Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Stir Continuously (day 13)

Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, it happened that indeed some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and ate it up. (Mark 4:2-4)

A hard heart is one that cannot hear the word of God. This does not mean that my ears are not functioning properly. It means that my heart is not functioning properly.

Have you ever gone to a church meeting where the music was exhilarating, and the teaching seemed inspired, but by the time you got to your car you couldn’t remember anything that was said? I have. When that happens I have not prepared my heart to receive God’s word. It is just like that hard packed soil by the wayside.

Now you may have thought that this section referred to those who will not hear the word of God because they are not born again, or saved or something like that. You’re probably correct but the word of God does me little good if I am always looking for ways to apply it to others. And this can surely be applied to my life when I approach any situation where God’s word will be active without preparing the soil of my heart.

If I read God’s word or a devotional or listen to a speaker without taking at least a moment to recognize that I am approaching something that is truly holy and God may be here to speak something very important to my heart, my heart may be rock solid hard to what He has for me.

All day long people and circumstances are trampling across our hearts packing that soil down. If I do not stir it up continually, soon, oh too soon, it will be too hard for God’s word to penetrate and Satan will steal it away before it can even begin to sprout.

Father in Heaven, I thank you that I can hear and understand that my heart is often inclined to become hardened by contradictions and unpleasant circumstances and people. Please help me find the grace to stir my heart to receive your words of life so that I might be a light in this dark world. In the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Sower went out to Sow (day 12)

Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. (Mark 4:3)

This is the beginning of what is called “the parable of the sower” but I believe it should more accurately be called “the parable of the soils.” It is the condition of the soils that is truly what we need to see here.

And what is so important about the soil?

The answer to that lies in the explanation of the parable which comes later in the text. In verses 14 and 15 Jesus is explaining to disciples the meaning of the parable. He says,

The sower sows the Word. And these are those by the wayside, where the Word is sown. And when they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts.”

So if you will notice, it is the Word that is sown and it is sown in the heart.

A very wise gentleman once said, ‘The heart is that place where I like it.’ It is not uncommon to hear someone say, ‘I love this house, car, dog, cat” or whatever you like. The place that is called love, that strong emotion of attachment is what this is about. The place where I like it.

Therefore, it would seem reasonable to assume that this parable is about the condition of my heart. Here I can find wonderful instruction to help me be aware of the condition of my own heart by comparing the results of each condition to my own results.

·         Who sows the word in my heart?
·         Does that word grow?
·         Is it producing fruit?
·         Do I think about baseball, cars, kittens or anything else more than I think about the word that has been sown in my heart?

Father in Heaven your word says much about the condition of my heart. Help me to take these words seriously and listen to what you would say to me as I proceed. Today help me to think about what occupies my affection, that place where I like it, and help me be aware of your intention for that place.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Listen Behold (day 11)

Mark 4:3 Jesus says “Listen! Behold,”

Just the first 2 words for now.

So often we read over things and don’t pay attention. Verses of God’s word become familiar and we can repeat them but have put no thought into what they truly mean.

These are the words of Jesus! Do we value them?

Think of some item that you received, whether you purchased it or it was a gift. If you truly valued it, you would look at it from every angle, you would take care of it and keep it clean. You would study all sides of it and spend time just looking at it.

These are the words of Jesus! Do we value them?

Jesus is about to share a valuable truth but only a few will get it. Only a few will listen and behold what he wants us to know.

Will You?

At the end of this parable Jesus say “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

And when He was alone, they who were about Him, with the Twelve, asked Him concerning the parable. And He said to them, “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to those outside, all these things are given in parables” Mark 4:9-11

Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, but those who valued his words were given the mystery of the kingdom.

If we will dig in and allow the Word of God to examine our lives, He will show us our need more clearly and show us the way to peace and rest. Jesus has said, “I have come so that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.”  This is for disciples but not for the multitudes.

Oh Lord, I have been one of the multitude, and I have in the multitude been alone and lonely. Please give me grace to find grace to listen and behold, so that I can come to more of that abundant life that you desire so much to give me. Thank you with all my heart that your desire is to give me this life. Thank you that you have done everything necessary to make it available to me. All praise and glory go to you in all things, in Jesus wonderful name. Amen!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Amazing Invitation, Amazing Provision (day 10)

Jesus says, “Come to me…learn of me”
How can we come to him and learn about him?

Jesus was “with God and he was God” but he emptied himself and took the form of man and lived among men so that we could see the “glory as of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth.”

And we are instructed to learn to think like Jesus. “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  In order for us to be able to do this we have to have someone who is like us so we can follow him. Jesus had to become like us in every respect so we could know that he understands our weakness.

He was made just like us and he was tempted in every way we are tempted but he did not agree with the lusts and desires of his flesh. Instead he said “not my will but thine be done.”

Not only is it God’s will that we become like Jesus; He also made it possible by giving us the perfect high priest who understands our every weakness. And he has shown us so we can understand how true this is and begin to get an idea of how great and wonderful it is.

As we look back at the wonderful thoughts from the last 6 days let us become very happy.
Think about these words from 2 Peter 1:3-4

According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Praise, honor and glory be yours always, Heavenly Father for the wonderful gift of salvation that results in transformation and being conformed to be like your wonderful son Jesus. Expand our understanding to see how unspeakably wonderful and precious this gift is. The forgiveness of sins and the transformation to be like Jesus, in whose wonderful name I pray. Amen.

Very bright and very loud fireworks should be included here.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Called to His Purpose (day 9)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  (Romans 8:28-29)

The first part of this passage has been a comfort to many people for a long time and is a popular verse especially in time of trouble. But look at it and consider what it means. What does it mean to love God? Is that just the idea of loving some unknown goodness?

So many words have had their meanings watered down to the point that there is no power in them. People love their cat, or they love their car, or pork chops, or a suit of clothes. And then they love their children, or their wife, or God. The same word! Does it mean the same thing?

This passage goes on to say that it involves being called. Possibly we could say, this person has an inner voice that is telling him to live according to God’s purpose or will. This has little to do with Heaven and Hell, it is more to do with what is right.

So possibly, loving God has to do with hearing that inner voice and setting my intention to obey that calling.

Do you hear that voice?

If you hear that voice within, be very happy, because God has made you so that you could become like Jesus. That’s just what it says.

At this point there is a temptation to think about this person or that person. That is a distraction. This verse, this word is for you, now.

Will you be called according to His purpose? Will you be transformed into the image of His Son?

Blessed Heavenly Father, thank you so much that you have this wonderful will for my life. I always need your help to realize your purpose, help me to be ever conscious of my need and of your wonderful help. All praise and glory to you forever. Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Answer for All Temptation (day 8)

Jesus, our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When Jesus lived on earth, he was tempted in every way. He was tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but he never sinned. (Hebrews 4:15)

What does this mean? Read this next passage.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death.  (James 1:13-15)

When I have a desire that is different from what God would have for me that is a temptation. If I follow that desire, if I entertain that desire that is when I sin. Jesus had desires that were different from God’s will, but he said, “Not my will but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) That is the way he overcame sin and if we will follow him and say the same thing when we have desires contrary to God’s, we will overcome also.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)

Have we sinned? Absolutely YES each one of us, over and over. Do we have sinful desires within us? Again yes! Do we have to continue the pattern of sin and forgiveness? NO, each of us can go to war and begin to say, “Not my will but thine be done,” when we are tempted.

We each one will stumble and fall many times. That doesn’t matter. What matters is; will I, will you, decide that we will begin today to learn to overcome sin as Jesus did.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your gift of Jesus to be our savior and to be our guide and help on the way to full salvation. We always need your help to be conscious of our weakness and your willingness to see us succeed. All of the strength is yours and all of the glory is yours always and forever. Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Truly Someone to Follow (day 7)

For it is clear that it is not the angels that he helps. Instead, he helps the descendants of Abraham. This means that he had to become like his people in every way, in order to be their faithful and merciful High Priest in his service to God, so that the people's sins would be forgiven. And now he can help those who are tempted, because he himself was tempted and suffered. (Hebrews 2:16-18)

This looks like it says that Jesus was just like me. In fact, it seems to say that it was necessary for him to be just like me.

This is amazing and it makes Jesus even more wonderful for me. If he wasn’t just like me, how could he show me how I am supposed to live. He says, “follow me.” I can only follow someone who has my same characteristics and limitations. Jesus did!

For both he that sanctifies and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:11)

And Jesus says, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:49-50)

Jesus truly did identify with us and is therefore supremely equipped to show us the way to draw near to the father and to enter into full salvation. He has gone this way before us to show us how to live (Hebrews 12:2). Let us each one decide absolutely to find the grace to follow where he leads.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so very much that you have made Jesus just like us in order to be the perfect sacrifice and the perfect pioneer to lead each of us back to obedience and salvation. Help us to have receptive hearts to follow more and more faithfully. In the name of our perfect savior and elder brother, Jesus; Amen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

vi. Change Your Mind (day 6)

Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, did not consider being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

The mind of Christ
What an exalted sounding idea! Right up until you look at what it meant for our Lord Jesus.

Try to think if you will of the scope of Jesus’ condescension. Try to get some idea of what it was to have been there before time began, and then to have had a principal role in the creation and the maintenance of absolutely everything. Then he lowered himself to be born to the family of a simple carpenter in a very primitive time and in an unpleasant political situation, on purpose.

So, if this is the mind of Christ and we are told to have this mind, is there any task that I can justify thinking that it is below my dignity or too dirty or unpleasant for me to do?

What an amazing challenge! There is absolutely no possible way that any of us can accomplish this command from God’s Word without God’s wonderful assistance. But God’s will for us is that we succeed. So his help is assured.

Blessed Father in Heaven, here we see a command that is surely impossible if we do not learn to lean fully on you for the help that only you can give. Help us each one to be growing daily in the ever present realization of our need for your living help to do your will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Begin at the Beginning (day 5)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-4)

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God? Really? If you do take a few moments to read these verses again and really think about how big these statements are. Really STOP and think!

This is Jesus!

These words are true!

To add anything to these words or to explain them only seems to confuse or dilute the intention. Let us each one look seriously at these words of introduction.

Father in heaven you are the author of all life and Jesus is our savior and our guide for all things. Speak to me the fullest meaning of these words that I can understand. Overwhelm me with your majesty and with the majesty of Jesus.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Wonderful Terrifying Invitation (day 4)

Jesus says, “Come unto me all of you who labor and are burdened down, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus is inviting those who are burdened down with labor and care. Does that apply to you?

The world is full of sorrow and disappointment. People all around are thoughtless and there seems to be a lot of hatred going around. When I look at myself, I see failure to be the kind of person I believe I should be. And I cannot find the power to change these things in myself.

Jesus is inviting me and he is inviting you, if you are troubled by these things.

It is very important to look at the things Jesus is offering, because what he is proposing can be very frightening. Jesus says, “I will give you rest.” Again, he says, “you will find rest for your soul.” And finally he tells us, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

A yoke is a solid device for harnessing the strength of two animals to accomplish the task that the master has for them. Once the yoke is on, there is no escape and the animals must move together. Jesus is inviting you and I to voluntarily step into such a harness. If we will he also promises rest from our labors and cares, and he promises that the burden will be one that we can bear.

Father in Heaven, on one hand this invitation seems too good to be true and on the other hand it sounds too frightening to attempt. Please, give me the courage and the ability to go forward and accept your wonderful terrifying invitation. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Simple words Surprised me again (day 3)

Sometimes I am amazed that I can read a passage of God’s Word over and over and then on the umpteenth time I see something that is extremely simple and plane that I have never seen before. God’s Word truly is living and active to cut between soul and spirit, joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of my heart.

As I was reading this evening in Ephesians 6:10-18, I was stopped dead at verse 13 & 14a.

Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore,

Now a long time ago when I went to school these were called imperative sentences. These are instructions to be obeyed. Now if you go back and look at this entire passage, it is full of imperative sentences; “Be strong in the Lord…” (vs 10), “Put on the whole armor of God…” (vs 11), “Praying always, with all prayer and supplication…” (vs 18)

If I am a follower of Jesus, if I am a disciple of Jesus, these are not suggestions. I need to take them very seriously. These very serious words speak of doing. They speak of discipline to learn to think and see in the same way that Jesus and our Father sees.

I need grace for this. So I must constantly follow the advice of Hebrews 4:16.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.

Blessed Father in Heaven, you see the whole day that is before me today. Indeed, you see all my days. Give me grace to prepare prayerfully to be salt and light in whatever lies ahead for my day. So that I might glorify you and my precious savior, Jesus. Amen

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Word of God is Revolutionary (day 2)

The Word of God is Revolutionary.

All around we can see those who triumph by the strength of men. Some by physical strength and some by force of will. Some are able to purchase power with money and others by clever arguments.
God’s Word points me in another direction, if I will be willing to do what it says. Probably one of the most revolutionary statements can be found in 1 Corinthians 1:18.

The Message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

I am extremely thankful for the message of redemption. Jesus died on the cross to save us, or buy us back from the penalty of sin and rebellion. But consider for a moment all of the passages which speak of “working out your salvation” of “be transformed,” and from Jesus, “if you love me keep my commandments.” There are many more if we take the time to look.

The message of the cross is the message that God has chosen to show each of us how to be victorious in a world full of strife. We can be victorious without strife. Now that is revolutionary!

Jesus and the apostles spoke often about this cross but they didn’t always call it by that name. Jesus said, “He who would be greatest, let him be the one who serves.” And Paul said, “Love suffers long and is kind.” As I look around in God’s Word I constantly see places where He commands me to lay down that thing called my life, in order to become one who can have His life within myself. Jesus is saying,

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, he shall save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Father in Heaven, help me to see in each situation that you are offering me an opportunity for more complete salvation, if I will choose to take up my cross and say, “Not my will, but yours be done, Oh Lord.” 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Daily thoughts (Day 1)

It has been growing in my mind and heart to learn faithfulness in preparing a Daily Thought to share with those who read this blog. My main emphasis is always Discipleship. My purpose is to share what is a help to me as a disciple. Pray with me that I may be faithful. this first thought is not new but it is relevant. I hope you find it encouraging.

Lately I have been thinking about a question. Why be a disciple of Jesus instead of just a Christian? This morning I got a clear answer. I am so inclined to doing my own will and living in unbelief. If I do not actively practice disciplines that keep the reality of The Living God at the front of my mind I will very quickly blunder into sin. I will do my own will rather than follow Jesus and do the Will of God. I will fall away from the living relationship that he desires for me. Then all that will be left is dead religion.
The Word of God is full of wonderful promises for those who will follow Jesus and DO what he says. the biggest problem is, the things he says to do are contrary to my natural inclination. The only way to learn to do God’s Will is discipline which I have to learn. However, learning them is IMPOSSIBLE, without the Grace of God. That is what grace is for, to give me the power to become a son of God. (John 1:12 KJV)

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1Co 2:9)
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
As I begin to consider the disciplines of the disciple, I see a great need to explore and share some of my reasons for pursuing Jesus as a disciple. As I think and pray about this I see that my desire has grown over the years. I also see that it waxes and wanes in different situations. Truly the Grace of God has been the thing that has kept me over the years. He has used different methods and people to teach me more and more about his Love and the life he wants me to live.
I cannot tell anyone what they must do to be a true disciple of Jesus. But, I believe that discipleship is learning to be like the one whose disciple you are. In sharing these things, it is important to understand that I am only a very poor disciple sharing my little reflections and thoughts about the greatest mystery of all (Col. 1:27)