Thursday, January 31, 2013

Been Surprised?

Good Thursday morning! Of course you have! It's winter and you expect cold to greet you just outside the door, but the day is oddly warm. You purchase something online and you suspect you just messed up, but the thing arrives and is surprisingly useful or well-made, or - shiver me timbers - comes with readable and easy to understand instructions for assembly. The project seems mired in eternal delays, but suddenly the deliverables begin arriving and completion is assured...until the specs are changed at the last minute, but we are all too familiar with that bit. Not everything is a pleasant surprise in this life.

Surprises come because we are not omniscient. We cannot see but a few moments ahead and even that has no certainty for us. As of now the meteorite may be approaching my roof and my next moments could change forever. A loud smack, a rolling noise, and the thing comes out the gutter spout. I didn't say that it was a big meteorite. In the comic books, I would then pick up the radioactive rock and turn into some sort of greenish beastly thing spurting strange bodily fluids. If the latest version of the norovirus is going through town, that might not be so different from everyone else.

However, the greatest surprise of all is on the way as we speak. The Rapture is a scary sort of surprise for those who refuse to believe in God's Son. On the other hand, for us it is the greatest hope and the bestest surprise. All will be surprised though, for not one man knows the time and date of Jesus' next coming. Fill up with the oil of God's word, and be ready for that wonderful surprise!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Remember...Only What I Can Remember

Good morning! Have you compared memories with another person only to find that you both recall differently some event? Police detectives compare witness statements because memory does change and for most of us recall is not perfect. You and me are not the only ones to have problems with those slippery memories of yesteryear. Fortunately, God provided for that little problem before we were born.

The Holy Spirit reminds us of scripture, the Law, our Lord Jesus and any other thing we need to know as we grow toward our arrival at Jesus' place. If my salvation was dependent upon my perfect memory, such as say a recital of the book of John at the pearly gates without the use of crib notes or a teleprompter, then I would be in deep trouble. People have memorized books of scripture, but Jesus took care of the requirements for my salvation. Our growth in Christ is not dependent upon perfect memory recall either.

If we needed to meet some requirement of 1,425 verses memorized by the time we reached the fifteenth anniversary of our salvation, most of us would be in some difficulty. We could stumble over John 3:16, recite a bit of the 23rd Psalm, and there was that bit about 'in the beginning' somewhere, but we could not recite even the short books if our salvation depended upon it. Even the verses we have memorized may not roll perfectly off our tongue every time we speak them. Could it be that God wants us to return to His Word daily?

If I remembered perfectly every Bible verse I ever read, I might not return to the Bible to study and talk it over with my Lord Jesus. Someone might spout off an obscure verse, Haggai 2:14 for example, and I would recite it from my perfect memory without giving it any meaning or application. However, if I have to look it up (Haggai, near the end of the Old Testament by those two 'Z' fellows.) Then I can read the context, note who is speaking and why, and other important matters. The Holy Spirit can point me to other verses; I can dig deeper into the Word and learn.

Scripture memorization is useful, especially at those times when we don't have a copy of God's Word near to hand, but it isn't the only thing we have in our walk with Christ. Praise God for His Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Preachers and Teachers

Good morning with a goodly blanket of snow on top! I see in the news this morning that a teacher has been graded again. Social media and free speech do not belong to school teachers it seems. Oh yeah, how come she gets a hearing then? If she didn't teach school, there would be no call for a hearing in front of the school administration. For most of us, a call to stand in front of a board with interrogation or even disciplinary power is already punishment. I wonder also if there is not some spirit of vengeance in our desire to grade teachers and preach to preachers.

Preachers and teachers are two of the early authority figures in our lives outside of the home. Later in life we may feel a desire to get back at them through a higher standard than we give to factory workers or office clerks. Ah, but the Bible does have a higher standard for preachers and teachers, you might say. Yes, but what is your attitude in applying these rules? Is it for the children, or for yourself? For those being taught or to teach the teacher a lesson?

Examine your motives when correcting a brother or sister in Christ. Are you loving and caring, or do you set out on a witch hunt? Do you want your fellow sheep returned to the Shepherd's care, or are you secretly hoping their downfall will move you up the list a little in God's sight? The attitude behind the correction is our responsibility. If we cannot correct out of love, we may need to leave the correction of others to God and come before Him for a little correcting of an attitude.

Praise God for His gentle correction,

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Heart-felt Thank You!

Good Monday morning! The winter may return this evening, but for today we have the sunrise. While I await the day, I wondered this morning if I have ever thanked God properly for the things I have. No, not those things, but those other things - the ones I see as problems to be prayed over. Have I ever thanked God for the insurance payment, the phone bill, the credit card bill, the bank that charges the steep interest on the one side but pays so little on the savings side, or even the physical problems I feel? That sounds a bit like thanking God for a list of my complaints. Surely that cannot be the right thing to do.

James reminds us to count it all as joy when we fall into various tribulations. Paul told us to rejoice in the Lord always. The apostles made no exception for paying bills or going to the doctor's place. We are reminded to give thanks to God for the times that giving thanks might be furthest from our minds. Mostly we like to thank God when the doctor thing is over, especially if the doc managed to cure something. Do we often remember to thank God for the tribulation contained in the pain or only for the cure?

Thank you dear Lord, my Father in Heaven, for the wonderful things I learn in patient endurance of my tribulations. Thank you dear God for the tribulations in life, no matter how humiliating they may seem at the time. Thank you, dear Jesus for being with me at all times, even those so painful that I forget to thank you in the moment. Amen.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Worst Mistakes

Great day to you! For my first mistake this morning, do you remember that old Hanson song Mmmbop? Ha, ha, now you are cursing at me for reminding you of the dreadful melody you heard no less than a bazillion times back in the day. Sometimes our mistake is too much repetition as in a practical joke that is only hilarious the first time. Other times we say the wrong thing right off the bat so to speak, no repetition required. Actually, to have what we said repeated is to wince in pain all over again. Hmm, speaking of which, there is way too much repetition going on here this morning.

As I thought over some of my worst mistakes, I realized that the Bible covers a lot of that ground too. Not only the part about governing my tongue, but the parts where that old king did what was evil in God's sight. And then the next king did what was evil, and another one after that, and finally a break for one king to do the right thing, and back to another one doing what was evil, and so on. Our worst mistakes don't just haunt our memories, they may also make return visits. The good news - all those kings and sins and mistakes are covered by God's grace in Jesus Christ.

You may not be a king, or you may not go out of your way to do what was evil in God's sight, but you are covered under grace through faith in Christ. Even if we do see the temptation and go out of our way to do what is evil, we can find forgiveness in God's mercy and life in His grace. I may make a terrible mistake or I may sin, but the sacrifice of Jesus keeps me alive in God's great love. As if to remind me of my complete bankruptcy in regard to the law, sins of thought or deed come along often enough that there is zero chance of saving myself. You, me, or we, all of us need the salvation and grace of Christ Jesus for those worst mistakes and outright sins.

Be saved in Christ!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You're In The Army Now!

Good morning on this fine day! The history of Israel and Judah in the Bible is filled with military actions. Paul writes in military terms in his epistles. One might think from parts of the Bible that we owned some sort of military manual. Congratulations! You joined an army when you gave your life to Jesus. You are equipped with armor and a sword. Your camp is in contested lands, and you are now far from home. An enemy attacks you daily, and you will need to deal with a traitor in the rear. Like any army, the ones important to you are now the fellow soldiers beside you in battle and the commander of the army.

By the commander's decisions you live or die. By your own actions you comfort the ones fighting beside you. You do not stand alone in this fight. But, I don't want to be in an army! Didn't Jesus speak of peace, meekness, and laying down of burdens? Yes, our Lord did that too. He also spoke of trials and tribulations that would come. We joined an army, but we also joined the church. We did not join God's army to attack, but we are under siege by the enemy. Since the enemy will assault anyway, we might as well put on our armor, pick up our swords, and fight back.

Get a little angry at the Devil's attack on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Swing the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. You're in the army now; fight in support of your fellow soldiers in Christ. Quit taking the flaming darts laying down. Ask Jesus for the strength to stand in the fight and resist the Devil. Live like the Almighty God stands behind you in battle, because He does.

God bless you all,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Helping Make It Right

Good morning on another of God's great days. That title comes from an old Christmas card I dug out of my trunk yesterday. It reminds me that we are allowed to help God make it right. As we look around this world we see a lot that is most definitely wrong. Most of the time we tend to hang back and wait for God to make it right. Indeed one day He will, but we are allowed to pitch in, and more than that, we are commanded to do God's work on this earth. Of course we are no good to anyone on our own. We must remember the Lord in everything we do in order to do our work in the right way.

We do a little work, and it becomes easy to be proud. We do a little more and suddenly we are not calling upon God anymore. As C.S. Lewis wrote: "He likes to be asked." I have started my work for God at times with the assumption that He will not leave me alone. Of course you know that I should start by asking Him first, but I don't always remember that. If I want the inspiration and wisdom of the Lord to infuse and power up my work, then I need to humble myself and ask. Have you ever got halfway through a project and then run out of ideas, energy, and the strength to see it through? Sure I have! The likely result of having taken off without God's help and will behind me.

Daily, we need to come to God and ask our Lord if we can help Him make it right in all that we attempt. It isn't that we can lend any strength to God though, we need God to lend us the strength to do any work right.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Why Do We Say That?

Great and awesome is our God! Good Monday morning, and I hope that is not a contradiction in terms for you. The Super Bowl teams are set and I won't mention the interesting side story that you will no doubt hear until you change the channel. Maybe tomorrow or Friday we can talk about the other James and John. Notice the first statement this morning: Great and awesome is our God. Why do we say that?

Not that God is not, or that we have any doubt, but why do we say that God is great and awesome and then fail to trust in Him? If we will not or cannot do it, why do we say it? I think it comes down to the battle raging within our hearts and minds. The flesh wants to trust in only its own ability and strength, though these have proven inadequate time and again. The carnal desire wants to rebel against God and seeks to overthrow the spirit's communion with God's Holy Spirit. The Devil, our adversary, also wants to cast doubt and fear into our inner dialog. It isn't that we don't trust in God, but that we have all this opposition going on at the same time!

We say it to put that stamp of God's authority on the statement. Great and awesome is our God because His Spirit tells us so. We say it as a reminder. The forces of the world only seem strong, but our God is truly great and awesome. We say it to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Sin is the problem with this world, but look at what our great and awesome God did through His Son. We say it as a comfort. The first statement may sound a little weepy and weak, but our great and awesome God gives us strength to repeat it until we can say it with authority. Great and awesome is our God!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Let It Go

Good Saturday morning! We have heard about letting it go and letting God take it, but what is 'it'? How about a useless circular definition: 'It' is anything you need to let go and let God take from you. Yup, totally useless and circular. We gain a little understanding by examples. Any thought of bitterness about some situation or past event in your life can be one of those 'its'. Why didn't it happen to that guy instead of me? He was surely more deserving of the punishment or loss or whatever than me. That thought may occur years after the fact. And it may come from our natural selfishness or as one of those flaming darts from our adversary. Whatever the source, we must apply our faith in Christ and throw it away. Who are we to judge who is deserving of that thing that happened to us back in the day?

'It' could be a good thing that happened to the neighbor and not to you. Someone discovered a buried treasure in their yard not 3 feet from your property line. It may be revenge that we must give up. I just watched a TV show where the character said something like, revenge is good for the soul. Don't know how that could be possible when God claims vengeance as His own.

Okay, here we go with that one you know about: someone says something bad about you or that makes you look bad in public. Let it go? Yes! Is it easy to do? No! Of all the things we need to let go, not lashing back at the things people say is one of the more difficult to do. We want to rush to our own defense, beat 'em down with the rightness of our words, and justify our words or actions with our brilliant argument. Jesus said to turn the other cheek. Did our Lord mean that we are to let that go too? A lot of unjust words were spoken at Jesus' trial. He spoke no word in His defense. Sounds like a powerful example of letting it go to me.

Have a productive and enjoyable Saturday. May God's blessings go with you today.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Time For Prayer

Good morning on this fine day. Early yesterday morning, two homes burned down here in Julesburg. All residents escaped the fires, but their possessions and homes are gone. Please pray for the Myers and Thode families as you come before God this morning. One or more of us may be in a position to help on this day also. Please remember us in your prayers so that selfishness does not win.

It is relatively easy to bring all of my problems to God, over and over again, until something like this comes up. Sometimes we can look over there and say with conviction, 'Today, that family has more pressing problems than me.' We lose a goodly portion of the self-interest that plagues our prayers and we come before God with a request for a neighbor. Go with it today; reach out in self-less love as you pray for those who are suffering.

My request for me today: That one day the Lord will have cleansed me so much that I pray without selfishness on a day when everyone is having a great day and no tragedies have occurred.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Moments We Live For

Alright, so I shouldn't end a title with a preposition. Try to let my poor grammar go for this morning. I watched an old episode of the Mentalist and couldn't help but think of how they managed to capture one of those moments that police officers must cherish for years after the case is closed. That probably too rare moment when a kidnapping victim is returned to the loving arms of the family. Other moments will come to mind as well, such as a life saved, or a baby delivered beside the highway. I had to ask what moments we live for as Christians.

For days, weeks, or perhaps years we may live with the impression that life is going nowhere. Efforts seem in vain, wheels are spinning in the snow, and the life in Christ seems just plain stuck in neutral. We try to force the issue with prayer, fasting, and other things that do us much good, but may not move God in the way we think our Lord should move. We may forget that God will move us when His perfect time arrives.

Those we may call saints have studied or waited for years before their ministry took off in a manner of speaking. Do we dare think that their faith kept them from doing the same wondering and impatient waiting that we do? Given that God likes to take some of the most unlikely people to train up as saints, I rather suspect they suffered and prayed through some of the same doubts and wonderings that we do today. The moments they lived for were set behind a mountain of prayer, Bible study, worship meetings, and other preparation that God commanded to make them ready. Perhaps a bit more patience will bring us to one of those moments we live for.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Once, I Was Smart

Good morning! Cold, still here, but the sky shows the promise of warming sunlight today. Ah, I remember the good old days. Back then, I was smart. I know because people would say this at least once a week, and I said it to myself even more often. Being smart was a good feeling. People looked up to me, at least in my own perception, for being so smart. The problem was that occasional devastating time when I didn't know quite what I thought I knew. In other words I came up flat out wrong. That was completely unacceptable to the smart person and I vowed to never let it happen again. Then it did.

Then another day came. A day when all my smart did me no good at all. Could it be that I was missing something? What a blessing to discover that there was indeed more to learn in a subject I had studied years in the past. I had missed something! The pride of being smart got in the way of learning, of understanding something I very much needed to know. I wonder if any scribes or pharisees overcame their pride of knowledge back in the day?

Pride of any type gets in the way of rebirth in Christ. As Jesus said, the well do not need a doctor. We cannot realize our need for rebirth in Christ while we are proclaiming our wellness to the world. The proud smart person cannot learn anything. The proud strong man cannot realize his true weakness. The proud beauty cannot see the ugly sin inside. What a great day when I learned that Jesus had much to teach me about life!


Monday, January 14, 2013

The Son Hears My Entreaty

Good Monday morning! Sorry, the cold is still here. I read an old Calvin and Hobbes comic this morning. Calvin's snowman was sad because the sun ignored his entreaties to not melt him. Sometimes we feel that way too. We make the mistake of feeling that the Son is ignoring our pleading. How can I fulfill this work if God's Son does not hear my prayers? Of course, in our heart and in our head we know that is not true, but for a time we feel that self-pitying as we wallow in the cry of 'unfair!'

God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. But, why oh why, did I think that the amount of rain had to be the same for everyone? No doubt a farmer somewhere has wondered over that statement too as he watched every thunder shower miss his fields and gently water the neighbor's place. The neighbor is already prosperous and has no belief in God. Why, his loans are already paid off and he gets a new tractor every year! Why doesn't God hear my prayers? We feel like the farmer at times. We may even ask God to explain why He doesn't hear us.

I'll let you chuckle over that last one a bit. Yes, in our time of self-pity and despair we may not realize the absurdity of our prayer. God's patient and kindly answer is always that He hears every prayer. The question of why God does not always respond with a 'yes' to our request is a different matter. Whoever said that Farmer 1 should get the same as Farmer 2? Why do you or I think that our wisdom is sufficient to know what is best for our needs? The Son hears my entreaty, even if the answer is 'no' or 'wait a while longer'. Faith is in knowing that a 'no' from God is the best thing for us. Faith in Farmer 1 trusts in God even though pagan Farmer 2 seems to have everything going his way. The Son does hear my entreaty, even when I am not making the right entreaty. Praise God for all of His answers!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Okay, So I Jumped the Gun a Little

Good foggy morning! We have that freezing fog kind of thing going on here. The fog arrived yesterday afternoon and has decided to stay for a bit. This week I started taking Centrum Silver. Okay, so I jumped the gun a little bit. I'm not quite 50+, but I figure the damage my body endured a few years back qualifies me to start. I can get away with that in the matter of vitamins, but does that work in the Christian life? Can a person who does not yet believe in Jesus begin reforming his life to fit the Christian ideal?

Morally, I suppose a person could begin a self-improvement program. Since Adam took the forbidden fruit we do have the knowledge of both good and evil in our hearts. However, according to the words of Jesus that alone will not save us. To turn a phrase a bit, if we know the truth but refuse to believe in it, it has no way to set us free from the law of sin and death. In other words, no one can be good enough to save himself. A person cannot say on a given day that he will probably surrender to Christ in a few months, so today is a good day to begin a preparatory course in obeying the commands of Jesus. That sounds a lot like the seed falling on the rocky soil.

We need the Holy Spirit to have any chance of obeying God. No amount of personal will power is going to save anyone. A sinner cannot become a saint by trying hard, though many have taken that path. We must be saved by one with the proper credentials. If I know the truth of Jesus Christ, but keep the door closed so that I may try to save myself first through a program of good behavior, I am taking an awful risk with eternity. Trusting in the saving grace and cleansing blood of Jesus must come first, or all that effort is in vain. Better to have never heard the good news of Jesus at all than to hear the word and then try to save myself.

Enjoy the day in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Trial That Passes

Sometimes we look upon that valley of death's shadow as David names it in the 23rd Psalm and we say, 'Yes, I have an appointment there tomorrow at 0845! I understand what David was talking about.' Well, I had just such a meeting on Tuesday, and I am very glad that trial is in the past. Now, to leave it there where it belongs.

Part of the problem with a very invasive medical test, and if they must sedate you for the test it is probably more invasive than a person wants in the first place, is in the reliving of the test. Oh, the horrors! The best thing to do with the trials of the past is to let them pass. You may need the Lord's help in this; I know that I do.

Write it in a journal, talk it out with your friends in Christ, or if you are really mean, share it in a devotional. Find some way to let go of the burden and let God heal you and me in His wonderful way. Holding onto that trial, whipping yourself with the pain over and over again, letting the evil one have his way with you by reliving the suffering, these are not the way of healing. Learn the lessons you can from the trial that passes, and then let it pass!

Passing is on my mind a lot today because the preparation for the test involved a whole lot of that. I spoke with several folks who had this test and not one of them has indicated an overwhelming and eager anticipation for the next one. It's more like, 'I sure hope they come up with an easier test before I'm due again!' I'm with you, I hope the colonoscopy passes into the same place as bloodletting and trepanning real soon. Until then, let us give that trial to Jesus and let it pass into the past.


Monday, January 07, 2013

Walking Along The Road

Good Monday morning! School, college, work, a lot of things that are a part of the race to succeed will begin once more today. I notice in the gospels that Jesus never turned to the disciples and said, "C'mon, hurry up! We're going to be late!" I imagine that is being said in quite a few places this morning, but never for our Lord. The closest statement might be when Jesus told the disciples that we must quickly be about the work God has given us. 'Quickly' may also be translated as 'soon' or 'suddenly'. When Jesus returns for the Rapture, we know that he will come suddenly like a thief in the night. We know the disciples waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit to begin their work soon after Jesus ascended to Heaven.

We tend to think of quickly in terms of now and immediately. We don't want to walk along the road with Jesus, we want Him to get in our race car and take a few laps with us. Jesus commands us to slow down and walk with Him; we jump out in prayer and try to get our Lord to join in our mad rush. As we finally calm down into trust and walk with our Lord along life's road, we see a lot of people rushing past us in cars, carts, or whatever on that same road. We sometimes feel left behind. You may be in a place where it seems that Jesus has led you off the road and into a permanent rest area. Before that impatience gets the best of you, remember that there is only one permanent rest stop and we ain't there yet. Taking our time to walk along the road with our Lord Jesus is difficult in this rushing, hurrying world. But this morning, that may sound like a wonderful place to be as life revs up after the holiday break. Take some time to just walk a little today.

God's grace and mercy be with you today,

Friday, January 04, 2013

Out-there Goals

Good morning on this first Friday of 2013! By now you have probably set a few goals and made a few resolutions for this new year. Have you made any of those goals that are kind of out-there goals? You know, those goals that, if achieved, you do not know what the final result will feel like. One example is any kind of boot camp. You may set a goal to become a Marine, a sailor, or a soldier, but passing through boot camp is the first goal. However, you have only a vague idea of what it is like being a member of the military. Those of us who served will tell a similar tale. We checked with relatives or friends who served, we may have read a book or two, or watched a few movies, but we could not know what it was like to be a soldier or sailor until we completed that first goal and became one.

Your goal may be to become wealthy this year. But do you know right now with any certainty what wealth brings with it? Do you know the responsibility of a wealthy person, or the criticism leveled at them? No, but you would like to give it a try just the same. I understand the feeling. We set goals that are way out there and we pray to God to help us achieve them. The most out-there goal may be the one we strive after the most and pay attention to the least. We want to get to heaven when we pass from this world. However, our knowledge of heaven and what it is like to be there with our Lord Jesus is, well, vague at best. We take it on faith that with Jesus is the place to be for eternity. Amen to that!

A lot of work goes into goals we take on faith. Serving in the military was not exactly what I imagined when I signed the contract, but that does not mean it was entirely bad. How much better then is the goal of heaven when we have the assurance of Jesus that all evil will be shut away from it forever!

Go with the love of Christ Jesus today!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Walk With God as You Tread His Sod

Non-news flash: Winter continues today. To the legalistic, fundamentalist, blockhead, that title might cause anger. How dare I rhyme the name of our Lord with dirt of the ground. Yet, did not God make the first man from the dust? It is interesting that the popular theory of the world speaks of electricity and water, while the story of creation speaks of dust. The world talks of intelligence that grew over billions of years while creation speaks of God breathing life into the man. The wealthy man speaks of his hard work, ignoring the fact his servant worked just as hard over the same time but earned a pittance. Others claim their privileged circumstance to be a result of personal merit, but is anyone solely responsible for his station in life? Many are born into advantage, should they boast of their personal merit also? Everywhere we look the hand of God is at work in this fallen world, but not to those who do not believe.

Opposition is all around us in this world. If you believe in Jesus and read His holy word, you cannot believe in what the world believes. The Genesis account of the Creation cannot live with the Theory of Evolution. The triumph of the human will cannot sit beside dependence on God and His sovereign will. Grace as a freely given gift cannot exist with salvation earned by human effort. Many ways to get to heaven cannot agree with John 14:6. We must believe Jesus or the world. We choose between God and mammon. If you have given your life to Christ, you cannot be anti-Christ.

Walk with God as you tread His sod today. Draw nearer to Christ in prayer and He will come closer to you. The world will oppose us in ways both sneaky and obvious, but our God knows all of its underhanded methods. Do you feel out of place in this world? You are! God wants you to come home too, but you and I are not yet fully prepared. Patience as you walk with God. Trust in Him for the proper and timely provisioning of your life. Enjoy the peace and love of Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Next Coming

Good morning! It makes a certain amount of sense, I suppose, that after celebrating the first coming of Jesus Christ, I tend to want to read the Revelation again. The story of the next coming helps remind me that the post-celebration sadness is but a passing thing. The first section of Revelation is Christ's message to the seven churches in Asia. At first, this message seems very critical, not quite as loving as the message about loving your neighbors and doing good that our Lord delivered in His first visit. How could our Lord be less loving though? My focus may be too narrow. What does the overall message to the seven churches really say?

We can easily get caught up in the specifics and think of our Lord as overly critical, obviously a wrong conclusion on our part because He is Lord and we are not. What happens is that in reading the things Christ has against the seven churches, we tend to take all of that burden upon ourselves or we set it all aside because my church cannot be that bad. After all, my church is in the saving business. See that lamp or candle lit up there on the wall? We saved someone this past week! Of course, we know that it is Christ who does the saving and not our church, but what overall message might we miss in Christ's critique of those churches?

With a little change of focus, we can read the following in the message to the seven churches: I see you, I know you, I'm paying attention to your thoughts and actions, and the most important, I love you. If Christ did not love those churches, would He pay any attention to their actions, save in storing up wrath for the judgment? Would Jesus send a special message via John if He didn't care what those churches were doing? Isn't it great that the sovereign Lord is paying attention to you and me? Wonderful! The Lord cares enough to tell these churches what is wrong AND what is right in the congregation. He isn't just sitting on the throne waiting for the Father to give the signal for the end. Jesus sees us, knows us, and cares enough to send word that He is watching and loving us! That is what we can see in the overall message. By picking out seven churches, God reminds us that all of us are on His monitor screen at all times. You and I are not abandoned to the world!

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!