|No Small Gifts
|Thursday, March 02, 2023|
Few experiences define the word "dud," like a fishing trip without fish. Even more so when fishing is your livelihood.
But that’s the predicament that Peter, James, and John were in on the shores of Galilee. You know the story in Luke 5. They'd been casting their nets all night, catching nothing but a growing sense of frustration.
After borrowing Peter's boat and delivering a sermon to a shoreline crowd, Jesus asked Peter to row out into the deep, where He told him to let down the nets. This after zero success the night before. Give Peter credit for the rare humility in his reply: “But I will do as You say and let down the nets.”
And suddenly, this expedition was no dud. There were fish. Lots and lots of fish. So many fish that professional-grade nets (designed to hold lots of fish!) began to break.
That’s when Peter gestured wildly to his partners, James and John, in a second boat nearby. Note the details Luke includes:
You and I know the Sunday School summary of this parable--that we're supposed to be "fishers of men." Jesus said so!
But do we miss the second lesson in this story? It's this: God gives no small gifts. He provides "abundantly above all that we could ask or think" (Eph. 3:20). And 1 John 3:1 reminds us, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God.” In fact, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
Next time you’re facing an empty net—or an empty soul—choose to seek the Savior. Heed His voice—and remember: God gives no small gifts.
|Caught on Camera
|Thursday, February 23, 2023|
Do you ever wonder what kinds of critters invade your yard once darkness settles in?
My wife, Diana, has found a new source of entertainment by scanning the overnight footage of our recently installed security camera. Even in winter, you'd expect to see birds and squirrels. But the camera also captured the image of a fox in our yard on two consecutive occasions.
The first visit was at 2:30 am. The next night, he came much earlier—10:16 pm. But in both cases, his (her?) bushy tail made a strong statement against the blanket of white snow. Amazing what a camera and a little curiosity turn up.
Though they may be quick and sly, foxes are no match for an HD camera with color night vision. The image of that fox reminds us of our foolishness as believers when we convince ourselves we can live parts of our lives in “private":
But none of these things exist! Unlike our security camera (which occasionally hiccups or disconnects from Wi-Fi), there is no "service interruption" with the All-Seeing Almighty.
Shouldn't that influence the videos we watch, the books we read, and the places we go? Shouldn't that affect our conversations and even our aspirations?
The old children’s chorus comes to mind: “For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little feet where you go.”
You might be sly as a fox.
But you are never unseen.
|Your One Job
|Thursday, February 16, 2023|
The moment he said it, you knew you’d remember it.
We had just finished recording a Moody Radio special with Attorney David Gibbs, Jr. His ministry, the Christian Law Association, assists Christians under fire as they live out their biblical faith.
Though the list of those opposing Christians is long—and getting longer—Attorney Gibbs stressed our need as Christ-followers to be kind and gracious, even as we stand up for our legal rights. That's when he declared, "I have one job in life: to make Jesus look good."
I felt my conscience rumble as I pondered a recent phone conversation about a computer problem. My demeanor toward the tech was less than gracious—and I surely did not make Jesus look good.
What about you?
We can quote Bible verses with the best of them and know every line from every worship chorus. But our reactions speak louder than our memorized Scriptures or our songs.
Best we focus on that one job: make Jesus look good.
|You Are Mine
|Thursday, February 09, 2023|
Remember those pastel-colored "Sweetheart" candies with Valentine's messages?
To meet the demands of Valentine's season, the Necco company (original makers) used to manufacture 100,000 pounds of candy hearts daily! And each candy featured a phrase like:
In the spirit of the season, I offer a more ancient—not to mention substantive—valentine found in Isaiah 43:1. Directed originally to the Israelites, it’s a valentine you, too, can claim:
If you know Jesus as Savior, you’re in an eternal love relationship with the Prince of Peace, with God Almighty! The only question is—are you enjoying it, or are you still trying to earn it?
It's funny. We born-again folks are quick to tell the world that salvation is not a works-based thing. But then we proceed to define ourselves by works-based things: careers, houses, social standing, etc.
But if Isaiah 43:1 is true—and it is—then that is the scale to measure our worth—not our achievements, portfolios, or fancy homes.
The next time you hear a voice telling you that you’re just not worth very much, pull out this valentine and consider:
And pay special attention to those three last words from the Almighty:
|Thursday, February 02, 2023|
“How bad is it?” I asked the doctor.
"Well, if we don't intervene, you'll experience some permanent vision loss in your one eye."
The conversation was enough to get me to submit to a series of procedures in which the doctor injects medication into the leaky blood vessels. Translation: he pokes a needle in your eye.
Put yourself in my shoes, sitting in the reclining chair. The doctor’s assistant walks in and drizzles some drops into your eyes. Feel the sting? Now, sit there and wait for twenty minutes while you feel your pulse quicken.
Next, it's time for some more drops—more sting. But these are intended to numb the area—when the needle is poked in. You get another round of those stinging drops in a few minutes.
Feel how swollen your entire socket feels? Finally, the doctor walks in wearing a headlamp contraption suitable for a sci-fi movie. Leaning over, he asks you to look up, and before you know it, he jabs your eye with the needle.
Truthfully, the injection takes less than five seconds, so you honestly don't feel too much. (Okay, maybe a little ache). Why? Anesthesia—the great numbing effect. Anesthesia has extraordinary potential—for good or for evil.
While the injections I get from the doctor are intended for my good, you and I have a strange way of injecting ourselves—with sin. But if we know the result of sin is painful, why—and how—do we do this? In a word, anesthesia:
Lord, deliver us from the misuse of anesthesia, lest we indulge ourselves in sin.
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