Word on Wednesday

The Power of Ingratitude

“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”  Exodus 13:21
Did you ever notice how God becomes just what we need from Him in any given moment?
Perhaps you haven’t noticed. Maybe, like the Israelites, you reap the benefit of His presence without ever giving it much thought. They were often so preoccupied by what they lacked, they didn’t appreciate what they were given. Instead of thanking God for His rich provision, they grumbled.
In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:2-3
Really? They spent their time in Egypt sitting around pots of meat? Isn’t it amazing how quickly the human mind forgets and distorts. Perhaps you’d like to see what caused God to send Moses to get them out of Egypt in the first place.
The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. Exodus 2:23-25
God added these words when He called Moses from the burning bush.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying […]

Redeeming Love

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” John 13:7 ESV
I need to be honest with you. The last few weeks have been hard. People I love are hurting. Amid the usual struggles of life’s joys and hardships, loss and heartache have descended in a torrent.
A friend and sister servant in ministry at my church received a call recently that shattered her world. Her beautiful 23-year-old daughter had gone to sleep the night before like she did every other night. Only this time, she never woke up—at least not here. She closed her eyes to the blackness of this earth and opened them to the splendor of heaven and the beautiful face of Jesus.
Unimaginably wonderful for her. Devastatingly sorrowful for those left to grieve her.
Two other families close to me have lost loved ones to the ravages of cancer. And I recently received word that the disease has come calling on one of my dear family members for a second time.
Our human nature begs the answer to a desperate question: Why? Why must the body of Christ endure such pain? How do we reconcile God’s love with so much suffering?
I don’t have an answer, dear one, at least not one that will satisfy. If I did not know my God so well, I might be tempted to question Him myself.
But I do know Him well. I know the tenderness of His love. I know His comfort in my own brokenness. I know He is faithful, and I know His Word remains true.
I also know He wastes nothing and intends to bring a good work from every pain.
I recently read this quote from Christian philosopher Dallas […]

Live Your Freedom

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
On Friday we celebrate freedom from oppression, liberty purchased for us by the blood of those who came before. I am so thankful for their sacrifice, and for their part in establishing this great country where we can live in the freedom of democracy.
As we pause to reflect on our liberty, may we also remember another who bled for our freedom: the precious Son who gave His life as a ransom for many. Jesus suffered the cross so that you and I could live free.
Are you free, dear one? Have you left behind the shackles of past hurts? Are you still locked in the bondage of controlling sin? Beloved, Jesus shed His blood to purchase your release.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1
We live in uncertain times. The face of liberty has changed in the United States of America. Perhaps you share concern over the direction our once great nation appears to be headed. Take heart! Hope looms on the horizon. Its power rests within hearts of the redeemed.
Consider God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14,
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
What if we celebrated this […]

The Word, the Rock, and the Gates of Hell

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Matthew 16:18 ESV
I’d love to see Christ’s church prevail against the gates of hell. Wouldn’t you?
In days when we see evil advancing—where atrocities set before us in the news turn our stomachs and vulgarities have become commonplace—this promise from Jesus to His eager, bungling disciple offers hope.
But do we actually expect to see it? Do we view this promise as a present hope? Or have we relegated Jesus’ words to a future assurance we won’t see realized until His return?
Beloved, what if you and I could see that prevailing church advancing in our day? What if we really did have the power to set the kingdom of evil on its heels and smash its gates?
Jesus spoke those words to Peter on a pivotal day in history, the day he first proclaimed Jesus to be, “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (verse 16).
Well done, Peter. That day, at least, he got it right. Stumbling, precocious Peter boldly proclaimed what he knew in his heart to be true. Jesus was the Promised One heralded in the Old Testament. The Christ had come. The Kingdom had come. And things would change forever.
Indeed, they did, just not exactly in the way they had expected. The army of the Kingdom of God advanced, but not against the reigning Roman government as the people had hoped. Instead, Jesus loosed His army to victoriously trample an unseen spiritual foe, the force behind the present evils they suffered.
Dear one, Jesus offers that same invitation to us today. But like the majority of Jews in Jesus’ […]

A Wolf Among the Sheep

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1 ESV
My heart stirred when I read that verse the other day over my morning coffee. There’s nothing quite like Jesus’ love. He poured it out on His disciples while He lived among them, and “…He loved them to the end.”
Sadly, they didn’t all love Him in return. The very next verse ushers in the unthinkable.
During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:2-5
I wonder how Judas felt as Jesus knelt before him to wash his feet. Did his heart race as Jesus tenderly dipped them in the basin? I wonder if Jesus gazed into his face, eyes blazing with the love He felt for him.
His betrayal must have burned within his soul, and yet Judas still left the table to sell his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.
It seems impossible to us, but the truth is, any one of us could easily be him.
Dear one, I doubt that Judas set out to betray Jesus in the beginning. He probably began his […]

Are You God’s Friend?

I am a friend of God.
You’ve probably heard songs making that bold claim. You may have even sung them in worship on Sunday morning. It’s a wonderful concept, and I love the reminder that God is approachable and seeking relationship. But I wonder if God’s definition of friendship matches ours.
Are you really living as God’s friend?
Only a handful of people received the distinction of being called God’s friend in Scripture. Abraham earned the recognition first, followed by Moses. You’ll notice that God used both in mighty ways to bring about His plan for this earth.
Through Abraham God created a nation, a people group He called out from the world to become His own. Through Moses, God delivered that people from slavery in Egypt and led them to the banks of their promised inheritance. God revealed His miraculous power through each of them, their faith in what God told them becoming a catalyst to release His glory.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. James 2:23 NIV
Along with their amazing exploits of faith, both of them share the distinction of having direct communication with God. Exodus 33:11 tells us, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” God consistently spoke to both of them, and they each responded to what they heard with faithful obedience.
I have to ask, dear one. How does the description fit so far? Are you allowing God to use you in mighty ways to further His Kingdom? Do you speak with Him face to face and allow Him to whisper direction into your life? When you hear […]

An Invitation to Pray

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly . . . and the Lord remembered her. 1 Samuel 1:10, 19
It’s 6:30am on Wednesday morning. Blog day.

I should have something ready to post, but I don’t. I started writing a teaching for you last week—a message on friendship with Jesus—but I never finished it. The hours I set aside to complete it were interrupted by a phone call. Instead, I spent my afternoon with a friend in the Emergency Room.

Perhaps you’ll get to read it next Wednesday.

To be honest with you, I could have finished it up last night, but that would have meant missing my son’s soccer game. And I didn’t want to miss it. Sometimes moms just need to be moms first, especially on the hard days.

You see, people I love are hurting. I’m not talking about my immediate family. I mean my church family. Dear friends of mine are struggling with some hard things. Big things. Things that desperately need God’s touch—like finances, rebellious sons, and cancer.

It’s hard watching people you love struggle. At times the feeling of helplessness seems overwhelming—and that’s just what the enemy wants us to feel. But then I’m reminded that in Christ we are never helpless. We have a powerful gift at our disposal, one that we often take for granted . . . or use as a last resort.

We have prayer.

I believe God wants to teach us a few things about prayer. I mean, if we’re going to be honest, it doesn’t really make sense to us. How can speaking a few words really do anything?

But you and I were created in the image of a God who speaks things into being. He […]

Have You Heard Your Word From God?

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” Genesis 15:4 NIV
I imagine you’ve probably experienced the dull ache of a longing unfulfilled. Life disappoints all of us at some point or another. Some things just hurt worse than others.
Scripture describes the result of those unfulfilled longings in Proverbs 13:12.
 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
God spoke our opening Scripture to Abraham at a time when his heart ached over a hope that burned within him but hadn’t been realized. He had longed for an heir, and he was starting to have a few doubts about God’ plan for him.
Perhaps you’re familiar with Abraham’s story. The God of glory had appeared to him years before and made a request.
 “Leave your country and your people,” God said, “and go to the land I will show you.” So he left . . . Acts 7:3-4
I wonder how many of us would have been willing to give up everything to follow a God no one else believed in or served. Abraham remained completely alone in his allegiance, and yet he left the life he knew to follow the God he had met.
God must have made quite an impression on him.
As is always the case, God’s command to Abraham came with the promise of blessing.
 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12:2-3
Not a bad promise! […]

Death: The Door to Life

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24
Death scares most of us. We spend the majority of our lives trying to avoid it. And no wonder. Death represents an end, ceasing to exist in the way we’ve known. What follows is unfamiliar territory. And most of us prefer the comfort of familiarity, even when what’s familiar to us isn’t all that great.
Like the way we feel about our sinful nature.
We don’t want to let go of it; it’s what we know.
It deceives us. It hurts us. It even harms the people we love. But we can’t fathom life without it. We fear the death of it more than we fear the pain it causes. So we rebel against Jesus’ command to crucify it.
Yet Jesus forever changed what death means for us as believers. He came to the earth and shared in our humanity,
. . . so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15
In Christ, we should no longer fear death. Jesus has conquered its power! Instead, He asks us to embrace it. Even seek it.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
Jesus challenges us to lose our lives for Him.
We read those words and our […]

Shining Like Stars

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  Matthew 5:14-15
Jesus called you and me the light of the world. It only makes sense, really, since He is the “the true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9) and now He dwells within us. As His body, saved and redeemed by His blood, He asks us to shine His light. And according to Matthew 5, that light should never remain hidden. Instead, it should light up the sky like a city on a hill.
Do you shine, dear one? Are you giving Jesus what He asked for?
I can’t help thinking of the song I used to sing as a little girl in Sunday school. We’d proudly hold up our hands with fingers pointing toward the heavens and proclaim, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”
But it didn’t shine. I never let it out.
We often make the mistake of trying to act like Jesus. We think we shine His light by imitating what He would do. Only we don’t have the strength to act like Him all the time, so that inner “self” we try to hide through our good behavior reveals itself more often than we’d like it to. And the watching world looks at our version of Christianity and calls it hypocrisy.
Can we really blame them?

You and I aren’t supposed to act like light, dear one. Jesus intends for us to become light.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so […]