Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Ultimate Question



Who?
What?
When?
Where?
Why?
How?

From the time we begin to speak, questions are an important part of the process of learning.  Sometimes the same question is asked again and again until the answer is comprehended or until someone is tired of asking or answering.  When writing an article or promoting an event, one is taught to make sure the answers to each of the questions above are addressed.  Teachers ask questions to help assess if the information has been understood and can be applied.  Some questions have only one correct answer while others may have more than one. At times, some questions may not have a ready answer at all for now.

Jesus was the master at asking questions, especially when replying to a question asked with an ulterior motive.  He would often ask his disciples questions to see if they comprehended who He is, what He is teaching them, or what they need to know and remember.  One day, Jesus asked his disciples the ultimate question that we must each answer, Who do you say I am?”  The response to that question will make a difference both now and for eternity.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
But what about you?” he asked. Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
 Matthew 16:13-17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17

How can you invite Jesus to be your Messiah?

ADMIT you are a sinner, and that only the Lord Jesus can save you. 
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.   Romans 3:23

REPENT by being willing to turn away from sin and submitting to God.  
I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”   Luke 13:5

BELIEVE that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed his blood to pay the price for your sins, and he rose again. 
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”   Romans 10:9

ASK God to save you.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”   Romans 10:13

ASK Jesus Christ to be the Lord (take control) of your life.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.   Romans 12:1-2

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mary and/or Martha


The New Testament records encounters Jesus had with his family, disciples, followers, religious leaders, crowds, the sick, enemies and others.  Luke 10 and John 11 and 12 relate that Jesus also spent time with friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  He felt welcomed in their home and would visit as he was going through the village of Bethany, less than two miles from Jerusalem.  The scriptures even state that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. 

Martha had the gift of hospitality and opened her home to Jesus and his disciples.  Being ready and prepared was important to Martha.  She must have felt that Jesus was a good friend because she complained to him when Mary did not help with the tasks when he came to visit.  Sometime later, their brother Lazarus became sick and died.  After hearing that Jesus was coming, Martha went out to meet Him and was able to express her belief and faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  After Jesus’ arrival, she went back to their home to let Mary know that the Teacher had come so she too could go to him. 

On the other hand, the encounters Mary had with Jesus were different.  Mary is the one who took the time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to his teachings.  In love and devotion, she poured perfume on Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.  Whenever Jesus was present, she quickly went to Him.    

Two sisters…showing their love for Jesus in different ways…with lessons to learn from each.  With the busyness of getting ready for Holy Week, like Martha, I want Jesus to feel comfortable and know that he is always welcome in my home and life.  I want to declare that He is my Messiah, the Son of God.   I desire to be well prepared and take time to let others know that Jesus is there for them, too.  And like Mary, I want to be intentional about making and taking time to sit at Jesus’ feet, to learn from Him, to thank Him for what He’s done, and worship and praise Him for who He is.  And when He speaks, I want to be quick to respond. 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
John 11:17-28; 41-43

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:1-3

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Real or Not?

From Christmas trees, butter, sugar, clothes, people, and a myriad of other things, we are constantly confronted with choosing between what is real versus what is fake, artificial, counterfeit, a replica or a substitute.  Sometimes “not real” can be advantageous such as having artificial Christmas tress when your family is dealing with allergies.  Even clothing items can save you money when you select an item that is not necessarily a brand name.  Teachers have substitutes, when they are not in class so that information can still be imparted for the day.  Depending on one’s needs or desired outcome, it is important to check out the pros and cons before making a decision.

At times, it can be difficult to discern between the real and the replica.  Furniture, clothing, and so many other items can be so similar to the original that it is often difficult to determine the difference.  It’s been said that when teaching agents to identify counterfeit money, they do not give them fakes to study.  They have them see, touch, view, and study the real money until they know it so well that they can spot the imitation with little difficulty. 

Jesus warned that there would be false teachers who would try to distract us from the truth and what is real.  He knew that it would be important to warn us and encourage us to know Him, read His Word, and listen to the Holy Spirit so that we would not be swayed by what the false prophets said, did, or invited us to be a part of. When it comes to being a devoted follower of Jesus, there is no room for what is fake, artificial, or counterfeit.  When people see us, Jesus wants them to know that we are His real disciples. 

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 
Matthew 7:15-20

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
John 8:31 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trimming, Pruning, and Cleaning Out



The past few weeks, Larry has spent several hours preparing the yard for spring.  He has had the trees trimmed and shaped to allow more fullness to the trees and more light into the yard.  Plants, bushes and ferns have been cut back and pruned.  The dead parts have been cut off, dug out, and thrown away.  Leaves have been raked, and raked, and raked again.  Winter flowers are in the beds for a few more days; then they will be pulled up, the soil loosened, and new flowers planted in their place.  New mulch will add freshness to the beds for the plants and trees.  Soon the long hours of preparation will be over and the maintenance will come into play as the grass is mowed, weeds are pulled, and the plants and grass are watered and fertilized. 

No matter what the season, God is ready and willing to help us clean up our lives as well.  Sometimes he needs to take off a few rough edges so His light can shine through clearer and brighter.  Other times he needs to help us dig up, cut out and get rid of the things that have no place in our lives.  He then helps prepare our hearts and lives for the new fruit he wants to plant, produce and take up residence.  We constantly need to be attentive to what we allow to take root and grow so that we can quickly weed out what has no business being there.  Just like the plants and grass need sunshine, water, and fertilizer to grow and flourish, we need the Son to shine on us, and feed us through worship, Bible study, prayer, and sweet times of fellowship. 

Lord, please help me be patient and persevere as you help me grow into the person you created me to be.  May I be willing to bloom wherever I am planted and be a sweet fragrance to you and others in the process.  Amen.   

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Guides




Guides play an important part in one’s life journey.  Whether you are traveling, starting a job, moving to a new location, going to another school, hiking a trail, tackling a challenging situation, learning a new skill, or needing direction, it can be beneficial to enlist a trusted guide.  Sometimes people who are blind or have other health challenges depend on dogs who have been trained to be their guides.  And with today’s technology, GPS and car navigation systems can be helpful in guiding you to or locating the desired destination.

Some thoughts on guides:
* Knowledge and experience are important qualities for a guide to possess.
* A guide who has proven himself faithful can be trusted.
* Having a guide is most beneficial when someone is willing to follow.
* For the greatest benefit from a guide, the information must be accepted, thought through, learned, and applied.
* Much excess time and frustration can be avoided with the help and encouragement of a trustworthy guide.
* When you miss the mark, be willing to recalculate, turn around, retrace your steps, or go another way.
* There will be times when you need to follow and gain experience from the guide and other times when you must be willing to be the one who informs, directs, gives instruction or points out the way.
* Be wise in the choices you make.  You may be influencing others, even when you do not know that they are watching.
* Choose a guide who is worthy of being followed.

Every day God desires to be the ultimate guide for our lives.  The one who created and knows us best wants to be the one who points the way to help us become all we were created to be.  Faith and trust in our guide should result in obedience and action.

He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:3

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
Psalm 25:9

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Psalm 31:3

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Psalm 48:14

May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
Psalm 67:4

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Psalm 73:24