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Monday, May 29, 2017

How Big a Fish Will It Take?

May 29

(Jonah 1:14-17 NIV) "Then they cried to the Lord, "O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord, have done as you pleased." {15} Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. {16} At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. {17} But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights."

Jonah’s story is about the foolishness of ignoring God’s call. God provided a huge storm and a great fish to bring Jonah to a point of full surrender. How big will the storm have to be for you? How big a fish will it take? How deep will you have to sink? How long will you have to spend in the darkness of the deep? Jonah’s story also speaks of God’s severe mercy -- mercy for Jonah, mercy for the ship’s crew, mercy for the Ninevites, and eventually, mercy for us. The God of grace sent a great fish to rescue Jonah from his disobedience. God’s grace sent a great Savior to rescue us from our sin. Because Jesus spent three days in the bowels of a dark tomb, there is no reason anyone needs to spend three days in the belly of any kind of great fish. Abandon the ship of disobedience. Jump into the merciful sea of God’s grace. Go where God tells you to go. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I’m On My Way

May 28

(Jonah 1:7-13 NIV) ""Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. {8} So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?" {9} He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land." {10} This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) {11} The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?" {12} "Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you." {13} Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.""

God told Jonah, “Go to Nineveh.” Jonah said, "No thanks.” He just didn’t want to go minister to “those people”. Many of us do the same thing on a regular basis. God calls and we act like we don’t hear. Disobedience is tricky stuff. It always catches up with us eventually. When God calls us to do something, saying “no” is like jumping off a skyscraper. You may think you’re still in control, but you always end up going in just one direction… down! You can break your legs, your back, or your neck, but you cannot break the law of gravity. Its call will always prevail. Likewise, we can never break the call of God. We will only break ourselves against it. Only the most foolish of people refuse God’s call and try to go a different direction. It would be wiser to attack the rock of Gibraltar with a BB gun than to rise up in defiance of God’s call. When God says "Go", the only correct response is, "I’m on my way." -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Storms of Redirection

May 27

(Jonah 1:6 NIV) ""The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.""

(Romans 8:38-39 NIV) "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, {39} neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

(Hebrews 6:19 NIV) "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,"

Answers to prayer are not based on the quantity or quality of the supplication. What’s important in prayer is learning to be in tune with God’s will. God always hears and answers prayer, but sometimes He says “No”. Sometimes He does not save us from the raging storm, but instead, He takes us right into the center of it. That’s because the storm was not sent to harm us, but to get us to where God wants us to be. The storm that you are enduring today may be designed to take you to a place where you would not otherwise go. It was not sent to destroy you, but to deliver you. Its purpose is not destruction, but direction. Storms cannot separate the faithful from God’s presence, but storms will separate the faithful from the pretenders. So hold on tight. Trust and obey. God is taking you somewhere. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day 

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Disobedient Preacher

May 26

(Jonah 1:1-5 NIV) "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: {2} "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." {3} But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. {4} Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. {5} All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep."

Many believers are called to go and speak the truth. But instead of obeying, we refuse the call and run. Many today want assurance that doing ministry will not affect their well being. Personal safety and self-esteem take priority over personal obedience and self-sacrifice. We desire to minister to acceptable people, under acceptable circumstances. We want to prophesy pleasant things -- otherwise, we quietly decline the call. It’s a shame, but in the book of Jonah, everyone and everything obeyed God… except for the preacher. The storm, the dice, the sailors, the great fish, the Ninevites, the vine, the worm, and the wind… everyone and everything obeyed God except the one who claimed to be a spokesman for God. Don’t be a Jonah. If God has called you to go and speak, do not refuse, or go in a different direction. No more excuses! Head for your Ninevah and speak up! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shhh… Quiet

May 25

(Psalms 23:2-3 NIV) "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, {3} he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

(Psalms 37:7 NIV) "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."

(Psalms 46:10 NIV) "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

(Job 6:24 NIV) "Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong."

God wants us to spend time with Him in prayer, but finding quiet time can be difficult in this noisy world. It takes discipline to carve out time to be with God. Replacing old habits with new ones is hard work, but it can be done. Avoid distractions. Busy minds are “quiet time” robbers. Never judge your quiet time by your feelings. Emotions are undependable. If you only have quiet time when you feel like it, the Devil will make sure you never feel like it. Do your best to keep a daily appointment. There will be times when you don’t get what you want, when you want it. Don’t join Satan in being an accuser when the Lord doesn’t work on your timetable. God knows what’s best, and when it’s best. Quiet time is not about what you get -- it’s about who you are with. Be diligent, consistent, and patient. Persistence pays dividends. Be still and know. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Keeping Prayer Simple

May 24

(Matthew 6:9-13 NIV) ““This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, {10} your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. {11} Give us today our daily bread. {12} Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. {13} And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.””

(Luke 11:1-4 NIV) ““One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." {2} He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. {3} Give us each day our daily bread. {4} Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.””

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He didn’t write a one hundred page dissertation with footnotes. He didn’t preach a seven part sermon series. He taught them a simple pattern for prayer by praying a simple prayer. Jesus was teaching that it’s not about how long we pray, but about how we pray. It’s not about the fancy language of the prayer, but about the heart of the pray-er. The “Lord’s Prayer” is not a prescribed, rigid, magical incantation that we must recite word for word in order to get results from God. It is a simple outline for personal prayer that anyone can memorize. It includes worship: “hallowed be your name”. It has repentance: “forgive us our sins”. It contains petition: “give us, deliver us, lead us not”. Worship, repentance, and petition make a great combination for simple, effective prayer. Pray often and keep it simple. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Grace and Mercy: A Two Way Street

May 23

(Psalms 103:10 NIV) "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities."

(Luke 23:34 NIV) ""Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.""

(Matthew 6:12 NIV) "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."

Our faith is never as strong as those times when we receive mercy, but know we should be receiving punishment -- when we receive grace instead of judgment. Our love for God grows stronger when He forgives our sin and embraces us as His children. But grace and mercy are a two way street. What has been given to us, we are commanded to pass on. What flows into our lives should also be flowing out. It seems ironic, but our faith is never so severely tested as when we must decide if we will forgive someone who has sinned against us. Reciprocal grace is an intense struggle for many Christians. Many would say it’s more difficult for us than for God.  Really? Are we more holy than God? Will it require us to be born in a stable, or to die on a cross? Will it cost us the life of our son? Likely none of the above… so stop whining and get it done. Forgive as you have been forgiven! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, May 22, 2017

Left or Right -- Make Up Your Mind

May 22

(Matthew 25:31-46 NIV) ""When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. {32} All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. {33} He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. {34} "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. {35} For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, {36} I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' {37} "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? {38} When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? {39} When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' {40} "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' {41} "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. {42} For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, {43} I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' {44} "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' {45} "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' {46} "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.""

Our time here on Earth is short, but there is more than just this life. We will all stand before God as He evaluates how we lived during our time here. On that day, the Lord will separate people as a shepherd divides sheep from goats. Sheep will go to the right - goats, to the left. This separation is not arbitrary. It’s not based on status or station in life. Sheep and goats look and behave differently. We are all one or the other, and it’s not really hard for God to tell the difference. It will be good for the sheep, but bad for the goats. While we are alive, we can become a “different animal” by being born again. We have all the time in the world to change, but that is all we have. One of two events will end our ability to change: our death, or the return of Christ. Our time here can be over in a heartbeat. There are only two directions, with two final destinations… left or right. Make up your mind! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The B List

May 21

(James 2:1-10 NIV)  "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. {2} Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. {3} If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," {4} have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? {5} Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? {6} But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? {7} Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? {8} If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. {9} But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. {10} For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

Thinking that our religion makes us superior to others is abhorrent to God. If we continuously put ourselves ahead of others, at some point, Jesus will put us in our place, and it won’t be pretty. So when the church throws its weekly “party”, we cannot invite and accept only the “beautiful people”. If we want Jesus to bless us, our doors had better be open to all who want to come, regardless of status or social station. When our “fellowship event”, spuriously labeled as “outreach ministry”, gathers only people just like us, we’ve missed the mark. Even that yearly event to “feed the downtrodden” is for naught, if we cultivate an atmosphere in the church that keeps those same people on the outside looking in for the rest of the year. So, when we think “party invitations”, we need to give preference to those on the “B-List.” Jesus certainly did, and after all, it’s His party. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, May 20, 2017

First Class Christianity

May 20

(Luke 14:7-14 NIV) ""When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: {8} "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. {9} If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. {10} But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. {11} For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." {12} Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. {13} But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, {14} and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.""

(Luke 13:29-30 NIV) "People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. {30} Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."

Normally, “first class” is a positive term, but it does have a dark side. “First class” can very easily morph into “upper class” or “higher class”.  It’s a common malady in church people. Some of the worst witnesses for Christ and the church consider themselves “First Class Christians”. As such, they routinely look down on those who don’t measure up. For them, it’s a constant struggle keeping the “third class” people out of the upper decks of the church. But looking down your nose can be hazardous to your health. Looking down your nose for long periods of time causes eye damage, and one soon reaches the point where they can no longer see Jesus. In God’s Kingdom there are no second or third class passengers. That’s because there are no first class passengers. In fact, Jesus proclaimed that if we habitually think of ourselves as “first”, we will always end up last. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, May 19, 2017

Crushing Religion

May 19

(Matthew 21:33-46 NIV) ""Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. {34} When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. {35} "The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. {36} Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. {37} Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. {38} "But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' {39} So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. {40} "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" {41} "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time." {42} Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? {43} "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. {44} He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." {45} When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. {46} They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.""

We must crash before we can fly. We must fall before we can be lifted up. We must be wounded before we can be healed. We must be broken before we can be mended. Have you been broken? Jesus taught that it is better to be broken than to be crushed. If we live in lifelong denial of our brokenness, our soul will eventually be crushed under the weight of God’s holy righteousness. We either fall broken upon His Cornerstone, or we are crushed when the Holy Cornerstone comes down on us. It’s our decision. We either confess our brokenness, which can lead to a life giving relationship with Christ for now and eternity… or we continue in our self-centered, self-determined life of denial which ends in us being crushed and ground to dust on that final day. Choose while you still can, because when the end comes, your choice will be set in stone. Choose Christ today! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Much Given = Much Expected

May 18

(Luke 12:42-48 NIV) "The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? {43} It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. {44} I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. {45} But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. {46} The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. {47} "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. {48} But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

(Revelation 20:12 NIV) "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."

Anyone who thinks Jesus was just this nice little teacher who waltzed around the Sea of Galilee singing the Beatle’s song, “All You Need is Love”, has not read the parables. Jesus loved people, but He was absolutely brutal when He taught with parables. In parable form, Jesus taught that when he returns, it will be good for the servant who is found doing the Master’s will. He taught that the lazy servant will be punished with many blows. You heard right… punished… with many blows! Jesus said that. How much more direct can He be? He said that much will be expected from those who’ve been entrusted with much. That would be you and me -- He is talking to us here. So this is the formula: Much Given = Much Expected. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand this simple equation. God has given you much, and He has high expectations of you! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Faith and Obedience

May 17

(Romans 1:5 NIV) "Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith."

(John 14:15 NIV) "If you love me, you will obey what I command."

We must seek God before we can obey Him. But we must obey God in order to continually seek Him. Obedience can’t happen in the past. It can only happen today… in the present. We cannot obey God yesterday. We can’t guarantee obedience tomorrow. Today is what counts. Now is the time. Jesus calls us to follow him today. Use this day wisely. Christ calls us to faithful obedience, one day at a time. Many Christians have disassociated faith from obedience. They have either intellectualized the faith, or they have emotionalized the faith. But biblical faith is much more than just something we believe or feel. It is something we live and do. Knowing and doing are two different things. But Jesus taught that the “doing” is what indicates the “knowing”. If we truly know the Lord, we will obey Him. Will you obey Jesus today? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bigger Barns

May 16

(Luke 12:13-21 NIV) "Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." {14} Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" {15} Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." {16} And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. {17} He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' {18} "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. {19} And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."' {20} "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' {21} "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.""

(Luke 12:33-34 NIV) "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. {34} For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Jesus spoke about a man who did not plan on dying -- so he built bigger barns to store all his accumulating wealth. But he did die, and all of his stored up stuff was spent by someone else. Life is often shorter than we plan it to be. It is loaned to us daily by God, and it must be returned to Him on demand. However, eternity is forever, and is only a heartbeat away. What would you change in your life if you knew you had only a month to live? How about a week or a day? What would you do? What would you stop doing? What words would you speak? What amends would you make? Who would you want to see? If you stood before God today, would you hear, “Well done… you honored me with your life.”? If not, maybe it’s time to change. Maybe it’s time to build a stronger relationship with God instead of building a bigger barn. Bigger barns are for fools. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lost and Found

May 15

(Luke 15:1-7 NIV) "Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. {2} But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." {3} Then Jesus told them this parable: {4} "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? {5} And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders {6} and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' {7} I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

(Luke 19:10 NIV) "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.""

(Matthew 9:36 NIV) "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Jesus advocated for leaving the “ninety-nine” to seek the “one”. He taught that the “lost” took priority over the “found”. Those who were “found” resented Him for it. God have mercy on the church that adopts a similar attitude today. When souls are at stake, the Good Shepherd will seek and pursue the lost with great zeal. This is why He was sent. He calls His disciples to do likewise. The wise Christian will not be resentful when the church makes seeking lost people a priority. Instead, those who have been found and rejoiced over by the Shepherd need to get busy and help with the effort. Jesus did not come so that we could all be comfortable in our cozy little churches. He came to “seek and save” the lost, and to rescue the “harassed and helpless”. Only a fool would complain about Christ’s mission priority, or try to hinder the Good Shepherd’s work. Jesus is Lord! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Grow or Die

May 14

(Acts 16:5 NIV) “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.”

(2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV) "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; {6} and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; {7} and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. {8} For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

(2 Peter 3:18 NIV) "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."

There are three important principles of growth for churches and Christians. First, things must grow or they die. If you are alive, you will be growing. If you are not growing, you are likely in the process of dying. Second, growth always brings change. You cannot grow without changing. This principle doesn’t work in reverse. Change, just for the sake of change, does not always produce growth -- but growth will always bring change. If we are not changing, we are very likely not growing. Third, change is usually uncomfortable, and will always cost us something. This is why so many of us resist change. If a church is unwilling sacrifice personal comfort and pay the price of change, they will fade in effectiveness and influence, their vitality will wane, and eventually they will die and close their doors. Pay the price, change, and grow. It’s a matter of life and death. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Living Ready

May 13

(Matthew 25:1-13 NIV) ""At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. {2} Five of them were foolish and five were wise. {3} The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. {4} The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. {5} The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. {6} "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' {7} "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. {8} The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' {9} "'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' {10} "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. {11} "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' {12} "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' {13} "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

(Luke 12:35-38 NIV) "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, {36} like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. {37} It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. {38} It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night."

Are you ready for Christ’s return to Earth? He is coming back someday, and we are either “living ready”, or we are not. There is no “maybe zone” of safety in between. What matters is today. Are you ready today? Your religious experience from years ago will not suffice. Good intentions for the future do not count. Are you in a true and vital relationship with Jesus today? And remember, “readiness” is non-transferrable. No one is "saved by association". It must be appropriated individually. The faith of our parents or spouse will not qualify us to stand forgiven in front of God. Knowing other Christians will not save us. Only truly knowing the Lord can save us. We must all surrender and make our own personal commitments. We must seek a personal salvation. We must be found among those watching, waiting, and working. We must be “living ready”. Are you? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Good Samaritan

May 12

(Luke 10:25-37 NIV)  "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" {26} "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" {27} He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" {28} "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." {29} But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" {30} In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. {31} A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. {32} So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. {33} But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. {34} He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. {35} The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' {36} "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" {37} The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise.""

(James 1:22 NIV)  "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

Churches today are filled with well taught Christians who know every book of the Bible. Most of us would say that we love God, but when it comes to loving our neighbors, we are often no different than the unchurched. In fact, sometimes they do better than Christians at loving their neighbors. The parable of the “Good Samaritan” calls us to a greater compassion, a higher love, and a broader definition of “neighbor”. Loving his “neighbor” cost the Samaritan considerable time and money. It was definitely an inconvenience for him. Christians, we should expect no different. We are called to be doers of the word, not just hearers and memorizers. We are called to dish out God’s love, not just store up His word in our hearts. If religious fervor and biblical knowledge do not produce expressions of love and mercy, they are really not worth much to the Kingdom of God. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Two Debtors

May 11

(Luke 7:36-50 NIV)  "Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. {37} When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, {38} and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. {39} When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner." {40} Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. {41} "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. {42} Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" {43} Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. {44} Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. {45} You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. {46} You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. {47} Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." {48} Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." {49} The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" {50} Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace.""

God has no use for those who consider themselves spiritually superior to others. In God’s eyes, we are all “the worst of sinners”. In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as “Sin Lite”. There are no degrees of sin and no classes of sinners. We are all huge debtors. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. We were all at the crucifixion driving nails into that cross. Sin is more about who we are than about what we do. Here’s the principle Jesus taught: those who have been forgiven much love much, while those who think they have been forgiven little love little. In the end, God can only fix those who know they are broken, and who come to Him for repair. When we accept the fact that we are the greatest of sinners, we will treasure God’s mercy and our love for Jesus will be great! As long as we think that our sin didn’t cost Jesus very much, our love for Him will be little. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Daily Bread

May 10

(Matthew 6:9-11 NIV) ""This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, {10} your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. {11} Give us today our daily bread.""

(Luke 11:1-3 NIV) ""One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." {2} He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. {3} Give us each day our daily bread.""

Self-sufficiency is a lie of the Devil that has morphed into a virtue in our culture today. It is one of the more prominent modern day idols, and spiritually speaking, it carries a killer virus. It causes us to become delusional, thinking that we no longer need God for our daily needs -- we can handle it just fine on our own. The attitudinal disease of, “I can do it myself”, starts at about age two and persists right on into old age. To treat this disease, Jesus, the Great Physician, prescribes a daily dose of prayer and petition. “Taking our medicine” is difficult for our independent spirits. We have to stop living in denial about our desperate need for God’s daily provision in life. "One day at a time" is more than just a saying for alcoholics and addicts. It is the essence of faith. God loves us when we come to Him with our hands held up, praying “Give us this day our daily bread.” Take your medicine! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Here and the Hereafter

May 9

(Luke 16:19-31 NIV) ""There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. {20} At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores {21} and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. {22} "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. {23} In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. {24} So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' {25} "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. {26} And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' {27} "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, {28} for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' {29} "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' {30} "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' {31} "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'""

The parable of Lazarus and the un-crossable chasm draws back the curtain between this world and the next. Jesus wants us to see the relationship between the here and the hereafter. He wants us to grasp the reality and the finality of heaven and hell. He wants us to appreciate and dread the depth of the un-crossable chasm. Many recoil from this teaching. They are appalled, and say that a loving God would never do this. Many even consider it “Christian fiction”. But Jesus taught this lesson many times and in many different ways. Our choices on earth have eternal consequences. Our “then” is determined by our “now”. We cannot change in eternity -- we can only change today. We cannot return from the other side, even to do good deeds. No former loved one will be coming back from the dead to warn us. Somebody already did that. His name is Jesus. Listen to Him. Believe Him! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, May 8, 2017

Love God or Love Money

May 8

(Luke 16:9-15 NIV) "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. {10} "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. {11} So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? {12} And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? {13} "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." {14} The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. {15} He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight."

(Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 NIV) "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. {11} As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? {12} The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. {13} I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, {14} or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. {15} Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand."

In this culture, it’s much easier to “follow the money” than to follow the Lord. Money is a huge idol and the amount that we have is immaterial to the depth of our idolatry. People with little wealth often idolize Money as much as those who are rich. Jesus calls us to something different. He taught that our investment in things eternal is the only thing that will outlast us. In God’s economy, you can’t take it with you… but you can send it on ahead. Earthly investments will do us no good in eternity unless they were invested in things eternal. Christ values people more than stuff. That is because people last forever. Things and stuff rot and turn to dust. They are not created for eternity. This is why Jesus spent His life accumulating people and died with virtually no stuff. We would be wise to follow His example. Love God and use money, rather than loving Money and using God. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Stranger at the Wedding

May 7

(Matthew 22:1-14 NIV) ""Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: {2} "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. {3} He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. {4} "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' {5} "But they paid no attention and went off--one to his field, another to his business. {6} The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. {7} The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. {8} "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. {9} Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' {10} So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. {11} "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. {12} 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. {13} "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' {14} "For many are invited, but few are chosen.""

(Galatians 3:27 NIV) "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

(Revelation 19:9 NIV) "Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God.""

God invites everyone to his Son’s wedding, but many make excuses and refuse the invitation. For those who do come, there is a strict dress code -- we must be “clothed in Christ”. The Lord continues to invite people to this divine event right up until the day it begins. But once the wedding commences, the doors will be shut, and only those who have accepted God’s invitation, and who are properly dressed for the occasion, will be allowed to remain. It is sobering that God would allow some to choose an eternity without Him. But even more amazing is that the Lord would invite us to come in the first place. Who are we, that God would want us at his Son’s wedding? We were beggars on the street when our invitation arrived. It is by grace that we were invited. It is a gift from God. Accept the Lord’s invitation! Thank Him, and get dressed for the wedding. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Playing It Safe

May 6

(Matthew 25:14-30 NIV)  ""Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. {15} To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. {16} The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. {17} So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. {18} But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. {19} "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. {20} The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' {21} "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' {22} "The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' {23} "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' {24} "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. {25} So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' {26} "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? {27} Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. {28} "'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. {29} For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. {30} And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"

When Christ returns, those who have served Him and invested in his kingdom will be rewarded. Christianity is about more than just being saved -- it’s about being a disciple. Following Jesus and serving His kingdom is like investing in the greatest IRA of all time. This Individual Resurrection Account will contain only as much as we invest into it while we live here on earth. Our IRA account is free, but what we put into it is up to us. Meager efforts will bring meager rewards. Hoarding will not bring increase to our account. Investment is the key to gain.  Playing it safe is a recipe for disaster. Fear and inaction betray a lack of faith. If we risk nothing, we lose everything. We all have assets to invest. Holding it back will not pay dividends. What we do with what we have is what counts. Those who truly know Christ will invest in their IRA as they continually do his will. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, May 5, 2017

Getting Our Money’s Worth

May 5

(Matthew 20:1-16 NIV) ""For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. {2} He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. {3} "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. {4} He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' {5} So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. {6} About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' {7} "'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.' {8} "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' {9} "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. {10} So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. {11} When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. {12} 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' {13} "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? {14} Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. {15} Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' {16} "So the last will be first, and the first will be last.""

In God’s economy we all receive the same pay… the same salvation. The Lord “pays” latecomers the same as those who signed on early. Salvation is not about how long we work for the Lord. It’s about whether we go to work for him at all. At times those who have served for a long time may be tempted to grumble about those who signed on late receiving the same pay and benefits. But we should know by now that we do not earn our salvation. It is by grace we are saved. It’s not about how long we have served God -- it’s about being chosen to serve and saying yes. Seniority has no meaning with an eternal God. The bottom line is that the Lord decides who is hired, how long the day will last, what our pay will be, and when payday comes. It’s His farm, His money, and His crop. From time to time, we need to be reminded that we work for Him, not the other way around. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Out of the Mouth

May 4

(Matthew 15:10-20 NIV) ""Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. {11} What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'" {12} Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?" {13} He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. {14} Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit." {15} Peter said, "Explain the parable to us." {16} "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. {17} "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? {18} But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' {19} For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. {20} These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'""

(Romans 12:1-2 NIV) "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. {2} Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

It’s not what we eat that makes us unclean -- it’s what we spit up. Jesus taught that what comes out of our mouth is more important than what we put into it. What comes out of our mouth betrays what is really inside our heart. Profession of faith rings hollow when our mouth causes harm.  “Diarrhea of the mouth” is a common malady in Christian circles and includes more than just profanity. The church is often a hotbed of gossip as we lash and even slay others with our tongues. Lying and slander are not simple misdemeanors in the eyes of God. They are listed with adultery, theft, and murder as a felony sins. They prove that we are still “unclean” on the inside. If we want to change what comes out of our mouth, we must change what’s inside our heart, and allow God’s Spirit to renew our mind. If we let God clean up our heart, we’ll do better at cleaning up our mouth. Ask for His help today. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Older, Better Brother

May 3

(Luke 15:22-32 NIV) ""But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. {23} Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. {24} For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. {25} "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. {26} So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. {27} 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' {28} "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. {29} But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. {30} But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' {31} "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. {32} But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'""

In the parable of the “Prodigal Son”, the merciful father had two sons. The younger was the wandering prodigal. The older was proud of his loyalty. The younger was a worldly sinner. The older looked good on the surface, but he represents religion at its worst. When the younger brother came staggering home, instead of appreciating his father's mercy, the older brother resented it. Many “older sons” inhabit the church today. Their God is harsh, except with them. Their God has a short fuse, except with them. Their God punishes sin to the max, except with them. They actually worship two Gods -- their God, and the God who judges “those other people”. Beware Christians! We can ruin our walk with the Father when we spend too much time sitting on our “high horse”, or on our “pity pot”. The older brother was sitting on both at the same time. Where are you sitting today? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Coming to Our Senses

May 2

(Luke 15:11-24 NIV) ""Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. {12} The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. {13} "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. {14} After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. {15} So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. {16} He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. {17} "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! {18} I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. {19} I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' {20} So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. {21} "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' {22} "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. {23} Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. {24} For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.""

The parable of “The Prodigal Son” teaches at least three truths about being lost. First, we usually get lost by pursuing unbridled freedom. We feel stifled at home and think that a “road trip” is the answer. But, “the free life” is never really free. It does not fulfill us -- it devours us. It’s an enemy, not a friend. Second, most of us will have to hit bottom before we come to our senses. “Wild living” will take everything you have, and more. Once you’ve squandered your inheritance, you slowly learn that there’s a huge difference between “friends” and “drinking buddies”. The “buddies” will most likely leave along with the money. Third, sowing “wild oats” is fun, but as soon as they ripen, they begin to rot, and you never get the harvest that you had imagined. When that happens, and you finally “come to your senses”, go home! Your Father will be waiting, with arms wide open. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nothing But Net

May 1

(Matthew 13:47-50 NIV) "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. {48} When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. {49} This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous {50} and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The church and the gospel are like a net which is let down into the water to catch fish for Jesus. A net only works when immersed. This means that the church must constantly find ways to get itself into the waters of this world. We cannot catch fish while we hang around in our various theological trees discussing plans of salvation. If that’s all we do, we will just get old and dry. We were designed to do our work while in the water, and must resist separating ourselves from it. That’s where the fish are!  Instead of casting their nets into the water, many Christians today have placed their nets over the door of the church. The net designed by God to gather people in has mutated into a screen that keeps many people out. But good nets do not discriminate. They catch anything in their path. The job of sorting fish belongs to God. Get to work Christian! Get your net into the water. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Treasure and the Pearl

April 30

(Matthew 13:44-46 NIV) ""The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. {45} "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. {46} When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.""

(Luke 9:24-25 NIV) "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. {25} What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"

(Luke 14:33 NIV) "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

Jesus spoke often of the “kingdom of heaven”. He taught that this world is temporary -- that there is a life after this one and we will all spend it one of two places: heaven or hell. So when Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven, He was speaking of a real place where God dwells, and where those who follow Him will live for eternity. When Jesus spoke of “finding” the kingdom of heaven, He was speaking of our decision to accept Him as Lord and Savior and to be born again. This is the treasure and pearl. Jesus taught that finding the kingdom of heaven changes the way we live and the way we die. It changes the way we think. It causes us to abandon old things, so we can gain new things. God’s grace may be free, but being a Christian will cost you everything you own. When we find the Kingdom, we will stop digging and start divesting. Maybe it’s time to call the auctioneer. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Heart of the Matter

April 29

(Matthew 18:23-35 NIV) ""Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. {24} As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. {25} Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. {26} "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' {27} The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. {28} "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. {29} "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' {30} "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. {31} When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. {32} "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. {33} Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' {34} In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. {35} "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.""

If you are a Christian, you are a forgiven debtor. We all have been shown great mercy by God. When we are unwilling to forgive others, we become the unforgiving servant in today’s parable. Unforgiveness is one of the chief sins of the church. One of two things is true about the Christian who will not forgive. Either we have not truly experienced the forgiveness of the Lord, or we have received that forgiveness and decided to live in disobedience to God. There are no loopholes in Christ’s parable. What anyone else owes us is paltry compared to the debt that was forgiven on our behalf. Forgiveness often seems unnatural, unfair, and unjust, but it is at the heart of Christianity. Our mind rebels at the idea of “guilty people getting off the hook”, but that is what happened when we cried out to God. It’s called grace, and we are commanded to pass it on. Forgiveness really is the heart of the matter. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, April 28, 2017

Big Things from Small Things

April 28

(Matthew 13:31-33 NIV) "He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. {32} Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." {33} He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.""

(Matthew 17:19-20 NIV) "Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" {20} He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.""

Yeast and mustard seeds are tiny, but produce significant results. Yeast is a catalyst for growth in everything it touches. It causes everything around it to rise. The tiny mustard seed grows into a large bush that serves as a perch for birds and shelter from the sun for small animals. God loves to use little things and little people to do great and glorious things for His Kingdom. God used Abraham to start a movement of faith that affected billions of people. God used Moses to humble the mighty Egyptian empire. God used David to bring down a giant named Goliath and conquer the entire Philistine army. God used Elijah to defeat the 450 prophets of Baal. And God used a man born to poor parents in a tiny village called Bethlehem to change the history of the world and to save all mankind. His name was Jesus. God loves to produce big results with small things. Will you rise to the occasion? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day