Who Gets the Credit?

There are literally hundreds of verses in the Bible that can be understood only by close examination. Tonight’s passage falls into that category (at least, for me). After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is continuing to teach about the “Christ-centered life” and connecting that life with entrance into the “Kingdom of Heaven”. We find these two verses in Matthew 7 … Jesus says …

Matt 7:21-22 “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? 

On the surface it seems like these folks would be a shoe-in for “Disciple of the Year”. But we see that Jesus was none too happy with them or their behavior. Not that their acts were necessarily wrong, they made several fatal errors. Let me try to explain. We see no evidence that they were called into the ministry, they were out on their own working without Jesus’s commission or blessing. (Like doing something our parents didn’t tell us to go and do.) Even worse, they took the credit for what they had done, robbing GOD of His Glory. Like Satan, they elevated themselves to GOD’S level. GOD is without equal and jealous. Do we get wound up when someone takes credit for our work? What it all boiled down to is this, they weren’t “right” in their hearts. My hopeful prayer is that GOD gets the credit for everything we do and that Jesus recognizes us as “My Children”. Grace, Love and Peace, Mike

Weep Not!

I┬ácan remember back when I was a little boy and whenever I was hurt to the point of tears, my mom or dad would comfort me with words like “Don’t cry, everything’s going to be all right”. And the pain of scraped knees or elbows would go away and I would go back to playing. But there is a kind of pain (and the accompanying tears) that doesn’t subside so easily. The pain of losing a loved one never goes away. Neither do the tears. We may not weep on the outside, but the tears are nonetheless present. The following verse from Luke concerns a widow who just lost her only son and her encounter with Jesus. Jesus comforts her with these words …

Luke 7:13 “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.”

Jesus has compassion. His compassion has no limits. When we suffer a loss that cuts through our heart, that loss cuts through the heart of Jesus also. And then we saw the Power and Glory of GOD on display. Jesus brought her son back from the dead. He would later die again physically. There will come a day when the faithful followers of Jesus will be returned from the dead never to die again. Even when we lose a loved one, as long as they are in Christ, we can be comforted with Jesus’ words “Weep not”. Mike

Moving In Rhythm

Many years ago a young 17 year old arrived at boot camp. Training platoons were formed up and the command “Forward March” was given. And we moved like a mob, out of step, not in the neat precise ranks you see on the parade grounds. Multiply that platoon by four and you have a training company of around 300 men and 12-15 drill instructors. Chaos soon follows, even with one drill instructor giving commands to his platoon, the group’s hadn’t yet learned to “hear” their drill instructor’s voice from the cacophony of noise. Once we did, we were able to hear our drill instructors voice and his particular way of calling cadence. Only then were we able to fall into an easy rhythm. And marching became efficient and somewhat restful. Today’s verse is found in several different places in Scripture, this one is out of Matthew…

Matthew 11:15 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Back in boot camp all those years ago, we had ears but we hadn’t learned to “hear”. So we moved like an unorganized herd, ineffective and inefficient. Our spiritual life has many similarities. Until we train ourselves to listen for HIS Voice and follow HIS Commands, we’re nothing but an unorganized, ineffective and inefficient herd. Definitely not what GOD has in mind for HIS People. But when it comes together and we’re listening and obeying, we fall into a rhythm and as a group moving in rhythm, we have power. We move in and with the Power of GOD. GOD’S People can be an unstoppable force for good in this world. Prayers that we have ears to hear HIS Voice and a heart to follow HIM. Peace, Mike

What Are Trials And Troubles?

I guess I’d be safe in saying that trials and troubles come in all sizes. And rarely do we get any advance warning. If you took all of our troubles and combined them with all of the troubles of our friends and then mixed all of the troubles of the rest of the world there is one thing they cannot change. They can’t change the simple fact that GOD still sits on His throne in Heaven, and He is still Sovereign, He reigns and rules over the World. David recognized this when he wrote the following …

Psalm 103:19 ” The LORD has prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom rules over all.”

Trials and troubles are things GOD uses to grow our faith. Our faith isn’t perfect, it can’t be. We’re imperfect humans. Our faith isn’t complete, it can’t be because we will not be complete until we’re in heaven. My encouragement is a reminder to us is that no matter what happens in our daily life, no matter what happens in our country or in the world, GOD remains on His Throne and He is watching over His faithful children. The challenges we face are opportunities for us to witness GOD working on our behalf! Stay on course, stay focused and GOD will see us through. In His Service, Mike

How Much Value?

How much value would you place on having a happy and cheerful heart?  We should value it a great deal. When we’re happy, deep down joy filled to overflowing we need to treasure and share in the blessings of feeling that way. Christ promises us joyful abundance if we embrace His love and His joy. The worst face a Christ follower should ever wear is a grumpy, dill pickle, sour grape attitude that says “GET AWAY FROM ME”. To be sure we’re all going to have a rough patch to get through from time to time. It happens. A cheerful, Christ filled heart is one that, in spite of the circumstances, maintains a “positive” godliness. Negative godliness is the devil’s best tool for driving folks away. Our challenge is to obtain and then maintain a cheerful heart. Whatever is in our hearts, shows up on our faces and comes out of our mouths. The smile of a cheerful Christian is GOD’S Smile shining through. Solomon wrote this …

Proverbs 15:15 says in part … “But he that is of a merry heart has a continual feast.”

When we eat good spiritual food, our outlook is sunny and bright even though the dark clouds have surrounded us. And like the song says “Don’t worry, be happy!” to which every Christ-follower can add, “GOD is larger than anything I’m facing today! GOD’S Blessings to you. Mike

The Wise And The Foolish

Tonight’s devotional is a simple one that contrasts a wise man and a foolish man. On the surface both may appear the same in dress and how they carry themselves. Money and social standing often do not tell the difference, nor does gender, race or nationality. Actions are the tell-tale that gives it away. King Solomon must have known that “actions speak louder than words” when he wrote …
Proverbs 14:16 “A wise man fears, and departs from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident.”
We decide what our actions will be. So then by our choices, we can stay on the path that pleases GOD or we can arrogantly go our own way and live with the consequences of our decisions. GOD gives us free will, we’re not exempt from the results of our choices. Praying we follow GOD’S path. Mike

Jesus Causes Division

Would it surprise you if I said that Jesus came to cause divisions between families, friends and groups of people? If it does, please consider the following verse from the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is recorded as saying …

Luke 12:51 “Do you suppose that I have come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.”

Jesus’ call to repentance and a life of holiness is very much the opposite of how we want to live. When some choose this life, there will be opposition and strife between households, between friends, between generations and between social/cultural groups. The very nature of Christian Living causes resentment and even violence. This is because the status quo of society is being challenged. As Christ Followers, we should dare to live differently but in a humble and peaceful manner. Arrogance, pride and self-righteousness have no place in a Christ-followers heart. Those are worldly sins and we need to “die” to those sins. Praying that we live a live that is noticeably different than the world’s standards. After all we’re just pilgrims traveling to Our Heavenly Home. Mike

Casting Care

What makes us worry? Sometimes there are unknowns in life and we’re naturally fearful of the unknown. That explains why many of us are afraid of the dark. Sometimes it comes from a shortage/lack of trust. People in the past have let us down, broken their word (or wedding vows) or worse, mentally or/and physically abused us. Sometimes worry is ingrained in us as children by parents, circumstances or loss. There’s a host of other causes. But there is a cure for worry … and Peter nailed it with this verse …

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.”

GOD cares not only that we are saved from eternal damnation, but He cares so much that He doesn’t want us to stress and lose our composure. When we do (lose it because of stress) we lose our witness to the world that tells how our GOD handles the everyday things of life. Praying we “de-stress” our lives by “Casting all our care upon him”. GOD’S Best! Mike

He Is In Control

How many of us like to be on the losing team? None of us right? And we don’t like it when our favourite sports team loses, do we? How about in a personal issue we’ve been fighting gets the better of us? We get discouraged, disappointing, and depressed because we feel like we’ve failed. What if I told you there is a path to victory in every situation? It may require a change our definition of victory but we’re on the winning side. Consider the following verse …

1 Corinthians 15:57

The victory comes by way of our faith in our LORD. He fights the battles on our behalf. Way too often when I’ve lost a battle and done an “after-action” analysis, I’ve found that I was doing the fighting in my own strength. And in doing so, I was interfering with the LORD’S ability to fight on my behalf. How many of us do the very same thing completely unaware that GOD has things in hand? Praying we get out of His way, trust that He has things under control, and believe that the outcome will be a victory! GOD hasn’t lost a battle yet!!! Mike

Sharing The Excitement

Think back to when something wonderful happened in your life and you were so excited to share the experience with anyone and everyone. The subject of today’s devotional is in the same place, but his reaction was different. He wanted to continue to live in the experience.  He was set free from the grip of demons. Mark records this man’s encounter with Jesus. The following is Jesus’ instruction to the man …

Mark 5:19 …”Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and has had mercy on you.”

What wonderful instructions to be given. If we were given the same directions, would we have a backpack big enough to hold all of the great and mighty things Jesus has done in your life or mine? Probably not, but my challenge (and prayer) is this, tell someone, tell anyone what Jesus has done in your life! Blessings!! Mike