Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Bountiful Eye

“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The blessing of God is promised to those who see abundance, who give abundantly, and who do not let the miserly spirit of the age encroach uponthe generousity of Spirit that they have received from their God. Those of us who have received much from our God, who recognize that we are rich in this life because God has blessed us with His gracious provision, need to live with an eye that sees the riches of heaven as our inheritance. While others contemplate the crumbs of their lives, and see only their needs, we have a Shepherd who supplies all that we need. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall lack no good thing...” Ps 23.1

As we find this generosity in our mind, as we envision each day with the possibility to give, we become the conduit through which God himself meets the needs of the hurting and broken. Too often we buy the lie that abundance comes through hoarding what comes through our fingers. Living with a generous purpose helps us to be more easily blessed by the God who “ sees what we do in secret”.

The New Testament says it like this...“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God give us bountiful eyes!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Faithful Man

“A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The proverb reminds us that often chasing riches is a fantasy that finishes with a penalty! There is a certain centeredness that comes to a man or woman who is centered on God. When we are fully dependent upon our God he brings blessing and riches that are far superior to the rewards of the world. It is neither wrong nor theologically unsound to live in expectation of God’s profound blessing upon our lives. He is a God who rewards openly what is done in secret.

A faithful life is a life of consistency. Consistency in family, consistency in labor, and consistency in worship. The family needs a dependable response from the parents. It needs to be predictable. Spotty attempts to discipline our children is received as abuse when it is in consistent and confusing to our children. When once a certain misbehavior is tolerated and another time ( maybe in front of company) it is rebuked and discipline we are hurting our children’s spirit and frustrating them. Remember the Prodigals Father was predictable. When once our children know they are astray and come home to confess their failures is ther a predictable response? Do they find us running to them in mercy?

A faithful laborer will be rewarded with more and better paying work. The reward here is financial and immediate it seems.  There is blessing to the faithful life. Pity the woman who is married to the man who works when he feels like it. They will certainly be in want most of their lives until the lesson of diligent faithfulness in labor is learned.

A faithful worshipper is the kind of life that can be of benefit to others. The church can depend upon their faithful attendance to be ministered to, and to minister to others. The faithful worshipper is the kind of servant that ministry can be built upon. How will the children know to show up if the teacher is whimsically attending? How can the Pastor count on the usher to be at his post so that the visitor will feel welcomed and find Jesus without the faithful servants? How can broken hearts be mended at the altar when there is no person to lay hands on them at the altar in obedience to the commands of the King?

For this kind of life, God promises a reward. A rich, and satisfying reward because he recognizes the faithful servant is dividing his attention from his own needs to the children of God, the house of the Lord, and the poorest among us. These servants have a promise from God.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Toxic Pride

Today in the men’s breakfast we talked about the level of toxicity in the pride that is in our life. Pride really is a dangerous thing in us. Of course, I’m not referring to the kind of pride that we have when our kids achieve some merit, or the kind of pride that comes when we talk about our wives great cooking. I’m talking about the kind of pride that makes us unbearable in public settings. The kind that  keeps us from being effective witnesses for Christ. The kind of pride that causes trouble nearly every where we bring it.

It causes trouble in our marriages. It makes us unteachable. It turns everything into a competition, or worse a debate. It is profoundly unChrist-like and a hindrance in every relationship. Phil 2.3-5 says, “
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus...”

How did Jesus walk humbly? If the master is to be our template then we should wonder this very thing. Everywhere he went he was the center of attention. The sick looked to him for healing, the broken for fixing, the curious for entertainment, and the hypocrites to criticize. That would sure feed a fellas ego! Yet Christ remains a picture of the virtue of humility.

Pride springs from our insecurities. We all know that we are pretenders. We are posing for the public but internally we recognize our own flaws. Pride seems to be some twisted defense mechanism that is designed to protect our vulnerability. The world spends time trash talking to avoid the obvious, we are not all that we should be. Jesus not only was secure in his identity as God’s man, but he was also fully engaged with his purpose. Everything he did he did for those he “came to seek and serve.” In addition he was constantly checking in with his Father for a critique of his behavior. Ever notice how Pride isn’t noticed until we blurt out something stupid from our mouths. It hides down in the dark recesses of ou hearts.

Pride blinded the Pharisees from knowing who Jesus was, and from being effective at their positions. Humility on the other hand, takes a great deal of managing, introspection, and self awareness. Further, humility has to be walked out methodically each day. It is birthed in prayerful reflection on Jesus and released in small doses as we focus on the others that we are to serve. Humility serves others.

God help us to be men who walk in humility.

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.