Monday, August 31, 2015

The Spirit and the Truth...

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. 
There is an undeniable connection in scripture between the Spirit and the Truth.  Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of Truth," and Paul here ties in what the Spirit does in our lives with what the Word of Truth does in our lives.  Our salvation and sanctification involve the work of the Spirit and the truth of the Gospel. We are to stand firm on what God has said through the Spirit in His Word, then see where the Holy Spirit changes us and moves us, based upon that foundation.  May we be open today to hear the Spirit speak through His Word, show us what we need to see, and change us the way we need to change.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Resisting the Holy Spirit...

Acts 7:51-53 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."
Stephen was speaking to some very religious people who had lived their lives trying to do the right thing.  In doing so, they had missed God's salvation when He walked right past them.  In fact, they had outright opposed Him.  This reflected something deeper: their resistance to the Holy Spirit who works within - convincing, convicting, and offering comfort.  We would rather do it ourselves.  But Jesus was very clear - without allowing the Holy Spirit to blow life into our lives, it isn't going to happen.  It can be scary, of course, to allow the Wind to control, and we do not want just any "spirit" into our lives.  But when we receive Christ, and His Holy Spirit comes in, we need to allow Him full rule and reign to not only redecorate and rearrange our lives, but redirect them.  Don't resist.  Just like the Father and Son, He has all the wisdom, love and power to direct us in the right way to go.  May we say: "Holy Spirit, I'm done fighting You; You are welcome here."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Holy Spirit: Getting what we don't ask for...

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 
In Christ we have abundant blessings - especially the Holy Spirit within.  When Christ promised Him in the upper room He also promised this peace that only He can bring.  we also receive hope and love as gifts and fruit of the Spirit.  All this without asking, just receiving from His gracious hand.  Something else we do not ask for, but receive, is suffering.  Christ promised this in the upper room as well - that if we are serious about living for Christ, we will be hated, persecuted and mistreated - we will suffer.  But Paul encourages us here to realize that it is a package deal and the hope, peace, love and work of the Holy Spirit will far outweigh the sufferings, so that God will accomplish great things that will glorify Him.  May we openly welcome and receive all Christ offers us in the Holy Spirit.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Holy Spirit: Getting what we ask for

Acts 4:29-31 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. 
One of the descriptive phrases of the early church is "filled with the Holy Spirit."  Rather than being a frenzy into which these believers worked themselves, this is a characteristic that appeared as a result of a specific prayer.  They asked for boldness in proclaiming Christ.  This would only come and be effective through the power of the Holy Spirit.  To be sure, this was not the only prayer request the church had, but it is representative in many ways: it was unselfish - focused not on their desires, but on the commandment Christ had given to go and tell; it demanded trust - that God knows what is best, and that He would provide for and protect them when they did go and tell; it was open - they did not tell God who, when, and where, but allowed Him to lead them in His time and His way.  It was a great starting point.  What if we started today with that one simple prayer: "Lord, give me boldness to live and speak the Gospel today.  I'll trust you for the rest."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Holy Spirit: Our Rememberer...

John 14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 
When I was young and inexperienced, a senior friend of mine used to introduce me to others this way: "He has forgotten more than I ever knew."  It was very flattering, but very false.  He was a very simple but wise father-like follower of Christ.  We need instruction in God's truth, but even more, we need a reminder of what we "know" when it comes to daily life.  The Holy Spirit does both: He instructs us in the truth, working with the Word of God to show us how to live, then, as the One Who dwells within, He is there to remind us of what He has taught us and how to apply it to life right now. Our problem is that we tend to forget our Rememberer; we ignore His wisdom and counsel; We live life as if He is not right here with us.  What a loss.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Holy Spirit: wear Him well...

2 Chronicles 24:20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’”
Scripture has some interesting verbs for the Holy Spirit's activities.  He hovers, He speaks, He rushes, and here He "clothed" a priest.  People looking on the outside could see the presence of the Spirit inside, as God used him to speak the truth for God.  Our words and actions should agree. As those who profess to follow Christ, we have the Spirit dwelling within, and those around us should be able to look and listen and recognize that, as if we have clothes that say "filled with the Spirit."  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Holy Spirit... The Rushing Wind...

Judges 15:14-15 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. 
When Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit, He compared Him to the Wind - Unseen Presence, powerful results. (John 3)  His coming on the Day of Pentecost is also described as a "rushing of the wind." (Acts 2).  Similarly, in the glimpses we get of Him in the Old Testament, He is presented as "rushing upon" men to do something powerful, beyond natural ability.  Like any other good gift God gives man, we at times try to control and use these gifts for a "rush."  But that is not why or how the Spirit of God works.  No one tells the wind what to do; we are to "go along for the ride," allowing Him to work in and through us for God's glory, not our fancy.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Get thinking about the Holy Spirit...

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 
Early in His ministry on earth, Jesus the Christ began to associate being a part of the Kingdom of God with the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Since He is spirit, we often ignore the unseen.  But we can see and hear the effects of His presence and power.  He does things within us that cannot be done from without.  That means that the things that seem impossible, that we could never think could happen, can, like being born again, having new life, being free from the power of sin and death.  It can and does happen, through what God gives, Christ has done, and the work of the Holy Spirit within.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Following Jesus, no matter what...

John 21:18-22 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God. And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 
Jesus had just called on Peter to faithfully serve Him and shepherd His sheep for the rest of his life.  This would not be an easy thing.  It was part of Peter's following Jesus.  Peter did the natural thing we often do: "Lord, that's not fair! How about John; is he going to have a hard time too?"  We love the comparison game; Christ does not.  So He simply says: don't worry about Him; YOU, Follow me!"  Let's not look for excuses to not follow Christ down the hard path.  Let's follow Him where He leads. He loves us, knows what's best for us, and will be the one to carry us where we don't want to go.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Following Christ to Freedom...

Matthew 19:16-23 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 
We are an affluent society.  Some of us have a bigger piece of the pie, but materially speaking, we are rich in stuff.  It gives us our security, our identity, our purpose in life - desire, work for, obtain, and protect you stuff.  Give it away, and what do you have? People looking somewhere else for fulfillment, purpose and security.  Christ wants to be that place we look.  He wants to free us from our stuff to follow Him.  Are you ready?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Following Jesus all the way...

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 
Jesus was determined to take the path laid before Him - all the way.  It was a path that was headed toward the cross, and then back to the Father.  But it had to go by way of the cross. There were no bypasses or detours.  He could not and would not jump off the path, then try to get back on on the other side of the cross.  Waiting till a later day, time or situation never was an option with Christ. It is too easy to get so sidetracked one never gets back on.  Don't avoid the hard things.  Don't take the easy way just because it's easy.  Take His way; follow Him.  It really is a matter of life and death.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Following Jesus... back to my place

Matthew 9:9-13 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 
Jesus' classic call to His disciples was to follow Him - to come spend time with Him, observe Him, watch Him, listen to Him, and learn what is important to Him and do it.   When Matthew is called and follows Him the first place they end up is back in Matthew's home, with his friends, business acquaintances, and those who were used to seeing him in everyday life.  Following meant being seen with Jesus by them, and introducing them to Him.  Following Jesus is not leaving Him where we find Him - at an altar, by a bedside, in a brick building.  It is including Him in our lives and having Him show us the changes that we need to make there, in those relationships and responsibilities.  Then He takes us to new and exciting places with new people, where He plans to use us as His new creation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Following Jesus to the other side...

Matthew 8:18-22 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” 
What we often miss when we read this familiar passage is the first line: Jesus commanding his disciples to go get ready to go to the other side of the lake.  This was not where they would be most welcomed or at home. It was a place with a different culture, different values, different standards.  It was a trip of uncertainty: it would require letting Him lead the way, decide where they would stay, and plan each day.  That meant giving up desired creature comforts, excuses, and self-willed agendas.  Are we ready to follow Jesus there?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Following: Seeing what else He has to say...

Matthew 4:18-22 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 
Reading this passage, one might get the idea that Jesus just picked up any old people off the street to be His disciples.  While He does receive all who will follow, there is more to the story.  A study of the other gospels along with this one reveals that these men had encountered Jesus before. They had heard some of what He had to say, and what others said about Him (like John the Baptizer.) Their choice to follow Him was to find out more, to hear more of what He had to say. They committed themselves to His Word, to be instructed, to live His lifestyle, and to bring others along in following Jesus.  Does that describe your life of "following Jesus"?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Using Both Eyes...

Proverbs 22:4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. 
As we walk through life, God has given us two spiritual eyes - one to look up, and one to look within.  We need to ask ourselves "How do I see myself?" and How do I see God?"  Practically speaking, and sad to say, we often think too highly of ourselves and lowly of God.  But the reverse is what will make life beautiful, meaningful, eternal.  When we bow ourselves in awe of Him, we find the life of blessing God wants to give - not just material riches, but real riches.  since "the fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom," choosing this path leads to wise living which brings honor.  It is the path that brings us to reality, to Christ, to life.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Is it really worth it???

Proverbs 23:17-18 Let not your heart envy sinners,but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely there is a future,and your hope will not be cut off.
The Fear of The Lord.  It sounds scary.  It calls for humility.  It does away with all excuses, leaving me here with God and God alone.  He sees me as I am, with no comparison to others, but only to Him. He is perfect; I am not.  He is all-powerful; I am needy.  He has the wisdom I lack.  What is not to fear?  But this is the fear that has hope, that has a future.  It is the wise path that leads to life, abundant and eternal.  It is worth it, so worth it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Can't get no satisfaction???

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the Lord leads to life,and whoever has it rests satisfied;he will not be visited by harm. 
Many of us are never satisfied - whatever we have, whatever we accomplish, whatever we experience - it's just never enough.  It's more than complacency; it's more like barking up the wrong tree or always ending up on a dead-end street.  That's because we start out wrong; we do not begin with the Fear of The Lord. Life only begins to make sense when He is in it, when He is the one we look to for meaning, when He calls the shots.  After all, He is the one who made life and gave it to us.  If anyone knows what will bring us satisfaction, it is the one who stepped back and said "It is good."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"I'm wrong..."

Proverbs 15:31-33 The ear that listens to life-giving reproofwill dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,and humility comes before honor. 
The fear of The Lord is the Beginning of wisdom... But what comes before that?  Humility before God.  A willingness to listen to Him.  An openness to reproof.  That word smacks, it stings, it hits us in our pride - reproof.  Telling us we are wrong, we are sinful, we are foolish.  We need wisdom, and that comes from The Lord.   We dishonor God and ourselves when we reject His wisdom, and the reproof that leads to it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Matter of Life and Death

Proverbs 14:26-27 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,that one may turn away from the snares of death. 
The Fear of The Lord... Does it really matter?  Yes, it is a matter of life and death.  Choosing to fear The Lord brings with it the guidance and protection of God that affects not only our lives, but the lives of those we influence - our family and those we interact with daily.  Foolishness devastates a lot of collateral damage, bringing death and destruction instead of life.  The net result is that one can have great confidence in what is said, done, decided.  The fear of The Lord brings wisdom that will affect this life and the one to come.  It's that important.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fear Revealed...

Proverbs 8:12-14 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. I have counsel and sound wisdom;I have insight; I have strength. 
So, how can we see if we fear The Lord in a healthy way?  It is a shown in a hatred for evil in our lives.  Often we abhor evil in other people's lives: their pride, lifestyle and wicked mouth - but we do not hate it as much in our own lives.  The Fear of The Lord can also be seen in our acceptance of wise counsel and our resolve to live by our convictions.  We can be seen making decisions that work out right because we have sought God, His Will and His way.  Let's show a little wisdom today!

Monday, August 10, 2015

It starts here.... The Fear

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
Who do we think we are?  All powerful? All knowing? All wise?  All Good?  We often live that way.  Proverbs describes for us different paths we can go down in life.  This path leads to destruction, even though there may be some deceiving scenery along the way.  Wise living demands we stop long enough to look in the mirror not just at where we've been, but at who we are, then look up and see our Creator, the sovereign Lord, who is all of the above.  He is looking down and watching how we travel, where we go, why we go there.  He sees what lies ahead around the next bend, over the next hilltop.  He wants to guide us, protect us, save us from our own foolishness.  Will we say "Okay, here I am- needy, ignorant, foolish, self- reliant, sinful."  Or will we keep driving, ignoring His caring call?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Go and Tell... 2

Acts 2:5-13 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
When Jesus gave His call the the disciples in Acts 1 to go out into the world and share the Gospel, He was telling them to go further than the many times he had told people to "Go Back and Tell" those who were a part of their own community.  Here we find step one of that new series of steps.  One the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to fill and empower these men to share the gospel to those of many tongues and nations.  All they had to do is walk out the door to the places they lived their every day lives.  That's where Christ wants us to begin as well.  Outside our own doors, in every day life. Going and telling means we take it to the streets of where we live, then see where else He takes us.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Go and Tell...

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 
When Jesus was ministering on earth, He primarily told people to go back home and tell others within one's sphere of influence what He had done and Who He was.  But with His ascension He adds the call to go out to new areas - to reach others across town, outside of town, and other places in the world, with the Gospel.  That call continues for us... So today, we pray for those reaching out to "The Beach", that they can share the love of Christ.  Go and Tell!

Friday, August 7, 2015

God Back and Tell... Part 5

Matthew 28:8-10 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” 
I find this passage troubling.  The angel had just instructed these women witnesses of the risen Christ to go and tell His disciples what they had witnessed and where to go.  Why does Jesus interrupt them, only to give them the same message, delaying them in their going and telling?  Mixed emotions.  Even though they were doing what they were told, they were doing so without full assurance: they had fear mixed with their joy.  That is what Jesus wants to eliminate: the fear of witnessing.  Why? Because eventually that fear will slow us down in our going and telling.  We need to stop being afraid and start being more joyful in the message we have to share, and go and tell.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Go Back and Tell... Part 4

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28:5-8 ESV)
In a sense, the women who came to the empty tomb were representative of all the followers of Jesus. At the time, they happened to be the most faithful and courageous of those followers. When the angel appeared to them to announce the resurrection, the first thing they were told to do was to go back to the others, especially the eleven, and report the news. But it was more than just a fact they were to report. There were implications to follow. Since He was risen, they would want to follow Him where He was going, so they could see Him. They had their instructions: Go back and tell. They would want to be there to see Him also. The same is true today when we know the Risen Christ: we want to follow Him, and we want to go and tell others so they can follow Him too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Go Back and Tell ... Part 3

Luke 13:31-35 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” 
This response from Jesus is far different that the others we have looked at.  Here He is responding to a group of people who were not seeking to follow Him, but to make Him fail.  They have been talking to Herod, trying to make Jesus look out like a trouble-maker, and come in a sense with Herod's backing; they are speaking for him based on what they have told him.  So, when Jesus tells them to "go and tell that fox..." He is rebuking them in the process.  in other words, before they go and tell, they need to shut up and listen. His rebuke is more to them than Herod, as Jesus outlines their history of persecuting the prophets.  The message they needed to be able to speak was "blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord!" Until they could go and tell that, they were better of going away and shutting up.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Go Back and Tell... Part 2

Mark 5:14-20 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. 
Again, we have Jesus telling someone to go and tell.  Again, He is telling him to go BACK to his own homeland, with family and friends, to tell them about it.  Going often is staying where we are, because that is the place we are needed most.  When Christ does something in our lives, we are not to hold it in, nor are we to hold out for the place we thing most will hear it.  We are to tell those who need to here it most, and that is where He tells us it is.  For this man who had been demon possessed, it was definitely before those who had witnessed his old life, and the dramatic change that tool place when Christ came into his life.  They did not need explanation of details or using their imagination; they could see it firsthand.  May we not look for the largest platform possible. Let us look where we are, and ask Him where else He may want us to "go and tell."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Go back and Tell... Part 1

Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” 
Go and Tell.  Putting those two commands together from the mouth of Jesus yields some interesting results.  Often, like here, when Jesus told people that, He was sending them back to where they had come from.  They were not always going to a place they did not know, but many times being sent back to their families, friends, and co-workers to bring a much-needed message.  Here he is saying, "Go back and tell John what you have witnessed" - what Jesus did and said. He then added some food for thought: how one responds to that message makes a big difference.  John could have been offended that Jesus was out free, living a life of popularity, which he was stuck in prison on death row.  But instead he asked a serious question, and the evidence in the report sent back was enough to give him the answer: "Jesus is the Christ.  There is no other."  Responding correctly to Him will bring blessing - put one on the right path, headed in the right direction.  He is "the way, the truth and the life," and "no one comes to the Father but through Him."  That is the message for us to mull over, respond to, and go and tell.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Since the end is near... have someone over!

1 Peter 4:7-11 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 
I have some good friends who use social media to remind us of the "signs of the times" and keep us looking at God's Word and at the skies for Christ's return.  Peter did that.  And as a result of our looking, there are certain things we should be doing, like having fellowship with other believers.  Notice in this passage what Peter is concerned about: our natural reaction to "the end of all things" is to withdraw to ourselves, to sit and wait and protect ourselves.  But we should be turning to one another - open, generous and loving.  We need each other in these days.  Our fellowship needs to increase.  We need to be the ones to foot the bill - in time, effort, and even food, to get together with fellow followers, and build one another up to face the trials and testings of 'the end of all things'.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Extended Family...

3 John 1:15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name. 
As John concludes this lesson to his friend in the faith, Gaius, he steps back for both to get the big picture.  Both have friends at the church at each other's location.   They are to be greeted in love.  In the same way, as John has asked in this letter, believers and servants of God who come to another sister church should be able to find the same love and hospitality.  Just as John and Gaius send and receive greetings, so Gaius should continue to do for others.  It is the Peace of Christ we share - not only our individual salvation, but the fellowship of faith.  We have peace with God and one another.