Living water

John 4:1-26

As spring time draws near, so too do the plans of back yard gardeners who look forward to planting vegetables and flowers. In the hot summers months that follow, it becomes easy to recognize plants that are thirsty for life giving water. They begin to droop. Their leaves curl and then wither. If not provided sufficient water, garden plants will not yield good fruit, if any at all. The same can be said for the people of God.

The Samaritan woman speaking with Jesus at the well is one who is dry and thirsty. She is not living a life pleasing to God. Instead, she is living a life of worldly measure. She is spiritually withered, dying on the inside. Jesus, the gardener, offers her water. Not just water to quench her thirst, but life-giving water flowing from the Word of God.

Jesus offers this same life-giving water today. His Word is the gospel that saves. It is the message of God’s forgiveness and mercy for sinners who confess and believe that Jesus is the one who takes away the world’s sin. The well-spring of the gospel flows in the hearts of the faithful. Those who believe will never be thirsty for God’s love.

Prayer: Pour out the water of life, O Lord, and satisfy my thirst for your grace. Amen.

Original image

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Called to be generous

Mark 12:35-44

I’ve often written about meeting Jesus every day. You don’t have to look hard to see Jesus; he turns up just about everywhere. I once encountered Jesus at a Chinese take-out. He emptied his pockets of the little money he had. I listened as the woman behind the counter listed his options. He could get a small soup or two egg rolls, perhaps a side of fried rice. Anticipating my seemingly lavish banquet compared to his options, I finally asked him if I could help him out.

In my wallet I had four one-dollar bills and a twenty. I gave the man the four dollars and the extra change in my pocket and said to him, “now you can buy a full meal.” After supper, I felt good about helping the fellow buy a full meal. Good for me right?

In our text, the widow gave out of her poverty, while those in the temple didn’t have a clue of what it meant to be generous. Did I give generously, or was it more important to give a few dollars so I could feel good about myself and keep my twenty?

God calls us to be generous with all that he has first given us, including money for a Broccoli and Beef Combination Platter. For another buck fifty, the man could have had a drink to go with it. That Sunday during worship, Jesus appeared again. This time he fed me.

Prayer: Guide me, O Christ, that I might share the blessings of your kingdom. Amen.

Original image

Posted in Discipleship, Wealth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The race of faithfulness

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

The Olympic Games feature men and women accomplishing great feats of skill, strength and courage. As captivating as these sports are, none of the athletes reached the world’s most spectacular event by accident. Each participant spent countless hours preparing for their few moments of competition. The sought-after prize, a medal made of Gold. In ancient times, those who emerged victorious received a different prize, a laurel, or crown, made from twisted olive branches.  To the winner goes the glory.

The apostle Paul likens the Christian life to that of preparing for such a sporting event. Just as athletes spend countless hours conditioning their bodies, Christians are to prepare their hearts and minds to live for the sake of the gospel. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ means training one’s self in the scriptures. It means striving to live according to God’s precepts and engaging in spiritual disciplines such as worship and prayer.

To run the race of faith, one must seek to live differently than as people of the world live. To love God and neighbor, and to share the gospel with those who have not yet heard the good news of Christ is the goal. Finishing the race, God’s people are adorned with the most precious prize of all, everlasting life in the presence of the living Lord Jesus.  For it is God who receives the glory.

Prayer: Lord, guide my ways that I may live according to your will. Amen.

Original image

Posted in Discipleship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treasure in heaven

Matthew 19:16-30

In ancient times, it was believed that wealth was a sign of God’s favor. Today, such a notion is known as the prosperity gospel. It is a false teaching, yet many people buy into it. With the prosperity gospel, everything depends on you. Believe, keep the commandments, live a good life and show God how much you love him. Do this and God will bless you. For the rich, it seems a good deal, but what about the poor? Have they not believed? Do they not love God? Why are the poor not blessed?

The rich man in our text today seems to have bought into the prosperity gospel. He is proud of how he lives. He sees himself as above the rest. Yet when Jesus instructs him to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, then follow him, he cannot bear it. According to his belief, God has rewarded him, blessed him with wealth for living faithfully. So much for prosperity gospel.

Despite their error, today’s prosperity gospel preachers get one thing right. God does bless those who live faithfully, just not necessarily with earthly riches. God blesses all believers with his peace and presence. God forgives sins, supplies daily bread, and provides that which is needed for life. Through grace, we are blessed with treasure in heaven to be enjoyed forever in the company of Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for the blessing of your grace, and for eternal life granted through your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Original image

Posted in Discipleship, Repentance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing the gift

John 5:31-47

In the field of education, it happens with textbooks. With technology, specifications and technical manuals are the culprits. The circumstance even exists within Christian worship where hymnals and other resources serve as guides. Those most learned and talented within their respective fields know the materials at their disposal frontwards and backwards. But sometimes, such experts are blinded by their knowledge and fail to realize the joy of sharing their gift.

The Pharisees were well schooled in the scriptures. Their interpretations were authoritative; no one questioned them. Some Pharisees used their expertise to gain status within the community. Others abused their authority. When Jesus appeared, the experts failed to recognize the long-awaited Messiah. Instead, they made charges against him because Jesus did not meet their expectations.

Jesus reminds God’s people of the Father’s love and reveals God’s glory through his miracles and teaching. His is an authority none had experienced before, yet his testimony is true. The Pharisees read the right book, but in the wrong way. Today’s experts must not make the same mistake.

Prayer: Open our minds to your Word, O Lord, that we may joyfully point others toward you. Amen.

Original image

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

Of wheat and weeds

Matthew 13:24-30

Surely you have heard someone say, “I don’t attend worship services because the church is filled with hypocrites.” Others say that they don’t worship on Sunday morning because they do not see that it makes a difference. People in the church act just like those outside the church.

Sound familiar? It should. That’s where so many people are today in their thinking. They are disenchanted with churchgoers who are judgmental about others. Well, guess what? They are right; the church is filled with hypocrites. That’s because the church is filled with sinners. It’s filled with broken, sinful individuals in need of a Savior.

Today, as in yesterday’s post, the gardener sows good seeds in good soil. But in the night, the evil one sneaks into the field and plants weedy seeds among the good wheat. When they sprout up, the good and the bad are so intertwined, it is difficult to tell which is which. But as the seeds of faith sprout and grow, sinners are brought to repentance.

Yes, the church is filled with hypocrites. It’s packed with sinners in need of redemption. But remember, Jesus came to save sinners. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16).

Prayer: Turn me away from sin, O Lord, that I may live for you alone. Amen.

Original image

Posted in Forgiveness, Repentance | Leave a comment

Sowing seeds of faith

Matthew 13:1-17

As we read the parable of the sower, we soon discover that God has some peculiar farming techniques. It doesn’t seem to matter where the farmer cast the seed, he just throws it everywhere. Certainly, a farmer would not expect seeds to sprout up and yield a crop if they were sown along a path or among thorny bushes. Regardless, the sower in Jesus’ parable scatters seed quite liberally, where ever it may fall.

God continues to sow the seed of his word throughout the world. It is his desire that people would receive the gospel and share it with others, thus producing the fruit of faith among many. Yet, the devil and all the powers that defy God will continually attempt to snatch it away.

Living together in a community of faith is an essential and strong defense against such powers. As Christians gather to hear the gospel and receive the Father’s mercy and grace, hearts are gladdened as we put our faith and trust in Christ Jesus. Living in faith and trust, God’s people respond by going into the world sowing this same seed, so that others may have their hearts gladded by the good news of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Go with me, Lord Jesus, that I may sow the seeds of your Word. Amen.

Original image

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment