Word on Wednesday

The Measure You Use

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:24-25
Jesus had a way with words.
He never wasted them. And each word He spoke still carries life and power within it.
So it should cause us to press in close when He prefaces His Words with, “Pay attention to what you hear.” All of Jesus’ words hold great significance. But these He wants to make sure we don’t miss.
“With the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Here’s the truth, beloved. God gives to us according to the measure that we use.
If you and I don’t acknowledge and use what we have for His glory, it can never grow. We will only experience increase when we use whatever portion He’s given.
And Jesus reveals another uncomfortable truth in those verses, dear one. If we don’t use the measures of grace He’s given us to multiply them, He will take them away.
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ parable about the talents.
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” Matthew 25:14-15
You may be […]

The Best of Intentions

And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” Joshua 24:24 ESV
I believe the people of Israel meant it when they said it. In that glorious moment as they stood together ready to claim His promises, they fully intended to live by God’s commands.
But Israel had one huge, consistent problem. They didn’t do it. Over and over they promised obedience to God but didn’t follow through.
Can you relate, dear one? Do you ever notice that our intentions often remain just that? Very often they become nothing more than things we intended to do.
Especially when it comes to our commitment to God.
Either in moments of sudden clarity or from hopeless desperation, we make God all kinds of promises. And when the words leave our lips, we usually mean them. We have every intention of following through on our commitment. The trouble is, we often don’t.
Within the safety of our church walls, we readily take a stand and commit ourselves to our King. It gets a little harder, however, when we walk out the door and have to stand strong in the world.
Israel knows all about that struggle. Time after time, the people stood together and promised their allegiance to God. And time after time, their resolve quickly faded as their hearts wandered from Him toward their own foolish desires.
Their entry into their Promised Land marked one of those times. After dividing the land between the clans and sending them off to possess it, Joshua, their leader, spoke these words.
“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness . . . choose this day whom you will serve . . . But […]

Whose Side Are You On?

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” Joshua 5:13 ESV
We all want God on our side. In fact, we often claim He is without ever bothering to ask Him. We assume we have the power of His Name behind us, fighting for what we believe.
But the real question, dear one, isn’t whether God stands on our side. It’s whether we stand on His.
Joshua discovered that when he faced the commander of God’s army outside Jericho. The question left his lips in hopeful anticipation. “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” His response brought Joshua to his knees.
And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” Joshua 5:14
Essentially the angel told him, “I’m not for you or your enemy. I fight for the Lord.” In that moment Joshua humbly asked the only question he could ask, the one each of us should be asking.
“What does my lord say to his servant?”
You and I want to be on God’s side, beloved. When we are, we have the full power of His might behind us. Joshua’s trust in God’s words collapsed the walls of an impenetrable city, giving the people of Israel their first victory in their Promised Land. Our trust in God’s words will secure our victories as well.
But look at what happens when we […]

Proven and True

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV
Our human nature seeks the quick fix. We want the path of least resistance, the easy way out. So we’ve convinced ourselves that walking an aisle or praying a magic prayer ensures our salvation.
But what if there’s more? What if 1 Corinthians 4:2 actually means what it says?
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (NIV)
Beloved, what if professing faith in Jesus Christ is more than just a simple, one-time commitment? What if what matters most isn’t how we begin but how we finish?
Consider Paul’s words to Timothy, found in our opening scripture.
If we endure, we will also reign with him.
Jesus also declared on two separate occasions while describing the difficulties that will come in the world,
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22, 24:13
The writer of Hebrews agreed.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36
Do you notice the consistent theme popping up in these verses, beloved? You and I need to endure. It doesn’t matter how sincere we thought we were when we started. Even Judas appeared sincere to the other disciples. What matters is how we finish the race.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
Paul didn’t write those words for his own benefit, dear one. The Holy Spirit […]

A Distinct Salvation

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 ESV
The world keeps changing.
And society continues to redefine itself right along with it. Yet in the midst of our continually evolving world, one thing remains constant.
“I the Lord do not change.” Malachi 3:6
As much as you and I may feel inclined to redefine God to suit who we want Him to be, He doesn’t change. And scripture is clear. Though everything else may fade away, His Word will endure. Eventually, it will prove itself true, and no one will be able to deny it.
So you and I have a choice to make, dear one. Will we draw near to God, stand on His Word, and reap the blessings of the faithful? Or will we allow society to redefine our beliefs and suffer the consequences?
That’s right. Turning our backs on God’s Word will bring consequences. Always. They may not be immediate, but they always come. That’s why Jesus told the deceiver,
“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
Did you catch that, dear one? Jesus said every word. If you and I want to really live, we need to trust what God says.
You see, whether or not it’s presently popular to believe it, God’s Word remains true. Infallible. Flawless. And not just the convenient parts or the scriptures that suit our agendas. It’s all true.
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. Psalm 119:160, emphasis mine
Partial truth deceives, dear one. We need the whole of it. And that’s what has brought us so much trouble. We’ve tried to […]

A Perfect Promise

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
I realize I may have already lost you with our opening scripture. Perfect is a far too potent word. We’re comfortable using it to describe our Savior and what awaits us in heaven, but we certainly don’t want to apply it to us in the here and now.
And yet, the words before us emerged from Jesus’ lips during His Sermon on the Mount.
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48, emphasis mine
Yep. Jesus said it. Right after He instructed us to love our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. … For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:43-46, emphasis mine
According to Jesus, anyone can love those who love in return. Sons and daughters of God, however, will also love their enemies. And not just love them, but advocate for them through prayer. Then He sums up His teaching with a charge to be perfect, in the same way that our heavenly Father is perfect.
That’s a pretty tall order, don’t you think? Jesus couldn’t possibly have meant perfect. After all, perfection is impossible, an unattainable goal.
Perhaps this is a good time to ponder another of Jesus’ statements.
“All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23
Beloved, what we find impossible, Jesus makes possible.

And He commands us to love perfectly—not just our friends, but our […]