He Allowed All The Nations to Go Their Own Way…

11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the form of men! ” 12 And they started to call Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the main speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gates. He, with the crowds, intended to offer sacrifice.  14 The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their robes when they heard this and rushed into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16 In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way, 17 although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did what is good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.” 18 Even though they said these things, they barely stopped the crowds from sacrificing to them.  (Acts 14:11-18 HCSB)

This scripture parallels the day we are living in. The similarities are actually pretty obvious. The first parallel has to do with the adulation of the crowd. Paul and Barnabas were very clearly uncomfortable with the attention they were getting from people who thought they were gods. They were even referring to them as Zeus and Hermes. To their credit, Paul and Barnabas wanted nothing to do with it. They even told them they were “men also, with the same nature as you…” My point is this, humankind seems to have an emotional need to elevate personalities to a place of honor. We do it with movie stars, singers, politicians, and, even preachers.

The second parallel has to do with nations going their own way. This is not a modern phenomena, even though it does apply to current events. The path of God’s righteousness was revealed to the world many years ago. It is not a mystery. People have been avoiding God’s plan and creating their own ways for many millennia. Nothing is new about it.

The third, and final parallel is that God will never be without a remnant who will uphold and declare His righteous ways. The writer says, “He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did what is good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.” God will bless His remnant with abundance even in the most horrible of conditions. In America, it certainly feels that His remnant are few and far between. In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, He has a people strategically placed who will represent Him, even in the most reprehensible of times. He will bless, “by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.”

Remember, our hope is in Him! He, along with His remnant will prevail!

PRAYER: Father, I want to be counted in the number who will represent You well in these last days which will usher in the second coming of Your son. Help me be faithful to You, to walk in godly fruitfulness and satisfaction. Amen.

The More I Seek You

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:33)

No matter where you are on the spectrum of the “busyness” of life, you probably spend a fair amount of time going, doing and worrying — and, more than likely, you get very tired…mentally, physically, emotionally…or all of the above! 

Well, I believe that God has called us to rest.  Rest?  What is that?  The word itself comes from the Latin word restare which means remain.  To rest means to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.  To be still — remain.  The Lord even says to us, “Be still and know that I am God.”  He is telling us to rest!  Slow down! 

Sometimes I think we get so carried away with trying to make everything work, trying to ensure that everyone else around us is happy and taken care of, that we begin to step into God’s shoes.  It makes sense, when you think about it, that we wind up getting so worn out.  We become too reliant on ourselves!  Instead, we have to rely on God, because when we begin to take on the cares of everyone else, we are stepping too far out in the water, and we start to go in over our heads.

Have you have ever been to the beach and waded out really far, only to reach the edge of the sandbar?  It’s a sharp drop-off, and it’s scary.  You’ve gone a great length out into the ocean, and you are thinking, “Ha, this is no big deal!  Look how far out I am and it’s only up to my knees!!”  You’re staring out into the distance thinking you could walk all the way out to the horizon…no big deal…until you step over that edge you didn’t see coming — you’re flailing your arms and gasping for air…and you never even saw it coming. 

Another analogy that comes to mind is when you are running and your body starts to sort of get ahead of your feet — you feel yourself stumbling forward, and you’re struggling to keep up and/or find some sort of balance to it all so you don’t fall…or have to stop.  God forbid we ever have to stop!  Right?  Well…sometimes we just have to stop…BEFORE we fall down…BEFORE we reach the end of the sandbar and have to be rescued.  We have to learn to take a much-needed breather. 

Something strange that I do, is that I hold my breath when I’m busy.  I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I get a little light-headed and I have to take a big breath and sort of sigh.  I have actually had people ask me what’s wrong because they think I’m sighing out of exasperation! 

The thing about it is…I actually FORGET TO BREATHE!  I get caught up in what I’m doing and I neglect to do something that keeps my body circulating and alive!  How ridiculous is that?  But isn’t that what we all do in a sense?  We don’t take time to slow down.  We neglect our bodies and our spirits when we don’t rest and simply breathe.

Friends, we have to understand something very important.  We cannot be of use if we are all used up!  We have to stop rushing around pursuing the things of this world.  It’s distracting and draining us, making us weak.  Any doctor or medical professional will tell you that the number one component of the healing and restoration process, the best possible way to strengthen oneself, is rest. 

So what we have to do is stop.  Stop trying to be perfect.  Stop trying to gain and collect and impress.  Be still.  Breathe.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. (Galatians 5: 22-24)

It is a matter of crucifying our flesh.  Not just parts of it.  All of it.  Yep…resting requires putting ourselves aside.  When we are able to do that, to make time to seek Him and rest in Him, that is when we are able to live in His fullness.  That is when we will see the evidence of His presence in our lives, and we will replace resentment with love, aggravation with joy, worry with peace, irritability with kindness, envy with goodness, disregard with faithfulness, short tempers with gentleness, and indulgence with self-control.

We cannot get lost in ourselves, in our spouses, in our children or any other part of our lives.  Instead we must find ourselves in Him.  We have to seek Him, learn His voice, and know who we are are called to be…as children of God.  Let Him be the center of our lives, pulling us together when we fall apart, and keeping us anchored when things get out of control.  Nothing else that we do matters if we don’t do that first. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the wisdom to know when it is time to rest.  Help me to take time each day to lean against You and just breathe.  Amen.

Put Your Sword Away…

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. (The slave’s name was Malchus.)  11 At that, Jesus said to Peter, “Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given Me? ”  (John 18:10-11 HCSB)

I wonder how many times in my life I’ve tried to help God do His job only to discover that my actions/attitudes actually hindered what He was doing? I don’t think there is any way I could estimate the number of times it has happened.

Several years ago, a parent told me about a wayward young adult in the family. After much prayer and human effort to “straighten out” the youth, the Lord spoke to the parent about his constant involvement and enablement. He told me, “The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Each time I get your child to the place where he is ready to call out to me, you step in and fix his dilemma. Step back, release him to me, and let me work in his life. Trust your child to me!””

Peter was not unlike many of us. His world was spinning out of control and no matter how many times Jesus had told him of His impending death, he could not accept it. Human reflex often kicks in even when we know what to expect.

Every year, I go to the eye doctor to have my eyes examined. One of the tests involves a burst of air on the open eyeball. No matter how many times the doctor warns me that the burst is coming, my reflexes kick in, I jump, wince, and feel foolish for letting it catch me off guard. I get surprised no matter how hard I concentrate and try to time my response to perfectly correspond to the burst.

Jesus plan was not deterred by Peter’s actions. He simply fixed the setback by replacing Malchus’s ear, and turned himself over to those who had come for him. His plan continued undaunted.

Today, I want to encourage you to cooperate with God. His will has been revealed in Scripture, and when followed will produce the positive results He intends. So, put your sword away…

PRAYER: I trust You Lord. With Your help I will keep my sword in its sheath and work with Your plan even when I may not understand it entirely. Amen.

We Are Not Going To Listen To You!

15 However, all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, all the women standing by — a great assembly — and all the people who were living in the land of Egypt at Pathros answered Jeremiah, 16 “As for the word you spoke to us in the name of Yahweh, we are not going to listen to you! 17 Instead, we will do everything we said we would: burn incense to the queen of heaven  and offer drink offerings to her just as we, our fathers, our kings, and our officials did in Judah’s cities  and in Jerusalem’s streets. Then we had enough food and good things and saw no disaster, 18 but from the time we ceased to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to offer her drink offerings, we have lacked everything, and through sword and famine we have met our end.”   (Jeremiah 44:15-18 HCSB)

Stubborn: “Having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”

Rebellion: “The action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who sought your wisdom concerning a situation they were dealing with? They asked your advice–you invested time, energy, and prayer to help walk them through the troublesome time–only to have them politely say, “Thanks…but no thanks!”

When I began ministry, I determined to stick close to scriptural principles when providing counseling. I’ve held tightly to that policy when meeting with individuals in need of guidance. In fact, I usually instruct them in the first meeting that I’m not a licensed counselor, and do not use secular methods to remedy spiritual matters. If they want secular wisdom, they can seek that out. I’m a pastor. It’s what I’m called to do, and I must remain in my gift-set if I am to be successful in helping others. The best tool I have in my bag is scripture because it reveals the principles established by God. It works!

One of the most difficult things to do is get people to try a different approach. They say they want a change in their circumstance but they don’t want to do anything different. It’s a certain recipe for failure. It reeks of rebellion and stubbornness.

The Prophet Jeremiah found himself in a similar situation. The people listening to him were in quite a dilemma; facing the judgment of God they had come to Jeremiah to hear the word of the Lord. Jeremiah gave them the whole load! He held nothing back–no mincing of words. He revealed every evil thing they had been involved in and provided a clear path to victory. Good news! Right?

“…All the people who were living in the land of Egypt at Pathros answered Jeremiah, 16 “As for the word you spoke to us in the name of Yahweh, we are not going to listen to you! 17 Instead, we will do everything we said we would…” Rebellion and stubbornness reigned supreme! And, it kept them from experiencing the blessings of God.

Hear my heart… You cannot be rebellious with God and expect to come out on top! He will not tolerate a stubborn spirit. It repels His blessings as much as any attitude you can possess. So, do you need to experience a breakthrough? Why not start with an attitude adjustment!

PRAYER: Father, help me to overcome the fleshly desire to rebel against You. Your words are life and liberty. Help me to submit my will to yours so that blessing can be mine! Amen.

They Loved the Glory…

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42 Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. 43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.  (John 12:42-43 HCSB)

I was looking at my Facebook timeline today when I happened across an advertisement for an upcoming religious event. The featured speaker is one who would be well known if I mentioned the name. What bothered me most, was the photo (shown above) being used to advertise the upcoming event. It obviously was taken at a past event and depicted the speaker standing on the stage among a house full of worshippers.

Before I go any further, I acknowledge that I do not know the circumstances of what was being said, what the motives were, or any other details of the picture. Everything may have been perfectly in order.

With that said, I’m a little uncomfortable with the picture because of the two-fold temptation that exists. First, it creates an atmosphere where the crowd could be more focused on the stage personality than on God. It is very clearly idolatry when we focus more on the messenger than the Message. It is very dangerous to create a human focal point upon which every eye is fixed. It would be very easy to place the stage personality on a unhealthy pedestal. Second, the stage personality is put in a position where he or she could become intoxicated by the adulation of the crowd–even if it is not meant for him/her. As a pastor, and one who has stood before congregations large and small, I can attest to the temptation to think more highly of oneself than is acceptable. Scripture sends a strong warning about this. 3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. (Romans 12:3 HCSB)

Before you stop reading because you think I’m being foolish, let me suggest that this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s been happening for years. Consider Paul’s warning to the Corinthians…

2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, 3 because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers? 4 For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people?  5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:2-7 HCSB)

John also addresses the issue of misplaced affections when he writes, “they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” WOW! These people were more interested in the glory of man than the glory of God. Amazing!

I’m not angry, bitter, judgmental, jealous… I just think we all need to make sure that we always keep human vessels where they belong. They (we) are humble servants of the Most High God. HE deserves the glory! Not man… In your quest for spiritual maturity, seek the Kingdom of God… Seek the Savior… Go after Him more than You pursue the big events. While these events can certainly be faith-building, they can also be addictive. We tend to navigate to the big names who “ring our bell!” Ok. I get that. I have personal favorites too. But, be careful. I love the words of the old song…

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
–Helen H. Lemmel

Amen.

PRAYER: Father, You deserve the glory for all that You are. Help me to always hold You higher than any other. Don’t let me succumb to the temptation to love the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from You! Amen.

There Are No Words…

[John 11:41-44 HCSB] 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You heard Me. 42 I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me.” 43 After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out! ” 44 The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” 

I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times through the years. Each time, I find myself intrigued by the various movements of the story; Jesus refusing to come immediately, His declaration that the sickness is not unto death and then telling the disciples that Lazarus had indeed died, Mary and Martha’s belief that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there, Jesus weeping over the loss of his friend. Then, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. I could go on…

As I read the passage this time, something struck me that I had never noticed before. There was no record of rejoicing. None. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. How utterly unPentecostal! You would think they could have organized a small Jericho March, a hanky-wave, a shofar-blowing celebration. But, there is no record of a celebration at all. Nothing in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Only John wrote about this miraculous resurrection.

The majority of the text speaks of the relationships, delays, faith… Jesus obviously delayed so that a spiritual point could be made. So that trust could be solidified. There are many angles to be considered.

You want to know what I think? (Sure you do. After all, you are reading this!) I think there was a celebration. I think they did rejoice over this miraculous resurrection. Maybe Jesus, Lazarus, Martha and Mary went to the house and had a cup of coffee together! Jesus would have explained the purpose of the delay, and the specific words He spoke for the benefit of the gathered crowd. They probably laughed, talked about the good old days, and expressed genuine gratitude for a beautiful future. But, we will never know! Because there is no record of anything that happened after the resurrection.

So, what is the take away? Simply this. While thanksgiving and praise is always appropriate, it is not always the main thing. The work that Jesus did was the main thing. And, by omitting the reference to any type of human response, the spotlight stayed right where it belonged. On Jesus. Sometimes, there are simply no words…

PRAYER: Father, the work you are doing is, at times, indescribable. Though I may not be able to formulate adequate words, I acknowledge your purposes. I will praise you, and always make sure the spotlight remains on you! Amen.

Scarecrows In a Cucumber Patch

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[Jer 10:3-6 HCSB] 3 for the customs of the peoples are worthless. Someone cuts down a tree from the forest; it is worked by the hands of a craftsman with a chisel.  4 He decorates it with silver and gold.  It is fastened with hammer and nails,  so it won’t totter.  5 Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch, their idols cannot speak.  They must be carried  because they cannot walk. Do not fear them for they can do no harm  — and they cannot do any good.   6 Yahweh, there is no one like You.  You are great; Your name is great in power.

We don’t hear alot about idol worship these days. I think it is probably because in North America, the practice of establishing idols is no longer taboo. In our society of free expression just about everything is acceptable; no one really wants to get involved and risk being labeled “judgmental.” So, we watch as people do nutty things, we roll our eyes at them and keep on traveling. Hey, they’re not really hurting anyone anyway, right?

The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities.

Through the years, I have read several Bible passsages that describe the creation of man-made idols that were used to provide a visual depiction of a imaginary diety. The Golden Calf, Dagon, Baal, etc. were created by man FOR man. They conjoured a concept of the kind of god they could relate to; created in a tangible form as a focal point used during times of worship. In every instance, these gods were  proven to be useless! They had no power to help.

Jeremiah paints a vivid picture of the idols being worshipped in his day. He writes, “Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch, their idols cannot speak.  They must be carried  because they cannot walk. Do not fear them for they can do no harm  — and they cannot do any good.”

Can you picture it in your mind? Jeremiah makes it clear, “They cannot do any good!” No matter how beautifully crafted they were, no matter the material with which they were made, no matter how fond they were of them, no matter how proud of their craftsmanship they were, no matter how long they had been in the family–THEY WERE USELESS!

I started by defining an idol as “anything that replaces the one, true God.” There are many things that deserve our love and respect–spouses, children, friends, jobs, etc.–all are worthy of our appreciation. But, none of these–NONE–are meant to replace God in our heart. If we treat them as idols, putting them before God, they will become like scarecrows in a cucumber patch!

Jeremiah closes his comments by writing, “Yahweh, there is no one like You.  You are great; Your name is great in power.” That, my friend, is the main point of Jeremiah’s comments. NO THING  or NO INDIVIDUAL can replace God. No one is like Him; He is great and His name is great in power!

PRAYER: Father, You alone are the true God. Help me to keep You at the center of my life. Let nothing stand between me and You. Nothing… No one! Only You can are deserving of the honor to sit on the throne of my heart. You… Yahweh… there is no one like You!

Blinded By The Light

[Luke 24:13-16 NLT] 13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.

Not long ago, Donna and I were having a meal together in a local restaurant. I was looking forward to spending time visiting with her in a quiet place, with good conversation and a delicious meal. Instead, it turned into a frustrating and uncomfortable time because they seated us in a place where the sun was in my eyes. It was so bright that I couldn’t even see Donna’s face. All I could see was the form of her body and the extremely bright sun behind her. Even pulling the blinds did not help remedy the problem.

In our scripture text for today, Luke reports the appearance of Jesus to two of his followers while they were walking on the Emmaus road. They were engaged in a lively conversation about the recent activities surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. Luke writes, “As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.”

To this point, things seem pretty ordinary. But then Luke adds, “But God kept them from recognizing him.” Now, that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me! You would think that God would want everyone to know that Jesus was alive. This wasn’t supposed to happen! People didn’t rise from the dead! But, here he was, alive and well. And God kept them from recognizing Him.

As my mom would say, “Reckon why He would do that?” Scripture doesn’t really say why God kept them from knowing Him so we must speculate as to His motive. The conversation reveals some important details. Jesus opened the conversation by asking them what they had been talking about. From this, we can know that Jesus had walked silently with them for a while, just listening as they carried on the conversation. Jesus wanted to know from them what He wants to know from us today: can we believe without seeing with our own eyes? 

Sometimes we can’t see the glory of the Lord in spite of His nearness. He may be bringing blessing into our lives, but we can’t see it because we are blinded by our circumstances. Thankfully, He patiently walks with us and reveals Himself at precisely the right moment. And when He does, joy is restored to our weary souls.

PRAYER: Father, open the eyes of my heart so I may clearly see Your glory. May I daily recognize Your nearness. Amen.

In the Absence of the Crowd…

(Luke 22:3-6 ESV) 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

Judas…The man who had walked with Jesus and beheld the dead brought back to life, blind eyes opened to new vistas, deaf ears hearing new sounds, mute tongues speaking clearly. He had witnessed the miraculous activity of the very Son of God. What a privilege! What an opportunity!

He was a member of an elite society. He had been hand picked by Jesus to carry out the work of the Kingdom of God. He walked among godly men. He dined with a rare band of brothers. He was given the responsibility of carrying the purse.

But, it was not enough. Judas wanted more. And, in a moment of weakness, he turned himself over to the work of Satan and struck a deal that would culminate in the capture of the Messiah. Judas was not naive. He knew they wanted to capture Jesus and kill him. They wanted his message silenced. They would stop at nothing. So, Judas agreed to turn Jesus over…in the absence of the crowd.

As many times as I have read this story, I had never noticed those final words… “In the absence of the crowd…”

It’s easy to compromise our character in the absence of the crowd. Sinful attitudes are easier thought about in the absence of the crowd. Inappropriate activity comes easier in the absence of the crowd. Fantasy runs wild in the absence of the crowd.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Solitude can be a time of positive reflection. Christian maturity can be developed in the absence of the crowd. Scripture study can be much more enlightening in the absence of the crowd. Worship can be sweeter in the absence of the crowd. Rest is more peaceful in the absence of the crowd.

What will your life look like in the absence of the crowd? The choice is yours! Make it a good one!

PRAYER: Lord, may I always remember that You are my constant companion. Even in the absence of the crowd Your presence is near. Help me make the most of my time, my thoughts, my actions—at all times—particularly in the absence of the crowd. Amen.

This Will Hurt Me Worse Than It Will Hurt You! | Part 2

(Luke 18:15-17 HCSB) 15 Some people were even bringing infants to Him so He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 Jesus, however, invited them: “Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of a timely rebuke. In Luke 17, Jesus instructed His disciples to rebuke their Christian brothers who were guilty of sin. The purpose of the rebuke was to move the offender towards repentance so that forgiveness could be experienced. He encouraged them to be patient and committed to the process of restoration. He instructed, “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4 HCSB) Clearly, Jesus was serious about the importance of a timely rebuke.

In Luke 18, we are exposed to an example of an untimely and inappropriate rebuke. Yesterday, I suggested that we don’t like to give rebukes, nor do we like to receive them. But, that is only partially true. Let me explain. We live in a world that is contrary to Scriptural principles. Whether it is abortion, addictions, pre-marital and extra-marital sexual activity, stealing, killing, etc.–anything that rubs against the grain of our beliefs–we feel the need to “rebuke” those who are involved in these activities. We post angry comments on social media, memes which support our “Christian” viewpoints; political rants designed to “rebuke” those who have a different opinion.

In Luke 17, the rebuke was timely and appropriate because it was an interaction between Christian brothers and sisters. But, the rebuke given by the disciples in Luke 18 was focused on people who had not yet become Believers. Obviously, they were intrigued by the ministry of Jesus, but they were simply “flirting” with him. They wanted to see what He had to offer, so they brought their children so He might touch them.”  The disciples became frustrated with the extra attention, and the additional effort required to maintain the crowd.

Their rebuke missed the mark on at least two accounts. First, it was motivated by selfish frustration rather than love. Second, they rebuked unbelievers who did not realize they were doing anything wrong.

Jesus turned this experience into a teachable moment by “inviting” them to see the situation as an opportunity for ministry.  He told them, “Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” He was not at all disturbed by the additional work that the children and their parents created for him. Jesus gently “rebuked” the “rebukers” for their inappropriate and untimely “rebuke!”

PRAYER: Give me the wisdom and desire to see the kingdom of heaven through the eyes of a child. Provide discipline and discernment as I interact with individuals in my circle of influence; discipline to know when to speak and when to remain silent, and discernment to know the difference! Amen.