Sunday, February 15, 2009



There was a land which had given itself over to evil and lawlessness. Brute force, selfishness, seduction, self-indulgence and envy were the way of the land. But there arose a king who was devoted to truth and righteousness. The king spent his life determined to establish a society based on kindness, selflessness, self control and love. Many from the land desired to be a part of this new kingdom. Therefore the king established the boundaries of his kingdom with a great wall and commissioned a devoted army to protect its subjects and property. He also established the law of his kingdom and the oath required of anyone who chose to be his subject. The oath was very simple, “I submit myself to the law of this land and the sovereignty of its king.” In truth, once someone took the oath, they became a slave to the king (his rule was absolute). But the people loved him and gladly submitted to him. The people recognized his love for them and the freedom and protection from the outside world provided by his power. They also strived to obey the laws of the land in acknowledgment of the personal sacrifices he made to establish the kingdom. Nevertheless, they lived freely within the kingdom. If they obeyed the laws of the kingdom, they flourished. If they broke the law, the king determined the punishment. Yet they would always be a part of the kingdom and afforded the protection and benefits of living within the great wall. Each adult had to take the oath for themselves. The king established what was called, “The Time of Decision” for children. This was determined based on the kings assessment of the child’s maturity and understanding of the oath. A child could enter the kingdom with their parents without taking the oath if they were not yet mature enough to understand the oath and its implications to their life. Once the king established that someone had reached The Time of Decision, if they refused to take the oath they were removed from the kingdom. Outside the great wall was freedom from the king’s law. But there was no law at all. Outside the wall you became a slave to evil (You didn’t have the option of being honest or just. If you did, you would be taken advantage of, mistreated or killed). Despite the horrible things that happened outside the wall, the first law the king established was, “Anyone from outside this kingdom, regardless of what they have done, may enter at any time if they take the oath. Once they take the oath and enter the kingdom, they start a new life subject to my laws and my authority. I will no longer view them as one from the outside world, but as one of my children.” There was always a line of people outside the gate waiting to enter. But when it came time to take the oath, many would turn and walk away. What would you do? Would you chose to live as a slave to the evil outside the wall? Or would you chose to take the oath and live subject to the rule of the righteous king?


Focus Verse: Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Additional Verses: John 8:34, 2 Peter 2:19


The story above certainly cannot fully describe the love God has for us, His sovereignty or His plan for the world. But the key point should be clear. We all have a decision to make in our life: do we want to be slaves to sin unto death or slaves to obedience (God) unto righteousness? You cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Once you have made a decision to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, you should strive to be obedient to Him and His commandments out of love for Him and appreciation for all He has done for us (John 14:15). However, making the decision to accept Christ (never forget that we are saved by God’s grace through faith, Ephesians 2:8) is really just the first step. As you mature as a Christian and grow to love Christ more each day, you will begin to understand what His sacrifice for us really means, how God the Father views us now that the Lamb of God has been sacrificed for the sin of the entire world (1 John 2:1-2), how the Holy Spirit frees us from sin and that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8).


King of kings, Lord of lords, Savior, Master, Father: my heart is full of praise for You. May my life reflect my love for You. By Your grace, may Your strength be made perfect through my weakness. I am humbled and honored to know I am a slave to You and Your righteousness. I submit myself to Your will and sovereignty over my life and the world and chose to serve You out of love. May Your Holy Spirit fill me, teach me and comfort me. I am Yours. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, February 8, 2009



Frank is a master carpenter. He makes his living building custom furniture. Years ago one of his regular customers called him, “the Michelangelo of Wood Working.” Frank was always glad that nickname never really stuck. Fact of the matter is, Frank just loves to build. He always seems to find carpentry work around the church or his neighborhood. Last week he built a handicap access ramp at an elderly neighbors’ home. He recently helped the local Boy Scout Troop build a large bin for collecting newspaper for recycling. Frank truly loves being a carpenter. He has a workshop full of tools. He has electric tools, pneumatic tools, manual tools, old tools, new tools, just about any tool you can imagine for woodworking. He even keeps the broken ones because he knows he can fix them and use them again. Frank loves all his tools, but he has two in particular he uses whenever he can. His old hand saw and the hammer his father gave him when he was still a teenager. He certainly has fancier tools, but these require little to no maintenance and just always seem willing to do whatever job Frank is focused on. As useful as these tools are, he has improved them. About ten years ago Frank put a new handle that was about an inch longer on his hammer. Not only was the old handle worn and cracked, but the added length greatly increased the momentum when he swung it. His saw doesn’t require much maintenance either aside from an occasional oiling to keep rust off the blade. But last year Frank sharpened every tooth on that old hand saw. It’s a sight to watch him tear through a two-by-four. Frank always seems pleased as he carefully nails the last piece of wood into place and steps back to admire his work. Over the years people have often asked why he repeatedly uses the old hand saw and hammer so often when he has so many other tools to choose from. The answer is always the same, “It’s always satisfying to pick up a tool that is ready to work. I know I can count on these usable tools.”


Focus Verse: Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Additional Verses: Isaiah 10:15, Jeremiah 18:3-4


Have you ever viewed yourself as “… an instrument of righteousness…” What an amazing thought, to be a useable tool in the hands of God. But don’t misunderstand, God does not need us to accomplish His work. God is all powerful. He can do anything. However, He allows us the awesome privilege of joining Him in His work if we submit ourselves to Him. Don’t get focused on the work. Focus on being usable and submitting to God. And what’s even more amazing is God can and will remake you to suit His purposes. Carefully and diligently guard against pride when God uses you (Luke 18:13-14). Remember who is doing the work and humbly be thankful for God’s mercy and willingness to use you.


Holy Father in Heaven, I lift praises to Your name and beg You to forgive me of my sins. I humbly submit myself to You and pray that You will use me in your work. May Your will be done, dear Lord, and may I decrease as You increase. Thank you, Father, for Your kindness, patience and mercy. In the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, February 2, 2009



Jerry loved his grandfather. “Papa Chuck”, as he was known, knew everybody in town and was a respected member of the community. He was polite and always greeted people with an enthusiastic, “Hello!” or “How are you today?” Papa Chuck had a firm handshake, not overly powerful to show off his considerable physical strength, but sincere and honest, showing his inner strength and genuine caring.

Back when Jerry was a teenager, he spent a lot of time during the summers with Papa Chuck and Gran. They were a great couple and their love for each other was very apparent. With the tenth anniversary of Papa Chuck’s death approaching, Jerry found himself thinking about those summers more and more. He had so many wonderful memories. Gran was in an apartment now, and she was only two hours away.

Today Jerry had committed to take Gran to the cemetery. He knew that after visiting Papa Chuck’s grave, Gran would want to go for a walk and then head back to her apartment for a late lunch as they had done each year since his death. However, this year, after more tears than he remembered in the past, Gran just asked to head home. Gran seemed tired and somehow older. They didn’t talk much during the drive. When they got home, and as they entered the living room, Jerry immediately noticed the wooden box on the coffee table. This was quite unusual. The wooden box held Papa Chuck’s watch collection, and since his death it had always been stored under Papa Chuck’s side of the bed. Over the years Jerry had spent many hours looking at the different watches. Other than one or two of them, he never really thought they were very valuable, and not even that stylish. Actually, as he stood there, he realized that he had never really even paid much attention to most of them. The gold faced one with the diamond at 12 o’clock was always his favorite. The one with the silver band and mother of pearl face was pretty cool and ran a close second. Beyond that, he couldn’t really recall any of them.

Jerry suddenly realized he had really just been looking for the feeling of being close to Papa Chuck when he spent time in that wooden box. “You know,” Gran began as she sat down on the couch, “there is a story and deep meaning behind every one of those watches. It was the sentimental, not the material value of each one that meant so much to Charles.” Jerry sat down next to Gran. “I’m so sorry, Jerry,” Gran said as she began to cry again. “I was supposed to give you these watches when Charles passed away but I never felt you could appreciate them. Then about three months ago I realized the only reason you couldn’t appreciate them was because no one had ever told you the meaning of each one. I felt so guilty, but I decided that I would wait until today to tell you.”

Jerry hugged his grandmother and then got up to get a tissue for her. “Thank you, Jerry. You have always been so sweet to me. I’m not sure why I didn’t think you would understand the true value of these watches.” She reached over and picked up the oldest looking watch and said, “Now this was always Charles’ favorite. His father gave it to him when he got back from the war. It didn’t cost much, but these words on the back meant the world to my dear Charles.” Gran gently turned over the watch and, for the first time Jerry saw the engraving on the back – CHARLES: I LOVE YOU SON, DAD – “How did I never see that?” Jerry asked. “Jerry, Charles never once heard his father say those words, but here on this watch they were engraved for all time.”

Gran spent the next three hours telling the story behind each watch. Jerry’s eyes and heart were opened to an entirely new and deeper understanding of his grandfather’s life. Over the next year, Jerry worked with Gran to write the story of each watch in a leather bound journal.

The following winter at Gran’s funeral, Jerry told the story of the watches, the wooden box and the journal. He ended the eulogy by saying, “For years I looked in that old wooden box and had never seen its real contents. If Gran had not shared the true meaningtruth with me, I would have never known my Papa Chuck as I do now.” Jerry held the journal up for everyone to see. “Now, each time I read in this journal, I seem to learn more about my dear grandfather, his life and his love for those in his life. Also, I love, appreciate and understand both my grandparents. What is the wooden box in your life?” so much more than I used to. Thanks Gran. I’ll never forget the day you told me the story behind each watch and revealed the invisible treasures inside that wooden box.”


Focus Verse: I Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Additional Verses: John 14:26, Proverbs 9:10I Corinthians 2:14


Just as Jerry could not understand the deeper meaning of Papa Chuck’s watches without Gran’s help, without the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand the things of God. Many people have heard the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, Moses, the disciples, Jesus, etc. People may knowingly or unknowingly reference the Bible (i.e. the meek shall inherit the earth, see Matthew 5:5). But do they really understand the deeper meaning or even the context? An unbeliever may be able to intellectually process scripture, even memorize it. But they will not comprehend the true spiritual meaning.

As Christians, with the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, we can understand spiritual truths. However, we have to listen. We have to pray for guidance and understanding. Also, we have to start with the simpler things and, as we mature, we will be able to digest the more complex concepts (Hebrews 5:12-14). But before we try to understand God, we must approach him with the proper attitude. To be in awe of God, to worship, respect and acknowledge Him as Lord of our lives, is when we can begin to learn. Each time before you read your Bible, pray to God that the Holy Spirit will reveal the true meaning of what you are reading and how to apply these truths to your life.


Holy Father in Heaven, I do worship, love and respect You. I pray that my efforts to praise Your Holy name are acceptable. Please make me more sensitive to the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit. Fill me with Your Spirit Lord. May I learn more about You and Your ways each day of my life. I pray for these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.