A Rich Fool

Read
Luke 12:13-21. Verses – 19-20. – And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

Reflect

I do not have too many friends that are of the wealthy kind, but I have a few. I know the kind of hard work that got them to the place of wealth and comfort. From my perspective I would say that they deserve the kind of perks that come from all that hard work.

When you work hard all your life and you have built a successful business or career, along with some good investments, haven’t you earned the right to take life easy and enjoy your retirement? That’s how the rich man reasoned with himself.

The Bible makes clear that God does not begrudge his people the rewards of a life well lived. He does not call the man a fool because he was rich. God was the one who allowed him to be successful. God called the man a fool because he had stored up things only for himself. Instead of recognizing God’s blessing and working to build God’s kingdom, he had been building his own. His attitude was all about his achievements and no praise to the God that had blessed him.

I am so pleased to say that of the few rich people I know, most of them have used their assets to bless others and most often those who are among the needy of our world. We all in North America are among the richest people in the world. How does God see you today?

Pray

Lord our God, help us to take a look at our lives, and give us the grace to be rich toward you. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Not Fair

Read
Matthew 20:1-19.  Verses. 15-16 – Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” 

Reflect 

When I first read this parable, it rubbed me the wrong way. Strong work ethic was part and parcel of my upbringing. On top of that my family tended to a significantly large vineyard when I was just a youngster. Pruning, tying, weeding and picking grapes were all part of my growing up years. My recall is that you earned every little penny you got for the work being done.  

It took me some time to grasp the lesson of this parable. This parable corrects our thinking as we apply it to the working of God, the owner of the world’s vineyard. It’s not the hours worked but the generosity of the vineyard’s owner that determines the pay. 

It took me even longer to understand that older Christians or believers of a long duration would have any kind of jealousy toward new believers. The first few times I encountered that attitude it truly took me back.  

Lewis Smedes, teacher and author voiced the Lord’s own dismay over long-time Christians who looked down their noses at newcomers to faith: “Long-time Christians often resent it that some people are getting into the kingdom too easy and late.” Now, there should be no prejudice against latecomers to faith, no penalty. Come early or come late, the basis for our coming into the kingdom of God is grace. Grace is offered on the merits of the cross of Christ, and it is certified by Jesus’ resurrection. Coming first or last into the kingdom doesn’t matter. But, of course, not coming at all does. 

Pray 

Lord, give me a heart of acceptance for new believers and for anyone who hasn’t known you as long as I have. Make me a person of celebration at such great news not a person of petty. jealousy. Amen. 

Jesus the Cornerstone 

Read

Ephesians 2:19-22 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Reflect 

Early in my carpentry career I learned the importance of a quarter inch. On my first house build I laid out the marks for putting down the plates that were bolted to the concrete foundation. When I squared up the first corner, I was out one quarter of an inch. By the time the final piece of plate was to be laid in place it ran right off the concrete wall. Tracing back to the problem is when I discovered I was off by just one quarter of an inch and now I was missing the entire 8 inch wall.

Jesus came as the chief cornerstone of the building project that is God’s eternal kingdom. “God so loved the world” that he sent his Son on this mission (John 3:16), and he has become the cornerstone, with a specific purpose. In the first century when builders were planning their projects, the importance of the cornerstone made all the difference. The orientation and angle of the cornerstone determined how the rest of the building would be built. If the building was not aligned with the cornerstone, the walls and corners and everything else would be askew.

When we read that Christ is the cornerstone, that means Jesus is our right and true foundation—perfect—and whatever is built in alignment with him will be right and true too. Sometimes we think it is up to us to make sure everything measures up properly. But the Bible shows that because we are built up in Christ, we can be confident that not only do we belong, but we, the living stones (1 Peter 2:5), also fit.

Pray

God, our Father, our lives are sometimes crooked and uneven, but you build us up in Christ—the most reliable, true, and solid foundation we could ever hope for. Thank you! In his name we pray. Amen. 

God is My Rock

Read
Psalm 18: 1-5; 16-19; 30-31 Verses 30-31 – As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? 

Reflect
Mwanza, Tanzania is the city where my family & I lived and worked during our two-year volunteer mission stint. The city is also known as Rock City with granite outcroppings stretched across the southern shores of Lake Victoria. When you observe how some of these massive boulders sit precariously atop one another you can’t help but see the creative hand of God in the formations. 

When the psalmist prays, “God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge,” we aren’t using an image of a small polished rock that we can put in our pocket. We are also not thinking of the rock as cold, hard, and unfeeling. 

When I pray, thinking of God as my rock I think of characteristics like strength, protection, shelter and unmovable. I find myself thinking of the safety of hiding in the cleft of the rock.  No matter what storms may come, how much our world is turning upside down there is nothing that can move that rock in whom I put my trust. This is why, no matter the reason, we can hide ourselves in the cleft of our protector, our God—our Rock—and he will provide shelter for us. He will keep us safe from the storm. 

Pray
O God, our Rock, we turn to you and give you praise because you are strong and powerful. We hide ourselves in you and thank you for surrounding and protecting us. In your perfect name. Amen. 

Discerning the Voice of the Lord 

Read
1Kings 9: 9-18. Verses. 11-13 – The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Reflect 

In my early days as a young believer the group of people I hung around with were the kind that always wanted something spectacular to happen, assuring them God was present with them. When I first read these verses, it gave me a new and lasting perspective of what to expect from God. 

Wind, fire, and earthquakes were all recognized as signs of divine power and revelation in ancient times, so it makes sense that God chose to reveal himself in connection with those things. But God shows here that he is not in the wind, or the fire, or the earthquake itself. Instead, God speaks to Elijah in a gentle whisper. So, Elijah experiences the presence of God by means of a gentle, whispering voice in the midst of silence. And Elijah covers his face, knowing he is in the presence of almighty God. 

I was so thankful that along with this group of friends I hung around with I also had mature, even keeled people who spoke quietly and confidently about the presence of Jesus in their lives while serving on the mission field and in everyday life. God shows just as powerfully that the Lord who speaks gently with a whisper is the same God who can tear mountains apart and break down evil. And when he asks, “What are you doing here?” he shows that he has plans to keep bringing his kingdom into this world, and he calls us to enter the work with him.

Pray

Our heavenly Father and our great God, keep working in our midst. Make your Holy Spirit powerfully present in our lives. Help us to keep listening carefully to your still small voice that we might be in step with what your plan is for us.  Amen.

Singing the Doxology

Read 
Philippians 4:20 (NIV)
To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Reflect 
The church I grew up in ended every service with the singing of the doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…., Praise Father, Son & Holy Ghost. World without end. Amen! 

have to admit that it did not mean much to me back in those days, however, the repetition certainly deposited those truths in my head for all my life. Doxology is praising God for who he is. It is giving God the glory that is due him for his radiant holiness. In thanksgiving we offer up gratitude for something we have received. But in doxology we honor the very being of God. We exalt and praise the Lord simply because he is God. 

The word doxology comes from Greek and literally means “glory word.” We see God’s glory, and we speak a word of wonder as we send that glory of God heavenward. 

Doxologies flow from Paul quite often in his New Testament letters—and usually near the end, as we find here in Philippians 4. Doxologies of many kinds should regularly flow from our hearts and lips too. Our glorious God is worthy of all the glory we can bring back to him. 

Pray 
All praise and glory belong to you, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. You are holy, pure, righteous, and we have the great joy of resting in your great beauty. YOU are Worthy! Amen. 

Small Things

Read 
Psalm 147:1-11
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Vs.10 – 11 (NIV) 

Reflect 
I am sure you have all heard the phrase: “Bigger is better.” It is funny how we always seem to run after what is bigger, faster, more powerful, etc. Even when it comes to church life we always look to those ministries or church fellowships that are bigger and have greater influence. Early in my ministry life I heard a pastor speak of the church he pastored as small but mighty. They never reached the 200 mark in attendance, but they were regularly sending people from the church out into ministry. 

The psalmist reminds us that God is not impressed with size and strength but with those whose character honoured God and were faithful in their responsibilities. Throughout scripture we see that there was always a remnant that remained faithful. From that small remnant of faithful and dedicated people would raise up his nation or his church and his purposes would be fulfilled. Even Gideon who amassed some 32,000 warriors was directed by God to take just 300 to defeat the enemy.  

God does not need bigger or more powerful to carry out his plan for this world. He needs faithful, dedicated, committed and loving people who are willing to listen, to obey and to boldly carry out his plans for his kingdom. So, don’t ever consider yourself inadequate or insignificant. The Lord is looking for those who fear him and put their hope in his unfailing love. 

Pray 
Make me an instrument in your hands. Make me a faithful warrior in your kingdom. Help me always to lean on your unfailing love. Amen. 

Fellowship

Read 
Acts 2:42-47 
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Vs.42, 46 (NIV) 

Reflect  
Sunday is a day when people of every age, culture, nation, and race gather as brothers and sisters in Christ, for worship and fellowship. 

The early church had to gather in their homes for fear of being persecuted. Acts 2 tells us they were devoted “to the fellowship” and to each other. They gathered joyfully and sincerely, filled with gladness. There was laughter and song. People came into the fellowship not out of a sense of obligation or fear but out of a desire to be with fellow believers. 

I cannot imagine any type of formality; there was just a sense of joy in being together. These people were genuine. They were open and honest about their lives and their hearts. We read that they sold their possessions to help meet the needs of those who were hurting. Not only were some people willing to give, but others were willing to receive. 

These people knew each other well and accepted each other regardless of their status, wealth, or position in life. True fellowship exists when people can be open and honest about their struggles and their needs. God invites us to experience such fellowship ourselves in communities of faith where believers are deeply devoted to each other’s care and wellbeing.  

Pray 
Jesus, we long for the day when our fellowship is like the perfect community you have with your Father and the Spirit. Help us build true fellowship within our churches. Amen. 

Are You Afraid?

Read 
Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? Vs. 1 (NIV)

Reflect
Have you ever been afraid? I remember looking at my young family while we were touring the countryside in Holland. We were on our way to Tanzania. We had no real idea of what we were headed for in Tanzania and this was a volunteer position. Suddenly I was terrified of the future on the inside, wondering what I had gotten us into. 

Fear is a fact of life, even for believers, and being afraid is a part of most people’s lives. Even David, who wrote Psalm 27, is described elsewhere in the Bible as being “very much afraid” (1 Samuel 21:12). 

Lots of children seem to have a fear of the dark. Parents are afraid about the future of their children. Many people are afraid of death. I am not afraid of death, but I certainly can think of manner of death and there are lots of those I do not want to experience. Fear does creep into our lives from time to time. 

I do not think we can eradicate fear from our lives, but I do believe we can keep fear in its proper perspective. The only way to keep our fears at bay is to turn to God and to remember that God is the stronghold of our lives. One way to accomplish that is to have God’s word tucked away in our hearts.  Like these words from Hebrews 13:6: “We say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’” We can also reread and repeat the words of Psalm 27: “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” When we ask for God’s help and look to his Word, we can trust that the Lord will be our stronghold. 

 Pray
Lord, there are many things in life that create fear in our hearts. Help us to turn to you and to trust in you when fear creeps in and steals our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.  

Blessed Assurance

Read
John 10:22-30
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Vs. 28 (NIV) 

Reflect 
Dr. Tom Dow was my theology teacher. He told me one day that I just might be too pragmatic to be a theologian. That came at the end of a discussion with several students around the “eternal security” question. If you are unfamiliar with that issue, there are two schools of thought. First, one theological position is that once we accept Jesus as saviour, we can never lose our salvation. The second position is that God holds us, protects us and keeps us but not against our will and we can walk away from salvation if we choose.  

My position is that you can prove both points from scripture, therefore my final theological stance is this: As long as you are in Christ, you are eternally secure. Apparently too pragmatic to be of any theological value. 

But when the Bible talks about the assurance of our salvation, it is completely different. There’s nothing said about the “likelihood” of being saved. Instead there’s the ironclad promise of Jesus himself. 

The Bible teaches us that, first, Christ gives us salvation. And he personally makes sure that no one can snatch us out of his hand. That’s why those of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior don’t have to worry about the probability of salvation. Instead we can serve him with joy and thanksgiving. 

Don’t worry about the theology of eternal security. Be constant in your love for Jesus and you will be blessed with the blessed assurance of Jesus salvation and God’s love. 

Pray 
Jesus, thank you for your salvation, forgiveness, and love. Father, thank you for your firm grip that holds me in safely and securely in your hand. Amen.