Friday, July 31, 2009

Dictation - July 31, 2009

Good Friday morning! The subject of faith healing has come up once more; this time as a man faces years in prison for the death of his child. You can read the details in your favorite news outlet, but the same subject has come up many times. We as a society seem to bemoan the loss of a traditional family out one side of our collective tongue while wanting to interfere in every part of the family out the other side. This may seem amusing on a Friday morning, but it isn't for those facing court trials for home schooling their children, refusing medical care, and other things that some consider their freedom in America. However, the question was about faith healing.

Why do we need doctors? Is it because like the ancient Israelites we wanted a new king so badly that God finally gave us what we asked for with our love of science? Is modern science the new Law, pointing to Jesus but unable to save us? I hope you are not anxiously awaiting one all-encompassing answer from me on this Friday morning. However, in thinking about healing in the Bible, people do have a point in reading how Jesus and the disciples healed and in wanting that same method for themselves. We read that Jesus healed with a word, a touch, or sometimes an action as with the blind man and the mud. Jesus' healing was always complete and without pain; something medical science has quite failed to attain. The question we should be asking though is: "Why do we feel that we should dictate the method of our healing to God?" If God sends doctors, dentists, nurses, and other medical professionals to heal us then we should be grateful. If God sends healing through our prayers and laying on of hands, then praise God!

How do we know which way to go then? Do we give up on God if we pray first and then go see a doctor? Does that mean our faith is too weak to heal us? You might look at it as seeking. Jesus told us that those who seek will find. God may want us to put some effort into seeking a cure. I have heard or read tales of healing through faith alone, through our medical science, through both together, and through using first one and then the other alone. Perhaps the one answer in all of this is to quit trying to dictate the method to God and start seeking. Strong faith in God is not as important as faith in a strong God!

Heavy thoughts for a Friday morning. I pray that you have a great weekend in Christ!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yikes! Brrr... - July 30, 2009

Good Thursday morning! I do believe that a low in the mid-40's is enough to give a person a real autumn wake up call! However, today is July 30. It may not be a record low for July, but this morning did cause more than a few folks to jump out of bed and shut windows. I could hear them up and down the street; sort of an "Aiieee!" sound followed by "schiick, slam!" Yes, most of us are not sleeping in flannel nightgowns and fuzzy winter sheets right now, but a morning like this does make one think about it. Will we see polar bears in the landfill this winter? Does Nebraska have caribou permits ready? Are sled dogs expensive to maintain? We need to know these things, winter is coming! :-)

Many people are more likely to worry over something unusual in the weather than where their soul and body will spend eternity. This is another of those preoccupations with the flesh that we tend to have. Alone among God's creations, we have the ability to ponder eternity. Yet, many of our fellow humans ignore what comes after this life. My cats know the now of their condition. They do not store up food for the winter, nor do they even plan for going outside. Their lot is concerned with now. "Let me out", "I want in!", "I'm hungry!" are their most pressing concerns. God takes care of them and they don't worry about tomorrow. We can worry about tomorrow, but Jesus tells us not to do this.

The other day I was thinking how we tend to fantasize about winning a big lottery jackpot or some other big money windfall. We think that would set us financially and many of our worries about tomorrow would be gone for good. The interesting thing is not in winning something like that, but that God tells us to live without those worries in the first place. You and I imagine what living without financial
worry would be like and look to some earthly thing like the lottery; God tells us to live like that by looking to him! That doesn't mean that we run out and spend money like a lottery winner; that money just ain't in our bank accounts. But we are to live without the fears and worries about tomorrow that tend to make us depressed and anxious.

Yes, it will take some coaching from the Holy Spirit before I can get up each morning without thinking worries into my head. Have a great and wonderful day in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wandering... - July 29, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Where have you been letting your mind wander lately? God gave each of us an amazing creation to use in our daily lives, the mind. We think, wonder, dream, remember, and just plain let it wander at times during each day. Resting the mind is just as necessary as resting the body, but we don't need to let our minds wander into the area of sin. The lust of the flesh is both physical and mental. As the body may yearn for something, so the mind responds with visions of delight.

The problem begins when we give our minds free rein to imagine immoral sex, overindulgence, visions of anger, and the many other ways that lead to destruction. Random thoughts will come and we have an adversary who whispers suggestions to each of us, but that does not mean that we have to let our minds linger on the wrong things. A good counter to the wrong type of imagining is to think on Jesus and His Word. At a time when my mind is going in the wrong direction, I find it good to recall Bible verses or to simply thank God for all that He has done for me.

Of course, our minds do rest by imagining and great ideas can come from our imaginations. I don't think that I could write fiction without imagination or tell a story without the ideas that come from listening to the Holy Spirit. Just as our adversary whispers unwholesome suggestions, so our advocate can whisper wholesome and wonderful suggestions to our listening minds. Which voice is which in that whispering? We can tell by which way the flesh pulls us. Like the angel and devil on the shoulders illustration, the suggestions tend toward our good from the angel and toward our destruction from the devil; though both may seem good at first glance. Sometimes we know which suggestion is for our good, but want to follow the bad whisper. "Get up and exercise" doesn't call to us in quite the same way as "go have a big, sweet donut" does.

Enjoy the blessings of God today!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not Self-help, but God-help - July 28, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Every day you can find advertisements for the latest in self-help books and DVDs. I suspect that if you had the money to purchase a copy of every self-help book, course, DVD, or CD you could fill a library the size of a football stadium. I say "you" because I already know that I don't have the money for a project of that type. While we spend much time and money in this world in a vain effort to help ourselves, God sets out a different path for those called to Him. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness..."

What we can do for each other in this life is to point out the God-help books and other sources of help and inspiration from God. The primary source is certainly God's own word, the Bible. Books by our brothers and sisters in Christ come to mind next as I am primarily a book seeker. However, today we also have access to Christian sites and, ahem, devotional e-mails, to help each other and to gain comfort and inspiration. We can also e-mail each other directly, call on the telephone (yes, those still exist), and get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship or fellowship. I would be remiss in not pointing out even some areas that I am falling behind in such as: Twitter, instant messaging, and cell phone texting. Any of these tiny-message formats can be used to send a quick message of hope and comfort to a brother or sister in Christ, particularly the younger ones who are more familiar with those methods.

We enjoy many ways to communicate that did not exist in the past. How 'good' some of those methods are is open to interpretation of course. However, I don't believe that God has been left behind by any mode of communication. We can use any or all of them to spread the Good News of Christ.

Have a great day in Christ; and here's an e-mail message reminding you that Jesus loves you! :-)


Monday, July 27, 2009

Remove the Beam - Friday, July 24, 2009

Good Friday morning! The subject is resume spelling errors and how as little as one can get yours tossed in the rejection pile. One of the first comments on the blog was from a person who made hiring decisions for a firm. At least 5 spelling and grammatical errors in the short response; all pointed out immediately by other comments. We do seem to have a problem with double standards in our corporate culture. Jesus used a different word for that method of operation and came down on the Jewish leaders many times. So what are we to do with those in charge doing as they will and not as they demand of others?

At first we might say "not much". After all they are in charge. If a chubby congress decided to pass a law demanding svelte physiques all around, we would do our best to obey the law of the land. However, on second thought we always have something very powerful to turn to when we see injustice or unfairness. We can turn to prayer. God is not fooled by anyone; and those who think they can fool God are in fact fools themselves. If a boss applies a different standard to you than he applies to himself, you can approach him about it, but you can also pray for him.

In a time of harsh recession in our economy, we may run into someone firing or not hiring someone else based on a shortcoming or mistake that the decision maker is quite guilty of themselves. Jesus warned us about this in his beam and splinter illustration, "first remove the beam from your own eye..." We will not see a perfect world until Jesus returns. Bring the power of prayer to bear on unfairness or hypocrisy. For your own welfare, once you have given the problem to God in prayer let it go in your mind, don't stew on it and cause harm to yourself.

Have a wonderful Friday in Christ Jesus!


A Great Turn-about - July 27, 2009

Good Monday morning! I hope the weekend has left you refreshed and ready for the new week. Have you forgotten your freedom somewhere? If Jesus has paid the price for our sins, why then do we insist on living as though the hammer is about to fall? Have we returned to the days of weekly sacrifices and stonings in the streets? In our reminiscing about the good times of the past, I don't think that anyone wants to return to those days when people were stoned for a variety of offenses against the Law. Jesus has set us free from the penalty of sin!

In these times of economic woe, people around us need some good news. How about the good news that Christ died on the cross to take away our burden of sin and guilt? One of the greatest turn-abouts in this world is living a life where we refuse to sin because we love Jesus, and get away from living under the burden of avoiding sin because we fear punishment. This transformation may not happen overnight. We tend to think that God's correction is punishment for something we have done. If you look at Jonah's story as one of correction, God sent the storm to get him back on the right path, instead of punishment, we begin to get the right picture. God even sent a big taxi to get Jonah back to shore safely. :-)

Think of the stories of the Bible where Jesus wanted to get someones attention and turn them around. Saul of Tarsus did not meet Chris wielding a sword on the road to Damascus. Saul was blinded by the bright light of Christ in person. Jesus took the time to get Saul's attention and then turned him into the great apostle Paul. We read that Paul did not immediately begin preaching and writing but took three years to study and work out his new salvation. Just this weekend I heard a story from Liberia where the chief Muslim cleric started his call to prayer from the minaret only to be stricken dumb. He too met Jesus; at the top of a minaret no less! What did he have to say to his followers when he could speak again? "Jesus is God!" Bear in mind that in Islam they teach that Jesus was just another prophet.

Turn-abouts in life are happening each day. The Holy Spirit of Christ moves among the nations even now. The enemy will let people believe anything but that Jesus is God and died for our sins. Share the Good News that Jesus has saved us from sin and death!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Rush, Just Right - July 22, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Some mornings are peaceful and empty. No rush, no immediate demands, simply time to enjoy the company of our Lord Jesus. I wrote about the rush-rush of things in a story this morning and that seemed to remove it from my mind. I have heard of city folk coming out to the plains and having trouble with the pace of life. Whether that is true or another Hollywood stereotype, I do not know. What I do know is that what one might consider overwhelming, another considers to be just right. We do not all perceive the pace of events in the same way as another person does. When we give our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit goes to work on everything in our lives. Our perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and deeds. Some may be left alone, others overturned, and many will go through a gradual growth process. No matter how life seems to us in the moment, the Holy Spirit's work is never rushed and never short-cut. When God created the earth He did not say "good enough", He saw that it was good. The same will be said of the Spirit's work in us at the end. None of us will be left in a "good enough" condition, God will see that His work is good.

Rest in our great hope today.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wrong...again! - July 21, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Have you ever run into a problem where after working at the solution for a time, you find the answer is not what you expected and leads to another problem? I just had that experience this morning... again. We often find in this life that when leaning on our own understanding we discover nothing but our own ignorance. Sometimes though it is but a simple mistake. We think we know the direction, but the answer lies along a different route. You and I do know a few things in this world. God provides school, experience, and training in many areas during our lives. We learn the basics of language, mathematics, sciences, and interaction with strangers by going to school. We learn from our parents, our pastors and Sunday School teachers, and the Bible about God and Jesus. However, all of that knowledge can lead to mistakes if we don't take the time to have humility before God. We learn in this life that we can each be wrong.

The good news in this is that our Lord is always right. We may not see the solution to a math or science problem right away. Some things in this life we may never understand during our lifetimes. But Jesus knows all things. We need not fear that ignorance will take over Creation.

Jesus is Lord!


Monday, July 20, 2009

A Heavenly Corporation? - July 20, 2009

Good Monday morning! We actually had a little bit of summer weather yesterday with highs in the mid-90's. However, it isn't supposed to last even to today. We do have a blessed summer around here right now. The winter wheat harvest is well underway. Eastern folk might wonder why its called a winter harvest, but we just tell them that winter often extends into June around here. Actually the "winter" goes with the wheat and not the season when it is harvested. Everyone knows that... we think. :-)

Praise God for the new day! I need some coffee. Did you ever stop to realize that God doesn't need anything to do His work? When starting a project or simply getting to work, we usually start by lining up our needs. In our own work we need tools, energy, electricity, other people, good health, food, fuel, and a host of other things just to get started. God doesn't need anything to do His work. Can you imagine the chaos if Heaven had to run like our corporations? Angel committees meeting all day, cherubs holding out for tenure, seraphim going on strike because of outside labor contracts, and the Holy Trinity meeting to decide Jesus' compensation package. We know that little would get done in a timely manner under a system like that. Most of us have experienced a system just like that here on earth and we know how slow and inefficient it can be.

God doesn't work that way though. He alone is sufficient for all that He wants to get done in Heaven and on earth. One thing we never need ask when surrendering our lives to the Lord is "what do you need from me Lord?" God doesn't need anything from any of us! However, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" is a good place to start in life. Each of us has work to do in the kingdom of God. Enjoy His work in you today.


Friday, July 17, 2009

God's Will First! - July 17, 2009

Good Friday morning! In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gives us a list of things that love is not, or that love doesn't do. Does someone coming into the room when you are busy irritate you? That is not love. Are you envious of a neighbor or a person at work? No love there. From our reactions to people we can tell that our love probably needs some work. Jesus walked the earth with perfect love and rose again to bring His love to our hearts. However, we were born into the world and the inclination of the flesh fights against that love growing in us. Bear in mind that once you and I have given our lives to Christ, we are no longer responsible for the end result. Paul tells us in Philippians that God will complete His work in us. If the progress of you Christian growth doesn't seem fast enough, look to see what ways you might be standing in the way preventing progress. We tend to cling to some areas of our former lives: alcoholics may have to fight the inclination to drink for years, overindulgers (probably not a dictionary word) in food might have to work on that for some time, and sexual lusts may dog us for decades. We will find strength and healing for these things and many others in the Holy Spirit.

If nothing occurs to you, then relax and be patient, God works in His own perfect time. Paul was told that God's strength became perfect in his own weakness. God may have something to show you and others in the very weaknesses of the flesh that we cry out to Him to heal. One thing we do know; one promise that we can seize now, is that when we are called home to Christ, he will heal us completely.
Patience through our earthly suffering is difficult. We read the stories of Jesus healing in a moment and we want that same healing. However, the point we often miss is that Jesus did God's will. As you can tell from any news source this morning, God's will is not complete on this earth just yet.

Enjoy a wonderful weekend in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just the Right Prayer - July 16, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Winter wheat harvest is underway for 2009; I see some fields cut and others still a bit on the green side. This is the time of the year that I am reminded that I am not the only one praying about weather. While someone in a city or town nearby might be praying for rain for their lawn or garden, many wheat farmers are praying for a dry spell to get their wheat cut and stored for the year. Our prayers often concern ourselves and what we know about our loved ones. But, do we know what is best for even ourselves?

The most important part of prayer may be confession, but what may be even more important is: Thy will be done. We think we know so much in prayer; heal this person, give that person some money, this organization needs this, that group needs that... but do we ever stop to just say "not my will, but thine be done, Lord"? Praise God that Jesus sent a Counselor and Comforter to give us a hand with our prayer life. Not only does the Holy Spirit remind us to pray for others too, but the Spirit makes intercession for us before the throne of God! The Spirit turns our prayers into a sweet incense before the Father. We don't have to worry about whether we are being heard or even if we are praying in just the right way. We have a friend in the Spirit who will make sure that every prayer is offered to God in the right way and at the right time. Cheer up! Your prayers are not going out into the void, but are presented in the best way by our Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God.

Whoo, what a cool morning! Kinda reminds me of that first month with a 'ber' on the end of it.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Learning Love - July 15, 2009

Good morning! If you didn't watch the baseball All-Star game last night then... join me in not worrying about it; I didn't watch it either. How 'bout a noisy cat? I have one right here in front of the screen that can be rented for a bit. You get a double helping of devotionals this morning. I liked both of them, and you get an extra blessing. If you enjoy the devotionals included, you might give a donation to Love Worth Finding or the Hour of Power ministries; you can find their websites easily enough. I often give a shout out to our friends down the road at Maranatha Camp too. They are in session now and could use our financial support during these tough times. Some of us went there as campers, others shipped the kids off for a break during the summer. You can decide for yourself who got the most relief from the break, you or the kids. :-)

One thing you learn from separation is... how much you love having some time to yourself! No, that isn't what we are to learn from the absence of a loved one. Perhaps a day or a week isn't enough time to learn love through the pain of separation, but in time we do learn how much we love each other when we are apart. This is not to say that we should make a habit of sending our loved ones away for a time. The world will take care of that soon enough if we haven't experienced enough suffering already. Jesus loves us just as we were when he found us, and he loves us now in our new Christ-centered lives. We strive to love each other as he loves us. Is our love perfect as His is? Probably not, even a long term marriage will have its moments of disagreement. We grow, we learn, and we will come to love each other as Christ loves us now.

God loves you and so do I!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Growing in Faith - July 14, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! The summer is swooping on by. I'm sure there are kids somewhere looking at a calendar going "Let's see school starts in... aaagh!" I had a thought about faith last night. Jesus told us to have faith like a child. Is there a difference between the faith of a child and our faith as adults?

A story occurred to me regarding the recent fireworks season. This year has been quite wet in these parts, but usually this is not so. Suppose a child on a farm wanted to light some firecrackers, but the family had fields full of ripe, dry wheat ready for the harvest. The child had purchased some firecrackers during the brief sales period in town, but he was not allowed to set them off until after the harvest. After the family prays to God to protect their harvest and livelihood for the coming year, the child might see no problem with setting off his firecrackers because God has their fields protected. A child's faith might put any of our own to shame in such a case.

However, the father of this faithful child knows that while placing our faith in God it is also not our place to test him by setting off firecrackers near the dry fields of wheat. Which one is right, the child or his father? Both of them are right. As adults we know that we are not to test God by doing foolish or risky things. As a child, we knew then that God was someone we could put absolute trust in. As adults the Holy Spirit teaches us to have that child-like faith; as children grow, the same Holy Spirit teaches them to be aware of responsibility. Yes, we do at times yearn to be back in the simpler life of our childhood, but that isn't possible in this life. We can only grow forward as the Holy Spirit works God's wonderful will in our lives.

Enjoy the wonder of God as you grow today,

Monday, July 13, 2009

A New Monday! - July 13, 2009

Good Monday morning, and I do mean that! I see that LWF seeks to cheer up your Monday by bringing a message about trials. Monday does seem to be an appropriate day to talk trials and testing of our faith. Each Monday we get up and look at going to work, and how much we enjoy or hate what we must do to earn a living. Mondays can set the tone for a week of work. How do we view Garfield's favorite day, Monday the 13th? Aaaaiii! It's too much I'm going back to bed.

Paul didn't write in verses and chapters, but it seems that someone would have us take a different look at the number 13. Romans 13 contains Paul's words about submitting to government authority, how love fulfills the law, and a promise that the day is near. Not so bad, eh? First Corinthians 13 is of course that short chapter on love. If we shouldn't fear the number 13, then what about a Monday? In my reading, I see that the average work week dropped from 66 hours to 55 during America's Victorian period from 1876 to 1915. By now we know that the work week eventually dropped to 40 hours per week with some European countries averaging much less. However, with this recession thing going on, I see that those with hourly jobs would like to work 40 hours each week, with overtime a distant memory, and those who have salaried jobs yearn to get back to the 40 hour week as employers now demand more work hours to make up for their own firings. Who has an answer to all this?

Jesus is the answer. The country has 'enjoyed' many cycles of depression and recession before this one. Just as God tests an individual's faith, so He also tests the faith of a nation. This nation was probably overdue for testing as we have had it pretty good for a while. Like ancient Israel, we could see that much of the nation moved away from God during the good times. It's time to remember who sent the Pilgrims to these shores, who brought the country out of the Great Depression, and who saw us through a couple of world wars. We need to return to God! Want to find joy in your work? Look to Jesus. Want to find joy in your lack of employment? Look to Jesus! If our Lord has a different job or path for you to take, He will let you know. I can tell you that after nine months out of a regular, salaried job that I don't look at Mondays the same way most people do. Monday is now an opportunity to write my first devotional of the week, to get back into my novels, to read and study more, and to enjoy life in Christ!

May God bless you with new knowledge of Him on this day!


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Mandatory! - July 9, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Wow, what a change in the morning temperature from yesterday! Are the cool breezes of autumn starting already? Probably not, but we have enjoyed a mild summer so far this year. Sorry to tell you, but we have passed below 15 hours of sunlight and it's downhill from here. Heh, I'm full of useless news today. The new school here in Sidney looks to be coming along nicely and the government will apparently mandate health coverage for all. Did I read that correctly? We have gone from government sponsored health care to mandatory health care? Yes, that seems to be the way the health coverage bills will be written in Congress. If this bill becomes law will a person become an outlaw for refusing to carry health insurance that he or she cannot afford? Sounds like a tax to me. What will happen when these mandates start coming down from the world government we expect at any time?

While we are strengthened daily to trust in God, we also hear more and more of "trust me" coming from the world. "Trust me, legalizing pot will solve our budget shortfall." "Trust me, the government will take care of you." We may not realize it yet, but with a government mandated health care system, prevention is the key. Look out for the government mandated work-out programs coming soon to a fitness center near you! I hope you don't work at a candy company, you might be outlawed under the new government health care program. I know: it isn't mandatory health care, but only insurance coverage. It is now... but it's always a slippery slope until you find yourself at the bottom of the slide.

Political devotional brought to you on this fine morning by UR2Fat, the government company that cares about your health!

God bless! :-)


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Go with the Lord! - July 8, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Hmm, I can't type the devotional and skritch the cat at the same time, not enough hands and not nearly enough coordination. I'll have to let the cat take care of himself for a while; he has way more coordination between his four limbs than I do. Speaking of straining to reach two things at once; are you straining to go your own way while trying to obey God at the same time? We often create stress in our lives by straining against the yoke of Christ. You want to buy a new truck, the Lord says wait; I want to move to another town, the Lord says stay put; you want to go to Hollywood and take up acting, the Lord says quit acting like you don't hear me... and on it goes. We still feel the old urge to be our own master, even after giving up command of our ship to the Lord!

How do we manage to live this way? We cannot live this way. The Lord has been around since the beginning of time, or perhaps even before that. He sees all the way to the end of what we can see and feel. Whose plan do you think will be realized? The Lord has steered countless strong personalities to His way including, David, Samson, Abraham, Joseph, Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Constantine, Augustine, and many more. Who do you think has the strength to stay the course? Who knows which way the course goes? Yes, we still feel the urge to turn the wheel when the Lord gives the heading as straight on. We have no idea which way the harbor is and yet we want to steer the ship! Yergh! How did we get this way? Trusting in God is only the start of this journey, the harder part is to obey God.

Trust and Obey, there is no other way!


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Measuring Patience - June 7, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! This morning I tried to compare my patience with that of Jesus. Of course, my own patience didn't measure up. While I might have trouble waiting an hour or two for someone to arrive in "just a little while", Jesus waited two days for Lazerus' death and then made the journey. Jesus also waited on God in the wilderness after his temptations for many days. Jesus showed patience and forbearance with his disciples many times, while I have often been impatient with persons. When we compare ourselves to Jesus, we usually don't look so good. Actually, we look like sinners in need of a savior.

I wonder though about future generations. If we have so much trouble waiting hours and days in our time, how bad will it be with the Internet and satellite services delivering media in seconds? If I can see the difference, how much more obvious is it to those who grew up without air freight and electronic communications? We don't wait very well these days; and one thing we are often told is to wait on the Lord. This has a twofold meaning. One, we present our requests to the Lord, and then we wait in contentment, not in complaining. Two, we wait on the Lord as a waiter might wait on a customer, listening intently and patiently for the word to be given and then doing in faith and obedience. I have noticed that I'm not always very good at either of those things. However, that is in my strength. We know that we need the strength of Jesus to become what God would have us to be. Wait... God will make each of us into his own perfect image in his own perfect time.

Have a blessed day in Jesus!


Monday, July 06, 2009

The Temptation of Generosity - July 6, 2009

Good Monday morning! A back to work day for many of us, and a chance to recover from the sleep lost to fireworks on this weekend. Wait... did I just tell you to catch up on sleep at work? Oops, my bad! Some things in this life may not be as they appear at first. Can we be tempted by things that should be good? Yes, if we stray into wrong attitudes or beliefs. Generosity is something Jesus commanded us to do with regard to feeding the poor. Yet, is it possible to be tempted into sin through generosity?

Absolutely, it is possible to become sinful through generosity. How do we accomplish this seemingly contradictory action? We might start thinking that our giving will get us something from the Lord, as in "if I give the Lord this $20, He will shower blessings on my bank account." Another way we might stray from the right path is in thinking that we are doing the Lord a service or a favor by giving a gift or offering. We might want to shout it from the rafters, "look what I did for the Lord!" As though we are somehow being generous to the God who gave us everything. Perhaps the worst sin that can come from generosity is pride. A person might go from "look what I did" to standing in God's place by allowing the feeling of superiority that comes from pride to creep in. "Without my giving this church would only be half of what it is now..."

A person might fall into the trap of thinking his good works can save him. Jesus said "I am the Way...": a person in his pride might state that his generosity deserves a place in heaven. In effect proposing a different way to heaven than through the Son. We have seen that it is usually the person giving from an excess of riches that thinks this, and not the person with only a little giving all he or she has.

Generosity is a good thing, but the twisting lies of the devil can make us believe that we are responsible for our good works instead of giving the glory to God. We would have nothing to give from without the grace of our Lord in providing for us in the first place. How do we avoid falling into pride when giving? Easy, give God the glory and thank Him for the ability to give. Don't seek recognition in your gifts, tithes, or offerings. Most of all, believe in Jesus and know that He is the only way to Heaven.

Enjoy the new day in Christ!


Friday, July 03, 2009

Comforting Words - July 3, 2009

Good Friday morning! Oops, Happy Independence Day (observed) according to the calendar. I see a lot of people out and about this morning, even a few at work. Morning is here once more; where do we look for comfort each day? One place is to look to each other, but even those endowed with the joy of Christ can be down on any given day. The Holy Spirit is an inexhaustible source, but if you still need comfort you may not be listening to his comfort. So where do we find comfort in this difficult journey? You might try the Word of God, also known as the Bible.

The last statement in Matthew has Jesus' great words of comfort: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

The Good Shepherd gives us this assurance in John 10:27-30 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

Comforting Martha and all believers, Jesus said this in John 11:25-26 "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."

And finally, at least for this morning, we have those great words from our Lord in John 14:1-2 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. My Father's house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?" I like the King James version of that statement - "In my Father's house are many mansions..." I have heard that said since the earliest days of my youth, and I never tire of hearing it. Jesus left us words of comfort in His holy Word, return to them often.

Enjoy this holiday weekend as we observer our Independence Day!


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Comfort and Encouragement - July 2, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Are you frightened today? What about the world scares us so much these days? I read a truly frightening article this morning about the power amassed by Goldman-Sachs. Are the allegations in the article true? I don't know, but the research and analysis appears to be in-depth and backed up by evidence. As usual in an article of this type, the organization in question refused to comment. We have entered a world of corporate and government arrogance to be sure. Back in the day a big company might fear the exposure of an investigative reporter. These days some corporations are so large that they can ignore whatever an article or book might cause the general population to think. This stands in stark contrast to what I experienced at my former employer where we were very much concerned about what our customers and the general population thought of us and our actions as a company.

I received a mission when starting this new career. That mission was twofold - encourage and comfort my brothers and sisters in Christ. Novels, devotionals, and articles in e-mail or in print - whatever the method of delivery to you, my mission is important in this day of scary news from all media sources on a daily basis. In Jesus' time the powerful government in Rome caused many to worry. At a word from the emperor, the legions might descend on an area with fire and sword. A man's life might be discarded at a whim from a powerful citizen. While the wealthy partied and gorged, an entire population might be starving. The world wants us to believe that things have changed.

Where is the comfort and encouragement in all of this? We know they have changed, but not through anything the world has done. The rich get richer, the powerful still dictate from afar, but one great change arrived at the height of Roman power. Jesus, brought truth, freedom, and love to those who would believe that He is the risen Son of God. We look at our own strength and know that we are weak in this world of greed and sin. We are loved and known by someone more powerful than all the forces of the world, that same Son of God, Jesus Christ. In the end time, we know that Jesus will defeat the forces of the world arrayed together with but a word. At the moment it looks as though the world is winning. Don't believe it. Jesus is Lord!

At this time the world seems to be marching to a power that does not have our best interests at heart. That power has found allies in those who would rather not act in love and responsibility. Take comfort and encouragement from Jesus. He faced those same forces and rose again to a glorious new life. He died not in defeat; He lives in victory!

Take some time to relax this Independence Day weekend!


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

No Mo' Satisfaction in this World - July 1, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! He is the perfect Lord; wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, and Savior! Like me, you have probably tried to find satisfaction in something in this world. We have all probably lamented the lack of satisfaction to be found in things and people all around us. Several messages came this morning talking about satisfaction. Since I see no sense in fighting city hall so to speak... I'll jump on and write about satisfaction too! :-)

Inevitably it seems, the subject of satisfaction in the world's stuff comes up at this time of the year. The likelihood of this having much to do with fireworks is quite high. Few things in this life are of more temporary satisfaction than that of firecrackers or fireworks of any kind. Sparklers and smokers last longer than other kinds, but they are still gone quickly. Most fireworks are gone in an instant. Today, I should do some research in this to see how much is spent on a typical day on something that is gone so very soon. Even something like candy gives something back...usually in the form of fat hanging around your middle. Fireworks? They're just gone.

All of the things of this world will not last for us. Either the item wears out or we leave it behind. Money we hoard doesn't go with us. Machines we buy eventually wear out, get stolen, or are destroyed. Each of us could give the others a long list of things that cannot satisfy us in the end. Most of the items on our respective lists would not satisfy for more than a few moments at a time. Some of the best things in this life, a kiss, a hug, a thank you, a "good job", are fleeting indeed. As our ministers are telling us today; true and lasting satisfaction is found only in the Lord Jesus!

Have a wonderful day in Christ!