Do You Follow Christ?


Bible Reading for
October 25, 2016

Luke 9-10

What does it mean to follow Him?

Today’s reading contains one of my favorite verses of all.

Luke 9:23 ESV
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

I have called myself a Christian for many years; that doesn’t make it so. I know all the right things to say. I understand and can repeat a lot of the doctrine of the Christian faith. I own a boatload of Bibles; and read them on a regular basis. I am exceptionally active in my church. None of that makes me a Christian. A Christian is a person that follows Jesus Christ. If you wish to be a Christian – to follow Christ – you must deny yourself, take up the task God has for you to do, and suffer all that is necessary so that others might be saved.

Do you see the priority the will of God must take in your life if you are to be a Christian? Are you denying yourself? Are you taking up the task He has for you? Are you willing to suffer all that is necessary to save others? I hope so.

This is going to be a short post. I’m going to leave it at this. I think it very important for each of us to consider what is required of us as followers of Christ, and whether or not we are willing to be faithful and obedient. Take a moment to consider your life. Be honest with yourself. Are you living what you say you believe? If not, what changes do you need to make to become the good and faithful servant God created you to be?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!


Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: John 9:1-10:21
Old Testament Only: Isaiah 59–62
New Testament Only: 1 Thessalonians 4

Reignite The Fire Within


Bible Reading for
October 24, 2016

Luke 8

Does the flame of the Holy Spirit burn brightly within you are do you need to reignite the fire?

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I have a passion for the concept of “fruitfulness”. If we have truly accepted Christ our life should bear fruit; not just a little fruit, but an abundance of fruit. Jesus talks about this idea quite a bit actually. He does so in the “Parable of the Sower” as well. The verse in this parable that really jumped out at me as I did today’s reading was this one.

Luke 8:14 ESV
“And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”

Here Jesus was explaining to His disciples the meaning of the “Parable of the Sower”. In the parable, some of the seed fell among thorns and were choked. I feel like this particular description of the response to the Gospel can be easily applied to many of us Christians today. Do you remember the day you accepted Christ? How did you feel? You were full of joy, weren’t you? You felt excited and energized, didn’t you? What happened over time? Did the cares of the world slowly dampen that joy? It did for me. What was the result of this dampened joy? The result was a stagnated spiritual growth. The fruit of the Spirit that was placed in me the moment I accepted Christ stopped growing; it did not mature.

I think that is exactly why Satan works so hard to distract us. He doesn’t want us to remain focused on the will of God and thereby bear fruit. He wants us focused on ourselves. He wants our fruit to remain dormant; immature. What happens when we learn to block out the distractions of life?

Luke 8:15 ESV
“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”

Have you held fast the Word in an honest and good heart? Do you bear fruit with patience? As a servant of God, you have a mission; you were given the Great Commission. “Go and make disciples of all nations…” We are to bear the fruit of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others.

An annual Christmas Eve tradition at the church in which I grew up, was to have a moment in the service where the light from a large candle was slowly spread from one congregant to another. The church I attend today does this as well. The person with the lit candle holds theirs still while the person with the unlit candle dips their wick into the flame. Once lit that individual turns to the person on the other side of them and holds their candle still while the new person lights their own. And so on until all the candles are lit.

This is an extremely meaningful event for me. It is a picture of what happened on that night long ago when Jesus was born. The light came into a dark world. He turned to those in darkness and ignited a flame in their hearts. Those individuals turned with burning hearts and ignited the hearts of others; and so on until all the candles of those that are His are lit. Brother, what have you done with your lit candle? Does the light of Jesus Christ, which was placed within you, shine forth before men igniting the hearts of those that are to be His? Notice here in Luke how the narrative flows from seed that is sown in good soil to light that is not covered up.

Luke 8:16 ESV
“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.”

Far too many of us have allowed our light to be covered with a jar of worldly distractions. We have neglected placing our light on a stand where others can be drawn to that light. We have allowed the cares of the world to choke our light, our spiritual growth. We have impeded the maturing of our faith into full flower. We have not been fruitful. Brother, let us recommit ourselves to bearing fruit. Let us reignite the flame within. Let us push the cares of the world aside and experience the fullness of life that comes from being about our Father’s business.

Have a brightly burning day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!


Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: John 7-8
Old Testament Only: Isaiah 55–58
New Testament Only: 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13

Learn Your Lessons Well


Bible Reading for
October 23, 2016

Luke 6-7

How well do you know your lessons in Christ?

Today we read the Sermon on the Plain. It is often confused with the Sermon on the Mount because it covers many of the same concepts; the beatitudes for example. Jesus had a message to deliver and He taught the content of that message over and over again. Remember that He was, in essence, an itinerant preacher. He came to town and preached the Word God gave Him to reveal. Beside the need to repeat His message for a new audience, He had to continually go over the material repeatedly for those that followed Him. I get the sense from reading the Scriptures that the Apostles and other followers were slow learners. I don’t mean to cast stones here; I’m sure I would have been slow on the uptake as well.

Jesus was bringing an understanding of God and salvation completely opposite of what mankind expected. They expected a conqueror when the Scriptures clearly told of a “suffering servant”. The ways of God are counter-intuitive to the ways of Man. I can understand their slowness of understanding. Still, it reminds us of the importance of reviewing the Word of God on a daily basis. Every time I read it I gain a new incite. I’m slow on the uptake I guess.

The following verse from today’s reading has always been devastating for me.

Luke 6:46 ESV
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

Ouch! How is it that we call Him “Lord, Lord” and not do what He tells us? This verse came after Jesus had reviewed what it meant to be His follower. Are we confused about what it means to belong to Him? We say we are His, but we don’t obey. This is a matter of our words not matching our actions. Do you really love your enemy? Why do you call Him Lord and not love your enemy? Do you bear good fruit? How can you call Him Lord when you bear bad or no fruit?

Where is my love? Where is my fruit? If He is my Lord those things should be revealed in me. Brothers, I’m not saying we aren’t saved if we don’t obey completely at all times. We all know we accepted Christ but don’t always live up to His standard. Jesus has good news for us on this front as well.

Luke 6:40 ESV
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

As Disciples of Christ we strive to be like Him but we can never be above Him. The key to understanding our failings in obedience can be found in the last part of verse 40. “…everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” You see, Jesus, is teaching us through His Holy Word and through His Holy Spirit. One day we will be like Him. Today, however, we continue to fail, just as His Disciples did, because we, like them, are still in training. At the moment of salvation, we were transformed into new creatures in Christ. We are still discovering who this new creature is. When we fail in obedience to Christ, we will feel ourselves under condemnation in our spirit. This is the Holy Spirit chastising us, teaching us, guiding us into the way everlasting. You see, we are not being given a free pass to sin. When we sin, we will be corrected but this is part of becoming “fully trained”. When we fail, it is appropriate to mourn the fall, for sin is death and mourning accompanies death; but we must not allow Satan to whisper in our ear that we are no good and should give up. No, we are His Disciples. We are still in training and will be until the day He returns. We must learn our lessons from our failures. When we fall, we must get back up and dust ourselves off. We must go and sin no more.

Brother, do what He tells you to do. Learn your lessons well!

Have a Christ-like day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!


Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Matthew 18
Old Testament Only: Isaiah 50–54
New Testament Only: 1 Thessalonians 1:1–2:16

Be On Your Guard


Bible Reading for
October 22, 2016

Luke 4-5

You need to be most on your guard when you are at your lowest moment

If you’ve ever read one of the Gospels or spent much time in church, you know that Satan tempted Jesus in the desert. You also likely know that this occurred after He had wandered in the desert for 40 days without food or water. There is an extremely important lesson for us in this story. When did Satan tempt Jesus to do wrong?

Luke 4:1-3 ESV
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Satan tempted Jesus when He was weak, tired, thirsty, and hungry. He attacked Jesus when He was at His most vulnerable. Jesus was separated from the sustenance provided by family and friends, as well as food and drink. When does Satan attack you? Could it be he attacks you when you are emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically tired? Could it be he attacks you when you are separated from the sustenance provided by Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with believers?

Brothers, I believe Satan attacks each of us just as he did Jesus. He looks for an opportunity to whisper in our ear; to encourage us to follow our sinful nature. He does this when we are at our weakest. You know, Jesus spoke of Himself as “living water” and the “bread of life”. The Bible speaks of those who are in Christ as trees planted by a river.

Ezekiel 47:12 ESV
“And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

I love this passage for it is a wonderful picture of the fruitfulness of life to be found when the roots of our life are planted in such a way as to gain sustenance from the river of life, Jesus Christ. Notice that this fruitfulness is based on the proximity of the roots to the river itself. The further a tree is from a regular source of water the more it struggles to bear leaves let alone fruit.

You see, when we wander from the source of spiritual sustenance we weaken ourselves and provide the opening for which Satan is waiting. Understand that he will attack when you wander from Christ. Understand something else as well; our battle with Satan is on-going. We don’t win this battle once and it’s all over. No, we must constantly work to remain connected to the vine. We must constantly strive to ensure our roots are firmly planted along the banks of the River of Life. You see, the war is not over until Christ returns. Until that time we must remain vigilant. Look at how the temptation of Christ ended.

Luke 4:13 ESV
“And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”

Satan didn’t say “Oh well, He won. It’s all over. I surrender.” No, he departed “until an opportune time.” Brother, we must guard against an opportune time. We must read our Bibles, pray in faith, and fellowship with believers. We must have spiritual mentors and accountability partners. We must say “get behind me Satan” and remain vigilant for his next attack. Don’t wander from the source of your strength and sustenance!

Have a fruitful day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!


Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Mark 9, Luke 9:28-62, Matthew 17
Old Testament Only: Isaiah 47–49
New Testament Only: Colossians 3:18–4:18

By His Stripes We Are Healed


Bible Reading for
October 21, 2016

Luke 2-3

Ever notice the “stripes” and holes in a cracker?

Today we read of Simeon. Simeon was promised that he would see the Messiah before he died. Now I’m not sure why, but I always thought that Simeon was an old man on the verge of death. After reading commentary by Matthew Henry, however, I went back and re-read the passage in question.

Luke 2:25-26 ESV
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

Perhaps the following statement by Simeon is where I got the idea that he was old and on the verge of death.

Luke 2:29 ESV
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, …”

The implication here is that Simeon was ready to die since he had seen the Anointed One. The reason I bring up this issue is that there is some speculation as to who this Simeon was. Matthew Henry speculates that he was the father of Gamaliel who was a Pharisee who trained Saul who would later become the Apostle Paul. In fact, I have been told by a Messianic pastor that much of the pass-over tradition, as practiced by modern Jews today, was developed by Gamaliel. Here is the pertinent passage from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

“1. The account that is given us concerning this Simeon, or Simon. He dwelt now in Jerusalem, and was eminent for his piety and communion with God. Some learned men, who have been conversant with the Jewish writers, find that there was at this time one Simeon, a man of great note in Jerusalem, the son of Hillel, and the first to whom they gave the title of Rabban, the highest title that they gave to their doctors, and which was never given but to seven of them. He succeeded his father Hillel, as president of the college which his father founded, and of the great Sanhedrim. The Jews say that he was endued with a prophetical spirit, and that he was turned out of his place because he witnessed against the common opinion of the Jews concerning the temporal kingdom of the Messiah; and they likewise observe that there is no mention of him in their Mishna, or book of traditions, which intimates that he was no patron of those fooleries. One thing objected against this conjecture is that at this time his father Hillel was living, and that he himself lived many years after this, as appears by the Jewish histories; but, as to that, he is not here said to be old; and his saying, Now let thy servant depart intimates that he was willing to die now, but does not conclude that therefore he did die quickly. St. Paul lived many years after he had spoken of his death as near, Acts 20:25. Another thing objected is that the son of Simeon was Gamaliel, a Pharisee, and an enemy to Christianity; but, as to that, it is no new thing for a faithful lover of Christ to have a son a bigoted Pharisee.”

Henry, M. (1996). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.

The Nelson Study Bible has this to say about Gamaliel:

“Gamaliel was a highly respected Pharisee, the grandson of the famous Rabbi Hillel, a brilliant spiritual leader. Gamaliel was the teacher of Saul, who would later become the apostle Paul (22:3). Gamaliel was given the honored title of “Rabban,” meaning “Our Teacher.” It is said in the Mishna—the commentary on the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament—that when Gamaliel died, “the glory of the Torah ceased, and purity and sanctity died out also.” This is an impressive eulogy for a Jewish teacher.”

Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Notice that Simeon was not mentioned in the Mishan but his son, Gamaliel, was. I have attended a Passover Meal several times; each time it was led by a Messianic Pastor. This pastor is the one who told me that Gamaliel was extremely influential in the development of the modern celebratory practices of the Passover meal. What I find interesting in the modern Passover meal is how obviously it points to Jesus as the Christ. Of course, the Passover was an annual celebration of the salvation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. If you’ll remember, the final plague placed on Pharaoh and all of Egypt was the death of the first born.

The only way to be saved from death by this plague was for one to put the blood of a blemish free lamb on the door posts of one’s home. The blood of the lamb meant salvation. No blood meant death. The blood of the lamb saved the Jews and set them free. Later prophecy pointed to the “suffering servant” who would come as the lamb to save all of humanity and set them free. The bread used in the Passover meal is leaven, or yeast, free. It is called Matza.

Isaiah 53:5 paints a picture that we can see on the surface of Matza.

Isaiah 53:5 ESV
“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

If you will look above at the picture of Matza above, you will see those stripes. The Romans beat Jesus, most likely with what they called a Flagellum. A flagellum consisted of a handle with three lashes or thongs of leather or cord, sometimes with pieces of metal fastened to them. These pieces of metal would gouge chunks of flesh from the victim. At the end of the ordeal you would be bruised, you would have holes in you, the marks on your flesh from the Flagellum would leave vivid, red “stripes”. Matza is a picture of the punctured, bruised, and striped body of Jesus. Do you see the bruises on the Matza? Do you see the holes and the stripes?

I don’t recollect all the symbolism in the Passover Meal that pointed to Jesus and his death on the cross but I remember walking away thinking “How did they miss Him?” Gamaliel knew the scriptures inside and out. He knew a great deal about whom the Messiah would be and what He would experience, and yet when he came face to face with Jesus, unmistakably the Messiah, he didn’t recognize Him.

I am equally astounded when people today are presented with the Gospel and they deny Him. He stares them right in the face and they don’t recognize Him. There are a lot of lost people out there. There are also a lot of people who claim to be Christians who don’t know Him either. They know who He is supposed to be but they don’t know Him personally. He stares at them from the pages of the Bible. He tugs at their hearts urging them to listen and respond. They are blind. They are deaf. They are dead. How heart breaking.

I’m getting a bit negative, here aren’t I? I am doing so for a reason. Without Jesus Christ, there is no hope. Without Jesus Christ life has no meaning. Without Jesus Christ, a person is dead; it is just a matter of time until they realize it, lie down, and turn to dust. The good news is “but God”. God sent His son to die on a cross so those who would cover the entry way of their hearts with His blood would be saved from slavery to sin and death. I find the story of Gamaliel disheartening until I think of his father and his student. His father knew Christ and his student came to know Him too. God used others to present Christ to these men but it was God who guided them both to Him.

You and I can’t save anyone. We can only present Christ to others. God will lead them to Jesus and change their hearts. There will be many who reject Him but the few who accept Him will be well worth any discomfort or change of lifestyle we may have to endure in order to present Him to a Lost and dying world. By His stripes they are healed! Do you love them enough to tell them?

Have a Christ sharing day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!


Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Mark 8, Luke 9:18-27, Matthew 16
Old Testament Only: Isaiah 44–46
New Testament Only: Colossians 2:16–3:17

Is Prayer Important To You?


Bible Reading for
October 20, 2016

Luke 1


The Book of Luke shows us that prayer was important to Jesus

I don’t cry much. I guess most of us guys don’t. I have to tell you a terrible secret. There is one thing that gets me to bawling on a regular basis. Jesus makes me cry. When I think of Him coming to earth to save me from my sins I start to lose it. When I think about Him as a baby, as a child, as a young man, as an adult engaged in His ministry, as the sacrificial lamb up on that cross, the water works just start to give way. I read today’s passages and my eyes watered up. It was only with some deep breaths and a change of focus that I avoided a complete breakdown.

You didn’t know I was such a wimp did you?

Today we begin Luke and though it is one of the three “synoptic” Gospels, it is unique in many ways. There are two points I want to stress and then I’ll give you an overview of the book. First, Luke is the only author of a book of the Bible, Old and New Testament, that is not a Jew. What a great way to illustrate that Jesus came to redeem not just the Jews but all who would put their faith in Him. Second, Luke stresses the importance of prayer.

As Luke relates the life and ministry of Christ you will notice how often Jesus prays. This is important. While I believe being in the Word of God every day is extremely important, it is only part of a right relationship with God. An equally important part is prayer. I’m afraid this is yet another area of my walk as a disciple of Christ that needs improvement. God is my creator, and the good news is, He isn’t finished with me yet. Anyway, keep your eye open in this book for how Jesus prays, when Jesus prays, and how often Jesus prays. He is our example; let us learn our lessons well!

The Book of Luke was written by Luke, a Gentile physician and missionary traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. This Gospel is the longest book in the New Testament. We can see in this text a heavy “Pauline” influence – meaning it seems clear the Apostle Paul is the source for Luke’s writing. One early church leader, Origen, called Luke “the Gospel commended by Paul”, and another, Irenaeus, said that Luke “put down in a book the Gospel preached by him”, meaning Paul. Luke seems to echo Paul in that he places heavy emphasis on things like faith, mercy, repentance, forgiveness and the universality of salvation. Paul had a ministry to Gentiles and Luke’s Gospel is clearly written to that audience.

While Luke is considered one of the three “Synoptic Gospels”, which means they share similar stories often in similar order and wording, there is a good deal of material in Luke that is not found in any other Gospel. There are, for example, 15 parables in Luke that are found nowhere else in the Gospels. If it weren’t for Luke, we wouldn’t know of Jesus’ parables like the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, Lazarus and the Rich Man, The Rich Fool, the Lost Coin and many more. In fact, over half of the verses in the Book of Luke are the words of Jesus Himself.

I for one am extremely thankful to brother Luke for the service he has done us all. As I said earlier, in Luke we see the importance of prayer as exemplified by the Savior Himself. If Jesus felt prayer was so very important for Himself, how important should it be for you? Our spiritual growth can be accelerated at an exponential rate if we will learn the discipline of deep, daily prayer.

Have a prayerful day brothers!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!


Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Mark 7, Matthew 15
Old Testament Only: Isaiah 42–43
New Testament Only: Colossians 1:24–2:15