Friday, July 18, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

* Notice * I will be out of town next week taking a little R & R at a friend's lakehouse.  I'm pretty sure there is no internet connection there.  So there will be no "Thought of the Day !!" devotions for next week.  - greg

Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

                                                                Proverbs 16:20 (NIV)

Have you ever met a know-it-all?  You know, someone who thinks that they know everything there is to know about something and nobody can argue with them or convince them otherwise.  I'm sure I've been one at times in my life.  Maybe you can even recount a time or situation where you were one too.
The truth is that only the Lord knows it all.  Still, many people go around thinking that their beliefs about God or their denomination's stance or their style of worship, etc. is the only correct way.  What we all have to do is remember that we can be wrong from time to time, or that even though we have it right, someone else may also. And so, we should always be willing to learn.  Always be willing to open your mind, for you never know when you might actually be wrong.    

Of course, we need to be smart too.  We shouldn't just believe anything that anybody tells us either.  Test the validity of what others say by Scripture, your reason, your experience on the subject and the tradition of the Church.  

C.S. Lewis, along with others, claimed that if a belief had not passed the test of time in the Church that it could not be valid.  Yet there are many new ways of thinking popping up everyday.  So I want to emphasize that I'm not saying that we should merely accept everything, but that we should be open to listening to others and then trusting in God to help us through.

In the love of Christ,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
                                                                Matthew 9:10-13 (NIV)

The Pharisees wouldn't have anything to do with those who had sinned.  Jesus would.

The Pharisees cared more about law than love and grace.  Jesus didn't.

The Pharisees condemned people for where they were at in their lives.  Jesus showed mercy by calling the people lost in sin to come to him.

Which will we be more like?  

In the love of Christ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

(Jesus says) "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples." 
                                                                        John 15:7-8 (NRSV)  
There are many out there, including several TV evangelists, who take this verse and others like it to form their own type of gospel.  It's where we are told that whatever we ask for will be given to us by God if we have enough faith (and so often if we send enough money).  That would mean that many of us don't have enough faith evidently.      
But that is not what Jesus is telling his disciples here.  First of all, we will get what we ask for if, and only if, we abide in Christ.  If we abide in Christ, then we share his love and compassion and desire for God's will to be done.  This means that we're not going to go out and claim a new car or house in the name of Jesus.  Instead, our desires will be consistent with the will of God.  

Part of producing fruit means thinking about God's wishes instead of our own.  I once read an article about the famed TV evangelist Jim Bakkar, who was imprisoned for fraud.  According to this article he found out during his prison term that asking for money and all that came with it just brought about pain and a desire to have more.    

During this time, and while old Tammy Faye was divorcing him, he reread the scriptures and saw what was truly important.  He realized that was bearing fruit, not asking what we can gain, but what we can do for others.  And after his release he started working with a street ministry.

Abiding in Christ means loving God and neighbor and having Christ guide and motivate us.  It means loving one another as Christ loves us.  It means inviting others into the relationship that we already have with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It means sharing the peace that Christ affords us with those that we come in contact with.

If we will abide in Christ and allow Him to abide in us, we will receive much more than we can ever imagine.

In the love of Christ,

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

As they sat down to eat, [Jesus] took the bread and blessed it.  Then he broke it and gave it to them.  Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
                                                                      Luke 24:30-31 (NLT)

This is the night following the morning of the Resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus has been walking with two believers on the way to Emmaus, but they didn't recognize him.  God had closed their eyes.  As their time together came to an end though, their eyes were opened to the Jesus. 

Having our eyes opened to some truth can be exciting, scary and enlightening all at one time.  It might be some sin in our lives.  It might be someone who is in need.  It might be that we've been wrong in our thinking about something.  It might be an opportunity to make a difference.  It could be a number of things.

I wonder what my eyes need to be opened to today?  What might you need God to open your eyes to?  Are we willing to ask?

In the love of Christ,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
                                                                   Psalms 94:19 (NLT)

We all have doubts at some point in our lives (possibly many points).  It might be a doubt about the existence of God.  Or it might be doubting our own ability to do something.  Possibly the doubt is whether or not someone can pull through.  And often times we doubt others.  

When doubt begins to take control of your mind, what do you do?  Do you let depression set in?  Are you a take charge kind of person who tries to alleviate the doubts by your own power (for instance, doing something you doubt someone else can or will do)?  Or do you turn to God to find your peace in anxious and overwhelming situations?

Is there anything in your life that's causing turmoil now?  Do you think there will be in the future?  God wants you to know that no matter the burden, He can help you through it.  No matter what it is you doubt about life, He already has the answer.  Come to Him and let Him renew your hope.

In the love of Christ,

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

     Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
     “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
                               Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)

Like Peter we want to limit the amount of forgiveness that we will give to someone.  Personally, I think Peter was probably thinking to himself that seven times was a pretty good number of times.  It actually seems like a lot of forgiveness and is more than most anyone else would bother to forgive someone.  But this was still limited forgiveness. 

How many of us don’t want to go as far as Peter did?  How often is forgiveness not even an option?  Or maybe you’re willing to give a person a second chance.  But a second failure would mean absolutely no more forgiveness of the offense…whatever it might be?

Jesus answered Peter; “…not seven times…but seventy times seven”.  What he means is that we are to continue to forgive, no matter what. 

Forgiveness is not approving or excusing or even pardoning what someone has done.  What forgiveness does is this.  It chooses not to keep a record of the wrongs done to one self.  It refuses to punish someone for what they did…unless it was a crime and there is legal punishment involved.

Forgiveness is an inner condition where we rid ourselves of bitterness instead of holding on to it and allowing it to pull us down.  So take Jesus’ advice / teaching / command, and forgive.

In the love of Christ,

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
                                                                Matthew 5:48 (NLT)

Be perfect?  Did Jesus really suggest that we be perfect?  Yes.  He even went as far as to say to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  How are we supposed to be sinless?  Is Jesus not demanding something that is impossible for us imperfect humans? 

Of course not.  Jesus wouldn’t burden us with something we could not do.  To understand this better, let’s look at this verse in its context.  Jesus is teaching about love.  He goes as far as telling us that we must love our enemies.  That would take some pretty radical love.  God the Father has this kind of love.  In the his letter to the Romans Paul writes that we were all enemies of God at one time.  Yet while we were still sinful enemies, God sent His Son to die for us (who were enemies).

Jesus teaches that we are to have perfect love.  And this is obtainable in this lifetime, otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have commanded us to love our enemies or love each other as He loves us.  When we love like Jesus, we put others before ourselves.  When we perfect love, we sacrifice ourselves for others.  When we’ve reached perfection, we have the love of God in us.

Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

In the love of Christ,