Category Archives: The Gospel

Transplanted

Mark 4:1-20

My heart is heavy this morning thinking about the parable of the seeds. I’m especially sad about the seed that is choked out by the thorns. Jesus tells us they represent people who hear God’s Word, even grow spiritually to a point, but allow “the worries of this life, the love of wealth, and the desire of other things, so no fruit is produced.” (Mark 4:19) Matthew and Luke quote Jesus as saying the plant is choked out by the thorns.

I’m sad because I have loved ones who heard God’s Word from their youth. Yet the thorns have overtaken them. I’d like to believe the only thing they’ll lose is their fruit, their witness of the Gospel of Jesus. But I’m reminded Jesus also tells us branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off and throw into the fire. (John 15) Jesus goes on to tell us no branch bears fruit on its own. It must be attached to the vine, which is Jesus.

We are all living in a weed-infested world. May our spiritual roots grow deep in the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s choke out the thorns instead of letting them get to us.

How?

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. (John 15:4a)

Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Put on the whole armor of God , that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. (2 Corinthians 6:17a)

These are only a few of the many places in Scripture that assure us that we can and should stand against the things of this world, by the power of God in us. We can. And we should.

A daisy has no choice as to where it’s planted. It has no ability to remove itself from ground overgrown in weeds.

But we’re not daisies.

We can choose where we’re planted. And we have the Savior who can transplant us into fertile, healthy, ground where we can grow in grace and knowledge of Him, and bear fruit that will bring Him glory.

It’s not too late. You may be choking on the things of this world. But say the word, and your Savior will lift you up and graft you into Himself, the Vine that brings life.

Where are you planted? Do you need a transplant today?

The Hope Of All The World

Matthew 12:15-21

Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah to the men who were plotting to kill Him. They were angry because He had healed a man on the Sabbath.

He healed a man.

But it was the Sabbath, a day they had put so many restrictions on, believing they were following God’s Law and then some. And the law was much more important than the healed man. Their idea of the law blinded them from really seeing the miracle.

It’s ironic that they were so concerned about following God’s Law when they were looking at the Author. Jesus wanted them to know that. He wanted them to know He was their long-awaited Messiah.

“I am the beloved Son of God. His Spirit is in me. I haven’t come shouting or fighting or crushing the weak. I bring justice to the nations.”

The fact is, they wanted Him dead because He healed a man on the Sabbath. They didn’t just want Him punished, excommunicated, or simply stopped from continuing His ministry. They wanted Him dead. And Jesus wanted them to recognize who it was they wanted to kill.

I say all of that to point you to verse 21.

And his name will be the hope of all the world.

Our world seems so intent on looking everywhere except to Jesus for hope. Yet here He is!

Some reject Him because He doesn’t fit into their idea of what they think He should look like. Some reject Him because they don’t like His message. Many look to the government, or religion, autonomy, even good deeds to find their hope.

If our civilization has any hope it won’t be because we tolerate differences or are accepting of every thought or belief out there. It won’t be because everyone’s bank accounts have exactly the same balance as everyone else’s. It won’t be because we have a preconceived notion of how things ought to be, like the Pharisees had in Jesus’ day.

Isaiah knew, and Jesus reinforced the truth that Jesus is our only hope.

Jesus is the hope of all the world.

That Same Jesus

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

The touch of His hand healed everyone. (Luke 4:40b)

Jesus offered Living Water to the woman at the well, and told her if she drank it she would never thirst again. (John 4:14) In fact, He told her, it would bubble up inside her like a spring bringing eternal life.

The demons knew who He was, but they had no power to resist His demands.

He called ordinary men to follow Him, and turned them into extra-ordinary forces for the Gospel, the good news that Jesus is God, the Savior of the world.

That same Jesus is alive today, continuing to touch diseased souls, giving eternal life, and calling His followers to be extra-ordinary forces to share the Good News.

That same Jesus.

Human Nature

John 2

It seems a lot of people trusted Jesus because of the miracles He did. This was no ordinary man. He must be God, the Messiah. So, Scripture tells us, they began to trust Him.

But Jesus didn’t trust them…” (vs 24a)

Well that wasn’t very nice. Wouldn’t the polite thing be to reciprocate their trust? Why wouldn’t Jesus trust them, take them at their word?

But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like. (verses 24-25, NLT)

What’s that supposed to mean? Aren’t we to believe that people are innately good? What’s not to trust?

Popular philosophy tells us we are good, worthy, pure of heart from birth, that all we need to do is tap into that goodness within us, that given a chance people will be worthy of trust others place in them.

Friend’s that is NOT human nature. I don’t care what Oprah says.

Human nature is self-serving, ego centric, evil. Good hearted? Listen to what Scripture tells us:

The heart is deceitful above all, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Well, evidently Jesus can know the human heart. He knows that people are emotional, fickle, deceitful, and evil because that’s human nature. That’s what Jesus knew about the people who began to follow Him after seeing the miracles.

And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize those traits in all of us. Yes, I’m talking to you! (and especially me). Jesus knew the people would get bored, maybe offended, they’d get distracted, and many would fall away.

But He loved them anyway. He would continue to speak truth to them, continue to reveal Himself by miracles. He would die on a cross for them and come back to life to give them life when they truly believed, truly put their trust in Him, and allowed Him to change their wicked hearts into clean hearts.

I don’t know where you stand in your spiritual journey. But Jesus has done all of that for you, too. His death and resurrection offers you the cleansing you need. His truth, as recorded in the Words of the Bible, speak the only Truth. And when you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you are given eternal life!

On your own, you can’t be trusted any more than the people we read about in John’s Gospel. But God can change you into someone He can trust to be the person and do the things that bring glory to Him.

It’s not human nature. But it is God’s nature in you that can make you trustworthy enough to wear His Name and represent Him to a world that needs Him.

I’m praying for you today.

Revenge. Seriously?

Joel

I know someone who, because a member of the church his parents attended said something that offended him, quit going to church. He was a teenager at the time. He’s in his thirties today. And he will give that incident as the reason he still doesn’t go to church today.

I’ve heard of others who see injustice in the world and say, “If God causes such bad things to happen, I don’t want anything to do with Him.” or “There must not be a God at all.”

Do you wonder how God feels when people convince themselves of such?

What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and the cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? (3:4a)

Do people who judge God and find Him guilty think they have the upper hand? Seriously?

If you are (taking revenge on me) watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. (4b)

Everything YOU have done.

Joel goes on to remind us we all enjoy the blessings of God. We all live in a world where the sun shines, the rain falls, wounds heal, crops produce fruit, hearts beat…

But we have taken those blessings and carted them off to pagan temples. (vs 5) Instead of using them to glorify God, instead of being grateful, we turn it around and use them against Him

But be warned. Especially when God repeats Himself:

… and I will pay you back for everything you have done. (verse 7b)

Here’s the good news:

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (2:32)

If you have any excuse why you haven’t called on the name of the Lord, if you have put yourself above God, found Him guilty, or blame your present circumstances on that old church lady who hurt your feelings – get over yourself!

Are you trying to teach God a lesson? Get even? Punish Him? That, my friend, is foolishness. Do you have any idea who it is you are dealing with?

Here’s the deal: obey God according to His Word, the Bible. Or not. Just remember your decision will stay with you for eternity. And in the end you won’t judge God. He will judge you.

I pray that when He does, He will be able to judge you according to the righteousness of His Son Jesus. The flip side of that is unthinkable.

Mixed Messages

Ezra 9-10

I wonder if the Church isn’t guilty of “marrying foreign wives” like the people of Israel including priests and Levites were guilty during the time of Ezra.

So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed messages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage. (9:2b)

No one wants to talk about the Church as the holy race. We’d rather talk about how we can be attractive to foreigners, to those who don’t know the Savior. Our goal, preached from so many pulpits, is to actually bring the foreigners into the Church!

That’s like marrying a non-believer, expecting them to change. Folks, you know that doesn’t work. It certainly isn’t working in the modern Church.

I watched a movie on Pure Flix last night, “Play the Flute.” We geezers will recognize Loretta Swift from “Mash,” Fred Grandy from Love Boat (your remember Gopher, right?), and Clint Howard, Opie’s real life brother. It’s a good movie about a young youth pastor, burdened for the teens in his church who not only do not read the Bible, they don’t even see a need to read it.

The youth pastor struggles with whether or not to make his youth group about programs and events and fun so numbers grow. He hears from a friend whose own youth group has grown because of all the things they are doing. He reads articles and commentaries from church leaders who promote the idea that if youth group is an event, kids will come. But he can’t shake the conviction that the Bible needs to be the focus of his youth group.

So he gets up in front of the teens and reads what Jesus says in Matthew 11:

To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a funeral song, and you did not mourn.”

He likens God’s Word to the flute, himself as the musician, and to the teens as those who refused to dance, who just sit there and don’t accept what they hear. The pastor tells the kids he’ll continue to play the flute. What they do with what they hear is up to them.

I hope you’ll watch the movie. I think you’ll like it. It certainly has me thinking today in light of what I read in Ezra.

Church, it might be time for us to divorce ourselves from foreign wives, and return the Church to that which God intended – a holy people. It might be time for us to simply play the flute and quit dancing to get attention. Why do we think the sound of God’s Word is incapable of changing hearts today? What if we got back to having the preaching and teaching of Scripture plus nothing be our focus?

I know some of you will say times have changed, kids are bored with church, we are a technology focused society, that bells and whistles are needed to draw people in. And some of you say we want anyone to come in no matter what they believe.

But is that what God says He wants of His Church? Times have changed, but He hasn’t. His demand for a holy people still rings true today. And foreign wives, mixed messages, are defiling His Church.

That’s not just my opinion. It’s what God’s Word says, whether we like it or not. I’m praying for my church, and for your’s. I’m praying for Christians everywhere to get back to God’s Word and let Him work in the hearts of people without our interference. I’m praying for the holy people of God to pick up our flutes and play them with all our hearts.

And let God do the rest. He’s better at it than we are anyway.

The Writing Is On The Wall

Ezekiel 5

We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “the writing’s on the wall” to indicate the inevitability of something happening, usually referring to something bad happening. That certainly was the case for Belshazzar who watched the hand of God write a proclamation on the wall of the dining room about the king’s impending death. That very night, the king was killed.

The writing was on the wall.

Does that speak to us today? Has God written a proclamation concerning the death of civilization? Are we looking at the end?

Yes. And no.

God has absolutely proclaimed the edict that this life as we know it will end. It’s been rushing to that end since Adam’s sin. The inevitable end of this world is getting closer every day. But nowhere in Scripture does it say that event will happen in 2022.

Oh, it could be today. Or it could be 1,000 years from now.

The sad thing is, some Christians see the writing on the wall and think, “Things are awful out there, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” So they sit back and wait for the end to happen.

That seems to be the case for Belshazzar. Instead of reading the writing on the wall and allowing it to convict him, to drive him to his knees in repentance, he threw a party for Daniel. That night his reign was brought to an end, just like God had written on the wall.

Friend, we can look for signs, complain about the state of the world while we sit comfortably in our homes, living life as usual, resting in the assurance of our salvation. But is that what God demands of us?

The signs we see all around us ought to drive us to our knees, light a fire in us to reach as many people as we can to introduce them to their only hope, Jesus the Savior.

Jesus is coming again. He’s promised us that in His Word. When He does, many, many people will go to hell for eternity. Many, many people you and I know will face eternity without Him.

Do you know what else is written on the wall, so to speak?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Let’s take that message to our world that needs Him. Because, dear one, the writing is on the wall.

Equal Shares

Ezekiel 47-48

The land was divided equally among the tribes of Israel. I love how God leveled the playing field. Everyone was given the same.

That’s something I love about God. He sees us, demands of us, treats us, and loves each of the same.

  1. All have sinned. Yes, that means you and me. All. Everyone has sinned. (Romans 3:23)
  2. That sin has earned us a death sentence. (Romans 6:23)
  3. God loved each of us and sent His Son Jesus to pay our death sentence. (John 3:16)
  4. Whoever (rich, poor, young, old, healthy, sickly, black, white, a murderer, a liar, me, you) believes won’t have to experience that death, but live forever with God. (John 3:16)
  5. When we repent, He forgives us completely. (1 John 1:9)
  6. When we repent, we are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:1-7)

The flip side of that coin is also fair and equal. If you reject God, He will reject you (Matthew 10:33) no matter if you are rich, poor, young, old, healthy, sick, black, white, a murderer, a liar, me, or you.

A word of caution: accepting God on your terms is rejecting Him. Jesus said that He is the only way to God. (John 14:6) That is true for all of us.

It rains on the just and the unjust. The sun shines on everyone everywhere, night falls, morning dawns, and we all have 24 hours a day to choose God or reject Him.

I think you know how I am praying for you today.

At Home

Ezekiel 40-46

Reading about the Temple courtyard, the thick walls, the gates, and the little rooms surrounding the Sanctuary, I thought I’d like to have lived there had I been alive at the time. To walk out of my door that overlooked the place where God lived on Earth would have been awesome! I honestly had an “at home,” cozy feeling as I read Ezekiel’s vision this morning.

But then I remembered my heart is where God lives on Earth today. My! Heart! And I am overwhelmed with the same “at home,” and cozy feeling I had while reading.

Oh, the privilege of living in the actual presence of God! What comfort, strength, peace, and love envelope me! I don’t have to walk outside my door, or look toward a building to experience God’s Presence. I don’t have to wait for a priest to enter the Holy of Holies. I live there!

Yet I am reminded that not everyone can say the same. Only we who have humbled ourselves before our Holy God, recognized our sin and repented of them, accepted God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy through the blood of Jesus, can experience the Presence of God.

Christ in me, my hope for today and eternity.

Be at home in me today, Lord. Fill this temple called Connie with Your Presence. And may others recognize that this is where God lives on Earth! Then my prayer is that they will want You in their lives, too.

Let Your light shine through me today and point others to Your saving grace. For Jesus’ sake, and for Your glory!

God’s Word Written To You

Jeremiah 42

The people of Israel asked God what they should do, and they promised to do whatever God said. So God gave them His message – and they rejected it.

He had told them to “stay where you are and I will save you. Don’t go to Egypt because there is death waiting for you there. No matter how scary it is right now, trust Me. Stay put.”

When they received God’s Words, they called it lies. Their plan made more sense to them. So they went to Egypt. And they died.

It’s no different today. So many people who grew up going to Bible believing, rock solid churches, hearing, memorizing, and believing God’s Word begin to listen to other voices, then come to the conclusion that God’s Word is a lie. Their ideas make more sense to them, and the Holy Bible is viewed as just another religious document among many.

Others hear God’s Word for the first time, and because it goes against every other doctrine out there, they come to the conclusion that it’s a lie. Or that if it works for you that’s great, but it doesn’t have to work for me.

Folks, God’s Word we know as the Bible are the words of the Creator God, Holy, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, eternal, King of the universe, and the only one whose words are 100% true. To hear them, then reject them isn’t ok.

That’s not merely my opinion. It’s not even a matter of what I believe to be true. It’s a fact. It’s true according to the God who created you. For you to reject it, is foolishness at best, and an eternal death sentence at worst – according to God’s Word.

Read the Bible and let God speak to you about His heart. Hear Him tell you what He requires and know He’s serious about the consequences of disobedience. Let Him tell you what He’s done to save you, and hear His invitation to come to Him. Shut out all the other voices that would have you question God’s Word. And open your heart, your mind, and your ears to His voice.

God inspired men thousands of years ago to write you a love letter, an instruction manual, a message from his heart to yours. Read it for yourself. Don’t reject it. It’s the only truth that will matter in the end, because it’s the only truth.