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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Malachi: What’s Mine, What’s Yours

October 17

(Malachi 1:6-14 NIV)  ""A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the Lord Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?' {7} "You place defiled food on my altar. "But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' "By saying that the Lord's table is contemptible. {8} When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the Lord Almighty. {9} "Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?"--says the Lord Almighty. {10} "Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," says the Lord Almighty, "and I will accept no offering from your hands. {11} My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the Lord Almighty. {12} "But you profane it by saying of the Lord's table, 'It is defiled,' and of its food, 'It is contemptible.' {13} And you say, 'What a burden!' and you sniff at it contemptuously," says the Lord Almighty. "When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?" says the Lord. {14} "Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the Lord Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations."

(Malachi 3:6-12 NIV)  ""I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. {7} Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?' {8} "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. {9} You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me. {10} Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. {11} I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the Lord Almighty. {12} "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the Lord Almighty."

(Haggai 2:8 NIV)  "'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the Lord Almighty."

(Job 41:11 NIV)  "Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me."

Malachi was a high impact preacher. When he preached, people left church early and didn’t come back. One of Malachi’s high risk themes was the minefield of giving. Giving is a moral issue, so obedience is crucial. Generous people enjoy talking about giving -- tightwads hate it. We must remember that God doesn’t need our money. God needs nothing. If Jesus could make bread out of rocks, and wine out of water, he could make money grow on trees. We are the ones who have the needs. But once we finally accept the truth that everything belongs to God, it changes everything. Nobody likes being told what to do with their stuff -- but if it’s God’s stuff, then God certainly has the right to tell us what to do with it. In the end, giving really boils down to a perception of ownership. Is it yours or God’s? Get this one right, or your faith will be crippled. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, October 16, 2017

Joel: Pouring Out the Spirit

October 16

(Joel 2:28-29 NIV)  "'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. {29} Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days."

(Acts 2:1-4 NIV)  "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. {2} Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. {4} All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."

(Acts 2:13-18 NIV)  "Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." {14} Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. {15} These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! {16} No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: {17} "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. {18} Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."

(Ephesians 5:18 NIV)  "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."

(Romans 8:9 NIV)  "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

(Romans 8:24 NIV)  "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?"

(Galatians 5:25 NIV)  "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

The prophet Joel saw a day coming when God would pour out his Spirit on earth and no longer live in a temple made by human hands. Instead, God would live in the hearts of His people. The Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost produced profound, long term effects in those who were filled. This past promise of God was projected into the future and has been realized in our present day. Christians, we have become God’s temple. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, we see differently, hear differently, love differently, give differently, speak differently, and live differently. The “fullness of God” leaves little room for the old varmints of carnality. As we are “filled with the Spirit”, one by one, our self-serving, self-promoting, and self-indulging behaviors are crowded out. There is only room for one God in the temple of God. Let His Holy Spirit fill you. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Joel: What the Locusts Have Eaten

October 15

(Joel 2:25 NIV)  "'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great army that I sent among you."

(Colossians 1:13-14 NIV)  "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, {14} in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

In scripture, locusts were seen as a curse from God. Today they provide a metaphor for those things that have devoured so many of our lives. Many people today live with the feeling that their lives have been wasted. They look back with remorse and hold little hope for the future. But, God says to us, “I’m not finished yet. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” God doesn’t say He will erase the consequences of our sin -- He says, “I will change the value of the time your sins devoured.” God takes our empty way of life and fills it with meaning. He uses our negative experiences as positive examples. He changes our trials into testimonies. He takes our mess and turns it into a message. He salvages our past and transforms our future. God wants more than just eternal life for you. He also wants to redeem your earthly life. Watch for ways to redeem your past. Let the redemption begin. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Joel: Heart Rending Salvation

October 14

(Joel 2:12-13 NIV)  "'Even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' {13} Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity."

(Joel 2:31-32 NIV)  "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. {32} And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls."

(Joel 3:14 NIV)  "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision."

Joel is often called a “minor prophet”, but his words are of major importance. Many scholars believe Joel was one of the first of the “writing prophets”. If so, God started a new work with the writings of Joel. He began to prepare people for the end of time. Joel calls this coming event “the day of the Lord”. He uses that term five times in his short book. Joel encourages a heart rending salvation -- a salvation of wholehearted repentance. He lets us know that God is not interested in the surface stuff. He writes of a non-discriminatory salvation: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord” can be saved. This is a bold statement from a Jewish prophet. Joel also makes it clear that this salvation is a choice: everyone “who calls”. Salvation may be non-discriminatory, but it is not universal. Not everyone will be saved… only those who “call on the name of the Lord”. Call on His name! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jonah: A Very Fishy Story

October 13

(Jonah 1:1-17 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. {6} 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." {7} 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. {14} 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."

God told Jonah to go east. Jonah went west. We’ve all done it. Some people are doing it right now. We call it reluctance -- God calls it disobedience. When Jesus calls us and we say, “I’m not sure”, we are really saying, “No thanks.” Our reluctance/disobedience will often bring some kind of storm in life… a storm which can threaten to sink our ship and drown us. As we are going down, we tend to blame God, but most of our storms are manmade. Our decisions put us on the wrong boat, going in the wrong direction, on the wrong sea, with the wrong crew, for the wrong reasons… and we wonder why our life is so stormy. Then, in his mercy, God sends some kind of big fish to get us. If we’re going to tell fishy stories, God will provide the fish. Even in our disobedience, God graciously provides a way for us to do his will. It may appear like judgment, but it is God’s grace. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: Three Young Men in Holy Defiance

October 12

(Daniel 3:1-29 NIV)  "King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. {2} He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. {3} So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. {4} Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: {5} As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. {6} Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace." {7} Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. {8} At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. {9} They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! {10} You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, {11} and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. {12} But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon--Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." {13} Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, {14} and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? {15} Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" {16} Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. {17} If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. {18} But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." {19} Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual {20} and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. {21} So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. {22} The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, {23} and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. {24} Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." {25} He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." {26} Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, {27} and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. {28} Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. {29} Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.""

Three young men raised the banner of God over their lives and refused to strike their colors. They defied the most powerful man on Earth and refused to bow down to his idolatrous golden image. False gods are always insecure gods -- they cannot tolerate competition. The only way false religion can deal with true Light is by destroying books that speak of it, passing laws that prohibit it, and intimidating or eliminating those who display it. This has occurred throughout history and it is happening today. But false gods can never succeed at extinguishing the Light. They have tried in the past and have failed miserably because the Light is eternal. Jesus always rises again and the Light never stops shining. Let Christ be reflected in your life. When you go through that fire, Jesus will stand beside you. He will be seen in you, and with you, and you will shine like a star. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Daniel: Lord of the Lions

October 11

(Daniel 6:19-22 NIV) "At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. {20} When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" {21} Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! {22} My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.""

(Daniel 6:28 NIV) "So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian."

(Hebrews 11:35-40 NIV) "Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. {36} Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. {37} They were stoned ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- {38} the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. {39} These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. {40} God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."

There is a strand of Christianity that latches onto stories like this and teaches that all things go well for those who believe. It has been called “the prosperity gospel”. But they miss the most obvious lesson of Daniel. Our God is a rescuing God… a God who saves. However, the Lord doesn’t save us from the lion’s den -- He delivers us while we are in the lion’s den. God doesn’t remove the lions -- He closes their mouths. Lion power is no match for God’s power. Jesus doesn’t save us from going through times of trial -- He stands beside us as we go through them. God doesn’t transport us around the valley of the shadow of death -- He walks us through it. We were born to glorify God. That seems to happen more often when we are forced to spend time in the lion’s dens of life. While we are there, let us remember that the Lord of the universe is also Lord of the lions. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Daniel: Withstanding the Pressure

October 10

(Daniel 1:3-20 NIV)  "Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility-- {4} young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. {5} The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. {6} Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. {7} The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. {8} But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. {9} Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, {10} but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you." {11} Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, {12} "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. {13} Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." {14} So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. {15} At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. {16} So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. {17} To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. {18} At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. {19} The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. {20} In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom."

(Daniel 2:1-6 NIV)  "In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. {2} So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, {3} he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means." {4} Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it." {5} The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. {6} But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.""

(Daniel 2:47-48 NIV)  "The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery." {48} Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men."

(Daniel 6:3-4 NIV)  "Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. {4} At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent."

Daniel and his friends lived under pressure that is hard for us to comprehend, but they were determined not to be assimilated by the Borg of Babylon. Withstanding intense pressure to compromise our beliefs can be a difficult and lonely business. Still, we are called to be exceptional people. In Scripture, we find many who would not bow to false gods. They lived as free men, even while in slavery. They refused to be assimilated by the cultures they were forced to inhabit. They were faithful, even when thrown to the lions. They prayed when prayer was banned. They shame those of us today whose greatest dilemma seems to be, “Will it offend anyone if I pray in restaurants?” Being faithful should never be contingent upon being free. When we cease being faithful so we can remain free, we have begun to worship freedom more than the One who set us free. Be exceptional. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, October 9, 2017

Jeremiah: A Plan for Us

October 9

(Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. {12} Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. {13} You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. {14} I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.""

God has a plan for our lives. That plan was in place before we were born. Part of God’s plan is that we are free to choose whether or not to follow His plan. When our choices ignore God’s ways, it’s really easy to get lost in life. God gives good directions, but we don’t always read or follow His map. We keep taking all these unnecessary detours. It’s like we prefer the dusty back roads over God’s highway. That’s why so many of us are habitually late in getting home. Ironically, when that road gets bumpy and we end up lost, we often complain. We wonder out loud why God didn’t make our road smoother. But our choices, not God’s, took us down that road to nowhere. Life is more about choices than accidents -- it’s about the roads we choose to travel on. God has a plan for you… a plan to prosper you, not harm you. Where will you get a better offer than that? Follow the map! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Jeremiah: Down at the Crossroads

October 8

(Jeremiah 1:14-16 NIV)  "The Lord said to me, "From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. {15} I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms," declares the Lord. "Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. {16} I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made."

(Jeremiah 6:16 NIV)  "This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'"

(Jeremiah 15:16-19 NIV)  "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty. {17} I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. {18} Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails? {19} Therefore this is what the Lord says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them."

In this day of popular preachers with millions of followers, it’s hard to imagine a great prophet of God delivering an almost unanimously unpopular message. But that’s Jeremiah’s story. God sent him to confront his people because they had become spiritual prostitutes. Jeremiah was assigned to preach a message that no one wanted to hear. The people hated him for it. He had no fan club encouraging him. Christians, stop looking for gratitude when speaking God’s difficult truths. You are not the cowboy with the white hat, riding into town to save it. You will likely hear a lot more boos and hisses, than you will hear cheers. That’s because God’s truth rattles the gates of hell and most people don’t like the sound. Stop expecting pats on the back and nods of approval. Just deliver the message. God will take care of the rest. The applause will probably have to wait until heaven. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Jeremiah: No More Excuses

October 7

(Jeremiah 1:2-10 NIV)  "The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, {3} and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile. {4} The word of the Lord came to me, saying, {5} "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." {6} "Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." {7} But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. {8} Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. {9} Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth. {10} See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.""

(Jeremiah 1:17-19 NIV)  ""Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. {18} Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. {19} They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord."

For most of his life, Jeremiah preached with a broken heart and earned the title, “weeping prophet”. God called Jeremiah to go and preach the word -- he made excuses. But God doesn’t take excuses, so Jeremiah went. He preached for forty years before going into captivity with his people. The vast majority of those who heard him did not believe him, nor did they repent or change their ways. But God doesn’t evaluate prophets based on the number of people who respond -- that’s the world’s measuring stick. God evaluates prophets based on their faithfulness to His word and their obedience to His call. Whether or not people listen, has never been the measure of a godly preacher. Maybe you’ve been called. God still doesn’t take excuses! Nor has His standard of measurement changed. So enough with the excuses! Go do what God has called you to do. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, October 6, 2017

Isaiah: God Knows, Come Home

October 6

(Isaiah 40:27-28 NIV)  "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God"? {28} Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom."

(Luke 15:17-24 NIV)  ""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."

In Isaiah’s day people were saying, “Where is God? Doesn’t He know what’s happening to us? He must not be watching over us like He promised. Why did this happen?” Sound familiar? Many today are saying exactly the same thing. But God knew then, and He knows now. Actually, God knows a lot more than we would like Him to know. God knows where you are and how long you’ve been there. Worse yet, God knows how you got there, and why you’re still there. He knows! And in our spirit, we know too. We know He warned us time and time again not to play in the street. But we made it our personal playground, and life ran us over. Sin did a hit and run on us. And so we need to stop acting like God is the stupid one. He was not negligent -- He gave us instructions. We just didn’t listen and were disobedient. God knows, and He still loves you. So come on home. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Isaiah: Who is Really Lord?

October 5

(Isaiah 40:1-31 NIV)  "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. {2} Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins. {3} A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. {4} Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. {5} And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." {6} A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. {7} The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. {8} The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." {9} You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" {10} See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. {11} He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. {12} Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? {13} Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? {14} Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? {15} Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. {16} Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. {17} Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. {18} To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? {19} As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. {20} A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple. {21} Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? {22} He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. {23} He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. {24} No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. {25} "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. {26} Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. {27} Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? {28} Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. {29} He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. {30} Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; {31} but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40 is one of the greatest chapters of scripture ever written. The prophet definitely grasps the glory of God, and finds a way to express it in words. He humbles us with his truth and exhortation. One of the fundamental lessons that Isaiah teaches is this: “There is a God and it ain’t me.” Many in our world need to relearn this truth. God puts us in our place, but we just can’t seem to stay there. Why do we keep going back to the old ways and the old gods? We mouth the words, “I know I’m not God”, but our lives betray our hearts. We live as though we were royalty. We habitually reinstall ourselves as kings and queens. Christians, we can’t keep climbing back up onto the throne and still say, “Jesus is Lord.” If we do, we are either ignorant of the truth, or we are arrogant in our disregard of it. You just can’t have it both ways. Jesus is Lord or He isn’t. What will it be? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Isaiah: Prophet Extraordinaire

October 4

(Isaiah 7:14 NIV)  "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)  "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

(Isaiah 49:6 NIV) "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.""

(Isaiah 53:3-12 NIV)  "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. {4} Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. {5} But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. {6} We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. {7} He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. {8} By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. {9} He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. {10} Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. {11} After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. {12} Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

(Isaiah 55:1 NIV)  ""Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."

(Isaiah 55:6 NIV)  "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near."

(Isaiah 59:2 NIV)  "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear."

(Isaiah 60:1 NIV)  ""Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you."

(Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV)  "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, {2} to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,"

One test of a true prophet is whether or not their visions actually come to pass. Isaiah was an extraordinary prophet. Eight hundred years before Jesus was born, he saw His coming in detail. He saw the virgin birth of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14). He saw the unveiling of the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6). He provided Christ’s first sermon (Isaiah 61:1-2). He saw the death of Jesus (Isaiah 53:3-9). He saw the resurrection of Christ (Isaiah 53:11). He saw Christ’s true mission (Isaiah 53:12). He saw the gospel being preached to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). He saw the main problem of all humanity (Isaiah 59:2). He spoke of Christ’s invitation to everyone in the world (Isaiah 55:1; 55:6; 60:1). Many today avoid the Old Testament. They critique it as archaic and harsh. But it is God’s word. It is the Bible Jesus used! And it is rich for the mining if you will just dig into it. Go for it! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Isaiah: When We See God

October 3

(Isaiah 6:1-8 NIV) "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. {2} Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. {3} And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." {4} At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. {5} "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." {6} Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. {7} With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." {8} Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!""

(2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV) "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, {11} and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Isaiah speaks of a holy moment when he was privileged to catch a glimpse of the glory of God. When we see God, we see ourselves as we really are, and it’s not pretty. Like a sunbeam streaming into a dusty room, the light of God reveals the dirt in our lives and we cry out, “Woe is me.” But when Jesus cleanses us, we begin to see who we can become. With God’s revelation comes a calling. The proper response to that calling is: “Here am I, send me.” Our calling often comes through the needs we see around us. We waste time and disrespect God when we wait for the government to care for those needs. We shirk our calling when we demand that the church step in and care for the need. You are the church, and the need is the call. Do you see a need? That’s a call. The call is for you. God is saying, “Pick up the phone and answer the call.” Move toward it and engage it! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, October 2, 2017

Isaiah: The Fruit of Going Godless

October 2

(Isaiah 1:11-20 NIV)  ""The multitude of your sacrifices-- what are they to me?" says the Lord. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. {12} When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? {13} Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations-- I cannot bear your evil assemblies. {14} Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. {15} When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; {16} wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, {17} learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. {18} "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. {19} If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; {20} but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

(Isaiah 2:6-9 NIV)  "You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. {7} Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots. {8} Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made. {9} So man will be brought low and mankind humbled-- do not forgive them."

Isaiah looked at God’s people and saw that they had slowly eliminated the Lord from their lives. They had decided to go godless. As a result, they became like the pagan cultures around them. They prospered and they began to think that it was because they were more ingenious than others. Wealth became an addiction. Greed wooed them, and they got hooked on the Good Life. They trusted in Stuff to make them happy. They put their energy into acquisition, rather than giving. Sound familiar? Today, our national motto has become, “In Goods We Trust.” Our Trinity is now Fame, Winning, and Money. But money, stuff, and success make for unfaithful and undependable gods. They will sleep with whoever has the most money, and leave us for another overnight. And when we limp home, broken and broke, God comes out to meet us, and He loves us. Don’t go godless. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Job: Why Me, Lord?

October 1

(Job 38:1-3 NIV)  "Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: {2} "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? {3} Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me."

(Job 42:3-12 NIV)  "You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. {4} "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' {5} My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. {6} Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." {7} After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. {8} So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." {9} So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job's prayer. {10} After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. {11} All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. {12} The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys."

Job’s biggest problem was not what he lost. His biggest problem was his theology. Job believed that God always punished evil and rewarded good. Thus he concluded that God must be unfair or simply not paying attention. How many times has God endured the same questions Job and his friends asked? How many times has God listened to the same whiny complaints that many of us will make today? Are we really foolish enough to think that God will suddenly step back and say, “Wow, I never thought about that before. What was I thinking? I’m sorry for any inconvenience life has caused you.” Don’t hold your breath! God asks the questions -- we gulp for answers. God does the talking -- we do the repentance. He is the Potter -- we are the clay. He is eternal -- we are dust. He is the Creator -- we are the created. God is the sovereign One. He does not answer to us -- we answer to Him. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day