DO GUNS KILL?

MARK 7:18-23: “So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” NKJV

OBSERVATION: On Sunday, December 29, 2019, there was another tragic shooting at a Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. I was visiting my sister and her family only a few short miles from this location. The reality is – it could have been any church! And, in the midst of the sorrow and confusion, it did not take long for the political pundits to begin crying for solutions, including more gun control laws.

Now, let me make it very clear, I am not a gun owner. I don’t like guns. The closest thing I have to a gun is a Red Rider BB Gun that was given to me as a souvenir. I have stayed outside of the fray of this discussion, because, to be honest, I think there are more critical things to discuss. Yet, as I read these verses today I was reminded by the words of Jesus,

Guns don’t kill!

The context of Jesus’ explanation of His teaching to His disciples was the commandments of men that were being taught by the religious rulers. They had taken God’s dietary laws, which were given for the benefit of man, and made them the end rather than the means. They viewed food as the most important part of the command. Jesus viewed the heart as the central issue.

Jesus made it very clear. Food goes into the stomach and is eventually eliminated. Therefore, food is really benign. Whereas, what comes out of the heart is what truly defiles a man.

  • “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Let’s use some simple logic to emphasize this point. Place a loaf of bread and a revolver on the table. Now, tell the loaf of bread to make you fat. It cannot – unless it is consumed. By itself the loaf of bread is benign. Now, tell the gun to shoot and kill you. It cannot -unless it is held in the hands of a man or woman who has murder in their heart. The gun, by itself, is also benign.

It is true – overeating and guns can kill. Yet, they can only do so in the hands of a man or a woman who has uncontrolled emotions and sin in their heart. Jesus did not blame swords or spears for the deaths that were occurring in his day.

Jesus blamed the heart.

So why is this so important? It clearly illustrates how foolish it is to try and legislate morality through external means. Even when we create laws it does not stop evil and crime. The only thing that stops evil and crime is the transformation of the heart. And the only thing that transforms the heart is faith in Jesus Christ!

During the Welsh Revival of 1900-1905, the impact of men and women turning in faith to Jesus Christ had a dramatic impact on crime. Larry Brown, in his paper entitled The Welsh Revival And Other Revivals Worldwide, 1900-1905 writes;

  • “Drunkenness was immediately cut in half, and many taverns went bankrupt. Crime was so diminished that judges were presented with white gloves signifying that there were no cases of murder, assault, rape or robbery or the like to consider. The police became unemployed in many districts. Stoppages occurred in coal mines, not due to unpleasantness between management and workers, but because so many foul-mouthed miners became converted and stopped using foul language that the horses which handled the coal trucks in the mines could no longer understand what was being said to them” (Towns and Porter, 33).”

In White Settlement Texas we witnessed the difference between two hearts. There was the heart of the shooter who intended to kill and destroy as many lives as he possibly could. Then, there was the heart of a church member, who laid his life on the line to protect others and shot the man who intended evil, keeping a terrible event from becoming an even more horrific event. Three people died in this church. This was three people too many. Yet, it was not a gun that killed the two innocent men, but a heart that was filled and controlled by evil.

The church needs to pray for revival. The church needs to preach the Gospel. The church needs to call men and women to repentance. If the pulpits of our land are only filled with “how to” sermons, and avoid the difficult issues of the day, we will never see revival. Violence, hatred, murder, and moral decline will be the norm of the day. Yet, when hearts are changed society is changed too! And, it is only a changed heart that can solve the issue of violence in our day. You could confiscate all the guns from all the law abiding people in the land and it would not remove them from the hands of unregenerate hearts that intend to do evil!

The Bible and the Gospel are our greatest weapons against the sin and violence that is so prevalent in our land. Just as evil regimes have taken the guns away from law abiding citizens, so the enemy has taken the Bible, prayer, and the Gospel away from our churches and our public square. The church seems to be more interested in entertaining than saving, pacifying than prophesying, and accommodating than calling for repentance.

Jesus was not crucified on a cross because He fed the 5000, healed the sick, or cast out demons. Jesus was crucified because He spoke the truth and uncovered the hypocrisy of His day.

Are we willing to do the same?

Lord, forgive me for my complacency. Forgive me for the areas of my life where I have allowed the commandments of men to crowd out the commandments of God. Fill me with a boldness to proclaim Your Word, to share my faith, and to lead others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Bring revival to my heart – and to this land!

In Jesus Name!

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THE GOD WHO SEES…

GENESIS 16:13-16: “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.” NKJV

OBSERVATION: Have you ever wondered if God really sees and hears us during our times of need? We know what the promises of Scripture say. Yet, many times there is a disconnect between what we know and how we feel. Truth be told, in our times of deepest need, God can seem very far away.

This wonderful account of the Lord and Hagar reminds us of the faithfulness and love of God. His love is not just extended to us when we are walking in faith. His love is also extended to us when we are in our deepest times of doubt and despair. In fact, it is in those times that we meet Him in a very special way.

Hagar was not in the line of promise. She was an Egyptian handmaiden of Sarah. God had promised a son to Abraham and Sarah, but Sarah was unable to conceive. Instead of seeking the Lord, Abraham and Sarah did what so many of us do. Abraham and Sarah went to Plan B. Plan B was Hagar. If Sarah could not conceive a son for Abraham, then perhaps she could have a son through her handmaiden Hagar.

Hagar conceived immediately. When Sarah realized this she regretted her Plan B and despised Hagar. Sarah, with Abraham’s consent, banished Hagar from their camp. It is in this time of rejection, loneliness, and despair, that God appears to Hagar.

Hagar, in the culture of the day, had done nothing wrong. She had obeyed the instructions of Sarah. And, now, she was being punished for her obedience. Hagar was not in the line of promise. She was not a part of the people of God. In fact, Hagar came from a culture that did not even worship Yahweh. And, yet, God in His mercy and grace appears to Hagar.

Now, before one’s mind runs off with the ongoing conflict that resulted between Hagar’s son Ishmael and Sarah’s son Isaac, let’s focus on what is happening here in the moment. In the moment, a lost and rejected woman with child, is met by the Angel of God. Many Bible commentators believe this to be a visitation by the pre-incarnate Christ. And, since God never changes, we see the heart of God revealed in Christ reaching out to the lost heart of Hagar.

Hagar had no expectation of meeting God. She had no faith to believe that God was attentive to her situation. And, to think that God actually saw her plight and heard her cry, was beyond her understanding. This is what prompted her response,

  • “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”

Hagar did not know God by His covenant name. The gods she knew were made of wood and stone. In her limited understanding she called out to God in the only way she could. She called out to God in the way He had revealed Himself to her.

He was the – GOD WHO SEES!

Most of us do not find ourselves in the depth of desperation that Hagar was in. We are not homeless, expecting a child, and with no hope of survival because we lack all means of support. Yet, whatever problem we may be facing, it can seem as impossible as the situation Hagar found herself in. And, when we are in this place, God’s presence can seem far away.

Yet – the good news is GOD SEES!

He sees, He hears, and He is always present! In fact, there is not one cry, one pray, one concern of our heart that He is not aware of and attentive to. Hagar could not see God – but God could see Hagar. God’s faithfulness does not depend on us sensing His faithfulness. God’s faithfulness stands because it is part of His nature and He never changes.

As we stand upon the precipice of a New Year we can only see the moment. Yet – GOD SEES! And, He not only sees – GOD CARES! He has promised His presence to those who call upon His name. And, He always stands on our behalf interceding for us according to the will of God!

Lord, this morning, thank you for reminding me that You are the GOD WHO SEES! Thank You for Your faithfulness, love, and constant care. Help me to rise up in faith and trust You with all the cares and concerns of my life for the upcoming year.

  • “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7 NKJV

In Jesus Name!

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HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DO I HAVE IN GOD?

MARK 4:37-41: “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” NKJV

OBSERVATION: How much confidence do I have in God? As I face a New Year, am I ready to enter it with my sails trimmed with confidence, or am I paddling slowly and cautiously in fear of what is to come?

Whenever I read this account of Jesus and His disciples, I always wonder – How could Jesus sleep on a pillow when the little boat was being tossed on a rough and windy sea? No doubt I am not alone. The disciples were both perplexed and afraid. They were not content with letting Jesus sleep. They had to wake Him up and ask,

  • “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Many times when Jesus was asked a question, He replied with an action, and then followed up with a question. This is what He did in this situation. Jesus stood up, He rebuked the wind and the waves, He commanded His peace to enter into this situation, and then He turned to ask His disciples a question. He did not rebuke them for their question. He simply questioned them about their faith.

  • “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

Now here is an interesting observation. In all three Gospel accounts the Bible does not record the disciples giving an answer to Jesus. In all three accounts they simply look at one another and say to one another (not to Jesus),

  • “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

The central issue at play here is confidence. And faith is the essence of confidence.

  • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3 NKJV

Confidence in the spiritual realm is determined by our ability to see the invisible. In fact, faith has everything to do with what we cannot see, but is indeed real. Jesus knew the Father. In His humanity He saw the Father as each one of us are able to see Him – through the eyes of faith. Yet, Jesus was without sin. There was nothing impairing His spiritual vision. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Father was present in the storm and that His Father would provide for and protect Him.

This is the reason Jesus could sleep in the storm and the disciples could not. Jesus had complete confidence in His Father. The disciples did not. Jesus could see with unhindered eyes of faith. The disciples were limited by their spiritual sight which was impaired with doubt and fear.

We need to see all of life through the eyes of faith!

I will never forget a very scary experience I had one day sailing out of Newport Harbor. The day looked perfect for sailing. I motored through the harbor and reached the break water. The sun was shining, the wind was perfect for sailing, and I raised my sails and set a course for a wonderful day. Then something happened that was completely unexpected. A dense fog rolled in and my visibility was cut to zero! I could only see the compass in my cabin and nothing else. A moment of panic hit me!

I was not alone. I had two guests who had never been sailing. So my anxiety was heightened when they asked me – “Are we going to be alright?” I assured them we were, but deep inside my heart I was crying out to the Lord – “What do I do?.” Then I remembered my sailing lessons. I had been sailing directly parallel to the coastline. My distance from the shore was safely away from shoreline rocks that surrounded the coastline. I looked at my compass and set my course to maintain the same compass setting that I was on when the fog hit.

The dense fog seemed to last for an eternity. However, in a short time it began to break up. And, when I looked out on the horizon, I was still on the right course. I had adverted danger and a possible collision with another boat simply by staying on course. In my heart I gave thanks to the Lord. We all enjoyed a wonderful day of sailing. When panic knocked at my door all I had to do was pray, remember what I had been taught, and put my confidence in the compass setting that I was on!

Our faith, our confidence in God, is our compass setting during the storms of life. If we walk in faith, if we choose to trust in God’s Word and promises more than in our circumstances, if we acknowledge that our loving Heavenly Father is always in control, we too can take rest during the storms of life. This does not mean that we sit idly by and do nothing. Sometimes we are called to bail water, and sometimes we are called to speak to the storm. However, in either situation, we are called to do so with confidence in God, standing firm in our faith.

If God called the world we see (visible) into existence through His Word (the invisible), we can rest assured that He will guide us by His written Word – safely through the storms of life. Jesus does not always take us out of the storms of life. Remember, even Jesus had to endure the storm of the cross! Yet, He always guides us through the storm, gives us the grace we need to navigate the storm, and leads us into safe harbor on the other end of the storm. Just as I had to maintain my course on my sailboat, so I have to maintain my course in life. And, I maintain my course through the confidence of faith, faith in God!

Lord, I do not know what the year ahead will hold for me. Yet, I know that You hold each second, minute, hour, and day in Your loving and all powerful hands. Help me to place my faith and confidence in You. Help me to hang on during each storm. Help me to faithfully navigate through each storm by Your Word. And, help me to know that at any time You can say – “Peace be still!”

In Jesus Name!

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HAVE I COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?

MARK 3:28-30: “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” — because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.” NKJV

OBSERVATION: Have I committed the unpardonable sin? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Has anyone ever asked you this question regarding themselves? To be honest, it is one of the most confusing questions that one can grapple with as they study the Scriptures.

Why is it so confusing? Satan loves to throw this question at a believer or seeker of Jesus. He proposes – If they have committed the unpardonable sin – then they are without hope. Satan is the author of confusion and condemnation. In fact, it was Jesus’ upending of Satan’s rule that brought this question to the forefront to begin with.

  • “For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.” But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known.” Mark 3:10-12 NKJV

Jesus began to break Satan’s hold upon mankind. He broke the enemy’s hold over their bodies as He healed them. And, He broke the enemy’s hold over their mind and spirits as He delivered them. The demons knew who they were facing. They were being confronted by the Son of the living God!

It is amazing that the demons acknowledged Jesus but the religious rulers would not. In fact, the confrontation between Jesus and the religious rulers framed the very basis of Jesus’ statement regarding the unpardonable sin.

  • “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” Mark 3:22 NKJV

Jesus, the Son of God, acknowledged by those He healed, and even by the demons He cast out, was rejected but the religious leaders of His day. They went one step further. They attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan himself. It is in this act that we begin to understand the unpardonable sin.

Jesus made it very clear in His response to the scribes.

  • “So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.” Mark 3:23-24, 26-27 NKJV

The scribes knew the Scriptures. They claimed to know God. And, in this moment they were being confronted with the reality of two Kingdoms. The kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of light. Jesus told them what they already knew. Satan could not cast out Satan. Therefore, if Satan was being cast out it must be by the power of God. There was no other choice or explanation.

In light of this full revelation the scribes crossed the line. They chose to deny the Scriptures, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the very manifestation of the power of God that was evidenced before them. Out of their hatred and continual hardness of heart they chose to deny all of this and attribute it to the work of Satan himself.

This is the unpardonable sin!

So how can one know if they have committed the unpardonable sin? One might think – “Did I say something like the scribes that has crossed the line?” Or – “Am I lost and beyond the hope of receiving God’s grace and forgiveness?”

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS!

If you have ever asked yourself these questions, if it has ever been a concern in your life – YOU HAVE NOT COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE SIN! The unpardonable sin is not a period of momentary doubt, a slip of the tongue, or a lapse of backsliding or sin. It is not even a life broken by sin that has blasphemed the name of Jesus.

The unpardonable sin is the continual hardening of one’s heart, over a long period of time, until they no longer are able to receive the conviction of their conscience or of the Holy Spirit. When one has crossed this line they will not even ask these questions. The scribes had hardened their hearts long before Jesus came. And, when Jesus was right in front of them they could not even discern it. The light of Jesus was blocked by the darkness of their hardened hearts.

How can we know if someone else has committed the unpardonable sin. WE CANNOT! We have not been given the calling, authority, or responsibility of passing judgment on the heart of another person. The only heart that we can truly know is our own. And, if we are even concerned about this question, then the Holy Spirit is still present and working in us to bring us to Christ.

The wonderful message of the Gospel is that the pathway of forgiveness is always open to the heart of one who repents. There is no sin so great that can separate us from the loving provision of God’s grace. As long as their is conviction in our hearts there is hope. If we hear God’s call and respond with heartfelt repentance He will always receive us with loving arms!

  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 NKJV
  • “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 NKJV

Lord, this morning I pray for all those who are battling with guilt and the condemnation of the enemy. Comfort their hearts and let them hear Your loving voice – calling them home, knocking on the door, and inviting them to be forgiven, cleansed, and restored. Let them open the door of their hearts to You!

In Jesus Name!

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THE GREATEST GIFT…

MARK 2:5-12: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘ Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” —He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” NKJV

OBSERVATION: Today it is Christmas morning. The decorations are up, the tree is lit, presents are opened, and family is gathered together. Christmas is a wonderful time as we celebrate God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ on that hallowed night. Yet, as all the gifts are opened – what is the greatest gift each of us can receive?

Is the greatest gift Christ coming in the form of human flesh and dwelling among us? Is it His teaching, miraculous healings, or His willingness to go to the cross? What is God’s greatest gift of all?

The story of the paralytic is a wonderful illustration of God’s greatest gift. Four men, desperate to find help for their paralyzed friend, climbed a roof, removed the thatching, and lowered the paralytic down by ropes – right in front of Jesus. No doubt they brought the man there to be healed. Yet, this is not what Jesus initially did. The first thing He did was proclaim the forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed man.

This caused quite a stir in the room. I can imagine that the four friends were disappointed. They had brought their friend there for a miracle. And, the religious leaders were incensed that a mere man would proclaim the forgiveness of sins over another man. To them this was blasphemy. At the point of Jesus initial statement no one was satisfied.

I wonder if we approach God in much the same way. We come to Him in prayer, having predetermined how we want Him to answer. And, when He does not answer us in the way we might desire, when our situation is not immediately changed, we too stand disappointed and confused. We forget what the greatest gift of Christmas is.

Jesus could have come to the earth, taught, healed, fed the multitudes, and suffered and died on the cross. Yet, if He never offered us the forgiveness of our sins all of this would have meant nothing. As Paul states in his epistle to the Corinthians,

  • “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” I Corinthians 15:19 NKJV

Think about the paralytic man. What if Jesus healed him, he walked out the door of the house, and continued to live in his brokenness and sin? What good would his new legs do him if his eternal soul was lost forever in hell? Jesus knew the greatest need this man had was to have his sins forgiven. It is only the gift of the forgiveness of our sins that opens the door to heaven and gives us full access to the Father. It is the greatest gift of all!

The wonderful thing about Jesus is that He often does not stop there. The Scriptures are replete with the gracious and merciful hand of God going beyond what we need with acts of kindness, love, and blessings. And, this is exactly what He did for this paralytic man in the sight of all!

  • “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘ Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” —He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

This Christmas, when all the paper is thrown away, when the Christmas dinner is over and the dishes are cleaned up, when Dad takes a nap on the living room floor, and children play with their new toys, let’s not forget the greatest gift of Christmas.

The greatest gift that we will need is the forgiveness of our sins!

Lord, on this Christmas Day, I want to take time the thank you for forgiving my sin. This is the greatest gift of all and the one that makes everything else possible and worthwhile. And, thank you for Your promise to continue to forgive my sins whenever I call upon Your name!

  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 NKJV

Merry Christmas!

In Jesus Name

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LET THERE BE LIGHT…

GENESIS 1:1-4: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Have you ever faced a time when everything seemed empty and without purpose? It felt much like the description of the opening verses of the creation account in Genesis,

  • “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths..”

I often read these opening verses in the book of Genesis and reflect on God’s creation. Yet, this time as I read them it spoke to me personally. It actually brought a deep sense of encouragement to my heart as I find myself walking through a very difficult time in my life. In the midst of the darkest times of my life the Spirit of God is always present!

  • “…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”

The Biblical account does not give us any details regarding what happened between the words – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”, and, “Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the surface of the watery depths.” Some have speculated that there was an event that took place in between these two statements. However, one fact is sure, the earth was in need of God’s help.

When we face times of difficulty in life the only thing that is really important is getting through them. There are times in life when we may never understand the “why” of the situation. The blessed assurance we have is that God is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our faithful Shepherd and He is always leading us on a pathway of restoration. When the times seem dark – light is ahead!

  • “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” Psalms 23:4-6 CSB

The key word in this portion of Psalm 23 is “through.” God never leaves us in the dark valley – He leads us through. Whatever may have happened in between the opening words of the creation account, the key point is God never left His creation. The Spirit of God was actively present. And, where there was darkness and disorder, God brought His light!

  • “Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.”

When the Lord shines His light in our darkness it brings both clarity and hope. It shows us the pathway of healing and restoration and what awaits us. A table of provision is prepared. A table of fellowship and healing. The anointing of the Spirit in our lives is the guarantee of our outcome. His presence in our life assures us that God’s goodness and faithful love will pursue us all the days of our life. And, when this life on earth is ended, we will live forever with Him in eternity!

In the book of Revelation, in the letters to the Seven Churches, Jesus continually says – “To him who overcomes…”. An overcomer is not someone who lives above the difficulty, but one who perseveres and walks through the dark trials of life, guided by the light of God’s faithfulness and promise. As you read the close of each of the seven letters you will find the blessed assurance of His promise and presence in your time of darkness!

Where there is darkness God’s light is always present!

  • “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7
  • “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:11
  • “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. ” Revelation 2:17
  • “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—” Revelation 2:26
  • “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5
  • “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” Revelation 3:12
  • “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21 NKJV

Lord, this morning, help me to be an overcomer! Guide me with Your light. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon me. Fill me with Your great grace! Speak to the darkness and say –

“Let there be light!”

In Jesus Name!

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THE HIGHEST CALLING…

MATTHEW 20:24-28: “When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NLT

OBSERVATION: What is the highest calling one can aspire to in life? Is it to become famous, rich, or successful? Is it to live in a large house, drive a fancy car, or vacation at the hottest destinations? Is it even to build a ministry that is recognized and renowned by all? None of these are the highest calling one can aspire to in life.

The highest calling any person can aspire to in life is to become a servant. This is not what the disciples were expecting to hear. And James, John, and their mother surely were not looking for this answer to their request to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in His Kingdom. If I am brutally honest with myself, this is not the answer I would naturally choose either. Yet – is it the only pathway to true personal fulfillment in life!

When we surrender our life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we become a Christ follower (a Christian). Our calling is just what it sounds like – to follow Jesus Christ’s life and example as we walk in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. And, Jesus has clearly given us the example to follow through His life and ministry.

  • “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The word translated “serve” in the verse above is the Greek word “diakoneo” (verb). A “diakonos” (noun, servant) was under the command of one greater than themselves and they were expected to serve others. The word literally means to attend to another, to wait on tables. We can glean some great insights by looking at a contemporary example of this in action – a waiter at a restaurant.

When you go to a restaurant part of the draw to eat out is to receive table service. You don’t have to cook at home. You don’t have to set the table. You don’t have to serve the food or clean up. Someone else is willing to do that for you. And, when that person puts you, the customer, first, you have a wonderful dining experience. When the waiter is preoccupied with themselves you end up wishing you had stayed home.

A successful waiter puts their customer first. They are attentive, cheerful, and look out for the small details that make a difference. Their main objective is to create a joyful experience for their guests. And, as they do, they are greatly rewarded. A good waiter does not do their job simply for the tip. They do their job with integrity and out of a love for people. The good tip they receive is simply the blessing that follows their good service!

What would happen in life if we all became waiters in the lives of others? I am using this figuratively of course. However, think of the difference it would make in other’s lives if we really took an interest in putting them first. If, instead of focusing on our own world, we took a sincere interest in their world. What if we gave attention to their needs, and the small details of their life, and were determined to truly be a blessing?

This is what Jesus came to do. He came to proclaim the Kingdom of God. As He did this – He healed the sick, comforted the broken-hearted, fed the hungry, and ultimately gave His own life as a ransom for the sin of the entire world. He emptied Himself of His glory and His heavenly prerogatives and became a servant, a “diakonos”, to a broken and hurting world. He fulfilled His Father’s highest calling!

  • “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:6-11 NLT

This Christmas Season, as we rush to buy the perfect gift, as we attend the holiday parties, and as we reflect upon the true meaning of the season, let’s remember why Jesus came. He came to be a servant and give His life as a ransom for many. He came to put other’s needs before His own so that He could open the door of eternal life to all who would believe. He came to show us the way to aspire to the highest calling in life.

  • “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:3-5 NLT

Lord, grant me the grace I need to aspire to the highest calling in life. Help me be a servant to all.

In Jesus Name!

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