Monthly Archives: October 2019

October 23; The Truth Will Set You Free

John 7:53-9:34

If you know someone who is unsure whether or not Jesus is really God, point them to these passages in John. Because not only does Jesus repeat the Truth, He demonstrates that Truth in amazing fashion.

Jesus told the Jews that His testimony is true because He stands with the Father who sent Him. He told them He is not from this world, but from above. They asked Him, “Who are you?” and his reply was, “Just what I’ve been claiming to be all along.”

He even told them He not only knew their father Abraham, He existed even before Abraham was born. Then He used the words, “I AM,” which really got the Jews’ attention. That was the name God gave Himself in the Old Testament.

I hope you’ll read these verses in John today. There is so much here!

Jesus told the Jews if they hold to His teaching, they “will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God’s Truth is not subjective or fluid. God’s Truth is Jesus; the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is Jesus only who is able to set anyone free from the chains of sin. And, friend don’t kid yourself. If you are living with sin, you are a slave to that sin. That’s the truth.

But holding to Jesus’ teaching, believing He is who He says He is, and accepting the forgiveness of your sin, is so freeing! Have you experienced it? It is life-changing.

Sometimes I think we talk ourselves out of sharing our salvation experience because either we think it wasn’t dramatic enough, or we just wouldn’t know what to say. I love what the man born blind said to the Jewish leaders after Jesus gave him his sight. They were pressuring the man for details, looking for something they could pin on Jesus to get rid of him.

“How did he heal you?” they asked.

“He put mud on my eyes. I washed. And now I see.”

“Impossible,” they insist. “Don’t give credit to Jesus. He’s no better than any of us. He’s a sinner like everyone else.”

Then the healed man said something so profound: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.”

Period.

Friend, there is only one Truth that can set anyone free. His name is Jesus. You might not be able to explain the “how” He saved you. But if you know He did, that’s all you need to know. Tell it.

People couldn’t help but notice the change in the man who had never seen a day in his life. It was obvious something had happened. He could see!

And people will see a change in you, too, when God takes up residence in your life. It will be as obvious as a seeing blind man. And when they ask you how, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know. One thing I do know, I asked Him to forgive me, and He did.”

“Once I was lost, now I am found. Once I was blind, now I see. Once I was dead, now I am alive. Once I was a slave to sin. Now I am free.”

That Truth, dear one; the Truth that is Jesus Christ, and only that Truth will set you free, too.

 

 

 

October 22; Beneath The Surface

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

I was listening to Christian radio this morning, and heard a young artist tell the backstory about a song she recently wrote. She said she felt the greatest thing about our God is how His love unites people. She assured us that God wants us to feel loved, and powerful, and worthy.

What are your thoughts? And where is the Scripture to back up your belief? Is the greatest thing about God unity among people? Does God ever in His Word tell anyone He wants them to feel worthy? What this musician said sounds Christian. But when you look beneath the surface, is it Biblical?

Her words came to mind as I read what Jesus said concerning the Pharisee and the tax collector. “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Does that sound like Jesus wants us to feel powerful and worthy?

The tax collector had bowed before God, beat his breast and cried, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.” He didn’t say, “God forgive me because I am worthy of your forgiveness.”

Later, Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” Friend, I think that applies to more than condemning a person for tattoos and nose rings. I think it can apply to accepting or rejecting some seemingly innocent, uplifting, empowering sounding songs and teaching. They appear to be right – but are they?

Please don’t accept anything you hear – anything I say, or your pastor says, or songs on Christian radio – without looking beneath the surface. Make a right judgment according to Scripture, not the trend of the day.

Satan is really good at sounding like a Christian. So look beneath the surface.

 

 

October 21; Use It All

Luke 14:25-17:19

The guy was losing his job. He knew he was in big trouble. He was too weak to do manual labor, and too proud to beg. So he came up with a plan to make himself look good to people who were in positions to help him.

Whenever I read this parable in Luke 14, I am struck by the boss’ reaction to what the man did. It cost the boss money. But he commended the man for his ingenuity. I guess it’s true that evil really does see good in evil.

Then Jesus said, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (verse 9)

I think I’ve shared that I have recently realized 99% of my relationships here on this island are with people from my church. I am blessed by them and treasure their friendships. It’s a blessing to serve God with them.

But God has been dealing with me about stepping out of my comfort zone and beginning to rub shoulders with people who don’t go to my church, may not go to any church.

Jesus said that if He can’t trust us with what we have, how can He trust us with more? Today I am wondering what kind of steward I am with the treasure that is mine through my Savior’s blood. Am I as creative in the way I serve my Master as the man in the parable was in serving his?

But I am also wondering what kind of impact I have on people who need Jesus, using the material blessing which are mine. Is my house open to my neighbors? I don’t even know most of their names. Is my car transportation for an unchurched friend? I can’t think of any unchurched person I consider my friend.

Jesus said we should use it all “so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” I’m certainly not going to take any of my possessions with me. Why am I hoarding them?

If the world is so good at networking, at community, at charity, why aren’t I even better? What they offer is perishing. What I have is eternal. Jesus told us that where are hearts are, our treasures are.

I pray that I will be the kind of steward of God’s blessings who gives all I have. I want to step outside the walls of my church and make friends of people who need what I have. I want to use the material things that are mine to bless others for Jesus’ sake.

I want you to want that, too. I think God wants it of all of us.

 

October 20; Worry

Luke 12:22-13:17, 13:22-14:24

Why do Christians worry? I mean, I think most of us do at some time or another. We worry about our children, our health, the state of the world. We might worry about tomorrow, or today.

Jesus reminds us that worry is a waste of time. Someone once said worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.

But I think worry is a bit more serious than that. Worry tells God I just don’t trust Him enough. That’s serious.

Look around. God takes care of His creation. And we who were created in His image are the apple of His eye. Why would we even consider that God can’t handle whatever we are facing?

Jesus tells us to seek first His kingdom. Everything else will fall into place. Are my eyes on God? Is my focus on my Savior? Am I praying God’s will be done, and meaning it?

Then there is no reason to worry. Verse 32 tells us, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Let that sink in.

Back in the day we used to sing a chorus, “Why worry when you can pray? Trust Jesus, He’ll lead the way…Why worry, worry, worry, worry, when you can pray?”

The answer to that musical question is, “I don’t know.” There is no good reason to worry when you can pray. Let’s pray.

October 19; Sounds Like A Plan

Luke 10:21-24, 38-11:13, 27-12:21; Matthew 11:25-30

I read Luke 10:22 and Matthew 11:27 and understand why there are those who believe God is selective about which individuals are chosen for salvation, and which are chosen for hell. But God’s Word is more than a verse.

In the context here, Jesus is talking about wise men and children; the fact that God’s plan is hidden from the learned, and revealed to the simple. God does not reveal Himself through intellect, but through childlike faith.

Matthew Henry, in his Commentary on the Whole Bible in One Volume, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1961; page 1262) asks the question: why was Matthew, a lowly fisherman, chosen to be a disciple when Nicodemus, a Pharisee and leader of the Jews was not? Both men believed in Jesus.

Henry says, “this honor (was) put upon those whom the world pours contempt upon,” to magnify the mercy of God. What might make sense to us humans, doesn’t come close to what what makes sense to God. By choosing the disciples He chose, Jesus is demonstrating His great mercy and grace, revealing Himself as merciful and full of grace.

In the very next verse Jesus open Himself up to “all who are weak and burdened.” “Come,” He says to everyone, “and you will find rest for your souls.” I believe He chose those particular twelve to be His disciples to demonstrate His mercy, and to be the ones through whom He would use to get His Church going; and He chose the people of the world to save.

Jesus began this discussion by praying and thanking God for this plan. (verse 21). And I certainly thank Him, too! If God revealed Himself only to the intelligent, scholarly, big shots of the world, I’d be “chosen” for hell.

Henry reminds us that God “resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Grace – God’s grace – is freely given to everyone who humbles themselves before Him.

So I will give thanks to God for choosing this plan of salvation. The highest IQ, the most successful businessman, the most important and famous come to God and are saved exactly the same way as a child, a homeless person, the average Joe – me. We might think God should be a bit more selective, but God selected all.

“Whosoever” believes in Jesus will receive eternal life. That’s His will. That’s His plan. That’s how He chose to redeem us all. And He is faithful to forgive anyone who comes to Him in humility, and repents of sin.

Sounds like an awesome plan to me.

October 18; It’s Pretty Clear

Matthew 17:24-27, 18:10-35, 8:18-22, 11:20-24; Mark 9:38-50, 10:1; Luke 9:49-62, 10:1-20

Can a person believe in God and not believe in Jesus? Is it ok for a person to call God Allah, and his son Mohammed? Can a person be accepted by God on their own terms, without the cross?

Jesus said, as recorded in Luke 10:16, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (emphasis mine)

So, no. If anyone rejects Jesus as God’s only Son who died on the cross, was buried, and rose again for the world’s sin debt, if anyone rejects Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the only way to the Father, they are not just rejecting a man who lived 2,000 years ago. They are rejecting God.

It’s pretty clear.

October 17; Do You Wonder?

Mark 9:2-37; Matthew 17:1-23, 18:1-5; Luke 9:28-48

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year, I have the privilege of volunteering at Good News Clubs in two of our local elementary schools. Between the two schools, we are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with almost 100 children.

I wish you could see their faces and hear their comments and questions as God begins to reveal Himself to them, and draw them to Himself. Some children have never heard the Biblical accounts of real people with whom God walked and talked so many years ago. And some who have already heard the stories, begin to understand the meaning behind them. I’m telling you, it’s a blessing every week. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm is contagious.

Jesus told His disciples that all of us must approach Him through the eyes of a child. Oh, to have that wonder, that excitement in hearing God’s Word, to have open hearts and uncluttered minds eager to learn.

I think sometimes we might open our Bibles after years of walking with the Lord and think, “I’ve heard it all before.” But friend, if we go to God with the understanding that we are as ignorant as children concerning spiritual things, God will continue to teach us. If we close ourselves off to more, we’ll stay right where we are.

Now, please, I am not talking about a new revelation that is extra-Biblical. I’m not talking about twisting what God says in His Word to come up with a new enlightenment, or new religion. But there are things we can learn from God’s Word that are backed up and true according to Scripture.

Let’s not miss what God wants us to know at this time in our lives, thinking we are already mature in the Lord. Oh, maturity is a good thing. We are told to grow in grace and knowledge, to study to show ourselves approved.

But let’s not lose the wonder, and the blessing that is God’s Word.