IN HIS NEIGHBORHOOD John 10: 25-30

Jesus says that He knows us (John 10: 27).  He means it.  We’re aware that the word ‘know’, in the Biblical sense, can connote something different.  But here Jesus expresses that He understands us.  Who we are and what makes us tick.  ‘I know them…’

I love Jesus for knowing me inside and out.  My name and all about me.  From head to toe.  Beginning to end.  No one is like our Lord Jesus.

Someone comes close, even though he died over 15 years ago.  Who?  Fred Rogers of ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood’.  A fellow Presbyterian minister whose sole service was caring about children through sensitive television programming.

It’s in the late ’70’s that I attend a 2-day pastor’s conference in New York City.  Hundreds attend.  Who do I spot sitting but a few rows away?  Right!  Fred Rogers… sitting in my neighborhood!

Can’t help myself.  Inch my way over to him, saying how much my boys, Jonathan and David, love his TV show.  A big smile greets me, wanting to know my name and where I serve the Lord.  Then I scoot back to my seat, relishing meeting this special TV personality.  Mr. Rogers–so gentle, warm and friendly.

The next day I’m standing in the hallway waiting for a friend to arrive when Fred Rogers comes right over to me saying, ‘Hi John.  How are you today?’  Could have bowled me over with a raisin!  He remembered MY name.  Me?  Little old me?

What a gift.  Caring enough to remember.  More than Mr. Rogers and his good neighborhood, Jesus knows all about us.  And loves us… forever.  Just as we are, but with enough love not to leave us that way.  Helps us get up.  Brushes off our skinned knees.  Applies a salve covered by a band-aide or two.  Comforts us… by name… as we become more and more like Him!

Thank you, Jesus, for knowing us.  In your name.  Amen.

Advertisements

EVER-INCREASING Romans 6: 15-23

Thumbing through the pages of the Wall Street Journal, it’s obvious to me that regional and global companies all chase after ever-increasing sales and profits.  If they miss an expert’s financial target, ooh, how the stock market slams them big time.  I’m also reading God’s Word!  Good balance, wouldn’t you agree?  The Bible still trumps all those business things which still interest me.

So, let’s turn to Romans 6, which also makes reference to something that’s ‘ever-increasing’.  Not gross revenue.  Nor net income.  But sin, which is nothing to fool with.  Only fools do.  Am I looking in the mirror?

Sin goes from bad to worse.  From flirting to flitting down dead-end streets, offering nary an exit.  However, I’ve noticed something strange.  The closer I get to the Lord, the farther away I move from sin.  As in none at all?  Hardly.  Fat chance.  Sin daily.  But it’s getting tougher.  With Jesus nearby, conscience sears red hot.  Catches me almost immediately.  Almost.

Makes sin harder and harder to pull off effectively.  It doesn’t seem to work for me as it used to.  Thank God!  Thought we’re going to look at Romans 6?  Here goes–‘…to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness’ (v.19).   Closer to Jesus, we escalate ever-increasing holiness.  That’s more like it!

Now don’t imagine this happens the very moment you believe in Jesus.  Didn’t for me or any other Christian I’ve ever known.  Not one.

For we’re on a journey.  The closer we get to our Lord, the closer we’ll be to heaven.  The scent of hell blown farther away by the refreshing winds of heaven and the Holy Spirit.  Some sin-scent still lingers on my flesh.  But less.  Ever-decreasing.  Stronger cleansing winds in God’s forecast.

Get closer to Jesus.  Drop sins at His feet.  Confess and repent.  Let it all out with Him.  Don’t carry any on your shoulders.  Will wear you down.  His are much stronger and will carry them farther away.  As in forever gone, and good riddance!

Lord, we want to be all you created us to be.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

 

BE CAREFUL Judges 16

The Old Testament Book of Judges contains some hair-raising stories.  Brutal sin hurled smack-dab in your face.  No candy-coating.  Its longest section centers on Samson.  You know his story.  A worthy beginning as his parents seek the Lord’s help raising this son of theirs.  A Nazarite vow taken for Samson, but never fulfilled in any way (Judges 13).

Samson disappoints at every turn.  Chasing women becomes his perpetual obsession.  Each femme fatale gets him knee-deep in escalating troubles.  Like those plaguing frogs glutting ancient Egypt, sin bursts the seams of his life.  Clings to him like ivy to brick walls.

But it’s Delilah I want to focus in on today.  The wife who makes this a truly hair-raising story!  Delilah.  She lives near Samson’s hometown.  Probably a Philistine from the Sorek Valley.  Grape and wine country.  Not sure exactly what her name means, but possibly from the Ugaritic language implying ‘lowly’ or ‘to be poor’.

Not much of a stretch to fathom her destitute and dismal background.  From a family that barely ekes out a living.  From paycheck to paycheck, so to speak.  Mouths to feed but Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard as bare as can be.

Imagine the temptation Delilah feels when five Philistine leaders each offer her 1100 shekels of silver if she’ll tell them the secret of Samson’s superhuman strength.  That’s a total of 5500 silver shekels.  Equal, in those days, to 550 times the annual average wage.  Today, multiple millions of dollars.  She salivates thinking of all that filthy lucre!

Coming from a difficult background (and who doesn’t?) can leave us wide open to certain sins.  Be careful.  Find out what urges and itches demand your attention.  Things you know are not of the Lord.  What’s bent and twisted from past generations.

Family sin.  Which too often rears its ugly head.  Trickles down and oozes out.  But not as something godly.  God forbid we pass on the same to our children… and then beyond.  Be careful.

End the cycle.  Find those weaknesses.  Pray for the Lord’s strength to overcome them.  He’ll help.  We’ll stumble and fall.  He understands.  But Jesus will pick us up.  Grab hold of His hands!  Be more like Him.  Less like Delilah.

Be careful.

Thank you, Lord, that the cycle of family sin can be broken.  Through Jesus’ strength.  Amen.

WEEKLY DEVOTIONS RESUME NEXT SATURDAY!

Well, my second edit of all 366 daily devotions for my new book ‘REMINDERS–For Daily Devotion’ is now complete! Therefore, I’m writing brand-new devotionals and publishing them through this blog site beginning next Saturday, June 16th.  Thanks for you patience!

In July I’ll do one final edit before the editor takes over my work and gets it ready, including graphic design, for publication through Gideon House Books in November.   This will be an e-book only, and can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble digital.  Can be given as a Christmas gift!  I’ll send out an email when all is ready to go!  Please pray that the Lord will use this new book for His glory and purposes.

‘Reflections Out of Time’ is still available in paperback and digital e-book format.  And what a blessing this book has been to many.  I’m humbled by the responses over the past 2 years about the ‘Reflections’ book.

Blessings to you all.  Please let others know of this weekly devotional sent free each Saturday.  http://www.reflectionsoutoftime.wordpress.com

Thanks so much.  Blessings, John