Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Life to Match Your Lips

READ Mark 13-14

Oh, Lord, how I want my life to match my lips. Peter and the disciples didn’t. They blew it. “Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “ Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “ If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.”  (14:29-31)

I’ve learned in these many years of walking with the Lord that I am prone to be just like them. So my tendency is to stop making bold pronouncements of how faithful I will be. At times I’m even hesitant to sing some lines of some songs because they profess things that I know I am weak in doing.

But how I would love to have no fear of making brash boasts of what I will do for the Lord and what I won’t do that would dishonor him. How I would love to know that I’d never fail. But I don’t. In fact, I’m fairly certain of just the opposite. So now, I’m more prone to say, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. Show your power in my weakness.”

Prayer: Father, that is my prayer today. Please show your power in my weakness. Help me to be faithful and have the courage to stand strong for you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

If You Are Willing

READ Mark 1-2

So often, when I read the story of Jesus cleansing the leper, I am touched by two words that Jesus uttered. The leper came to Jesus and said, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus said to him, “I will, be clean.” The two words that grab my heart are “I will.” The leper had asked him if he was willing and Jesus replied that he was. That seems to be the heart of Jesus, doesn’t it? He is willing to heal us from the sickness of our sin and for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. to make us clean.

When I think of being like Jesus that seems to be the quality that epitomizes him the most — his willingness. He was willing to leave heaven and come to earth. He was willing to touch and heal many of their diseases. He was willing to forgive sins. He was willing to go to the cross so that our sins might be forgiven and we might have eternal life. He was willing to suffer and die for us.

And when I think of my seeking to live like Jesus, so often the very thing I am lacking is willingness. I may have all sorts of reasons and excuses, but  the truth is, I am just not willing so many times. I need the help of God to be willing. I need the truth of Philippians 2:13 to be real in me all the time: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Prayer: Father, you are the One who makes me willing and able. Help me, Lord, to be willing to do your will. Help me to be willing to love as you love and to live in a way that is worthy of the grace you have shown me.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Word-doing Is More Important Than Sign-watching

READ Matthew 23-24

“Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matthew 24:28) What a strange verse this is but not one that should cause us difficulty in understanding. What is Jesus doing? He is telling about the “the sign of [his] coming and of the end of the age” (v.3). In the midst of this information he interjects this note about the vultures. So what does he mean?

Most of you know that Janet and I recently made a trip to Africa to see our son, Arthur. One of the delights of this trip was to spend 3 days in a national park and go on game drives each day. One of the things we learned from the guide was to watch for vultures, either circling above or sitting in groups in trees. Why? Because, as we all know, the presence of vultures means there’s something dead nearby. And if there is something dead, then there might be the possibility of seeing what killed it, like a lion or cheetah. So we watched for vultures.

That’s what Jesus is telling us. Just as vultures gathering means a corpse near, so do these signs that he is telling about mean that his second coming is near. All one has to do is watch for the signs. Meanwhile, live to the glory of God while you are watching. I think Jesus was saying that the signs will be evident, like vultures, so you don’t need to get bogged down in sign-watching. Word-doing is more important than sign-watching.

Prayer: Father, thank you for telling us what the signs will be when the Lord Jesus returns. Help us to be discerning and not over-reactive. Help us to be about the business of living to your glory while we watch for the signs and not to spend all our efforts and energies only on sign-watching.