WHERE A TREE FALLS…


Ecclesiastes 11:3-4 – “If the clouds are full of rain, They empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. 4 He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap.” NKJV

There comes a time in our human finite existence on planet Earth that this scripture will apply to us and that is the day of our death.  The condition that we are in on that day will determine for eternity our eternal destiny and will not be changeable. 

I don’t want to get into differing theological stances of various denominations and religious groups but that is my belief.  That “after death is the judgment,” and we will each give an account of our lives before the Heavenly Father.  It will either be a joyous time as Jesus steps forward and testifies on our behalf or a time when He remains silent because of the hardness of our hearts and the lack of repentance while alive.

Too many are taking risks with their eternity and living a delusion that at the last minute they will be able to repent, accept Jesus and all will be well.  Yet, each day the Holy Spirit is dealing with their hearts and bringing conviction of sin to the forefront of their minds and offering them an opportunity to repent and receive the mercy of God.  Sadly, for some, the words spoken to John in Revelation will be applicable.

Revelation 22:6-11 – “Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place 7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” 8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. 11 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” NKJV

It will be “he who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”  The condition that you live in is the likely condition in which you will die.  What is the condition of your life today?

May God be with you as you go through this day!

WHAT SEASON ARE YOU IN?


Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “To everything, there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:” NKJV

Solomon acclaimed to be the wisest man on earth went into a lengthy treatise under the inspiration of the Spirit of God on this and it leads me to the question of the title of this devotional word – – “What Season Are You In?”

Solomon listed a great number of things all interesting and worthy of discussion but rather than taking them individually I ask you to do some introspection into your life and examine where you are spiritually right now.  Are you in a time of planting or harvest?  Are you in a time of tearing down or building up?  Are you in a time of mourning or dancing?  Are you in a time of keeping or throwing away?  Are you in a time of silence or speaking?  Are you in a time of war or a time of peace?  Where are you personally right now?

I hope that each of us can attest that we are in a time of diligently seeking God’s Perfect Plan and Purpose for our lives.  I hope that we are actively engaged in pursuing His purposes in our lives for this moment in which all other moments have brought us to.  I hope that we can honestly say that we are in a season of “seeking God with a whole heart.”

Sadly, sometimes we find ourselves in a season of self-perpetuation and self-interest and become self-centered rather than God-centered.  We are focused on “what’s in it for me?” rather than “what would God have?”  If that is the case, we should immediately enter into a Season of Repentance and allow the Holy Spirit to purge out the dross in our lives and allow us to go through the refiner’s fire so that we can come forth as pure gold in the eyes and kingdom of God.

Sometimes examination of our purposes, thoughts, intents, desires, and plans is a good thing.  Providing we lay them all on the altar before the Holy One of Israel and allow Him to return to us those things He desires and cast aside those things He does not.  I have one single major objective in life and that is “To Do Thy Will Oh LORD!”  

I want that more than I want anything.  I find myself repenting far more than I would like to admit but my desire to please the LORD is greater than my desire to appear something I am not and hide my flaws.  I would rather be exposed completely before man than attempt for one second to hide something from God, which is impossible.

I want the inscription on my tombstone if I go by way of the grave before the Lord returns to be: “He fulfilled the purposes of God in His Generation then He died.”  That is my objective, my desire, my goal, and my ambition.

May God be with you as you go through this day!

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS…


Proverbs 18:24 – “There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” NLT

I like this particular rendering of this passage because of the simplicity of how it phrases the statement.  Truly, we have all had “friends’ that turned out not to be true friends and did more detriment in our lives and we in theirs than good.  Yet, we also have known those individuals who proved to be closer than “blood kin”.  They are true treasures that one has few of in a lifetime and should treasure them and treat them as treasures.  Yet, we have in Jesus a friend that although He is a brother stands closer than any “blood kin” could or would ever stand.  He will never LEAVE us nor FORSAKE us.  His Love is Unconditional and Inseparable. 
 
I think of the Hymn – “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” written by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland while he was living in Canada.  The tune to the hymn was composed by Charles Crozat Converse in 1868 and William Bolcom composed a setting of the hymn.  It has had many modifications and transitions through the years, but the baseline theme has remained the same – – The unequaled friendship of Jesus in all life’s trials is the bedrock of the song.
 
Consider the words:
 
What A Friend We Have In Jesus Hymn
What a friend we have in Jesus, 
all our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry 
everything to God in prayer! 
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear, 
all because we do not carry 
everything to God in prayer. 

Have we trials and temptations? 
Is there trouble anywhere? 
We should never be discouraged; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Can we find a friend so faithful 
who will all our sorrows share? 
Jesus knows our every weakness; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 

Are we weak and heavy laden, 
cumbered with a load of care? 
Precious Savior, still our refuge; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? 
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee; 
thou wilt find a solace there.


As you read and probably sang those verses, at least in your hearts, you immediately had a sense of His presence, promise, provision, and power.  How true we forfeit peace by failing to come to the Cross with those things that trouble our souls.  We bear needless spiritual pain that He would gladly lift if we would learn to roll them onto Him accepting His sacrificial offer as seen at the Cross. 
 
We have, do, or will face discouragement, despondency, and even bouts with depression but if we turn to the Lord, our friend we rise out of the ashes of hopelessness into the bliss of optimism in His Promises.  As we find that we can hardly go on another mile, He lightens our load, allows us to be carried in His arms over the rocky part of the pathway, and renew our strength so that we can walk, run, and soar with and in Him once again.  It is all because of His commitment to Covenant Friendship that we are afforded this bountiful place.
 
So, as you begin this day consider who it is that you call a friend.  After you have enumerated the many names you will call ask yourself who is the one friend who not only would die for you but has died for you and has also risen for you and made full atonement for you before the Throne of Heaven giving you access to the very presence of the Father at all times!  JESUS is His name!  
 
Let this song travel through the corridors of your mind and heart as you go through your business today and I believe that you will find the difficulties easier to handle, the joys even more blessed, and the beauty of life even more beautiful.  

God bless you richly as you enjoy living your life in Him today!

HOW TO SPEAK TO YOURSELF…


Ephesians 5:15-21 – “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” NASB

I love the writings of the apostle Paul and how beautifully applicable his inspired words are regardless of what generation, era, or century they are read.  Consider these few verses and the powerful life application found in them.  It would take an entire book to be remotely exhaustive on the content, but we will let a few paragraphs suffice at this time.

He begins with wise instruction telling us how to live our daily lives (our walk).  We are to do so not like the unwise but with wisdom and in so doing utilize our time in the most efficient manner possible as we realize both the brevity of our time and the condition of the world in which we live. 

He makes it a double admonition by following that statement with those in verses 17-18 tells us to avoid being foolish but seek understanding of the will of God; also addresses the issue of drunkenness with intoxicants other than the Holy Spirit which he encourages.  That saturation with the presence and person of the Holy Spirit brings revelation and understanding in the things of God that are gained in no other way.

Then he comes to the part that I really want to discuss just a moment and that is “How we talk to ourselves.”  We’ve all been told it’s okay to talk to yourself as long as you don’t answer yourself.  Well, I disagree.  I believe that it is wholesome and healthy to speak to oneself and even have a conversation with that inner man or woman as the Holy Spirit guides and come to concrete conclusions and decisions that impact one’s life for the duration of that life on this planet.  But, back to what the writer says regarding “How to speak to oneself.”

In Psalms.     Now that is interesting because the word in the Greek is psalmos” which is a piece of music a sacred ode accompanied with the voice, harp, or some other instrument.  Collectively it is the Book of Psalms. 

Try singing them to yourself and you will understand how David encouraged himself in the Lord and why the prophets of old would ask for a minstrel before giving their word from the Lord.  It is liberating to the Spirit.   Remember when an evil spirit would come upon Saul and David would play the harp and the spirit would be dispelled?  This is a powerful tool in preparing the heart to hear from God.

In Hymns.   The word in the Greek is “humnos” and apparently comes from a simpler (obsolete) form of “hudeo” which means “to celebrate” and is a hymn, religious ode, or one of the Psalms.  Again, making melody in the heart to music in worship and adoration unto the Lord.  The heart is softened, the field is plowed, the soil tilled in preparation for the planting of spiritual seed.

In Spiritual Songs.   Two words “oide” which is a chant or ode the general term for words sung and is a religious metrical composition and even more specific a Hebrew cantillation.    Then, “pneumatikos” identifies the song as “non-carnal” but spiritual, supernatural, regenerate, and/or religious.  This is singing that springs forth from the inner being as prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Singing and Making Melody in the Heart to the Lord.                     

Multiple words here:

  1. “aido” – to sing
  2. “psallo” – to twitch or twang – to play a stringed instrument and celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes.
  3. “kardia” – the heart, the thoughts, the feelings, and the innermost being.

Giving Thanks Always for All Things in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ unto God our Father.

No matter where we begin in this set of instructions, we find the guidance to seek wisdom, the will of the Lord, allow the heart to express itself in worship, praise, and adoration unto God.  We follow a progression in our expression of adoration as is fitting to the particular need, situation, and condition in which we find ourselves.  We are doing it as an offering of Love to the Lord which brings the heart into a state of Thanksgiving. That is the logical conclusion of all worship – Thanksgiving.  It brings one to a place of recognition of Who God Is, who we are, what God has done, what we need, and our utter hopelessness and helplessness without Him.

That is another reason that I love the Psalms and many of the Old and Powerful Hymns of the Church.  Not just the words but the story behind the words the heart condition of the writer taking us by the hand and leading us into the very presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

So, today why not try it you might like it – go through the day quietly or loudly singing to yourself as you sing to the Lord Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Singing and Making Melody in your hearts to the Lord.  I will guarantee that you will be unable to do that without it positively impacting your life and you will receive an Attitude Adjustment in the process! 

Blessings as you venture into something new or rekindle something old and relive the blessings afforded in this simple practice and experience!  God Bless You Richly is my prayer!

I KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW…


This is a song written by Ira Stanphill in the 1950s during a time of depression and struggle with things going on in his life.  His wife battled addiction and left him for other men but he forgave her, tried to reconcile, and remained true to his vows.  You can imagine the gossip, a preacher’s wife in a life of sin.  The rumors and stories that must have been told and how difficult it must have been for him. 

In the book “Turn Your Radio On”, Ace Collins relates the struggle of Stanphill and told how in the depths of his sadness he began to hum a tune, and the next thing he knew he was singing a song.  He sang about not knowing what was in the future but knowing that God was with him every step of the way.  He rushed to the piano when he arrived at his office and jotted down the words.  What a testimony and truth that God dropped in the preacher’s heart and words that should comfort each of us. 

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  That is exactly what Jesus was telling us in John 14:1-3 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you….” 

One day and that day may be soon, we will enter that eternal realm and be forever with our Lord but until that time it is good to KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW and WHO HOLDS OUR HAND!  I thank God for my wonderful wife (now in heaven), my family, friends, and those who touch my life that I have never met and they mean so much to me yet None can provide what GOD PROVIDES!  Therefore, I say “Don’t worry about tomorrow, just live today in the light of His love.”  May God be with you as you read the words of the song listed below:

I don’t know about tomorrow; 
I just live from day to day. 
I don’t borrow from its sunshine 
For its skies may turn to grey. 
I don’t worry o’er the future, 
For I know what Jesus said. 
And today I’ll walk beside Him, 
For He knows what is ahead. 

Many things about tomorrow 
I don’t seem to understand 
But I know who holds tomorrow 
And I know who holds my hand. 

I don’t know about tomorrow; 
It may bring me poverty. 
But the one who feeds the sparrow, 
Is the one who stands by me. 
And the path that is my portion 
May be through the flame or flood; 
But His presence goes before me 
And I’m covered with His blood. 

Many things about tomorrow 
I don’t seem to understand 
But I know who holds tomorrow 
And I know who holds my hand…

May God help you to rise up in faith and confidence and place your hand in the hands of the Lord!  Blessings on your journey and if we never meet again or meet this side of Heaven I look forward to seeing you over there!

WHAT IS YOUR WEAPON OF CHOICE?


1 Samuel 17:41-47 – “Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, ” Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”  NASB

 
This has long been one of my favorite stories in the Bible because there are so many applicable spiritual truths in it that one could spend a year preaching and teaching from this story and still not exhaust it.  That being said, I won’t attempt to do that here or over the next year, but I do want to highlight one question that comes to mind when I read it: “What Is Your Weapon of Choice in Conflict?” 
 
This was a physical, natural battle but was also a spiritual one.  The spiritual ramifications are brilliantly obvious and powerful.  But let’s go back to the story and consider David’s preparation to lead the Nation.  This is just another part of his training and preparation.  God was testing his heart, commitment, confidence, and courage.  Did he truly believe that God would deliver the undefeatable enemy into his hands?  Did he truly believe that God would use the tools or weapons that he was familiar with to do the job?  Did he truly believe that God would honor His word to Israel and therefore the victory was won before he even fought the battle?  YES!  Yes, to each question.  Yes, David was developing his heart which God would later declare was one “after His own.”
 
Too many times we try to fight battles using weapons we do not know how to use or are not suited for the job.  David resisted that temptation and used what he was skilled with.  What weapons are we skilled at using?  Is it swords and spears or The Word of God?  Are we adept at using words of oratory or the power of prayer?  Are we skilled at trusting the arm of flesh or the power of God?  In which arena are we most comfortable the flesh or the Spirit?  All of those questions are vital in determining whether we are successful or not in our spiritual battle.
 
We have the many promises of the Lord regarding overcoming and the abundant life and yet too often we revert to relying on the flesh and the natural to accomplish the spiritual and supernatural.  That is like taking a trying to go to the moon with a cardboard box with wings propelled with rubber bands. IMPOSSIBLE!  But with God, All Things Are Possible!  Therefore, depending on Him is the only logical and sensible place to turn.  He can take His infinite power and wisdom and enable natural forces to produce supernatural results.  That’s why “knowing Him” and engaging in the Study of His Word and Prayer is so vital to our Spiritual Walk and Warfare.
 
So, as you go through this day and face the giants in your life my prayer is that you Go In The Name of the Lord!  May the blessings of God be upon you richly as you enjoy this beautiful day the Lord has made!

WHAT ARE THE PARAMETERS OF OUR COMMANDMENT TO GIVE A WARNING?


Ezekiel 3:16-21 – “At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 17 “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. 18 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 “Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. 20 “Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 “However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself.”  NASB

Ezekiel 33:7-20 – “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. 8 “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. 10 “Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?”‘ 11 “Say to them, ‘ As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ 12 “And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, ‘The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.’ 13 “When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. 14 “But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, 15 if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 ” None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live. 17 “Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right. 18 “When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. 19 “But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. 20 “Yet you say, ‘ The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”  NASB

I fully realize that I have used a very long passage as my text today but did so purposefully.  I realize that this was spoken to the prophet in Ancient Israel but believe that the heart of the message is applicable for today on every level of life.  I believe that this applies to individuals, churches, governmental entities, schools, and other organizations that have the opportunity to be privy to information as well as having the opportunity to sound this needed alarm.

It applies to what we would classically call “sin”, but does it not equally apply to every facet of life?  If we see something that is morally, ethically, socially, politically, spiritually, relationally, domestically, economically, or historically wrong are we not obligated by our Christian values to sound the alarm?  But what if the Government warns us to be silent?  Would that not place us in the same predicament as the disciples of our Lord when they were warned to speak no more in the name of Jesus?  Peter’s response should be our response, “Whom shall we obey, God or man?”

Therefore, it is my conviction that if I, as a Christian see people heading down a path to moral destruction it is my Christian obligation to warn them.  If I, as a Christian, entity, church, organization, or political party see a path being taken that is destroying people’s freedom to worship freely and live rightly dare I remain silent? 

If I see the murder of innocent unborn babies and remain silent what does God think of my silence? Read the above passages and I believe you will get the idea of how He feels.  If I see the inalienable rights of individuals trampled upon, political manipulation that separates and divides peoples and nations dare I sit back and say, “Separation of Church and State as my excuse for silence?”  Does the threat of the I.R.S. pulling my 501-C-3 status justify my silence or do I have a larger mandate regarding right?

If I saw someone about to, unknowingly, ingest poison would I be morally and spiritually okay to be silent?  If I saw a crime being committed and had the ability to call the police or give warning and ailed to do so, would my silence be justified, or would I be guilty of the innocent blood being shed through my silence when speaking out would have prevented it or minimized it?

We must proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to whomever, whenever, and wherever.  We must also warn of impending perils as we see them coming upon individuals, nations, and peoples no matter the cost to us personally.  To do less is an affront to the Grace of God.  So, I call upon individual believers, pastors, churches, politicians, and other leaders to Become Watchmen on the Walls in these perilous times.  Christianity is more than just passively living in our little circles disturbing no one and flying under the radar.  It may mean putting your head on the line for right and that may be costly.

My question is, “How much is your faith worth to you?”  “How much does God expect of us as we become aware of wickedness or wicked actions or policies?”  Today, it is time that the Body of Christ rise up and stand as the prophets of old and get in the faces of kings when necessary and declare, “You are the one from whence the trouble is originating.”  God will protect us or take us home but either way we will have stood for right!

May God bless you as you go through this day in Him!

CAN LOVE BE POISON?


1 Corinthians 13 – “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” NASB

Let’s pull all this together if we can as we consider AGAPE!  One of the most prolific pictures of what we are talking about can be seen in the story of The Last Supper in John 13.  Follow the narrative with me:

It was a very bad night!  The disciples knew something was up, so it had become a very tense night.  They were bickering among themselves about what their position in the coming Kingdom would be.  “Who Is The Greatest?”  In truth, it was a religious-political campaign everyone was jockeying for position.

The table was fine.  The place settings were okay, but near the door, there was a little table with a towel and a jar of water.  It filled each mind because they all knew that somebody was supposed to kneel at the door and wash the feet of the others.  It was custom, like a handshake in our western society.  But the lowest slave or person in the house was to do it and at this point, nobody wanted to assume that position.  They were all too important, in their own eyes.  They reclined at the table which meant that their dirty feet were under the nose of the person beside them.  It is Obvious!

Remember, this is The Last Supper, although they didn’t grasp that at the moment.  What a sight!  I have to wonder what Jesus might have been thinking.  He has obviously observed their unhappy faces.  So, what motivated Him?  He could have assumed the role of a martyr and thought, “Somebody has to wash the feet.  I guess it’s up to me again, this bunch never helps!”  He could have thought, “If I don’t do it, they’re going to be disappointed after all good old Jesus, He always comes through.”  He could have thought, “They never listen.  Even after three years, they are still arguing.  Maybe if I wash their feet, I can shame them into putting an end to the fighting.”  NO!  He did none of that, it was AGAPE!

Look at verses 3-4 – – This is incredible!  He Knew Who He Was.  Out of the fullest inner knowledge of Who, He Was and because He Love them, he acted.  It was for their benefit that He rose and washed their feet!  Do you understand AGAPE?  He never sought their “happiness” that would have been cruel.  That is not Love!  He is and always seeks their and our highest and best.

At the meal, the Revelation of what Peter was going to do is disclosed by the Master.  Peter is going to do it again.  Of all nights, the night Jesus needs him the most he is going to fail.  But if Jesus had been operating out of Eros, he would not have been able to reveal this to Peter because after all Peter would be upset and might lose it.  In that mode, He might have said, “Peter, instead of coming with us tonight why don’t you stay home and rest.”  That would have been the Eros approach to protecting him, that’s how we operate.  We are not seeking their highest good we are seeking peace and usually status quo.

Instead, Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired you to sift you as wheat.”  Now, that hurts!  Imagine Peter’s thoughts, “Jesus, you always get so personal, and you say this in public.  This is supposed to be a night of celebration and you embarrass me like this.”  Peter’s inquiry must have been, “Ok Jesus, what are you, going to do about it?”  Jesus said, “I’ve prayed for you.”  Is That It? 

Then the Lord says, “Before the rooster crows….” Jesus leaves no question as to where Peter is headed.   He left Peter with no choices.  Remember, never once did Jesus “despise” or “reject” Peter.  Even after the entire ordeal, Jesus never brought it up.  He Agaped Him!  But He never protected him from his failures in the name of Love.  AGAPE submits to God’s plan not the plan of man.  We cannot change anyone’s life.  We cannot truly rescue anyone!  Only AGAPE can!

Psalms 49-7-9 – – “No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him.  For the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever.  That he should live eternally and not go down to the pit.”

Therefore, stop trying to “save” or “protect” them!  Stop trying to do something to make God save them.  Stop trying to twist God’s arm or manipulate them.  Leave it in the hands of the Lord.  When you manipulate, lie for, cover for, deny the truth, you come away feeling you didn’t do enough.  Truth – You Didn’t because You are not God! 

Trust that Love – AGAPE!  It is unconditional.  It is eternal.  It is free.  It is God’s choice.  It is not what we do or don’t do it is Who God Is!  It is vital that each of us “receive” AGAPE!  That we come to “know” that we are loved unconditionally.  At that point, we can minister AGAPE to others but not until then. 

You cannot give what you do not possess.  Otherwise, you will continue to try to find someone or something to fill that “hole inside.”  You will continue to try to be their savior.  You are not God!  So, resign and let God be God.  This will set you free if you will receive it.  You will be free to love.  You will be free from the need to perform.  You will truly be Free – Free At Last!

It is my genuine prayer that this has been beneficial in at least some small way and has opened the door for you to take another look at LOVE.  May the Lord lead you into AGAPE and enable you to minister out of AGAPE to others. 

May the blessings of the Lord be yours in all things!

DISCIPLINE vs. PUNISHMENT FROM THE LORD…


Proverbs 3:11-12 – “My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” NASB

Isaiah 13:11 “Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.” NASB

It is my opinion that far too many people in every aspect of life misunderstand the difference between discipline and punishment.  Too many people administer punishment where discipline is called for not realizing that discipline is designed to bring to repentance.  They fail to understand that punishment is the ultimate result of an offense of the rebellious that refuses to modify behavior, repent, and return to the correct path. 

Punishment is punitive whereas discipline is administered with reconciliation as the primary focus.  Hell is punishment!  Chastisement is discipline!  When my children were young my objective in what some called punishment and God called discipline was to shape their attitudes and behavior to bring them to the right path. 

The objective was to teach them the error of their ways and help them understand not only the consequences but the proper way.  It was to bring them to an understanding that their actions not only affected them, their parents but frequently other people as well.  It was to enable them to develop a solid foundation and moral base upon which to build their lives.

For the most part, our penal institutions are designed for punishment rather than discipline.  Most of our churches administer neither for fear of losing a member and not fully understanding either the authority of the church or the responsibility of the church in this area.  Too often, when the Lord disciplines us, we accuse Him of punishing us and develop a mentality of God as this Giant Ogre who is waiting for us to slip up just a little so He can whack us over the head. 

I remember as a child hearing the phrase when we were acting up, “God’s watching and He’s going to get you for that.”  God’s objective is not to get us for that but to reconcile us to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ the Righteous.  God is more interested in reconciliation than condemnation.  He is more interested in restoration than retribution.  God wants us to be Free and live in the “Peace that passes all understanding” not live in “Fear that is torment and paralyzes.”

Therefore, when the Lord disciplines you do not despise it, reject it, resist it, but embrace it, learn from it, and allow it to move you ever closer to His presence, person, and character.  You do not want to experience punishment those standing at the Great White Throne will know that.  Satan knows that.  The Angels that fell know that.  The demons know that. 

Know that God’s discipline is based on love with the desire to bring you to Him in a greater measure and a deeper relationship.  It is to teach you His character, His heart, His love, and His way.  Love is the basis of discipline.  You will experience it and it is important that you understand the difference between discipline and punishment.  It never means that God is through with you, it means He sees enough in you to continue to invest His time, energy, and effort to bring you into total conformity to His image.  It is a sign of His love!  Rejoice in it and be thankful.

May God richly bless you as you move past whatever obstacle is in your way and move toward the prize of the High Calling!

THE “IF” – “THEN” OF JESUS…


John 8:31-32 – “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” NKJV The NASU lists it as “… if you continue in My word….”  NIV – “…If you hold to My teachings…”  NLT – “…if you keep obeying my teachings….”

It is surprising how many times we fail to notice simple little phrases in what the Bible teaches and either ignore them to fit our doctrine or miss them because we are reading with a preconceived notion of what it should say or should mean.  Here is a most powerful statement by our Lord that contains an “if” or a Conditional Phrase. 

Jesus said to His followers regarding their relationship with Him that IF you Abide, “continue”, “obey”, or “continue obeying” my word, my doctrine, my teachings, my truth You are or Shall Be “My Disciples Indeed”.  Then He adds an addendum that is absolute without price in its value – – “You shall “know” the truth, and the truth shall “make you free”. 

Spiritual freedom comes through relationship and relationship comes through obedience to Him and His word.  That is inescapable!  The idea presented here is continued obedience, not one-time acceptance.  It is a maintained relationship not signing a membership card and paying regular dues like a club membership.  It is a personal relationship that is maintained through communication, communion, and commitment.  In too many ways and too many situations, we seem to have lost that and it’s time for the church and God’s people to return to their “First Love” and restore that relationship and commitment to the Lord of Lord and King of Kings!

May God bless you as you continue your brand-new week of opportunity in His service and Kingdom!  Blessings!