Tag Archives: Jesus

“The Voice”

This is not a post about the popular NBC singing competition. This is a post about the voice that guides us from time to time. The voice that tells lies we choose to believe. The voice that tells us we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty or handsome enough, thin enough, rich enough, talented enough. Even when everything points to the contrary, we fall victim to the voice and remain stunted in our growth. Not our physical growth, but our emotional and spiritual growth.

The voice is not our own, but the voice of the world. To the world, we are never enough. The world will take and take but never give. The yoke of the world is heavy and unyielding. However, Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:29-30: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

To try to live up to the world’s standards is a losing battle. So stop. Get to know who are, not what the world says you are. In Psalm 8:5, as David praises God he reminds us of man: “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” This is how valuable we are in the sight of the Lord. The world may not offer its stamp of approval, but remember, the world did not make you. God did. And he crowned you with glory and honor! Wear it like a fine garment. Gird yourself with it like armor, so the next time the voice tells you that you are not enough – good enough to throw your hat in the ring for that promotion at work, talented enough to start your own business, smart enough to continue your education, pretty or handsome enough to be accepted, thin enough to be shine or young enough to live out your dreams – remember that is the world speaking to you. The devil is a liar and deceiver. Don’t be deceived any longer. Push his voice out of your head and hold firm to God’s word.

May God continue to bless you and keep you in his loving embrace.

Who’s the Better Christian?

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know you, and they know that You have sent Me. I have made You known to them and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.” John 17:25-26

We know them. Sister ABC and Brother XYZ. No one can utter a negative word about them; no one can refute their pristine reputations. They give to those in need; their good deeds are legendary in your church. They know the Bible frontwards and backwards and can easily tell others the book, chapter and verse of all scripture. You admire them and want to model your life after them. They are the personification of Christianity.

While Sister ABC and Brother XYZ may deserve admiration and their actions may be a sincere product of their faith, Christians should never look only to man for an example of how to lead their lives. We have been given the ultimate example in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As John 1:1 explains, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In this verse, the Word is Jesus Himself. Therefore, for instruction on how to conduct ourselves, we need to dedicate time to consistent and conscientious Bible study rather than looking for others to lead the way. This responsibility rests upon each of our shoulders. Through study, we develop a better understanding of Jesus, His mission and His precepts thus strengthening our relationship with Him. Sunday sermons should not be the only time the Word enters our lives. Faith and belief should be personal, not based upon someone else’s interpretation and understanding. If during your independent study you come across scripture you cannot comprehend, pray for guidance and understanding. Don’t conclude that you are not smart enough, Christian enough or worthy.

At one time, Sister ABC and Brother XYZ may have been just like you. They may have witnessed the light of a Christian elder that shone so brightly it made them want to have the same spiritual maturity, joy and peace. Although that elder was the impetus, he or she was not the root. The root is Jesus Christ. Take the initiative to know Him for yourself.

Apocalypse Now?

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:4-8, NIV).

If you are reading this then you already know the world did not come to an end on May 21, 2011. In his zeal for Christ, California preacher Harold Camping, the president of the multi-million dollar non-profit broadcasting network and website Family Radio, slipped into leaning towards his own understanding. This tends to happen to those who amass great fortunes and adulation. No doubt, the praise he receives from his fans and followers moved him to sincerely want to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible outside of Christ’s teachings. In doing so, he and many, many other End of Days prophets have discredited the words of Christ and therefore God: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36, NIV). These words, as in everything Jesus taught, should be engraved in our hearts and believed unconditionally. Also, these words alone should be enough to prevent Christians from taxing their energies on predicting the end of the world and instead push us to dedicating ourselves to the tasks with which we are charged: Spreading the Good News across the world and tending the vineyard, i.e. guiding, teaching and loving believers and non-believers alike in hopes of bringing them closer to God.

For Camping’s followers: While it is good to respect and honor our pastors and preachers, remember we should never follow men, only God. As Jesus instructed the religious leaders, “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher, for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12). Don’t let today’s non-event harden your hearts towards Christianity or Christian leadership. Christian leaders hold a great responsibility to accurately and honestly relay the Word, but we, as Christians, also have the responsibility of studying the Word for ourselves. When we do, we are not easily swayed or led astray.

For as much as we should be skeptical of Camping’s Doomsday predictions, the mocking and indifference being shown by the vast majority is troubling. Christ will return and “at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all nations of earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather His elect from the winds, from one end of heavens to the other….Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come . But do understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you must also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:30-31, 42-44, NIV).

While it is of this world to ridicule those who truly believed Camping’s prediction of the End, he and his followers need our compassion and guidance. Discipline, if any, will come from God.

A Beautiful Outward Appearance, But What About the Heart?

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’. 1 Samuel 16:7

Who among us has not felt convicted by this verse at some time or another? For me, it is usually after averting my eyes from that homeless man or woman on the street. When shaking my head “no” from inside my car as they panhandle at traffic lights. Sometimes, it’s when I cross the street or take a different direction to keep from passing a person who just doesn’t look right. You see, I have been conned by people posing as homeless and physically threatened by mentally unstable people while walking to the parking garage from work. So, I’m leery but I do tend to go against instinct and let my guard down. I’ll still offer money and a blessing to the men and women holding signs on the street corners. I’ll push aside past experiences and walk by that person on the street.

When reading the verses leading to 1 Sm 16:7, you will discover the context in which the Lord spoke these words to Samuel. Samuel was sent to Jesse to appoint one his sons king. Samuel saw Eliab’s impressive appearance and thought surely he was the anointed one. Thankfully, the Lord guided Samuel. For it is from the lineage of David that Jesus was born.

Like many, I have no problem with guarding myself against individuals who appear unsavory. But how many times have I been pleased by the outward appearance only to be hurt when the true nature, or heart, shows through? Often, we see people for what we want them to be, not for who they actually are. God doesn’t have these limitations. He sees the heart and knows the person’s strengths, weaknesses and intentions. Before rejecting someone God has placed in your life, pray for discernment. Outwardly, he or she may not be what you expected, but his or her heart may be everything you need.

Don’t Be A Stumbling Block To Your Reward

Times are difficult. Many are facing financial hardships. For those not experiencing financial hardships, there may be health problems. If not that, one may be facing relationship or emotional hurdles. Some are facing all of the above. Personally, I don’t know of a single living person who is not navigating some sort of roadblock, including myself.

When dealing with someone who is experiencing problems in his or her life we, as supportive friends and family, attempt to alleviate the situation. The first thing we do is offer encouraging words to show that we are sympathetic and empathetic to our loved one’s problem or problems. By instinct, we speak from the natural or as humans instead of spiritually. That was Peter’s misstep in Matthew 16:22.

While speaking to His disciples, Jesus informed them, for the first time, that he would suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. He told them he would be killed and raised back to life on the third day (Matthew 16:21). Peter, who no doubt loved Jesus, rebuked Him by stating this would never happen. We are then taught in Matthew 16:23, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ (NIV). When I first read this passage many years ago, I was taken aback. Why would Jesus respond so strongly to Peter whose response seemed to be stemmed from love and dedication?

Although Peter had the best intentions in mind, it was just that – his intentions. He was thinking as a man and did not want Jesus to endure the suffering and death that was to come. However, if Jesus had not died for our sins, we (mankind) would have died in our sins. Jesus had to endure unconscionable hardships in order for us to achieve the ultimate reward – eternity with our Father. Jesus rebuked Peter’s attitude which, essentially, removed God from the picture.

No one wants to experience discomfort and we feel a special pain when witnessing a loved one go through trials and tribulations. In our efforts to comfort our loved ones and ourselves, let’s not take God out of the picture. Always think from a spiritual standpoint instead of instinct. The discomfort we face now may be a station in God’s journey that leads us to something far greater.

Note: This devotional was inspired by the February 24 2011 Our Daily Bread selection.