Friday, December 2, 2016

"But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42

According to the Mayo Clinic staff, "stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit. Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior." Being "anxious and troubled about many things" is an age-old problem.
We have been told that our stress could be reduced if we would "stop and smell and the roses". This is good counsel to a point, but roses can only go so far in soothing the troubled soul. The bottom line is this: the greatest stress relief is found when we "spend a little time with Jesus". When we sit at His feet and listen to His teaching everything comes into perspective.
Having a "quiet time" every day is not just a commendable religious exercise. Just as the phrase suggests, it should be a "quiet time" at the feet of Jesus. How is your "quiet time" these days my friend? Do you regularly leave your anxiety and troubles with the Lord and take in His soothing and uplifting Words for each day? Take a lesson from Mary and choose "the good portion".

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 
~ Matthew 11:28   

Thursday, December 1, 2016

"When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing." - Luke 9:10-11
Plans, plans, plans! Day by day we plan the hours to the minute. We live by tight schedules that will be the most productive and get the job done. Plans keep us focused, plans keep us busy, and plans bring us success. Sadly, too often plans become the goal, an end in and of themselves. The question is... "Do our plans allow room for the unplanned?"
Jesus planned to debrief the disciples and further mentor them alone, in a restful place. But the crowds came and he "welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God".  Most often, the unplanned turns out to be people. Jesus always made time for the unplanned and welcomed the providential occasion with open arms. Because he loved people, "His plans allowed room for the unplanned".
What's your plan for today? Will you get it all done the way you want? Are you focused with the intensity of an Olympic athlete? Or are you prepared for the unexpected intrusion of people who need the Lord? Are you willing to make time for those who didn't make an appointment? The question is... "Do your plans allow room for the unplanned?"

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased." - Luke 8:43-44
I have lost count of how many times I spent oodles of money for over-the-counter cures, only to finally visit our family Doctor for true relief. How much easier would life be if we were to turn to the right source of care at the outset of our troubles? 
While the dear woman in our passage was quite sincere in her earlier pursuits for healing, this last ditch effort worked. I am sure that in reflection, she wished that she had come to the Lord Jesus many years earlier.
Where do you turn when troubles overwhelm you my friend? Do you spend years and piles of money seeking help from those who have little to offer? Why not save time and effort by turning to the Lord first?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned." - Luke 8:36-37
Christmas is centered on the greatest miracle of all time; the day that God became man. The entrance of the Prince of Peace as the Lamb of God; born to bring healing to our sin-sick souls. And yet, as the wonderful news is told each year, "all the people of the surrounding country" subtly replace the miracle infant with a material increase. 
The people of Gerasenes were afraid and greatly troubled over the loss of a herd of swine, ignoring the presence of a healing Savior. The miracle of a restored demoniac was of little concern compared to the loss of monetary abundance. Material values were of greater importance than eternal values and little has changed over time. The miracle of Christmas has been pushed aside only to be replaced with the the mirage of covetousness.
Be careful my friend as you approach the miraculous season of Christmas. Be awed at the significance of Jesus' birth and share His healing touch with others. Bring the Lord into the center of every celebration and push aside the materialism that minimizes the miraculous.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed." - Luke 7:6-7
Michaele and Tareq Salahi casually slipped into the White House state dinner on November 24, 2009 without a formal invitation and had a great time. Their attorney said, "They just went to party". People today are so flippant toward position and authority that they have no qualms about "crashing" a presidential dinner. Respect has left the building.
The man was a rough and powerful Roman Centurion. He was revered and obeyed at many levels. But, when it came to Jesus, he considered himself undeserving of the Lord's presence. How interesting that a man of worldly authority approached the Lord with humility and honor and yet, so many of God's people come before the Lord of All Creation "just to party". Respect has left the building.
Yesterday was the Lord's Day. When you walked into the morning worship service how did people approach the Lord? While they had every reason to celebrate and rejoice, did they come with a humble and worshipful attitude? Remember that we are all "undeserving" of standing before the Lord of Glory my friend. As you prepare to worship next Sunday, set the example by coming in reverence and ... Respect will return to the building.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back..." - Luke 6:32-35
Christmas cards! People send them out every year. They have a list of friends and family, but that list often gets smaller as the years pass. One reason a name might be deleted is failure to respond in like manner. If a certain friend fails to send a Christmas card this year, they won't get one next year. The simple fact is... if you don't get, you WON'T give.
I don't work for a greeting card company, nor am I endorsing the perpetual sending of Christmas cards. But, we often find ourselves dealing with others in the same way as we do with our card list. Jesus cuts to the heart when he says "Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them". You see, it's all about motive. If you love in the Name of Jesus and for sake of his love, you will do it forever and expect absolutely nothing in return. Nothing... no love, no gifts, no gratitude, no kindness... but you will still love. The simple fact is... if you don't get, you WILL give.
Take inventory today my friend. Who have you cut out of your circle of love and kindness because you just didn't GET what you thought you should? Even "sinners" give when they get something in return. But you and I are different, because we are children of a merciful Savior who, "While we were STILL sinners... died for us". (Romans 5:8) The simple fact is... if you don't get, you STILL give.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles" - Luke 6:12-13
Yesterday was "Black Friday". There were a vast number of people who stayed up all Thursday night, either shopping at stores that opened at midnight or waiting at the doors for 4 or 5 a.m. store opening. There are many good reasons to stay up all night, but trying to get a great deal on a flat screen TV shouldn't be one of them. It's just not a wise investment of time.
While you may differ with my opinion, the Lord has provided us with a thought provoking "all-niter". Important decisions require much thought and preparation and part of the preparation should always include serious prayer. Since Jesus was about to select twelve men who would eventually turn the world upside down, He prayed all night. The Lord invested His time wisely.
How do you make significant decisions my friend? Do you spend hours or days weighing the issues and considering all the angles? Is prayer a significant part of your process? When the pressure is on, take whatever time is necessary and seek the Lord for direction. You might be in prayer all night, but you will find this to be a wiser investment with bigger dividends than getting a great deal on a flat screen TV.