Matthew 23-25 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He’s returning for those who are looking for Him

I remember an expression from the 1970’s that appropriately fits our reading today – “That’s heavy, man, heavy,” an evaluation not referring to the weight of something in pounds, but to the weight of its importance and impact.  In these chapters, Jesus gave weighty information about how He viewed carnal religious leaders, the end times and who would spend eternity with Him.  We don’t have to rely on man’s interpretation or inspiration on these subjects, but we can hear it straight from the Creator’s mouth.

“And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” (24:30-31) Jesus gave a glorious description of His unannounced return for those who accept Him as their Savior, and then shared a series of parables, or examples, to explain just exactly who should expect Him.

“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” (24:37-39) If we truly believe that He is the son of God, there is evidence of it in our lives; and according to His parables, we exhibit this evidence:

  • We are watching for Him. “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming…You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (24:42,44)
  • We are ready for Him – all oiled up and ready to go! “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil.” (25:1-4)
  • We are faithful in the use of our God-given gifts and talents. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!…To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” (25:23,29)
  • We display the compassionate heart of the Father. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” (25:34-36) 

Watching, ready, faithful, compassionate.  I’m challenged today by how the Lord views our readiness to meet Him when He returns. These are weighty matters for consideration. 

Moving forward:  I pray He recognizes me as one of His very own by all that I do and say today. 

Tomorrow @ I Corinthians 3-4

Genesis 8-11 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He knows exactly where we live and remembers us with His blessing

I must admit that I am slightly addicted to Christmas movies, and last month I watched a healthy dose of them and satisfied my craving.  To justify my indulgence, I did a myriad of other things while I watched the same story told over and over again only with different faces and places.  In one story, an adorable little boy was concerned that Santa could not find him on Christmas Eve because he had moved and had no chimney.  Of course, this was no deterrent to Santa who did indeed find the little boy who had waited so patiently for him.  All was well, end of story.

As Christians, we don’t put our hope in mythical figures, but sometimes in our waiting on the Lord for answers or direction in our challenges, we have the same concern that he has somehow forgotten where we live.  The book of Genesis is filled with stories of men in similar positions of waiting – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all waited on the promise of God to be fulfilled in their lives.  Noah was a man of obedience and patience, and today we read how God fulfilled His promise to him. 

@ Genesis 8
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.” (1)  Whew!  After spending over a year confined in a boat with all the family and his menagerie, I would think there may have been a moment when Noah wondered if God had lost track of him; after all, he was on the move.  Finally, at this moment, God chose to fulfill His promise to him – God knew exactly where Noah lived.

Most often in life our walk is stable and certain, but there may come a time when our address changes.  It may not change in a literal sense, but our life is suddenly filled with uncertainty or struggle and we are not living in the place of security we have always known.  As the weeks turn to months, it’s easy to think that God has missed our move.  But just like with Noah, God knows exactly where we live.

After the rains stopped, Noah moved ahead with anticipation by releasing a dove to test the waters, so to speak.  The dove returned because there was no resting place for it; but Noah sent it out again seven days later, and it returned with a fresh olive leaf – something was happening.  While we wait for God to remember us, to give our need His special touch, we can learn a lesson from the dove.  The dove’s response to its flights told Noah that things were not ready; God’s work was not yet finished.  All the while Noah was waiting in the ark, God was drying up the waters and making ready Noah’s destiny.  And while we wait through our struggle, we can be assured that God is preparing our destiny and His plans “to give us a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Finally, he sent out the dove, and it didn’t return. “Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.’” (15-16)  Then God spoke.  Is there anything sweeter than when God speaks?  When the struggle has ended, His plan is revealed and we step out on dry ground?

Whatever uncertainty we are facing, whatever struggle we are going through, we can count on one thing – God knows where we live.  While we wait, we can know that He is working on our behalf, preparing our future.  Something is happening, and when the time is right, He will speak.  And like Noah, we won’t complain about the weeks or months of struggle.  No, we will build an altar, an altar of praise and thanksgiving to the One who knows exactly where we live.

Moving Forward:  Is that…is that an olive leaf I see? 

Tomorrow @ Joshua 11-15

Genesis 4-7 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He is merciful

I have in my possession an afghan that I started to crochet in the mid-1980’s, my very first crochet project.  Now over 25 years later, it’s still not finished.  It hurts my pride to admit that I have several similar projects in boxes and drawers, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer craft projects that take five hours or less to complete.  It’s not that I need instant gratification, but if a project takes much longer than that, it’s easy for me to lose interest and move on to something new.  We all have our flaws. With this mindset, I read the account in our scripture today of a man who stayed on task in a project that took more years to complete than most of us have been on the planet.  Hat’s off to Noah – good job!

Speaking of Noah’s project, we’ve read the amazing accounts in the Bible of God parting the Red Sea for the Israelites, causing the great fish to swallow Jonah and cough him out on shore and raising people from the dead.  But, a 500-year-old guy building a ship that was one and a half football fields long and four stories high, no matter how many years it took him, is really astounding.

Noah was quite a guy and is still popular today.  Movies have been made recounting his story, yet I imagine it was considered to be pure fiction by most involved in the making of them.  Those who read the Bible know Noah’s story is mentioned several times in His Word to show the incredible mercy God has extended to His people.

@ Genesis 6
“Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God…Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence…So God said to Noah, ‘I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence…Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out…Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm my covenant with you.’” (9-18)

At the outset, God’s message to Noah did not appear to be incredibly merciful.  To destroy every living thing that breathes, other than Noah, his family and selected animals, is not considered an act of mercy by most.  While trying to justify their unbelief in God, those who consider God to be judgmental and cruel often note the story of Noah and God’s judgment on the earth, asking “How could a loving God…”  He could because He is merciful.

Rather than allowing mankind to perpetuate its gross sin to future generations and be forever lost, God put an end to it, saving a man who was in close fellowship with Him and saving his family.  As we will soon read, God then called a people, His chosen people, to tell the world about Him, but sadly their message was weak and tainted. God ultimately sent His Son to die for us.  Since our beginning in the Garden, God has always given mankind the right to choose to love Him in an intimate relationship. Jesus was the only One worthy to bring us back into the Garden.  God is merciful.

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (22)  Noah obviously endured backbreaking labor – 500 years old, huge ship, decades-long project – while preaching about the impending doom for those who did not follow God. (2 Peter 2:5)  I imagine the ridicule as he built the ship was crushing.  After all, no one had ever seen a raindrop much less a flood, but Noah did not get discouraged and give up nor did he lose interest and put the project aside.  “Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him,” and God was merciful to Noah. 

Moving Forward:  I want to be tenacious like Noah in any project the Lord assigns to me.  I want to be faithful like Noah in my witnessing and in my ministry, whether it is singing in the choir or feeding the hungry.  No matter what the project, I’d love to read, “So Phyllis did everything exactly as God had commanded her.”  Be still my heart. 

Tomorrow @ Joshua 6-10

Matthew 23-25 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He’s returning for those who are looking for Him

I remember an expression from the 1970’s that appropriately fits our reading today – “That’s heavy, man, heavy,” certainly not referring to the weight of it in pounds, but to the weight of its importance and impact.  In these chapters, Jesus gave weighty information about how He viewed carnal religious leaders, the end times and who would spend eternity with Him.  We don’t have to rely on man’s interpretation or inspiration on these subjects, but we can hear it straight from the Creator’s mouth.

“And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” (24:30-31) Jesus gave a glorious description of His unannounced return for those who accept Him as their Savior, and then shared a series of parables, or examples, to explain just exactly who He is returning for.

“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” (24:37-39) If we truly believe that He is the son of God, there is evidence of it in our lives; and according to His parables, we exhibit this evidence:

  • We are watching for Him. “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming…You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (24:42,44)
  • We are ready for Him – all oiled up and ready to go! “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil.” (25:1-4)
  • We are faithful with our God-given gifts and talents. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!…To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” (25:23,29)
  • We display the compassionate heart of the Father. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” (25:34-36) 

Watching, ready, faithful, compassionate.  I’m challenged today by how the Lord views our readiness to meet Him when He returns. Weighty matters for consideration. 

Moving forward:  May He recognize me as one of His very own by all that I do and say today. 

Tomorrow @ I Corinthians 3-4

Genesis 8-11 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He knows exactly where we live and remembers us with His blessing

I must admit that I am slightly addicted to Christmas movies, and last month I watched a healthy dose of them and satisfied my craving.  To justify my indulgence, I did a myriad of other things while I watched the same story told over and over again only with different faces and places.  In one story, an adorable little boy was concerned that Santa could not find him on Christmas Eve because he had moved and had no chimney.  Of course, this was no deterrent to Santa who did indeed find the little boy who had waited so patiently for him.  All was well, end of story.

As Christians, we don’t put our hope in mythical figures, but sometimes in our waiting on the Lord for answers or direction in our challenges, we have the same concern that he has somehow forgotten where we live.  The book of Genesis is filled with stories of men in similar positions of waiting – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all waited on the promise of God to be fulfilled in their lives.  Noah was a man of obedience and patience, and today we read how God fulfilled His promise to him. 

@ Genesis 8
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.” (1)  Whew!  After spending over a year confined in a boat with all the family and his menagerie, I would think there may have been a moment when Noah wondered if God had lost track of him; after all, he was on the move.  Finally, at this moment, God chose to fulfill His promise to him – God knew exactly where Noah lived.

Most often in life our walk is stable and certain, but there may come a time when our address changes.  It may not change in a literal sense, but our life is suddenly filled with uncertainty or struggle and we are not living in the place of security we have always known.  As the weeks turn to months, it’s easy to think that God has missed our move.  But just like with Noah, God knows exactly where we live.

After the rains stopped, Noah moved ahead with anticipation by releasing a dove to test the waters, so to speak.  The dove returned because there was no resting place for it; but Noah sent it out again seven days later, and it returned with a fresh olive leaf – something was happening.  While we wait for God to remember us, to give our need His special touch, we can learn a lesson from the dove.  The dove’s response to its flights told Noah that things were not ready; God’s work was not yet finished.  All the while Noah was waiting in the ark, God was drying up the waters and making ready Noah’s destiny.  And while we wait through our struggle, we can be assured that God is preparing our destiny and His plans “to give us a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Finally, he sent out the dove, and it didn’t return. “Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.’” (15-16)  Then God spoke.  Is there anything sweeter than when God speaks?  When the struggle has ended, His plan is revealed and we step out on dry ground?

Whatever uncertainty we are facing, whatever struggle we are going through, we can count on one thing – God knows where we live.  While we wait, we can know that He is working on our behalf, preparing our future.  Something is happening, and when the time is right, He will speak.  And like Noah, we won’t complain about the weeks or months of struggle.  No, we will build an altar, an altar of praise and thanksgiving to the One who knows exactly where we live.

Moving Forward:  Is that…is that an olive leaf I see? 

Tomorrow @ Joshua 11-15

Genesis 4-7 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He is merciful

I have in my possession an afghan that I started to crochet in the mid 1980’s, my very first crochet project.  Now over 25 years later, it’s still not finished.  It hurts my pride to admit that I have several similar projects in boxes and drawers, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer craft projects that take five hours or less to complete.  It’s not that I need instant gratification, but if a project takes much longer than that, it’s easy for me to lose interest and move on to something new.  We all have our flaws. With this mindset, I read the account in our scripture today of a man who stayed on task in a project that took more years to complete than most of us have been on the planet.  Hat’s off to Noah – good job!

Speaking of Noah’s project, we’ve read the amazing accounts in the Bible of God parting the Red Sea for the Israelites, causing the great fish to swallow Jonah and cough him out on shore and raising people from the dead.  But, a 500 year-old guy building a ship that was one and a half football fields long and four stories high, no matter how many years it took him, is really astounding.

Noah was quite a guy and is still popular today.  Movies have been made recounting his story, yet I imagine they were considered by most involved in them as stories based on pure fiction.  Those who read the Bible know Noah’s story is mentioned several times in His Word to show the incredible mercy God has extended to His people.

@ Genesis 6
“Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God…Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence…So God said to Noah, ‘I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence…Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out…Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm my covenant with you.’” (9-18)

At the outset, God’s message to Noah did not appear to be incredibly merciful.  Destroying every living thing that breathes other than Noah, his family and selected animals is not considered an act of mercy by most.  While trying to justify their unbelief in God, those who consider God to be judgmental and cruel often note the story of Noah and God’s judgment on the earth, asking “How could a loving God…”  He could because He is merciful.

Rather than allowing mankind to perpetuate its gross sin to future generations and be forever lost, God put an end to it, saving a man who was in close fellowship with Him and saving his family.  As we will soon read, God then called a people, His chosen people, to tell the world about Him, but sadly their message was weak and tainted. God ultimately sent His Son to die for us.  Since our beginning in the Garden, God has always given mankind the right to choose loving Him in an intimate relationship. Jesus was the only One worthy to bring us back into the Garden.  God is merciful.

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (22)  Noah obviously endured backbreaking labor – 500 years old, huge ship, decades-long project – while preaching about the impending doom for those who did not follow God. (2 Peter 2:5)  I imagine the ridicule as he built the ship was crushing.  After all no one had ever seen a raindrop much less a flood, but Noah did not get discouraged and give up nor did he lose interest and put his project aside.  “Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him,” and God was merciful to Noah. 

Moving Forward:  I want to be tenacious like Noah in any project the Lord assigns to me.  I want to be faithful like Noah in my witnessing and in my ministry, whether it is singing in the choir or feeding the hungry.  No matter what the project, I’d love to read, “So Phyllis did everything exactly as God had commanded her.”  Be still my heart. 

Tomorrow @ Joshua 6-10