Thursday, January 22, 2015

Revamping Missions Giving

...this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (‭Matthew‬ ‭24‬:‭14‬ NIV)

Imagine with me a wonderful world where the church determines that it will be a part of the fulfillment of the great commission (Matthew 28.18) Imagine that the 200 or so adults at CLC each gave $25 ($50 per family) each month to missions. Maybe they fast the meal or dine down (eat something simple and inexpensive rather than extravagant) so they can afford this act of giving to missions.

The missions coffers of CLC would be overflowing and we would be able to double the giving to our present missionaries! People from around the globe would hear the good news that there is a savior that came for them, disciples would be made and destinies would be changed. Medicine would be delivered, rebuilding would take place, people undergoing catastrophes would be met with resources and supplies. Imagine. God's blessing would be on his church and the church of Jesus would stand UNASHAMED  before the Lord. Imagine.

Your simple act of obedience can take this from imagination to reality. I dare you...

Friday, January 09, 2015

God's Will in Healing

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭2‬ NIV)

This poor soul came down from the mountain for the express purpose of meeting with Jesus. Surely his faith and hope in Christ provoked the journey's start. He comes to Christ without some things that we often bring into his presence.

First, he comes without questioning the power of Jesus. There is no dealing with God. " if you heal me I will..." These are merely questions of his ability. The mountain man had come this way knowing that Jesus had healing power and divine authority.

Next, he comes without a question. He merely makes a statement of faith. "Lord, you have the ability to do whatever your will is." No doubt he has tried potions and cures that didn't have the power. But everything relies upon the character of this man Jesus. What kind of a God do you serve?

Finally, he comes without doubt. He has invested himself in the presentation of his need before the power that can heal. And there is no doubt that with a word Jesus can change this man's life forever. Total confidence brings him to the feet of the Healer.

I cannot imagine what my impression of Jesus Christ would be if he had ignored this man humbly kneeling at his feet. No, he is healed by his faith. Whatever your need today, bring it to the masters feet and trust that he will work out his healing will.

Monday, January 05, 2015

A Better Righteousness

Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭19-20‬ NIV)

The passages of the New Testament that are known as the Sermon on the Mount are masterful teachings of the Master Teacher Jesus. He is crafting out a vision of the " kingdom come". The Masters vision is informative, challenging, and a bit overwhelming for us. Jesus sees the kingdom defined by a number of issues that were relevant to his first century audience (and still resonate today!)

Here he defines what righteousness is. Certainly Jesus knows that his substitutionary death on the cross is going to impute righteousness to millions who come to him in faith. The Apostle Paul would later write that he who "knew no sin, became sin" that we might become the righteousness of God. Righteousness ( ie., right standing before God) is given freely to us all as we trust Christ for our salvation. But that is not what Jesus is addressing here.

No, Jesus is not speaking of an unseen transfer that is transacted in the heavenly realms. He is speaking of that which can be witnessed by mere mortals. The Pharisees had become a group more known for there creative ways of circumventing the intentions of the Divine Law than for their Radical Obediences. They were better with excuses than execution, more adept at sidestepping than stepping up, they were half hearted followers ignoring the audience of One that they were to live for. Jesus addresses than head on.

What concerns Christ is not our claim to follow Him but our practics. Rather than being "righteous in name only" as the Pharisees were Jesus challenges his disciples to depth, to full obedience, to uncomfortable obediences, and to living out their faith out loud. It seems to me that Jesus was demanding righteousness than showed up in the real world. Are we the real deal? Is our obedience limited by convenience? By public approval? By comfort? It is time for real faith for the real world!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Tick Tock

Honestly, it is meaningless. This marking of time as the calendar flips over from one year to another. It is a second, a minute, an hour, not unlike a thousand other in our lifetime. I did a funeral recently and read as my text Psalm 90. The text says "teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." I found a date calculator on my cell phone. I have been alive 20,795 days. Wow. How many of those were misspent? How many were wasted altogether? The one good thing about the new year is that it gives as a placemark where  we can ponder our lives.

I suspect I am on the down hill portion of my life. By this I mean that I have less days ahead to live than I have already lived, so I should want to make the most of those I have left. So I am taking a few moments to list some of the things I have done wrong in 2014 and looking to repair those for the next year.

 I feel that I have let my life become encumbered by technological "conveniences". I have several email addresses, a Facebook account, a twitter account, a cell phone that has texts, as well as answering machines and voicemail boxes. What a hassle these conveniences are! So I will stream line that for next year. Not sure how but that is a goal!

Too often this year I have given myself a pass on my busy-ness. Many times I have cheated God, and cheated myself from missing my spiritually enriching times in his presence. I have substituted cheap imitations such as quick devotional reads and half hearted prayers. God's purposes are deep and my time in his presence needs to be fully attentive.

I have a list of a few things that need to be accomplished this next year. The interesting thing is that each of these will demand a miracle. So I am believing for great blessing from God. I am stretching myself out toward the God who promised amazing things to those who call upon his name.

I have a conviction in my spirit that God is calling us to reach out more than ever before. I have witnessed the openness of several individuals this last year in speaking with them regarding spiritual issues. They probably don't buy my conservative politics, but they are genuinely interested in this man named Jesus. I want to try to represent the Lord in my conversations

I have to say that I have fallen prey at times to the slacking of verbal discipline. I have spoken when I should have been silent. Listened when I should have walked away. I have uttered useless and careless words. And I have let my anger grab my tongue too quickly. This year I am going to exercise that discipline better.

I have a wonderful wife. Sometimes (not often enough) I tell her that I am truly blessed by her character, compassion, faithfulness and love. But too often I take her for granted. She deserves more attention than I give her.

Okay, that is a pretty tall order ... Lord help me in 2015