Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
If you want to know what a disciple of Jesus is, some commentators have noted, you don’t have to look any farther than Jesus’ calling of His first four disciples in Matthew’s Gospel. Disciples are those who believe in Jesus enough to listen for His voice and respond when He says, “Follow me.” As such, they belong to an elite group of individuals who are becoming more like Jesus, as He promised when He said, “and I will make you.” Ultimately, disciples are those who grow to join Jesus in His mission, recruiting and building other disciples as “fishers of men.”
“Almighty God, thank You for calling us to know You, grow like You, and go with You into the world as Your disciples. Give us wisdom and courage to be Your means of discipling others, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
The rain was pouring down.
Standing alongside a large puddle outside the pub was a bewhiskered old man.
He was drenched, holding a long stick with a piece of string dangling into the water.
A curious passer-by stopped and asked, "What are you doing?”
"Fishing" replied the old man, as he shrugged his shoulders and coughed.
Feeling sorry for the old man, the gentleman offered,
"Come in out of the rain and have a drink with me."
In the warmth of the pub they sipped their whiskies and swapped stories.
Finally, the gent finally got around to the elephant in the puddle, so to speak.
He asked, "So how many have you caught today?"
"You're the eighth," responded the old man.
The LORD give you both compassion and discernment this week!
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:1-5)
Benjamin Franklin, whose wisdom and humor helped shape our nation, once wrote, “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.” No doubt Franklin would be astounded by the amount of such foolishness in our current political discourse, even among our leaders! Yet Christians are called to do better—much better. We are called to be obedient subjects who attack no one, but instead are peaceable, considerate, and humble—because in His kindness Christ humbled Himself and rescued us from foolishness that would otherwise damn us. When we engage in the pleasure of passing along smug, self-satisfied slanders and fallacious political attacks, we bring shame to the name of Christ and risk forgetting that we were saved only by the mercy of God, when we deserved only condemnation. As Franklin also wrote, we must “elevate, not desecrate.”
“Heavenly Father, thank you for the freedoms we enjoy in our country! Guide us by Your Spirit, so that we use our freedoms to elevate, not desecrate, the grace You have given us, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
A Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic Priest met at a 4th of July picnic.
Old friends, they began their usual teasing banter.
'This baked ham is really delicious,' the priest told the rabbi.
'You really ought to try it. I know it's against your religion, but still:
I can't understand why such a wonderful food should be forbidden.
You don't know what you're missing. You haven't lived until you've tried it.
Tell me, Rabbi, when are you going to break down and try it?'
The rabbi looked at the priest with a big grin, and said, 'At your wedding.'
The LORD guide your tongue to only tasteful comments this coming week!
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 5:8-11)
What an incredible statement Peter makes: God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him! Every day we are bombarded with messages intended to convince us that to live a good life we need whatever is being sold. Yet what God considers good is infinitely better than what we consider good. His Word tells us that meaningful and abundant life does not come from belongings or creature comforts, but from belonging to Him and sharing His comfort with the world! In Christ we have been saved and set apart to make known God’s loving nature; so, meaningful life comes from taking on His character and making Him known!
“Heavenly Father, save us from deceptive and distracting fantasy worlds; give us discernment to understand the value of Your salvation and the power of sharing your love with others, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
WHILE ON VACATION…
Three contractors were visiting a tourist attraction on the same day.
One was from New York, another from Texas, and the third from Florida.
At the front desk, a manager asked them what they did for a living.
When they all replied that they were contractors, he said, “Really?”
We need a fence redone. Why don't you guys take a look and give me bids?"
So they all went to check the broken section of fence.
First to step up was the Florida contractor.
He took out his tape measure and pencil, did some measuring and said,
"Well, the job will run $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew, and $100 for me."
Next was the Texas contractor. He also took out his tape measure and pencil.
After some quick figuring he said, "Looks like I can do this job for $700:
$300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me."
Without so much as moving, the New York contractor said, "$2,700."
The manager, incredulous, looked at him and said, "You didn't even measure it!”
“How did you come up with such a high figure?"
"Easy," he said, "$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you and we hire the guy from Texas."
The Lord guide you into goodness this week!
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
It’s not enough to be loving. Nor is it enough to be smart! Jesus’ followers are called to be both, abounding in love yet discerning of the truth, so that we can rightly represent the God who truly loves us. The coincidence of April Fool’s Day and Easter this year serves to remind us how easy it can be to be deceived by the material of the world and miss out on the majestic revelation of salvation through Jesus’ resurrection. In Christ we are able to have confidence even when we are confused, forgiveness even when we fail, love for others even when our hearts seem overwhelmed, and discernment even when we are surrounded by deceit.
Heavenly Father, give us both love and insight, so that we can produce the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to Your glory and praise. Amen!
APRIL FOOLS PRANKS 2018: THE DISAPPOINTING TRUTH
(Excerpted from the website of The Washington Post)
Roku hasn’t introduced socks that work as a remote control.
eHarmony, the online dating site, isn’t getting into dog matching.
Amazon Publishing isn’t delivering actual authors to people’s houses.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is not now also a veterinarian’s office.
Petco isn’t launching a salon that will make you over to look more like your pet.
The U.S. Army isn’t going to start delivering 3D-printed pizzas to soldiers by drone.
Planet Fitness doesn’t have a new line of treadmills covered in grass and snow.
A Kraken hasn’t been spotted on the Thames river in London.
Brussel sprout truffles are not coming to your local grocer.
Nor are grapes covered in chocolate egg wrappers.
Bottled chickpea “pasta water” is fake.
Charmin didn’t launch a coffee line.
Stonewall Kitchen isn’t selling used jams.
Walt Disney World isn’t selling kale churros.
Burger King isn’t launching a chocolate Whopper.
Smithfield hasn’t launched bacon-flavored breakfast cereal.
Ikea isn’t coming out with a combination dog collar-selfie stick.
There is no phone app that will teach you how to speak whale.
You can’t buy a nitrous oxide speed booster for your printer.
Amazon’s next headquarters is not going to be on Mars.
Tongue-printing isn’t the new fingerprinting.
The Lion King isn’t coming to Antarctica.
Tech21 isn’t making a chocolate phone case.
Redbox isn’t launching walk-up movie theater booths.
Chuck E. Cheese’s animatronics aren’t going on a farewell tour.
Head and Shoulders isn’t launching a body wash called “Knees and Toes.”
There’s no feature that lets you listen to American accents dubbed over British TV shows.
Sprint isn’t launching a “magic” soccer ball that also improves your cell signal.
Lego isn’t going to sell a vacuum that sorts bricks by color and shape.
GlassesUSA isn’t selling eco-friendly glasses that can grow moss.
CarGurus won’t let you shop for a car by engine sound.
“Bunny-foraged herbs” are not for sale at Freshdirect.
No watch dealer is selling a $50,000 sun-dial watch.
Virgin Voyages isn’t launching underwater WiFi.
Wayfair isn’t launching scent-enabled wallpaper.
Toddlers, dogs and unborn babies aren’t the new most-influential consumer group.
Logitech is not launching “BS Detection” software to detect meaningless business jargon.
You can’t hire twin bodybuilders through Zappos to wear and “resize” your clothes by stretching them.
Cup of Noodles and Zenni Optical aren’t collaborating on glasses that don’t steam up when you eat hot soup.
Lexus and 23andme aren’t partnering to match you to a car using your genes.
The Energizer Bunny is not the new creative director of “Peeps.”
And no, VHS isn’t making a comeback.
The Lord give you love and discernment, in Jesus!
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-25)
We look forward to the resurrection—not just the coming celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, but our own resurrection, guaranteed because of Jesus. Until then, we still struggle with our own sin and the pain of living in a sinful world. We still suffer as a result of disease, disaster, deception, demons, and death. Yet we live with hope, looking forward to Christ’s return and the completion of our salvation: new bodies, a new heaven and earth, and a new relationship with God and with each other, free of sin, selfishness, suffering, and the sting of death. Christ is risen—as we shall be!
“Heavenly Father, thank You for the coming celebration of our reconciliation and resurrection, made possible because of Your love poured out through Jesus. Empower us with hope to share with all whom we meet this week, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
A man was known by friends to be particularly terse and to the point.
He was not unfriendly, but certainly never wasted words.
One day, a new saleswoman selling cosmetics knocked on his door.
When she asked to see his wife, the man told her that she wasn't home.
"Well," the woman said, "could I please wait for her?"
The man silently led her to the living room and went back to work outside.
For an hour the woman busied herself, but finally she could wait no longer.
She found the man in his shop back behind the house.
She asked, "May I know where your wife is?"
"She went to the cemetery," he replied.
"And when is she coming home?"
"I don't know," he said. "She's been there eleven years now."
The Lord bless your celebration and anticipation of the resurrection, in Jesus!
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope." (Isaiah 42:1-4)
How appropriate that St. Patrick’s Day occurs during the season of Lent, when we remember that Jesus came as a gentle servant to win us back through his own sacrifice. Though kidnapped as a teen from his home in England and enslaved in Ireland, when Patrick escaped he harbored no hatred of the Irish but answered God’s call to return to Ireland as a missionary. He was successful in converting many of the Irish to Christianity, not simply because he understood the language and culture, but because he imitated the persevering and sacrificial love of Jesus. Thus, Patrick became part of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s great prediction regarding Christ: “In His law the islands will put their hope.”
“Heavenly Father, thank You for those who responded to the grace given them in Jesus by showing that grace and love to us. Empower us to be as bright a reflection of Your love, that we might bring a new generation into Your kingdom, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
THE PLUCK OF THE IRISH…
A London lawyer runs a stop sign and gets pulled over by an Irish cop.
He thinks that he is smarter than the cop because he is a lawyer from LONDON.
He is also certain that he has a better education then any Irish cop.
He decides to prove this to himself and have some fun at the cop's expense.
Irish cop says, "License and registration, please."
London Lawyer says, "What for?"
Irish cop says, "Ye didn’t come to a complete stop at the stop sign."
London Lawyer says, "I slowed down, and no one was coming."
Irish cop says, "Ye still didn’t come to a complete stop. License and registration, please."
London Lawyer says, "What's the difference?"
Irish cop says, "The difference is, ye have come to a complete stop, that's the law.
License and registration, please!"
London Lawyer says, "If you can show me the legal difference between slow down and stop,
I'll give you my license and registration and you give me the ticket.
If not, you let me go and don't give me the ticket."
Irish cop says, "Sounds fair. Exit your vehicle, sir."
The London Lawyer exits his vehicle.
The Irish cop takes out his baton and starts beating the lawyer!
He then says, "Do ye want me to stop or just slow down?"
The Lord give you wisdom this week!
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)
Today millions of believers are observing Ash Wednesday while hundreds of millions of believers and unbelievers alike are celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day. What do Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have in common? Certainly this: they both deal with the deep longings of our hearts to love and be loved, to have a significant relationship with someone who cares for and accepts us forever, without condition. The two events are not that different, nor are their symbols: paper fades, flowers wither, sweets are consumed, dinners are digested, and all our endeavors to love and be loved ultimately become ashes and dust. Praise be to God that there is a love in the universe undiminished by time—the love of God that is ours in Christ—and in that love we are able to love each other for eternity. Our flesh and our hearts will ultimately fail, but God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for strengthening our hearts through Your eternal and unconditional love. Enable us to love each other as You love us: sacrificially, unconditionally, eternally, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
WHO SAYS ROMANCE IS DEAD?
A man asked whether his friend had bought his wife anything for Valentine's Day.
“Yes, of course” came the reply, “I've bought her a belt and a bag.”
The first man was impressed, not thinking his friend to be very considerate.
“That was very kind of you,” he responded, “I hope she appreciates the thought.”
The man smiled as he replied, “So do I, and I hope the vacuum cleaner will work better.”
After waking up from an afternoon nap, a young woman told her husband,
"I dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine's Day. What do you think it means?"
His eyes lit up, as he had been at a loss for a Valentine’s gift. "You'll know tonight." he said.
That evening, the man came home with a small wrapped package and gave it to his wife.
Delighted, she opened it—to find a book entitled "The Meaning of Dreams."
A young man walks into a post office one to see a middle-aged, balding man at the counter.
He sees the man methodically placing "Love" stamps on bright red envelopes covered with hearts.
The older man then takes out a bottle and sprays perfume all over the many envelopes.
His curiosity getting the better of him, the young man can’t resist asking what the other is doing.
The older man says "I'm sending out 1,000 Valentine cards signed, 'Guess who?'"
"Why would you do that?" asks the younger man.
The older man replies, "I'm a divorce lawyer.”
The love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit preserve you in Christ Jesus!
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.” (Psalm 22:27-31)
Psalm 22 begins as a startlingly specific depiction of Christ’s sufferings, written a thousand years before Jesus was born, yet it ends with a description of…us! You and I are among those from every nation on earth who remember the LORD our Creator because of Christ our Redeemer. God’s righteousness has been proclaimed to us, and we are the latest link in the chain of saints serving Him and proclaiming Him to the next generation. As we reach out to new nations and generations amidst an ever-changing cultural climate, it is reassuring to remind ourselves that we are simply turning people back to what all our human ancestors once knew: that “dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.”
“Heavenly Father, thank You for bringing us to believe in Your rule and salvation. Give us confident faith to introduce new nations and generations to You, that they may know and turn to You, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
ABSENT MINDED—actual excuse notes written to a school principal:
“My son is under a doctor’s care and should not take PE today. Please execute him.”
“Please excuse Madison for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.”
“Dear school—please excuse John for being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 & 33.”
“Please excuse Tom for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea, and his boots leaked.”
“Please excuse Jason for being. It was his father’s fault.”
“Please excuse Katy for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.”
“Please excuse my son’s tardiness. I forgot to wake him up and did not find him until I started to make the beds.”
“Maryann was absent Dec. 11 to 16 because she had a fever, sore throat, headache, and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick with fever and sore throat. Her brother had a low-grade fever and ached all over. I wasn’t the best either—sore throat and fever. There must be a flu going around. Her father even got hot last night.”
The LORD protect you from all ills this week,
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
We should not be surprised by trouble; Jesus predicted it, particularly for His followers. Yet He also gave us the resources to endure trouble, and to help others endure it. We have His promises in writing, in water, in bread and in wine. We have His Spirit poured out to be our Comforter, Counselor, and Commander. We have His invitation to cast all our anxieties on Him, because we know He cares for us. And we have a mission: to bring His peace to the hearts of others, when they too are troubled.
“Heavenly Father, send Your Spirit to be our Comforter amid the world’s pain, our Counselor when we are perplexed, and our Commander when we can have the opportunity to bring peace to others, in Jesus, amen.”
A GIFT FOR WORDS…
The pastor of a church enjoyed a drink now and then, but his passion was for peach brandy.
One of his congregants blended spirits as a hobby and would make him a bottle each Christmas.
One year just before Christmas the minister went to visit his friend hoping for his usual present.
He was not disappointed, but his friend told him that he had to thank him for the peach brandy from the pulpit.
In his haste to complete Christmas preparations, the minister hurriedly agreed and left.
The next Sunday the minister suddenly remembered that he had to make the public announcement.
He then realized it would sound bad to announce that he was being supplied alcohol from a member of the church.
Meanwhile, his friend sat in the church with a grin on his face, waiting to see the minister's embarrassment.
The minister climbed into the pulpit and said, "Before we begin, I have an announcement.”
“I would very much like to thank my friend, Joe, for his kind gift of peaches ...
…and for the spirit in which they were given!"
The Holy Spirit be with you all,
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 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. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)
We don’t actually know the day on which Jesus was born. It probably was not “in the deep mid-winter,” as the carol puts it. Still, it makes sense to celebrate the coming of Christ near the winter solstice, when we could imagine the entire world dying, but then the days start growing longer again. Scripture says that in Jesus God was giving life to us—spiritual, eternal life—as a free gift, ours for the taking. We could no more negotiate our reconciliation with God than we could talk the earth into tilting for us to bring back summer. But for those who believe, the entire order of the universe was tilted in our favor by the gift of God’s Son, who became one of us so that we could become one with Him.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Jesus, Your Son born to live, die, and rise from death for our reconciliation. Give us faith to endure and enjoy the salvation of Christ in this season that bears His name! In Christ Jesus, amen.”
THE NICK OF TIME
It was coming up to Christmas as the judge addressed the defendant.
"Now then, tell me, what is the charge against you?"
"I was caught doing my Christmas shopping very early." replied the man in the dock.
"That doesn't seem like an offence to me. What do you mean by 'very early?
"Well, your Honor." said the defendant, "It was before the shop was open."
A woman told her friend: "At Christmas, I had a visitor!
It was a jolly, bearded fellow with a big bag over his shoulder."
"You mean Santa Claus came to see you in person?"
"No," she replied. "My son came home from college with his dirty laundry."
The Lord bless your celebrations with His presence!
As Pastor at Pilgrim, Kirk is fueled by a passion for God's Word and a lot of good coffee.