Saturday, April 29, 2017

who wants to hang with us?

Matthew 9

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth.

"Come, follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

So Matthew got up and followed him.

  10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,

along with many tax collectors and other notorious sinners.


11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples,

"Why does your teacher eat with such scum?*"

  12 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."



I've said it before in this blog, & I'll say it again, & again, & again...


Is there so much of Jesus & His love for people in us that, like Him, “notorious sinners” want to be around us & hang out with us?


If so, why?


And if not, why not?

Friday, April 28, 2017

a word fror somebody

I feel like these 5 verses are for somebody today, or maybe more than one somebody ;-)

I don't know how or why, but somebody needs to read these words this morning.

This section from Joshua 1 is the Lord speaking to Joshua, telling him to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land.

There are any number of persons who might need to read what these verses say.

It's the end of the school year – that's a possibility.

We are in some pretty dangerous times right now (when are we NOT?!) someone reading this may be heading out into that.

I don't know who needs to read this – I wouldn't hazard a guess as to exactly who.

I just feel like these 5 verses are something someone needs to read today.

I did notice the Lord tells Joshua to “be strong & courageous” 3 times – that usually means that thought is pretty important.

But I don't want to quantify this passage any more than that.

Whoever you are, if the Lord speaks to you through these 5 verses, go with it.

Joshua did, & look what happened to him! ;-)



Joshua 1:

5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live.

For I will be with you as I was with Moses.

I will not fail you or abandon you.


  6 "Be strong and courageous,

for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.

7 Be strong and very courageous.

Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you.

Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left.

Then you will be successful in everything you do.

8 Study this Book of Instruction continually.

Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.

Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

9 This is my command: be strong and courageous!

Do not be afraid or discouraged.

For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

we stink

2 Corinthians 2

14b  Now (God) uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere,

like a sweet perfume.

15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.

16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.

But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.



This is Paul writing his second letter to the followers in Corinth.


I think we need to remember what he's saying here.


We need to remember that to people who follow Jesus, their reaction to the Holy Spirit inside of us is to connect with it – they have the same thing going on inside of themselves.


But people who are not following Jesus – especially those who obviously have absolutely no intention of ever doing so – the Holy Spirit inside of us is a constant reminder of who they are & what their lives mean & will mean, & how out of sync they are with God.


Now, I don't think those who don't follow Jesus would quantify their response in that manner.


They might say we give them the creeps, or that we're “holier than thou”, or maybe that we're just judgemental jerks.


And, quite frankly, sometimes we all are those things – none of us act in a kind & Christ-like manner all the time in all situations.


But I think it would be good to remember that those who don't follow Jesus often times react negatively to the Holy Spirit inside of us – and there's nothing we can do about that.


What we CAN do is treat people who don't follow Him with kindness, gentleness, & compassion...

iow, treat them the way Christ followers treated you & me before we finally decided to follow Jesus too!


I think in some segments of American Christian culture we've developed this attitude that everybody should just be glad & happy & hug themselves when our lives basically tell them that they're not exactly on the right path.


That's not the way it works.


The Holy Spirit, simply by being who He is – blindingly holy & infinitely powerful – highlights in VERY obvious ways the sinfulness of those who don't follow Jesus.


I'm sure in some instances non-believers construe what we communicate as a repudiation of who & what they are.


And in some ways, it is a repudiation – but not in the way they feel it is.


We are who we are – new creature in Christ – we can't help it if that makes them uncomfortable – it's the Holy Spirit inside of us that makes them uncomfortable.


Now this doesn't give us license to be jerks or arrogant.


What it should do is challenge us to be gentle & loving to people as they struggle against the power of the Holy Spirit.


Think of how the people who influenced you & me as we struggled toward belief & following Jesus.


If it was for you like it was for me, Christ followers treated me with this infinite love & gentleness as I absorbed what all this following Jesus meant.


And they held me hand as I walked into a acceptance & belief in Jesus.


It was probably similar for you.


And that is perhaps what we should be in our connections with people who don't follow Jesus – kind, loving, compassionate, & gentle...


...because whether they would acknowledge it &/or realize it, the Holy Spirit inside of us makes them VERY uncomfortable.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

what if...

I wonder what our lives would be like if we REALLY believed what Jesus is telling us here, in incredibly straightforward ways?

This is one of the most remarkable things Jesus ever said.

It was revolutionary then – it's revolutionary now.

He basically says,

I've got you covered.”

“I've got this.”

Trust Me.”


What would your life, or my life, look like if we REALLY trust Jesus to kae care of us & all our needs?



Matthew 6

25 "That is why I tell you don't worry about everyday life;

whether you have enough food and drink,

or enough clothes to wear.

Isn't life more than food,

and your body more than clothing?


26 Look at the birds.

They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,

for your heavenly Father feeds them.

And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?

27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?


  28 "And why worry about your clothing?

Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.

They don't work or make their clothing,

29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?


  31 "So don't worry about these things, saying,

'What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?'

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers,

but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,

and live righteously,

and he will give you everything you need.


  34 "So don't worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

blessed

Matthew 5, 6, & 7 are 3 chapters called The Sermon on the Mount.

It's one of the biggest, most important teaching recorded by His disciples.

I've talked about it more than once. The last time I read it, I printed whole chapter for y'all to read.

I would suggest you take the time to just read through all of it if you're not overly familiar with those 3 chapters.

Then go back & read just a chapter at a time.

The revolutionary truth Jesus taught in those 3 recorded chapters is still pretty staggering.

So much of what is pivotal thought among followers of Jesus is found in those 3 chapters.

Here are the “blessed's” - there's 9 of them – 9 different things Jesus says God will bless those who demonstrate these attitudes or attributes.

Don't hurry through them – some of them are attributes we seldom see these days.



Matthew 5

1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down.

His disciples gathered around him,

2 and he began to teach them.


3 "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,

  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

4 God blesses those who mourn,
  for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are humble,
  for they will inherit the whole earth.

6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,

  for they will be satisfied.


7 God blesses those who are merciful,
  for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
  for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace,
  for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

  11 "God blesses you when people mock you

and persecute you

and lie about you

and say all sorts of evil things against you

because you are my followers.

12 Be happy about it!

Be very glad!

For a great reward awaits you in heaven.

And remember,

the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Monday, April 24, 2017

useless

Do you ever feel useless?


Do you ever feel like what you are & what you do is just for nothing, means nothing anymore, has no impact, & you're just taking up space?


No?


Lucky you...


For those of you who are like me who feel that way sometimes, occasionally, often, regularly, or whatever, here's something Paul wrote in his first letter to the followers of Jesus in Corinth.


It comes at the end of a section that's rather long – 58 verses.


And it comes at the end of a rather long sentence.


It's just a few words – it could be almost considered an afterthought by Paul, if it didn't have such a towering impact – a truth that hits at the heart of the way many of us think most of the time.



1 Corinthians 15:58c


nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (NLT)


your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (NIV)


nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. (Message)


nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted. (J B Phillips)


your work in the Lord is never wasted. (ERV)


in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)


your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose]. (Amplified)


all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God. (The Voice)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

my help

This is for all of you, like me, who need these words today...

And here's a song using the KJV translation of these words:




Psalm 121

1 I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;

  the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.


5 The LORD himself watches over you!

  The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.


7 The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.

8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.