Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Time for a fuel stop

Acts 4

Life can be so daily. It seems the more outsiders complain about people of faith the more they need people of faith in their lives. We need to remember as Christians that if we really believe what the Bible says, we are in a battle for the souls of men and women. That doesn’t mean that they will always want saved from the danger they are in but we have to still fight the fight for them. Among Christians I see so much weariness and depression, we are not called to these things but victory, life, joy, and peace. Why do we end up going through that stuff? This passage has part of that answer.

Peter and John had participated in a “notable miracle”; a man who was lame was now standing beside them whole. Miracles are a lightening rod; the cynics criticize the very idea, the religious try to control or explain it away. Peter and John did not pat themselves on the back but instead gave God all of the glory. Despite this, they had to get into a shouting match with the religious leaders, they were threatened they may have even had concerns that their time for their cross had come, we don’t know. They had spent a night in jail, threaten by their leaders, and lead over 5000 people to faith in Christ. These guys had gone through a very difficult time. When you pour out of yourself into the lives of others on a regular basis or when you go through difficult times it can be physically and spiritually draining.

If physically you do some extremely strenuous work or mentally have an intensely stressful time you need refreshed, refueled, and renewed. How much more, do we need a refueling when we go through spiritually strenuous times? The disciples cried out to God after their ordeal and His response was refueling them, refilling them with the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit drain out of us? No, but what does happen is our flesh and mind can get in the way of God’s plan and purpose so He comes to us to refresh us, renew us just like a meal or a good night’s sleep can do for us.

How are you feeling today? Are you refreshed or stressed? Refueled or drained? Take the time to seek the Lord ask Him to refuel you everyday. His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness to us. God is always faithful. If you are feeling worn out, burned out, or simply spiritually exhausted perhaps it is time to allow the Lord to refuel you and fresh your life. Try it today.

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Amazing Day!

Acts 2:1 – 31

The city was crowded with people waiting to celebrate not unlike light up night in any major city across the United States. People from all over were jam-packed against one another. It was a tradition and celebration that everyone wanted to be part of, so people came from the world over. That was the scene on Pentecost in Jerusalem.

Jesus had left his disciples and asked them to wait, wait for what? They had heard of the Holy Spirit in the Kings and prophets of old but they were not prophets or kings were they? Jesus had talked to them about Him and there was a flow of the Spirit through them at times but Jesus was with them on earth. What was going to happen now?

Obedience always brings about great things. Much of our problem is the patience that goes along with obedience. It is easy to second-guess God when we are trying to be patience; did I miss God? Has God forgotten about me? Did I do something wrong and God is not going to answer now? All the questions anyone could have when it seems like God is delaying his answer. 500 had started out in the upper room and only 120 remained when the Holy Spirit did come. I would not have wanted to be one of the 380 that missed it. The Holy Spirit came and filled the 120; most likely the 11 disciples, the 70 others, the wives of those who were married and the special women listed throughout the Gospels.

The Holy Spirit gave them boldness. They immediately went out and preached. It wasn’t just Peter but the narrative states “they were speaking” and “everyone heard them”. Can you imagine 120 people all speaking in different languages and it not leading to confusion? That in itself is a miracle. We don’t know if all 120 spoke but we do know it was more than simply Peter. God wanted to reach as many of the Jews as possible and what better way than each hearing the Gospel in their own language spoken by those who could not have possibly learned it. Instantly the church became a mega-church of 3000 people. All of Jerusalem had to of heard about this miracle. Can you imagine the buzz through out the temple and the city?

Jesus had invested in the lives of his friends and now they in turn were given the power Jesus had through the Holy Spirit to change the world. Are you a world changer? Are you, like the disciples filled with the Spirit? Then you have the power to be “witnesses in Jerusalem Judea and the uttermost parts of the world. If you don’t feel like you have that power or don’t have it any more. I’ll be talking about it this Sunday at the Christian Center Church in Rostraver Township. See you there!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I thought I would leave my normal style of posting to do something just a bit different.

Psalm 100:4,5

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

I know there will be a lot of hustle and bustle from now until the end of the year however I would like to encourage you to take the time to be grateful for all that you have in your life.

Be thankful for:

All the various relationships
All of the ways the Lord has provided for you
That you are loved
Whatever level of health you have
All the various ways God has shown up in your life
For the freedoms we have in this nation
Most importantly be thankful that our Father loves you so much that He is always thinking about you, Jesus is always interceding for us and that the Holy Spirit is always teaching and guiding.
We are never alone. God is always with us.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The mentoring is done time to get to work!

Acts 1: 1 – 14

Walking the face of the earth, Jesus was an amazing figure, larger than life, doing things that no one had ever done before. One of His main tasks was the training of 11 men to carry all that He had taught them so the world might be changed. We should always be about the work of training others. We can only reach so many but if we multiply ourselves through others we can accomplish so much more.

Jesus had trained, taught, and encouraged His closest friends. He had risen from the grave and spent an additional 40 days investing into their lives yet they still did not get it. As a Pastor and teacher I tend to accept the blame when someone does not get what I am teaching but that places me in good company, Jesus had the same problem with His closest friends. After over three years of being with Him, they still were wondering when He was going to overthrow the Roman and Jewish leadership and establish His kingdom. He had given them life experience and solid teaching now He was leaving them to make way for the one who would guide them daily, the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had invested His life into the disciples now it was time for them to get to work. There is only is much teaching we can handle until we begin to become fat and lazy spiritually. Teaching is like food to us. We need to burn it off with some practical applications and then return for some more refreshing food. Many have heard me speak about the three types of people we need in our lives, Paul who is our mentor, the Barnabas who is our friend and encourager, and the Timothy who is our disciple the one we are investing our lives into. Part of the reason we need a Timothy is so that we have the spiritual exercise we need. In churches across the world people are receiving great spiritual food however, every time we eat we need to exercise or we will grow fat and unhealthy.

Jesus challenged His followers to go and wait for the promise and then the work will begin. You will have been given enough by me and now the Holy Spirit will come and help you remember all that I have taught you, about what to do and who you are.

It is easy to get caught up into a routine, to allow life to become so daily. Remember you have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to change your world, to make a difference. Every Christian in American who has been going to a Bible-believing church for at least six months has more knowledge of the word of God than most people around the world. You too have been mentored and it is time to get to work. We need to apply what we have learned because the world needs what we have been given. If you look for them, God will give you opportunities!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forgiveness and Restoration

John 21: 1 – 24

I apologize to all of you who are daily reading these devotionals. I took the whole day off yesterday for the most part it was a technology free day. It was very restful. Thank you for your patience.

We all want to be forgiven when we hurt someone. We want to have relationships healed and move on with our lives Jesus wants more for us than that he wants us not only forgiven but restored as well this is part of the purpose of this chapter.

You know the story of Peter’s denial of Christ. Peter wore his emotions on his sleeve. There was never any doubt where Peter stood on any subject at any time. His denial was more crushing to him than anyone else. But despite his pain, he was the first to enter the empty tomb, the one to jump out of the boat and swim to shore rather than wait for the boat. His love went deep. Jesus knew his heart despite his actions. Have there ever been times when you have done something so completely wrong and against what you believe? It is painful, you can’t believe you have done it, perhaps this passage is for you.

As Peter drew near to Christ, Jesus engaged him in a odd conversation. Peter do you love me (three times, once for each denial). Then he gave him and instruction. The English does not do this conversation justice. The first two times Jesus says to Peter do you unconditionally love me and Peter’s response is I have great affection for you. Jesus recognizing Peter’s pain says OK Peter do you have great affection for me (we will start there) and Peter says Yes Lord all I can give right now is my great affection for you. I verse 19 Jesus basically says to Peter; I will meet you there. I understand, I will take what I you can give me for now that is enough for you to be my disciple for now. Don’t worry about anything else just “follow me!”

Jesus is never looking for perfection from us. He is looking for an on-going loving relationship. Where is your relationship with Him? Do you have great affection for Him as a good friend or are you at the level of unconditionally loving Him? Only you know that. In the world of unconditional love of there is a peace, love, trust and strength that are amazing. It is nice to have a friend in Jesus, but He wants to brig us all to a place of knowing His unconditional love for us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Kingdom and truth!

John 18:22 – 40

It is hard to imagine that the creator of the universe was allowing Himself to be questioned by mere mortals, but it was all part of God’s plan. What other earthly way would Jesus have had access to all of the chief leaders in Israel at that time both Jew and Gentile?

We look at the abuse Jesus took over the next few hours of his life, as recorded in the Gospels as a very bad thing. In light of eternity it was a very good thing in so many ways. In these next few hours of Jesus earthly life, He will be spat upon, slapped, punched, whipped and physically and emotionally abused in so many ways, but there was a very high purpose.

All of us go through rough places. Some of us have been abused in the worst ways, physically, emotionally and mentally. Jesus can identify! He went through horrible torment. If you are looking fr someone that can relate to your suffering Jesus can!

Jesus suffered through His torment for a high purpose. He was able to share the “truth” with every person He was brought before. He had eternity in eyes. In the early 60’s an elderly African American Pastor, T. Brown was approached by a gang of white Klan members on the street near his home in Georgia. They held a knife to the Pastors throat and told him if he did not leave their part of the city they would cut him into a hundred pieces. The pastor looked them in the eyes and said, “Boys, I am not here as just a man, but as a man of God represent God as His ambassador, you can only do to me what He allows. I will tell you this that if He allows you to kill me and cut me into one hundred pieces then every piece will be saying, I love you!” They allowed him to go and the Klan never bothered him again.

Jesus established to all the leadership of Israel who He was and what He was about. Pilate even looked for a way to excuse Him from His torment. Jesus was ale to speak to Pilate in a way that he could understand in terms he could grasp. He gave him the “truth” in a way that made sense to him, so much so that Pilate was willing to allow Him to make the claim of a Kingdom and Kingship and not see that as treason. In this day and time that was a miracle.

Proverbs tells us, “a man’s gifts make room for him and bring him before great men.” Everything we good through in life, regardless of the difficulty, if given for Kingdom use, can change your world for the good! The difficulty you are having with a boss, spouse, friend, or enemy, if you allow it, God can use to impact lives.

We are “kingdom” people. We have the truth! The Lord will give us opportunities to impact lives in all kinds of ways if we will allow it and if we look at our situations through the eyes of eternity. Let the Lord do that in your life today!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who is in control?

John 18:1 – 21

Do you ever ask that question? I have! There are times where things are so crazy, grave, or disheartening that I wonder, who is in control. Of course I know God is but I, as Paul said see only through a glass dimly at the world and all that is happen. In the world, because of original sin and our human nature bad things happen. God is really in control.

Judas brought a large contingent of people to arrest Jesus. Some believe that Judas was trying to force Jesus hand others believe he was simply evil. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, Judas had more than enough people to overrun Jesus and any disciples that were with Him. They came with swords, clubs and a large group. When they approached Him as He spoke they fell back on the ground. Judas and his group thought they were in control but everything was the Lord.

There is a level of trust that I am constantly learning form the Lord. I think I have a handle on it then something comes my way where I become anxious or worry and the Lord has to remind me, if I am in His will, I can trust that He will do amazing things. God is always in control, He either allows things to happen or causes them to happen but as we have learned to trust Him, He makes all things work for our good.

What are you facing today? What challenges are in front of you? Do you love the Lord? It is never about perfection it is always about loving and building relationship with Him so that you can trust Him always. Trusting is a decision we must make. He is always faithful even when we are not, 2 Timothy 2:13.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Lord's prayer?

John 17:1 – 25

I know many call the Matthew 6: 9 – 13 the Lord’s prayer but that is really the model prayer the Lord gave us to prayer. I believe this passage to be the “real” heart felt prayer of our Lord. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture, the compassion and the love shared between God the Son and God the Father is evident. Jesus love for us even as He is facing imminent death is simply amazing.

This passage is a conversation between and Father and Son. Jesus is talking to his Father that the job is done, everyone understands who He is and the relationship He has with the Father.

Jesus also makes it very clear that He and God are one. He says the glory of God to flow through both of them the way that it did “before the world was” verse 5. In verse 21 Jesus says that He and the Father are one.

What is this really all about? Jesus is having his final extended conversation with the Father before his betrayal and death and what is on His mind? You and me! He is saying Father we have beat back the enemies hold on humanity. I have shown them your love, they have seen you in me and they know that I am in you. I have proven to them that you really do love them and want relationship with them and that they can have a loving “oneness” with each other and you and I because of my life here and what I am about to do. Leave them here on earth to live a full and impacting life but protect and deliver them from the power of the fallen one. Fill them with love, joy, and truth! Keep them in your peace. We love them remind them of that. I have completed the race! We win!

God really does love us. Some times it is hard to believe or see but it is the truth. Jesus lovingly went to the cross for you and me. Satan does not have the power of eternal death over any believer. We have a secure place in heaven. Jesus did not stop His praying for us in the garden but He is always praying for us seated at the right hand of the Father. Our Lord’s prayer has never stopped!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does God ever seem cryptic to you?

John 16:15 – 33

I don’t understand God? I can’t understand what He is trying to tell me? How do I know what He is saying? Everything seems so vague. These are the types of response I get when I ask, “What is the Lord saying to you?” When we are struggling with something, God will, need for healing, direction or pretty much anything, it can be very difficult to understand what the Lord is saying.

Jesus is explaining to His disciples exactly regarding His death and resurrection. To Jesus it is crystal clear to the disciples it is cryptic. I wish everything the Lord guided me into were always crystal clear; my experience has been that often it is not.

Reviewing what the disciples were going through in this chapter and comparing it to my experience I want to share with you some my conclusions. We know that God does not jerk us around. He is a loving, caring God. He is the one who told us that His Word would be a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our path. He wants us to understand His will. We must believe that or otherwise our view of God is skewed. Our walk is a faith walk. Simply put we must trust the Lord, that He is good and has our lives in His hands. Secondly, in our humanity, we have a way of naturally messing things up. Think about it for a moment, if the disciples knew plainly days in advance that Jesus was going to be crucified what do you think they would have done? Would they have tried to convince Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem? Would they have gotten weapons to prepare to fight? Would they have begun telling the crowd that was rejoicing triumphantly on Jesus entrance into Jerusalem what was going to happen and raised an army to protect Him? We don’t know but the Father needed for Jesus to lay His life down willingly for His people so our sins might be wiped away.

I know it sounds tough but something you need to note; in hindsight it is all very clear. Think about it in your own life, if you knew exactly what you were going to go through before it happened would you have tried to change it? If you changed things would the growth be as intense or the victory as sweet? He always speaks to us. He always guides. However, sometimes for our own sakes, He is a little more cryptic but in the end we can understand. The disciples understood Sunday morning what Jesus meant. They went through their sorrow and personal faith challenges and came out victorious, even Peter. God changed them, they walked by faith, they learned to trust, and they saw God at work. What a great thing!

What about you? What trial are you facing? What struggle are you going through? God does love you and will speak and guide you. Read the Bible, keep in prayer, talk with people that you know hear from the Lord, and most of all have faith that He really does love you!

Monday, November 15, 2010

God's ideas are different than ours

John 16:1 – 14

Some times it is hard to understand God’s plans for us. There have been times in my life where I have simply been baffled by the things God is doing in my life. Times where I scratch my head and wonder. Some times the wonder is, “Why does God love me so much?” Other times it is the opposite, “What have I done that I am abandoned?” I know in my heart that the Lord would never abandon me but some times it feels that way. Faith is all about believing when you can’t see or feel. Hoping and keep hoping. God never fails!

The disciples were sure that Jesus was going to be made an earthly King. They saw the crowds following Him, the way He set right the wrongs of the religious leaders, how the people loved Him and many respected Him. God’s plan was not their plan. Jesus is a King but not of one nation or people but of all nations and people. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The disciples believed He would establish some kind of kingdom and He did not just what they were looking for.

Jesus kingdom was different than what they were expecting, add that He would need to die to accomplish the establishment of the Kingdom and you have plenty of opportunity for misunderstanding. The disciples were an oppressed people. The Roman government was ruling their nation; they thought it was finally going to be over. Jesus spoke to them about eternity not simply the few short years we live here on earth. They need to look at the long term not the immediate.

Jesus basically told them, “I’m doing the work to establish the Kingdom and you are not going to understand it right this moment but wait I’ll explain later. Then I’m going away from you again but I will keep teaching, encouraging, and guiding you through the Holy Spirit. While it seems you are alone you never will be!” Jesus wanted us to understand that in bodily form He could only be one place at one time yet the Holy Spirit could be with everyone all of the time, empowering each person to affect their world for the Kingdom of God.

Have you felt abandoned by God? I know it feels at times like you are, but that will never happen, He loves you. Your feelings may betray you and cause you to “feel” abandoned but the truth, Jesus said is, “I will never leave you or forsake

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lead by serving

John 13:1 – 23

One of Jesus’ leadership styles was service. It is always a fine balance for a leader to show vulnerability and to serve because the inclination of people is to put leadership on a pedestal and when they serve to make them common and lose respect. Many leaders simply choose not to find them selves in that position but I believe leadership is about setting examples. Jesus set the example in this passage.

Washing someone feet, in this culture, was the servant’s job. Sandals were worn every where, roads were not paved so to keep homes clean, servants would wash the feet of visitors. It is a sign of care and service and Jesus was setting an example for all grasp. Too many times when we think we have arrived we forget that love must rule our hearts. We must love enough to give the people around us what they need to become who they are called to be.

I think one of the very important points we must understand here is Jesus washed Judas’ feet. Jesus knew who Judas was and what he was going to do. Judas had become a betrayer and enemy of Jesus but he was not an enemy to Jesus, he was still a man that was loved by God. We don’t know Judas’ motive for betraying Jesus but we know Jesus’ motive for washing his feet, love. What an amazing example of how we should treat people. This is also a marvelous example of God’s love for all people. Think about it, Jesus knew this man was going to be responsible for His death. He was not just some random man, he was a friend, a disciple, some one he had invested His life into. Judas did not just turn his back on Jesus but had totally rejected Him. Despite all of that Jesus’ still loved him and washed his feet!

What have you don that you feel God cannot forgive? What have you done that you feel unloved for? Those are both lies! God loves and forgives always when we ask. He believes in you and will not give up on you. If he would wash the feet of his betrayer, don’t you think He will love you enough to walk you through whatever you are facing or have done?

Let Him love you today! Allow Him to show you that love, in a way you can understand it. You may be amazed at what God will do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living in the light?

John 12:31- 50

Jesus spends a lot of time taking about light and darkness. It is a very contrasting picture, easy for us to understand.

What does light do? Here are a few things about walking in the light.

1) Nothing is hidden in the light – everything can be easily seen when the lights are turned on.
2) There is no stumbling in the light – because we can see clearly we will not stumble, sin!
3) There is warmth in the light – even on the coldest winter day, when the sun is out it does get warm. Often we can become cold emotionally and spiritually, if we remain in the light we will never grow cold!
4) Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light
5) When the light is on darkness is revealed – you can see more clearly the difference between what is dark and what is light when there is light on. If you live in darkness it is easy to grow used to the darkness and to confuse darkness and light.

I know there are many more analogies that we can use and hopefully as you go through your day to day the Lord will reveal one that is important for you.

Walk in the light, the warmth, where everything is revealed, where there is no stumbling, where you can see more clearly and where it is easy to discern what is darkness and what is light!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How much does it take to believe?

John 12:1 – 30

We are in a battle for our walk with Christ every day. It seems that there are so many things in this world that want to rob us from our faith. What is faith? According to Hebrews, it is the evidence of things unseen the substance of things hoped for. It is simply grasping who God is based on His Word and living like we believe it!

The religious leaders of the day knew God’s Word. They knew it far better than anyone else, yet they did not live it nor believe it. Who can raise a man from the dead? Only God, yet rather than believe that Jesus was God they decided to try to kill the evidence, they sought to kill Lazarus.

The people on the other hand simply believed. They heard the story of Lazarus death and resurrection and they believed. John makes an interesting statement he says that many left the Jews and believed. Nothing has changed! People are hungry for what is real. Religious tradition helps us to feel comfortable and it can point us to God, but there is still nothing like when God shows up. Most of the people did not experience the miracle they simply believed that God could do it. It way, the miracle proved to many that God does care.

Have you seen a miracle in your life? Think about it for a little while, I will bet that you have. Have you forgotten what God has done for you and maybe even through you? Life is so very daily! It is far too easy to say to ourselves and God that was yesterday, what have you done for me lately? God loves us all very intently and intentionally. He is performing “little” miracles around us every day. We need to take the time to recognize what God is doing in our lives. There is too much garbage going on around us, too many things that will rob us of faith, hope, and love. We may not see a resurrection from the dead today but if we look for it, God will give us the opportunity to see a spiritual resurrection or some other miracle today.

Don’t grow weary! Don’t give up! God desires to do miracles for us and through us. Like Lazarus if we live what we believe and we really believe many will come to see us, to know what we know. The world is looking and believe it or not, you do have the answers to questions they are asking. Believe everyday!

Monday, November 8, 2010

God's plans are always fulfilled His way

John 11:22 – 57

Sometimes it is hard to really believe that the Lord feels what we feel. Our emotions can be all over the board. The Lord really does have great compassion for us. He knows just what to do at just the right time.

Jesus had been told about Lazarus sickness several days earlier. Early enough that if He would have come when told, may have made it before Lazarus had died. He waited! God always knows the perfect timing for us. He hears are hearts cry and knows what we need to fulfill our hearts desire. He always knows what we can handle. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were not just acquaintances they were close friends, people whom Jesus had a great love for and knew quite well. Jesus knew they could handle the grief and He had a greater plan that would bless them all.

Sometimes God allows defining events in our lives. One for me was being surrounded in the Sudan by terrorist. Facing imminent death, I had full confidence in the Lord to hold my future in the palm of His hand, whether it was seeing Him soon or staying alive I was fine. It caused me to have a peace about my life and death and a renewed confidence that nothing can stop the plan of God for my life.

Jesus knowing that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead still wept at his tomb. His compassion was so great, the sense of loss Mary and Martha felt, the suffering we must go through because of original sin, suffering of all involved including Lazarus. Jesus heart broke and in verse 35, the shortest verse in the Bible it says, “Jesus wept”. God knows our pain; He longs to bring comfort and encouragement to us if we will only let Him.

Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was a defining moment in His life and ministry. His popularity reached a pinnacle and the religious leaders jealousy did as well. Openly, they began to plot Jesus’ death. Even this was part of God’s plan.

Do we really trust the Lord? That is a question I ask myself with most trials that I face. God really does have a plan for our lives. Bad things and good things will happen on a regular basis. Both will pass through our lives, the question is will we trust the Lord with them.

Make a decision today, despite the good, the bad, and the ugly, to trust the Lord. You may go through difficulty but that does not mean that the Lord is not with you. It simply means that here is another opportunity for us to trust the Lord.

Friday, November 5, 2010

There is no doubt about it, Jesus said He is God!

John 10:21 – 42

As I had mentioned before, St Augustine basically posed the question, “Is Jesus a lunatic, liar, or Lord? We all must answer that question. We can not compromise to allow others to say that He was simply a good man or good teacher. Jesus laid down the challenge to all in Israel at the time. This passage makes that very clear.

When we are reading narratives like this we often read them in light of our understanding. We must observe the “tone” of what is happening here by the reactions of the people. We read passages like this based on already knowing what will happen, in doing so we can miss important nuances of the story.

Jesus said in verse 28, “I give them (my sheep) eternal life and they will never perish.” Only God can grant eternal life. Once again Jesus was telling the people that He is God. If that weren’t enough Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” a statement never uttered before Jesus. He was stating very clearly so the Pharisees and Sadducees could understand it that He is God! They understood. How do we know, “the Jews took up stones again to stone Him”. It was blaspheme to claim to be God a punishment worthy of stoning.

If that weren’t enough, He then went on to say, “Believe that the Father is in me and I in Him”. Once again they got it as they tried to seize Him (to kill Him).

Jesus was not afraid to tell people who He was. This discourse took place in the temple in Jerusalem, a busy place where the brightest and the best hung out. He knew what He was called to do and He did it knowing that nothing could or would happen until the appointed time.

One important thing that we need to understand, Jesus knew His audience. He did not speak, “Christianese” to them, He spoke in a way that they could clearly understand. He spoke in a way in which they could identify. There is was no confusion among the religious elite nor among the regular people, what Jesus was saying, everyone understood Him.

As Christians one of our major challenges is to make sure we are able to communicate in a way that people can understand. As a Pastor there are many things I desire to communicate, when I am speaking I try to remember who my audience is and speak to them clearly in a way they can understand. I try to use illustrations with which I believe they can identify.

The message of the Gospel should be shared in a way that the simplest and most knowledgeable among us can all understand. The Lord will bring people across you path today that will need to hear at least part of the good news that you understand. Find ways to speak to them so that as you are talking you can see the lights of their understand go on! You have been given a great gift ad God will help you use it and give it to others.

Jesus is God no doubt about it and we need to share that wonderful message in a way everyone can understand!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Door

John 10:1 – 21

This passage must be viewed in light of John 9:35 – 41, 10:21 clearly indicates that to be the reference. In case you don’t remember, Jesus had healed a blind man and the Pharisee’s rejected the miracle and Jesus in the process.

There are many in America today who believe that there are many ways to God or that every path leads the same way. Tis passage makes it very clear that according to Jesus there is only one way.

Jesus calls the people of the world sheep and the true Godly leadership shepherds. In Israel at this time, shepherds would place their sheep in a corral after having them out in the pastures. The door of the corral was the only legitimate way in and out. Jesus said He is the door, the only way in or out. He said if anyone tries to come in any other way they are a thief and a robber (they will attempt to steal life, joy, and their very souls for eternity).

The door is a safety net. Anyone who comes and goes throughout the world having gone through the door will have life and have it abundantly. The shepherd, (Pastors and Christian leadership) really care for the sheep and they lead only through the door. If they preach another Gospel, if anyone tries to say there is any other way they are a thief and come to come, to steal and destroy!

Sounds pretty harsh. We would like things to be kinder and gentler at times. We are not dealing with simply a good idea but eternal life and death. Often I will ask people who are saying that Jesus is just one way and that there are many paths, are you will to base your eternity on your opinion?

Believing Jesus is an all or nothing proposition! He is as St. Augustine put it, either a liar, lunatic or He must be Lord. He can be nothing else. He claimed to be God, as we talked about yesterday, so we must either believe that or totally reject Him their can be no idea of His simply being just a good teacher.

God has called us all to be shepherds in our own right. Each one of us has people that we can influence for the Kingdom. Don’t be afraid to stand strong on your beliefs. You are right, whether others believe it or not. You may be the only Jesus than others will ever see. The most freeing, blessed words in the world, you know and He will show you how to share them effectively. God loves all of your friends and family far more than you do. He will guide you to leading them into the truth in a way they can understand if you will allow Him.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The blind see and those who see are blind

John 9:18 – 41

There have been a number of times in my life where things have happened and I have had to ask, “Can’t they see?” We do dumb things some times, things that others can see but we are blinded to.

The Pharisees were tasked with the job of presenting God’s word to the people of Israel. They had seen the false and arrogant rise up and claim to be something special and every time to this point they had guarded the faith. All of us, at one time or another, are able to allow our strength to become a weakness.

Jesus had healed a blind man, something never heard of in the history of the world. No charlatan could fake this. His parents were called in as proof of the man’s previous condition. The Pharisees protection moved from a positive to guard the people against heresy to a jealous fear. What would have happened if they had embraced this miracle? Often we don’t trust the Lord enough to see him in the middle of everything we walk through. God, using the formerly blind man tried to help them see that this was a miracle from God. Instead of opening their eyes to what God is doing they simply functioned in their strength, protection.

Have you ever made a snap judgment only to find you make the wrong decision? I have! Life can be so busy we don’t spend enough time listening to the Lord instead we operate in kind of an automatic mode. I believe part of the apostle Paul’s “dying daily” was to learn to always be sensitive to what God was doing and saying. We want to have the “mind of Christ”. I am sure that neither Daniel nor Joseph understood what God was doing and could have misinterpreted what was happening in their lives. Peter was having difficulty believing God really loved those who were not Jews. Each situation required sensitivity to the Lord’s heart.

Keep close to the Lord everyday. If Daniel, Peter, or Joseph would have missed God’s heart for their lives, millions of people may have missed their deliverance. The Lord may stretch you today. He may bring a person or situation to you that you will need to wait to sense what God is doing before you make a decision. God has great plans for all of us, and it does involve growing, maturing, in short, change! Become those who see not those who become blind.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The answers we are looking for are not always easy!

John 9:1 – 17

Most of us like everything wrapped up in a nice neat bow. We like our movies and television shows to end with a happy and final ending. We like our lives to be in varying degrees of order. Generally we like the complexities of life simple. We fit things into categories so our minds can make easy reference and quick recall. We like things to fit in our worlds in a way that makes sense to us. God will often stretch that world to help us to see the way that He sees.

In Israel at this time, as in our world to day, we like to make simple conclusions of complex problems. If someone was sick, wounded, poor, name the problem, it was because of sin. Many people who come into my office view life this way. The difficulty they are having or some else is having is the direct result of sin. While that is a nice neat package it is not always true. Jesus said in this world you will have tribulation, some times are issues are simply because the world is the way that it is. Other times it is because the devil is the way that he is. Then there are times like we read in this passage, where it is simply about God receiving glory.

Did God specifically make this man blind and suffer for his entire life so that He could receive glory? Good question, the answer is, “No”! Sin brought into the world causes these anomalies. Not the kind we want to blame for everything else but because of man’s fall in the garden, we are bound into a sin filled and fallen world. Childhood disease, cancer, poverty, depravity and more are all the result of the fall of man. Jesus was saying to the disciples, It is not anyone’s personal sin that caused this but God is going to receive glory through the healing.

God can and still does miracles today. We put Him in a box and limit His power in our lives. We are the ones who tell Him, “No, you can’t do this or that!” Jesus said, “Nothing will be impossible with God!” the angel Gabriel said, “All things are possible with God!”

Tomorrow we find out more of what happened regarding the blind man’s story, but for today, I want you to believe in a God who can make the impossible possible for you! He can a will do exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we can hope or ask. Don’t face you difficulty alone today believe that God is able to make impossible things possible. It is not always easy to believe this way, in fact until we make a habit of it, it is never easy to believe this way, but the Lord will get us there if we let Him!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jesus' claim to be God

John 8:34 – 59

One of the arguments I hear from those who are “outsiders” or those of different sects or religions is that Jesus never claimed to be God. This passage is one of the strong passages that prove Jesus divinity. It is also a lesson in keeping focused on what is important.

Jesus spoke of His divinity clear enough for the Jews that they were ready to stone Him. I verse 56 Jesus challenges the Jews with the thought of His relationship to their patriarch of the faith, Abraham. He talks of Abraham as if He knew him personally, which he does. The clincher is verse 58. Jesus makes a very powerful statement that the Jews completely understood, “Before Abraham was (born), I AM”. Two things are being said in that statement that we need to understand. Jesus was stating that Abraham was human he had a beginning, “before Abraham was, (born)”

Secondly Jesus makes the statement, “I AM” this statement makes two proclamations to the Jews. First this says that Jesus has no beginning and no end, the “I AM” means He is saying I am eternal, without beginning or end. Secondly, by proclaiming to be “I AM” that is the name of God, “Yahweh” means “I AM”. Jesus was being very clear to the Jews that He indeed is God! What was their response, verse 59, “they took up stones to throw at Him”. There is no doubt Jesus made the claim He is God.

What else is important here? He challenged the religious of the day. They had gotten so caught up in keeping the rules that they had forgotten the heart behind the rules. Not only were they not loving the way that God loved but they weren’t even doing the works of Abraham let alone the challenge to walk as God had commanded them, “love your neighbor as yourself, love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” It is so sad when this happens; we think we are really loving God by keeping all of the rules, if we keep the rules and don’t love either God or people we miss the point and the joy of living.

Why would educated men like the Pharisees and Sadducees miss this? Most of us have the ability to want to “work” to please God. We want to earn His love and grace. We would feel better about ourselves if we did. We also interpret scripture our own way and those who don’t believe exactly as we do are considered heretics. They had a view of who the messiah was supposed to be and what he was supposed to do and Jesus did not fit their mold. Paul wrote, “I die daily”, in other words everyday he was asking the Lord for renewed vision, understanding and focus; always wanting his relationship with the Lord to be fresh and correct. It is so very easy for any of us to lose what is fresh and real and rely on stale ideas or faith. If we keep our relationship daily then all fear, worries, and concerns can fade away. We won’t need to worry about being deceived because we will have a fresh work of God in us every day.

Keep you relationship fresh! Know who Jesus is for you everyday. Allow Him to love you and speak with you everyday. See how that will change your life and your attitude.