Thursday, January 04, 2018

No Sissies!

Luke 9.57 ff   As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is magnetic. Many people want to be close to him. It is the same in our day as it was in Christ’s earth days. People want to be friends with Jesus. Isn’t it wonderful? Evidently not.  

Jesus speaks to this wanna-be-disciple and discourages him. He basically tells him that he is too much a sissy to be a disciple. Discipleship costs dearly. It isn’t about comfort. (The Son has no where to lay his head). Two others come to Jesus and he discourages them to for deficiencies he finds in them. It is their attachment to the things of this world, comforts, relationships and earthly security that disqualify them from serving.

I often run into people who have left the church and as they begin to tell me why they aren’t serving the Lord wholeheartedly I find myself judging them. Some have affection for the Lord but have settled into the back row of a Mega McChurch somewhere and give God a couple bucks and 90 minutes each week. Their children see it and recognize it for what it is… shallow. Some have given up church attendance altogether. They insist that they want to return someday but they cannot do it now, sin is too enticing. Some blame others (some blame me!) for God’s unfulfilled design on their lives. It seems to satisfy their minds. Unfortunately God will see right through that.

It really is true that being a Christian takes a tough heart! All that talk about persevering to the end, holding fast to the faith, never giving up, and standing firm must mean something! Christ said it profoundly but simply in Luke 9. It isn’t palatable to the modern sensibilities but it is true, nonetheless. No Sissies need apply for discipleship in the Kingdom of God.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Which World?

“"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
"Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
"Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
"Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:24-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As I was reading this tonight it struck me that God's challenge to us is to live for a different world other than the one we see with our eyes. We have a tendency to become obsessed with the seen and lose sight of the unseen, so to speak. We work for financial comfort, for the fulfilling of our appetites, and to entertain ourselves. It dominates our thinking 10 hours a day. The challenge to our hearts is to broaden our focus to the things of the kingdom.

Some people are concerned about being " so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good". But it seems Jesus was more concerned that we would be so earthly minded that we would be no heavenly good.

Friday, July 21, 2017

All Night Long

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus prayed all night long. That is a simple statement of historical fact but it is revealing too. The. More I meditated upon that simple statement the more I recognized some insights into prayer.

1. Jesus heard and followed the voice of God in his daily assignment. Minute by minute Jesus listened to the voice of God, God revealed hidden thoughts of Pharisees hearts, the spiritual motivations of potential followers, and various other things. Yet it seems that Jesus still needed extended time in the presence of God! Why do we feel that past ministry success exempts us from extended prayer times?

2. Prayer, for Jesus, required a withdrawal from the press of life. Ministry was draining and without a retreat to the mountainside the cry of the crowds and the needs of the multitude would have pressed Jesus into service and work rather than devotion and renewal. Why do we think that these times of retreat are optional for us?

3. Big decisions call for time in the presence of God. As the Lord is picking out followers for disciples, he needs divine wisdom. It seems he must have really had to persevere to hear God on these disciples. Some decisions are so important that praying all night seems reasonable even for the Son of God. Why do we think it completely reasonable to expect eternal and deeply spiritual results from decisions that we have made with little or no prayer?

Prayer should be simple and trusting, not depending on vain repetitions, full of faith in God's answering heart, and yet there are times when the best of us must pray all night long! When was the last time you did without sleep while you pursued the presence of God?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lest You Forget

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:10-11

"Summertime and the living is easy...". So goes the song. Summer life gets busy quick. Have you found yourself running from barbecue to graduation party to wedding to family gathering? Life becomes filled with the busyness of connections and celebrations. It is easy to let 'mission creep' steal your momentum, your priorities go askew, and your spiritual disciplines become undisciplined. Everyone battles it.

Moses records God's warning to all the redeemed Israelites. Celebrate the freedom and blessing that God has provided but be careful in comfort...don't forget the God who brought you into this wide space of blessing. In all, your ease and satisfaction, watch and be careful to remember your God for there is danger in the forgetting.

In our Summertime adventures we must guard against complacency in our prayer lives, laziness in worship attendance, undisciplined spiritual habits such as Bible reading, devotions, sharing Christ with the lost. Don't forget to support the ministries of the Word of God, especially, your local church home. (Summers are hard on the budget of most churches I know of). In short, remember...remember the God who brought you to this place of blessing.

 We would do well to remember that spiritual life has no coasting. It goes against the flow of this world. To cease to move forward is to drift backwards. The wrong direction for those called to change the world one life at a time.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Under the Umbrella

“Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭4:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Isaiah prophecies in these verses of an end time revitalization of Israel. There will be a cleansing followed by this glorious glory cloud over God's people. The canopy of God's glory is worth considering here for a moment.

The canopy is for the washed. It takes a great cleansing by the Spirit of judgment and the Spirit of fire to purge the impurity from the people of God. There is no use for the canopy in the hearts of those who do not seek to be cleansed.

The canopy of the glory of God will be a shelter. The harshness of the day is mitigated by the glory of God over his people. This allows them strength to endure and great security knowing that the Almighty has a covering over them.

Finally the canopy is God's provided refuge. no longer shall the people of God be caught unprotected in the harshest elements. They have a refuge to run to, protection provided, an umbrella of grace.

Today, we thank God for Jesus' covering blood. It cleanses and redeems, empowers and protects. It is our shelter and our provided,refuge. Only let us seek the refuge of the Lord's grace. Amen

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Passionless Love?

We are fooling ourselves. We muddle through with good intentions but come up short. It isn't that we really want to be hardened criminals, recalcitrant backsliders, or disobedient children, we are just that broken. We have let our faith become passionless love... is there even such a thing? Are we to assume that there are days when God loves us but isn't exactly crazy about us? Are we to think that real love just needs some time to oneself rather than living in full hearted, almost obsessive preoccupation? Are we to think that love is sacrificial but doesn't give a rat's bony behind about us personally? Why then would we think that our love for God should ever be passionless. What sacrifice stirs my emotions more than that of the Son dying for me? What romance is more gripping than the divine romance that woos my ever-playing-hard-to-get soul to Christ? Will I ever really give voice to a full throated love for Him?

David recognized this truth in himself and those around him when he wrote, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭86:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬). We must not excuse our emotional distance from God, we must recognize it is a sign of division in our own heart. It isn't normal, or acceptable.

Father, forgive my distance and my disconnect. Let me be drawn to the cross... the bloody, wretched, loving cross. Let me catch the eyes of the Son, as he hangs there loving...suffering...bleeding...loving.
Let me be passionate for Him whose passion we praise.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Despised Things

“Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭25:34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How often we "sell" our spiritual inheritance short of God's intended abundance. Esau gave way to impatience, the desires of flesh, and natural hungers. In so doing he "despised" his birthright. For the middle eastern mindset, it is not so much that he hated the gift of his birthright, only that in comparison to his PURSUIT of some stew it seemed to be despised.

Modern believers might say that they do not despise the promises of God, but in comparison to our PURSUITS of the things of the world we have sold short.