Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Is There a Doctor in the House?

SCRIPTURE:  Mark 2:15-17 NLT
     "Levi [now Matthew] invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.  (There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)  But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?"  When Jesus heard this he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do.  I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." (emphasis mine)
OBSERVATION:  While Matthew's profession as a tax collector made him a natural target for disgust and rejection by reputable Jews, it didn't keep highly regarded Jesus from calling him into discipleship or from hanging out with him and his friends.  And judging from the Scriptures in this passage and elsewhere throughout the New Testament, Christ made it a point to spend much of his time with social outcasts--those sinners referred to as "scum."
     The religious leaders were quick to point out to Jesus' disciples that this practice was like committing social suicide, let alone being a big no-no according to their customs and traditions.  Imagine how hearing this must have affected the notorious sinners who were following him!  Yet Jesus didn't skip a beat with his penetrating response that his purpose in being with such disreputable people was to heal those who were painfully aware of their sinfulness.  He didn't waste any energy trying to convince the self-righteous of their need for repentance; he sensed their hardness of heart.
     Christ didn't excuse the sinners' behavior, but, knowing their spirits were open to asking for forgiveness, extended God's healing grace along with new life lived in the power of his Spirit.  By his example Jesus also demonstrated the truth that his followers (and that includes us) must seek out and go to the lost.  They must not sit around in their safe, comfortable, self-satisfied environment waiting for the rare opportunity to interact with the occasional sinner desperate enough to risk exposing him/her self to judgment by entering the so-called acceptable gathering places (i.e., the synagogue).
APPLICATION:  If this Scripture passage doesn't make me at least a little uncomfortable, then my heart is either hardened beyond help or else convicted to reach further outside my comfort zone,  extending God's offer of redeeming grace to sinners all around me.  And the truth is I'm a sinner, too! Everything in my life that reflects the Lord's character is because of his incredible love shining through me; it's nothing great that I've achieved by my own effort or willpower.
PRAYER:  Lord God, it is so easy to let my human inclinations dictate my behavior, especially toward people who aren't like me or don't know You yet as Savior and Lord.  Help me be "willing to be willing" today to see the unsaved as You see them and to act by Your Holy Spirit's power. AMEN

--Lyn Cogswell

Friday, November 20, 2015

What's for supper?

1 Cor 11:17-22 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

                What had happened to this church? The pretense of sharing the Lord’s Supper had become a means to further divide those in the church. The irony of this is that Christ’s sacrament involves partaking of his body that we might become one with him through his sacrifice. We are then called the body of Christ, so to become divisive is to harm the body of Christ of which you are consuming….. Paul tells us that to eat and drink in a manner unworthy of Christ bring judgement.

                Paul aims to create unity throughout the body by reestablishing the context for the Lord’s Supper. He asks that we examine ourselves that we might correct our attitudes and behaviors to bring honor to Christ.

                Lord, are there areas in my life where I am bringing division in your body? If so, help me to see them and change my ways that I might glorify you and all you have done for me. Bring unity to our church body that we might represent you well to the world that is in desperate need for your love, grace and mercy.

                To you alone be all glory, honor and praise forever and ever,


Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Best Advice Ever Given: 1 Kings 12

SCRIPTURE:  1 Kings 12
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

OBSERVATION:   Rehoboam has followed his father Solomon as king.   No pressure here.  Dad was the wisest, wealthiest, most powerful man in the world.  This is big shoes to fill,  also his dad probably made being king look easy. 
        Chapter 12 of 1 Kings  is an account of Rehoboam's first days on the job.  What kind of first impression does he make?   Well, it's bad.  In fact, his first acts as king are so bad all the tribes of Israel leave except Judah.  He starts out so poorly he loses almost everyone of his citizens and the kingdom of Israel is forever divided.  
       In the middle of his epic failure as the new king he is given advice from two groups of people.  The first group is all of Solomon's advisers.  Second is the buddies he was raised with.  Now Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and he himself needed advisers.  I wold assume these guys were pretty smart.  Isn't it common sense to listen to their advice?   

         Their advice is great and sounds a lot like the gospel of Jesus Christ.   '
Luke 6:37, 38
      “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

       Solomon's wise men tell him the people will reflect your leadership style.  If you're mean, they will be mean back.  If you're nice and loving they will return to you in kind.  If you are humble enough to be their servant, they will be happy to serve you.  
           This is advice worthy of a king of a great nation. Serve and you will be served.  This is a truth that will work in any relationship.  Rehoboam, however makes the fatal decision of not listening the the wisest man's wise men.   It is the best advise that could have been given to Rehoboam and he listens to his clueless pals instead.   Rehoboam is a tragic lesson about who should we listen to for advice. 

          Where do you go to get godly advice and wisdom?  
         Can you identify people who give you poor advice, are you willing to say 'no thanks' to them? 
         What would it look like for Jesus to be the #1 voice in your life for when you need wisdom, guidance and help in making a decision? 

 PRAYER: God on high, I praise you for being the God of all wisdom and understanding.   I open up my heart to you and ask you to impart your will and wisdom to me.  I want all of my decisions, relationships and stresses to be governed by your truth.   Help me see when You God, are speaking to me.   Amen. 

Following Jesus on His mission of love, 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"As You Wish"

SCRIPTURE:  1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NLT     "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Don't give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God.  I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do.  I don't just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved."
OBSERVATION:  In theory one of the easiest ways to identify a Christ follower is by observing how closely we act like Christ in our interactions with others.  The apostle Paul challenged the believers in Corinth to do just that.  In fact he made no distinctions regarding who should be treated in a way that glorifies God, and neither should we!  In the previous chapters Paul gave advice and instructions about the various ways believers must exhibit their new lives in Christ to distinguish them from people in their society who didn't know or follow Jesus.  This often involved them giving up their rights, suffering, and standing out in ways that might be viewed as extreme by observers.
     I use the phrase "in theory" because in real life our culture doesn't always make it easy to exhibit a Christian walk marked by selflessness.  However, the Corinthian believers didn't have it any easier in their day, based on what we know about the high level of depravity and personal indulgence that existed in their society.  Putting someone's needs or desires ahead of our own requires either a tremendous amount of human effort, or else a joyful willingness to set aside our personal wishes to honor another.  It all depends on what motivates us to yield.  Maybe we hope to be treated the same way in return, or we might be trying to earn someone's favor.  But if we're focused on showing our love for Christ by graciously deferring to another person's preference, giving up our rights becomes one more way to serve Jesus, who gave up everything for us.
APPLICATION:  Our American culture makes it so easy to put myself first; almost everything I hear or see or read encourages me to think of my own wants and needs ahead of others.  But Christ has asked me as His follower to think and walk and act like Him, not just when it suits me but all the time.  That means I need to spend time every day learning from the Lord, reading His Word and praying, and then practicing what He's taught me by acting it out in my life.  If I'm truly in love with my Savior, doing this becomes a demonstration of my love for Him.  God says that I please Him when I behave like His Son around others because it causes them to be drawn to the Lord.
PRAYER:  Father God, I confess I don't have the human ability or desire to put others ahead of myself; my flesh feeds on thinking of me first.  But Your Holy Spirit is constantly teaching the wisdom of surrendering to Your leadership and sacrificing temporary satisfaction for the deeper joy of drawing people toward Your saving grace. Help me reflect Your Presence in ways that attract people to You.  AMEN
--Lyn Cogswell

Friday, November 6, 2015

Under Construction

1 Cor 3:10-17 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

            I love the imagery that Paul uses here. It is of a series of building experts each coming along to use their knowledge and experience, along with the skills God has gifted them with, to accomplish what they do best. Paul recognized his skill was in establishing churches. Get the groundwork laid so that those that come God brings in can build off of what Paul started. What a great reminder that we all have a role to play in building the kingdom of God, each uniquely gifted. If we do our task well, it will be shown as such, if poorly, so too.

            A good builder doesn’t just start building. He first learns a set of skills, learns the rules and regulations, and finds people of experience to help him to best know how to ply the trade. Ashe gets more experienced in his trade, he finds ways to refine his craft through more training and research so as to become more skilled. So too, we as Christians need to do the same if we are to be quality builders. We can’t jump right into a task without first learning how to accomplish it well. Then as we become more proficient in the area of service God gives us, we need to continue to grow as an expert, or we will not reach our full effectiveness for the kingdom. We may only get to the point where we can work with wood, instead of being able to work with the finer materials of a skilled tradesman.

            In a way, this can also be taken personally. Our bodies being the temple, are still under construction. We are tasked with helping to make our lives worthy of a place that Christ can call home. Is what we put into our lives going to be worthy of eternity, or will it disappear with the winds of time? What are the things we build our lives our lives around? Do they build up others and Christ?

            Lord, help me today to build your temple out of quality materials. May I lean on your wisdom and knowledge in building your kingdom. Equip me for the task. Help me to be a good student of the trade you have given me that I might continue to grow as a builder of your kingdom. Help me learn to work with higher quality materials that your temple would reflect your great majesty.

            To Him alone be all glory, honor and praise forever and ever,


Wednesday, November 4, 2015


SCRIPTURE:  I Corinthians 1:8-9 NLT
     "[God] will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.  God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
     As believers we have been freed from condemnation by acknowledging our sin, accepting Christ's sacrifice on our behalf, and receiving His forgiveness.  Without question Jesus' atonement on the cross is a gift--period.  It is nothing we've earned or could possibly repay, nor does God expect us to do such a thing.  However, we are still accountable to the Lord for how we live after salvation:  how we spend our time and resources, what captures our attention, the ways we reflect our Lord in every aspect of our daily lives.  The reality is that we are not our own; the goal of Christ's followers is to please Him, not ourselves.
     But God doesn't ask us to carry out His mission in our strength; He even provides His Holy Spirit to empower and sustain us! As we submit our desires to the Lord's redeeming purposes, He reshapes and remolds them to reflect Him in ever increasing measure. Romans 8, verse 28 says, "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."  Not only that, but His invitation is to be in partnership with the Lord.  He graciously extends His hands for us to join Him, to share and participate in God's incredibly powerful message of the cross!  
     I am both challenged and encouraged by what I read in this Scripture passage.  It seems easier on the surface to continue to do whatever pleases me after receiving Christ's salvation, but that's cheapening God's grace, or what some would call "dodging a bullet."  If I truly believe Jesus sacrificed His life in exchange for mine, my only reasonable response is gratitude reflected in thousands of different ways in my life.  I shouldn't mistake this for false guilt or a sense of obligation in return for a service rendered.  Not at all!  My partnering with Christ to share the Good News of salvation and new life in Him is an outpouring of love for my Savior and the people I encounter everywhere every day.
     Father God, how can I thank you?  You gave Your Son so that I can live eternally with You, then offer to make me a partner in sharing Christ's story of redemption with others and give Your Spirit to dwell in and empower me...sign me up, Lord!
     -- Lyn Cogswell

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2 Samuel 22: A thankful David

Image result for King David praise pictures47 “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!
48 He is the God who avenges me,
    who puts the nations under me, 

51 “He gives his king great victories;
    he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
    to David and his descendants forever.”

        This Psalm is a song of thanksgiving.  Even though this song is located at the end of 2 Samuel it actually is dated shortly after David, first became king, "Was delivered from the hands of Saul"  (verse 1).    Throughout the song there are Christ/believer relationship themes.  These themes include being near death, victory over evil,  and seeking the LORD for help.   This Psalm is an expression of David's personal relationship to God.    Below are examples of how David expressed his  relationship between God and David.   

“In my distress I called to the Lord;      
 15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy
17“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
 21 “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
 30 With your help I can advance against a troop[g];
    with my God I can scale a wall.

APPLICATION:  David is in a love and trust relationship with God.  He trusted God, especially in troubling situations.  He serves as an example to us today.    God was most evident to David when David was in dire straights.  This too should be our faith journey.   As Christians we can have a personal relationship with God, see how he's active in our lives, and how he works to deliver us from evil.  When David was in trouble he always turned to God.  

Are you facing trouble, stress or a life-threatening situation?   
What would it look like for you to trust God to bring victory over your troubles?   

Pray and ask God to show you what to do.  

PRAYER:   I praise you God, as Lord of my life. My refuge, the One who deliveries me from death.   Show me the way to trust you like David did.  You are my personal Savior, Lord, and counselor.  Amen.

Following Jesus on His mission of love,