Thursday, May 31, 2012

No Credit For Time Served?

Good morning on a cloudy day. I have some news to report: The sabertooth sneer is no more. Yes, sometime Tuesday night the infamous long canine of Capt. Kidd vanished. I looked around the house, but it seems to be gone forever. Last night, I also thought of what was. Let us say that like the rich young man who came to Jesus, you have lived your entire life as a paragon of virtue. What some of us might call a good person, you have done for years. No breaking of the civil law, no breaking of the moral law of the Old Testament, you are just spot on good. Then, you smack your pinky finger with a 4-pound dead blow hammer while placing a landscaping stone in your yard and there it was, the Lord's name called out in vain and in pain. Sinner!

You see there is no credit under the law for time served. We see it in legal cases in the news, but never in cases of God's law. You sinned yesterday in your yard and just like that you are a sinner, just like the rest of us. The rich young man had kept the commandments all of his life, then Jesus gave him one more assignment and he fell down flat. Sinner! You didn't keep the law, I can't keep the law, even the pastor doesn't keep the law all the time in every thought and deed. If your pastor or my pastor, who seems like a pretty good fellow in his behavior, cannot keep the law, how will you and I keep it? If we cannot keep the law and get no credit under the law for our good behavior, for as Jesus said we are but humble servants simply doing our duty under the law, then who can make it into Heaven?

We have been over grace before. We have no other hope but to live by grace through faith in the saving power of Christ Jesus. Under grace, we can store up treasure in Heaven. Under grace, every small sin committed in the quiet of our hearts where only God sees it does not condemn us to that awful label. Sinner is what we were and sinner is where we came from, but under grace we live as children of the King. All my good deeds done to save myself count for nothing, but all my good deeds done under grace store up a treasure safe from the thieves and rust. If you consider yourself to be good as the Pharisees did, you probably need the Good Shepherd more than those sheep you consider as the worst of lawbreakers. Grace gives the poor sinning sheep a new coat of righteousness, bought and paid for by the Son of God. We live by grace. Baaahh!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's All About Sacrifice

Good morning! Jesus served as the ultimate sacrifice, appeasing God's justice so that we might live. Does God still ask for sacrifice in our Christian life? When church income is down, the minister will often roll out the ol' sacrificial giving sermon. It is easy to become cynical about this as by following a few radio and television ministries you can hear the same message a lot. That is only a part of what I'm writing about this morning. I think that God still likes to savor human effort. Part of that is the curse Adam fell under after his rebellion. We remember the toil and thorns bit from Genesis. We might call our sacrifice a tribulation or the testing of God, but we do still bring a sacrifice to the altar in a manner of speaking. This isn't to say that God is up in Heaven with a 'pay me first' sign before His throne. Grace is still the free gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

However, we read in Revelation of prayers offered to God as sweet incense. We could call our prayers and times of Bible study a sacrifice to God. We don't think of a prayer as all that difficult. A time of Bible study may not seem like much of a sacrifice. Times will come in this life where finding and taking the time to study the Bible and pray quietly alone for an hour becomes a sacrifice; one which we find slips away from us as another day passes in toil. I'm going through such a time now, and suddenly my prayer for understanding has been answered. An hour of Bible study can indeed become a matter of sacrifice requiring forethought, planning, and actual effort on my part to set aside many other tasks crying out for accomplishment. Now I begin to understand when one of you complains of having no time for devotions with God.

As my understanding increases, I hope that all of us will become more understanding when our preachers ask for faithful tithing. A little sacrificial giving might not hurt as much as we like to think. Remember too that none of us can out give God!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Job Isn't Done Yet

Good morning as the earth turns to face the sun once more. Sounds goofy, but I only did it because a famous minister said that no one ever says it that way. There is nothing quite like saying 'never' to get the rebel lurking in our hearts to immediately want to do just that never thing. However, saying that the job is finished doesn't seem to work that way. We look around and agree instead of jumping in to the final steps of the job that is in truth not quite finished. We cannot win by trying to use a reverse move on sin; the carnal man is too clever and cunning for that to work. Looking around the house this morning, I realize that the job is not quite finished to my satisfaction, but time is up. I can only hope that my life will be one of such effort, only to arrive at the end and find that if Jesus has not come then there is still work to be done.

Over the past 3 weeks, I have packed things in boxes by the score, cleaned up the house to as close to new as I can get it, received much help from friends in Christ, and repaired a few things with knowledgeable supervision. However, the job requires a last cleaning this morning, and then more deep cleansing that I haven't got to yet. My hand goes numb when I grip a paintbrush, my palms feel like sandpaper, my home looks like no one lives here, and me and the vacuum cleaner are getting way too familiar. I don't know where I am going to live, or if anyone will buy this place, but the realtor's sign goes up today. I'm also a little bit afraid that I might be the cause of several funerals when it comes time to move all my heavy boxes. Pretty much the same pain and fears experienced by anyone who has been forced by circumstance to move to another home.

Will I have similar fears when the time comes to move on to my permanent home with Jesus? No moving of heavy boxes will be required for that relocation. Packing will be a useless exercise for me. Buying this or selling that will be far from my mind. Clinging to this device or that thing won't be a part of the deal. After all of this work, I kind of like that thought. Even this body full of aches and pains may be cast away for a time as Jesus takes me home for a long rest. But! Today is a day for living and there is work to be done. Trust in God to provide strength to endure the test.

In Christ,

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Good morning! I hope you have enjoyed the weekend. The pastor began the sermon with a reference to the original Star Trek series yesterday. Is that an inspiration or what? I know; some of you will answer with "or what". To the fans though, that is a kind of bittersweet call out. We like to hear about our favorite shows, but given that the show first aired in the 1960's we know the actors are getting a little old. In fact, a couple of the major players from the series have already gone to explore the undiscovered country. On this Memorial Day, we think of those who have gone to their graves not nearly so celebrated as the actors and athletes of our celebrity culture. The veterans of WWI are all gone; those from WWII and Korea are fast leaving this world, and more than a few Vietnam vets have passed. Those still living remember the many who did not come home at all. In these cases, the headstone in a cemetery rests over an empty coffin or nothing but soil. Sometimes we do not know the names of these fallen, but God knows the name and the place where the body rests.

A name on a wall or a headstone does not tell the story of the person. Relatives, friends, and service buddies tell of what they know to the comfort of each other. We are all comforted by what God knows. One day, I look forward to hearing the story of that unknown soldier who gave his life in a far country. I want to hear how God watched over him though the soldier was not always sure that God was there. I want to hear how Jesus came down to the sailors trapped below decks in their sinking ship as they cried out for mercy in the last moments. The story of the Marine's death that came so suddenly that the first question Jesus heard in paradise was, "What just happened?" will make an interesting tale as well. The best memorial to the fallen is to know their story. We cannot know all of those stories right now, but someday, some wonderful day in Heaven, there will be many stories to hear.

Praise God for those who gave all on this Memorial Day,

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Big Weekend

Good Friday morning! Ah, the big weekend after the long winter and spring. Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Where are you holding your observance this year? Ouch! Sore spot get rubbed there? Didn't plan to observe Memorial Day at all? The problem is not that I think many families ignore the sacrifice of so many that we may enjoy this weekend. Nope, the problem is that too many would have no idea what I'm talking about. There is no sore spot when they fail to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers, sailors, Marines, air force personnel, national guards, coast guards, and others who gave their lives that we might enjoy this nation as free persons. Memorial Day is just the first long weekend to relax after the school year or a long winter. "We celebrate the day by having fun," they say. Outrage upon outrage! Ignorance! Foolishness! The insult.... nah, I can't be like that.

When we served on the seas, overseas, or in stateside forts and bases, we didn't do it so that we would be mourned. Those who gave their lives did it so that loved ones might enjoy freedom, especially on these long weekends. Many of us have trouble leaving traumatic events behind. We don't fit in well with what society expects of those returned to civilian life. Don't mourn us either. Some pay the price that others may enjoy a better life. The disciples were downcast when Jesus finally got through to them that He must die in Jerusalem. Jesus told them that they should rejoice. Our Lord mourned the condition of the world during His ministry, but He wanted rejoicing. From the desires of our Lord Jesus, many veterans find peace in the celebration of Memorial Day. We don't demand that everyone observe a moment of silence or attend a formal ceremony, but we certainly hope that you will make this small sacrifice to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Have a big weekend. Go to lakes, parks, and races. Have picnics and barbecues. Maybe on Monday, Memorial Day, you can take a little time to remember the great sacrifice of those who died in their nation's service.

To God be the glory,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Animal

Good morning! In Romans, Paul referred to our sinful earthly nature as the flesh. That animal part of us that is in constant heat is the lust of the flesh. We see another human being attractive to our eyes and we lust. We fight addictions and desires all of our lives, but almost all of us have to a greater or lesser degree the constant reminder of sexual desire. Some have said that we are sexual creatures from conception to coffin. I'm not sure that embryos are bothered with lust quite that soon, but it does make a point. We try various ways to deal with this lust throughout our lives. Some join convents or cults and take a vow of chastity. Others remove themselves from human company entirely. Some of us may think that marriage is a sure-fire cure for lusting after members of the opposite sex. Some desire is good, such as the desire of the young groom for his bride. How do we tell what is lust and what is the desire God gave us to engage in legitimate marriage? We might ask: do I desire to get, or to serve?

Love serves, as Jesus did for so many during his life and with his sacrificial death. Lust wants, as David did prior to his adultery with Bathsheba. Love demands an effort; lust comes easily. Love is a conscious decision, and lust comes with no thought at all. We can lust after many things such as power, money, or toys, but love is directed at God and our fellow humans. The world has diluted the meaning of the term, but we as followers of Christ should take the meaning of love back to the Bible. As Jesus commanded, we are to love one another.

Love a little today,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

There is Always a Little More 'Er'

Good morning after a good, hot day. I didn't ask for any more heat records, but we got one yesterday. This morning, I thought of a question about a certain scripture passage. Then I assured myself that some folks a whole lot smarter than me probably argued that question out years ago when putting together the books of the Bible. However, is that the point I should be worried about? The Pharisees, scribes, and other groups back in the days of Jesus and Paul were among the smartest of their generation. Jesus came down hard on them many times for their blindness. Paul was counted among the brightest stars of the Pharisees, and he switched sides when confronted by the risen Lord. Yet, many believed way before Paul did. If I look around and wish to be a little smarter, or a little richer, or a little stronger, or some other 'er', I am missing the point entirely.

Wherever we look in the world, we will find someone a little more 'er' than we are or at least what we estimate ourselves to be. The worst measure is to look at another person and think that I am safe because he or she is a little more sinner than me. We know from the scripture that God does not measure that way when it comes to the heavenly admissions. What is interesting is that Jesus came looking for the 'ers' we don't want. I am sicker in my soul than everyone else, I need Jesus - Jesus wants me for the kingdom. My friend realizes that he is weaker in avoiding sin than God will accept - Jesus wants him for the kingdom. Another friend examines her past and concludes that there is only one acceptable sacrifice to God who ever lived - Jesus wants her for His kingdom too. The one who looks at his life and thinks how much better he is than the masses of sinners all around him - Jesus walks away from that man's house. Maybe we want to realise that we are lost-er than we can ever recover from, and be found by the One who is the way, the truth, and the life.

God bless you today,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What If God Invented

Good morning! As I waited for the coffee maker to do its thing, I wondered what speed the coffee would brew if God invented the coffee maker. At first, I thought, ah, instant coffee on demand, but that is what I would strive to invent in a coffee maker. God might have a different view on what speed coffee would come out. Perhaps, God might slow things down to remind me that everything happens in His perfect time. He might limit the operation of the new coffee machine to no earlier than 7:00am to remind us to get the proper amount of sleep. God might place limits on the amount of coffee this machine brewed each day, or give it a limitless supply of the very best beans ground fresh each morning to remind us of both His sovereign control and His abundant provision. You might go to the coffee machine to find just the right amount of perfect coffee to remind you of the grace that is free and comes in just the right quantity each and every day. God's coffee maker might be quite different from the one you or I would invent.

What if God invented a personal transportation device? Would this thing resemble our modern automobiles, or would it be very different? We can take everything around us that man invented and attempt to see it from God's point of view. What we see as an improvement, such as greater velocity or more powerful action, could be just the opposite of the qualities God might add. On the other hand, a sip of God's coffee might keep you awake for a week. We don't know from our limited view which way God's improvements to things might tend. What we can know, if we are willing to accept and trust, is that God's improvements to me and you will be better and more beneficial to us that what we imagine needs to be done.

Have a godly day,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Losing The Ability

Good Monday morning! In the 2nd week of cleaning, packing, and hauling, I think my fingers are losing their ability to type straight. I wonder if the same holds true for more important abilities like prayer and Bible study. We can run into times in life where some things get set aside. We may not intend to set our daily prayer time aside, but suddenly the thing has happened. How do we get back into it when the problem that caused the interruption has not yet abated? This is of course the test faced at times by all those who walk with Jesus. The Savior has not left our side; God still waits on His throne for the incense of our prayer. But one of us has left the prayer room. When the time seems not present and the duties too many, that is the time we must put God first.

Pressing forward in the race does not mean leaving our prayer time behind us. Jesus could, figuratively speaking, run on ahead of us and wait at the finish line, leaving us to attempt this life on our own. Our Lord does not do that. There must be a reason that He walks patiently with us even in the days when we do not take the time with Him as we ought. Prayer can be spoken on the run, and in the heat of our many activities we often do so. However, a quiet time is essential for rebuilding our prayer strength before that ability fades and perhaps becomes lost.

Enjoy the new week in Christ,

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Day Is It?

Good Friday morning! I decided to write 'Friday' at least twice this morning since I started off trying to go with 'Thursday'. That other day is past, and in the past it shall remain. However, some thanksgiving is due. My life group came over to the house last night and helped set up the yard sale, clean the house, and share in some pizza. Thank you to Burt and Brenda, Ric and Cheryl, Steve and Sandy, Tabitha, Courtney, Brandee, and Mike for all the hard work we did. Also a thank you to Ron for lunch yesterday; my fridge is getting a little bare. And of course, the biggest thank you goes to God the Father for His wonderful blessings.

Wow, just when a person thinks he cannot get much more accomplished, God provides a bit more strength, a little more energy to get up and go again, and a dose more of desire to do what He would have us to do. When one of us gets up and asks that often heard question, "What day is it?", God gives a little direction. With just the slightest godly push, we are off again doing more than we thought we could, at a time when it seemed that nothing more could be done. Sooner than we think, a momentum builds. That which we did not want to do, becomes that which must be done. The thing we tried to avoid, becomes a thing of passion. Before we know it, what came reluctantly is now an unstoppable action and an unspeakable joy. Why does God do this to us? Perhaps, to show us that He is God, and that when we pray "Thy will be done" He makes sure that it gets done. God uses the weak and sometimes the slightly, reluctantly unwilling and tired to accomplish His purpose in this life. Praise God for the opportunity to see it happen.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Up For The Son

Good morning as the sun peeks over the houses. I like to be up in time to watch the sunrise, but at this time of the year I realize that the sun's rising is getting mighty early in the day. In June, it is still possible to watch the sunrise, but extra effort is required. In this, the sun doesn't provide me any extra help or strength in getting up early. Getting up for the Son, on the other hand, may require extra effort on some days, but Jesus helps by giving me some of His own strength. How do we tap into this extra push to get up? The same methods we use in those times of trouble, prayer, fellowship, and Bible study. Prayer is a chance to speak with the Almighty Creator. What a privilege to speak with God and enjoy His company in a special time together. Fellowship brings us closer together in Christ. Facing a problem alone in prayer is a good and necessary start, but sharing it with others adds more power to the prayers. Reading and learning God's word at the very least will show us how God's people long ago faced problems too.

The Bible also reminds us that we are not alone in our dark days, and the good days are populated with the cheering of the saints in Heaven. God comforted Moses, and Elijah, and Adam, and Abraham, and David, and... every other person who came to Him in prayer and supplication. Jesus comforted and taught His disciples after He died! Is that great or what? The world mourns the dead with a final parting. We who believe in Christ mourn with a 'see you soon'. But Jesus came back and said, "Here I am, touch me!" Whoa, that's some stout comfort.

Praise God for the new day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One Thing at a Time

The wind might blow just a little today. Hopefully it won't take my flag right off the house. I cannot type the devotional with my work gloves on. Nope, just won't happen. I must do one thing at a time and trust in God even for that one thing. I can carry two boxes, but still only do that one thing. If one box slips I may catch it, but if both slip in different directions I am doomed to a dropping. God made me for one thing at a time. Trying to think of devotional things and moving things at the same time does not work. I am not capable of 'expanding my mind to take in the universe and all its beautiful motion' as they said back in the days of flowery clothing and speech. Just as I can perform one task or think on one thing, I can only speak one sentence at a time. Imagine the confusion if we all tried to speak two different sentences at the same time. Pure babbling nonsense. So, when I sit down to read God's word, I must put aside all other concerns. If the phone rings, it is ignored. E-mail can wait. Work can wait. If the house catches on fire, the Bible and I run real fast out the door.

Concentrating on the one thing does not mean that an interruption may not come along to blow up my plan. Only God can see what is coming in the next few moments. However, when the Bible study time comes, I make every effort to make that my only activity. I strive to learn the self-discipline to keep my mind on God and His word. I strive to make sure that time is taken for prayer and Bible study each day. Lately, I haven't done very well at that. Whatever storms come in life, I realize that Bible reading must come first. I need my time alone with God, or I am truly lost and the Shepherd will come to find me again. Most of us can remember a time when we first invited Jesus to take charge of our lives. Usually we came to that point through some rough times. Spending time with Jesus is wonderful, but do I want to bring on the lost times again just to have Him come find me? No, it is so much better to seek His kingdom in my Bible right now. Better to check in with the Shepherd each day, and listen to His loving voice in the Word.

Have a better breezy day in Christ!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Courage To Do What I Know Must Be Done

Good morning and God's blessings to you my dear friends. On some projects there can be no doubt that I begin slowly, perhaps reluctantly, to do what I know must be done. Before I complain to God though, I am aware that other projects begun with the flame of zeal have quickly died out, as though the flame consumed too quickly the fuel available. When I go to God asking for courage to do what must be done, I am reminded that God may be feeding this fire slowly, letting it build up a base of coals, before He adds the logs that will sustain the fire through the night. God can do everything at once, but you and I are not created that way. Each must do what he can as God gives him strength and in God's time.

God can create a house with all the amenities on a lot in the middle of the grassy prairie. We must do it more slowly. Contractors must be hired, plans drawn up by those who have the knowledge, and materials purchased and staged at the job site. We cannot begin construction on the roof, walls, and foundation at the same time because one must be built on top of the next. You and I begin every project in faith, because we do not know what tomorrow may bring. In prayer, we ask God's blessing on our work not only to carry us over the rough spots in His love, but to have some assurance that what we do is not in vain. Trust in God, and take your daily steps in faith.


Monday, May 14, 2012

I Come Up Short

Great Monday evening to you! When comparing my condition to the Almighty, what do I use to compare the Lord's side? Before I can know how short of perfection I am, I must understand perfection with my so imperfect mind. I try to set my works against God's law and fail the test. How then do I compare my works with God's own standard of perfection? Comparison cannot work for me, because I cannot comprehend the perfect God. Why am I bothering to try comparing myself against God anyway? The Bible tells me the result of my goodness against God's standard; I come up short! Instead, I must concentrate on knowing all I can about the one who did satisfy God's standard, His own Son.

Jesus satisfied the justice of God by dying on the cross in our place and bearing our sins. No more are we condemned in Heaven's court, for the price has been paid in full. The charges against us were not dropped, the sentence was carried out on another. Jesus died condemned for sins he did not commit so that we could be free of the penalty. You and I may try to compare, but we waste our time in this activity. Best to let the Holy Spirit cleanse our hearts, while we help out through the study of God's word. We have plenty to do in prayer for others without worrying how we stack up against them in God's eyes. We all fall short of God's standard. Now that Jesus has given us His grace, we need not fear judgment.

Praise the Lord!

'Cuz Ahma Scared

Good sunny and cool morning! The sun is out and shining, but the air is a bit on the chilly side today. Today, the warrior dressed in his finest armor: head covering, goggles, face mask, another head covering, thick gauntlets, two, breastplates, boots, and leggings. Grabbing sword and shield, he went out to battle... with the wasps. Yes, one nest did escape the treatment. The warrior's goggles fogged up. He isn't sure why that would happen on such a cool morning, but it did. The nest in the Weber grill even got a good coating of soapy water until his sword jammed! Aiieee! Sound the retreat! Fleeing like the waspy (not to be confused with wasp-waisted, which he most certainly is not.) coward he is, the warrior retreated to safer ground, unstung, and ready to flee further if necessary. The warrior might not set any foot speed records, but then, one never knows what the proper incentive might produce. A good end to a tough weekend.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom. I remembered after I sat down in church and someone mentioned that it was in fact Mother's Day. The warr...oops, sorry, I will, if God is willing, be moving to a less-costly house in the near future. My Internet connection may go down for a while and the devotional may be a bit sporadic during the sales and moves and such. I do not yet know where I will be moving to, but I'll let everyone know as soon as that is known. I have clung to some things for too long and the parting time has come. Unless, of course, God changes my plan through His divine prerogative, which He is most welcome to do. Some plans are just made for God's intervention, but that does not always happen. I have witnessed many Christian warriors moving to lesser quarters during these difficult times. Why should I consider myself better than they? What I do know is that God will be with you and me wherever we may go. I also know that like military quarters, these houses and apartments we live in here in this world are not our eternal homes. Perhaps God moves us from time to time to remind us of that fact. Am I a little frightened, well let's say concerned, by the upcoming changes in my life? Warriors in Christ are not frightened, are they? ...ready to flee at the slightest hint of a buzz. Okay, I am more than a bit concerned.

Wasp hunting early in the morning is more than just a pleasant diversion, it also distracts me from the many other issues of pulling up stakes and moving on down the road. Of course, my tendency toward anxious thinking makes more of this than is or may be absolutely true. 'On down the road' might be only a few miles to a smaller town. The lesser house is still a house, not a hut in the desert. Above all, I cannot be separated from the love of God. My home in heaven that Jesus is building is in no danger. Did I say 'pleasant'? The warrior must have sniffed a bit too much wasp spray this morning.

Praise God for the potential in this new day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Good morning on this much cooler morning. If you listen to Christian radio, you have probably heard the song by the great band, Casting Crowns. The temptation is to add a little 'and me' to the lyric, but we do not get a free pass. Cleansed by the blood of the Lamb we are in Christ, but when He found us we were yet sinners no better than anyone else in the world. Years later, as a maturing Christian we may find our actions do not always fit the mold of the perfect Christian. We look at the model, our Lord Jesus, and find that we are miles short of the standard. An older Christian might not recall the last time his hands reached out to sin, but his mind remains capable in every unguarded moment. You and I may come peacefully to the death bed years from now, and yet hear that last little doubt as a tiny whisper, "You're not good enough..."

A pagan sinner lost in the world is better off than those who have heard the good news of the Son and refused Him entry into their heart. However, the friend of sinners does not easily give up on anyone, no matter how sinful or depraved his behavior. Many of us ignored the conviction of the Holy Spirit for years before surrendering to Jesus Christ. We found a friend in Jesus. A friend who softly knocked on the door of our hearts for as long as it took to get a final answer. Imagine a friend standing outside your door in driving rain, oppressive heat, and any other condition imaginable to deliver a message that he just knows is the best for you. The friend never bangs on the door at night, doesn't try to follow an invited guest in, but just stands there patiently hoping to be let in at your invitation. We have treated that friend rather badly at times in the past. However, when finally the conditions are just right inside the house, you let that friend in. Oh, the joy of your meeting! We imagine harsh words from the long wait and dreadful conditions endured outside, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this friend invites his sovereign Father to come dine too. Suddenly, your house is not worthy, gulp, panic threatens, but Jesus calms the storm. No, He has made the home worthy through a sacrifice made long ago. You need no longer tremble before the Lord. What a friend we have in Jesus!

Christ is risen!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let's Start Walkin'

Good morning! We speak of following Jesus along the narrow way. We talk of our walk with the Lord. How does this Christian walk begin? With but a single step of course. After the surrender of our lives to Jesus, we begin the walk. At first, we may be full of new faith and ready to step in every direction. Mission to the Congo? Send me, send me! Build a house in the Amazon basin. I'll go, I'll go! Later, the initial enthusiasm may give way to a more serious study of the word, and the dreams of travel to far places may not come. God may want to send the maturing Christian to the place he or she was planted before salvation. The Apostle Paul traveled many places in his mission, but first he studied for 3 years in one place. For a time, Paul's walk didn't have a lot of physical steps in it. Your mission may never leave the place you were raised or God may call you to a far country. In either case, the walk begins with a step. A walk to the church begins with one step. A walk to the car, or a walk to the plane leaving for Jerusalem begins with one step. Arthur Blessitt's walk around the world with a cross began with one step. In all these walks, we must take that step with Jesus and in the direction He leads us.

Flush with excitement in his new faith and salvation in Christ, the new believer takes his first step... back to his house. What has changed? The sinner is now a believer. Christ took the first step by making this new life possible. Whatever our physical location or destination in our walk with Jesus, the real journey begins and ends in the heart. Before any of us can enter the gates of Heaven, that desperately wicked heart must be replaced by one devoted to God. The flesh that fights us every step of the way must become like the flesh of the risen Christ. The image stamped on us by the world must be made to reflect the image of our Lord Jesus. Spiritual journey and physical walk start with a step of faith. Let's start walkin'!


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Something Wonderful This Way Comes

Good evening! The day is warm in a comfortable way. This afternoon, a thought suddenly came to mind that something wonderful comes for us. At least, I hope that it is not only for me. The Lord may have reached down and given me an infusion of faith at a time when I most need it. I don't think that it was something mundane such as a sugar rush. I cannot recall having any today. In our prayer and Bible study with the Lord, we may be given an assurance that things are going to turn out just fine. We do not know the date or the time. We may not have an idea how long we must endure this current trouble. But we may suddenly know that God is in control. The world may rule on this or that, but God overrules. We also know that Jesus is returning for us and to rule the nations. That's a good indication that something wonderful is indeed on the way. Does this mean that individual blessings are not possible? Certainly not!

God does send individual blessings. I will testify to that, and many of my brothers and sisters in Christ will too. We have a God who loves us and cares for us. Not all of life is a trial or a trouble. We enjoy blessings both great and small in this life. When we most need it, a blessing arrives. Of course, God decides when we most need it and what it is that we most need. Many a time, I have tried to convince God through earnest prayer and supplication that I know what I most need and when I need it. You are correct; that never works no matter how hard I try with religious labor and great fervor. God keeps His own counsel on how to best provide for my need. In fact, the wonderful things tend to come more quickly and more often when I get out of the way with my expectations and let God handle the problem in His wisdom.

Praise God and thank you, Lord, for your blessings!

The First Loyalty

Good morning on this new day! In Christ, we know that our first loyalty is to God. As Jesus did all that his Father gave him to do, we pledge our first loyalty to God. However, I'll admit that I am not quite 100% good at it like Jesus was in his lifetime here on earth. I think I am more like Peter in at times getting it right, and at other times giving the Master reason to call me a name none of us wants to be called by. I am also more like Paul in crying out to God over not doing what I want to do, also knowing what I should not do, and then doing it anyway. One day I am like the faithless Israelites on their bad days, and the next I am strong in the Lord and the power of His might. I hear the minister speaking of spiritual stability, and I seem to have none of it. How can God put up with a variable quantity like me!

In another dark day, I submitted to the atoning power of the cross of Jesus. I surrendered to the grace that comes through faith in Christ the Lord. In that moment, I gave my first loyalty to God. And it never went away. A time of trial or the words of the sinful nature still within me may cause me to feel or think that I have gone south on the Lord, but it is not my strength that holds me close to Jesus. The Good Shepherd keeps His sheep. All we like sheep have gone astray, and each time we little sheeps wander away in this world, the Savior fetches us back to the herd. No Shepherd is more diligent, none more loyal to His sheep. You and I are not held close through our works or feelings, we are held close by the love of Christ Jesus.

Mistakes we will make, tribulations and troubles they will come, but always we are loyal to our Lord through faith and trust in Him alone. Praise God for the day!


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Do or Do Not...

I won't add the last bit because the geeks might get all giddy and such. I hope you are enjoying a fine evening wherever you may be. Where do we go when faced with a monumental decision? I believe that God wants me to go one way. The solution to a problem appears to be in another direction. How do I discern the voice of the Holy Spirit when surrounded by opportunity and pressure? I don't have all the answers to this. Sooner or later in life each of us will be faced with a decision where faith in God appears to offer nothing to hold in one direction, while the other direction appears that it may be God's provision. I only know that the way to wisdom lies through prayer and the word of God. Ask God for guidance, seek His face through the Word. I am giving this advice to myself this evening as much as to anyone else. Here is some help in this from the Proverbs. "Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." (3:6 NLT) Good! I certainly need to be shown.

James 1:5 reminds us to ask God when we need wisdom. However, there is a responsibility with this wisdom. We are to believe and not doubt. I find that very difficult to do. Doubts fly at me from all directions it seems. I do not want to be the one James describes as double-minded. Above all, I want to do what the Lord would have me to do. Now, how to set about discerning the path I am to take. Do I try every door? What if I find more than one that opens? I realize that God will be with me wherever I go, but I want His best for me. I think that in all the flipping back and forth, the groaning and writhing, between two paths, that often the guidance is given, but we resist taking that step of faith. We know the answer, but we don't want to accept it. One way offers something concrete that we can hold and spend. The other offers only the promise that God will provide. Perhaps the only question is: How much do I trust God?

James 1:12 tells the story we need to hear. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." What is the test? To trust in God and, perhaps, turn away from something that the world seems to guarantee. What if the world gets mad and comes after me with everything it has? Well, the world and its evil prince will do that anyway. We have this from our Lord. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV) The choice to do or do not may seem unclear. The devil loves to obfuscate and befuddle the believer if he can, and in case you or I think that we are the only one, the devil has practiced this for a long time and he is really good at it. Take it up in prayer with the Holy Spirit as your Comforter and Guide. Come to the Shepherd, dear lost sheep for you won't know the way to go on your own.


Not By My Works

Good morning. Like the first touch of the Son on our lives, the sun rises this morning to a new day in Christ. Do you feel saved this morning? We know in our brains that salvation is not a feeling, though many feel a great relief in the act of submission to Christ that first time, but we continue to look for some cleansing feeling. Is the Lord sanctifying me for heaven? Where is my cleaned out feeling? Feelings come and go in our lives. Certainly, we do not want to base our hope of eternal life on a transitory feeling. I have often fought the opposite though, hoping to base my claim to salvation on a resume of accomplishments for the Lord's kingdom, or a list of legal obligations met and stamped by some heavenly clerk in a big room full of file cabinets. Those of us raised going to church two or three times or more each week, may run into that Pharisee disease. We want to show the Lord that we are saved in place of accepting His work of salvation in us. Perhaps we get a little confused by the admonition of James to show our faith by good works and forget that Paul wrote of saving faith.

Salvation and justification are accomplished by Jesus upon our surrender to Him. We cannot claim an 'I did it' in our salvation, the work is done for us and by our Lord. Paul boasted of what Christ did in his life. We are to do the same. We tend to get turned around by legalism. "There is nothing I can do to be saved; I'm doomed." NO! Jesus accomplished that which the sinner cannot do. We believe in Jesus and we are saved! Surrender brings victory in Christ. There is no mountain to climb to obtain a cup of salvation at the top. We accept the Lord's gift of grace when we lay our burdens down at His feet. That is just so backward from what the world has taught me.

We do not learn the way to salvation by studying the religious texts of the world. That stuff teaches the opposite, some path of works to be accomplished, a list of tasks to be fulfilled. A rich young man comes to Jesus and presents his resume. Jesus gives him one more task, one that proves beyond the man's ability. Our Lord in His wisdom showed us how there will always be one more task for the person seeking to prove himself worthy of eternal life. The young man missed the Way standing before him. We learn that we cannot come to Jesus asking what we must do to obtain, we ask Him to save us and He gives.

To God be the glory!

Monday, May 07, 2012

A Moment of I's

Good Monday evening. How do I comfort another when I feel the need for comfort? How do I see the need in a brother, when I need him to see the need in me? We all face moments of the I's. Those moments when our heartfelt prayer to God comes in the form of I need, I want, I can't live without, and more. In this moment, we may yet realize that others suffer the same needs, desires, and dire circumstances that cause us to cry out to God. One of the great privileges of the Christian life is in comforting our brothers and sisters in Christ. God sends us to each other in times of great need, and we have the God-given ability to comfort each other. Even those moments when my need seems so great that all I can pray is about myself draws God closer to me as I draw near to Him.

Of course, we should be ashamed of a prayer of nothing but 'I want's'. But so often during a time of tribulation you and I will find a prayer of earnest seeking for mercy and deliverance passing our lips. We have no thought for others in that moment for our need is so great upon us that we can only come to the Lord with urgent supplication. In that moment or immediately thereafter, you may find a comforter at your door. Needless to say, you may find the Comforter in your heart first. God puts us into the fire of His forge for only just long enough to accomplish His purpose. God is not one to see you and me suffer without some greater good coming from the trial. The times of trial and tribulation are always longer than I would like, but I trust God that the duration is just what I need.

Trust in God this evening!

Struggling Alone?

Good morning on a dreary-looking Monday. Does it feel as though your prayer life is one full of grey, fuzzy clouds. Not the clouds that promise rain or shade from the summer sun, but the fuzzy, close clouds that yield in all directions and seem to prevent prayer from going anywhere. The struggle to remain faithful seems cut off from other believers. The adversarial lion roars, but the direction of attack is at once uncertain and from all directions. The prayer and supplication with thanksgiving produces what appears to be nothing at all. Did not Paul tell us to be anxious for nothing right after that? What about "The LORD is at hand"? In the grey fuzziness of the trial of faith, we feel nothing and God's presence seems removed far away. Other believers seem right as rain, but contact with them is muted by that stifling dreariness in the faith trial. What is to be done about this? Perhaps nothing in the way we consider action.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us what is in store for us: "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Great news! On wings of eagles we mount above the dreary clouds. The strength of those who wait on the LORD is renewed. When life calls for running, we shall not be weary. When life calls for a walking pace, we need not fear the fainting. Does this sound like only what will happen in heaven? The verse does not say anything about heaven. Dare we say the LORD cannot lift us up right now? Is it the time to doubt that the LORD cannot renew the strength of ten thousand others besides yourself?

In the struggle of faith which to us seems fought alone and unaided, we are renewed daily to endure. The trial shall pass. Our dear Lord Jesus will lead you and me out of the dark valley. If it seems that in your struggle, you can only reach ahead with one hand it is because the Savior's hand holds the other. Stare not into the grey and dreary world, look beside you and see the strength of the Savior. The One who conquered death and the grave stands with you in this struggle. The adversary may roar frightfully close, but the reason the Lord Jesus does not stand before you is in His gentle command, "Let the prince win his spurs." Put on the whole armor of God once more; take up your sword again. Let us put aside the dreary clouds of doubt and fight for the LORD again!


Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Family of God

Good morning and God bless you! When the world speaks of the family it is often to notice the lack of it. This family is missing the father because he abdicated his responsibility. This other family is missing the mother because she found another husband. Another family was so dysfunctional in its principal parts that the child ran away from home. Too many tragedies infest the world as is, causing families to lose members through no fault of their own without adding in pairs of feet ready to walk out. Then there is the organizations and governments of the world that want us to believe that we are part of some larger 'family' of citizens or employees. It is not to wonder why we are so confused about what a family is to each other.

In God's family, we each bring our strengths and our weaknesses to the family. We are to love the sinner in to the family, and not to exclude the repentant one because his sin is distasteful to us. All sin is distasteful to God, yet He welcomes all who call upon the name of Jesus Christ into the family. In the family of God, we may sometimes fall to the attack of walkin' out feet. The Shepherd comes to find us, gently asking what is wrong and bringing healing in his hands. So successful is our Shepherd that He reported only one lost from his family of sheep, and that one was foretold and made his own choice to leave. We need not fear that the one is us, because the Bible tells of the betrayal of Judas and the result when his sin came home. Christ Jesus made us the promise that He would never leave us nor forsake us. Though our Lord was betrayed, He will never betray. This family stays together with Christ as its head.

Enjoy the day with your family,

Friday, May 04, 2012

It Is Well

Good morning as we seek the will of God. It is well with my soul when my life is lived in obedience to God. However, my Bible has one little shortcoming in my opinion. God did not personalize it with answers to some questions that come up from time to time. Questions that many of us have in fact. Like, which job should I take out of high school? That is of course assuming you have a choice. Or, which college should I attend, or which degree program should I take once I get there? Here's a good one: which person is the right spouse for me? I memorized the verse, "Remember the LORD in everything you do, and He will show you the way." I looked and looked, but nothing seems to be showing me the way. I come to a crossroads in life, or a seemingly insurmountable problem, but no sign appears with the words 'This way!' to show me the way to turn.

A minister once took out his Bible and found the references to God's will. Verse by verse, we listened but not one of those verses said anything like a specific direction to take when choosing a career. I have looked back on my life and wondered what might have been if at a particular crossroads, I would have stopped to ask for God's guidance. But, what if God did show me the way in such a way that I was guided without me realizing it? What if God's promise to show me the way lined up just perfectly with what I thought I wanted at the time? The road I took turned out to be difficult, frustrating at times, I wanted to give up. Does that mean I chose the way out of God's will? Perhaps not, we did read about the narrow and difficult way that leads to life.

As we look back and think that the other fork would have been easier, we might want to understand that the difficult way was the best. If God told us specifically, 'Take that way', the flesh would immediately rise up in rebellion. God says to trust in Him; the flesh urges us to do it our way. God says to wait on Him; the flesh urges immediate action. We fight this battle until God calls us home. And, yes, the flesh fights even that call as the body will struggle to its very final breath to live. Our Lord Jesus laid out for you and me the narrow and difficult path. By faith, we walk this path, whether we realize it at every moment of not. My mind of flesh will cast doubt on every decision like the rebel that it is. The spirit God gave me when I surrendered to His Son shows me the way, even in those times when I feel 'off the path'.

Praise God for Friday!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

I Will Tell

Good early morning! Way back in the day, King David gave the choir master a psalm that begins this way: "I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds." (Ps 9:1) The essence of our witness is not so much what we think we know, but what God says in His word and what we know from what we see or hear in this life. We can tell of the great deeds of God told in the scripture, and we can tell of what God has done for you and me. God has His story, which is all of history, but He also gives each of us one story to tell: the story of the life we live. Some stories begin at a young age, others have a build up until God's grace is given through faith in Christ Jesus and then the story gets underway. Those who surrender to Christ begin life all over again. We have a story with an introduction. In some cases, it is a quite long introduction full of sin and woe. Nothing wrong with that, God likes a good tale with a dramatic rescue. The greatest story ever told is that of humanity, its long rebellion, and its dramatic rescue by the Son of God. The best part about that tale is that God gets the glory in the starring role. Your story may be one of a long rebellion before the Shepherd saved you and gave you new life in Him. Now, go out and tell your story!

One of the joys of the Christian life is not in stories people tell to bring attention to that idol, "MeGreat". No, the best stories are the ones we tell to show how great our God is. Christians love to tell of their salvation, stories of healing, and stories of guidance at just the right moment. At times, we may tell a story of divine intervention. A helper arrives on a lonely road during a storm. The Christian turns around to thank the helper, and, no one is there. An angel? We may never know for sure. We know from the word that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. This good may arrive in unexpected forms and ways, perhaps even through mysterious means. The great news is that we get to tell that story. We are witnesses to the grace and provision of God.

It is a fine morning to get up and say, "Praise God for the day! I will tell of His great deeds in my life." We have a rare privilege to be able to witness to the greatness of God in our lives. Don't let this opportunity go to waste. Tell your story; tell His story.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Nut Basket

Good day, folks! At your workplace the boss probably hands out assignments. Unless you are the boss, then you hand out the assignments. Now, let us say for our example that an employee named Herbert gets a tough assignment because his name sounds funny. Herbert does his best, but partly through bungling, partly through a lack of ability, and partly through circumstances beyond his control, Herbert makes a real mess of this assignment. The deadline is upon him and Herbert, beaten down and despairing, takes the assignment back to the boss. "I can't take this anymore, boss. The assignment is way beyond my ability!" The boss is an understanding boss, someone who bears a striking resemblance to our Lord Jesus, and he takes back the assignment and eases the burden on poor Herbert.

Feeling elated at the lifting of the weight from his thin shoulders, and the kind words of the boss, Herbert goes back to his desk a new man. Later, Herbert begins to think about that assignment. In fact, he feels that he could do a better job with it if he got just one more crack at it. Herbert jogs down to the office and sees that the boss has stepped away from his desk. Herbert knows better, but he grabs the assignment off the desk and smuggles it back to his cubicle. He opens the binder and - aiiieee, the horror of the assignment comes crashing back down on him in all its fury. Herbert is once again swamped. The boss comes by later and notices the assignment is gone. He finds Herbert flat on his back with the burden beating him down like a bunch of disciples in a boat. "Didn't I take this burden from you, Herbert? Why did you take such a terrible burden back again?" Herbert, of course, has no good answer to this. Feeling utterly foolish, he lets the boss take the assignment back once more. Ahhh, sweet freedom!

Later, Herbert starts to think again. Oh, dear! Here we go again. How many times has a little "Herbert" crept into your life? As the song goes, we gotta lay those burdens down. Jesus takes the burden from us and we go back time and time again to grab it back like some glutton for punishment. Jesus sweeps us into a situation where our pride is whacked off at the knees and we realize that life is beyond our strength. Our Lord reaches down and takes the burden from us. Sweet blessing and relief. We go back and pick up the same burden, perhaps even adding a few mistakes to make it heavier, and off we go staggering down the road past our Lord as he shakes his royal head at the foolishness of one of his sheep. Like some odd nut basket with only the kind no one likes, we just have to hold on to burdens that Christ longs to take from us. Give up control! Let Jesus take your burden of odd nuts and toss them out. A nice, clean basket is so much easier to bear in this life.


Cheese Grater Tester

Good morning on this sunny day. Last night, I had a vision of a cheese grater tester with bloody fingers. If you have ever grated a bit too much cheese or had the chunk break up on you during the operation, you know what I mean by bloody fingers. A cheese grater can cause some hurting in yer little fingers! The job of this tester was to come up with ideas for making cheese graters safer. However, he felt the frustration of having a materials similar to each other - that is the cheese and the fleshy part of his fingers. God heard his cry for mercy and told him to put on the glove of Jesus to protect his flesh in place of worrying about designing a new cheese grater. Eureka! The tester could grate without fear right down to the last bit of cheese because his fingers were now protected. There is something in this for us as believers in Christ.

We are going to ride the ragged edge of disaster in our tribulations. We don't want to do this, and we do our best to avoid doing this, but we don't control very much in this life. We pray, we listen to God, we obey and we trust in God, but still, here comes that ragged edge. God is going to put us in the flame again, but we have our protection. Unless of course, we try to take care of the problem in the strength we feel, the abilities we trust, and the talent we think we know without consulting with God, saying even one little prayer requesting assistance, or above all asking God to show us the way. We don't do that, do we? Am I like the cheese grater tester with bloodied fingers, crying out to God over the unfairness of it all?

I have done it before. Perhaps, I have made a habit of it in my life, asking God for resources, but also wanting control. I think that in some trials, God will let me beat my head against walls until my heart softens a bit. (My head was already soft, no need to worry over that!) After the heart stone that is getting in the way of His providence is crushed, then God can work with me again. I don't like the two-steps forward, one-step back of this process. I want to be like Jesus right now! No more trials or dark valleys, just the green pastures, please. However, Jesus came down from Heaven; I started right here in the sin of this earth. God will make us like His Son, but none of us are His Son. We needed Jesus to take the penalty of our sin away first, then the Holy Spirit can come into our hearts to start the work He will complete in us.

Enduring the trial is never fun, but we have a great assurance in Jesus,

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

It's All Yours Lord!

Good evening! We struggle to do everything possible to be in control of the situation or to solve the problem in our own strength. However, when the tribulation has become too great for you and me to handle, there is only one thing to say. Jesus, dear Lord Jesus, it's all yours. If you get in a huge mess, no matter what kind of mess it is, do you have anyone in your life to just dump the problem on except Jesus? We might try, but we are each too great a burden for the other. When despair threatens to overwhelm you and your faith is all but gone, to whom do we turn at the bottom of that shaft? Jesus, is the only answer for us. Why then does it take us so long to get there? God places us in a situation where we have only one simple choice: go it on our own and endure complete disaster, or trust in Jesus and let go of all our plans, schemes, worries, and fears. One of the great joys of the Christian is to stand up and say, "I'm not afraid; Jesus has the situation under His control." Now that's faith, and we fight tooth and claw to avoid going there.

Is it possible that somehow we like our fears and worries? Does the flesh revel in sympathy so that we run to others instead of coming to God in complete faith? What is that dream going around in your mind that seems so at odds with the current circumstance? There is no way on earth that you or I can fulfill that dream without our Lord Jesus, so why do we want God to give complete control to us? I've been there, I know the feeling. We go buy a lottery ticket or something like that and pray, "God, give me this big pile of loot please. Then I'll take it from there. Thanks, Lord, you're great." Gee, do we see why a prayer like that might not be answered? Now, let us look at the other side of it.

We didn't go buy a lottery ticket, we didn't head on up to the casino for the weekend with the food money, but somehow through the ways of the world the obligations on us are too great. Flat broke, bankrupt, in the poor house, whatever you want to call it, when the taxman cometh, you ain'ta gotteth. Fear, in the form of trouble with the government, washes over you like a dark wave. Not only that, but all the other debts are coming on right behind the taxman. You, me, anyone can suddenly find himself in over his head in this manner. In fact, it happened to many folks over the past few years who did nothing wrong and nothing to deserve it. Dreadful situation, yes? But, we have someone who provides for us and we know where to go in prayer. In talking with God, He makes a promise to provide payment for those obligations. The problem is, the Lord might not give us the date, or He does provide a date, but lets us go on faith until the last possible moment. I can tell you that learning to trust in the Lord completely under those circumstances can be difficult. Is there an indication in the words of our Lord that says it could be this way? Why, yes, it does seem that Jesus said something along those lines.

"Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:14)

I think we find it difficult to understand the difficulty of faith until faced with a mountain that we cannot move. When a situation demands more than we can give. When God places restrictions on us that lead us down one narrow corridor. When the fear of the circumstance overwhelms our abilities and resources. Then we see where faith begins. Like a steer rounded up in the wild, we are forced by yapping shepherd dogs, by cowboys on horses, and by the barriers of the corral, to the one place where our Lord awaits. To our wild nature, it looks as though we have been herded to the point of destruction. Then, Jesus puts his seal on us and it doesn't hurt at all. We then join His herd and find that what we feared is for our good. Faith, it's tough to accept, but great to have.


A New Song

Good morning! I'll leave it at that, because it is too dark to see what the day is like outside. For most of the day and night, I had a song bouncing around in my head. Suddenly, upon awakening that song had been replaced with a new song. Why does that happen? In Christ, we know who may give us a new song to begin the day. Jesus may not like something about the old song. In our days of sin and rebellion, the songs of our heart spoke of that in which we lived. Sin and rebellion characterize many a tune in the popular world. Going back now to the songs of that time, you or I may be surprised to find that sweet singer of our youth singing of adultery. That old drinking song may have less to do with fun and more to do with slavery to sin. Sometimes a new song is needed in our Christian walk, but we very much need one when we come to Christ for that first time.

Your new song may song like an old hymn. That has happened to many new Christians. We also have a rich selection of new praise and worship songs by talented musicians and songwriters of today. A new song may bring to mind a Bible verse in a whole new way to us. Other tunes bring the thought of Christ to us in a way that is easier to remember. I find it more difficult to memorize dry text. Song lyrics with a good tune are more easily recalled. This is not surprising. If a person has trouble with memorization, the recommendation is often to sing the words. Putting a catchy melody with the singing makes it that much easier. I believe that God made us with a song of praise in our hearts. That song may get lost in the world, but God brings it out of those He chooses to hear the call of the Holy Spirit.

Does this mean that we all should sing a solo up on the stage? Perhaps not, I carry a great tune in the two perfect listening environments I have, the shower and the driver's seat. Standing up in the congregation my tune tends to wander around a bit. If I had to sing without accompaniment like those folks on TV, people might wonder if they were watching some kind of bad yodeling contest. The song in my heart may not issue perfectly from my lips, but the joy of the song is right where Jesus put it. The joy is what we need. The perfect melody, pitch, tone, and other things can wait until we sing to God in Heaven.

Have a merry melody today.