Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shaken and Stirred

“…He stirs up the people…” (Luke 23:5 – ESV)

If you’re from around here, or have lived here long, you know about our great traditions of cooking hog meat and pots of stew. Apparently these practices are not normal everywhere, but my belly sure does appreciate the normality of our local eating customs!

Every year my father-in-law, one of his friends, and his two brothers cook a stew on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The key to cooking a stew is a good recipe. Assuming you have a good stew recipe, you need a good crew of stirrers. One thing you do not want to happen is for your stew to stick to the pot! This is catastrophic! Thirty gallons of ingredients can be wasted if not stirred properly, but this same potpourri mixture of meats, vegetables and other stuff can be a wonderful treat if cooked slowly and stirred properly.

Funny…sometimes a good stirring is just what’s needed, with both stews and people.

The snippet of Scripture in today’s devotion is taken from the end of Jesus’ earthly life and it’s very appropriate for this time of year, even as we celebrate the beginning of His earthly life. This comment was made by the religious leaders of Israel who had arrested Jesus and taken Him before Pilate to be tried and punished. They had many complaints, but one of the main accusations was that Jesus “stirs up” people with His teaching. It’s true! He’s guilty!

It’s perfect that Jesus was guilty of stirring people up with His teaching because His whole life was about causing a stir.

The announcement alone that Jesus was going to be born of Mary’s womb stirred Mary and Joseph up in a terrible way. John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb at the very presence of the fetal Christ. God called a census through the Roman government that stirred up thousands of people as they were charged with being counted in their ancestral hometowns. He even moved critters out of barns just so He could be born!

An angel came down from heaven, announcing His birth to shepherds, interrupting their work. A multitude of angels joined the herald angel to worship Immanuel as He was being born. All of this ruckus occurred before the Christ Child set a tiny foot on the soil! He certainly was responsible for stirring things up!

The Christ Child made the star move and led Wise Men to Himself. He caused the scribes to search scrolls and ponder prophesies. He made Herod the king so nervous that Herod called out the troops to kill Jesus (they failed, but I guess you knew that). He made His family move from one place to the other until they settled, at some point in His childhood, in Nazareth.

Even then, as he grew to be a young man, Jesus astounded religious teachers and stopped the family caravan whilst they searched for Him.
When Jesus began His earthly ministry He really stirred things up. He made religious leaders insanely angry. He made demons run away by the hordes. He made sickness disappear and forgave sins, sometimes to the fury of religious system. He made political figures have to consider the worth of His ministry and the intent of His actions. He made people leave their jobs, forsake their sins, and transformed lives. He made sisters disagree and brothers switch allegiance. He denied Satan and embraced the down-trodden. He incensed the proud and healed the humble. Jesus turned society, the church, homes and the government on its ears!

Yes! He stirs things up! Even today, we can stand on Him as the cornerstone or be crushed by Him as the Rock of Ages.

Frankly, the truth is that if Jesus’ hasn’t stirred you, you’re probably stuck and in danger of being burnt. As for me, I am thankful to be shaken and stirred.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Luke #70 – Gift of Grace Shared

Luke #70 – Gift of Grace Shared
“And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, ‘Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him” (Luke 5:7-11 – King James Version).

My dad had a friend named Charlie when we lived in Texas that was a lot of fun to be around. Charlie loved kids and he did a lot of nice things for us. The first time I met Charlie he asked me to come over to his house; “It’s on the lake; you can go fishing,” he said. Well, fishing or no fishing, I didn’t know that fellow very well and I wasn’t too keen on the idea. My dad said, “Go ahead, boy, it’s all right.” Trying to find something that might interest me, Charlie said, “I’ve got a big, pink yacht over there and you can ride it!” Well, now…that changed things dramatically! First off, I liked riding boats and secondly a pink boat was a sight that shouldn’t be passed over. I decided to go.

On the way over to Charlie’s house he stopped at a convenience store. “Do you want a piece of gum?” asked Charlie. “Well, I guess so; thanks,” was my weak reply. I didn’t want to turn down Charlie’s kindness, but I wasn’t (nor am I now) in love with bubble gum. If I had to chew the stuff I wanted Super Bubble. I got a piece and was blowing bubbles pretty good when Charlie came out of the store. I noticed right away that Charlie had one of those large, plastic buckets of gum under his arm. He got into the truck and presented the bucket to me, exclaiming, “It’s all yours!” Though I neither needed nor wanted that much gum, I liked Charlie from that moment on.

We had not been in Texas long, so I was in want of making new friends. I found out that many kids went to the Dairy Queen every day. I went down to that ice cream shop and handed out gum. I made some new friends with that big bucket of Super Bubble. The bonus was that I was making friends with gifts that didn’t cost me a dime. (For the record…Charlie did have a big, pink boat…it was grand!)

When I reread these verses today I remembered good ‘ol Charlie and that story above. The big boat and the chewing gum served to get my attention and from there Charlie and I became good friends. Charlie was always good to me, so I tried my best to respond in kind.

The great catch of fish got Peter’s attention. From there he went on to become well acquainted with the Lord Jesus. How did Jesus first get your attention?

I cannot help but notice that Peter’s first instinct was to share the Lord’s blessing. Peter and his fishing mates “beckoned unto their partners” and both ships were filled with fish. The Lord has blessed us all in some way and many of us in many ways. What have you shared from His benevolent hand? I gave away gum that cost me nothing just as Peter gave away fish that cost him nothing. The Lord Jesus gives us things all the time (even the air of our lungs and the blood in our veins) and I truly believe He intends for us to share. Has God blessed you with money? Share it. Has God blessed you with the abundance to have more things (cars, property, clothes, houses, food, etc) than you have NEED of? Share them. Every thing we have comes by His grace and we have the RESPONSIBILITY to share those things. If Peter had kept all the fish his ship may have sank (verse 7). He gave them away and both boats nearly sank! We are drowning in things! We NEED to give some of them away before they pull us under!

The story with Charlie stops at things, but the truth of Jesus’ giving only begins with things. Christ then called those fellows to become fishers of men. Sure, they would continue to share the things that God gave them, but a higher gifting was at hand. The giving would be better as well as the gifts. Where once Peter had only fish to share, now he would be given the privilege of sharing the message of life (Acts 3:6)!

Do you want to give away something that cost you nothing? Do you want to have the proper response to the grace of God? Share the grace that has been given you! Share liberally for the supply is unending. Share confidently; “fear not,” the Giver will insure the gift! Share often, it cost us nothing and the price (a dear one at that), has been paid! Rather than material gifts that may weigh us down to near sinking, the gift of life in Jesus lifts us up! SHARE IT! Bubble gum will serve to make friends for a moment; the gift of life makes friends that last forever. Share it!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Luke #69 – Reality Series

Luke #69 – Reality Series
“And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, ‘Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him” (Luke 5:7-11 – King James Version).

Do you watch those reality shows on TV? I am very wary of them. Reality is defined as “state or quality of being real” or a “resemblance to what is real.” These shows are real, because there are real things happening to real people, but it stops there. There is a fine line right here…these shows are drama, not reality. Regular folk DO NOT go and live on a deserted island with people they cannot stand and hardly any food. Regular folk do not get into vats of cockroaches or eat live critters. Regular people do not get their spouse from a game show. Regular people do not trade wives for a month to see if someone else’s is better. This is not reality, but I am afraid that through popular television, people will begin to think that it is. All that it is TV setting people up to perform an unrehearsed drama and sacrifice their self-respect at the altar of ratings.

Today’s Scripture presents us with reality that we would rather think of as fantasy. The Lord Jesus causes the fisherman to receive such a great haul of fish that their nets brake. At the command to cast out and fish, Peter had been obedient, but he did not believe any thing would happen. When Peter saw the great haul of fish, his unbelief was revealed and Peter fell before the Lord confessing. The reality is that much of the church walks behind a veil of unbelief.

What do I mean by that? Simply this, we go through the motions, careful to do the right things, but we don’t really believe anything will happen. We are like some surreal “reality” show that fakes the appearance of true reality. We pray because we are supposed to, but do we expect God to not only hear, but to move? Do we have unbelieving hearts that need to fall broken before God?

Another plain reality is this: when we see or realize the power of God, we will fall down before Him. When we have an encounter with the Lord Jesus we will fall down before Him crying, “I AM UNWORTHY!” Too often we are trying to get some kind of warm fuzzy feeling from Jesus, when what we should have is an awesome reverence for Him.

Another plain reality: when Peter realized the power of this God-Man, Christ Jesus, Peter’s concentration was no longer on the stuff. By stuff I mean the fish in this particular case. His concentration switched from things to his soul condition and Peter’s concentration also switched to worship of Christ. Too often we want stuff from the Lord, but what He wants from us is worship.

Another plain reality: the moment Jesus got those guys attention He gave them a new agenda. Their agenda was no longer fishing for fish, but fishing for souls. Too often we want the stuff, and we want our own agenda, and we want Jesus on the side or mixed in with that mess. Jesus calls His followers to a new, different, higher, and better agenda. It is certainly not a personal agenda.

Another plain reality: when Jesus calls and when we respond, it cannot be a half-hearted venture. Verse 11 says that those fellows “forsook all” and “followed Him.” Can each of say today that we have taken this posture with the Lord? Are we trying to cling to the old man, the old life, and the old way? Are we trying to have this life and the one Jesus offers at the same time? They have very different ends; which do we want?

Another plain reality: our service and devotion to Christ is not conditional. Jesus gave no time frame to these fishermen’s call. He gave them no mission directive; it was an open ended call to follow Him…come what may…at His discretion.

I really believe that today’s church (that’s you and me) wants something that resembles the Christian life, but we don’t want it to be too real. We want ratings over reality. The reality is that we are sinful people in the presence of a holy God. We cannot act as if it is any other way and we cannot ignore God’s holiness or our sinfulness and claim to know Him or serve Him. It is not a drama, but a reality. The reality is that we cannot live the old life and the new life at the same time. We MUST forsake all to follow Him. God will not settle for our definition of a reality that “resembles” something other than the real deal. God will not settle for a dramatic reality that is anything but real. He wants real people, sure, but He wants people to be real with Him…recognize who we are and who He is, count the cost, forsake it all, and follow Him and His agenda. Are we living television’s idea of reality or God’s?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Luke #68 – Under New Management

Luke #68 – Under New Management
“Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.’ And Simon answering said unto Him, ‘Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net.’ And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake” (Luke 5:4-6 – King James Version).

I had just left class in Wake Forest when my cell phone rang. It was Care and I could tell she was very upset. “What’s wrong?” is all I said. “It’s Katie,” Care replied, “Her arm is hurting and she has been crying for over an hour. I can’t tell what’s wrong with it!” I said, “I am coming!” When I got home (about an hour later) Katie was still crying. Now, Katie is a daddy’s girl, so when she saw me she began to cry all the more. I sat down and pulled Katie into my lap. I began to inspect her arm and she commenced to wailing all the harder. I thought her arm might be dislocated. She had fallen while walking; as she was holding Care’s hand, Care tried to catch her. That sounded like something that might cause her arm to pop out of place. I have been involved in all sorts of injuries and thought I could pop it into place…wrong move! I thought Katie was going to fall apart she was screaming so loud. Flustered, at wits end, and tired of my little girl being in pain I concluded that a trip to the emergency room was in order. Then it occurred to me that we had not prayed; asking God to intervene. As per James 5:15-16, I prayed, believing God to move. Katie let me lay hands on her and I petitioned God with confidence. After the “Amen”, Katie wouldn’t let me touch the arm anymore. We got in the van and headed for the hospital. I wondered What did I do wrong? Before we were half way to town, she lifted the arm above her head and declared, “My arm is all better!” Praise God!

As Simon Peter had been fishing all night and I imagine he was pretty tired, yet at the word of Jesus, Peter pressed on. Under new management the fishing crew hauled in a catch that was too great for their equipment! After an experience like that I would imagine that Peter would want Jesus as a fishing partner anytime!

MANY lessons can be found here in this simple piece of Scripture. We can learn to press on, even when tired. We can learn a lesson in obedience; even when the situation seems bleak, just obey the Master. We can learn a lesson in trust; let God have His way and trust the results to Him. We can learn a lesson about usefulness; it’s not that we need grand equipment or strategies, but that we need to allow everything for the Lord’s usage. We can learn a lesson in preparedness; be ready to be used or to have your possessions used (remember…when this passage began, those fellows were cleaning the nets – verse 2).

There is a lesson that just jumps out at me for today. It is a lesson about management. I cannot stand those signs that are often seen on car plates or bumper stickers that say “God is my Co-pilot.” Phoooey! He ought to be the pilot! Personally, I don’t want to drive! I did that for a while and wrecked my life! The Bible says that there is a way that SEEMS right to a person, but that way leads to death (Proverbs 16:25). Mankind doesn’t need someone riding shotgun, watching them wreck the ride. We need someone to grab the wheel and not fight the direction He wants to drive in.

Peter’s fishing enterprise came under new management and the results were vastly different. That’s what I want! Take over my life Lord! I am tired and weary, but at Thy bidding, I will give this enterprise to You! I want to turn every part over to this God that does so much with so little; my mind, my time, my hands and feet, my mouth, and yes, even my money. Even when it comes to giving tithes and offerings the Lord God will bless until the equipment bursts (Malachi 3:10). The Lord God Almighty wants to take over our lives and produce a better and different product than what we were doing. How about it, my friend? Are you under new management?

When I finally wised up and let the Lord take over Katie’s injury, His results far outweighed what my efforts produced. It might have seemed like a small thing, but it taught me a great lesson in having the proper management in charge. The Lord God, in Christ Jesus, has healed my dislocated soul, repaired my broken heart, and mended my distorted mind. I sure am glad I gave this messed up project to Him! It was not easy…I had so much work in it that it was hard to turn it over. I wasn’t sure He could or would fix it at first, but now I am running over with HIM! I glad He fired that old man and Jesus took over management of my life!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Luke #67 – The World Was His Pulpit

Luke #67 – The World Was His Pulpit
“And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship (Luke 5:1-3 – King James Version).

Recently my wife and I were talking to an old friend, Bob McLaughlin, at our neighborhood swimming hole. I met Care at the pool after going to the grocery store, a chore that Care particularly hates. The baby went with me and Katie Ruth went with her mom to the pool. Bob said, “Care, stop being so rough on your husband.” My extremely good-natured wife was puzzled, saying, “Bob, what are you talking about?” “Well,” Bob continued, “you get to go to the pool while Tim takes the baby to the grocery store. I already know he does all the cooking in the house. Give the boy a break!” I was laughing my head off by this point. Care, without missing a beat, said, “Bob, all that may be true, but I have to listen to Tim preach everyday!” Knowing my penchant for a soapbox and a sermon, Bob said, “Yep, didn’t think of that…that does change everything…Tim should do more since you have to listen to him all the time!”

The night before this incident I went fishing with my brother and nephew, David and Travis. We were on a pontoon in the middle of the night, in the middle of McGhee’s Mill; we had played several games such as naming songs with certain words in the title (always a good thing to do while waiting for catfish to bite!). We began playing another game; we started telling Bible stories. The rules were simple: tell the story from memory and in our own words. Things like this sharpen our ability to share BIG truths from the word of God in ways that are easily grasped. I was with a group of teenagers once, doing the same thing, at a bunch of picnic tables. Afterwards, one young lady said, “I didn’t know I knew so much about the Bible!” Most of us would be surprised by how much of the Word is implanted over the years; we might not even begin to understand how much is there until we begin letting it out. Sharing sharpens.

I think it is totally amazing that Jesus was always ready to teach people; lead them in understanding God’s word. The entire world was His pulpit! Jesus did not need just the right circumstance, the right time, or the right place. Everywhere He went He was ready to preach and teach. He taught in the local worship halls, on hillsides, in the street, or beside (and IN) a lake. We would do well to emulate Christ in this!

Sometimes I do my greatest preaching in Wal-Mart. Being a local boy, I see tons of people I know when I shop, or at the swimming pool, as I fish, when I go to ball games, or wherever I am in and around town. How will people know about the love and plan of God unless someone tells them (Romans 10:13-15)? I want to be ready in season and out; ready at all times to share God’s word with people, that as I go along, folks may be helped and changed (2 Timothy 4:2; Galatians 6:9). I notice too that Jesus didn’t need to get into or out of priestly robes to share God’s word. One moment He was teaching and preaching and the next He was fishing (verses 3 and 4). Nothing interrupted Him; He went about His day and every moment was an opportunity to share God’s messages of salvation and judgment. He was always ready! Can we say that we are following His lead in this?

I don’t just hope it will happen, that I get to share; I pray it happens! I prepare; I constantly read and study Scripture. I often preach to the empty walls of my house so that I will be ready to preach to people. I tell Care all the time that I am going to make a pulpit with wheels so I can roll it all over the house practicing my preaching. Care hears more sermons than anyone, but she is helping me prepare and we are growing together. Sharing sharpens.

Friend, the devotional thought for today is simple: don’t wait for the right place, time, or circumstance to share God’s word. Don’t think that you’ve got to do it at church only. Don’t think that you can’t share in Wal-Mart while wearing shorts and flip-flops or at your work place wearing a polo shirt or work boots. The thing we need to do is be prepared. Study and share; both sharpen. The world was Jesus’ pulpit…everywhere He was and went…can we say the same?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Fat Body, Big God and Discipline = Entry #5

Still fat. However, I want to rejoice in God at my pursuit. I am not dieting, but I am making choices. The big choice is to eat and drink with more wisdom. I have been doing that. I have been drinking extremely reduced amounts of tea and soft drinks. For example, I only drank three soft drinks and one glass of tea between the beginning of September and Thanksgiving. I must confess, for most of Thanksgiving weekend, I ate and drank whatever I wanted to eat and drink. I simply enjoyed the holiday gatherings.

That's been a good change, but it's not simply a declaration. It's been facing every meal and every snack by making good choices.

I haven't weighed in a long time, and don't care to do it now.

After much prayer, this week I started to consciously cut down on carbs. I haven't gone nuts, but I've really cut back. I didn't throw the croƻtons out of my Caesar salad yesterday, but I didn't eat the bread with it.

Lord, help me, I'll get there...

Luke #66 – Hand in Hand

Luke #66 – Hand in Hand
“And He preached in the synagogues of Galilee. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 4:44-5:1 – King James Version).

I love to play billiards. I hardly play these days for lack of time and a decent place in which to do it. Recently, I was playing at a friend’s house. A young person saw me using two items on the end of my stick and wanted to know what I was doing. First, I showed them a small block of blue chalk that I put on the end of my stick to help the stick and ball make good, non-slipping contact. Later on, the young person saw me using an abrasive tool on the end of the stick. “Doesn’t that take all of the chalk off?” asked the teenager. It was good thinking and I said as much. Then I explained that many times the end of a pool cue becomes so slick that it will not and cannot hold chalk. One must take the abrasive tool and rough the shooting end of the pool cue; this roughing process not only softens the tip, but it provides a means by which the chalk can then stick to the shooting end of the cue. Both items not only have a place, but are very much needed to help the cue function properly.

In today’s verses we find our Lord Jesus teaching in the synagogues and on a lake shore. As you investigate the Gospels you will see that Christ shared the message of salvation and how to properly walk with God no matter where He was or what platform He had to speak from.

There are two key things that this passage makes me think of. First, we need para-church organizations. Some Christians frown on para-church organizations, but I am a great fan of these ministries. Often an organization that works outside the boundaries of church life can have a more focused ministry than the staff and laypersons of the local church could have. In the same way, many times a church cannot go where a para-church ministry can with laws that govern the separation of church and state. Also, the average church has many ministries going on at one time and a para-church organization can devote itself fully to one type of ministry. Many times a para-church ministry focuses on more than one thing, but I have never seen nor heard of a para-church ministry that has as many different ministries as any local congregation.

The church is a well organized body whose main focus is growing saints into the fullness of Christ Jesus. The synagogues of Jesus time functioned much in the same way. One moment Christ was teaching in the organized synagogue and the next Jesus was out on the lake shore doing the same thing. Both of these ways of ministering to people were important in Jesus’ time and are important today.

The second thing this passage makes me think of it the fact that we must leave the hallowed walls of the church building and meet people where they are. Too many times we sit back hoping people will be dazzled enough by our programs to come to us when what we need is to take to them what they need. Jesus understood that there was plenty of ministry to do to people in organized religion, but there was a lot of ministry to do outside of that as well.

Like the sanding tool and the chalk, para-church ministries and the well founded, organized church do not seem to go hand in hand, but they do. Like the two tools for preparing a pool cue to function properly, both in-church and outside-church efforts are needed. The sanding tool prepares the stick for the chalk. Outside-church and para-church ministries often prepare people for church.

Support and participate with God honoring para-church organizations. Get out of the church walls and meet people where they are. The point is not to bring them to your church, but to introduce them to your savior. That introduction alone will get the vast majority into a church body. Church work and the work done outside of the walls go hand in hand. Forsake neither…support and participate in both.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Luke #65 – Crumbs or Buffet?

Luke #65 – Crumbs or Buffet?
“And when it was day, He departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought Him, and came unto Him, and stayed Him, that He should not depart from them. And He said unto them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.’ And He preached in the synagogues of Galilee” (Luke 4:42-44 – King James Version).

I am notorious for picking up hitchhikers. The way I figure it is that for a few moments, at least, I have a captive audience to share the Gospel with. I also figure that if a person is walking somewhere and is trying to get a ride along the way, then they aren’t walking because they necessarily want to walk. That tells me that person may be experiencing some difficulty or some laziness…either way; I think they are people to whom I can minister.

While in Roxboro, NC I picked a fellow up one day who told me that he had been walking from Georgia to Virginia. He’d been sleeping under bridges and eating hand to mouth, as he was broke. We went through a fast food drive through, and I headed toward South Boston, VA where the man said he was from. Along the way (I was driving slowly) I shared God’s love with the man and shared God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. He listened, but did not respond. He wanted me to drop him at the Hardees in South Boston. As we stopped in the parking lot the man asked me for some money. I immediately gave him enough to use the pay phone. I asked the man did he own a copy of the Scripture; as he did not, I gave him a Bible. I also attempted to give him an Eternal Life tract, but he refused. I guess he wanted a ride in my car and the food I could provide, but he didn’t want the greatest gift that I had offered, which was Jesus (not that Jesus is mine to give, but you know what I mean). Here’s the kicker…while the man was on the phone I put a $20 bill in the tract. He didn’t take the tract, which was of greater importance than the money, and he missed out on the money too. The only other money I had was $7 and some change; I gave it to him and headed home. He got the crumbs when he could’ve gotten the buffet.

As was plainly stated yesterday, the people of Capernaum did not want Jesus to leave. They begged Him not to go. I could not help but notice that when Jesus says that He must go preach, not one of them says, “OH, PLEASE STAY HERE AND DO THAT!”

You know, it seems like the folks in Capernaum then are just like the people around here now. They want Jesus, but only on their own terms. They want the healing touch of Jesus and the salvation that would keep them from hell, but they don’t want to give their lives to Him. They want what He has without obeying what He says. It seems people want God’s love without God’s requirements. People seem to want to experience Christ’s healing hands without heeding His call to holiness. It seems people want the power without the preaching! They want the call without the conviction!

Those folks in Capernaum wanted what was good for them, but were not concerned about the kingdom. That’s the way of most people and churches these days. If it doesn’t help them personally or grow their own church, they seem to not be interested. Christ wasn’t concerned with putting Capernaum on the map (so to speak), rather He was concerned with the Kingdom which is never limited to a map or an individual.

Human beings, by our sinful nature, are selfish and self-centered. Christ ministry on earth was centered on the will of God and He stayed focused on that. He looked beyond what was comfortable for Himself to what was good for us all and profitable for the Kingdom; had He not, He would have never died on that cross. Human beings, also by our sinful nature, tend to worry more about pleasing our bodies and satisfying our minds than seeking what’s best for our souls. The body is like grass that fades away. The soul, whether in heaven or hell, lasts an eternity.

The problem with that mentality is that if we seek to please ourselves first and God second, not only will we lose what we put first but will lose what we put second as well. Also, the opposite is true too; if we put God first and ourselves second, then we will gain God and He’ll take care of us (Matthew 6:33). That man to whom I gave the ride refused the sermon and missed the $20…he missed the greater temporal blessing and the more important heavenly blessing. I see that happen a lot with the way Christians spend their money. We work hard to buy a boat, a new truck…whatever ...during the process many forsake giving SACRIFICIALLY to God, or even forsake tithing. Ten years later, if that long, the boat is gone; the truck is gone and all that money that was spent didn’t make a hill of dry beans to the Kingdom of God. Sure, we can use boats and trucks and bigger houses to serve God, but how often is that done? Most of the time we are just trying to please self. I wish it was only a little money that was at stake. Take Jesus and get the whole package…salvation and security (salvation alone is plenty security!). Try to create your own brand of security and you’ll miss the whole deal.

Who is Jesus to you today? Is He simply your personal assistant; someone you call when you need help or when there is something you want? Are you heeding the things He says? Do you want His sermons or simply His favors? Do you want God to only give you what you want and leave everything else alone? Will you take the cross or only the crown? If any of us want Jesus, we’ve got to take the whole package. Don’t take the crumbs and miss the buffet. Beg Him to stay for a healing touch AND for a convicting sermon that heals the soul eternally.