Cleansing the Temple and Being Welcome

Yesterday started the week that in the church we call Holy Week.  This week starts with Palm Sunday, when Jesus enters Jerusalem and for one of the few times in His life, receives the praise that He is due.  It starts off on such a high note.  Even in many of our churches, we see children entering in with palms, singing and praising.  But

But as the week passes we see things begin to lead to the cross, as was God’s plan all along.  Several things happen on this Monday of Holy Week, but I wanted us to read one of the things that you are probably most familiar with.  The cleansing of the temple.  Listen to what it says in Matthew 21: 12-13:

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Picture 022People in Jesus day (and before, and since) had grown to use the temple not just for a place of prayer, but as a place for gain and for profit.  Folks were selling the animals used for the sacrifices (with a markup, you know) because of that people were feeling further and further from God.

So, Jesus drove out those that were keeping folks away from being able to worship and pray.

Because He knew that nothing must stand between people and God.  Nothing.  Not their sin.  Not their failings.  And not other people.

So, this Holy Week, what should this verse mean to you?  Well, that’s between you and the Holy Spirit.  But, perhaps, it may mean this.  Who is that person that you know that has never felt welcome or invited in church?  Who is that person that you know that has always struggled to connect with God?  Who is that person that just needs to know that God loves them?

Maybe this week you should pray for them, and invite them to join you this Sunday for Easter.  And when we invite them to join us for worship on Easter, that’s not the end of our job, but it’s just the beginning.  Because then, we need to do all within our power to make sure that they feel welcome.  That they feel a part.  That they feel home.

There are folks all around us, every day, that Jesus died to save.  As believers, as the church, it’s our job, it’s our calling, to love them, to seek them, and be there.  In this Holy Week, love.  Pray.  Invite.  And make folks feel welcome.

And let’s see what God does with that.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Shine the Light

Well, it’s Monday. I don’t know when you read this. It could be early in the morning before you leave for work or school. You could be reading in the drop off line on your phone. Perhaps from your computer at work. Or maybe even tonight before bed.

I don’t know when you read it. But I know that whenever you do read it, you have some sort of task ahead of ahead of you. Something you have to do; something you have to face.

And sometimes we just need a little extra kick to get over the hump. Well, this morning I was reading in Philippians 2: 14-16. Listen to what it says:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

flat,550x550,075,f.u3Through your actions, through your words, through your faith, you are going to be a light. You are going to shine for all to see. In a world full of darkness, you are going to be a light to someone today.

You are. Really, you are. You are going to be a light today. You are going to shine for Jesus today. You are going to point someone to Jesus today.

Now, you may not be perfect; you may not do it perfect, but you have that chance. And you know what else?

God has confidence in you. He does. That’s He’s sending you out. That’s why He’s putting you where He’s putting you. That’s why you are where you are. Not just for “you” but for “Him.”

You can do it. Really, you can. You can do it. You can shine for Him. You can point to Him. You can be that light in the darkness today.

You can change someone’s world today.

Someone changed your life. Today, you have the shot, through Jesus, to change someone’s life yourself. Today, let Jesus shine through you.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Yay Monday! Right?

Yay-Its-MondayIt’s Monday!  Yay!  That’s how we all feel right?  How awesome is Monday!

Yeah, I’m not sure that’s exactly how we all feel today, or really any Monday.  Mondays can really be a challenge sometimes, especially after a busy and good weekend.  So then, what do we do?  How do we handle a Monday?  How do we beat a Monday?  How do we make it through today?

The thing is, sometimes we are defeated before we even leave the house.  We’ve already accepted the defeat of a Monday before we even start.  Listen to what it says today in 1 Peter 1:13-16:

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Peter reminds this morning – keep your mind clear, and set your hope on grace.

So often we walk out of the house defeated on Monday because that’s where our mind is.  We’ve got our mind focused on how bad Monday is, or on the fact that the weekend is over, or on the thoughts of all that we have to do today or this week.

Peter says – no. Set you minds for action. Be clear.  Focus on God’s grace and mercy.  Be obedient.

Is this a Monday?  Yeah.  It’s a precious creation by God that He has given us today.  Is is Monday? Yeah. But it’s a gift.  It’s a gift given from God to me and you today. Wow!  What a blessing is it.  That’s right. I said this Monday is a blessing. Because it’s another day we have, it’s a gift from God, and it’s chance to know Him, love Him, and show His grace to others.

Yes, it’s a Monday.  And this Monday is a gift.  Remember that. Focus on that.  Live in that.  Set your mind on grace.  And then even Mondays are awesome.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Hey Y’all, It’s Monday!

mondaysHey y’all, it’s Monday.  Yep, all day long.  Monday.  The entire day.

So, what are we gonna do with it? What will do about it?  How will we handle it?

Well, this week, it starts now. And it starts with our attitude. It starts with how we choose to look at things. It starts with what our mentality is. We can choose today to only see the problems, the issues, the worst.

Or.

We can choose to today to look for the positive. The good.  The hopeful.  The joyous. The life giving.

Today, we can choose. We can choose what Monday will be like. We can choose what this week will be like.  It’s our choice.  What will we do?  Listen to the words of Paul today in Romans 8:6-8:

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Set you mind on the spirit.  On the things of God.  On what matters, what is good, what is holy, what matters.

This week is wide open ahead of you. Full of potential. Full of hope. Full of what is good.

What will you do with it?  Where is your mind today?

Focus on the good.  On the spirit.  On the holy. Focus on that.

And see what God does with it!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Monday of Holy Week 2013

Today is Monday, and we are in the midst of Holy Week. This is the last week of Jesus earthly ministry, and each day we see Him do, say, and teach something important.
Of His life, all of His ministry was important. But, these last few days. He really focused in on what truly matters.

What it was all about. What truly counts. What truly is important.

Today, on this Monday, we read from John 12: 3-8. Listen to what happens:

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

6a00e5512b13618833011278de233128a4-800wiWe see Mary anoint Jesus expensive perfume. Some will tell you that this anointing is a foreshadowing of what is to come at the end of the week, as a way of getting His body prepared for burial.

That is a good way to look at what’s happening, as it keeps our focus on cross that is coming. But, there is something else that’s really important, at least to me, in my reading of this text.

We see Judas get upset that the perfume is not sold. The bible says it’s not because he was concerned about the poor, but he was really a thief. And then Jesus says this – you’ll always have the poor with you. But He would not always be there.

What is He trying to tell us in that? What is important in that for us?

Here’s what I think.

I think Jesus is telling us to keep our eyes focused on what really matters. Him. To make Him the focus. To make Him the point. To make Him what it’s all about.

The stuff that we do, the good things, the acts of service, all of this, it’s done for His glory. It’s done for His purpose. It’s done for Him.

And we’ve got to keep things in perspective as to why we do them. And what it’s all about. It’s for Him. Every act of service. Ever good thing. Every smile. Word of encouragement. Everything. It’s for Him.

So, today, in this Holy Week. Let’s focus on Him. Let’s make Him the main thing. And let’s find our life in Him.

Because that’s where life is found.

Today, let’s keep Him the main thing.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Some Monday Encouragement

Ugh, Monday! Who likes them? I mean, really, who wanted to get out of bed this morning.

Some weeks, some Mondays we need a little (or a lot) or encouragement to get going. That little extra kick. That little extra cup (or five) of coffee in the morning.

Sometimes, we need a little extra Monday encouragement.

Well, here you go. And from a surprising place. Deuteronomy.  Listen Deuteronomy 7:6-8:

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Listen to what we are told today. God has chosen you as His treasured possession, out of all the earth.

He has chosen you! He loves you! You are His prize this morning. You have a worth to God this morning great than you can even imagine. You are more valuable to the king of eternity than anything else in all of creation!

Wow!

The God that made everything, both seen and unseen, has chosen to love you, know you, save you!

But, you think, I haven’t earned that.

Exactly, that’s what makes it even better. He hasn’t chosen us because of anything we’ve done. He loves us because of who He is! He loves us because of what He’s done.

So, bring it on Monday. You can’t touch us. We have been chosen and loved by a Holy God. He has freed us, loves us, and will never leave us.

Nothing can stop that. Even Monday!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Nothing Compares to Him

This week between Palm Sunday and Easter is called Holy Week. Each day of this week, Jesus was drawn closer to the cross, closer that day that won our redemption and our victory. But each day is a day closer to the emotional and spiritual pain of His betrayal, and closer to physical pain and death of cross.

Each day is one day closer.

And each day this week, we will remember what He went through. I was talking yesterday at Asbury, to truly understand how amazing the empty grave of Sunday is, we must stop and remember the pain and hurt of the bloody cross.

Today on this Monday of Holy Week, John 12 tells us what happened to Jesus:

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

There are lots of different thoughts at to the significance of the perfume Mary used. Some say could have been part of the dowry for marriage.  Some say it could have been part of a family tradition.  I’ve heard lots of stories and sermons about what all the perfume represented, and I don’t know the answer to it.

But I do know this.  This perfume was the most valuable thing Mary owned. This was worth more than anything she owned or could have owned.

And she willing laid it at the foot of Jesus. Literally.  This perfume of great worth only found in its true worth in being used to anoint Jesus.

Today, what is that thing of great worth in your life?  What is that prized possession?  Is it of more worth to you than Jesus?  Or course, publicly, we’d all say “Of course not!” But what about privately?  What about when no one is looking? What about when’s it just us and our thoughts?

Today, Mary showed us an example.  Nothing was worth more than Jesus to her. Nothing.

May we see that example, and may we follow.  Jesus laid everything down for our sake and for our salvation.  May we lay it all down for His glory.

He is our greatest prize and possession.  And nothing compares to Him.

Mondays are Awesome!

One of the things in life that is most disheartening, to me at least, is when folks feel like giving up.  When people feel like their is no hope. When we lose that sense that things can get better, can change, can be different.

In short, when people want to give up. When people think that there is no reason to hope.

We hear, oh, but things can change. Things can be different. It doesn’t have to be like that.

And, when we are broken, we say – impossible. That can’t happen.  It won’t change.

If that is where you are on this Monday morning, listen to the word of Jesus from Matthew 21:

21 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Things don’t have to be the same. They don’t have to be like they’ve always been.

I know it’s Monday, and we hate Mondays.

But this Monday, this Monday is a new day!  Each day is a new day. Each day, through faith, we get to start over. Each day is new. Full of new life, new hope, new grace.

This is a new day.  It does have to be like a aways. Things can change. Things can be different.  It isn’t impossible.

Now, through ourselves and our strength, yeah, nothing will change.

But, through God. Through faith. Through grace.  Through His life, things can change. Things can be different. There is hope. There is life. There is a change for a new start.

Today, through faith.

Today, yes even today. Even this morning. There is a chance for a fresh start.

Things can be different.  Things can change. Nothing is impossible.

Mondays are awesome!  Through God’s grace, each new day is awesome.

Go out and live a fresh, new, loved life.  For today is a new day.  Nothing is impossible for God.

Nothing!