Jesus

...now browsing by tag

 
 

October 3

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Hydrated vs Unsatisfied.

I rode my bike two days this week. I would have ridden three if I had not had an eye doctor appointment yesterday (Wednesday). Both days the temps were in the 90s with high humidity. Just the way I like it! Typical Indiana weather…in August! Highly unusual for October but I love and took advantage of it. People ask me how I do it. Not only do I like that kind of weather (it is easier on the joints), but there is one key ingredient: hydration. As I got ready to ride one of those days, a lady who is a nurse commented on me riding in the heat. When I told her I liked it she said, “Hydration. Stay hydrated.” I reassured her I did. I have two insulated water bottles-one of Gatorade Zero and one of water-which have been partially frozen so I have cold drinks for my ride.

This came back to me today as I read from John 4-Jesus’ exchange with the Samaritan woman at the well. In the exchange found in verses 7-14 Jesus asks for a drink.  Her inquisitive nature opens the door to one of Jesus’ greatest statements: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a well of water welling up to eternal life.” (verses 13-14)

Of course Jesus is not speaking of physical water. One will be thirsty again. But to drink of Him leads to satisfaction. That doesn’t mean that to come to Him ends all need for more. My hunger and thirst for Him never ends. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for he shall be satisfied.” (Mt.5:6) But it does mean the end of my searching and longing for satisfaction and meaning to life. It does mean peace has been found. Jesus knew the woman at the well was empty. He also knew her search was hopeless without Him.

So I see this going two ways:

  1. He is the one who is the answer to my (and everyone else’s) longing and searching.
  2. May I never stop hungering and thirsting after Him.

“Father, You have the answers to all the longing and searching people go through. You answered mine. But may I never cease hungering and thirsting for You. May I always long to stay hydrated.”

September 26

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Preaching Myself vs Preaching Christ.

If you have had a chance to read my other blog you can read between the lines and see I’ve been asking myself about my role, my purpose, as a pastor. Even though I am 66 and in less than two weeks will turn 67, I still love what I do and do not see retirement on the horizon any time soon. So I think its healthy to ask questions and do introspection upon occasion. Guilty as charged. You’ve caught me voicing my questions.

I’m reading Job right now, which can be a challenge on its own. 🙂  But I’m also reading Remaining Faithful in Ministry by John MacArthur. The following quote from his short little book caught my attention this morning. In the Introduction he wrote these words:

The gospel is a message about Jesus, and at all times He is to be the singular focus of the message we proclaim. False apostles and hirelings always seem to find a way to shift attention to the themselves. They make themselves the central character of every anecdote. They point themselves as the hero of every story they tell. Thus they make their preaching little more than a display of their own egos. Pulpits today are full of men who constantly preach themselves. (p.15)

Ouch! That is a rather sobering and scathing observation and rebuke. Sadly, it is true. I wish I could say I was innocent of that. I shudder when I think about how often I preached and it was more about my ego, my impressiveness, than it was Him and the fame of His Name. That’s enough to give even the most hardy person nightmares. I know I cringe when I reflect back over my years of ministry. Ugly.

But its not too late! With what remaining years I have left it needs to be all about Him. What about you?

“Father, my prayers this morning is for my life to be all about You. My preaching. My teaching. My talking. My laughing. All about You and the fame of Your Name.”

September 24

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Being Ready vs Ready to Be.

I have to make a confession. To confess this may lead some to call me a heretic, or at best as one “falling away from the faith.” I guess I’m okay with that, especially since I don’t think it does.  My confession is this: when it comes to the coming of Christ, I am a dunce as to how it will happen…and I’m not really concerned with that.

Let me explain: I believe Jesus is coming again. Of that I am absolutely, 100% sure. No questions. No ifs, ands, or buts. What I am not sure about is what people make a big fuss about: how it will happen, the circumstances surrounding it, and whether there are “signs” we ought to be looking for. There is no doubt in my mind NO ONE knows when it will happen. Not even Jesus knows. But it seems to me even those who agree with me (not that I’m asking them to) or my idea, sure spend an inordinate amount of time looking for “signs” that will tell them or warn them.

What is wrong with simply choosing to live a life of “readiness”? What is wrong with saying, “I choose to live a life pleasing to the Father so that when Jesus does return I have nothing to hide”? In Matthew 24-a chapter in the middle of this stream of thought-Jesus gives the example of two women grinding at the mill and two men working in the field (and elsewhere a husband and wife lying in bed) and one is taken and the other left. Theologians want to argue over whether that is speaking of a rapture or not. Frankly, that doesn’t cross my mind as much as “when Jesus comes you better be ready because you don’t know when He will.” I personally believe it is much more important to be His and to represent Him than to fret over a sign or when the rapture will happen. 

There is my confession. Take it for what it’s worth.

“Father, help me to be ready for the coming of Christ. But as I wait, I need to be ready to be Yours, to live a life of no worries about when Jesus will come, but to simply be ready when He does come.”

July 29

Monday, July 29th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Do vs Done.

One of the hardest things-I think-for many to grasp is the relative “ease” to obtain salvation. There is in many of us this feeling like salvation can’t be that easy; there has to be something I must do. So we get into this whole works and earning my way into salvation. We find ourselves in a game we play of “If I do this, this and this then I will be more acceptable to God.”

But that kind of striving takes away the sheer joy of unearned salvation. It’s like at Christmas time. Let’s suppose you as a parent or grandparent give your child/grandchild a present but say, “Now, you can have this for the price of $20 or (name your price) or even $1! No matter how you look at it, that is not a gift. A gift is not something that has to be paid for-no matter how much or how little.

I’ve heard it put this way:

Salvation is not a matter of what you do; it is a matter of what has been done.

Our salvation is not dependent on what we have or can do.  Our salvation is dependent on what Christ has done. The Bible is clear: “By grace you have been saved through faith. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone can boast.” [Eph.2:8-9] I like that last phrase. Actually, the whole thing but that last phrase tells me two things: 1) I have no reason to boast about my goodness; and 2) neither does anyone else. My good works; their good works; will not endear me or them to God. I have nothing to brag about.

“Father, thank you for changing the word from ‘do’ to ‘don’t.’ Thank you that my salvation, or anyone’s for that matter, does not rely on how good I am. I have no reason to boast. I’m a sinner saved by your amazing grace.”

July 24

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Facts that Hear vs Facts that Act.

Sounds like a strange title doesn’t it? It’s almost like, “What is Bill smoking?: Nothing. Never have. So my mind is not a jumbled mess. 🙂

Let me put it this way: Have you ever heard something that sounded good, had facts to back it, BUT required a little too much exercise of faith to pull it off? Allow me to explain: On December 17, 1903 the Wright brothers made history by flying. They defied the law of gravity. But did you know the idea wasn’t theirs? Year before some mathematicians and scientists figured out flight was possible but nobody was willing to take them up on it. Until the Wright brothers. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Alexander Campbell, the founder of what is called the Restoration Movement, once said, “Faith is belief in testimony.” He further said, “Faith is belief in testimony of credible witnesses.” Think on that some. What changed the apostles was not the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but their witness of the Resurrected Christ. And it was that belief that transformed them and therefore gave them credibility with the people who listened. The apostles had to act upon the fact of the Resurrection. It was not enough just to hear the story. They saw the risen Christ. Then allowed that fact to revolutionize their lives.

The same goes for those who heard the apostles. The apostles were credible witnesses but those who heard had to believe what they said and act on that faith.

That goes for all of us. The Gospel is presented to us. We hear. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” [Rom.10:17] We then decided whether to say, “Oh that may be facts or it may just be talk” OR “Those are facts I need to believe and act on.”

“Father, your Word is truth. It was written by inspired men who were credible witnesses to your work. Help me not be someone who has the facts and does nothing. Help me to be one who hears, believes, and acts.”

July 19/Weekend

Friday, July 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Meeting a Celeb vs Meeting Jesus.

Have you ever really wanted to meet someone? As a youngster I was deeply interested in baseball. I want to meet some of my baseball heroes. Since I was from Pittsburgh and played first base, I wanted to meet Dick Stuart. i.e. Dr Strangeglove (he wasn’t very good on defense but he could hit the ball a mile). I began reading material from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and wanted to meet the Christian ballplayers. I got into music and wanted to meet Tommy James and Frankie Valli. I had the chance to meet  one of my favorite Christian rock singers when I met Dana Key of DeGarmo & Key. He even came out of his bus to talk! Cool dude enjoying making music in heaven right now.

My “worship” of my childhood idols has waned and disappeared. I’m older now. Wiser (I hope). Less moved by someone’s name or status in life. Definitely not as “hungry” to meet people as I used to be. They all put their pants on the same way I do.

I used to wonder what I’d do if I met a celebrity. Stammer? Stutter? Speechless? Make myself a nuisance by wanting a picture? Gush? Maybe be disappointed at the arrogance? Aloofness?

Even better. Meeting Jesus. Imagine what that will be like.  Will I stutter? Stammer? Or fall down at his feet in worship? Hug him? Be hugged? Weep tears of joy and gratitude? Laugh? Does it matter? I don’t think so. I will be in His presence. That alone will be worth it all.

“Father, there is no one greater than You. There is no one I’d rather met than you. I look forward to that hug and ‘Welcome Home’ from you. Until that time, let me not be enamored by anyone or anything other than you.”

July4/5/weekend

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

I started writing this July 4th in the evening but failed to finish when my brother-in-law came in and started talking. So I finished it this morning. Used it for a Communion Thought, then decided to record it here. I am back from Sandusky for about 2-3 weeks until I have to return to drive a moving van back. Jo will be heading up there for a few days each of the next three weeks to hopefully pack things away and get financial stuff squared away.  Your prayers for her safety would be much appreciated.  Here’s the devotion:

My title for this devotion is Freedom that costs nothing vs Freedom that costs something or everything.

Today is Independence Day. A day we, as Americans, have one of two responses to: indifference or patriotism.

The indifference I don’t understand. {Enter Bob, Jo’s brother. The rest is written today, July 7th} In spite of its difficulties, we still live in the greatest country on the planet. I lived during the ’60s and experienced Kent State, the protests and all the other garbage that went on. I didn’t approve of it then; I don’t approve of it now.

Jo had the news on last night and they had a story of a 21 year old Marine whose life was forever changed on 9/11. He told him mom then that he would catch whoever did that. Bin Laden is long dead (Hooray!) but he kept his promise to fight the evil and joined the Marines after his high school graduation. He lost his life at the age of 21 in Afghanistan. She was not kind to Colin Kapernick in her speech.

Indifference to the cost paid by others for our freedom is unconscionable. That mother certainly wasn’t indifferent.

So it is with Jesus. Freedom isn’t really free. It costs something. Sometimes everything. It cost the lives of men and women since 1776. Over 2000 years ago it cost the life of our Savior so we might be free. Our freedom cost His life.  So our freedom from sin wasn’t free. Indifference for us is not an option.

“Father, may I never grow jaded and indifferent to your love and sacrifice for me. You have said, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.‘  Help me to know true freedom which comes from you.”

June 16-Weekend Extra

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

My title is Lights Out vs Lights On.

I know it is late in the weekend and I plan to post another tomorrow but wanted to post a thought from this weekend.

Two events are affected by the weather today-Father’s Day and our 46th Anniversary. A tornado came through and hit the REMC facility so all of REMC is out. Our house electricity went out for about 7 hours and came back on about 3:00 A.M. (Different provider than REMC). The office is still out. If the sun was out it wouldn’t be too bad inside but it’s gray and threatening. Seems strange walking into rooms and flipping a switch for power and response and not get it.

How typical of life too. There are different kinds of people:

  1. The light is off and they stay in the dark. God’s Word is shined on them and they refuse to respond.
  2. The light is shined but its either a false light or they refuse to heed God’s Word and choose their own light.
  3. The light of God’s Word is shined and they respond to that light with illumination in their hearts.

Jesus said He was the light of the world. All who would come to Him will find the true light. So much of what people hear today is false light-I’ll call it black light-whether it be from a worldly teacher or from someone who calls himself a biblical teacher. Jesus also commissioned me (all His followers) to be a light and not hide it under a bushel. I may be the only light in someone’s world.

“Father, you are the True and only light of the world. All who come to you must come through Jesus, the Light.  As He is the Light of the world, so must I represent that Light. As you have illuminated my life, let me the instrument to bring your light to others.”

April 22

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

My title is Submission vs Resistance.

This is sort of a follow up thought to my sermon yesterday. Jesus’ last words “Into your hands I commit my spirit” were words of submission. No resistance. It says, “He bowed His head and breathed his last.” Total submission.

One of the most amazing things to consider is that Jesus knew ahead of time it was going to be like that. Philippians 2 says more to me than just Jesus coming to earth as a baby. He knew what it was like with His Father; He knew what it would be like on earth with man. He knew submission to His Father would come with a price: His life. Paul David Tripp writes it this way in a SHELTER in time OF STORM:

  • He would submit to being betrayed by a close friend.
  • He would submit to being led away toward a wrongful trial.
  • He would submit to being forsaken by his closest followers.
  • He would submit to false accusations.
  • He would submit to gross injustice.
  • He would stand silent while being mocked.
  • He would submit to slaps on the face.
  • He would not defend himself against physical torture.
  • He would submit to a mob that would call for his death.
  • He would submit to the pain of a crown of thorns.
  • He would be willing to drag his cross to the place of his execution.
  • H would submit to being identified with the criminals.
  • He would submit to nails being driven into his limbs.
  • He would be willing to have His Father turn his back on Him. (p.148)

Most incredible???? He knew ahead of time. Unlike me who would avoid unpleasantness, He followed through with the plan. No resistance. No hesitation. Just submission.

What about me?

“Father, Jesus once again gives me an example to follow. A tough one, but one to follow. May you find my heart submissive not resistant to your call.”