Month: January 2020

Compassion To Jesus

young man giving money to old man on the street

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

 In reading Matthew 10:42, the Jews would have understood “these little ones” as referring to scholars of a rabbi. So, in the context in which Jesus is speaking, Jesus was referring to His twelve Apostles. However, we gain a deeper understanding once we get to Matthew 25:40, where Jesus states, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

From Matthew 25:40, we learn that Christ looks upon acts of kindness done to even the weakest godly people and will reward us as if we had done them to Jesus. Though our love and compassion must not be limited only to believers, yet it must be chiefly shown to those of the household of faith.

I find it fascinating that Jesus tells us to be sure to act compassionately to everyone but especially to our brothers and sisters for Jesus lives in them. God’s relationship to humanity is different for His children than for those that remain lost. It is worth all of our sacrifices, both big and small, which we make for others from our love of God. He does not ignore or dismiss our actions. I thank God for that.

Photo credit: Chris Yarzab on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

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You Follow Me

footsteps in snow

Very early in our marriage, my wife told me that she’d follow me anywhere. Neither of us knew at that time how much her promise would be tested. Since that time, we have moved from the Mid-West to the East-coast to the West-coast and from America to Eastern Europe and back again.

Amazingly, each place to which we moved my wife built a “nest” to provide safety for our children and comfort for me. And in each location, my wife thrived. She has a deep relationship with Jesus and hears the Holy Spirit’s directions, so God blesses the work of her hands.

Today, my wife and I met with my sister. We reminisced and had a wonderful time. As we were heading home, I started thinking about, “I’ll follow you anywhere.” I pray that I will always say this to Jesus.

We find a great example of following in the twentieth chapter of the book of John. After Christ’s resurrection, Jesus restored Peter to his “office” as an Apostle. Then we read in John 21:20-22 (emphasis added): Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) following them…When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!

We mustn’t measure our calling by how God is using other Christians. This concern is such an easy trap in which to fall. It makes no difference if God chooses a believer and gives them a great ministry or sends them to another country or marvelously prospers them. What matters is our obedience to our calling. Jesus says to each one of us, “You follow me!”

Photo by Bartosz Gorlewicz on Unsplash

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You are welcome

elderly woman

I was listening to a devotional this week when I heard the speaker say, “We perceive the stranger as a danger, but God is the God of welcome. The guest is a gift.”

If ever there was a “welcoming” declaration from God Almighty, it is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

We see in this famous passage of Scripture that God is emphatically welcoming. God throws His welcome mat out and says, “Whoever believes in My Son, Jesus” is welcome in my home.

God’s hospitality is beyond comprehension, so let me scale this back to something we can grasp. Imagine if Bill Gates tweeted, “Anyone can have a copy of Microsoft Windows for free. And if you do get a copy of Microsoft Windows, then you are welcome to come to live with me in my house forever!” Whoa. We would say Bill Gates was crazy, but we wouldn’t say that about God. That’s because God is the God of welcome!

When we read John 3:16, why would anyone **not** repent and be saved? And, as believers, we represent Jesus to everyone that sees us. How can we not be welcoming to them when our Father has shown us that He is the God of welcome.

Photo by Philippe Leone on Unsplash

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Find Out What Is Hiding

boy playing hide and seek

Recently I shaved off nearly all of my beard. It had been at least a decade since I was mostly clean-shaven. It freaked out my wife. Now it’s growing back, but it was fun to see her reaction. She couldn’t look at me for two days!

One thing I discovered when I shaved was that I had a blackhead on my cheek. It had been hiding under my beard, utterly invisible to me and everyone that saw me, nevertheless it was there. 

It was quickly exhumed before I finished shaving. But that got me wondering about things in our lives that we don’t see and neither do others; they are still there. 

God Shows Us What Is Hiding

Often, things that need to be removed from our hearts and minds are shown to us through God’s Word. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10

Being a devout Christian doesn’t insulate us from God’s correction. He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Have you ever heard or read a passage of Scripture that caused a spike of fear to arise in you? It may have been so small that you quickly extinguished it with logic. Still, it had shown itself in your soul. 

The truth is that God’s Word is alive and directly confronts us about things we may not even be aware of as unrighteousness. The Holy Spirit calls us on to greater mercy, greater righteousness, greater holiness. When we feel even the smallest tug on our hearts, we can be sure the Holy Spirit is working within us, calling us to a more intimate relationship with God and preparing us for higher assignments from Jesus.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Fear is Like a Tick

A hard-bodied tick of the family Ixodidae, the lone star tick

So much has changed in this world since I was a kid. As a kid, I spent most of my time outside. We didn’t have the vast array of entertainment options that kids have today. A couple of things I’m glad we didn’t have back then were mosquitoes that carried the West Nile virus and ticks that could infect us with Lyme disease. It was “safe” outside, so most of a kid’s world existed there. A side effect of outdoor life was that kids got ticks. I certainly got my share of them.

Bring In The Fire

Whenever Mom found a tick on my body (yes, Mom always checked), I knew what would happen next. It was imperative that the tick pulled its head out of my flesh. So, she would get a kitchen match, the kind that has a match head on one end of a short stick of wood. She would strike the match, get a good flame, blow out the match, and then she would take the hot match head and place it on the tick. 

The hot match would disturb the tick’s supper, and it would pull itself out of my body. Mom was always ready with Kleenex® tissues in her left hand. The moment the tick’s head was visible, Mom swooped in like a hawk grabbing a rabbit. It was a sight to behold. I’ve used her technique many times, and it has served me well (warningthis is not a medical recommendation). 

Get It All Out

Here’s the point of my story: For a Christian, fear is like a tick. It is alien to us*. It doesn’t exist in God. Fear stealthily crawls over us until it finds a place to feed. Then it then burrows into us and begins its damage. For us to remove fear it must be completely cast out. In the following verses, we can see that this is God’s will.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) and 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

It may not be obvious, but fear is the opposite of love – let that sink in. Love moves us towards others in the spirit of self-sacrifice while fear shrinks us back from others in the spirit of self-preservation. To get the fear (whatever kind it is) completely out of us we need perfect love.

The Opposite of Fear is Love

It’s simple math. Love and fear are opposites, therefore perfect love equates to zero fear. But how can we possibly have perfect love? If we try to remove fear without God’s help, just like a tick, a piece of that fear will remain in us and likely cause us much harm; God wants all of that fear out of us.

Hmm. Who do we know that has perfect love? Give me a moment. Yes! God is perfect love. So how do we get the tick of fear out of us? We ask the Holy Spirit to fill us up completely. If we are full of the Holy Spirit of God, then we are full of perfect love. Our thoughts, actions, ambitions, motives are transformed; our minds are transformed (Romans 12:2) when we are full of the Holy Spirit of God, full of perfect love. God’s love at work through us is like a hot match head applied to a tick; fear is cast out!


* The only fear a Christian should have is the kind referenced in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

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God Is In Control

cockpit of airplane

I was reading a commentary about the birth of Jesus and Herod’s attempt to find Jesus and kill Him, and this statement jumped out at me: Thus are the very errors and crimes and cold indifferences of men all overruled.” Isn’t that encouraging? We know that Jesus and His family did escape Herod’s trap. As God’s Word states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Beyond The Pale

The pervasive pettiness that permeates our institutions is beyond the pale. Treachery and vile accusations have always been go-to tools for those that have no fear of God. My statement is not specific to politics, for I see this problem within both the public and private sectors. Nevertheless, it is heartening that schemers can make their plans, but it is God’s will that prevails. We see this in James 4:13-15

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Be at peace, for God is in control.

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

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The Problem With Dads

Dad hugging son

Matthew 3:16And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The Problem With Dads

Not everyone has a meaningful relationship with their dad. Within the complexities of our society, many dads are absent from their children; many more remain in their family but are unapproachable or disengaged or outright damaging to their kids. These Godless actions of dads result in children and adults who are unable to relate to Father God.

Many of these damaged souls hate God, for they resent God, feeling abandoned by Him. These people need us, for we have personally experienced the love of God and have marveled at the beauty of the relationship between our heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior, and God’s Spirit abiding in us.

God’s Beloved Son

God can use us to bring the Good News of God’s beloved Son to those around us that are hurt and damaged by a dysfunctional relationship with their dads. 

Perhaps, you, too, have only bad experiences with your dad or no experience with your dad. Recovery starts with Jesus, with forgiveness, with studying God’s Word to see how the Father loves the Son, and how our loving Father embraces us and desires to bring renewal into the hearts for those that cringe at the thought of fathers. 

Lean In To God

Be bold. Lean in to “Our Father which art in heaven.” And when you pray, pray in the name of the Father’s “beloved Son” with whom He is well pleased.

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

Science is not God

I was reading a prayer that Martin Luther King Jr. prayed. That man could pray. In his prayer, he prayed:

We are mindful, O God, that man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of things and humanity is not God. Bound by our chains we know we need a Savior. We thank thee, oh God, for the spiritual nature of man. We are in nature but we live above nature.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

One of the myriad things that trouble me is the idea that science is above God. If given a choice between trust in science or trust in God, I think most people in Europe and America would choose science. Not Martin Luther King Jr., though, because science is the study of nature, but man is above nature for he has a spiritual nature.

I closely follow science and only theoretical scientists speak in absolutes (those are the Sheldon’s of the world). The scientists that work in the applied sciences nearly always couch their comments in “should,” “perhaps,” “maybe,” and “expected.” They understand that humanity knows almost nothing about God’s Creation. 

One Example

A quick example of the instability of science can be found in the study of DNA. Nearly all scientists have (had) reached the point where DNA was old science, that was until 3D VR of DNA (“Step inside your DNA”). Oops,  genes are also turned on and off by physical interaction between specific parts of DNA. Well, that wasn’t expected!

However, the message of God’s desire and intent to reconcile humanity back to Himself is consistent, clear, coherent, and cohesive from Genesis all the way through the Book of Revelation, spanning thousands of years. So, who should we place our faith in? Should it be science with its instability or “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4 NIV)

I think we often don’t trust God because we measure Him with the yardstick of man.” – G.W. Moore 

Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash and Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

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Who Am I?

a sign with a question mark on it

Who am I, that the lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
– Casting Crowns

There are approximately 7.8 billion people on Earth, and the average human head (an average scalp measures approximately 120 square inches, or 770 cm²) has about 100,000 hair follicles (Gray 2003). – Quora This means that at any one moment there are 780 trillion hairs that God is keeping track of (Matthew 10:30).

If God cares enough to sacrifice His Son to offer you salvation and if God cares enough to impart to every believer the Holy Spirit of God (John 14:15-17) and if God cares enough to keep track of the number of hairs on your head, then be encouraged. hen be encouraged for God knows who you are.

I hope this song by Casting Crowns blesses you today.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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Imagined

a man kneeling and praying

It Started in a Swamp

Walt Disney imagined building a Florida theme park in 1959, and construction began in 1965. Most of the land was a swamp. However, Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, during the creation of the complex. Today, Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an average annual attendance of more than 52 million.

As I understand it, in 1971, near the opening day of the Magic Kingdom theme park, the chief architect was standing beside the widow of Walk Disney with a map of the 39 square miles targeted to be developed for what became Walk Disney World. He asked Walt’s widow, Lillian, if she could imagine such a large theme park. She said, “I don’t have too. Walt already did.”

Do the Imagined

Acts 2:12-14, 40-41, Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd…With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Peter had learned from the time he sank while walking on water. God’s opportunities may only last for an instant. He stood up in faith. Now Peter had faith, strong faith. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached Jesus and the cross; thousands were saved. No doubt, the number of people saved was more than the Pharisees ever imagined.

Throughout history, we have seen God use His people to accomplish things that others couldn’t imagine. God has used believers to build hospitals in impoverished nations, universities in newly formed countries, scientific breakthroughs that astounded academia, and more. Each time God’s servants did imagine these endeavors succeeding. They did these works because they trusted the one true God.

A Modern Example

If we consider just one modern example let’s consider 24-7 Prayer

Their story began in 1999 when some people started a prayer room in a warehouse on the south coast of England. Surprisingly, young people flocked to this prayer room. At some point, a person spray painted a poem on a wall; the poem went viral. 

That first prayer room has now touched more than two million people in more than ten thousand prayer rooms in most denominations and more than half the nations on earth. And it continues today. 

Now It’s Your Turn

God is still at work. He still uses ordinary people, as Jesus did with the fishermen. You’ve probably heard, “God’s not looking for ability but availability.” It’s true. He wants people that will drop what they’re doing and go where the Spirit leads them and not fear the wind and the waves. He wants you. He has a vision of who you could be. If you haven’t already done so, dive in because He’s calling.

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

By the way, Lectio365 is part of my morning devotional.

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