Monday, October 31, 2011

Cheer Up Someone

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25)

            Every human being on this planet who is beyond childhood innocence knows experientially what anxiety is.  Anxiety is an emotional response to stress that causes us to feel a burden, and it comes from multiple sources:  financial stress, relational stress, personal insecurity, future uncertainty, health instability.  Its impact is cumulative.  Some anxieties resolve themselves, but much of it lingers like floodwaters.  Anxiety that comes to rest in the heart weighs it down.  It hurts, and it hampers.
            A good word, spoken to one whose heart is weighed down with anxiety, however, can cheer up that person.  It helps them feel less alone, less weak, because they know that someone else knows and understands.  It’s like they are carrying a heavy load they’re about to drop, and someone comes along and adds his or her strength by helping to carry it.
            Today, maybe you can be the person who gives someone with a heavy heart a good word.  It may be a verse you quote from Scripture. It may be a word of personal encouragement.  Look for an opportunity to give someone a good word today.  Ask God to show you the opportunities, and then cheer someone up.

Lord, Help each of us today to be a source for encouragement and cheer, and help us not to add to anyone’s anxiety today.  Amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Book and Its Cover

“Others said, ‘This is the Messiah!’  But some said, ‘Surely, the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does He?  Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David once lived?’… ‘You aren’t from Galilee, too, are you?’ they replied. ‘Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.’” (John 4:41-42, 52)

            Have you ever come to a conclusion about someone based on incomplete or inaccurate information?  Has someone ever come to a conclusion about you (and you found out about it later) based on incomplete or inaccurate information?  Most of us can answer yes to both questions.  It seems to be a common human experience to reach a conclusion about people because we are convinced we have complete information, while in truth we may not, and it seems that pride is the fuel that drives this.
            The folks who heard Jesus, who saw Him, who interacted with Him knew Him as a Galilean.  He dressed like a Galilean.  He spoke with a Galilean accent.  Some thus concluded that He could not possibly be the Messiah, because in their understanding of prophecy no prophet could come from Galilee.  But their information was incomplete and inaccurate.  Jesus only grew up in Galilee.  They did not know the Christmas story, that He was born in Bethlehem, David’s home town, and that both Joseph and Mary were direct descendants of David.  Proverbially, they were “judging a book by its cover.”
            The next time you find yourself reaching a conclusion about someone because of some surface feature of their lives, stop a moment and remember this story about Jesus, and then hold up on your conclusion until some greater clarity comes.  Following this approach might just help you discover an unexpected blessing.

Lord, We recognize that we do not always understand the full picture the way You do, so we ask You to help us approach others with open minds and hearts, so that Your Spirit may lead us in ministering to them.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


“So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)

            When Paul wrote, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires,” he means that you don’t have to let sin reign in your life.  You can choose NOT to obey sin’s desires or claims on your life.  At one time you could not do this because sin claimed you as its own.
            Sin can lay several legal claims against people: 1) you can never meet God’s legal expectations of you, and you are therefore bound by those legal structures like a fly in a spider web, so that you are not free to do what you know is right, 2) you do not have it in your heart to do consistently what is right, and you therefore live under the dominion of sin, 3) since sin is the ruler over your life dominion, you have no real choice but to obey its desires, and 4) since you will fail at right living consistently because sin is the dominant force in your life, you have no choices and you are not as free as you think you are.  These are the “legal” claims of sin against people.  Downright depressing, isn’t it?
            That’s the bad news.  Here’s the good news:  Jesus Christ did something for us that made it possible to free us from the dominion of sin, to cancel all of sin’s “legal” claims against us.  He accepted the full penalty of our sins, and all of our sins died with Him on the cross.  He was then raised from the dead, but sin was not.  It stayed dead.  All legal claims are now dismissed.  Grace rules.  We are acquitted.  Now, He offers us this life in the free world of grace, and we need only accept it by faith.
            When we accept this offer by faith, our old sin life dies, and He raises us up spiritually to a new life that is free.  We died to sin, and sin therefore has no more claim on us.  Now, we are alive to God and therefore free to live and to choose.  So, choose to live.

Lord, We have made our choice in faith, and You have now ushered us into life through forgiveness and out of the death that came from sin.  Thank You for leading us to this life.  Help us to share it with others today.  Amen.

Monday, October 3, 2011

No Compromise

“From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him.” (John 6:66)

            Jesus had more than the 12 disciples.  He called the 12 disciples “apostles,” but there were many other disciples. Judging from the crowds that attended His teaching and healing events, the number of disciples was significant.  A significant number of these decided that they would no longer follow Him when they heard His statements about being the bread of life, superior to manna, and about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  They obviously did not comprehend what He was talking about.  He also said that no one could come to Him unless granted by the Father.
            Here’s what we learn from this verse:  Jesus was unwilling to compromise the truth.  As much as He wanted to reach people and gain disciples, He absolutely refused to compromise truth.  He was even willing to let them go away rather than compromise the truth.
            Those who are committed to Jesus as His disciples definitely want to reach people with the gospel.  The eternity of the lost depends on it.  There is, however, a line of truth beyond which we must not go.  The practice of “accommodation” of the truth should not be followed.  Explanation, yes, and clarification, yes, but the practice of accommodation communicates that the truth is not that important, that it is just relative and not absolute.  We must by all means reach the lost with the gospel, but not by compromising truth.

Father, the truth is Yours, and You are the truth.  Help us to love others and share Your truth with others, and help us also not to compromise Your truth in the least.  Amen.