Is your light under a bushel?

Ps 22 & Ps 78 The psalmist says we are to tell the next generation about the Lord and his saving deeds and what he has accomplished. We can’t pass that job off onto the preacher or the missionary because the psalmist says, “we” will tell. Jesus said to “go and tell.” How many of us are like those who say, “my faith is personal, I don’t share it, I just live it?  Jesus left us a commandment: go and make disciples. That means we do just that; we tell about God’s saving grace.

Do we realize that God will hold us accountable for lives who would have chosen Jesus had they had heard the gospel message? The psalmist says to tell the next generation so that the truth will be heard from us to the next generation.   They need to hear from our lips the truth of the gospel message. We also need to do that so that they will not be lost and without hope.

Psalm 78:6 says to tell the next generation, and they, in turn, will tell the next generation about Jesus. If each generation carries on this tradition, imagine how many souls will hear the gospel? And in contrast, if we don’t tell how many souls will enter a Christ-less eternity because we have failed in our responsibility?

Today I challenge you to tell someone about Jesus.

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Where will you spend eternity? Is there an answer?

Job 14 “Is There Life After Death?”

Job asks the age-old question: “man dies and is powerless, he expires – and where is he?” Then he continues asking, “if a man dies, will he live again?”

Research has shown that down through the centuries, no matter where you go and with whom you talk, you find that all religions believe in some form of an afterlife, but the real question is what Job asked: “will he live again?” Science has proved that the body dies, but it cannot answer the question about the soul, for it cannot be measured. To answer this question, we need to have a witness that can affirm and answer this question. That witness is Jesus Christ. He “died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures and that he appeared.” [1 Cor 15] He appeared to not just Peter but to the many that went forth to tell the world: yes, there is life after death.

From Jesus, we can know that yes, we will live again, but the better question is, where will you spend eternity? The two thieves on the cross and the story Jesus told in Luke 16 tell us that man must choose NOW for once death comes; there is no return ticket to this earthly life. What will you choose? Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life.” [Jn 10]. 

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“Speeches Reveal the Heart”

Job 8 to 10 Job is facing a severe trial, and at his initiative, he has chosen to quarantine from his home and wife. His friends come to visit and sit six feet apart for seven days without a word for the sight of Job in his distress is so severe. Then, one by one, they begin to dialogue with him about his trial, but instead of gentleness, their words are harsh and full of criticism.

As Job listens, he begins to think of the wonders of creation and the God he has served for many a year. He wonders why this is happening, but his faith remains steadfast, although he asks how a human can be just before God? He shares his understanding of the God he knows, one who is wise in heart and might in strength. His ability to remove mountains shows his power, and he alone spreads out the heavens and treads on the sea waves. Jesus did just that as he walked on the waves on the Sea of Galilee to prove He was God.  Job asks if he passes by me, I cannot see him, and that is precisely the scene the disciples describe. [Mark 6] Zechariah and the Psalmist also describes Him as the one who crosses the sea of storms and will calm its turbulence. [Zechariah 10:11/Ps 107:29]

Faithful one, do you see Jesus as Job speaks? Do we come to God to plead for His mercy for those who are suffering? Do we stop and ask God to understand this dilemma? Do we have the same measure of faith as he; Even if he slays me, I will hope in him.”

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“The Battle is God’s, Not Ours.”

God's battle is not ours

1 Chron 20 What do you do when you hear bad news? What did the author of this passage want to teach us? First, even kings and leaders who are in authority face fear.  We can relate to this story because today, the virus has opened Pandora’s Box of fearful tendencies. Will I have a job? Where will I get the funds to pay for simple things like water, gas, and yes, groceries?  The author also wants us to learn that fear either drives men to God or away from God—which means once again—men have choices. 

In this story, the king hears disturbing news about enemies on his borders. He can gather his army, or he can seek advice and help from God. The tension in this story is the same many are facing today. We read that God steps in and anoints someone to come alongside to speak words of comfort and wisdom to the king. You may be fearful because of the news about the virus.  Many are asking, should I shelter in place, but if the economy reopens, should I step out or stay isolated? These are real-life questions with many unknown answers. And like Jehoshaphat, you may not know what to do.

It is then that a voice of wisdom steps out of the crowd to tell us that ‘the battle is God’s, not ours.’ God is asking us: will we trust Him even if we can’t see the future?

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Is it Good Friday? Can beauty come out of the ashes?

Luke 23 “Good Friday & Beauty out Ashes”

Dr. Luke records for us the witnesses at the cross. Only by the Spirit of God could one chapter hold so much that grabs our attention and cause us to fall upon our knees in humble adoration for the Messiah who gave all that we might worship Him alone.

Today of all days, we hear the very pilgrims who shouted Hosanna, but now are shouting Crucify Him, Crucify Him! These were led by the unrepentant religious leaders. They had been given the privilege of treasuring and imparting the sacred scriptures. These leaders had been called, chosen, and anointed and cleansed. Yet it is not the outward cleansing but the cleansing of the heart that God desires. Jesus pinpointed their heart problem:  But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” [Luk 11:39] God desires that we  draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience..” [Heb 10:22] 

Contrast this scene to the one criminal on the cross who recognized and submitted to the Son of God. Listen to his words; Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In that one brief interchange, Dr. Luke transcends earth to heaven so that beauty may come from the ashes of sin, and we learn of the plan of salvation. First, one must revere God; secondly, one must recognize that they are a sinner in need of repentance. Like the criminal, we are justly condemned for our sin. We must seek His face and His forgiveness. We then hear his response: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Note the promise: it happens today, not in the future. We will be with Him! We will be in paradise with Him.

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Earthly Stones vs. Living Stones

1Kings 6 Peter uses the word picture of living stones for people building the “living church.” The Temple used manual labor. We, as “living stones,” are building the living church using the ‘manual’ labor of scripture reading, witnessing, and prayer. 

Hiram willingly assisted Solomon all because David had laid the foundation of a lasting friendship. What lasting friendships have we cultivated?

In Exodus, we saw how the people gave willingly to build the Tabernacle. Here in this passage, we read that David had accumulated the necessary materials to build the Temple. Are we giving voluntarily to build the living church?

 The Temple used stones from under the earth. Believers are “living stones” on the earth to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1Pet 2]

God led, but men did the work, all under the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God directs our work and records it in our Book of Life—if our name is there! It is only there if we have accepted Jesus as Savior. One day, the books will reveal what is in those books.

Are you ready to hear what the Book has under your name?

 Time is fleeting. Will your works be wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver, and precious stones?

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Lamps and Light

2Samuel 22:29/Psalm 18 “Indeed, you are my lamp, Lord. The Lord illumines the darkness around me.” The scriptures are filled with verses that teach us about the benefit of light.  Science has proven that plants lean toward the light, and if you want them to grow straight, you must rotate them each day. The Israelites were used to the Lamp of God, a.k.a. the pillar of fire, leading them in the desert. Jesus called himself the “Light of the World.” He illumines our soul with truth because, as he said: “I am the Truth.”

When God instructed the Israelites to build the Tabernacle, he chose the Menorah to illumine the Holy Place. It was to be made of beaten gold and exhibited seven branches. It was to be placed on the south side opposite the table of shewbread and illumined this place for the priests to do their work. The wicks were to be trimmed each week—what a beautiful picture of the Light illumining our work for Him.

Jesus illumines our soul with truth and is a guide out of the darkness of the sin-filled world in which we live and move and have our being. “Only bats, and owls, and unclean and ravenous things are fond of the night. Children of light walk in the light and reflect the light.” [Spurgeon]

Where are you reflecting the Light to others in this time of uncertainty?

Photo credit: One for Israel Ministries

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“Grace Abundantly Flowing”

Unsplash Grace by Priscilla du Preez

2Samuel 9 Ever watched Mission Impossible? Those are fake, but this story is real! A bit of history here: for centuries, when a new king arose, he executed the remaining family members of the former king. David could have followed the pattern of others, but he is not like others. David had made a pretty significant promise to his best friend Jonathan, now dead, to care for any of his remaining family members. Imagine yourself as the one remaining son of Jonathan. What will the new king do? 

Enter in the spy named Ziba, who happens to know that disabled Jonathan’s son, whose name you can hardly pronounce, Mephibosheth, was in hiding. This is where grace enters the equation. In fear and trembling, Mephibosheth is called to the palace expecting the worst but hearing the best news ever. He will be given the land of his father and will be seated (said four times) at the king’s table for the rest of his life.

Mephibosheth is like us as unbelievers hiding from the king. We know as the family of the former king; our head is on the chopping block. However, Jesus is the true king, and like David, he extends his grace. King Jesus sends, Ziba, a.k.a the Holy Spirit, to find us and bring us home to his palace.  We fear the worst, but hear you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. Do we deserve it? No, but God’s grace is poured out on us called salvation, and now we can be in His presence forever. 

Are you a Mephibosheth? King Jesus is sending the Holy Spirit to rescue you if you accept his invite.

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Meeting Needs of Others

Deut 23 love your neighbor2aDeut 23 “Be Creative as you Love Your Neighbor.”

Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle,  but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.

Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?

Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.

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Who is God?

Deut 4 to 6 Know God2apng

Deut 4-6 God is…

The world shouts out: who is God? The world questions: who is God? They might say God is love and He is, but Moses said God is the Lord. He revealed Himself to the pagan Egyptians and to the Israelites as one who is not a man that he should change his mind. He revealed Himself in signs and wonders such as at Baal-Peor where He eradicated from their midst everyone who followed that false god. Moses asked them this question: “what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him?” And God is asking us the very same question and to that he asks: Do you know me?

Peter reminded the sojourners just as Moses was reminding the people: “You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.” Even though they did not “see” him they heard his voice saying: “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left. [Is 30]And again, if we seek Him, we will find Him; if we seek Him with all our heart and soul.

 

Who is God? He is the Lord God and there is no other besides him. Our obligation: Love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being and all your strength. In this way we affirm we serve Him and only Him.”

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