Stay Dressed

Luke 12:35-36, ESV

  35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.

Have you ever had one of those days where you didn’t feel very Christian? One of those days where it seemed like you gave in to every temptation, returned every evil for evil, and found it extra difficult to find love or forgiveness for those who have offended or wronged you? I know I have had my share of those days. Can you imagine if Jesus would return to Earth to setup His Kingdom on one of those days? To make it more applicable to our current situation, think of who has earthy authority over you. Imagine that the last thing your boss at work sees you do is sleeping on the job or goofing off when you should be working. How do you think that your boss will think of you? I think most of us would be ashamed to think that our boss thinks of us as lazy or a goof-off, but yet we have no issues at all about ignoring Jesus’ teachings and search for ways to justify our lack of compliance. I think the issue for most is that we don’t actually treat Jesus like He is alive and I think many of us don’t really believe that God lives in us in the form of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, I don’t know everyone who is reading this but I have felt for a long time that many people that fill churches on a weekly basis don’t really believe what they confess. Honestly, I can’t judge that at all, but I can do my best to encourage everyone to examine the condition of their own faith. Do you really believe that Jesus is your master and that His teachings are the blueprint for how we should live? If yes, then are you doing it?

Read today’s verse. This is Jesus our Master speaking. Stay dressed. When I read this I thought about the fall of man back in Genesis 3 and how after Adam and Eve gave into sin they felt shame because of their nakedness. Likewise it should be for us. There is shame in being spiritually naked. We don’t know when the Master returns, but we do know He wants us to be ready. Don’t be ashamed on that day. Stay dressed.

 

Heavenly Father, thank you God for another day. Lord Jesus, thank for calling us to you so that we may know the Father. Thank you that you gave all so that we too may be partakers in eternal life. Thank you for your leadership and your teaching. Forgive our passivity and complacency. Empower us by your Spirit to know and do your will and help us strive to be faithful disciples. We offer you praise. In your name, amen.

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SOAP Journal Entry – Lamentations 3:22-23

S – [22] The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; [23] they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

O – When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness one of the important lessons they had to learn was God’s provision of manna was on a morning by morning basis. They couldn’t live on old manna, nor could they store up for the future.

A – By the same token, I can not live on old blessings or hope to store up God’s blessings for future use. God doesn’t want me to live in the past or the future. He wants me to live in the now! The present. Each day presents a new opportunity for me to be blessed and to bless others. It reminds me of a clean slate. I may have messed up yesterday, but I don’t have to live there. I can arise and know that God’s love and compassion and mercy are never ending. It’s a new morning!

P – Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your faithfulness. Thank you that no matter what happens you pour out your love, compassion, faithfulness and blessings – every day! You never come to an end. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Great Is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all that I needed Thy hand hath provided-Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Daily Devotional – Reluctant King, Reluctant Christian

1 Samuel 10:6

6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

1 Samuel 10:22

22 So they inquired again of the LORD, “Is there a man still to come?” and the LORD said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”

I found this interesting nugget from 1 Samuel. It comes from the story of how the first king was appointed in Israel. Basically, the people cry out for a king because they want to be ruled like other nations. God sends the prophet Samuel to point out who the king should be. God tells Samuel to pick this guy Saul. Samuel goes to Saul and tells him all that is to happen and that the at the culmination of the events he will become king. He tells Saul that while he is waiting to become king he will be filled with Holy Spirit and that because of this encounter with the Holy Spirit he will become a different man.  All these things came to pass. Saul was filled the Spirit and those who knew him testified that he was indeed changed.

When I read this I was excited. I was thinking what a cool precursor to the modern Christian experience. Here we see God working in Saul much in the same way he works in us. As we come to faith and are in Christ we are filled with the Holy Spirit and hopefully that transformation is evident to the folks that knew us prior to conversion. As I read further I was shocked to find that after God had poured His Spirit out on Saul he kinda wimped out. Check out verse 22. At the moment when he was suppose to step up and be King, he went and hid. I was like what? The Spirit of God equipped Saul to be King of the nation and he hid out in the baggage. Really? Thinking about it though, isn’t this also often true about our Christian experience? I know from my experience there have been times I did not want to step up and do the things God has called. I have wimped out on things much simpler than leading a nation. Church attendance, leading my family consistently in devotions, and loving my neighbors are just a few examples of where I have hidden in the baggage.

I know I have heard it said that one of the reasons God fills us is so that we can empty ourselves out in service to others. I think the challenge is that we have to lay down our individual concerns and understand that Jesus ministers to us as a body. Each one of us are gifted and equipped so that we might be a benefit to our fellow believers. Our reluctance to engage in what God has called us and equipped us to do affects more that our own journey. It affects our families, the people we have influence with, and it affects Jesus’ bride the Church. Let us not forget that God who has called us will empower us to do all he sets before us.

So, pray for me and I’ll pray for you that we would not hide out in the baggage but that we would walk out our calling for the glory of the one who made the call!

Heavenly Father, thank you Lord for a new day. Father help us embrace your call and empower us with boldness to walk it out. Forgive our reluctance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional – Light or Dark

Luke 11:33-36, ESV

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

One of my favorite stories that my Dad used to tell was the about the first time he took my mom home to meet my grandparents. My Dad was from the coal mining communities of West Virginia and the trip home included traveling through some pretty rural mountainous areas. The way my Dad told it was that it was night time when they started winding their way through the mountains and at some point they could see a small shack tucked up in the hills ahead of them with a single light bulb burning dimly. I still can see my Dad’s grin as he retold this story. He said he pointed at the shack and said “Ah great, momma left the light on for us!”. I think he let my Mom stew in that for a few minutes before he let her know its wasn’t their destination. I’m not real sure that this story applies to the verses today, but meditating on Jesus’ teaching about light made me think of the shack story and gave me pause to remember my old man.

In today’s verses Jesus is teaching us about our Christian experience using light as an analogy. He breaks the teaching into two parts. First, He describes what we should do with the light we have in us and second, He exhorts us to keep the light that is in us pure. Let’s look at each briefly.

Luke 11:33, ESV

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light

In this verse, Jesus is teaching us that once we were converted something fundamentally changed in us. We have become different because God has called us to fellowship and commune with Him through the salvation of Jesus Christ. We are no longer like everyone else, no longer destined to suffer God’s wrath because of our rebellion, but rather we are set apart, adopted by God and given citizenship in God’s eternal Kingdom. What an awesome reality that is. Jesus challenges us in this verse to reflect that reality to a world that is looking on. Ultimately, Jesus is the light and as his disciples we should be reflecting the image of our teacher. The implication is that when people look at us and our lives, ideally they should be able to see Jesus on some level.

Luke 11:34-36, ESV

34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

At first reading I wondered why these verses came after the first one. These verses encourage us to make sure that the light that is in us is light opposed to darkness. It seems to me that making sure the light in you is light would precede letting your light shine, however reflecting on this I realize that regardless of whether the light that is in you is light or darkness it will be exposed either way. I think Jesus is reminding us here that after conversion there is a still a battle that occurs between the new life of the Spirit and the old life of the flesh. These verses give a good practical teaching on how we subdue the flesh and fill our being with the pure light of God.  The teaching here is that our eyes have the ability to fill our inner being with either light or darkness. I think Jesus challenges use to inventory what we consume with our eyes. Do we fill our eyes with scripture, wholesome media, God made nature, and the company of friends and family, or do we fill our eyes with pornography, corrupt media, items we covet, and second lustful glances? I would submit that there is no greater conduit to our inner being that our eyes. We have to guard them.

So what’s the application? For me, I have to realize that Jesus is teaching us fundamental truths here. We have to constantly remind ourselves that even after conversion we are in a battle with the old life of rebellion that put us at odds and out of fellowship with God in the first place. The reality is that we have died to our sinful nature because of our rebirth in Christ, but our sinful nature is not yet dead and won’t be until our physical death ends its rebellion. That sinful nature, the flesh, is the seed of our temptations and the receptacle for the all darkness we take in. So we must guard our eyes and our minds and our bodies so that we don’t give the flesh an opportunity to taint the light in us. It starts simply by thinking about what we consume visually. I know I struggle in this area. Lets pray for each other that our as our lights shine Jesus and His Kingdom will be reflected not the darkness of this world.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for life and salvation. Thank you God that we are not left to dwell in darkness but because of your grace we are able to be called your sons and daughters. Help us with temptation today. Help us lay waste to the old life of the flesh that desires to entice us with darkness. Forgive us our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness. Work in us today to reflect your glory and illuminate your Kingdom. We offer prayers in Jesus name. Amen.

A Poem of Lack

Imagine a son, who’s Father  was the best to be had.
Who had to go day by day and explain his needs to his Dad.

I have not eaten today, I am hungry!
Nor do I have shoes to wear in the cold.
I also need a place to sleep if I may be so bold.

What is wrong with this lad that he has to beg for life?
Doesn’t he believe that his Father will keep him from strife?

Well I have eaten, but only a little past my fill,
And it is true that these old shoes protect my feet.
But wouldn’t a bigger house my make life complete?

The Good Book talks about ravens that neither sow nor reap,
And about children who a perfect Father promises to keep.

You know I have never really been hungry,
And my feet have always been covered.
And over my sleeping head a roof has always hovered.

So go to the perfect Father not with your hat in your hand,
But go to the Father asking how you can help Him harvest the land.


 



 

How many times are we guilty of worrying about the bills, or  wondering why we can’t have what other people have?

Hear the word of the Lord:

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

(Luke 12:22-33 ESV)

Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for the reminder that you know and meet my needs. Father, forgive me for not trusting in your provision and love. Father, help me put aside the cares and worries of this perishing world and help me focus on your will and your desires. I offer praise to you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Fridays with the Franciscans – 9/3/10

I have been reading a book lately called the “The Lessons of St. Francis”. The book deals with different spiritual disciplines and is similar to Richard Foster’s, “A Celebration of Discipline”. I guess all that to say is that from my exposure to that book I have stumbled across a YouTube channel that features homilies from Franciscan friars at a monastery in Connecticut. A homily is basically equivalent to a sermon in the Protestant tradition. Recognizing the doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants, I am firmly convicted that the proclamation of God’s Word yields fruit. So for a time I think I will post some of these homilies on Fridays.

I really enjoyed the one below as it is a call for Christians to shed our apathy and our proclivity to make excuses in our devotion to Jesus and to (sorry Nike) just do it!

SOAP Journal Entry – Psalm 17:8

S – Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, (Psalm 17:8 ESV)

O – This Psalm is a prayer of David’s. Apparently his enemies were surrounding him and he was requesting safety from God. Here in verse 8 we see two very tender analogies. One being the apple of the eye. This indicates one that is very precious or dear to another. The second analogy is being hidden under the shadow of God’s wings. This is my favorite. The story comes to mind of the mother hen who protected her chicks from the fire. The barn was engulfed in flames and the mother hen died, but her chicks were safe under her wings.

A – Our lives are filled with unexpected dangers. We never know what is coming with each day. There are daily attacks on our soul. But we can have the surety that God is absolutely in control and personally involved in every area of our life. We just have to accept Him and remain close wherever He leads. He will gather us under His wings if we will only accept the offer.

P – Heavenly Father, thank you for keeping me safe. When the storms of life gather round, I know there is refuge under Your wings. Thank you for caring about the details in my life. Help me to let you remain in control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.