Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Matthew 2:9-11    …they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

  Is your birthday in December, like Jesus? We all experience the excitement of our birthdays and the gifts that family and friends may give to us. You and I receive cards and gifts from loved ones because of our relationship to them. Christmas seems to be unfair. It’s Jesus’ birthday but you and I get all the cards and gifts. Whoever’s birthday is observed should receive the gifts. Why do we get the presents and cards?

Matthew’s Gospel story of the birth of Jesus tells of three wise men who came to bring gifts to the new-born child. They did the right thing. They brought gifts to the one whose birthday it was. They even traveled a long and risky route to present their gold, incense and myrrh personally to the birthday child.

It is easy to get lost in the Christmas stampede. The decorations, meals planned, gift buying, wrappings and television “Holiday Specials” all find a way of occupying our mind and our stealing our attention. Like Jesus, do we really need gold, frankincense and myrrh? Are we willing to take a different route, like the wise men, to find our way to Jesus himself?

When he grew up, Jesus left to us a different example and message. For him the only gift we can bring him is our devotion. His desire is that this Christmas we present at his feet our heart, mind and body. This giving of ourselves to Him fulfills his wish at Christmas. Should we concentrate on giving ourselves to Him and to others we will find the true joy of Christmas and the fulfillment that only He can give us this season of the year.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Song of Songs 8:6-7    Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.

            God desires that we love Him with all our heart, our soul and our mind. After this He directs us to love our neighbor as our self.  Love is what a Christian is called to do in all walks of life. Your pastor has been called to this love as well. He involves himself in your lives. He shepherds you in the direction of Jesus Christ. This is no small task. His love exposes him to those who know no love. It makes him vulnerable to the sufferings of others.             The Apostle Paul speaks of his vulnerability in serving the church at Corinth: "I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep...I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches [the people]. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? “(2 Corinthians 11:27-29)

            “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The
alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside heaven where you will be perfectly safe from all dangers and perturbations of love is hell.” (The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis)

            Do not fall into the trap of being discriminating with your love. The tragedy of life is when love is not shared with God and others. It's all too easy to become selfish with love when you consider others who are different than you in one or many ways.

Reformed Theological Seminary, 1994.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Matthew 26:39    Jesus fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”


Making choices based on feelings of peace or any other emotion can be dangerous. Emotions are just not good indicators of whether a decision is right or wrong, wise or foolish. You could feel good about a choice or at peace with the decision and find yourself later in big trouble and far away from what God’s will is.


Remember Jonah and Jesus. Jonah was outside of God’s will when he traveled in the opposite direction that God had set for him. He got into a boat and traveled west, away from Nineveh. He was at peace with his decision. Despite a storm that had arisen and began to threaten the boat and the others he was traveling with, Jonah fell asleep and had to be awakened in the midst of the storm. Jonah had perfect peace and was completely out of the will of God. Perfect peace in the midst of making a wrong decision.

Jesus did not have good feelings when he and a three of the disciples were in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was considering his decision to accept God’s plan for the cross. Scripture says that he was deeply grieved and in agony over the decision to obey his Father. But thankfully he did not base his decision on feelings.

Be careful that your decisions are not based only on your feelings: anger, peace, fear, or happiness. Too much emphasis on feelings will sometimes lead you into a wrong choice. Rather, attempt to base your decisions on the truth in Scripture. In this manner you will make the right decision every time.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Proverbs 11: 24-25      One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

In the land of Jesus, Israel, there are two lakes, The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. They are connected by the Jordan River which flows south from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee receives  water from the Plain of Gennesaret and from Lake Huleh as well as the hills of Bashan and Naphtali. The Sea of Galilee is small but teaming with life. It is the lake in which the disciples fished for a living and on which Jesus walked. The Sea of Galilee has such a plentiful supply that water spills out into the Jordan River which flows many miles south into the Dead Sea.

In contrast, the Dead Sea only receives water. Its elevation is hundreds of feet below that of the Sea of Galilee and located in an arid,  desert-like environment. It receives water from the wilderness areas of Moab, Kedemoth, and Judah. The Kidron and Jordan Rivers both empty into the Dead Sea. As you can see, it receives much water but nothing lives in it. No plants or fish life can be found there.

One sea receives and gives; bringing vibrancy and life to its waters. The other sea only receives; creating in itself lifelessness and death. The application is clear; if you live a life of receiving only, you will find yourself with a dead heart and a shriveled life. If you only receive and do not give, then you will be like the Dead Sea.

The Bible teaches that if you are constantly sharing yourself and your life with others, giving richly, then you will receive much of life in return. The fullness of the Christian life is found in giving of ourselves that God might be glorified in us as we liberally share his goodness and grace.

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel,  2008.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Isaiah 9:6    For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…

It’s early in the Christmas season I know. But I am determined to keep a Christ-centered focus this year. This year I am memorizing a poem about Christ. It is a short poem but one I pray will help me remain focused throughout the coming days. Christmas is a season of great celebration for those who place their faith and hope in the Child of Bethlehem. When things get crazy with our holiday dinner preparation, gift buying and all the family activities I will remember Him.

     One Child Is Born

                        The darkest time in the year,
The poorest place in town,
Cold, and a taste of fear,
Man and woman alone,
What can we hope for here?

More light than we can learn,
More wealth than we can treasure,
More love than we can earn,
More peace than we can measure,
Because one child is born.

---  Christopher Fry

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Matthew 5:3-6     Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

I was selected to deliver meals on Thanksgiving morning to shut-ins and others needing a hot meal that day. I followed the directions to an address in a gated community with large homes, manicured lawns and new cars. Pulling into the driveway I could not help but wonder why someone with a splendid home and Mercedes sedan would be calling us for a meal. I pressed the door chime with a healthy amount of callousness in my heart. The door opened and I introduced myself and offered a middle-aged woman the carryout meal. She forced a smile, took the container and invited me in. She offered me a drink and we sat in the living room. I told her the reason for our providing the meal and asked if one meal would be enough. Her face took a more somber look and she shared with me the fact that her husband had died just two weeks earlier. She had no family in the area and did not feel up to going to friends or a restaurant. We talked for a long time and I left. I realized on the drive back to the church why God had led me to her door. My heart was changed by the encounter and to this day I look at people in need with different eyes, ears and heart.

 The people that come to Jericho Road are not always dressed the way most of us might expect them to be. They might even driver new cars than you. From all backgrounds and walks of life they come to us for help. Whether at the shelter or food pantry they are accepted for the need they present. Our help encourages them. We leave the critical evaluation of the heart to God. We share His love with them when we share our eternal hope in Jesus Christ and when we provide a basket of food or a nights lodging. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Psalm 46:1-2              God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

I love to sing the old church hymns that most churches have begun to shy away from. Growing up in a Lutheran Church these hymns were a part of my diet of worship. As a child and teenager, I sang in the choir along with the adults. Back then there was no children’s choir. It was exciting to be with the adults and to sing to God with them. We kids always felt a part of the Church because of our place in the choir. I suppose that’s why I am comfortable in churches with a large membership of senior citizens and why I still love to sing the old church hymns.

Psalm 46 is the basis for one old church hymn that is among my favorites, A Mighty Fortress was written by Martin Luther, the instigator of the Protestant Reformation in the early part of the 16th century. It was Luther, an Augustinian monk of the Roman Catholic Church, who posted on the door of the Cathedral of Wittenberg, Germany his 95 complaints against the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. This single act of protest led to the split of the Catholic Church and the eventual rise of the protestant churches of today.

Martin Luther’s act of faith has proven to be God’s will for the fulfillment of verse 10 of this same Psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Today we can together know that “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


1 Chronicles 16:32-34     Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Christmas is a special, joyous time for singing and making music. The many carols, hymns and songs that abound this time of year are not matched by another season. Together this music proclaims the birth of the Christ-child, the Son of God given to us. He is God with us in human flesh. This celebration occurs around the world in languages foreign to us but known by God. World-wide we sing and make music to the Lord our God for the good gifts he gives to mankind.

The beauty and joy of the incarnation of God’s only begotten Son is expressed in magnificent choral and orchestral arrangements. They declare the majesty of Bethlehem’s miracle. Celebrating with choirs, orchestras or our own private singing reflects the dawning light of the birth of our Savior. Christmas gladness breaks out in music throughout this joyful season of Christmas and throughout the world.

 This season of Advent can be used to express singing and not sighing. You can make music in your heart and thereby change the world around you. Joyful music is your response to the inner gladness and faith you have placed in the true message of this season. Enjoy the season of Christmas in the happiness of the incarnation and share the message of Christ’s birth with others.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Romans 8:28               And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

When believers suffer for Christ, they are not getting a taste of their future. We are not on a road that leads to destruction, but on one that leads to dignity. The hardships along our way are means by which God brings us to glory.

Think of it this way. God calls us to troubles as surgeons invite us to their operating tables. Their knives inflict terrible pain. No sane person enjoys the ordeal of surgery. To deny the anguish is to lie. Nonetheless, we voluntarily submit to the knife. Why? We allow them to cut because the pain will bring about better health in the future.

Paul tells us here that the same thing is true of God. He tells us to submit to the knife of suffering for Christ for the good it will bring to us. God is working all of our troubles into something wonderful for us. We can submit to his call because he promises to work the pain for our good.

This perspective on the plan of God causes us to breathe a sigh of relief. We can all remember times when we have seen God bring good out of bad.

Designed For Dignity. By Richard L. Pratt, Jr.,  pgs. 192-193.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Mathew16:26     What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Without belief in a world to come then all that is found in this world is to be grasped. If nothing exists beyond this life then we can live selfishly now for tomorrow it may all be gone.

Christians know differently. They know that an eternity awaits all people; an eternity of peace or an eternity of suffering. God has offered an eternity of peace with Him. It is an offer that is received by faith in Jesus Christ. Confessing the truth that Jesus is Lord and believing that he has paid the price for our sins frees us to live with the assurance that eternal peace with God is our eternal destiny.

            Despite the ugliness of our sinful past we have been forgiven. Not because of any effort or good work we have done but out of the gracious good pleasure of God. When this truth is made known to a person, they begin to see the true freedom God offers.

Godly freedom changes their world. They no longer need to be selfish. God has shared with them the greatest of all treasures. They no longer have to be hateful. God has shown them true love. They don’t have to be resentful of others. God has shown mercy towards them by giving them something which they did not deserve. God has freed them from their sins in order that they may live in fellowship to Him and conformity to His will. They can live in true fellowship with others.

Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary and resurrection to new life accomplishes what we could never do, satisfy God’s price for our sins. His victory is freely shared with us and restores our relationship to God. This brings a new life, a new person and a new way to view our world and the people around us.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Daniel 3:16-18           Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king… “We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know… that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar II excelled at grandiose expressions of anger, beauty, and pride. He was the unquestionable King of the Babylonian Empire. He had destroyed the majestic temple and nation of Israel. He built the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon and set up a nine-story image of gold to his god, Nabu. He commanded that everyone worship Nabu. When three Hebrew young men from Judah refused to bow down to the statue as ordered, the King became enraged and his authority was tested. He ordered them thrown into a furnace of fire. He sat to watch the execution of those who dared disobey him. But when the Lord Jehovah intervened to miraculously save the boys, the King quickly made a public profession of praise to the God of the young men who were delivered from the flames.

At first glance, it might sound like Nebuchadnezzar was convinced by the overwhelming evidence and converted from devotion to Nabu to Jehovah. But think about him. What other choice did he have? The entire kingdom saw what happened. How else could he save face? Had he tried to make an excuse for Nabu, he would appear weak to his people. He could be dethroned along with Nabu, replaced by Jehovah and these three young men. He did acknowledge God. However, his change of allegiance was motivated by circumstances, his fear of man and the threat of losing all that he had worked so hard to achieve in his world. He wanted to be sure he was on the winning side of life.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reveal a true allegiance and trust in God. Our devotion to Jesus Christ should mirror theirs. Despite the risks, the consequences and the jeers from the world around us, we are to hold on to the God we serve. Christ is our evidence that our God is able to save us from eternal death and all the temptations the world can send our way. 

Friday, April 4, 2014


Mark 13:5-9               Watch out that no one deceives you…When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. You must be on your guard.

A man that walks down a street without knowing he missed being hit by a falling tree by just inches is not thankful. Unless someone turns him around and shows him what almost happened to him, he will keep walking down the street. But the man made aware of the closeness of such a near death experience is greatly thankful. He is aware of the magnitude of the events surrounding his near death and his life.

            A gracious and merciful love is the sole agent that can destroy the sin of calloused and hardened hearts. God is love. God alone is the destroyer of sinful hearts. He alone can change what was once at odds with truth and return it to the fountain of all truth. A man who has been the greatest of sinners understands how much he has received in God’s turning his heart from sin. He is able to understand forgiveness in the fullest sense of the word.

Unless God changes our hearts, we will never know how close we are to destruction until it is too late. Unless the grace of God, a grace man cannot fully understand, connects our minds to our hearts in a way that touches our souls, we are doomed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Hebrews 11:1, 6                     Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Christian success is being a faithful Christian. The object of our faith is not ourselves but God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Knowing Him as our Savior and Lord is the start of faithful living. We are enabled by the Holy Spirit to share our lives with other people. He will provide us with opportunities to share our belief and faith in Christ. Knowing God’s Son in a  personal way makes sharing him with others more enjoyable and natural. Sharing Him with others is Christian fellowship. From this point we are able to be successful. Lives and hearts centered on His will is success. Scripture teaches about Christian success and calls it faithfulness.

Focusing on God’s truth is the start of our developing successful lives. Learning how to be faithful directs us in successful ways. Christ is the starting point for any successful faith. Enjoying Him results in a personal contentment in life. It allows us to rely on God as the provider of our every need. His past record of faithful provision makes our faith a comforting reality. We can be certain of His promises for the future as well. We can be sure that faith in Him will make us successful.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


John 8:31-32              To the Jews who believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Let us suppose you are the head of an institution. In sending a representative out, you tell him that you will acknowledge whatever he does according to his best judgment and that people listening to him will be considered as listening to you. Surely you will require him to report to you daily lest he make a mistake. But the Lord makes us representatives of himself, fully authorized to act on his behalf. What confidence He has in us! Can we trust any less when our Lord displays such trust in His delegated authority?

People will perhaps argue, “What if the authority is wrong?” The answer is, If God dares to entrust His authority to men, then we can dare to obey. Whether the one in authority is right or wrong does not concern us, since he has to be responsible directly to God. The obedient needs only to obey; the Lord will not hold us responsible for any mistaken obedience, rather will He hold the delegated authority responsible for his erroneous act. Insubordination, however, is rebellion, and for this the one under authority must answer to God.

Spiritual Authority. By Watchman Nee,  pgs. 70-71.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Matthew 5:14, 16                   You are the light of the world… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Live in a way that won’t blaspheme the name of God. On the one hand, don’t care about human reputation. On the other hand, don’t give reason for others to speak poorly of you. But be moderate on both issues. For Christ left us here to be lights. We are here to teach others and be like leaven in dough. We should go about as angels among people, as adults among children, as spiritual people among those who are natural. In this way they can profit as we become seeds bearing copious gruit. There is no need to speak if we shine through our lives. There is no need for teachers if we only demonstrate through our works. There would be no unbelievers if we were the Christians we should be. Everyone would convert to godliness if we generally kept the commandments of Christ, suffered through insults, allowed others to take advantage of us, blessed when we were cursed and did good when treated poorly. For example, Paul was only one man, yet how many followed him? If we were all like him, how many worlds could we have following us?

By Chrysostom

Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers. By Christopher Hudson, Alan Sharrer, & Lindsay Vanker,  pg. 135.

Ministry Scenes

Have The Homeless Become Invisible?