Monthly Archives: September 2018

Matthew 4; The Most Precious Thing

He loved her. He wanted to marry her. They’d been dating for over a year, but he knew she deserved better. She was from a good home, educated, smart, and beautiful. His mom had never married. He’d graduated from high school with marginal grades and, with no money for college, had gotten a job as a welder in a bodyshop in town. He was still a welder in that bodyshop in town.

But today, he’d picked up the diamond he’d been making payments on for several months. He was going to do it.

She took his hand and gave it a squeeze as they slowly walked on the beach at sunset. He knew his hands were sweaty, his heart was in his throat. He stopped, and turned to look deep into her green eyes. Then, he dropped to one knee and pulled the velvet box from his pocket.

“I know people look at us and wonder what you are doing with a guy like me. I’m not rich. I don’t have an impressive career. No one has ever said I’m handsome. But I love you. I’m down here, looking up at you, knowing I have nothing to offer you but myself. But I promise, if you say yes, I will be yours forever. Will you marry me?”

She knelt in front of him and took his face in both her hands. “Don’t you understand? When you give yourself, you are giving me the most precious thing of all. Yes, I’ll marry you.”

______________

On the surface, when you look at the men Jesus called to be his disciples, you’d wonder what he was doing with those guys. They were ordinary men. No impressive pedigrees. Uneducated. But when Jesus called, they dropped everything and followed Him.

They had nothing to offer Jesus but themselves. And Jesus saw that as the most precious thing of all.

God’s not looking for perfect people to follow Him. He’s not interested in bank accounts or public speaking abilities or even Bible knowledge. God wants people who understand that all we have to offer Him is ourselves, broken, sinful, worthless people that we are.

God wants you! He wants me! He wants us to empty ourselves, fall at His feet, and give ourselves with all our imperfections to Him just as we are.

Dear one, in God’s eyes YOU are the most precious thing.

 

Matthew 1-3; Where Is Who?

So some guys, probably from Arabia, who were into star-gazing, and who were at least somewhat familiar with Jewish history and the prophets, see a new star in the sky. Maybe they watched it for a few days to be sure it wasn’t a Russian spy satellite or a drone or something they could explain.

Well, maybe I’m wrong about the satellite/drone thing. But I can imagine them getting out their charts and excitedly trying to put two and two together to identify this celestial phenomenon. However, their charts could take them only so far. They had to check it out for themselves.

I wonder how that conversation went when one of them remembered reading something about a Jewish Messiah being born. “Didn’t our calculations predict he’d be born around this time? Could the star be God’s sign that it’s happened? If so, this is huge! Let’s go worship Him together.”

So the men set out for parts unknown, following that strange star, believing that the Jewish God was going to send a Savior.

Here’s what made me sad today. These Gentiles came to Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish religion, and with great anticipation asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” And no one knew!

“Where is who?”

It took the question of non-Jews for God’s people to look to Scripture for answers they should have already known.

I believe God is still putting stars in the sky to draw non-believers to Himself. God reveals Himself every day in hundreds of ways to anyone paying attention. Think about it. Evidence of God is everywhere!

So what happens when a non-believer whose eyes are beginning to open to the Truth comes to you and asks, “How do I find the Savior?” Do you know?

It seems the Jews in Jerusalem weren’t giving much thought to Scripture until the Magi came with questions. Shouldn’t they have been prepared? I think so.

And I think we should be, too. So did Paul:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15) (emphasis mine)

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word. We’ve got to be familiar with God’s plan of salvation. We’ve got to be able to tell anyone who asks how they can find what Jesus died to give them. We’ve got to be prepared.

So that when someone asks how they can find the Savior, our reply will be “I’m glad you asked. Let me introduce you to Him.”

Malachi; Driven

Have you known  anyone you would describe as “driven?” People who work ten hours a day, then bring work home with them? People who haven’t taken a vacation in years, never turned down an assignment, or overtime because they are focused on advancing in their careers or padding their bank accounts?

Some people are driven by their hobbies. They spend thousands of dollars and hours on finding the next piece in their collection, or on improving their golf swing. They surf the net, pour over magazines, and know exactly who to talk to for the latest information on their favorite activity. And these same people have a knack of turning every conversation you have with them around to what drives them.

Malachi has me looking at my own drive today. He’s talking to people who seem to have thought they were doing a pretty good job as far as their religion went. But God is calling them – and me – out for hypocrisy.

He first got my attention in 1:8. The priests had evidently been faithfully offering sacrifices like Moses had told them to centuries before. But the animals these priests were offering were the left-overs. The crippled and diseased animals of the flock were being used in their sacrifices to the Lord. God, in no uncertain terms, says, “This is just wrong!”

Then He goes on to challenge the priests with this: “Try giving those animals to the governor. Would that make him happy? Would he reward you for bringing him a diseased animal?”

Have you ever worked so hard throughout the week that you just couldn’t make yourself get out of bed on a Sunday morning to go to church? Do you fill your evenings up until late, so you let yourself sleep until the very last minute, then you just don’t have time in the morning to be alone with God, praying, and reading His Word? Have you ever agreed to teach a Sunday School class but, because your schedule was so full during the week, you didn’t even look at the lesson until Saturday night?

Now, what if you applied those same principals to your job? Malachi, in a sense says, “Try offering that to your boss. Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?”

What do you think?

I think it’s significant that God inspired this particular book to be placed at the end of the Old Testament, the last thing we read before Jesus’ birth: Service. Honest worship. Making God our priority. Sacrifice. I think it’s significant because when we turn the page we are going to see those things lived out in the lives of Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others who make God, and serving Him, their number one priority.

So the question I believe God wants us to consider today is, where does He fit on our own lists of priorities? How much time during our day do we devote to God as compared to our attention to other things and people? Are we guilty of offering Him the left-overs?

I hope you’ll read the book of Malachi today and let God speak to you from His heart. He demands – and deserves – our best. Is that what we are giving Him?

Zechariah 11-14; One

The first couple of times I read these chapters I was excited to see how Jesus is woven into so many verses. Then it dawned on me. He’s not just thrown in there a tidbit at a time. It’s all about Jesus! If things about Jesus are woven into this tapestry, the completed product is Jesus Himself.

Jesus, who doesn’t act like a foolish shepherd, but who is the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd who cares for His flock, who searches for His lost sheep. Jesus, the Shepherd of the Church, the Gospel that blesses some, and sends others reeling.

Considering these chapters, Matthew Henry said that those who reject Jesus, and are determined to further their sinful agendas consider the Church an obstacle, and want it gone. (Sometimes I  have to remind myself this guy wrote hundreds of years ago.) What Henry said seems to be gaining momentum in our present society, doesn’t it? But Henry also reminds us that no matter how hard they try to rid the world of the Church, it is built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, and it will stand until the end. As bleak as it has looked in any age, as it may look right now, we win because of Jesus.

Jesus, the One who was pierced for our sin, is the Great Leveler, as seen in Zephaniah’s example of the split Mount of Olives. Everyone escapes through that valley. It’s the only way.

Jesus answered him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The Great Leveler.

Zephaniah reveals Jesus, the Living Water flowing out to all the earth. Reminds me of Pentecost when the Spirit of our Lord was poured out on the believers, and people heard the Gospel in their own languages, no matter where they were from. Then those people took that same Good News home with them and told others who spoke their language about the saving power of Jesus. That Living Water is still reaching lost souls everywhere.

I hope you’ll read the book of Zephaniah and let the old prophet encourage your relationship with Jesus, help you to see Him, and know His great love for you. There is so much more in here than what I’ve shared. It’s a book about the Name above all names.

14:9 tells us what those of us who know Jesus personally already know:

There is only One King, One Lord. One Name.

Jesus.

 

Zechariah 7-10; Give Up

I read several Christian blogs. And when a friend posts something on FaceBook that has been especially meaningful to them, I usually take time to read that, too. I not only want to continue to grow in my faith, I also am interested in knowing where you are in your walk with the Lord.

The last few days it seems there has been a common thread weaving through the things I’ve read. It’s the philosophy which says we need to take care of ourselves before we can care for others. A friend of mine posted a quote from a noted Christian speaker that said, “You can’t truly love others until you love yourself.”

A former student of mine, a young man who loves the Lord, posted that he is going through a rough time. Then he said, “I can do this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Sounds right, doesn’t it? I mean he quoted Scripture and everything. Aren’t we promised that we can do anything because we have a supernatural power from God?

The prophet Zechariah is telling us what God will do when the Messiah comes. He will defeat the enemy! He will free the prisoners! He will bless them doubly! He will be their shield, their Savior, their Shepherd, their strength.

Well, friend. Messiah HAS come. His name is Jesus. And He offers those same things to those of us who are His children.

But Scripture tells us His children need to die to “self,” not strengthen it. His children need to take our eyes off ourselves and our situations, and focus on Him.

I’d like to ask the Christian speaker I quoted above, where in Scripture does it tell us that we only love others when we love ourselves? I believe the Bible tells us we truly love others when we love God.

The problem with what my young friend says has to do with the “I.” We read the verse he quoted from Philippians, and emphasize the “I.” I can do all things. I can do this. When we should be emphasizing “God.” Because it’s God who is the giver of the strength we need to face any circumstance.

I see so many defeated Christians who try to help themselves so God will help them. So many who are discouraged because they’ve tried, and prayed, and tried again, and continue to fail.

I think it’s time Christians gave up on the “I.” Scripture tells us to empty ourselves, die daily, seek God and place Him above everything else, including the “I.” There is something freeing about admitting, “I can’t,” then letting God do great and marvelous things in spite of me.

I know that I can’t love, or do, or be, or have anything worthwhile without Him being the force behind it, the giver of all good things.

Not “I” but Christ.