Monthly Archives: March 2016

Then they remembered His words

Luke 24:1-8, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered His words.”

Do you ever have one of those moments? You hear your mom or dad’s voice echoing in your head and suddenly it all makes sense? I was looking straight into the eyes of my son, telling him why he couldn’t drive his car to the prom, when I heard my dad, “One day you’ll understand son why I think it is too dangerous.” Or the time in ministry when I felt overwhelmed with the hurts and needs of the people and couldn’t make my son’s ballgame. Again, my dad’s words flowed like a recording in my head, “One day son you’ll understand why I couldn’t make it to your game.”

As I grow older, the Bible becomes more and more real to me every day. God gave us an answer for every detail of our lives, we just have to remember it!

When Mary realized Jesus’ body was gone, she was devastated. The Angels appeared to her to remind her of what Jesus had told them…then they remembered His words. 

How many times do we encounter situations in our lives and make the wrong decision? How many times do we read the prophecies of the Bible and recognize its prudence for today? How many times are we at a crossroads in our lives and don’t know which way to go?

I’ve made it common practice in my own life when I am struggling for an answer or direction to simply “remember His words.” 

The Bible is an amazing tool and when used is a road map for our eternal success. I challenge you to study and remember His words through out your day in dealing with people, reacting to situations, and facing the tough issues of life.

 

 


Foolishness

1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The other day I spoke with a young man who is a student at Harvard University. He laughed with me, “You think being a southerner isn’t tough enough at Harvard, try being a Christian on top of that.” He went on to describe the bantering he receives because of his belief. “At times, I don’t feel qualified to answer their questions, but somehow God seems to find a way for me to say what I need to say.”

It can be intimidating to be around people whose IQ measures the same numbers as my mortgage payment. The Bible tells us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” To put it simply, God in His dumbest moment (which doesn’t happen, but for the sake of argument) is smarter than the world’s wisest man and God in His weakest moment (again, which doesn’t happen) is stronger than the world’s strongest man.

Some of the smartest people I know, do not “get” the Cross; and therefore, they are the dumbest people I know. If you are one of those people, I apologize for the insult but you are perishing.

There comes a time when we have to realize, people who aren’t with Christ; people who criticize the word of God; people who do not understand the power of the Cross; those people are perishing.

Paul adds that “God has made foolish the wisdom of the world.” Some of you today think you have all the answers. Some of you may even ridicule those who live by the Cross; those who are directed and guided by Christ. One day, I pray your eyes will be opened and the intelligence you profess today; the so-called ‘smartness’ you think you’ve gained from the world will become what it is in the eyes of God – foolishness.

The foolishness of the world masquerades itself as peer pressure, political correctness, book smarts, cultural norms, scientific knowledge, whatever you want to call it. It is, however, an inability to acknowledge and accept the truths of God.

Today, pray for God to open your eyes to any spiritual blindness you may have. Spiritual wisdom enlightens and redeems us; uplifts us; brings light into our lives. Ask God to help you know the areas you need to strengthen through the Word. Ask God to make you wise in Him.


Giving

Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

As a boy growing up in the church my father pastored, I remember well a particular lady who was  best known for her 7 layer caramel cake. Any covered dish lunch or funeral, there was one constant, Miss Agnes’ cake. There was however a unique characteristic many people didn’t know. Miss Agnes was a giver. I once heard her explaining to my dad a particular gift she had made for my mom and him. Any gift Miss Agnes gave meant something to her. She would never go out and just buy something; she either made it or it was something that meant a great deal to her.

Once I heard she gave her father’s pocket watch to a young man she had witnessed grow up and because he meant so much to her, on his graduation day from high school, her gift to him was the watch. With tears in her eyes, she explained to him how much it meant to her and therefore, how much he meant to her. He understood the sacrifice with which she offered it to him and he vowed to always treasure it.

When I read this verse from Hebrews, I think of her example. It isn’t telling us to give out of abundance, it is telling us God is pleased when our giving is a sacrifice. The definition of sacrifice is a loss or something that is given up. It isn’t a few extra dollars in our pocket or a couch we wanted to get rid off. God is asking us to share with others as a sacrifice on our part – that’s what pleases Him.

I often hear people say, “If I had money, I’d be the nicest rich person!”

While it sounds good, the truth is, if you won’t share the little you have, you aren’t going to share the abundance.

Your time is a sacrifice. When we serve others with our talents and give to them time we could be doing for ourselves is a sacrifice. My question to you today, “What are you sacrificing for others in order to please God?”

Take the time today to evaluate your giving. If you struggle in this area, ask God to help you. Start looking for ways to serve others in your community, church, neighborhood, and home. Open your heart to the possibilities and begin making a difference in God’s Kingdom.


Can I just stay on the mountaintop?

Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;”

Many of us have walked through the valley; some of us more than others; some of us are walking through it now. God doesn’t tell us He will remove us from the valley. He doesn’t say He will come in with a thousand angels and make it all better – although He could.

When I was a little boy, I sliced open my leg pretty deep on a rusted barbed wire fence. My mom called my dad and headed to the pediatrician’s office for stitches and a tetanus shot. Understandably, I was scared. I didn’t want a shot and I certainly didn’t want stitches. On the way to the doctor’s office my mom smiled at me with a worried but loving grin. “Michael, I will be with you the whole time. Don’t be afraid.”

I knew I had to get the shot, and I knew I had to get the stitches. It was going to hurt, too; but, my mom was going to be with me. She didn’t lie to me either. From the moment I got to his office until the moment I left, my mom never left my side. My dad made it there just in time for the final stitch and a promise of ice cream on the way home for being brave.

God is telling us that we will have hard times; we will have hurt; we will experience tragedy and pain; grief will fill our hearts; and sometimes, people we love will be taken from us. But “even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death…He is with us.” That means He isn’t going anywhere. He will not leave our side – not for a moment.

I wish we could always live on the mountaintop; but, mountaintops are temporary – and so are valleys. Wherever you are right now – mountaintop, valley, or somewhere in between – never doubt Who is by your side.


Don’t Lose Your Chance

John 2:1-7, “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.”

I love the miracles of Jesus. Of all of them, this is probably my favorite because it says so much for us today. When Mary goes to Jesus with the dilemma, she instructs the servants to do whatever He tells them to do. Think about that for a moment. These are not Mary’s servants. They do not know who Jesus is or what He is capable of doing; and yet, their hearts are willing to do whatever He tells them to do.

There are some stone water jars nearby used by the Jews for ceremonial washing. These are not small jars when you consider they are capable of holding 20 to 30 gallons of water. That’s heavy. When He tells them to fill the stone jars with water, the servants filled them to the brim.

Some of you are looking for God to move in your life miraculously. Maybe you need healing or an answer to a financial problem or help with your children. Maybe your home is near foreclosure or in foreclosure. Maybe your business is going under or you need money for an education or you lost your job. Whatever the issue, whatever the need, are you filling your stone jars to the brim? When I think about these servants, I realize, Jesus didn’t tell them how much water to put in the stone jars. Some of you would probably only put 1/4 of the way full; some of you, only 1/2. But they went the extra mile and filled it to the brim.

I know I’m speaking to someone out there, God has asked you to do something very specific but you aren’t doing it. If the servants had not filled the stone jars with water, there wouldn’t be wine. Jesus needed them to do something so He would do something.

There have been times in my life when God has instructed me to do something and I really didn’t understand at all why He would asked me to do that; but I did it anyway. I filled my stone jars to the brim and received His blessing.

I want to encourage you today to listen to what God is instructing you to do. You can hear Him through prayer, the Bible, the peace within you, through others, or some other way. God is limitless. Do what He is telling you to do!

I recently visited a friend in the hospital. He told me God had been telling him to lose 50 pounds for over a year and he didn’t do it. Now he faced by-pass surgery and his physician told him if he didn’t lose 50 pounds he was going to die. Through tears he explained he knew God wanted him to do a particular thing for the Kingdom. We prayed together and as I left the hospital he asked me, “Do you think God will give me the chance this time to do what He asked me to do?”

Don’t miss your miracle because you are too stubborn or too frustrated or too unwilling or too whatever to fill your stone jars to the brim. Your miracle awaits. Don’t lose your chance.


Let the Palm Branches Wave

“Hosanna! Hosanna!”

The shouts were heard through the streets as Jesus Christ rode into town. It was a celebration – a day of great expectations!

Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The crowds waved Palm Branches, which was a symbolic gesture in recognizing the Maccabean victory when the Jewish people retook Jerusalem. When the people saw Jesus coming, they saw victory from Roman oppression; they saw King David; they saw freedom.

But they didn’t understand the reality of what was happening. Their expectations were not met and less than 3 days later, the cries of “Hosanna! Hosanna!” were changed to “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Even those who were closest to Him – His disciples – would deny and betray Him as well. On Palm Sunday, the crowds wanted Him to be what they wanted, not what He actually was.

No one wanted a crucified Messiah! The Messiah the prophets spoke about; the Messiah who would save them; the Messiah who would be their new King, he was a warrior! He was a conqueror! He could not be on a Cross.

Sometimes we place our expectations on Jesus. We see things in our lives differently. We think we know what should happen – but His plan is so much better.

The day Jesus rode into town, no one could fathom the very next Sunday would revolutionize lives. The world would be changed forever.

Jesus came to meet our needs – not our expectations.

Jesus came to deliver us from sin – not from politicians or political movements.

Jesus came to serve us – to love us – to teach us – not to give us what we want when we want it.

Jesus came to give to us eternal life.

Approach this Holy Week with appreciation and gratitude. Spend time with Him in prayer. Celebrate His victory. Tell others of His Good News!

 


Where Discipleship Begins

Galatians 2:20, “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Most of the original 12 disciples were crucified because of their ministries. But when Paul wrote this, he wasn’t suggesting the same for us obviously. He wanted us to realize that in order to have spiritual victory over the evil of this world; in order to live as Christ lived; in order to allow Him to move and work in and through our lives, we had to be crucified with Christ. No longer do we have the right to control our own lives. In being crucified with Christ, we find the power to live a life filled abundantly with the joy, power, and abilities of Him.

Christ left so that the Holy Spirit could fill us and live in us. This gives us the ability to do “what Jesus would do.”  Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, whatever we encounter, we have the ability to conquer because Christ lives and works within us.

Today, in your prayer time, talk with God about living through you. Here are some guidelines to help start a dialogue with Christ:

1. Express to Him that you want very much to be a person of God. There are times when you feel defeated and inadequate. There are times when you do not know how to deal with certain people or do certain things. Admit to Him, you need Him.

2. Accept the authority of Christ to give you exactly what you need, whether it be in words or actions, believe you can overcome every obstacle because Christ is directing you.

3. Surrender to Him. Give Him express permission to live His life through you. Release the controls. Be crucified in Him.

You may have to pray this prayer on a daily basis until you can freely surrender to Him. Discipleship begins when we allow Christ to live in and through us.