Tuesday, March 31, 2015


For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you….   (Col.1:9a)

Often we pray wholesale when we should pray retail.  General prayers are generally pointless!  We pray, “Lord bless so and so…” and how would we know if He did?  Prayer needs to be specific.  Blind Bartimaeus cried, “Son of David have mercy on me.”  Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”  When he asked for sight, Jesus opened his blind eyes (Mark 10:46-52).  It is also true that prayer must align with God’s will if we are to expect an answer.  The will of God is in the Word of God, so prayers grounded in Scripture unleash the faith that moves the hand of God.  Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-11 is one that we can confidently pray for other Christians.

PRAY FOR THEIR WISDOM, “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (v.9b).  How valuable this is!  When Solomon was given a blank check from God, and could ask for anything he wanted, the young king requested wisdom—and God was so pleased with that He threw in everything else along with it!  No wonder Solomon would later write in Proverbs that it is worth more than gold!  Every day brings a multitude of choices.  It is not always a matter of choosing between right and wrong—which is more readily apparent—but can be a choice between the good and the best—and that is more difficult.  God will enable us to see what lies ahead—“wisdom”—and to see what lies behind things—“spiritual understanding.” 

PRAY FOR THEIR WALK, “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him” (v.10a).  Discerning the will of God should direct our walk with God.  Convictions should set our course.  Some folks just get a big head from what they know, when what is needed is a burning heart for what we should do!  Our walk is to be worthy of the precious name that we bear—the name of Christ.  Peter tells us we “should follow His steps” (1 Pet.2:21).  Our prayer is for a life that is fully pleasing to God.  We pray for our brothers and sisters to have a passion for His pleasure as did Paul when he wrote, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil.3:14) 

PRAY FOR THEIR WORK, “being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy” (v.10b-11).   Our head—discerning God’s will—our heart—directing our walk—and our hands—doing God’s work—leads us to fruitfulness, forcefulness, and faithfulness.  Our prayer for the saints is that as they abide in Christ they will bear much fruit for the glory of God (see John 15).  This connection to Christ causes His very life to flow in force—a divine energizing—for supernatural service.  Satanic opposition is guaranteed, but God gives endurance that is greater still, so we do not give out, give in, or give up!  We can even smile in the struggle and sweat—full of joy!  This doesn’t arise from self-reliance, but spiritual dependence.

Pray this for your fellow Christians.  I know I want you to pray this for me!  By the way, it would be good to seek this for yourself also.  Just a thought.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  (John 20:19)

It is Holy Week—the calendar has brought us to recall the passion of Christ on Good Friday and how the darkness of the tomb yielded to the dawn of hope on Sunday.  Death has been defeated—Jesus lives!  While the morning had brought this startling news to the despairing disciples, we find that they were still wrestling with doubts that evening.  Then the Risen Lord arrives to greet them and His words spoken then still have profound implications for us today.

Jesus lives and that means we can have PEACE (v.19, 21a).  These are the first words He greets them with—and He repeats them to underscore their significance.  His resurrection meant His followers now had peace with God.  Jesus came to die—paying our sin debt of death by His crucifixion and demonstrating the purchase price accepted in His overcoming death by His resurrection.  Jesus shows them the scars from the nails in His hands and spear in His side (v.20).  This peace with God enables us to know the peace of God.  They were barricaded in the Upper Room, “for fear of the Jews,” who had crucified their Master.  Jesus calls them to courage.  “Because He lives I can face tomorrow; Because He lives all fear is gone.”  (Bill and Gloria Gaither)

Jesus lives and that means we can offer PRAISE (v.20).  Their sorrow was swept away by the resurrection reality.  Gloom was replaced by gladness.  Christians have a reason to rejoice.  We can sing the happy chorus of 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”  It makes me want to jump up and shout!  We worship on the first day of the week because He lives.  The people of God do not gather for a funeral, but a festival!  Hallelujah, Christ arose!

Jesus lives and that means we now have PURPOSE (v.21).  Because death is not the end of life, what we do in this life counts for eternity!  This gives us a purpose for this world that extends to the world to come.  We are not simply animals surviving day to day until the last breath in a meaningless pursuit of mere existence, but as we obey heaven’s mandate we are living for eternal reward.  In the same way that Jesus had a purpose in coming into this world, He has commissioned us to share the message of redemption!

Jesus lives and that means we can experience POWER (v.22).  His call to go to the ends of the earth with the Gospel is too large an assignment for human strength alone.  The good news is He has breathed His Holy Spirit into us—all the power we need to be all He wants us to be and accomplish all He wants us to do.

Jesus lives and that means we have a PROCLAMATION (v.23).  There is good news to announce.  The church can authoritatively decree that if a person believes in the Risen Christ their sins are remitted.  The converse is true also—if Christ is rejected then sins are retained bringing judgment.  How have you responded to this proclamation?

Sunday, March 29, 2015



that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death….  (Philippians 3:10)

It is possible to know about someone and not know them personally.  When a Jew spoke of “knowing” someone it suggested the deepest intimacy.  So as Paul spoke of his passion to know Christ, he wasn’t talking about knowing Him theologically—as important as that is—but, he meant knowing Him experientially.  This knowledge is in three tenses.

The past dimension is THE SAVING KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST (Phil.3:4-9).  Paul had experienced this indispensable and initial knowledge.  This is where a personal relationship with Jesus begins.  Before his conversion, Paul knew about Jesus—and rejected Him.  When he met Him on the Damascus Road, he came to know Him as Savior and Lord.  He spoke into the blinding light in replying to the voice, “Who are You, Lord?”  The answer, “I am Jesus.”  Paul would never be the same.  There was repentance (v.4-8) as Paul changed his mind about Jesus—and this brought a change of earthly direction and eternal destination.  Repentance brought righteousness (v.9)—not the self-righteousness of a Pharisee, but the saving righteousness that comes by faith.

The present dimension is THE SANCTIFYING KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST (Phil.3:10).  Beyond the initial knowledge there was an increasing knowledge that comes with spiritual growth.  The more we know of Him, the more we become like Christ.  This was Paul’s heartbeat.  We can know the power of His resurrection—the power that conquered death, hell, and the grave—flowing through us overcoming sin and energizing service.  We can know the partnership of His sufferings.  While we can’t share in the sufferings of the atonement, we can share in suffering for His cause—suffering for righteousness’ sake.  We can know the pattern of His death.  We take up His cross and follow Him.

The promised dimension is THE SUPREME KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST (Phil.3:11).  No matter how well we come to know Christ in this life, we will always be limited by the flesh.  Paul admitted in 1 Cor.13, “we know in part…but then face to face.”  John tells us, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!”  (1 John 3:2b).  A surface reading of Phil3:11 might lead you to think the Apostle is expressing some doubt about the resurrection, but rather it is an exclamation of desire—his way of saying that nothing was more important than the resurrection to life.  We will spend eternity somewhere—make sure you are heaven bound!  Blind Fanny Crosby put it best,

When my lifework is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.

Saturday, March 28, 2015



that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world….  (Philippians 2:15)

A demonic darkness has descended upon America.  Daily, it seems, we hear of the most horrific crimes that are committed.  Dope, debauchery, drunkenness, devil worship—all this and more has enslaved millions.  The evil of sin is decimating our nation, destroying our families, and defiling our churches.  What are we to do?  Enough hand-wringing!  Our response is clear according to Scripture!  Paul admits to the reality of the darkness—it is “a crooked and perverse generation.”  So, let your light shine!

Paul speaks of THE LIGHT OF CONTENTMENT (Phil.2:14).  You must keep the wick of an oil lamp trimmed or it becomes hard and gives off more smoke than light.  A spirit of discontent hardens our heart and disputes smoke up the church with a foul odor and dim the light.  Contentment, on the other hand, is an attitude that brightens the room!  Don’t argue with Paul about, “If you knew what I was going through…if you knew how people have treated me…” because he was writing these words from a dark prison cell, suffering what he did not deserve!  Yet, the whole letter is brimful of joy and the Apostle exults, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”  (4:11b)  Have you?

There is also THE LIGHT OF CONSECRATION (Phil.2:15a).  For an oil lamp to shine, you must keep the globe clean.  Consecration is about the cleansing of sin that comes from confession.  It is a regular need, for we all at some point or another succumb to temptation.  We can be wiped clean again through repentance.  God calls us to be blameless—where no one can point to a scandalous sin that contradicts our claims as the children of God.  We are to be harmless—and the word means, “for real,” so sinners cannot call us hypocrites.  If we are to bring others to the light, then we must be clean.

Next, we note THE LIGHT OF COMPASSION (Phil.2:15b-16).  An oil lamp requires fuel!  Compassion is the oil in the lamp of our testimony.  Paul had a burning heart to reach the lost.  Even in prison, his compassion brought a compulsion to win souls to Christ (read Phil.1:12-14).  People are sailing on the storm-tossed seas of sin—in the darkness of deception drawing ever closer to shipwreck on the rocks of God’s wrath.  Their only hope to make safe harbor is for the church to be a lighthouse and where there are those already sinking in sin—throw them the life-preserver of “the word of life.”

In conclusion, we need THE LIGHT OF COMMITMENT (Phil.2:16b-18).  You may have your wick trimmed, the globe clean, and oil in the lamp, but there is one more requirement—a flame to ignite it!  Commitment is the spark for our witness.  Paul had such a commitment to Christ and His commission for him that he saw himself as a sacrifice—a drink offering poured out on the altar.  He was running the race to win and laboring to receive an eternal reward.  God wants us to be productive—and reach our world.  Let us seek Paul’s passion and emulate his pattern lest our race and our labor be, “in vain” (v.16).  The darker the world, the more our light is needed—and effective!

Friday, March 27, 2015


Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.  (Proverbs 14:34)

The sunlight of truth is sinking low, and the shadows of evil deepen.  Although there are political, social, financial, and international concerns for America, the gravest peril is the spiritual darkness falling across the land.  Many Americans have an increasing unease—even the non-religious acknowledging something is wrong.  For those who are Bible believers, the danger is clear and imminent, for we understand the warning of Scripture, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”  (Ps.9:17)  America has forgotten God—the Creator who called us into being, the Provider who has blessed us, the Defender who has shielded us—even now fighting against Him. 

That is futile, of course.  The landscape of history is strewn with the wreckage of proud nations that arose with great pomp, ruled with great pride, and then were destroyed because they did not acknowledge the source of their strength.  It is folly to think these United States will be any different.  The glimmer of hope is that the Gospel is still being preached, and God’s church is still present, and spiritual awakening might yet raise us from the sickbed before the disease becomes terminal.  God makes dead bones live!

The twilight of a nation comes through IGNORANCE.  Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  (John 8:32)  If freedom is lost, it is that we are ignorant concerning the foundation, form, and function of our government.  This country was founded by people who—in many cases—fleeing religious tyranny in order to find freedom to worship.  The very laws upon which this nation was established were rooted in Biblical principles.  The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”  Deny the Creator and we have no basis for those rights.

The twilight of a nation issues from IDOLATRY.  Man will worship someone or something—for we are all religious in heart.  Even those who claim to be atheists deify the secular.  It is unavoidable.  An unholy trinity of false gods comprise the pantheon of idols in America today—pride, pleasure, and possessions.  Pride is the religion of humanism.  Its doctrine proclaims the self-sufficiency of man.  Pleasure is the religion of hedonism.  Its tenet is, “If it feels good, do it!”  Possessions become the religion of materialism.  Its creed teaches that life is found in the abundance of wealth.

The twilight of a nation grows with INDIFFERENCE.  The people of God are meant to be salt and light.  We are sentries posted on the wall to sound a warning.  Yet, for most, there is a shocking indifference toward iniquity.  Rather than influencing the world, the world influences the church.  Ezekiel warns that if we are silent the blood will be on our hands.  May the church grow a spine, and speak the truth in love, but please speak up!  One pastor, martyred for his stand against the Nazis, challenges us, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Thursday, March 26, 2015


“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

Watch an hour of two of cable news before you go to bed, and you are sure to toss and turn with a troubled heart.  Imported right into your home will be all the carnage and destruction from near and far, burning graphic images into your mind, and driving peace from it.  While believers are not to succumb to naiveté, neither should we to yield to gloom and doom.  Just listen to how we talk!  So much of our conversation is about how bad things are, and anticipating worse.  Indeed, the world is careening toward judgment, but THAT IS NOT THE END!  The end of it all is Christ on the throne, paradise restored, and eternal joy for the people of God!  A woman knows the birth pains are part of the joy of childbirth (John 16:21).  She can look beyond the contractions to the celebration of new life—and this is the attitude that Jesus calls us to have in John 16:33.

We can cheer up because of Christ’s CRUCIFIXION (John 16:16-22, 29-33).  Here we observe this dichotomy—the darkness that would descend upon the disciples due to watching Jesus be seized and slain, but the light that would arise because of His atoning work on Calvary.  There would be no possibility of real peace in our hearts without experiencing peace with God—and that was only possible through putting away our sins.  This is what Jesus would accomplish in the horror of the cross; He would bring us the hope of forgiveness.  We are reconciled to God by the blood He shed so cheer up!

We can cheer up because of Christ’s RESURRECTION (John 16:16-22).  If the cross and the cemetery were the end of Him, then that would be the end of hope, yet He assured His followers repeatedly that He would see them again!  The lifeless eyes that closed in death would pop back open on the third day, as up from the grave He arose!  Jesus called them to look beyond the tribulation He would suffer, and see the triumph that He would secure.  We serve a risen Savior who has defeated death so cheer up!

We can cheer up because of Christ’s INTERCESSION (John 16:23-28).  After His resurrection, the disciples would face another disappointment—Jesus would leave them after forty days and they would watch Him ascend back into heaven.  Even in this, there would be a glorious purpose—He would be the intercessor for us to the Father—praying for us continually—and consider this: because of our relationship secured by Him, the way of bold access has been opened where we may come directly to the throne of grace!  Are you facing troubles today?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  He is listening.  Cheer up!

We can cheer up because of Christ’s REVELATION (John 16:22).  We need not limit this promise to His resurrection, but see it extending to His revelation at His second coming.  There is no need to wring our hands and pace the floor today, when I know all will be well some glorious day!  Jesus has overcome the world!  The war is won and all that remains is the mopping up of some pockets of enemy resistance—and that day is approaching.  Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!  Hallelujah!  Cheer up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  (Ephesians 5:17)

Typically, when we hear the word, “stewardship,” we think about money.  That is an element of stewardship, yet, it is much more than that.  In the ancient world, a steward was a household servant entrusted with the goods of another and accountable to his master for how he managed those assets.  Therefore, we believers are servants of God, given His goods to care for and invest—time, talent, treasure—all the gifts of God bestowed on earth in view of the day of accounting in eternity.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:15-17 that we are STEWARDS OF OUR STEPS.  We are to “walk circumspectly”—to be careful where we place our feet, setting them on the right path.  As a child, I learned this truth when taught to sing, “Be careful little feet where you go…There’s a Father up above, and He’s looking down in love, so be careful little feet where you go.”  God has a path for us to travel—a course established according to His will and purpose for us.  Yet, we walk through a spiritual minefield in this world of sin.  We must, therefore, walk in wisdom (v.15).  A wise walk is directed by our roadmap—the Word of God, and accessed through prayer (James 1:5).  In this walk, we treasure the time (v.16).  There is a destination called eternity and only a set number of hours on earth—so our pace must be swift and steady—not being detoured by the Devil! 

Then, we are to be STEWARDS OF OUR SANCTUARY (Eph.5:18).  Our body is the sanctuary of the Spirit (1 Cor.6:15-20).  Jesus has purchased us with His blood, and we will render an account of the deeds done in the body at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor.5:6-10).  Paul tells us that there is an intoxication to be refused, “do not be drunk with wine….”  Alcohol is so dangerous that avoiding it altogether is the wisest course.  Drunkenness is dissipation—a wild and wanton waste of life.  We have all witnessed the sad result of abusing alcohol—destroying family, finances and health.  Instead, we are called to an infilling to be received, “be filled with the Spirit….”  In refusing to let your body be under the control of alcohol, yield your body to the control of the Holy Spirit!  As destructive as the former is, so delightful is the latter.  The old hymn tells us how to be filled with the Spirit, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Furthermore, we are STEWARDS OF OUR SPEECH (Eph.5:19-21).  Jesus said, for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”  (Matt.12:36)  This has implications in our singing (v.19).  If our heart is in tune with God, then the lyrics of our lips will flow from the love for Him in our heart.  This has implications for our thanksgiving (v.20).  We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.  Rather than the destructive expression of grumbling, there is the constructive exclamation of gratitude.  This has implications for our submitting (v.21).  We defer to one another when we speak words that heal rather than hurt—when we consider others as to the effects of our speech.

We have a sacred stewardship—how will we invest our time, our body, and our words?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

In a matter of hours, the dreams of the disciples would be dashed.  Jesus would suffer and die—His limp, lifeless body stretched on a slab in a sepulcher of stone.  Knowing the hour was rapidly approaching, Jesus sought to comfort them.  He said in John 14:1-3,

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me   In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Christ gave us peace in our hearts.  How could He talk of peace at such a troubled hour?  Jesus knew that such peace did not depend on outward circumstances, but was the gift of God.  Truly, it is, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Phil.4:7).  It was a favorite word of Jesus.  Time after time, we find the Prince of Peace uttering the words, "Peace be unto you."   We have peace through the Scriptures.  Jesus went on to say, "And where I go you know, and the way you know.”  (John 14:4)  God has spoken with authority concerning the issues of life and death.  We also have peace through the Spirit (John 14:17-18).  The Spirit of God indwells each child of God. He is called the Comforter.  The Greek word means, “One who stands alongside.”  He stands with us that we might stand our burdens.

Christ not only assured peace in our hearts, but the preparation of our home.  Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor.5:8)—and what a glorious welcome we receive there!  A place is prepared particularly for us.  In the twenty first and twenty second chapters of Revelation, John described the Holy City coming down from God as a bride adorned for her husband. It is a place where there is never a night, and the Lamb is the light.  The streets are paved with gold.  Gates are fashioned of a single pearl.  Walls are made of jasper.  The tree of life bears twelve kinds of fruit, planted beside the river of God that flows from His throne.  It will be a place of no sin, sickness or sorrow.  God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  We will put on a robe of immortality.  Death for the Christian is just moving day.  It is moving out of the old house we used to occupy, which is no longer fit for habitation, and moving into a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Christ gave us peace in our hearts, the preparation of our home, and, also, a promise of certain hope, Because I live, you will live also.”  (John 14:19b)  Hopes that withered on Friday, would bloom anew on Sunday!  The source of our hope is in the fact that Jesus is alive!  He has conquered death, hell, and the grave.  The span of our hope is forever—eternal life in glory!  What a blessed hope this is!  No matter what you face today—the best is yet to come!  No matter how dark the hour—the brightest day is going to dawn!

Monday, March 23, 2015


And the LORD said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.”  (Exodus 34:1)

One of the most difficult marriage counseling crises that I encounter is when a spouse has been unfaithful.  It takes a special love and commitment on the part of the mate who was sinned against to forgive and restore the relationship.  It does happen, and I have seen the miracle.  That is God’s kind of love.  Israel was unfaithful to Him, yet, God gave them another chance.  Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Peter, and Mark are some instances that come to mind where failure on their part was met with forgiveness on God’s part.  That is the nature of God.  Israel had been miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt.  How grateful were they?  They made a golden calf and worshipped it!  Here is God’s response, “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.’ ”  (Ex.34:6-7)  This is amazing grace!

The God of the second chance gave them THE NEW COMMANDMENTS (Ex.34:1-4).  They had broken the first set, spiritually, in their idolatry and Moses broke them, literally, in his indignation.  God gives them a replacement.  They would be no better able to keep them than the first edition, but that is why Jesus came.  He fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law and became our substitute so that through faith in Him we are saved.

God also gave them THE NEW COMPREHENSION (Ex.34:5-9).  Moses had learned so much on Mount Sinai the first time, but now God summons him to another revelation of Himself.  The fellowship broken by sin was restored in repentance.  The cloud caused by disobedience was lifted by love and a new light broke through.  Today can bring the dawn of a fresh revelation of God, if you will come up to His throne and meet Him!

Further, God issued THE NEW COMMISSION (Ex.34:10-17).  God reminds them of His purpose for bringing them out of bondage—to bring them into blessing!  They were not to be content with wandering in the wilderness, but advance to abundance.  There were marvels to behold, victories to win, and rewards to gain.  Has sin robbed you of your passion and power for service?  You can be restored to delight in your duty!

Then came THE NEW CONSECRATION (Ex.34:18-28).  They had been unfaithful to their vows, but God summons them to renew their commitment.  The failures of the past can be supplanted by our faithfulness in the future.  First love can be rekindled.

This brought THE NEW COUNTENANCE (Ex.34:29-35).  The shadow on Moses’ face from coming from Sinai the first time and seeing the sin of the people, was replaced by the shine on his face from the second visit and seeing the smile of the Lord.  Let us spend time in His presence this day until that glow is reflected on our countenance—nothing between my soul and my Savior!  Take away the veil and gaze on Him (2 Cor.3:7-18)!

Saturday, March 21, 2015


even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)  (Ephesians 2:5)

When we are saved we move from the graveyard to Gloryland.  This truth is pictured in the Gospel story of the Gaderene demoniac.  He was a demon-possessed man who lived in a graveyard.  He was violent, uncontrollable, an outcast who was hopeless—but then Jesus came by—and everything changed.  Christ commanded the powers of darkness to leave.  The naked man put on clothes.  The crazed man came to his right mind.  He would leave the cemetery and head for home with a testimony of what Jesus had done for him.  He was a new man with a new mission.  This illustrates the Scriptural principles Paul is sharing in Ephesians 2. 

There is OUR STATE WITHOUT CHRIST (v.1-3).  One word summarizes our state without Christ: dead.  Paul doesn’t say this is the condition of some of us, but all of us.  It is the natural state of man.  Death means separation—not the end of existence.  As the demonized man lived in tombs apart from other people, so we are in a realm of death apart from God—the location Paul refers to as being, “in trespasses and sins.”  Apart from Christ we are like the world (v.2a).  This is the world system with its philosophies, practices, passions and pleasures apart from Christ.  We are like the world and of the devil (v.2b).  If we are not the children of God through a new birth, we are children of the Devil via our natural birth.  Apart from Christ we are like the world, of the devil, and in the flesh (v.3).  We are driven by fleshy desires.  Why does a dog bark and not meow?  What does a cat meow and not sing?  Why does a bird sing and not bark?  That is their nature.  We are by nature powerless to change—and so must be born again. 

Thankfully, there is OUR SALVATION BY CHRIST (v.4-9).  One word communicates the experience of salvation: delivered.  That’s what Jesus did for the demon-possessed man.  Observe, Jesus gave us love (v.4, 7-9).  We were children of wrath deserving Hell, but mercy means we do not get what we deserve—and God is “rich in mercy.  It is His great love that moved Him to send His Son to save us.  He gave us life (v.5-6).  A resurrection took place.  We are united with the life of Jesus—all He is and where He is!

This leads to OUR SERVICE FOR CHRIST (v.10).  The one word that conveys our service is: disciple.  God call us to discipleship.  We aren’t saved by works (v.8-9), but are saved to work (v.10).  The man set free from demons was given a commission to witness to family & friends.  There is our resource.  God prepared His plan for us beforehand.  God gives grace—we work out what God works in.  The branch abides in Vine to bear fruit.  Our resource brings our response.  No wonder the man set free from thousands of demons wanted to follow Jesus!  “Workmanship” in the original language is “poema,” a life of rhyme and reason.  God has designed you with a special plan in mind.

Have your moved out of the graveyard and into Gloryland?  The work of grace is to move you from death to life.  Receive Jesus today!  He makes all the difference!



Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”  (John 11:25)

There is no place we can run to escape from death.  The Bible says, "it is appointed unto man once to die but after this the judgment."  Word comes to Jesus that Lazarus is struggling with deadly illness.  Though He had the power to heal, Jesus restrained Himself from doing so in order for Lazarus to die!  He tells His disciples that it will be for the glory of the Father and the grounding of their faith.  Yet, the disciples were perplexed and Martha wonders why.  Lazarus' sisters were broken-hearted.  Their tears would give way to inexpressible joy, but not at first.  Perhaps you are perplexed at God's ways of working in your life, or that of your loved ones.  Let us cling to the hope expressed by the songwriter, "We'll understand it better by and by."

Jesus did not prevent the death of Lazarus, but He came to the sisters.  He wept with them.  He shared their sorrow.  He will do the same for you.  This is a story of tears and trials, but at the end, of triumph.  This is God's promise to the child of God.  Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning!

Jesus described the death of Lazarus to his disciples as sleep.  Why did Jesus liken death to sleep?  For one thing, sleep is harmless. For the child of God, death should hold no terror for it cannot harm us. David said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me."  Sleep is not only harmless, but it is healthy.  The Bible says, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth that they might find rest from their labors."  The toil of life is over when we reach heaven.  All that burdens us will be banished in the life to come.  Sleep is also temporary.  We go to bed at night with the expectation of rising in the morning.  When a Christian dies, he goes to sleep in Jesus anticipating the resurrection. 

Every funeral Jesus attended turned into a celebration.  There was a personal summons issued to Lazarus.  Someone has well said that the voice of Jesus carries such authority that had He simply said, "Come forth" every dead person would have risen.  An hour is coming in which all the dead will hear that call.   Our separation from loved ones is not permanent.  There will be a reunion one day.  Can you imagine the joy as Mary and Martha embraced the warm flesh of their brother whose body only hours before lay cold in the tomb?  We anticipate the same rejoicing when we see those who have preceded us into heaven.

Lazarus was bound up in grave clothes and Jesus commanded that he be set free.  Death for the child of God means liberty.  Paul spoke of how we groan in this body, longing to be liberated, looking for that new body.  In heaven, we shall be in a land of absolute freedom—free of sin, sorrow, sickness, suffering, and separation.  This is the hope assured in that Christ is risen from the dead, and promises, “Because I live, you will live also.”  (John 14:19b)  We exult with Paul, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor.15:55)

Friday, March 20, 2015


I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you....  (Exodus 31:6b)

Are you a spiritual person?  Some equate it with emotion—the more I laugh or cry, the more spiritual I am.  Others associate it with volume—loud "Amens" or quiet contemplation.  Then some connect it with posture—kneeling down or raising hands.  While I am not opposed to any of that in its place—none of that makes a person spiritual.  Bezalel and Aholiab are examples of spiritual persons. 
THE SPIRITUAL SERVANT IS ENLISTED BY GOD (v.1-2).  Bezalel heard the call of God and responded to it.  We observe God’s sovereign choice.  It is God's decision, not our desire determining the nature of our service (see 1 Cor.12:18).  The spiritual person knows that whether they are in the spotlight or behind the scenes, there is no room for either conceit on one hand or covetousness on the other.  Either one will hinder our service and isn't spiritual.  Our enlistement also involves God’s specific calling.  God called Bezalel by name—now that's specific!  God calls us to salvation by name (John 10:1-4).  The same God who calls us to salvation, calls us to service.  He has a specific assignment. Have you heard God's call and responded to it?

THE SPIRITUAL SERVANT IS EQUIPPED BY GOD (v.3)  We note that God promises the power of the Holy Spirit to enable Bezalel to accomplish his assignment.  We can be sure that the work God has for us flows from His work in us.  Think about the definition of being Spirit-filled.  During the Old Testament era, the Spirit only filled select people for specific purposes for set periods.  In the New Testament age, every believer has the privilege of the Spirit's indwelling and the potential of His infilling.  Paul wrote, "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit"  (Eph.5:18).  As being filled with liquor affects a person in a sinful way, so being filled with the Lord affects him or her in a needful way!  When someone is filled with liquor it controls them and impacts their thinking, vision, speech, walk, personality—so too when filled with the Spirit!  There is also the diversity in receiving spiritual gifts.  A special giftedness was imparted to Bezalel.  The gifts Moses had and those Aaron had and those Joshua had and those Bezalel had differed—but all were needed.  That's the way it is in the body of Christ.  Each of us need to discover, develop and deploy our spiritual gifts. 

THE SPIRITUAL SERVANT IS EMPLOYED BY GOD (v.4-11).  The spiritual person has not only been enlisted, and equipped, they are employed.  This brings the proof of our calling.  Bezalel was faithful and fruitful.  This leads to the performance of our duty.  God hasn't called us to be ornamental, but instrumental.  Spiritual gifts aren't for show, but for service.  They aren't given to puff up the Christian, but to build up the church!  During the reign of Oliver Cromwell in England, there was a shortage of silver for minting coins.  A search was made, and all they could find was in the churches' statues of the saints.  Cromwell said, "It's time we melted down the saints and put them into circulation." That needs to happen in the church.

The spiritual person is born of the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and using spiritual gifts.  Are all these attributes present in your life?

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I say then:
Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  (Galatians 5:16)

Christians know that they are supposed to be spiritual.  Thus, we try to be spiritual—and fail.  We know there are things we should not do and things we should do.  This leads us to act spiritual.  Acting spiritual, however, is hypocrisy!  The Pharisees were experts at it—and pointedly condemned by Christ for it.  What God wants is genuine spirituality!  This comes not from trying, but trusting; not of flesh, but of faith; not in rigor, but in rest; not an external code engraved on tables of stone, but an internal compulsion inscribed on the heart.  Genuine spirituality is not of self, but of the Spirit.

Consider THE LAW OF THE SPIRITUAL PERSON (Gal.5:13-15).  Paul has been stressing that believers are free from the bondage of the law.  Some would argue that preaching such a message of grace will be an excuse to sin.  True liberty is not license.  We are free—not to do what we want, but what God wills.  He cautions us not to use our liberty as an “opportunity for the flesh” (v.13).  The Greek word means, “a base of operations.”  We dare not let sin establish a beachhead.  Instead, it is by love that we serve one another in contrast to self-serving.  God’s commands are summed up in love (v.14) which sets our mandate and supplies our motivation.  The legalism Paul has decried instead provides fertile soil for conflict (v.15).  How sad when churches that profess love for God can become like a pack of wild animals devouring one another!

Observe THE LIFE OF THE SPIRITUAL PERSON (Gal.5:16-17).  Legalism is an impossible code that raises the bar ever higher.  Liberalism lowers the standards so that Biblical black and white become a gray mush.  Genuine spirituality is the life of the Spirit that not only embraces holiness—it enjoys it, being energized by His indwelling life!  There is a warning about the lust of the flesh (v.16).  So long as we are in this body of flesh, we are subject to lapse into the old patterns of thinking and living marked by the sin nature.  Church folk can become expert at hiding it with a façade of religious activity—driving the fleshly passions deeper, but allowing them to only fester until they emerge again—the infection of iniquity more loathsome than ever.  Flesh cannot defeat flesh (v.17).  Walking in the Spirit is the key.  When we walk physically, it is falling forward in faith—step by step—trusting that the leg and foot you throw out in front of you will catch you.  That is walking in the Spirit—stepping out in faith, trusting God.

Note THE LEADERSHIP OF THE SPIRITUAL PERSON (Gal.5:18).  To be led of the Spirit means hearing the Spirit’s message.  There is a Divine cadence that sets us to march in lockstep with Him—that is the Word He has inspired.  There is power in the Truth to set us free—as we meditate on its precepts and prayerfully apply them.  Hearing the message brings us to heeding the Spirit’s movement.  We walk in tandem with Him.  The further we go, the easier it is to recognize His leadership.  There is a comfort level developed in a consistent walk of faith—having our senses trained by holy habits (see Heb.5:14).  We rest in Him, rely on Him, finding both the desire and dynamic to obey (Phil.2:13).  This is genuine spirituality.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12)

One tremendous theme threads its way through the Gospel of John—the deity of Christ.  John wants us to know Jesus is more than a carpenter, greater than even the greatest of men, that He is indeed the Son of God.  Three wonderful words are woven into the text—light, life, and love.  Each one describes the essence of the Father and the Son.  Seven supernatural signs are selected by the writer to stress Christ’s deity.  Then, we have seven sublime statements where Jesus used the phrase, “I am,” which the Jews understood as the name of God, as He revealed Himself to Moses—thus, Jesus was claiming to be God Incarnate.  One of those statements is, “I am the light of the world.”

First, we consider THE LIGHT AS IT WAS REVEALED.  The purpose of light is to reveal—to shine out and to show up a thing.  Christ shines out the person of God.  When He claims to be the Light, He claims to be God.  Is He a liar, lunatic, or Lord?  Those are the only options.  He is either a deceiver, delusional or Deity.  John was an eyewitness to His glory revealed on the Mt. of Transfiguration.  Paul saw that Light and said He is the image of the invisible God (Col.1:15), and Hebrews 1:3 speaks of, “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person….”  Christ shows up the path to God.  As the glory cloud led the Israelites through the wilderness, so Christ is the Light of the world to guide us to God (see 2 Cor.4:6).

Next, we note THE LIGHT AS IT WAS RECEIVED.  Consider the context.  As the Kingdom of God is branded by brightness, the kingdom of Satan is dominated by darkness.  The previous verses tell the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery, but the light of Christ shone upon her and changed her life forever.  In the next chapter, we read of a man blind from birth.  That is the spiritual condition of all in this world by virtue of their physical birth who need a spiritual birth to open their eyes to the light of truth and life (see John 1:4-13).  When the blind man received Christ, he became a new person.  Christ can break the bondage of darkness in your life and bring you into new life in Him!  It is the dawn of a new day.

Sadly, we find THE LIGHT AS IT WAS REJECTED.  So many reject the Light because of an obstinate darkness (John 8:13-19).  The darkness of unbelief is a stubborn thing (v.23-24).  At last, these who spurned the Light and sought the darkness committed the sin for which there is no forgiveness (8:48).  Christ offered Himself as their King, and they would cry, “We have no king but Caesar!” (19:15).  Jesus demonstrated the credibility of His claims by the miracles He performed, but they attributed it to the power of Satan.  Their obstinate darkness would take them into outer darkness.  That is how Jesus described hell—a dark pit of torment where the light of life is shut off—a second death; a place where the light of love is shut out—away from God’s gracious presence.

None have to go there.  The hymn beckons, “Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee....”  Have you?  Will you?

Monday, March 16, 2015


But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”  (Galatians 3:11)

Job asked the question, How then can man be righteous before God?”  (25:4a)  Since the fall of man into sin with its attendant curse of death, people have sought the answer through works: making garments of fig leaves to cover shame as did Adam and Eve; offering the best produce as Cain did, rather than a blood sacrifice like his brother Abel; building the tower of Babel to try to reach heaven—and similar acts.  Every religious system proposes a “works” salvation:  Buddhism and Hinduism promote reincarnation—you do life until you get it right; Islam has its five pillars; Romanism sets forth the sacraments.  The cults—Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and such—have systems that require self-effort to please their deity.  Christianity differs from all religions.  The Word of God teaches that man is put right with God—not on the basis of what we do, but what Christ has done.  It is not through meeting a standard, but solely by faith in the standard met perfectly by Christ.

Paul speaks of this EXPERIENCE OF FAITH (Gal.3:1-5)  The key word is “suffered” in verse four.  It can be translated, “experienced.”  False teachers among the Galatian churches were saying that salvation was in believing in Jesus, PLUS keeping the law of Moses.  The Apostle reminds them of the experience they had in receiving Christ by faith.  He is shocked that they have turned from the Gospel of grace—as though someone had cast a spell on them.  The message was clearly presented and eagerly embraced at the first.  Now, error had settled like a cloud of confusion over their minds.

The Apostle then presents an EXAMPLE OF FAITH (Gal.3:6-9).  Since the legalists considered the writings of Moses paramount, Paul reaches into those texts and presents one of their heroes—Abraham—as an example of righteousness by faith.  It is clear that Abraham was justified before God by faith—God’s righteousness credited to his account.  Even his capacity to believe was an act of grace.  Read the account and you will see sovereign grace seeking a pagan man and calling him to salvation.  He was a lost sheep until the Shepherd took the initiative to seek Abraham.  Paul states that those who are children of Abraham are not those who are related genetically, but spiritually as well.

Paul drives the message home with an EXPOSITION OF FAITH (Gal.3:10-14).  Anticipating an argument from the false teachers that God’s dealings with Abraham were before the giving of the law, the Apostle appeals to the law itself.  He points out the law can curse us, but not cure us.  To break only one command is to be branded a law-breaker.  Salvation has ever been the way of faith.  Paul appeals not only to the law, but the prophets—as he quotes Habakkuk 2:4.  Since Jesus was not in debt—being sinless—He had the resources—perfect righteousness—to pay our debt in full.  He obeyed every law in His life and paid the penalty for every law-breaker in His death.

How can a man be righteous before God?  It is the gift of God by faith alone in Christ alone.  It is folly to try to meet an impossible standard.  Christ has done that for us!