ACTIONS NOT WORDS – Part Two…


Matthew 21:28-32 – “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. 30 “And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went. 31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The latter.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.”  NASB

Yesterday, we considered the Father’s request and the basis for his plea.  Today I want to consider the Response of the Sons.  Each of the two sons responded differently.  The first son informed his father that he would not fulfill his request.  I can only imagine saying that to my own father.  The result would not have been good.  He said, “I will not!”  His words convey a spirit of selfish indifference and possibly entitlement.  After all, he was a member of the family who hired laborers for the vineyard, so why should he work.  It was beneath him, in his mind.

How many times have we put off doing what our heavenly Father asks us to do?  How many times have we said, by our actions, “I have something else that I would rather be doing and have no time for your work.”  Selfishness in a Christian is deadly.  A person professing to be a Christian and has no concern for the perishing millions or the Father’s will is living dangerously.  The words of this son reveal a rebellious heart!

The other son was quick to say, “I will do what you ask.”  His words speak of respect.  However, his actions reveal that he may have been consenting out of fear, not love.  His words are smoother than butter and dripping with the honey of obedience.  His quick decision and consent are what God desires in all His children.

But, the Actions of the two sons contradict their words.  I have found that there is often a vast difference between a man’s profession and his living or actions.  Saying is not doing!  When Jesus rehearsed the account to that crowd of dissenters and discontents, He asked, “Which of the two did the will of their father?”  That was a mirror that should have been impossible for them to avoid.

The Rebel repented and obeyed and the other that promised Obedience failed to follow through.  Those who fail to go into the field of service at the bidding of the Father are rebels.  The Bible tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and there no peace for the wicked. 

Jesus said, in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”  God does not need, nor does he desire bench warmers in His service.  You may not preach to multitudes, but you can share the Good News with your neighbor or someone.  God is less interested in our Profession than our Action.

Remember the words of Jesus in John 4:35-38 – “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 “Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ 38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 

God is calling each of us today, what will our response be?  Will we be son or daughter number one or number two?  Our actions always speak much louder than our words.  God is looking for a little less talk and a lot more action. 

I pray that you have a fantastic day in Him as you discover more and more of His blessings in your life!

ACTIONS NOT WORDS…


Matthew 21:28-32 – “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. 30 “And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went. 31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The latter.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.”  NASB

Just prior to this passage, Jesus had been challenged by a self-righteous group of spiritual vagabonds.  They questioned His authority to do the things He had done.  Jesus used this parable as a mirror trying to help them see their own sins and shortcomings.  The way to understanding the authority of Christ is to see our real state before Him.  Those who pride themselves in their own supposed goodness will remain ignorant of His true authority and saving power.  When we come to the end of ourselves, we find His Grace sufficient.

This unique parable reveals what God truly wants from us.  That is Actions, not Words!  I ask that you take a brief journey with me through the account and hopefully we can discover or mine the nuggets of truth provided.

Notice the Command of the Father in verse 28, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.”  I must ask, “Who should be more interested in the success of the vineyard than the son?”  There was work, to be done and since this is family business no one should be more invested and willing to work than a son, right? 

Consider several things, if you will.  Examine the Grounds for the Father’s Claim or Request.  It was his son.  There are plenty of hirelings whose labor can be secured for a price, but love should motivate a son.  2 Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us…”  It motivates, directs, guides, and empower us.  It is not for material gain but for love that we serve.  If we are God’s sons and daughters, then He has first claim on our lives, our time, and our talents.  Strangers are hired but heirs are part of the inheritance and have a much deeper and higher motivation for service.

Next, consider the Desire of the Father’s Heart.  The vineyard needed work.  How heartbreaking it must be for God to see so much that needs to be done, so many lost, so many needy and many of His children sitting idle, sipping on their iced tea in the shade while the weeds and tares overrun the vineyard.  The work requested pleases the father, benefits the vineyard, and is profitable for the family.  Proverbs 19:15 informs, “Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger.” 

Tragically, too many of God’s children talk a good talk but fail to walk a good walk.  I would like for us to consider the Urgency of the Father’s Request.  The work needed to be done that day not someday.  We can’t wait until we get more experience, we cannot assume that due to advanced age it is too late, and there is no retirement from God’s service and being a member of God’s family.  Today is the day of salvation. Today is the only promise we have.  We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow!

I want to consider the response of the sons and how it reveals a truth needed in today’s world.  We will address that in the another devotional but until then may the rich and bountiful blessings of the LORD be yours this day! 

Have a Great Day!

GOD IS ABLE…


Matthew 19:23-26 – “And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  25 And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking upon them Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  NASB

Man is a creature of habit, and most of us have formed or allowed to develop habits in our lives that are unhealthy spiritually.  I’m sure some will say, “Not me!”  But, in my 50 years of Christian ministry, I have yet to meet a person who has not done just that.  You may be the exception, but my experience is otherwise. 

We, being human, seem to spend most of our time thinking in the realm of human possibility, human reason, and human understanding.  After all, we are mortal human beings.  We tend to allow ourselves to be robbed by the forces of hell of many of the blessings and new heights of Spiritual Power that God has afforded us in His Word.  Too many never fully realize who they are and whom they serve.

Too many times, when we face the impossible, in the natural, we automatically resign ourselves to defeat and despair without examining the most vital asset we have.  We often fail to use that which is at our disposal and fail to examine the provision of God’s unequaled ability.  We need to be reminded that we are “Heirs of God” and “Joint Heirs with Jesus Christ.”  We are children of the Most High God, the Creator of All Things.  We have been called with a heavenly calling and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.  Our Father is the Almighty God, the Living God, the One True God!  He does not change, does not falter, and does not fail.  He is Able!

God is Able to Deliver.  I like to remind myself of the words of the three Hebrew children as they stood before the king.  “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thy hand, O king.” (Daniel 3:17).  He delivered them miraculously and He delivered Daniel from the Lion’s Den.  The king’s question was, “Is thy God able to deliver?”  The answer, Yes, He Is!

God is Able to Fulfill His Promises.  I love the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 4:21, “And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He is able to perform.”  Fully Persuaded!  I like that.  God gave Abraham and Sarah a miracle son.  God gave Paul his life and the life of those in the ship with him.  God gave Solomon incredible wisdom, riches, and honor.  God gave the 120 Pentecost and turned the world upside down.  He is Able!

God is Able to Guard Our Soul’s Treasure.  Paul’s words to his spiritual son Timothy resonate powerfully in 2 Timothy 1:12, “…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.”  I am reminded of the word of Jesus in John 14:1-3 and His promise of an eternal home with Him and the Father forever.  He is coming back for that which He birthed and established.  God is Able!

God is Able to Save to The Uttermost.  That’s the declaration of Hebrews 7:25, “Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”  There is no person on earth beyond the reach of grace.  They may reject it, but God’s grace is sufficient for ‘whosoever will’.  There is no person lost who cannot be found.  That is why God said, “Go into all the world…”  God is Able!

God is Able to Keep Us From Falling.  I love the words of Jude 24, “Now unto Him, that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”  Jesus declared that nobody can pluck you out of His hand.  No devil in hell can steal you away.  You can walk in His grace, enjoy His presence, and receive His fullness.  God is Able!

It is my prayer that the LORD will demonstrate His incredible longsuffering to each of us and help us to not only believe in our minds but embrace in our lives that He Is Able!

Have a great day!

MORE THAN YOU EXPECTED – Part Two…


Matthew 14:15-19 – “And when it was evening, the disciples came to Him, saying, “The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”  17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.”  NASB

Yesterday, we addressed the conflict between natural human reason and logic and the realm of faith.  I mentioned that Jesus was trying to convey some truths to them.  What were those truths our LORD was trying to teach?

He was trying to help them discover and focus on the Truth that He Is The Son of God and the Son of Man.  He is capable of All Things!  With Him nothing is Impossible.  At the core of their being, I believe they believed that but in working it out, they were still conflicted by their natural understanding, reason, and logic. 

He was trying to help them understand that They were God’s children and fellow heirs with Jesus.  They were recipients of His supply and could tap into the miraculous through faith.  This is where their problem surfaced.  They believed that Jesus could do anything, we do.  The problem was, they believed He could but not they could.  But, Jesus said, “You Feed Them!”  Now they have a problem and are faced with the conflict.

We are told in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  We read that, after the fact, but they were learning that in OJT (on the job training).  They had to learn that not only were all things possible with God, but with them as His children.  Mark 9:23 had not yet become a foundational part of their mentality. 

God wants you and me to have the same victory and power they had.  He wants us to enjoy the richest and best of His blessings.  He always gives “More Than Expected.”  In Ephesians 3:20 we learn that we are able to do above that which we can ask or think because of Him.  It is His authority that gives us both authority and power! 

God’s Plan is to Build a Great Church – The Body of Christ and in doing that A Great People, a Kingdom of Priests. God instituted the Church and He is the builder of that Church.  God wants to reach the lost today, as much as He did when Jesus walked the earth in the flesh.  He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  God wants His Children to receive His Power and enjoy His Blessings.  He confirmed that in sending the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and anoint us to do that which He has commanded.

We can be all we desire to be for Jesus!  We belong to God, therefore all of heaven is on our side.  He can do all things and in 1 John 4:17 we discover that “as He is, so are we in this world.”  We are not going to be as He is when we get to heaven but before we get there.  God never changes and in Him, there is no variableness of turning.  If He says it, He does it and that is settled in heaven for eternity. 

Jesus gives more than we can ‘ask or think,’ therefore, I ask, “Why Can’t We Be What He Has Declared We Are?”  We Can!  So, if you are tired of second class living spiritually and want to move up to first-class with the power of the Spirit of God operating in your life, you can! 

God bless you as you press into His presence and begin to walk in the fullness of His Person, Purpose, and Power!   Have a fantastic day!

MORE THAN YOU EXPECTED…


Matthew 14:15-19 – “And when it was evening, the disciples came to Him, saying, “The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”  17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.”  NASB

Many if not most people expect only what they can see.  Many are willing to believe what they can touch, taste, feel, hold, and see.  Many believe that they can, when they see a clear pathway, and often people do not want to venture beyond the known.  With that condition in mind, I suggest that what we need is a New Heart and a New Mind. 

Paul addressed the mind in Romans 12:2 and spoke of the need and possibility of ‘renewing’ our minds.  In Proverbs 23:7 we discover that truth taught throughout the Scripture regarding the importance of our thought life.  Many, even those who vehemently argue they do not, think small or limited.  The focus is frequently on natural ability and personality. 

The disciples were not unlike us and not untypical in their thinking.  In this situation, they felt the full weight of the impossibility before them.  Their thinking was guided by the natural parameters of human intellect and emotion.  Their Reason told them that 5,000 people could not be fed with their limited supply.  Their Logic insisted that the only real solution was to dismiss the crowd and have them go to nearby towns to buy food.  They believed the only remedy was to put the onus back on the people and let them fend for themselves.  That is Natural Thinking and is not necessarily bad just limited.

Jesus’ directive was not what they expected. He told them, “You feed them!”  What?  Jesus, have you lost your mind?  We have five loaves of bread and two small fish, what are these among so many?  That is a logical and reasonable response.  Most of us would have had the same reaction. 

It is in this story that the Bible highlights the basic conflict of human emotion, reason, and logic in contrast to faith.  Now, I must ask, “Which is easier to follow?”  If you said anything other than acting and speaking from a natural perspective, you are speaking after the fact not having placed yourself in their shoes.  If you were there, then, under those circumstances, you would have reacted as they.

Jesus gave the command, “Feed them!”  You and I have been given the directive to “Feed My Sheep.”  It may not be natural food but food nonetheless and no less a command from our LORD.  It is rooted in what we call The Great Commission.  I suggest that we have somewhat the same conflict today.  If we are going to fulfill the directive to Pull Down Strongholds, live the Abundant Life, do the Works that Jesus did and greater works something has to change.  We must turn our confidence away from Human Reason and Logic to the Words of our LORD.  I didn’t say it would be easy, but I suggest it is not only possible but imperative. 

If we remember one simple truth, we will not shy away from the difficult or the supernatural.  That truth is, “God’s call and command will never lack His supply.”  The disciples had not yet learned that truth, but we have it revealed in Scripture and the many biblical examples should propel us into the Realm of Faith in God.

I don’t know about you, but I am hungry for God’s power and purpose to be fulfilled in me and in my world.  If this is a possibility, I want it.  If the supernatural is a possibility, I want it.  If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I want to live in the Realm of His Lordship and fulfill His purposes and exercise His authority in my present world.

I want to address some additional things He was trying to teach them that I believe will help us move into the Realm of Faith and out of the Realm of Human Reason.  That will come in the next devotional but until then may you walk blessed in our LORD. 

Have a great day in His presence!

THE PERIL OF THE IDLER – Part Two…


Matthew 12:44 – “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.”  NASB

Not only did this individual have the Fatal Misconception that Harmlessness was Holiness but He failed to realize another truth.  Not Only Does Emptiness Fall Short of Holiness but Emptiness is or can be Sin.

Please tap the brakes just a moment and not go wild with that statement.  I do not believe that just being busy is a sign of godliness.  I do not believe that being busy equates to salvation or purity.  I wrote a book detailing that problem entitled, “Too Busy With Busyness To Hear God.”  Therefore, I would never suggest that we be busy for the sake of being busy but that our busyness be God directed. 

We could bestow all our goods on the poor and needy and still not be profited spiritually.  James 4:17 informs us, “Him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  I do not believe that anyone can stand amid a needy world and not be guilty in the eyes of God if we remain idle or empty.

That Truth is Emphasized Time and Again in Scripture.  Jesus taught it and it is visible when He cursed the fig tree for emptiness.  He did not curse it because it did harm but because it was empty and bore no fruit but testified of having fruit.  Trees in the garden were removed because they were empty or fruitless. 

Let me make a shocking statement for some.  “In order to be lost it is not necessary to do wrong; it is only necessary to be useless.”  That is to miss the mark and fail to be obedient to God.  Remember the parable of the talents and the one was cast out not because of his act of wickedness but his failure to use what he had.  The man at the wedding feast that was cast out was not cast out because of his wickedness but because he did not have a wedding garment.

I heard of an engaged couple who had gone to a movie and during the movie, a fire broke out.  He ran away and left her behind.  Later he returned and sought her out, but she refused to acknowledge him. Why?  Because he ran away without doing what he should. She called off the wedding. 

Not only Is Emptiness sin (Sin of Omission) but it often leads to positive sin.  The only cure for emptiness is fullness.  Jesus said, “Out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”  We are instructed in Ephesians to be “filled” or “crammed full of the Holy Spirit.”  The only real foe and defeat for darkness is light.  The only way to truly destroy error is with the truth. 

The parable of the tares and wheat is a powerful declaration of this truth.  Jesus taught a unique lesson in that account.  The focus is on the health of the wheat, not the tares.  It is better to have some tares in the wheat than to uproot the wheat.  Paul addressed this truth to a semi-barbarous tribe in Galatia who had been converted. They were having difficulty with self-control.  He did not say, “Set your face and make up your mind that you are not going to do wrong.”  No, He said, “This I say, walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” 

We cannot win our world by simply doing no harm or wrong.  We must be filled with Christ and invest ourselves in His service.  We cannot simply be emptied of sin, we must be filled with Christ and His Spirit.  There is a work for us to do.  There is an assignment each of us has from God. 

We do not know how long we must work but we know we have work to do.  We have a community to reach, a world to tell about Jesus, lives to edify, disciples to teach and train.  Now is the accepted time and today is the day of salvation.  Refuse to be an idler and seek to be filled with Him and His Spirit.  If we ask, we will receive.  If we seek, we will find.  If we knock, He will open the door. 

God bless you as you enjoy His blessings, His Person, and His Power in your life today!

THE PERIL OF THE IDLER…


Matthew 12:44 – “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.”  NASB

I realize that this passage is talking about unclean spirits returning to the house (person) they possessed and reoccupying.  But I want to use it as a catalyst and spring into a different direction and hopefully, you will not consider me violating the scripture in doing so.  I ask that you give me a little latitude in this discussion and see if you can receive what I am offering.

I suggest that this could also describe the man or woman that is “empty.”  Their hands are not dirty, they are not full of filth, they are empty.  Consider for a moment the situation in which a person has had a phenomenal experience in God and received deliverance.  The problem with this person is that they did not progress and allowed their cleansing to become more foul which results in a greater foulness than before (v.45).

This person has been set free but allows his freedom to be turned into far worse bondage.  How could that happen?  How could anyone allow that to happen?  It is not by drifting into gross or blatant sin.  It is by simply allowing himself to remain empty.  The spirit returns and “finds the house empty.”

I have several questions regarding this person.  The first is “Why did he remain an idler?”  “Why did he allow his life to remain empty?”  Those are questions that demand an answer if we are to avoid a similar peril.  I am not suggesting that you are, have been, or will be demon-possessed but you can be influenced by the devil and even demonized if you allow the enemy to steal your blessing.

Did this transpire because the man was lazy?  Probably not.  Was it because there were no worthwhile tasks he could have pursued?  Hardly.  Was it due to indifference?  Possibly but probably not.  Okay, then “Why?  What was the root cause?”  I suggest that it is very possible and even probable that he, like many others, allowed a fatal misconception to rule in his heart and mind.  A misconception as to what it means to be a follower of Christ and a Christian.

I believe he was likely void of true understanding or right understanding of what sainthood involved.  He may have been eager to reach the goal of pious living, but his approach made that reality an impossibility.  I believe there are some key elements and warnings that, if heeded, will prevent us from suffering the same plight.

His First Blunder Was in Thinking That Harmlessness is Holiness.  He confused emptiness with saintliness.  He appears to have thought that goodness consisted in doing no wrong.  His mistake was a common mistake.  There are many whose greatest satisfaction and testimony are they ‘do no harm.’  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told, “Well, I’m not hurting anyone and I’m a good person.”  Some seem to expect to sprout angel wings at any time because there are so many ugly things they do not do.  The list of sins they do not participate in would fill a small encyclopedia, but the list of burdens and useful tasks they are doing would be a blank page.

That is not a picture of Christian living and Christlikeness.  A bee is not prized because it does not sting but because it produces honey. A garden is not treasured because it has no briars or weeds but because of its flowers and fruit.  A rose is not sought after simply because of a lack of thorns but because of the beauty of its roses and their fragrance.  If doing no harm made one a saint, then we could make another Paul from a wax statue because it does no harm. 

Jesus said, “Take up your Cross and follow Me.”  He said, “Take My yoke upon you.”  Christianity is action-oriented and following Jesus involves action.  Jesus said, “If you love me, Keep My Commandments.” 

The misconception of ‘doing no harm’ never seems to die.  The Pharisees in Jesus’ day formed a religion of “Do Not” rather than “Do.”  The “thou shalt not” were so voluminous they required experts to define and determine them.  They were heavy burdens that no one could bear.  There were so many things you could not do on the Sabbath that a man would have to be a virtual computer to keep track of them all.  In fact, you could not even catch a flea without being guilty of hunting on the Sabbath. 

This mentality and misconception produces ‘monasticism” and plunged the church into the dark ages of idleness.  People sought to live a life of “sanctified selfishness.”  This man’s evil was two-fold.  The world needed the light He now possessed but he kept it hidden.  He lost the strength and power he could have brought by giving light, but he kept it hidden. 

I realize that I am being frank, and some may even consider me harsh, but we have a mission and a commission.  Freely we have received, and the requirement of God is that we give freely.  Peter and John said to the lame man, “Such as I have, I give.”  Luke 6:38 tells us to give and it shall be given.   What we give we get and the more we give the more we get.

God bless you and I want to address this a bit more in the next devotional.  Have a fantastic day!