Saturday, June 2, 2018

Let Me In Please

June 2nd 2018
Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

Let Me In Please

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

"Hello, is anybody home?" I wonder how long Jesus stands at the front door of our hearts waiting to be welcomed. This verse speaks a lot about Jesus. He doesn't just want to save us from our sins because he feels bad for us, but he actually likes us enough that he wants to "come to our house and have supper", maybe dessert and some board games too, who knows? Jesus wants to be close to us in our hearts, like good friends. But the problem is we don't always allow him to. We keep him waiting at the door.

Whenever company is expected to come over, it is typical to want to clean the house up a little more than usual. Isn't it the worst thing when the company shows up at the door before you are ready for them? You haven't finished the dishes, or vacuumed or finished straightening up the living room? KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. We feel this way when approaching God; that we have to get our house in order before we can let him in. Jesus is waiting and he doesn't care what kind of mess he's walking into. In fact, he has a garbage bag in his hands ready to help us. All we have to do is open the door and let him in.

"Lord Jesus, I thank you that you haven't decided to try somewhere else for supper and are such a patient Lord. Please help me to swing my doors wide open and welcome you into every part of my life. If there are any messes that need to be cleaned up, lets work on that together today. Amen."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When to Submit & When to Resist

August 9th 2017
James 4:7-8 (NIV)

When to Submit & When to Resist

"Submit yourselves, then, to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

I love James as a writer! He is a very practical no-nonsense kind of guy. Here in chapter four we see James writing a response, addressing an issue among his audience of believers. They were fighting and quarreling among themselves; obviously letting these issues get in the way of their Christian unity. They were trying to "befriend" the world and its values while claiming to be Christians. James says this approach doesn't work. In fact, he says their double-mindedness was actually making them enemies of God.

The solution? James puts it quite simply and boldly. SUBMIT. RESIST. We are constantly submitting and resisting to people, urges, and choices within our lives. Submission is the great filter through which all choices are made. "I really want that motorcycle, BUT I don't have the money for it, and I wouldn't steal it. I guess I'll have to pass this time." See how submission to morals (or fear of getting caught) led to resisting the urge to steal?

The question then is "who am I submitting to?" The sad reality is that, all too often, we are resisting God and submitting to our desires, urges, and wants. The devil will always be throwing things of the world in our faces to get us distracted from who we are truly submitting to. He even threw all the kingdoms of the world in front of Jesus; yet who did He submit to? (Matt 4:8-10)

In my life, I would like to say that I've submitted to God in all instances, but that would be far from the truth. But it is so helpful in the moment to ask myself "who am I submitting to?" Especially in the grey areas of life. And the best part is that if I submit to God & resist the devil, he WILL flee. Not "maybe will flee" or "sometimes will flee". He will flee every time.

"Lord Jesus, thank You for the straightforward truth of Your Word. Help me to consciously submit to You in all areas of my life. Give me the strength to resist the devil at my weakest moments and join You in laughing at him as he flees by the power of Your Name. Amen."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bread of Life

March 9th 2017
Scripture: John 6:66-67 (KJV)

Bread of Life

  "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?"

Jesus taught one of His toughest teachings about living the Christian life to His multitudes of so-called "disciples"; that He himself was the Bread of Life. Anyone who did not eat his flesh and drink his blood could not have true life in them. Now, come on, you can't say this teaching isn't a bit strange... 

But there is a deeper meaning here, as Jesus' words always do. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. His "blood" spewed from his body and his "flesh" torn open like a loaf of bread. Bread (food) is life; for we could not live long without food to keep us going. We need water to survive. Spiritually speaking, we need Jesus like we need food and water, if we have any hopes of gaining eternal life. Yet "...many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."

What really strikes me is Jesus' question to his 12 closest disciples, "Will you also go away?" This question cuts to the heart, because so many times I find myself relapsing in my faith. I no longer walk with Jesus, but go off on my own trail and do my work for Jesus. It is so easy to lose my venturing and devoted walk with Jesus. One day, two days, skip a few more, and I find myself yards away from Jesus' side. I don't notice it at the time that its happening, but each step I take away from walking alongside Jesus in my daily relationship with him, I slowly starve myself spiritually. I start asking, "what am I going to do?" instead of, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" I lose my sense of dependency and devotion to him. In all realities, we need Him by our side, every step of the way. For He alone is the bread that gives us life.

"Lord Jesus, I thank You that You are always ready to pick up right where we left off, no matter how far I stride. Help me to realize daily how much I need your word, just like I need food and water and air. You alone are my Bread of Life, let my spirit relish our times together. Amen."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Open Heart Surgery

February 15th, 2017
Scripture: Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)

Open Heart Surgery

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

After the Fall of Jerusalem, the LORD assures hope for the People of Israel through the words of Ezekiel the prophet. The LORD speaks of a "spiritual operation" that He will preform as the chief surgeon. He will give His people a new heart and new spirit, replacing stone with flesh. The very core of their being will be changed from the inside-out.

  I've heard the expression used, "stone cold", as a way of saying that a person can be cruel beyond belief, or inhumane. I've also heard the phrase, "set in stone", as a way of expressing permanent action that cannot be undone. I think this is similar to the "heart of stone" that is lodged within the hearts of humanity. But I also believe that nothing or no one is beyond redemption.

God wants to give us new hearts of flesh; living tissue that matures, grows, and contains life. Just as Jesus said, "[Those who believe] have crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). God also wants to put a new spirit inside of us: The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of His Son.

So next time you think you are too far gone, or that you won't be able to trust ever again, or you will never break the numbness you feel, just remember the Great Healer has an operating table waiting for you. All you have to do is ask God for the surgery and give Him permission to do it. It may take some time to replace that heart of stone, just like real heart surgeries take time, but the end result is always worth it!

"Lord Jesus, thank You that our hearts can be mended, repaired, and ultimately replaced and renewed. I give You full permission to work on my heart, so I can be filled with love and new life. In Your Holy Name, Amen."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Root Source

February 1st 2017
Scripture: John 15:5 (NIV)

Root Source

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Here Jesus is speaking to his disciples in the upper room; the closing moments before his betrayal in the Garden. In this chapter, Jesus gives his disciples some last thoughts. He starts by telling them they are "branches" that grow from "the vine". He is the source that brings them life; and there are serious repercussions if they do not remain in him.
Image result for Vines 
As a Christian, it is important to realize the "root source" of my partnership with God. When I remain with Jesus, allowing him to be at the center of my life, I can do much fruit-bearing in the spiritual realm. 

But the moment I step away from the life-giving relationship, I lose any and all gains for God's Kingdom, because apart from Jesus I can do absolutely NOTHING; which is a much different story than, "I can do all things <through Christ>"(Phil. 4:13). I sometimes forget to include that the source of my strength is not "will power" or "self-help" but "Christ's help" and "His power."

"Lord Jesus, I thank You that I can bear spiritual fruit for Your kingdom. Help me to remain in You, and keep You at the root of my ministry. I can do nothing without You. Amen."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Asking for a Blessing

January 5th 2017
Scripture: Judges 1:14-15 (ESV)

Asking for a Blessing

"When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs."

Caleb's daughter, Achsah, urged her new husband, Othniel, to ask her father to give them a blessing; land on which to build a home. After realizing that Othniel was going to keep his mouth shut, she did something that was a little taboo in her day and age. She dismounted her donkey and asked Caleb herself. In a male dominated culture, it was not a woman's place to speak her mind freely. I can imagine what fear she must have felt to step out against the culture's expectations, and wondering what her father would think of her for asking. But she did not receive a judgemental "No, shame on you!" What happened? He gave her the upper AND lower springs! Much more than she must have expected or ever needed. 

When I think of my father, he is always wanting to bless me; sacrificing his time, resources, and energy, to bless me with whatever he is able to give. Why? Because he loves me and wants the best for me. But sometimes when I think about God, I feel that asking Him for something would be out of place, or insignificant to Him. But God loves me, and wants to bless me. A lot of times I have not because I ask not. 

God's answer will not always be "Yes", for He sees the bigger picture and desires the best for my life, which means I must let go of something good I want, for something greater. But there is no harm in asking anyways.

"Dear Lord Jesus, help me to have courage to approach Your throne with confidence. Remind me that like my earthly father, You are looking for ways to bless me. Help me to accept Your answer as the best answer whether "Yes" or "No". Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I Vote America UNITED

Nov 9th 2016
Scripture: Mark 3:25 (NIV)

I Vote America UNITED

"If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."

Jesus was accused by the Pharisees that He was using demonic power to drive out demons from people releasing them from their possession. This seemed a suitable explanation to them as to how Jesus could have the authority, if not from God Himself. Jesus turned to them and pointed out the error in their logic. If a house is divided... 

Divided means to be "separated into parts or pieces" or "conflicting interests" or "disagreeing with one another". If you had a door, a window, four walls, and a roof, you wouldn't have a house, but merely a door, a window, four walls, and a roof. The pieces only become a house when they are unified together becoming something more than just themselves. The "door" is no longer just a slab of wood with a knob on it, but the entree way into a home. Some say, "divide and conquer", but in this case I would say that in your defining moments, "if you divide, you will be conquered."

It was crazy to see how close the 2016 American Presidential Election was on either side. Some states were won or lost by a 2-4% difference. Talk about being split down the middle. And I woke up to videos posted of protests and riots in response to the results. My Fellow Americans, we can't do this! I know everyone doesn't always agree, and that it's alright to express disappointment. But we must not lose the uniting factor that no matter the results "at the end of the day, we are still on the same team." which President Obama just recently said. If we truly want to "make America great again", we have to believe that we really are "stronger together"; not as democrats, or republicans, but as Americans. So let's stop this useless squabbling, and show the rest of the world that we the people can be the UNITED States of America once again.

"Lord Jesus, I pray Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen."