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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Lord Is in This Day

 February 29, 2024


As a student at Golden Gate Seminary I was tasked to keep a record of what I did all day. I recorded my quiet time and all the activities of the day. At the end, I was supposed to answer the question: "Where was God today?" Often, I didn't know.

It is easy for busy people to forget what their main objective is. I can't tell you how many times I have been thinking on a problem while I was driving and missed my exit. I can't tell you how many times I walked right passed people who needed me without noticing they were there. But how could I miss the Lord?

I wondered about that for a long time and later concluded that He was with me always but I was so concerned about the work I was doing that I didn't include Him. Even having a quiet time every day didn't keep me from forgetting the Lord. Today, I still keep a "to do" list. I must not let that list become my master. It should be a tool to keep me on track. I must always submit myself before the Lord in each item I must do.

Where will the Lord be today? He will be in all that I do if I remember to look for Him. He will be guiding, encouraging, correcting, warning and teaching me through these things I believe He wants from me.

Just as God equips me to be a pastor, He equips each of us to do whatever profession we have chosen. He expects us to make disciples regardless of the profession and He uses us to do so. It may be that your work will bring someone to know the Lord. It may be that you will be able to rescue someone who has strayed far from the Lord. Be assured, your work provides for your family. He is in that work.

So, don't get so busy that you miss the Lord today.

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”” (Luke 10:41–42, NASB 2020)

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

God Shows Up Unexpectedly

 February 28, 2024


Many years ago, I went to the hospital to pray for a child who had an inoperable brain tumor. After praying and waiting to hear of the biopsy the surgeon was doing, the father came out obviously stunned. He said, "The surgeon says he got it all."

"What does that mean?" I replied.

The dad said again, "He got it all."

I was confused so I asked for clarification, "I thought this was just a biopsy."

"It was," the dad said hesitatingly.

"So, what part of inoperable do I not understand?" was my question. "Isn't this a good thing?"

The dad looked up and finally smiled, "I can think of nothing better."

We didn't expect God to show up but He did.

Now a man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. Jesus, upon seeing this man lying there and knowing that he had already been in that condition for a long time, said to him, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was a Sabbath on that day.” (John 5:5–9, NASB 2020)

Thirty-eight years is a long time to wait. Maybe the man had given up hope. Yet, Jesus showed up and healed him. It was unexpected.

Maybe you have waited a long time for the Lord to do something. Maybe today is that day. I can't say if it is or not but I know that most of the things the Lord has done for me and those around me came unexpectedly.

Keep looking for Jesus and you will find Him. Keep seeking Him and see how He shows up unexpectedly.

Monday, February 26, 2024

We Follow Jesus Today

 February 27, 2024


The news media is infamous for predicting catastrophe. In the 90s, they predicted that the baby boomers were not saving as they should. They warned that this generation would be poor in their retirements. I just read a new article that calls them the wealthiest generation ever, having amassed $78 trillion in assets. 

It doesn't seem to matter what the topic is, doom and gloom is the theme. The weather, politics or the economy are going down fast and there is nothing we can do! Or so, they say.

I guess we can conclude that we gravitate toward these stories or the news media wouldn't produce them. Disaster sells. Evidently, good news doesn't.

I see articles popping up frequently telling us that the Church is on its way out. The articles promote why people are leaving churches. They lament over the decline in church attendance. They predict a faithless population. Can these stories be written to ease the guilt of those who have left the church? Are they there to tell those who have left that they are now in the majority and shouldn't feel so bad about leaving? Even some of the Christian authors don't attend church now. They think they are better for leaving church out.

These articles assume that God has nothing to do with what is going on in the world. They assume that He is not working anymore. They assume that He has stopped building His church. I believe what they assume is absolutely wrong.

Elijah came to the Lord to claim that he was the last follower of God. He was trying to point out that even though no one else followed, he did. Now, his complaint was that he could not be expected to carry on by himself. He might as well die now for when he was gone, it was over anyway. What Elijah didn't know depressed him.

God told him:

Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”” (1 Kings 19:18, NASB 2020)

God was still being followed by people other than Elijah. God's word would continue. Faith in Him was not dead. God was sustaining those who did not follow Baal.

Yes, church attendance is down. Yes, there are less people calling themselves Christians. Yes, there are now "churches" who have no faith springing up. That's now what is important to us. We have a vital relationship with Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit living within us. We have a Father who cares for us deeply. Our responsibility is to follow Him.

When Peter pointed out what Jesus wanted for one of the other disciples Jesus said:

   “Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”” (John 21:22, NASB 2020)

  Our concern is not what is going on in the world or even with other Christians. Our concern is whether we are following Him.

We follow Him today because it is in His hands always. We may just be the 7,000 God is holding back for Himself. That's because we follow Him.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Repentance Is the Key to Forgiveness

 February 26, 2024


None of us can undo anything we have ever done. However, we often forget our accomplishments and dwell on our failures. Many of us only listen to our criticisms and disregard our compliments.

I went to visit a country music song writer a long time ago. He wasn't at home because he had gone to Nashville to sell some new songs. His wife said, "We've been living on his last hit for too long." This happens to anyone whose last great accomplishment was their claim to fame far beyond its shelf life. Reasonable people know that living on your accomplishments too long is unreasonable.

Yet, there are many people who believe that beating themselves up for their sins is the righteous thing to do. They believe that self flagellation will result in some sort of absolution. Since it doesn't, they beat themselves up forever. Sometimes reasonable people don't know that this is unreasonable. Some of them are doing this to themselves.

So, today I am reading this scripture:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners.”” (Luke 5:31–32, NASB 2020)

The light came on and I realized something I should have realized a long time ago. The key to forgiveness is repentance. The reason we continue to feel guilty is because we expect to undo the things we have done wrong to realize our forgiveness. That will never happen. It is in the past that can never be changed. What we have right now is a realization that repentance is the evidence of forgiveness.

Jesus said in relation to sinners that He didn't come to heal the healthy but the sick. Healing means that you no longer have the effect of the sickness. Repentance is no longer having the effect of the sin.

In other words, we have not realized our forgiveness if we continue in our sin. The fact that we aren't doing what we did before is realizing our forgiveness. We can say confidently, "I know that I am forgiven because I don't do that any more."

Now think of what was said when people were urged to be saved from their sins. 

   “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, NASB 2020)

Repentance is necessary for salvation. It turns from the sin because it is forgiven. Once we repent we are free to follow the Lord without the encumbrance of our sins.

So, if you are one of those who beats himself up for the sins of the past, rejoice in the fact that you have repented of those sins. Know that you have been forgiven for you would not have the Holy Spirit in you if you didn't. Know that He is moving you away from a life of regret to a life of hope.

Repent for you have been forgiven.  

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Will I Act Like Jesus Is My Lord Today?

 February 25, 2024


Recently, my wife and I went to Paris. I went with no small amount of trepidation. I had heard that the French were rude, especially to those who don't speak French. I don't speak French. I tried to learn some French words before I left. I tried to understand their customs. I failed miserably. I expected to receive the wrath of the French people.

I was so pleasantly surprised to find the French courteous and friendly when I arrived. Not many of them spoke English. I stumbled through the French phrases I learned and they were very forgiving. My personal encounter with the French was very positive.

But that experience can go the other way too. There are people who have a reputation for being kind that have sorely disappointed me. They were rude and short with me. They had a persona of cheer, kindness and loving everyone when they presented themselves publicly but privately that simply wasn't who they were.

This is not a new phenomena. People have presented themselves as one thing while being totally different for a long time. Thus, you have Jesus warning of the scribes and Pharisees.

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses. Therefore, whatever they tell you, do and comply with it all, but do not do as they do; for they say things and do not do them. And they tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as their finger. And they do all their deeds to be noticed by other people; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the seats of honor in the synagogues, and personal greetings in the marketplaces, and being called Rabbi by the people.” (Matthew 23:1–7, NASB 2020)

The scribes and the Pharisees wanted to look good above all else. They wanted to present themselves as the most righteous of all. Surely, no one knew the scriptures like the scribes. No one appeared to keep the law like the Pharisees. They said the right things but they simply did not do them.

But before I throw any more rocks at the scribes and Pharisees, I might look at my own life. Am I really the person who presents himself as knowing Jesus to those who see me behind closed doors? Am I loving and sacrificing toward my wife? Do those in the church office know me to be caring? I must say that I am not, some of the time.

Maybe I need to spend more time in front of the mirror and less time throwing rocks at others.

But today, I can be who I need to be. Today, I can present the character of Christ. Today, I can make that decision. So, I do. Today I will be the person I need to be with those who see me behind the facade that I too often present publicly. I will have the character of Christ because the Holy Spirit lives in me. I will concede to the Spirit rather than pretending I am like Christ. I will be because of Him. He is and will change me.

Will you join me in this?

This week's sermon: 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Get in the Fight

February 24, 2024


So many times I have been asked to read the following scripture at a funeral:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” (2 Timothy 4:7, NASB 2020)

So, I read it without saying anything. These people are grieving and they certainly don't need a criticism from me about the life of the one whom they have lost. But inside, I am thinking, "When did this person enter the fight?" 

They had very little evidence that they walked with the Lord. They attended church sporadically, their speech did not reflect one who walked with the Lord, they were frequently disagreeable and they were totally illiterate on the Bible. (Of course, this doesn't mean that they hadn't become a deacon.) Saying these words may comfort those who are grieving but they tell nothing about the one who died. The person didn't fight, didn't finish and didn't keep.

The next verse defines what needs to be strived for:

   “in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NASB 2020) 

Those who have loved His appearing will be awarded the crown of righteousness. This doesn't come to those who simply agreed that Jesus was the Son of God. Acknowledging a fact does not reflect a life of obedience. I will agree that Putin the the President of Russia but that neither makes me a Russian, nor does it reflect any obedience to him. Those who have said that Jesus is Lord with their mouths but never showed it in obedience have proven that they did not consider Him Lord. They had no fight to fight, no course to run and no faith to keep. 

I can do nothing for those who have died. You can't either. But you can enter the race. You can do more than say that Jesus is Lord. You can act upon Him being your Lord. 

That means that you will not take the easy route. You will fight when you don't want to. You will run when you are tired. You will keep that faith when it would be much easier to renounce it.

And for what? The eternal rewards that come with the crown of righteousness.

I hope that your family can genuinely have 2 Timothy 4:7-8 read at your funeral. They can have it read because it is your testimony.

This week's sermon: 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Touch of Jesus

 February 23, 2024


   “While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” And He reached out with His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And He ordered him to tell no one, saying, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” (Luke 5:12–15, NASB 2020)  

Can you imagine having a disease so insidious that it meant that you could have no social interaction with family and friends? This disease was such that you couldn't worship with others as it slowly ate away at your body. This was the case of leprosy during the first century.

Maybe you don't have leprosy but you are in deep need of healing. You have had hurts that are covering you. Maybe new hurts are made frequently. It could be a husband that beats you or a boss that bullies you. It could be a wife who berates you or a child who will not let you parent.

Maybe you have lost someone whom you loved with all your heart. The hole that is left is reopened each time you see something that belonged to that person. The hurt continues because you can't make this person come back.

Maybe you keep these hurts close to your vest. You don't tell other people. You needed to break off relationships because you are afraid they will discover your hurts when you are supposed to be the Christian that has everything going for yourself. You need to be healed but you don't know where to go. There is no healing for what you have.

Like I said, you probably don't have leprosy but doesn't what you have feel like it just a little? Take the steps you need.

This man with leprosy sees Jesus. This is the first step. You need to see Him. He cannot be the person you only learned about in Sunday School. He has to be present right in front of you. You must see Him in all that He is. You must know that He can heal you.

The man humbles himself before Jesus for he fell down begging. When you are desperate you will fall down begging. You will humble yourself. This man's disease knew no cure. He was covered with it. Humility is at the heart of answered prayer.

The man makes no demands. He offers a simple statement. "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Many translations say he asked for healing. He did, but the word also means to be made clean. Maybe I am stretching a point but I believe there is no accident in this word having two meanings. There is a difference between being healed and going back to what you were doing and being cleansed. The cleansing created the healing. 

Of course, Jesus could see the leprosy with His eyes but Jesus sees more that with His eyes. He sees the hurt on the inside. Jesus healed other people without touching them. Jesus touches a man who could not be touched. If a holy man touched one with leprosy, he became unholy. But Jesus is more than a holy man. He is God. God cannot be made unholy so that the unholiness was forced to leave the man. The man needed to be touched to be healed from his leprosy and to be healed from his hurt.

Maybe you need to be touched by Jesus. Today you cry out that you want healing from your hurt and you want to be touched by Jesus.

And He does.

Jesus wanted the man to be declared clean by the priests and to make an offering for his healing. It wouldn't be that only Jesus knew that the man was healed. It wouldn't  be that just those watching would know that the man was healed. The world knows this man was healed. There was evidence.

The joy of being healed should never be kept to yourself.

Years ago, I led a prayer meeting in which a lady named Margaret said she had a tumor behind her eye which would require surgery. She was probably going to lose sight in that eye. We laid hands on her and prayed that she would be healed.

The next prayer meeting Margaret took over. She had gone to the doctor to get an MRI right before the surgery. The tumor was gone! You cannot imagine the joy and the exuberance this lady had in telling us of the power of the Lord. She was healed and she knew who healed her.

I said to someone the next day, "Wow, Margaret was telling everyone of her healing. She really took over last night."

That person replied, "You should have seen her at Krogers!"

If you are healed, tell somebody! It really is part of the healing.

This week's sermon: