Monday, February 19, 2024

The Mission of Mary Magdalene

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

A man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps.

That’s what it says in Proverbs 16:9.

We see a great example of this when looking at Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus.

Jesus was crucified.  He declared, “It is finished.”  And Mary Magdalene was part of the crowd who watched.

Joseph of Arimathea took His body down, and he and Nicodemus prepared it for burial and placed it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.  And they rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb.

Then Matthew 27 verse 61 adds this interesting part of the story:  “And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.”

The crowds were gone.  The sun was setting.  The great Jesus was in the tomb.  And there was Mary Magdalene, sitting opposite the tomb, watching.  Observing.  Thinking.  Feeling.

Fast forward and we find Mary Magdalene and other women returning to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus.

They had plans.  They thought it through, made preparations. set the time, got together, and went to the tomb.

But when they got there, Jesus was gone!

Mark 16 says that inside the tomb there was a young man in a long white robe who said, “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He is risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

Mary Magdalene had a very clear idea of what she was going to do that Sunday morning, but God had other ideas.  She had her plans, but what she didn’t know is that God had a mission for her.

And I believe God has a mission for each of us.  Yes, we are to do good.  We make plans and organize our days, that’s all good.

But watch for it.  Watch for God to intervene and give you a mission.  

Maybe you have a dream of what you want to do with your life.  Maybe you are making a list of pros and cons.  You’re making plans.

But watch for it.  Watch for God to intervene, to interrupt your plans and in their place give you a mission.    

Because a man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, February 01, 2024

Seasoned With Salt

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…”

Speaking with grace might seem obvious, but what does it mean “seasoned with salt”?

Here’s one way to look at it.  Seasoned with salt makes it delicious and people want more of it!

How do most people feel about potato chips without salt?  Yuck…that’s how they feel about it.

How about peanuts without salt?  Or meat without salt?  Or maybe worst of all…popcorn without salt!  On and on it goes.

But put a little salt on those chips and look out…you can’t stop with just one.  You want more and more.  Why?  It’s the salt, man!

So the question is…is our speech like that?

Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…”

Ephesians 4:29 says that our speech should “impart grace.”  Does our speech impart grace?  Does the other person feel the grace when we speak?  Are we imparting grace if they don’t feel any grace?

Here’s one way we can know if we are speaking with grace and imparting grace.  People will want more!

True grace is a balm to our soul.  When we get it, we love it, and we want more.  Just like a person wants more of those chips seasoned with salt, they want more of those words seasoned with grace.

Sometimes in the church we lean on harsh words and judgment and criticism.  We think people are going to get better when we lay down the law, and yet Romans 2:4 says that God’s KINDNESS leads us to repentance.  It’s God’s grace toward us, giving us what we don’t deserve, and NOT giving us what we DO deserve.  That’s grace.

So let’s do better.  Let’s fill our speech with grace that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And instead of pushing people away, they will be drawn in and want to hear more, because speaking with grace is like adding a hint of salt.  It tastes so you good you just want more and more and more.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Class Action Lawsuit

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

Have you ever heard of mesothelioma?

Most likely you’ve heard of it from the class action lawsuit ads on television.

The ads are run by lawyers who want you to sign up for the class action lawsuit, IF you are one of the people negatively affected by the defendant.

If you answer the ad, sign onto the lawsuit and join the “class,” then you are in line for any benefits that come from winning the lawsuit.

But what happens if you don’t answer the ads?  You don’t sign onto the lawsuit.  You never join the class.  No one even knows that you, too, were a victim of the defendant.  What will you get if they win the lawsuit?

Nothing.  You didn’t join the class, so you don’t get the benefits of being in the class.

Sometimes I think of salvation this way.  It’s like Jesus has already won the case and is paying out benefits to anyone who joins the class.

He has put out the call far and wide, all over the world, come and join the class!  The price has been paid, the case has been won, benefits are already being paid out by the truckload, just come and join the class!

And millions of us have already done it.  We were damaged by sin.  We got the raw deal.  It was a rip off.  Then we heard about this offer from Jesus.  “Come to Me,” He said.  “I will take care of that sin problem.  I will forgive you.  I will wash you clean and make you whole.  I will restore your soul, and your relationship with the Heavenly Father.  Then I will give you My Spirit to fill you and walk with you for the rest of your life here.  And then I will take you home to heaven to be with Me forever.”

Those are the benefits of this class action!  All we have to do is sign on.

How do you sign on?  Tell God you want to.  Say, “God, I’m in.  I want in on this deal.  Please forgive my sins and wash me clean.  Make me new and whole.  Make me that new creation You talk about.  I’m sorry.  I repent.  I’m ready to leave sin behind and come to You. Sign me up for this class!”

Then you’re in!

But what if you don’t?  What if you never do?  What if you never turn to God like that?  

Then you’re not in.  You’re not in the class.  You can’t get the benefits of the case if you don’t sign onto the class.  

There’s almost nothing sadder than finding out there was a huge payout in a class action lawsuit that you should have been a part of, but you weren’t, simply because you didn’t make the effort to sign on.

So…sign on today!  Turn to God and say, “Here I am!  I want in!”  Like the old song says, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me…O Lamb of God I come.”

But keep this in mind: like all class actions…this is a limited time offer.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Friday, November 17, 2023

What Is Sin?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

What is sin?

The Greek word for sin in the Bible is ἁμαρτία which is pronounced ham-ar-TEE-ah.  It’s literal meaning is “to miss the mark.”

Sometimes we whitewash sin.  We give it different names, like adultery becomes “having an affair.”  We try to minimize the impact by acting like it’s not so bad, if it’s even bad at all.

So let’s look at it from a different angle.  Let’s look at it through Jesus’ construction analogy at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.

In Matthew 7 Jesus said, “Whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house…”

That’s a construction analogy.  He “builds his house.”

When you build a house or some other large structure, you build it using a blueprint.

The expert creates the blueprint, then the builders build what they see designed on the blueprint.

So when the wise man builds his house, as Jesus said, what is his blueprint?

Jesus said, “Whoever hears these sayings of mine…”  That’s the blueprint.  The Word of God is the blueprint.  It’s the blueprint for building our life well.

When we follow the blueprint closely, we build well.  When we stray from the blueprint, we build poorly.

So back to this definition of sin as missing the mark.  If you are spending your hard-earned money to build your dream house, how many times do you want the builder to miss the mark on the blueprint?  None!  You want him to NEVER miss the mark.  You want him to follow the blueprint precisely.

So when it comes to building our lives, why would we ever want to miss the mark, if missing the mark means building poorly?

Sin often happens after some alluring temptation.  We fall for the lie that “it’s going to be so good and fun.”  But if sin is missing the mark and building poorly, it should be easier to avoid, because who wants to build poorly?  It’s a waste of time and resources.  It ruins your reputation.  Poor buildings even hurt people, and sometimes people even die due to poor building practices.

There is much more to this topic, but today let’s stick to this one slice of it.  What is sin?  It is missing the mark.  God has a blueprint for building our lives well, and whenever we sin, we are disobeying the blueprint and building our life poorly.  

As for me and my house, I want to be the wise man who built his house well; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was built precisely according to God’s blueprint.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, October 05, 2023

Now Let Me Show You a Better Way

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

“The other driver got aggressive, so I got aggressive, too.”

That’s what my friend said. 

He continued, “But I don’t do that anymore.  The Bible says, ‘Don’t return evil for evil,” so when another driver gets aggressive, I just let him go his merry way…even if I feel like speeding up and tracking him down!”

Have you ever been there?  You felt like letting someone have it, but because you know God doesn’t really want you to go around letting people have it, you back off and let it slide.

That’s a great first step!  But now let me show you a better way.

The better way is love.

In Matthew 5 Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies…”

The better way is love.

That aggressive driver?  Yes, it is better to let him go and not follow your impulse to get aggressive back.  But the better way is to love him!  It is better to love all of your fellow drivers on the road today.  

First Corinthians 12:31 literally says now let me show you a better way, a more excellent way.  One translation says, “Now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.”

And what, pray tell, is best of all?  First Corinthians 12:31 leads right into First Corinthians 13 which is also known as the love chapter.  That is the best way of all, the way of love.

We should be able to look at every person around us and say, “I love this one and this one and that one and him and her and all of them.”  That is the better way.

We really can’t do that on our own, but this is where the fruit of the Spirit of love comes in.  As born again believers with God’s Holy Spirit inside of us, HE will bear the fruit of love in our life.  And He will do that to the degree that we let Him.  Our part is to humbly submit to Him, as sheep to a shepherd, and follow as He leads.

And this is where He is leading.  He is leading us to a better way of living.  It’s the way of life that is best of all.  The NIV says it is “the most excellent way”!  

It’s the way of First Corinthians 13.

It’s the way of Jesus.

It’s the way of love.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Wednesday, August 02, 2023

God Please Just Do What You Do

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

The laundry basket crashed at my feet.

I looked up the stairs and saw my mother-in-law at the top.

She had literally thrown her laundry basket down the steps because it was too hard for her to carry it down.

That was a clue that it was time for us to move to a house without stairs.

But as you know if you’ve done it, finding a new place to live is a huge and important decision.

I wanted to come up with a prayer my wife and I could agree on.  I had recently memorized Matthew 18:19 where Jesus said, “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”

What’s the weak link in that prayer formula?  It’s getting two people on earth to actually agree on something!

So I wanted to come up with a precise prayer for our housing that my wife and I could agree on, but what would it be?

I was thinking of all the things we could ask for in a new house, but I was also thinking, “What do I know?”  I don’t know the future or what we will need and how life will play out.  But God does.  Matthew 6:8 says that God knows our needs before we even ask!

Then I got to thinking about a basketball game.  What if I was the coach, and time was running out, and the game was on the line.  And oh yeah, Michael Jordan is on the team!  Would I try to draw up some elaborate play out of my own thinking and tell them what to do?  Or would I simply hand the ball to Michael Jordan and say, “Here you go.  Just do what you do.”

God is far more capable than Michael Jordan, so why would I come up with an elaborate prayer to tell God what to do?  

So this became our prayer for a new house, “God, please, just do what You do regarding our housing.”

No, we didn’t sit back and do nothing.  My wife was on the hunt, diligently looking at what was on the market.  And I think she just liked looking at all the houses, which is something I don’t really care about.

Then one day she took me to see a house, and when I saw it from a distance, something “pinged” inside of me and I thought, “This is good.  This could be the place!”

And it was!  It turned out to be the perfect place for us and our needs and even what was coming in the future that we had no idea about.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…”

Yes, many times I pray very specific prayers, “letting my requests be made known unto God.”  But other times, like in this housing situation, I just trust the Lord, put the ball completely in His hands and say, “Here you go.  Here’s the ball, Lord.  Please, just do what You do, and I know it’s going to be wonderful.  It’s going to be the best it can be!”

So if you need a short prayer of faith today, and one we can easily agree on, here you go.  Just pray this prayer with me.

“God, please, just do what You do.”

Amen.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

 

Friday, July 07, 2023

Every Time She Doubted

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

What do you do when you doubt?

Did God ever do anything for you?

Did He save you?  Did He spare you from the net of the fowler?

Did He forgive you and shine His grace upon you?

Did He give you wisdom when you lacked it?

Did He ever bring conviction on you that led to repentance?

Did you ever read the Bible and feel like God was speaking directly to you?

Did one of God’s people ever minister to you at just the right time, like they were on a mission from God Himself?

This is what you do when you doubt.  You go back and remember what God did in the past.

Maybe you aren’t feeling His presence right now.  Maybe He seems far away.  Maybe He let you down.  He didn’t do what you thought He should.  Maybe you are starting to believe those who say there is no God at all.  What should you do?

Go back and remember what God did in the past.  Or as one old Gospel song says, go back to the old landmarks.

There’s another old Gospel song called Jesus Gave Me Water.

The chorus says, “Jesus gave me water and it was not from the well.”

It’s based on the story from John chapter four about the woman at the well.

Jesus and His disciples went to a city of Samaria called Sychar.  Outside the city was Jacob’s well.  Jesus sat by the well while His disciples went into Sychar to buy food.

Then a woman came out to draw water from the well.  Jesus asked her for a drink, and ended up talking to her about “living water.”  

Jesus told her that whoever drinks the water from the well will get thirsty again, but whoever drinks God’s living water will never thirst because it will “become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

That goes along with what Jesus said in John chapter seven.  “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  Then verse 39 explains that when Jesus said living water He was talking about the Holy Spirit, “whom those believing in Him would receive.”

The woman at the well believed in Him.  And she brought a bunch of people from Sychar and they believed in Him as well.

And those who believe in Him would receive the Holy Spirit, which is the living water.

Did you ever have the living water of the Holy Spirit flowing like a spring of water within you?  Maybe it is hard to remember, so go back to the old landmarks.  Think back to what God has done for you in the past.

What do you do when you doubt?

Think back!

Back to the song Jesus Gave Me Water.  Later in the song there is a line about doubt.  It says, “every time she doubted.”

Now you’d think the woman at the well would never doubt, right?  I mean, she talked in person to Jesus and He read her mail.  He prophesied to her.  What’s to doubt?

Or maybe she never did doubt.  It’s just a song, right?  But doubt has a way of creeping into everyone’s life at one time or another.  Even John the Baptist in prison sent a message to Jesus saying, “Are you the Coming One or do we look for another?”  And that’s the same John the Baptist who announced, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

So back to the song.  What did she do every time she doubted?  It says…

“Every time she doubted, she’d start to think about Him,

The Man that gave her water, and it was not from the well.”

When you begin to doubt, go back to the old landmarks.  Think about what God has done for you.

For the woman at the well, at least according to the song, she would remember when the Lord had her shoutin’ and there was no room for doubtin’, that Jesus gave her water and it was not from the well!

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.