Archive for June, 2010

The number one priority


            Jesus had just finished speaking to a rich man who had come to him to ask him a question; “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  The rich man claimed he had been faithful in keeping all of the commandments, but Jesus told him he lacked one thing; he needed to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and then come and follow him.  This was too much for the rich man to concede and he left very sad.  The scripture below is what followed.


            Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed  you.”

            So he said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom  of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18: 29.)


            Peter draws attention to the fact that he and his fellow believers had left everything to follow Jesus.  Jesus replied to this declaration with a promise.  He promised not just to replace what they had sacrificed, but to return it in abundance (more than what was laid down.)  There was a stipulation placed on the rewards; just giving things up wasn’t sufficient; the sacrifices had to be made for the sake of the kingdom of God.  There were also two kinds of rewards; the rewards provided for them in the present time (their lives upon the earth; not necessarily material in nature) and the rewards coming to them after their deaths (eternal life with God.)

            Jesus runs down a list of things that many people placed before God.  Many people refused to sell their homes and go out in to the ministry field with Jesus because they made their homes the most important thing in their lives; for some it was their parents, for some, their brothers, for some, their wives, and for still others, it was their children.  There are priorities in life, and everyone has something in the top spot, and whatever is in that top spot set’s the limitations on all of the other priorities.  In one portion of scripture a disciple said to Jesus when faced with leaving everything to follow him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father;” to which Jesus replied, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”  Another example was the rich young man who refused to sell all of his possessions and follow Jesus; he had placed his wealth first, and because of this, he walked away sad, choosing to keep his wealth.  The man was a servant to his wealth.  Those who put God first find that their wealth actually begins to serve God.  Everyone serves the number one priority in their lives.  There are very basic needs that most people think of as essential priorities.  For instance, food, water, and clothing seem to be of utmost importance; yet let’s examine what type of priority Jesus places on these things; “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mathew 6: 31-33.)  For those who are following Jesus, the number one priority must be God.

            I asked a man ounce who claimed to believe in Jesus, how much time he spent brushing his teeth in the morning and at night.  Apparently his daily tooth care composed about 4-5 minutes.  Then I asked him how much time he spent reading the bible, and he replied, “0.”  I said, “Then it is safe to say, that in your life, your teeth are more important than God?”  He conceded this to be the case.  A person who spends a lifetime putting God off will, in the end, be put off by God.

            Today, in our lives, God must come first.  He has to be the number one thing and everything else has to come in second.  Yes, sacrifices are necessary to make this happen.  Selling all your possessions is not necessarily what he is asking, but he is asking to come before those possessions.  If a man has wealth in the place where God should be, he has to sacrifice his love for wealth and replace it with his love for God.  Yet, not everyone has placed wealth above God.  Many have placed family, loved ones, children, time, possessions, freedom, recreation, sleep, drugs or alcohol, a job, a car, a house, land, education, and the list goes on and on.  We can place God first if we are willing to let go of whatever it is we are serving and turn to serve him.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to sacrifice those things that are getting in the way of our service to You.  Help us to place You first and to not be afraid to make changes in our lives.  Please be the number one priority in our lives; be the thing we love most in our hearts.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we look forward to Your Coming Kingdom.  We praise You, we thank You, and we love You, and we ask all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Admiring God’s Greatest Work


             Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:  “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I have glorified You on the earth.  I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17: 1-4.)


            Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ, he continually referred to an hour; a time that had not yet come.  None of his disciples knew what he was referring to in this scripture; it wasn’t until after his resurrection that they understood he was speaking about his crucifixion.  Jesus accomplished all of his works; the healings, the miracles, but his greatest work would be the cross; he is looking to God to raise him up to a place of honor.  Jesus says, “and this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  The cross tells us about God; the cross is an invitation; a love-letter sent out to every human being, inviting them to fall in love with the creator of all things.  Have you accepted that invitation? 

             As an oil painter, when I paint I don’t paint only for my own pleasure, but I am always keeping in mind those who will see the painting when it is finished.  Every sculptor who sculpts a masterpiece, doesn’t put it in a storage locker when he completes it; rather, he puts it on a pedestal, or places it on display in a museum, or in the center of some fountain in a city square.  I assure you that the man responsible for designing the statue of liberty was very motivated to please those in the future who would lay their eyes upon ‘lady liberty.’  All of the millions that would see her arms, her face, her wide stance, her crown, and her flowing robes would undoubtedly be admiring the man who designed her.

             When the Hubble space telescope captured the first images of the distant Galaxies, with their beautiful colors, nebulae, and gas clouds large enough to swallow the sun, we saw first hand, some of God’s creation.  When the electron microscope was pointed into a cell, we discovered that it was more complex than the space shuttle.  When we see a brand new baby most don’t realize they began as a single cell, no bigger than the period at the end of a sentence; all of the information on how to build your dad, your grandmother, your son or daughter, was held within that single cell; a genetic blueprint from which even you were formed.  God created those blueprints.  Yet, within this enormous universe, out of every work ever displayed, Jesus Christ upon the cross is God’s masterpiece.  We can still look to that masterpiece today and admire God.  He loves us, and his work of love was accomplished by way of the crucifix.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You.  Your work upon the cross is what we look too, and we see Your glory, and we thank You.  Father, continue to help us to look to You in love.  Help us to pick up our crosses so that others would see Your Glory in our sacrifice as well.  We love You Father, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”

Perfect Vision


            Then he came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to him, and begged him to touch him.  So he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town.  And when he had spit on his eyes and put his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything.  And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”  Then he put his hands on his eyes again and made him look up.  And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.  Then he sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town” (Mark 8: 22-26.)



            A blind man who could see nothing had to be led to Jesus, but Jesus does something unexpected.  He leads him out of the city.  And for what reason?  (POSSIBLE INTERPRETATION:  Possibly because the city of Bethsaida was wicked and refused to believe in him.  In another scripture Jesus says, “Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (Luke 10: 13.)  Jesus is comparing these two modern cities to a couple of ancient cities.  Tyre and Sidon were cities that God destroyed because they had refused to turn away from evil.  It appears as though Jesus has finished ministering to Bethsaida at this point, and so he leads the man out of the city to do his miracle.  He further tells the man not to return to the city and not to tell them about the healing.  It is interesting to note that the man was not instantly healed.  Jesus could have healed him right away, but there might be a lesson to learn here.  First, every human being needs to meet Jesus, and admit that they are completely blind to the things of God.  Next, they need to trust Jesus and take him by the hand, and allow him to lead them.  The blind man came to Jesus to receive his sight, and the first thing Jesus did was to begin to lead him somewhere else.  The man didn’t ask why, he just followed.  Jesus leads many people out of the life of sin they are in, symbolized in this scripture by Jesus’ leading of the man out of the sinful city.  He then warns the man not to go back in to the city, as Jesus warns those he leads out of a life of sin to not return to that life again.  There are two healings wrapped in to one; the partial healing and the full healing.  The first healing takes place when we follow Jesus, symbolized by the man’s initial healing when he sees trees walking around.  The second healing of the blind man may symbolize the second coming of Jesus Christ.  In other portions of scripture it is said that in this life we see dimly, but in the next we will see clearly.  We have had the first experience with Jesus, but still we are awaiting the second.

            Interestingly enough, I recently broke one of my molars.  The pain was severe, so I went in to see a dentist.  Apparently half of my tooth had broken off.  He went in and did a root canal.  The pain stopped immediately, and my troubles seemed all but over. The only difficulty was, I still had half a tooth and no dental coverage.  I waited a couple of months until I received my insurance and now I have a second appointment with a dentist to receive a crown and to have my tooth restored to ‘as good as new.’  In this life, those of us who come to Jesus Christ and put our faith and hope in him have whatever pain we feel inside relieved.  We come to know a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Yet, we are still afflicted by things because we have bodies made of flesh.  We know hunger, we know thirst, we know physical pain; some people contract diseases, some people suffer the losses of loved ones.  Christ has touched our hearts and our lives and we have received his Holy Spirit, and that Spirit leads us through this evil world to place where we will be healed completely.  We see with limited vision in this place and our understanding of heavenly things is blurred.  Yet, there is time that is coming when we will receive new bodies, that don’t grow old, in a place where there is no more pain and suffering.  We will never thirst, or hunger, or want for anything.  In that day, when Christ returns, we will see clearly, and we will be made perfect.

            Our goal as Christians is to bring blind people to Jesus Christ, that he may take them by the hand and lead them through this world, and in to the world to come.  We can do this by being his messengers.  We represent Jesus Christ in this place.  He is our teacher, and we are his students.  Knowing who he is not enough, we must be doing what he does.  Jesus continues his work in this place through all those who lay down their lives to take up the cross.  May God bless you as you reach out to those who are lost, and as you bring the blind to the only one who can help them to see.)

            “Lord heavenly Father, we come before You today and ask and pray that You would reveal the truth of this scripture to us.  Help us Lord to Look forward to your return and to put our trust and faith in Your leading.  Father, also we pray that You will bring blind people our way that we can lead them to You.  We love You, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”

The ones who’ve wondered off


            Then the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.  And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  So he spoke this parable to them, saying:

            “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15: 1-7.)


             Jesus ate with social outcasts.  This type of behavior was not only unorthodox, it was ‘downright’ shocking.  The religious leaders were absolutely infatuated with ritualistic purity.  They avoided the impure as if they had leprosy.  Middle Eastern Dining consisted of tearing pieces of bread apart and dipping them in to communal bowls.  ‘Double dipping’ was unavoidable.  The Jews believed that if you ate with sinners and ingested their saliva you would become one with them.  Much of the Levitical Law (Old Testament teaching) was focused on proper dietary habits.  Pigs were considered unclean animals because they consumed their own feces.  Anyone who ate bacon for instance would become one with the pig, and they would be unclean and separated from God.  The religious leaders were likening Jesus to someone who was eating with pigs, because they saw sinners as dirty animals.  Jesus reveals to them that God loves every human being unconditionally, and morns for the lost; he doesn’t hate them. 

             Jesus goes on to use the illustration of the Sheppard and his sheep to show God’s relationship with man.  God is the Sheppard and human beings are his sheep.  Just as a Sheppard loves his sheep, so God loves all of his children.  Jesus was speaking to a group of people who were familiar with Sheepherding, which was one of the main industries in the region.  The religious leaders had become so twisted that they valued animals above other human beings.  They’d go after an animal that had wandered in to the wilderness to save it from a predator, but to chase after a human being that had wandered away from God was out of the question; and these were supposed men of God.  Instead of rejoicing with Jesus for all those who were returning to their Father, they attacked Jesus and tried to make him out to be God’s enemy.  They failed to represent God because they themselves were evil.  They were fighting against the working God amongst his people.

             In our society today, we have very little idea of the course of the natural things that surround us.  We’ve never had to dodge a hungry predator, or travel great distances to find food or water.  Most animals survive because they are able to stay in places that protect them from danger.  Birds make their nests in trees, and snakes make burrows for themselves under the ground.  Sheep are animals that have no natural protection; like baby bear cubs who rely on the protection of their mothers, so too, sheep are dependent upon the protection of their Sheppard.  When a baby bear wanders too far away from its mother, it is vulnerable.  The same is true of people, when they wander away from God.  God asks that we come to him because he loves us, not because he needs us to worship Him.  His love is so strong that he sent out his only son to gather his children together, allowing all who have wandered away to return to Him again; to know His love, His protection, and the eternal life that He has provided for all who are willing.

             We must recognize that there are two kinds of human beings, the Lost and the Found.  As Christians it is our ‘labor of love’ to reach out to those who are lost and wandering.  We are charged with the same task as our teacher.  How can we reach out?  We can eat a meal with someone who is not saved, or sit and have a conversation with a person who is in distress; we can plant seeds in the hearts of all of those around us.  We can let others know how warm and peaceful it is inside of God’s arms.  We are not to knock down anyone who has not received Christ, but we are to love them, and let them know that God loves them and wishes to have a relationship with them.  We should rejoice in our hearts when we see others come to Jesus Christ.  Do we have a heart for the Lost that reflects God’s heart?  If we do, then God can use us to go after those who have strayed, and we can lead them out of danger and back to their Father.

             “If you’ve never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, I encourage you now to sit down in a quiet place and ask him in to your heart, and in to your life.  Ask him to be the Lord of your life, and turn to Him, and know that in heaven the angels are shouting and rejoicing because you’ve chosen life, love, and a family united under a loving Father.”  God bless all of you.

Salt and Light


                “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor; how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Mathew 5: 13-16.)



                First, let us understand that Jesus is addressing those who put their faith in him.  Whether it be a little faith or a big giant amount of faith […] faith in him produces visible, tangible effects in the lives of the believers.  In Israel salt was not just used for eating, but was also used for coating pathways.  The best salt was used for eating, however, if that salt underwent a chemical change, which it often could, it would lose its flavor, and the good salt would then have no other use but to be used in the roadways and pathways, as Jesus is alluding to here.  In much the same way that salt has a purpose, so do cities that everyone can see.  Most cities were constructed on hillsides and in places that were easy to defend against attacks.  So too, these cities were easy to see in the day, and at night, they were illuminated.  A lamp is another illustration used her to describe the believer.  No one would ever turn on a flashlight and hide it under a pillow today.  This wouldn’t make sense.  Flashlights are for seeing in the dark.  Jesus is revealing that everyone who put’s their faith in him will be a light in this dark world.  Jesus alludes to works being the visible light of God that shines out from the true believer in the last portion of this scripture.  However, it is important that we recognize that we should not take the glory away from God, but should make sure that when others see our good works they, ‘glorify our Father in heaven.’

                When I was a young Christian it was difficult for me to love others because it was new and I was afraid, but today, it is easy, and it doesn’t seem strange at all.  As Christians we are to be distinguished from the rest of the world, easily recognized as followers of Christ, because we continue his works upon this earth.  We are to give light to others, and they should look at us and see Jesus Christ, working through us.  I encourage you to be swift to love everyone, everywhere you go, with as much love as you have to give.

                “Father, please, light up our hearts, and make them reflect the light of Christ.  Please Father; put others in our path that we can love today.  Father, please help us to be the salt of the earth, the city on the hill, the lamp on the lamp stand, that others may see our good deeds and praise You.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we ask and we pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

There is only one way to God


            “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

            Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”

            Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14: 1-6.)


            Peter has just been told he will deny Christ three times before sunrise.  Jesus has also just made his disciples aware of his impending crucifixion, which was not a plan that was pleasing to them.  Their hearts were troubled, and so he addressed what was troubling them.  He pointed them to their belief in him.  Faith was the cure for what ailed them.  He imparted hope to them; hope of a future with him after his death and resurrection.  He wanted them to know that their time apart would not be forever.  Many of us know this scripture is speaking of what is called, ‘The second coming.’  He reminded them that they knew the way to the place he was about to go to.  Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus responded with three statements pertaining to himself; he said I am, “the way, the truth, and the life.”  He also implies that no other religion, or philosophy, or way of life could bring them to that place.  ‘The way’ is a path, a direction, a road that leads from one place to another.  In life, there are many paths, and many roads, and each leads to a different location.  There are people who are leading others down these pathways, with promises of great rewards, but all fail to deliver what they promise, which leads to the second claim Jesus makes.  He says that he is ‘the truth.’  The truth is a characteristic of God alone.  God never lies, never fails to honor a promise, and can always be trusted.  There are many liars that seek to mislead people.  He revealed that he is the only way to get to God, making other religions and their leader’s empty deceivers.  So, either Jesus is a liar and there is another way to get to God, or he is telling the truth and every other religious leader is lying, whether willfully, or in ignorance.  He also claims to be ‘the life.’  God is life, and He is eternal, and those who follow Jesus enter in to eternal life; the promise of God is that we can be with him, where he is.  Death is the absence of God, so all other ways lead to a place where God does not exist.  There is one way to God, and one truthful guide in a sea of liars.  There is one destination where God is and where we may be with him for an eternity.

            Jesus gave an excellent illustration describing the following of false prophets and spiritual leaders; he talked about ‘the blind leading the blind.’  He said, “Can the blind lead the blind?  Will they not both fall in to a ditch?”  Blind people are completely dependent upon someone who can see to direct them and lead them safely to where it is they are going.  There are many people who claim to see, but they themselves are blinded.  The religious leaders during the time of Jesus Christ were these blind guides he was referring too.  Today, we still have blind guides who are attempting to gain followings for themselves and not Jesus Christ.

              ‘All roads do not lead to God,’ as is the proper speech in our culture today.  The message of the Lord is not one that is politically correct.  If the message was, we would not have seen the deaths of the apostles, or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, or the persecution of the church today.  To suggest that anyone’s beliefs are not correct will bring distain and contempt.  If Jesus Christ is telling the truth, then Buddhism leads to death, as does Islam, as does scientology, as does Judaism (without Jesus Christ), as does everything that is not a belief and a faith, and a following in Him.  To follow him, is to follow God.  (When we speak the truth, it is important that we speak the truth in Love; how we say something can be the difference between someone listening to our testimony, and turning away from the Lord because of our testimony.)

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we ask that You lead us.  Help us to give our entire lives over to You, and to listen to You and to trust You, and to have faith in You, and Your return.  Give us that future hope daily, that we may know and follow You, and be with You for an eternity in that place where You are.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Church Leadership


            Then Peter said to him, “Lord do you speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”

           And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12: 42-46.)


             Jesus is speaking with his disciples about his future delayed return; we are still waiting; impatience with his return can lead to sin as illustrated by the servant who began to beat the other servants.  Jesus references a Jewish marriage tradition to illustrate this truth.  Often, during wedding feasts, the master of a house would leave to celebrate a wedding; when all of the guests arrived at the home where the wedding was to take place, the doors were locked.  The wedding could go on for a day or two, or it could go on for a week or more.  The master’s return therefore could not be predicted.  He could return at 4:00 in the morning on Wednesday, or at midnight on Saturday.  When the master of the house left for the wedding feast, he placed someone in charge of his affairs, and they were all to be ready for his eventual return.  The lamps were to be filled with oil, the bed made ready, and the servants were to be prepared to serve the master upon his arrival.  Jesus used the description of the wedding feast, and the absent master to draw a picture for his disciples of something they didn’t yet understand.  They didn’t know that Jesus would be crucified and that he would leave for the Kingdom of God with a promise to return again.  Their duties would be to serve the body of Christ, and to give them their physical and spiritual food.  Failure to do so would result in punishment, and a reward would be given to those who were faithful in doing this daily.  Interestingly, Jesus puts the believing leaders who misrepresent God, and abuse their power, in the same category as those who are not believers.  It is possible that leadership in a church carries with it a greater condemnation than those who are members of the congregation.

             In the United States, a brand new industry has arisen, known as ‘Mystery Shopping.’  Most employers and corporations have recognized that when they tour their facilities the employees behave in a way that is unnatural; they ‘put on a show’ so to speak, to impress their bosses.  Some employees are lazy, and some are hard workers; some are polite, and some are cold, but when the boss is around, everyone is a hard worker, and everyone is polite.  Many employers now hire regular people off of the street to become shoppers at their stores and facilities; they observe and report all that they see and experience.  They are disguised to discover the truth, because it is human nature to pretend when it benefits the individual who is pretending.  When the employees experience a mystery shopper, it changes the environment.  They must continually be prepared to behave as though every customer were an in disguise ‘mystery shopper.’ 

             Jesus makes it clear that his servants are to treat each day, each hour, each minute, and each second, as the time of his possibly return.  Today, a lack of faith in the promised return of Jesus Christ has caused a great many church leaders to misbehave; many church leaders have used the churches money to gain vast quantities of material wealth and possessions.  Many have used their positions of authority and trust to gain sexual favors, and to commit sexually deviant behaviors.  Many have abandoned teaching the gospel, in favor of promoting some new ‘feel good book.’  Still others have completely walked away from God because they have become dissatisfied with God’s delayed return.  What can we do to avoid making these mistakes?  Being genuine for starters, and keeping hope alive in our hearts.  We can become disobedient when we lose hope in his return.  We must live in expectation of that return, every moment, every second, every day, and every hour.  We can recognize that God’s promise to return will come to pass.  We should all be serving God, continually, and we must never lose hope, but continue in faith to serve him, and to serve others, daily.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You now and we ask and pray that You would give us an expectant heart, and a hope in Your return that is not fleeting.  May You increase our faith in Your promises and give us a heart to serve You and to serve others.  Direct us Lord to know the duties and the responsibilities that You have given each one of us, individually.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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