Saturday, February 28, 2015


But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  (1 Corinthians 15:20)

I don’t know any other way to break this to you, but to just come out and say it—I have a terminal illness.  So do you.  It’s called life—and it’s eventually fatal!  We contracted this at birth.  There is good news, however.  Death has been defeated!  That is Paul’s premise in 1 Corinthians 15.

The Apostle bases this in THE RESURRECTED SAVIOR (v.1-20).  He begins the chapter as an attorney presenting his case in court.  He lays out the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, summoning eyewitness after eyewitness.  Paul even includes his own testimony that Jesus is alive.  The Christian faith is founded on this fact.  His death on the cross cannot save us if some tomb still holds His bones.  Christ’s resurrection makes His crucifixion triumphant instead of tragic.  Our hope is a living hope!  Jesus promised and delivered on this, “Because I live, you will live also.”  (John 14:19b)

This means we will become THE RESURRECTED SAINTS (v.21-34).  One day—maybe soon—Christ is coming for His church.  He will raise the dead saints and translate the living ones, giving us new bodies, like unto His glorified form.  Paul lays out the logical reasons to believe in and the practical results of Christ’s resurrection.  There are implications not merely for the sweet by and by, but for the nasty now and now!  We can deny ourselves and take up the cross in following Christ because we know that ultimately there is victory and reward in heaven!

Paul next discloses THE RESURRECTION STATE (v.35-53).  I told an aging saint who was sharing all their aches and ailments, “There is nothing wrong with you that the resurrection won’t fix!”  The new body we will be given will be flawless and not subjected to human frailties.  It will be impervious to sickness, sorrow and sin.  Now, our bodies can become a prison.  Bars of bone bind our soul that yearns to be free of pain.  The physical frame can deteriorate and so can the mind—dementia stealing away the personality, leaving a shell of what the person was.  In the resurrection God says, “No more of that!”

No wonder this leads to THE RESURRECTION SONG (v.54-57)  We sing in triumph over the tomb!  I can still recall when I was a little barefoot boy running through the yard at play under a bright summer sun.  Our lawn was about as much clover as grass, and the honeybees delighted in those tiny flowers.  They were not as pleased when I stepped on one—the result being a venous sting.  I would hop to my mother, crying, and she would console me as she removed the stinger, “That old bee can’t hurt you anymore—look, it’s lost its sting.”  That is what Jesus did for us—He took the sting of death away!

This is not just “pie in the sky by and by,” as some deride it.  There is THE RESURRECTION SUMMATION (v.58).  What we do today matters, because there is an eternal accountability.  Our labor for the Lord will not be in vain!

Friday, February 27, 2015


“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”  (Job 28:12)

There are things about the story of Job that we know—about which Job was clueless.  Even so, we still find ourselves struggling to fit all the pieces of this painful and perplexing puzzle together.  Job’s friends said much that was truthful, but they took some truths and reasoned to the wrong conclusion.  A little error makes a large difference. Set sail from New York harbor, bound for England, and deviate by just one degree and you will end up on the African coast rather than the British shore!  Only one knows it all—God—and that is why Job cries out to Him for wisdom in this twenty-eighth chapter.

Consider THE VANITY OF WORLDLY ACHIEVEMENT (Job 28:1-11).  Job rehearses that which we well know—the heart of man will dig up a mountain to discover a precious gem or piece of gold.  All about us are those who give themselves to the relentless pursuit of the material.  The richest man who ever lived—King Solomon—declared the vanity of such worldly achievement.  Your bank vault can be full and your heart can be empty.  Jesus posed the question, For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”  (Mark 8:36)  Job knew the fleeting nature of wealth.  He possessed great abundance, yet it was yanked away in a moment.  Such is the nature of worldly achievement.

In contrast, recognize THE VALUE OF WISDOM’S ADORNMENT (Job 28:12-19).  We can adorn our body with jewels set in silver or chains of gold, and when our form is in a coffin, then what good is it?  It may be that grave robbers will even come to our skeletal remains and steal the treasure away.  It is certain we can’t take it with us!  Wisdom on the other hand is the enduring and priceless treasure that enhances all there is in life.  You can hire a tutor, if you have money.  For a big investment, you can obtain a college education.  Wisdom, however, is not for sale.  Its value exceeds any dollar amount.

There is then THE VIRTUE OF WISDOM’S ATTAINMENT (Job 28:20-28).  Job’s quest for wisdom ends in an omniscient God!  He not only has all wisdom, He is willing to share that wealth—but only with those who qualify.  It is not the scope of the facts in our head, but the strength of the fear in our heart that establishes the credentials we need to attain true wisdom.  Job echoes what other Scripture (e.g. Prov.1:7; 9:10) says, And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”  (Job 28:28)   Job will question what he has once thought true and weep over his present confusion (see chapters 29-31).  He seeks clarity in his catastrophe.  Job was accused of sin, but steadfastly maintained his integrity.  He was a God-fearing man and so lifted up this wail for wisdom.  Buried in the ash heap of his shattered life, he believed God might yet bestow it.  Whatever your circumstance today, and no matter the confusion it has caused, consecrate yourself to God.  All will become clear in time—or eternity!  God grant us the wisdom we need to walk by faith in this troubled world today.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Several years ago, Tina Turner, belted out a pop song that rose to number one.  It cynically asked, “What’s love got to do with it?”  The song calls love, “a second hand emotion” and “a sweet old fashioned notion,” but really the relationship is only about sex—nothing more than hormones and physiology. Considering the abuse she endured at the hands of her ex-husband Ike, we may have some sympathy with her choice of lyrics.  Despite the misuse and abuse of the word, “love,” as far as God is concerned, there is nothing more important!  Jesus taught that the fulfillment of all our duty to God and man is summarized in the expression of love (Matt.22:36-40).  Paul amplifies on that theme in 1 Corinthians 13.

There is THE PRIMACY OF LOVE (v.1-3).  Out of the holy trinity of Christian virtues—faith, hope and love—it is love that reigns supernal and eternal.  Love is transcendent.  You can talk about love with great eloquence and not exhibit it; you can be correct in your belief and cruel in your behavior; you can have a head full of knowledge, but a heart empty of love; you can have supernatural power, but its origin be Satan the hater and not the God of love; you can be generous, so others praise you, and not because you care; and you can even die for your cause—not out of love, but hate (suicide bombers, for example).  Love is the foundation and motivation for all that is good.  It has devotion to God and compassion for others as the source, substance, and sum of it.

Then, there is THE PRACTICE OF LOVE (v.4-7).  Love is more than an emotion—it is an action.  The Apostle does not try to define love by what it is, so much as to describe what it does.  In the Greek text, each term is a verb, and is in the present, continuous sense, showing aptitudes and actions that are to become our nature through repeated practice.  Love is the fruit of the Spirit, produced as we yield to Him in faith and obedience.  The personification of these is Jesus.  Each of these qualities was embodied in His example.  Following Christ demands that I seek to do likewise.  Paul presents the positive direction of what love is and the prohibited dimension of what love is not.

Finally, there is THE PERMANENCE OF LOVE (v.8-13).  Life may end, but love lives on.  Love never fails; it is victorious.  People may fail to receive our love, but love never fails, for even when spurned makes us better for offering it.  Love is not only powerful in victory, but priceless in value.  All that is of this material world is fading away—even good things like speaking with prophecies and in tongues will end someday, having served their purpose—but love is of enduring worth.  Love is powerful in victory, priceless in value, and preeminent in virtue—said by the Apostle to be the greatest gift of God, even lasting beyond faith and hope, as significant as they are.  There is a time faith will become sight and hope will be fulfilled—no more needed—but, love will be the environment of eternity!

What’s love got to do with it?  Absolutely everything!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.  (Luke 11:5-8)

It has been said, “There is much we can do after we pray, but nothing we can do until we pray.”  It is true.  Apart from God’s activity what we accomplish is doomed to fail.  Jesus warned, “without Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5b)  Still, we try, don’t we?  The modern church has functioned without the power of God for so long, that the Holy Spirit could be withdrawn and it is unlikely we would notice.  That is to our shame and the great loss to those who need the Gospel.

As the Lord was instructing His disciples on how to pray, He shares with them this parable about a hungry friend.  The man arrives after midnight—hungry—and the host has no bread.  Middle-eastern customs of hospitality, however, demanded that he provide bread.  They had no 24/7 convenience stores in those days, so his only option was to go next door to his neighbor and seek to secure some.

The physical condition of the traveler mirrors the spiritual state of the sinner.  He or she has a heart hunger, but has no means to satisfy it.  Not that people don’t try!  They gorge themselves with all this world can offer—and may find it sweet for the moment—but, ultimately, what they are ingesting is poison.  The hunger—that is really a hunger for God—remains unsatisfied, and even intensified.  Some will make it to the church in their quest.  How many churches really have anything to give them?

Thankfully, the man in this story realized his own poverty to provide and sought help from another.  The neighbor didn’t want to be disturbed, but finally realizes that if he doesn’t get up, go to the door, and give his neighbor some bread, he is never going to get any rest. 

The point of the parable is that we must pray with persistence.  Those who seek the Lord fervently and faithfully are those who will have something to share with a hungry world.  The good news is that God is nothing like the neighbor.  He is never asleep.  He is eager to answer.  If a sleepy neighbor will finally respond, how much more should we expect God to answer our prayers!

It is time for the church to wake up, realize the emptiness of our activities, and seek the activity of God!  We advertise that we are a bakery with “The Bread of Life,” and yet people are dying around us in despair for our cupboard is bare!  Child of God, this need not be!  Let us urgently cry out to God today, for a hungry world awaits. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  (1 Corinthians 11:26)

“It’s about time!”  You’ve heard that—usually as an expression of exasperation or relief.  You may have also heard, “Time is money.”  It is more valuable than that.  If you lose money, there is the possibility of recovering it—or gaining more.  Every tick off the clock, however, is gone forever.  Are you squandering time, spending time—or investing it in that which has eternal significance?  Each opportunity to meet and share the Lord’s Supper is an important time on the calendar.  That family meal is about time.

It is A TIME FOR REMEMBRANCE (1 Cor.11:23-25).  The phrase, “in remembrance of Me,” is used twice.  When we take the time to take the bread, it is a reminder of Christ’s body—beaten, bruised and bloodied for us.  When we drink the cup, it is a memorial to His blood—the cleansing fountain that flows from Immanuel’s veins.  It is time to recall the greatest gift to meet our greatest need.  “It is finished!” (John 19:30) as to the work to be done on the cross, but we will never cease to worship Him for what He did.

It is A TIME FOR REFLECTION (1 Cor.11:27-32).  We prepare to partake of the Lord’s Supper with a season of self-examination.  A spiritual inventory is to be a regular feature of the believer’s life.  Where are you today in your walk with Christ?  How does it compare to this time last week, last month, or last year?  Are you making progress?  Questions we should consistently consider:

  • Are there any sins to confess?
  • Are there any relationships to mend?
  • Are there any commitments to honor? 
The Lord’s Supper is a TIME FOR REDEDICATION (1 Cor.11:26)  There is not only the past dimension of remembrance—Jesus came and died for us—and the present aspect of reflection—Jesus is here by His Spirit and wants communion with us—there is, further, the promised season of return—Jesus is coming again and that challenges us to rededicate ourselves to live in light of eternity.  There will be a time when the Lord’s Supper will be superseded by the Lamb’s Supper (Rev.19:7-10).  There will be no need for the symbolism of the Lord’s Supper, for we will actually be in His visible presence in Heaven!  So we look to the future with anticipation—and that calls us to consecration.  Right now, I will redeem my time; I will rededicate myself to serving Him, so He will find me busy when He returns.

It’s about time!

Monday, February 23, 2015



“Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him”  (Job 23:8)

“Why?”  Young children ask that—a lot.  You share with them some information and they want to know why it is so.  You tell your little son or daughter to do something and they ask, “Why?”  The reality is that as an adult we may know far more than they do—but it is not always easy to explain to their little minds.  Since we are the parents, we may try to, but we are not obligated to do so.  Numbers of times I answered, “Because I said so.”  Where did I learn that?  My father told me the same thing.

Job found himself in horrible misery.  He was vexed by the suffering he went through, and perplexed by the silence he encountered from God.  Job wondered why all this had happened.  Of course, his three friends were convinced they knew—this was a punishment for Job’s sins.  They freely shared such “comforting” words—repeatedly—which not only failed to correctly answer the perplexity, it compounded the vexation.

Have you ever felt that way?  There are inexplicable events that happen to the children of God, and we instinctively ask our Father in Heaven, “Why?”  He may answer.  Since He knows far more than we know, even when He answers we may not grasp it.  God’s mind is so superior to our thoughts and His ways beyond ours that it would be akin to a nuclear physicist trying to explain complex chemical processes to a gnat.  The Lord graciously at times gives us some truths to help us, but He is not obligated to do so—He is God.

Job was vexed and perplexed about his UNANSWERED PRAYER (Job 23:1-7).  Job had been pleading for a response from God, and had received no answer to his prayer.  He knew God could answer prayer, believed God did answer prayer, but had not a clue why God was not hearing him.  There have been times we have all felt that way.

Job was vexed and perplexed about God’s UNAVAILABLE PRESENCE (Job 23:8-12).  He searched desperately for God, and did not find Him—even though he believed God knew he was looking.  Job is convinced the Lord understood the whole story, but just wouldn’t let him in on the secret.  He had faith in the character of God—that the result of this fiery trial will be that his faith would be revealed as pure gold.  Where God was in the midst of this mess at the moment was another matter.  He was not sure.

Job is vexed and perplexed despite God’s UNALTERABLE PROVIDENCE (Job 23:13-17).  God never changes.  His purposes are fixed.  Job submitted to the sovereignty of God in His providential dealings.  He has truth in his head, but terror in his heart.  Should we feel that way about God?  We may feel worse by feeling guilty about the feelings we have rather than venting our vexation.  Express it!  God knows what you are thinking anyway.  Expressing your frustration can give some relief from the pressure.

In your heartache cling to this, “We will understand it better by and by.”  Then earth’s question mark will be replaced by eternity’s exclamation point!

Sunday, February 22, 2015


But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”  (Luke 8:25a)

Trials are universal—they come to rich and poor, young and old, male and female, saints and sinners.  Trials are unavoidable—sooner or later we all face them.  But, God’s people can be unconquerable—with Jesus we may be tested by trials, but are meant to be triumphant over them.  In the eighth chapter of Luke we note four such trials.

We can be triumphant over THE PERIL OF STORMS (v.22-25).  Life will not be all sunshine; there will be storms, also.  In these verses, Jesus dramatically demonstrates that He is Lord of allstorms are not an accident, but an appointment.  Nothing ever happens by chance or luck.  An all-knowing and almighty God has everything under control.  Did you notice that Jesus went with them into the storm?  He has promised to never leave us, nor forsake us! There was a manifestation of His presence that they would have never received had they evaded the storm.  His promise was that they would get to the other sideand He will do that for you!  Heres the question, Where is your faith? (v.25) 
We can be triumphant over THE POWER OF SATAN (v.26-39).  This man was held in the grip of evil.  The result was nakedness, self-destructiveness, and he was uncontrollable.  That sounds so much like the world we live in todaySatan is on a rampage and holds many in bondage.  Again, Jesus shows His authoritynot only over the peril of storms, but the power of Satan.  Jesus casts out the demons and this tortured soul puts on his clothes, becomes mentally stable, and bows to Him.  The result is that the man wants to follow Jesus.  The Lord tells him to start by telling his family about what great things the Lord has done for him.  He doesnt stop there, but shares his testimony with the whole city.  We also have a testimony of Gods great grace that delivered us.  Yes, the days are demonic, but God has raised us up for such a time as this.
We can be triumphant over THE PAIN OF SICKNESS (v.40-48).  Jairus had a daughter who was terminally ill.  He comes seeking Jesus, but, on the way another womangripped by incurable sicknessreaches out to Jesus and His power flows into her and heals her!  Her sickness drove her to physicians who couldnt cure her, but finally to Christ who did!  Pain can propel us to seek Christ, and that is a good place to be!
We can be triumphant over THE PROBLEM OF SORROW (v.49-56).  Sorrow was an opportunity for Christ to demonstrate His authority over death.  As the Lord of Life, He holds the keys of death, hell and the grave.  Because He has overcome death, it has been transformed into “sleeping” for the child of God.  The voice of Christ will someday awaken all who sleep in Jesus as He did for this girl.  Death does not get the last word!  Through Christ, it is overcome by eternal life!
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  (Rom.8:37)  How may we experience this?  “And this is the victory that has overcome ther world—our faith.”  (1 John 5:4b)  Jesus now asks us, Where is your faith?

Saturday, February 21, 2015


So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” (Exodus 4:2 )

Moses is one of the great Bible heroes.  His first attempt at delivering his people, however, had been a disaster.  Seeing an Egyptian abusing one of Moses' fellow Hebrews, he killed him and buried him in the sand.  How long would it have taken to deliver Israel at that rate--one per day?  Not only so, but Moses' bloody secret was out.  The cat was out of the bag--or in this case the corpse!  So, he fled for his life.  He would spend forty grueling years tending his father-in-law's flock on the backside of the wilderness.  This was God's discipline to humble him and shape him that He might use him.  Until God brings us to the end of ourself, we will never discover what He alone can do because He alone is all we have.

There was THE SERIOUS PROBLEM Moses posed to God.  When the Lord calls him, he recalls his failure, and an objection arises, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice” (4:1)  It was an excuse masquerading as a reason not to obey.  There was an element of truth, however.  If Moses could not back up his claims, then his efforts would bring another failure, on a grander scale.  The fact is that we cannot lead people for God publicly until the evidence is there that we have listened to God privately.

Here is THE STARTING POINT.  So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” (4:2)  We often think that when we get to a certain place, obtain better resources, or develop greater skills that God can use us.  What we fail to grasp is that God meets us where we are to bring us where He wants us to be.  In the midst of the mundane, God can intersect with us.  An old scrub bush in the wilderness can become the sacred spot where the Eternal One is encountered.  The piece of wood in our hands can become a tool for God to work wonders!  Remember how Jesus took a lad's lunch and fed 5,000?  The starting point of the miracle was when all was surrendered to Jesus.

We must deal with THE SERPENT'S POISON.  And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. (Exodus 4:3)  Moses must have wondered why God would have him throw away a perfectly good staff.  When he obeyed, he found it had the nature of the serpent about it so long as Moses controlled it.  Anything not surrendered to God does.

Moses then finds THE SPIRITUAL POWER.  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” (4:4-5)  From now on this staff that in the hand of Moses could only do what Moses could do would be known as the rod of God and through it God would do only what He could do!

What has God called you to do?  Will you surrender all you have so He can use you?

Friday, February 20, 2015



Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.  Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.  (1 Corinthians 7:1-2)

Should you find yourself in the land of shattered dreams, is it possible to pick up the pieces and move on to a life of fulfillment?  You might have dreamed of marriage and years later you are still single.  Maybe you married and despite your commitment, your mate walked away—divorce dashed your dreams.  Perhaps you were happily married and death snatched your spouse from your arms.  Can you pick up the pieces?  The Corinthians wrote Paul about this, and in the seventh chapter we find God’s perspective.

You can pick up the pieces from DISAPPOINTMENT (v.1-9; 25-38).  It would be a mistake to stereotype all single adults as frustrated people.  Some are quite happy being unmarried.  Scripture teaches that God gives a special gift of singleness to some—a supernatural grace that liberates them to serve Christ exclusively.  Others feel a deep disappointment.  They want to be married, but have not.  There is something worse than being unmarried, and that is marrying outside of God’s will.  Some are so desperate for marriage, they unequally yoke with an unbeliever.  You get the Devil as a Father-in-law when you do!  Remember that in the sovereignty of an all-wise and all-loving God, disappointment can be His appointment.  Devote yourself to living for Christ, wait on the Lord.  Paul was single and satisfied, fulfilled and not frustrated.  You can be.

You can pick up the pieces from DIVORCE (v.10-24).  Paul doesn’t present a comprehensive statement on divorce and remarriage here—he is answering specific questions.  We must look at the whole of Scripture to find the entire teaching.  Although divorce isn’t desirable, it is sometimes permissible.  Paul tells us that if an unbeliever deserts a believer, the Christian is not bound.  Christ also taught that when someone violates one’s vows with persistent immorality, divorce may be allowed.  When divorce occurs for Biblical grounds, then remarriage is permissible.  The goal, however, is to stay together, if possible.  Reconciliation and rebuilding the relationship can be a miraculous testimony to the grace of God.  The believing spouse may lead their lost mate to Christ.  Forgiveness can be expressed, even when trust is broken.  Divorce always brings pain—even when it is unavoidable.  It breaks hearts and children are often the broken pieces.  The church must do all it can to prepare people for healthy marriages, help those with troubled marriages, but minister to those with broken marriages also.

You can pick up the pieces from DEATH (v.39-40).  Unless both spouses die at the same time, then one will face the sorrow of a funeral.  Since the two became one, they will feel like part of them is gone.  The grief-stricken struggle with depression—even anger with God. Thankfully, for His children, there will be a glad reunion day!  Some will remarry.  Make sure you find God’s choice for you, if you do.  You don’t get over this loss—you just learn in time to go with it, and find the supernatural peace Jesus gives.

I pray for those with broken dreams today, that God will help you pick up the pieces!

Thursday, February 19, 2015


And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”  (Luke 5:10b)
Maybe you are familiar with a simple little child’s card game called, “Go Fish.”  For Simon Peter, and the brothers James and John, fishing wasn’t a game—it was the way they survived.  Yet, Jesus told them He had a bigger fishing job for them—to catch souls for God!  Jesus has commanded us to, “Go Fish!”  It’s not a game.  This is deadly serious.  Every day people are slipping out into eternity without God and without hope!  What are some fishing lessons we find in our text? 
Fishing for people begins with CONFESSING OUR NEED (v.1-5).  These fishermen felt like complete failures.  Despite their best efforts, they didn’t have so much as a minnow to show for it!  How discouraging!  These weren’t sportsmen in a competition.  This wasn’t a hobby done for relaxation.  It was catch fish or starve.  When it comes to catching people for Christ in evangelism, it is a matter of life and death.  Churches all over America are dying!  They are failing to reach new people.  I am concerned that a certain lethargy has gripped us—that our passion for souls is not a priority any more.  Let us confess our need! 
We then move to CASTING OUR NET (v.5-6).   It was simply a matter of obedience.  They didn’t argue or debate.  They didn’t dispute or delay.  You won’t catch any fish until you respond to the command, “Go Fish!”  God’s command is clear—so we are either sinning or soul-winning!  I cannot guarantee that you will catch a soul for Christ the next time you share the Gospel, but I can guarantee you won’t if you don’t!  I’m not saying it is easy to reach a culture that is increasingly hardened to the Gospel, even hostile to it—but at least you don’t have to stand on the bank all day hoping for a bite—there are lost people everywhere!
The next step is in CONSERVING OUR CATCH (v.7).  We aren’t through with the work when we get them in the net—we have to bring them into the boat!  The church house is the spiritual boat for the people we catch.  Too often evangelistic churches fail at this point.  They may lead people into a decision, but do not direct them into the baptistery and subsequently connect them into the life of the church.  Otherwise we fail to conserve the catch.  Note that they signaled for their partners to come and help.  Here is a work that is too large for a few sold-out soul-winners.
This is a call for COMMITTING OUR ALL (v.8-11).  This is the essence of following Christ—forsaking all!  We hold back nothing.  Does it cost a lot of energy, time and money to reach people?  Of course!  But what is one soul worth?  Jesus implied more than the value of the whole world!  The first step up to being all God wants you to be is to fall down before Him and ask forgiveness (v.8).  Basically our problem is unbelief (v.9)  I wonder if we believe in the power of the Gospel?  Do we doubt the exclusivity of salvation in Christ alone?  For those who say they believe in evangelism, we are too often we are paralyzed by fear (v.10).  What do you need to leave behind?  Let us win the lost at any cost!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!... Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”  (1 Corinthians 5:1,13b)

We have an immune system that fights against disease.  Thank God, because there are germs everywhere!  They are continually probing for a weakness in our body’s defenses, and when they enter we become sick, and may even die.  This sinful world is a disease-plagued environment.  Sadly, in most churches, the immune system is scarcely functioning.  Sin-sickness has invaded the sanctuary.  This is nothing new, of course, and Scripture prescribes the antidote of church discipline.  The Corinthians were infested with all kinds of spiritual maladies.  Rather than influence the culture, their culture was influencing them.  Paul confronts this with a call to urgent measures.

He doesn’t beat around the bush.  The Apostle hits it head on.  When someone is rolled into the ER, and in danger of dying, action is called for—perhaps even drastic intervention.  This scandal was public knowledge, so he felt no need for private confrontation.  He drags the dirt right out into the open, rather than try to sweep it under the carpet.  It was the talk of the town anyway—and in a place notorious for immorality, this was sexual sin of a sort not even condoned by the heathen.  Yet, in the name of grace and love, it was tolerated in the church—even celebrated—as a sign of their inclusiveness.  That is like saying about a cancerous tumor: “You know I really like it.  It has become so much a part of me.  It would be horrible to have to go through an operation.”

Well, operations are not fun.  I have had them, and they hurt.  The removal of certain diseased organs is painful, yet, sometimes unavoidable.  That isn’t the first option, but may become the final one, if other treatments fail.  Scandalous sin must be lovingly and faithfully confronted or the church will be sin-sick—the infection will spread.

Unlike a physical limb that has become so diseased that it must be surgically severed, a member of the church body that is removed by church discipline may be restored to the body, once the disease clears.  The purpose of church discipline is redemptive, not punitive!  A good doctor sometimes must hurt to heal.  Paul, the spiritual physician, tells the Corinthians to deliver the unrepentant member over to Satan—that is, to remove him from the church, and out of the protection of the body—so that in the world he may be broken and then driven back to the church in contrition and confession.  People can be like the Prodigal and come to their senses in that state, returning to the Father’s House as changed people!

This is not a matter to be taken lightly.  It is not a procedure to be entered hastily.  There is a time, however, that if a scandalous sin among the members is not faced, the church will be drained of its spiritual power, defiled in its testimony, and in danger of death.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’ ”  (Luke 3:4)
The Boy Scout motto is, “Be prepared!”  That should be the motto of every person.  The message of Scripture can be summed up as, “Be prepared!”  The Old Testament prophet, Amos warned, “Prepare to meet your God!”  (Amos 4:12).  The New Testament prophet, John the Baptist came with the same message.  Are you prepared?  Let’s make sure.
In Luke 3 we note THE HERALD OF THE KING (v.1-20).  He issued a call to LOOK!  He points people heavenward, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (v.6) They would see salvation in the Savior.  In ancient times this is what a herald did—he went before the king to prepare the people for his coming.  Potholes were filled, barriers removed, crooked roads straightened, and a crowd would be gathered in anticipation of the monarch’s arrival.  Spiritually speaking, this is what John did as the herald of King Jesus.  Deep valleys of depravity were to be filled, high mountains of haughtiness and self-righteous religion were to be removed, crooked ways of living were to be straightened, and rough ways of talking were to be silenced.  John’s practice of baptism was an outward expression of an internal experience.  It pictured repentance.  It was repentance, however, that brought remission of sin.  The water could never cleanse from sin, but it would be a confession of cleansing.  John was plain that true repentance was not just fear (v.7) but must lead to fruit (v.8a).  True repentance isn’t just about feeling sorry, but being different (v.9-14).
Luke 3 also presents THE HOLINESS OF THE KING (v.21-22)  There is need to LISTEN!  To the voice of the Herald was added the Voice out of Heaven.  This is the Father’s affirmation of the absolute faithfulness of His Son.  For the 18 years after the episode in the Temple, He lived a spotless life.  This makes it all the more remarkable that Jesus comes along with sinners to be baptized by John (v.21a).  He was identifying with them—and that was His mission. He was declaring His death, burial and resurrection.  God did not leave us in our hopeless state, but He came to us!  Christ’s purity was reinforced by prayer (v.21b).  He would have the anointing of the Spirit for His ministry (v.22).  Followers of Christ need to emulate His actions.
Then, Luke 3 declares THE HERITAGE OF THE KING (v.23-38)  There is a lesson to LEARN!  The royal lineage was what qualified someone to be a king.  Jesus’ heritage extends back to Adam, so that He was fully man, but then to God—so He was fully God.  God set Adam in the Garden and gave him dominion, but in disobedience that was forfeited.  Now, Jesus comes as the Last Adam that by His obedience all that the First Adam lost will be restored.  Following this, Jesus will march into the wilderness and do battle with Satan.  When Satan questioned the Word of God, Adam and Eve were deceived and disobedient.  But, when Satan questions Jesus, Christ will rely on the Word of God and overcome the wicked one.  He is eminently qualified to be our Savior and to reign over us.
He will reign forever and ever. The consummation of human history and the coronation of Heaven’s King is coming—and I think soon.  The big question is, “Are you prepared to meet Him?”

Monday, February 16, 2015


And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:  (Genesis 49:1)

If you are taking a trip somewhere that I have been, you are wise to listen to me before you travel.  I can tell you the best road to take, good places to eat, where to stay, and what to see.  If there are places to avoid, I can warn you.  We have the experiences of spiritual pilgrims recorded in Scripture.  “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  (1 Cor.10:11)  There are life lessons from Jacob’s prophetic blessing in Genesis 49.

Reuben was commended for his strength (v.3), but condemned for his lack of stability (v.4), which led to immoral sensuality.  We are warned of being, “a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)  Such are bound to trip and fall.

If Reuben’s problem was instability then Simeon and Levi’s was cruelty (v.5-7).  Rather than controlling their anger, it dominated them.  “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  (James 1:19-20)

Judah would rise to sovereignty (v.8-12).  His would be the line from which the kings would come—and ultimately the King of kings, the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ.  Since we are heirs with Christ, then we shall reign with Him also (read Rom.8:17; Rev.22:5).

Zebulun and Issachar teach us about opportunity (v.13-15).  Zebulun would seize it, and Issachar would shun it.  Dwelling by the sea, Zebulun’s heirs would master commerce.  Issachar’s strength gave great potential, but indifference led to enslavement.  God gives us such wisdom in His Word about financial matters, but too often, “the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” (Luke 16:8b)

Dan warns us of duplicity (v.16-18).  He is pictured as a serpent lying in wait, striking the unsuspecting.  In this he is like his spiritual father—the Devil.  Our only hope to escape the same sin and sentence is to cry out to God for salvation (v.18).

Gad, Asher and Naphtali will experience victory and exhibit prosperity (v.19-21).  So should we: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Cor.2:14).

Joseph’s life lesson instructs us in purity (v.22-26).  His painful experiences were God’s pruning to prepare him for fruitfulness.  They had a refining quality that molded his character into a vessel God could us.  A sanctified life is one God delights to bless.

Benjamin teaches us about activity (v.27).  Morning and evening would find him on the move.  His productivity would lead to prosperity.  God never blesses laziness!  Do we, like Benjamin, have an appetite to achieve?

As you look into the mirror of God’s Word here, what do you see about your life?

Saturday, February 14, 2015


For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  (1 Corinthians 2:2)

In the very center of London you will find a place called Charing Cross.  The locals simply call it “the Cross.” The story is told of a London police officer who came upon a lost child.  The child was crying and unable to tell him where he lived. The boy said, “If you will take me to the Cross, I think I can find my way home from there”.  That is still true today!  In an age where many churches are taking down the cross from their buildings so as not to be offensive, we will still cling to the old rugged cross!  When has it not been offensive?  At the center of our faith stands the cross.

The cross is central in its PROCLAMATION (1 Cor.2:1)  It was the core of New Testament preaching.  Paul underscores this in his ministry.  He did not seek to enthrall them with soaring oratory—with human eloquence—or to enchant them with sublime philosophy—with human intelligence.  Rather it was a simple sermon—a testimony.  Notice that the Apostle connects his preaching with the glory of God (1 Cor.1:26-31), so he will not seek to exalt himself but exalt Christ!  No preacher can seek his own glory and seek God’s at the same time.  Paul wrote in Gal.6:14, “God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

The cross is central in its PREEMINENCE (1 Cor.2:2)  There had been many crosses erected on that skull-shaped hill outside Jerusalem.  Perhaps hundreds of Jews had been crucified there.  On that day there were three crosses—but it is the central cross that is pre-eminent—the cross where Jesus was crucified.  That is our focus.  It draws our gaze.  We stand transfixed at it—its horror and its attraction, at the same time.  There are those who want to take the cross and make it an object of beauty—gilding it with gold and setting it with precious gems.  That is not the cross of Christ.  Rather it was a cruel instrument of death.  It is in the Son of God crucified that we can be forgiven—paying the debt of sin we couldn’t pay.

The cross is central in its POWER (1 Cor.2:3-5).  Apparently, there was nothing imposing about Paul’s physical presence.  He may have sounded more like Don Knotts than James Earl Jones.  But it wasn’t the charisma of his person, but the content of his preaching that provided the power to transform lives.  He contrasts the faith that is rooted in man’s wisdom and that which is in God’s power.  The former is a sham-faith and the latter a saving faith.  In the first, some Christian salesman uses emotional manipulation and psychological techniques to talk someone into a decision.  I bought a time-share like that once—and came to regret it and sold it.  It wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.  That only cost a few thousand dollars.  This kind of preaching can cost an eternal soul!  When the Gospel is proclaimed in faithfulness, the Holy Spirit’s power convicts of sin, and generates faith in the heart of man. It is a miracle—a dead man coming to life, a blind man coming to see, a deaf man to hear, and a crippled man to walk!  Only God can do that!  Is that where your faith rests?  Is it in the cross alone?


But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.  And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  (Luke 1:13-14)

They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn.  That was the condition of the nation of Israel 2,000 years ago.  Four centuries passed and they were still in spiritual darkness, without a word from God, since the last prophet, Malachi, had spoken.  Yet, he promised, The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings (4:2a).  That new day was about to dawn.  As the sun returns to the sky after the darkness of night, so hope would return with a fresh word. 

It came TO A SEPARATED PERSON (Luke 1:5-9)  Zacharias was a priest, set apart for service in the temple.  He and his wife Elizabeth were faithful people who let their light shine during those dark days.  They clung to hope when it seemed hope was lost.  This godly couple was not perfect, but they were pure.  God occupied the throne of their lives and directed their steps.  Their walk in public was without scandal and their walk in private was without shame.  All was done under the supervision of God who put His stamp of approval on their conduct.  You don’t have to be a gifted person for God to use, but you have to be a godly person.

The dawn of hope came AT A STRATEGIC POINT (Luke 1:9-10)   Nothing is by accident for the child of God—it is by appointment!  Paul said that it was in the fullness of time that God sent His Son into the world—in the most strategic moment, God would cause the Light to dawn.  We see His providential hand selecting Zacharias—by lot.  It wasn’t human chance, but heavenly choice.  God is directing the events of your life—even the painful ones.  God uses pressure to mold us and fire to make us fit vessels.  When the priest went in to offer incense a bell was sounded calling the people to pray.  Incense is symbolic of intercession—a sweet fragrance arising to God.  When God gets ready to move, he moves us to pray.

The word came THROUGH A SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE (Luke 1:11-12)  If God opened our spiritual eyes, we would see there are angels all around us.  We are never alone—God is near!  We are so casual and careless about holy things and sacred places.  Irreverence comes from failing to see God as He is!  If an angel could so terrify a good man, what reverence should be shown the Lord?

The dawn of hope came BY A SACRED PROCLAMATION (Luke 1:13-25)    John the Baptist would be the herald of the King!  Here is a description of spiritual awakening—in the nation, the church and the home.  We need that now!  God spoke and Zacharias couldn’t.  Unbelief can rob us of blessing, but it won’t stop God’s purposes.

Will you respond to Him?  Will you hear and heed His voice?  Today could be the dawn of a new day for you—hope could arise, even in this dark hour.