Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Perfect Savior - January 30, 2010

Good Saturday morning! I have heard about the new pricing that tries to take advantage of the average shopper's poor math skills. The strategy is to catch you assuming that the larger size is less per unit in price. Quick, which is less per unit: 5 at $13.44 or 8 at $20.47? Honestly, at 0600 this morning, standing in Walmart, I asked my brain that very question and came up with... Yup, the ol' math cells just weren't up and at 'em yet. I felt like a contestant on a game show where everyone at home is yelling out the answer, but the poor sap on the TV just can't get the computational wizardry of the brain to function as it should. We were made in God's image, perfect and perfectly wonderful, but something happened to gum up the works.

Adam and Eve chose to rebel. We are not perfect and under the curse of sin. God created wonders in His great creation, both in us and in the universe. Yet all is under the stain of sin. We watched a DVD over the last few weeks in our life group that showed the wonders in God's creation. We have only to get up in the morning to see some of the problems caused by the curse. No, I wasn't talking about looking in the mirror. We do notice problems with ourselves that Adam didn't see in his self-examination in Eden. What makes this interesting is to ask if Adam had the same healing abilities in Eden as we have now? Did God know that we would need these abilities even before Adam and Eve had their positions eliminated in Eden? If I may use the phrase corporations like to inflict on us these days.

Hmm, power outage, I hope that isn't a sign that I'm treading on dangerous theological ground here!

Praise the Lord for a UPS to keep me typing!

I suspect that God knew quite well what Adam and Eve would need outside of Eden. Whether He created the first two humans with healing abilities or granted those abilities after the expulsion doesn't really matter to us. We need the ability to heal now and we need salvation now. Adam may not have needed the ability to heal in Eden, and we know he had no need of salvation there, but he fell and we went down with him. Praise God for the ability to heal and more importantly, for salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

Note that like the other abilities we have in this portion of our lives, we cannot heal perfectly. Jesus did heal perfectly; he wasn't fallen as we are. By that, I conclude that Jesus also saves perfectly. This is no brilliant deduction; Jesus did everything perfectly! We believe in Him, and we receive the knowledge of His perfection. What a wonderful God we have!


Friday, January 29, 2010

Poor Ol' Bob - January 29, 2010

Good Friday morning! Well of course we did. A couple of us menfolk got together last night and inevitably our talk turned to how difficult work is these days. With so many out of work, those who have jobs really have the screws turned down tight on them. Somewhere, someone is thinking how much better production is and how much money the company is saving without that "dead weight". As a part of that so-called dead weight, I have a good reason to resent that kind of thinking. But who does that? When I turn my mind to that person, that's a person I really want to pray for.

If it's your job to read charts and graphs, note how production is up and the work force is down, and perhaps treat yourself to an evil chuckle or two; know that we are praying for you. How about the rest of us; could we do a job like that? Somewhere a fellow goes to work one day; we'll call him Bob, and suddenly has an epiphany. Poor Bob comes to realize that it's his job to report to management that their force reduction program has worked spectacularly because of the recession. Those who kept their jobs in the company are working like cats fleeing the vacuum cleaner; sweating fear out of every pore as they scramble to volunteer for overtime assignments. (Sorry about the metaphor, that subject keeps coming up lately.) They know the executioner is stalking the company hallways, axe in hand. Bob has a problem with his job one fine Friday - he realizes that he just can't do it any longer. In fact, Bob would rather become the company night janitor than to keep reporting on how another person he knows has been let go, and other persons that he knows are now working longer and harder to do the extra work. However, that isn't the real problem.

You see as a production counter, Bob is also asked to recommend a list of possible targets for the job executioner; those who will get the ax if you will. Bob cannot stand to recommend one more person for that dreadful list.

Of course, we would like to hear that Bob has no debt in his life, plenty of savings, kids graduated from college with good jobs, and a wife who is heir to a fortune. "Just get out, Bob!" we would say. However, we know that poor Bob will have the same burdens that we do - kids in college, the wife underemployed or laid off, a mortgage on his house (probably to send the kids to college), car payments, perhaps some credit card debt (now greedily eating up his paycheck at 25% or more interest), and no way it seems to get out of his predicament. Poor Bob is just like us.

Just like us, or is he? We have a hope that Bob may not know. We have Jesus, the Son of God, the Almighty One. The world may think that God is far away, not paying attention, or doesn't exist, but we know that He is sovereign. Bob's situation, fictional though it is for this morning, is not that far away from what many people are in right now. Those folks need some good news. Wouldn't it have been great to hear President Obama tell everyone that they need the light of Jesus Christ in their lives right now in these dark times? The scoffers of the world would have piled on the scorn, but that would be a proud moment in Christ. Ah well, if those in power are afraid to say it, then it is our job to spread the good news of Christ.

The situations we find ourselves in can make us look up to the light of Jesus. Many of us have come to Christ by looking up from the bottom of a dark pit. I can think of stories about drug addiction, bankruptcy, alcoholism, crimes, hurricanes, car accidents (sounds familiar, that one does!), and other tragedies that have brought us to the foot of the cross. We look up on that cross and there He is! Not the bleeding, whipped, and suffering savior, that part is done, but the triumphant Lord of all Creation; the Redeemer lives!

Not everything is right in this world. We can think of much that is very wrong, but the end times are here. Jesus reigns!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

About that Prayer - January 28, 2010

Good Thursday morning! The umm what day is it pause is because I stayed up late reading last night. Sometimes a person just runs into a great book. One blessing from giving up my XM subscription is a little place on the FM dial at 88.7 called My Bridge Radio. I'm sure many of you have already become familiar with this, but just in case, I will pass it along. This is for Sidney by the way, there are other stations in Nebraska that you can find at I liked the station so much that I became a day sponsor this year. Whoo hoo!

Lately, I have been on the receiving end of messages about prayer. One series even had something about getting on your knees in the title. Of course the devil is going to bog a person down in the details when we hear messages like this. "Your old knees can't take much of that..." may be something you hear whispered in your mind. We can too easily get stopped by details. Kneeling is a way to show our respect and reverence for God. However, that isn't the only way to show reverence. You may not be able to kneel, but in concentrating on that we miss the point of becoming a prayer warrior. The devil likes to point out the "can't" part of our walk with Christ.

The minister dwelt often on the "get on your knees" part, and I am guilty of seeing the "can't" part of that too. We can take the message in a metaphorical sense though and adjust our prayer accordingly. Perhaps you can sit on the floor, or simply bow your head, or maybe you cannot physically perform any kind of submissive gesture! That isn't the point. If kneeling were necessary, don't you think Jesus would have mentioned it in Matthew 6 when He teaches us how to pray? Jesus instead teaches about avoiding vain repetitions, going into your closet, praying in secret, and then gives us the model prayer we know as the Lord's Prayer.

You and I know about religions that emphasize various paraphernalia for proper prayer. None of this is necessary in our prayer. What we do need is to think of it more in terms of a conversation with God. Even without the methods and nick-nacks, we tend to make prayer a one-way mental blast of needs and wants going up to Heaven. God has trouble getting a word in edgewise! In a conversation we talk and listen. Sometimes you may feel the need to pray flat out on your face, other times on your knees and often while walking or driving, but no position should inhibit your talking and listening with God. Want to show your reverence for God? Work hard on the listening part. I'm as guilty as any of sending up that blast of talk to God and failing to slow down to listen for His answers. One thing I hear more often than any other in my prayer is a gentle "shhhh!" telling me to ease up on the mental whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. It's tough to slow down and listen in this rush-rush life and culture we have going right now, but we may need to learn how to do that more and more.

Have a wonderful Thursday in Christ!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Joy in Jesus! - January 27, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! The cat is in the way and apparently trying to get romantic with the lotion bottle. I'm not sure what's going on between them, but the courtship should be interesting. Perhaps the cat just needs something in her life that she hasn't found yet. Is she searching for joy or something that will bring her joy? We find ourselves searching for joy in this world. Sometimes we find some happiness, but does the world give joy?

A child may bring joy upon its arrival in the world; but is that from the world or a gift from God? We may think that we have found joy in a mate; but where does the ability to love for a lifetime come from? The joy we seek comes only from God. That joy is also made possible only through Christ. Believing in Jesus we read that He has come that we might have life abundantly. That sounds like a good source of joy to me!

We often confuse having abundant life with having lots of stuff in this world. However, joy will never come from simply buying and keeping lots of stuff; it's much more than that. Some confuse the choice to love a husband or wife with a life of "making love" with many partners. We know that love is never defined in the Bible in that way; love is something you choose, not something you make. We could spend way too much time citing examples of what joy is not; so what makes up joy?

Joy is given by Jesus to those who will believe. The birth of a child is a gift from God and is a part of that joy. The devotion a pet shows is a part of that joy. The appreciation of a lovely sunrise and the time to enjoy it, is a part of that joy. Seeing a friend, baking a cake for someone else, praying a prayer of thanksgiving, getting just the right present for someone, and watching a child receive an award, can all be part of joy. However, joy also stands above these things. Our joy is dependent upon Christ, not on a circumstance. Joy does not require an action, but can grow from one cheerfully given. Joy can be found in the rain, or in the sunshine. Joy is constant, not a passing friend like happiness. Joy comes from God, and not from the world.

God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust; we know that from scripture. I believe it is the same with joy. A secular couple feels joy from the birth of their child, but they think it comes only from the circumstance. We know that God has granted that joy. Is there a special joy available only to those who will believe in Jesus? Of course, the joy of knowing that you are saved to eternal life in Him! The joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven. The joy of knowing that you will have an eternal place in the New Earth where God will rule not from Heaven, but from right there with us. God is the source of all joy. A person can have a little in a life of struggle and pain, or a person can have a lot in a life of trial and triumph! Choose Jesus, gain life!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Enjoy the Journey, Look to the Destination - January 26, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! I just received a reference to a book that helped me in my career way back in the day. Now that same book is in the Internet for Kids category. The text book is only 10 years old. I suppose that is what happens with technology these days; a ten year old book is now good for only 10 year old kids. The funny thing is that yesterday this title was the very book that I had decided to trash due to the age of the subject matter. Coincidence or just the humor of life?

Are we so disappointed in our new president so soon? If we can believe the polls, it would seem that many Americans are. We do seem to be an impatient lot. Christians are often the same way with God. We bring a request to Him in prayer... and expect an answer immediately. Or we may get an answer such as: be patient, and we are...for maybe a day or two. We don't wait very well! Life has sped up in this age, but that doesn't mean that God has lost control or been taken by surprise. When God tells us to wait, we can rest in the assurance that He has good reason for us to wait. If you didn't get a huge dose of God's perfect patience when you were saved, all I can say is: welcome to the group!

Patience, like love, trust, and faith, is a growth project in all of us. We must learn all of these attributes of the Spirit as we grow closer to Christ. Part of the problem with patience is that our world has spoiled us. We don't have to hike to the library to search encyclopedias any more, we simply Google it. We can reach out to far flung friends with e-mails and expect answers almost immediately at times. 3 or 4 days can get us a written letter to someone in a far state, yet we call that "snail mail" now. Life in the modern age doesn't help us to learn patience. All of our technological advances are nice, but in some ways it makes more work for the Holy Spirit. We get saved and we want to be like Paul or Moses... right now!

When Moses was young, he murdered an Egyptian and hid the body. God would use him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, much later in his life. Leading a nation into a life of crime was probably not what God had in mind; Moses needed to mature a bit. Saul learned much at a young age, such as how to guard the coats while his elders stoned Stephen to death. Paul would eventually become a powerful force for growth both in the early church and in churches around the world. However, as a young Saul, he did more harm than good to the early Christians. He too needed to mature a bit.

A young Jesus amazed the old priests and teachers of the law at 12 years old. However, we know from the Bible that he waited about 18 years before starting his ministry. Imagine ordering something from a catalog and having 18 years quoted as the delivery time. What if you knew what you wanted to do for a career at 12, but your dad said that you had to wait until your 30th birthday to start that career? Yikes, imagine the howling that would start. "30? I'll be old by then!" Of course, I now realize that 30 isn't old, but I had to mature a bit to reach that conclusion. I didn't use "we" since all of you are still only 29 of course. :-)

Maturity in our Christian life takes time. We don't always want to spend that time enjoying the journey, but take a look around and see how far you have come in Christ. Enjoy the journey and look forward to the destination.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Immovable Gate or Savior? - January 25, 2010

Good Monday morning! Are you separated from this world? Think about what you mean by "Thank God!" Do you have a genuine gratitude in your heart for God's providence? I believe you do. However, we hear that phrase fairly often in movies, books, and interviews around this world. I suspect that many of them could substitute thank luck, thank fate, or even "thank Pookie" and have the same feeling in their hearts. They use the name of God in their words, but they don't believe in Him.

The rescue crews in Haiti pulled a person from the rubble 11 days from the earthquake, still alive and probably very much ready to be freed from entrapment. You and I give thanks to God and pray that person realizes who saved a life for His purposes. Others in the world will say, "what luck! Go buy a lottery ticket." We are separate from the world, and not because we are excluding anyone.

Giving your life to Jesus is not like applying for a job. Jesus doesn't take only the best or most qualified candidates. He takes everyone, the more humble the better qualified to live for Him! We don't face a rigorous selection process, demands for more references, or even background checks. Jesus knew our background before we decided to give our lives to Him. No need to send out agents to check when our background is the same anyway - we're all sinners. No need to screen resumes when all of them show the same sinful and selfish lives; not one lived for the glory of God. Jesus wants all who come to Him.

Each of us has experienced the humbling process of applying or interviewing for jobs in this life. What if you had one employer who wanted all who came to him. This employer doesn't care about physical abilities or a perceived lack of any; is not prejudiced in regard to sex (or lack of.. just kidding), race, skin color, hair color (or lack... kidding again!), religion you were brought up in, education, talent, or experience. In fact he knows that none who come to him will have any real experience in his company. He also knows that not one is qualified to join his firm, and not one of the entire mob of applicants even deserves to have a job at his company. However, this employer takes every one who lays down his or her life at the foot of his company symbol.

You know that symbol; it is displayed prominently in the lobby of the company offices in Heaven. A great, wooden cross stained with blood, sweat, and other human substances left by the dying bodies of those it claimed. The cross has holes where spikes were driven through living flesh, splinters from rough handling, and probably a few dings where the hammer wielder missed now and again. Just the kind of corporate symbol that any earthly company would flee from. Yet this employer tells every applicant to lay his or her burden down right there at the foot of that cross, and then offers him or her a place in that great kingdom of God and His Christ. None are turned away, not one disqualified. All who seek find, all who answer the call are brought in. This employer knows that only the sick have come to Him, only those injured by the world will seek the healing found here.

What happens to those who hear about the great rewards this employer offers and try to gain it while holding on to their own lives? The athlete who thinks his strength is enough to overcome or leap any obstacle? The wealthy businesswoman who thinks she can buy her way in; or even the intellectual who can think his way around any problem? Do they find a way into this company? No and no. The doorman at this company cannot be bought at any price. He is backed by all the riches of Heaven, what good are earthly baubles? He is a stumbling block to those who would leap over Him, an immovable object to those who would try to overcome His might, and a simple, but unsolvable problem to those who think their own intellect is the way to eternal life. This Jesus is a tough customer, but He excludes no one. All who refuse to seek exclude themselves; those who put their trust in something other than Christ exclude themselves.

The door to this company is narrow. If a person depends upon money first; she can't shove those money bags through the door ahead of her. The strong cannot force the door, the intellectual cannot solve the riddle, and the world sees many doors that are both wider and easier than this one. However, to those who will set their own strength, wealth, talent, and time before the Lord Jesus, offering all to Him, repenting of their former life, and trusting only in Him, the door opens, and that uncompromising doorman becomes their Savior.

Praise God for Jesus, the Son!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sanctity of Life Sunday - January 24, 2010

Good Sunday morning! The wind has returned to us this weekend; it looks like our weather may go back to more seasonal norms. Ah well, it doesn't hurt to have some winter in winter. The larger part of our worst weather occurred in late autumn. Sometimes it may seem like we can do as little about the political decisions in our country as we can about the weather coming over our towns. We tend to think that both must simply be endured. While that is only somewhat true about the weather, we can go inside or put on a coat to aid our endurance, we don't have to endure political decisions unless we simply let them go by.

I find it interesting that in spite of our best efforts to find nine people of greater discernment than the general population, we have a Supreme Court that has made some rather stunning judgments. In the 19th century, the nine decided that slaves were not people; in the 20th, unborn babies became non-persons; who is going to be made not persons in this century?

We do have more control over the selection and election of the other two branches of government. Yet we find that many have learned more about how to get elected than how to govern wisely. Elections are now a business in America. A candidate running for a major office will have a team of professionals behind him or her. Not so much professional advisers, but election professionals who know what a candidate should say, how to map out a winning strategy, and how to use every little detail of a life against the other guys. Hours of coaching and lots of loot are invested in every candidate. Is it any wonder the person we think we voted for may not seem quite the same once in office?

How does a person in another country view this nation of ours? Every four years our government, supposedly the elected voice and might of our nation, could change dramatically as the political winds blow this way and that. A new president needs time to disentangle himself from the decisions of his predecessor, but the words coming from Washington can change quickly as a new team takes over. Do any of those words reflect what the majority want?

I wonder if a right to life amendment would pass in a majority of the states? The Supreme Court takes up cases to interpret the Law according to the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps in blaming the nine for Roe v. Wade we have forgotten to add a specific protection for the unborn to our Constitution? We the People may bear more responsibility than we think. Of course every abortion comes down to individual decisions. It's too easy to blame our government for some things. No one is forced to gamble in a casino, drink in a bar, or have an abortion; no matter what is made legal by our respective governments.

Many individual decisions make up a nation; not only the individual decisions of politicians, but the individual decisions of you and me. Pray for our nation on this Sanctity of Life Sunday.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Great and Mighty - January 22, 2010

Good Friday morning! I note this morning that God will show us great and mighty things, not just things, as we see in the LWF verse for this morning. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jer 33:3) God also kindly left that in a verse easy to remember 33:3 in Jeremiah. I am encouraged by this verse. For not only does God promise to show us things when we call upon Him, but great and mighty things. No doubt, you and I have called on God for many things, but do we always expect great and mighty things?

We often think small in the answers we expect from God. "Oh, God will provide and somehow we'll get by." Sounds like an answer I have tried to put in God's voice from time to time. "Get by?" God has already promised to provide our needs; so what are these great and mighty things that we will see? We might say that faith is the limit. If we think small, God will answer small. What if you expect these great and mighty things and not only expect to get by, but to have enough to help the whole town get by? What if you expect not only a job for yourself or a friend, but enough jobs to get everyone back to work?

I have heard that so many people have given up on finding a job that a new surge in self-employment and entrepreneurial endeavor is taking place all around us. Please don't ask me to spell that last bit again. Do you know what is required for so many of us, and I do include myself in that, to strike out on our own like that? Of course, you do! The knowledge that we aren't on our own at all. God is with us, Jesus lives in our hearts, and our faith in the Almighty will see us through. Not all are called to take this step though. Many have faith that is just as strong in that God will lead them to a new position in another company. This takes faith because not many are hiring these days.

Obey the Word, call upon God and expect those great and mighty things!


Hmm, I seem to have forgotten the signs of the New Earth the past couple of days. How about healing and growing for today? When we look at the living creatures around us, and our own bodies, we see the ability to heal and grow. Injuries don't remain as they are; we heal. Infants don't remain as babies; they grow into adults. The curse we feel as pain stands against healing. If sin and the curse had their way, we would never heal from an injury. However, we do heal and we know from Jesus' ministry that He loves to heal. In fact this imperfect healing we experience now is only a reminder of the trees in the New Jerusalem that will be used to heal the nations. As we know a nation is more than just the people in it, so it would seem that God will heal everything when the time comes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How much? - January 21, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Praise God for the aid pouring into Haiti now, and give Him a thank you for the new day. Just how much Bible study is enough? We have individual Bible study each day, group Bible studies during the week, and of course the devotionals that like to slip in a verse or two. Is all of this really necessary? Look at it this way: if you consider the Bible as the Word of God, how often do you want to hear your Lord's voice?

One day the Word will be written on our hearts, but for now we have to read or listen to the Word. Driving to the grocery store with a Bible in front of my face is considered at least rude, if not downright dangerous, for the other drivers and pedestrians. People you know want you to return their wave and pedestrians prefer to not be run down by vehicles. I could listen to an audio version of the Bible, but I find that I don't pay attention to driving as I should when too much talking is going on. So, if "all the time" isn't the answer for how much Bible study I need; what is?

That is between you and the Lord. Some have suggested daily as the standard for Bible study, but I won't try to set a standard for you. Bring it to God in prayer, and listen for what He says. You may find that three times a day is good for you, or you may hear God call you to devote your life to the study of the Word. We enjoy some wonderful resource works from those called to a lifetime of Bible study. Perhaps, every other day will be enough for you. That's between you and God. However, the other question remains: alone or in a group?

I would say "both" of course. Alone we can read and listen as the Holy Spirit brings out meaning and applications for our lives. In a group, I am often gratified by the different and similar views we have of a particular verse. Hardly a meeting goes by that I don't think, "I never thought of it in that way!" On the other hand, a meeting doesn't go by where another Christ-one doesn't have exactly the same answer as I do for what a particular verse or passage means to him or her. Jesus promised us that He would be there among when as few as two or three gathered together. Jesus also sent the Holy Spirit to speak in our hearts when we study the Word alone.

Another way to look at the "how much?" is to ask how often we want to read or hear God's Word. Before our rebirth in Christ, how much dust did your Bible gather on the shelf? I think the dust would fall off when I moved it from time to time, but otherwise my Bible tended toward the permanent coating category. Now, I enjoy several copies of God's Word in my home and some gather a little dust only because I have my favored version and others that I only look at to compare translations from time to time. The best answer to the question might be: study the Bible as much as you want to study the Bible! Don't be surprised if your wanting to read God's Word grows as your faith grows in Christ.

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

God-given Ability - January 20, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! Oi, my burning eyeballs! No, I didn't see one of them nekked pictures; I just cut up an onion for a stew this morning. The rain or snow didn't arrive last night, but they say some may come tomorrow. The predictions of freezing drizzle are always the worst. Most of us can drive just fine on snow; rain is not a problem, but that freezing drizzle on the roads is just the worst. Ah well, no sense in anticipating something that may not come.

I watched another of those symptom shows last night. Is the television a window on the fast-approaching end times or what? Examples of love growing cold abound in the media. However, from the police in a third world country who refuse to investigate a murder, to earthquakes and tsunamis, and to simple acts of ignoring the distress of another, we must realize that those are all symptoms. If you took off right now with all of your might and force of will, you couldn't so much as put a dent in the symptoms of the times. You might be able to help in a small area, but wouldn't it be more efficient to put your faith in the one who can straighten the entire mess out?

None of us has the power to bring peace to the world. God does, but He lets every person make decisions that can bring harm to others. These decisions, painful as they may be to us when it results in evil done to innocent persons, are necessary that all may come to decide about Jesus. I find it interesting that in this life we cannot save ourselves, but we can convict ourselves by refusing to believe in Jesus. A person can put up the stop sign to Jesus and go their own way, trusting only in their own strengths, or a person can believe in Jesus and be saved by a free gift.

Although I believe in Christ, I find that when I trust in my own strength to avoid sin, I fail. How could I have ever believed that I would succeed without Christ then? Like those lost in this world, I fell for a lie. The lie might be "you're smart" or "you're beautiful, talented, strong, fast... or many other compliments that in themselves are not lies, but when we believe in this or that ability to save us, it become a lie. No ability you or I have can save any one of us, much less other people. If there is one ability I thank God for, it is the ability to realize that only Jesus can save me. And ya know, I do believe that ability came from the Father too!

Praise God for the saving grace of Christ Jesus!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Look to Jesus! - January 19, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! Are you ready to stand tall before the Lord today? In the military and sometimes in the corporate world, the expression 'standing tall' is often used to denote someone in trouble. As in, you'll be standing tall before the man! One day, all of us will stand before the Lord; but will we stand tall or stand small? If you think that you will have to stand small because of all sins, then you are thinking in your own strength and forgetting the forgiving power of our Lord Jesus!

In this world, the "man" we stand tall before to accept judgment and punishment does not forgive us before we even get there. That would be an odd turn of the situation to be sure! Jesus tells us that those who do not believe are already judged; they don't wait to stand before the Lord to receive judgment based on some balance of good vs. evil deeds in their lives. Those who do believe have already been forgiven and there is no judgment awaiting them!

So don't look at your sins and judge yourself; surrender to Jesus and let Him forgive!

What is our reminder of the New Earth this morning? How 'bout your pets; they are a good example of what life with all animals will be like on the New Earth. A dog happily wagging his tail as you come home from work; a cat waiting at the door for you to see what's up (cat owners have to take what they can get for a greeting), or any other pet that gives you affection in this life is a blessing and a reminder of what is to come. Paul tells us that the lion will lie down with the lamb and the little child will lead them all. What a great picture of peace on the New Earth!

Have a wonderful day in Christ!


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Perfect Statement of Trust - January 18, 2010

Good Monday morning! We have enjoyed some truly nice January days as of late, but how long will it last? Wouldn't it be great to be in a place where wondering how long the good times will last would in fact be the least and last of our worries? That place is coming to you and me soon! One day a New Heaven and a New Earth will be our permanent home. What a good thought to start the week on!

For now though, we will just have to trust in Jesus. What can I say about trusting that will make all of us finally get it? Perhaps that final, all-encompassing, statement of trust can only come from God through His Holy Spirit. Every person who has ever taken pen to paper, speech to the pulpit, or fingers to the keyboard, has thought about the very best words to comfort, encourage, and strengthen those who believe in Jesus. Not one of us speaks directly to the depths of the soul like the Holy Spirit does. Not one of us can patiently repeat encouragement as much and as long as all of us will need it in this life as the Holy Spirit can. The final solution to our pains and problems comes from God through Christ Jesus. No one on Earth, no matter how faithful and strong in the Lord, can take the place of Jesus in the lives of those who believe. As we grow in our faith and know Jesus more, not one of us would want to take His rightful place in your life. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life; knowing that gives us the answer to the question of where to place our trust. Perhaps the perfect statement of trust has already been said!

May God grant you strength and peace on this fine Monday morning!


Sunrise, sunset - the title to a song from a musical or simply a couple of those reminders of what the New Earth will be like? In creating the Earth, God didn't have to make the sunrise so lovely. Often in some of the hottest and driest parts of this Earth, the sunrise and sunset hours are the only comfortable times of the day. Not every sunrise or sunset can be seen. However, when God paints a beautiful sunrise or sunset, you and I often feel the urge to stop and just watch for a while. Sometimes we even have the opportunity to do this. Can you imagine a world where there is no sunrise or sunset? Revelation tells us that one day we will be in a place where there is no sunset and no dawn. So how does the beauty of these events remind of us of Heaven? The beauty is the reminder. Imagine watching the sky each day to see what God paints on that great canvas; imagine each day showing a new sky that surely must be more beautiful than the last and yet each one is different. We don't know for sure what we will see each day on the New Earth, but I think those beautiful sunrises and sunsets must be a hint of what is to come.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Give with a Big Measure! - January 17, 2010

Good Sunday morning! Ah, or maybe I should say, ouch, waking up with a headache is never fun. Praise the Lord for ibuprofen. One verse seems to be coming at me this morning, 2 Corinthians 9:8. I grabbed a Bible a read the section that verse is in and the verses that speak to me this morning are:

Remember this--a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (2 Cor 9:6-8, NLT)

Yesterday, I wrote about the disasters that befall us and about giving in response. The verses seemed to speak to me in light of our current economic situation. An article in the paper this week reported on our state government's budget problems due to declining revenue. The federal government is running up huge deficits. Local governments have had to cut budgets. People are out of work, and corporations have cut back. All of us, personally or in our organizations, it seems have less to spend than before. Of course, this shows up quickly in giving. People naturally look at the situation and start battening down the hatches and plugging the leaks. According to the Bible though, giving is not a leak in our funds, but a necessity of living for Christ.

Many of our organizations, and we personally, have become accustomed to spending a lot. Times have forced a change in that attitude, but that doesn't mean that the poor should suffer. One way that God provides for the poor is through those who have some left over to share, as we have read in verse 9. Why are we encouraged to give at the start then? If you have the discipline to take care of your needs with what God has given, you will find that you have some left over to share; just as Paul said. However, some of us, and I am one, must give at the start or we will find that somehow we don't have any left over at the end. I don't know about the others, but not all of my spending has always been on needs. I need to do my giving off the top or my wants get in the way. And before we start looking to give up spending on any wants, remember that at the Acme Want Widget factory there may be a Christian family praying that people keep buying a few Want Widgets even in these tough times. The things God seems to speak out against in His Word are not spending and investing, but failing to give and hoarding. Which servant got into trouble in the parable? Not the two who invested their master's funds, but the one who fearfully hoarded his portion. What did the rich man get into trouble for in another parable? Not for being rich, but for only spending on himself and ignoring poor Lazarus entirely.

Another verse in the Bible goes something like: give and it shall be given unto you until your cup is overflowing... actually, I had better look that one up. And the winner is: Luke 6:38 - "...If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving--large or small--it will be used to measure what is given back to you."

That sounds like a promise from God! Seize upon it.


This week I am going to start looking for examples of what the New Earth will be like. The reason is that I don't think that God's creation can be destroyed by sin. I am not going out on a limb in this because I am sitting on part of His creation right now. So what hints might there be to indicate what the New Earth will be like? Today, I'll go with an easy one - a vista. Look at the mountains from a distance, see how magnificent they are in the sun light. Look at a waterfall on a gentle slope, with fir trees descending gently down the mountain side. We have seen images and perhaps had the opportunity to go there ourselves. Does any of that look like the stain of sin has won? No, you have to get close to see the cracks in the mountains, the parasites on the trees, or the damage caused by pollution. Even the moon seems beautiful from a distance. I wonder what Adam saw when looking at the moon. Do you suppose there were no craters or other scars from collisions with meteorites and asteroids? He probably spent entire nights just gazing at the moon with his wife, Eve.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hard-wired for Anger? - January 16, 2010

Good Saturday morning! Typos brought to you by Samantha the cat; who is taking a rather close interest in my writing this morning. What brings us closer together? Certainly a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina or the recent earthquake in Haiti brings many people we don't know into our prayers. Disasters such as these are so large that only God can respond to the full extent of the devastation. Governments and aid organizations are rushing to help, but with roads and streets blocked, infrastructure damaged, and so many hurt or killed, even large organizations have trouble getting aid to those in need.

We don't know the exact situation, but imagine 20 ships full of needed goods showing up to a harbor with only one working pier. Or dozens of loaded planes circling an airport with no space to put them. It seems like just a little while ago that I wrote about some other disaster and the trials those folks were going through. We hurt every time we hear about these things and we pray. To some it will seem like our praying is the least useful action. However, we know that isn't true.

Remember the ships and planes? Imagine if the first of those were filled with people arriving to help; what good would that do? The disaster area would now have more people in it without food and water, and they would all need shelter too. We may find it difficult, but prayer is our best response to far away disasters. Seldom does it seem more difficult to trust God to act than in a disaster. We feel so powerless in a situation such as the one in Haiti. Aid organizations take time to mobilize and get to the scene. Money floods quickly into those organizations, but even that takes time to get to the point of application. The military is often able to respond quickly, but believe it or don't, isn't always welcome. We are too far away and don't have the means to help directly. So who can get immediate help to those in need? Trust in God to help them; pray and wait on His answer.

Sooner or later, someone is going to feel angry about the disaster that happened. It always seems to happen, and the news organizations rush to report it, but does that anger help deal with the situation? That anger seems to be one of those hard-wired reactions that we have to any disaster, large or small, personal or general. Recalling that trials come our way to bring us closer to God can end that anger we feel. Some of that anger may come from thinking that God has left us on our own. Knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us will put a damper on that angry fire too.

Okay, I'm writing kind of slowly this morning, and I can no longer blame the cat. Time to get this out before we all grow old. :-) God bless!


Friday, January 15, 2010

That Old Bible - January 15, 2010

Good Friday morning! Hows come I have no trouble knowing it is Friday, but had trouble with Thursday? It seems that my Friday radar is still working despite not being in the corporate world for more than a year now. Itsa Friday! I don't know how, but I just knows.

A few weeks ago the pastor bounced this one off us, and I posed it to the life group last week: How do you dispose of a Bible? Get past the 'why would you want to?' part and just assume that the Bible is so worn that it isn't salvageable. What do you do with it? The Internet had some interesting answers. In summary:

1. Burn the Bible as you would a flag - with ceremony and proper respect - scatter the ashes.

2. Bury the Bible with an appropriate ceremony and prayer.

3. Give the Bible away if it is at all usable. One suggestion for this was to a church, but most already have more worn out Bibles than they need. Pastor Doug also noted that it is much cheaper to print Bibles overseas than to ship our old Bibles over there. Also a lot of folks over yonder would have no use for a Bible printed in English in any case.

4. Toss the Bible in the trash as you would any other book. Not a popular suggestion, but it is a possibility.

5. Perhaps the best - recycle the Bible by wrapping it in plain paper and placing it in your paper recycling bin. One of the Bible societies recommended this one.

Almost all of the sites I found reminded us that the Word of God is sacred, but that the Bible is only our way of recording the Word, not the Word itself. I found one site with a complicated 11-step process involving burial, a small wooden cross, burning the cross, ceremony, holy water, blessing, display in the home (after burial!), and finally disposing of it. This seemed a bit far fetched to me and comes from a dubious source - a site claiming to be the voice of atheism since the 19th century. They, of course, claimed the formula came from somewhere else, but didn't cite their source.

I know the American Legion holds ceremonies to properly burn old flags from time to time; we might adopt a similar ceremony as a service to our communities. Of course, just thinking about disposing of a Bible causes us to realize how important a copy of God's Word is to each of us. I believe Sandy brought up the fact that she had the first Bible she had been given, and many of us seconded that. There is something special about being given a Bible when you believe in Jesus. Even secular folks, I suspect, might have trouble just tossing a Bible in the trash.

So, character test - two pedestals, one with a Bible, the other with a gold ingot. You can only choose one; which do you take? And no fair doing the old "I can take the ingot and go buy a bunch of Bibles!" Most folks would grab the gold without a second thought, but the choice does bring up the value of God's Word. In eternity, a copy of God's Word in this life will have far more value than any amount of gold. We know that, but not everyone has their values in the right order. Certainly gold is useful to anyone, but the Bible holds the words of eternal life. Which do you value more?

Have a loving Friday in Jesus!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Send out the New One! - January 14, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Hmm, had a blank on the day for a bit; must be from the haircut letting all the heat out. Happiness is beeping a cat on the nose to start the day. Perhaps your happiness isn't predicated on that, but it seemed good to me this morning. The cat would rather have a good skritch of course, and then a nice nap-nap.

Send out the New One!

What is that supposed to mean? Sorry, but that's the title I was given when I asked for wisdom in the devotional this morning. I don't receive a few paragraphs from the Lord that I just type into the computer. However, I do almost always receive an idea or a picture of what to write about. I gotta put some effort into the writing to get a devotional; praise God for that privilege! What does this title mean to you and me today?

One possibility is the next great minister. Throughout the last two thousand years, we have enjoyed the work of the next new minister. First John the Baptist came, proclaiming the coming of God's kingdom and a savior. Then Jesus himself arrived and he chose Peter, John, and others to become disciples. Paul takes up his cross in Acts, Augustine and Constantine became Christians in the early centuries; Martin Luther and John Calvin came later; William Wilberforce stood against the slave trade in England; Billy Sunday and George Whitefield helped revive America, and on it goes until now. All over the world we have great ministers proclaiming the good news of Christ. When we think of great ministers we tend to think of the man standing up in church on a Sunday morning, or an evangelist leading a revival in a stadium with 50,000 people. However, the great ministers of each day are you and me.

We read about Peter as an example of what Jesus can do with a life surrendered to Him, but hundreds of lives were given to Jesus after his resurrection. Each of those little lives, people much like you and me, went out proclaiming the great news of life in Christ Jesus. The news of life in Christ spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Ministers like George Whitefield could be heard by thousands without the luxury modern electronic amplification. Today we have the means to move this good news like no other age before us. Electronic communications of all types are available to spread the joy of eternal life in Christ. Who is the new one? You are, and I am, and the next person to accept Jesus as Lord. All of us are the next great thing in Christian ministry!

Each of us has a mission: near or far, to thousands or perhaps to just a few, we all have a new mission in Christ. Jesus makes each of us new each day. We may get up feeling the aches and pains like yesterday, but our minds and spirit are renewed each day to take up our cross. Our strength comes from the Lord, and nothing can stop the next New One!

Have a great new day in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Same Old Message - January 13, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! Hallelujah on this great day in Christ Jesus! Some little plastic thing has just made the cat's morning; how often do we overlook the simple joys in life while yearning for the complex entertainments the world offers? The Bible is a complex collection of books with one simple message from God: I love you! Some people have never heard that simple message in their time on this planet.

I was reading a book on Indian history last night as a part of my research. It's a tough job, but someone needs to do it. :-) Missionaries to the tribes in the area take a bit of a bad rap in this history. The personality problems of the ministers and their wives are reported in detail, but a person must read between the lines to find the love. The missionaries learned the language of the tribe, even translating the book of Matthew into print, and built a home and church far from their home, family, and friends back east. Then the missionaries did a terrible thing...

Their message for the Indians was that they were all sinners in need of salvation. None were good, no not one. The author of course fails to note that the same message is for all of us. The Indians it seems did not like this message. Well, shiver me timbers, I'll bet that none of us liked it at the start either. You didn't like it, I didn't like it, Joe down the street won't like it, and neither did Dwight Moody, Billy Graham, William Wilberforce, or any other person in history like to be called a sinner, bad, evil, or any other word pointing to our fallen state. We all want to believe that we are basically good and bound for Heaven on an automatic ticket. The missionaries of now and long ago both had the same problem: they were imperfect people called to bring a message to someone who probably didn't want to hear it. All of us are missionaries in a foreign land, none of us is perfect and every one of us has the same message that the people of this world don't want to hear.

Now that you and I have heard the message, accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, and gone out to spread the Good News, we are going to run into some opposition. Much like the missionaries of long ago, Jesus will give us the strength to go on. Have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where did my Dominion Go? - January 12, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! The verse used at the start of Pastor Rogers' devotional intrigued me today. Every creature? Does that mean we should be ministering to cows in the pasture too? I asked God about that and was told to look in another Bible translation. We know that some translations use a word-for-word translation method, which probably resulted in the one using "every creature" in place of the NLT which uses "preach the gospel to everyone, everywhere." I tried the gospel on my cat just now and as God had indicated, the cat had no reaction whatsoever. The beasts of the field are God's when it comes to the issue of sin and salvation. We are to have dominion, but when did that command come - in Eden or after the fall?

According to the King James version, we had dominion over the animals when Adam was in the Garden of Eden. After the expulsion from Eden, man seems to have lost that dominion over the animals. You or I might have dominion over a lion by killing it with a gun, but in a hand-to-hand match up we might be best served by prayer. We can no longer command the beasts as Adam did. A man can train a dog with rewards and punishment, and sort of train a cat in the same way. We call these and other animals domesticated, but even the best trained animals are only marginally under our control. Will these mostly out of control beasts be with us in Heaven?

I wondered about this when reading the table of contents to Randy Alcorn's book: Heaven. I haven't got to that chapter yet, but I do look forward to reading it. This is another of those great books that I have had on my shelf for some years, but haven't got around to reading until now. I do recall the apostle Paul speaking about Heaven and the lion lying down with the lamb. This sounds promising as we know that right now the lion would munch on the lamb and then start hunting you and I, or perhaps the other way around saving the lamb for one of dem after dinner hors doovers things.

None of us have to read an entire book about Heaven to know that things are not the way God would have it to be for us. The killing, hurting, selfishness, and other sin goes on constantly even if we don't commit a sin ourselves that day. Turn on the news at any time of the day or night to see reports of the very things that Jesus warned us would come to pass as the end approaches. Will our dominion be restored in Heaven? There is one promising indication in that same verse Paul gave to us, "...and the little child shall lead them." I'll read what Mr. Alcorn has to say about that in a few days, but Paul's statement does fill me with hope.

Have a wonderful morning in Christ!


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Hell is a Place - January 9, 2010

Good Saturday morning! I have come to the conclusion that we do not all in fact live in a yellow submarine. The song by that name does, however, infect a brain or two from time to time and won't always get out in a timely manner. How cold was it this morning?

It was so cold... we had to get on the roof and chop clouds of frozen smoke off the chimney... which we then stored in the ice house... and used the next spring to smoke hams. (from How Cold is It? Welsch and Fell, 1996)

Do you want to believe that Hell exists? Me neither. I have also hoped to find something in the Bible that shows some limit to eternity in Hell, but I haven't found it. I have read books that trivialize Hell, or put someone in charge of how long a soul must spend there until reformed (thus making the assumption that there is a way to get out). The world has made a joke of Hell with characters telling us how they don't care because Heaven seems so boring. We have even seen a few knuckleheads talk about making deals with the devil to get a comfortable spot in Hell. Does any of that change the reality of Hell?

Sadly, it does not. You and I can try to wish Hell away or even pray that no one goes there. God doesn't want anyone to go there; we read that in the Bible. However, we also read that many will find the easy gate to eternal punishment. The world wants to choose sin without consequences, or worse, have sin and still get an eternal reward. We know from our Bible reading that sin is rebellion against God and His Law. If you rebel against God, how can you expect Him to welcome you into His home in Heaven? We see it all the time though; people who will say that they are basically good and deserve a spot in Heaven. What does the Bible say about this?

We know the answer to that one: for all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Romans 3:23 I believe; yup, that's the one! (Looked it up to be sure) If all have sinned, then all deserve eternal punishment in Hell. That makes me start sweating right here on the spot. However, any time we start thinking or talking about the eternal fires of Hell, we can recall that one, perfect, atoning sacrifice has been made for all of us. Jesus not only made a narrow way to life, but He is that way!

I find it uncomfortable to think about eternity in Hell too. But avoiding the subject is not the way to show our love for one another as Jesus commanded us to do. The earnest desire to see no one spend their eternal life in lonely, burning, and regret-filled punishment is a good example of loving people. Read the story of the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus tells in Luke 16. Read what Jesus says about Hell. Someone we know and love may want to hear of the way to avoid that place.

Have a warmer Saturday in Christ Jesus!


Friday, January 08, 2010

Who to Believe In - January 8, 2010

The sun had yet to gleam across the frozen tundra as he sat down to write. Fingers encased in little cubes of ice, the keyboard failed to respond with the correct letters as the plastic keys turned brittle and snapped. Just how badly the typing would have gone had he been outside the house we may never know. :-) It's Friday and that means the first installment from How Cold is It? by Roger Welsch and Paul Fell.

It was so cold... I was stuck between the barn and the house... because my shadow had froze to the ground! (1996, J&L Lee Co., Lincoln, NE)

I think the sun is even late today; they probably had trouble getting it started this morning. I saw an article yesterday saying that scientists say that a cold snap doesn't disprove the Global Warming theory. You mean not even when it seems the entire northern hemisphere is in the cold snap? Ah well, ya gotta let 'em go on with their theories; look how long the evolution thing has gone on! At one time leeching was all the rage in medical treatment too.

We grow, we learn, we sometimes find out that not all of the things we were taught in school were correct. We live, we learn, we sometimes find out that the prevailing winds in science are not blowing from the right direction. We get older, we think reports are accurate, truthful, and they usually are. But with so much news in the world today, who decides what gets printed? We often don't think of the endless confusion in the world today as darkness. But what if that ray of light and hope shining out from Bethlehem was to be just the thing to cut through the business and clutter of our lives today? Those living in darkness have indeed seen a great light, and just as the Bible tells us, many have turned away from that light.

You have not turned away; what does that light show you? Does it show that Jesus told us that all this noise, clutter, and rushing about would come just before the end? Do you see where Jesus tells of wars and rumors of war just before the end? What about the part where Jesus gives us His peace? Do you suppose Jesus gave us His peace because He knew that we would be in dire need of it at this time? In all this confusion swirling about us in the world, we may not know what to believe. However, we do know who to believe in!

Praise God for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Not what I've done, but what He Provides! - January 7, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Good and cold that is. We have the honor of a temperature below 0 again today, and a wind chill that is too cold to think about. Getting out of bed to turn up the thermostat is just indescribably fun on a morning such as this. However, downing cup after cup of your favorite hot liquid helps make up for some of that fun. Speaking of fun; how do you tell the difference between those who speak of their accomplishments in Christ and want you to follow their organization, and those who speak of what Christ has done through them and want you to follow Him?

I don't know either, but we are right to be suspicious. Jesus warned us that many would come in His name in the end times proclaiming this or that and leading many astray. The good news in this is that the Holy Spirit is still here in you and I. When all is revealed at the end, we may be surprised to find some ministries on the wrong side of the fence, so to speak. For that matter, as our relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in life, how do you and I not fall into the trap of boasting about our own accomplishments and trying to get people to follow us instead of Jesus?

In this the Bible tells us to humble ourselves. Realizing that all of our accomplishments and all that we have has come from or been made possible by God will help us to stay away from the "look what I've done!" desire we all feel. Any of us might feel the desire to be acclaimed as wise or knowing, but all wisdom comes from God. Even the knowledge we gain in this world is only the learning about what God has already created; how can we boast about that? We should and do boast about what God has done for us. Remaining in the love of Christ, we proudly proclaim the good news of what Jesus does for us each and every day.

Lots of folks around the world are quite cold today; pray that everyone will help out those in need and that God will watch over us all.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Those Pharisees! - January 6, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! The snow has not arrived here yet, but Florida is freezing and the British Isles are now in "the worst cold snap in decades." That global wa... ahh we ain't gonna say it again. The northern hemisphere is just gonna hafta learn about that winter stuff again. Can you imagine trying to endure this in teepee's and soddies? Pile on the buffalo blankets, I ain't coming out till spring!

What opportunity awaits today? First, I have the privilege of writing to you about Jesus. Second, I have the opportunity to write stories and tell others about Jesus. It's a life full of opportunity! I also have the opportunity to read and research history and the Bible. Lately, I have been reading about groups of people that we like to make general statements about, such as the Indians in America, the Spanish explorers, and even the Pharisees.

Back in the day, the Pharisees were an honored group. They held to a tough lifestyle with many rules they had added to the law of Moses. The people generally looked up to them, but Jesus seemed to hold them in contempt. However, along comes Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and starts one of the great, perhaps even the central, discussions with Jesus. Most of us could state John 3:16, the verse that comes in the middle of Jesus' message to Nicodemus. Later, Nicodemus would be one of two high-ranking Jews who would risk everything to carefully prepare and bury Jesus' body after the crucifixion. Nicodemus just doesn't seem to fit with his group!

Later another Pharisee would live up to the group's highest ideals by persecuting Christ-ones all over the Middle East. On one journey, to Damascus of all places, he would meet Jesus in person. We know the story of Paul, but often forget that he was a Pharisee among Pharisees if you will. Looking back on the wonderful letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, and others, we find it hard to imagine a young Saul who was perhaps as famous among the Pharisees and Jews as the man Paul was among Christians. What a change Jesus wrought on at least two Pharisees!

Once upon a time, quite a few "Pharisees" lived in land far from Israel. Some might have passed for Pharisees, others for prodigal sons, and still others for despised Samaritans. All of them had the opportunity to hear, read, or watch the Good News of Jesus Christ, and they became new creations of the Holy Spirit.

Have a wonderful, new day in Christ Jesus!


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cold, with no Worries - January 5, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! We are expecting more snow tonight and tomorrow, but out here we are escaping the troublesome cold and snow they have just a bit further east. Omaha has too much snow and will probably get more today. Flooding could be a real problem this spring out yonder. Is it the end times? Are we doomed? We know already that the answers are, yes and no. We have been in the end times since Jesus ascended to Heaven some centuries ago, but we are not doomed because He will return one day.

Global warming is of course causing all the snow problems in Seoul, Beijing, and Omaha. You have only to read about 95% or so of the media to know that it's global warming that is doing all this. A minority of scientists and others call out to reconsider that we might not have enough data or that the data has even been misread or even lied about. A popular news program has the slogan, "we report; you decide." Only one problem, with all the reporting going this way and that on so many things, how do we decide?

I take comfort in the fact that all this uncertainty points to the statement Jesus made that no man will know the date of His return. We see signs, but Jesus told us that while watching for them we are not to worry about them. Many of the signs point to the pains leading up to the end, but are not the end in and of themselves. The mild summer, short fall, and cold winter, may leave us a bit confused on this global warming thing, but we can take comfort that God is still sovereign.

Do you need comfort to start the new year? I think we all do; it isn't too hard to look out and see a problem that someone is under or a threat that looms over all of us. On the other hand, I feel a great hope. Is this at odds with the need for comfort? Not when we can see that the problems and threats are of this world, and our hope is in Jesus! We are perfectly right in feeling a great hope; Christ has many wonderful promises that we have not seen fulfilled yet. We believe in Jesus, and we know that great things are coming our way! Hallelujah for the day!


Monday, January 04, 2010

Why did God make Medicine taste bad? - January 4, 2010

Good Monday morning! Some school starts again today around these parts, I know of one 13-year old who expressed a desire that school not start up again today. I don't suppose his prayer will be answered in the manner he wishes. Have you ever tried to pray away something you know is coming? Like school, it might be something that you view as a "no thanks", but that you also know is good for you. The question of the morning might be: why did God make medicine taste bad?

Going up to a neighbor you barely know to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ makes us hesitant, even fearful; the cure for cancer at this time is almost as bad as, or perhaps worse than, the disease itself; growing in Christ involves trials that can cause us to despair; and of course, as you well know, medicine that works also tastes bad. The good news is that Jesus gave us a preview of how it will be in His kingdom. When Jesus healed, the result was painless and instant. Jesus made his disciples into bold and fearless witnesses of the Good News. Jesus also showed the disciples the end result of all these trials we face by returning from the grave on the third day. You and I didn't get to see Jesus in his glorified body after the resurrection (at least not yet), but he did have a message for us: blessed are those who have not seen and still believe!

Medicine, in all its forms, tastes bad in this world. Our bodies heal slowly and imperfectly, learning is hard work, there is never enough time for a good Bible study, and prayer gets cut short sometimes. We want to give more, but we only have this much money or that much time. However, we should always remember that in this life, we are in the disease if you will. Sin may have been paid for on the cross, and Jesus has defeated the prince of this world; but sin is still all around us and our hearts lean toward it, plus the tempter and accuser of the brethren is still doing his foul work. The world is diseased by sin and we are still here living in it!

If Adam stubbed his toe in Eden, he probably had a healing plant that tasted wonderful and worked perfectly. Perhaps stubbed toes were not permitted at all in Eden, I wasn't there, but we find it hard to imagine a cure that doesn't involve some kind of pain or bad taste. A fallen world is full of fallen cures. If the bad news is that the trials are necessary and the cures rough in this world; then the good news is that Jesus is still in charge and God has not left us alone in these tough times. We also have a glorious hope to look forward to when things seem dark: Jesus is coming soon!

As you make your way back to work or school this morning, remember that all of this will soon pass, and we will soon see the glory of Jesus coming in the clouds.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Waiting for the "New" to Start - January 2, 2010

Good Saturday morning! I realize that by now you might be wondering where the devotional is for today and I only plead this one little excuse - I'm a slacker! At least for today, I didn't get up until 7:30 or so; slackin' if ever I saw an example of it. As it is Saturday, some of you probably haven't even looked for it yet, but that shouldn't be my excuse. :-)

The other day, I was looking up something in a modern dictionary and came across: goodness. The second definition or so stated that goodness was the same as saying God. As in saying "my goodness!" would be blasphemy by taking the Lord's name in vain. A little while back, Burt showed us a copy of a facsimile edition of Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary. I thought today that I would look up goodness there and see what old Noah had to say on the matter. Of course, there is no indication that goodness=God, but rather that God is good to us and that we praise God for His goodness. The second definition is one I like too: the moral qualities which constitute christian excellence; moral virtue; religion. So many of our words have been stolen or perverted in this world that I hate to let another one go.

You might wonder what would be wrong with equating a word to God. For one thing, God didn't tell Moses, "I Am goodness." He told Moses to tell the Israelites, "I Am that I Am!" God is not some undefined benevolence in the universe like good luck or good fortune; God is God! His holy name is not simply interchangeable for goodness. You wouldn't bow down and pray to "goodness" would you? Of course not, and praise God for His holy name!

Have your New Year's resolutions showed an effect yet? Not too skinny already? No longer feeling the temptation to put off writing to Grandma? We often want immediate results. We might look to the example of Pentecost and wonder why our improvement is taking so long. After all did not the early disciples receive immediate ability to heal, speak in foreign languages, and spread the Good News boldly? I put that very question to God last night and was stopped short. Jesus said that he worked with those men for more than three years before the Holy Spirit was given. Hardly one of those immediate results we look for. "Patience" is one of the one word answers I often get when asking the Lord for something; as in I don't have enough of it and need to learn to wait on the Lord.

Four gospel accounts come before the story of Pentecost in Acts. We too must learn and grow in Christ before we can "suddenly" have all these God-given abilities of the mature and powerful Christ-one. Paul gives us a list of gifts from the Holy Spirit, but not all of us will have all the gifts listed; 2 Peter 1:3-9 gives us a sequence of growth before we can become "productive and useful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Christian development is necessary, and yet the one thing we are often least inclined to wait on. God will complete His work in us in His own time. As His salvation is worked out in us, go ahead and prayerfully make those new year resolutions.

Resolve to learn the will of God more and more this year!


Friday, January 01, 2010

Great Hope for the Great New Year! - January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! I managed to celebrate the midnight passing of 2009 ...with the eastern time zone folks anyway. Yes, 10:00pm was late enough for me this past year. The morning looks just as bright and beautiful as it would had I stayed up 2 more hours. The moon was quite the light last night, eh? Are you ready for 2010? It's here!

This morning, I dribbled milk from my cereal on my belly, drank coffee that tastes much like it did yesterday, took the same ol' vitamin, and saw the same two cats. Nothing has changed ... or has it? This year I feel a great hope. I realize that we aren't to go on feelings, so I looked to God for confirmation of this hope. His response? "Have faith in me!" Our great hope is not based on a feeling, but it can bring to us a wonderful feeling of renewal and an eager anticipation of God's great works in us. I'm not saying that I plan to park in a chair and wait for golden ping-pong balls to shower my rotting carcass. Quite the opposite actually. I believe that God's grace is sufficient for each and every one of us in our weakness, and in our strength. At times it may seem as though our strength has not accomplished much in the past and will certainly be not enough for the future. That is so true, but God's strength is manifested and made glorious in our weakness; and like the few loaves and fishes beside the Sea of Galilee, we will see great things accomplished through our small effort in God's great cause.

Just think of it; you will accomplish great things in Christ this year! Things you can imagine and things you cannot. God likes to take our small effort and multiply it into great accomplishments. A few loaves and fishes fed thousands, a few letters to the early churches have blessed millions over the centuries, and four little gospels have led an uncounted multitude to Christ. Each of us brings a few little talents, a bit of time, and a small faithful effort to God each year; this small offering will be turned into a great work in God's holy kingdom! Trust Him for it!

Have a great new year in 2010; trust in God and live for Him!