Who is Jesus to you?

bible-matt 21Matt 21 “Lord, Son of David”

In the previous chapter we read the story of the two blind men who received healing and they followed Jesus. One of the reasons Jesus healed them is that even in their physically blind state and having never met Jesus they knew who He was: Lord, Son of David.  Matthew doesn’t tell us if they followed him all the way to Jerusalem but as he begins chapter 21 we find Jesus approaching Jerusalem. Did the recently blind men tell others along the way that they were accompanying he who was the Son of David? We may never know but what we do know is this:

The blind men called him Lord, Son of David. The crowd along the city streets called him Son of David. The children in the temple called him Son of David. All were saying he is not only genealogically connected to King David but is then the rightful heir to the throne of Israel. By calling him Lord they were acknowledging that he is master.

Yet the religious leaders hearing this became indignant because they considered themselves above these who were illiterate as far as being able to read and explain the scriptures. What the blind “saw”, the children knew, the crowds recognized touched their hearts BUT the Pharisees remained in spiritual ignorance. John the Apostle records the interchange with these religious elite in John chapter 9. At the end the Pharisees said ‘we are not blind too, are we’ hoping Jesus would respond with no you are not. Instead he turned to them and said “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains.”

Oh Father open our eyes to see who You are; the Son of David. Keep us back from presumptuous sin.

Matt 16 The Right Question

ask matt 16-Matthew chapter 16 

Do you wonder how to start a conversation that will lead to sharing Christ? How about the simple question Jesus asked the disciples? “Who is Jesus?” The world has several answers such as He was a good man and a good teacher. Notice the answers: good man and good teacher. Those answers are the same that Jesus heard when someone came to him asking on how to inherit eternal life and He responded: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

You might ask, what do you consider good? You might be surprised to hear that goodness involves “doing” not being. Listen closely to their standards of what is good and you will certainly hear their own justification based on not the standards of God but on their own standards. I am better than others because I offer my money to the poor, I serve others in the homeless kitchens; I am good to my neighbor. Their standard of “goodness” is the balance scale of works. Then ask if you can share what the Bible says. If permission granted share what Titus [Tit 3:5] and Paul [Eph 2:8/9] explained. God rejects our works. It is only by faith and not works lest we should take credit for our salvation.

Questions and answers reveal their heart. Pray for discernment and the right questions to ask so you may know how to lead them to Christ.

Meet You At The Meeting House

Psalm 122  “Meet You at the Meeting House”

This used to be a common saying among many but with time, busyness and other distractions it seems to have fallen by the wayside. The psalmist implores us to celebrate God’s blessings and goodness at the “meeting house.” It is there that we join with others of like faith to celebrate togetherness and communion. Perhaps that is why the author of Hebrews reminded his readers: “let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.” The prophet Zechariah said this is what we should be saying: “Let’s go up at once to ask the favor of the Lord, to seek the Lord who rules over all. Indeed, I’ll go with you.” It is at the “meeting house” we encourage, pray for others and celebrate. But how often do we hear “you go and pray for me while we stay at home.” Beloved, this should not be for the Lord Himself went to the “meeting house” upon the hill, Mount Zion as well as the “meeting houses” in cities and towns as he journeyed through Israel.

Plan now on attending your “meeting house” wherever you are. Pray that this might be a time when you celebrate the goodness of the Lord.church-768613_640

In Christ! Colossians 1

ImageIrving Jensen has been like a mentor to me over the years. I have honed my skills of Bible Study at his feet. His study guide on Colossians is by far one of his richest. In the first lesson Jensen gives a task: Write a list of the good traits which you think a local church should exemplify. After you have completed your study of 1:1-12, go back to this list and see how the Colossian church rated.

Paul knew about these precious saints that he had never met except through word of mouth and the testimony of Epaphras. This dear saint came to Rome and shared with Paul, now in a Roman prison under guard, who they were. From that we read Paul’s desire for them as believers in Christ.  

Paul’s list that he had gleaned from Epaphras: They had faith in Christ, They had love for all the saints [the setting apart of the individual as one of the company whom God,] They have a hope laid up in heaven vs 4 and an inheritance in the light vs 12 [1Pet 1:4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you], The gospel message has borne fruit within their midst and continues to bear fruit;, once strangers/enemies of God but now reconciled to Him through Christ; therefore Christ is in them, the hope of glory.

Now Paul turns from who they are to what his prayerful desire is for them: God to fill them with the knowledge of His will [In the broadest sense, the will of God is the whole purpose of God revealed in Christ. Dr. Constable]; God would give them spiritual wisdom and understanding [“‘Wisdom’ and ‘understanding’ probably should not be treated separately but should be looked on as expressing a single thought, something like practical wisdom or clear discernment.” Dr. Constable];

And now the “why”… They might live worthily; Please the Lord; Bear fruit; Grow in the knowledge of God; and Display or show to the world: patience, steadfastness and joy.

Back to the first question: Thehe church at Colosse was rich beyond measure.   If you rated your church how do they stack up against the Colossians?

They were rooted and grounded in Christ but tomorrow we will see that their roots were being attacked by the enemies of the cross. This is why we need, I need this book today! Today as I look about I am seeing the very foundations of our churches being stripped by those who espouse a gospel that is works plus grace or a gospel of “feel good, a gospel of intolerance for the things that are the very bedrock of our faith.” Many are sliding down a slippery slope of worldliness. As Paul prayed for this church, may we stop and pray for our churches and for their message to be true to the Word of God, true to the simple gospel message and true to Christ? For it was because of Christ. who is the very image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all,  the Creator, the Alpha and Omega, the head of the church, the reconciler through the blood He shed on the cross that both they and we are “who we are, who we need to be.”


Ps 48-49 He saw, He loved, He came, He conquered death

ImageIn the forward of the book “ReChurch” written by Stephen Mansfield, George Barna notes that the church today is facing an epidemic called “ecclesia exitus,” the Latin term for church dropout. “The symptoms are many, but the outcome is unambiguous: pain, disappoint, and spiritual anomie.”  Our hurts have metastasized into bitterness and although the prescription for healing is within the Word of God and God Himself, many are unwilling to take the antidote to healing and thus the root of bitterness (Heb 12:15) festers and brings upon the Body of Christ the untold suffering that was not meant to be. Rather than coming to the Living Water to drink and be nourished, our roots dry up and our branches wither above.

In Ps 48 and 49 there are those who are fleeing not the church but God Himself who sits enthroned upon Mt. Zion, the fortress of Jerusalem where He is defender of the weak, the defender of those who are His own. These who are fleeing do so because they unlike Caesar who said “I came, I saw, I conquered,” are saying “I came, I saw, I fled.” Those who know not the I AM have seen the power of His fortress, sitting high on Mt. Zion, impenetrable by His forces of righteousness and know that His power can vanquish them in a breath. His power and His grandeur are beyond description and so they flee into the desert and the wilderness of life rather than surrendering to His love, care and righteousness.

Contrast that with we who “came, saw, and took the step.” We have no fear because we chose to submit to He who was, is and forever will be. Therefore, we can enter, observe and note the grandeur of the towers, the strength of the walls. We stand in awe of who He is, we stand in awe of the fortress He has constructed to protect us from the “roaring lion that is seeking whom to devour.” We who have yielded to the Almighty are not only protected by the fortress of His love, but the fortress of His righteousness. Therefore we can say with Paul 8:38 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is my prayer that you know Him and can say, “He saw, He loved, He came, He conquered death” and also “I saw, I came, I bowed the knee, and know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day.”

Phil 4: “The Contented Mindset Begins here…”

ImageThe key to the life of Paul is that he rejoiced always. Rejoicing is an attitude and always means it is ongoing with no end. Paul desired this for his beloved Philippians and those same words echo across the halls of history to you and I as well. Note from where Paul has come: vs. 12 satisfied (he had it all but lost it all), or hungry (often times with little to satisfy the pains in the belly), abundance (he had the title and the wealth of the world at his fingertips) or nothing/in want (2Co 11:25 Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea.) Paul has seen, experienced and tasted all that this world has to offer and through this he learned (instructed, acquired by experience, study) the secret of contentment, the secret pearl of greatest price only found in Jesus Christ.

How do we thus “learn” the secret of contentment? It begins in the mind and flows forth from our lips and our actions. 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.”  It is making that choice to move from meditating upon what could be; to what is now; to what will be. It is not something that comes naturally for God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Is 55:8) and we are all “dead in our trespasses and sins.” But when we are born anew and choose to begin to practice the art of “learning,” through the meditation upon His Word: “I will meditate upon your statutes” [Ps 119:48], it is then that we acquire the peace that passes all understanding and mind of Christ. Rom 8:6 “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” It is then that the truth of Rom 12:2 “transformed by the renewing of our mind,” becomes a reality and our God will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus and we can say with Paul “May glory be given to God our Father forever and ever. Amen.”


Overwhelmed by the Name Above all Names! Phil 2

ImageIf truth be known, we are not a humble people but in fact we are the totally opposite! C.S. Lewis wrote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” And that is a virtue to which we all must strive to attain. Unfortunately, just as humility arrives to takes the stage, pride seeks to usurp his place. So today’s reading is indeed timely and right on target, for Christ Himself was the perfect illuminating example of humility and we are His children, we are the beloved and we should demonstrate this quality to all that cross our path.  

From a prison cell, chained to a Roman guard, Paul sends a greeting letter to his beloved (his fatherly term of endearment) Philippians with some gentle reminders: be unified beloved, be of the same mind beloved, be humble beloved, have a Christ-like attitude beloved. And from that jumping off point, Paul eloquently provides the supreme example in the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, who left heaven to live amongst us. His love was as deep as the ocean is wide, as high as the heavens above yet he forsook all to lay his life down on an old rugged cross. His statement of “I came to serve not to be served” is the supreme example of humility. Because of his example God rewarded him with a name that is above every name and one day all will bow in humility before Him and confess Him as Lord.

And that is why beloved, you and I  are to be working out, not working for, not working in, but working out our salvation with awe and reverence knowing that it is for all for His glory!  And while we are working there should be no grumbling or complaining so that we reflect His glory to others and we will be prepared for the time of His return: blameless and pure. R.C. Sproul says: “To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.” And to that I say AMEN!  Let’s join together and live Coram Deo!



First Church of Philippi (Phil 1)

Who’s Who is a list or a directory of facts about notable people. Think that the Philippian congregation would qualify? Let’s take a look behind the scenes. Paul had prayed to go to Asia but God sent Asia to Paul in the form of not a man but a woman; the outsider, a seller of purple named Lydia. She was a God-fearer but like Cornelius prayed and perhaps gave alms. She knew that God was there but had no connection as to who He was, is or would be in her life. Secondly, was the girl bound by demons who followed Paul around the city streets and brought much profit to the ones who owned her “soul.” Through a miracle of God through Paul she was released from this bondage and as a result her owners became outraged. Seizing Paul and Silas, ordered by the magistrates to be beaten, Paul now meets the third to be congregant, the Philippian jailer. On the payroll of Rome, the jailer was responsible for each and every prisoner given into his care and Paul fit the bill of one of those notorious criminals, beaten and put in chains. Paul was a high-level criminal. God has a way of bringing people into our lives that we would otherwise not even have the opportunity to meet. And these made up the First Church of Philippi, the church that was marked by one full-fledged character trait of “joy in the midst of suffering.”

These are the ones, now as faithful believers, have provided for Paul in a Roman prison. It is these that Paul has confidence in that God has begun a good work and He will be faithful to complete it. It is these that Paul calls partners, who have participated with him in the work. It is these that have filled Paul’s heart with an overflowing sense of love. It is these that Paul yearns to show his affection. And it is these that Paul’s pen overflows with thoughts of prayer and thanksgiving.

Paul writes: I am praying even now for you that your love abound more and more in knowledge and in discernment so that you can make wise decisions and be found blameless at the coming of Jesus Christ. May your conduct be Christ-worthy! May you stand firm! May you contend for the faith of the gospel! May you not feel intimidated by any who bring opposition to you! May you see any suffering as your badge of honor!

As I sit around my new church I wonder who makes up this congregation? Where do they come from? Where are they spiritually? What is their background? I listen to their prayer requests and wonder. I wonder about myself as well. Here I am, the outsider like Lydia. Will I fit in? Do I carry my baggage with me from church to church like the demoniac girl, freed but still has the baggage of what was. Or am I like the jailer who fears authority?

Where did I come from? What is my heart following? Am I like Paul and thankful for each one and for the path I cross with them? This is harder than I realized and this is the first time I am having problems adjusting to a new congregation. I can’t seem to find my niche and I find I am much like Lydia, the demoniac and the jailer. I fear making a mistake. I wonder, I wonder….and I need the reminder to stand firm…stand tall, be confident that God has begun a good work in me and He will complete it. Image




2Thess 3: St. Steadfast meets St. Sluggard Sloth!

ImageThroughout the letters to the Thessalonians Paul identified two groups of people that made up the church:  St. Steadfast and St. Sluggard Sloth. St. Steadfast are the prayer warriors, the workers, enthusiastic, the church’s “Energizer Bunnies.” And then there are the St. Sluggard Sloths. These are the “shirkers” who take but do not give, and are, to use Paul’s words, unruly, undisciplined, idle, busybodies. They are always discussing work but never getting around to it. Paul has some strong words! St. Steadfast; separate and do not associate with St. Sluggard Sloth! In the first letter Paul admonished them to use discipline but now Paul says they have become like an infectious disease which if left untreated will affect work, countenance, and productivity. St. Sluggard Sloth’s are not your enemy but rather are in need of prescriptive help., Apply the ointment of tough love so that the body is whole not fractured. Wise counsel!

In Dr. Henry Morris’ blog post “When we Abide in Christ” speaks to St. Steadfast. He basically said: stand firm, endure, continue, and remain. Apply the ointment of abiding so that you are not infected by the “sloth disease.”

Father, help us to remain steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work You have chosen for each one of us. May we be discerning regarding the sloths in our midst and admonish them, encourage them, woo them back into the fold.


Ps 44/45 “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back…”

ImageCircumstances come and go, some are beneficial and others are disastrous. We face our ups and our downs and the psalmist of old lived a life with the same problems as we face today. Sometimes we feel like we are taking one step forward and then retreating by taking two steps backward.Where is God in all of this you say? We are not alone but instead God is carrying us through all the ups and downs, the steps we take into the future as well as the times we are having to step back. We should be asking: ‘where is my focus,’ is it on the circumstances of life or on God who “changeth not.” In Romans 8, Paul tells us 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

As the psalmist considers “life,” he reminds God of His past faithfulness.  That is how I need to be considering all of my life’s “adventures.”  In fact, God is pleased when we remind Him of His promises and His past faithfulness to us.

As the psalmist we too can remember and rehearse what God has done in the past. He saved them and He saved me. But now it seems like I am in an impasse with enemies surrounding me. They could be circumstances, it could be any number of things. As God chooses He can route the enemies but some times like the psalmist it seems like God has chosen to not do so. Where is God when we face yet a new adversary/problem? We need to remind ourselves that God is where He was when He surfaced last time. He changes not! He is still there. It may seem as if He is silent and absent. That is how the world views God, one who is the watchmaker who completed creation and left it to tick on its own. Yet the psalmist does not have this outlook on his God and neither should I or you.  Instead, the psalmist comes to God boldly, “Why are you asleep God? Wake up!, Do not reject us! Why do you look the other way? Why are you ignoring us? Rise up and help us!”   These are bold statements and questions. Should we be so bold? Listen to the author of Hebrews: Heb 4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.


Today, as you walk and talk and face your one step forwards and two steps back, keep your focus on Him who changeth not, on the boldness you have in Christ as you walk by the Spirit, are led by the Spirit and live by the Spirit. Remember, God is right there beside you and you may not see Him or notice Him but He is right there. Cry out to God and listen for His answer back and as of old God will remind us: Jer 31:3 In a far-off land the Lord will manifest himself to them. He will say to them, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you.