Some are boring, some interesting, some obnoxious…but signs are everywhere!My license plate here in Texas proudly supports the environment of this great state with the motto of our anti-littering campaign, "Don't Mess With Texas!"
Those of us who are old enough to remember the Burma Shave signs posted along the roadside recall the humor of that advertising campaign in a nostalgic sort of way.
One sign I saw on the back of a car said, "When it's all over, the one with the most toys wins!"I really wonder about the theology of that announcement, but I will save it for a later article.
Nestled prominently in the gospels of Matthew and Luke is a brief word from Jesus regarding the Sign of Jonah:
"As the crowds increased, Jesus said, 'This is a wicked generation.It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation." (Luke 11:29-30)
In this setting, Jesus had just dealt with demonic spirits, proving once again that He was greater than any evil force which can come against the world.Sadly enough, those mighty works were not enough to convince the crowds of His superiority.He said to them in verse 23, "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters."Because of their unbelief, the multitudes demanded more proof of His deity.A woman from the crowd cried out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."Jesus admonished her by saying, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!"
Would they never get the point?He is the Messiah, the King of kings, the Son of Man all prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled before their very eyes.What else is needed for this perverse generation?
Beloved, I hear the voice of God today saying the same words to us as He spoke in that time.There is only one sign needed for us to believe.Even as Jonah was delivered after three days from the belly of the fish, so Jesus said, "I give you a climactic sign of who I am, and it is the only one you will get from me.I will be crucified for your sins, and after three days in the jaws of hell I will be resurrected for your salvation!"
Christians, will you be raised up in these last days as a mighty army of God?Will you suit up in the armor of the Lord to battle the forces of evil?Join me today in spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to your family and friends.He alone can overcome the world.Don't mess with the message that remains unchanged from the beginning of time.There is no other way to heaven except through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
GospeLines Prayer:Heavenly Father, prepare your army to fight against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.As we stand before the enemy shod in the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and our feet shod with the gospel of peace….command us, Lord, to march forward with the sword of the Spirit in our hand, claiming the victory that is already yours!Amen and amen.
Tommy Harrison, D. Min.
Tuesday: September 13, 2005
"Are you listening?"
How many times did God warn the people of Israel not to stray from His commandments?How many times did they suffer because they turned away from God?They would listen for a time and then close their ears and hearts to the voice of God.
Jesus said in Matthew 13:15,"For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hearwiththeirears, and they have closed their eyes.Otherwise they might see withtheir eyes, hearwiththeirears, understand withtheirhearts and turn, and I would heal them."Was He talking about us?
We are warned in 2nd Timothy 4:3 that a time will come when men will not listen to the Words of God.Instead, to suit their own interests, they will only listen to those who say what their itching ears want to hear.
Has that time come?Are we only listening to what we want to hear - to what justifies our behavior and supports our own definition of "truth"?What about God's truth?Brothers and Sisters, don't wait until lightning strikes you to listen to the Creator of all things.
We were taught centuries ago that our lives are not our own - we cannot direct our own steps.If we try, God will correct us; always with justice and sometimes, in His anger.He will pour out His wrath on all nations (or individuals) that do not hear Him and do not call on His name. (Jeremiah 10:23-25)
God was very clear when he said "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.Listen to Him!" (Matthew 17:5)Are you listening; or, are you waiting for lightning to strike?
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 2:5
Wednesday: September 14, 2005
"Too good to be true"
Joe Boot is executive director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Canada and he's also a writer.One of Joe's books is Searching for Truth (Available from Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187)
This book includes a story about a man named Jack who found a bottle with a note inside.The note read:"I Daisy Alexander do hereby will my entire estate to the lucky person who finds this note and to my attorney Mr. B Cowin. June 30, 1936."
If you found such a note, what would you do?Would you assume it was fake and toss it away; or, would you investigate?Sometimes when we're offered something we think is just too good to be true, we turn it down without another thought.
We say things like:"She's too pretty to go out with me"or"His Company's really booming - Why would he want to hire me?" When great opportunities come along we frequently let them pass by because we assume that we would not be successful if we tried to grab that wonderful prize.
Maybe that's why so many people have a difficult time accepting the truth that we are saved by God's grace through Christ Jesus(Romans 3:24)and not by the good things that we do."For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."(Ephesians 2:8-9)
Maybe eternal salvation and a life filled with joy and peace is one of those things you consider just too good to be true.If so, then you don't know our Lord.He willingly suffered death on the cross for our sins; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8)Even in the midst of all that pain His words were, "Forgive them..."Don't feel guilt because you can't fathom such love and mercy - It's OK - We're only human.
When a small child is offered a gift, they don't always understand the source or even the reason; they simple accept the gift and it is theirs.All you have to do is accept God's free gift.Like the note in the bottle, it may seem that you never have such good fortune; but, Jesus is your good fortune.
Invite Him into your heart and into your life.Accept the Spirit of God as your guide and counselor.Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)
God's note reads:"I AM does hereby will my entire estate to the lucky person who accepts my Son."And His note is dated today...
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 2:5
Thursday: September 15, 2005
"He sends the snow in all its lovely whiteness…" Psalm 147:16a (LB)
When I peered out the window early in the morning, I discovered God had sent us snow in all its lovely whiteness. It would be a beautiful snow glistening day. A couple of inches of the white frozen flakes covered the ground. The pine trees were drooping from the freshly fallen snow. This was a winter rarity in our part of the country. And it certainly was much beauty for our eyes to behold.
So many times when the weatherman says we might receive snow, I tend to think about the danger of driving on slick roads. But that unexpected white beauty all around us was delightful as we enjoyed the snow in all its charming whiteness.
Often our days begin with something that we perceive as dangerous. Maybe a child awakens feeling ill. Or there is a telephone call telling about an unexpected problem we will find when arriving at work that day.
Turning to Jesus can soothe the anxieties that suddenly engulf us. When we cry out to Him, His love overflows us and we recover our peace once again. And just like that bejeweled, snow filled day, our anxieties become a time filled with God's grace and we enjoy the day in all its abundance.
Prayer: Thank you Jesus that you always hear when we cry out to you. Thank you that the same God who soothes our apprehensions, also sends the beauty of new life in the spring, resplendent color in the fall, and lovely white snow in the winter (sometimes even in late fall).
All of our lives we've been listening to someone... to some voice.When we were children, we listened to our parents.As we grew, we added school teachers, Sunday school teachers, Professors and Pastors to the list of "voices" we listened to and (hopefully) obeyed.When we became adults, we added our bosses, government officials, our spouses and other important people in our lives.However, there's one voice that's been with us since birth that we listen to each day; and, very often obey even when we know it's not the right thing to do.That voice is the voice of our flesh.
How often have you heard or said, "The spirit is willing, but the body is weak"?(Matthew 26:41)Those words are almost prophetic.How often have we said, "I just can't do it"; "I can't take any more"; "I can't go on"; or, the big one, "It's just too hard!"The body - our flesh - wants to quit, to give up, to take the easy way out.
Brothers and sisters, tell your body's desires to SHUT UP!Do not listen to your flesh, listen the voice of the Holy Spirit - The Comforter sent to you by our Savior (John 14:15-17, 26). Our God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.And, when you are tempted, He will always provide a way out so that you can successfully resist the temptation and remain faithful. (1st Corinthians 10:13)
Paul said "No!" to the voice of his flesh.He told us: "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1st Corinthians 9:27)"...each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable." (1st Thessalonians 4:4)
Yes, our flesh has a voice; but, we have been given the power to control it; to listen only to the voice of the Lord.If we suffer in our bodies for a little while, it's not for suffering's sake, but for the glory to come which God will bring us to in His time.
Do not let sin (Satan) reign in your mortal body so that you obey its (his) evil desires. (Romans 6:12)Satan speaks through the voice the flesh; God speaks to your soul.His sheep know His voice and follow Him; not the voice of the flesh or the world.
Let God move you to a higher level; one that is not tempted by the voice of the flesh.Let Him take you to a level that is totally directed by His Holy Spirit.He will lead you through the valley of the shadow of death; He will never leave you; He has overcome the world and all flesh - Amen!
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 2:5
Author's Note:The theme for this devotional is taken from a message presented by Pastor Dominic Russo to the congregation at Oakland Christian Church, Oakland Township, Michigan on August 28th, 2005.I would like to thank him for being my spiritual leader and friend; and, for sharing his anointing with the world.May God richly bless you Pastor "D."