Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Know the Facts!

Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”  The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”                 (John 7:45-52)
 No man speaks like Jesus? I guess not! He is no mere man. He is the GOD-man! He is 100% God and 100% man. One must know the facts!

Nicodemus is being a bit more bold now. (see John 3) He suggests that the high priests hear JESUS out. (John 7:51) He reminds them of their laws. Yet the Pharisees, still blinded, ask wrongly if any prophet ever comes from Galilee.(John 7:52)

First, Jesus was born in Bethlehem....remember the census, the angels singing, the shepherds keeping watch by night, the little drummer boy, kings and royalty travelling from the Far East? Oh right, the Pharisees were sound asleep and missed that message too!

Secondly,  by the way guys, Jesus is not simply a prophet either . . . He is MESSIAH!!!

Know the facts . . .

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I Need Water!

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
There is nothing like a glass or bottle of cold water on a hot and muggy day...or is it? There is a difference between quenching a thirst or receiving nourishment.

I think back a few years ago to a mission trip in St. Vincent, West Indies. We were working daily with over two hundred kids varying  in age from two to twenty-two! It was hot and muggy all day from sun up to sun down. When we were completed Vacation Bible School on day one, we were dragging. "I need water!", was the common plea.

Oh, we had water...bottled and spigot versions. Yet until "Tony" drove up with a pickup loaded with fresh island coconuts, we had no clue what real nourishment was! He pulled out his rather intimidating machete and sliced open one and offered it to me saying, "Here, drink this!"

"WOW!!!!" As the team shared coconut water, we instantly received not only refreshment, but NOURISHMENT! This must be what Jesus meant when He said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink". Like He said to the Samaritan woman , "If you knew..."(John 4:10). If we had known what a coconut would do, we like have not needed the water, Gatorade, or anything else! 


Like with the folks Jesus spoke with and with us in St. Vincent years ago, God had already provided. Many times we think, plan and execute to our best abilities, even searching and implementing new and improved ways of doing things. When it doesn't quite satisfy we are baffled. Maybe we simply have to use what God has already supplied . . . Who He has already supplied. Have we tapped into His Spirit within?

Lord, as John the Baptist said, more of You and less of me. (John 3:30) Check out Earnest Pugh's "More of You at your leisure . . . Be nourished today!

https://youtu.be/oJfEbF6sjJ4 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jesus has our back!

His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.  For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”  For even His brothers did not believe in Him. (John 7:3-5)

Family is usually the last to believe in you. After all, they know who we once "were"! In the case, Jesus' family wanted Him to be known, yet Jesus was about His Father's business and not theirs. It was not His time.

Many times our family will not understand our calling. This is understandable because it is not their calling! Stand with Him when in doubt. With all our faults and failings, Jesus can still use us.  Trust Him!

Jesus has our back!

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Best "Bread"?

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?  What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:60-66)
Jesus was delivering a challenging message: follow Me, but know the road might get a little lonely along the way. The " bread" of this world may look good and tase a bit sweeter, but it will not nourish like this " Bread" and it will get stale! We can buy the sweetened "breads" with all the preservatives for $1 a loaf or invest in the " best breads", the ancient grains, 12 grains, seeded breads that are better for the body, a bit more expensive, and will give lasting results.

Like bread, we often choose the sweeeter, suga-coated versions of the Gospel today. We do not like the "ruffage" of the Truth. We prefer the all-you-can-eat buffet rather than a good old-fashioned "meat and potatoes" nourishing meal....greens included!

Well, Jesus did not sugar-coat anything! He was straight forward and rather hard core at times. He gave no unnatural additives or preservatives just for "flavor"! He was "all natural". People tried it but went back for the "flavor-filled" pre- sweetened version.

What about you and me?

Lord, challenge me to keep seeking the real Truth and not any sugar-coated, watered-down, artificial words of entertainment that won't last a day, much less eternity! Help me to run after You and the Bread You feed me!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

JUNK FOOD or SOUL FOOD?

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:35-40)

Jesus fed thousands, yet He offers eternal food and drink to EVERYONE. Why then do we seek JUNK FOOD that can go bad when we can have SOUL FOOD?

I ask for bills to be paid and success for kids in school and vacation plans and on and on, yet I already have more than any of that in Christ. Why do I worry about tomorrow when God has already been there and back and tells me it will be ok?

If I had all the money I needed and went shopping for groceries, would I buy the JUNK FOOD or the healthy alternatives? So why then when offered true SOUL FOOD from the Savior do I still seek the JUNK?

When will I see Jesus as not just enough for me, not simply a better choice, but the best for me? Lord...more of YOU please!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I Got This!

Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.  So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.(John 6:18-21)
Yes, Jesus indeed walked ON water! He could have simply appeared in the boat or even stopped  the raging storm from up on the mountain.  He could have not allowed the storm at all!

Yet He showed the disciples concern and control by walking toward them upon the waters....in the midst of the storm yet and control of the storm! As He approached them He reassured them, "It is I, do not be afraid!"

I am here. I will come to you. Trust Me. I got this guys! Reassuring words for sure for the fishermen at sea and for us today . . . .

Lord, cause me to trust You that You are always here!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Jesus is not Santa in the Sky!

So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”  Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. (John 6:12-15)
Political popularity, any popularity, comes and goes. One is only as good as their last speech, last election, last victory. Once in office, it becomes "What have you done for me lately?".

Jesus knew this. After feeding five thousand hungry listeners, they planned to push for Him to be King! After all, if this Man could feed five thousand from a kid's meal, imagine what could He do for all of us every day! We read that knowing this, Jesus "departed" and withdrew to a mountain alone.

Many times we begin to see Jesus as our Santa in the Sky and expect Him to meet our list of needs. He must first be our Savior and Lord . . . Master. We do what He requires and not the other way around. We should never expect anything but ETERNAL life that He promises to the believer. When we do, we can experience His withdrawal and distance. It causes us to regroup and rethink . . . and Lord willing repent.

Lord, keep me grounded and focused upon the fact that You are Savior, Master, and Lord of my life! Keep me near the cross!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Honor Where Honor is Due

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. (1 Timothy 5:17)
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Frederik Douglass, Richard Allen (AME Church), William J. Seymour (Azusa Street Revival), James Cone (Black Theology), Howard Thurman (Moorehouse College), Benjamin Mays (Moorehouse College), Thomas Dorsey (Gospel music), Adam Clayton Powell (Abyssinin Baptist Church and U.S. Congressman), Mordecai Johnson (Howard U.), Alexander Crummel (missionary, American Negro Society), Vernon Johns (Dexter Ave Baptist Church and mentor to Dr. King) , Phyllis Wheatley (Poet), Lemuel Hayes (Pastor to whites),. . . all people of God who paved the way for equality under God in our society today. Based upon biblical principles, the non-violent protests led to change. There is no doubt these folks' commitment to the Savior and His teachings was what moved the Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. King referenced Daniel and his friends, Christians who were fed to lions, and the faith of early slaves in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". Harriet Tubman credited the success of the Underground Railroad to her faith in God.

The same Jesus from the 60's is the same Jesus today. God must continue to be the Source and Resource of the struggle! One day, sin will be overcome!


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Are You Kidding Me God?

 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me.(Exodus 20:2-3)
It is so encouraging to know that THE God of the universe is personally involved with me! Unlike the gods others worship and bow to, my God loves me, cares for me, offers grace to me, is patient with me, forgives me over and over again, yet is still ALMIGHTY God! This God sacrificed for me! He gives me new life . . . ETERNAL life with Him . . . WOW!!!!

Yet He is still ETERNAL God . . . CREATOR God . . . ALPHA and OMEGA God . . . the I AM God . . . He is the COMING with a ROD of IRON God . . . the I will DESTROY this WORLD yet SAVE ME God . . .

Are You kidding me God? Nope! He tells me so . . .(Hebrews 13:5). He will NEVER leave me!

Lord, help to grasp this today . . . You are mine and I belong to You!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What LOVE!

 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:11-13)
Despite the lies we see and hear today, God's love is so unusual and strange to the human intellect, that we just cannot believe He can love us so. Even in our most wicked schemes and desires,  once we are His and He has secured us, we are His. (John 10:28-30)

Take a look at Jacob...yet God never left him (Genesis 28:15). He goes after even one lost sheep, if that sheep is truly His. (Luke 15) We are saved by grace, not works         (2 Timothy 1:9) and works cannot unsave us! NOTHING can separate us once we are His. (Romans 8:35-39) Once His child, we are His.(John 1:12-13) He will not cast us out based upon our efforts, but the works of God will keep us. (John 6:37)

What LOVE!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

History or HIS-story

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.(1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
Dating back to early Roman feasts, as do most of our present day holidays, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), came to the U.S. in 1699 from France when Pierre Le Moyne landed near present day New Orleans.

(http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras)

Actually, in many parts Mardi Gras is celebrated from Early January through Fat Tuesday. Traditionally it is the day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Eat all the fatty foods and prepare for fasting and abstaining for forty days leading up to Resurrection SONday!

So what do CHRIST followers do? The answer is a personal one, but Paul has great direction. Do everything to the glory of God. Don't cause anyone to fall into sin.

Be careful what and how we celebrate. Culture is to be celebrated for sure. All cultures have both good and not-so-good.  However, we are CHRIST followers before culture followers.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Give us THIS day . . .

 So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp.  And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.  So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for thosewho are in his tent.’” (EXODUS 16:13-16)
Give us THIS day . . . .

Planning a trip requires much planning;  lodging, travel, food, clothing, and if you are like my wife, a plan for every day! Rarely do we say, "Let's just go and see what happens!"

The Israelites had to do just that though . . .just go and go quickly. However, God was leading! Yet they complained about things so much they wished they were back in Egypt. (Exodus 16: 3)

Struggles of today will always seem worse than those of  yesterday because they are new. Yesterday has been conquered. Can we at least trust God with the words Jesus suggested: "Give us this day our daily bread . . . ."(Matthew 6:11)

Lord, help me to trust You more . . . THIS day!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Angels Watching Over Me

>And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.  So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.                 (EXODUS 14:19-20)<
Growing up I was taught to pray to my "guardian angel". I was also taught to pray to "saints" and of course to God. As I learned more and more Truths and biblical doctrine, though my mom meant well, I realized that we are instructed by Jesus Himself to pray in this manner; "Our Father . . . ."  (Matthew 6:9).

Angels worship God (Revelation 4:8), they deliver His messages (Like 1:26-38), they fight (Daniel 10:13) and they protect (Psalm 91:11). However, God directs them! As we seek God's face and His will, He will send all the help we need. We simply need to trust Him.

Lord, keep me as You see fit!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Get out!

Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” (Exodus 12:31-32)
Pharoah had enough of the Jews and their requests. In fact, the Egyptians even gave the Israelites their "loot" to take with them. (Exodus 12:36) The Jews were told to leave and leave NOW! They did not even have time to properly prepare their bread (Exodus 12:39). Thus the unleavened (flat) bread . . .
Pharaoh said, "Go and serve your Lord!" I wonder how many of us are so adamant about serving and worshipping our Lord that people fear Him so much that they would say, "Just go!" rather than tell us, "You cannot do that here."?

There is a message here . . . .

Lord, help me to be so bold and committed to worshipping You!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Do You?

Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy youwhen I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 12:13-14)
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY . . . God is so HOLY! While Passover is still a HOLY DAY and one we born-again believers would do well to celebrate, to us who believe in the Passover LAMB OF GOD, every day is now HOLY!

God stepped in HIStory years ago in Egypt and put into place a plan laid out first to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15). He had it planned from eternity past. The blood of the lamb would spare the lives of first-born sons!

Years later, the plan continued with God's only Son becoming our PASSOVER LAMB and His BLOOD would save sons, daughters, moms, dads, young, old, Greek, Jew, even you and me. Yet we must have this BLOOD over our hearts ♥️ and upon our very lives. The PASSOVER LAMB will come again one day to complete the plan for the rest of eternity. We must believe and live in the PASSOVER LAMB of GOD! (John 11:26, Mark 16:16)

Do you?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Excuse Me God, But I Got a Question!

>So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”(Exodus 5:22-23)<

"Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Not that question again! Yet as humans, we all have questions. We even question God at times. I do not believe that is a bad thing though! It is how we question Him that matters however!

We must always respect and honor the Lord. Yet, I believe He welcomes our questions. I am sure the kids had questions when He said, "Let the little children come to Me . . ."(Matthew 19:14) He spent time with them. Maybe He even answer the question, "Why is the sky blue?"

Like with Moses, God will answer our questions and let us know Who exactly is in control. He has a plan that is bigger than you, me or our plans. We must trust Him!

Lord, cause me today to focus on Your plans and not mine . . . but please understand that I will have a lot of questions.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Fly Eagles Fly!

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Is one thing to wait upon God. He will come through! However, when He does come through, what is our reaction?

I spent last night watching the Super Bowl and although a Ravens fan, I was pulling for the Eagles for two reasons: I do NOT like the Patriots and I was excited about the post game interviews.

I prayed that God would use His people to glorify Himself. Some think God doesn't  care one way or another about football. Well, maybe not wins or losses (we know He would rather have the Ravens win since it's His favorite team), but He cares about His people and His glory!

I told my students that I just knew who would get MVP and who would honor Him. I was even more excited when the head coach (Doug Pederson) and Nick Foles (MVP) first gave honor and glory to their LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. It's one thing to say we are CHRISTians, but in the excitement of the moment, it's easy to forget. They did not! They struggled. They went through trials. God lifted them and they remembered!

Thank You Lord for an exciting game. Thank You Lord for showing Your glory through Your people! May we all remember You when we get the opportunity to speak!

Friday, February 2, 2018

So Alone . . .

And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (EXODUS 3:1-4)
Alone . . . Abandoned . . . Isolated . . . Wind whistling . . . Cold . . . Barren . . . Dark . . . Dry . . . Weak . . . Thirsty . . . Hungry . . . Fearful?

Listen . . . This is when God will call us by name if we will just focus. Whether we are all alone or among hundreds, we can feel alone and isolated. This is when we need God. We need to know He is there and He cares! He is and He does!!!

Things may seem tangled and the roads ahead and behind may seem blocked. Yet in these times we realize that God has a roadmap that leads to Him. We must allow Him to take the wheel and navigate . . . or re-navigate what we have mangled.

Allow God to bring you to a place of isolation at times. It may seem scary at first, but like with Moses and many others, it will become reassuring to know He is with us when everyone seems distant.

Here I am Lord . . . I am listening! Speak to me  . . . Show me . . . Strengthen me. . . Send me!

 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

God Remembers!

Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.  So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. (EXODUS 2:23-25)
 Ground Hog Day approaches....same thing over and over again? Well, that doesn't have to be a bad thing!

While we may caught in a rut with a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly routine (both spirituality and physically), it's good to know that although never changes, He never gets routine!

The Jews suffered . . .Africans suffered . . . Immigrants suffered . . . many still suffer indignation, prejudice, and discrimination. CHRISTians today worldwide are suffering for the cause of Christ. Yet God hears their (our) cries and He knows! He remembers. However, while we may never understand His timing, we do understand His grace, His mercy, and most of all His promise to one day redeem His people . . . hold on!

Faith got many through over the years. It will get us through today as well. Lord, help me to trust in Your plans!

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...