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Friday, December 16, 2016

Doing What my Father Does

This week we watched a sermon about simplicity at ( A lot that was shared was very encouraging. At the end of the message we were encouraged to begin and end each day by taking a few minutes to meditate on John 5:19 & 20.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do. For whatever things He does, these also the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all the things that He Himself does. And He will show Him greater works than these, so that you may marvel.
The implication was that we should begin each day by asking God what he is doing and then be like Jesus and, do what God is doing. Pretty simple.

As I have been doing this I have realized a couple of things that I need to pay better attention to.

First, Jesus said that truly he could do nothing of or by himself. As I thought about that it put a lot of things into perspective. If Jesus admitted that he could do nothing without his Father, how could I ever expect to do anything of value, on my own.

The second thing I see is that Jesus only did what he sees the Father doing. Over the years, I have heard people ask the question, “Why didn’t Jesus…” The simple answer is He didn’t see his Father doing that. I tend to get grand ideas about what I could do if I just got the opportunity. I have tried to do some of those things, wanting recognition. But the things I hear God wanting me to do are much less spectacular. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute and speak evil of you, Speak evil of no one. Those are just a very few. I’m sure you have heard some mundane things that our Father wants you to do also, things you are not doing.

Third, the Father loves the Son and shows him all things that He is doing. At this point it became clear why I am not seeing greater things that the Father is doing. I haven’t been doing the things he has shown me. His desire is to show me great and marvelous things that He can do through me. But until I learn to be faithful in the little things how can I possibly be able to do great things. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

White Christmas

Forty-eight years ago, at about this time I watched the movie “Holiday Inn” for the first time. You probably know it as “White Christmas.” That year I had flunked out of Bible College, gotten married and gotten drafted. I was waiting to go to officer candidate school in Oklahoma spending the holidays with my new wife and her family.

The opening scene of that movie is somewhere in a war-ravaged Europe. A bunch of soldiers are making the best of Christmas in Hell. That first time I saw that scene I cried like a baby. I had just finished about 5 months of training with a bunch of young fellows that I had gotten to know pretty well and liked some of them quite a bit. Almost all of them had gotten orders to go to Viet Nam. I could only imagine what they were experiencing but I knew they weren’t with their families, and they were in dangerous places.

I didn’t go to OCS and a year later I was in Viet Nam. It was not a nice place to be. Bob Hope only came to the big bases and only about 1% of the GI’s got to see him. Christmas in Viet Nam was not a happy time. I got lots of cards and a few care packages, but that only made me more aware that I was not with my family at Christmas. I got to the place where I wished there were no cards or packages. It was pretty depressing.

Most years I watch “White Christmas.” Most years I get a little teary. This year, I cried again. Boys and girls the age of my grand-daughter are still in dangerous places, away from family. Some of them will never come home.

War is terrible. But in this world, it is a fact. You and I can probably do little to change that fact. But we can pray, we can remember the ones who are carrying the burden in this terrible time. Not only the boys and girls that are in those dangerous places, but also the wives and husbands, the children and the parents whose hearts are longing for their loved ones.

While we are busy making merry and exchanging gifts, remember those who cannot share the joy with loved ones. If you have the opportunity, find a way to share your love with someone whose loved ones are not able to be with them. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Follow Jesus (day 80)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As I look at these virtues regularly at least one seems too difficult. I can be tempted here to be discouraged and give up. I am tempted.

Many times, Jesus says, “Follow me.”. As I look at the virtues in the blessings, I see Jesus’ life. As there is difficulty I can see that he had difficulty as well. In Hebrews 12:2 it says;

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Of course, we believe that the cross of Calvary was a terrible suffering, but it was not the only suffering Jesus endured. It also says in Hebrews 4:15;

For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.

In the everyday life, Jesus was tempted. He was contradicted. And still he learned obedience because he chose to suffer. (ref 1 Peter 2:23 & Hebrews 5:8) He suffered when he was tempted.

Back in the Hebrews 12 passage it speaks of “the joy that was set before him”. You and I are that joy. He had to suffer when tempted every day in order for the cross of Calvary to have any effect. And he left us an example to follow. Not just to get to heaven, but also that we might have life abundant now. He did it so that we can be being changed to become like him.

That is his joy and this is the way.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)
Follow Jesus.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Claim Your Inheritance (79)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven

For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. What does that mean to you?

Jesus spoke a lot about the kingdom of Heaven. The first time we read is in Matthew 4 where he says “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The kingdom of heaven is very near. In the verse we are considering, he says that those who are blessed by being persecuted for righteousness sake are in possession of the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus began the blessings with the promise of the kingdom of heaven and here near the end of the blessings he promises it again. It seems to me that this may indicate that what comes between has a significant part in this business of possessing the kingdom of heaven.

As I endeavor to incorporate the virtues of the blessings into my life I find difficulty all around. The old nature wants to stand up and demand that things not change but remain as they always were. But if I by faith, turn away from the old ways and pursue the new life in Jesus, that embraces the virtues, I will suffer, but I will also enter into the kingdom of heaven. It will be mine.

Yesterday I shared a passage that is especially encouraging. In 1 Peter 1:4 it speaks of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away, which is reserved in heaven for you.

When a minor child is provided with an inheritance, there are usually qualifications to be fulfilled in order to receive that inheritance. This is usually something like coming of age or completing schooling.

In the case of the kingdom of heaven, some of the qualifications are set out in the beatitudes. The gifts or inheritance is explained in the blessings.

As we believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, let us also believe and enter into obedience to his words. This is how I can enter into the kingdom of heaven, this is how I claim my inheritance and it becomes mine.

an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away, which is reserved in heaven for you.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Faith Tested and Proven (day 78)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As I am thinking and praying about what else to say about this concept, I have come across a passage so powerful and so complete that I feel that I can add nothing to it. Please read this passage slowly and allow the Spirit of God to speak to your heart.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

God builds me up as I am able (day 77)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The persecution for righteousness sake that most of us have to learn to endure might seem to most as simply the irritations of life.

How can that be persecution for righteousness sake?

In those little irritations, I can learn to be patient. In those little irritations, I can learn to answer kindly.

If you truly desire to be a disciple of Jesus, this is a desire you have received from God, and God will be your help and guide in this process. Truly discipleship is a process.

And as God is your helper and guide, he cares especially for your progress. Paul tells us;

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God measures our trials to us in proportion to our ability. If I cannot stand the loss of a few dollars without becoming depressed and irritated, God knows that I am not ready to be faithful in the loss of a loved one.

All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
If you are believing these words of God, words of faith, you can say with confidence, “nothing bad ever happens to me.” Right after Romans 8:28, in verse 29 it says;

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.
This is God’s purpose for each one of us, that we become like Jesus.

Have you accepted God’s purpose as your own?

In order for an athlete to become stronger he must continually exercise his muscles with harder and harder exercises until his goal is reached. It is the same for each of us.

Jesus says; Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:2)