Then came the morning!

Have you ever heard the phrase, “The darkest hour is just before dawn.”? The disciples felt that they were in the darkest hours imaginable in the hours before dawn on the first day of the week after Jesus was crucified. They had just gone through the worst of all weeks. That had gone from the high of the triumphant entry on Palm Sunday, to the kangaroo court which condemned Him and the cruelty of the cross all in one week. They had rushed His burial in the moments before Sabbath had begun. To the world, it looked like it was over. Jesus was dead. Now that the Sabbath had ended and the only thing left was for the disciples to finish the job of properly burying Jesus as they wondered what would happen to them.

Then came the morning. A group of devout women dared to return to the tomb with spices to finish the burial rituals with Jesus. Let’s pick up the account in Luke 24:2-7.

“And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’” ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

He is not here, but has risen! Those words change it all. Because He rose, He still lives and actively keeps all His promises. He saves all who call upon Him in repentance, He is preparing a home for God’s children, and He will come and take us home.

Today is Easter. Celebrate our risen Lord!

Walk Worthy

Walk Worthy

 

How do you walk?  Sounds like a silly question doesn’t it?  If you have ever had an injury or illness which hindered your ability to walk it isn’t so simple.  When I had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, I was unable to even turn over in bed. Walking was out of the question.  As I began to improve, I was very unsteady and had to think about something I had taken for granted.  Each step had to be contemplated and taken with a conscience effort.  I praise the Lord that I made a full recovery, but recently, as I read Ephesians, I came across the following instructions God gives us through Paul.

 

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV

 

Our lifestyle is brought into focus in this passage.  We are challenged to purposefully walk worthy of our calling. It struck me that we need to pay attention to each move we make in life.  We need to intentionally choose steps which conform to the call of God and His purpose.  Our attitude is mentioned as well.  We are to walk in humility, gentleness, and patience.  We are to ensure our steps maintain unity with our brothers and sisters.  Each move must be focused on God and the needs of others.

 

So I ask again, how do you walk?

Perspective

I began wearing glasses in elementary school.  I had no clue all that I had been missing.  Apparently, I had two conditions working to blur my vision.  My lens focused the image in front of the retina causing me to be nearsighted.  I could see things which were close, but at a distance, it was all a blur. To further complicate things, I had astigmatism.  My cornea causes further distortion of my vision.  So near or far, I had bad eyes and they have only gotten worse.  I  remember putting on my first pair of glasses and suddenly seeing the world with much more clarity.

Spiritually we can also need to have our vision adjusted. In Proverb 14:12 God says,  “There is a way that seems right to a man  but its end is the way to death” ESV

Human vision is faulty in spiritual matters. Sin distorts our perception of right and wrong.  Seeing circumstances through the lens of God’s word gives us a clear vision of the world.  When our perception aligns with His, we see the world as it really is.  It is easy to allow the world’s influence to skew our perception.  We grow more comfortable with the world’s point of view and less comfortable with God’s.  That is one of the reasons it is crucial for us to stay in God’s word.  Scripture regularly realigns our focus and keeps us on the right path.

Tradition

Tradition can be a double-edged sword.  It can be both comforting and reassuring to have something firm in an unstable world, but it can also be an anchor which weighs us down in the past.

 

Jesus took the Pharisees to task for that very reason.  They were following their traditions to the exclusion of following God.   “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”” Mark 7:6-8 ESV

 

The problem was that they let their traditions take the place of God’s word.  They were so focused on keeping traditions that they no longer worried about what God had said.  They taught as doctrines the commandments of men.  They kept the traditions, and that made them feel good, but they were disobeying God.

 

We can easily fall into the same pattern.  We can get so focused on doing what we have always done that we grow complacent.  We can think all is good when in truth we are no longer obeying God.   How sad if it can be said of us that we honor God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him.   Let us obey Him with our whole heart and not just give him lip service.

 

 

Superhot

Did you know that a boiling water in the microwave can be dangerous?  When boiled in the microwave, especially in a new cup, the water can become superheated.  It heats up faster than the bubbles of water vapor can form.  What is so bad about that?  When you take it out through either jarring it or putting something in it,  the water is disturbed and allows it suddenly turn to steam.  There have been several people scalded by this.

That reminds me of several people today.  Many are walking around with their temper “superheated”.  The slightest provocation will turn into an eruption of scalding anger.  We see it on the streets, in classrooms, online, and even in halls of government.

God gave us wonderful words of wisdom in James 1:19 which will help us avoid the superheated temper.

James 1:19 “19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 “

First, be quick to hear.  Listen to others.  So often, we hear words and sort them to find a reason to get angry.  We are always on guard to defend ourselves and make assumptions about what someone means instead of listening. We have lost the ability to really converse with each other and discuss differences because we no longer listen.

We should also be slow to speak.  Instead of jumping in and arguing against what we think someone meant, let us slow down and think about our answer.  Really consider what they have said instead of leaping to conclusions which we feel we must swiftly correct.

Finally, we are told to be slow to anger. Keep a calm head!   Intentionally fight off emotional responses from your temper.  Listen, choose your words carefully, and control your temper.

If we would apply these nuggets of wisdom, the scalding fits of anger won’t continue to hurt those around us and our world will be a calmer place.

Missions

Growing up a PK, preacher’s kid missionaries were always my heroes.  They would come to our church from foreign fields and talk about the unfamiliar cultures, show us slides of the people and area they served, and shared what God was doing.  I always looked at them as supermen for God. If we were lucky, they brought with them MK’s, missionary kids and we got to hang out for a while.

Later, I was blessed to be involved in a church planting effort in Baton Rouge, LA.  I learned  some valuable lessons.  First, missions work is HARD.  I had it easy with a core group already in place, and we still faced obstacles existing churches didn’t.  Land alone was going to cost over a million dollars in a decent location.  I also learned missions doesn’t have to be around the world.  Baton Rouge was similar to home.   I didn’t have to learn a new language and had shared experiences with the people there.  I did have to get used to coffee strong enough to walk the dog on its own, but I learned to love it.   One of most important lessons learned was that we are all missionaries.  Our mission field is wherever we are.  Every member of the core group had to be on mission for God.  That is the same as at every church.

That is at the heart of what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 ““All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ESV

Our commission is make disciples wherever we go.  We give offerings to send missionaries to other towns, states, and nations.  That is good and should be encouraged.  However, we must also do our part to share the gospel here.  Wherever you find yourself, that is your mission field.  As we give to support worldwide missions, let us never forget to serve as missionaries right here at home.

Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt

 

Have you ever gone looking for treasure?  When I think about treasure hunting, I think about the movie National Treasure.  Ben Gates begins with a cryptic clue and it leads him on a chase which goes from the Arctic Circle to Washington DC and at every turn, he is met by a another clue which points somewhere else.  That treasure was well hidden and even frustrating.

 

The treasure of wisdom spoken of in Prov. 2 isn’t hidden at all.  Notice was Solomon records in Prov. 2:3-5.

 

3 yes, if you call out for insight

and raise your voice for understanding,

if you seek it like silver

and search for it as for hidden treasures,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord

and find the knowledge of God.

 

Vs 6 goes on to promise that the Lord gives wisdom.  God doesn’t hide wisdom and understanding and send us on on a difficult uest to find it.  He freely gives it to us in His word and by His Spirit.

 

Do you long for wisdom and understanding?  Do you desire it like you would some treasure worth billions?  It is far more valuable than any treasure we could find.  Notice the benefits of having wisdom in vs 9-12

 

Then you will understand righteousness and justice

and equity, every good path;

10  for wisdom will come into your heart,

and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11  discretion will watch over you,

understanding will guard you,

12  delivering you from the way of evil,

from men of perverted speech,

 

Seek wisdom from God’s word today!