Wednesday, April 5, 2017

God Expects His Children to Work

Photo by Morshad Alam
Ought to have been June 3, 2017

Scripture: Matthew 21:28
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’

Insights: This week we are looking at the parable of the two sons.  In order to fully grasp this parable we must understand its context in the scheme of the chapter.  The day before Jesus had entered into Jerusalem and cleaned out the temple of the money changers.  On this day He arrives back in the temple, after having cursed the fig tree, and He is engaged into a conversation by the religious leaders.  They ask Him by what authority He does what He does.  He asks them a question in return regarding John the Baptist and they refuse to answer.  It is on the hills of that conversation Jesus gives this parable which is about choice.  He then tells another parable right after about the vineyard owner and his workers who kill the son.  In that parable Jesus is, in essence, telling the religious leaders He knows what choice they have made and it is against Him.  We have the same choices today.  So, let us look over this week more fully into the parable of the two sons.  Today we observe in the verse the Lord requires His children to work.  Look what the father says to the son, “Son, go work . . . .”  Beloved, if you are truly born again and belong to the Father because of the work of the Son, Jesus Christ, then you are called and commissioned to work and serve Him.  You do, however, have free will and you can rebel against this relational harmony between parent and child and that is about what this parable addresses.  The parable does not go into the pleasure and joy of the work, but I would like for just a moment to mention it.  Our work for the Lord is not burdensome or heavy-laden.  In fact, our work produces within us a great deal of satisfaction and joy.  Our work also brings the Lord glory which He rightly deserves.  Beloved, let me challenge you to choose service to your Father above.  You will be amazed at the overflow of joy you experience in Him as a result.

Questions:
 1. In what ways are you working for the Lord?
 2. Does your work bring you satisfaction?

Prayer: Father, thank You for me the opportunity to work.  I have the privilege of serving You.  All too often I do not see my labor as a blessing, but You often remind me of this truth and I am grateful.  May my work ministry bring You glory.  Amen.



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Friday, March 31, 2017

Because of ONE THING, I am Hopeful

Photo by Compassion Over Killing
Scripture: Psalm 27:11-14
Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a level path Because of my foes.  Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

Insights: We conclude this week with one of my favorite sections in this psalm.  In spite of all David has described in the preceding verses he has hope in his future.  Reread his words again, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.”  Disparity would be a great word to describe a life which has no hope.  David tells his reading audience he did not despair.  He did have hope.  He knew God would bring about goodness in his life while he was still in the land of the living.  Beloved, for those of us in Christ Jesus, we have an even fuller understanding of what the land of the living really is.  For David, he meant he would do see good days on this side of eternity and for us there is an aspect of this reality.  For us in Christ Jesus, however, there is a bit of a nuance change.  We know the real land of the living is with the Lord God.  We, in Christ, will one day be with Him face to face.  In that day, ALL will be good.  As a result, we wait on the Lord.  We are strong in Him and our hearts are encouraged by Him.  How does all of the things we have written about this week come to pass?  It comes to pass based on the ONE THING.  This ONE THING is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Religion will not allow you to experience confidence, joy, companionship and hope.  Other peoples relationship with Jesus will not give you these things either.  You have to enter into this relationship by acknowledging you are a sinner and then to ask for Jesus to come into your life.  If you will do this, then He promises to do so and you will experience the hope of better days in the true land of the living.

Questions:
 1. Are you hopeful about your future?
 2. Do you know Jesus personally?

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus.  I now have a future and a hope.  I long for the day in which we will be together face to face.  I appreciate Your presence in the here and now until that day.   Amen.



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Because of ONE THING, I am Never Alone

Photo by John Getchel
Scripture: Psalm 27:7-10
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me.  When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”  Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!  For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the Lord will take me up.

Insights: Once again we look at these verses this week and see the vulnerability and transparency of David.  He is questioning his own faithfulness to God.  Look at his words, “be gracious to me.”  Still further he writes, “Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger [italics mine].”  Still even further he penned, “Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!”  David realizes in his sin he needs a Savior.  He does not, however, need a savior who apparently can leave him like a father or mother, but rather he needs a Savior who will take him up into His arms and be a comfort to him in the midst of his pain and suffering.  The indication being that as unlikely as it is for an earthly father or mother to abandon and forsake their own children, it can still happen.  With, God, however, He will never abandon nor forsake His own.  Jesus echoes these thoughts when He tells us, “I am with you always even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).”  There are times in our walk with the Lord in which we feel we are alone.  The truth, however, is drastically different than our feelings.  We can rest assured Jesus is always with us.  He never leaves us alone.  He is a constant companion in our lives.  We just have to trust and believe this fact to be true.  When we do, we are comforted greatly by His love and mercy.

Questions:
 1. Are there times in which you feel you are alone?
 2. Have you come to understand you are not alone?

Prayer: Father, there are times I feel alone, but I know You are with me.  Help me to rest in the truth of my situation and not in my feelings.   Amen.



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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Because of ONE THING, I am Joyful

Photo by Holley Gerth
Scripture: Psalm 27:4-6
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.  For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.  And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Insights: Look at the heart of David as he petitions the Lord.  He is asking the Lord to help Him to know Him.  He is purposefully seeking the Lord and desiring to dwell with the Lord.  He wants to meditate on the Lord.  Notice what he desire the Lord to do for him in the midst of his personal relationship.  He longs to be comforted by the Lord when he is experiencing trouble.  He wants the Lord to conceal him in the tabernacle or dwelling place of the Lord.  God will be his hiding place and in this difficult time, God will also be the One to lift him up.  Because God does all of these works, David is able to say he shouts with joy and he sings praises to the Lord.  Beloved, joy is not some external attribute.  Joy is something the Lord places inside of His children.  Joy does not mean we do not have trials and tribulations.  In fact, I sense we are able to recognize the Lord’s ability to produce joy within us in our most difficult days.  I will readily admit, I do not long for those days of difficulty.  I am perfectly capable of experiencing joy in good times, but I appreciate the joy more in hard times.  Joy, non the less, is the result of the one thing.  A personal relationship with the Lord Jesus gives the believer joy and it is supernatural in nature.

Questions:
 1. Do you have the joy of the Lord residing within you?
 2. Do you long and seek after the Lord with all of who you are?

Prayer: Father, I do want to know You.  I want a deep and intimate relationship with You.  May I grow in Your grace and cultivate the disciplines in my life which help me know You more personally.  Amen.



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Because of ONE THING, I am Confident

Photo by Chris & Karen Highland
Scripture: Psalm 27:1-3
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?  When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.  Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.

Insights: In verse four, which we will get to tomorrow, David says the words, “one thing.”  I titled the sermon Sunday, One Thing, and obviously verse four is where I derived the title.  I explained to the congregation if we had this one thing, then we would also have four traits in our lives.  The first trait is found in today’s verses and it is confidence.  Notice David is not Pollyanna in his view of life or his situation.  He uses the words evildoers, devour, adversaries, enemies, host, and war.  All of these things are rising up against David, and yet, he says he will not fear and he shall be confident.  Why is he able to be fearless and confident?  The answer is because the Lord is his light and salvation.  The Lord is his defense.  I wonder what happens when we face fear and dread.  Do we throw our hands up in the air and quit?  Do we run away?  Do we hide?  Do we allow all of our insecurities to incapacitate us with the ability to press on for Jesus?  Beloved, if we know God personally and are in an abiding love relationship with Him, then we can also face whatever circumstance with power and victory in Christ Jesus.

Questions:
 1. Would an outside observer describe you as being a confident or insecure type of person?
 2. How would you evaluate your life?

Prayer: Father, many times I am insecure in my leadership, but You have called me to influence those around me.  Let me do so in Your strength and power.  May I be found faithful in the midst of my insecurities.  Amen.



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Friday, March 24, 2017

Proclamation to Men is Obedience to Christ

Photo by brett jordan
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Insights: We conclude this week with the idea of our proclamation to men is obedience to Christ.  Look at the verses with me.  Paul writes, “For the love of Christ controls us.”  He continues, “they who live might no longer live for themselves.”  The emphasis of these two statements is we are obedient to Jesus.  He controls our lives.  Our desire is no longer for ourselves, but for Him.  We ought to want to please Him with all of who we are.  His work has put my old self to death.  I am dead in Christ.  I did not, however, remain dead.  I rose again in Him.  Because of this new life I am compelled out of gratitude and love to obey the Lord Jesus.  Jesus Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments (John 14:15).”  In my sermon Sunday I talked about how many in the church are practical atheists.  In a conversation with such a person they would tell you they love Jesus.  They would even say they have received Him as Lord and Savior.  They would be good church going people.  They would not, however, have life changing fruit to display as evidence of their love for Jesus.  When He commissioned them, they would not obey.  They would live for themselves and would quench the Holy Spirit from controlling their lives.  Beloved, I believe this practical atheism is the reason 93% of all churches are stagnant or plateaued.  It is this practical atheism which explains why 95% of church attenders have never led a person to Jesus Christ.  Let me challenge you to strive for intimacy with Jesus.  I say this because what I know to be true about Jesus is He has an amazing way of changing who we are to honor Him.  The more you know Him the more you will desire to obey Him.  Pursue Him with a reckless abandon and be in awe of His presence and power.

Questions:
 1. Are you obedient to the Father?
 2. What evidence is there of your obedience?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I walk in rebellion of Your commands.  Strengthen me to display my love for You in real and profound ways.  Let my life bring You glory.  Amen.



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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Presence among Men is Flexible

Photo by sabreguy29
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:13
For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

Insights: In today’s verse we discover a third truth about our ministry to people.  This truth is we need to be flexible in the hands of the Lord God.  Notice with me in the verse Paul states if he is beside himself, then it is for God.  In other words, this is like king David’s comment to his wife when he said, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes (2 Sa 6:22).”  In essence David and Paul are telling us there are times we worship and express our faith as if the Lord God is an audience of one.  He is always our focus, but there are times He would have us to let go of our inhibitions and surrender ourselves totally to Him with a reckless abandon.  When we live with this unhindered devotion many people will say we are out of our minds or as Paul wrote, “beside ourselves.”  People are not always receptive to religious zeal, but there are times in which God calls us to this kind of vulnerability with Him.  Paul went on to write in today’s verse, “if we are of sound mind, it is for you.”  Now this thought is when we are more reserved and logical in our approach to faith.  We are more diplomatic in our conversations and we use more intellectual and logical means of persuasion rather than emotional and spiritual.  When we portray Christ in this manner we are doing so for the purpose of winning lost people to Jesus and that is why Paul says, “it is for you.”  Beloved, the key, whether we are beside ourselves or of sound mind, is to be centered on the Lord Jesus.  Let Him be the One guiding you to actions of exuberance or reservation.  Realize the goal is to bring the Lord glory by our actions of obedience.
Questions:
 1. Are you flexible in your approach to ministering to other people?
 2. What techniques or styles have you used to share Jesus with others?

Prayer: Father, help me to be flexible in Your hands.  Let me display my faith as You would have me in various situations and conversations.  I want to be pliable in Your hands.  Amen.



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