Snacks For The Soul

By Pastor Ken Gray

May 22, 2017

Jeremiah 24 “God Love’s His People in Captivity”

The baskets of good and bad figs before the temple was a prophetic picture of the people of Judah. Those who had gone into captivity, God would watch over and those who remained in Jerusalem were rotten and useless. There are times when we suffer a captivity from God so He can draw us to Himself for our good. We must not be discouraged by what appears to be a victory for the enemy, because we enjoy God’s favor. May we have God’s perspective on all our suffering.

Luke 20:27-47 “What’s Behind the Questions?”

Those who attacked Jesus with questions designed to undermine His ministry, He address by showing their ignorance of Scripture and God’s power. They were brought to a place of feigned respect, but it was really a cloak to cover embarrassment and fear of humiliation. Jesus put forward questions designed to expose this ignorance and warn His disciples of their hidden agendas and motives. Their religious words will not cover their hypocrisy or their condemnation. May God give us grace and wisdom to rise above religious critics who are concerned only for their comfort.

May 19, 2017

Jeremiah 23:25-40 “From God or Man?”

False prophets are exposed in this chapter as those who speak their own dreams, hearts and minds. God opposes these and they offer no benefit to His people. Many today do not speak for God but from themselves. “For you will no longer remember the oracle of the LORD, because every man’s own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God.” (36) May God give us the wisdom to recognize those who speak from their own heads, hearts and dreams and turn from their deceptive influences.

Luke 20:19-26 “Sincere Question or a Trap?”

Jesus was not fooled by the deceitful flattery of those seeking to undermine Him. They used controversial topics and questions. Here they asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar knowing how unpopular the Roman government was to the people. He simply asked them who’s image was on the coin and when they replied, Caesar’s, He said, “…’Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (25b). In other words, He did not answer their question but put the political pressure back in their laps. May God give us grace to know when someone is sincerely wanting to learn or is laying a trap.

May 17, 2017

Jeremiah 23:1-8 “Be Fruitful & Multiply”

Shepherds/pastors have a great responsibility before God. In Israel they were guilty of scattering the people away without attending or caring for them. But God intervened by raising up the “righteous branch” of David (Jesus the Messiah). “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’” (6) Through Christ, God not only restores us to our inheritance, but leads us to a place [nurturing pastures] where we are both fruitful and multiply (3). Healthy churches grow in character and numbers.

Luke 19:45 – 20:8 “God’s House, A Safe Place”

Near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He entered the temple driving out all who profited in their religion. Then He said, “…’It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a robbers’ den.’” (46). Instead of God’s house being a place of refuge in God through prayer, it had become a safe place to rip off God’s people. It was a safe place for sin and void of the power of God. This intensified an existing hostility among self serving and ill-motivated leaders. God give us the grace and wisdom so Your house will be a safe place for all who call on You.

May 16, 2017

Jeremiah 22 “Religious Roots or Righteous Acts?”

Religious roots and history do not gain us the favor of God. These final kings of Judah went into captivity because they failed to seek justice, righteousness and the Lord Himself. Regardless of our history, if we persist in ignoring God’s covenants, we will lose our inheritance. However, if we pursue and listen to God’s word, we can enjoy His ongoing blessing and live in His favor.

Luke 19:28-44 “Recognizing Our Visitation”

At the time of Jesus triumphal entry, His disciples gave expressive loud praise to their Messiah. In contrast, religious leaders, indignant about this, commanded Him to rebuke them for this. As He approached Jerusalem, Jesus wept over it. He foresaw their coming destruction “…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (44b). We can receive Christ with enthusiastic expressive praise or become judgmental of those who do. We should note that those who became judgmental missed the time of their visitation and became the objects of God’s judgment. The choice is ours: Guard our religious traditions or cherish our Savior.

May 15, 2017

Jeremiah 21 “God of Love & Wrath”

King Zedekiah sent two priests to inquire of the LORD through Jeremiah. They hoped to hear a favorable message, but were told God Himself stood in opposition to them for persistent disobedience. This city was doomed to be destroyed but they could spare their lives by cooperating with the Chaldeans and surrendering to captivity. God’s loves and discipline can be received for our eternal well-being, but if we resist the very same sufferings become judgment. Grace is to enable us to walk with God and righteousness and is not a mere blanket to cover persistent sin.

Luke 19:11-27 “The Bottom Line!”

This parable of money usage illustrates the reality of God entrusting us with what we have and what we are. It all comes from God’s investment. Those who invested God’s money were rewarded handsomely. Those who acted in fear and did nothing, were punished severely. Jesus points out the reason for their failure is not found in their listed excuses. In fact, the bottom line is, “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (27)

May 12, 2017

Jeremiah 20 “Depressed, But Determined!”

God sent Jeremiah to prophesy a severe message overheard by the chief officer of God’s house. For this he was beaten and imprisoned. Being faithful to God does not always generate favor with His people. He brought this rejection directly to God feeling deceived by Him and was so depressed he cursed the day of his birth. He was in such pain even this prayer did not ease his pain. Yet, he persisted in being faithful to speak God’s word in spite of his emotional state. May God give us grace to persist in being faithful regardless of our emotions.

Luke 19:1-10 “Jesus Loves the Lost!”

Tax collectors were considered the worst of sinners by Jews, but Zaccheus was the “chief.” Zaccheus tried to see Jesus but was impeded by the crowd and his small size. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree. When Jesus passed by him, He saw what the crowd failed to see. He saw a heart hungry for hope, ready for repentance and willing to host Him at his house. The crowd grumbled about His reception of such a sinner. But Zaccheus’ repentance was visible to all by his willingness to be generous and make restitution for wrongs. Jesus said, “…’Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was LOST.’” (1-10).

May 11, 2017

Jeremiah 19 “Hunger Derails Hurt”

Note the summary of verse 15b: “…’Behold, I am about to bring on this city and all its towns the entire calamity that I have declared against it, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words.’” Judah’s sin leading to destruction, was forsaking God’s word and turning to other gods. This also led to shedding the blood of the innocent. False perceptions emerge from false worship. Sadly, it also turned the city of worship into a place of desolation. The consequences of not valuing God’s word are deadly. May God give us hungry hearts for all He says. If we are hungry for His word, we will not be hurt with the loss of His favor.

Luke 18:35-43 “Receiving Healing”

When Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man heard the crowd and asked about it. He was told Jesus was passing by, so he cried out, “…’Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (38). He was sternly rebuked but persisted saying, “…’Son of David, have mercy on me!” (39b). Never did he assert his worthiness, but asserted who Jesus is and his need for mercy [unmerited favor]. Consequently, Jesus healed him. Healing and receiving from God is not based on self worth, but upon knowing who Jesus is and His desire to show us mercy. No one deserves mercy and so, anyone can receive it.

May 10, 2017

Jeremiah 18:18-23 “Evidence of God’s Love!”

Jeremiah was faithful to bring God’s word and sought the well being of God’s people. Sometimes we fail to see God’s love in His discipline. Many call it “tough love” but Scripture calls it the proof of love. Discipline does not indicate disapproval, but is a clear evidence of the depth of love. Yet, some not only turn from God’s discipline, but turn against the very messenger of His love. Remember, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11). Let us allow God’s love to shape us for eternity.

Luke 18:28-34 “For the Sake of What?”

After hearing Jesus speak of the hindrance wealth, Peter asserts that the disciples have already left homes to follow Him. “And He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.’” (29-30) We should note this price was not payed for the sake of ministry, building a church or any religious activity. This price was to be “…for the sake of the kingdom of God,…” Many have confused ambition for ministry, recognition or advancement, with the pursuit of God’s kingdom. While the cost of pursuing Christ and following Him fully is great, it is also well worth it. We are not to leave all to pursue ministry, careers, sports or fame [even religious]. The cost of pursuing our ambitions, even religious ones, is devastating to our eternal well-being and the well-being of our families.

May 9, 2017

Jeremiah 18:1-17 “Lesson from the Potter’s House”

The lesson of the potter’s house is clear. God is the potter and we are the clay. But Judah’s sin is in verse 12: “But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our OWN plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’”
The people of God had forsaken Him and turned to serve worthless gods ignoring His Word. God is full of mercy, but the sin of turning away from Him will not be ignored by Him. Let us remember God is the potter and we are His clay.

Luke 18:18-27 “Treasures in Heaven?”

When asked about eternal life by a rich ruler, Jesus was not distracted by his status or his flattery. His politically motivated greeting [Good Teacher] Jesus shut down with a rebuke and proceeded to list commands addressing human relationships. When he said he kept these, Jesus exposed his heart by saying, “…’One thing you lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’” (22b). Jesus gave him a command revealing his attachment to wealth. To follow Jesus, we must release all other attachments not falling into the deception of thinking we are good with God. Let us truly love the Lord our God with all our hearts looking to eternal treasures.

May 8, 2017

Jeremiah 17:19-27 “When Work Interferes with Worship?”

The keeping of a Sabbath [no work one in 7 days] is a principle established in creation preceding sin or the giving of the law. This was designed to benefit man so we may stay in tune with our Creator and redeemer. When we do not take a weekly break from work and focus on our God, then we drift from our created purpose. Stiffening our neck and resisting God’s correction leads to devastation. However, when we “…listen attentively…” (24a), genuine worship is facilitated and God is honored in our assembling together. It’s not the nature of our work that is the problem, but allowing any work to interfere with our regular assembling and worship of God.

Luke 18:9-17 “Dependent or Arrogant?”

Jesus gave a parable comparing a Pharisee and publican. From the outside the Pharisee seemed in a better place than the publican/tax collector. Yet, he had an inner contempt visible to God though kept inward. He viewed himself as devout and superior to the tax collector. Yet the tax collector stood at a distance, not feeling worthy of God’s presence or even to be in the presence of the Pharisee. His self assessment involved a loud display of humiliation and great need. The Pharisee had a false view of his self, while the publican had an honest self-perception. This principle of needing to humble ourselves was then immediately seen in the disciples rebuking people for bringing infants to Jesus. An infant is one entirely dependent upon the care of parents. Those who come to God like this, completely relying on Jesus for their salvation, will know the wondrous rule of His kingdom in their lives. Let us be careful to avoid all forms of pride and self exaltation, but especially spiritual arrogance.

May 5, 2017

Jeremiah 17:12-18 “Hope in Troubling Times”

“A glorious throne on high from the beginning/Is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD.” In the midst of Judah’s great rebellion, Jeremiah took refuge in the rule of God. His healing and salvation came from God and He alone would be the subject of his praise. When the church rebels and engages in bad behavior, we will not be in disillusion when we totally depend upon God’s rule.

Luke 18:1-8 “Yes, He Cares for You!”

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,…” (1) When we cease to pray in our trials, we lose hope. In looking at the unrighteous judge who ruled on behalf of a widow who persisted, Jesus shows us the CERTAINTY of God moving on our behalf as His chosen and beloved children. The concern He expresses, “…However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (8b). Rather than turning to the flesh or complaining to others, we bring our cares to the God who CARES! Prayer and faith are keys to knowing Jesus cares.

Snacks for the Soul – May 4, 2017

Jeremiah 17:1-11 “Put No Confidence in the Flesh!”

The people of Judah were as attached to their sins as they were to their own children. The consequence of this was loss of inheritance, loss of fruitfulness and loss of power over their enemies. God put before them a curse and a blessing. The curse was to trust in man, his intellect and strength. The blessing was to trust in the Lord and put no confidence in anything else. We are not trust or follow our hearts? “The heart is more deceitful than all else/And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Religious people are most vulnerable to this sin of self-reliance. We do not know the depth of sin and its grip on us, so we must trust in the Lord for His examination and redemption.

Luke 17:22-37 “Don’t Be Deceived by Normality!”

As we draw closer to Christ’s return we face many distractions. “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” (26-27) In other words, they were distracted by normal life. We must remember Lot’s wife. Why? In her attachment to this world and its normality, she looked back and was lost her life. Let us let this world go and flee to God!

May 3, 2017

Jeremiah 16 “It Is Our Choice”

Persistently ignoring God and walking in the stubbornness of our own evil hearts will brings on God’s anger and judgment. These inherit falsehood and serve other gods. But for all who look to God for strength and refuge in distress, they discover the goodness and favor of God. These will come to know God and His great power. So it is our choice. We can walk in our own ways ignoring God, or we can turn to Him and His ways and know His blessing. God will honor our choice.

Luke 17:11-21 “Where Is God’s Kingdom?”

While on the way to Jerusalem, ten leprous men called on Jesus for healing. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. This was a step of faith in their healing. When they obeyed, they were all healed but only one foreigner turned to humbly give Him thanks and was made well. Then the Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom was coming. They had failed to see the King was already exercising His authority right in their midst.

May 2, 2017

Jeremiah 15:15-21 “Delight in God’s Word!”

Jeremiah appeals to God due to persecution and opposition. He had consumed God’s word in great delight and avoided all false joy. Yet now it seems he is being consumed by all around him. God responds to him promising to restore him as long as he continues to be true to what is valuable and speaks God’s word. His persecutors may turn to him, but he is not to ever turn to them. Though opposition to God’s word intensifies, we are not to be weary, for God is lovingly watching over all who consume and delight in His Word.

Luke 17:5-10 “Faith for Serving”

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (5) The apostles felt their issue was lack of faith. Jesus said even if they had a little faith they would be equipped for ridiculous and powerful acts. Jesus continues to expose their lack of humble service and obedience in a parable. He then concludes: “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” (10). Some in the church have used concepts of faith to reverse their roles with God. Faith enables us to obey God’s commands, not to get God to obey ours. May we put aside all pride and humbly serve our King.

May 1, 2017

Jeremiah 15:1-14 “Insulting God or Obeying Him?”

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go!” (1) I can think of nothing more horrific then being outside God’s presence. God speaks of their “doom” in terrifying terms. How is it God could be so angry with His own people? “‘You have forsaken Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘You keep going backward. So I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am tired of relenting.’” (6) The answer is simple. They failed to look to God persisting in their ‘own ways’ thus insulting God’s grace (Hebrews 10:26-31). May we humbly seek our God and follow Him fully.

Luke 17:1-10 “Being Free of Stumbling Blocks”

Jesus spoke of serious consequences to those who cause stumbling in His family. How do we keep the church free of stumbling blocks. “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ for give him.” (3-4). If we want to be a church free of stumbling blocks, we must be a church willing to both confront our family members in sin and forgive them when they repent. We talk a lot about the need to love and forgive, but little about the need to confront family members who sin. May God give us wisdom and courage to embrace both confrontation and forgiveness in His church.

April 28, 2017

Luke 17:5-10 “Increase Our Faith!”

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (5) Jesus’ response was to assert that their issue was not a lack of faith, but a lack of humble service. “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” (10) The purpose of faith is not to exalt ourselves or advance our positions of comfort, but to serve others in God’s kingdom. Could it be our faith and works are small because our motives are out of whack?

Jeremiah 14:13-22 “Itching Ears or Hungry Hearts?”

Jeremiah cries to God declaring Judah’s prophets are speaking blessing and peace to God’s people. Yet, God declares they are speaking falsehood in His name and are speaking from the deception of their own minds. In essence, the failure of Israel’s prophets was to speak what the people wanted to hear and what they wanted to to happen. Unfortunately, this occurs in the church and many will go to great lengths and much expense to hear what they want to hear. Paul called this itching ears disease. Do we have itching ears or hungry hearts?

April 27, 2017

Jeremiah 14:1-12 “Even God Has His Limits”

In spite of the many attempts of God to bring correction and discipline, Judah persisted in her rebellion against Him. At this point in her history, God has had enough and will no longer reply to her cries for help. The consequence of Judah’s sin impacted all life, even their animal life which was part of their support system. At this point God tells Jeremiah not to pray for their well being. God is incredibly patient, but He has limits.

Luke 17:1-4 “A Family Responsibility”

Though stumbling blocks come, Jesus warns they have serious consequences. Forgiveness is introduced as key to removing stumbling blocks. When God’s family sins we are to rebuke and forgive them. This keeps His family healthy. We should not let sin slide, but confront family members and bring them to repentance. This is a family responsibility and correction is evidence of genuine family love.

April 26, 2017

Jeremiah 13 “We Are Created for God’s Glory”

The Lord told Jeremiah to purchase a waistband and tie it about his waist. Later God spoke to him to take it and hide it by the Euphrates. After many days, the Lord said to retrieve it, but when he did it was ruined and worthless. As in this waistband, God’s people were made to cling to Him for His praise and glory, but apart [fail to listen to Him] from Him they are ruined and worthless. We must be keenly aware that apart from God, we are and can do nothing and are worthless (John 15). We are created to cling to God living for His glory!

Luke 16:19-31 “The Power of God’s Word!”

The story of the rich man and Lazarus shows us our destiny is fixed at death. No one can change their destiny of heaven or hell after death. The torment of the rich man provoked him to ask Abraham to send Lazarus for relief, but this could not be done. Then he begged to send him back to his five living brothers, but Abraham told him they have the Scriptures. The rich man argued that they would believe if Lazarus was raised from the dead. However, Abraham said, “…’If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (31b). The Word of God is powerful and we must not underestimate its effectiveness or substitute it with other ideas or methods.

April 25, 2017

Jeremiah 12:7-17 “It’s Our Choice”

God is not only saddened, but angered by His people when they turn to serve other gods. What makes it worse? When “shepherds” contribute to the backsliding that causes devastation and His people do not live in their inheritance. When they respond to God and turn back to Him, He is full of compassion. We have a choice. We can heed God’s word and correction and receive compassion or reject His generous word and face chaos and destruction.

Luke 16:14-18 “Let It Go!”

As Jesus taught of the dangers of focusing on wealth, the religious elite scoffed at Him because of their love of money. Often people use their religion to justify themselves in the very things that bind them. Rather than receive Jesus instruction containing warning and correction, they mock the messenger. May God give us the wisdom and grace to see harmful attachments and adhere to His gracious liberating word.

April 24, 2017

Jeremiah 12:1-6 “Where Can I Go But to the Lord?”

Little is as disturbing as seeing injustice and wickedness proceed unchecked. But Jeremiah knows better than to complain to men, but brings his case right to God. Many seem to prosper in a shallow form of religion while inwardly rebellious toward God. Even creation itself suffers from this. But Jeremiah has done the right thing by bringing his concerns to God and to Him alone he looks for an answer and relief.

Luke 16:1-13 “Let Go to Possess for Eternity”

This parable of the unrighteous steward does not condone unrighteous behavior, but commends his shrewdness in being fired. Our use of material wealth reveals our faithfulness or lack thereof. If we truly desire TRUE wealth, we must demonstrate our faithfulness in what God has entrusted to us in the material realm. “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (13) May God give us the grace to see we should not cling to what we cannot own, so we may obtain what we can own for all eternity.

April 21, 2017

Jeremiah 11:18-23 “God Defends His Servants”

God made known to Jeremiah that His people were plotting against him. Jeremiah did not stop speaking God’s word, but sought God putting his life in His hands. Because of this, the Lord took up Jeremiah’s concerns to deal with his enemies. What was it that so infuriated them against Jeremiah? It was his faithfulness to God’s word. It is often the case of those resisting God’s word to turn against God’s servants. However, if we are faithful to turn to God, He takes up our cause.

Luke 15:11-32 “Compassion & Celebration”

When the younger son wasted his inheritance, we are told, “…and no one was giving anything to him.” (16b). We become enablers of bad behavior by trying to rescue people before repentance is completed. Another point from this story is the posture of the father verses the older son in the younger’s return. The father compassionately welcomes him back in joyful celebration as one raised from the dead. However, the older son, being critical of his brother, was angered by the celebration and reception he received from the father. When we see ourselves as better than others, we can be of no help in their restoration. May God give us the wisdom and grace to be compassionate to straying members of God’s family.

April 20, 2017

Luke 15:1-10 “God Treasures Listeners”

Jesus was not impressed with religious people, but had great joy over sinners who repented. “Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming NEAR Him to LISTEN [emphasis mine] to Him.” (1) The two following parables, the lost sheep and the lost coin, clearly illustrate God’s great joy over sinners who are found by Him and listen to Him. Jesus treasured those who listened. He is not impressed with religious activities, but He is deeply moved when we give Him our full attention valuing His word. Jesus doesn’t need our ideas, but delights in our attention. May we draw near to listen!

Jeremiah 11:1-17 “Hear God & He Hears You”

The sin of God’s people in the previous chapter was failure to seek the LORD. Here, God declares His desire to live among His people and be their God. “…’Listen to My voice, and do according to all which I command you; so you shall be My people, and I will be Your God,’…” (4b) In the New Covenant this promise is repeated (2 Corinthians 6:16ff). Yet, if God’s people persistently ignore His voice, He will not hear their cry in times of need. An important key to God’s manifest ruling presence in our lives is to carefully listen to His word. May God’s grace abound to God’s people who have listening ears.

April 19, 2017

Jeremiah 10 “Do We Look to Our Creator?”

Here we see the foolishness of worshiping idols or the works of men’s hands. Today, much of the church is more attached to her creativity than to her Creator. This tendency has come from spiritual leaders: “For the shepherds have become stupid/And have NOT sought the LORD; Therefore they have not prospered, And all their flock is scattered.” (21). Yet, Jeremiah intercedes for God’s people. He asks for correction but in a measured way so he is not destroyed. May God give us the wisdom to seek God, intercede for His people and walk according to His directives so we do not worship the works of men’s hands.

Luke 14:25-35 “Count the Cost!”

Jesus was not puffed by crowds but spoke strong words separating true disciples from the false. He made two clear points: First, our attachment to Christ must exceed all other attachments including family and self. Second, we must put aside all material attachments in this life. Before following Jesus, we count the cost or we will be ashamed, useless and rejected. Jesus never gave people an easy street discipleship but clearly spelled out its cost up front. “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” (33)

April 18, 2017

Jeremiah 9 “Turning to God for All”

There is no greater deceit than religious deceit. What will God do? “…’Behold, I will refine them and assay them; for what else can I do,…” (7b) Rejecting God’s word results in ignorance. God gives them a bitter pill to swallow for walking in stubbornness and idolatry. Wisdom, strength and wealth are of no benefit. “…’but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (24) Let us turn to God and His lovingkindness for all we need.

Luke 14:16-24 “What’s Our Excuse?”

A man ‘gave’ a BIG dinner. For a big dinner big preparations and expenses are made. When the announcement comes, “It’s dinner time!”, they began to make excuses. One had to evaluate investments, another had work to do, and another got married. Jesus invites us to dine with Him by spiritual disciplines, yet many insult Him with seemingly good excuses, but are really just an INSULT to the great and costly preparations our Lord has made. Let us put aside every excuse and meet with our God!

April 17, 2017

Jeremiah 8 “Avoid Worthless Religion”

Though creation obeys their instincts migrating at the appropriate times, at times in history, “…My people do not know/The ordinance of the LORD.” (7b) Asserting themselves as wise they twist God’s word. “…Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, And what kind of wisdom do they have?” (9b). They are full of greed and apply superficial solutions without peace. God gets frustrated with such people. Though they have faced a variety of seasons and times, they are not saved. Religion without the life transforming power of God is worthless and despised by God Himself.

Luke 14:7-15 “Freedom from Insecurity”

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (11) This world is full of those seeking to promote themselves. Jesus declares that those promoting themselves will be disgraced and those who humble themselves will be promoted. When we live in the security of an all powerful loving Father, we do not do things to get attention. We do things out of love to please Him. We do not seek the approval of men, but the honor of our Father. If we understand Who our Father is, we will suffer no insecurities!

April 14, 2017

Jeremiah 7 “Danger of Powerless Religion”

Powerless religion is extremely deceptive. It allows us to participate in forms of worship but remain unchanged by God’s power. Consequently we cling to forms of worship but walk away from God’s loving presence. God calls us to the repentance of changing our ways and deeds so we may continue in His presence. Yet, if we persist in own ways and deeds it will bring us into conflict with God. He sends us His word and His prophets to for correction, but when this is rejected nothing remains but His wrath. May we open our eyes to His mercy and be attentive to His word obeying His directives.

Luke 14:1-6 “Are We Meeting People’s Needs?”

Jesus went to the house of a religious leader to eat on a Sabbath day. These leaders carefully watched Jesus to see if He would heal on the Sabbath in violation of their tradition. When He asked if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, they remained silent. Jesus healed him and then rebuked them saying, “…’Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?’ And they could make no reply to this.” (5b-6). False religion is clothed with a hypocrisy more concerned with religious forms than the well being of people. When we cling to religious traditions instead of to Christ, we embrace a religious system occupied with position and tradition but neglecting real needs all around them. In fact, it is powerless to address the needs of humanity. May God give us the wisdom to pursue Christ with all our hearts so we are equipped, like Christ, to meet people’s real issues!

April 13, 2017

Jeremiah 6:16-30 “Rest in God’s Ways.”

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it’ And you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (16) There is something very precious about rest for our souls. Where do we find it? Quite simply in our pursuit of God and His ways and then walking with Him there. Walking in our own ways leads only to trouble and destruction. When we walk in our own ways we are deaf to God’s voice. May God open our eyes to see the value of His ways and His words.

Luke 13:22-35 “Following Christ to the End”

As Jesus neared Jerusalem and the time of His crucifixion, some seemed startled at the few who were being saved. Jesus responded, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (24). The popular way is not always God’s way or even the best way. The closer Jesus came to the cross, the smaller was the crowd. Though Jesus wept for Jerusalem, He could not change their ways or their destiny until they would say, “…’BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” (35). May our hearts always pursue the Lord and His messengers.

April 12, 2017

Jeremiah 6:1-15 “Shamelessness for Sinfulness”

When a place of worship becomes a place of wickedness, it is subject to God’s wrath. “As a well keeps its waters fresh, So she keeps fresh her wickedness…” (7a) Judgment begins at God’s house and we must separate from the wickedness in the church lest we be swept up in this judgment. When the church yields to ungodliness, she maintains religious forms but is void of power. “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” (14) Much of the church has lost its witness [and power] because she has no shame for her sins. May God grant us grace to rise above this in repentance and looking fully to the Lord again.

Luke 13:18-21 “The Visible Work of the Invisible!”

God’s kingdom is active though not always visible. A mustard seed, when planted, produces growth enabling the safe nesting of birds. So also the seed of God’s word planted produces a growth where new life in Christ is safe and can flourish. As leaven is hidden in flour works invisibly to produce visible results, so God’s ruling presence works within us to produce visible results. If we neglect God’s word and the work of His Spirit, we will not look any different to this world. However, when we come to the “secret place,” and let God’s word rule in our hearts, there will be a growth that no one can deny. Let us hunger for God’s word and the work of His Spirit within so we shine brightly all around us.

April 11, 2017

Jeremiah 5:14-31 “Are We Short Sighted?

Though our sin is great and rebellion persists, God grants us repeated opportunity to turn to Him in repentance. Yet, many fail to see God’s loving concern in their adversities. They experience a certain wealth, not from the Lord; but from their iniquities. Sadly, “The prophets prophecy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” (31) This kind of religion is not only self-centered, but short sighted. May we turn from temporary satisfaction to our God Who gives life eternal.

Luke 13:10-17 “Watch Our for Religious Interference!”

As Jesus taught in a Synagogue, He noticed a woman bent over in a sickness caused by a spirit. He called her over, declared her free, laid hands on her, and she was healed. The official became angry for Jesus interfered with his religious convictions. It is fascinating we can be so attached to religious forms that we fail to see or be concerned for those in bondage. They were more concerned for their work animals that brought profit, then freeing people in bondage in their church family! May God give us the heart of Christ for those in bondage around us today.

April 10, 2017

Jeremiah 5:1-13 “Prophets Subject to the Wind”

Jeremiah was dismayed at Israel’s failure to repent when facing adversities from God’s loving correction. He believed this was a condition among the lower class, but the well educated broke from the restraint of God’s word and persisted in a destructive path. Their growth was not from God and would be stripped away by God. They look to the prophets who change with the wind of the times. May we have the grace and wisdom to reject prophets subject to the prevailing winds and adhere to God’s word.

Luke 13:1-9 “Repentance Is Not Optional!”

Some came to Jesus pointing out Galileans killed by Pilate. It appears they perceived this as God’s judgment. Jesus noted they were not worse than any other and referred to 18 killed when a tower fell on them asking if they were worse than those in Jerusalem. “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (5) Jesus declared God tolerates unfruitfulness just so long, but eventually judges us if we do not repent. We are quick to see the need for others to repent, but slow to see our own. May God grant us the wisdom to turn fully to Him.

April 7, 2017

Jeremiah 4:19-31 “The Result of Turning from God”

Jeremiah’s heart is in anguish over the coming destruction on Jerusalem. Why would God allow such sudden and utter devastation? “For My people are foolish, They know Me not; They are stupid children/And have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, But to do good they do not know.” (22) When we turn from God to pursue this world and its gods, we enter into a chaotic darkness with horrific consequences. Turning away from God and not taking the time to know Him, leads to a terrible darkness. May God give us the wisdom, courage and strength to pursue Him always.

Luke 12:54-59 “Turn to God Today!!

People analyze weather, politics and a variety of conditions impacting their lives and still live ignorant of the times: “…but why do you not analyze this present time?” And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?” (56b-57). We live in a time of God’s mercy, but we often refuse to accept the deal offered in Christ. There is coming a time where it will be to late to receive God’s mercy. Let’s open our eyes to His great love and mercy before arriving at the judgment seat of Christ.

April 6, 2017

Luke 12:49-53 “Painful but True”

The coming of Jesus brought fire on the earth. Jesus, Himself, was distressed in facing all He would go through. His presence can even bring division to families. Receiving Christ is applauded by some, but disdained by others. Jesus did not come to make our lives smooth sailing [note Paul’s life], but to make our destiny certain. The destiny we have in Christ is more valuable than any relationship we have on this earth. This is the painful but essential reality of true Christianity.

Jeremiah 4:1-18 “Correction or Judgment, Our Choice!”

True repentance is seen in returning to God, putting away what He hates, and keeping our word (1-2a). The result brings blessing on God’s people and impacts the nations (2b). Yet failure to properly respond this call for repentance results in God’s wrath not for correction, but judgment. “In that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘A scorching wind from the bare heights in the wilderness in the direction of the daughter of My people – not to winnow and not to cleanse, a wind too strong for this – will come at My command; now I will also pronounce judgments against them.’” (11-12). We have this option, receive God’s loving correction or face His judgment.

April 5, 2017

Jeremiah 3:15-25 “Will We Yield to God’s Blessing?”

After calling the church to admit her sin and return to God as master, He promises: “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.” (15) First, this brings great increase to God’s people. Secondly, the outsiders recognize God’s throne [rule] in the church and they no longer walk in their own ways. Though God’s people have dealt treacherously with Him, He still reaches out calling them to return. However, many choose to continue to live in their shame rejecting both God and His word. May God give us the grace to go against the flow of wickedness and self rule and return to honor God in prayer, worship and obedience.

Luke 12:41-48 “The Faithful & Sensible Steward”

A steward is NOT the owner, but one entrusted with a possession of another. As Christ’s servants, we are given responsibility to care for God’s people, bride or church. The servant who feeds God’s people properly, will be rewarded with increased responsibility. However, if we neglect His people and seek self promotion, we will face the fate of unbelievers. Yet, those who are faithful to God’s will, are rewarded with increased authority and responsibility. May we see our role in God’s kingdom as a place to serve others and not exalt ourselves. Misused authority for selfish reasons has serious and eternal consequences.

April 4, 2017

Jeremiah 3:6-14 “Admit Sin & Return to God”

Though Judah witnessed the faithlessness of Israel and her punishment, she did not fear God or return to Him. Though Israel’s sin of neglecting God and turning to idols was great, God did not want to look at them with anger. “…’Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger….” (12b) What does the church need to do to regain His favor? “‘Only acknowledge your iniquity,’ Declares the LORD;…” (13a) “‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD;…” (14a) Quite simply, we must ADMIT our sin and RETURN to God. Then God promises He will become our master and return us to the place of prayer and worship [Zion]. Probably the biggest stumbling block to revival is not taking responsibility for the reasons for its absence.

Luke 12:35-40 “Prepare Yourselves!”

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” “Be like men who are waiting for their master…” (35-36a) Jesus repeatedly warned us to be prepared for His return like a servant waiting for his master. Are we alert and waiting for our Lord? Have we prepared ourselves by being in His word, in praise and prayer? Or, are we our own master? God calls us to be faithful, but we cannot be faithful to God if we are not consecrated [set apart] for spiritual disciplines. We must attend to His word, to worship and to prayer. Let us not only prepare ourselves for His return, but prepare ourselves for a fresh revival in His church.

April 3, 2017

Jeremiah 3:1-5 “A Cause of Spiritual Drought”

When God’s church turns anywhere but to Him for help, He considers this spiritual harlotry [idolatry]. Yet, we fail to see the barrenness and wickedness of this. We look to talent, intellect, programs, hobbies and all sorts of things to remedy our condition. “Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no spring rain…” (3a) In hardness of hearts, we call on our Father as if we have done right. We are confused by His absence, but the answer is simple. “…Behold, you have spoken/And done evil things, And you have HAD YOUR WAY.” (5B) [emphasis mine]. May God give us the grace of repentance and turn back to Him with all our hearts.

Luke 12:22-34 “We Are Valuable to God!”

When we are anxious about provisions, we are ignorant of our VALUE to God. “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens,…” (23-24a) These creatures do not sow, reap and store up in barns, but God feeds them. “…how much more VALUABLE (emphasis mine] you are than the birds!” (24c) Material concerns are not to be our first concern! “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (31) If our first concern is God’s rule, He takes care of all our needs and we are released to generosity. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (34) When material concerns interfere with spiritual concerns, our heart is sick. May God help us see our VALUE to Him so we can stay focused on what is truly important.

March 31, 2017

Jeremiah 2:29-37 “God Disciplines those He Loves”

Failure to admit sin leads to blindness and blaming God for our own bad decisions. Though God seeks to correct us by suffering and His Word, we often attack the messenger as the problem. “O generation, heed the word of the LORD…” (31a) The result of resistance to God’s loving discipline will harden our hearts and make us blind to our true nature. If we are unwilling to receive God’s correction, we will inevitably face God’s judgment. May we humble ourselves and receive God’s discipline regardless of the form it takes.

Luke 12:13-21 “Be Aware & Guard Against Greed!’

A man in the crowd asked Jesus to tell his brother to give him his fair share of the family inheritance. First, Jesus said this is not His place. Second, He said: “…’BEWARE, and be on GUARD against every form of GREED; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (15b). None of our possessions follow us in death! We should note that greed is not only seen in the accumulation of stuff, but in a contention for economic justice. In other words, greed has many shapes. Life is not found in the material world and we must beware and guard against every attempt it makes to possess our souls.

March 30, 2017

Jeremiah 2:14-28 “Are We Suffering Unnecessarily?”

Much suffering is self inflicted and unnecessary. God was, is, and always will be, faithful to guide, provide and protect us, yet we turn to the same resources [gods] this world adores [worships]. Though God shows Himself faithful, we fail to honor Him and follow Him fully. We start well, but often turn away to follow useless gods. God allows us to wander and reap the harvest of our bad choices. But when we are in a bad place, we cry out to Him as if it were His fault. And He says, “But where are your gods/Which you made for yourself? Let them arise, If they can save you/In the time of your trouble;…” (28a). Sadly, at times, we have to suffer the consequences of our own bad choices before we realize how good and loving our heavenly Father is. Let us not wait to turn to Him, but pursue Him with all our heart continuously.

Luke 12:1-12 “Valued by God”

Jesus warned His disciples of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Nothing is permanently covered, but will be exposed. Every word whispered word will be heard. Religious coverings will not help! Jesus’ greatest opposition came from the hypocrisy of false religion [not politics]. He tells us not to fear them for they have no authority over our soul’s destiny. “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (5) Another reason we do not fear them, is we have great VALUE [are loved by] to God. Finally, we speak truth leaning on the Holy Spirit, for we give account to our God and there is grave consequences to yielding to the opposition.

March 29, 2017

Jeremiah 2:1-13 “Never Forget!”

Here God reminded His people that from the beginning He was faithful to them in their journey. Though they once loved Him and new His provisions, they turned from Him defiling their land and did not notice His absence. The church, at times, turns from God to their own efforts and ideas not being concerned with God’s absence. Here is God’s summary of their sin: “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns/That hold no water.” (13). Let us never forget God’s love and faithfulness by turning aside to our own endeavors which will always leave us empty!

Luke 11:37-54 “Focus on the Inner Man”

Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, religious people focus on men’s exterior to the neglect of the inner man. Jesus made it clear when we tend to our inner condition, we become completely clean. Legalism focused on the exterior results in HARM and DECEPTION. This is seen in desires for prominence, recognition and respect while covering inner decay. When legalism is confronted, it does not repent, but acts offended and self-righteous. It steals the key of knowledge hindering others from coming to Jesus. Finally, it culminates in hostility to Christ and any true expression of God’s kingdom. Let us guard against this hypocrisy and promote true holiness in Christ.

March 28, 2017

Jeremiah 1:11-19 “A Source of Disappointment”

Jeremiah received the painful job of prophesying against God’s people. Why was God so upset with them? “I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” (16) They forsook God and turned to other gods. They did not worship God, but worshiped their own accomplishments [works]. Unfortunately, today many in the church are worshiping the works of their own hands and failing to humbly rejoice in the works of God. Worshiping God brings us to great joy in His presence, but worshiping our own deeds ultimately leads to disappointment and depression. Let us stay focused and worship God alone!

Luke 11:29-36 “How Are Your Eyes?”

The Queen of the South came a great distance to hear Solomon’s wisdom. The men of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching. Yet Jesus was greater than both, yet many still did not respond to Him. Religious heritage does not acquire for us acceptance in God, but how we respond to those speaking His word does. “The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” (34) When the light of God’s word shines in our hearts, we need to both hear and respond. Many suffer from spiritual blindness due their lack of response. Let us tend to the condition of our eyes by attentiveness and obedience to God’s word!

March 27, 2017

Jeremiah 1:1-10 “Do Not Say…!”

Jeremiah prophesied from the rule of Josiah to Zedekiah, the time of Judah’s exile. God’s word laid a foundation for his ministry that would not only be opposed, but also rejected. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (5) God declares He formed, knew, consecrated and appointed him, but Jeremiah stated insecurity due to his youth. He would go on to obey as God told him “…Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak.” (7b) God is not looking for experience, talent or skill. He is looking for obedience. Let’s not raise objection but trust and obey His directives!

Luke 11:14-28 “The Source of Blessing”

Controversy over the source of power in Jesus’ ministry always abounded. Yet Jesus declared His authority was from God. “But if I cast out demons BY the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (20) He further declared the casting out of demons is not the end, but can lead to a worse state if the cleansed state is not properly occupied. A woman declared, “…’Blessed is the womb that bore You…’” (27). Jesus responded, “…’On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.’” (28b). Blessing is not upon those with a natural heritage, but on those who hear God’s word and obey. Blessing is not by our natural birth, but by attentiveness to and obeying God’s word!

March 24, 2017

Isaiah 66:10-24 “Unto Him Be Glory in the Church”

In these final words of Isaiah’s prophecy, we are called to joyful celebrations for the church. Why? In this context God will have peace, be abundantly nurtured and loved. “As one who his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.” (13) God’s assembled worshiping people will know His favor, protection and promotion. We are not concerned with our enemies, for we trust God and His judgement on them. God’s gathered worshiping people will reveal His glory, be a witness to the world and have an enduring legacy.

Luke 11:1-13 “Understanding Prayer”

Luke’s version of the “Lord’s Prayer” reveals the nature of the petitions we should bring to God. Note the following prayer foci: 1. The honor of God; 2. The rule of God; 3. The provision of God; 4. The flow of God’s mercy; 5. The moral protection of God. He emphasizes our persistence in prayer in light of the goodness of God as Father. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (13) We come to God in prayer assured of His goodness and desire to give us what we need. Our greatest need is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Finally, God gives the Holy Spirit to all who ask Him. Let us approach our heavenly Father in confidence of goodness, awareness of our greatest need, and expectation for a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit.

March 23, 2017

Isaiah 66:1-9 “The Path to Favor & Fruitfulness”

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?’” (1) As the Creator of all that exists, there is nothing we can “do” for God to impress Him. He is not attracted by our offerings. God is attentive to those who are attentive to Him in humility, contrition and respect for His word. Nothing disturbs God more than failing to give attention to His word. This inevitably leads to wrong doing. However, when we tremble before His word, we walk in His favor and are fruitful.

Luke 10:38-42 “Undistracted Attention!”

When Jesus visited the home of Martha and Mary, they were both quite taken by His presence. Martha was busy making preparations while Mary was in perfect attention “…listening to His word.” (39b). Martha complained to Jesus and asked Him to order her to help. Jesus said only one thing was essential and Mary had chosen it. Again, Jesus is not in need of our doing, but we are in need of His word. When we are hungry for Christ’s word, nothing will get in the way of our hearing Him. Are we distracted from God’s word even by good things?

March 22, 2017

Isaiah 65:17-25 “Created for Gladness!”

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing/And her people for gladness.” (18) What does it mean that we would rejoice in what God creates. Paul declares we are “new creations.” The church should be the happiest place on earth because we are created for rejoicing and gladness. God’s kingdom is “…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17b). God Himself says, “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;” (19) I take great joy when my children and grandchildren experience joy. It is in the context of joy and rejoicing that God promises great restoration. Remember, We are God’s creation!

Luke 10:25-37 “Mercy and Love”

When a lawyer asked Jesus what to do for eternal life, he was not really interested in an answer. He merely wanted to justify himself. Many in religion are not looking for life, but self justification. Jesus said we are to love God and our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? He is the one in need unable to help himself. As we care for those in need showing mercy, we are loving our neighbor as ourselves. All of us are in need of mercy and when we refuse to show mercy we reflect an ignorance of what God has done for us. Let us love God and our neighbor.

March 21, 2017

Isaiah 65:1-16 “Are We Doing Our Own Thing?”

God got frustrated with His own people. Why? “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way which is not good, FOLLOWING THEIR OWN THOUGHTS,” (2) [emphasis mine]. God turns His attention to those who do not seek Him and rejects those who seek Him according to their own thoughts. Though they worship God, they do so in “their own way.” They will suffer the wrath of God for disregarding His directives. Yet, those who are God’s servants will be satisfied, full of joy and overflow with joyful expressions of praise. God is a God of truth and will not tolerate being disregarded. He does not want our ideas, but our adoring attention.

Luke 10:17-24 “Our Joy & Blessing”

After Jesus sent out seventy disciples they returned with joy declaring they had power over demons in His name. As disciples went out with power, Jesus saw “…Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” (18). However, their power was not to be the source of their joy. “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (20) When our joy flows from our salvation, it never runs out. Jesus rejoiced in that God had not chosen to do these things from the wise and talented, but through ordinary people. The key to their authority was not in themselves, but in the commissioning and equipping of their Lord. Walking in obedience to, and power of Jesus, is a great blessing!

March 20, 2017

Isaiah 64 “Father, Visit Us in Mercy”

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence—-“ (1) Isaiah calls on God for a visitation from God as is recorded in Scripture based upon His mercy. No one was deserving. No one was expecting. No one compares to the God Who reveals Himself to an undeserving people. “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. (8) Our only hope is in our Father, His mercy and a visitation of His presence. We look no where else, but to Him.

Luke 10:1-16 “Faithfulness, Our Measure of Success!”

Jesus sends us only where He is going. We look to the “Lord of the harvest” for our direction. God does not need our ideas, but our obedience to His directives. When there is more than one boss, the harvest suffers. Not only are we sent by the Lord of the harvest, but we are equipped by Him. We have both our direction and method of operation from Him. Our focus is proclamation and demonstration of God’s kingdom and are not to be distracted by peoples’ response. It are not distracted by success, failure, rejection or injustice. Our faithfulness to the Lord of the harvest is our only measure of success.

March 17, 2017

Isaiah 63:7-19 “We Belong to Our Father”

Our salvation is rooted in God’s character. Hence our focus should be on who HE is: His lovingkindness, inexhaustible resources, goodness, compassion and, not the least of which, our belonging to Him. WE ARE HIS! But, like Israel, we fail and enter into falsehood, affliction and even rebellion. However, God’s presence never leaves us and when we call on Him, He is there for us! Why? We are His habitation and the target of His zeal and mercy? Why? “For You are our FATHER,…” (16a). Our hope of transformation is found in Whose we are!

Luke 9:57-62 “Are We Fit for the Kingdom?”

The discipleship Jesus taught is different from what is taught in many churches. Jesus never made it easy to follow Him. There are no promises of easy street. It is necessary we prioritize God’s kingdom over our earthly family. We must persist in following Jesus and not be distracted by other relationships. Does this seem harsh or demanding? If so, perhaps we fail to realize the unmeasurable wealth of being with Jesus and in His kingdom. If so, we are not “…fit for the kingdom of God.” (62)

March 16, 2017

Isaiah 63:1-6 “God Alone Is Judge”

We have no need to be concerned about injustices suffered by God’s people. Though we are not worthy to bring revenge, God Himself will extend His wrath on all who oppose His people. He alone can bring salvation and He alone can bring justice! Justice is not in the hands of governments, but in God’s hands for He alone is righteous.

Luke 9:43b-56 “Worried About Significance?”

Regardless of Jesus’ attempts to inform His disciples of His coming suffering and death, they did not understand and “…were afraid to ask Him about this statement.” (45b). Then they began to argue about which of them was the greatest. In the God’s kingdom our significance is not determined by our position or the power wield over others. It is revealed in humbling ourselves to serve the well-being of others. If we are consumed with our significance, we fall into the trap of being judgmental. In this way, we actually drift into criticism and appoint ourselves as God’s judges. We are called to serve God and not to be His judges.

March 15, 2017

Isaiah 62 “Established as a Praise”

The identity of God’s people is not in its own hands. Isaiah intercedes persistently for Zion. Jerusalem’s character is connected to God’s work which is connected to the intercession of church’s leaders. “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes/And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (6-7) Many of today’s leaders are more concerned about the number of people in church than the character of the church. May our passion and prayer be that we are established as a praise to our God for the honor of God.

Luke 9:37-43a “What Frustrates Jesus?”

After being on the mountain of prayer for encouragement to face His destiny, Jesus was confronted by a father of a demon possessed boy His disciples were unable to cure. He said, “…’You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.’” (41b). Jesus was not disturbed at this father, but He was troubled by His own disciples’ lack of faith and perversion. May God forgive us for unbelief and divided hearts, so we can move in power to meet the overwhelming needs of the world in which we live. Otherwise, we will frustrate our Lord.

March 14, 2017

Isaiah 61:10-11 “Our Beauty, God’s Glory”

We are never more beautiful then when we are walking in our Creators design and intentions of salvation and righteousness. We make the determination of joyful exuberant praise in light of all God has done for us. The work of God to produce righteousness in us and our determination to praise Him is a far reaching testimony before all nations.

Luke 9:28-36 “While He Was Praying”

It was while Jesus was praying His face changed, clothing became bright and was encouraged to accept a very difficult assignment in conversation with Moses and Elijah. Peter and the disciples offered to build something special, but they were interrupted by God and called to obedience to His Son. God is not in need of our ideas, but of our attention to His Son and full obedience. Jesus was strengthened while He was praying.

March 13, 2017

Isaiah 61:1-9 “Living in a Healthy Focus”

Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God to free the bound, heal the broken and comfort all who mourn. He did not come bringing judgment, but restoration of God’s favor. It is up to us to put on the mantle of praise He has given us and change our focus. As my friend says, “we are God’s favorites.” God’s desire is to extend to His people His favor and plant us in righteousness so He will be glorified. Let us live out God’s desires and leave for our children a legacy of great joy.

Luke 9:18-27 “Who Is Jesus?”

Jesus asked two questions: “…’Who do the people say that I am?’” (18b) and, “…’But who do you say that I am?’” Many today are preoccupied with who they are, but that is not the question leading to life. When we have a revelation of who Jesus is, then we are on track. Yet, Jesus was concerned our perception of Him would be altered by what He would go through. We can lose sight of who Jesus is when we face trials [crosses]. We cannot cling to who we are and grow in who God is making us, unless we deny self, embrace our cross and follow Jesus because of who He is. Our destiny depends on staying focused on who Jesus is and not on who we are.

March 10, 2017

Isaiah 60:15-22 “Revival Brings Blessings!”

The reviving of God’s people removes the shame of past failures and brings them into God’s favor and blessings. A wonderful benefit of revival is we no longer depend upon the natural realm for guidance “…But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory.” (19b). Sorrow goes away and righteousness prevails because of the work of God for the glory of God. May God give us His grace to release the works of the flesh and to live by His Spirit.

Luke 9:12-17 “At the End of the Day!”

A large crowd spent an entire day with Jesus so His disciples asked Him to release them to find lodging and food. Jesus said, “…’You give them something to eat!” (13a) The disciples objected for their supply was insufficient. He then asked them to prepare them to be fed. “Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and LOOKING UP to heaven, He blessed, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.” (16) When Jesus tells us to do something, we need not worry about our supply. Jesus took their lack, looked into heaven, blessed, broke and distributed until all were full with leftovers. At the end of the day, we can do more by obeying Christ and looking to heaven, then focusing on our natural resources.

March 9, 2017

Isaiah 60:10-14 “Reflectors of God’s Glory”

When God restores us we not only enjoy His favor, but He makes our enemies to be supporters by His compassion. We do not fear vulnerability, but have open gates so the “wealth of the nations” may be brought to us. He protects us from all opponents and clothes us with His glory. He beautifies us as His dwelling place and we are seen as belonging to God. We are not imitators of this world, but reflectors of His glory bringing light to this world. We live free of fear and full of His presence and joy.

Luke 9:1-11 “Staying Focused”

“And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal diseases.” (1) When Jesus sent out the twelve, He was not concerned about their provisions. As a matter of fact, He warned that concern for provisions could be a distraction. He also warned them not to get distracted by those who reject them, but leave them to God’s judgment. Following Christ’s directives requires we stay focused and not be distracted by our successes or failures. Let’s pursue the presence and power of God for an effective testimony and not be distracted by non-essentials.

March 8, 2017

Isaiah 60:1-9 “Arise, Shine!”

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” (1) The light we live in is the glory of our God who shines on us. In this world covered with darkness, the nations will be drawn to our light. Genuine revival always brings great light attracting those in need of it. God promises to glorify His house and His people through a great restoration to Himself. This is a time of God’s favor glorifying God’s people with light in the midst of a dark world. Politics, education and talent are not the answer. It is the work of God in the people of God who will shine the light of God for the glory of God.

Luke 8:40-56 “Press In to Receive!”

While some rejected Jesus, others in great need, pressed in to be touched by Him. Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter when interrupted by a woman suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years. She pressed in to touch His clothes for healing. When Jesus was ministering to her, report reached them of Jairus daughter’s death. But he was not deterred by what appeared to them as hopeless. He persisted and spoke life back into Jairus daughter. In both cases, desperate people persisted in receiving what they needed from Jesus. Do we do the same?

March 7, 2017

Isaiah 59:15b-21 “Salvation from God”

Injustice greatly disturbs God but He knows of man’s inability to resolve this. “And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him.” (16) God Himself has accomplished our salvation and He deals with all our opposition. He gives us His Spirit and His Word from His covenant. Our salvation is a result of His word and His work. Our hope is in God alone and not in ourselves!

Luke 8:26-39 “Does Jesus Make Us Uncomfortable?

Demons possessing a man were tormented by Jesus presence when He was casting them out. When they were cast out, the people were frightened and spread word. Now the previously demon possessed man made well, their fear moved the community to ask Jesus to leave. Jesus will not remain where He is not welcomed. It is interesting that Jesus’ presence in power to deliver the demoniac made those in compromised living uncomfortable? Could this be why so many reject and avoid His presence?

March 6, 2017

Isaiah 59:1-15a “Separated From or To God?”

Have you ever sensed a gap between you and God? If you have, it is never attributed to any shortcoming in God. If we allow His Word to search our hearts by His Spirit, the answer will be found in our bad choices and sins. When we reject God’s ways and thoughts, we end up wandering aimlessly in our own. In so doing we create a cloud of darkness interfering with and distorting our perceptions of God. When we confess this and take responsibility, God is quick to dispel it and revive us. Let us not walk in a lie, but walk in the light of God’s Word and love always. Then we will be separated from this world and separated to God!

Luke 8:22-25 “Sail On!”

“…’Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’” (22b) Have you ever obeyed a clear word from God only to enter a devastating storm? Or has it ever seemed that Jesus fell asleep during your journey? When we loose sight of God’s word, fear overtakes us. Jesus rose and rebuked the wind and waves and they became calm. Then Jesus rebuked their lack of faith and they became fearful of Him. Dangerous storms do not mean we have missed God or we will have smooth sailing. Every storm is an opportunity to adjust what we believe about Christ. Let us sail on in obedience to God’s directives!

March 3, 2017

Isaiah 58:13-14 “Enjoying God’s Day”

“If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot/From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,” (13) Nothing interferes with God’s blessings like “doing our own thing” or seeking to please us into the joy of God’s will. Hence we not only enjoy the heights of earth, but the heritage God has promised to His people. God’s word is not intended to be a restriction of joy, but the pathway to joy. Let us take time to honor the day of the Lord so we enjoy the blessings of the Lord.

Luke 8:16-21 “Living in the Light”

Light is essential for life. It exposes dangers, flaws and anything interfering with life. The light we have is directly related to how we listen to God’s word. When we listen carefully, our hearts are filled with light leading to life. When we ignore His word, we live in darkness and when the light comes it exposes us and brings shame. The light Jesus lived in revealed to Him the value of God’s family. Our choice is simple. Live in darkness now and know the shame of being exposed, or live in light now and enjoy the life God has given us through His Son and His word.

March 2, 2017

Isaiah 58:1-12 “Checking Our Motivations”

“‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers.” (4) Religious activity without the transformation of character leads us to a false faith without power. The pursuit of our “own way” undermines the very purpose of spiritual disciplines and yields no fruit. When we shift our focus of these disciplines to concern for others, we are restored to a place of power with God and influence in this world. We are then guided by God’s voice, satisfied in our dry places and restored to a being a source of life to others.

Luke 8:1-15 “The Seed of God’s Word”

Jesus followers included a number of women who supported Him financially. Yet, He experienced the rejection of many others. Why such vast reactions to His ministry? Why did some initially receive Him but eventually fell away? This parable of the seed and the soil is the explanation. The seed had the same quality in all four cases, but the soil, or condition of hearts, varied. When we are faithful to sow good seed it does not guarantee good results. The various conditions of men’s hearts will determine the success of the seed. We need not adjust the seed of God’s word, but focus on remaining faithful to it.

March 1, 2017

Isaiah 57:11-21 “God Loves Those Who Are Far Off”

God is amazed at His people’s persistence in rejecting Him, but His ear is open to the cry of all who turn to Him. To these He gives great inheritance and leads them to His high and holy place. Who is it God revives? “…And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit/In order to revive the spirit of the lowly/And to revive the heart of the contrite.” (15b) No God does not revive the intelligent, talented or wise. He revives the broken in spirit and all who humbly turn to Him for help. “…’Peace, peace him who is far and to him who is near,’ Says the LORD, ‘and I will heal him.’” (19b) It does not matter how far off we may be, when we turn to God He is faithful to restore us and heal us.

Luke 7:40-50 “Great Mercy & Great Love”

Jesus presented a situation to Simon regarding two debtors. One had a much larger debt than the other, but both were forgiven. He asked which one would love the lender more? Obviously the one forgiven more. So this woman who was forgiven much had a much greater expression of love in praise than Simon. When we are in Jesus’ presence our expressions of worship reflect our understanding of the greatness of His mercy due to the greatness of our debt. Those whose praise is puny fail to understand the depth of their sin and the greatness of His love. May God give us the wisdom to love Jesus in praise and worship reflective of the magnitude of our debt and His mercy.

February 28, 2017

Isaiah 57:1-10 “Our Hope Is in God alone”

This strong language reflects the heartbreak God feels when we turn everywhere but to Him. In spite of the failure of our idols to provide what we need, we often do not see our utter hopelessness outside of Him. God has every reason to judge us harshly for forsaking Him. Yet, we persist in spiritual unfaithfulness and seek relief and strength from this created world. What will it take to awaken our souls? Our only hope is found in our Creator and not in His creation. May His grace open our eyes to this reality.

Luke 7:36-39 “Receiving Jesus”

Simon understood that Jesus was special, but did not understand the depth of his own sinfulness. He was religious enough that he did not see his sinfulness, but the woman came with a costly expression of worship. This failure to realize his sinfulness, contributed to his being judgmental, not only of the woman, but of Jesus also. Self-righteousness blinds us to our own sinfulness setting the stage for a judgmental spirit toward others, ignorance of our own state, and an inability to receive all Christ has for us. Lord open the eyes of our heart to receive all you have for us.

February 27, 2017

Isaiah 56 “My Way or God’s Way?”

Here we have contrasted those outside the church who keep God’s word [justice, righteousness, Sabbath, etc] with those inside the church who do their own thing. Our religious heritage is worthless unless it is infused with a continuous honoring of God’s word. When we release our ways and thoughts, God promises to bring us near to Him, His ways and thoughts. Regardless of our religious status or position, when we walk in our own way, we walk in utter spiritual blindness. May we have the wisdom and grace to release our own will and pursue God with all our hearts.

Luke 7:31-35 “Extreme Living or Mediocrity?”

Jesus and John had very different ministry styles, yet neither appealed to the religious elite of their day. They were both rejected and falsely accused of extremes not conforming to the religious standards of the day. Yet, these two “extreme” ministries would produce fruit dwarfing that of their accusers. May God give us the grace to be extreme in our love and obedience to God through Christ and live in an manner that we bear much enduring fruit. Life is too short to live in mediocrity!

February 24, 2017

Isaiah 55:6-13 “God’s Word Never Fails!”

We are strongly encouraged to seek God and call on Him while there is opportunity. To do this we must forsake our own ways and thoughts. Why? Because God’s ways and thoughts are as different from ours as day and night. His ways are as better than ours even as the heavens are higher than the earth. Our ways and thoughts have to be abandon so our attention is turned to God’s word which never fails. In so doing we enter the path of joy, peace, influence and fruitfulness.

Luke 7:18-30 “Called to Greater Greatness”

John’s imprisonment raised doubts in his mind as to whether Jesus was the Christ. So he sent disciples to Jesus for clarity. At that time, Jesus persisted in miraculous ministry and told them to report it to John adding, “…’Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.’” (22c). Jesus speaks of John’s greatness, but they too had been called to a greater greatness. Though men of God have doubts when facing trials, they turn to Jesus to dispel that cloud. Jesus also said, “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Do not let your trials diminish your faith or Jesus’ call to greatness!

February 23, 2017

Isaiah 55:1-5 “Are You Fully Satisfied?”

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat…” (1) Our sin stained vision causes us to invest time and money in things leaving us empty. We waste precious resources on what cannot be purchased, but is only available in turning to our merciful Creator and Redeemer. We need God’s voice, “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen that you may live;…” (3a) When we give careful attention to God, not only are we satisfied, but we have overflowing life impacting this world. “…Because of the LORD your God even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” (5b). A full sense of satisfaction in life is only possible in the life lived in full attention and obedience to God.

Luke 7:11-17 “Compassion Motivates Resurrection”

When Jesus entered Nain with His disciples and a crowd, He came to a dead man being carried out. He was an only son and his mother was a widow [without support]. Upon seeing her, Jesus felt compassion for her and commanded the young man to arise. The young man sat up, began to speak and He gave him back to his mother. This resulted in a report going all over Judah. However, this was not Jesus’ motivation [to get a crowd]. His motivation was compassion for her loss and this caused Him to resurrect the young man. True compassion moves us to supernatural action. May God give us the compassion of Christ to resurrect our communities! Outside of Christ, we and they, have no hope.

February 22, 2017

Isaiah 54:11-17 “Lean on God’s Favor”

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will…” (11a) When we face adversities for which we have no relief, we then discover what God will do on our behalf. Total trust in God yields beauty and value beyond compare. Being established in righteousness, we are not subject to oppression, fear or false accusation. Our God governs every enemy and we are safe regardless of the most evil intentions or powerful weapons of those who rise against us. We rest not in our gifting, talents or intellect, but in the loving care of our LORD for we are His servants and bride.

Luke 7:1-10 “Faith – Jesus Under Authority”

A centurion’s slave was about to die. Having heard of Jesus, he sent Jewish leaders asking Him to heal him. These elders said, “…’He IS WORTHY for You to grant this to him;’” (4b). This centurion loved the Jews and had built a synagogue for them. When Jesus was near the house, the centurion sent ‘friends’ [not elders] who said, “…’Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am NOT WORTHY for You to come under my roof;’” (6b) His self-perception was he was not worthy for Him to enter his house. Yet because Jesus was ‘under’ authority he did not see his unworthiness as an obstacle. Healing does not come to us because we deserve it, but because of who Christ is in relationship to His Heavenly Father. The centurion’s faith was not rooted in his sense of worth, but in Who Jesus is and Who He is “under.”

February 21, 2017

Isaiah 54:1-10 “True Worship Involves Faith”

This call to expressive joyful praise springs from the work of our Messiah. Faith worship holds fast to God’s promise even when we are mocked for barrenness. God’s promise prevails over all of life’s contradictions. Faith moves us to plan for growth before there is any sign of it. We put aside fear of shame because of the certainty of WHOSE we are: “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts;…” (6) Yes, we have known the absence of God’s favor for a moment, but we cling to His compassion and promise which lasts forever. We trust in Whose we are!

Luke 6:39-49 “Christianity Demands Obedience”

Religious activity without obedience to God results in devastating deception and failure. These people focus on other’s issues, while blind to their own. To reverse this awful blindness, we must deal with our own issues in the light of God’s word. Genuine faith produces fruit reflected in our words: “…for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (45b). No matter how well versed we are in religious terminology, who we are is revealed when we are under the pressure of storms. Everyone faces them, but only those who have acted on God’s word will remain. Those who merely embrace Christian language without obedience, will have a devastating and humiliating fall.

February 20, 2017

Isaiah 53 “Appreciate the Cost of Salvation”

This prophecy speaks of Jesus work as our Savior. He was in compliance with the Father, but in His humanity was not really impressive. In fact, He was rejected by men but well acquainted with sorrow and grief. “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.” (4) Jesus embraced this for our benefit taking the penalty of our sin. Most impressively, He did so without objection or violent resistance. All He endured was permitted by His Father for our good. Though salvation is free to us, the price Jesus paid is beyond comprehension and warrants our highest praise.

Luke 6:27-38 “Loving Our Enemies?”

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (27-28) Jesus’ teaching is difficult to embrace and these words seem unbearable to all except the most mature. Yet, He clearly calls us to a love which radically distinguishes us from all other peoples. Anyone can respond with love when treated with love, but the believer is called to love those who mistreat them. We are called to love our enemies and do good without any expectation of return (35). However, there is a huge obstacle preventing us from loving this way, and it is a judgmental attitude. We are not called to judge, but to give! If we are critical, we can not be generous. Generosity wars against a judgmental spirit and generates great rewards with our Father who is kind to ungrateful and evil men. We have no greater testimony than when we follow Christ’s example of love.

February 17, 2017

Isaiah 52 “Wake Up & Get Dressed!”

Isaiah calls God’s worshiping people [Zion] to awake, clothe themselves with beauty, shake off the dust of bondage and celebrate their liberation. This is not because we know ‘who we are’ or are directed by the voice of great men. It is because, “…My people shall know My name [who God is]; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking [God’s Word], ‘Here I am.’” (6). When we focus on ‘who God is’ [His Name] and do ‘what God says’, [His Word], we bring good news. When we depart from our bondages, surrender to God’s Son, and declare His salvation, then all opposition is silenced and God is glorified in us. Let us get up, get dressed and go forth and declare God’s glory!

Luke 6:24-26 “Seeing the Future”

Jesus warns with great seriousness of the dangers of wealth, abundance of provisions, shallow laughter and being well thought of by men. Present retention of wealth is a comfort that lasts only in this life. So it is with all this world pursues. It’s sense of satisfaction is limited to this life. Being loved and approved by the majority is the way false prophets were treated. Popularity and abundance are deceptive measuring sticks by which we are deprived of lasting treasure. May God grant us the wisdom and courage to live for eternal wealth and heaven’s approval.

February 16, 2017

Isaiah 51:14-23 “God’s Love Lasts Forever”

Israel went into exile because of her refusal to listen to God. Now God, who placed her in affliction, is about to set her free. She found no relief in her own descendants and they were helpless at God’s rebuke. Yet, no matter how loud their present circumstances are, they now must hear the message that only God can bring. God will turn the cup of His anger on the very ones who have mocked them while they were down. He promises they will never have to drink from this cup anymore. His love endures forever.

Luke 6:22-23 “The Blessing of Suffering”

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.” (22) In our flesh, this statement seems outrageous. But if we look a little deeper, it is a great truth. First, we realize we are suffering for the sake of Christ which is a great honor. Second, we should have great joy because we have great reward in heaven. Third, when we suffer in this way we share the same fate of true prophets throughout Biblical history. No, suffering these things is not a pleasant experience, but we need to see the reason for our suffering, the benefits of our suffering and the high standing we acquire when we suffer. In fact, we are truly blessed! Defensiveness, in this context, reflects ignorance of these great truths.

February 15, 2017

Isaiah 51:1-13 “Our Hope Is in You Lord”

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the LORD:…” (1a) As we look back to God and the history of salvation, we have faith the Lord will comfort us from all our disasters and deserts. We are then filled with joy and gladness in our darkest hour. It is all a matter of focus. “Pay attention to Me, O My people, And give ear to Me, O My nation;… (4a) Our guidance and light for walking comes from God alone as we turn away from all creation to our Creator. We are called to wake up and remember what God has done for us. We take no comfort from this world and have no fear of our oppressors, for our help comes from the Lord who made all and promises to deal with all our enemies.

Luke 6:21 “Living a Life of Faith”

“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (21) God does not promise us a life free of need or in pain. However, He does promise us that these are temporary and we will have satisfaction and laughter. Again the question is, on what do we focus? Do we focus on present discomforts, or on God’s promises. True faith looks beyond pain and darkness in the present and grasps the promises of God. True faith does not mope about present injustices, but gives expression to joyful praise and worship rooted in God’s Word. Are we living a life of faith or we trapped in the present by unbelief?

February 14, 2017

Isaiah 50 “Trust in God’s Love!”

If there is a separation from God’s presence and power, it is not His doing but our sin. When God calls to us, have we responded? Has He ever lacked power to deliver? The answer is a definite NO! The history of our salvation proves otherwise. The following prophetic declaration of perfect discipleship is seen in God’s servant and our Savior. No one has faced greater darkness, affliction or humiliation. Yet, He persisted in obedience of light shown to Him daily. It is utter folly to create our own light and then rely on it. Living by our fleshly judgment leads to death and torment. Jesus gave us the perfect example on how to face the darkness that comes to us all. Trust in our Father whose perfect love will never leave us in shame but lead us to glory.

Luke 6:20 “The Blessing of Poverty!”

“…’Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (20b) This word poor is an expression of utter helplessness. How is it poverty can be a blessing? When we believe we have something to contribute to our salvation, then we are hindered from receiving God’s restored rule in our lives. When we see ourselves as sinful and without ability to change [poor], we are positioned to receive what God has for us in His Son. Without awareness of our utter poverty, we do not turn to God. But when we are honest with ourselves, we are able to turn to God and His provisions. A healthy honest perception of our poverty brings us to our knees daily so we do not rely on our own will, intellect, talent or any fleshly element of our being. In this way realizing our utter poverty leads us to the riches found in Christ!

February 10, 2017

Isaiah 49:1-13 “I Belong to Jesus!”

Do we fully comprehend who we are as God’s people? We are of great value to our Lord! Why? “…’You are My Servant, Israel, In Whom I will show my glory.’” (3b) Our value comes from Whose we are and Whose purpose we serve. God formed us for His great purpose of being His light to this world and for this we enjoy His favor. We are God’s instruments. “Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people/And will have compassion on His afflicted.” (13)

Luke 6:1-11 “Beware of False Religion!”

Often times religious people turn God’s word into restrictions serving themselves. When the disciples were hungry, these people attacked them for failure to obey the Sabbath. On another occasion, they watched to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath so they had a reason to accuse Him. Religious people are not concerned about needs or the afflictions of men, but only in preserving their “wineskin.” Does our activities disarm a genuine expression of faith to meet peoples’ needs and motivate us to action in faith?

February 9, 2017

Isaiah 48:12-22 “God Never Forgets Us!”

When our enemies assert themselves, we can be assured God has them within His power. What is the key to our faith? “Assemble, all of you, and listen! Who among them has declared these things? The Lord loves him;…” (14a-c) God has declared all these things before they happened and they are for our benefit. We need to draw near and LISTEN! We need to pay careful attention to His word, separate from Babylon [false religion], declare God’s praises and remember all He has done for us in our journey. God loves us and the successes of our enemies are temporary!

Luke 5:27-39 “The Problem with Old Wine”

Jesus appealed to the “worst” of society especially as viewed by religious people. Yet these “sinners” quickly abandoned all to follow Him. Jesus said, “…’It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’” (31b-32). The church is often more concerned with their religious observances and activities than for the lost. Have we become content with old wine? Maybe we need a change of wineskins for new wine. Most people are content with what God has done and do not concern themselves with a fresh move of God for the lost. May God grant us the wisdom and grace for new “wineskins” to carry out His mission to this lost world.

February 8, 2017

Isaiah 48:1-11 “To God Be the Glory!”

The people of God maintained a form of religion but did not attribute fulfilled prophesy to God’s activity. In fact, they credited themselves and their idols for their successes. God delayed His wrath for His own sake and restrained them. He tested them with affliction. “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” (11) We should not applaud our accomplishments, but praise our God Whose grace has enabled us. To God alone be the glory!

Luke 5:14-26 “Get Away from the Crowds”

An important truth here is Jesus did not seek the promotion of His ministry, in fact he often sought isolation for the purpose of prayer. His goal was to live in a dependent relationship with His Father so He would FINISH WELL and not finish big. Gathering crowds was never Jesus’ priority, but getting away from the crowds to be alone with His Father was His life long pattern. May God grant us the wisdom to follow our Lord’s example.

February 7, 2017

Isaiah 47 “Beware of Babylon!”

Babylon is a picture of false religion. God will deal with her severely and expose her shame. God permitted her a measure of success over His people due to their sin, but she goes to far and is arrogant. All she relies on will fail her. She hides her sin and thinks she is smart. “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge they have deluded you;…” (10a,b) A primary characteristic of false religion is, “…Each has wandered in his own way…” (15c). For those who seek their own way or do their own thing, there is no salvation. Oh the wisdom of humility and dependence on God!

Luke 5:12-13 “Jesus Heals Unworthy People”

A leper approached Jesus in humility acknowledging His ability to heal him, but questioning His willingness to do so. Many believe God is able to heal, but are hindered by their unworthiness. Jesus spoke to this by declaring His willingness to heal. Jesus heals “unworthy” people, otherwise NO ONE would be healed!

February 6, 2017

Isaiah 46 “Glory in God, Not in the Works of Men!”

Here the folly of idols is exposed. Relying on anything other than God is futile and foolish. We are to remember who God is as revealed in history and recorded in His word. He is in control of all things. Righteousness is found in God alone and His salvation is available in Zion [the church]. In spite of our stubborn-minded nature, God is faithful to His word and He will accomplish His salvation and reveal His glory to His people.

Luke 5:1-11 “Jesus Transforms Sinners!”

As crowds were pressing around Jesus, He secured Simon’s boat from which to teach. When finished, Jesus told Simon to put out into the deep water and let down nets for a catch. Simon’s experience caused him to object, but he obeyed. So great was the catch the boats began to sink. This miracle caused Simon to fall at Jesus’ feet and confess His sinful nature. Jesus’ response was to relieve them from their fear and promise to transform them. We must remember our sinfulness, when confessed to Christ, is not an impediment to the work of Christ in our lives and through our lives.

February 3, 2017

Isaiah 45:14-25 “In God Alone”

“For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens…” (14a) We often seek counsel from a variety of sources. Yet our Creator is the only God. Numerous times in this passage God declares Himself as the only one to whom we should turn. “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” (22) God is our only source of salvation, righteousness and strength. All of the Lord’s children “…will be justified, and will glory. (25b).

Luke 4:31-44 “Kingdom Focused”

Jesus’ ministry began with a variety of miracles. The resulting popularity became an obstacle to Jesus completing His mission of preaching God’s kingdom. He often sought out places to be alone so He could continue in His Father’s assignment. Popularity, promotion and recognition were not His destiny, but the proclamation of God’s restored kingdom. May we also stay focused on promoting God’s Kingdom and not ourselves.

February 2, 2017

Isaiah 45:1-13 “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”

God anointed Cyrus to accomplish His purposes on behalf of His people. It may seem that secular forces and authorities are outside of God’s control. The reality is He orders their successes to fulfill His plans for the benefit of His church. Another reason God anoints secular authorities, is so He can reveal who He is to the entire world. God uses light and darkness to mold his people and it is as frustrating to argue with our creator as it is for a pot to argue with the potter. Heaven’s Armies are superior to all forces in heaven and earth and we can rest in our God’s sovereignty and loving purposes.

Luke 4:16-30 “Beware of Deceptive Expectations!”

Jesus’ ministry was initially greeted with joyful enthusiasm as He read from Isaiah. Everyone spoke well of Him but were confused because He had no special place as Joseph’s son. Jesus then went on to speak of their unbelief and rejection that stifle His power. By the end of His message they turned on Him even trying to kill Him. Jesus did not meet their religious expectations and, therefore, they sought to silence His voice. He anticipated this and persisted in completing the mission God gave Him. May God grant us the wisdom and grace not to reject what He is doing because it does not meet our expectations.

February 1, 2017

Isaiah 44:21-28 “Certainty of Our Destiny”

“Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.” (21) What are the “these things” God calls us to remember through this prophet? We are God’s servant, the product of God’s work and the aim of God’s care. He has forgiven us and we belong to Him. How do we do this? Through expressive praise and worship that keeps all matters in perspective. He is our creator, redeemer and above all our obstacles and foes. The future of the church is certain in God’s hands. Let us rejoice because of who God is, what He has done and what He has promised.

Luke 4:1-15 “From Spiritual Fullness to Power”

After being filled with the Spirit, Jesus entered the wilderness where He faced temptations from the devil. He did not use His new power to provide for Himself, promote Himself or protect Himself. He used it to obey and be in compliance to the written Word of God. He went into the desert filled with the Spirit, but came out “…in the POWER [emphasis mine] of the Spirit;…” (14). May God give us the wisdom to follow Christ’s example so we can move from fullness to power to serve others.

January 30, 2017

Isaiah 44:1-8 “Now I Belong to Jesus”

“But now listen, O Jacob, My Servant, And Israel whom I have chosen:” (1) Key to our moving forward in God is ‘listening’ to God. He has created us, chosen us and redeemed us. If we listen to Him, all will be well. Regardless of our present condition or circumstances, God addresses it by His Spirit. As we receive of His Word and Spirit, we have life and that more abundantly. Not only this, but we have the security and peace of knowing we BELONG to Him Who is over all. We need not fear, for our destiny rests securely in His hands.

Luke 3:1-20 “Repentance & Spiritual Fullness”

God bypassed all political and spiritual leaders and raised up John to prepare the way for His Son. John’s message focused on repentance. He warned the people not to rely on religious heritage, but to make their repentance real [with fruit]. We are given three examples, each preceded by the question, “…’Then what shall we do?’” (10-14). Interestingly, all examples had to do with financial integrity: Abundance is for generosity, collections with integrity, and power to be exercised carefully. All were to turn to Christ for the far more important wealth of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Financial integrity precedes spiritual fullness!

January 27, 2017

Isaiah 43:25-28 “Remember Who God Is!”

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” (25) The shortcomings in Israel’s worship offerings to God are a reflection of their failure to remember who God is and His mercy toward them. There is no good, or history of good, in us and if we turn from God there is no hope for us. We have a choice: We can either reflect on God, His works and His words and bring appropriate worship offerings or we can do our own thing in ignorance suffering the consequences. If we are focused on God, then we will worship in Spirit and Truth.

Luke 2:41-52 “Parent’s Role in Children’s Destiny”

The visit of Jesus and His parents to the feast of the Passover reveals the dedication of His parents in worshiping God. At twelve, Jesus became so engaged in a spiritual passion to learn and grow, He was disconnected from His parents. They could not find him among family or friends, but returned to the temple where He sat in the middle of teachers listening and asking questions. When we, as parents, are faithful to worship God, we nurture healthy spiritual appetites in our children. This is more important than all the worldly education and support we can give them in this life. The faithfulness of Parent’s to worship God is key to their children’s destiny.

January 26, 2017

Isaiah 43:22-24 “Appropriate Offerings?”

After all the wonderful things God did for His people, they did not responded in kind. They failed to seek God because they didn’t want to ‘bother Him.’ They did not bring the designated offerings or honor Him in their worship. Instead of bringing their best, they burdened God with their sins and wearied Him with breaking His word. We might be quick to judge the Israelites, but do we do the same? Are we bringing to God offerings reflective of who He is, what He has done, and what He has said? May our worship offerings reflect all these realities and be according to His designation [Word].

Note the incredible parallel between today’s Old and New Testament devotions. As someone once said, “Coincidence is the handy work of God.”

Luke 2:21-40 “Worship According to God’s Word”

Mary and Joseph were not prominent, wealthy or highly educated. However, they were extremely careful to do all things according to His will as revealed in His Word. Note, “…they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord,…” (22b-23a). Their offering was that of the poorest segment of Jewish community, but was given in the timing and manner designated by God’s directives in Scripture. When people say, “I worship my own way,” they do so in ignorance of the Bible and in the arrogance of appointing themselves as God. We should note that God entrusted the raising of His Son to parents who worshiped according to His word.

January 25, 2017

Isaiah 43:14-21 “To God Be the Glory!”

Here God speaks as “…your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,…” (14a) and moves against Babylon for our benefit. As our Creator, God is our King and exercises authority against every enemy and obstacle for our full recovery. We should not to be distracted by the failures of the past and should not waste time pondering them (18). God will provide “water” or drink in our journey back to a place of worship and intimacy and the result of His provision is a revival of whose we are and our purpose: “The people whom I formed for Myself/Will declare My praise.” (21). When we truly embrace who God is to us and who we are to Him, God will be glorified through us!

Luke 2:1-20 “God Is in Control of Our Discomfort”

A governmental decree was issued impacting the birth place of God’s Son. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to register for the census. Yet, what seemed to be an inconvenient and uncomfortable place, was a sovereign act of God to fulfill His word. Though it was not comfortable [barn], it was the place where Mary received supernatural encouragement from shepherds regarding her child and who He was. “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (19) She could have reflected on the discomfort of this place, but rather focused on the encouragement received. God is in control of all our discomfort and His purposes will prevail. Let’s stay focused on God’s purpose and not be distracted by our discomforts.

January 24, 2017

Isaiah 43:1-13 “We Are God’s Work & Witness”

God has both created and redeemed us. We have no cause to fear. Why? “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are MINE!’” (1) We are out of reach from all that attempts to destroy us for we belong to God. We are “precious” in His sight and we are honored and loved by Him. It is not where we come from, but it is the work of God in us that equips us to by His witnesses. We are blind and deaf, but God choses and forms us because of who He is. No one is like our God and no one can take us out of His hand!

Luke 1:57-80 “Prepared for Public Ministry”

Those around Elizabeth wanted to name her baby Zacharias after his dad, but she insisted it should be John. They asked Zacharias what he wanted to call him, so he wrote [unable to speak] “…’His name is John.’…” (63b). Immediately his mouth was opened and he began to praise God, was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke a prophetic word. This word exalted the coming Christ and then defined John’s role as a prophet to prepare the people for His coming. John was raised in the fear of God and lived a life separated from worldly influence until the day of his public appearance. It is not surprising that God delayed His influence in public while strengthening his spirit in private. Successful public ministry necessitates private preparation lest we be wrongly influenced by success.

January 23, 2017

Isaiah 42:14-25 “Confession for Healing”

God is incredibly patient with His people. However, if we persist in our own ways, He comes to a point where His anger is expressed against us. We can do nothing without Christ and need to confess our deafness and blindness to God. Why? “Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see.” (18) Unless we confess these before God, He cannot open our ears and eyes. False confession of our spiritual condition keeps us in bondage to sin. “…”If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (John 9:41)

Luke 1:39-56 “True Praise Flows from Total Humility”

When Mary received this word of her conception, she hurried to Elizabeth who was pregnant with John. This older woman spoke of the superior blessing upon the younger woman. Her baby leaped with joy and she was filled with the Spirit. Yet Mary did not exalt herself, but exalted the Lord. The praise flowing from her lips reflects a rejoicing in God’s greatness and humility of her own state. She stayed with Elizabeth three months before returning home. She likely learned much from her older relative to aid her in her unique journey. True praise flows from total humility.

January 20, 2017

Isaiah 42:1-13 “Quiet Message, Loud Praise”

The power of God’s servant is not in his volume, but in God’s Spirit and message. Though he faces resistance and opposition, he is not disheartened because he serves the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Like their Messiah, they are a light to this world exposing the slavery of darkness. God’s servants are bearers of light opening the eyes of the blind and bringing freedom. What God wants to do through us is to reveal His greatness and not our own! He will not share His glory with another. We, therefore, are to lift up our voices in loud praise giving glory to our God as He prevails over all His enemies.

Luke 1:26-38 “For Nothing Is Impossible with God.”

God’s choice of Mary and