Jesus browsing by tag


March 27

Monday, March 27th, 2023

Why do you exist? What is your purpose in this life? Seriously, why do you live on this planet?

Are you just taking up space?

Are you living for yourself, seeking personal fulfillment?

Are you trying to make a difference in the world, and more specifically, in the life of others?

I recently read about a poll taken that asked Americans what they thought was their main purpose in life. You might think the main results would be “To make a contribution to society” or “To have a meaningful life.”


The majority said, “Life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment.”  So…in other words…live for yourself.  Sounds like the old Grassroots song: “Sha la la la live for today.” (A ’60s song…look it up).

Years ago Pastor John Piper wrote a book entitled “Don’t Waste Your Life.” That about sums it up.  You can waste your life pursuing trivial pursuits and living for yourself or you can live it for the benefit of others. There is a quote which has made it rounds and no man really knows where it came from. It was used by Harry Emerson Fosdick in 1942 but it had circulated for years before he made it popular.

A man who is all wrapped up in himself makes a mighty small package.

Benjamin Franklin said,

A self-centered person is not very appealing to others.

A person who lives for himself is indeed a very small package. As a follower of Christ, my life is to be lived for Him and for His glory. Jesus Himself said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Don’t waste your life on yourself. Spend it by giving it away to others.

March 20

Monday, March 20th, 2023

Counselor and teacher, the late David Powlison, wrote about what he called “ladders to nowhere.” It goes something like this: if you’re on the sixth rung and I’m on the fourth, you’re better than me. But if I’m on the sixth and you’re on the fourth, I’m better than you.

It’s sad that we see life through those eyes. While he would call it “ladders to nowhere” (and I have no quarrel with that), I would call it “the comparison game.” We find our lack of self-worth or our height of self-worth in how we measure up to another. I read years ago where someone said, “Comparisons are odious.”

We all do it. “I make so-and-so.” Our importance is wrapped up in how much we make. “I do this-and-this in my company.” Our importance is wrapped up in a title or a job description. I know for a fact pastors do it. Get a group of them in a room on a Monday morning and their demeanor will often depend on how Sunday went. Ask them how their church is doing and you will hear the latest stats-giving, attendance, converts, and visitors. Sad. Then ask them how they are doing and one will often hear that they are doing in direct proportion to how their church is doing. Even sadder. Men who should be finding their worth in their relationship with Jesus are no different than their secular counterparts.

My worth, your worth, is not found in having a letter or letters after our name. An “R” or “D” or “I” or “L” should not be our identity. A title of “Pastor” or “Dr.” or “PH.D” or something of that nature should not define our worth. Nor should our worth be tied up in our job, how much we make, how much territory we cover, our title, our family name, or any other temporary means. To quote Powlison: “Before the living God, however, all of us are poor. We are all strangers, not insiders. We are all weak. We are all disabled. We are all dying. We’re all slaves. We’re all children. We need a deliverer.” *

That deliverer is Jesus. He is the One who sets us free from the endless pursuit of nothingness. He is the One who sets us free from worth determined by trivial pursuit.

*Powlison quote from Take Heart-Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith– (March 19-p.79)

March 16

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

“God is a cosmic killjoy and His Book is the consummate rule book.”  So say some people.

The argument goes something like this:

  • God is like a father towering over his children;
  • He delights in spanking and meting out judgment;
  • Therefore, He is a killjoy bent on taking the fun out of life.

Another argument goes like this:

  • I want to have fun;
  • The Bible says some things are wrong;
  • Therefore, the Bible is a rule book designed to stop or inhibit my fun.

None of that is true. It IS true that God is like a father. He is one. Jesus called Him that. But standing over us with a divine “ruler” to whack us? No.

And it IS true that the Bible says some things are wrong. It also says some things are right. But to be cracked open as a divine rule book of “Do this or don’t do that or else”? No.

God is a Father. His Word is Law. But see it as His standards-not to legislate or restrict us-but to free us. To give us some boundaries so we might truly enjoy life to the fullest. See them as protection, designed not to keep us in, but to keep our enemy out.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)  That is not restrictive, involving punishment for wrong doing. That is liberation! Those are boundaries for our mind and heart to know freedom. James calls it the “perfect law of liberty.” (1:25)

See God as a Liberator. See His Word as a protective fence. He loves you too much to stifle you, but He also loves you too much to want to see you suffer the consequences of your sin and bad choices.


March 2

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

One of the phrases we often hear today is, “Don’t judge.” Someone commits a blatant sin…don’t judge. Someone’s lifestyle is contrary to the Biblical mandate…don’t judge. You don’t like the way I live…don’t judge. To make matters sketchier, the person saying that will go to the passage in Matthew 7 where Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you to will be judged. For in the way you judge others, you will be judged…”

That sure seem like a biblical warning doesn’t it? Several thoughts flow through my mind as I think about this:

First, it goes both ways. In our world today, those who want tolerance, i.e. not to be judged, often become the most intolerant, i.e. most judgmental. “Don’t judge me or my lifestyle or I’m going to cancel you.” Who is being judgmental then?

Second, and even more important, this passage was NOT saying to refuse to examine a person’s actions in order to hold them accountable.The context shows Jesus ripping on the Pharisees for their incessant self-righteous judgment while building themselves up to look better than everyone else.

We really do need to be careful when judging others. I have been guilty of doing so before I know the whole story.  There are two sides to every story. Looks can be deceiving. There is also one huge factor: only God is qualified to judge.

Pointing the finger of blame at someone else, especially with a self-righteous, condemning attitude is dangerous. Case in point: have you ever seen someone carrying a protest sign with “I am the problem” on it with an arrow pointing downward? Nope. Didn’t think so. Pointing the finger at others takes the heat off us…at least temporarily.

The Scripture is correct: “Don’t judge.” Discernment is essential. Self-righteousness is not.

February 23

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

“I’m proud of my humility.”

“I can’t wait until tomorrow. I get better looking every day.”

Those are more are ways we joke about humility. It is easier to joke than to be.

As I wrote yesterday, yesterday was designated Be Humble Day.  That is a sticky situation. Let me just pose a question: How is one supposed know they are humble? I mean…do you do something for someone then say, “I did this because I’m being humble”? Do you look in the mirror and say, “Man, you sure are humble today”?

Someone has said,

The moment you think you are humble you aren’t.

See my point? While we may call it Be Humble Day, how do we do that? Take a look at the others. You can eat a Sticky Bun (that sort of leaves me on the sideline). You could try to swallow a sword (puns galore but I’ll resist). You could observe Valentine’s Day or Independence Day or Thanksgiving Day or Memorial Day. And you will know you did. There are certain qualifiers for you to gauge your participation.

But Be Humble Day? Hmmmm.

Take one of the greatest acts of humility ever recorded: John 13. It is recorded that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, even though He knew who was going to betray Him and even though He knew they would all run away when the heat was on. When Jesus was done, did He say, “Okay guys. I’m humble and just showed you”? No. But He did use it as an opportunity to teach His followers the simple act of washing another’s feet is a prime example of humility.

His lesson here was not washing feet. His lesson here was “serve one another.”  Never think you are above someone else. Lay aside the pride and serve.

Oh…one more thing. His example of humility bore itself out a few hours later when He went to a cross.

February 16

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

“Come to Jesus and everything will be okay.”

“Come to Jesus and you will have everything you need.”

“Come to Jesus and you won’t have any problems.”

There is a teaching in today’s “Christian” world that is false. Some swear by it; some swear at it. Some say it is misleading; some say it will lead you to new heights. I think a correct word for it would be Heresy.

That teaching? God wants you healthy and wealthy and if you just “speak it with positive confession” good will come (aka “name it/claim it”). One of the side trails this heresy takes is in saying, “Everything will be okay; you will have everything you need; and you won’t suffer.”

I heard recently that Kenneth Copeland, one of the biggest purveyors of this garbage, once told his daughter-when she came home from school saying she was sick-“No you aren’t. We don’t talk like that in this house. Speak health.” He tried to pull that off with his cardiologist. He now wears a pacemaker. Another one’s wife just died of cancer.  Another one’s baby was not raised from the dead and after 9 days they finally decided to bury her.

In Mark 4 there is a story of Jesus and His disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. A storm comes up, and it is so strong these sea-hardened fishermen are scared to death. So they wake up Jesus who is asleep in the boat and He calms the storm.

So many thoughts float through my mind as I think of that story.

  • Why were they so afraid? A: This had to be one doozy of a storm!
  • “Did Jesus know the storm would come? A: Yes. This whole scenario was part of His plan of teaching them more. He had taught about the parable of the sower; what it means to be a light; the importance of planting seed. This is going to be one big lesson!

Perhaps the most important lesson of all-and it applies to us as well- is what we see in Mark 4:35-“Let’s go across to the other side.” (ESV) Key words: other.side. There was no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  There was no “If we get through the storm which is about to come we will get to the other side” or “Guys, no problem. Smooth sailing ahead because I’m in the boat.”

Again, I say it: other. side. That was the promise.  What was not promised was smooth sailing, even with Jesus in the boat. But therein lies the lesson: we will get to the other side-trouble or no trouble-because Jesus is in the boat with us.

Let me close with this: Expect trouble. But also know that Jesus is in the boat with you and will bring you through the storm. You can anchor your life on that.

February 8

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

I received an email about it the other day. I can imagine you have as well.  I saw a commercial about it just within the past few days. I suspect you have also. It is becoming a scourge, a blight, on our lives. And our security.

I hope I have piqued your curiosity-meter to working overtime wondering what I’m referring to.

IT. No, not as in “I work in IT.” IT as in Identity Theft.

Seemingly more and more it is becoming an issue. Social Security #. Home ownership. Bank accounts.

There’s another kind of IT. The kind where someone tries to tell us we aren’t who we are. You are “stupid” or “fat” or “a waste” or “a junkie” or “a nobody.” There are racial slurs thrown around. There are false accusations made, though untrue, which cut deeply. And on and on.

To counteract that there are those who say we need to look within ourselves and bolster ourselves and repeat a mantra that “I am somebody.” Media influencers “preach” at us about how beautiful, smart, wise, etc. we are.

For followers of Jesus, we find our identity in Christ. We are specially made; we are important; we are who we are because we are God’s. I’m not talking about an arrogance around people as though you are better than they are. “I’m a follower of Christ and you aren’t. Na Na Na Na.” In Matthew 5:22 Jesus tells his listeners about calling someone “Raca” or “fool.” Using those words was equal to calling someone an idiot. It was used to demean someone or demote them by robbing them of their dignity and true identity. 

Let’s remember two things: 1) who we are in Christ; and 2) every person has value, no matter their color, status, wealth, or mental capacity. Our words will display whether we believe that or not.

I heard it put this way: To insult the creature is to insult the Creator.”

January 23

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

During my sermon yesterday on Revelation 1:9-20, there was quite a section that gave a very descriptive picture of Jesus. Verses 12-20 gave a picture of what John saw that goes so far beyond any mamby-pamby, meek and mild Jesus. I couldn’t help but think about that this morning, especially as we go out to face a hostile world. How about opening your Bible to that passage and check it out with me?

First, verse 13 declares that John saw “one like a son of man.” John is referring to Jesus.  But what He describes is so far from the impression we often have of Jesus!

  1. “Clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.”  This is what the priests wore in the temple. Jesus is our Great High Priest.
  2. “The hairs of His head were white, like wool, like snow.” White/gray hair in the Bible is synonymous with wisdom. He is all-wise and makes no mistakes. He is the Ancient of Days.
  3. “His eyes were like flames of fire.” He does not look at me; He look into me. Nothing is hidden.
  4. “His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace.” This speaks of a solid foundation. “On Christ the solid rock I stand…”
  5. “His voice was like the roar of many waters.” When He speaks, He speaks volumes.  His voice is commanding, unavoidable, overwhelming, and cannot be ignored.
  6. “He held the seven stars in His right hand, a two-edged sword came from His mouth, and his face was like the sun shining full strength.” 7 starts=7 churches (church universal).  The sword pierces coming in and going out.  He is holy, holy, holy.

There is so much that could be said, but I’ll let you think it through and study it on your own. Just know that the description John uses is like he is saying, “He is indescribable and I’m doing the best I can.”

What is your impression of Jesus?

January 19

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

The past few days I have been reading a book called The Roar Within by Brent Henderson. It is sort of a cross between Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins. 🙂 Brent’s ministry is really devoted to men and he loves to big game hunt, so references to that passion are many. Granted, it is a book for men-about men recognizing what trips them up and stepping up to be a man…God’s man.

He says that there are 5 dangerous sins which trip men up and he uses dangerous animals in an African safari to illustrate his point. Those animals are the rhinoceros, lion, cape buffalo, elephant, and leopard.  They are called man killers because of the difficulty in hunting them. But Brent compares the sins that take a man down to those five animals. It is not my purpose here to get into those sins or animals.

Instead, I have a question to pose to you: if someone asked you what animal would describe you-from all the animal kingdom-what one would you choose?

A lion? An eagle? A workhorse? A thoroughbred? A mole? A rabbit? A dolphin or a whale?

How about a sheep? No way you say. Sheep are dumb. They are easily scared. They are like the blind leading the blind (one goes off a cliff chances are good the rest will follow).  They are easily disoriented. They are defenseless. (What are they going to do? B-a-a-a-a at a threat?) You get the point.

And yet, what did Jesus compare us to? You guessed it…sheep.

“My sheep hear my voice and follow.”

“My sheep know my voice.”

“All we like sheep have gone astray.” (Is. 53:6)

We are like sheep.  They may not be the brightest light bulb or sharpest tool in the shed, but they know their Master’s voice. They stay close to the Shepherd and find Him to be all they need.

It’s not a putdown to be called a sheep. In fact, that just might be the best animal to be.

January 11

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

Several years ago-well over 20-I did a personal Bible study, then led several groups through the study as well. The study included a story of D.L. Moody. The story goes that someone approached Moody and said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and through and in a man who is wholly committed to Him.” Moody was reported to have said, “Then I will be that man.” What I have read of Moody is that was his life’s goal.

That is an intriguing story…and an intriguing challenge.

For someone to issue that challenge with one simple statement to a man of Moody’s spiritual stature is pretty bold. (Then again, perhaps that is why Moody became the man of God he was). I sort of wonder what precluded him saying that to Moody and why.

But the greater impact was Moody’s willingness to say, “Here I am.”

That reminds me of Daniel who refused to be silenced for fear of a lion’s den.

That reminds of Shadrach, Meschah, and Abednego who refused to bow for fear of a furnace.

That reminds me of Jeremiah who found himself locked up because he would not stay quiet about Israel’s degradation.

That reminds me of Peter and John who were unafraid of the religious leaders and the consequences of continuing to talk about Jesus. “It is far better for us to listen to God than to man.”

That reminds me of Polycarp, the pastor of Smyrna, who refused to denounce his faith in the “One True King” in order to avoid being burned to death.

That reminds me of the early reformers who refused to be quiet about the Roman Church for fear of being burned alive at the stake.

That reminds me of persecuted Christians in China, North Korea, Iran, etc who face the loss of everything for converting to Christ.

That also reminds me to ask myself, “What about you Bill? Will you take that challenge to be the man willing to see what God can do with and through and in a man who is wholly committed to Him?”

And what about you?