Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Our world must be a lonely place, because we use so many telephones to keep in touch. In America there are 311 million people and 330 million cell phones. Russia has 143 million people, but they have over 224 million cell phones! China has over a billion cell phones in use.
Who is using all those phones? And with so much communication, why do we still feel so lonely? Even more importantly, why do we not communicate better?
Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."(Matthew 11:15) That's a way of saying we should work hard to listen and understand what He is telling us. It is His way of telling us to look behind the words we hear to the real meaning of what is said.
We live in a sea of words, and that sea is too often stormy. Politicians spar with words crafted to influence voters. Preachers try to persuade us with new ideas about the Bible. Adults teach the young, and youth tune them out with headphones. We all have ears, but we're not always using them to hear.
Jesus' brother James wrote, "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger." (James 1:19) Good communication involves both hearing and listening. Most people with good ears can hear, but listening requires discernment, wisdom and the interest to find out what is being said.
Many families suffer from poor listening. Companies have problems when workers are poor listeners. Nations require diplomats to filter words and messages spoken by leaders. Leaders may manipulate people with specially crafted messages.
Jesus wants us to become active listeners. The Rabbi of Nazareth was as good a listener as ever walked the earth. He knows our hearts and hears our cries as we try to listen with ears often plugged by sin.
Do you have good hearing? Do you use your mind to help you listen? Today, try to listen carefully to others and also to yourself, and may God bless your conversations.
Lord, help me listen today to what others say, and help me speak clearly. Amen.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
All of us have times in life when we doubt our worth. Difficulty at work, health problems, a shaky relationship or nasty world events may leave us feeling inconsequential or of little value. We may feel like a friend who jokingly told me, "I'm so low you could buy me for a dime and have eleven cents change." But when we are at our lowest, God has ways of showing us His love and our true worth.
Last fall I saw a true television story about a man who had lost a leg in an auto accident and was barely able to make it on his disability pay. His few possessions included a box from his parents containing an old blanket. One day while watching a television program about valuable household items, he saw an old Indian blanket appraised at over $100,000. His old family blanket resembled the one on TV, so he had it appraised.
It was a Navajo "chief's blanket" of high quality woven during the mid-1800s. "It may be worth a hundred fifty thousand dollars or more," the shocked young man was told. After further appraisal, his blanket was sold at auction and brought him $1.5 million dollars! He thought it was just an old blanket, but it was worth a fortune.
You and I are worth more than a fortune to our Heavenly Father, and our worth is not determined by how much we have or how we feel. It is determined by God's love for us, the Creator who has given us life. Our Heavenly Father showed us our true worth in that He gave us His only Son Jesus to forgive us our sins and grant us eternal life.
Jesus once told His disciples, "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26)
If God cares about something as small as a common sparrow, does He not far more care for us, His highest and most uncommon creation of the universe?
"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the rest will be yours as well." (Matthew 6:33)
Thursday, April 18, 2013
As I write this on "Tax Day," I have been watching the news about the senseless harm done to dozens of victims at the Boston Marathon today. I wish I could say this kind of tragedy is rare, but I believe events like this will probably increase. This kind of message is not what I had planned to send today, but I believe it is a somber reality.
A few weeks ago I said in a sermon at Risen Savior, Sun Lakes, "The worst is not behind us – it is yet to come." It seems our world is speeding towards a crash we are unable to head off. It may be part of something the Bible has spoken of which has been called, "Satan's Little Season." It's a time of the rapid spread of evil as the calendar moves ever closer to Judgment Day.
Even as the Christian Church is gaining more members worldwide, the Evil One is moving others farther away from God. Because of this, we will undoubtedly see more senseless disasters in the future. We can only pray God will keep His people faithful to Jesus Christ in the coming years.
Last week I asked people if they believed the Bible on their electronic device was still the Word of God. All respondents said it was, and I agree. Many said how wonderful it was to have the Bible so close at hand as they worked and traveled.
I, too, give thanks to God that we have His Word in so many forms and so easily accessible at all times. I pray we also will read His Word and believe its message that Jesus is God's Son and our Savior. The Bible is the most important "app" we can have, because its message is life-changing and eternal.
May God have mercy on us as we move into a very uncertain future.
"In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:6)
Monday, April 8, 2013
"Christ is risen!" Yes, we can still say this with joy!
I want to say thanks to the four dozen people who took time to share their responses to my question of last week, "What did you think of The Bible?" I was speaking of the History Channel's five-part miniseries that finished on Easter Sunday. Although most sent a few brief sentences, some responses were quite detailed. Thanks to you all!
General summary of the 48 comments received:
1) It was an insightful, fresh approach to help us understand the Bible.
2) It helped us see the reality of the biblical history.
3) It may help some people see the truth of the Bible and Jesus as our Savior.
4) The actors were well chosen for the parts.
5) Some segments were quite violent and difficult to watch.
There was some disappointment that some story elements were changed, and the wish that more of the Bible could have been included. Of these 48 responses, only two were mostly negative. If you were to ask my opinion of the series, it would include all five comments already mentioned. The Jesus character was quite believable when compared to the Gospels.
I want to ask you one more question, and then I promise next week I will get back to a WEEKLY MESSAGE that is more devotional. My question for you this week is this:
Is the Bible in electronic form still God's Word?
To put it another way: Is reading the Bible on an iPhone App, a Kindle Reader or Laptop Online Bible the same as reading your printed Bible? Is it still God's Word? Let me know what you think.
My WEEKLY MESSAGE address list numbers around 1200, and it can be helpful to ask for your responses like this. Any constructive comments are welcome. If anyone would like to be removed from my list, or has addresses you'd like added, let me know, and I will comply with your request. Thank you for your loyalty to WEEKLY MESSAGE.
God's peace be with you all!
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Happy Easter - Christ is risen! I hope your Day of Resurrection was filled with music, smiles and rejoicing. We attended Christ Lutheran, Phoenix, in their 7 AM service. They numbered over 2,000 worshippers during their services that day. So did Risen Savior, Sun Lakes, where I have been preaching this spring. People really like to come to church on Easter Sunday.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF "THE BIBLE?"
Last night Carol and I watched the fifth and final part of "The Bible," a mini-series produced by actress Roma Downey and her husband. This part was about the betrayal, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. We appreciated seeing it, and are glad it was produced for such a timely showing as to have the final episode on Easter Sunday.
I am wondering what other people thought about the series. If you saw all or most of the five parts, would you be so kind as to send me your thoughts? Your thoughts need not be lengthy or detailed, but if you'd like to do that, I will read them. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite what we may think of it, television is here to stay. Many have wished television wasn't invented because they say it has ruined the family. Most of us realize it has both good and bad aspects, much like the personal computer. It seems to me, though, that when our electronic inventions can be used to broadcast truthful stories from Holy Scripture, that we should rejoice in the good can do.
Having said that, what did you think of "The Bible" series? I don't recall that I've ever asked for an "audience response," so this will be interesting. I will let you know what the responses are next week.
Again, Happy Easter - Christ is risen!