Word on Wednesday

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 […]

Playing in the Sand

“ . . . But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:12
In case this is news to you, let me make something very clear: Satan knows he has been defeated. You should know it too.
In the great battle between good and evil, victory has already been declared in heaven. Satan and his demons have been cast down to the earth and rendered powerless by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:7-11).
You and I aren’t waiting to see who wins this thing, dear one. It’s been decided. Now we wait to see the victory God accomplished in heaven realized on this earth.
Perhaps this is a good time to remind you how Jesus taught us to pray.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10
The enemy knows full well that one day his defeat will become abundantly evident here on earth as well. So in the meantime, he has set his fury on the one thing that can hinder his movement and power here. He comes with a vengeance against Christ’s bride, the church.
Why? Because of what Jesus declared in Matthew 16:18.
“ . . . and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Notice that Jesus didn’t say that hell would not prevail against Him. He clearly states that His church will secure the victory, a church built on this rock.
It seems appropriate to ask a significant question: Upon what rock will Christ build His prevailing church?
Let’s check the context of Jesus’ statement. He had just asked His […]

The Full Rights of Sons

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Galatians 4:1 ESV
A few weeks ago, our opening scripture took hold of me in my quiet time. I haven’t been able to let go of it. I don’t think Jesus wants me to.
You see, you and I are children of God—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)— entitled to the full riches of our inheritance upon maturity.
But we have refused to grow up. So we’re living as slaves instead of heirs.
Jesus wants to see us live out the riches of our inheritance. He lovingly demonstrated this to a woman suffering under a disabling spirit.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. Luke 13:10-13
Take a moment to picture the woman with me. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself (verse 11).
Perhaps the image hits a little close to home. Have you known oppression so heavy it seemed you couldn’t straighten under its weight? I have. And I experienced it as a believer.
I need you to notice something about this woman. She didn’t approach Jesus for her healing. He called her to Him.
I wonder, dear one. Had she so resolved herself to her situation that it didn’t even occur to […]

You’re Not Who You Think You Are

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
My heart hurts for the body of Christ. We’re going to church and doing our best to put on the joy of Jesus. But the vast majority of believers I encounter aren’t living out the victory God promises in His Word. We feel crushed under the weight of oppression, and sometimes our lives seem more marked by defeat than the lost we’re trying to save.
Something’s wrong with that picture, if you ask me. Very wrong.
You and I are supposed to be living, breathing, shining examples of what the power of God can do in a life. So what’s keeping us from the inheritance scripture claims is ours?
I can offer a guess. I think it’s the same thing that kept the Israelites from theirs.
So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19
Simple unbelief has sabotaged Christ’s church and kept us in a state of perpetual defeat.
Please don’t misunderstand me. It isn’t that we don’t believe in what Jesus did for us on the cross. The problem is we’ve misunderstood how to apply it to our lives right now. We rejoice over future promises, but we’ve allowed an unseen enemy to convince us that we can’t really expect to see the promises of God’s Word realized in this lifetime.
And that’s where we find ourselves caught, beloved. Stuck in limbo because we believe the wrong words. We’ve allowed the enemy’s whispers to override God’s Word, and […]

Releasing the River

Righteousness will go before Him and make His footsteps a way. Psalm 85:13 (ESV)
It’s that time again. January rolls around each year with an invitation to take stock of our lives. And the same question raises a hopeful challenge. What can I do differently this year that will make my life better?
We have great intentions . . . and usually less than great results.
Not this year. Not for me, anyway. This year I have high expectations, because I’m basing my resolutions on believing God, not on my own works. And faith—real, present, active, living faith—ushers us into the grace and power of God.
Through him [Jesus] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2
I could stand to witness a little glory, couldn’t you?
Last week we looked at God’s promise to pour out water on a thirsty land. My heart leapt to see so many people acknowledge their thirst! We desperately need God to release the river of life.
As we join together to pray for His outpouring, I challenge you to consider another important truth revealed in our opening scripture.
Righteousness will go before Him and make His footsteps a way. Psalm 85:13
It reminds me of Hebrews 12:14 (NIV).
Make every effort . . . to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Whether we desire to embrace it or not, righteousness marks the path of glory. If we want to see God pour out on our thirsty land, we’ve got to get on with the business of letting Him sanctify us.
Perhaps you’ll be a little more excited about it when I show you why. You, dear one, […]

A New Kind of Thirst

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Today marks the final day of 2014.
I wonder, dear one. Was your year what you had hoped it would be? As you look ahead to 2015, are you filled with hopeful expectation? Or do you dread another year approaching with the same disappointments and struggles that plagued you last year?
I’m feeling decidedly hopeful about what may come in 2015. Not because of any resolutions or plans that I’ve made, but because I know a God who keeps His Word.
“Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.” Isaiah 44:2-4
Here’s why I feel so hopeful, dear one. I’m thirsty.
A longing stirs deep within my soul for more of Jesus. I am not satisfied with where I’ve been; He hasn’t allowed me to be. I long to see Him reveal Himself more fully. My soul thirsts for His living water and cries for Him to pour it forth.
And that’s why I feel so hopeful. Because Isaiah 44:3 promises that God will pour water on the thirsty land. And I’m thirsty.
Are you thirsty, dear one?
I pray that you are. You see, God will not pour water on a land that doesn’t recognize its […]

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
What’s your favorite part of the Christmas story? Is it Mary’s response to a visiting angel? Or perhaps the terrified shepherds tending their flock who found themselves surrounded by the glory of the Lord? I love the image of Magi from the east bowing and presenting costly gifts to a toddler King. If you let them, the details surrounding the birth of Jesus inspire awe and wonder.
I’d like to spend some time with you today treasuring one of those details found in our opening Scripture, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Have you considered the significance of that phrase?
Perhaps you were not aware that the birth of God’s Son—the Word—came on the heels of four hundred years of silence from God.
That may seem of little consequence to you. Maybe you’ve lived your whole life expecting God’s silence because that’s all you’ve known. But the overwhelming truth revealed in Scripture is that God speaks to His created. He talked with Adam and Eve in the garden after He gave them life, and our first glimpse of Him after they sinned reveals a striking picture of God’s heart.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
Do you see it, dear one? Even after they sinned, God came […]