“After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
Jesus was finishing a plan conceived by his Father on a celestial plane. We here on the terrestrial plane saw massive failure. This was the final humiliating human action. Stripped naked, nailed to a cross, raised up in a hill for all to see and mock. Now the final insult. His only earthly possessions now being gambled on … He did endured it all for us! For me!
Envy [v.8] is a strong feeling. It can lead to hatred and murder. Remember Cain? Coming to God to ask about something and then upon hearing the answer, walking away. Not just walking away but walking away sad. [LUK 18:18 – 30] The emptiness will be greater walking away from the question than walking toward the answer. Being familiar with God [v.21] is not enough. God does not convince me but does expose me [v.23]. When I lack compassion I show that I am imprisoned in the law. The rich man’s wealth made him poor.
“This is my name forever…” Exodus 3:15
At some point in the future there will be one final word from a Name that will end all controversy for all time. We live in an apartment building where some apartments face inward to a courtyard with a fountain. For several nights now there have been loud collections of words being spoken till the wee hours in the morning. Loud obnoxious words without meaning. Words trying to drown out other words with their own noise. Words quoting resources. Words of anger. Words of surprise. Words rolling off alcohol saturated tongues. Words from many languages. Piercing words disturbing us in our sleep. Annoyed words thrown from quiet balconies to shut down the irritating words. Words, words and more words tossed into the night from voices in the dark. As I lay there trying to sleep, often I have asked the question: “In the multitude of words where is the wisdom? There is one Word that points us to the One Name that has the Ancient Wisdom. I AM. “This is my name forever…” Exodus 3:15 Many words try to explain or explain away I AM. Look into the past; examine the present; peer into the future … the Word forever accurately represents the Name. The Word did not grasp the Name on his own. “…he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs.” Hebrews 1:4 “…God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name…” Philippians 2:9 So the next time that you hear words flowing around you, remember that this Name provides the final “say so” – the final word of I AM. “…keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus…” Hebrews 12:2 One Word. One Name. One Source. Amen!
“No man cared for my soul.” Psalm 142:4
Men come to church for lots of reasons but deep down they are looking for acceptance. They want to know that other men care for them. It is the relationships that are forged that will keep being them back no matter what they are doing in the church. And relationships do not happen overnight! The Bible teaches that if a man is to have friends then he must be friendly toward those around him and some would put the burden of relationships on the men coming into our fellowship to check things out. But the Bible also says that men bring with them some deep wounds from their past … failures that are not easily talked about … and some unspoken anxieties about their future. What men want to know is simply this: “Will you guys still accept me even if I do not fit the mold? Will you guys still accept me even if I am unable to change as quickly as you may want me to? Let us not have such a rigid structure that it prevents things from happening. Is our greatest concern on Tuesday night “How many men will we get this evening?” One of the constant barometer checks we as leaders have to make on our hearts has to do with pride. Pride insidiously wants us to be more concerned with our own image than meeting people’s needs. Men are warriors but they can also have a side of them that is shy, distrusting or they are just plain relational impaired. Our mission is to make friends of them. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians Church to “Bear one anothers burdens …’ [Galatians 6:2] In a nutshell, that is the essence of a men’s ministry. God’s love and miraculous things happen to men when they find acceptance amongst their peers.
It is always amazing to look in the rear view mirror of memory back five to ten years ago and see the road traveled. We have lived on both coasts of the US; lived for almost four years in South Africa and visited England and Germany. Those places were not on the radar screen of possibilities ten years ago.
They tell me that I cannot take anything with me when I die. All of my possessions: my bank accounts, my stocks and bonds, my retirement funds, my real estate, my cars, my toys, my furniture, my books, my art work … all of this stuff is left behind. Once I am dead, I will lose control over every earthly possession that I call mine. When I die my stuff becomes the property of others. The people left behind get to do what they want, as they want, and when they want with my stuff. It is plain for anyone to see “…that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.”
It is apparent that I have no control on my stuff. It is also apparent that I have no control on my life. I am exactly one heartbeat away from eternity. I can do nothing that will absolutely control the length of my duration here on earth. In the Bible God tells people that when He decides to:”…take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” One of the wisest men in the world said after years of study that there is “…a time to be born and a time to die…”
If I am buried in a cemetery plot with a headstone, who cares? Who is going to visit? The next generation in my family line will not visit because they  will not have time and  I am not there so what is the point? Headstones do not carry on conversations! They are cold and impersonal.
They tell me that I cannot take anything with me when I die. If this life is all there is then we are more miserable than any animal. Jesus said “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” It is true; there is nothing tangible that I can take with me. But I can add to the inheritance that Jesus has provided me. Those people that I have taken the time to introduce to the Lord Jesus; those people that I have mentored walked the road with; those who have decided to follow Jesus because of my walk and talk … they are the inheritance I am building. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
A steaming hot mug of coffee in the morning … the elixir of life!
Life as it should be means early morning Coffee: percolated and strong but not bitter. It is sacrilege to add cream or sugar.
For the afternoon, a cuppa tea: organic, loose leafed steeped in a pottery tea pot. Sugar and cream added to taste. South African rusks go well here.
We love to travel. We love especially to travel by car. It gives Kathe and I lots of 'windshield' time without any interruptions. We read to each other [the driver never gets to read while driving] and we listen to music or audio books. But best is the time that we get to just watch scenery and talk to each other. We are best friends you know … and we have been married 32 years!
We are hoping to take some time to go see our two sons and wouldn't you know that they are at opposite ends of the US from us here in San Diego. One lives near Philadelphia and the other is up in Alaska.
“…Who am I that I should go…” [Exodus 2:11]
Are you in the dark about the direction God seems to be leading you? Too often I have heard people tell me that they could not do His will because they did not know the specifics. It is at this point where a battle of wills takes place. We want God to reveal His plan first. But my experience is that God does not work that way. God wants me to decide in advance to trust Him. He wants me to decide that His will is best for my life. Sometime I hesitate simply because I do not want to risk it; I might look like a fool. So He waits patiently for me to be willing to be made willing. The Israelites were in slavery, so God’ sent Moses, an unlikely wanted fugitive, to lead them to the Promised Land.
One reason God doesn’t give me the full picture [learned this from considering Job’s dilemma] is simply that I would be overwhelmed. I would say “The task appears impossible.” Or I would say “I do not have the skills or tools.”
God would say “Bingo. That’s the point! You are a very smart fellow! You cannot do this thing without Me.”
The danger with hesitation in obedience to God is that He may want us to be on a mission very much like Joseph. Here is a young man who did not know what God was doing during his time as a slave or during his long imprisonment. But when Joseph was reunited with his brothers in Egypt, he told them: “Do not fear … you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” [Genesis 50:19-20] Joseph’s brothers incited by jealousy sold him into slavery, but God used it to preserve the Jewish race.
So here you are at a cross-roads. Stop. Look. Listen. You will see and hear some “Who am I?” moments of your own where you’d reached the end of your rope and He came through for you.
Have you ever asked yourself the “What spiritual fruit is God producing in your life right now?’