On Wings Of Eagles

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The lonely


Psalm 68:6 (ESV)
God settles the solitary in a home;
    he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
    but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

The lonely—widows, orphans, prisoners, the homeless—what can be done to ease their sense that no one cares? Ultimately, God in his love is our dwelling place. As “a father to the fatherless,” he adopts us as his children. He defends the widow, sets the lonely in families, frees prisoners, and puts a song in their mouths.

When God led Israel through the desert wasteland of the Sinai Peninsula after freeing them from Egypt, he scattered their enemies and refreshed his weary people. And in his law He made special provisions for widows and orphans, for foreigners, visitors, and all who were poor.

To be a part of the people of God, the church of Christ, heirs of the promise, recipients of salvation—this is a great, great blessing. There are people who think of Christ’s church as boring and a waste of time. They go to worship once or twice and soon give up. But they miss the fellowship that they could enjoy—the fellowship of all who share in God’s deep love and grace, made possible through Christ’s sufferings for all who believe. God’s caring people have a heart for those who are suffering.

Are you following God’s example and caring with compassion for others today?

Dear Lord, may we reach out with Your love to people who are all around us and lonely. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Waiting on God


Psalm 119:81 (ESV)
My soul longs for your salvation;
    I hope in your word.

The psalmist cries out again for God to rescue him from his enemies. They have tried to trap him; they have tried to persecute him without cause. On the brink of despair, the psalmist is in crisis, “like a wineskin in the smoke.” Normally wineskins are soft and flexible, but long exposure to smoke makes them brittle. From abuse, the psalmist feels he is about to crack.

Pounding on heaven’s door, the psalmist cries out: Where are you, God? “When will you comfort me?” “How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors?” Rescue me from these troubles, now!

But it seems God is silent.

Did you notice the psalmist’s reaction to this? He doesn’t reject God or turn away from him. Instead, the psalmist’s ­trials stoke his passion for God and for growing closer to God by meditating on his Word. In God’s Word the writer finds assurance of God’s unfailing love—and this, he says, makes him want to please God by living an obedient life.

Though our troubles may or may not be as difficult as the psalmist’s, we all experience waiting for God. And while we wait—resting on God’s ­promises—we have an opportunity to grow in following and serving the Lord.

In his time, God will answer. Will we seek him through his Word and continue to obey while we wait?

Dear Lord, we wait for you, and as we wait, help us to grow in trust and obedience. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Refuge and strength


Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.

The first words of this psalm announce its theme: God is our refuge—our fortress and shelter. God is also our strength, our help—the one who deals with the perils surrounding us. And because God is our refuge and help, we have nothing to fear, even if nature throws its worst tantrums at us.

A group of Jesus’ followers feared for their lives in a storm one day, out on a boat in the middle of a huge lake. Then their Teacher stood up and said to the wind and the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind quit; there was dead calm. “Who is this?” they asked. “Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (See Mark 4:35-41.)

The Lord Almighty was in that boat as their helper; the God of Jacob was their refuge.

Our faith is always being subjected to storms and earthquakes. Where can we find safety and security? Listen to Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way. . . .”

There is a certain and trustworthy basis for our faith—the God who made us and everything in our world. In all circumstances, no matter how terrible or frighten­ing, our unchanging God is our refuge and strength.

In what ways has God been your refuge and strength?

Dear Lord, we know you are God. Help us to remember this when our worlds shake and our hearts tremble in fear. Shelter us, Jesus, in your strong, safe arms. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

God's GPS


Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

The statistics are out, and it doesn't look good. According to a national survey of car owners, nearly 60 percent of drivers in the United States get lost a few times each year. Imagine! But you don't have to live in the U.S. to know the helpless feeling of being disoriented. I regularly get lost in other parts of the world too.

Experts maintain that getting lost wastes our time, energy, and resources. Sometimes it can even put us in danger. Their advice is simple: before you go anywhere, make sure you have the right directions--or, better yet, a global positioning system (GPS) for navigating.

As we look at our spiritual journey: its beginning and destination, its sharp turns and slowdowns, its challenges and blessings let us remember that Scripture gives us a crucial piece of advice for every successful journey of faith. Before we can start "driving," we have to fully trust the Lord. The Bible often calls the Lord our Shepherd. In today's terms, we could say God is our GPS. Trust in this GPS, and you'll never get lost!

The Lord warns us against thinking we are smart enough to figure out our own way. He doesn't even want us to follow other belief systems. He tells us to turn to him in every part of our spiritual journey. If we acknowledge the Lord's leadership, he will make our path straight and see us through.

Dear Lord, we are lost and disoriented without You. That's why we turn to You for direction in our spiritual journey. Guide us and make our path straight. In the Name of Jesus we pray,  Amen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Saint Patrick's day

2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

“Patrick, is an intensely human person and not a plaster saint to admire from afar. He offers us a Christian vision of life honed out of his own experience and trials. He offers us a challenge to live our own Christian life today in changing and turbulent times. He comforts us when we are criticized and ridiculed. He gives to us the Celtic vision of the intimate presence of God in creation, in the Church, in people and in Scripture. He is a model for us, giving us an example to follow as we struggle to live authentically our own Christian lives in our own difficult times.”

Patrick’s life and ministry teach us to be open to the call of God in our lives. His beginning in Ireland did not dictate his future but it drew him into a love relationship with Jesus Christ. His relationship with Christ helped him to overcome adverse circumstances in his teen years. His ability to draw close to God and forgive had a dramatic impact on the Irish people and the success of his life. His willingness to follow God’s call made him a hero of the faith.

Lets learn from this man of God and ask our self a few questions, “Am I willing to draw closer to God in turbulent times? Am I willing and able to forgive those who have caused pain in my life? Am I willing to follow the call of God and even give my life to those who enslaved me? If you do you could become a hero of the faith like Patrick.”

If you learn to be like Patrick you have the benefit to really start living right were you are at. You really start to live when you take your eyes off the circumstances of life and draw closer to God. Then you will learn to recognize God’s voice. This spiritual maturity will lead you out of bondage and slavery to freedom. Then as you continue to draw closer to God through study, prayer, and spiritual disciplines you will be called upon by God to do a ministry for Him. Who knows maybe you could win an entire nation to Christ? Maybe you could win a generation to Christ? Maybe you could win your family to Christ? The benefits to you will be eternal and the most rewarding thing you could do with your life.

Dear Lord we pray that we would let You use us Like Patrick did. We pray that we may be the beginning of winning our generation to Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Playing and Praying


Isaiah 11:8 (ESV)
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
    and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.

Maybe you’ve heard the expression “The family that prays together stays together.” We might also like the sound of something similar: “Folks who play together stay together.” I’m fascinated by the idea that healthy families experience a sense of play.

The Bible has very few references to play as a childhood pastime. And the picture in Isaiah 11 isn’t mainly about families and relationships having a sense of play. It’s a picture of peace that is promised with the coming of Jesus, the righteous One who comes from the family tree of Jesse. It’s about the peace Jesus brings so that hateful enemies become good friends and dangerous animals can be led by little children.

Yet in the scene from our text, peace is demonstrated in play. The baby need not be snatched away from the cobra. The young child can rattle the snake! What a playful scene! It’s a welcome, delightful scene of healthy, wholesome relationships.

It’s a description of the church, which is made up of people once alienated from God and each other, and now at peace. It’s a picture of people playing innocently, with no desire to harm, hate, or hurt. It’s a picture of people playing not to win or to crush a rival but to honor their Creator. Who knows? Playing together may even lead to praying together.

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of play. Thank You for the ability to catch a ball, walk a woodland trail, or solve a word game. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Gifts

Romans 12:6 (ESV)
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.

In the film Chariots of Fire, an Olympic runner named Eric Liddell says, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God's pleasure." Later in the movie he says, "To give up running would be to hold God in contempt." Author Rick Warren uses this illustration in one of his books to say that using our gifts and talents makes God smile.

In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul tells us that God gives his people a variety of gifts "according to the grace given us"--or, as Jesus puts it, "according to [our] ability" (Matthew 25:15). No Christian is without gifts or talents.

Some of God's people go through life convinced they have no gifts or talents, and as a result they keep standing on the sidelines. Others--like one man in Jesus' parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30)--have buried their God-given abilities, afraid to use them. Still others refuse to use their gifts because they think they are not as gifted as some others.

God wants us to discover our gifts, develop them, and use them for the good of others and to his glory. No gift or talent is too insignificant for God. And God expects our churches to allow everyone to use the gifts they have been entrusted with. God wants no one left behind. That makes God smile!

Dear Lord, we thank You for the gifts You have entrusted to us. Help us to use them and to encourage others to use their gifts for You. May we all glorify you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Glorifying


Psalm 34:3, 8 (ESV)
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

I read a story about a dear saint that was looking forward to her 100th birthday. Deafness made it challenging to communicate, but her radiant smile invited her Pastor’s best efforts. She reported, “Pastor, I can’t hear, but I can read and I can eat.” When he suggested that Psalm 34 might be one of her favorites, she broke into a wide smile and quoted, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Glorifying our Creator is a great privilege that God has given us. But doesn’t that keep him at arm’s length? God is high and lifted up! We, the creatures of his hands, are far different from the almighty, all-knowing God. Even so, we long to be in relationship with him.

The psalmist refuses to think that God’s glory puts him at an unapproachable distance. He speaks at the same time of both glorifying and enjoying God. Enjoying God speaks of closeness and intimacy. We are invited to glorify the Lord and yet also to taste his goodness.

So we live in a holy tension with God. Never so distant as to avoid intimacy, never so close as to lose our sense of awe, we both glorify and enjoy our God— because God himself comes to be present with us.

The church tells us that the very purpose of our lives is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Standing in awe of the God who loves us only increases our enjoyment of his goodness to us.

Dear Lord, You are indeed high and lifted up, Your glory fills the place of Your dwelling. Thank You for becoming so real and close to us that we can enjoy You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, March 9, 2020

51 years

March 9th 1969 as a 7-year-old boy I gave my heart to Jesus. To celebrate the 51 years of my walk with the Lord I wanted to share 51 things that God has blessed me with. This is just a small list of the many things HE has done for me.



 1. God gave me an amazing wife to be my perfect companion as we serve God together.

2. I had a great mom and dad who taught me to love
the Lord.

3. I have a furnished home we can call my very own.
4. My car gets me everywhere I need to.
5. I have wonderful friends.
6. I am never lost thanks to the GPS on my phone that knows how to lead me home.
7. I live in the USA where it’s not considered a crime to preach the Word of God.
8. I am able to learn as much as I please.
9. My closet is full of my favorite. I even have enough to give away.
10. I had great grandparents.  
11. Food has never been scarce. In fact, I can eat all day long.
12. I have a little extra money to go have fun.
13. My bed is full of blankets and pillows for the ultimate sleep.
14. I can remember some of the most fun adventures of my life by looking at photos.
15. I have had great dogs that loved to see me after a long day at work.
16. I am very capable of doing anything I put my mind to.
17. I get to express and voice my opinions without being locked up in jail.
18. I have a great flock of Chickens.
19. My parents told me “no” when I needed to hear it.
20. Whenever I feel lonely, I have my bible and my friends are just one phone call away.
21. I can listen to my favorite songs on the radio and sing to them even though I’m not good.
22. I was able to go on a mission trip and spread the Word of God because He has called me to do so.
23. A hot shower is always something I look forward to.
24. I know where to go if I need help.
25. Our annual family vacations created amazing memories.
26. I have been brought through times of extreme pain.
27. I graduated from College.
28. Moody Bible Institute gave me a great foundation.
29. So many people including friends and family have given me so much to help me out.
30. I’m blessed because I get to work with children and youth throughout the years.
31. Heaven is my home.
32. I have been given leadership abilities.
33. My workshop. The place where I can be alone and be as loud or quiet as I want and create things.
34. I still have my childhood friends thanks to Facebook.
35. The technology of the CPAP machine that helps me sleep.
36. Nature has given me a glimpse of God.
37. I know that not every day is a bad day.
38. Forgiveness is a real thing and I am able to do it.
39. I am thankful for my phone that is keeps me organized.
40. I have a powerful tool called prayer.
41. I have a future, even if I cannot see it.
42. Many people have helped and influenced me to become the person I am.
43. Thankful that everyone is different so it makes me unique. This reminds me to just continue being me.
44. I can write and share God’s love.
45. I have been given 58 wonderful years of life.
46. My childhood was fantastic. I got to run barefoot and wild.
47. God gave me two wonderful brothers.
48. God gives me a new day to grow closer to Him and share His love.
49. Family dinner time once a week.
50. It's a blessing that the darkness can never dull any light.
51. God’s love that never fails.



Sunday, March 8, 2020

Shadow


Hebrews 8:5 (ESV)
They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”

If you walk along a city street on a bright, sunny day, you will come across shadows. The shadows won’t really affect your walk. For example, you can walk through the shadow of a light pole because you know it is just a shadow of the pole. But it does make you aware that there is a light pole near you.

The priests that God ordained under the old covenant served in a tabernacle (and later a temple), that was like a shadow, or a copy, of what is in heaven, says Hebrews. That tabernacle and those priests were there in order to point to the real tabernacle in heaven and the real High Priest, Jesus Christ, who works on our behalf to save us from our sin and gives us new life forever with God.

Jesus represents the new covenant, and his work is far superior to that of the priests of the old covenant. Jesus is the real deal. Unfortunately, people got lost looking only at the shadow instead of looking to the real work of God in their lives and worshiping him as the only true God.

Jesus Christ came into the world so that we would no longer need the temple priests to intercede for us; he himself intercedes for us.

And he has made the perfect sacrifice, providing forgiveness of sins once and for all. Instead of looking at shadows, we are called to look to Jesus.

Dear Lord, help us to keep our eyes on You, knowing that You provide all that we need for salvation and for our full life forever. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Holy Spirit


Acts 2:2 (ESV)
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

Today was a very windy day here in Central Florida.  If you’ve experienced a heavy windstorm, you know the power and strength of wind. It’s somewhat strange; you can’t see the wind, but you certainly can detect its power in the way leaves are blown around and tree branches bend and break.

Both the Hebrew and Greek languages convey vivid images of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament Hebrew word for God’s Spirit (the “Spirit of Yahweh”) means “spirit” and “breath.” The New Testament Greek word also means “spirit” and “breath,” as well as “wind.”

In the story of Nicodemus, Jesus points out that the Spirit of God is like a wind that blows where it pleases; while lacking shape or form, the Spirit definitely has a will. And a person’s will is a key aspect of their personality.

Jesus’ likening the Holy Spirit to wind or breath also echoes the Spirit’s power as the life-giving force of creation. And Jesus makes clear to Nicodemus that the Spirit gives life to people who are spiritually dead.

The story of Pentecost not only represents the awesome power of God’s Holy Spirit; it marks the beginning of a new era. From Pentecost onward, the Spirit breathes new life into the spiritually dead, moving them to follow the risen Lord Jesus.

How is the Holy Spirit blowing in your life today? Listen for the Spirit’s breathing and moving as he gives you opportunities to be a witness for Jesus.

Dear Lord, breathe on us the breath of God, fill us with life anew, that we may love the way You love, and do what You would do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, March 2, 2020

We must protect our joy

Philippians 3:1 (ESV)

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

Joy is a precious gift. It is so precious that it must be protected from forces that suppress it. In fact, Paul’s tone exudes urgency as he calls believers to be vigilant about guarding their spiritual birthright.

The words “rejoice in the Lord” can also be interpreted to mean “let the Lord be the one who makes you happy” or “find your joy in him and in him alone.”

The great threat to real joy is the belief that joy is either a reward for good work or the fruit of a combination of God’s love and human achievement.

The Bible, however, directs us to ask, “With what shall I come before the LORD … ?” (Micah 6:6).

The answer is “Nothing—nothing but my sin and emptiness.” I have nothing that deserves the Lord’s reward and his joy.

Joy is a gift, the fruit of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible considers any other perspective a betrayal of the gospel.

No wonder Paul says, “Watch out.” God desires that we place our confidence in the gracious character and loving work of Jesus Christ alone.

The psalmist says, “Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! … Come, let us rejoice in him” (Psalm 66:5-6).

Be vigilant in protecting your joy in Jesus Christ!

Dear Lord, protect us from believing that human achievement can refine your gift of joy. Help us to praise Your name, rest in Your love, and trust in You alone as Savior. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Day! Leap Year! An extra day!


Joshua 10:12-14 (ESV)
12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
    and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
    until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.

Leap Day! Leap Year! An extra day! What would you do with an extra day?

Joshua’s prayer for an extra day is an amazing Bible account.

The prayer was a dynamic mixture of God’s determined will and mankind’s bold request. The result was a miracle.

The Lord fought for Israel and protected her against her enemies, the Amorites. The Lord was with Joshua and the troops, He even rained hail down on the enemies (Joshua 10:11). The hail killed more Amorites than the sword!

That day was special. There has been no day like it. But what was more special than the sun stilled was the prayer prayed! There has never been another day where the Lord heeded the voice of a man like that.

Joshua wanted more time, an extra day, to fulfill the Lord’s determined will. The Lord fought for Israel and Joshua fought for the Lord. It’s exciting to see that when the Lord reveals His will, and His people are eager to obey, the only thing yet required is the time to do it. And God supplies the time!

For New Testament Christians, the apostles teach us to consider each day as time God has given to serve Him. Time is a valuable and limited resource. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” Ephesians 5:15-17.

It’s safe to say that Joshua understood what the will of the Lord was in his day.

So, it’s not beyond Christians to understand what the will of the Lord is either. The Scriptures teach us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What remains for us to attain is an attitude of faith like Joshua. An attitude that says, “I will spend today serving God. I will not procrastinate but I will ask God to give me all the time necessary to accomplish His will. And if I get another day – even an extra day – I will use it in the same way: for the glory of God.”

Make the most of your leap day, make the most of every day!

Dear Lord, we pray that we would use the time You give us wisely. Help us to always look for ways that we can bring glory to You in how we use our time. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Time to clean house?


Mark 1:3 (ESV)
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”

Clean House is a reality television show about three trained specialists who go into homes that are a mess.

In each episode, there is clutter everywhere. In some homes there is so much junk that visitors must remain standing because the furniture is covered with all kinds of stuff.

The Clean House specialists face the challenge of convincing the residents to get rid of their junk. And the strange thing often is—even though it makes their lives miserable, they don’t want to get rid of the clutter!

You and I can be the same way in our relationship with God and our neighbors.

We say we want to clean things up, and we can see what’s got to go. But so often we cling to things that make life miserable for us and for others.

In the opening verses of Mark, we meet John the Baptist. John was a specialist whose task was to get people to “clean house” and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. John’s message was simple: “Repent!” To repent means to turn back to God and confess our sins, clear the junk out of our lives, and do what God’s Word teaches.

Is it time for us to clean house?

Let’s ask God to help us get rid of the clutter that distracts us from truly serving him.

Dear Lord, forgive us help us to see our sin and dislike it. Help us to turn back to You today. And may your Holy Spirit cleanse us from top to bottom. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Day of rest


Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

God’s invitation to pause from work doesn’t mean work is bad. Work is not to be seen strictly as a duty but, rather, as one of our main ways to serve God. When we do all our work as working for the Lord Jesus, then God is worshiped and receives the glory! In fact, one of the reasons God calls us to keep Sabbath is so that we will be effective in our work the other six days of the week!

There was once a man who challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked hard all day, barely taking a break. The other man, however, had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks to rest.

As evening fell, the first man was angered by the results. “Every time I checked,” he said, “you were taking a rest, and yet you ended up chopping more wood than I did.”

“But you didn’t notice,” said the winner, “that I was sharpening my axe each time I sat down.”

God calls us to stop working once a week so that we can “sharpen our axe.” He calls us to Sabbath so that we can be of greater service and of greater benefit in all our work—in our jobs and at home and with our church and family.

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of work. Help us to learn how to regularly pause so that we are better equipped to serve You, bringing You glory in all our labors. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Miracles


Acts 3:16 (ESV)
And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

How in this world can someone get into trouble for helping to restore a crippled man to health? The Jewish leaders didn't care about the wonderful healing of the man who had begged every day at the temple gate. His healing meant nothing to them, because it did not happen under their control. They didn't even consider that this healing displayed the glory of God. They couldn't see beyond the problem they had with the name under which the healing took place. To the Jewish leaders, Jesus was not the Messiah because he did not free the people politically from Roman tyranny.

Theological squabbles often lead to spiritual blindness and dryness. Why did such a powerful healing not touch the Jewish leaders? Because they had closed themselves to the message and mission of Christ.

Why don't we hear of more miracles like these today? Most of us do not doubt that God could perform miracles if he chose to. But have we perhaps allowed secularism and theological pride to affect our teaching and belief about miracles?

Today's story teaches that Jesus' name had the power to heal. Today the name of Jesus still has the power to save the soul and heal the body. Our belief or unbelief doesn't change the healing power of his name. But have we changed? Do we believe in that power?

Dear Lord, forgive us if we have not acknowledged the power of Your name in our lives and in the world today. Heal us of spiritual blindness, we pray. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, February 24, 2020

How our Lord meets us today


John 5:5 (ESV)
One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

Picture the scene: a pool of water surrounded by covered porches. Bethesda was known as a place of healing. It was often crowded with destitute people who were blind, lame, and paralyzed. Among them lay a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years.

Jesus asked the man, "Do you want to get well?"

On the surface, the answer would seem obvious. Of course, the man wanted to be well! But Jesus was asking a deeper question. He was probing the man's heart. Did he really want to be made whole--transformed inside and out, healed in body, mind, and soul?

Jesus spoke to him a second time: "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."

From a human standpoint, it was impossible for the man to get up. To others who were listening, this may even have sounded a bit cruel. But at that moment the healing power of Jesus touched the man, filling his body, mind, and spirit with wholeness. As Jesus healed the man, he was saying, in effect, "Pick up your mat and be out of here. You never have to think of coming back to this kind of life again."

The steps Jesus took in healing this man give us an example of how our Lord meets us today. He probes our hearts, commands the impossible, provides the power, and tells us to leave our old life behind. What a Savior!

Dear Lord, we surrender everything to You. Lift us up, make us stand, and never let us slip back into ways of sin. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Now is the time to share the good news


Mark 1:15 (ESV)
And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Peter the Great led the Russian Empire from 1682 until his death in 1725. While he reigned, he expanded the empire into eastern Europe, initiated a cultural revolution, and built the Russian military into a formidable force.

Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of France from 1804 to 1814. Through a series of military victories and key alliances, he expanded the influence of France throughout Europe. He changed the political structure of France and influenced the development of legal codes around the world.

Jesus Christ was born in a small town in Judea, a nation that lived under Roman occupation throughout his lifetime. He never commanded an army. He did not travel outside of a small region stretching from Judea to Galilee. His followers were an unrefined group who lacked the courage to stay with him when he was arrested. When he died, it looked as if his influence had ended.

Today, the Russian and French empires have long ago fallen from their peak of influence, but the kingdom of Jesus continues to expand. Millions gather every week to worship him. Organizations bearing his name provide relief, food, medical help, and education. His good news is proclaimed on every continent in countless languages.

Are you part of this kingdom? Are you sharing the good news?

Dear Lord, stir our hearts so that we too will participate in spreading Your kingdom vision and renewing Your world. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Communication


Hebrews 1:2 (ESV)
But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

When we are away from family and friends, it’s good to keep in touch with them. Today we can do that by phone, text message, e-mail, Facebook—and even by the old method of sending postcards or letters.

God’s message comes to us in his Word, the Bible. And the Word of God has become flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 9-14). As believers today, we can now hear and receive and live by the Word of God, and we experience something of the life God intended for us when he created the universe.

In the Old Testament God spoke through the prophets, but that communication was often limited to the situations of the people in those days. Prophets were spokespeople for God; Jesus is the Son of God. Prophets grasped part of the mind of God; Jesus is the mind of God. What more can be said than what God has spoken to us through his Son?

There are many ways in which God continues to communicate to us through Jesus, by the power of his Spirit. Today God’s Word is proclaimed all over the world. May people receive it for what it really is: good news that opens us to new life with God. Daily we read Scripture not simply for information but to hear how God is directing and sustaining us through his Son. As we follow Jesus, we also learn to pray and work, spreading the good news of salvation to build up the kingdom of God.

Dear Lord, speak to us so that we may speak in living echoes of your tone.  Bring your Word to reach into all our hearts, that we may live by the truth. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The middle in the chocolate


Psalm 34:8 (ESV)
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Everywhere you look near Valentine's Day, there's chocolate: boxes of chocolate in all the stores, chocolate on tv promising to be the only love you need, chocolate girl scout cookies--CHOCOLATE! I think that's what led me to remember the famous quote from Forrest Gump: "Life is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get."

In reality, that phrase can be true in many ways. We wake up every morning completely unsure of what the day may hold for us. We've made our plans. Sometimes they even happen the way we make them. But we never know for sure, do we?

The days that come with caramel in the middle are my favorite. The ones with the strawberry goo are just so so--but the ones with coconut--YUCK! I'd rather go back to bed. Then there's the days where tragedy or difficult times come out of nowhere, and the chocolate sits in the pantry untouched...there's no sweetness to be had in those moments.

God knows that life as it pertains to circumstances is uncertain for us. That's why He comforts us and reminds us so many times that He is our constant companion, our steadfast friend, our consistently loving God and Savior. He doesn't keep promises the way we do:

You see, no matter what chocolate we are "in the middle of" right now, He is there--with the certainty of His promise today as well as His hope of heaven in the future

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus.

I love the visual picture of grabbing on to Him with both hands as He runs ahead of me to the Father. That makes me able to get up today and praise Him for whatever comes my way. This faith, this confidence, this hope is our unbreakable spiritual lifeline--HIS love for us no matter what, when, how or why. Let's binge on His priceless box of chocolates today...the sweetest and most satisfying of them all.

Dear Lord, we thank You for Your promise that You are always there with us no matter the chocolate filling we are going through. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.