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. 

Praying Though

Read
Mark 2:1-12
(NIV)
Some men came, bringing to [Jesus] a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Vs. 3

Reflect
Have you ever heard someone say, “You just need to pray through.” I have, on a number of occasions. The context was either a Pentecostal church or Charismatic gathering. It used to bother me a lot, mostly because I never really knew what it meant. I knew it was about praying for something that made complete spiritual sense (usually) but nothing seemed to be moving in the direction we were asking God to move.

Our text today is about bringing a person who was in need of a healing touch from Jesus, but the obstacles were many and there seemed to be no way to get their friend to Jesus. I can only imagine what the others must have thought when one of them came up with the idea to tear a hole in the roof and lower their friend in front of Jesus. But that is exactly what they did. We read of Jesus response. He honoured the faith of the four friends, and he ministered to the man.

There are times when believers are so broken, so stressed, so anxious, feeling too sinful to ever reach out to Jesus. Those are the times that we need our brothers and sisters to pray for us. That is the time when we need to put on our spiritual hard hats and go to work. Sadly, many times we sit and surmise what is spiritually wrong with our friend. What is needed is the willingness to struggle through the spiritual battle ground and find a way to touch the Saviour that loves us so much.

I think this is what it means to “pray through.” When the slugging gets hard, when the answers don’t seem to come, when prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back at us, we do not give up, but keep on praying. When these four friends decided to do what needed to be done and not give up, Jesus honoured them by first forgiving the man’s sins and then he healed the man’s body and as he walked out for all of the people to see, he gave testimony to the person and power of Jesus.

One thing I will not do is make light of people who are called to “pray through.” And when they invite me to join them, I am glad to put my spiritual hard hat on and go to work.

Pray
Lord give me faith to believe and the tenacity to not give up in prayer. Lord count me in to be someone who is willing to pray through and to see your glory revealed to the world. Amen.

No Fear

Read 
Psalm 23:4 (NIV) 
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 

 Reflect
Everyone will eventually experience a dark valley in their life. For Christians it is a time they sense their need for Jesus, the good shepherd. This psalm speaks of the shepherd who leads us to comfortable, peaceful places. He takes us to places to restore our souls and to pour over us his love and blessing. When we face disappointment or devastating issues Jesus comes as our protector and comforter, as the great good shepherd. 

When the doctor told my mother, she had two weeks left to live she did not cry or fall into depression. She was sure of who her good shepherd was and stood confident in her faith that had already carried her through many trials and concerns. She told me, “I’m not going to cry because I am going home to heaven.” A lifetime of Christian upbringing, reading the Word, hearing messages of truth, had given her an unshakable foundation. All of the foundation was built on the Word of God.  

When we enter the darkest valleys of illness, loss, uncertainty like covid-19 and other struggles we can find strength and assurance in God’s word. Psalms like the 23rd psalm can bring much comfort and hope. We have a blessed assurance that God is with us and cares for us. THERE IS NO NEED FOR FEAR. 

Pray   

Father keep my heart and mind fixed on you. Allow your word to comfort my heart and bring peace to life in a chaotic world. Thank you for the assurance of your word. Amen. 

Light in the Darkness

Read
Matthew 5:14 (NIV)  [Jesus said] “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” 

Reflect
Mwanza is the second largest city in Tanzania and sits on the south shore of Lake Victoria. It was always advised that we not travel at night due to robbers setting up roadblocks and then attacking while you tried to get through the blockage. On a trip to another city the orphanage administrator and I ran into a little problem. The steel belted radial tires had begun to come apart and we ended up with a flat tire. There were actually 14 punctures in the inner tube. It took some time to repair. Our final leg of the trip back home was going to be well after dark. After more than an hour of somewhat intense driving I finally saw the lights of Mwanza City on the horizon. Even though we still had a distance to travel the sight of those lights brought a sense of comfort knowing we were getting close. Close to home. 

Our real home is not here, it’s in heaven. Jesus won that home for each of us by dying and rising. His death paid for our sins; his resurrection proved that the debt was paid and that the gift has eternal value. Jesus is the light of the world and continues to show the way to an eternal home prepared for all who believe. 

In our present situation in the world many people are worried and uncertain of the future and yet they wander in spiritual darkness with no idea of how to get home. Jesus declares that we are the light of the world. Our lives can be the very light that leads them home. As people see us being kind, compassionate, forgiving, honest, fair, humble, confident, etc., they get a chance to “see” Jesus’ love in action. That, in turn, may open up a chance for us to tell someone about Jesus. And that may be the time when God works faith in that person’s heart, putting them on the road … to their heavenly home. The troubled times we live in now may well be filled with opportunities to be a “light on a hill.” 

Pray
Jesus, forgive me for failing to let my light of faith shine as clearly as it should. Often my light is shrouded by sin. Forgive me! Use me to shine brightly, that others might come to know your love, and finally be brought home with you in heaven. Amen. 

God Provides

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

Reflect
Have you ever done something that consumed your thought life? Usually it is when we are trying to push away any unwanted outcomes. Maybe it is about finances, a bad investment or bad decision. Sometimes it is about a comment that may have negative results. Often, if not always, we move to the place of worry. “What if,” starts to dominate our lives. Sometimes we even get physically sick wondering what might happen. The sad reality is that worry accomplishes nothing. Even when we know this reality we battle against worry.

The bible tells us to cast all of our cares upon him (Ps. 55:22). Jesus in his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount makes the same statement and enforces the emptiness and uselessness of worry. Tomorrow will come what may and each day has enough trouble of its own.

Worry steals our strength and energy physically and our joy spiritually. It is like being in a never-ending battle and I believe it is a battle with the devil. The devil uses this strategy to keep us away from focusing on Jesus.
Remember as we approach the celebration of Easter that Jesus died for all of our sin, including bad decisions, bad investments, etc. When we trust that God will take care of us, then we have the energy for other things like helping people around us. When we begin to minister to others, we begin to win the battle against the devil, the great liar and the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy (Jn. 10:10).

Pray
Jesus, thank you for being there when hard things and the bad things come our way. Help us to rest our minds and hearts so that we can experience your love for us and in turn love others as well.