Archive for February, 2012

In Mark 2, Jesus healed a lame man in front of a large crowd. Here is how the crowd responded:

“This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” (v. 12).

As incredible as was this healing, you have received from God a miracle even more amazing if you’re a Gospel-trusting Christian.

Your soul has been saved from the eternal suffering you deserve and it is destined to the eternal celebration that you desire.

It is the miracle of salvation that has transformed your forever in flames into a forever in the clouds.

No matter how much physical healing that a person experiences in this life, its value pales in comparison to the soul healing that assures joy and peace and freedom and reunion forever.

Listen, we all know that some groups of believers exalt the place of physical healing and even use it as a barometer of faith, particularly among those in leadership roles. If your prayers have not healed somebody, then what’s wrong with your faith? At least that is the inference sometimes.

Praying for healing IS part of what Christians should do. But far more important than physical healing is spiritual healing.

For the body is a blade of grass that exists for a moment and then is gone.

The soul is forever.

When your soul was saved through faith in Jesus Christ — now that was a REAL miracle, taking that which was as good as dead because of sin and instilling it with the promise and power of eternal life.

There was no way that this could happen without divine intervention.

It really was a miracle.

Not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual.

Never lose your amazement at the miracle of God’s grace exchanging the hell you deserve for the heaven you desire.

Never stop praising God.

Never stop telling others that what God has done for you, He can do for them.

And I’ll do the same.

As always, I love you

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A Christian can measure the depth of his or her faith by the frequency of his or her prayers for difficult people.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of faith to pray for your friends or for your loved ones.

We have natural, emotional reasons to do so.

But when it comes to praying for those who boil our blood and perhaps send some spit our way now and then, praying for their well-being is neither natural or emotional.

Instead, the natural desire is for them to “get what they deserve.”

That’s a bad philosophy, though.

What if we received from God what we deserve?


It’s always better to pray for others even if they don’t like us or perhaps even hate us.

Because, ultimately, prayer is a form of intercessory worship intended to praise God when seeking good for others, even those who consider us as enemies.

King David knew well about praying for those who hated him.

In Psalm 35, he gives us a vivid display of the attitude that God wants regarding prayers for those who prey upon us.

They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.” (vv. 12-14)

Wow. Persistent prayers for those doing evil to us? Prayers offered with the same measure of intensity as if we were praying for our moms?

Is this how you pray for those who hassle you?

Listen, we’ve all got some growing to do spiritually.

Let’s get to it.

Beginning today with prayers for the needs of those who cause us grief.

You know, Jesus did the same thing on the cross, didn’t He?

Father, forgive them…..”

As always, I love you

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It’s true that wholesome blessings often come into the lives of people who choose Christianity.

But gaining earthly blessings should never be the reason to confess Christ as Savior with our words and baptism.

And any evangelistic message we share should speak most to eternal blessings, not earthly blessings.

Why? Because the latter are not guaranteed.

And when they do happen, the level of blessing from Christian to Christian varies SO widely depending on circumstances, personality, maturity level, Kingdom purposes, etc.

When it comes to eternal blessing, though, EVERY Christian will receive the same gift of eternal life. There will be no “uptown” heaven and “other side of the tracks” heaven. We all will be in the presence of God wearing the same white robes in a place so marvelous that we can’t even comprehend it.

Yes, we should rejoice and be thankful when earthly blessings come our way.

But Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could have earthly blessings.

He died so that we might have life eternal.

“The LORD redeems his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” (Psalm 34:22)

The Apostle Paul wrote that Christians should be the most pitied people on the planet if the reason for their self-denying lifestyle had no eternal reward.

He knew that temporary blessings in this life — and he experienced them along with some really hard times — were nothing compared to the ultimate blessing of being with God forever in heaven.

This truth is why Psalm 34:22 is so encouraging.

It’s so much more important that God redeems His servants into the next life rather than simply give them stuff in this life.

Yes, some ministries unfortunately place a huge emphasis on linking material wealth with spiritual practices. It’s actually embarrassing to see such “carrot”-based conformity pressures being displayed in the media to the glee of Satan who tempted Jesus to see wealth as more valuable than faith.

Jesus got it right, though. He focused on the forever, not the “now or never.”

Listen, stuff decays. A soul that seeks refuge in God’s promises won’t.


This is the greater blessing.

This is what should compel us to focus upon spiritual gain, not material.

This is the Good News we are called to share — hope that will take wing forever.

As always, I love you

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Proverbs 9:8 is one of those verses that tests the humility of a person.

It is a test that I hope to pass on an increasing basis.

Don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you” (New Living Translation).

If I resent the words of somebody — or even resent the person himself of herself — because they have correctly pointed out an error in my attitude or with my statements about certain things, then I am doubly wrong.

For I am acting hatefully.

Instead of genuinely listening, I am lashing out.

It seems that God is saying this: trying to help somebody whose heart is filled with anger toward Him — and you — is essentially a waste of time.

That’s a strong statement and we need to make sure that we pray for discernment to know if somebody really is a mocker.

I pray that I never fall into this category.

As long as I’m willing to receive correction to any theological errors I might possess or with how I communicate with people, then I’ll avoid the “mocker” label.

I want to be wise.

And so, I should welcome correction when what is being told me is actually correct.

We all know, of course, that some people want to “take us to the woodshed” now and then with tongue-lashings that aren’t based on wisdom but instead upon emotion and personal preference.

That’s when we need to stick with the policy of taking these corrective comments to the cross via prayer rather than taking that person to our woodshed.

If others’ pointed, corrective comments are legitimate and based on Bible principles, we need Christ to reveal that to us and to guide us in how we should change and in how we should thank the person for their insights.

If they’re not Bible-based, then we need Christ to guide us in remaining humble and loving in our response and more careful in communicating the “why” of our actions.

Remember, our need is to become more like Christ.

If somebody helps us to do so, even if it stings a bit, then that is a good thing.

As always, I love you

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It’s a brief teaching in Exodus 30, but it’s message is clear — God values every life the same.

Yes, the blessings from God will vary in content and degree from person to person depending upon faithfulness and Kingdom purposes.

But the cost of redemption is uniform.

In Exodus 30:11-16, we read that every person being counted during a Hebrew census, whenever it occurred, was to pay a half-shekel to the Tabernacle operating treasury. Based on some Internet research, that would have been worth about $13 in our money today.

That, of course, is a pittance compared to what we think life is worth.

When God issued that command for each person — rich or poor — to pay the half-shekel before “crossing over” to the counted, I believe that He wasn’t demanding a ransom but instead making a statement on how one person’s life and worship was not more important than another’s.

The Hebrews knew that God hadn’t sold tickets for inclusion in the Exodus from Egypt. He delivered them all in advance of their financial contribution to His Kingdom.

That’s why most were likely quite willing to pay the half-shekel at census time.

They knew that they were way ahead in the deal and that they’d still be winners even if they would have had to give up all their possessions. You see, before God’s deliverance, they owned nothing, not even their time.

Yet, in deliverance they gained freedom from slavery and gained possessions. Possessions that had actually belonged to others.

With the Exodus 30 teaching, they were being asked to give a small portion of what had been given them.

The Hebrews would later be required to tithe (give 10 percent of money and possessions) to the Lord for support of Kingdom ministry, but that was proportional to the amount of blessing received from God for people in various jobs and life situations.

The tithe offering amount was not a measure of how much a soul was worth, but instead a measure of appreciation for how much God had blessed.

There’s another, more powerful way that God showed His valuing of all humans at the same level — the death of Christ on the cross.

The “whoever” of John 3:16 makes clear that God loves all people to the same extent and is willing to invest the same amount of perfect blood in them to cleanse them of sin if they would choose Jesus as Savior.

So, if God values souls the same, shouldn’t we?

Please love people the same even if they vary in how they reciprocate.

Please be as willing to forgive the irritating person as you are the person compatible with you.

Jesus did these things and so should we.

As always, I love you

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So many times, when a person chooses to desert his or her family because of selfishness, he or she ends up in an emotional and social desert.

The same principle, of course, applies to job responsibilities and financially barren circumstances that almost always follow.

The Apostle Peter knew firsthand about how desertion of responsibility led to a bitter time in the desert of despair.

Peter said in Matthew 26 that even if everybody else betrayed Jesus, he would NEVER do so — “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” (v. 35).

Just a few hours later, though, Peter was in the most barren of emotional and spiritual deserts.

Why? Because he had deserted His Savior.

We want to believe that we would never do such a thing and that we haven’t done such a thing.

But haven’t we sinned?

Haven’t we caved in at least once to peer pressure that called us to set aside loyalty to faith, even for a brief time?

Haven’t we marched into the trap of Satan at least once with the presumptuousness of God’s grace toward us despite our momentary rebellion toward Him?

Listen, Satan tells us that deserting the Messiah for “a bit of fun” or a “bit of payback” or a “bit of an emotional escape” won’t hurt us. After all, he tells us, there are people doing things a whole lot worse.

What he doesn’t tell us is that sin always has a consequence, that deserting faith temporarily always leads to a time in the desert emotionally and spiritually.

We might not sense it right away, but sooner or later we will.

And Satan will snicker.

Let’s reject every temptation to desert our faith. Even if the lure is described as momentary.

Never forget that Satan is a liar. He lied to Eve and Adam and look at what has happened since because they deserted faith for just a moment.

Let’s always give Jesus the loyalty He deserves rather than deserting Him in the moment.

The desert of shame and despair is the last place we want to be.

As always, I love you

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Hypocrisy stinks.

We all know this.

Yet, when it comes to the words we Christians sometimes use or condone, we are chief among the hypocrites.

Proverbs 8:13 says that God “hates perverse speech.”

And come Sunday morning, every Christian who sits in church wouldn’t even consider telling or laughing at a sinful joke among their church-going friends.

So why doesn’t that same diligence apply at the workplace or school lunchroom when gathered with carnal, non-Christians?

Why do some Christians sprinkle innuendo or acronyms (terms comprised of first letters of words) through their Facebook or Twitter posts?

Some of what I read is actually shocking, not just in content but also in the apparent blindness of the writers to the random perversity of their posts.

I’m praying that the Holy Spirit’s voice succeeds where mine could not.

I want to see Christians, including myself, more often doing and saying things that the Lord approves, not hates.

None of us are perfect, of course.

And that’s why we each should be vigilant in measuring our actions — and words — against I Cor. 10:31 and Colossians 3:17, both of which tell us to make sure that our words reflect the presence and glory of God in our lives.

Let’s remember to examine closely how we are communicating during the week with others. We can’t be satisfied with the opinion of our consciences, since they are sometimes numbed by sin and the toleration of sinful words.

A better measure is the example of Christ.

Would Christ tell that joke?

Would Christ laugh at that off-color story?

Would Christ type that acrostic?

It’s so much better when believers don’t BGH – break God’s heart. Actually, the best thing we can do is to LPLHLP- love people like He loves people.

Remember, He saved us to do good works (Eph. 2:10), not break His heart.

As always, I love you

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