Friday, January 22, 2016

The Empty Chair

 "When he was at the table with them,
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.”
—Luke 24:30-31, NIV
“Hey! That’s my chair!”

Silly as it is, I imagine at some point you’ve gotten upset when someone took your seat—or someone has gotten upset with you for taking theirs. If not, perhaps you played musical chairs as a child. How did you feel when there wasn’t a chair left for you? Did you push and shove to claim the remaining chair? Did you walk away upset because you lost the last seat?

Regardless of what we lose, we’re prone to get upset when someone takes something we believe is rightfully ours— even if there is music playing in the background.  

No one likes to feel cheated, but what about when we cheat ourselves? Who do we argue with then?  Do we even know we’re cheating ourselves—or care?

The heartbreak is that we regularly cheat and steal from ourselves, but we seldom bat an eye about it. Then, to add insult to injury, we repeat the behavior.

We cheat ourselves out of quality time with those we love, fritter away hard-earned money, and squander our days. We choose the path of least resistance, make harmful food choices, and give television sitcoms priority over reading God’s Word. The Word is where I want to sit for a moment, so pull up a chair (your own, please) and let’s talk.

There are plenty of chairs at the Lord’s table. There’s one reserved for each of us, so we never have to worry about someone stealing our seat. The question is: do we want it? I ask this because there are often empty chairs at his table. Sometimes the empty chair is mine. Do you allow misplaced priorities to rob you of time in God’s presence too? 

A few days after Christ’s resurrection, the Emmaus disciples failed to recognize Jesus. Not until they invited him into their house and received the Bread of Life from his nail-scarred hands did their eyes open to his identity.

Do you wonder where Jesus is in your circumstances? Wonder if he cares? If so, refuse to substitute fare from the world’s table for the Bread of Life that comes through reading God’s Word. God paid the ultimate price for our reservation at his table—the blood of his only Son, Jesus. To know that we’re cheating ourselves out of a relationship with Jesus Christ and do nothing about it is foolish.

If we could pull back the curtain of eternity and see what is to come, there would be no empty chairs at the King’s table. Push away from the world’s table and claim your seat.There’s a chair reserved for you.
Now it's your turn: Do you have a daily reservation at the table? What is a struggle you have that keeps you from your seat? What is one change you can make that will help you keep your reservation?
I always welcome your comments.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Is Your House in Order?

“There is a time to keep, and a time to throw away.”
—Ecclesiastes 3:6, NIV
The start of a new year is the perfect time to take inventory of areas we’ve neglected and rid our homes of items we no longer use. When I clean, I tend to concentrate on the rooms people see and push aside the cluttered drawers and closets (and heaven forbid, the attic). Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. Because I know the clutter is there, it creeps into the corners of my life and disturbs my peace until I’m pressed to do something about it.

But clutter doesn’t only accumulate in the physical realm, it builds up in the spiritual aspects of our lives as well. Anything that disturbs our peace or blocks our pathway of communion with the Father is clutter. Let’s face it: no one wants to open the door of their prayer closet and meet an avalanche of shelved grievances, stored anger, or suffocating pride.

The prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover’” (2 Kings 20:6). We may think Isaiah was short on bedside manner, but the truth is, he delivered a hard message from the Lord straight to the proud heart of a king who had opened up his doors to the enemy. Isaiah’s message produced repentance, brought cleansing, and added years to the king’s life.

“It’s time to put your house in order” is not a declaration we want to hear. Those words from our doctor mean he believes our days on earth are few and that we need to attend to the important things before it’s too late—things that if left undone would burden and add further heartache to the lives of those we love. But what if hearing and heeding his words could add years to our lives, or at least enrich our remaining days? Wouldn’t you welcome them?

In church, we sing, “All to Jesus, I surrender; all to him I freely give.” This song is so familiar it’s easy to let the words roll off our tongues with little thought.  However, surrendering to the Lord requires intentionally barring the door of our hearts to the enemy, giving God the keys to every chamber, and clearing a pathway to his throne room through repentance and prayer. Are you surrendering your all to Jesus or only giving him lip service?

Be intentional. Today is the day to set your house in order.

Now it's your turn. What is one thing you can do to set your spiritual or your physical house in order in 2016?

I always welcome your comments.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

My One Word 2016 — SOAR

"They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run,
and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31, KJV

In 1999, I replaced the practice of making New Year's resolutions with the prayerful selection of a scripture verse for the coming year. Each year, I'm amazed at how God repeatedly brings this verse to my attention and affirms and uses it to lead me through situations that arise.

Two years ago, I read My One Word written by Pastor Mike Ashcraft of Wilmington, NC. His book speaks of this same principle, only he takes the concept a step further and narrows the selection process down to one key word for the year. I now select my scripture and sum it up in one word. For added emphasis, I develop an acronym that underscores the reason I've selected the word. 

This year my focal verse is Isaiah 40:31. My one word is SOAR. Its acronym defines my focus and reveals the pathway to my success.


My desire in 2016 is to rely on the power and strength of God to enable me to soar above the circumstances and distractions of life and accomplish all that he envisions for me. If I neglect to surrender my will to God's will daily, I'll undergo numerous false starts and stops and will fail to experience life from his vantage point.

Now it's your turn. Please join me in the selection of a scripture focus and one word for 2016.

I always welcome your comments. I'd love to know what you've selected. Please share it in the comment section below.

Happy New Year! I hope you soar.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Land of Promise

The land you are crossing to take possession of . . .
"It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end."
Deuteronomy 11:12, NIV