Word on Wednesday

Ready to Bloom

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3
I love spring.
And I have to admit, I’m a little more eager for it this year. We’ve had a very long, very cold, very gray winter. I’m ready to feel the warmth of the sun. I think creation would agree.
Yet even now hope emerges with the promise of new life. Green blades have begun to penetrate the brown blanket of lawn. Beautiful red buds have emerged on my maple trees. What has lain dormant and barren stands ready to bloom in full force.
My heart bursts with anticipation. Change is coming.
I sense the same promise looming on the horizon for the church, dear one. What has appeared dormant and lifeless is about to spring to life, bursting with beauty.
Can you sense it? The Spirit of God calls us to awaken from our slumber and rise to release the new life Jesus loosed on the cross.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3
I’m ready to see it. Aren’t you? I long to witness the glory of the Lord evident upon His people. Light will penetrate the darkness, and many will be drawn to the brightness of our rising.
But here’s the catch, beloved. You and I can’t penetrate darkness while our hearts remain […]

The Heart of a Betrayer

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 NIV
Never forget, dear one. No one took Jesus’ life from Him. He laid it down. Evil men may have plotted and schemed, but they held no power over God’s Son. Everything He suffered, He allowed.
The perfect, sinless, Son endured so much for you and me. He faced rejection, ridicule, beatings and flogging. Nails pierced His hands and feet, fastening Him to the cross of our shame. Jesus became the very curse He would conquer, all for one very specific purpose.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Beloved, Jesus became sin so that you and I could become righteousness.
I hope you haven’t missed that part.
Jesus didn’t surrender Himself to the cross just to keep you out of hell, dear one. He gave up His life so He could get hell out of you. He purposed to redeem your character from the enemy’s influence and recreate you into the image of God.
Do you bear God’s image, dear one? Do you love compassionately, compelled to give of yourself? Or are you more like the prince of this world, driven to take for yourself?
We’d be wise to consider the question carefully. You see, we can do our best to look like God from the outside, but if our heart doesn’t resemble His, eventually we’ll self-destruct.
Judas learned that lesson the hard way. Let’s take a look at the event that sent him to the chief priests to betray Jesus.
And […]

Wealth Without Sorrow

The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22
Have you ever noticed how sorrow seems to attach itself to the riches of this world? If you haven’t noticed, dear one, perhaps you should.
It’s time we get wise to the scheme and stop buying in. The prince of this world would tell us that money buys happiness. It doesn’t. When we look closely at those who have laid claim to the world’s riches, we rarely find the happiness it promises.
Instead, we find sorrow. Brokenness. Heartache. Depression. Addiction. Hatred. Loneliness.
Yet for some reason, we still believe the lie. We still long for the blessing of the world and seek its riches.
What if we just decided to stop believing it? What if, instead, we sought the blessing of the Lord?
Here’s God’s promise, dear one. His blessing will make you rich, and it comes with no sorrow attached.
The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22
Wouldn’t you love a little wealth free from sorrow?
Jesus provides that, dear one. He longs to make us rich. But the wealth of God isn’t limited to dollar signs as the world’s is. It’s all encompassing. He desires to make your relationships rich. He wants to enrich your marriages and overwhelm them with joy. He wants to make singleness rich, and even bring joy from your work.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, dear one, God longs to enrich.
He is the fullness of joy, and He longs to enhance our lives as we experience the blessing of who He is. But His purpose is even greater than that. He wants His blessing to so overtake and fill us that it […]

The Sacred Portion

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! 1 Chronicles 16:29
Last week we looked at God’s desire to be first in our lives. He deserves first place, beloved. After all, you and I wouldn’t even be here without Him. He gives life and provides every good thing.
I think you’ll find that He will never agree to be second.
And He has established by His Word that those who honor Him first will walk in the bounty of His blessing.
Is He first in your life, dear one? Does your life center around Him and His purpose?
Perhaps you’re wondering how to put God first. It’s simple, really. We put God first when we honor and trust His Word.
When you and I seek to know and understand God’s heart through His Word and choose to live by the principles He reveals, we begin to live by faith. And faith, dear one, opens the door to His marvelous grace.
Today we’ll focus on one particular principle woven throughout scripture: the sacred portion.
Let’s begin by establishing a truth I pray you already know.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1
As the Creator of all things, everything belongs to God. Yet He chose to do something remarkable.
The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. Psalm 115:16
God created a world by the breath of His mouth, and then gave it to the people He formed from the dust of its surface. He handed us authority (Genesis 1:26), allowing us to choose whether we’d walk with Him and live in His promises, or whether we would discover the hardship of life […]

The First and Only

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
God has this thing about being first.
You can’t blame Him, really. After all, He is the First. And the Last. And He’s everything in between.
“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together. Isaiah 48:12-13
The God who IS —who existed before time and created all things—longs for us to recognize His preeminence. And to honor it.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
God created us to live in relationship with Him, fully dependent on Him as our source.
Source of what, you may ask? Of everything.
God gives life and He takes it. He commands the sun and the moon. He spins the earth on its axis. He created and governs time. He is our source of love, joy, peace and security. He gives and maintains health. He causes the rain to fall and the ground to produce so we can have food to eat. He gives us the ability to prosper.
Beloved, God simply asks for us to recognize His role.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:16-17 NIV
Every good thing we long for can only come from God. And He longs to bless us with those perfect gifts. But to receive from God, we must acknowledge […]

Soiled Garments

Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. Revelation 3:4 ESV
You might be surprised at how many times scripture references clothes. Particularly washed clothes.
We find our opening scripture in Jesus’ address to one of the seven churches in Revelation, penned by the apostle John. John opens the book with a blessing included in no other book of scripture.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3
I don’t know about you, but I could handle a little blessing. After all, the opposite of blessing is still cursing. And God declared that those who hear and keep His words written in Revelation are blessed.
Are you listening?
Since God has captured my attention with garments, we will focus today on Jesus’ words to the church in Sardis.
He begins His address with some unsettling words.
“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1
Do you know your reputation, dear one? What do those who know you believe about you? Does it match what God sees?
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27-28.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Jesus shows great concern that our outward appearance matches our inner reality. That shouldn’t surprise us, really, when we […]

Are You Getting Dressed?

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
Today we press in close to Jesus as He tells the parable of the wedding feast. I’ll warn you, dear one. You may want to prepare your heart. Our story takes a rather unpleasant turn.
Jesus begins by comparing the kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. Only when he sent his servants to call the invited guests, they refused to come.
The patient king then sent additional servants commanding them to tell those invited,
“See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” Matthew 22:4
Again the king received a disappointing response.
But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. (verses 5-6)
The invited guests were too busy with their own lives to bother with what the king had planned for them. They rejected him, ignoring his invitation, and focused instead on their own means of prospering themselves. Some of them even mistreated and harmed the people the king had sent to bless them.
Put yourself in the story, beloved.
I can’t help wondering how many times our King has invited us to dine with Him but we’ve denied His request. Think about it. He hand delivers an invitation marked with your name, only […]

Do You Know What You Have?

“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 4:25
Recently God captured my attention with a portion of scripture from Acts 3.
It begins with Peter and John heading to the temple at the hour of prayer. As they were about to enter, a man who had been lame from birth asked them for money. Peter responded with something the man did not expect.
And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. Acts 3:4-5
I wonder how many times this man had lived this very scene. Verse 2 reveals that he was carried and laid daily at the temple gate to ask for alms. I imagine the monotony of the routine left him with little expectation. I wonder how many temple visitors passed by pretending not to see him. Still others may have tossed him a coin without ever actually looking at his face.
And yet this day, Peter and John gazed right at him and asked him to do the same. “Look at us.” Their response got his attention, stirring the lame man’s heart with hopeful expectation. These two would surely provide him something.
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Acts 3:6-7
I can only imagine what the man must have thought in that life-changing moment. He […]

Why Do You Love Jesus?

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
A friend of mine once shared a story with me about a visit to her son’s elementary school for parent visitation day.
A little girl in his class had her turn as the “star of the day” and was given the opportunity to share some things about herself with the other students. After telling some stories about a few fun adventures she’d experienced, she finished by adding, “And I love Jesus.”
Caught off-guard by this bold declaration, my friend rejoiced inwardly that this child had been able to proclaim her love for Jesus in the public school! Anxious to see what would happen next, she watched as the little girl selected three students from the class to ask her one additional question.
One child wanted to hear more about her trip to Disney World. A young boy asked about the NFL game she’d mentioned. And then the last little girl surprised my friend by raising the curious question, “Why do you love Jesus?”
All eyes rested on the star of the day. Why, indeed? A hush fell over the room as both the children and the visiting parents waited to hear her answer.
The hush grew to a tense silence, her unanswered question hanging in the air on pins and needles. No reply followed. The star could find no words to speak in response.
Moments passed before the teacher finally redirected the conversation and brought her time of sharing to a close. And what of the little girl who wondered […]

Breakfast of Champions

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
Jesus made a powerful statement in our opening scripture. Perhaps you should read it again.
According to Jesus, every word that God speaks remains as integral to our survival as the food we eat. We can’t live without His words.
Do you believe Him?
Perhaps I should point out that Jesus said every word. Not just the ones we like, or the ones that first brought us to salvation. All of them. Even the ones we haven’t bothered to read.
Here’s the truth straight from the mouth of Jesus, dear one. You and I can’t live on food and water alone and thrive. If we want to sustain real life, we also need to feed on the Word of God.
Which is precisely why the enemy convinces us we don’t need it.
I imagine you’re familiar with his tactics. Have you ever felt an oppressive feeling rise up in you when someone suggested you needed to spend more time in the Word—as if the idea of spending time with Jesus was burdensome? Perhaps when you have a busy day the first thing you naturally tend to cut out is your quiet time. You don’t really need it, after all, and you need to accomplish the rest of the things on your list.
Do you know where those thoughts and feelings come from, dear one? From a deceiver who desires to render the people of God powerless.
Take a moment to ponder Psalm 138:2.
I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above […]