Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Matthew 13:58
“And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

At first read it sees that Jesus refused to help hurting people because of their lack of faith. However, when we hold this passage next to parallel passages we find Mark 6:5-6 reveals that “He could not do many miracles because of their lack of faith.” Yes, it says that Jesus could not do something!
Jesus ability to heal was directly proportionate to the faith that He had to work with. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” I think that means more than just making God happy. I think it’s more about removing the barriers between us and God so that He can freely work.
In Acts 14:9 Paul’s healing of the lame man only came when he recognized the man’s faith. Faith is the essential element to miracles and God’s work in our lives. And all it takes is faith the size of a mustard seed to see God move mountains (Matthew 17:20).
And faith differs from hope in that faith is active. We exercise our faith by actions, good deeds and sacrifice (Js 2:26, Phil 2:12, 1 Tim. 6:12, Phm. 6). Those who were healed by Jesus all demonstrated active faith: the bleeding woman touched Jesus (Mt. 9:21), the royal official went to Jesus and took Him at His word (Jn. 4:47,50), the leper fell at Jesus’ feet and begged Him (Mk. 1:40), the centurion crossed the lines, humbled himself and submitted under Jesus’ authority (Mt. 8:8-9). Faith is not an ambiguous spiritual theory but the very substance of God’s work and the fuel that drives us to Jesus that He may work.
So, what have I provided for Christ to work with? What do I bring to Jesus? Could Jesus see enough faith in me to work with?

Father – deepen my faith and drive me to You. May I see your mighty power at work in me and through me. Amen.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

words that condemn and acquit

Matthew 12:36-37
“But I tell you that men with have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.”

Our words are important because they reveal the contents of our hearts (Matt 12:34). If I use vulgar words, my heart is full of vulgar things – full to the point of overflowing! If I gossip, I am full of judgment, envy or pride. If I wound others with harsh words I am full of anger, bitterness or jealousy. My words condemn because they reveal my heart condition. Even my words that are carelessly chosen and spoken are condemning. When I fail to be sensitive to those around me, when I hold back and water down my witness, when I am short or dismissive with a response… my words condemn me. They reveal that while there may be an absence of wickedness (for a moment), there is no presence of God’s Spirit, His Truth or love for people (Matt 12:43-45).
Yet my words also acquit. My confession that “Jesus is Lord” reveals my heart’s believe in a resurrected Savior (Rom. 10:9). My acknowledgment of Jesus before me reveals my relationship with Him and my connection to the Father (Matt 10:32-33). My words of Truth reveal that the Holy Spirit lives in me along with His Word and I am no longer in control; He is.
So what types of words have been coming from me lately? What do my words reveal about the condition of my heart? Do my words condemn or acquit?

Father – change my heart and help me to remove the wickedness inside that produces careless words. Fill my heart with Your Holy Spirit and Your Truth that I may speak words that acquit and words that minister to others. Let my words reveal You to those who listen. Amen.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Burden and blessing

Matthew 10:28-30
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart., and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden in light.”

Jesus is not a cruel, demanding master. He is not ignorant of our struggles (Heb. 4:14-16). When He calls the weary to join Him in His work, He is not overbearing and unreasonable. Jesus understands our humanity, our weaknesses, our pains. He too felt weary, experienced loss, wept for friends, cried out to God, hungered and thirsted. Much more than not being an overbearing master, Jesus humbly bears our burdens and lightens our load. He bore our sins on the cross, He bears our infirmities through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, He eases our worries by His Word and receives our cries for help, exchanging them for His peace (Phil 4:6-7).
To walk with Jesus in this life is not cumbersome but liberating. To learn from Him then is both our responsibility and our reward, our calling and our comfort, our burden to bear and our blessing. He is a gentle and humble master who walks with us and teaches us to walks as He has walked (1 John 2:6).

Father, humble me and let me learn from You. Break my will to walk alone or go my own way. Let me trust Your yoke and Your guidance. Teach me to walk with You and let You take the lead. Let me know Your rest and reward as I walk and work with You. Amen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Matthew 9:13
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Jesus is not interested in perfect people. To begin with, they do not exist, only those who think and posture as if they were perfect. These people Jesus has no time for. These are the people who cannot and will not grow because they have already arrived. Instead, Jesus prefers broken people; those who recognize their sin and desire something different. These broken people have a willingness to die to their old way of life and allow God to do something new in them and through them (John 12:24).
Jesus loves broken people because they work as He designed them to work.
Jesus has not time for perfect people because they are... broken.

So, what about me? Where have I yet to be broken? Where am I clinging to my old self? Where am I still "perfect?"

Father - forgive me for my pride and blindness to my sin. Break me and humble me. Let me die to my old self and allow You to grow something new in me. Amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Am I Willing?

Matthew 8:3
"Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed"

Jesus is not content to stand at a distance and heal the leper with a word - He touched him. Holy, but fully human, Jesus touched what society and self preservation would say was untouchable. Jesus touched what even the leper thought was untouchable, unlovable, unimportant and impossible. More was healed by that touch than just the leprosy.
And when I read Jesus' words, "I AM... willing" I get the idea that He's reminding us of God's willingness to give His Son to cleanse us from a similar disease that, in many ways, renders us untouchable by God. Yet He took on flesh so to touch us where we most needed to be healed. And His healing touch heals more than just sin.
Am I willing to to the same? Am I willing to touch others where they need it most? Can I get past societal expectations, taboos, conventional wisdom, religious legalism and self preservation to sacrificially touch others where they hurt most? If I've been touched by the healing hand of Jesus, shouldn't I be willing and eager to touch others?

Father - help me set myself aside and honor You by toughing others. Help me to be a healer. Amen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

His Work, His Way

Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Too often I encounter this verse and only consider the gate and not the way. Jesus Christ is clearly the gate (Jn. 10:9) and claiming Him as Savior through His work on the cross is sufficient for salvation. Yet it our claim is not followed by a lifestyle worthy of and a commitment to Jesus Christ, it is disingenuous and ineffective. We must be so convinced of Christ's work on the cross that it produces in us a commitment to His way in this life, no matter how difficult. Confidence in His Work and commitment to His way are indivisible and indistinguishable in those who have found life.

Father - let my life proclaim both a conviction of the cross and a commitment to Your way. Let my claim be more than words and empty confidence in my own knowledge. Let me boldly proclaim Your work and Your way in all that I do and say, no matter how difficult the path. Amen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

worry and worship

Matthew 6:34
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Worry is such a distraction. Worry steals our time, attention, energy and effort from the only One who deserves it. That to which we give these things, that we worship.
So how do we turn our worship back to God when it dissolves into worry?
Jesus said in John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." No doubt the troubles of this world are real, but they have already been overcome. And Jesus has given us many promises in His Word to remind us of this and how completely He is in control. When worry overtakes us, we overcome by turning to God's Word and claiming His promises. We meditate on His Truth until until our worship returns to Him and our worries seem insignificant in light of His greatness, power, comfort and control.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Father, remind me of Your promises. Let me meditate on Your Word and not this world. Let my worship be fully focused on You. Amen.

Monday, March 22, 2010

distinct love

Matthew 5:44-45a
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;

What distinguishes me as a Christ-follower, different from the world and other religious people, is not my theology, my piety or my purity (though all are very important). It is my ability to love even my enemies that distinguishes me from all others. My distinction is found in my ability to love my enemies as Jesus loved His enemies and died for them (Rom. 5:6-10).
Jesus' challenge here is not passive or one dimensional but active and thorough; we are to love verbally (bless), actually (do good) and spiritually (pray for). There is nothing to hold back from our enemies regarding our love and God's.
My biggest struggle with this verse is that I do not have many enemies. But, then again, who needs enemies when I fail to love even my family, friends and neighbors in this manner?

Father - teach me to set myself aside and live for others. Teach me to set aside selfishness, arguing, agendas, pride and ambition so that others may see You in me. Let me be known only by my love and nothing else. Amen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

fishers of men

Matthew 4:19-20
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him."

What was it about Jesus invitation that caused Peter and Andrew to immediately drop their nets and follow Him. Considering the chronology of the other Gospels, especially John, this was not their first encounter with Him. I wonder if the phrase "fisher of men" was really all that intriguing or if it was more familiar? I wonder if this triggered thoughts of Jeremiah 16:16 and God's promise to restore Israel? Was this their catch phrase to being calling home the lost sheep which Jesus claimed to have come for (Matt. 10:6 & 15:24)? This would have been not only a great honor, but a personal honor since Peter and Andrew lived in Gentile territory and probably felt like outsiders (4:13-16). If this ideas was in their minds at the time of Jesus calling then they must also have thought of their own "catching" by Jesus. The joy of being called and the excitement to be selected by such a Rabbi would have been both their model for fishing and their motivation to fish.
So... is my experience of being caught by Jesus so personal and powerful that it motivates me to fish? Have I been caught?... really caught, not just snagged by the Gospel? If I truly know what it means to be caught by Jesus, shouldn't my life be filled with a lot more fishing?

Lord, make me a better fisher of men. Amen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Matthew 3:8
"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance"

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to John out of curiosity at best and perhaps more accurately posturing for popular approval (3:7). They liked having the appearance of piety but never let it get deeper than their flowing ropes and private parking spaces at the temple (Luke 20:46-47). They prayed loud, lengthy prayers in public places for their own benefit and their repentance (if it could even be called repentance) was guarded, disingenuous and fake - born out of ego rather than humility.
True repentance renders us humble, vulnerable, honest, broken and blind to others opinions of us. If repentance does not bring us to our knees, it will never bring us to the cross. If we never experience brokenness from our sin, we'll never experience forgiveness from our sin.
Do I play games with repentance? Have I let repentance become casual lip service rather than soul searching, heart breaking, life changing confession? Am I more concerned that other people think I'm holy than I am with truly being holy? Am I more concerned with others' opinion of me than I am with God's opinion of me?
Humility is the first step toward holiness. Repentance is the first step toward righteousness.

Lord, humble me. Help me to see and hate my sin. Let me be broken by my brokenness and teach me true repentance that I might honor You above all else. Amen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

what wise men see...

Matthew 2:11
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What was it about Jesus that compelled the wise men to worship Him? What did they see in Him or perhaps in the stars that made Him worthy of worship, the long journey and the extravagant gifts? From the passage we can surmise that they saw more than an infant king. They not only gave Him gold (a gift fit for a king) but also incense (a gift fit for a priest) and myrrh (a gift for burial). The wise men saw more than a king, they saw our High Priest and our suffering Savior. They saw one worthy of the journey, their gifts and their worship.
Who do I see when I look to Jesus? When I focus my eyes and attention on Him, what is He worthy of from me? What do I bring to my King, my High Priest and my Savior?

Lord - let my life reflect my vision of You. Let my life, my journey, my gifts and my worship declare Your great worth. Amen.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jesus' identity

Matthew 1:20-21
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

This passage does not contain a few simple words of encouragement to a nervous and confused young man who is about to raise another someone's child. These words are prophetic declarations to the rightful, yet displaced, king of Israel. As a "son of David" Joseph's firstborn son would, like him, have a legal claim to Israel's throne. Yet, Jesus would not only be an earthly king, He would bear divine blessing because His conception was "of the Holy Spirit." And so that Joseph would not miss this divinity, Israel was referred to as "His people." Only God could claim Israel as His own and this prophesy clearly gives Joseph's child this right. Furthermore, His name was to be Jesus, literally "savior." And not only would Jesus be savior in a royal, kingly role, but also in regard to sin. As Savior, Jesus would fulfill the very first prophesy regarding God's people back in Genesis 12:1-3. Israel would once again, through Jesus, be a blessing to the world.
These were not simply encouraging words to a nervous young man, these were powerful declarations that God was doing something new. God was once again speaking to Israel, establishing them as a nation, reorganizing them as a blessing and saving them from the curse of sin.

How difficult it must have been for Joseph to keep this to himself and quietly wed Mary. I wonder who he did tell? I wonder how this changed his parenting of Jesus? I wonder how this colored his view of Israel and the Roman control of that day? How could Jesus identity not change all this?

I ask myself a similar question. When we read of Jesus identity... how can it not change how we see and interpret the world?

Jesus, let Your identity change me. Let me see the world differently because of who You are. Let who You are change who I am. Make me more like You. Amen.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tree of Life

Revelation 22:14
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

What do you think might have happened if Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life first?

Genesis 2:9 & 3:24
And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Oh to eat of the tree of life and be locked into an eternal state of obedience (Rev. 22:11); free from temptation, weakness, sin and decay.

Revelation 22:20 "AMEN! Even so, come Lord Jesus!"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Unity and Intensity in Worship

Revelation 19:6
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

Close your eyes and imagine that sound... it gives me goosebumps!
Notice that each of the words "voice" and "sound" are singular in this verse. This communicates unity in worship. In heaven we sing with once voice, without contrast, conflict or confusion. There is one sound, one motive, one focus and one result. And yet the volume and intensity is so strong that it sounds like Niagara Falls; the constant booming of many rushing waters. Each drop is indistinguishable as the flow cascades into the thunderous basin below. It's not the sound of thunder, singular, but thunderings as on a warm summer day when a storm front creeps in and the thunder seems to roll across the sky in a continuous rumble.
This is the sound of the redeemed, the gathering together of God's people. Our worship in this life should emulate and imitate the unity and intensity we see here in heaven. We cannot settle for soft, weak, disjointed worship in our gatherings. The Lord God Omnipotent is worthy of so much more.

Lord, may my worship never lack unity and intensity. Mold my heart according to Your Spirit and let my Alleluia be honoring to You. Amen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rest and Reward

Revelation 14:13
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me,
“Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”

Rest and reward are the blessings of faithfulness. To those who are faithful to labor for the Lord even in the face of opposition, trial and persecution God promises rest... relief from life's curse. And unlike life's curse; that all our labor would be in vain, producing thorns and thistles rather than lasting fruit, the reward of heaven is eternal fruit (Gen. 3:17-19, Psa. 127:1, Jn 15:5-8). Those who labor in the Lord do not labor in vain (1 Cor. 15:58) because the fruit they labor for are the souls of men.
What a glorious reward it will be to rest in the presence of Jesus Christ and see all the eternal live our labor has produced! And not just lives we have touched directly, but lives touched by lives touched by lives touched by lives our labor has touched!
This is the hope of heaven and the promise of God that motivates us to faithfulness and good works.

Father -May I be found faithful, that I may enjoy Your rest and reward - to see the fruit of my life's labor praise You eternally. Amen.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Revelation 12:11
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Believers overcome by focusing on the cross of Christ and by sharing His cross. It is only by the cross of Christ, remembering the price He paid for us, that we are strengthened to overcome temptation, persecution, spiritual warfare and the accuser himself (v. 10). Because of the blood of the Lamb, the accuser has nothing against us. It is only by sharing the cross of Christ with a condemned world that the Kingdom of God will overcome. The church is not called to cluster together in a defensive effort, but to advance into the world and overcome the vary gates of hell by the Word of God (Matthew 18:16). By this testimony, we not only prevail in the world, but we also encourage and strengthen our brothers and sisters who have placed their lives in danger by doing so. (visit to hear some amazing stories of brave believers who boldly advance the kingdom of Christ at their own painful and personal expense.)
According to Scripture, things do not get easier or better for the church, but much more difficult (Matthew 24). We must focus our eyes on the Cross of Christ and our mouths on His Word if we are going to accomplish what Christ has called us to (Matthew 28:19-21).

Father - strengthen m by Your cross to help me stand and boldly proclaim your Word in my life. Amen.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Kingdom of our Lord

Revelation 11:15
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."

One day Christ will return and establish His kingdom.
There will be no more war, famine, poverty, disease or disaster.
His reign is not like the reign of men. His promises are not like the promises of men.
He reigns in complete righteousness and sovereign power.
On that day, the debates about health care, guns, defense, the economy and human rights will end.
He will make all wrongs right. He will provide all we need. He will be our city forever.
Oh what a glorious day that will be!!!
Come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Revelation 9:20
The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.

Repentance is more than just saying sorry. True repentance begins with a deep sorrow and regret for what we have done. Sorrow and regret must then be confessed to the one we have offended, God alone (Psalm 51:4). Yet repentance is not complete until one turns from his sinful way, abandons his sin and pursues God's righteousness.
Many people will experience sorrow and regret for words and deeds that have caused them pain but never get outside themselves to understand that they have offended a perfect and Holy God. For some, no matter the severity of the consequences, they may never come to acknowledge this and consequentially turn back to God.
So what keeps me from true repentance in my life? Is it a lack of understanding, lack of courage, lack of will (love of my sin) or just plain laziness? There is no excuse before God for unrepentant sin.

Father - forgive me for my rebellious ways. Open my eyes to know my sin. Strengthen my heart and my resolve to turn away from wickedness. Teach me to hate my sin and to hunger for righteousness. Amen.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Revelation 7:14-17
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. 16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

How wonderful are the promises of God!
As we wait for all creation to be redeemed and restored (Rom. 8:19-21), we are called to holiness, to purity. We are called to be unpolluted by the world (James 1:27), set apart and Holy before God.
To those who endure, to those who overcome is hope of peace, rest, provision and comfort (Psa. 23). There will be a day without harm or pain or threat or sorrow.
That day begins with claiming the forgiveness found in the blood of the Lamb of God and being washed white as snow (Psa. 51:7) as we live in His presence daily.

Lord, give me a passion for purity. Let my deepest hunger be for holiness. Let me thirst for righteousness. Let these hungers sustain me and strengthen me to stand and endure until You fulfill Your promises.