Face to Face

Father, I am blessed with a wonderful wife (and beautiful, too!), a home with all of its abundance, a restful bed, and a good night’s sleep. I am blessed in so many ways! It is early but You are with me and You love me. What more could I ask for? May our time together be full and rich. Amen.

Matthew 12:41-42 (<<click the green)

In recent years, Lord, I have prayed, in certain situations, that if a wayward follower of Yours would just get a glimpse of You that it would cause them to straighten up and fly right. Coming face to face with their Creator, I thought, would certainly alter their course. But in reading further into this passage this morning, I’m not so sure.

You give two very clear examples of people who knew nothing of You but were quick to respond to Your representatives in their lives – Jonah and Solomon. But in Your time here amongst us, those who should have known and understood who You were – those aware and immersed in Your word – refused to repent and refused to listen!

There they stood, face to face with God Almighty and they rejected You! They deliberately sought to eliminate You from their lives!

But we are no less guilty, Lord! Our egos and lust for power and pleasure cause us to hold off on repentance. It stops up our ears. In recent years – and it is by no means a rarity in the church – I have known of pastors who are so full of themselves that they have hurt and maimed many because they were driven to accomplish their own agendas. Humility was in total absence. They were right! People would do as they said – with expediency and without question!

If they had come face to face with You, Lord Jesus, I don’t know if anything would have changed. Regardless of the fact that their Lord and Creator desired otherwise, they, in their self-righteousness – were determined to do what they wanted to do.

Lord, help us! …Lord, help me… I may not be tempted to be so belligerent on so big of a scale but how often in my own small realm of life do I do what I want with no regard of Your will. I don’t listen and I am slow to repent.

Lord, I am grateful beyond words that Your love is longsuffering… I am grateful for Your patience and mercy. Thank You for Your work in my life. We are making headway! Thank You for not giving up on me. All glory goes to You.

Apr 20th, 2018, Fri, 4:54 am

Jump Through a Hoop

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Thank You, Father, that I can proclaim it is true!

Matthew 12:38-42 (<<click the green)

“Jesus, jump through a hoop for us!” When I read this interaction between You and “some teachers of religious law and Pharisees” who came to You saying, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority,” this is what comes to mind.

A single miracle should have been more than enough to open the eyes of those truly open to seeing who You were (and are!) But once we have firmly decided that You aren’t who You say You are no amount of miracles will soften our hard hearts. It just becomes a show – some afternoon entertainment… If anything it becomes something else we can pick at and disregard, one more thing that we can use to shellac – to varnish – over our hardened hearts making them even harder.

Lord Jesus, You jump through hoops for no one. You are always faithful and will time and time again forgive us of our sins, for You love us dearly. But You also know our hearts, and what our hearts are full of and You don’t mess around. You are not here to tickle our fancy. You came to heal and forgive. You came to eradicate the sin that has us so entangled.

But showing “a miraculous sign to prove Your authority”? Nope. All we have to do is to look around us – signs are everywhere! All we must do is to honestly and with open hearts look at the miracle of Your resurrection and we will believe.

Apr 19th, 2018, Thurs, 5:13 am

Treasury of a Good Heart

Good morning, Father! Right off the bat, I want to say how grateful I am that You are so generous to share Your thoughts with me. I am grateful that You made me like I am. I am nothing without You. I would be a mess if not for You, wandering, frustrated…hopeless… But, You drew me to You with Your love and I am what I am because of You. Praise Your holy Name!

Matthew 12:33-37 (<<click the green)

I readily admit that one of my biggest struggles is controlling my mouth. Your brother James, nailed it when he said, “…no one can tame the tongue.” (James 3:8a) My most challenging tests seem to be at work. It is so easy to want to jump in and complain or badmouth people or situations or corporations. Often, we are given lots of fuel to work with and again James states, “…a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire.” (vs. 5-6a)

Lord Jesus, this is one area that You have helped me greatly. I am still a work in progress but more times than not I feel the tug of Your Spirit and I hold my tongue. I don’t let fly what comes to mind. With Your strength and wisdom, I truly strive to allow Your presence in my heart to determine what I say. (Matthew 12:34) I want to be a tree that is good so that my “fruit will be good.” (v. 33) My heart’s desire is to live so close to Your side that I will be a “good person” that “produces good things from the treasury of a good heart.” (v. 35)

Only because of You, can I not add fuel to further fire grumbling and dissension. Again, I am far from perfect but You have helped me so much. Lord, continue to do so. Speak to me in those times, so that I will not yield and throw in my two cents worth. Shine through me, cracks and all! Amen.

Apr 17th, 2018, Tues, 6:27 am

Don’t Reject the Lifeline!

Father, I would ask for Your strength this day. Yesterday was full, sleep last night was a bit fleeting, and today is full as well. Still, may I be of use to You. In the midst of it all may I not miss Your direction. Amen.

Matthew 12:31-32 (<<click the green)

This is a worrisome section of Scripture in that it is clearly stated that there is a sin that is unforgivable. My Life Application Study Bible New Living Translation shines some light on it.

“The Pharisees had blasphemed against the Spirit by attributing the power by which Christ did miracles to Satan (12:24) instead of the Holy Spirit. The unpardonable sin is the deliberate refusal to acknowledge God’s power in Christ. It indicates a deliberate and irreversible hardness of heart. Sometimes believers worry that they have accidentally committed this unforgivable sin. But only those who have turned their backs on God and rejected all faith have any need to worry. Jesus said they can’t be forgiven – not because their sin is worse than any other but because they will never ask for forgiveness. Whoever rejects the prompting of the Holy Spirit removes himself or herself from the only force that can lead him or her to repentance and restoration to God.” (emphasis mine)

Most people, if they were to find themselves adrift at sea, would be quick to take hold of a lifeline if it was extended to them. No one in their right mind would refuse it! That may be the case in regards to our physical safety, but time and time again humanity turns its back on the only spiritual lifeline that we have!

Lord, Your Spirit is always lovingly, aggressively, pursuing us. He is our connection to a compassionate and merciful Father. No one is ever too far gone to find forgiveness. I truly believe even those who have rejected Christ for years and years can still find forgiveness if they come humbly before You and as for it.

Lord, I know You use Your followers to provide a physical touch to those who do not know You. Use me, Father – touch others through me. Amen.

Apr 16th, 2018, Mon, 6:46 am

A Pound of the Eternal in a Paper Sack

You’ve called me to join You this morning, Father. May my heart be attuned to You. May it be a precursor of our corporate time together, worshipping with fellow believers. I would pray that You would speak to us and move us. Amen.

Matthew 12:30 (<<click the green)

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” NLT

Lord Jesus, as You speak here there is absolutely no middle ground – it is very black and white. We cannot straddle the fence. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too, when it comes to the world and You. (I think I am out of colloquialisms!) You make it inarguably clear, either we are with You…or we are against You.

But…we like having it both ways. An illustration from my sermon last Sunday puts it succinctly,

“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love someone from another race or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.”

That just doesn’t work. It is all or nothing. Anything in life that we only commit ourselves part way to is not going to be satisfying. If I want to lose weight, I can’t just occasionally eat right and every couple of weeks take a walk for exercise. To accomplish my goal I must be determined to be diligent!

It is, even more, the case in my relationship with You, Lord. It is an all or nothing relationship. And it is not just a commitment that impacts the here and now, it impacts eternity – it is forever!

Lord Jesus, enable me to live out my life by totally giving my life over to You. Every minute of every day may I be working with You – drawing closer to You and encouraging others to do the same. Amen.

Apr 15th, 2018, Sun, 6:26 am

Doing it right for once.