Archive for September, 2012


September 24, 2012

 

Luke 7:44-46 (NLT)
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. [45] You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. [46] You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

Observation:  The contrast between Simon and the anonymous woman is clear. Simon neglects Jesus, while she adores him. Simon doesn’t even show basic courtesy expected and demanded in that day, but she worships and attends Jesus. Simon won’t anoint Jesus’ head, but she anoints his feet. Simon’s disrespect, contempt, and attitude are overwhelming, while her love, gratitude, and reverence are beautiful.
Application:  Am I more like the Pharisee, or Perfume Lady? Do I sit in defiance, or kneel in reverence? Do I exude contempt or gratitude? Are my actions the consequences of judging or being forgiven? Am I the look-down-the-nose-guy with the Master’s Degree, or the once-upon-a-time drugged up guy at Emmaus who shouts his praise with enthusiasm, volume, and total disregard for what anyone else thinks?
Prayer:  Lord, when I am honest, I am a strange mix of both of these people who come to know you. I am not contemptuous of you in my heart, but my actions are not those of someone who has fully surrendered himself to you either. Perhaps I do not judge you. But neither am I as grateful and adoring as you deserve. Sometimes I am just distracted. Sometimes I am worried. Sometimes I am just self-centered. Help me to keep your love always before me. Help me to always remember the price you paid for love of me. I love you. Help me love you more. In the powerful and loving name of Jesus.

September 17, 2012

 

Revelation 22:10-11 (NLT)

“…the time is near. [11] Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”
Observation:  The closer history gets to the end of days, the more locked in we become to the patterns and behaviors we have cultivated in life. Nations, people groups, and religions will more and more act in ways consistent with the lives they have been living. Only repentance, regeneration, and the renewing and restraining influence of the Holy Spirit can change that.
Application:  Debbie and I have had this theory for years: whatever you are when you are younger, you will become more so as you get older. Cranky young adults get positively curmudgeonly as they age. Kind and loving young people become increasingly gracious. The habits and patterns I practice soon enough become so much a part of me that I become what they cause me to do. We are human beings, but we can be human doings who alter the course of our lives. What I do will change who I am.
Prayer:  Lord, I want to love you by obeying your commands until I love you in yourself. I want to live righteously so I might be holy as you are holy. Help me develop and practice those patterns and habits which make me more like Jesus. Help me to study, pray, praise, thank, give, edify, and fast, so I am who you desire me to be. In the strong and loving name of Jesus I pray.
Revelation 14:7 (NLT)
“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”

Observation:  The angel goes throughout the earth proclaiming the Good News. In the midst of the battle, the question is who is in charge? Who will win the day? How will he rule?
The angel gives the answer regarding the way things are supposed to be, and will one day be, in God’s timing.
Applic:  Who do I fear, reverence, respect, adore? To whom do I give glory, honor, blessing, praise? Is it the one who judges? Is it the one who made heaven and earth? Sometimes. And at other times I am self-centered, lustful, greedy, doubting, fearful, lazy. In other words, I show myself loyal to the enemy of God by my sinful actions.
Prayer:  Lord, I want to want to be in awe of you. But, I too often do what I wish I would not do, and don’t do what I wish I did. I want to want to give you glory, but I don’t. Help me to be faithful to you and you alone. Help me to honor you in word and deed. Help me to be self-controlled. I give you my life this day. May I be Spirit-led. In the name of Jesus.
Revelation 12:7 (NLT)
Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels.

Observation:  I think back from time to time to a comment made that this is not a playground, but a battleground. We fight not against flesh and blood, although there is quite enough of that, but against principalities and powers. There are powers in realms we cannot see, lthough the effects of their violence are clear…rage, dissension, sexual immorality, idolatry, greed, arrogance, selfishness, laziness, and more.
Application:  The army of God is at war. This means there will be attacks. The enemy will come after me to steal, kill, destroy. I am not exempt. What am I to do? First, trust in Jesus. Second, train my mind and spirit and body for battle. Scripture, prayer, godly counsel, a band of brothers. .
Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I want to follow you. That will lead me into battle, just like Peter in the garden. But our weapons are not made of steel, but of spirit. Make me dangerous to the gates of hell. Make me a force to be reckoned with. I can’t do this. Only you can. Train me. Equip me. Teach me. Empower me. I ask it in the strong and loving name of Jesus.
August 27, 2012
Psalm 143:1-12 (NLT)
Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my plea!
Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.
[2] Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you.
[3] My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground
and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
[4] I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.
[5] I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works
and think about what you have done. [6] I lift my hands to you in prayer.
I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Interlude
[7] Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
[8] Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
[9] Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.
[10] Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
[11] For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
[12] In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
August 25, 2012
2 John 1:5-6 (NLT)
I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. [6] Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.
Observation:  Love God; love each other. That about sums it up. The Hebrew scriptures highlight these 2 actions as the core of faith. Jesus quotes these as the twin pillars on which the faithful life is to be lived. John reminds us of these as the central dyad of following Jesus.
Application:  Might these be important? Well…maybe. Just Kidding. Here is our message: loving God and loving neighbor brings us life abundant, eternal, glorious. Without loving God and neighbor, life will be missing  the beauty, wonder, joy that God offers.

“Love, love, love, love, the gospel in one word is love,” says the old chorus. But, how often have we missed that? We have made it Think, or Believe, or Obey, or Thou Shalt Not, or a myriad of things which might help, but are not the main things.

Prayer: Lord, help me to love you-heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And help me to love my neighbor in the manner and to the degree that I have come to understand how you love me. Let Jesus be my example, and the Spirit be my source. Thank you for loving me first. I am humbled, and I am grateful.  In the powerful and loving name of Jesus, I pray.

August 19, 2012
John 21:17 (NLT)
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
Observation:  Peter has denied Jesus. Now comes the moment of forgiveness, mercy, restoration.
Application:  Peter does what we all have done or will do…denies or betrays Jesus. It is not a question of if, but only when. We are human and frail and we mess up.  Always. And I have had my times. Jesus seeks to pardon and restore me, too. He asks of me, what he asked of Peter: Michael, son of George, do you love me? And my answer to his question matters profoundly.
Prayer:  Yes, Lord, I love you. I love you more than I ever thought possible. And, I love you less than I wish was true. I want to love you more. Help me love you more. More than anything else. More than riches or power or status or fame. More than anyone else. More than life itself. I would have no other gods before you. In the powerful and loving name of Jesus.
August 14, 2012
John 16:23-24 (NLT)
At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. [24] You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
Observation:  Jesus is fixing to go away…to his Father. While he will not be with him, they will not be alone. And they will not be left without resources and help. The Holy Spirit will be there. God will answer their prayers…and there will be joy.
Application:  In this chapter, there will be suffering. They will be persecuted. But, they will not be  abandoned. And the presence of Christ, through his Holy Spirit, will not disappear, and they will have joy. Abundant joy. Overflowing joy. Eternal, everlasting, never-ending joy!
Prayer:  Lord, I want that. My life has not been bad. I have been blessed in so many ways, more than I can count or remember. An incredible wife, wonderful children, fantastic grandchildren, good health, the privilege of being in ministry. Each and every one of those is far more than I deserve. But, you are gracious and I am grateful. Still, there have been some hard times, with more perhaps to come. Difficult and cruel people, financial struggles, a child now battling cancer, the death of parents. And you have offered joy. And I am once again deeply thankful. I am blessed and highly favored because of your presence and action in my life.
August 2, 2012
John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. “
Observation:  For the Jews, the concern was about ritual purity, or mere survival – enough food on the table to get them through one more day. Our appetites have far more to do with sensual pleasures than the will of God.
Application:  Jesus’ call is for me to hunger after righteousness. I am to long for my Father in Heaven like a deer pants after a brook. But my focus is far more often on diets and my grumbling belly when I fast than it is on the true food, the will of him who sent me, too.
Prayer:  Papa, I don’t crave your will like I do Oreos or Little Debbies. I don’t get a hankering for righteousness. My soul is not parched for you. As much as I wish I craved you and your will like I do sugar, it is not so – yet. Change me. Mold me after your will, while I am waiting, yielded and still. In the powerful and grace-filled name of Jesus I ask this.

Matthew 6

He was born on June 4th. His name is Matthew. But I have a hard time remembering his middle name, even though it is a family name.

Why? And what kind of a Dadu (MY appellative for grandfather) can’t remember his own grandson’s name? (I am glad you asked!)

One early evening last October, we received a phone call from my oldest son. He wanted to know if my wife and I could come up to their home. Our small group was starting in moments. It is a 50-minute ride. So, because it wasn’t terribly good timing or very convenient, I asked why.

The answer was, “There has been an accident.”

My heart stopped for a moment. I immediately thought of their 2 sons, and was sick at the thought that something tragic had happened.

My son, thankfully, did not leave me hanging. He told me the “accident” would arrive in about 9 months.

I scraped my now more-thankful-than-heartsick-jaw off the floor, grabbed my wife, and headed out the door to their home.

The background to this is that they had a son who was about to turn 3, and one who was about 8 months old at the time of this phone call. In the case of No. 1 grandson, they had tried to conceive for a long time, without success, and finally had gone for scientific help.  Because the first pregnancy had taken some time, they were concerned about whether or not they could conceive another child. This pregnancy – so quick, so easy, so unplanned – was a shock. A total and complete shock.

We arrived to console and support (while inwardly excited for a new grandchild!)… knowing that our daughter-in-law was really, really upset. She sobbed quite a bit telling us about her concerns. In addition, my son’s wife only wanted two children. And she was, at first, devastated by the news that they were now expecting. (She only wanted 2 children; only saw herself as having 2 children; had said repeatedly they were never having any more than 2 children; and, no. 2 son was too young to have to share with a new brother.) She was not excited about this news.

Did I mention she was really upset?

When she calmed down some, she began to tell us of their oldest son’s reaction to how upset she had been. Several times he had come up to her, looked her in the eyes and said, “Mommy, Matthew 6!”

At first, she didn’t think anything about it, too emotional for it to really register what he was saying. Finally, both my son and our daughter-in-law asked their oldest what he was talking about. He repeated, “Matthew 6.” Eventually, they pulled a Bible off the shelf, and read these words:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

While it had not fully sunk in, they realized the message to them. They quizzed No. 1 son to discover that they had been talking about seeking first God’s kingdom and that everything else would be taken care of in pre-school that day. He didn’t understand all of it, but somehow he heard enough to know that mom needed those words at that moment.

On June 4th, Matthew Ryan was born weighing 8 lbs, 1 oz, healthy and happy.

The funny thing is, I can’t always remember his middle name. Somehow, Matthew 6 is what keeps coming to mind.