Wednesday, September 30, 2015

20150930 NOISE, GET OUT!


Matthew 9:23-26 When Jesus arrived at the official's home, He saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music.  (24)  "Get out!" He told them. "The girl isn't dead; she's only asleep." But the crowd laughed at Him.  (25)  After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up!  (26)  The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.

Noise. There is so much of it in our daily lives and then if you add in a tragedy the well-meaning often only add to the cacophony. Though we are commanded not to grieve as those with no hope, even Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He drew away to a quiet place upon hearing of the death of John the Baptist. And here His command to the noise and the bringers of it is to "Get out!" And then He explains that they are mistaken about what has taken place. Though the girl was physically dead, The Resurrection and The Life had arrived and He would awaken her.

The crowd did what it does. It mocks at God, at His existence, at His power, at the possibility of life after death. Their mockery does not deter Him.  He raised her up. This could not be hid and the word of it spread through the entire countryside.

Miracles often take place in the silence. They are often missed because of all the other noise. Even Elijah heard the voice of God as a still small voice. Is it time for you to stop the noise for a while? Do you take time for silence? Are you ever away from Facebook, text messages, Twitter and the like? Shut it down. Be still. Tell your heavenly Father what you need and wait, and listen.

Father in heaven, help us tell the noise to get out. Show us the importance of the silence and when we take time to seek You please manifest Your presence clearly to us. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015



Matthew 9:20-22 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind Him. She touched the fringe of His robe, (21) for she thought, "If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed." (22) Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was healed at that moment.

Jesus is on His way to raise the daughter of a synagogue leader when He is interrupted by a sick woman. She had no intention of getting any attention for herself except healing, but she got so much more. She got a glimpse of the compassionate Savior.

1.  She saw that He, Jesus is interruptible. I heard a man pray that one day. He said something like this, “Lord, give us interruptible hearts. Let us see the delays of life, the inconveniences, the detours as opportunities to see someone who needs a touch or an encouraging word from You. And may we be the conduit through which You meet those needs.”
2.  She saw Jesus see her. He saw all the suffering she had endured. Mark tells us that she had suffered many things from doctors and that she had spent all she had trying to find a cure. Jesus knew all this in a single moment. He could see it and He could see her faith. “If I can just touch His robe…”

If you have ever had an extended illness you know what it is to face discouragement. I spent 10 years on Lortabs and other narcotics dealing with severe and, at times, crippling pain in my lower back. Every time we would see another doctor we got the same news. “I can’t see anything on X-rays or MRIs that would cause this problem. Let’s try therapy and more medication.” There were a couple times that God touched me and I received a partial healing. I won’t go into all the details here, but those touches carried me through until in 2004 I had back surgery for a slipped disc. While the surgeon was fixing that he discovered a bone spur that was hidden from all our present technology. When I woke from that surgery I had immediate relief I hadn’t known in years.

I share that to say, be encouraged. Illness can be so mentally, spiritually and physically fatiguing. Hang in there. Keep the faith. Keep reaching for the hem of His garment. He sees you. Don’t give up.

3.  She saw herself as a daughter. Often sickness makes us feel abandoned, but He called her, "Daughter." He had not forgotten her. 
4. She saw encouragement that her faith in Jesus paid off in the end.

Father in heaven, grant that we may remain faithful to trust You and to keep reaching for the blessings You have available to us. And I repeat what my friend said, “Lord, give us interruptible hearts. Let us see the delays of life, the inconveniences, the detours as opportunities to see someone who needs a touch or an encouraging word from You. And may we be the conduit through which You meet those needs.” In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

20150928 GOD OF ACTION


Matthew 9:18-19  As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before Him. "My daughter has just died," he said, "but You can bring her back to life again if You just come and lay Your hand on her."  (19)  So Jesus and His disciples got up and went with Him.

I’ve been focusing on the words of Christ, thus the title of the blog, Red Letter Discipleship. Actions often speak louder than words. This man, the leader of a synagogue comes to Jesus and expresses incredible faith. His daughter is not ill, she’s dead. There is no pulse, no breath and from a human standpoint, no hope. Yet he says, “but You can bring her back to life again if You just come and lay Your hand on her.”

Not only does He show faith, but also respect for Jesus by kneeling before Him.

The response is that Jesus gets up and goes with him. Over and over the scripture assures us that faith will move God to action.

As you face the trials of this day are you aware of God’s presence with you? Are you aware of the promises that He has made? Will you look to Him first to be a God of action on your behalf in your situation?

Father in heaven, thank You that we can trust You and that You are with us always. Help us turn to You and Your faithful promises in all situations. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Friday, September 25, 2015



Matthew 9:16-17 "Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.  (17)  "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved."

These two verses have always left me a bit befuddled until two days ago when I was reading an old commentary by Matthew Henry. I have heard all sorts of deep, dark, secret, hyper-spiritual answers to what Jesus is teaching here. Thank you, Matthew Henry for giving some simple insight.

Jesus is still answering the question asked by the disciples of John the Baptist, as to why the disciples of Jesus do not fast. The first reason Jesus gave was because He was still present with them. In that, Jesus recognized that John was not with his disciples at this point, but in prison. He showed compassion for their plight.

In this second reason He is showing compassion for His own disciples, recognizing that they were not ready for something as rigorous as fasting. Brand new cloth would have to be prepared before it could be used to patch old clothing. It would need to be washed and dried to allow any shrinkage to take place before it could be used in such an application lest it destroy the old cloth when it did shrink. Jesus was preparing them for what lay ahead, for the difficulties of ministry.

What they were before they met Jesus could not handle the power that was to come their way. A change needed to take place in them. They needed to be prepared and made new by the saving power of Jesus Christ before they would be able to be filled with the new wine that was coming. Fasting is not easy and if done half-heartedly or flippantly can open us up to spiritual attack. The disciples were not spiritually disciplined men. They knew their former jobs which were all secular jobs. In the things of God they were babes.

When Jacob was returning to his homeland his brother Esau met him and encouraged him to follow him quickly, Jacob said this… Genesis 33:13 But Jacob replied, "You can see, my lord, that some of the children are very young, and the flocks and herds have their young, too. If they are driven too hard, even for one day, all the animals could die.”
Jacob showed compassion for those with him. He knew they needed to take their time. They were young and unseasoned in travel. He even showed compassion for the animals.

Jesus shows the same compassion for His disciples at this point in their journey of faith. They weren’t ready for fasting, but one day they would be.

As we deal with new believers may we be as compassionate and sensitive to where they are in their journey with Jesus Christ. Sometimes we are quick to write someone off who doesn’t seem to be moving along as fast as we think she should. I believe that as long as someone is showing up and making some effort, showing some sign of wanting to do right, we should keep on encouraging him, helping him, showing him the right way.

Father in heaven, may we be found showing deep, encouraging compassion for each other. May we have understanding as together we travel this faith journey. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015



Matthew 9:14-15 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked Him, "Why don't Your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?"  (15)  Jesus replied, "Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Please note it is the disciples of John the Baptist who are asking Jesus this question. Also note that Jesus does not berate them for it. At this time, their leader, John is in prison. They have great sorrow in their hearts knowing at any moment John could be put to death. They have good reason to be fasting.

On the other hand Jesus is with His disciples. It is a time of celebration. The Messiah has come and is teaching them daily. He compares Himself to a groom and a truly loving groom does not mourn. He rejoices and His guests rejoice with Him.

There is a compassion here that I have missed in the past. Jesus recognizes the pain that John’s disciples are experiencing and He foretells that same pain for His own disciples. They will miss Him when He is taken away and they will mourn and fast.

They must have missed His message on fasting in secret. If the disciples of Jesus had been fasting according to His teaching no one would have known anyway. Again, Jesus doesn’t use this as an opportunity to chew them out, but lets it be known that he understands their pain.

When others criticize us it would do us, and them good if we are quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Try to understand where they are coming from. Tomorrow we are going to see another amazing piece of compassion from our Savior.

Father in heaven, thank You for Your compassion. Grant us understanding hearts, compassionate hearts. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015



Matthew 9:12-13 When Jesus heard this, He said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do."  (13)  Then He added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.' For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."

In this passage Jesus attends a party that Matthew has thrown for all his old tax collector buddies and some other cronies. I believe Matthew was introducing his old friends to his new friends and to his new life. Have you introduced your old friends to Jesus?

By this time Jesus’ activities have caught the attention of the “religious” crowd and they are watching him closely. He is gaining notoriety and a following and He doesn’t do things the way they do things. In their eyes he is dangerous and so, they are looking to catch Him doing something, anything for which they can criticize Him and for which they can keep others from following Him. And now they have it. He goes to a party with a bunch of sinners, and not just sinners, but people from the other political party. You see the tax collectors actually worked for the Roman government and collected taxes from their own people, the Israelites. They often cheated and took more than they should. Their companions were often other disreputable characters. So the religious, the Pharisees now have Him. He eats with sinners.

Jesus response is to tell them what their job was all along. It’s the sinner who needs a Savior. It’s the sick who need the doctor. It’s the dirty who need a bath. It’s the hungry who need fed, the thirsty who need water. Those who have it all together and don’t sin don’t need Jesus. They are the self-righteous, in their own eyes. In Jesus eyes, they only “think” they are righteous. They are blind to their own sin. They see others (specifically sinners) as beneath their time and effort. But Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost… the sinner, the tax collector, the liar, the cheat, the sexually immoral, the thief, the critic, the judgmental, and the list goes on.

I am so glad He came for the sinner because that means He came seeking me and you. Now let us begin to see others as Jesus does, not as those lost without hope, but as those who can be saved, redeemed by His blood.

Father in heaven, forgive us for falling into the mindset of Pharisees. Any good in us is because of Your Amazing Grace. Open our eyes to see others as You see them. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015



Matthew 9:9 As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth. "Follow Me and be My disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed Him.

In the Greek language this statement Jesus makes to Matthew is wrapped up in a single word, ἀκολουθέωakoloutheō. So, Jesus spoke a single word to Matthew and he dropped what he was doing, got up and followed Jesus.

When I started this blog I pointed out John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, "You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings.  (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

The question I’d like you to ask today is this, “How quickly do I respond when the Holy Spirit leads me?” Do you drop what you’re doing and follow Him immediately?

Father in heaven, thank You for Your Holy Spirit who guides us. Give us hearts that are quick to follow. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Friday, September 18, 2015



Matthew 9:5-8 Is it easier to say 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Stand up and walk'?  (6) So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!"  (7)  And the man jumped up and went home!  (8)  Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority.

Sickness is, at least, the indirect result of sin. Often upon healing Jesus would tell the healed to go and sin no more. We know that there was a blind man about whom Jesus said his blindness was for the glory of God, but had Adam and Eve not eaten from the forbidden tree there would have been no sickness, no death. In the verses we’ve been looking at the last few days Jesus seems to allude to the fact that this man’s sickness was the result of sin. Jesus first words to him signify this.

Yesterday we talked about the evil in the hearts of men who thought Jesus a blasphemer because He dared to forgive this man’s sins. Today we see His final response to them. He commands the man who was carried to Jesus by his friends to stand up and carry his bed home. The man did it and Jesus proved His point… He, the Son of the living God, Creator, King of kings has the power to forgive sins and to heal the sickness that sin has caused.

Once again I urge us to always search our own hearts when sickness strikes us. Confess any known sin, and pray for healing before reaching for the medicine cabinet or the doctor’s phone number.

Father in heaven, today I pray with the Psalmist, Psalms 139:23-24  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  (24)  Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

20150917 JESUS KNOWS


Matthew 9:3-4 But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, "That's blasphemy! Does He think He's God?"  (4)  Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, "Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?

Back in the 1930’s and 1940’s there was a radio show that started out this way, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.” It featured a man with powers to cloud men’s minds. Since then it has been made into comics and even a movie. But there is one who really does know what evil lurks in our hearts and His name is Jesus.

Only you and Jesus know what goes in your mind and heart. It is good for us to remember that at all times. I love this verse… Psalms 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Since He already knows what we are thinking it is a good idea to talk to Him about it. Be honest and when you know what you are thinking is wrong, confess it and ask Him for His help. This will please Him more than if you act like you have it all together. Psalms 51:6 But You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
Psalms 51:17 The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Father in heaven, You desire truth from us. Give us pure, honest hearts and boldness to speak honestly with You. Thank You that when we confess our sin You forgive us and cleanse us from all uncleanness. In Jesus Name AMEN!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015



Matthew 9:1-2 Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to His own town.  (2)  Some people brought to Him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven."

I stopped here today because I believe that gratitude is one of the most important attitudes for any and all believers. Here is a man who is paralyzed and Jesus says this to him. Are you encouraged by the fact that you have been forgiven?

There are times in life when it seems that everything is falling apart around us. We may lose our jobs, our loved ones, our health, but no one can take the forgiveness of Jesus Christ from us. That, sometimes, may be all the encouragement you have to hold onto. So I urge you to get this, to grasp it, cling to it and practice it. Yes, practice gratitude for the forgiveness of sin. Because of our sin we deserve hell. Because of our sin we do not deserve life, or air, or water, or food, or clothing. We deserve hell… but in Jesus we are forgiven, we are justified, made just as if we never sinned before God’s sight.

Be Encouraged.

Father in heaven, thank You for the forgiveness of sin. Let that truth sink deep into our hearts and minds. Cause it to sing from our lips and shine in our countenance no matter what the day may bring. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



Matthew 8:28-34 When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met Him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area.  (29)  They began screaming at Him, "Why are You interfering with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torture us before God's appointed time?"  (30)  There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance.  (31)  So the demons begged, "If You cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs."  (32)  "All right, go!" Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.  (33)  The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men.  (34)  Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged Him to go away and leave them alone.

Here we have a couple of guys who have been aggravated by demons for quite some time. The demons have been ruling their lives and making them violent men, so much so that no one would even go into that area. Then… Jesus shows up. They know Who He is and they fear Him greatly.

There are many stories about demons in the Gospels. The thing I find important here is that when Jesus is around there’s nothing to fear. We have been given authority over the demons. The key is to be walking with Jesus, not just talking about Jesus.

One day as a preteen I was playing in the park across from our house. A gang of boys who were acting the part of bullies showed up and started picking a fight with me. I was always small (back then) and I was vastly outnumbered. As the leader was trying to berate me into throwing the first punch I just stood there because Dad always told me, “Don’t you throw the first punch, but don’t be afraid to throw the second.”

Suddenly a look of fear crossed the bullies face and all of the group took a step back. Unbeknownst to me my brother who is 4 years older than me and quite a bit larger stepped up behind me. After they all stepped back he asked, “Steven, are you alright?” The bullies all scattered and I said, “I think I’m fine… now.”

I think of that story often when dealing with the attacks of the enemy. My God is bigger and He has promised not to leave me nor forsake me.

Please take this warning to heart. Those who just talk about Jesus but don’t walk with Him will find themselves in grave danger if they attempt to take on demons. Read Acts 19:13-17.

Father in heaven, thank You that You are always with us. Thank You that we can trust You to be bigger and more powerful than all the demons of hell. Help us to truly walk with Jesus and fill us with Your Holy Spirit power to deal with the enemy whenever he raises his ugly head. May the enemy tremble when they see us coming because You are always with us. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

20150914 FEAR VS FAITH


Matthew 8:18 When Jesus saw the crowd around Him, He instructed His disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.
Matthew 8:23-27 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples.  (24)  Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  (25)  The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"  (26)  Jesus responded, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!" Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.  (27)  The disciples were amazed. "Who is this man?" they asked. "Even the winds and waves obey Him!"

Jesus pulls together the contrast between fear and faith. They are opposites.

A friend of mine once pointed out verse 18 to me. He said, “Jesus didn’t instruct the disciples to go half way across the lake and drown. He instructed them to go to the other side.”

Understand that this is Jesus, the living Word of God. Read John 1:1-3. Another friend pointed out to me the reason God can’t lie is because whatever God says happens. That is the truth that we need deep inside of our minds and hearts in order to combat fear. That truth is that God, who does not lie can be trusted completely to perform what He promises to perform.

Of what are you afraid? Be honest with yourself and with God. When you have isolated what you fear look in the scriptures for promises that deal with your fears. For the believer the worst case scenario takes us to a place where we must trust our God moment by moment for strength to endure. That is not a bad place to be because He who promised is faithful and He will never leave us and never forsake us.

Father in heaven, increase our faith. Remind us, You have not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love and of power and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7) Thank You that You are faithful and that we can trust You. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Friday, September 11, 2015



Matthew 8:19-22 Then one of the teachers of religious law said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go."  (20)  But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay His head."  (21)  Another of His disciples said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."  (22)  But Jesus told him, "Follow Me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead. "

Jesus always knows what is in the heart of man. Perhaps His response to the first man is to do with the man’s hope of financial gain. The Lord points out to him that He has no place even to lay His head. Many who truly follow Christ have little of this life’s comforts. If you goal in following Him is to further your own gain or fame then you may be sorely disappointed.

The second man wanted to put off following Christ for a time. His reasoning is the burial of his father. Many believe that his father had not died yet and may not have even been ill at this point. His reasoning may have been to wait until he had his inheritance to follow Christ.

Before surrendering to follow Jesus count the cost. It may be very high. And be ready to leave all behind if called to do so.

Father in heaven, You know our hearts and by the power of Your Holy Spirit You can make them right and pure. Please do so. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015



Matthew 8:5-13 When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with Him, (6) "Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain." (7) Jesus said, "I will come and heal him." (8) But the officer said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have You come into my home. Just say the word from where You are, and my servant will be healed. (9) I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, 'Go,' and they go, or 'Come,' and they come. And if I say to my slaves, 'Do this,' they do it." (10) When Jesus heard this, He was amazed. Turning to those who were following Him, He said, "I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel! (11) And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. (12) But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (13) Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened." And the young servant was healed that same hour.

This Roman soldier came to Jesus for his servant and he came with a faith that amazed Jesus. Jesus points this out and berates His own people for their lack of faith and gives them a strong warning about the outcome of those who choose not to believe.

I think it important to comment on the illustration the Roman officer gave. He recognized Jesus as having the authority to simply speak a command and all of creation would have no choice but to obey.

Jesus honors his faith by speaking, “Because you believed, it has happened."

Father in heaven, grant us that kind of believing, understanding faith. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

20150909 SHH!


Matthew 8:4 Then Jesus said to him, "Don't tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed."

Why would Jesus not want everyone to know that He could heal even the most loathsome of diseases? Here are some thoughts. Mark 2:4, 3:20 and 7:24 all talk about the “press” (KJV) of the crowd. A roof had to be torn off so some friends could get a sick man to Him. He and His disciples didn’t even have time to eat and He had very little time to be alone.

It may seem a bit selfish of Jesus to want to be alone, but He came, in part, to show us how to live. We often find Him out alone with the Father early in the morning. He cherished that time with His Father and we will find strength for our journeys if we make time to be with our Heavenly Father.

We all have to eat and we all need rest. Perhaps He knew that the more the miracles were proclaimed the more people would gather and there would be even less time to eat, sleep and to teach His disciples what they needed to know to carry on His ministry after He departed.

Furthermore, Jesus wasn’t interested in being a sideshow for thrill seekers. There were many then as there are now who run from one “healer,” “miracle worker,” to another. They aren’t looking to follow Jesus. They’re just looking for entertainment and a spiritual handout.

Jesus came to fulfill the law. It was right for this healed man to go show himself to the priest and let the priest give him a clean bill of health (Leviticus 14). It would be a testimony to the grace of God and it would show the priest there was a healer among them. If the man told the priest who healed him before getting the proclamation of his healing, the priest might well react out of jealousy and refuse to give the man his freedom.

I’m discovering, as I move forward with this blog that what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount can somehow be found in His words and deeds throughout the Gospels. In this encounter with the leper we see humility and righteousness.

Father in heaven, thank you for the example of Jesus Christ. Help us to look at each situation in which we find ourselves involved in light of the words of Jesus, and help us to respond accordingly. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Two Day Break

Due to the Holiday and my Birthday (Woo Hoo) I'm taking a short break from the blog. Lord willing we will return tomorrow. In the mean time, here is a verse that has carried me through many a trial...

1 Samuel 12:24  But be sure to fear the LORD and faithfully serve Him. Think of all the wonderful things He has done for you.

Friday, September 4, 2015

20150904 WILLING


Matthew 8:1-3 Large crowds followed Jesus as He came down the mountainside.  (2)  Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Him and knelt before Him. "Lord," the man said, "if You are willing, You can heal me and make me clean."  (3)  Jesus reached out and touched him. "I am willing," He said. "Be healed!" And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

Lepers were deemed unclean, untouchable, and from a human standpoint, beyond hope. Lepers were not sent to the physician, but to the priests who would offer no healing balm, no poultice of relief, instead they would set the individual aside to see what God would do. Would the infection prove to be temporary? Would it be healed? Or would it prove to be an illness of great judgment? Once declared unclean by the priests the diseased individual was shunned, put outside the city and commanded to cover their mouth and proclaim their uncleanness as they made their way from one place to the next. Being shut out from the city meant they were also shut out from the temple and all things holy.

But here we have Jesus, our great High Priest who reaches out and touches the untouchable, giving hope to the hopeless and healing the un-healable. While doing so He says, “I am willing. Be healed.”

The unclean man had faith that Jesus had the power to heal. The only question left was whether Jesus was willing. A man who may not have felt the touch of a human hand in years is suddenly touched by the Divine and healing pours into him and the disease is gone. It is disappeared.

When you are ill, what is the first thing you do? Reach for the aspirin? The cold medicine? The doctor’s phone number? I believe all of these things have their place, but as a believer shouldn’t we turn to Jesus first? How will we know if He is willing or not unless we ask? “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2b My own paraphrase)

I wonder how often He is willing, but we are not. Several years ago I was pastoring a small congregation or about 35 people. One Sunday morning I felt strongly impressed to ask those who were ill to come forward for prayer and anointing. There were two ladies in the congregation that day who both suffered terribly from diabetes. One came forward the other did not. The one who did was anointed and prayed over. A week later she had testing done and there was no sign of diabetes in her body.

I asked the other lady why she didn’t come forward. Her reply was something to do with not wanting to steal someone else’s thunder. She continued to suffer from her illness for many years until the symptoms of it eventually took her life.

Jesus is able and often willing to heal. Let us ask and ask and ask until the door is opened unto us.

Father in heaven, Thank You for the healing power You have manifested to us through Jesus and Your Holy Spirit. Please continue to grant miraculous healing to Your saints and to the lost who thereby may be drawn to Your saving grace. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015



Matthew 7:24-27 "Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  (25)  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock.  (26)  But anyone who hears My teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  (27) When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash."

This is how the Sermon on the Mount ends. It is reminiscent of Deuteronomy 11:26-28 "Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!  (27)  You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.  (28)  But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the LORD your God and turn away from Him and worship gods you have not known before.

We are given a choice. Our lives will be built on something. Those who choose to follow Christ, by applying His words to their lives will build on a sure and solid foundation. Those who choose to ignore the teachings of Christ will build their lives on shifting loose sand. If the foundation is faulty the house cannot stand for long. It may appear to stand for a time but eventually it will crumble and fall.

Please note, it is not about saying, “I believe in Jesus.” It is about listening and following. In other words, it is about obeying.

Father in heaven, lead us in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Give us ears to hear and hearts willing to follow You. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

20150902 LORD LORD


Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who calls out to Me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter.  (22)  On judgment day many will say to Me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.'  (23)  But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God's laws.'

Paul puts it like this… 1 Corinthians 4:20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God's power.

In keeping with the theme of this entire sermon preached on the mount, Jesus again points out the matter of the heart. The outward expression, “Lord, Lord!” is not necessarily indicative of the condition of the speaker’s heart. It is possible to prophesy, cast out demons and perform miracles in His name and have no love in your heart. Many such things and many heinous things have been done in “His name.” The Holocaust was even brought about in “His name.” The Crusades were carried out in “His name.”

Jesus met with and ate with sinners. He called them to follow Him. He does the same thing today. If we will follow, He will not leave us in the condition He finds us. Through the power of His Word and Holy Spirit He will bring about change in our lives. Unfortunately many stop at the point of saying only, “Lord, Lord!” They go no further. They do not let His Word penetrate their hearts and minds. They do not look to the Holy Spirit for conviction of sin and righteousness. When in crises they call upon Him, “Lord, Lord!” and expect the miraculous, which often happens in spite of us. But, once the crises passes they go back to the old life, the old ways of dealing with others. They go back to ignoring the rest of this Sermon on the Mount. And, Lord willing, as we will see tomorrow, they build on sand.

Father in heaven, thank You for the Words of Jesus. Please do not let them stop at our ears. Cause them to sink into our brains, deeper into our hearts and cause them to burst forth in new life through our thoughts, words and actions. In Jesus Name AMEN!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015



Matthew 7:15-20 "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  (16)  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  (17)  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  (18)  A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit.  (19)  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  (20)  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

This passage takes us back to the question of judging. If we are to judge nothing then we must throw this passage out which would put us at the mercy of false prophets and evil people. And here we must determine what is in the heart of another person. This seems like a hard contradiction of what we understood at the first of this chapter.

First we must understand the Greek word used for “produces.” It is a word with a tense we do not have in the English language. It is a prolonged tense or an on-going tense. We only have past, present and future tenses. So, this word, “produces” means “continues to produce bad (or good) fruit.”

In Luke 13:6-9 Jesus tells a parable about a man who planted a fig tree. For 3 years he was disappointed because it didn’t produce any figs. He was ready to have it removed and destroyed, but the gardener asked for one more year giving the fig tree special attention. Thinking about this parable gives me clarity in what appears to be a contradiction in Matthew 7. We are not to make quick judgments, but we are to judge actions and if someone refuses to repent of bad actions, attitudes, or fruit, then we cannot follow them. We should not make them our close confidants. Again, this is an on-going problem, not a one time or occasional issue that someone struggles with but recognizes as sin in their own life.

A thought that may help clarify this: False prophets and evil people will generally try to justify their sin or deny it. We all sin. None of us have arrived and therefore any judgments we make about whether we can stick with someone or need to move on should take prayer and time to make.

Recently a brother in Christ worked for a very charismatic “Big Name Preacher” for a season. The ministry site is large boasting a college and even a small jet to get the pastor around to speaking engagements. This brother in Christ soon began to see fruit that was ungodly. I believe the term he used was “raping the bride of Christ, by manipulative tactics.” The properties of that ministry had gotten to be so big that a large portion of every service was given to convincing people to give more to that ministry. The people on staff were constantly verbally abused if things didn’t go the way the pastor thought they should go. When the pastor would be confronted about his actions he responded with, “That’s just the way I am.” After about a year and a half this brother and friend judged the tree as not worth following and he moved his family away from there.

I share that story to encourage all you believers to look at the real fruit in the leaders you follow. Don’t judge it good fruit just because the preacher is charismatic, or tells funny stories, or keeps you interested. Know what is right, live what is right and be honest about your own sin and struggles. Follow people like that.

Father in heaven, thank You for Your Word that gives us direction. Help us to be honest with ourselves and with You. Give us eyes to see truth about the fruit in our own lives as well as the on-going fruit in our leaders. Bless our leaders by drawing them to holiness in You. Help them not to stumble in sin, and when they do sin give them, give us, quick hearts of repentance.

In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!