Thursday, October 24, 2019

Seasonal Fruit

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

Psalm 1 is one of the greatest wisdom texts in the whole of the Scriptures. It speaks of the joy and goodness that comes from walking in the way of wisdom, taking delight in the commands of the Lord. Yet it is also a good example of how we can be quick to hold fast to one portion of Scripture while dismissing or discounting others.

For example, we latch onto language like “in all that he does, he prospers,” hoping and believing this to be an unqualified blanket statement. We like prosperity, especially the idea that everything we touch might “turn to gold.” However, the heart of this promise is the previous statement that the wise man or woman meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. Our prosperity and fulfillment is directly linked to our submission to the law of God and willingness to follow as he leads.

It is especially important that we hold to a long term, even heavenly vision of our prosperity. If we don’t, when life presents its challenges and struggles, we will begin to think that these are certainly linked to our failures and shortcomings. Similarly, we can adopt a formulaic, even magical approach to discipleship, believing that our faithful decisions guarantee an immediate circumstantial change of fortune. While this may from time to time be true, so often our faithfulness to Jesus and his ways is required even in the midst of painful and broken seasons.

Are you able to walk in faithful obedience to God even when your situation does not immediately change or improve? Fruit trees planted in good soil by the water are made to bear fruit and offer shade to those around them, yet this does not happen overnight! Fruit only comes after years of slow, faithful growth and development, and the same is true for you.

You may be in a season of exciting fruit bearing, and for that you can give great thanks. Yet you may also be in a season of establishing healthy roots or pruning back overgrown limbs, and for this you can rejoice. Not every season is the same, and therefore trust that the Lord is at work in your life right where you are today, and that in due time your life will yield great fruit

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying God is one and there is no other but him.’ … When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the Kingdom of God’. Mark 12:32,34 

Teachability is a primary fruit of humility. When we have an open heart to learn, we are in a position to receive wisdom from God and others. Jesus affirms a teachable heart, for He knows it has potential to learn and understand the things of God. A teachable heart is positioned to receive truth, and possesses an attitude consisting of more questions than answers. A teachable heart recognizes truth when it comes knocking. It invites truth in to be examined, understood, and applied. Truth invigorates the teachable heart. There is a rush of spiritual adrenaline when truth intersects with an open mind and heart. Pride plateaus in its learning, but a teachable heart continues to scale the mountain of truth, understanding, and wisdom.

When the Lord discovers someone who is teachable, He calls him wise. Wisdom comes from God; therefore, a teachable heart learns the ways of God. The Holy Spirit facilitates teachability, as truth applied transforms behaviors and attitudes. Change that comes from the inside out makes us like Christ: humble, bold, wise, holy, gracious, encouraging, and faithful. Change doesn’t come easily, even if you understand God has your best interests in mind.

But the transformation shows. Your character and behavior fall more in line with the life of Christ. Your spouse and children notice something different. You lead patiently and prayerfully instead of with fearful and intimidating tactics. Gain a teachable heart by first elevating your honor and worship of Almighty God.

God is one. He is not one of many gods, but one God. He is not a mini-god, but the great and glorious God of the galaxies. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all one God. His oneness is to be worshipped and celebrated. Your love relationship with the one, true God is not to be rivaled by any other gods. Any acceptance of other gods is unacceptable to God.

He is jealous for you. Your love for anyone or anything else will pale in relation to your love for Christ. To love God is to make room for Him in all aspects of your life. You love Him when you love others, when you give sacrificially, when you strive for excellence in your work, and when you pray for and forgive others. Love is reciprocal—therefore, love Him and allow Him to love you.

Let Christ’s expectations mold yours, because what He thinks trumps any other thinking. The Holy Spirit within you has the answers to the questions that consume your conscience. Listen to His internal promptings, not the external clamor. What you learned yesterday will be dwarfed by what you experience tomorrow. Know God, love God, and learn of Him. He affirms a teachable heart as one that fears the Lord. Wisdom in leadership fears God and follows His ways.

The Bible teaches, “Assemble the people—men, women, and children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

Friday, October 11, 2019


In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:33

Culturally, we love to create palatable versions of Jesus, sticking with the parts of his life and ministry that we find most agreeable to our postmodern sensibilities. We like the Jesus who pushes back against religiosity and legalism. We love the Jesus who cares for the outcast and exiled members of society, giving dignity and voice to those who have neither. Yet we are quick to brush over and relativize other parts of his ministry. Jesus doesn’t really mean “go and sell all you possess,” does he? Surely this whole “give up everything” language is just a suggestion, one way amongst many?

To run the risk of a massive understatement, we must remember that Jesus perfectly and intimately knows the human condition. He knows our deepest desires and longings, the countless ways in which we are prone to turn to the left and right, failing to give him our full allegiance. It is incredibly easy to treat our Christian faith like a small slice of the pie that is our life. We work it into the mix, but it sits alongside countless other loves and interests: family, work, sports, fitness, on and on we could go. Mindful of this, Jesus, in his kindness and love, boldly and unapologetically asks us to reassess our deepest loves and reorient them (and the priority we give them) around the values and vision of his coming Kingdom.

Until Christ is our greatest treasure, we will struggle to make sense of our world and our place within it. On the other hand, when all that we do and love flows from our union with Christ, our lives find a rooted stability and true freedom. We are liberated from finding our identity and source of hope in the things we do, the people we know, or the possessions we own. Each of these is instead seen as a potential avenue for the outworking of our allegiance. As 1 John 4:19 reminds us, “We love because he first loved us.” His love for us is always foundational, always the font from which our love and service to others flows.

If you find yourself overextended or pulled in multiple directions, take a moment to re-center fully on the love of God and the call upon each of our lives to give ourselves fully to Jesus and his Kingdom. Is he your greatest treasure?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

God reigns

God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. Psalm 47:8

God reigns over the entire earth. He is not just the God of the east or the God of the west. He is the God of the north, south, east and west. The long arm of the Lord reigns over everyone. The sun never sets on the omnipresent Lord Jesus Christ. He is the greatest in power, high and lofty in dominion, extremely eminent in wisdom and elevated in excellence of glory. Our God reigns, our God reigns. He reigns in war and in peace. He reigns in crisis and in calm. He reigns in economic catastrophe and in economic prosperity. Our God reigns. He reigns over evil and good. He reigns over nations and over individuals. Our God reigns.
He reigns from His holy throne. His is not a throne soiled with corruption and self-serving scenarios. His throne is full of grace and truth. His throne is marked and defined by holiness. It is a throne that has never been stained with sin, corrupted by cover-up or defiled by injustice. God is seated on His holy throne. He never sits dismayed or in a dilemma. God does not wring His hands in worry. He sits in serenity, for He knows His own power and sees that His purposes will not miscarry. He sits on a throne where He dispenses truth and wisdom. Therefore, approach His holy throne boldly but reverently.
God reigns over the human heart. It is here that we can submit to or spurn the Almighty’s authority. We are wise to jettison the latter. It is in submission to our reigning King Jesus that we come to know His will for our lives. Obedience leads to opportunity. Because our God reigns, He can be trusted. His rules are for our good pleasure. Christ is not a cosmic killjoy. His rules are inviting when we are in right relationship with our reigning King. It is when we resist Him that we foolishly push back from His gracious guidelines. Therefore, love Him and you will love to follow His statutes. Indeed, our God reigns in love and holiness. It is easy to follow an unconditional lover. He reigns lovingly.
We have reason to celebrate Christ’s reign. His kingship brings praise to our lips. Our Lord reigns. Hallelujah! We have no real reason to worry or stress out because our God reigns. We can put the kibosh on our complaining and murmuring because our God reigns. We can rest in a peaceful sleep at night, not tossing and turning in distrust, because our God reigns. We can let go of control and not be controlled because our God reigns. We can give Him our grief, sorrow, and sin because our God reigns.
Our God reigns for the purpose of His glory and His glory alone. It is all about Him and His eternal aspirations. Our God reigns for righteousness’ sake. Our God reigns for the sake of the gospel. Live like He reigns. Live free and by faith. Tell all whom you have earned the right to tell, your God reigns. Validate your words with your life of faith and faithfulness. Your God reigns. He reigns now and for evermore. Too God be the glory our God reigns.
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns” (Revelation 19:6).

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

When bad things happen to good people

Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East! Job 1:1-3,

It doesn't seem fair. Parents who raise their child in the fear of the Lord, attending church, doing the best they can, end up with a wayward son. Another God-fearing family works hard, saves and gives generously, but the dad has been out of work for way too long. Another precious lady loves her family, mentors young ladies, but has battled breast cancer for years. Or in the workplace, the one who works the smartest and the hardest, behind the scenes serving the team, is passed over for the promotion. Where is the justice? When will things be made right to those wronged?

Job was God's choice servant. A man of integrity. A blessed businessman, but even greater was the joy and fulfillment he and his wife experienced with their family. Healthy, wealthy and wise. But change was coming. Lucifer (Satan) had been one of the Lord's angels, but he fell from grace because of his pride. Now, the accuser approaches the Almighty and challenges the authenticity of Job's faith. After all, anybody can follow God when everything seems to be going his way. But when he loses everything, surely he will lose faith---even make a deal with the devil.

“Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a good man who fears God and will have nothing to do with evil.” “Why shouldn’t he when you pay him so well?” Satan scoffed. “You have always protected him and his home and his property from all harm. You have prospered everything he does—look how rich he is! No wonder he ‘worships’ you! But just take away his wealth, and you’ll see him curse you to your face” (Job 1:8-11, The Living Bible)!

God allows the accuser to ambush Job. He loses everything. His camels, donkeys, oxen and servants destroyed or stolen by the despised enemies--the Sabeans and Chaldeans. Additionally, fires burned up his sheep and servants. Today, the camels might be equivalent to a fleet of merchant ships moving goods, and the donkeys to Uber or Lyft transporting people. Overnight, Job’s economic empire came tumbling down. Most devastating were gale force winds that crushed the home where all his children were feasting, now all dead. Not surprisingly, Job experienced sorrow upon sorrow, fell to the ground, weeping and in worshipful grief proclaimed:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes. God’s name be ever blessed. Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God”(Job 1: 21-22, The Message).

Wow! So how like Job, can we respond---when bad things happen to good people?

Trust Jesus Not Stuff As Our Savior and Security

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Job 13:15

My flesh longs for security in stuff. More money. More insurance policies. More gadgets. But my spirit longs for security in a Savior---Jesus! If my trust is in changing circumstances, fickle people or undependable finances, then I am set up for failure, fear and discontentment. Eternal security in Christ begins on earth. Longing for the Lord fills our deepest longings and achy soul.

Worship The Lord With Awe And Wonder When Surrounded By Sorrow

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Job 38:1-4

Pain is our opportunity to look up for help and cry out to our Creator for His comfort and love. God’s power to create the world is our reminder of His power to shepherd us through the threats of disease or fear of the unknown. Instead of a glib “fine”, when we take inventory of our hurting heart, we can confess we have Feelings on the Inside that Need Expressing (F.I.N.E.). Our sympathizing Savior understands, He cares---so we worship Him, caught up in His holy love.

Stay Faithful To God, Even When It Seems Like He Is Not Faithful

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11

Job never one time blamed God for his bad, some would say, horrific circumstances. His hope was still in heaven, even if the Lord took him to heaven. Our faithfulness to Christ is not based on our circumstances or even on our perception of injustice. Faithfulness happens when we choose to see the bigger picture of our Father”s heart”s desire for what is best for us. No loss is wasted with the Lord”s loving ways. Stay faithful in the face of adversity, and trust He is at work. The Lord”s compassion and mercy is near to the brokenhearted to administer His healing love.