Showing posts from April, 2020

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Today I want to spend a little time with you reading through my favorite parable of all time. We begin in Luke 18:9, “He [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:” Here we find the why of the parable. Jesus is talking directly to people who have what they call self-righteousness. When I was young, I had an imaginary friend named Malcom. Malcom liked everything I liked and always agreed with me and was always available when I needed him, in fact it was as if his entire existence revolved around me! Why is that? He wasn’t real – I made him up to make me feel better. Hey, listen, self-righteousness is the same thing as an imaginary friend. It’s made up, not real. And, hard to spot when you have it. 
So Jesus tells the following parable, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not l…

A Really Super Long Quarantine

Hey, are you tired of quarantining? Me too! 
On this rainy morning I am thinking about Noah! You remember the story, right? God saw that “every intention of the thoughts of [mans] heart was only evil continually.” So, God chose to flood the earth and start over with the one righteous man He found, a man named Noah. Noah wasn’t perfect, but He tried to follow the ways of God, he “walked with God”. So, God had Noah build an ark and he and his family and 2 of every living animal were shut up in the ark. They had to stay in the ark until the flood was over. How long you ask? 
Genesis 7:17 says, “The flood continued forty days on the earth.” Genesis 7:24 says, “and the waters prevailed on the earth for 150 days.” Genesis 8:4, “and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month.” Genesis 8:6, “At the end of 40 days Noah opened a window… and sent forth a raven.” Genesis 8:10, “He w…

The Spiritual Discipline of Silence

Richard J Foster put it this way, “Whether alone or among people, we always carry with us a portable sanctuary of the heart.”
Let’s begin by defining silence. This is not necessarily the silence of physical noise, although it can involve that, this is the silence of inner thought. The noise we want to avoid is defined as distraction. Thoughts or sounds the draw us away from having to be present in a moment, from being self-aware and aware of other people. 
I spend a lot of time in silent thought, trying to work out problems, organize projects, understand situations in my mind. All of that isn’t bad, the problem is I never stop. When I have opportunities for physical solitude, I spend them filling my mind with noise. Why? Because true silence makes me uncomfortable. 
In these moments of silence, when we stop distracting ourselves with all the worries and plans and other distracting notions we actually come face to face with ourselves and we don’t like that – we don’t like looking in t…

"For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Today we going to spend a few minutes learning how to pray from Psalm 4. 
Let’s look at verse 1, “Answer me when I call, O God of myrighteousness! When you pray, you must be humble – you must see where you stand in relation to God. Here David says that any righteousness in him is God’s, not his own. When Martin Luther lectured on this Psalm he said this, “[David] finds nothing within himself on the basis of which God should answer him.” In other words – David recognizes the privilege he has in speaking to the Lord, that it is a gift from God, not deserved.
You havegiven me relief when I was in distress.
Here we see David remembering how God has delivered him in the past. I don’t know how many times I have done something special for the boys – taken them to a movie or their favorite restaurant or some place they want to go – only to have them be ungrateful moments later when they don’t get their way. I say something like, “After everything I’ve done for you today you are whining!?” I won…

"If any of you lacks wisdom"

Today we are looking at James 1:5-7. It reads like this, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Wisdom is a hot commodity in the scriptures. Essentially, wisdom shows you how to act, what to say, what to do. Here James says, “Do you lack wisdom? All you have to do is ask for it!” God wants to give you wisdom! It is important to note that this verse is specifically about wisdom ok, nothing else. And here it says that God will give wisdom out generously, like He is waiting for you to ask for it. 
Wisdom comes to us in various ways, it comes from experience – usually the best wisdom comes from our mistakes. It comes from listening. It comes from clarity of thought. It comes with humility and gratitude. I do not pray for wisdom enough. Do you?
James continues, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person mu…

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

In Luke 18:1 Jesus is preparing His disciples for difficult times that lie ahead and look at what Luke reveals to us in Luke 18:1, “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Man, I am so grateful for this today. Jesus is going to tell His disciples a parable so that they will know they always ought to pray and never lose heart. It seems to me that one can gather from this passage that we should not lose heart because we can pray! Not only do we have the Gospel-have salvation, but, because of the Gospel, we can now pray in the name of Jesus Christ – enter God’s presence, have His attention, anytime
Let’s look at the parable. “He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because …

When there seems to be no way out.

I am thinking a lot today about Moses. He’s my favorite character in the Bible (aside from Jesus of course!). I’m thinking about that profound and famous moment when Moses and the Israelites are at the edge of the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army is bearing down on them from behind. They have no place to go. Their hopes were high, they thought the Lord had delivered them but now, in a moment everything has changed, and it all seemed to be a cruel trick. Now they will either be killed where they stand or returned to slavery and if that’s the case there will be consequences for their move to freedom certainly. 
As panic and despair set in Moses speaks up, he gets the crowds attention and says this in Exodus 14:13-14, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Powerful words that certainly sounded crazy to some, in the…

The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

In Matthew 9:15 the Pharisees want to know why Jesus’ disciples don’t fast and Jesus says this, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” In simple terms, “They don’t need to fast when I am right here with them!” but look at what He, Jesus Christ our Lord, says next, “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Jesus is saying that there will be a time when He is not physically present, and they will fast then. Who is He talking about? His disciples, are you one of His disciples? When is He talking about? A time when He is not physically here. Is He physically here?
In the words of Foster, “For the person longing for a more intimate walk with God, these statements of Jesus are drawing words.” 
Guys, we are missing out when we are not engaging in fasting. I want to spend a little time this morning doing a quick flyover of fasting throughout scripture. 
When? In scripture people fasted when they were about to st…

"Salvation belongs to the Lord"

Psalms 3 read as follows, 
“OLord,how many are my foes!
Many arerising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”Selah
David is writing about physical enemies of the people of God whose dogged opposition has been used by the adversary to whisper to David’s soul, “There is no salvation in God.” In short, causing David to question God’s credibility, love, maybe even existence. 
So here’s the question, What “foes” are causing your soul to doubt God’s deliverance? Man, in times like these this can be so relevant – but it is always true. What situations, past or present sins, troubling thoughts or even active relationships are the adversary using to whisper his lies to your soul? 
Many times, for me, it is my own failures. My relentless mistakes often cause me to wonder if God can save me or if He even wants to – if God can use me or if He wants to. For me, it is also often my successes. When I perceive myself successful, I often find more confidence in myse…