Prov 28 “A poor person who walks in his integrity is better than one who is perverse in his ways even though he is rich.”
Today we hear it said and see it before us; get it while you can by any means you can. Is it really better to be materially rich? What does that reflect in our mind’s eye? Do we trust in God’s provision for our daily needs or do we choose to store up riches for an unknown future?
In a recent publication, an author commented that men strive to attain material possessions while forgetting the principle of Luke 12:20 ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” We might all take a moment and check our checkbook to see what entries are placed there. What will we plan to do with any abundance that God has given to us? Will we choose to bless others or be like Scrooge who hoarded his wealth? And if our checkbook is lacking in dollar signs why not consider offering our services to a homeless shelter this season or providing a simple meal to a lonely person in your church?
Jim Elliott was told he could do anything he wanted to, could have obtained houses lands accolades applauds and treasures but instead he felt a call to Ecuador to the Auca Indians. He had written in his journal: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
John 21: It is as if John wanted us to know that life goes on even after seeing the resurrected Lord. We want to know what to do and where to go but still haven’t a clue. So we return to what we know best even if it is isn’t what Jesus wants us to do. And then horror of horrors we find that we aren’t that successful at what we had been doing but don’t know what we should be doing. The draining moment comes when we, like Peter, come face to face with the Lord and hear: Do you love me more than these do? Do you love me? Do you love me?
After each Jesus says: Feed my lambs; those who are the young and need attention. Shepherd my sheep for they are in need of attention; don’t let them get away. Meet their needs in prayer and feeding them in the world in which they live. Feed my sheep, those who are mature but still need a fresh look at Jesus; a fresh feeding of His Word.
How much do we love Him? Enough to grab our cloak, wrap it around us and leave what is comfortable? Enough to come alongside those we disciple and shepherd them? Enough to find a fresh green thought to feed on for today and tomorrow until we meet again?
Why is this needed? Because one day we will be too old to do any of these things; others will have to come alongside us to feed us as if a baby. We will need someone to shepherd us when we can’t or don’t know the next step to take, when we are down and distressed and need a fresh word from God.
John 20: There is a saying “the early bird gets the worm.” Mary had risen early and her decision yielded blessings others missed. The drama began early before dawn on the first day of the week when Mary went to the tomb. Why did she go? What did she hope to find?
Because she rose early, she was the first to see the stone rolled away. Seeing the empty tomb, she left to alert Peter and the other disciple. They came and left, but she stayed. Why did she stay?
The other gospel writers include more details, but John tells us she stayed. Because she stayed, she saw the two angels in white sitting where Jesus’s body had been laid. Because she stayed she heard them ask; “Why are you weeping? He is not here but He is raised, just as He said.” Because she stayed, she alone heard the voice of her Master and was able to cling to Him for a moment. Because she stayed, she alone heard “go and tell.”
What will you miss if you choose to stay abed instead of rising early? It is the early bird that gets the worm and it is the early riser that hears the voice of Jesus and experiences His presence. What will you choose?
Again I say it is the man/woman who rises early that receives the blessing.
John 19 When the Israelites cried for a king, Samuel reminded them that if they chose an earthly king he would take their lands, sons, and money. And as predicted, it happened under Saul, David and Solomon and other kings who followed. Not having learned from the past we hear the religious leaders cry “we have no king except Caesar!” And then with swirling minds we recall Caiaphas saying “it is to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” But Pilate understood their mindset; it was because of envy. This King Jesus had performed miracles such as healing the blind man and raising Lazarus from the dead yet they cried CRUCIFY HIM! They would have no righteous king but a faltering man of human frailties, Caesar.
And so with hardened hearts and stubborn spirits they got what they asked for; the crucifixion of this man who called himself the Son of God; the King of the Jews. The soldiers may have done the nailing but the religious leaders’ hypocrisy pounded each nail along with them.
In the stillness of the two men emerge from the shadows to redeem his crucified body. With great tenderness they remove it and wrap it with aromatic spices before they laid him in a tomb. Unlike the crowd or Caiaphas, they as silent disciples, revealed their hearts by how they responded; Jesus was their king.
Who is your king? Caesar or Jesus?
Are you like Caiaphas who refused to believe or are you in the shadows waiting to say I believe?
Come out the shadows and proclaim: Jesus is the King of Kings!
Do you wait to be with Jesus in the early hours of the morning? Jesus loved that time too. Yet on this night of all nights as He knelt in the Garden speaking with the Father, his quiet was rudely interrupted by stomping boots and clanging swords all being led by the betrayer. But, as he had inquired of the early disciples, He now asks: “whom are you seeking?” He desires that they respond with reverence that they may be without excuse but the master betrayer has confounded them into confusion. They stand before him seemingly unaware that for this purpose He has come into the world. They had heard his teaching but failed to respond and now they hear: “I AM he…” They came seeking a notorious criminal; instead they came face to face with the holiness and majesty of the Son of God and retreat and fall to the ground for no man can stand in His presence unless cleansed by His blood.
These like the rich man of Luke 16 or the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas who carefully sought to not be defiled but will find that all of their works are like filthy rags. Instead of bowing the knee in this life they will bow the knee in eternity only to hear “I never knew you.” But to those who respond as Peter “You are the Christ, the son of the living God,” they will see His glory that the Father gave to Him.
The psalmist wrote: God “brings the wind out of his storehouses” ready to do His bidding. Sometimes it comes as tempest and sometimes as a soft breeze. Solomon wrote that the wind goes to the south and circles around to the north; round and round the wind goes and on its rounds it returns. [Ecc 1:6] Jesus told Nicodemus that the wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going as he was explaining to him about the Holy Spirit.
Jonah slept but the sailors feared. The disciples feared while Jesus slept. God stilled the sea in both. Elijah hid in a cave and God called to him. He was neither in the earthquake nor the fire but in the soft wind of a whisper. On the day of Pentecost a violent wind blowing came to anoint believers with the Holy Spirit’s power to be witnesses to all the people of the earth. And now His wind power is released from God’s storehouse to anoint you to carry His gospel to the lost.
Paul wrote: be filled with the Spirit.
Are you listening for the wind of the Holy Spirit? Do you feel His power upon you?
Do you allow His Spirit to come to teach you, reprove you, correct you and train you in righteousness?
Fools plan on getting right with God tomorrow,but what if there is no tomorrow? Take the example of Felix, trembling under Paul’s preaching. He said, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25). It never came.
If today you knew that this would be your last day here on earth, how would you consider using it? It is a truth that we all know but fail often to consider: to each man has been given a certain life span. Yet how often do we take for granted that which God has given to us? What we do with that time and how it will be viewed in eternity is a question we all should consider. Thus it is fitting that both the writers of the OT and NT wisely tell us: “Do not boast about tomorrow; for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” The NT writer James echoes this thought: “You do not know about tomorrow.What is your life like? Remember this you are like a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes.” [Jam 4:14] Even Jesus spoke about this fact: “But as for that day and hour no one knows it– not even the angels in heaven – except the Father alone. [Mat 24:36]
not presume there will be a tomorrow. Prepare for eternity today.
Psalm 132 “O Lord…In Prayer I come …to remember the acts of service of others. “
How often do we begin our prayers asking God to not forget a
specific person? It seems like many, we often begin as the thief on the cross “Remember
“me” when you come into your kingdom,” but we fail to ask God to remember a
loved one or a friend’s acts of service BEFORE we plead for ourselves.
When you have faced a strenuous effort, as David did, it would behoove us to ask God to not waste that effort. Solomon asked that his father’s work be held up as an example of steadfast endurance. He doesn’t want that hardship to have been wasted and so he begins by asking God to remember his father’s vow and how he earnestly sought to fulfill it. Not only did his father make a vow and seek to fulfill it,but he lost sleep over it and others heard of it as well. David made a start but Solomon would complete it. In the meantime, Solomon was bringing his petition to God for his father David’s sake reiterating the truth of Hebrews: “God,you are not unjust so as to forget his work…” [Heb 6:10 author’s thoughts]
As you go to prayer, stop and consider others acts of
service and ask God to remember them before you seek your own petitions.
If you have not read this story please take time now to open your Bible and read John chapter 9.
John devotes an entire chapter to the story of the blind man who was given the gift of sight, but he is not the only character in this story. As Jesus is leaving his time of worship and his humiliation of others who scoff and deride him, the blind beggar may have overheard the incredibly insensitive questions by the disciples about his condition. Yet, Jesus puts aside his own hurt to minister to this one who also has felt the stinging remarks of the disciples. He lovingly explained in his hearing that he was innocent of sin but now God would get the glory for the miracle He would do for this sightless man. He had “passed the test”of faith and Jesus would now prove it.
Mixing mud and then applying it to his eyes might seem rather crude but we are made of dust and to dust we shall return. Why is it any wonder that Jesus would use the very material of which he was made? After obediently following Jesus orders to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, the man awoke to sunshine that he could see, birds in the air that were not just sounds but also visual images of the very freedom he was experiencing. He saw, not just heard, people jostling others as they rushed about in their work. And oh! So much more. As he joyously returned to his home and his neighbors parents with this great news, he was met not with praises for God’s work but a silent astonishment. Instead of praising God, his parents would later tell the priests; he is of age ask him how he was healed. They all “failed the test.”
The neighbors, the city dwellers, the priests all had opportunity to give God praise. Instead they scoffed and turned him away.
So how did he respond?
Overcome with praise for seeing that which he had only heard, the man goes to the very place of worship where he would not be turned away; the Temple. Even if everyone else has “failed the test” he has not, for once again he hears the Master’s voice. The Master says you have heard but now you will see Me. Once again Jesus allows the man to not just hear but now to see him. Unlike those who saw the miracle but scoffed, he bent in humble adoration, believed and worshiped the One who gave him sight.
When Jesus touches your life do you allow others to scoff and seek to deny your gift of spiritual sight or do you return to the Gift giver and believe and worship?
What will Jesus say about you? Have you passed the test?
Soon Thanksgiving will be upon us. Are you looking forward to it or are you wishing that day would just go…away…takes too much time and no one helps or is grateful. You are not alone…Jesus also faced this….
On the shores of Galilee Jesus turned a small boy’s picnic lunch into a smorgasbord. It was there many saw how the Master took what was a little and made much so the hunger of the crowd was abated. In fact, even the disciples were able to pick up 12 baskets of leftovers! However, those who partook did not even offer a thank you to the master chef. How like us.
After the evening passed and morning came, they were surprised to find that there was no instant breakfast; so they went looking for the master chef. But Jesus knew their hearts. They wanted not only a free meal but also to make Him king. Finding him across the Sea they audaciously said what miraculous sign will you perform so that we may see it and believe you? How like us.
We see a miracle yet remain unsatisfied and just want more. God had given the children of Israel freedom and then He provided manna, water, and even quail; yet they grumbled and complained. How like us.
We are unsatisfied because our hearts are hard and will remain that way until we have experienced the Bread of Life and the Living Water. Jesus is the one who can satisfy our hunger and our thirst.