Archive for November, 2010

Serving God By Serving Others

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you” when did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you”

The king will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me.”   – Matthew 25:31-46

One of the aspects of this parable to get my attention was the attitude of the righteous ones. They did not do their good works to be seen, but they did them simply because it was the right thing to do. We can tell this because of their surprise at the Lord’s statement and they asked, “Lord, when did we ever see you in that condition?”

There are some of us who would certainly help the Lord out if we saw him in need, but our neighbors, well, they did make their own bed and maybe they should try sleeping in it.

Just remember; when we have done it for the least among us we have done it for him.

Principle: We serve God through serving others.

Affirmation:  I see God in the face of the poor and needy.

Prayer: Help me to never fail to serve you by serving others.

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Serve God Diligently

Daily God Walk for Monday, November 29, 2010

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five… His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

The man with the two talents also came. “Master,” he said, “You entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

Then the man who had received the one talent came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”  – Matthew 25:14-30

We are not only called to be prepared to serve but we are also expected to serve diligently when we are called. God will never give you more to do than you are capable of handling and he will not expect more from you than faithfulness – but he does demand faithfulness.

Principle: Diligent service is an attribute of faithful servants.

 Affirmation:  I strive for diligent excellence in serving God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always serve you well.

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Be Prepared To Serve God

Daily God Walk for Sunday, November 28, 2010

 At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.”

“No,” they replied, “There may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.”

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

Later the others also came. “Sir! Sir!” they said, “Open the door for us.”

But he replied, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.                                  – Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus often used parables to demonstrate a truth and in chapter 25 of Matthew he gives three parables about serving. This parable about the ten virgins is about being prepared to serve.

I was 13 years old and at the time I was sleeping in a small trailer beside the very small house where my parents slept. I woke up in the middle of the night and began to pray. I felt the urge to preach so, laying in my bed, I preached my first sermon. It was a message on the ten virgins; five were wise and five were foolish.

My preaching woke my mother and father and my father said, “What is that boy doing, has he gone crazy?” My mother listened carefully and said, “No, he’s not crazy, he’s preaching.”

I was getting prepared for the life God had planned for me.

Principle: God only uses those prepared to serve.

Affirmation: By God’s grace I am ready to serve his kingdom.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always be ready to serve you. Amen.

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Be Prepared For Tough Times

Daily God Walk for Saturday, November 27, 2010

 Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.    – Matthew 24:9-13

This passage contains both a warning and a hope. The road would not be easy for those who would follow closely the things Jesus taught, but there was a promise to those who would be faithful to the end.

Disciples of Christ are being persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and even put to death in various places around the world today. We must be prepared for persecution.

However, persecution is not the greatest threat to the body of Christ for history has shown that persecution serves to fan the flames of revival. The greatest threat to the body of Christ today is the prevalence of wickedness in world.

There has always been wickedness because sin is in the nature of man, but it is different today. In the past it was easy to tell who was a believer and who was not, but it is not as easy today. Many believers have fallen pray to situation ethics and morality based not in the word of God in the concept of personal rights.

Far too many believers have been deceived in the same manner Eve was deceived in the garden. If it looks good, and no one is hurt by it, and I become wiser, why shouldn’t I do it?

God has called us to be beacons of light in a dark world and if we hide the light, or allow the light to become dimmed by sin, then the world will not see Christ in us. The final words of Christ in this passage is a challenge to us: He who stands firm to the end will be saved. In another place it is written, “When you have done all stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

Principle: There is salvation for those who stand until the end.

Affirmation: Standing firm is not easy, but by God’s grace I stand.

Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to stand faithful. Amen.

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When Will These Things Be?

Daily God Walk for Friday, November 26, 2010

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  – Matthew 24:3

 As Jesus and his disciples were walking away from the temple the disciples were commenting on the magnificent structures around them. Jesus responded by declaring, “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.

It was at this point that the disciples began to ask Jesus about when that would be happening and what would be the sign of the end of the age. People have always been interested in the period that has been called “the end times” and the disciples were no different.

To answer them Jesus began to describe the way the world would be at the end of the age. He told them that others would come announcing that they were Christ; there would be wars and rumors of wars; nation will rise against nation; there will be famines and earthquakes.

When I read that list I realize that it could be describing just about any period of history. There have always been wars, famines and earthquakes. And, there have always been people starting new religions declaring that they were the Christ. So why was he pointing this out?

Could it be that Jesus was trying to warn his followers not to be so concerned about the future that they neglected to fulfill their calling today? Perhaps he was saying that the end of the age will not be much different and that is why we must be ever alert.

There were other things Jesus said in this chapter, but he began this teaching by telling the disciples to always be prepared. We have seen all of these signs evident today and we must be in a state of readiness for the end of the age is near.

 Principle: We must remain alert because this age is ending soon.

 Affirmation:  I am diligent to keep my heart prepared.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace of faithfulness to the end. Amen

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Is Just Believing Enough?

Daily God Walk for Thursday, November  25, 2010

 At the same time many, even among the leaders, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.         – John 12:42-43

 I find this passage intriguing. There were actually those among the leaders who believed in Jesus, yet, because they loved their position they would not openly confess Jesus as the Christ.

There are two sets of dynamic at play here. First there is the difficulty of the established institution to change. Then there is the individual fear of being rejected by the institution. The more rigid the institution the more difficult it is to change and the more likely the institution will reject those who accept change or advocate change.

The dilemma faced by those leaders who believed in Jesus as the Christ was whether to embrace him in faith, or to maintain their position in the institution.

That was not a dilemma unique to the leaders of that time. I have known many spiritual leaders in various denominations who secretly did not agree with their denomination, yet because of being afraid of rejection they never publicly took a stand. I suppose that is ok if we are talking about non-essential issues, but these leaders Jesus was instructing were faced with the choice of walking in the light of faith in Christ or continuing in darkness.

For most of us that would not be a hard choice to make, but for some it is very difficult. Tradition runs strong in some families and when one member breaks with family tradition they are sometimes rejected by the family.

Change for some people may mean that life-long friends will be lost and others face societal rejection. No, it is not an easy thing to announce to the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord and the only way to heaven.

To receive his best we must be willing to make that choice.  

 Principle: Believing is not enough – we must choose to trust.

Affirmation:  I have chosen to trust Christ.

Prayer:  Grant me the strength to walk in the light. Amen.

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Becoming Sons of Light

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, November  24, 2010

 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.”                             – John 12:35-36

In the previous verses Jesus had been teaching that judgment was coming on the world and the prince of this world would be driven out (v30-31). He followed that with the statement, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” John comments in verse 33 that Jesus was signifying the kind of death he would suffer; he would be lifted up onto the cross.

What Jesus said confused the crowd and they replied, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up;” Who is this Son of Man? (v34). Even as his time to be crucified drew closer the crowd who followed him was expecting him to establish an everlasting earthly kingdom.

Jesus was trying to warn them that the light which he was would not be there forever and that they needed to step into the light of truth while the truth was with them. He was instructing them to trust him as the light of truth and he promised that those who trusted him would become sons of light.

The crowd was still questioning, wondering about what he was trying to tell them. If he was the light, and he was about to leave them, would they not be left in the dark? The answer to that dilemma is simply this; Jesus, as light to the world, was leaving, but the light would remain the hearts of those who had been born into the family of light.

When Jesus spoke of becoming sons of light he was referring to those who would be born again. Yes, born again. From the darkness of a decaying life to the glorious light of eternal hope. Those who believe have become the sons of light.

Principle: Trust the light and become sons of the light.

Affirmation:  The Christ-light is within me a son of the light.

Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to continue in the light. Amen.

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Following Jesus Gives Us the Light of Life

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, November 23, 2010

 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”                     – Matthew 23:1-4

If the time of Jesus’ ministry wasn’t short already this discourse would have made it short. He is plainly attacking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and other religious leaders. He goes on to say, “Everything they do is done for men to see.”

Seven times he says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” and each time he points out another inconsistency in their lives. Look at a partial list:

v You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You will not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to (v13-14).

v You give a tithe of all, but you have neglected justice, mercy and faithfulness… You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (v23-24).

v You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence (v25-26)

There was more, but you get the point. These men were more concerned about the way things looked than they were about the way things actually were.

When I look at this entire chapter, and it would be good for all of us to read it now and then, I see beyond the Pharisees. We have this example to help us examine ourselves to see whether we are trying to impress men or God.

Gaining the favor man is a great price to pay for losing favor with God. As Jesus said we must do what our leaders say, but we are cautioned not to fall into the hypocrisy of trying to please men.

Principle:  Live to please God not to please men.

Affirmation: I am righteous because of God’s favor not mans’.

 Prayer: Lord, help to always be aware that it is your favor which counts, not the favor of man. In Jesus name, amen.

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She Gave All She Had

Daily God Walk for Monday, November 22, 2010

 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”                                             – Luke 21:1-4

 I rarely read this passage without feeling the pangs of conviction. You may be different than me, but I don’t know if I have ever given as this woman gave. To understand the value of her two coins we must look at what that meant to this widow woman.

First, she was a widow. In that day a widow, particularly an aged widow, had very little opportunity to earn enough even for food. Except for these two copper coins she was destitute. Her gift would be the same as if we had emptied our checking account, our savings, sold our boat, car, house, and all our possessions then gave that.

However, what that widow woman gave was more than that. When we have given all, we know that there are resources available to keep us from starving. If we work we know there will be a paycheck; if we are retired we know we’ll get a social security check; if we are on assistance we know that we’ll get food stamps. This poor widow had nothing to look forward to. She would get no social security and no food stamps, yet she gave her last two coins to God.

I’m not calling you to give that way, and maybe I’m just speaking out of my own conviction, but I don’t think many of us can truthfully say that we have given all. This widow woman gave her all, Jesus gave his all, and I asked myself, “Am I willing to give all?”

It’s probably time to set aside some quality time to spend with the Lord to work out our level of commitment to the kingdom. Ask him to reveal to us what we are holding back for ourselves and to give us the courage to surrender our best to him.

I’m not taking an offering, but maybe I should…

 Principle:  God is calling us to total surrender.

 Affirmation: I’m trying God, I’m trying.

Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to love you as the widow loved you and to give of myself as she gave herself. In Jesus name, amen.

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The Great Command

Daily God Walk for Sunday, November 21, 2010

  One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “O all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”                             – Mark 12:28-31

 here was nothing new revealed in these two commandments. The first about loving God with all of our being is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:4. The second is a quote from Leviticus 19:18. In Matthews’ record of this event he has Jesus concluding with, “All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40).

Mark records the teacher who had asked Jesus the question responding with, “Well said… To love him with all your heart… and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

This man got it. In fact Jesus told him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” The truth is that when we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will love our neighbor because loving our neighbor is actually living out our love for God.

We’ve heard people say, “I love God it’s people I can’t stand.” I believe I have said it a few times myself in moments of frustration. But can that be true? Can we truly love God with all of our being and not love people?

If God created man out of love and he created man in his own image, shouldn’t we love as God loves? If we have truly been born again and the nature of Christ has been born in us, won’t we love as God loves? Think about it.

  Principle: We can’t love God without loving our neighbor.

Affirmation:  Because of God’s love I can love my neighbor.

Prayer: Help me to love others as you have loved me. Amen.

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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