Monday, March 31, 2008

His Ways - March 31, 2008

Good Monday morning! We awaken to another coating of snow to end the month of March. Yes, one-fourth of the year is now over. I know, it sounds like I am going to start up my Christmas countdown again, or already. However, I will not do that just yet, even though the day looks like a Christmas postcard out there. Today also ends my first week out of school. I had quite a few one week breaks, so as my Ma pointed out, tomorrow may be the day when this really starts to sink in.

In Mark this morning, I read about two things we often do not understand. Jesus chose Peter, James, and John to go with him up on a high mountain where they saw our Lord transfigured, and secondly, the healing of a possessed boy. Jesus told the disciples that a certain type of demon could only be sent packing through prayer, or prayer and fasting in some manuscripts. Both of these episodes in the life of our Lord raise a lot of questions and few satisfactory answers. Why only those three? Why only by prayer? Many other questions could be asked about those stories. In reading the Bible for much of my life, I can only say that I have a strong suspicion that there will be many things that I do not understand about the Bible stories even if I live to be 120. Actually, if Methuselah had the entire Bible, even he would probably not understand everything in it at the ripe old age of 967! God reminds us that His ways are far above our ways and that His understanding goes far beyond what we are able to understand. That gives me great comfort in these uncertain times. I know that no matter how complex life gets, the Lord is still in charge and nothing is beyond His understanding and control.

Praise God for His ways!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Healing Forever - March 30, 2008

Good Sunday morning! The clouds have rolled in overnight out here on the dry hills of western Nebraska. We may even get some rain out of this weather change. I like the story of those men who lowered the paralyzed man in front of Jesus by tearing a hole in the roof. Jesus told them that their faith had been noticed. We should note that not only did these men have faith in the teacher to heal their friend, but they also had faith that God would not let the roof cave in after they had torn a hole in it. A lot of trusting went into the act of healing that man on his mat, and even more trusting went into that man carrying his mat from the house. That man didn't have to wonder whether he had been healed; he knew and felt in his body the healing of Jesus. When our time of healing comes, we will know without the slightest doubt that we have been healed by the Lord. All sorrows will be erased, all tears will be dried, and the healing power of Jesus will be manifest in us. This is not to say that healing of our bodies cannot happen here on earth, but that one final day, all of us will be healed forever by Jesus our Lord. Wait patiently for that great day, and trust in Jesus forever!

God bless and keep you on this day of the Lord,


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Let Worry Go - March 29, 2008

Good Saturday morning! I pray that your weekend is both relaxing and filled the the joy of knowing Jesus. Don't worry about your needs. Why is that so difficult to follow? Jesus commanded us to not worry; he provided examples and showed miracles where he fed thousands, and yet still we worry. Will I be able to afford food next payday? Will the family mind having beans a couple of nights. Waking up worrying about the bills. What if this, what about that? Jesus doesn't want us to worry, not for ourselves and not for the church. When you and I gave our lives to Jesus, he took responsibility for seeing to our needs. We do not need to worry about needs! Yes, I am still struggling with that one too. Worry comes easily and has remarkable staying power in our minds. Once more we must trust only in Jesus, and let that worry go.

Rest in Jesus on this fine Saturday!


Friday, March 28, 2008

Rules is Rules - March 28, 2008

Good Friday morning! The sun is out and I am slowing getting underway on this fine morning. Does having a vacation day on Friday in place of working have anything to do with the fineness of the day? Well, yeah! Not having school work makes the day even better. My goal is not to goof off all day, but to start cleaning up the house. Yes, it is now spring and that means time for spring cleaning to begin. While the late March weather is still too cool for much outside work, the inside work can start this morning.

Legalism, so hard to avoid, so easy to turn on others. Traffic laws can be quite difficult to remember on the driver's license test, but so easy to remember when another driver disobeys one. Instructions can be difficult to understand or follow when we face them for the first time, but if we write them down it seems strange that someone cannot understand simple rules. The Pharisees had just this kind of problem. As a group, they were very good at following their own rules and regulations. To the common folk however, those same rules were a tremendous burden. This might remind you of a certain organization that is supposed to be serving us! (Hint: this organization employs more workers than anyone else in America.) Yes, that old legalism can block the way to a relationship with Christ. Jesus came down on the Pharisees hard for their blinding love of rules. He calls us to tell people the Good News of life and freedom in Christ. Setting up Christianity as a set of do's and don'ts can be very tempting, and that is one of the complaints of critics in the world. We must remember the Good News first when spreading the light of Jesus in this world. We obey the rules after we come to love and know Jesus. In Christ, we serve others because we want to, not because we have to. God does not love us less when we disobey, though He is certainly disappointed, but we obey to please our heavenly Father. To the world our relationship looks like one of strict obedience to earn a way into Heaven. Paul reminds us that the world will not understand that salvation comes from Christ first, before anything we can do, and that nothing we can do will earn us a pass to Heaven. Grace is not something that we can earn, but a free gift from Christ to those who will believe in Him.

Have a wonderful weekend in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Few Loaves - March 27, 2008

Good morning! Watching the snow gently fall to the ground this morning, with a uniformly gray sky to wash the color from life.

I thought about this passage in Mark this morning:

Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and it is getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy themselves some food."

But Jesus said, "You feed them."

"With what?" they asked. "It would take a small fortune to buy food for all this crowd!"

"How much food do you have?" he asked. "Go and find out."

They came back and reported, "We have five loaves of bread and two fish."

Then Jesus told the crowd to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat in groups of fifty or a hundred.
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted,
and they picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. Five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves and two fishes!
(Mark 6:35-44, NLT

I like this passage. Often we pick out the miracle part and leave the rest behind. However, look at how the story begins; the disciples approach Jesus with not a question, but a command. Once more, even the disciples, just back from their ministry tours, try to make the Son of God in their image. "Send them away." Jesus turns it around and tells His disciples to feed the crowd. As you and I might do, the disciples immediately start their little heads figuring and their fingers counting; only to come up woefully short on either materials or ability. What would I do when facing a crowd of 5,000 men and their families, and the master telling me, "You feed them." My mind would probably go blank and my lips start stammering. 10 - 15 thousand people, perhaps more waiting for something to eat!

Jesus then guides the disciples by having them find out exactly how much food is available to them. The count is five loaves and two fishes, hardly enough to feed 5 men, much less 5,000 men and their families. The disciples argue that the twelve of them would need to work for months to afford a meal for this many folks - and let's hope they can hold out that long without starving to death. As with us, Jesus is trying to guide His disciples to believe in His miracle working power, and they continue to figure on their own resources only. How often do we find ourselves doing the same thing? I have this much and I want to do this much, but the boss won't give me a raise, and even that would only allow for this much... and on our thinking goes. Money, strength, will power - we all think only in our own meager resources when we know very well that the limitless strength and power of God waits only for us to come to the end of our resources and trust in Him! The disciples sat back with full stomachs and counted 12 baskets of leftover food after the Master fed those thousands with a few small loaves and fishes.

Did you take a recent paycheck, look at the amount, figure 10%, and let the Lord know that this is what you received and so this is what the Lord gets back? Quite likely you or I may have done just that. Today, let's worry less about that legalistic 10% and give with a joyous heart. You know how many bills or other obligations you have, give with joy and worry less about whether you are giving a certain percentage. Perhaps you can give only a bit of pocket change, notice that 5 loaves wouldn't even begin to feed 10% of the people gathered there on that day. You might be able to give millions, comprising 95% of your income. Praise God and don't boast about it, for whether you can give 1% or 100%, it is God who grants us the ability to give joyously.

5,000 men and their families? Did my mind start to narrow the possibilities? Look at that family there. Look how thin they are, perhaps the few loaves and fishes should go to them, the other families will understand. How about feeding as many children as possible, the hungrier looking ones? No, even as the disciples stumbled for an answer, the Teacher told them to start passing the food out... and every man, woman, and child in that huge crowd ate until satisfied.

Trust in Jesus!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just Trust Me! - March 25, 2008

Good Tuesday morning! For more than 3 years I have said "college student", but today that is no more. Can you see the relief and happiness? No? Well, not yet. A period of personal sacrifice that long will not be recovered from overnight. Just like in the Christian life, a decade or two of living away from God cannot be overcome in our own strength immediately, if at all. We need the healing power of Jesus to recover from the long illness of sin, and we need that same healing power to recover from long periods of trial or illness on this earth. No overnight healing? One day we will wake up in Heaven, as though from a long and difficult sleep, and on that day we will experience an overnight healing unlike any we have seen on this earth. With a touch and a word of welcome, Jesus will bring us home and heal every hurt and sorrow. Now that is a promise that I like to recall often!

Our entire life on this earth is a trial, with good moments in between periods of trial and tribulation. A moment of happiness may be overcome by news of the many ills this world throws at us. Only in Christ is there lasting joy for our hearts. Yes, I am finished with school, 23 years late by most standards, but in God's own perfect time. The happiness and relief that I feel now will fade in time, but the joy in my heart from the love of Jesus will never go away.

In Mark this morning I read a short, but very powerful passage. In this passage, Jesus first heard the news of Jarius' sick daughter, but before He could get to Jarius' house, the woman who had suffered for 12 years from a bleeding illness touched His robe. Feeling the healing power go out from Him, Jesus wanted to know who had touched His robe with such faith. The woman admitted the act after a bit and fell at His feet. In my mind an entirely appropriate response to the Lord Jesus! Of course we know that Jesus did not chew her out or tell her to ask permission first. No, He gave her the good news that her suffering had ended... just as He will tell us one day in His glorious presence! Was Jesus finished then? No! He later went on to Jarius house and raised the man's daughter from death. There is no limit to the healing power of Jesus, trust in Him and do not be afraid... the very words Jesus spoke to Jarius when others tried to dissuade him from asking to heal his daughter. "Don't be afraid, just trust me!" (Mark 5:36, NLT)

Faith in Jesus never wears out!


Monday, March 24, 2008

To Believe or not to Believe - March 24, 2008

Good Monday morning! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Easter holiday. Today, a bit of an event, my last day of college happens today, at least for this undergraduate program. Three years, three months, and eight days of college have past and I am mentally exhausted. I am both proud to have completed the program, and relieved that it is finished at last. Last night, I did take the time to watch a movie about the passion one more time. Each time I am struck by the symbolism of Jesus standing between the two criminals, unbelief on one side and belief on the other. One criminal is condemned and the other saved by a simple act of belief. You might call the believing criminal the first deathbed conversion. A life of crime had past and the criminal hung on a cross. Beside him hung an innocent man, the Son of God. Before the Son of God laid down his human life, the criminal simply asked that Jesus remember the criminal when coming into His kingdom. A simple request it would seem, but backed up by something we all must have in order to be saved - belief in Jesus. Each year the Easter holiday reminds me of that choice, belief on one side, unbelief on the other. There is no middle ground! In a world of difficult choices and situations, one stands clear and simple. A person can believe and know Jesus, or choose not to believe and stand condemned at the final judgement. Today, it does not seem so hard to decide, but be compassionate toward those who do not yet believe - at one time in my life, that choice seemed quite difficult.

To God be the Glory!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter! - March 23, 2008

Happy Easter! Today our Lord arose from the grave and told us to let everyone know! Believe or don't believe, the choice is clear and holds no middle ground. Some might question the method, "Did he roll the stone aside or just step right through it?" That would be like Noah questioning whether he floated on salt or fresh water! Don't miss the flood by wondering about the water! Jesus rose from the dead, believe it and live!

In writing, I learned to exercise restraint in the use of exclamation points. The theory being that the more one uses them, the less effective they are in the writing. That works right up to speaking of Jesus and His resurrection. Everything and every word written about the resurrection should have an exclamation point, perhaps more than one!

In thinking of bad habits today, I am struck by how we want overnight results. We should take a look at the resurrection and realize that even that didn't happen overnight. Jesus was buried in the tomb before the Sabbath began on Friday at sundown, and did not rise from the dead until Sunday morning. Now if the power of God waits on the perfect time, don't you think we can look at our bad habits with a patient view and work toward God's perfect time?

Why does everything I write point to the resurrection today? Well, it's Easter! It would be very difficult as a Christian to think about anything else today. Praise God that my last college assignments are ready to go. I can spend the time today watching The Passion of the Christ without worrying about other things. Watching the portrayal of Jesus' suffering is heartbreaking, but the victory won on this day so many years ago was worth the price He paid!

Have a great and happy Easter Sunday!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dark Saturday - March 22, 2008

Good Saturday morning! On this day a bit short of 2,000 years ago, a man lay in a tomb. His followers had scattered, fleeing for their lives. The high priests celebrated their victory, no doubt expecting the cultish movement with its charismatic leader to die out and never be heard from again. Those earthly leaders probably expected to deal harshly with any zealots leftover and any copycats that sprang up. Jesus of Nazareth was no more in their opinion. They probably laughed off the tales of Lazarus and others as myths of the common rabble. No one had ever come back from the grave, and none ever would. This Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter, might be named Dark Saturday. On this day, even to the disciples who knew what Jesus had told them, it appeared that the forces of the world had won the victory. After all, could Jesus be the Messiah when his body lay in a tomb? How could a dead man save anyone, much less an entire nation? The flame of Christianity might have died too that day.

How can we remain faithful in the dark and fearful times? The Gospels and Acts do record that the followers of Jesus began gathering again even before He appeared among them. The scattering did not last long. They may have felt that God had abandoned them, but that would be far from the truth. We can gather together and assure each other that God is still with us. Jesus, the ever faithful servant, would soon surprise them all. We will save the Good News for tomorrow, the celebration of the greatest awakening in the history of the world. Like those followers of Jesus long ago, wait today and pray.

Praise God for the glory of this day!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday - March 21, 2008

A great Good Friday morning to you. We have a pretty good idea what Good Friday is. The crucifixion and death of Jesus happened on this day some years ago. The world says that we don't truly know what day it is, else the date would be set. That is true about a lot of dates that we choose to celebrate something that happened long ago. Such arguments are trivial. We don't need to know an exact date; we need to know what happened and its relevance to our situation. Today we celebrate, and that seems odd to the world, the death of our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. How can a dead savior be a cause for celebration? In His death, our sins were forgiven, and in his death we receive eternal life. On Sunday, Easter, we will celebrate something even more profound. A unique and singular event happened that is the basis for our faith. This day, the day of suffering had to come first. God demanded the perfect sacrifice to atone for all the imperfect sin. Jesus carried out His Father's will, and we were saved. A pearl beyond price was won at the place the Roman world considered the greatest defeat and humiliation. Once more God turned the world's wisdom over and created something grand and beautiful in our salvation.

Praise the name of our Lord Jesus!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trust Completely - March 20, 2008

Good morning! The day is known as Holy Thursday, although I am not sure why. This is probably the day of the week that Jesus was seized by the Temple guards and taken to the first of the illegal trials held. Today I have asked for the Lord's guidance in writing the devotional. I do this every day, but on some days I don't feel a message within me. It is on these days that I think the strength of the Lord shows greatest in my weakness. How often is that true? The days or moments when our strength is not sufficient or when we think we just don't have it; those are the times when the Lord takes over and shows where the true message comes from. I am not the Good News, Jesus is. I am not the light, but the vessel that Jesus, the light of the world, has chosen. Each of us may have cause to think that God has chosen the weakest vessels, and that may be true. However, God keeps his own counsel and we can only trust in Him. Trust is that time when we feel weak and simply say, "Lord, here I am, use me." The Lord of course, is perfectly happy to accept each and every one of us, and next thing you know... a message comes pouring out of our mouths or our little typing fingers to the glory of God the Father!

Prepare to celebrate the Lord's resurrection and glory as Easter weekend starts with Good Friday. I pray that some of you are taking a break from work and enjoying the company of loved ones. Let Heaven and Nature sing of the glory of our risen Lord!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sowing the Seeds - March 19, 2008

Good Morning to you! What a glorious day it is in Christ Jesus! In Mark this morning, I read how Jesus entered a temple on the Sabbath and saw a man with a crippled hand. With the Pharisees watching and ready to pounce, Jesus brought the man up front and center. No hiding, no quick aside, "Psst, give your hand!" No, Jesus knew what the Pharisees were up to and came right out front with what He was going to do. However, before healing the man, Jesus once more asked a question of those very religious leaders, hoping they might be saved. Instead, the Bible records that Jesus was angry at their hardness of heart when they would not answer Him. A very obvious sign, just what they demanded, performed right in front of them, and once more they took off to plot Jesus' death. From our point of view as believers, this act of turning away boggles the mind. Jesus did just what they had asked for, performing a healing miracle right in front of their eyes. When the heart is already hardened, a sign may fall on that rocky ground that Jesus spoke of in the parable of the seeds. The hardened hearts of the Pharisees had no soil left for this new seed to grow.

You and I may experience just such a thing in our ministries. We may sow and sow, only to see someone reject everything we say to them. On the other hand, we may sow a seed and later another will reap the harvest. Praise God for that! In Christ that old selfishness is washed away. A seed sown in Christ is not "mine!", but belongs to the Master. You or I may not live to see the harvest, but in faith we sow the seeds. Praise God for that opportunity and privilege!

May the sweet joy of Jesus wash over you today!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dark Turns to Victory - March 18, 2008

Good Tuesday morning! No holiday today, but the most important holiday is just around the corner. In Mark today I read the story of the disciples getting hungry and eating the grain in the field on a Sabbath. The Pharisees of course objected to Jesus that a law was being violated. Do you notice that the world constantly tried to find fault in Jesus? When it could not, it eventually made up something and demanded His execution anyway. The world seemed to dislike Jesus. No, that is too much an understatement. Jesus stated it himself, the world hated Jesus. Hate is altogether different from a simple dislike. Hate is that bitter feeling that causes rage and murder. I wonder if somewhere after Jesus death and resurrection a person woke up and wondered if they had witnessed a bad dream. They knew about Jesus' miracles, they knew that He had harmed no one, and yet that person may have been part of the crowd demanding an execution. Did that person shake his head and ask, "Did I really do that?" That moment may have been the first step toward salvation.

Once we realize that each of us is responsible for the sin that Jesus paid the price for, we can repent and look to the Son of God to save us. The very one the world hated so much, is the only one who can save it. However, the world must first listen and learn from Jesus, and the world prefers its own wisdom. That wisdom sent Jesus to the cross; a dark day to be sure, but what a result and what a victory!

Praise the name of Jesus on this fine day!


Monday, March 17, 2008

Word of Mouth - March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Yesterday my morning Bible study took me to Mark. I had been reading in the Old Testament for some time, but yesterday I felt it time to start in the Gospels once more. Mark stats off with Jesus' healing ministry very quickly. People believed in His healing power and came from all over the region to have their demons cast out and their diseases healed. Jesus told one man whom he cured of leprosy to tell no one. However, that man could not keep quiet and spread Jesus' fame all over the area. Some might think, "well if Jesus would heal me of all my illnesses, I could believe too." I suspect that all of the people Jesus healed of some present condition, later became ill from something else. Just like we heal from the flu or a cold and later come down with something else. I am sure that they never suffered the same condition again, but other diseases came along in their lives. Jesus told Thomas that "blessed are those who have not seen and still believe." Just like the Pharisees who demanded a sign, Jesus knew that miracles alone would not save everyone. Some believed and were saved, others did not, even with the word of mouth that spoke of Jesus' miracles in every town and farm. Our word of mouth will not always be believed either, but that shouldn't stop us from trying. People are lost all around us, listen for the opportunity to tell them about the Savior.

God grants us peace, enjoy it!


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday - March 16, 2008

Good Palm Sunday morning to you! We have another new coating of snow out here as it would appear that winter will last until May this year. Just kidding, I have no idea how long it will last. Today is a celebration of the day Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey's colt. The people were ready to celebrate an earthly king, ignoring other prophecies in Isaiah, and they lined the road into Jerusalem waving palm branches and celebrating their new king... or so they thought. However, Jesus fulfills every prophecy and the time for His new kingdom in the new Jerusalem had not yet arrived. The spiritual kingdom had to come first and that required one final blood sacrifice on the cross. As we know from the gospels, a fickle and unbelieving people turned on Jesus less than a week later and demanded his execution. Pilate gave in to public pressure and allowed the execution of a man he had found innocent to take place. The world committed a murder and we were saved. In this world murdered people cannot save others. However, we do not live by what the world thinks and sees, we live and are saved in Christ Jesus!

Praise God for eternal life in Jesus!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Endure to the End - March 15, 2008

Good Saturday morning! The snow has made our world white once more in this area. The snows in February and March have not been deep snowfalls, but they do seem to be fairly consistent. That is the key to giving, consistency. We may wish for more to give, I know that I do, but we only have what we are given by God. At times when I find myself thinking of more to give, I like to think of the few loaves and fishes that Jesus used to feed thousands. Jesus took someones lunch and fed a multitude. What was the return on that small gift? Just barely enough? No, more food was leftover than Jesus started with! Our giving is the same, we may not have millions and thousands to give as some do. However, each paycheck is an opportunity to be faithful and give consistently. Each of us may not have as much as we would like to give, but we have something to give from and the more faithfully we give, the more we will be entrusted with.

What a great day to kick back with a cup of coffee (decaf) and write in the Lord! Snow on the ground, but the streets are clear. Cold but not terribly so. A warm house and a day off work; it just all makes for a nice Saturday. Oh, there's that homework thing... Well, that homework thing is about to come to a close. Two weekends are all that remain. Figuratively speaking, they can beat me, kick me, and send me nasty notes, but I will endure to the end! Our Christian journey is much the same, although the beating and scorn may not be figurative but real. We can see the end even when not knowing the timing. Our journey's end is in sight and we can endure in the strength of Christ Jesus. Graduating from school? I'm sure that I am not the only one graduating. That is quite an accomplishment and will be a great day, but that is minor when compared to that great day when Christ shall reign forever.

God bless you this fine weekend!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Saved! - March 14, 2008

Good Friday morning! The joy of Christ flows through us this day. As Easter approaches, the thoughts of what Jesus suffered at the hands of the people in His day come to mind often. I think of the many times that He might have spoke and stopped the whole show on the spot. At any time He might have said, "Look, I am the Son of God, and I've had enough of this!" He might have demanded allegiance, knees to bow and the confession of His Lordship right at that moment. However, a greater need drove His love at that time. The need to save us from the pain of sin and death that hung around every human neck. He could see it, but you and I cannot see what Jesus saw every day all around Him. Every time the thought of stopping came to Him, I can imagine that He looked around, saw all that pain and misery, and took another step toward the cross.

How is this joyful? How do we start the weekend on a note of joy when thinking about our Lord's suffering? We don't have to feel that suffering for all eternity because the price of our sin is paid! We are set free, pardoned, ransomed, no longer slaves to death and the grave. At the moment it is hard for us to feel all of what that truly means to us. One day, Jesus promised, that feeling will arrive in full force. We will stand before the judgement seat and receive fully the grace of Christ Jesus! He would not have gone to prepare a place for us, only to turn everyone away at the last moment. Let the joy of that grace fill you until the dam is ready to burst and overflows into a dark world! Take the most happy day of your life and multiply it many times over to begin feeling a taste of that great day in Christ Jesus. I'm with you on this; I cannot imagine it either in the pain of this world, but we know on the assurance of our Lord Jesus that it will indeed happen.

Blessed assurance in the boundless love of our dear Father in Heaven!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Already Accomplished - March 13, 2008

Good Thursday morning! The days are for the most part much warmer than we have seen this winter. Spring is close to its opening day. Big moments in Isaiah came up last night in our Bible study and a big moment in Daniel came up this morning. It is amazing that Jesus' life was covered so accurately in Isaiah. We also noted last night how that Isaiah wrote in the past tense about events that would happen about 700 years later than his lifetime. How can that be? Those events had already happened in God's plan. Jesus' saving of the sinners had already gone down in the books. As we like to say: signed, sealed, and delivered. We see things poorly right now as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13. However, God sees the great events that we have yet to arrive at as fully accomplished. When Jesus noted to the world that, "It is finished" on the cross, He meant just that. To us with our limited view there is much yet to happen in this world and in our lives. To Jesus with His eternal view, we are already home with Him. To my understanding, that is God telling us that one morning we will wake up in Heaven with Him as though from a long and difficult dream. No more sorrows and no more pain, only the eternal joy of Jesus in our hearts. Look forward to that day and spread the Good News to the world!

God bless you all!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pray for Everyone - March 12, 2008

Good morning! The mid-week has come for us once more. Feeling tired and ill lately? I think all of us are in our department; this latest bug has become a real problem. There are a few things we can do like, eating right, trying to exercise (difficult when ill), and going to the doctor. However, the best and most powerful thing to do is to pray for each other. Belatedly I began doing that for my workplace last night. I can't help but think that I need to be praying every day, not just during the sick times. How often do we find that we only pray for someone else when they are in some kind of trouble or major illness? We certainly should pray then and with God it is never too late. However, we should pray for each other in love during the good times of their lives. Someone gets a promotion at work, pray in joy for them. Your friend will be getting married, pray for him or her in celebration of their new life. In this lifetime the season of happiness may be fleeting. Troubles follow good times as the stain of sin shows the pain of this world. Pray constantly for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and then pray for those who are facing the world without Jesus in their hearts. The entire world needs our prayer each day.

What a mighty savior we have in Jesus!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Believe in Jesus - March 11, 2008

Good morning. It's Tuesday and we are gathered here to learn more about Jesus! Pretend for a moment that you are a secular learner. How do we simplify Jesus into someone that we can better understand? One thing that we can do is pretend that he was just another of the prophets. This is what the Islamists do. Another is to make him simply human by finding things to support that choice. We have seen attempts to place Jesus' grave in India, in a box found in an antique shop, and in plots carried out to hide the "truth". A third is to study him as a historical figure with the cold eye of modern science as a shield to belief. I say "modern" science because we know that many of the great scientists of the past were in fact Christians. Perhaps the most common, and most tragic, is to simply ignore him and sink yourself into the secular world. All of these methods have been tried and are being used by those who prefer not to believe. In intellectual circles they congratulate themselves and each other on their reasonable thinking, on cold intellect and human learning, and they get together to scorn believers and build up their own opinion of themselves thereby.

So with all of this opposition, why do we believe in Jesus as the living Son of God? Whatever gifts God has given to us, we believe in our Lord Jesus. In spite of tortures or tales of such activities, we do not renounce our faith. So what would be the cause of such a thing as this? One thing we know from the wisdom of the Holy Spirit... it isn't our own strength that causes this. In realizing how weak each of us truly is in this world, we become strong in Jesus. In realizing how sinful our flesh is, we become righteous in Christ. Everything we believe is at odds with the learning and wisdom of the world. We believed when Jesus found us and saved us from the world. A choice, free of all strings and simple in the making. Some have discovered it after a lifetime of intellectual pursuit, others have discovered the truth in their own simple way. However, the choice remains simple, believe in Jesus or don't. After we make the choice, all reasons and evidence fall into place. When we believe in Jesus, His miracles become true tales of His wonderful power to heal. When we believe the stories of His command over nature become examples of His sovereign will. Believing makes His sacrifice worth the price He paid. Believing makes faith in the one true God perfectly sensible and reasonable. Believing allows us to question God and His ways, and then to listen and search for the answers in His Holy Word. Believing in Jesus allows us to truly grow in love for our Abba Father, our Lord Jesus, and for each other. Why do we believe? Because He loved us enough to die to pay for our sins, and rose again to show His victory over death.

You have faith in a strong God, live in Him!


Monday, March 10, 2008

Don't be Afraid - March 10, 2008

Good morning! The first Monday of the new time change. Yes, it does feel very early, even though the clock says that it is not. As we have done many times before, we will take the next couple of days or weeks to grow accustomed to the new routine. This morning, the story of Daniel in the lion's den. What a great story of the power of God. Often missed in the telling of that story, and certainly not a part we would emphasize to children, is the part where those who accused Daniel were tossed in after Daniel's release. This part is not so pretty, but we can certainly see the justice. We can also see that the lions did not abstain from eating Daniel from any lack of appetite! The explanation given by Daniel is also interesting. "An angel of the Lord shut the mouths of the lions..." It would seem that Daniel did not spend the long night alone. It is not recorded in the Bible, but I would bet the first words the angel said to Daniel were, "Don't be afraid." Each of us needs to take those words to heart in this frantic world. Don't be afraid. Our Lord watches over us every moment of each day and night. Don't be afraid, trust in the Lord and let faith drive out fear.

Enjoy the light of Jesus this fine day!


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Working on Sleep - March 9, 2008

Good Sunday morning! The sun doesn't seem to be in the right place today, but that should change over the next few days. Ahh, the dreaded time change. Groggy feelings at work in the morning, not ready to eat when arriving at home in the evening, all for the supposed saving of energy. I hope we have saved a lot of energy over the past several years; I sure do not like the changes and I cannot recall speaking with a person who does enjoy the time changes. If I have forgotten someone who truly enjoys each spring time change, I should send them a card in the asylum, perhaps even a "get well" card.

Today is that day where we fantasize about catching up on sleep. We have seen it in books and movies, where the character sleeps through an entire day or a weekend, and wakes up feeling just great. Well, in real life we know that getting the proper amount of sleep takes practice over time. We might think that good sleep comes naturally, but in this hectic world we find that we must work at getting a good night's sleep consistently. Practicing our faith is much the same. To have consistently powerful faith, we must plant our mustard seed of faith, and practice. Putting our faith into action is the practice we seek. Like any long term project, our faith may seem weak. However, we put our faith in a powerful God. Step one to strengthen our faith, seek out the Word of God. Read daily and study in the Holy Bible. Our faith will grow even as we see the goodness of our God.

God bless and keep you!


Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Opinion of Cats - March 8, 2008

Good Saturday morning! I wondered this morning where to find help for pride in some skill that you or I might have. We cannot falsely say that we are not knowledgeable or adept at some talent that God has given to us, for that would dishonor Him. We should not boast about it, for all talents come from God. This wondering happened right before I tried to make coffee with an empty filter basket, staring dumbfounded as clear water poured into the carafe. Yes, one more thing that I need not worry about. God will keep us humble whenever a dose of humility is needed. Sometimes God's timing is so beautiful that you can only laugh at yourself, and that is just what I did too! The cats have agreed that I am insane, but who cares about their opinion anyway. :-)

Easter approaches! I haven't been trumpeting that with the same enthusiasm as I do for Christmas, and I do believe that is wrong. Christ's birth is important, but not as important as His resurrection on that great day some years ago. Easter is the celebration of our hope in Christ and we don't do enough of it here in this dark world. We need to work on turning that around. I know that the secularization of the Christmas celebration may cause us to think, "what's the use". However, we shouldn't give over to the world the celebration of our Lord's rising from the grave. Here is a radical idea, everyone take off for a week at Easter. No buying or selling, just a celebration of the Lord's resurrection. Do you think that would work? I am thinking that most of our employers would take a dim view of that at first. It may take some time to convince the world that would work. What was your first thought? Something about not being able to make it without that week's pay? Me too; looks like we may need to work on our trust in God before we go too far with this.

God's blessings go with you this fine day!


Friday, March 07, 2008

A Good Friday - March 7, 2008

Good Friday morning! Once again we have a clean, new world out here, one covered in white snow. It is also quite cold at around 11ยบ F. In reading of Nebuchadnezzar's story, the one where God makes him insane for seven years, I am struck by the special favor God showed to this pagan king. Upon returning to sanity, Nebuchadnezzar no longer worshiped or believed in the pagan gods, but in the Most High God alone. Too many people just want God to leave them alone, and He does as they wish. We don't want to leave those people alone, but to remind them that God loves each of them in a special way.

The clouds are rolling in once more, perhaps a heavenly reminder that good times follow the bad, just as clear skies follow the cloudy. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." Notice that we walk through, not just into, but through that dread valley. Each day God leads us through dreadful shadows, but we need not be afraid of shadows, no matter how substantial they may seem on this earth. Our mighty God, the Most High God, is in charge and is all-powerful. God does let people have a choice on this earth, don't be fooled into thinking that He is not in charge, even though free will causes some bad choices and terrible sins on the earth. "One day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Some may refuse to believe now, but we know that one great day all will acknowledge our Lord Jesus!

Praise God for a great Friday!


Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Little Pride - March 6, 2008

Good Morning! For the next couple of days I will enjoy the sun rising early. It's the least I can do since our lawmakers have decided to advance the time change once more. One thing the governments of the world cannot do is to stop the progress of time. We are moving toward our meeting with Jesus, whether the world likes it or not!

Last night we read about the little oops that King Hezekiah made in showing the ambassadors from Babylon his treasures. I am struck by the double whammy that materialism can bring. First there is the pride of showing off your possessions. Then if you show them off to the wrong persons, you get the loss of having them taken. The Israelites saw this when, later, King Nebuchadnezzar would use that knowledge to grab every treasure from the Temple and palace in Jerusalem. The things of this world simply do not last and worshipping them is the way to destruction.

The glory of the Lord shines on us and through us this fine day! Each of us has fallen prey to sin at times, but forgiveness is always there for the asking. Seek out the sin in your life, and then confess it to God and ask forgiveness. Truly we must come before the Lord daily to walk with Him. How much better to walk with Him in grace, without the baggage of unconfessed sin slowing us down.

Praise the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior!


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

He Lives! - March 5, 2008

Good morning! We awaken to another snow covered morning, winter is still present and accounted for. After a couple of sick days, again, I will return to work this morning, praise God for that opportunity! This morning I began a new book in my morning Bible reading, the Book of Daniel. This book is one of my favorites: the stories of God's sovereign will in saving the men from the furnace, lions, and the plots of the heathens all serve to remind us that God is not away on vacation or hanging around as a disinterested observer. No, our Lord is in control and active upon the earth. Were it not for the stain of sin, heaven and nature would be singing such an anthem of praise that we would be caught up in the overflowing joy of all God's creation singing His praise.

Whatever happened to that rock cut from the mountain, but not by human hands, in Nebuchadnezzar's dream? It would be easy for us to fall into the mistake the Israelites made in Jesus' time, that of thinking He would set up His earthly kingdom right at that moment. This mistake would be in forgetting prophecies of the suffering servant and crucifixion as foretold by Isaiah. Jesus' kingdom did begin when he arrived in Bethlehem, but not in the way that human kingdoms are built. This kingdom will have a solid base that will endure forever. You and I are a part of that kingdom, though it may not seem like it right now. The stain of sin is powerful, but our God is mightier. Rest in Him, trust in Him, believe in Him, and share the Good News that He Lives!

Let the glory of the Lord shine in you today!


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Yahweh Shammah - March 4, 2008

Good morning in Christ Jesus! Once more a timely reminder that joy comes from within. I read about the river of healing that springs from under gate of the new temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps I should use the name above the gate, Yahweh Shammah, God is There. Ezekiel is full of very powerful imagery, but the last one sticks with us. The river of healing that turns the Dead Sea into a fresh water lake where fish abound. The fruit trees bloom all the time and produce a new fruit each month. The leaves are used for healing. Although we feel pain this morning, I am sure that the smallest nibble of one of those leaves would make us completely well. Right now we do live in a world of pain and sorrow.

Yes, we are passing another virus around our work area. This one makes your joints and body hurt. I cannot pretend that the pain makes me happy, but I can cling to the joy of Jesus in my heart. This winter has been particularly tough in the flu and virus department, and I have enjoyed my share of the communicable diseases going around. I think we shall all be glad to see this winter end.

God bless and keep you,


Monday, March 03, 2008

Heart of Joy - March 3, 2008

Good morning, and welcome to another joyful day in the Lord! I started a lengthy devotional on the Law and have just discarded it. I feel called to write a more joyful message this morning. The story of the Israelites and their often disobedient ways only serves to highlight our own difficulties in keeping the Law. I heard yesterday in one of the sermons that guilt, at least the guilt we should worry about, is not a feeling. Does that give you joy? It does for me. Worrying about the guilty feelings that come to us from past events plays right into the Devil's hands. Satan doesn't want joyful Christ-ones in this world. We are made new creatures in Christ Jesus! Leave behind the mud and muck of those guilty feelings in the knowledge that the real guilt, that of original sin, is forgiven in Christ. Turn a joyful face to the Lord and worship Him. Think about the joy of our Lord and know, believe, that you are forgiven. It does not matter what sins lurk in your past; we all have skeletons in the closets of our mind. Jesus tells us to give them to Him. The Accuser brings up the most hideous old skeleton from the depths of our past to show how evil we are. Jesus simply takes the skeleton, stamps it 'paid', and throws it into the fire. No ceremony, no mess, no disapproving looks, only a gift of freedom from our past sins. Feeling unworthy today? You are not! Jesus did not die for a goal that was not worth the cost. He died and rose again for something more precious to Him than anything, you and I! As the sun rises this morning, take your heart of joy and live in Christ!

Hallelujah for the day!


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Snow or Sun - March 2, 2008

Good Sunday morning! What a difference a day makes; yesterday sunny and 70 degree temperatures, today a near blizzard. Only a small amount of snow has fallen thus far, but the wind is whipping it around pretty good! I just realized that soon I will need to go through three different PCs to look at class files and decide whether I want to keep them or not. Actually, I think there are some files at work also, make that 5 different PCs. I will undertake that task with joy, school will be an accomplishment well done. Still, I must not look past the finish line. In this life it is too easy to look past the final stage of the task at hand, looking just past that final hill climb. We can be confident that God will keep us here to complete our final tasks, whatever they may be.

One day the windows are open and the warm air flows through the house; the next, buttoned up tight and watching the snow fly. We cannot predict much in this life, even our death is subject to Jesus returning first. There can be no confidence in the world, but there can be complete confidence in our Lord. You will need to give credit to Pastor Schuller for some of the devotional today. I am trying to write and listen to his sermon at the same time. I didn't expect the Hour of Power to be on right now, but received a pleasant surprise this morning. May God bless you during this fine month of March, in snow or in sunshine!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Take a Day - March 1, 2008

Good Saturday morning and welcome to the first day of March in 2008. I am very happy to see March arrive this year, and by now you probably know why. Yes, 24 days of school left and then it is finished.

Years ago, many of us saw the new movie "Star Wars", a blockbuster hit in the year just after the Bicentennial celebration. In that movie, an actor delivered a couple of lines during the final climactic scenes. Playing a minor part with one of those odd character names we don't need to remember, I think he might have been Orange Leader or something like that, this actor voiced those lines you might remember, "Stay on target, stay on target" even as his ship was blasted apart by the evil Empire. Such is the skill that a professional actor brings to a part that even many years later I can remember the sound of his voice. Paul said a very similar thing in Philippians about keeping our eye on the prize in the race that we are running.

One of the dark power's greatest weapons in this age is distraction. We have so many things to distract us from our goal. Life in general is very hectic in this time. Many types of media bombard you with messages each day, friends have problems, the church is under attack, Christ is lumped in with all other religions in education and then attacked, people are starving in near and far places, and we are supposed to know all about candidates in the many election races in order to make a wise choice. Those are only some of the things we face each day. Is it any wonder the Lord tells us to take a day off to worship Him? Could you imagine a world with no Sunday paper, news, sports, or other distraction? A day with rest and the worship of our Father in Heaven as the only "to-do's" for that entire day. Wouldn't we be better prepared for the work week?

I can tell you that I have not achieved that ideal. With only four weekends of college left, I certainly intend to make my Sunday much more relaxed in the near future. However, does God blame us for the busy-ness of the times? Some of you may even go to work today; will you be held in contempt of court for working on this Saturday? One thing we know about God, because Jesus told us so, and that is He loves us. Running this race is not a timed event; the goal is to complete the journey with Christ. We are not in competition with each other for who can arrive first. In this race, we cheer for the ones who arrive at the finish line before us. Along the way, we will stop to rest at times, and a day of rest is one of those times. One thing that I would pass along from my 3 years of school, and that is for those taking up a challenge like that, learn to have a day off. I didn't do very well at that, and the toll exacted by the stress was much greater than it had to be. I don't mean an evening off on a workday, but an entire day off from both work and school. We all need that rest.

Enjoy this fine, and warm (at least out here) Saturday in Christ Jesus!