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Friday, June 30, 2017

God the INVITER

June 30

(Matthew 14:28-29 NIV) ""Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." {29} "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.""

(Matthew 4:19 NIV)  ""Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men.""

(Matthew 11:28 NIV) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

(Matthew 22:8-10 NIV) "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."

(Isaiah 55:3 NIV) "Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David."

One of the Lord’s great attributes is that He is an Inviter. You could call God “The Great Inviter”. Scripture is loaded with “come to me” language. It's not that God needs our company, because God has no "needs". This life changing invitation is for our benefit. God invited Peter to step out of the boat and do the impossible. Peter had the courage to say yes, and it was a life changing experience. God still invites us to step out of our boats and onto his water. Anyone can walk on dry ground. Where’s the glory for God in that? But when we answer God’s invitation and step out onto the water, God receives glory, and we receive great blessing. God the Inviter calls on us to leave our comfort zones and risk it all for Him. Will you step out in faith and attempt the impossible for God’s glory, or will you squander your life sitting in the confines of your little boat? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, June 29, 2017

God the FINDER

June 29

(Genesis 3:8-9 NIV) "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. {9} But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?""

(Ezekiel 34:16 NIV) "I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice."

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

(Romans 10:20 NIV) "And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.""

Long before the term “I found God” was ever coined, God the Finder came looking for us. When Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden, He spoke “Finder” words to them. “Where are you?” He asked. When God came to Earth, incarnate in Christ, He came “to seek and to save what was lost”. Jesus is The Finder. We don’t have to be perfect to be found by God -- we just have to realize we are lost, and decide to stop hiding. God knows where we are, and where we’ve been. He knows what we are. It is the very nature of our "lostness" that causes Him to come looking for us. God’s mercy, love, and grace compel Him to be the Finder. That's why Jesus hung with the harlots, the helpless, and the hopeless before he was hung with thieves on a cross. He loves us! God the Finder is seeking you. Will you choose to be found? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

S.O.R. Syndrome

June 28

(Ephesians 4:13 NIV) "… become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

(Ephesians 4:15 NIV) "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."

(Philippians 3:15 NIV) "All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you."

(Hebrews 5:14 NIV) "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

(James 1:4 NIV) "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Many Christians and churches today suffer from a severe power shortage. They are not growing and reproducing because they are not eating correctly or exercising enough. A diet of baby food and fast food has replaced the power food recommended by God. The result is flabbiness, obesity, weakness, and the immature behavior we see so often in church culture. Recent surveys indicate that only about a third of "church goers" have a mature faith that integrates their basic beliefs with their daily living. They may believe the right doctrines, but their beliefs are not being translated into a strong, active, and vital discipleship outside the church walls. Too many suffer from the spiritual anemia that accompanies S.O.R. Syndrome, commonly known as “Sunday Only Religion”. Maturity is the only antidote for this syndrome. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

D.U.I. - Disciple Under the Influence

June 27

(Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV) "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. {19} Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, {20} always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. {21} Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

(Mark 10:42-44 NIV)  "Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. {43} Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, {44} and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all."

Getting drunk on wine can lead to a D.U.I. (Driving Under the Influence). Drinking in the Spirit can also lead to D.U.I. (Disciple Under the Influence). The indicators of Christian D.U.I. are corporate worship, personal praise, continuous thanksgiving, and mutual submission. Mutual  submission always takes two or more people. It is unnatural for us. It takes a new attitude -- an attitude that is different from the one we learn in the world. Mutual submission is like putting a "YIELD" sign at both ends of a single lane bridge -- to avoid collisions people must be willing to submit to one another. Many of the silly conflicts and embarrassing disputes for which the church is notorious could be avoided if we would just “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” But this kind of submission will require a “Disciple Under the Influence”, so drink heavily and deeply of God’s Holy Spirit! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day


Monday, June 26, 2017

Drinking in the Spirit

June 26

(Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV) "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. {19} Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, {20} always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

(Ephesians 4:19 NIV) "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."

(Luke 15:13 NIV) "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."

(1 Thessalonians 5:7-9 NIV) "For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. {8} But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. {9} For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."

(1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)  "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

(Psalms 81:10 NIV)  "I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."

God calls us out of intoxication and into sanctification. If we are going to be immoderate in our drinking, it should be with the new wine of His Holy Spirit. Drunkenness usually leads to debauchery. Debauchery is the extreme indulgence of our appetites, or what some would call unbridled living. It is a self-indulgent mindset. It opens the floodgates of excess in our life. Debauchery caused the “Prodigal Son” to "squander his wealth in wild living." Debauchery is like a black hole that drains our life. It numbs the conscience, destroys good judgment, breeds a “continual lust for more”, and makes us really stupid. This world needs a strong, vital Christian witness. We have no business being "lit up", or "living it up" unless we are lighting up our world and living up to Jesus. If we are going to be intoxicated, it should be with the Spirit of God. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, June 25, 2017

God’s Will: What About Me?

June 25

(Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV) "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, {16} making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

(Proverbs 11:14 NIV) "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure."

(Proverbs 12:15 NIV) "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice."

(Proverbs 13:10 NIV) "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice."

(Proverbs 15:22 NIV) "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."

It can sometimes be difficult to discern God’s individual will for our lives. Scripture and prayer, used in combination, can help us discern God’s will, but it’s hard to find specific verses that tell us what job to take, what person to marry, or what city to live in. Circumstances, such as our family situation, education, health, spiritual gifts, and prior commitments, should also be taken into consideration when seeking God’s individual will. Circumstances can include what are often called “open doors” and “closed doors”. Just be aware that the Enemy also knows how to open and close doors. Every “open door” does not necessarily come from the Lord, nor does all difficulty constitute a “closed door” from God. Whenever we are moving in God's direction there will likely be resistance. The wise Christian will exercise patience and seek godly counsel. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Understanding God’s Will

June 24

(Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV) "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, {16} making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. {17} Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

(Romans 12:2 NIV) "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."

Maturity in the faith brings with it an increased ability to understand God's will. We stop conforming to this world, our minds are renewed, and our wills are transformed. We still have choices to make. We either live wisely, or we live foolishly. We either live in God's will, or we live outside of His will. There is little “middle ground”. It’s difficult to be just a little bit stupid. It is helpful to us that God’s moral will is spelled out in His commandments. Think of them as the manufacturers operating instructions. Along with our conscience and Christ, the commandments form a trinity for knowing God’s will. Obey the commandments, listen to your conscience, and know the mind of Christ, and you will have a much greater chance of understanding God’s will. This is a necessity for the Christian, because just like we can’t be a little bit stupid, we also can’t be just a little bit disobedient. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lighting Up Our World with LEDs

June 23

(Ephesians 5:8-14 NIV) "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light {9} (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) {10} and find out what pleases the Lord. {11} Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. {12} For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. {13} But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, {14} for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.""

(Exodus 10:21 NIV) "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt--darkness that can be felt.""

(Isaiah 9:2 NIV) "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

(Matthew 5:14 NIV) "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."

This world can be a very dark place. Christians are called to be LEDs  (Light Emitting Disciples). But at a time when the world needs light more than ever, many LEDs are flickering out. Light illumines, and when we Christians don’t shine, people stumble in the darkness. Light attracts, and the darker the world, the more attractive the light becomes. Light exposes. What looks good in the darkness can be pretty unattractive in the daylight. Light persists. It constantly assaults the darkness, looking for the slightest opening to penetrate. The only hope for dispelling the darkness of this world is the light of Christ, shining forth from His disciples... His LEDs. Darkness can only triumph if we refuse to let our lights shine. See the light Christian. Move into the light, live in the light, and reflect the light. You are the light of the world. Shine today! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Smelly Christians

June 22

(Ephesians 4:1 NIV) "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."

(Ephesians 4:30 NIV) "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

(Ephesians 5:2 NIV) "and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

(Ephesians 5:8-14 NIV) "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light {9} (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) {10} and find out what pleases the Lord. {11} Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. {12} For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. {13} But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, {14} for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.""

Are you a fragrant Christian or a smelly Christian? The word “fragrance” has a much different connotation than the word “odor”. Fragrance is attractive. Odor is usually repulsive. Prolonged and unresolved conflict in the church stinks, and the whole world can smell it. Deodorant won't help in this case. The Lord calls us to maintain unity, and honor God in our relationships because smelly Christians are a turn off. Our power to draw people to Christ is damaged and diminished when the church stinks at relationships. We all have a scent -- so does our church. Is yours attractive or offensive? When people come to your church do they detect the aroma of Christ, or do they smell conflict, bitterness, envy, and critical spirits? Dead bodies stink, and if we don’t honor God in our relationships, we become contributors to a stench that is not pleasing to God. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Honoring God in Our Relationships

June 21

(Ephesians 4:25-32 NIV) "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. {26} "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, {27} and do not give the devil a foothold. {28} He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. {29} Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. {30} And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. {31} Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. {32} Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

(Romans 13:9-10 NIV)  "The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." {10} Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

What many people know about Christianity, they know from watching those who call themselves Christians. What do they see in you? Mature Christians will be honoring God in their relationships. We will honor God in our speech. We won't gossip or lie to our neighbor or about our neighbor. We will honor God in our anger by not impulsively acting on it. We won’t store anger up in order to use it as a weapon at a later date. We will honor God in our work. We won’t steal time or products from our employer. We will honor God in our mercy. Because we've received so much mercy, we will be exceedingly merciful. We will honor God in our physical and fiscal morality. Our sexual behavior will be beyond reproach, as well as the way we handle our money and our finances. Today, tomorrow, and until the end of your time here on Earth, honor God in all your relationships. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Continuing Self Renewal

June 20

(Ephesians 4:20-24 NIV) "You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. {21} Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. {22} You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; {23} to be made new in the attitude of your minds; {24} and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

(Romans 12:2 NIV) "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."

Scientists have been striving to unlock the secrets of aging as they search for the “fountain of youth”. They have discovered that the reason we age and die is that our cells slowly, but surely, stop renewing themselves. Continuous renewal is vital to both physical and spiritual life. When we are born again, we embark on a lifelong process of continuing spiritual renewal.  Disciples of Jesus are called to be “transformed by the renewing of their minds”, and to be “made new in the attitude of their minds”. This is an ongoing and continual process. It must be done over and over again. When it ceases we have begun the process of dying. Don’t go there! Seek renewal on a daily basis through prayer and the word of God. Stay connected to the Source of life. Continuous self-renewal brings vitality, growth, and power to our spirits. It is mandatory for an active and vibrant faith. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, June 19, 2017

Six Steps to Becoming a Loser

June 19

(Ephesians 4:16-19 NIV) "From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. {17} So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. {18} They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. {19} Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."

(Proverbs 4:23-27 NIV) "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. {24} Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. {25} Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. {26} Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. {27} Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."

In sports, losing hardly ever happens by accident. There are reasons for every loss. The same truth applies to our spiritual life. Here are six steps to becoming a spiritual loser. The first is lack of teamwork. When team mates don’t support one another, love one another, and do their part, the team loses. Second, “futile thinking”, known in 12 Step circles as “stinkin’ thinkin’”. We fill our minds with bad stuff and it putrefies. Third comes a “hardened heart”. Broken and wounded hearts often become calloused. Fourth -- a “loss of sensitivity”. We stop feeling and develop a "seared conscience". Fifth, we give ourselves over to sensuality. We indulge ourselves in impurity and normalize sin. Sixth, we develop “a continual lust for more”. We become addicted to stuff. This is self-indulgence on steroids. Do these six things on a regular basis and you can become a great loser. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Speaking the Truth in Love

June 18

(Ephesians 4:14-15 NIV) "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. {15} Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."

(Proverbs 12:18 NIV) "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

(Proverbs 18:21 NIV)  "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

(James 3:9-10 NIV) "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. {10} Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."

Be wise with your speech. The terms “motor mouth” and “trash mouth” should never be applicable to the Christ follower. Guard your tongue. It has the power of life and death. And in this day of social media, guard your fingers, for what they type will last forever somewhere. If you must speak at all, speak truthfully and lovingly. Don't lie to people. Don't lie about people. Don’t speak when you should remain silent. Don’t remain silent when love dictates that you should speak. Learn from the times when you spoke, but shouldn't have. Learn from the times when you should have spoken, but didn’t. Wisdom and discretion in speech are a mark of Christian maturity. Speaking the truth in love is what should make our speech distinctly Christian. If there is no difference in the way we speak, God does not yet fully have our heart. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Discerning Truth from Error

June 17

(Ephesians 4:11-14 NIV) "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, {12} to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up {13} until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. {14} Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming."

(1 John 4:1 NIV) "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

(1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV) "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. {2} Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron."

(Matthew 7:15 NIV) "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Maturity brings with it the responsibility to discern truth from error. This is an ongoing task because error never rests. It just keeps coming. If it can’t get in the front door of the church, it comes through the back door, or through a small window. Error usually starts at the top and trickles down. It loves apathy, and thrives under biblical illiteracy. If we are not discerning, we end up being blown around like a small piece of paper on the fickle winds of theological teaching. Error is cunning, crafty, and cagey corrupter. It will confuse, confound, capture, and conquer. It must never be coddled. It must be confronted and combated. We must not flirt with it or wink at it, but instead, we must stomp it out. Discerning truth from error is hard work. But it’s an ongoing and necessary task for the disciple who wants to be mature and remain strong in the faith. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, June 16, 2017

Body Building

June 16

(Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV) "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, {12} to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up {13} until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

(Philippians 2:12-13 NIV) "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, {13} for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

Both a proper diet and exercise are necessary for a strong body, and the rule is the same for the body of Christ. Gorging ourselves on spiritual food, without regular workouts, is a formula for spiritual obesity. At the same time, many works of service, with little spiritual nourishment, can lead to a starved faith. We need to maintain a balanced diet and a daily exercise routine to maintain a strong faith. Good preaching, Bible study, prayer, and regular deeds of love are on God’s recommended plan. Exercise is usually uncomfortable. It makes us sweat and causes aches and pains. We will all need some encouragement to sustain a regimen of exercise, because most of us are addicted to comfort. Many in the church today are long on spiritual food, but short on spiritual workouts. Most of us don’t need more spiritual food. We need more exercise. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Using Our Diverse Gifts

June 15

(Ephesians 4:7-11 NIV) "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. {8} This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." {9} (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? {10} He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) {11} It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,"

(1 Corinthians 12:6-7 NIV) "There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. {7} Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."

(1 Corinthians 12:11 NIV) "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."

Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift. Many are blessed with more than one. All believers should make an effort to find out what gifts they possess. These spiritual gifts come from God, and are given to glorify God, even if we haven’t used them for that purpose yet. They are given so that we can be the body of Christ here on Earth. When we become part of Christ’s body, we become the hands and feet and mouth of Jesus for ministry. Some things we do for God because it is our gift. Other things we do simply because they need to be done and we are available. Many Christians can be overheard saying, “That’s not my gift”… when what they really mean is, "I don't want to do that -- it’s beneath me.” Washing the feet of His disciples was not likely Christ’s gift, but He did it anyway. He gave his all. He deserves our all in return. Use your gift in service of the King! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Make Every Effort

June 14

(Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV) "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. {3} Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

(1 Corinthians 1:9-13 NIV) "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. {10} I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. {11} My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. {12} What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas "; still another, "I follow Christ." {13} Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?"

(Luke 11:17 NIV) "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."

Unity is like harmony in music. Unity is not unison where everyone sings the same note. Prolonged unison makes for really dull music. And when notes come too close together, it creates dissonance, not harmony. Dissonance offends the ears. This is why God gave us harmony. In harmony, notes don’t all move in unison. They may even go in different directions. But they work together in relationship to produce a pleasant sound. In the church, God wants harmony, not unison, because harmony is attractive. Mature Christians realize that the symphony they are supposed to be playing needs many different instruments and many different parts to make harmony happen. They don’t cherish unison and they avoid dissonance unless it serves a momentary purpose. Mature believers do what it takes to create harmonious unity and to make beautiful music for Jesus. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Maintaining Unity

June 13

(Jeremiah 32:38-39 NIV) "They will be my people, and I will be their God. {39} I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them."

(Romans 15:5-6 NIV) "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, {6} so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

(Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV) "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. {2} Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. {3} Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. {4} There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- {5} one Lord, one faith, one baptism; {6} one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

Unity is not the same thing as unanimity. Neither is unity the same thing as uniformity. Unanimity is everyone agreeing on everything. Uniformity is everyone looking alike, thinking alike, and being alike. Coerced unanimity and uniformity do not produce genuine unity, especially in the church. Unity is a God thing. It starts on the inside and works its way out. It acknowledges that we are all different, but that like the different parts of a jet airliner, very different people can work together toward a common goal. Unity allows us to remain unique and still work as one unit. When Jesus really comes to a church, unity comes with Him. When we all follow the same leader, we will all be going the same direction.  Discord, jealousy, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, and legalism cannot stand under the unifying gaze of Christ. His Lordship either separates us, or it unifies us. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Baby Food Foundation

June 12

(1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV) "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

(Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV) "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. {12} In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! {13} Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. {14} But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

(Hebrews 6:1-3 NIV) "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, {2} instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. {3} And God permitting, we will do so."

We’ve all heard it said: "Grow up and stop acting like a baby." The same thing needs to be said to many Christians. Infantile behavior is normal - for babies. Pitching a fit to get what we want is normal - for babies. A milk and baby food diet is normal - for babies. But as we grow up and mature, our diet and behavior need to change. Crying when we don’t get our way is expected with babies, but it is unbecoming of adults. A milk and baby food diet is a good thing for infants, but it becomes dysfunctional if carried forward into adulthood. Times of weaning are always stressful, and changes in diet will always meet with resistance. But strong and mature Christians will leave the baby food of the faith and grow into a high protein spiritual power diet. This is a crucial transition for every believer, for in the end, we will become what we eat. What does your spiritual diet look like today? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Changing Your Diet

June 11

(Matthew 13:22 NIV) "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful."

(Mark 4:18-19 NIV) "Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; {19} but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."

(Luke 8:14 NIV) "The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature."

(1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV) "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

We hear it constantly from nutritionists: “You need to change your diet.” But most people don’t want to give up what they love to eat. Jesus listed three spiritual junk foods to avoid if we want to mature. First: "life's worries". Pigging out on anxiety can cause us to lose our spiritual appetite. Time spent worrying is time stolen from God. Second: “the pursuit of riches” or "the deceitfulness of wealth". They will starve us with their desire to accumulate. Third: “pleasures” or "desires for other things". Recreation is a multi-billion dollar addiction in the USA. Our list of activities is endless. If we want to mature spiritually, we must change our diet and cut out the junk food. We must wean ourselves. We must grow out of the baby food diet and get into some spiritual “meat and potatoes”. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, June 10, 2017

For Crying Out Loud, Grow Up!

June 10

(1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV) "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. {2} I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. {3} You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"

(Ephesians 4:14 NIV) "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming."

(1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV) "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. {2} Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, {3} now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Most church disputes and splits do not occur over great theological issues. Instead, they happen because of jealousy, envy, deceit, quarreling, slander, and malice. These immature attitudes damage godly relationships and hinder God’s work. It’s sad to say, but on far too many occasions, Christians and churches have publicly displayed childish behavior. And just like the child who throws a temper tantrum in Wal-Mart, the whole world sees it. Acting like a baby is normal for babies. But it’s unattractive and unbecoming in those who should have grown up by now. Christ followers are called to move away from childishness toward maturity. When immature Christians persist in infantile behavior, shame not glory comes to the name of Christ. God must sometimes give a deep sigh and think, “For crying out loud, grow up!” -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, June 9, 2017

From Pablum to Power

June 9

(1 Peter 2:2-3 NIV) "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, {3} now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

(Hebrews 5:13-14 NIV) "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. {14} But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

(Hebrews 6:1 NIV) "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,"

As we mature in the faith, we should become more consistent and reliable. Grownups should be taking responsibility for themselves. They no longer need continuous supervision. The formula is this: Increasing age + increasing knowledge = increasing responsibility. As our spiritual birthdays accumulate, our knowledge should be increasing, and we should take increasing responsibility for meeting our spiritual needs. We should move beyond the need to be “spoon fed”. It is normal for baby Christians to crave spiritual milk, but eventually we must be weaned and grow into the solid food of the faith. We must move from pablum to power. Babies make people smile, but they have very little impact on the world. It’s with maturity that we become influential. If we refuse to grow up and live as mature believers, we remain dependent children, and we are useless to the Kingdom. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Unchanging God

June 8

(Jonah 4:9 NIV) "But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die.""

(Hosea 6:6 NIV) "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

Jonah despised the grace of God. He was incensed when the Lord forgave the Ninevites. Instead of being joyful, he was angry. In his mind, God had mercy on the wrong people. Many today still despise God’s grace when they feel that mercy has been shown to the “wrong people”. Aren’t there some who don’t deserve grace? Jesus was despised, beaten, spit on, crucified, and speared because he loved the “wrong people”. He seemed to enjoy the company of the “rabble” more than the “religious”. He ministered to “sinners” as much as He ministered to “saints”. The religious leaders of Christ’s day could not accept a God who did not judge based on their standards. Jesus didn’t meet their theological criteria. Today, many Christians still resent and resist the command of Christ to invite, love, and rescue the perishing. Don’t join them. Don’t be a Jonah. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pouting Prophets

June 7

(Jonah 4:5-11 NIV) ""Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. {6} Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. {7} But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. {8} When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live." {9} But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." {10} But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. {11} But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?""

If God could use Jonah, God can use you. Jonah ran -- God used him anyway. Jonah griped -- God used him anyway. Jonah pouted -- God used him anyway. Jonah hated -- God used him anyway. As it turns out, Jonah was in pretty good company. Abraham lied, Sarah doubted, Jacob cheated, Moses made excuses, Rahab was a prostitute, Sampson was full of lust, David was an adulterer and a murderer, Elijah suffered from depression, Peter denied Christ, and Paul had Christians killed. God used all of them anyway. How could we possibly be so vain as to believe that our sin is too big or too bad for God? Give it up! It’s a lousy excuse and it's even lousier theology. A dedicated life and a repentant heart are powerful tools in the hands of God. Whatever your background or baggage, God can use you. God used Jonah, and God can use you. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Flooding the Marketplace

June 6

(Jonah 4:1 NIV) "But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry."

(Jonah 4:4 NIV) "But the Lord replied, "Have you any right to be angry?""

(Jonah 4:11 NIV) "Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?""

(Exodus 33:19 NIV) "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

(John 3:16 NIV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

(1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV) "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. {16} But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."

Jonah was upset with God because the Ninevites received mercy rather than judgment. But God’s grace is not just for us and the people that we like -- it is available to anyone who will receive it. Many times this truth rubs people the wrong way. It irks us that God would forgive “that person” or “that terrible sin”. But God just says: “Deal with it, because it’s my grace. I’ll do what I want with it.” Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could pick and choose who receives mercy. He died to save sinners... even those we despise. Jesus did not die so we could hoard his salvation and dole it out to a few nice people who meet our standards. He died so that we could flood the marketplace with God’s love, grace, and mercy. The big surprise is not that God’s grace was available to the Ninevites... the big surprise is that it is available even to us! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, June 5, 2017

Abhorrent Grace

June 5

(Jonah 4:1-11 NIV)  "But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. {2} He prayed to the Lord, "O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. {3} Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live." {4} But the Lord replied, "Have you any right to be angry?" {5} Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. {6} Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. {7} But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. {8} When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live." {9} But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." {10} But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. {11} But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?""

Many in the church see grace as abhorrent, rather than amazing. Some prefer justice to mercy... as long as it comes to others. We, who have been the recipients of God's grace, often want all those “rotten sinners” punished. When we hear the proverbial "turn or burn" sermon, we have a list of those who should be feeling the heat, and are secretly hoping for a bonfire. We may even come to church carrying the matches and the accelerant. What kind of God would have mercy on people who are immoral, cruel, and wicked? What kind of God would forgive sin, instead of punishing it? This is what happens when we look at people and see a lifestyle instead of an eternal soul. As those who have received God’s amazing grace, we must change our disobedient attitudes and check our critical spirits, for if we continue to think like this, we will end up becoming the abhorrent ones. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Contagious Repentance

June 4

(Jonah 3:5-10 NIV) ""The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. {6} When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. {7} Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. {8} But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. {9} Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish." {10} When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.""

(Galatians 3:6-7 NIV) ""Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." {7} Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.""

When Jonah preached God's word to the Ninevites, they believed God and visibly repented. They “gave up their evil ways” and “urgently called on the Lord”. Repentance is much more than just remorse. Repentance goes public with our sin. It may start in the heart, but it always shows itself in some way. God receives no glory from grudging, tight lipped, private repentance. When our pride squelches our testimony, we sow the seeds of our own defeat. God doesn’t want to just change us -- He wants to change the world through us. He wants our story of change to promote change in those around us. When repentance goes public, it can work like a virus, spreading until a whole nation is exposed. Repentance that remains inside the church walls is anemic and impotent. It cannot become what God desires until it escapes the church building and infects the culture. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Lord Have Mercy

June 3

(Jonah 3:1-10 NIV)  "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: {2} "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." {3} Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city--a visit required three days. {4} On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." {5} The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. {6} When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. {7} Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. {8} But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. {9} Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish." {10} When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened."

Jonah repented from inside the great fish. He also repented on the outside of the great fish. We know this because he did what God said to do. Genuine repentance is always validated by action and brings contagious revival as it spreads throughout families, cities, and nations. But it starts with individuals believing God about their sin, believing God for His mercy, and believing God enough to change. The correct response when we hear God’s call to repent is not, “Lord, I’ll try to do better” -- the correct response is, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” God did not send Jesus to Earth just so we could become better than our neighbors. God sent Jesus so we could see our sin against the backdrop of His sacrificial and holy love. God sent Jesus so that we would fall down before Him, and then follow behind Him in genuine and unconditional repentance. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, June 2, 2017

The God of Second Chances

June 2

(Jonah 2:10 NIV) "And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land."

(2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV) "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: {19} that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

This may sound strange and repulsive, but the grace of God in Jonah’s saga is found in the vomit of a great fish. Our God is a God of second chances… even for those who have ignored and disobeyed his clear call. God loves to use disobedient, damaged, stubborn, and broken people for his glory. When God delivers us from the darkness, we probably won’t complain much. Whether our deliverance is from inside the belly of a great fish, from inside of a bottle, or from inside a bad relationship, we will likely be very grateful. Real "second chance people" aren’t usually whiners. They know they are getting better than they deserve, and that they owe God a big debt of gratitude. And when God delivers you, pay attention to where the “great fish” spits you up. That’s probably where God wanted you to be in the first place. Maybe it would be best to just head there right now. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The God You Worship

June 1

(Jonah 2:8-9 NIV) "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. {9} But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord."

(Jeremiah 2:11 NIV) "Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols."

(Psalms 62:1 NIV) "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him."

A recent poll revealed that one out of every ten Americans believes that Elvis isn't really dead. What this means is that we now have more Elvis believers in the USA than the number of people who call themselves Presbyterians or Lutherans. Many people today are "spiritual", but are still idolaters. The various gods we worship are not all created equal. Many people believe in a god who requires no change… a god who does not intrude on our lives... a god who stays handy for times of crisis. Asking the Lord to tear down our idols is a waste of time. He won’t do it. We built them -- we must tear them down ourselves. It doesn't matter whether our idols are carvings or concepts, we must be rid of them in order to really follow Jesus. We must abandon the false gods that often dominate our thinking, for in clinging to worthless idols, we forfeit grace. Cast them out. Show no mercy on them. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day