Thursday, May 25, 2017

The One We Desire

I must confess that I love the prophets of the Old Testament. Their character, their bravery, their commitment and faithfulness are so inspiring. The last prophet was Malachi. He delivered some stirring words to the people of Israel because their worship to God was in a total state of decay.  He made an amazing prophesy that a messenger would soon come and announce the coming Messiah. He also said that the Messiah would suddenly appear in his temple. This Messiah is the one all the nations desire (Malachi 3:1).

John the Baptist fulfilled the part of the prophesy pertaining to the forerunner. However, the other part was fulfilled the day Jesus cleansed the temple following the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. A preposterous scam had been going on in the temple for a long time. Animals for sacrifice were being sold at exorbitant prices, money was being exchanged at dishonest rates, and the high priest was benefiting from it all according to Josephus. The very court that was being used for business was the Court of the Gentiles. That was the only place in the tem­ple where Gentiles could go to pray and meditate. Jesus suddenly entered the temple and literally turned the tables over. Though his actions were violent, his words were deliberate. His words referenced both Isaiah and Jeremiah: “My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it 'a den of robbers’” (Luke 19:45-48).

Jesus referenced Isaiah 56:7 where God expressed his desire for the foreigner to be able to come to his house and find him. God wanted the outsider to experience his presence and to be able to feel his acceptance. Jeremiah 7:11 referred to sincerely and honestly seeking God in his house and honoring God.

When Jesus sent the money changers scurrying out of the temple, he was voicing his father’s displeasure at excluding the Gentiles from his house and his kingdom. When Jesus said, "My house will be a house of prayer," it was to be a house of prayer for all nations. This was Jesus’ cry for the lost to be found and for the love of God to be present in his house.

Our world is broken, and we cannot fix it no matter how hard we try. People long for something they cannot find, and what they do find doesn’t satisfy. Malachi’s words were never more fitting than they are today: "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 3:1). This is a missions prophesy. The one the prophet spoke about did come, and he suddenly appeared in the temple. He was upset that God’s temple was not a place where sinners could find God. He is truly the one the nations desire. May we ever be faithful in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth so that those who open their hearts can find Jesus.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Mother’s Legacy

God made the bonding that happens between a mother and her child. The impact of that mother-child bonding is absolutely incredible. She lovingly meets the needs of the child and soothes and calms the baby in a way no other person can do (just ask dad). During this infant stage the child learns the mother’s voice and responds to it in significant ways. This bond that gives security and love becomes the foundation for stable adult life for that child. The children who are denied this incredible experience suffer any number of adverse effects throughout their life. Even the child’s brain develops at a faster rate and becomes more active with the maternal interactions of bonding. The personality of the child becomes more defined and blossoms. Mothers, you are indispensable.

This was my first Mother’s Day to not have my mother since she passed away last year. I realize that I have many traits from my father, such as his emphasis on responsibility, industry, faithfulness and a host of other admirable characteristics. However, my love for people and my boldness and desire to help people came from my mother. She certainly had her imperfections, but loving her family and putting them first wasn’t one of them.

My mother also knew when to let her kids go and encourage them to follow their own dreams. I remember when I was seventeen, my mother had taken to me to catch a Greyhound bus bound for Los Angeles, California and eventually on to Guyana, South America for two months. As the bus pulled away, I could see her in the car fighting her tears. That two months changed my life, and I am grateful for a mother who let me go and prayed for God’s will in my life.

My mother is now with Jesus, but her legacy lives on in my life and in my children. I am thankful to God for a wonderful mother and that my wife has been that same kind of mother to our children. If we ever needed mothers in this country, it is today. Your role in our society and in our culture is essential. You are wanted; you are needed, and we love you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Your Investment Portfolio

Most people are concerned that they have something for their retirement years. It is only prudent that we set resources aside for our latter years. Solomon described life in stages of the sowing years, harvesting years, and storing years (Prov 6:8). If we follow his advice, there will be something available to us that we have produced from an earlier time of our life. However, this is all about our earthly portfolio. What about our eternal portfolio? Jesus told a parable in Luke 19 that addresses our eternal investments. He told this parable because it is clear that the people were expecting him to set up his kingdom immediately. They believed his kingdom on earth was about to begin. Why wouldn’t they? He did miracles, and he called himself “The Son of Man.”

In the parable the king is going away to receive the title of king, but before he goes he delegates responsibilities to his servants. He gives them each a mina, which is about three months’ salary. With the money he told them to “Put this money to work, until I come back” (Luke 19:13). The story represents the deposit of the Gospel that Christ has put in our lives.

When the king returned, he called the servants and asked for an accounting of the money. The first servant responded with “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” The second was the same with five more. Both servants were incredibly rewarded by the king for their faithfulness (Luke 19: 16-19).

The third servant appeared before the king with nothing but the original investment given by the king. He had buried it. The king called him a wicked servant, and he took the mina away and gave it to the first servant. Then he said, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away” (Luke 19:26).

The parable has a central message and that is that Jesus our King has given us the glorious Gospel and he expects us to invest it in the lives of others. When he returns he will ask each us for an accounting. Paul describes this moment as the Judgment of Believers: “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor 3:15).

Faithfulness means that a believer keeps doing what they are supposed to do. That they keep their promises and constantly support those around them. That they share the gospel that has been entrusted to them with others. Jesus made it clear in this parable that faithfulness will be richly rewarded, but unfaithfulness will be judged.