PSALMS 107:41-43: “But he rescues the poor from trouble and increases their families like flocks of sheep. The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are struck silent. Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Dear Worship Leader…

Before I begin my thoughts I want to make two very important statements. First, I love to worship the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Second, I love worship leaders who devote themselves each week to leading God’s people to the throne of grace to offer praise, worship, and experience the presence of God. The following comments must be weighed by these two statements.

There are two statements that I would like to ask worship leaders to think about. The first is,

“We need to get used to worshipping the Lord because when we get to heaven we will be worshipping at His throne 24/7.”

This first statement shows the passion of the worship leader for what they are doing. However, it lacks a true Biblical basis in its premise. While we can glean from Revelation chapter 4 that there is always worship taking place around God’s throne, we cannot interpret this to mean that all we will do in heaven is stand around the throne and worship. The text is not meant to convey this idea and the balance of Scripture does not support it.

If God created man to be industrious before his fall into sin, can we imagine that God will have a different plan when He restores us from sin? The Scriptures tell us that the saints will be engaged with Jesus in ruling the nations. It sounds like we will be very busy in the new heavens and the new earth with the purposes and will of God. Work is not a product of man’s fall into sin. Work, sanctified work, creative work, fulfilling work, is the gift and call of God for mankind.

  • “To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them, I will give authority over all the nations. They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star! “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” Revelation‬ ‭2:26-29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The second statement I want to ask worship leaders to consider is the statement,

“God is good!”

Many times it is suggested that all we need to do is say “God is good” and all our troubles will simply be washed away. Is God good? Absolutely! Is God good all the time? Yes, every moment of every day! Then why do I have trouble with this statement?

Can I be honest? Sometimes I don’t feel like God is good. My circumstances don’t seem to mirror this truth. My emotions don’t echo this truth. I need something more than just a faith cheer to restore my heart in faith. I think if we are really honest this is true for all of us. Many times in their exuberance worship leaders will dismiss doctrine for a move of the spirit. Doctrine is not important. Our emotional response is all that matters.

To this, I would humbly suggest,

  • Worship without doctrine always leads to extremism.
  • Doctrine without worship always leads to legalism.

We need both!

  • “But he rescues the poor from trouble and increases their families like flocks of sheep. The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are struck silent. Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.”

The Psalmist calls us to worship and be glad in the Lord. Yet, he also states how those who are wise will do this. They will see in their history (the record of God’s Word) the faithful love of the Lord!”

  • Worship without truth will never sustain the hurting heart.
  • Truth without worship will never fire the hungry soul.

We need a balance of both!

  • “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John‬ ‭4:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So, dear worship leaders. You are appreciated. You are essential. We need you to lead us to the throne of grace in spirit and truth. We need to sing songs that are filled with substance and call us to remember the covenant of hope we have in Jesus Christ. We need to proclaim the cross and celebrate the resurrection. And, we need to proclaim the hope and joy of heaven to come knowing that as He is, we will be!

While worship most certainly is not what we do for 30 minutes on a Sunday morning, while it is the totality of a life lived for Jesus Christ, what we do for these 30 minutes is essential. It is the difference between wandering in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water and coming to a refreshing stream where our bodies, souls, and spirits are refreshed in the presence of God.

Dear Worship Leader – Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts. I pray you will receive them in the love in which they were intended. May the Lord continue to bless you in your ministry and anoint you with a new song as you lead God’s people each week!

In Jesus Name!

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PSALMS 105:16-17: “He called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them— Joseph, who was sold as a slave.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Have you ever wondered – “Where is God?” You find yourself facing an extremely difficult situation, it looks like everything is working against you, and it seems like God is silent. You pray, you pour over the Bible, and you feel like you are in a dense fog unable to see the next step you are about to take. In all of this, the truth is…


Whenever we face times of uncertainty, whenever it seems like we are alone, we have God’s Word to remind us that God is always going before us. God gave us His Word for this very reason.

  • “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Psalms 105 is one of these wonderful reminders. It gives us two examples of God’s faithfulness to go before us. The first is the example of Joseph. God always works on the long game. He had made a covenant with Abraham promising him that he would make of his descendants a mighty nation. The Lord knew exactly what it would take to make this happen. It would involve a famine and a relocation to a different land.

In all of this God was always one step ahead. He gave Joseph a vision of his future that would keep Joseph walking in faith, even through the most difficult of trials. And, He allowed Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery and be taken to Egypt.

Joseph’s life is a history of wonderful provision and setbacks. Yet, in all of them, God was always going before him. As Joseph persevered in faith God rescued and elevated him to the position of second in Egypt. When God gave Pharaoh a dream of the coming famine, He also gave Joseph the interpretation and a plan. This plan would prove to be the very provision to bring Jacob and his brothers to the next step of their covenant fulfillment.

As 400 years passed, God’s people multiplied mightily. From dozens, they were now thousands. And, when a new Pharaoh, who did not remember Joseph turned against them, God had already gone before His covenant people to bring them His provision.

  • “He sent Moses His servant, And Aaron whom He had chosen. They performed His signs among them, And wonders in the land of Ham.” Psalms‬ ‭105:26-27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God’s plan to rescue Israel began when He sent Joseph. It continued when He moved the hearts of Moses’ mother to hide her child in a basket so her son would not be killed. And, His hand was upon Pharaoh’s daughter when she took him in as her own son and raised him in the courts of Egypt. This happened a full 80 years before God would send Moses and Aaron to lead His people to freedom.


As I look over my life I can see the hand of God always going before me. The problem I have is remembering His past faithfulness. It seems like the current struggle erases the former acts of His love from my memory. This is why I need to daily feed upon God’s Word. These words were written so that we would never forget and in our times of struggle, we could find hope.

Hope is trusting God for the things we cannot see. Hope is strengthened when we remember the things He has done. When we combine our faith with hope we can walk in confidence, even in the darkest of times. Paul learned this very well and this is why he could confidently say,

  • “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.” II Corinthians‬ ‭1:9-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Lord, as I walk through times of testing and discouragement, may I never forget that You are always going before me! The struggles I face are reminders that I must cast all my cares upon you. As I remember the times you have delivered me, as I walk in Your present grace and experience Your hand of provision, may I also walk in hope knowing that You will yet deliver me from all the challenges I have yet to face. Help me remember…


In Jesus Name!

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JOHN 7:7: “The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil.” NLT
OBSERVATION: What was Jesus like? When we look at pictures of Jesus that have been painted they usually depict Him as a peaceful shepherd. When the world thinks of Jesus they usually refer to Him as a teacher and advocate of peace and philanthropy. In essence, the world has tried to sanitize the image of Jesus.

Jesus is all of the things noted above, but He was so much more. Jesus was a revolutionary figure. He came to the Jewish nation as God’s light to the world. And, the world He came to was mired in darkness and unbelief. Jesus’ very presence was a testimony of truth to a people who had moved far away from God’s truth. Immediately Jesus caught the attention of the religious leaders of Israel. And, this attention was not good!

Many do not see Jesus as a revolutionary. He did not come to lead the Jews in a military revolt against the Romans. He did not even get involved in the politics of His day. Jesus came as Messiah to the lost sheep of Israel. He came to call God’s chosen people back to the Father. He came to proclaim the truth of God’s word and nature to sheep who had wandered astray.

  • “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John‬ ‭3:18-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus was not a revolutionary because of what He did. Jesus was a revolutionary because of who He was. He was God, in human flesh, the Eternal Word coming to live among us. He was the true light that shines brightly in the darkness. His very nature, His very presence, His very words caused a revolution in the lives and hearts of mankind. And, the majority of those who heard Him would reject Him.

I find it amazing today that those who espouse that which is counter to God’s written word use the person of Jesus to hide behind. They pick and choose His actions and words to hide behind. They try to turn His light into darkness. Yet, the light of Jesus’ life, words, and actions shine brightly against such insincere attempts!

  • “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

If we want to understand Jesus we need to listen to His own words. In Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, He prays,

  • “I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” John‬ ‭17:14-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus came to start a revolution. It was not a revolution against political parties, armies, or nations. It was a revolution of truth. It was a revolution against the darkness of sin. It was a revolution of the true love of God. John writes in His epistles, we cannot love this world and love God at the same time. We cannot try to sanitize Jesus and make Him someone who fits our lifestyle. We must come to Him as the Lord of truth and humble ourselves before Him in sincere repentance.

The enemy knows that without the knowledge of sin there will be no conviction of sin. Without the conviction of sin, there will be no repentance. And, without repentance, there will be no faith unto salvation. Satan too is a revolutionary. He is a revolutionary of darkness. He is the driving force behind the sanitization of the life and image of Jesus. He will do anything he can to try and hide the light of life from the eyes of sinful man.

It is time that believers all over the world reclaim the revolution of truth! It is time that we let our lights shine brightly in a world filled with darkness. It is time that we count the cost and be willing to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not tiptoe around darkness – He exposed it! He did this boldly with His words and with His love. We are called to do the same!

  • “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew‬ ‭5:15-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Lord, help me to proclaim the living and risen Christ! Help me to boldly stand up for the truth and let my light shine. And, help me to resist the attempts of the enemy to not only sanitize the image of Jesus, but also his attempts to sanitize the image of what a follower of Jesus Christ should be like. Give me grace to live boldly and in the power of Your Holy Spirit!

In Jesus Name!

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JOHN 3:3: “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” NLT
OBSERVATION: What is so “good” about – Good Friday? How can Christians all over the world celebrate a day when their Lord was brutally beaten and nailed to a cross to die? Is Good Friday a day to mourn or a day to celebrate? The answer can be found in Jesus’ discourse with Nicodemus.

Has anyone ever asked you the question – “When you die, will you go to heaven?” How did you answer this question? Jesus made it very clear to Nicodemus when He said,

  • “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

The Kingdom of God is synonymous with heaven and eternal life. This was such a profound statement that Nicodemus was taken back by it. He had come to Jesus at night to speak with Jesus about spiritual things. Nicodemus was a leader of his people and a devout Pharisee. He had studied the law from his youth. He knew the Scriptures. Why did Jesus begin the discourse with such a cryptic statement?

In this statement, we can learn so much. No one goes to heaven when they die because of the stature they achieved in this life. Nicodemus was a Jewish leader. This alone would not give him eternal life. And, no one goes to heaven because they are religious, go to church, or do good deeds. Nicodemus was not only a devout Jew, he was a part of one of the strictest sects in Judaism – the Pharisees. Finally, no one goes to heaven simply because they acknowledge God. Nicodemus also acknowledged God, but it was not enough!

  • “…Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” John‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It was after this statement that Jesus replied – “…unless you are born again, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” While Nicodemus struggled with this statement, Jesus took it to the next level. What He said next probably really threw Nicodemus for a loop!

  • “No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” John‬ ‭3:13-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I am sure when Nicodemus heard this he was really confused. He acknowledged that God was with Jesus. Yet, this is much different than Jesus claiming that He came down from heaven. And, what does it mean that the Son of Man must be lifted up? In this statement, Jesus referred to His crucifixion. As Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole in the wilderness to stop a plague, so the Son of Man must be lifted up on the cross to break the power of sin.

This is why Good Friday is – GOOD!

Without the cross, there could be no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there could be no rebirth. And, without rebirth, there would be no eternal life. Jesus followed up these words to Nicodemus with the most famous verse in the entire Bible.

  • “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NLT

God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die. Jesus, born of the Holy Spirit, came to live among us, experience all of our sufferings and weakness, and take the penalty of the sin of mankind upon Himself as He died upon the cross. The punishment and death were of the most horrific nature. Yet, they were good. They were good because without this supreme act of kindness and love no one could go to heaven when they die!

To be born again one has to realize that all of their human efforts cannot save them. This is called repentance. When we realize that even our grandest achievements are but filthy rags compared to the holiness and goodness of God, we are poised to receive the gift of eternal life. When we place our faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His victorious resurrection, something miraculous takes place in our lives!

  • “Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John‬ ‭3:5-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As we celebrate this day we call Good Friday, I want to ask you a question. Have you been born again? Do you have the assurance that when you die you will experience eternal life? Are you walking in the hope of this eternal life each day and experiencing His abundant life through the Holy Spirit? Are you willing to lay down all of your achievements and self-righteousness so that you can be clothed with His great love and true righteousness?

Will this Good Friday be GOOD for you?

Lord, I pray that we will all look upon Your cross with great reverence and also great rejoicing. Your supreme sacrifice has opened heaven’s doors to all who will believe. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us today and upon all those who hear Your words,

  • “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

In Jesus Name!

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JOHN 1:29-34: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God. ” NLT
OBSERVATION: Today, on the church calendar, we celebrate Maundy Thursday. While many churches do not recognize the traditional name that has been used over the centuries, they do recognize the events of this day. These events are recorded in John chapter 13.

  • “Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” John‬ ‭13:1-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On this final night before Jesus was crucified, He washed the disciple’s feet and then celebrated the Passover meal with them. It was after this that He would be betrayed, taken into custody, and rushed through a sham trial so He could be crucified before the Sabbath. What does all of this have to do with John the Baptist and the question – “Do I see Jesus?” Everything!

John the Baptist grew up with Jesus. He was only about 6 months older than Jesus and was a near relative. We do not have any Biblical record of their interaction. However, one could postulate that Jesus traveled with John and their extended family when He was young as they pilgrimaged to Jerusalem for the feasts. Jesus grew up to be a carpenter. John grew up to be a prophet. Everything seemed very ordinary until the day John looked upon Jesus approaching the Jordan river and declared,

  • “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.”

What happened at this moment? John knew Jesus. Yet, on this day John saw Jesus for the very first time! God gave John the revelation of who Jesus was. He was not merely a relative, a carpenter from Nazareth. Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world! We know this was a revelation from God because John says,

  • “I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.

Now we come full circle to this Maundy Thursday as we commemorate Jesus’ last celebration of the Last Supper with His disciples. Here was the Lord, the Messiah, standing before them as a common servant. A towel tied around His waist, kneeling before them to wash their feet. An unlikely picture of the Messiah they were looking for. It was so unusual that Peter blurted out,

  • “…No…you will never ever wash my feet!” John‬ ‭13:6-8‬ ‭NLT

Peter did not see Jesus. The disciples did not see Jesus. And, Judas Iscariot surrendered to Satan and planned to betray Jesus. Later that evening they would all desert Jesus as He was arrested and taken to the Sanhedrin. Peter, the rock, would deny Jesus three times. They would look upon Jesus as He hung on a cross and die right before their very eyes. And, they would retreat in defeat and doubt as all of their hopes were crushed and the Messiah they believed in was buried.

On Sunday morning all of that would change! The stone was rolled away and Jesus was alive. Yet, it still did not change the way some saw Jesus. There is one section in the Gospel of Matthew that always troubles me. Jesus, risen from the dead, stands before them as He prepares to give them final instructions and return to heaven. As they listen to Jesus it is recorded,

  • “…When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!” Matthew‬ ‭28:16-17‬ ‭NLT

How could some still doubt? How could the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the risen Lord, stand before them and some still doubt? The answer is they could not see Jesus. They saw Him with their physical eyes, much like John the Baptist saw Jesus all of his life. Yet, unlike John the Baptist, they did not receive the gift of revelation to see Jesus as the Lord of life. Without this revelation, the events of the last week of Jesus’ life are merely a story, to some a fable, unless they receive this revelation from the Father!

Everyone has doubts. Thomas, who walked with Jesus for three years had doubts. He did not believe the reports of Peter and the other disciples. He was adamant,

  • “…I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” John‬ ‭20:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus met Thomas at his point of doubt. Jesus said to Thomas,

  • “…Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John‬ ‭20:27-29‬ ‭NLT‬

John the Baptist was unsure of who Jesus was. The eleven disciples, even after three years, struggled to understand who Jesus was. Judas Iscariot never discovered who Jesus was. And, some, who even saw the risen Lord doubted who Jesus was. Yet, for everyone who looked upon Him in faith, God the Father opened their eyes to see Jesus!

John the Baptist would die knowing that he had prepared the way of the Lord. The eleven disciples would be persecuted and most of them martyred for their unfailing faith in Jesus. Something happened when they saw Jesus! Their lives were forever changed. They stepped from death into life. There was nothing that could separate them from the love of God. And, they live eternally with Him in heaven.

Who do you see on this Maundy Thursday? Are you confused when you look at a humble servant? Do you struggle over His words during the Last Supper? Do you look at the cross and see defeat and doubt the empty tomb? Or – through eyes of faith – do you see Jesus?

The gift of revelation is not given to us because we are better than others. The gift of revelation is given to those who understand that they are sinners in need of a Savior. The gift of revelation is when we come to the cross, lay down our burdens and sins, and ask the risen Lord Jesus into our hearts. Revelation is the gift of faith and it is available to everyone!

  • “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NLT
  • “In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Romans‬ ‭10:8-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬

As we commemorate the historical events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday, what will you see? My prayer is that – YOU WILL SEE JESUS!

In Jesus Name!

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DEUTERONOMY 8:3: “Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Is there a reason for the times of wilderness wandering in our life? Why does God allow us to go through prolonged periods of testing? How should I respond when I find myself in these difficult times? How does the lesson of manna speak to these questions?

The children of Israel were slaves in the land of Egypt. They were ruled by cruel taskmasters and forced to do heavy labor. They cried out to the Lord for His deliverance. God did deliver them but then it seemed like they went from the fire into the frying pan. At least when they were slaves in Egypt they had plenty to eat!

Hungry, thirsty, and alone in a desert land, the children of Israel began to grumble and complain. They began to long for the leeks and onions they had enjoyed in Egypt. They cried out for food and the Lord heard their cry. He provided them with a miraculous food – manna from heaven!

  • “The Israelites called the food manna. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers.” Exodus‬ ‭16:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Six days a week the Lord would provide manna for the children of Israel. They would rise each morning and it would be covering the ground like dew. They were to gather up only what they needed and not leave any until the next morning. On the sixth day, before the Sabbath, they were to gather up twice as much, for there would be no manna on the Sabbath.

The manna was given as a test of their willingness to obey the Lord’s commands. At first, some were greedy and gathered more than they needed. When they awoke the next morning they found that the leftover manna was filled with worms. Then, others disobeyed God’s command and went looking for manna on the Sabbath. Yet, they found none and no doubt that day they had to do without because they had failed to gather twice as much the day before. All of this was to test their willingness to obey the Lord.

  • “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:2 ‭NLT‬‬

Yet, manna was given for something more than just a test and training for obedience. There was a spiritual component that we must not miss. This spiritual component is seen in Deuteronomy 8:3 and it is magnified as we hear it again in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Even the Son of God learned obedience through the things that He suffered!

  • “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew‬ ‭4:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The lesson of the manna was more than a lesson of mere obedience. It was a lesson of the true provision of life that God has given to us. And, it was a lesson of when we need to partake of this provision.

Satan tried to trick Jesus into meeting His physical needs before attending to His spiritual needs. Jesus responded with God’s Word from this chapter in Deuteronomy – “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The manna that God provided each day was a reminder of the true source of life. It came from heaven just as God’s Word comes from heaven. Each day they gathered it was to be a reminder that God’s Word was their true source of life. When they obeyed God’s Word there was provision and blessing.

  • “Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus. Matthew‬ ‭4:8, 10-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus, the Son of God, endured trial and temptations just as we do. The victory that He experienced was not through meeting the needs of the flesh but by partaking of the manna from heaven – the Word of God! Jesus, as fully God, and fully man, overcame the trials of life just as we can. Too many times we get preoccupied with the need and we miss the provision. The provision for our victory never comes from what we do. It always comes from heaven. It always comes from the true manna – the living and abiding Word of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Heavenly Father, help me to learn the lesson of the manna. Help me to seek You each morning as I begin my day. May I hunger to fill my spirit with Your Word before I fill my stomach with food. As I walk through times of trial and testing, help me to always remember that You never stop providing the manna of Your Word to teach, lead, and strengthen me. In prolonged times of testing may I trust You fully and recognize that Your Word is sufficient!

In Jesus Name!

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DO I HAVE A GIVING HEART? (How much did the widow really give?)

LUKE 21:1-4: “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Do I have a giving heart? Am I truly trusting God and putting Him first in everything I do? Or, am I like those Jesus observed who simply were giving from their surplus. They were giving only what they did not need. Jesus contrasted these rich people with one poor widow who dropped in two small coins.

I always wondered about these two small coins. After doing some reading on the subject I realized they were not simply the equivalent of two pennies. Two pennies have virtually no worth at all. It would be just as easy to give away two pennies as it was for the rich to give of their surplus. What were these two small coins really worth?

The two coins were what was known as a lepta. It was the smallest coin in circulation during this time. The two lepta were worth about 1/64 of a denarius. A denarius was the wage for a common day’s work by a laborer. If we put that into today’s terms we can get a better perspective on what these two coins were worth.

For sake of illustration, we will use $15.00 per hour as a laborer’s wage. The average workday was about 12 hours in Jesus’ day. This would equate to $180.00 in today’s money. Two lepta would be equivalent to 1/64 of $180.00, or $2.81 for a 12 hour day, or $2.00 for an 8 hour day. This is significantly more than two pennies.

Today, $2.00 could buy a sandwich at Mcdonalds, or a couple of tacos at Taco Bell. However, $2.00 would not go very far in providing for building repairs at your local church. The widow’s $2.00 was worth almost nothing to the Temple treasury, but it was everything to her. When she placed it in the free-will offering she was doing much more than giving up her last $2.00. This widow was proclaiming her faith and devotion to God in a humble act of worship.

The widow knew that this small amount of money could not sustain her for long. No doubt she was used to poverty in her state. Yet, from her action, we can glean that she had learned what to do when faced with adversity. She knew that the last $2.00 she held in her hand could do more for her as she laid it upon the altar, than if she kept it in her pocket out of fear for what lay ahead. She knew that only God could rescue her at this juncture in her life.

We do not have any record of what happened to this widow. I don’t believe she stumbled into a windfall of money from her sacrificial gift. However, there are two things I am certain of. First, she touched the heart of her Heavenly Father. And, second, I know that God provided for her needs each and every day of her life from this moment forward.

When Jesus asked the disciples to feed the 5000, they did not respond like this courageous widow. Instead, they looked at their lack, rather than at God’s supply.

  • “But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there. Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” So the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!” Luke‬ ‭9:13-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When they surrendered their measly five loaves and two fish to Jesus they placed themselves in the position to receive a miracle from God. When Jesus blessed this small provision, and when probably a crowd of over 20,000, including women and children, ate their fill, they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers. What seemed like nothing in their hands became the source of blessing in Jesus’ hands!

This widow was poor financially, but I believe these two small coins opened the provision of God’s continual flow of care and blessing in her life. Just like the widow with Elijah, when she gave up her last cake to provide for God’s servant, the Lord miraculously provided a continual provision of flour and oil throughout the entire famine that was in the land. When we seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (including our resources) – He always meets us at our point of need!

  • “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I wish we knew more about this courageous woman. Yet, what we know is more than what we really need. If we truly hear the words of Jesus, if we look into her heart of faith, if we discover the joy of giving in a way that is led by the Spirit and pleases the heart of God, then we too will discover the blessing of God’s continual outpouring of provision and grace.

Lord, thank you for the testimony of this wonderful woman of faith. Grant me the grace to hold the resources you have entrusted to me with an open hand. May I respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading to give with a cheerful heart of faith. When I look at the needs around me, help me not to focus on what I don’t have, but on what You can do when I place even the smallest of resources I do have into Your powerful hand!

In Jesus Name!

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LUKE 20:17-18: “Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.” NLT
OBSERVATION: There is a famous song by artist Bob Dylan entitled – “Everybody must get stoned.” The first stanza of this song is,

Well, they’ll stone you when you’re trying to be so good
They’ll stone you just like they said they would
They’ll stone you when you’re trying to go home
And they’ll stone you when you’re there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

I thought of this song when I read these verses. There has been much debate about what Bob Dylan meant when he wrote this song. However, there is no debate about what Jesus meant when he spoke these words to the crowd He was speaking to, which included many of the religious leaders of His day.

The crowds who heard Jesus received Him gladly. Yet, most of them would be in the same crowds who would cry out – “Crucify Him!” The religious leaders rejected Jesus from the very beginning. They knew He was speaking to them when He spoke the parable of the evil farmers who rejected the owner’s servants and eventually killed the son. The crowd was appalled by the story. The religious leaders were offended. To this Jesus replied,

  • “Then what does this Scripture mean? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.

Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. The Eternal Word of God humbled Himself, became a man, and lived amongst us. Yet, Jesus would be rejected, crucified, and buried. Jesus’ enemies would rejoice over their victory. Their rejoicing would be short-lived. On the third day after His crucifixion, Jesus would rise from the dead. The cornerstone that was rejected would be established by God the Father as the Chief Cornerstone!

  • “As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” 1 Peter‬ ‭2:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Many today have come to know and honor Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone. They have come to the rock, humbled themselves, and with a broken and contrite heart they have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

  • “Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”

The truth of Jesus Christ will either lead a person to faith or it will lead them to judgment. The stone will be the opportunity to repent in humility and find life or it will be a stone of judgment. To echo the words of Bob Dylan –

“…everybody must get stoned!”

What keeps someone from coming to Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone? It is usually the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. There is sin that a person is not willing to surrender, a desire for the things of this world, or a feeling of superiority and pride that keeps someone from faith. Someone has wisely said it is either a sin issue or a will issue. However, that does not change the reality of life.

“…everybody must get stoned!”

As we approach another celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ it is a reminder that the stone that the builders (this world) rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone. He offers life to all who are broken in humility and repentance. He also will come again in judgment for all those who continue to reject Him. There is a coming coronation of those who trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord. There is also a coming judgment to those who refuse to believe.

“…everybody must get stoned!”

“And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Heavenly Father, I thank You that I stumbled upon the stone that the builders rejected. I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins, and to rise victoriously on the third day. I thank You for the blessing of eternal life that is waiting for all who believe. Grant me grace and boldness to share this Good News with as many as I can so that they too can be broken and not crushed.

In Jesus Name!

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LUKE 17:30: “Yes, it will be ‘business as usual, right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Will the world get better? Will America be the guiding light that leads the world to peace and prosperity? Will the church usher in the Kingdom of God on earth through its ministry and presence?

The disciples were asking many of these same questions. At this point in their walk with Jesus, they were looking for the Messiah who would restore Israel’s political dominance in the world and usher in a wave of lasting peace. The Pharisees also were looking for this physical kingdom. When they asked Jesus about the kingdom, Jesus replied,

  • “…The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” Luke‬ ‭17:20-21‬ ‭NLT‬

How could the Kingdom of God already be among them when the Romans remained in power and ruled Jerusalem with an iron hand? This did not seem to be a sufficient answer to their question. The disciples themselves were confused. And, many in the church today are struggling with the same misunderstandings.

If we truly understood the Kingdom of God and the promise of Jesus Christ’s return, then we would not be so discouraged when we see the world around us continue to spiral downward in social and moral decay. As a Christian, and as an American, I need to realize that the Kingdom of God will never be established by a government. The Kingdom of God will only be established when Jesus Christ returns.

Many were shocked by a performance at this year’s Grammy Awards. A singer and dancer exhibited a performance that made many rush to turn off their TV or quickly change the channel. How could our culture have fallen so low? How could millions celebrate and applaud such vulgarity on prime-time airwaves?

The reality is that the world will continue on its course of decay and destruction until Jesus returns. Jesus used two examples when He spoke to His disciples about this. He used the example of the days of Noah and the days of Lot.

  • “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” Luke‬ ‭17:26-29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What do both of these examples have in common? Those who had no faith in God went on with their lives. They had no concept that anything was wrong. Life went on as usual. And, there was no social transformation. Things continued to decay until the final day of judgment was revealed.

As believers, this should not shock us. How can this world’s governments and societies improve without Jesus Christ? As God has been taken out of the public forum, the workplace, and the schools, do we expect anything more than a continued slow and steady slide downward? This may sound like words of surrender and defeatism. They are not. They are simply words of reality.

The enemy would love the church to be preoccupied with trying to establish the Kingdom through government and social change. Why is this? It is because when the church is preoccupied with this it is not engaged in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our mission was never to transform governments. Our call was to make disciples of all nations. Our call is to reach the one who is lost and bring them to Christ.

When the church focuses on its true mission wonderful things happen. The early church turned their world upside down. They impacted culture. However, it was not through electing believers into public office. It was by reaching sinners with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every position of life. Changed lives changed their world. Only changed lives can impact ours.

So, as the world turns, as it continues to spiral downward, let’s not focus on transforming world systems. Let’s recapture the call and mandate that Jesus Christ Himself gave us. Let’s make disciples. Let’s preach the Gospel. Let’s pray for the sick. Let’s be filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God that is within us, and the Kingdom of God that is to come!

  • “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come. ”. Luke‬ ‭4:18-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬
  • “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End…He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation‬ ‭22:12-13, 20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Come, Lord Jesus!

In Jesus Name!

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LUKE 16:14-15: “The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” NLT
OBSERVATION: What does God think about the world? This is really a trick question. It hinges on how we define the world. In the Scriptures, there are two definitions for the world. The first is God’s creation which included mankind and everything else that He created (see John 3:16). The second definition for the world is the current rule and reign of the enemy over the affairs of mankind and the system which he has corrupted.

Jesus was focusing on the second definition when he addressed the Pharisees. Jesus had just finished His parable about the unjust steward who used the world’s riches for his personal benefit. He ended this parable with these words.

  • “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Luke‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What is important to note is the Pharisees’ response to these words of Jesus. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of their day. They went to synagogue each week. They offered their offerings and sacrifices at the Temple. From all outward appearances, they had it all together. Yet, they scoffed at Jesus’ words. Why? It was because they loved money.

Money within itself is not evil. It is the love of money that is evil. Yet, how we view and use money says more about our spirituality than almost anything else. I have frequently said that there is an umbilical cord attached between our wallets and our heart. When we come to Christ, just as when a baby is born into this world, we need to cut this umbilical cord if we are to live. The Pharisees were unwilling to do this.

When you analyze the world system around us it all revolves around money. Nations rise against nations for control of territories and resources, which is, in reality, a struggle for money. In our culture, we revere those who have achieved great success and wealth. And, as believers, we are tempted to find a way that we can live in harmony with both desires – our desire for God and money. Yet, this is never possible. We can never serve two masters. One will always prevail!

The Pharisees loved the spotlight and they loved their money. They resisted Jesus because He challenged the very heart of their hypocrisy. When I read Jesus’ words and the Pharisees’ response, I am faced with this question as I look in the mirror. Am I living a life devoted to God or am I living like a Pharisee?

So much of American Christianity is focused on success. We don’t measure our spiritual health by what we are becoming. We measure it by what we have or have accomplished. We elevate celebrity and downplay the humble servant. We praise the church with thousands and forget the small community church that is humbly serving their congregation day in and day out on a first name, person to person basis. No wonder Jesus proclaimed,

  • “What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.”

There is a famous episode of the TV show Seinfeld. George Costanza was Jerry Seinfeld’s best friend and he was a bit of a loser. Everything he did went south. He could not hold a job. He was a failure with relationships. Everything he touched seemed to fall apart. Then, one day he had a revelation – “Do the opposite!” When George began to do the opposite everything began to turn in his favor. It was a revelation!

Jesus is proclaiming the same thing when He says – “What the world (system) honors is detestable in the sight of God.” Why is this? It is because the world system is run and influenced by the prince of this world – Satan. Satan has only one agenda – to steal, to kill, and to destroy. The love of money never leads to peace and fulfillment. It always captures and imprisons the heart of its victim. This is true about the love of money – and everything else this world system honors and worships.

So what is the answer? How do we manage money and live a life that is pleasing to God? The key is how we use our money.

  • “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” Luke‬ ‭16:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus is not saying to use our money to buy friendship or influence. Rather, He is exhorting us to use all our worldly resources in a way that honors God and helps others. This is the application of the Great Commandment in light of our money and resources. We love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength when we honor Him with our tithes and offerings. And, we love our neighbor as ourselves when we use our worldly resources to help those who are in need.

Money and every resource we have in life is a gift from God. The question is never how much of my resources should I give to God. The real question is how much of His resources, that He has entrusted me with, can I use for myself. How we ask and answer this question will let us know whether there is an umbilical cord still attached to our wallet.

John Wesley understood these words of Jesus. He is quoted as saying,

  • “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, and give as much as you can.”

It takes money to live. It takes money to fulfill the Great Commission. Money is necessary for this life and the life of the church. What God’s Kingdom needs are disciples who are free from the love of money and captivated by the love of Christ!

Lord, help me to be such a disciple!

In Jesus Name!

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