entrusted his vineyard to some farmers, then went away. But when it was time to collect the harvest, the tenants mistreated the landowner’s servants and sent them away empty handed. They beat some of the servants and killed others. Finally, the landowners sent his only son and the tenants killed him, too. Listen to what Jesus says about this.

Luke 20:16, Mark 12:9, and Matthew 21:41 say the landowner will come and eliminate the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

This truth is re-emphasized in the parable of the wedding banquet when the invited guests didn’t bother coming. So the King sent his servants out into the streets and brought in anyone they could find.

Jesus is making it clearer and clearer that the Jewish people are on the brink of losing something. He is telling them… and us… that “whosoever” includes all people, not just Jews. 

I am a citizen of God’s kingdom. As a Christian I am a joint-heir with Jesus. Not a second class citizen, but a woman invited to the banquet, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. 

I am chosen. And so are you.

Father God, I thank you that you have chosen us to come into your kingdom. Thank you that Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible. And I praise you for the day I knelt before you and confessed my sins, accepted Jesus as my Savior, and became your child, loved and forgiven. I pray for those reading this today who still have not accepted your invitation. May they accept it today.

October 27

Luke 19:1-10, 28-48; Mark 11:1-25; Matthew 21:1-22; John 12:12-19

Can you feel the excitement? Jesus is entering Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey. People are running to meet him, waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna”. They had heard Jesus just raised Lazarus from the dead, they knew about the many miracles he had performed, and they knew they were on the threshold of something wonderful. The excitement was contagious.

In the next few days we will read how quickly the excitement died and how these same people wanted Jesus dead. But let’s consider this moment, the Triumphal Entry.

Just why were these people so excited to see Jesus? They made a “red carpet” out of their coats and waved palm branches like pompons at a football game. Their adoration was sincere. But they were adoring Jesus for the wrong reasons. We know they believed Jesus was there to conquer Rome, to recapture Jerusalem from their enemies. They believed Jesus was there to become their flesh and blood king. The might have been sincere, but they were wrong and their belief could not stand up to the realities of life. The emotion they felt at seeing Jesus didn’t reach deep into their souls.

My prayer is that each of us will take inventory. Why are we – why am I – following Jesus? Do we see him as someone who can get us ahead in our careers or guarantee a loving relationship with that perfect spouse? Do we follow him so that we don’t get cancer? Or so we can avoid hell? Do we go to church each Sunday to get our spiritual high for the week? Do we sing the praise songs in order to feel something? 

Here’s just what I think. Jesus deserves to be followed because he is God, his word is true, and he went to the cross so we could follow him. He doesn’t promise an easy life on this earth. In fact, he’s honest to say life on this earth can get pretty ugly. But he does promise to go with us, strengthen us, and to bless us along the way. He offers a clean slate to anyone who will accept it. Jesus wants us to know him, to know the Father, to be led by the Holy Spirit. And he wants to spend eternity with us. We just need to understand that that can only happen on his terms.

If you are following Jesus for what he can do for you, you are following him for the wrong reasons. Let’s follow Jesus because of WHO he is. Because he deserves it.

Dearest Jesus, it would have been pretty awesome to be a part of that parade the day you rode into Jerusalem. Thank you for inspiring the writers of the gospels to include this account in Scripture. God, I pray that you would speak to each of us. May we determine to follow you for the right reasons. May our faith be firmly established in you. And may we continue to follow you no matter what our circumstance of life.

October 26

John 11:17-57; Mark 10:32-52; Matthew 20:17-34; Luke 18:31-43

Jesus wept. Our God shed tears over the death of his friend. He cried for Mary and Martha at the loss of their brother. 

As someone who still feels the pain of losing my dad and nephew last year there is a measure of comfort knowing my Savior knows how I feel. When he was sad he cried. And that makes me know my tears are ok.

I’m glad the Bible doesn’t tell us not to mourn. In fact Jesus told us that Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Scripture assures us that as Christians we don’t mourn like those who have no hope. Oh, we mourn. But within that mourning is the blessed hope, the assurance that one day we will be with Jesus and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

I want to share a verse that has become very precious to my sister since her son’s death. It’s found in Psalm 143:8.

Let the mourning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for unto you I lift my soul.

Jesus wept. And if you are mourning the loss of a loved one, the loss of your health, a job, or a relationship I pray that you will lift your soul, that you would put your trust in God and allow him to be your Comforter. He knows how you feel.

Dear Jesus, thank you for walking this earth, for experiencing life first hand, and knowing how we feel. I know you didn’t really do that for your benefit, but for ours. It is comforting to know that we can come to you with confidence, knowing you know first hand what we are experiencing. Thank you that we can trust you in our mourning. I pray for those reading this blog today who are sad. May they shed the tears that need to be shed and rest in your comfort. Give strength to meet the challenges of the day and may you be glorified even in our mourning.

October 25

Mark 10:23-31; Luke 18:24-30; Matthew 20:1-16; John 10:22-11:16

“With God all things are possible.” Have you ever heard that before? It’s been used as a mantra for some health and wealth theologies and the power of positive thinking. Do these words suggest that God can give us what we want if we believe as some have claimed? Do these words pertain to winning football games, defeating cancer, getting a promotion at work, or getting that special person to fall in love with you?

In the context of Scripture, Jesus is talking about the salvation of souls. He just got done telling his disciples that it is really hard for rich people to go to heaven. Remember, the rich young ruler just walked away from him when Jesus told him he needed to give away his wealth. The disciples asked him, “Who then can be saved?” to which Jesus replied: “…all things are possible with God.”

What God wants us to know is that no one is too lost to find forgiveness. God is able to save the vilest offender who truly believes.

Maybe you are reading this today and you have not accepted God’s grace for yourself. Maybe you think you’ve gone too far, done too many bad things, hurt too many people to have God love you. Maybe you think you don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and, in that you are exactly right. But Jesus is saying to you today that he is able to save even you.

Has God laid on your heart the name of someone who seems so far from him it’s unlikely he or she will ever believe? Don’t give up. God hasn’t. Pray. Reach out to that person. WIth God, it is possible that that soul will come to him.

Dear God, I thank you that Jesus died for all of mankind. I thank you that there is no one living who can’t come to you in Jesus’ name and receive forgiveness for a multitude of sin. I pray that your children will be faithful to pray, that we will allow you to use us to draw all people to you. I pray that we won’t give up praying for that loved one who so openly is rejecting you right now. Thank you for reminding us that even that dear one isn’t too tough for you. With you it is possible that he or she will accept you as their Savior.

October 24

John 9:35-10:21; Mark 10:2-22; Matthew 19:3-15; Luke 16:18, 18:15-23

Jesus made it pretty clear that he wanted to go to the cross. Very plainly he said no one can take his life from him, but he is going to lay it down of his own accord. He has the authority to die and live again.

He was talking about the sheep and painted a picture of the New Testament church. As the Good Shepherd he loves the sheep. He brings in sheep from other pens and makes them one flock. (As a non-Jew that thrills me!). The Good Shepherd protects his sheep with his life.

Jesus calls himself the gate and reminds us that he is the only way into the pen. There just is no other way. Salvation is inside the pen where Jesus promises to give abundant life to the sheep.

As Christians we realize that we are the sheep, that salvation comes only through Jesus and his work on the cross, and that he gives us more than we could ask or think in this life and in eternity.

When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he could do to earn eternal life Jesus, knowing that eternal life cannot be earned, listed the criteria. Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, etc. The young man said something like, ‘Got that covered, Jesus. I’m golden’.

It touches me that Jesus looked at the young man and loved him (Mark 10:21). Then he said, ‘go sell everything, give it to the poor, and follow me’. In other words, ‘Ok, so you’ve succeeded in playing the I’m a Good Person game. Let’s check your heart’s condition.’

We read the man left disappointed. Maybe he thought Jesus was asking too much. I’m not sure. But the young man left knowing that earning eternal life was more than just loving his neighbor and being a good guy.

I do know that our Good Shepherd loves us, that he willingly laid down his life for us, and that he is alive today. I know that he is the only way to the Father, that he cares for us and blesses us when we give our lives to him. And I know that eternal life is his gift to us, paid for by his blood and nothing I do can earn it on my own.

Good Shepherd, thank you for your provision of abundant life on this earth and eternal life with the Father. Thank you for showing us again and again that you are the only way, that your work on the cross is available to all people, and that the ticket to eternal life comes with accepting it on your terms. Thank you for willingly going to the cross so that we can walk through the gate and experience the sweet fellowship we have with you. I like being a sheep in your flock, Lord.

OCtober 23

John 7:53-9:34

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Think for a minute about the enormity of that statement. Later he said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM,” which every good Jew at the time knew was the name God gave himself. I AM.

Now he’s really making the Jewish leaders mad. This Jesus is nothing like they expected. He was not the Messiah they  had pictured. He didn’t fit into their religion.

As I wrote that this morning it occurred to me Jesus still doesn’t fit into religion, does he? In fact, Jesus had little use for religion. How many times did he call the synagog leaders out for their hypocrisy? How often did he say their prayers and sacrifices were worthless, their faith misdirected? 

Jesus did not come to make us feel good about ourselves or so we could feel powerful and worthy. He came to break us down, to force us to our knees, to recognize our helpless condition and our total need of him. Although he is the cornerstone of the church and blesses the corporate worship of his people, church attendance is not a ticket into heaven. Being a good person with good intentions is not good enough. And that doesn’t fit into some of today’s religions or beliefs.

The Light of the World, the great I AM, is not a religion. When you give your heart to him you realize the relationship you gain with Creator God is more than any list of rules or regulations. I am not advocating we stop going to church. In fact, I believe it is an important part of our walk with the Lord. But I am saying that our focus, our reason for living and serving, is not on church doctrine but on the One who is the Light of the World.

When the blind man was grilled about his healing he said something that is so simple, yet so profound. He said, I don’t know the details about my healing but this I know for sure. Once I was blind. Now I see.

If you are a Christian, you understand that. We might not be able to explain the details of our salvation or expound on the incarnation. We might not have the ability to recite church doctrine or list all of the Ten Commandments in order. But if you have asked Jesus into your heart, to forgive your sins and become Lord of your life, you can say with confidence: Once I was blind. But now I see. Once I was lost. But now I am found. I walked in darkness but now the Light of the World directs me.

Holy God, the Light of the World, the Great I AM, I thank you that you offer a relationship with you to any of us who call on the name of your precious Son, Jesus. May we not get so caught up in religious activity that we neglect that beautifully intimate, personal relationship with you. Thank you opening our blind eyes and lighting our way when we give ourselves to you. You are everything we need and more.

October 22

Luke 17:20-18:14; John 7:1-52

Jesus is becoming more and more clear about his purpose on earth. In Luke 17:21 he spells out the following:

…the kingdom of God is within you.

He goes on to tell them the Son of Man will suffer and be rejected by “this generation”. Yet the people still expected that material kingdom.

For centuries, tradition looked forward to the Messiah who would sit on a throne after conquering Israel’s enemies. They were in no way ready to give up on that dream.

Even Jesus’ brothers didn’t get it. They may have believed Jesus could be that conqueror because they tried to push him into showing himself to the world ( John 7:1-5). And wouldn’t the flesh and blood brothers of the king have positions of royalty in the new government? They may have believed that, but John tells us they did not believe IN Jesus.

Jesus went so far as to tell his followers that where he is going they won’t find him. His disciples thought maybe he was talking about Greece. Again, they weren’t ready to give up on their hope of a material kingdom.

This subject is not over. It will be repeated and reinforced many times throughout the New Testament. My question is: Are you a citizen of the Kingdom of God? Have you bowed before him, accepted Jesus as your Savior, and made him King of your heart? Do you live your life with the knowledge that relationships, trials, successes, sin and disease, are temporary and bound to life on earth? 

Jesus said the kingdom of God is within us. It’s a spiritual kingdom with God himself on the throne. You are invited to be a part of this glorious kingdom and walk with God in this life and live with him forever when this life is over. If Jesus is Lord of your life, I rejoice with you. If you haven’t as yet confessed your sins and accepted his grace, becoming a citizen of the kingdom of God, I am praying that you’ll do that today. 

Your Majesty, we bow before your throne today as citizens of your kingdom. Thank you for Jesus who gives us access to your throne room, who went before us to prepare a place for us, and who wants to welcome each of us home when this life is over. May all who read this blog today know you as Savior, may we realize the joy of sins forgiven, the strength you provide for the challenges of life, and the assurance of eternity with you. You are Lord. You are our King. And you reign forever and ever. Amen.