Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Good Windyday morning leaplings and all others on this extra day! Yesterday was a nice break from the wind; praise the Lord! Today, it sounds like we'll be right back in the windy. Yes, the snow did miss us, at least the snow that can be seen on the ground. I did see a few flakes in the air yesterday for a brief time after lunch. Isn't it interesting that I can witness to the fact that it snowed yesterday, but there is no evidence of it this morning? I can swear in court that it happened; relate the story for a reporter, and tell anyone who will listen my story, but I have no proof other than what I saw with my own eyes. What does that remind you of? Matthew the tax collector; John the fisherman; Paul the Pharisee; Jude and James the brothers of Jesus; and Peter of the impulsive tongue, all witnessed Jesus in person and then wrote down their stories for us to read. We do not have direct physical evidence of Jesus that we can see, touch, or hear, but we have their witness. For some this witness is not reliable. They talk of ancient myths, fiction stories made up later that grew over time, a mass hysteria of the gullible, or any reason they can think of to justify a refusal to believe in Christ. We have the same choice, but on the other side. For us, the witness of these men is not just an eyewitness account, but the very word of God inspired and written through a chosen few.

Not one of us is forced to believe the gospel accounts of Jesus. So why then do we have to suffer the consequences of not believing? You are born into this world, into a particular country, and state, and home. All of these places will have rules or laws. Not one of them do you have to obey, but all of them will have consequences that will occur should you choose not to obey. Yes, you can choose to not obey your boss this morning, and there will be consequences for that action. God wrote down the Law through Moses, but the consequences of disobedience existed before the Law. The murderer may claim that before the Law he could be exiled like Cain, but after the Law he received the death penalty. The consequences changed with the coming of the Law, didn't they? Nope, God had Moses write down the penalties, but anyone born in this world was already condemned to die at birth. The wages of sin is death, no matter whether the penalty is carried out by man under the Law or by God under the curse. As soon as Adam sinned, death began for him and his wife. All of us born into the human race after Adam wait on death row for the sentence to be carried out.

Wait, I don't deserve that. It wasn't my choice to eat of the wrong tree. How much more then does the beast of the field have to protest? They suffer death and pain in this world too. Those who want to call Jesus a fiction also want to make man just another animal. Interesting that... Then we come to the most unfair thing of all. God's Son, Jesus the Christ, never sinned and didn't have to leave His place in Heaven. Yet, He came down to this earth in a human body and allowed some dirty, sinful people to touch Him. Nope, it was more than that; He allowed them to kill Him on the cross for our sins. God provided the ultimate sacrifice that man could not and would not pay. The Lamb without sin died for those full of sin. The Lamb then invited all to believe in Him and receive eternal life. Staggers the mind a bit it does.

As rebels against the Law, we want all the benefits without any consequences no matter what we choose. It cannot work that way, or God would not be just. On the other hand, we can be justified, through no effort of our own, simply by giving our sinful lives to Jesus and believing in His saving power. God shouldn't be that good to us, but He is.

Praise God for His grace!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Extraordinary Talent Here

Good Tuesday morning! The clouds have arrived again. Could they, just maybe, give us a break from the wind? Last time I checked we were out of the snow area, but that could change too. This morning, I sang through that great old hymn, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah by William Williams. Other than learning that parents in those days also thought it cute to inflict a redundant name on their offspring, I learned that William once preached to 80,000 people and praised God for the strength to speak loudly enough that most of them could hear. I have trouble being heard in a quiet room by 8 people, imagine a crowd of 80,000. At some point in my life and in your life, we are going to run into a situation that is well beyond our abilities. It may come to pass that even an extraordinary talent we used and practiced from our youth will fail at a critical moment. Perhaps you would like to try one of those extraordinary talent things for just an afternoon to get a few things accomplished.

Most of us don't have an extraordinary talent, which is why they are so extraordinary. The ordinary folks tend to run into that situation beyond our abilities much earlier in life. We have the glorious blessing to realize then that we need the strength and grace of God just to get by in this life. When we in turn stare into the unknown of eternity the need for Christ becomes obvious, even if we do tend to resist it for a while. The good news is that all persons need Jesus to have eternal life. The fact that no superhuman powers were granted us at birth is a blessing. We can set aside our pride much more easily when there is less of it to bear. Jesus reminded us of how difficult it is for the rich man to enter heaven. If you have a wealth of money or talent in this life, it can be very difficult to avoid trusting in your self. Those of us with less see our need to trust in God daily. We have no power to save ourselves, therefore we need the Lord Jesus. Easy peasy!

Oops, sorry about that little cliche there. The world's greatest writer wouldn't need such a thing. Once more I am faced with the need for something or someone beyond myself. Praise the Lord! I would be at a great disadvantage if I could write so well that I didn't need the Great Jehovah to guide me every step of the way.

Listen for the Lord's guidance today,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Working For Good

Good Monday morning! Frosty days are here again. What were you before the Lord found you at the bottom of that hole? Were you successful in the world? Maybe you could best be described as at the bottom rung of the worldly ladder or you might even say "I was way below that!" Everything that you and I were before the Lord lifted us up has been given over to Him. Perhaps the Lord has used your position in an organization and raised you further up the ladder. The Lord may have led you to another town, or to another organization, or even out of whatever land you thought was safety and security for you and your family. I see changes taking place all around me. Churches have been humbled through the recession. People have lost what we usually call 'everything' in their homes, jobs, savings, and unfortunately, families through the lingering effects of this economic upheaval. But what does God have in mind for us but our good, our development in His grace, and our eventual complete and utter sanctification? We know this, but we don't always remember it.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) Paul did not make this claim based on a "hope so" belief. He made that statement based on the same knowledge that Peter had when he answered the Lord's question with "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." Jesus explained that Peter could only know this by the revelation of God's Holy Spirit. So many centuries later, we can know the same things. Jesus is the Christ and through Him all things work together for our good. Some of these things with their mean face pointed toward us do not seem to working together with anything for our good. We look and there only appears to be a host arrayed against us.

If she hadn't said this, and I hadn't done that, and this other meeting had gone differently, and why ever did that have to happen at all? We cannot figure out how all of this current situation can ever work out for our good. We cannot see what God sees just around that next corner, if only we could just have a glimpse, maybe, just maybe, we could have the faith to carry on to the finish. Even in the Great Tribulation there is hope for those who endure to the end. We have read this and yet we sometimes forget that it applies to us in our lesser tribulations as well. God has not stepped down off His throne to leave you alone for a while. Jesus sits beside the Father constantly upholding the universe with the mighty power of His command (Hebrews 1:3). And perhaps more important to your or my current situations, Jesus promised us that He would never leave us or forsake us. He promised that He would be with us always, even unto the end of the age. What exactly were we worried about now?

Trust in Jesus; this is all working out for good!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Place Your Trust in the Lord, and Leave It There!

Good Saturday evening! Yup, you read that right. This afternoon the men's ministry helped with a move, at least as much as we could get done before dark. A mobile home is a bit limited when it comes to getting stuff in and out. However, all that aside, let me tell you how nice it was this afternoon. After two or three days of wind, we had only a light breeze. Then, just as we called it a day, the wind came back. God gave us a nice break from the wind. Praise the Lord for favors like that. I brought home 40 lbs of kibble after the move. You've seldom seen two happier cats. In the bags, sniffing the cat food totes, running back to their bowls, getting in the way, but we managed to get 'er done. It's nice to be appreciated, even if it's just the cats.

If you take a look at Jeremiah, you will find the Lord sending a message to the king, which the king seems to listen to, but then tells Jeremiah to keep it under his hat. The king also burns the scroll that Baruch writes from Jeremiah's dictation. The Lord had an interesting message for the king that time. Surrender, and you will live. Not an easy message for a king with an army and a strongly walled city to listen to and obey, but that is what the Lord said to do. The king didn't obey the Lord's message and he suffered the consequences. Another person did listen to the Lord's message through Jeremiah, and he too received an interesting message. "Since you have placed your trust in the Lord, you will be spared." Later, yet another powerful figure, the regent or governor placed over Judea by Nebuchadnezzar received a warning from the Lord through Jeremiah. The same old story; he didn't listen and suffered the consequences. What are we to take from all this? Place your trust in the Lord, and leave it there!

Admit it, you trusted in the Lord to save you from the consequences of sin. But then, later in your Christian walk, you wanted to take your trust back when it came to a time when you were short of food, funds, or fellowship. As Jesus might ask, "Why did you doubt?" We've all done it at some point. Worry, anxiety, depression, fear...something caused us to doubt that after all He has done for us this one time the Lord would fail. We have no evidence to support our doubt at that point, but we did it anyway. Oh, worried and faithless one, place your trust back in the Lord and leave it alone. Trust in the Almighty One.

Have a great Saturday night!

Worldly Problems, Worldly Solutions?

Good Saturday morning! Ah, Saturday, for many of us a day away from work, a chance to get some things done around the house, go shopping for the family needs, or perhaps, lay around in our skivvies and let the world go on without us for a bit. This morning, I listened to some worldly advice on how to fix some worldly problems. But is this the best solution to fix what ails the world's nations? There is the Bible verse that begins, "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves..." (2 Chron 7:14) We know that one from many a sermon, and we know that many lands need the Lord's healing right now. But there is another passage that says something similar about the Lord's power over the nations. "The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. (Jer 18:7-10) Hmm, let's see, who is in charge of the fate of nations?

I have grown weary of trying to solve my own problems by applying what I have learned in the world. Why should I not also grow weary of trying to solve our nation's problems through worldly advice? First, the Bible says that God is in charge of our nation's rising and falling, and I have the example of how poorly worldly solutions have worked in my own life. Without Christ in my life, nothing I do will succeed. It would be tempting to turn that around and say that with Christ in my life, everything I do will succeed, but that is not quite right either. In Christ, I still seek for the way that He would have me to go. To paraphrase Paul: every path in life is permitted me, but not every path is the right one for me to follow.

In following Christ, should we join a big company, a small company, work for the government, or work on our own (I call it working for God directly)? The answer is a resounding "Yes!". Each of us has an unique path to follow that Christ will lead us on. Your path is not my path. We all follow Christ toward sanctification, but to us those paths look different in many ways. To God, the paths may all look the same. We don't know, because we cannot see from God's omniscient viewpoint. Some may marry early, and others late, and still others not at all. Some have many children, other couples few or even none in their union. Here's the one that can cause some strife: some may be called to that highly compensated CEO job, and others to the minimum wage living. Yes, the key is to find God's place for you in this life, and to remember of course that God is not judging anyone on the size of his or her paycheck. That widow with the two mites couldn't even buy a haircut these days, but she might have a prominent place in Heaven.

Praise God for His Way!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Have Fun Today!

Good Friday morning! Have fun today. Do you think your boss will say that when you come into work this morning? Probably not. Did your minister say that back in the day? I seem to recall hearing a lot of "don't do this thing" and "stay away from that place" in my church. Although we did get together and have some fun, the sermons tended to say something else. While concentrating on the promise of persecutions, hatred, trials and tribulations, we tended to leave alone the words Jesus spoke about giving us peace, love, and joy. We will have times of trial and we will see persecution in this life, but God is not all about crushing us under the press. Need I remind us that the first miracle we read in John involved a celebration? Jesus provided some excellent wine for a party. Wine so good the master of ceremonies even called the groom over to give his compliments (and wonder about his methodology, but that's another story). Of course, we don't want to have the world thinking that Christ-ones are a bunch of drunks... but they did say that about Jesus (Matt 11:19).

We know that the world often spoke untruthfully about Jesus, as though he was some kind of political opponent. Eating and drinking wine with those who needed His ministry caused the world to call him a glutton and a drunk. Jesus did fulfill the prophecy of a man of sorrows, but I think He also had fun. Our Lord dined with sinners who bore a rather strong resemblance to you and me, and then sorrowed over the self-righteous grumbling of the religious leaders. Those who should have celebrated with the Lord did not. Those who should have fled in guilt, had fun in His company. Jesus then had this to say: At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. (Matt 11:25)

Friday seems to be a good day to speak of fun as we look forward to the start of the weekend tonight. Paul reminded us to "rejoice in the Lord always." Perhaps the week of work has ground you down enough that you need a gentle reminder to do some rejoicing in the Lord. Whether you need to get away somewhere to rejoice or can manage it just fine at home doesn't matter so much as taking the time to rejoice in the Lord.

Praise Jesus!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pray for Tommy

Good Thursday morning! "Pray for Tommy" those words went out over Twitter from a famous model who is the wife of an equally famous quarterback. The writer in the famous sports magazine claimed that tweet had made the husband a laughingstock at a critical moment. Did you realize that any and all of us who prayed for players in the Super Bowl had become the victim of scoffers? I did not know that at the time of my prayers and I didn't much care. Surely, the world thinks, the famous quarterback with all of his skills, the wealth, the attractive wife, the fame, and every other aspect of the life we think we want in this world does not need the help of the Almighty. Why ever not? We who believe in Christ would ask. All of us need the Savior, or anything we have in this life is but a pile of trash to be burned up before we too are burned up forever and ever. Perhaps not being intimate with this person we laugh a little at the more child-like moniker, preferring instead the adult version, "Tom". However he is known, the request for prayer should not be laughed at by those who believe. I certainly cannot; for I too prayed for players before the big game, as I pray for those in many sports where injury or even death can occur at any time. Indeed, many of you will soon take up a sport that is more dangerous by far than all other organized sports - we call it "driving to work".

Praying for the famous and celebrated might bring the scoffers out. You might find yourself on the 'at' side of being laughed at because of your faith. It hurts. Don't stop praying though! That celebrity you pray for has a powerful witness for God if he or she will believe in His Son. We don't know by looking at them who will believe and who will not. It is not our place to think that someone who seems to have it all from the worldly point of view is not also searching for something with real meaning and, dare we say it, salvation for the next life as well. All of us, famous or anonymous, face eternity after this life is over. Some are blessed in this life with much, and some with not so much. Each of us must make the choice to believe in Jesus, or face eternity without Him. There are consequences to either choice. In Christ we will face the consequences in this life. Without Christ, the consequences are eternal. In Christ, we can face anything in this life. A little scoffing isn't so bad in light of eternity with Him. I don't see any problem with praying for the rich and famous. They might even need prayer more than we do.

Have a great new day in Christ,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trust God With Life

Good Wednesday morning! A warm night for February, but we have a high wind warning today. How is that our blizzard warnings can be so far off, but the wind always seems to show up as promised, if not more than promised? Probably a question I will never get a good answer to. Life has a lot of things going on. Even in a small town we seem to be overwhelmed at times with all that life can throw at us. If the immediate environment is not enough for you in your work, school, or family, then any news outlet will bring all manner of dire warnings and events to help with the overwhelming. The government seems to be stumbling about looking for answers to terrorism, economic policy, crime, drug use, foreign relations, and a lot of folks looking for a handout. Those who refuse to believe the word of God also stumble from this thing to that latest fad (do we have 'fads' anymore?) looking for answers of their own. We see the signs of the end times all around us with earthquakes in Missouri, wars in Africa and the Middle East, and rumor of war over the Falkland Islands (again?). The question for the day is: do you trust God with life? Not just your life, but all of life from the things we see all around us to the bigger picture as well.

Trusting in God involves more than just what we can touch. We learn to trust God with all of what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. We learn to trust in God when the big disasters strike, and when the small things happen to just us. We trust that God's plan is working out in the wars far away, and in the smaller and much less violent conflicts quite close to us. You have trusted Jesus with your eternal destination, why wouldn't you trust Him with everything in this life as well?

To us it seems that the world is spiraling out of control, and to some extent that is true. Anyone who chooses to reject Jesus will believe in most anything, and quite naturally that will cause running from this belief to that faith to that other religion to some pseudo-science until they are simply running around out of control. However, all of that running around does not affect God's final plan, and it never causes God to wring His almighty hands in frustration. We can see many people to pray for every day, but that does not mean that God has abdicated His throne. In fact, we pray because we know that God still sits on His sovereign throne. Today, trust God with life - all of it!

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is It Manly to be Meek?

Good Tuesday morning! I have a question for the manly men out there today. Is it manly to be meek? Back in the day, I heard many times that meek equals weak, and that of course it was not manly to be meek. In spite of the words of Jesus that the meek shall inherit the earth, we were led to believe that meekness was a bad thing, something reprehensible when found in a man. The dictionary even lists gentle or kind as an obsolete definition of meek. No one wants to be meek these days, even though the Son of God himself says that those with this quality will inherit the earth. The first definition of meek: patient and kind, not inclined to anger or resentment, sounds pretty good, but do we use it that way? The second definition is what I heard a lot in my life: too submissive; easily imposed on; spineless; spiritless. This is the closest that meek comes to weak, and the definition that you probably hear in the business or sports world most. Is that fair though?

No one argues with the strength of a horse save those who have no experience with horses. When a horse is meeked, it is made to obey the rider. The strength of the horse is in no way diminished; it is simply brought under control. That is the definition that we are missing, the one closest to what Jesus used. When we are meek, our strength is brought under the control of the Spirit and we gain a bushel of that fruit of the Spirit, self-control. We tend to avoid meekness because of our prior associations with the word, but I would submit to you that a weak person cannot be meek. There is no strength to bring under control in a weak person. We should in fact see these similar sounding words as more opposite to each other. A meek person is strong, but under control. So the answer is a hearty, Yes! it is very manly to be meek.

We are reminded almost daily of the abuses of strength in the news media. Men use their physical strength to hurt other men, women, and even children. Meekness under Christ is the answer to these problems in the world, and of course the way we as men avoid becoming a part of the problem. When things don't go the way we like, men tend to fall back on a physical solution in their anger. However, there will be no inheriting the earth for those who live this way. Those who do not inherit the earth have only one other destination, and I don't think any of us want to go there for eternity. Someone may call you meek in a derogatory fashion one day. Now we know the proper answer to that is something like, "Praise God! Thank you for the compliment."

Have a meek day in Christ,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Power to Delight

Happy n' snowy President's Day! The snow is not predicted to be a major problem, but you may face some difficulties in getting to work this morning. Difficulties that might just make you wonder whether it is worth it on a cold Monday morning. Oh, how discouraging am I this morning? You don't need to read that kind of thing! You need a happy jack to lift you up this morning. Hmm, don't seem to have one of those around, and I'm not even sure what a 'happy jack' would look like. In place of that, we can all delight in the Lord this morning. What does that mean anyway? How exactly does one delight in the Lord? I would start with prayer. Start with a prayer of thanksgiving, come to the prayer with a smile on your face. That sounds difficult too.

Often we come to the Lord burdened with a load of cares and responsibilities. This is not to be wondered at. We are to come to Jesus when we are heavily burdened and receive rest. That isn't my idea; Jesus said it himself. This world does tend to pile on the cares for us. Every day in the news, we can find many who need our prayers, and that does not include all the people we know and love already. No doubt the boss will have a load of responsibilities waiting for you at work this morning as well. Speaking of those we know and love, which among them do you just like to see. You know them, the ones that bring a smile to your countenance just by showing up. You delight in their company, often during those times when you are not sure that you even want company around. It may not be that person is even particularly happy most times, but you still like to see him or her (or him and her in the case of couples.) We are to delight in the Lord in the same way. In fact, it is the Lord who gives us the power to delight in the company of others.

Power to delight is not some misnamed phrase either. We will naturally see the faults in many folks. At least I haven't met the perfect person yet, other than our Lord Jesus that is. We need God's living word in our hearts to see past what we think is wrong and learn to love and delight in all people. Why do I write, 'think is wrong'? Much of what we may think is wrong in another person may not be viewed that way by God. As a creation of a loving Creator, we all have attributes that are just perfect for what God would have us to do in His kingdom. That very attribute may be an irritation to another person. As the 'other person', we need to remember that love is not irritable as our mentor Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 13. The power to delight, the power to not be irritable, it seems that we ask a lot of our Lord today. Praise God that He has much to give!

Delight in the day!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Standing On My Own...Again

Good Saturday morning! The time and effort of going it alone has proven fruitless again and again, so exactly why is it that I keep trying? Do I not have the Spirit of God in me that will strengthen me, encourage me, remind me of scripture, and even love me when I feel unloved? Is there something perverse in me that wants to stand on my own in the sinking sands of my own strength? Yes! There is in fact. C.S. Lewis named it the diabolical nature. Paul told us that the new spirit in us would be at war with the old. Of course there is a spirit of sin still in me that wants to save myself and give no glory to God. Jesus will cleanse us all when He brings us home to be with Him forever. Until that time, the war rages on, but sometimes I fail to recognize the 5th column, those Quislings of the old spirit, that undermines my own efforts and encourages me to stand alone. I am easy prey for the Devil's minions when I try to stand on my own.

Imagine that you have the armor of God on, but that your armor is not energized by the Holy Spirit. The shield of faith with only your own ability to energize it does not quite stop the flaming arrows. The breastplate of righteousness is not the righteousness imputed to us by the Savior, so there are gaping holes in it. The belt of truth is a bit narrow when based only on your own knowledge of the truth. The two boots of the gospel of peace are at war with each other and certainly not ready or prepared to carry you on the narrow way. Finally, the helmet of salvation is on crooked because of doubts in your own ability, and the Sword of the Spirit will not strike true as you struggle to recall those Bible verses in a moment of crisis. Without the Spirit, you cannot stand, not even in armor.

God's armor is a different story. The shield of faith is our faith in Christ and the grace of God. A very powerful shield able to quench the Devil's fiery darts. The helmet of salvation is based on Christ and never sits crooked on the head of a believer. When the doubts come, the Spirit of Christ reminds, "I saved you; you did not save yourself. Do not doubt!" The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us through our faith in Him; that breastplate is whole and strong. The belt of truth is the Belt of Truth, and Truth is Jesus himself. Wide and strong, the girdle of our core belief protects not by our own understanding, but by the Son of God. The boots of readiness in the gospel of peace protect our feet and prepare them to march in God's army. With the Spirit to remind us of Christ and His Word, the Sword of the Spirit is ever sharp and cuts the Adversary deeply. We have powerful protection and a powerful weapon when we stand energized by the Spirit of God.

With all of those advantages, I still catch myself trying to go it alone in the war within. Of course I lose the fight, and it would be more dangerous still to win in my own strength. One thing I have learned. When I lose in my own strength, I am reminded once more of how much God loves me and how much I need Him at all times. I also learn to pray that I will not try to stand on my own again.

God bless you all,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Turn-around Thoughts

Good Friday morning! Praying over your faults this morning? Perhaps you didn't start out the morning in such a negative way. One of my aides in learning to put aside irritability and learn patience has arrived at the desk. The other one is taking a break on the bed in the other room. There are times that even one we love might cause a bit of irritation by arriving at the wrong moment. Our hope and prayer is not that they will just go away, though that thought may occur, but that those moments will become fewer until we react only in love. Turn-around thoughts can be difficult to learn. When that quick reaction thought comes, "I wish he/she wouldn't touch me!" We can learn to turn that around with practice to something like, "I am glad God has sent him/her into my life!" The same thing works when that fear-filled thought arises in us. We can resist the Devil with thoughts of God's provision and promise. It works with people too.

What I mean is: we tend to see the faults or shortcomings of people we meet first. The world has taught us to be critical of others, and the first thoughts might not be ones of love and encouragement. Even when a problem is obvious, we can use a turn-around thought to see a possible reason for this problem. A person might seem cranky because his boss has just chewed him out for no good reason. The boss might have done that because his wife refused to speak to him before leaving for work this morning. The boss's wife might have a reason for her silence as well. Someone needs to stop that chain pretty quick or all of us will get caught up in it! As little Christ lights in a dark world, we can be the ones to stop the hurt and anger with a kind word, a smile, a prayer, or even a hug. I know you have to be careful about some of those at your workplace.

I asked my cat for a hug, but apparently there are rules in place at this company about that sort of thing. Guess I'll have to take that up with the company president, or trash hauler, or writer, or whatever he is at the moment. I would convene a board meeting, but the cats outvote me 2 to 1. While we work out our internal corporate problems here, I'll take a moment to pray for each of you today. A prayer lifting you up to God. No listing of anything faulty. (If we all did that for each other, we could certainly pray without ceasing.) No, just a simple prayer that God would meet your needs today and shine His love on you. Goodness! A self-less prayer, talk about your turn-around thoughts. There may be hope for me yet.

Of course, we know that our hope is in Christ. Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Learning the Lord's Plan

Good Thursday morning! We like to have it all under control. Faith works best when God has it all under control. However, if we could see the future laid out before us as God does, then there would be no call for faith. Faith is strengthened through trusting God during our trials. One trial that all of us will experience is that of simply waiting on the Lord. This waiting usually involves that most frustrating thing called 'not knowing'.

You may arrive at a church meeting and 'gasp' get called on to present your thoughts on Mark 13. Yeek! When was the last time you even read that chapter? Imagine for a moment reading the chapter, and then waiting on the Lord. The group stares at you; you stare back. Suddenly, one among the group, we'll call him Peter, blurts out, "Well?" You might feel spotlighted, but who did not bear up under the trial of waiting on the Lord? Sometimes our waiting on the Lord may involve waiting on someone else waiting on the Lord.

In your work, you may enjoy the attention of project managers and project coordinators and other folk who seem to have no better function than to make charts and time lines and ask all sorts of questions. In my writing I thought that it might be useful to begin my projects in the same way. Only one problem with that: How does one chart the Lord's timing? The Lord does not say that on Dec 31st of 2012 this and that will be done or started or that the Mayan calendar will be proven correct several days before that. Why would the Lord go by one of man's calendars anyway? We want the Lord to go by our own calendar, but throughout history He has shown time and time again that His own timing is what He will use. Waiting on the Lord means that I do not know the date, but faith says that I do know the Lord will do as He promises.

This is important when it comes to obeying the Lord's command not to worry about tomorrow. Many a day I have thought that on the next tomorrow I would do this or that. And just as many a day, the Lord has planned something else for my tomorrow. In fact, I am learning, slowly I'll admit, that it is best to just give up my plans to the Lord and wait to see what the day brings. I can plan and I can ask the Lord to bless my plans, but in the end, the Lord's plan is the one fulfilled. The best I can do with my plans is to seek agreement with the Lord's plan. Prayer is the way we seek guidance from the Lord to get in line with His plan. Faith is how we wait on the Lord's timing for that plan to unfold. Faith also remembers the Lord's promise of provision and strength.

Praise the Lord for this day of waiting on Him!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trust Also in Me

Good Wednesday morning! "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." John 14:1 NIV. We search through our lives for someone or something to trust in. We look to the government for support until we realize that government of the people means that we are only trying to support ourselves. We look to others, but come to see that the other person has problems of his own. We look to organizations, but they are made up of people with problems and coming together sometimes multiplies the problems. We look to our own strength until age or accident shatters our strength. We look to money at times until a financial disaster or the currents of world history prove that faith false. We tend to look in every direction but the right one until every other support has been somehow knocked out from under our worldly faith. How great would our loss be if God did not patiently knock away all of those weak crutches until we looked to the One who is trustworthy?

Later in John 14, Jesus will explain that He and the Father are in fact one. We have one source of comfort, one spring of life, and one help in our time of need. We look to many worldly things, but find only one heavenly being to trust in completely. The trials we face in this world may stagger our faith, but nothing can shake the Rock upon whom our faith is based. Jesus is the Rock of our salvation and nothing shakes that foundation. It bothers me now that I had to look in so many other places first, but perhaps it had to be that way. In the world, the person who finds everything untrustworthy might decide to trust nothing and no one. In finding Christ, or rather Christ finding me, I find help in many places.

My brothers in Christ will move heaven and earth to help others. Those of us with broken down parts might help each other out with the heaven part. In fact, we might not be able to pick up the earth anymore, but we give it a good shove in the right direction. We might become so broken down that our prayer is the only help we can give, but we give it with enthusiasm. Our government is broke, but we the people still give until it hurts. Our time has become a precious commodity these days, but God has all the time in the world. Our strength may seem weak, but our God is mighty. We may be broke or poor, but our God is rich. We may not be able to get there for one who is hurting, but our God is always present. Our hearts often want to be troubled. Jesus gave us the perfect answer for that. "Trust in God; trust also in Me."

To God be the glory,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

There Are No Cash Prizes For Obeying the Law

Good Tuesday morning! The cold of the weekend eased up a bit yesterday, but spring is not ready by any means. Happy Valentine's Day for those of you in love, remembering love, or just wanting to see what that love thing is all about. I have it on good authority that I've heard such a thing is possible. Flowers, fine chocolates, and other expressions of love are in the air today. Hopefully some it will get out of the air and into your hands before the day is done. In giving these things, some will expect to get something in return. At least, I gathered that much from the flower commercial during the Super Bowl this year. Not quite sure what it is the givers expect, but the lady certainly wasn't dressed to fix a garage door or anything like that. What do we expect when we do good works or simply do as we are commanded in the Law?

Sometimes, we seem to expect some reward for obeying the Law, even though we don't keep all of it. Let us get this straight right now - there are no cash prizes for obeying the Law. However, there might just be an eternal one, if we can keep every bit of the Law. Too late for me. How did you do? Unfortunately, we don't get to go back to the start and keep every commandment. Even if we did though, the Law is a duty and not a paying gig. The only man to earn the eternal prize for keeping the Law gave us a way to gain that prize. What? A way that doesn't involve a perfect life? Exactly. When man had thoroughly proven that he could not keep the Law, Jesus came to provide the Way to eternal life.

As the disciples watched, a young man came up to Jesus and asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life. The man claimed to have obeyed the commandments Jesus listed for him since his youth, but when Jesus gave him just one more task he found it beyond his ability. Jesus then made his famous comment about those who trust in riches and the camel trotting through the eye of a needle. The disciples looked around at each other and then asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus gave them a taste of what was to come though when he answered them, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." What comes after that is interesting too. Peter stood and reminded Jesus that they had given up their stuff to follow him. Jesus told them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecution-- and in this age to come, eternal life."

Now why did He have to go and add that one near the end there, that persecution bit? There may not be a cash prize for obeying the Law, but following Jesus does seem to promise a hundredfold replacement of anything we have given up for His sake or the gospel's. Does that mean in kind? If one of us gives up one house for the gospel, can we count on receiving one hundred houses in this life? The lists are different. I don't think that Jesus meant for us to start doing our little worldly wealth math, and come up with some conclusion about leaving one house to gain a hundred. That might also explain why 'wives' didn't make the second list. But what about that promise for the age to come? Eternal life sounds pretty good! Lay down everything I own in this life to gain eternal life in the age to come? Follow Jesus and be with Him forever? Sounds like the thing to do.

Give it up for Jesus, and give some love to your valentine today,

Monday, February 13, 2012

Among the Greats

Good Monday morning! Do you feel kind of humble this morning? Didn't get up in time and cannot believe the Monday morning has arrived already? Let me tell you something encouraging. From Hitler to Mother Theresa, you are among the great persons of our times. I chose those two historical figures because much of the world uses them as examples of evil and good respectively. If you don't like either example, then substitute one of your own, or both if you like. But from Hitler to Mother Theresa we all share one thing in common - our need for the good news of Jesus Christ. Our judgment of good and evil is poor. We don't know the inner thoughts of most historical figures and we might be thoroughly surprised if we did. Only God can judge accurately, fairly, and in perfect wisdom. But take comfort in the fact that no one in all of history has needed Jesus more than you and me.

Wait, that didn't make us sound very good, did it? We know that there is none good in this world, not even one. We know that all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard. So, yes, we are not good and we are in need of Christ's salvation. In terms of human evil we are all linked to the worst of the worst, whomever you consider that to be. In terms of human goodness, we are all linked to... uh oh, Jesus set the bar kind of high for that. We know that Jesus is God's glorious standard and that we cannot measure up to His goodness. Of course there is plenty of time to get better, right?

We know better than that too. Among the great singing voices any of us will have the privilege of hearing is the one that was silenced this past weekend. In case I might have been thinking that others were closer to the grave than I am, she was born in the same year as one very much resembling myself. In years past, that might have been a reason to take a deep breath and a quiet 'gulp!' off in a corner somewhere lest the grim spectre of death see me too. Things have changed for me though. Whether it is your turn next or my turn, we look forward to that call to go home forever. Not one of us knows for sure when that call will come for each of us, and we don't know when it may come for someone we know as well. We need to be spreading the good news we hold in our hearts to those who might be sweating a little this week. The passing of a celebrity at a relatively young age can serve a good purpose. Someone might be ready to hear some good news as they think about the shortness of this life.

Get ready, the harvest is ripe!

P.S. My apologies to those old enough to remember Mother Theresa when she was just Sister Tessie. "Historical figure" might make you feel a bit on the elder side.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Words

Good Saturday morning! Cold and snow outside, it looks like our winter has arrived at last. I have left Saturdays alone for some time now, because I thought that few would read the Saturday devotional due to various trips and such. Is that a good excuse though? How do I know that no one is listening when I speak? I mean other than the cats ignoring me that is. Perhaps that is not a good example. There is seldom any other person in my house, but in the land of e-mails and blogs, someone is always awake and moving about. The good Lord gave us six days to work and one to rest. This does not mean that I am advocating a six-day work week in the corporate world. Many of you probably do something along those lines already, perhaps even part of all seven days. We seem to have a problem with one rest day each week. Some of you might have trouble recalling the last time you took one day in a week to rest and worship God. Nothing else, no trips out of town, no chores, no meals to cook and clean, just rest and worship for one full day. Does the mind spin? Is it easier to remember the many Sunday evenings spent preparing for Monday?

The base temptations in the world are the same as the centuries that came before us, but, oh my, has the world sped up in these times. Some claim otherwise, but all of us I think are overwhelmed by the speed of everything in the end times. We get regular updates from missions to far countries when just a century ago a missionary might vanish into the bush, jungle, or desert for years at a time. From a desktop in Nebraska, I can send out a message of encouragement to much of the world every day. Six days, six messages, what can I say to shake up the world each day. For words have power and each day it becomes easier to speak in foreign tongues without meaning to. Old languages die out as national borders expand and communication with everyone is desired by all. Microsoft sends out 35 optional language packs for their operating system. Those languages probably cover 75% or more of the earth in terms of communicating with someone on another computer. English is learned in many lands simply to get on the Internet.

Words spread over the globe must be weighted with the wisdom of God. Not all words translate well and puns made in my American English idiom might be lost entirely or cause much confusion. Nations do get in the way at times. Comments from China stopped suddenly more than a year ago. Censored? Perhaps. I have no way to know. Did I write the wrong thing? Maybe. Again I don't know for sure. Prayer is my first defense. I pray for the wisdom of God or even that God would simply speak through my little typing fingers each day. Yes, you can argue whether my fingers should be described as 'little' or not, but I was comparing them to God's great and marvelous hands at work in this world. I have always thought that our God has big hands. And not just big hands as we see them, but God-sized hands that do great things in this world. Surely then He can make my words say the things that He needs to have said in this devotional. Looks like my word of the year has come up once more. Trust in God, and leave the translating to Him.

I pray that you remember God's love for you today,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Loosen That Grip!

Good Friday morning! The earth seems solid today, as it does on most days. The legs seem to be working and the neck is holding my cranium up, more or less. What have I got to worry about? Of course, my mind can immediately think of a dozen things. I am reminded by the Spirit this morning that I am upheld by more than this. For the past couple of nights I have dreamed of what would normally be fear-filled situations: dragons, zombies, dangerous folks, and heights, in that order. However, in no dream did I feel fear for the reminder of God's strength was always there. You may not know this, but one of the dangers faced by an amateur climber is holding on too tightly. This seems strange to us ground lubbers, but I have read it more than once. The amateur grips every grip with all of his strength until his hands simply wear out from the strain. I wonder, if in the entertaining of my fears I might not try to grip God too tightly. Is that even possible?

We are upheld in more than this. My grip is not strong enough to keep me in God's love. However, I am upheld in God's love by God's own Son. My strength is not an issue in the matter except where I wear out my grip by clinging in terror of the world. Are we to go about in blissful ignorance of our situation then? That does not seem to be a very good answer. I know my situation, but to constantly inventory my strength and resources will only make the fear worse. Instead, I cling lightly to God's hand as He upholds me in His mighty strength. This is not simply an idle metaphor. I read His Word daily, pray without ceasing, bring my supplications with thanksgiving, and rejoice in the Lord. My prayers do not only concern myself either. In every trial I have faced, I can immediately think of a brother or sister in Christ who has faced worse. God brought them through the trial or took them home to be with Him. Do we see a losing side to that result? I didn't think so.

Enjoy a wonderful Friday in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

I Have Been Led Here

Good Thursday morning! I have a tale to tell, just as soon as I get the tail off my keyboard. No problem, this kitty is anti-hug. One good hug routes him and the keyboard is free. My tale is this: I have been led to this place and this time. God wants me to do something to build His kingdom, but sometimes I try to flee the hug of my Father. At the moment of trial, we tend to shrink back from the touch of the Almighty. We reach for our own understanding, our own strength, our little bit of wisdom or knowledge. We know that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, but we try to go for the weak stuff to solve our problems. I am a case in point. I know from many past incidents that I cannot do anything alone. Yet, I still want to prove to God my own strength. How can I possibly prove to God anything but my own weakness?

God seems to do His miracles when one of us is ready to admit that we don't know, are too weak to move it, feel our faith faltering, or somehow come to the conclusion that we are the lost sheeps and not the ram of the flock. Jesus calmed the waves when the disciples cried out in fear. Jesus healed many who came to Him. God provided Adam and Eve with skins when they first felt the cold of the cursed Earth. Instead of trying to list my strengths before God, perhaps I should be listing my weaknesses and offering those up to Him. In this life, our strength is often weaker than we think, and our weakness is an opportunity for God to show His grace. You and I have been led to this place and time. The dark mountains may seem to tower over us from all directions. We feel lost in the valley of death's shadow and see no way out.

Start with looking at your hand. Place a Bible in it and open the book. Read. See the hand of God working throughout the stories. Learn. God does not abandon those who follow Him. Absorb. The promises of God have never been broken. His Son has lived and died and lived again for us. Soon, Jesus will return to take us home forever. Our needs are never beyond God's power to provide. That is why we also know Him as Providence. Now, realize that under the Bible in your hand is the hand of Jesus holding immovably to His Word and your hand. Never will He leave us or forsake us!

Take a deep breath, lean on the Father, trust in His promises, and Hope!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Just as I Am, or Was?

Good Wednesday morning! Frosty outside today with the promise of some sun. On a morning like this you don't see a lot of those Just-as-you-are parties going on. Folks have to be at work today, the kids must get ready for school, and it's pretty dern cold too. Running around in a pair of pajamas might provide just a bit too much of a thrill on a morning like this. We don't want to be just as we are, thank you very much, we want to get dressed in some warm clothing and have a cup of hot coffee, maybe more than one. When the time comes and God snatches us up to be with Jesus, it will happen just as we are in the moment. No time for getting dressed in our finest winter clothing, no chance to grab that nice parka and knitted cap with the ball on top (You do have a stocking cap with a ball on top, don't you?), just the command, and like John we will be 'up there'. Of course, not one of us will be worried about looking back at that time or even what he is wearing. On the other hand, we worry about such things a lot down here.

A long time ago to us, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He didn't wait until we had our best appearance going; not one of us living now even had grandparents alive at that time. When Jesus died for us just as we are, He did it for us even though we only existed in the mind of God. That existence, though we cannot perceive it, is more concrete than what we know and see today. When Jesus rose again, the elect were saved to eternal life already, even though not one of us had given our lives to Jesus yet. How did we do this? We didn't! Jesus did it all.

Talking in the past about the present brings to mind several books and movies that leave us brain-frozen and bemused. That all started in the Bible of course. We find it hard to accept that Jesus knew His lambs even before the lambs had been born. We look at that day we were born again and say, "I did it!" Well, yes you did, but God already had your name down and His Son had accomplished all the work for your salvation long before you were born. Jesus didn't die for us as we want to become in this life. He died for us just as we were in that life of sin. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13) The disciples in that moment were all over the map in terms of how much each one believed in Jesus, but Jesus laid down his life anyway. You and I had not seen the first breath of life, but Jesus died for our sins. We did not know all the awful sins we would commit, or that we would one day surrender to Jesus, but the great price was paid for our lives. How wonderful is our God that He would purchase our redemption with His own flesh and blood just as we are, just as we were, and for all eternity!

Praise God for the day,

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Faith Engine Company

Good Tuesday morning! Another technical snow. As in technically it did snow last night. If you try to use this snow as an excuse, you might be in trouble. Do you feel like you are flying in a holding pattern over the Lord's Grace Airport, but the tower is ignoring your pleas to land? The Lord filled your plane with fuel some months ago and taught you the basics of taking off. You've been flying along discovering new lands of faith and mercy, but the fuel gauge is on the E and you really need to land this thing. You pray and pray, but at best you get a "hold on" or a "wait". With a little more pleading you get a "trust in Me", but no instructions on how to land and no expected time to arrive. On top of all that, ya gotta go, so to speak, and there doesn't seem to be a rest area to pull into up here in the clouds. Your little plane engine from the Faith Engine Company gives its first sputter. Oh, dear!

Then, just when you begin to look around for a parachute, a voice comes over the radio. The voice seems to come from everywhere and you didn't even realize the plane's radio had a 7.1 Surround Sound system. The voice states that it couldn't get through over the constant pleading of the pilot. It seems that you have had the transmit key locked down. As the flight becomes suddenly quiet, you listen for the next announcement of this voice. Looking out the window, you see that the 'cloud' you thought was well below is actually holding up the entire plane. You can bail out of the plane, but you would not fall anywhere. Just behind the parachute marked "In case of faith failure" you see cans of fuel labeled, "Word of God Faith Fuel". Why haven't you been using those?

That little airplane is your mission in this life. Jesus has given each of us a little plane that is pulled along by an engine of faith. Sometimes the engine sputters a little, it might even go out when we seem to need it most. We start looking around for a place to bail out, and stop fueling the engine with the Word of God. We can bail out onto the cloud that holds us up, but leaving our mission behind means that we also lose the benefits that mission would have brought to our lives. Like Esther, we are born and equipped by God for such a time as this. If we leave our mission plane, we might never get to see the far country of our dreams in this life. Someone else might hop in our mission plane and enjoy what we might have had. Jump back into the pilot's seat, leave that parachute alone. Begin fueling up with God's Word again, get that faith engine running flat out. Listen to the Navigator, our Lord Jesus, and fly toward the mission field to which God has called you.

Happy Flying!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Undeserved Victory

Good Monday morning! Okay, the post-Super Bowl morning has arrived. Danny Woodhead scored a touchdown. That is quite an accomplishment on an international stage, but not an individual accomplishment. He gets the moment, but others contributed. What would it feel like to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, but have no part in the effort? Say that you are sitting in your La-Z-Boy at home and you make a wish. Suddenly, you are running through the end zone with the ball in your hand and the enormous noise of the Super Bowl hits you like a wave. Your image is on the big screens, the scoreboard is flashing your name, and a big lineman almost knocks you out cold with a pro-style head butt. Only one small problem. A wish is not earning the accomplishment. You have done nothing to deserve this sudden fame and glory. You are just a normal person sitting in a comfy chair watching from a distance. After enjoying the moment, someone asks, "Who are you?" You might even wonder, "How did I get here?" The moment might even become embarrassing.

Those who brought their teams to the Super Bowl put in weeks of training and months of hard physical and mental effort to arrive at that point. Those who scored points did so on the effort of the entire team. We would have trouble accepting a player who trotted out of the locker room sometime in the fourth quarter, and then ran over to the end zone to do a touchdown dance in his spotless uniform. What's up with this guy? We have the same trouble in our own salvation. What is this great thing that we can have with no effort? It's kind of like walking out to accept the big trophy while the crowd cheers, all the while knowing that you are not even on the team. Jesus did all the work, and I get to be saved.

So many religious systems have sprung up in this world to pander to that desire in all of us to earn our salvation. Many a person has tried to bring sacrifices to an altar that is closed. We try to make payments on a note that has been paid in full. We must make just that one more payment on a mortgage deed that has already been signed and handed to us. Surely there is some part left that I can claim as part of my own effort? Not so! We put effort into not accepting the free gift of salvation, and all the effort we put in just makes it worse. Perhaps we can ease the burden a bit in this matter. Try passing it on.

Accepting the free gift comes naturally when we pass it on. We must accept God's free gift of grace in order to hand it off to someone else. Since the gift has not been earned, we can more easily share the glory with others. In fact, it feels much better to spread this gift around. I didn't earn it, I very much want to share it. Come one, come all. Enjoy the free gift of God's salvation, bought and paid for by His Son, Jesus Christ. Undeserved grace feels, well, undeserved, let me share some of it around.

Go with Christ today. Sorry if your team lost yesterday.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Use Me, Lord

Hmm, what is out there cannot be called a blizzard and the warnings have eased somewhat. I almost hate to say it, but good Friday morning and have a good day at work and school. Use me Lord today for what you would have me to do. Have you ever thought of saying something like that to a person on the street or at work? Probably not. Say 'use me' to a bunch of folks on the street and someone is quite likely to phone the local authorities to have you locked up. At work, the boss has become so good at using you that to ask for more seems a bit like standing behind the dump truck at the feedlot west of town. How do we then bow our head to pray, 'Use me, Lord'? I think that it's all about my word for the year, Trust.

From the day of our rebirth in Christ to the day we pray that prayer, the Holy Spirit has worked to build enough faith and trust in us to make us useful to the Lord. In the world to be a servant seems like a demotion from wherever we think we are in life. In Christ, to be a servant is our highest calling. Our Lord himself knelt down in a servant's garb to wash the feet of his disciples to demonstrate the service asked of us. We also learn from our growing trust in God that when we submit to Jesus everything commanded by Him will be for our good. This trust must be built up in us by the Holy Spirit.

In this life, we learn through many experiences to be wary of trusting anyone or anything. Trust in many cases is simply the conditions necessary for betrayal, and some will use that to gain advantage over others. With this sort of training in the world, we do not come easily to a state of trusting in God. In fact, not one of us will be able to trust in our Lord without the work of the Holy Spirit. We are too sinful to see the perfection in God without His revelation. We see too poorly to know that Jesus is holding open the door to the narrow way without a new birth in the Spirit. Like lost sheep we have all been led astray in this world. Praise God for the cleansing work of the Spirit in our lives! It's kind of like that turn of the head an elder put on you as a youth; look there! There He is!

Rejoice in the new day!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Not Worthy? Don't Think Like That!

Good Thursday morning to y'all! So young soldier on this earth, you need a miracle. However, you cannot see how you deserve another one from our Lord and Savior who has provided so many already. Great news this morning! Not one of us deserved the greatest miracle of all - Jesus coming down from Heaven to die on the cross for our sins. If miracles are the actions of God, then we are only here each day by the miracles God has wrought. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the universe is upheld by the mighty power of His command. We live eternally through the propitiation of our sins by Christ. We live now an existence the beasts and birds do not know because God breathed the breath of spiritual life into us. When you were born again, Christ breathed the Holy Spirit into you, another miracle. Does any of us deserve another miracle? We didn't deserve the first one.

"Coming to God to ask for a miracle seems, well... maybe I shouldn't... what if there is a sin still on the books? What if God remembers all those sins from back then? Oh, me, I'm not worthy to ask again. Is there not some way to do it myself?"

The sacrifice of Jesus was good for all sins right there on the cross for all time, or it wasn't the perfect sacrifice. We are made worthy in Christ Jesus, not in our own feelings. If some way could be found to save yourself, the cross of Jesus was unnecessary. If you or I could accomplish anything in our own strength, God would tell us to get to it. If the task ahead of me needs a miracle it is because God wants to glorify His name in my efforts. If you need a miracle of healing, God can provide.

"But, but, God didn't heal that fellow I know in my hometown. He must not be listening to miracle requests right now."

No, don't think like that! James tells us that we have not because we ask not. We ask and then we doubt. We don't know the answer to every request before we ask it. God called Dave home and I am glad for him. The healing miracle didn't take place until Dave entered into the gates of Heaven. That mighty ministry out west has put their magnificent cathedral up for sale. What happened to the prosperity gospel I have heard from other voices on the telly? We may not understand all of God's works, but I do know that each of us cannot look at what happened to the other to decide God's answer before we even ask the question. Finances look bleak? Health not good? Family troubles? You may find a huge pile of examples all around you where God seemed to ignore the problem or refused to answer, but that is not your answer. Those were not your requests. Most of all - God's thoughts are higher than your thoughts, and His ways far above your ways. Not one of us knows all that went on behind the scenes in any situation.

Go boldly before the throne based on your rights as children of the High King. Present yourself in the white robe of righteousness that Jesus provided for us on the cross of forgiveness. In the world, put on the whole armor of God. At times we put aside that armor, and then bleeding from a thousand wounds we find that our confidence to ask of God has been shattered. Take up God's Word; strike back! The first miracle you need is not the object of your request, but the strength to stand once more, to heal the wounds inflicted by the Devil, to take up your armor again, and then to ask God in prayer for what you need. Trust our Lord! He stands ready to answer with what is best for each of us.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Shepherd Seeks Them Too!

Good Wednesday morning! Hmm, had to think about that one for a bit. Did you get up this morning and tell Jesus that you want Him here with you today? We don't always feel like that. Our conscience might be pricking a bit or we just get up wrapped in our own problems and forget about our Lord. One of the worst things a Christ-one can do is to forget Jesus. Unlike the cat who is inserting herself between my eyes and the computer screen to gain some attention, our Lord does not force himself into our lives. But, He very much wants to be here with me and there with you at all times. For those still refusing to believe, that is a frightening and guilt-inducing thought. For us, those who believe and receive our Lord, we can think of nothing better than to have Jesus right here, right now!

You have most likely seen the news by now that the ACLU has won another case out east. A young atheist felt oppressed by a prayer hanging in her school and sued to have it removed using the old separation of church and state argument. Congratulations to her, the case was won. However, I do find it interesting that when Jesus is not present, then neither is the love. The golden rule of the atheist seems to run more like: do unto others what I want so that I am not offended. Have you ever thought that Christ might be offensive? Perhaps you should.

The world at large is offended by Jesus and seeks to impose its will on those who believe in Christ. We want to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. The world does not want to hear it. A prayer hurts an atheist. Why? If there truly is no higher power, would not a prayer be nothing but a bit of garbled nonsense? Something easy to dismiss and even pitiable? But no, the prayer causes offense and the atheist reacts in pain and seeks to have the hurt removed. Ah, it seems that there is something to a prayer to God. Praise Jesus! My faith has been proven by an atheist! Whatever would we do without atheists and the ACLU to help prove that our prayers are indeed powerful and effective. The powers of the world seek to ban prayer and the Bible? Let me kneel down in prayer and read that book; there must be something wonderful in them. Come to think of it, I'll even pray for the that young atheist. Why? Jesus said in His Word to do unto others what I would have them do to me. And I would surely be pleased to have a young atheist pray to God for me.

Pray for those lost in the world today. A shepherd seeks to find them!