Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Same temptation different result.

Luke 4:1 - 21

Every seed has the potential to bring a harvest. Whether that harvest is good or evil depends on the type of seed.

Jesus temptation was a type of seed sown it was reflective of another temptation that had happened thousands of years earlier. Jesus is called the second Adam. The first Adam, the father of mankind, was placed on this earth by God to be reflective of God’s nature and to live in harmony with God and nature but temptation came his way and he failed.

1 John 2:16 reads this way ….

“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

These are the temptations that every person faces on a regular basis. They are the same temptations that Adam and Eve faced in Genesis 3:6 and Jesus Faces in this passage.

Lust of the flesh: Adam - “the tree was good for food”; Jesus - “command these stones to become bread

Lust of the eyes: Adam – “it was pleasant to the eyes”; Jesus – “showed Him all of the kingdoms”

Pride of life: Adam – “a tree desirable to make one wise”; Jesus – “throw Yourself down from here”

The first temptation was a failure and mankind ended losing the intimacy with the Lord that God intended, bring the entire earth under bondage to the enemy. All of creation paid the price for Adams sin. No longer could man have open access to God the way Adam and Eve had communion with Him before the fall.

The second temptations laid the foundation for ultimate victory. Jesus defeating Satan in this temptation laid the groundwork for a return to the intimacy that God had intended. As weak as Jesus flesh was after 40 days of fasting and roaming the wilderness without shelter, he did not give into the flesh, the world system or the devil. The intimacy and fellowship that God the Father has wanted with us all along could now be realized. Jesus began to restore the open door to the Father.

Something else I need to note here, while Jesus went into the wilderness full of the Holy Spirit it wasn’t until the enemy was defeated that He came out with power ready to fulfill His destiny and purpose. Often we wonder why we are not fulfilling our destiny yet we still have areas in our lives where we have allowed the enemy to have victory.

Jesus overcoming has opened the door for our relationship, a loving, intimate, open relationship with God the Father. Take advantage of this open door. There is nothing between you and God except what you place there. Jesus has made the way for you to have the closest, most loving relationship any one could have. When we feel alone, abandoned, or hopeless it is time to take a look to see what is between God and me. It is not God’s plan to allow anything between us.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fire and water!

Luke 3:16 – 37

John’s call was to be the forerunner for Jesus. To cut the path, so that people would be ready to hear what Jesus had to say. He was calling people to repentance.

Our culture has softened the idea of repentance. We talk about being sorry for something. True repentance is doing a 180-degree turnaround. Walking completely away from the wrong thing, never to return again. Those who came and accepted John’s message did just that and when they truly repented they were baptized, a symbolic dying of them selves and a resurrection as a new creation in Christ. Once they have repented, as Paul wrote, it was no longer they that live but Christ in them.

John said, while he baptized in water Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire. Water can be used to cleanse the outside, fire completely transforms and individual. When a piece of wood passes though fire it becomes ash, which can easily be used to fertilize the ground and bring good fruit. When gold passes through the fire it is purified. Both things radically change when they pass through the fire. Jesus came to baptize us with fire and then to enable that change to be effective and used properly, opened the door for the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing. As long as we carry around the junk from our past, as long as we carry unrepentant sin we will never be changed. Repentance is a choice we make, the Jesus kind of repentance is radical it is life transforming it is allowing God to get rid of all of the stuff and mold us, shape us into His image.
To have a life change! This change brings freedom, a freedom that allows us to be who we are called to be.

Are you filling frustrated and limited today? Do you believe that there is more for you to do? More you want to do but can’t get there from here? Ask the Lord to walk you through his fire, to fill you new with his Holy Spirit. Before you do let me warn you, you will change, it will not be easy but when it is all done you will have a greater peace, love, joy, and power because you have allowed the Lord to shape you into what you have been called to be. You will begin a journey of freedom, it truly will be longer you that live but Christ that lives in you!

Friday, August 27, 2010

God’s instructions are always clear and true!

Luke 2: 1 – 24

All of us go through times where we have difficulty hear God. We wonder if there is some encrypted message that we are missing. We need to always remember God knows us, He knows us better than we know ourselves. When He speaks or relays some message to us it is always in a way that we can understand it. We can especially trust His Word to be true and accurate.

For many years there was a general mistrust among scholars as to this opening statement by Luke regarding Jesus birth. As far as many historians understood Quirinius was governor. Until 40 years ago the timeline was all wrong Quirinius was governor of Syria from 6 A.D. However the census that the Romans took really happen between 8 B.C. and 6 B.C. How could he have been governor and Joseph and Mary be forced to travel to Bethlehem for the census. Recent documents found that Quirinius was appointed governor twice, once from 7 – 6 B.C. and the second from 6 A.D. In case you are curious, our calendar is off because of some faulty math by the monks who developed our calendar system. In other words if we really wanted to set our calendar to Christ birth then this is actually 2016 or 17 now. So much for the 2012 Mayan end time prophecy!

Another detail to look at is the angels gave the shepherds two important details. First, the baby would be in swaddling clothes. This meant the child had literally just been born; they weren’t to look for a toddler. They would find a newborn baby. Second the child would be in a stable. God made it very clear for shepherds to understand. “You guys are shepherds, I put the baby in a place you would feel comfortable and be familiar with and by the way, it is a new born baby!” It made their search easier and very specific.

God always makes it so we can understand his instructions and trust them. Remember, Satan is the author of confusion. God is always clear; He wants us to understand His instruction. He has a plan and purpose for us to change the world.

What has He been speaking to you? You may have to walk it out a bit as the shepherds did but when you find it there will be no doubt in your mind. Trust Him look for the direction. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.” When God gives an instruction, vision, or dream, as we seek him he will clearly direct us to the clarity. Seek Him for clarity today. The more you get to know someone the more you understand them. The same is true with God.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Timing is everything.

Luke 1:61 -80

Prayer and trying to figure out God can be very frustrating. We have to keep in mind that we only see things from a limited point of view and God sees not just the “big” picture but the whole picture, from beginning to end, first to last, and all that was, along with all that will be. We have a tendency to believe that God is not answering our prayers when He takes longer than we think He should but…

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his prom“ise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Zacharias has been mute since seeing the angel and being given the word about his son. There are various times in scripture where the prophet is told that the prophecy is to be sealed until the right time. This is one of those. While Zacharias’ unbelief caused him to become mute it was also the prophetic nature of the birth of his son that I believe the Lord wanted to keep quiet until the right time. The name “John” means, the Lord has shown favor and grace. His name is meant to be a sign of his position as the herald for the Messiah, the gift of God’s grace. Priests were the “hearers” of God’s voice and for a priest to name his son “John” had great prophetic significance. Everything needed to be in place for the coming Messiah and God did not want the forerunner to be mistaken as the Messiah. God kept the name of John quiet until the time was right. John’s birth was so miraculous and that tied into the significance of his name could have brought great confusion to the people. The name was given after all of the excitement would have died down so those closest to the situation would understand the significance but to others it was just another baby being born.

It is interesting to note that through both Mary’s and Elizabeth’s pregnancies prophecy has now been restored to the world. For four hundred years it has been nonexistent but now the grace gift of prophecy is also being the forerunner of Jesus life. Prophecy is being fulfilled because of John and Jesus’ lives and prophecy is being enacted through their births. God’s grace gifts are being restored to the world.

Timing is everything with God. As I mentioned earlier he knows the big picture and we as Paul said only see through a glass dimly. The whole idea of relationship is that even when we are not around the person we know we can trust their character, integrity, and relationship toward us. What are you believing for? Is it taking a long time to come? Jesus birth was prophesied 4000 years before his birth! What you are waiting for will not take 4000 years but even though at times you may not “feel” God or see Him we all must make the determination to trust Him and that He will answer our prayers. Take time today to believe Him again for what you have hoped for!

Nearly 40 people responded yesterday that they are reading this devotional. Thank you! If you have not responded I would appreciate knowing that you are benefiting from it. I am trying to be more consistent with the timing of the posting but like today, the internet went down in my area so this was posted late.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We can hear God's voice

Luke 1:39 - 60

Hearing from God is always a tricky thing. Television programs tend to make those who “hear from God” to be nut cases. Paul wrote that the things of God are foolishness to the world. Think about it for a moment, if God talks to people then He must be real, the Bible must be real, and we must all be expected to live within the guidelines. People who do not have a relationship with God will become their own god, living by their own set of guidelines of which the majority will be for their own selfish desires. The problem is, we can’t get to heaven or have a relationship with God on our own terms, it must be on His.

An equally dangerous situation happens with Christians. Between the enemy of our souls and our own desires we can “think” we hear from God when in reality we are merely fulfilling our own wants. So how do we tell the difference? We see in this story one of the ways. God is always speaking to people who have their hearts “tuned” to listen to Him. Hearing God’s voice, like anything else is a practiced skill. There are those who have spent most of their lives learning to listen to the Lord. Elizabeth was one of those. When the Holy Spirit, “filled” her she knew God well enough that she was able to understand what was happening. Her understanding enabled her to confirm, to Mary, what God was doing. God will always confirm His Word! We never need to simply go off without the men and women of God around us confirming what God is saying. The Bible says, “There is safety in a multitude of counselors” Proverbs 11:14. God always places people around us that we can trust. When you are learning to hear from God, go to them and ask them to confirm or deny what you are hearing. Through counsel you can learn to understand the voice of God.

On a different note, God did a very practical thing for Mary. Being a pregnant unmarried young woman in this culture made her the point of ridicule; God gave her the wisdom to go to another part of the country to go through her first trimester with her cousin. She would get anonymity, support, and encouragement. Just like Elijah and the food supplied by the ravens, when the Lord calls us to something He will supply not only our spiritual needs but our practical ones as well.

God is not “spooky” He is a loving and caring Father and friend. What do you need to hear from Him today? Take time to listen and learn to hear his voice.

If you are reading these could you let me know. drop me an e-mail at timburgan@hotmail.com


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Making the impossible possible!

Luke 1:18 – 38

I have heard people teach that God never violates any rules that He has set in motion. The problem with that is it limits God. That being said there seems to be some things that God does limit his own power. I believe the key limits are; He will not force anyone to accept Him or make them love Him. He wants us to choose to believe, accept, and love Him. Regardless of how we may feel about God He loves us.

Despite His constant and unchanging love for us we sometimes doubt His love or that He really cares. God hears every hearts cry. He hears every prayer of all those who are seeking His help. Elizabeth and Mary both had impossible situations one had no husband the other had tried to have children for years and was left barren. They had at least one thing in common they both wanted to serve the Lord with all they were.

A few things about answering prayer that is very important. First, as believer’s God always answers our prayers, some times they are not the answers we want, (the answers are always what is best for us), some times they seem to be delayed (God’s timing is always perfect), and some times they place us in difficult positions (God is always working for our good).

God’s answers are always perfect. Elizabeth had wanted a child much sooner but to be the forerunner for the Messiah, John had to be born at just the right time. Mary had to have the right fiancĂ©e; a man who would not have her stoned for infidelity, a man who would protect her and her child.

What are you praying for? God will answer. He will do it in His time and His way. Our job is to trust, not get angry, or frustrated but to believe God for the answer. It doesn’t matter how impossible your life situation may be, God has the power to make the impossible, possible. Just remember He knows the right time, place and circumstances to make it all happen. Trust Him, believe in Him, and have faith.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mundane to the mighty!

Luke 1: 1-17

Life is so daily! It can seem that the things we do on an everyday basis don’t really mean anything. Quite often it is the everyday things, the mundane that has the greatest impact.

Luke begins his narrative talking about two very faithful servants of God. They don’t have the great testimonies of getting set free from a horrible life. They have simply and faithfully followed the Lord. They knew what they had to do in order to use their gifts, talents and abilities for God and they did it. There was nothing glamorous or newsworthy about what they did. They were faithful the simplicity and dailiness of their call. They weren’t famous people; they didn’t have a big name in their community. They simply trusted God, loved Him and each other, and faithfully went about their business. It was this faithfulness that found delight in God’s eyes. Their daily walk pleased the Lord and blessed Him. Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous, faithful and they were daily “serving”.

They longed for a child. They had tried for a long time but nothing. They didn’t give up, get frustrated they simply trusted and continued to serve the Lord. We never fully understand why God, in our minds, delays, but sometimes He seems too. God’s timing is always perfect. What would have happened if they had given up, gotten frustrated, or became bitter. They would have missed the greatest blessing in their lives. Instead they did what may seem to us like the mundane. They daily were faithful, trusting, and lovingly serving God. God turned their daily faithfulness into the greatest blessing in their lives and the forerunner of the Messiah was born.

The flash and hype are always more exciting than daily living. It is being faithful in the little things that really change our world. Jesus in telling a parable said, “You have been faithful in little you will be given much”. Be faithful today in the little things. See what the Lord will do and how he will fulfill you hearts desire.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The injustice of it all!

Mark 14:48 -71

Have you ever felt like you were being accused falsely with no one or nothing coming to your defense? We all have at one point or another. It is absolutely frustrating. You know you are innocent and some times the person accusing you know that you are innocent but the accusations continue to fly.

Everything about this situation in the end of Mark 14 is wrong. It was illegal to have a trial at night, to have false witnesses to not allow witnesses for the defense, to have paid a betrayer, to do this during the Passover, to condemn a man to death, to abuse Him the way that they did. All of these things were against the Mosaic Law as well as Roman Law. These men were stuck in their traditions and allowed their traditions to stop them from knowing and living the Father’s heart. They distanced themselves from God under the guise of serving Him.

You might say I would never do that! Think with me for a moment, how do you treat people, especially people who are different than you? They could be a different race, economic bracket, they could be involved in some sin that you find particularly detestable, or they could be part of a different sub-culture (fans of country music, artist, political, tech geeks, etc.). We like to befriend the familiar and it is in our nature to look down on that, which is different. God loves and believes in everyone on the planet. He has a plan and a purpose for all people.
When we see someone our minds automatically begin to make judgments. If we act negatively on those judgments we become like the Pharisees in the story, distancing ourselves from God in the name of God. Our own flesh causes us to act unjustly and walk out from under the grace of God. We lose justice not only for those we are judging but for ourselves as well.

Jesus said we will be measured by whatever measure we measure someone else. If we walk in injustice than we will receive injustice for ourselves. Choose today to, as Paul wrote to bring every thought captive unto Christ. Ask the Lord to help us see people the way that he sees them and to respond to all people with His heart. You will witness bitterness and prejudice disappearing from your heart and you will become more like Jesus. Try it today

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Some people never learn!

Mark 14: 26 – 47

Did you ever feel that way? “Some people never learn!” At times I wish we did not have free will and people would simply have to listen to the Lord and do what He tells them, asks them or loves them to do. The problem would be that we would not love freely. God is looking for us to come into His family not become mindless robots.

Jesus invested three years of his life into the people of Palestine and especially into the twelve disciples. He had been explaining to them that His time of ministry was short. Even in His most agonizing time, His three closest confidants would not stand with Him. They took Him for granted and were more concerned about their own well being rather than the suffering of their close friend, mentor, and teacher. One of the twelve never did get it, even though He healed the sick and cast out demons having the choice to choose power and money or Jesus He chose the power and money. We see the impact that the remaining eleven had in changing the world, the long term historical impact and generations changed because of their faithfulness. Judas missed it all. He could have been something great but chose to give into his own desires and became the by-word for betrayal.

I believe the height of frustration is watching people destroy their lives either physically or spiritually when you know that they know better. Some people never learn. Anyone can give in to the flesh. It is easy! Living a life of faith, believing that God has our lives in the palm of His hand, that takes a real man or woman.

There is always a price to pay. Everything we do cost us something. The reward for the price is the way we should measure. The enemy will do whatever he can to get us all to follow him; he still lies, cheats, steals, and kills. It doesn’t seem that way when we are making choices that are gratifying for the moment. We need to keep in mind that God’s purposes always bring us the greatest fulfillment and joy.

Think about the choices you are making. Are they in line with the way that God works or your flesh? If you want godly results, the best results we have to ask what decisions He would have us to make. If we want results that we will end up paying for in the long run gratify our flesh. God has great things planned for all of us, trust Him and He will fulfill your dreams!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The instructions are always clear

Mark 14:1 - 25

One of our biggest challenges in a daily faith is learning to listen to the Lord. Some have taken the stance that God has become silent, He somehow has decided, “You keep on talking and I’ll just listen!” I’m not sure what kind of relationship that is but it certainly not a real one. Relationships are based on communication, the better the communication the better the relationship. But how does that work with God?

There are a number of ways that the Lord speaks to us, the Bible, other people who love the Lord, and in our prayer time learning to simply wait for Him. The Bible is God’s love letter for us. Everything we need to know to live a powerful, successful, and joy-filled life can be found on the pages of this one book. God has also taught others to understand His heartbeat; they love Him passionately and have come to know Him well. Just being around them helps us to hear God’s voice and see Him in action through their lives. Jesus challenged us that those who follow Him will hear his voice in John 10:27. As we learn to wait in prayer we learn to hear His voice.

I believe hearing the voice of the Lord comes down to three things: expectation of hearing His voice, placing yourself in a position to hear His voice and believing that He has spoken. If we don’t expect Him to speak we won’t be listening. If we are too busy with so many other things we will never take the time to hear His voice. When He does speak we can’t just brush it off as something we are thinking or that we have created in our own minds.

When we have learned to pay attention, His instructions are always clear. The disciples were sent into the city to find a man carrying a water pot. You would think with no indoor plumbing there could be hundreds of people carrying water pots especially preparing for a big feast like the Passover. The instruction is the key to finding the right one. In this culture carrying water pots was the work of women, for a man to be carrying a water pot was very unusual. When the Lord gives a personal instruction it is not mystical, he wants us to understand and obey. Every instruction has our future in it. He is a very loving Lord who wants us to understand His heartbeat so He makes it clear. If you lack clarity, wait to either get clarity or to make sure it is really the Lord speaking.

What has the Lord been speaking to you? He wants you to build a better relationship with you so He will be speaking, take time to listen today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The fake versus the real

Mark 13:19 -37

Movie special effects amaze me! There are things that can be done now that look so real. However as time passes you can tell the difference more clearly. I remember seeing some action movie in the 70’s the hero was driving a car so fast it seemed that the actor had an amazing gift for handling a car. As I saw the same movie twenty years later I could tell the backgrounds in the driving scenes were all fake and the actor was simply a good actor. As I matured, I am able to tell the difference between the fake and the real.

In this story Jesus is talking about many coming and proclaiming that they are the Christ or as some others interpret it, many will claim to be representatives of Christ but will perform false miracles. How are we to tell the difference? The magicians of Moses time could perform miracles. In my travels around the world I have seen many amazing “false signs”. How do we know what is real and what is fake? Just like my movie experience, we must mature in our walk with Christ so we are not easily deceived. We can determine the fake from the real because of an intense relationship. Signs and wonders are more easily accomplished than what you may think but real relationship is a long process.

Some times people will say something about someone I know very well that is totally out of character. Because of my relationship with them, it is easy to let it go because it does not align with their character. I know them, I know apart from a major breach in character the things they are said to have done are not true. It is the same with God. Often He is maligned, blamed for things He did not do. His character is brought into question, I know that is not the God I know. Other times people will say something is God, some weird phenomenon like a psychic or an astrological reading, things that are in direct violation of His character and nature. My relationship with him enables me to know the difference.

What about you today? Where is your level of trust or knowing God? Are there things that you have been told about God that you believe that are simply not Biblical? Is God the same yesterday and today? Is God an angry God or a loving one? Don’t simply follow the crowd, build a relationship with Him, by spending time in prayer, reading His love letter, the Bible, and with people you know who do know God.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A changing Kingdom!

Mark 12: 1 – 19

Do you ever wonder about how patient God is with us? Jesus gives us this story as a revealer of God’s patience, love, and justice. God is the one, who created the vineyard, places it in the hands of another and allows them to do whatever they want to give themselves a great blessing. Romans 12 tells us that God has given us all gifts, they are meant to be a blessing to us and others. They are only at their best when our lives are given to God.

God’s gifts will always bring a harvest. We can not look at the harvest and say to ourselves, “Everything is doing great I must have the blessing of God!” God blessing what He gives and everything He gives is good and will bring a harvest, some times despite our selves.

Our hearts reveal whether we are truly in God’s will or not. The vinedressers where happy to be given the land but when they saw the blessing from it they wanted to keep it for themselves. They had forgotten who built the vineyard and who graciously placed it into their hands. Despite their ingratitude, God was gracious. He did not take it from their hands.

God’s love, patience, and justice are revealed. Hundreds of times He sends his workers to the vineyard to remind them who is in charge. The Pharisees knew Jesus was talking about them and their forefathers. God had sent dozens if not hundreds of prophets, priest, and others to the nation of Israel calling the people, especially the leadership, to repentance but they would not follow after His heart, they wanted to do things their own way. When they would not repent, He finally sent His Son, Jesus. The problem is they really never knew the Lord so when they sent the Son, they didn’t recognize the love that was being offer to them because of the Son. Patiently God had called them to Himself. Over and over again they refused to see that it was out of love that they were being sent the messengers. When we are faithful with the little we are given, God blesses us with more. He wanted to bless them even more but they refused. With their murder of the Son, justice must be meted out. The vineyard is taken from them and given to others. Those of Israel who have rejected Jesus have been cut out of the Kingdom but those of Israel and of the Gentiles who have accepted Jesus have been given the entire vineyard. God in His grace gave them hundreds of chances but they want to do things their way. They would not trust God enough for their lives and futures.

God's seeming lack of patience was not on a whim. God spoke to Israel for thousands of years to return to Him. He is still speaking to many Jews today to come to him but because of their rejection of Him, He is speaking to the whole world to come. The Kingdom has become a Kingdom of all people, from everywhere who will simply believe God and believe in His Son!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Lord cares about the big stuff and the little stuff!

Mark 11:1 - 32

It seems that I am in a mode to talk about "stuff"! It seems that the insight I am getting, as I read the verses, is about stuff!

When ever a crisis happens it is easy for us to cry out to God for help! I hear it all the time when families, couples, and individuals come to me for counsel. Those who seem to be neutral toward or even those anti-God, when a crisis happens, we cry out to God and expect a miracle. There is something inside of all of us that can easily believe God will “step in” for the big stuff. Our tendency is to let God sweat the big stuff and we will sweat the small stuff.

Jesus is showing us in this story that the small stuff is important too. He proved to the disciples that He knows and cares about even the minutest details. Where was the donkey? What would someone say? What should your reaction be? There isn’t anything in this life that God doesn’t know. Jesus explained that God knows when a sparrow falls and knows the hair on our head! He cares about all the details of our lives. When my kids hurt, I hurt, when they are struggling, I am looking for ways to help them, when they are happy I am feeling great for them. If in my humanity I can feel like this for my kids, how much more does our Father in heaven “feel” for us.

God cares about all the “stuff” in our lives. What “stuff” are you going through today? You can trust Him that He cares about all that you are going through and all of the need that you have. Take the leap to believe that He is concerned about all of the “stuff” in our lives. Talk with Him about it, thank Him for it, look for His hand in the middle of it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Confrontation for a cause!

Mark 10:39 – 52

No one likes confrontation. Most of us will do anything we can to avoid it. We generally want to be agreeable, not make waves but most change happens through confrontation at some level. Christianity began as a confrontation with the ways of religion and the rules of men. The reformation brought about a change from a works mentality to grace. The American Revolution created the greatest system of government man could conceive. Some times change for the better requires confrontation.

Jesus had traveled all over the region healing and challenging people’s idea of relationship with God. As He came by the city of Jericho a blind man had heard enough and was ready to receive his miracle. Faith, the Bible tells us comes by hearing. How many times had Bartimaeus heard the stories of Jesus miracles? Every time he heard another story a bit of faith was built in him. When Jesus came by Bartimaeus was ready, but to his surprise rather than the crowds cheering him on, the pushed him down and told him to be quiet. Until we confront our limitations and fears we will never see our miracles. We have to believe that we can change and that God has more for us than we can see right now. Often people will not allow their circumstances to change until they are in enough pain. Bartimaeus, felt the rejection but had come to the place of wanting his miracle more than sitting by and waiting for something to happen. He made something happen. His faith grew; he believed and would not let anyone or anything stop him. He pushed through the crowd, rejection, and fear because he knew if he could get to Jesus he would be healed.

What pain, wound, rejection, or limitation are you living with? Some times our limitations become old friends that become very comfortable and the fear of change is worse than living with the limitation. Are you ready to leave your limitation? If so push into the Lord, don’t worry about your past, the people around you, any or all excuses, confront them all for the cause of becoming more of who Jesus has called you to be.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stuff verses the real stuff.

Mark 10:17 – 38

As a culture we are accumulators of stuff. We have so much stuff that some even rent spaces away from their homes to hold more stuff. In fact, we have so much stuff that there are even television shows that have become very popular that show us how to throw away the stuff. Why do we have so much stuff? Some of our stuff is needful or nostalgic, tax records, baby pictures, and family heirlooms. Some of our stuff, we believe may be important later, we might need it. I would guess that most of our stuff is simply sitting there gathering dust, we don’t know what to do about it.

Does our stuff define us? Your immediate response could be that it does not but in a culture that is all about things. Think about how often people purchase a new car, television, computer, and household appliances. Some things need to be replaced but sometime we simply buy because it is new. Think about it, what would you do without all of your stuff, no house, car, computer, television, refrigerator, stove, no stuff at all.

Jesus was asking the young man in this story to do just that, give up all of his stuff. Walk away from it all. Jesus wanted him to exchange his stuff for the real stuff. Real stuff, defined by Jesus, is relationship with God, intimate, personal, real relationship with the God who created all of the stuff. Jesus wasn’t so much concerned about the man’s stuff; He saw a man who wanted to love God, he had kept all of the commandments but his stuff had gotten in the way. Jesus challenged the man, which stuff do you want? Do you want the stuff that you have now that is keeping you from real relationship or do you really want the real stuff? The real stuff is an intimate personal relationship with the one who can and will fulfill every dream and purpose. Jesus is asking the same question to all of us today. Can we take the risk to lay all of our stuff down and say, “Here we are, we want to follow you 100%.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

What should be impossible for every follower of Jesus!

Mark 10:1 – 16

What are the basic building blocks of any society? One key block is the family. It seems that everywhere in every way the family unit is being attacked; abuse, abandonment, neglect, sexual choice, divorce all of these things are epidemic in our society. Families are failing, they should be able to look at the church for hope and comfort but we too are plagued with the same situation. Which begs the simple question, “Why?”

Television, movies, the internet, and other media outlets are all chanting the same mantra, “Demand your own way, be selfish, self-centered!” The way of the cross is Jesus-centered and others-centered. Our media is constantly demanding that we fulfill our every desire. The Bible tells us that love of this world is at war with God and we are seeing the result of that “love” in the misery of our families, the broken homes, the destroyed children.

It is “hardness of heart” that is doing this to our society. The gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit bring the conviction that keeps us humble and our hearts “soft” to the Lord and those around us. It should be impossible for us as Christians to have a hard heart. Yes, bad things happen to us that can wound us. Our response should be one of forgiveness, love, and depending on the Lord to bring the healing. I know it is not easy especially when you have been extremely hurt and rejected but the choice is hang onto the pain and try to deal with it the best way you can or handle it the Lord’s way and allow Him to bring the healing and freedom that you need. One choice causes you pain and heart ache for a life time the other allows the Lord to keep your heart soft, brings healing, and freedom. You can be overcome by your pain or you can become an over comer.

I know it is not easy. All of us will be hurt fairly severely at some point in our lives, some more sever than others. Your pain does not catch God off of his guard. We live in a world fallen because of sin. The Lord wants to bring us to a place of joy and freedom. Jesus said that we will have trials in this world but that He has overcome the world, so when we choose to trust Him and do things His way, we too will overcome. The choice is yours with each wound. Where are you today? What have you decided to do with your pain, rejection, or wound? You can change your world with a simple decision to ask the Lord to keep you heart soft and let Him take control.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Men like trees walking?

Mark 8:18 – 38

There is a very unique story in this passage. Jesus has a blind man brought to him and those that brought him asked if Jesus would heal him. No where does it say that the blind man asked for healing but his friends or relatives did. Rather than make a big scene in town, Jesus takes the man out of the town. It does not say why he took him out of town but as I read this passage I can think of two possible reasons 1) as in other miracles Jesus did not want to alert too many people so as to draw the attention of the Pharisees, not that they could have done anything to Him but that it could have put limits on his further ministry by their casting doubts into the hearts of the people about Jesus. 2) Because the man did not ask for prayer it would seems his faith was a little weak so Jesus did something unique, He spit in the dirt, made mud and placed it on his eyes. Jesus may not have wanted to start the first church of mud-in-your-eye, you know the way we are, someone in history would have done it had it been a big scene. So why did Jesus do this? I believe the man’s waning faith needed a boost. Jesus always knew what to say or do that would meet people exactly where they are. Perhaps this man needed to have some unique demonstration to help him believe. The power was not in the mud but in faith and Jesus did what He needed to do to increase the man’s faith so the Father would be honored and heal the man.

Being blind and then seeing men “as trees walking” proved to the man that he was being healed. Jesus next step was to touch him again so that the healing would be completed. God never does things part way! He always completes what he begins. Paul wrote this in Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Whatever the Lord has begun in you he will complete, trust Him about that! Know also that sometimes He will challenge your way of thinking. He doesn’t always do things our way; He may need to spit in the mud to bring healing to you also. I other words do something that does not necessarily fit the way that you think in order to remind you that He is God. If you are willing to believe you will “see” your miracle happen.

What impossible thing do you need to believe God for? Take the leap, don’t put God into a box, believe that he can do anything any way He would like!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Get filled up!

Mark 8: 1-17

Everyday someone we know or we are facing an impossible situation. A miracle is needed. What is our first response? Do we go to Jesus first or last? Someone offered what they had to solve the problem, a few loaves of bread and a few fish. When we see someone facing an impossible situation I hope that our hearts would be like this.

What happened? Someone saw a problem, a need, and asked the question, “What do I have in my hands that I can use to solve the problem?” They offered what they had, as impossible as it was they gave. Anything we give to the Lord He multiplies.

All 4000 plus (most likely 12,000) were fed with the few loaves and a few small fish. Notice they were not only fed but also filled. Often we settle for the “scraps” the devil wants to allow us to have rather than the abundance the Lord prepared. When we give things to the Lord, no matter how little it may be, He takes it, blesses it, and multiplies it and touches many more people than what we could imagine. The few loaves and fish in one person’s hands would have fed them and perhaps one other but given to Jesus 12,000 times the work was done. The person who gave may have thought, “well perhaps I will fast today as I am making this sacrifice”. God never let’s us down! Not only did they get fed with the rest of the crowd but seven baskets full were the overflow that they were given as a blessing, what an amazing thing to give a few loaves and fish and end up with over 100 times as much.

My friend Bill Wilson of Metro Ministry in New York City says, “The need is the call!” If you see a need and you move to help whether it is with your tithes and offerings in the church or an alms gift outside of the church, it honors God. When you trust Him with your financial future then he show you, only will he supply for al you have need but an abundance for you as well. 2 Corinthians 9:6 -8

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's a matter of the heart!

Mark 7: 1-13

I counsel a lot of people. Our culture has not given people much hope and in many cases the generations that have gone on before have not adequately taught their children the keys to a life of fulfillment and success. Many times what we have been given is a set of traditions that have no meaning but at one time did have meaning and purpose.

Traditions are not wrong; they help us to remember important events. Many can draw us to the Lord but when they get in the way of our relationship with the Lord or supersede our relationship with Him they are wrong. The Pharisee over generations had created a series of rules that were meant to protect, bless, or draw people closer to the Lord but as time passed the intent was lost and instead of drawing people into a loving relationship with the Lord or showing His great love for us, they became prisons.

Are there things in your life that you are doing because you have always done them but they have no life? Are there traditions that you are keeping that are making you miserable rather than drawing you closer to family, friends, or the Lord? According to John 10:10 Jesus came to give us an abundant, joyous, life. If you are not living the abundant joyous life, what is stopping you? Review you life, you motivation for doing things and the joy you bring to the Lord, others or yourself. Keep your heart and your life full of joy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

If we could see the way God sees!

Mark 6:24 - 56

John the Baptist is beheaded, what a tragedy, all because of one man’s lust of a woman. In our minds it such a waste what a promising career John had, many disciples, challenge people to break from religion and have relationship with God, his cousin just coming onto the forefront of His ministry. Things seemed so promising for John. We need to see the way God sees! Our lives are a vapor here on earth; we are eternal beings from the time of conception. God loved John, allowed him to fulfill his calling and then took him home. John went from suffering in prison to being in the presence of all the saints who had gone before him waiting for the Jesus to open the way to the presence of God. John losing his head brought great joy and freedom to him. We need to think like Jesus.

The disciples saw 5 loaves and two fish. Jesus saw a sacrifice from a young man that God could bless to meet the needs of thousands. We tend to look at the things we can offer the Lord or the things we do for God as less than important yet anything given to the Lord will prosper and He will use to change lives. We should never look down on what we can do for the kingdom as being less important than what others can do.

When we respond to the “voice” of God we are always doing something important. A kind word or act to a stranger, patience rather than impatience, love instead of revenge are all the little things we do everyday that enables us to see the way that God sees! Think about that today as you go through your daily life.