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Friday, August 17, 2018

Up From The Pit

August 17

(Jonah 2:6-9 NIV) “To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. {7} "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. {8} "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."

(Psalm 40:1-4 NIV) “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. {2} He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. {3} He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. {4} Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust…”

Imagine sinking down so low that you reach the roots of the mountains. That’s where Jonah ended up because he would not go God’s way. But Jonah cried out to God, and the Lord in His mercy brought Jonah’s life up from the pit. God graciously gave Jonah a song of thanksgiving and a message of salvation. Then Jonah preached and people were saved. David also found himself far below where he should have been, mired down in the mud of sin and alienated from God. But the Lord heard David’s cry and lifted him out of the slimy pit. God gave David a rock to stand on and a new song to sing. Then David wrote songs that people are still listening to today. God is the same today as He was yesterday. Salvation still comes from the Lord to those who cry out from the pit. Put your trust in the Lord today. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mansion or Shack

August 16

(John 14:14 NIV) "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. {2} In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. {3} And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. {4} You know the way to the place where I am going."

(Genesis 35:1-4 NIV) “Then God said to Jacob, "Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau." {2} So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. {3} Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone." {4} So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.”

God’s will is that we inherit the mansion He is building for us. But to move into His holy mansion, we will have to move out of our shacks of shame and burn them to the ground. We need to feed the fire of God’s Spirit and make ashes out of the slums of sin where we have lived for so long. We will need God’s grace to do that! Grace helps the foolish wise up. It helps the deceived wake up. It helps the disobedient straighten up. It helps the childish grow up. It helps the cold hearted fire up. Grace sets the captive free. It changes hate to love and cruelty to kindness. It transforms persecutors into preachers. It changes the meek into the mighty. It transforms marriages, families, cities, and nations. And it can save you. Are you ready to move? Are you ready to light a fire? Or will you be keeping the shack? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Finding God With Us

August 15

(Psalm 139:7-12 NIV) “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? {8} If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. {9} If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, {10} even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. {11} If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," {12} even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

(Jeremiah 23:24 ESV) “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”

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

Jesus came to earth to be found, but He is not always found in great cathedrals or mega-churches. He turns up in humble places like a feed trough in a small backwater town. We often find Him in unexpected places: eating with tax collectors and prostitutes; touching the lepers and the outcasts; walking on the stormy seas of life, calling to us to not be afraid. He can be found in jails and on death beds… in automobiles and on playing fields… on sinking ships and in cancer wards... on the battlefield or on the radio. He can be found anywhere, by anyone, if we will just open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts. Have you found Him? Do you hear Him? You need not go far. God is omnipresent; everywhere at once. There is no place He is not present or cannot be present. So wake up, listen up, wise up, and open up. God is with us. Jesus is near. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Our Creator God

August 14

(Genesis 1:1-4 NIV) “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. {2} Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. {3} And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. {4} God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”

(Colossians 1:16 NIV) “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”

(Revelation 4:11 NIV) "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

Many today who consider themselves enlightened, scoff at the idea of a Creator. Creation has been downgraded to a “personal belief”. That’s code for “Keep it out of the public arena”, and most certainly, “Don’t teach it in school.” Creation has been relegated to the status of mythic fable. Taking its place has been the theory of evolution. This theory contains some truth, but has mutated into “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. It has become a religion with the aura of the Holy Grail. It has even been described as “the unifying theory of science”, as if all science would fall apart if evolution was not there to hold it together. But God was here before science. God’s conversion of nothingness and chaos into form and order is the reason laws of science can even exist. God reigns over science, not the other way around. The truly wise will always remember this. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, August 13, 2018

Chaos Reigns

August 13

(Psalm 23:2 NIV) “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”

(John 14:27 NIV) "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled..."

(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. {7} And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Our God is a God of order, but here on Earth, chaos seems to always be knocking at our door. Chaos is programmed into us at an early age and it’s hard to delete the program. Too often, we invite chaos in and it reigns in our lives. Like crack cocaine, we become addicted to it. We get so strung out on noise, activity, and stress that we actually go through withdrawal when tranquility comes. Order becomes like an intruder. And whenever peace threatens our chaos habit, we go out and find a dose of mayhem so we can feel “normal” again. As we shoot up, serenity is shot down. Stop feeding the chaos or it will eventually devour you. Turn off the constant noise that smothers the Spirit of God in your life. Cease and desist from the frantic running and the endless activity. It doesn't make you important -- it makes you impotent. Allow God’s peace to soothe your frantic heart. Settle into the arms of God like an easy chair. Let serenity reign in you. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Grace Before Faith

August 12

(Isaiah 64:6 NIV) "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

(Ephesians 1:3-8 NIV) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. {4} For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love {5} he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- {6} to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. {7} In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace {8} that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."

(Ephesians 2:4-9 NIV) "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, {5} made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. {6} And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, {7} in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. {8} For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- {9} not by works, so that no one can boast."

God’s grace came prior to our faith. It was extended to us long before we ever asked for it, or even knew we needed it. God’s grace is the source of our salvation and is offered to every person alive today. It is the gift of God. We nullify God’s grace when we try to work our way to God by being a “good” person. All our righteousness is like filthy rags to God. We cannot be born again through our own effort. God reaches down… we take his hand. God gives… we receive. Jesus calls... we follow. The Lord gives… we accept His gift. Because of this truth, no man can boast. We make no contribution toward our salvation other than our willingness to receive it. So, give it up. Stop trying to win God’s approval. He already loves you so much that He gave the life of His Son for you. Accept it. It is finished! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Mice or Men

August 11

(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!""

(Luke 5:1-11 NIV) ““One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, {2} he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. {3} He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. {4} When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." {5} Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." {6} When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. {7} So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. {8} When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" {9} For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, {10} and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." {11} So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.””

It’s hard to see the dirt in our lives when we live in the dark. But when the lights come up, we see our need for cleansing. That’s why so many people hide from God. His holy light exposes our dirt. Like a bright sunbeam streaming into a musty room, the light of God reveals copious amounts of dust floating around in our lives. When we begin to see ourselves as we really are, we cry out, “Woe is me.” This is the beginning of true repentance and salvation. We cannot appreciate God as ultimately holy until we see ourselves as utterly sinful. We can never come to the beginning of God until we come to the end of ourselves. One of two things usually happens when we find ourselves in the holy light of God. We either scurry like mice for our dark holes of safety, or we see our uncleanness, man up, and fall on our face pleading for God’s mercy. So the question is: are we mice or men? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, August 10, 2018

All Mixed Up

August 10

(Proverbs 6:20-23 NIV) “My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. {21} Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. {22} When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. {23} For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.”

(Psalm 116:3-9 NIV) “The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. {4}Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, save me!" {5} The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. {6} The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. {7} Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. {8} For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, {9} that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

(Psalm 119:105 NIV) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

Most Christians really do want to honor God. We want to follow Jesus and walk the walk. It’s just that sometimes we get mixed up in our direction. Our body parts get disconnected from our brain and stop listening to the Spirit. Our head goes one way and our feet go the other. Our priorities become muddled. We say we believe certain things, but then we act like we don’t. Our feet get tangled up with our heart and we stumble. We mistake our wants for our needs. We mistake our habits for necessities. We mistake our thoughts for the will of God. We mistake our feelings for the truth. It can happen to the best of us. The only antidote is God’s Spirit, speaking through Scripture. There is our anchor. There is our center. There we find the mind of God. There we find the unifying factor for our person and being. Do not neglect the word of God. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Do Right

August 9

(Genesis 4:7 NIV) “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

(Psalm 106:3 NIV) “Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.”

(Proverbs 21:3 NIV) “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

(Isaiah 1:16-17 NIV) “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, {17} learn to do right!”

(1 John 3:10 NIV) “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God…

If we really want to be a follower of Jesus, we have to stop doing wrong and learn to do right. In fact, that sentence pretty well sums up Christian discipleship. Stop doing wrong and learn to do right. Our faith will be lived out in thought, word, and deed on a daily basis, or it is not genuine faith. We must desire to do right, study doing right, and practice doing right. If we will not do this, our Christianity becomes a joke. This is not rocket science, folks. We all have choices to make on a daily basis that end up shaping our lives. It’s a matter of breaking old habits and starting new ones. Our old habits are what brought us down and crippled our lives. We have to stop the destructive behaviors and start living healthy again, physically and spiritually. It’s time to stop surviving and start living. Stop doing wrong and learn to do right. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Persecution is Affirmation

August 8

(James 1:2-4 NIV) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, {3} because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. {4} Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

(1 Peter 4:12-19 NIV) “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. {13} But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. {14} If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. {15} If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. {16} However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. {17} For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? {18} And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" {19} So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

For thousands of years, Christians have suffered for believing God and following Jesus. If you have experienced persecution for your faith, join the club, and rejoice that you’ve been counted worthy. Proactive disciples, who stand up for Jesus, can expect to become a target. When you glorify God, lift up His word, and shine the light of Christ, you become a threat to the darkness. You will be attacked and may even be wounded. But we know the Healer. We’ve read the end of the book; we know who wins. Our times are in His hands. If life is a breeze… if we consistently live a life of Christian ease… it is likely that our message is impotent. And if our message is impotent, it is not the gospel. Do not turn away from ministry because of difficulty and trouble. Buck up, double down, and take the hits. Persecution is affirmation. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Precious Death

August 7

(Psalm 116:1-18 NIV) “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. {2} Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. {3} The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. {4} Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, save me!" {5} The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. {6} The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. {7} Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. {8} For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, {9} that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. {10} I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted." {11} And in my dismay I said, "All men are liars." {12} How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? {13} I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. {14} I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. {15} Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. {16} O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. {17} I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. {18} I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, {19} in the courts of the house of the Lord -- in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.”

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His SAINTS”. Don’t miss the word “saints”. There’s only one way to become a true “saint”: trust in Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. It’s a matter of faith, not deeds. It’s a choice. We say yes to Jesus or we say no to Jesus. Those are the only two choices. When the moment of death comes we will either stand before God as a “saint”, dressed in white, or a “sinner” condemned and unclean. We either stand clothed in Christ or we stand naked. We are saved or we are lost. It’s our choice. If you have never done so, believe God now. The death of lost people breaks God’s heart. If you have never done so, come to Jesus now. Repent of any and all sin, trust in Christ for salvation, and your death can be precious in God’s sight. He’s been calling you for some time now. You have heard His call. Respond to him. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, August 6, 2018

A New Doctrine

August 6

(Acts 4:7-12 NIV) “They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?" {8} Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! {9} If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, {10} then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. {11} He is " 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' {12} Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

(John 14:6 NIV) “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“Salvation through Christ alone” was one of the first doctrinal statements of the infant church. It would have been considered heresy to the religious leaders of that day. They were Jews; God’s chosen. How could a dead prophet save anyone, let alone be the sole source of salvation? But Peter was unflinching. “Jesus saves… no one else can.” Our humanity rebels at the exclusivity of this statement. Surely there must be more than one way. But God is clear: Jesus is THE Way, THE Truth, THE Life, THE Savior, and THE Lord. He is not one among many -- He is the one and only. There is no other name by which we can be saved. It’s still a controversial statement, but it’s a doctrine the church stands on today… well, some of the church. The truth is: Jesus taught it, Peter preached it, and the early church believed it. We had better believe it too. Otherwise, we are lost. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Too Little, Too Late

August 5

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

The parable of the ten virgins is a lesson in being prepared for Christ’s return. Five were ready when He came… five were not. The five who were not ready did not receive a second chance. Despite their pleas, they were not permitted to enter the wedding banquet. When Jesus comes again, the time for getting ready will abruptly be over. It will do absolutely no good to get ready after he arrives. You cannot fill up with the oil of God’s Spirit after the Groom and His Bride have entered the banquet and shut the door. When Jesus returns, the time for second chances will be over forever. The door on the age of grace will have been closed and it will never be reopened. Decisions about Jesus will have been written in permanent ink. Eternal destinies will have been sealed. Get ready now, and stay ready. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Eleventh Hour Blessing

August 4

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

God is so gracious to us. The opportunity for signing on with Him is open until the eleventh hour. And as a signing bonus, those who sign on late receive the same as those who signed on early. What a great God we have! But wait, not everyone appreciates God’s generosity. Some grumble about those who signed on late getting the same as them. They claim it’s not fair. Even though they receive just what God promised them, they resent those who come late, work less, but get the same pay. How human can we get? Listen up! Everyone will get from God just what they were promised. That includes you. You’re not being cheated, you’re being blessed. So, hush up, count your blessings, and be thankful that God is still gracious, even when we act like brats. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, August 3, 2018

Saving Prayer

August 3

(Luke 18:9-14 NIV) “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: {10} "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. {12} I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' {13} "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' {14} "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

You say you pray to God. How nice. Praying to God means nothing unless you know the God to whom you pray. A Pharisee and a tax collector both prayed to God. The Pharisee’s prayer was boastful and proud. The tax collector’s prayer was full of repentance. He stood at a distance because he knew his sin. He knew he was unclean. His eyes were not looking upward to God, but were downcast in remorse. His hands were not raised in exaltation, but in surrender. He uttered a short, simple, seven word prayer that worked like a computer password to access the heart of God: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This tax collector knew God, and he knew himself. Unlike the Pharisee, he knew that he was nothing like the holy God of the temple. Both men prayed to God, but only the tax collector went home forgiven and saved. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Weeds Among the Wheat

August 2

(Matthew 13:24-30 NIV)  "Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. {25} But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. {26} When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. {27} "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' {28} "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' {29} "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. {30} Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'""

(Matthew 13:36-43 NIV)  "Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." {37} He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. {38} The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, {39} and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. {40} "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. {41} The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. {42} They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. {43} Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."

Today, there are some who teach that because God is love, everyone will be saved. This is false teaching. The parable of the weeds and the wheat paints a disturbing picture, but Jesus is simply speaking the truth in love. God’s love is found in His warning. There is a heaven and a hell. Some people will follow Jesus and some will not. Disciples of Jesus will inherit eternal life. Unbelievers will perish. Christ’s parable could apply to genuine and phony Christians in the church, or to believers and non-believers in the world. But one thing is clear: not everyone will be saved. When the harvest comes, some will rise to heaven, some will be thrown into the fire. Even today, some will believe Christ’s warning; others will be offended by it. But in the end, only the fool will risk ignoring it. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Inside Outside

August 1

(Luke 18:9-14 NIV) ""To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: {10} "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. {12} I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' {13} "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' {14} "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.""

(Matthew 23:25-28 NIV) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. {26} Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. {27} "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. {28} In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

The word Pharisee means "separated one". Pharisees were a highly select group of religious leaders who carefully kept their distance from all sinners. They were those “good people” that we lift up as models of proper behavior. Today, they might be called “pillars of the church”. But Jesus said they had a major failing -- they had a pride issue. Their idea of witness was regularly reciting the list of bad things they didn’t do. They thought their “list” somehow made them more Godly. They boasted in their goodness and gloated in being spiritually superior to others. The Pharisees always looked good on the outside. They excelled in stuff that the world could see. But Jesus said that on the inside, they were as dark as any prostitute or tax collector. Things have not changed. Today, Christ wants us to know that prideful goodness will separate us from God just as much as any sin of the flesh. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Killer Liberation

July 31

(Jeremiah 13:22-27 NIV) “And if you ask yourself, "Why has this happened to me?"-- it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated. {23} Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. {24} "I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind. {25} This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you," declares the LORD, "because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods. {26} I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen-- {27} your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?”

(2 Peter 2:13-19 NIV) “They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. {14} With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood! {15} They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. {16} But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey--a beast without speech--who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness. {17} These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. {18} For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. {19} They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”

We may indeed have achieved the utopian goal of “sexual liberation”, but the cost has been staggering. The debris from promiscuity, unfaithfulness, and disease litters the sociological landscape of America. We’re discovering that “Free Love”, isn’t really free after all. Following our fleshly desires has taken an enormous toll. In fact, the price is so high that many have found themselves psychologically and spiritually bankrupt. As our families and our society crumble, we are finally realizing that the great sexual experiment which began in the 1960’s has been a colossal failure. The culture is developing fissures and cracks that will very likely lead to its collapse. Commitment to God and faithfulness to one another provide the glue that makes us “one flesh”. Remove that glue and what you get are fragmented and dysfunctional pieces. Broken relationships foster broken people, and eventually, a broken society. It would appear that we have arrived. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, July 30, 2018

One Nation Under God?

July 30

(Romans 1:21-32 NIV) “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. {22} Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools {23} and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. {24} Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. {25} They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. {26} Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. {27} In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. {28} Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. {29} They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, {30} slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; {31} they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. {32} Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

For the sake of integrity, maybe it’s time to take the phrase, “one nation, under God” out of the USA’s Pledge of Allegiance. Its truth would certainly not be apparent to anyone looking in from the outside. “One nation” requires common goals and beliefs. That kind of unity is rapidly dying off along with the World War II generation. The evidence that we are “under God” is certainly scant. The melting pot is quickly becoming a cesspool. The nightly news is rampant with stories of violence, stealing, murder, slander, cheating, sloth, adultery, greed, fornication, divorce, lust, gossip, and perversion. Lights are still shining, but the darkness grows day by day. The good news is this: in utter darkness, one candle can draw a crowd. Do not despair! God’s calling has never been about building a nation. Instead, it has always been about growing His Kingdom. Let your light shine. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, July 29, 2018

All the Days Ordained

July 29

(Psalm 139:13-16 NIV) “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. {14} I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. {15} My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, {16} your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

God’s word says: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book.” That means we have an allotted time here on Earth, and God knows our beginning and our end. We may say a life was cut short, or we may say it was a long and happy life, but who are we to evaluate God’s timing? How does one measure seven months or seventy years against eternity? Both are less than the blink of an eye for God. We have all been gifted with some time to live here on Earth. We have been set apart and given a unique purpose. When all the days ordained for us are over, we will go back to our Father; the Creator who knit us together; the One who knew us long before we were born. On this day, take some of your ordained time to praise God from whom all blessings flow… and to whom they will ultimately return. Thank him for the precious gift called life and as they say, “Have a good one!” -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Right Kind of Denial

July 28

(Luke 9:23-25 NIV) “Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. {24} For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. {25} What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

(James 5:1-5 NIV) “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. {2} Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. {3} Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. {4} Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. {5} You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.”

Jesus calls us to become His disciples. He calls us to come and follow Him. Responding to God’s call will always mean a sacrifice of some sort. One of the major words used in connection with discipleship is the word “denial”. Jesus said that to be His disciples we would need to deny ourselves. This is a whole different kind of denial than most of us are accustomed to. Most of the denial in our lives is self-indulgent denial. We live in denial of the fact that we have a problem. We live in denial that we are the problem. The denial Jesus speaks of is self-emptying denial. We surrender our stuff, we surrender ourselves, we surrender our sovereignty. This kind of denial will cost us everything, but save our soul. So the choice boils down to this: serve ourselves and stuff that wears out and burns up, or serve God and save our souls which live for eternity. Be sure you’re engaging in the right kind of denial. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, July 27, 2018

Forced to Trust in God

July 27

(Matthew 14:22-31 NIV) “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. {23} After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, {24} but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. {25} During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. {26} When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. {27} But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." {28} "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. {30} But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" {31} Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

God sometimes sends us out against the wind and the waves. When the storms of life rage, and the water pours over the side of our boat, fear can begin to conquer faith. The basis for our doubt is a lack of faith in the One for whom nothing is impossible. We have doubts because it’s easier than having faith. Faith is more difficult than doubt. But it’s faith that walks on water. It’s faith that saves us from drowning. It’s faith that moves mountains. It’s faith that brings healing. It’s faith that raises the dead. It’s faith that pleases God. This storm is not designed to drown you. Faith is only strengthened when we have occasion to exercise it. Trust only grows when we face situations where we must trust. Take control of your doubt and get your eyes back on Jesus. We are transformed in those times when our human solutions fall short and we are forced to trust in God. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Press On

July 26

(1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 NIV) “You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. {2} We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.”

(2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 NIV) “Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. {5} All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.”

(Hebrews 12:1-4 NIV) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. {2} Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. {4} In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

When we preach Christ, and witness for Jesus, the blessings will come, but so will the opposition. The Enemy will not go quietly into the night. Satan is a seasoned veteran and will not hesitate to fight. There will always be opposition. If we face no opposition, it means our message is either nonexistent or impotent. If our witness is nonexistent, we are being disobedient. If our message is impotent, it is not the gospel. The Devil has no reason to attack the apathetic or the ineffective. Why should he? They present no threat to his cause. But the active disciple can expect to be challenged, threatened, and assailed. This is why we need to put on the “full armor of God”. Do not shirk your duty because of opposition or persecution. See it as a sign that you are on the right track and press on against the resistance. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Unchanging God

July 25

(Malachi 3:6 NIV) “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”

(Hebrews 13:8 NIV) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

(James 1:17 NIV) “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God does not change. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. The Christ of Creation is the Christ of Revelation. The God who by grace provided a covering for Adam and Eve, provides a covering for us. The God who gave the people of Noah's day 120 years to repent, gives us plenty of time to repent. The God who had patience with a disobedient Abraham, has patience with us. The God who gave Israel chance after chance to come back from their idolatry, gives us chance after chance to be faithful. The God who forgave the sin of 120,000 Assyrian Ninevites and spared them from destruction, is sparing us at this very moment. The higher critics of God's word will come and go, but the word of the Lord stands forever. God’s mercy is timeless and God’s grace is for everyone who will receive it. The Lord does not change. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Not Much to Tell

July 24

(Isaiah 43:10 NIV) ""You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.""

(Isaiah 44:8 NIV) “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

(Acts 1:8 NIV) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Too many in the church today have delegated the responsibility of sharing the gospel to “professionals”. If you’re one of those people thinking, “Aw shucks, I don’t have much to tell about”… you need to be asking yourself some serious questions. Were you really so good that Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross to save you? Did it not take much of Christ’s blood to atone for your sin? The story of the person who was saved at a young age and who has walked with Jesus most of their life is just as glorious as any other. It’s certainly the story we’d like our grandchildren to have. So talk it up! If you still think you have nothing to say, you need to be asking yourself: “Was it really Jesus that I met? Was it Jesus who saved me?” If it was Jesus, then you have something important to share. If you have nothing to talk about, you need to take a long, hard look at what you call salvation. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, July 23, 2018

We Will Rise Up

July 23

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV) “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. {14} We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. {15} According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. {16} For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. {18} Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

After Jesus had wept, He prayed. Then He spoke Lazarus back to life. He commanded death to leave, death submitted, and Lazarus returned to the land of the living. Jesus ordered that the large stone plugging the entrance to the tomb be removed. Everyone warned Jesus about the stench because the body of Lazarus had been in there four hot days. But Jesus wanted them to see the glory of God and the end product of faith, so He spoke just three little words of life: “Lazarus come out.” There was no “mumbo jumbo”, no laborious incantations, no pixie dust, smoke, or dancing around… just the word of God: “Lazarus come out.” And just like that, Lazarus rose up and was freed from death. Believers, this is our destiny. The Lord will return in the sky, sound the trumpet, shout the words of life, and death will submit. We who believe will rise again. Glory! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jesus Wept

July 22

(John 11:17-44 NIV) ““On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. {18} Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, {19} and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. {20} When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. {21} "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. {22} But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." {23} Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." {24} Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." {25} Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; {26} and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" {27} "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." {28} And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." {29} When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. {30} Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. {31} When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. {32} When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." {33} When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. {34} "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. {35} Jesus wept. {36} Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" {37} But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" {38} Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. {39} "Take away the stone," he said. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." {40} Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" {41} So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. {42} I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." {43} When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" {44} The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go.""

The shortest verse in scripture simply but profoundly says, “Jesus wept.” Let that soak in for a moment. Christ was so deeply moved by the death of his friend Lazarus that he entered into identification with humanity in the fullest sense. He felt the personal pain and the crippling grief of those around him. It overcame him and he cried… God cried! He knew that His mission on earth, being the resurrection and the life, would be worth the pain. As Jesus was sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, he knew why he was going to the cross. He would die in order that believing hearts could die with hope of a resurrection. He had seen the despair caused by death. As He hung there on that cross, Jesus must have thought about the pain He experienced that day at the tomb of Lazarus. Perhaps it helped him endure, so that we could have the promise of eternal life. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day