Tuesday, April 30, 2013

God Rises Up

Good morning, a little late, but coming on strong. I taught the Bible study class this morning, then went to Ovid to help with a house measuring, and stopped at the grocery store for cat food. Busy, busy! I have been assured many times that God will act in the due time. The due time has arrived and God rises up to act in my behalf. The blessings are pouring in daily! What can a person do to prevent this gathering of God's provision and His lovingkindness? (I love that word in combination with God's actions.) Easy, we can be too proud to accept help.

It happens; we want to be in control in everything. We want to have the freezer fully stocked, the pantry well-provisioned, and the money rolling in. We want this in response to our fear of the future famine, whether it actually happens or not. However, a time may come in life when you turn out your empty pockets, shake the purse or wallet and nothing falls out, and look around at the food storage and see little or nothing. God first told me to give Him my shame.

We have more than enough to be ashamed of with our years of sin and the tendency toward more sin in our carnal flesh. Shame in a circumstance that we have little or no control over is not going to help. We pile it on though, don't we? We want to hide in the wine press like Gideon, cower in the baggage train like Saul, or just plain flee to the hills, but we keep piling that shame on the old self. Like Job though, we are blameless. Not innocent, not sinless, but blameless in Christ Jesus. Made righteous by the blood of the Lamb, we have nothing to be ashamed of when the circumstance plants a tough tribulation right on our household. When the shame and control and pride are given up to God in the tough time, that is when He rises up.

Gideon triumphed over impossible (for men) odds, Saul became Israel's first king, and the hills cannot provide comfort without God. Job was restored twice over. Samson messed up good, but the Lord granted his final request. David came back to his kingdom after suffering betrayal. We want to be the rich one called to give to others in need, but God may call us to spend some time as the one in need first. This gives us understanding where we may have needed it most.

Few times in my life have I learned so much, so quickly from God and His Word than right now. I begin, just begin to understand how God's wisdom is far more valuable than gold or silver. The salvation of Christ is beyond price. The provision of God through my brothers and sisters in Christ is a privilege and an honor. God loves you and so do I.

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ol' Brimstone

Good Monday as you face the new work this day. Only this day? Yes, none of us are facing tomorrow yet. The date of disaster promised in the mailing is not yet here. Why worry about that date before it arrives? Jesus told us that one day's troubles are enough for that day. He also said that He has overcome the world.(John 16:33) Does it seem to you like Jesus has overcome the world? No, from my limited point of view I must admit that the world seems ready to pounce on me and tear me apart. But, "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28) Therefore, Jesus uses the world for our good because He has overcome it? Yes, I think that is a good way to put it. Imagine the frustration and consternation of our enemies when they find that in the end all of their plots and snares only worked to strengthen and renew our faith in God!

How does overcoming work? For we are overcomers in Christ, we should learn how this thing goes. Let us try it in story form. Imagine that you and I have never operated a tractor before this and we need to plant a field. And not just any field, this is 1600 acres of dirt and rocks, hills and gullies, just the kind of thing that even working together we could not get planted before the spring rains arrive. The first thing we must do is attend a safety lecture, complete with the slide show or horror movie. A man from the Dept. of Agriculture swoops in, runs through the safety commandments and then shows us the horrors of farm injuries in all their gory detail, and then he is gone.

Now we are frightened. Some students in the class take off out the door and never come back. Their field will never get planted. The remaining students band together a little, there's nothing quite like a little adversity to bring us closer. We look up and an old farmer walks in to the class. "The farming authority likes to lay down the fear," he says, "but I'm here to teach you the right reasons to plant this field. The old farmer proceeds to teach us the parts of a tractor from the main manual of farming. We are beginning under the farmer's discipleship to overcome our ignorance and fear of farming. Then, the easy part is over, and the farmer leads those few remaining students - more left the class when things seemed a bit boring - out to the field.

In the field sits a smoke-breathing monster. The farmer turns to the class and introduces Ol' Brimstone, a tractor from some previous age of mechanical monstrosities. Once we know how to operate Ol' Brimstone, we are assured, we will have no trouble operating any tractor out on the farm. He pats the beast affectionately, "She's kind of like the world, turn your back on 'er and she'll give you a good bite," the old farmer warns. The tractor pops its exhaust loudly and spits a chunk of glowing hot metal right at the iron seat in what appears to be an iron cage, probably welded there to make sure the student farmer doesn't make an escape should Ol' Brimstone decide to plunge off a cliff.

Then, to your horror, the old farmer points to you, yes, you, and tells you to climb up on Ol' Brimstone and start plowing. The beast's chugging changes tone, sounding a bit like a smoky sort of evil chuckling. Trembling, and trying not to show it, you climb up into the hot-metal target zone. Looking around you see levers, pedals, a cracked and rusted old steering wheel, and some gauges that may have worked once, but surely don't seem to have much to say right now. The beast seems to lean forward. Did the gears just slip a little? You can feel the power of the engine in every joint and bone. Suddenly, the farmer has climbed up beside you. He speaks in your ear. "Didn't think I would let you take Ol' Brimstone out alone, did you?" He cackles a little at his own wit, but now you find it charming in a way.

The farmer takes you around the field, telling you every detail that you need to know, right when you need to know it. Your ignorance of the beast is overcome and your fear fades. At times you seem to be headed for disaster, but the old farmer says to be patient, turn when he says, trust in him. Ol' Brimstone spits out another chunk of metal right at your face, but, quick as a cat the old farmer grabs it out of the air and tosses it overboard. You see that his hands are burn scarred; that explains the roughness you felt as he guided your hand to the right levers at just the right time. Before you realize it, the ride is over and the farmer has patted you on the back and pointed at another student.

Immediately, you begin telling me about the ride and especially the farmer. Before you took the ride, you trembled with me at the sight of Ol' Brimstone, now you are a witness to the strength and self-sacrificing grace of the farmer. He has overcome Ol' Brimstone and showed you the way as well. When my turn comes to mount, your witness has soothed my fears and I learn much more quickly. Ol' Brimstone takes us through some dark gullies, some rough patches with many rocks, but the old farmer is always there, grabbing the blazing chunks spat back at us. The old farmer uses all of this for our training, for our good. One day, he tells the class as Ol' Brimstone pants behind him, a new Earth with limitless fields will be ours to plant, and Ol' Brimstone will be retired forever. That, we agree, sounds like the best thing we could ever imagine.

God bless you today as you face those rough patches with Christ Jesus,

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sometimes We Jump Around a Little

Good Saturday morning! If I am wrong to one side, I sometimes jump far to the other side in an attempt to correct myself. In directing my path, God has at times or on certain issues had me jump back and forth a bit until I get back into the narrow way. It is not that I desire to waver or waffle on some decisions, but that in my desire to please God I may jump too far. God says come back, meet Me halfway, but in my overzealous way I jump all the way over the midpoint.

Think of it like the prodigal son coming back, but instead of going directly to his father's house, he tries to impress the father by trudging 50 miles past the house first. Of course the father isn't impressed by all that wasted effort. He wants his son at the house to receive the father's joy and forgiveness. The father doesn't run out to grab the cheapest duck at the poulterer's shop, he slaughters the fatted calf. Meeting God at His house is to find joy. Walking an extra 100 miles in an effort to somehow make up for past mistakes is waste a lot of time and strength.

Walking the narrow way is difficult enough with the enemies we have in this world. Jumping back and forth over the walls of the narrow way only makes the journey that much more arduous. The most difficult time to be still and wait on the Lord may be when the attack of the enemy is at its peak. The soldier on the front line may not understand the orders from the Commander of Heaven's army, but to disobey is to bring far more trouble than we like to bear.

In a former job, we're going way back now, I computed firing data for a Marine artillery battery. The guns fired from miles behind the front lines and the shells even at a goodly velocity took several seconds to arrive on target. Now, suppose on the front lines a boot lieutenant does not quite understand the concept of indirect fire. He seeks glory above the safety of his men, and places valor above discretion. Ignoring the order to 'stand', he hears the artillery fire over the tactical radio and gives the order to charge. With the infantry engaged at close range, it is quite possible for our inexperienced lieutenant to lead his men right into the destruction meant for the enemy during those precious few seconds when he was ordered to hold position.

We face the same danger in our fight as a soldier of Christ. God may order one, a group, or all of His soldiers to stand. God may not explain why, or give us a time limit. By faith, we know that the order is for our good. Though the dogs and demons of the world may snarl and snap at us, God is acting and we need to obey when our Lord gives the order to stand.

Trust Him,

Friday, April 26, 2013

Melodrama Won't Work With God

So, if we cannot come to God by padding our situation a bit, what should we come to Him with? Perhaps an honest need? If you happen to be surrounded by four grizzly bears arguing over which are the best parts of a human to eat, you might be more than justified in stating to God, "I'm doomed if you don't act right now, Lord!" However, most of our situations are not quite so immediately dooming as we might make them out to be in prayer. God sets the due time for His actions and we learn to wait with patience while having faith in His providence. While we are waiting, we often run into an age old question - Which way do I go from here?

I imagine that all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps especially pastors, have heard this question voiced or asked of them about as much as any. Which way do I go, Lord? I'm sure is often a prayer that goes up to God many times each day. Discerning the will of God in every decision we make is one of the more difficult skills to learn in our walk with Jesus. Why doesn't God simply give us marching orders in all these things? Because it didn't work, that's why!

A reading of the law and the instructions for temple worship in the Bible is an exhausting read through excruciating detail. God specified the priests garments, what stones went where, and many other exacting specifications. Yet, those same people with their exact marching orders strayed from God's will almost before the ink was dry on the ol' parchment. King David loved the Law, yet he could not keep it. The Word of the Lord is a light unto our paths, but sometimes that light doesn't seem to illuminate as much as we might like.

I don't have all the answers in this, I am looking for a few myself. However, we are promised guidance from the Lord. We may well not realize, even as we make a decision, the gentle hand of the Lord guiding us in all things. I think that as I arrive to see Jesus in Heaven, He will explain much to me of moments I thought that He left me alone to make a decision that seemed to have no correct path. I held up the light of the Word, and all ways appeared dark to me. Yet, I believe that Jesus will show me then how He gently guided me in this moment.

Grace and love from our Lord Jesus Christ to you on this blessed day,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

But, What Does It Mean To You?

Last night the space station, today a lunar eclipse... at least for those over yonder and across the waters. We don't get to see the eclipse here in the States. What does today's lunar event mean to us? Not a bloomin' thing. For some folks, even a total lunar eclipse in full view would not mean anything. To those people the events in the sky hold no interest. Their concerns are entirely down below. To some of us, the name of Jesus Christ holds special meaning. To others, our Lord's name is one to insert in casual conversation to show their displeasure with something.

What the name of Christ means to you or me is a critical question we must answer at some point in our lives. I would rather not have that question sprung on me for the first time standing before God's judgment seat as the books are opened. At that point, it will be too late to attempt a clever explanation for misusing the name of God's Son. To those who believe in Him, the name of Jesus holds a special place in our hearts.

Our salvation, honor, respect, reverence, obedience, trust, and love we place in the name of Jesus. We give God glory by honoring the sacrifice His Son made for us on the cross at Calvary. Peter said that there is no other name by which we may be saved. Paul wrote that one day every knee would bow and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. The name of the Son is on our hearts, sealed on our foreheads, and given to us as a promise. A rose may smell as sweet under any other name, but the name of Jesus Christ is holy.


Post Script: Okay, fess up! Who thought for just a moment yesterday that ol' Buck had slipped a cog? I had another devotional in me and I just couldn't let it sit. Perhaps someone needed that message, but ya got two for the show! Have a wonderful day in Christ!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sometimes I Feel Unworthy

The admission of the failure to always feel like a child of God may be one of the more sure signs that you and I are one. I look up to Heaven in prayer and then quickly look down because the unworthy feeling causes me to duck away. Why do I feel that way? Is it my perceived lack of success in leading persons to Christ? I may not be a harvester but a planter of the seed. Do you feel unworthy because you think God wants you to be the CEO of your company by this age of the life you gave to Him? You gave your life to Christ, isn't your position His responsibility now?

I can tell you that CEO is a relative title. Being the CEO of a company that isn't quite sure what he,,,er, I mean, it is doing is not an ego-stroking position. I think that we feel unworthy because we look at those around us and measure our position relative to theirs, or worse, what we think that fellow's position is. We don't know what is in the heart, only God knows that. You or I may be correct and we may be the least of God's children. Paul thought he was. But I suspect that Paul and you and I are all incorrect. God alone keeps the measure of our value relative to His kingdom, and He stated that value rather emphatically on the cross.

You and I are children of the Most High God because God brought us into His family through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I am worthy because Jesus gave me worth on the cross, not because I have a well-known position or mission in God's kingdom. My best position for God is what HE calls me to do, even or perhaps especially if that job seems humble by our world's standards.

God's grace and peace to you on this fine morning!

Joy, Joy, Joy Unspeakable

Good morning on this joyful day. Now that I have made the title unspeakable, I will attempt to write about it. Seems a bit like stating that a brick is hard, and then bashing it upside my head to prove the point. Ah, but I have God's Word and His Holy Spirit to help me out in this. Nothing that I attempt for God is ever done on my own. Things done by me for me may sometimes be attempted alone, usually I know this by the splat sound I make when I fall right after tripping over my own feets, spiritual or physical as the case may be. What happens when I fall into the fowler's snare?

Who walked into it? I did, you did, at some point the world will fool us or humiliate us in some way that is a 'fowler's snare' for us. Psalm 91:3 promises us: "Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence." Why did early Christians care for plague victims when all others fled? This promise. How do we know that unspeakable joy follows a time spent struggling in the fowler's snare? God's promise to us. We may walk around the snare by virtue of God's warning, or He may allow us to fall straight into it. As we struggle, the world may stop by to laugh at us. "Where is your God now?" They ask with derision.

We know where our Lord is, right where He was as Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Our Lord God is on His throne, sovereign and waiting to deliver us. Our delivery may be to Heaven, so tight is the fowler's snare about us. Yet, whose joy is unspeakable when one of His sons or daughters arrives in Heaven? Ours certainly, but is not God's joy also unspeakable in that moment? What about the celebration of the saints and angels? Maybe, we will not know until our time has come.

What I know is that I want some of that unspeakable joy, and today I realize that God wants it too. Not just in Heaven above, but right here on Earth with me and you. For if God feels my sorrow and pain, would He not want to share in my joy and happiness too? I think so. Wait for it; God's joy is coming!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Wrong Yardstick

Good morning! Some of you might have trouble remembering what a yardstick was, we don't see them as much as we once did. Not too many decades ago, hardware stores gave out yardsticks to their customers. Metersticks on the other hand didn't seem to catch on well at all. Perhaps the time to go metric was too soon or the effort by our government not enough, or maybe we are just too rebellious as a people, but the wrong yardstick continued into a sort of oblivion until inexpensive tape measure tools took over. There may be an app for your smart phone soon that will use a laser to measure. However, all of these measuring devices are wrong for measuring the important stuff.

We measure our success by the money in our wallet, or bank account, or brokerage account, or whatever account, but none of our dollars will speak for us at the judgment. We measure the security of our life by the total of the IRA, or 401k, or Roth, or whatever, but the payments of our retirement fund will not secure eternity for us. We measure success in our career by the title on the nameplate, but that too will be left behind, or worse brought up as evidence of how much we were given in this life and how much was then expected of us. Much to the horror of many, that measure will come up short time and time again in the judgment. Perhaps the worst measure of all is to look at our deeds and try to come up with a total that is good enough.

Look at all that I have done, surely the Lord would not condemn someone who is good enough? This sort of statement will be another wrong yardstick that comes up in the judgment. None of us are good enough for the Lord's standard. All are doomed in their own works and condemned to eternal punishment. We have only one hope, one Way to come to the Father and be accepted into His eternal reward: Jesus our Lord and Savior. Any other measure than Jesus is the wrong yardstick.

There is much more to this, but you have work to do. Let us see what tomorrow brings. Have a wonderful day in Christ Jesus!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Let The Love Shine Through!

Caught up in the cares of everyday life, we may present a face to the world that is much like their own. The good news of Christ lives in us, but we feel the thorns and show it in our countenance. You and me, we believe in Jesus and therefore we are bought and paid for by Him and His Holy Spirit lives in us. So, let us look again at that thorny bush poking us in the hurtful spots. Is this something Christ cannot overcome? Will our inheritance in the eternal glory of God's Heaven be affected by this current situation? No and No, then let us let the love of Christ shine through.

Your situation may be very current, "Ugh! I cannot get going today. Why do I have to work every Monday?" Or your situation may be a longer term thing. However, the really, really longer term thing is what Jesus has in mind for us. This life is but a boot camp for Heaven. We look at the 50, 70, or 100 years and think it seems so long. But when we get to the time of our going home, the realization of how short that time has been will come upon us quickly. Cheer up! Jesus has overcome the world. This thing of yours will last only as long as God commands it. And make no mistake that God has left the world to its own devices. We are being trained up for eternity.

Every boot camp is by necessity quite short. Like this life it may not seem brief while we endure the thing, but short it is. The term of service after boot camp is much longer. This earthly ratio is so weak when compared to this span of life versus eternity that it cannot be put into words. How do you compare the time spent in the blink of an eye to infinity? Let the love shine through, this present difficulty is not worth worrying over in light of our eternal home with Christ Jesus.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rev Up The Joy Engine

Woop, I'm yawning big this morning and it stretches tears out of my eyes. I will attempt to write about joy while it looks like I'm weeping. Ah, the simple joy of a good night's sleep, evidence shows that I didn't get that last night. But, isn't that a condition? Should we only experience the joy of our Lord when conditions are just right? Oops, can't have any joy today, I didn't get a good night's sleep. No, Paul was not inspired to write a letter to the Philippians that we throw away just because the conditions aren't right.

I write about joy fairly often because I just can't quite seem to get it right in my life. I find myself reviewing the conditions and not looking at the eternal right Jesus has given to me. A child of God? How can I go around depressed? Eternity with Jesus on the New Earth; going to the New Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas with Christ; watching a seed grow to maturity and enjoying the fruit of it for centuries; these are promises that should lift up our countenance. Well, we don't know that much about Heaven, do we? Perhaps the Bible does not specifically put together Christ, Christmas, and the New Jerusalem, but will the joy we felt as children at the approach of Christmas simply go away in eternity? Will the Beastlings celebration at the death of God's two messengers during the Tribulation be the final mockery of our holiday? I think not!

Rev up the joy engine, the Christmas celebration when the Earth is resurrected will be something to enjoy. The heavenly host at the birth of Christ may be but a model for us as we sing at the Nativity pageant where God shows us exactly how it went in Bethlehem. Yup, we'll know once and for all how many wise men showed up. Is that all we will do? Perish the thought. What about that cabin with the mountain view you wanted in this life, but never had the resources to build? We will have plenty of time in Heaven to build it.

Say after a couple thousand years or so, you are not tired of life in the New Jerusalem, but God has given you a few provinces to rule a ways out there, maybe a few million miles away, and you want to finally build that cabin with the great view of your mountains. You approach Jesus and ask for his advice. He thinks its a wonderful idea and creates a few acorns for you right on the spot. Nuts? But wait, you have eternity to work with, why not build from the seed up? An oak cabin is just what you wanted though you weren't sure at the time.

Your God-given duties are a joy and you find the time as always in Heaven to check on your little oaks over a century or so and, lo and behold, you now have quite a grove of mature trees. One problem, you kind of like those trees, they are a further joy in this land of greater and greater joy. in fact, a little ordering of your grove is in order. Those two trees are too close to each other. You tell one to move and it sings a happy little song as it transplants itself. (Cuz trees in Heaven do that when they move, of course.)

Jesus stops by to see how the cabin project is going and you tell him your reservations about destroying the oaks just to make boards for a cabin.

"No problem", our Lord says with a light in his eyes, "simply teach your trees to grow boards for you"

Eh? The Lord loves to teach and over a few centuries or so shows you how to do this. By now you have an oak forest in your province with squirrels happily chasing each other and raising their young through the trees. Donkeys arrive to bear burdens of boards happily to your building site, lions carefully take the finished boards from the trees to load the donkeys, and The Carpenter himself returns to help with the building. The construction has barely begun, and your joy grows with each passing day. You pause a moment and decide to have a few of your trees start growing firewood for the great fireplace; this will be some cabin!

I don't do this enough in this life. Why do we work up a good dread for tomorrow, when we can spend some time imagining life on the New Earth where we will spend eternity? There are cares and responsibilities here and now, but we are only to worry about today. Once your worries for today are brought to God in prayer and well sorted, think about eternity. Talk to God about your plans, or are you just trying to 'get there'? Shouldn't we glorify God by enjoying the thought of spending eternity with Him? Jesus already took care of the getting there bit.


Friday, April 19, 2013

You Are Forgiven, Live Like It

Shame, we like to pile the shame on the sinful self hoping to subdue it through an accumulation of guilt. It's no wonder the mind gets so messed up. The law given to Moses did a real good job of pointing out our sin. Any of us can go to the books of the law in our Bible and find out that we are the filth at the bottom of the earth. In deeds or thoughts, in what we read or watch on a screen, we find sin rampant in this life. Trying to avoid sin, we find it pursuing us like a depressed high-school sweetheart. How will any of us be saved?

Of course, we have some knowledge of that answer, and it is good news! We know it from the Gospels in those same Bibles. With men it was not possible to be saved by our own effort. Earning our salvation by keeping the law caused more rebellion in the sinful flesh and concentrated our efforts on the self. Turning to the Christ, the one who never sinned and was born in grace, gives us a way that any can keep. Why can we keep this way? We are kept by the Way!

Shame exists in the failure of our efforts to reform. We look at God's perfect law and we cannot measure up to His standard. Jesus didn't free us from the law of sin and death for us to wallow in shame. Shame is the giant club the Devil uses to beat us down. We have sinned, but we are forgiven in Christ. We will sin in this life, but we are forgiven. This is not to say that we are not sorry and repent of our sin. Resist the Devil and his club of shame. Swing the sword of the Word of God, even if, like Bunyan's poor Christian you must swing while laid out on the ground. Get up! Hold up the shield of faith and swing the sword with your all. Jesus will come to your aid! Whatever the situation, don't let the shame continue to beat on you, And for goodness' sake and your own sake, quit helping the Devil beat on your poor self with the club of shame!

David wrote, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:6) Let them come into your home in place of shame and sin.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is The Battle Close?

Good morning! A snowflake just floated back up by the window as though to greet me this morning. Wait, it's April 18, why are snowflakes still hanging around? Isn't it spring yet? Snowflakes in the air, ice on the streets, the thermometer shows mid-20's...seems more like winter this morning. Yet, there is the promise of warmer days to come, as quickly as tomorrow in fact. The return of Jesus is coming in much the same way. The world will appear lost to us one day, then suddenly, Jesus will be here. Before that great day we may suffer much tribulation in this world. How close does the battle seem to you on this day?

Your situation may call for the intervention of the prayer warriors today, and then all too quickly a brother in Christ falls at your side. His situation is worse even than your own. More prayer is needed. Oh, when will Jesus come for us?! Your situation may be one of rest at this time, but families to either side are dealing with terrible blows. A neighbor breathes his last and the funeral will be held next Tuesday. Did you say enough to him? His family went to church, but might you have done more? You may never know. The emotional pain strikes closer to home. The battle rages on, sometimes closer, at other times farther away.

Every day in Christ is the fight of our lives, but those lives are spoken and paid for. We may seem to be losing on some days, but Jesus cannot lose! The situation appears grave, with possibilities limited to dire and grievous, but in Christ we are already saved. Did you think Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin, and then left the fight to each of us to stand alone? An army of sheep needs our Shepherd, and He is always with us. Though we are pressed on all sides by the enemy, our Lord is victorious! Trust in the saving and sanctifying power of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Journey Through the Uplands

Ah, another spring week, another blizzard watch. The signs of spring are mixed this year. The blackbirds and robins have returned and the geese have departed, but snow, cold, and ice linger. My fruit tree tried to bloom, but the last storm killed off the blooms. I hope and pray that it kept some in reserve. Green grass abounds, but mostly under the snow. However, the uplands between the valleys often stays brown and winter-like much longer. Our journey through life is much like a trip between two valleys.

We like the times in the green pastures beside the still waters as we walk with our Lord in times of plenty and relative ease. However, to strengthen our faith the Lord leads us from one valley to another through the dry and windy uplands. We don't know at the start or middle of the journey how wide the land is between those valleys. The uplands may be so wide that a desert sojourn awaits us on the trip. We may also run into an oasis of rest as we look forward to the next valley of peace. Most of our requests and questions to our Lord relate in some way to: "How far is it to the next valley, sir?"

The trial of faith is never easy, especially when we cannot see the distance signs to the next valley. We look to our Lord, but He tells us to just keep walking with Him. The questioning of our Lord might produce an irritated response if He were like us. That question might be, "Am I not enough for you? I am here!" Jesus does ask us that question, but with the gentleness and love He is known for, and not the irritation we might display. No matter how dry the journey through the uplands, no matter how poorly we feel, or how wobbly our faith appears, how we answer that question tells much about our maturity in the Christian way. Is Jesus enough for us?

Well, yes He most certainly is, but sometimes I must remind myself of that and say it out loud for the Lord to hear. Especially during those times of wobbly faith and poor feeling, I must remind myself more than just daily that Jesus is all I need. Trust in Him!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Invested Power

Good and snowy Tuesday morning! I read a bit of one of those ubiquitous e-mails this morning that asked, "Isn't it time to put some power in your investing?" or something close to that. For a moment, I had to laugh, but then I thought of something better. I am investing with power, but not in the way the world can understand. You see, when we who believe in Christ put our hands together in prayer, we are not doing as the world understands doing. The hands are not reaching out to grasp the next dollar, nor are they struggling to hold on to the last penny. With empty hands clasped or pressed in front of our needy bodies, we come to the Lord with nothing to offer, but we invest in a power that overcomes the world.

The power of prayer may be our last resort when all else has been stripped away from us. God may break down every worldly strength we try to hold onto, or think we possess, in order to bring us to Him with nothing but a prayer to offer. Yet, what is offered to God in the end? In Revelation 8:3, we read of an angel offering much incense with the prayers of all the saints. We offer many things to God, and this is good, but our most constant offering, one that depends on no special ability or talent, does not require wealth or material goods, needs no minimum of education or position in a firm, and is available to us day or night in any weather or circumstance, is prayer. And God wants to hear from you and me!

Yes, Him, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The Almighty One, who surely has high and great things occupying His thoughts. Yes, our God wants us to offer up prayer to Him. God wants to hear our needs, wants, desires, praise, thanksgiving, what is going on in our little lives, and what we hope will come in the future. God wants to hear about your grandchild's first words to you. God wants to hear how your workday went. Pour out your heart. Address Him as Lord, and just talk to Him. Then be ready to listen and learn. Answers to our requests may not be what we expect.

Praise the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Was Glad To Meet With Them

Good Monday morning as you prepare for another week in this world. Hey, maybe you won't be here the whole week. Jesus may arrive to take us home this very week! Often we think that Monday morning, just before the work week begins, would be a good time for the Rapture. We get the entire weekend, and then, just before the drudgery and toil, escape! However, as one of the main purposes of the rapture of the church is to shock the undecided into accepting Christ and kick off the Tribulation period, we may want to thank God that another day has arrived and those who do not yet believe still have time to decide.

One thing we have time to do is to meet with those we love. Yesterday, I was glad to meet with a brother and sister in Christ for a goodly part of the afternoon. As you may know, or if you don't yet realize, I have a lot of trouble meeting with more than a few people at a time. I was, as far back as my memory goes, a bit timid or shy around people, but something about the accident and the aftereffects has made me a little socially withdrawn, to put it in massive understatement. Oops, now I've gone and written too much about me. I want to run away from writing.

What is the good news in this? Jesus can work with whatever you or I bring to the table. Are you unflinchingly sociable, perhaps so much that people secretly want to toss you out now and then? God works with that. Are you more like me? Not a problem, God has a calling for us too. Whatever our talents or fears, God is able to take us 'Just as I Am', to borrow a great old hymn title and one of my favorite Christian statements, and use each of us to build His kingdom. Yeah, that will be great in Heaven, won't it? No, God uses us to build His kingdom right here and now! Has God not changed something you perceive as a great weakness? He is using it to build His kingdom. Rejoice in it! Let God use it, whatever it may be, and rest in His loving embrace.

May the love, peace, and mercy of God be with you in all things this week.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

All Your Mighty Men of Valor

Good Saturday! Joshua said it to his commanders back in the day of the invasion of Canaan. He commanded all the mighty men of valor to gather provisions and pass armed before their brethren. Armies and tribes of the past said to let the warriors gather, fully armed, to resist or attack as the need commanded. We said and did a similar thing in my day. "Grab your gear, Marines! We will go to the armory to check out weapons and march back in formation." In every time and place, we have felt the need for strong words to strengthen our quaking hearts. The Lord helped Joshua before the command went out. "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them." (Joshua 1:6)

We do not often feel like mighty men of valor. It is a lot easier to feel like a flighty man of pallor. We find it difficult to face up to the boss when he or she is wrong. The government roars and we tremble. The economy stumbles and we fall. So much in the world appears to have power over us that we may wonder how to go forth in courage. Where will this courage come from? Do we have authority over anything at all?

The Lord's messenger found Gideon threshing grain in the grape smusher, trying to hide some food from the marauding Midianites. The angel addressed him as a mighty man of valor. Gideon responded that he was the least of the smallest. Hardly a good start for God's chosen warrior. Gideon's first mighty act of valor was to sneak in at night to tear down the altar of a false god because he was afraid of his own people. Indeed, the next morning those same people gathered demanding that Gideon be given to them to kill. This is the tribe that Gideon will lead in combat? Gideon too must have wondered if he had authority over anything at all.

God does not walk the nations looking for those who think they are mighty or have authority already. God looks for people like you and me. We don't feel mighty, and we don't feel authoritative. God gives us authority to do what He calls us to do. God also gives us the strength required to perform His calling. In fact, it seems that God purposely seeks out the least of the smallest to do His great works. A baby from Bethlehem changed the world. Gideon went on to rout an army of 135,000 raiders with a force of 300 men (long before the Spartan thing). If you feel like the least of the smallest, God may be calling you to a great work. Get ready!


Friday, April 12, 2013

But My Tax Return Says It

Ah, a nice morning above the freezing mark. It's that time of the year once more. Those of you who pursue the procrastinating path now must produce a return or a procrastination pledge (also known as filing an extension). Those of you expecting a nice return probably filed your taxes weeks ago. Whichever the case may be, you and I may be guilty of a rather heinous sin. No, not cheating here and there, though that is a sin of dishonesty, but the sin of thinking we are remembered or forgotten, rich or poor, useful or useless, based on what our tax return says.

Look in the Bible to read what God thinks about you! Would Jesus give His one life to redeem a useless person? The fact that you are so poor that even the greedy government cannot find it in its stony heart to tax you does not mean that you are useless. The government revenue folks getting a little slobbery over the prospect of your return arriving does not make you too rich to be saved either. Most of all, we should not fall into that trap of thinking that God has forgotten us because of what our income is (or was not!). Neither should we give ourselves a pat on the back because we think God loves us more than last year due to the sheer mass of numbers on our tax return. I guess we should just remember that the tax form is a thing with numbers on it. So is the bank statement, the investment report, and many other forms this world holds dear and uses to categorize and judge us.

God doesn't require forms or send out surveys to help us judge our worth. He sent His Son to the cross at Calvary to show us that worth. That, my dear friends in Christ, is the strongest showing I can think of; why worry about what the tax return says about you or me?

Remember your worth in Christ,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Remember Where You Are

Good morning as the sun makes its way across the frozen plains. I think I can guess a few things about your situation without any crystal-ball mumbo jumbo. First, your health situation is not all that you want it to be. Second, there is some thing in your life that is at times a bit of an irritation. Third, your home is not the one you have in your dream of a home. Sound about right? I can do this because we all feel that tug toward our heavenly home and it comes up against what we see here.

As I grow in the love of Christ, I want to be with Him and with all those I love in this world. This is difficult because Christ has not called me home yet, and He has not called all my loved ones home either. The other hard part is that all those I love span almost, but not quite, 50 years and we are spread over a goodly part of the earth's surface. Our best hope is the Rapture of course, then we can all go together. However, we don't know when that will occur. The next problem is the home. Every home, apartment, trailer, tent, shack, or open space I have ever slept in had something wrong with it. Some thing that made it just a little short of perfection, at least as much as I can determine perfection, or in some cases a bunch of things way short of my standard of perfection. The health thing is just kind of a constant potential worry. But all of that is not quite where I am.

Since the time of my salvation, I have been and am in the keeping of Christ my Lord. I am assigned as a missionary in a world of darkness, living in enemy-held territory, and waiting for the return of my King. All these imperfections and irritations are just a fact of life in the field. I am not home, though I tend to call certain places 'home', and all of the places I go in this world are but training exercises for eternity. Hard training of any type is never fun, but all this stuff we tend to look at is not a good answer to where I am. Where I am, and where you are, is in the keeping of Jesus. We sit or stand, run or play, in His mighty hands.

Glory and honor to God our Father in the name of His great and only Son, Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Count It All Joy

To us that is like counting yesterday as a balmy day and going outside in our shorts to enjoy the sunshine. I think my outside thermometer has stuck on 18° for the past 24 hours; how do I count that as balmy? People will think I've gone barmy. In this world we will have tribulation. I didn't come up with that, Jesus said it. We will have funerals, unless ours is next of course, illnesses, job losses, economic misfortune, physical calamity, childish cacophony, and maybe a little bit of failed recipes. How do we count all of this as joy? How do we be of good cheer?

My answer is that it must not be in the circumstance. I cannot look at a coffin, wonder whether the person in it knew Jesus as Lord and Savior, and then feel a great upsurge of joyous praise. Why? Because in the very wondering, I am doubting his eternal destination and that is not a comfortable, joyous kind of feeling. I want to know that I am saved, but even more I want to know that everyone else is too. Carnage is the word of the day in our news media. There are more funerals than anyone could possibly attend. How do I count all of that as joy? Why am I smiling now? It isn't from the circumstance!

Joy is given to us through our friend and comforter, the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent His Spirit into us at our rebirth to give us the joy we cannot find in this world. It is also in the promise of a new day. Not necessarily tomorrow, but the new day that Christ will bring with Him when He returns in His glory and power. We find our joy in the promise of eternity. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for those who will believe in His promise. We find it in the love God showed to us in giving His Son for us. We find our joy in knowing that Jesus is Lord. We find our joy in loving one another and in loving God, no matter what circumstance comes our way.

If each of us knew the circumstance of the other, not just a verbal knowledge from what he or she said, but knew as God knows, we might wonder how that person can go on and find any joy at all. Yet, we do endure the tribulations and we do cry out to our Lord, and our Lord responds! He knows and gives us the Comforter with joy in His very touch. What? You mean He doesn't respond with some practical help? Don't you doubt it! The Lord knows each of us better than we know ourselves. His aid, his rescue from the circumstance will come in God's perfect time. Hold on, find your joy in the Word. Let the Spirit remind you of what Jesus said. "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Wow, It's Christmas!

Okay, so maybe a little snow and a bit of ice on everything does not make it Christmas, but the birth of Christ in the heart of the unsaved makes for Christmas any day. We like to celebrate the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem so many years ago. The angels and saints in heaven celebrate the redemption of each and every sinner. For those who believe in the Son, we can celebrate Christmas with each new believer too.

That first Christmas, when Christ rebirths a new life into the heart of the lost brings the gift of grace to a new home. The gift may be opened more slowly, making the date of salvation a bit vague in our memory, or it may be opened quickly and the new believer recalls exactly the date and time of salvation. Neither method is better or worse, all of it is God's own handiwork.

The gift of grace is freely available to all, but like our snow today, some let it blow by them. In six days God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. What can He do in a new life in six days and see that it is good? What great and marvelous work can He do in our life starting today in six days and see that it is good? We take our gift of grace and present it back to God as an offering, a crown willingly set aside for the One who makes all things new. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Grace is the undeserved favor of God that we enjoy. I'm not perfect, you're not perfect, but we enjoy the grace of God each day. A gift so great is so wonderful that our mere words fall short of describing it adequately. I could attempt to invent new words, but still I would fall short of the glorious gift from our God and Savior.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the gift of grace given to each of us each day. Blessed be your holy name dear Father and God!


Monday, April 08, 2013

Mercies or Donuts?

Good Monday and happy whatever day it is to you. I'm not messing with the moon phase thing again, not since I blew it last time. (It was last quarter, not first.) Wouldn't a nice box of fresh donuts be good this morning? Yeah, but those calories. We tend to think first of something we can touch or eat, like donuts, before we give thanks to God for what we do have new each morning. In Lamentations 3:22-23 we find that God's mercies fail not, they are new every morning. Fresh mercies! Just what we need too. Yet, did I remember to thank God for His new mercy this morning? Yes, but mainly because that is what I woke up wanting to write the devotional about and not due to any supersaint status. Without a forewarning, I might very well have given thought to breakfast before I remembered to give thanks and glory to God.

Back in the day, a friend and I often worked through the night. In the morning - that is that part of the day technically known as morning, also known to most folks as the dead of night - we finished work and headed down to see if the donut shop was open. At around 0400, Larry and Dola cooked the first of the deep-fried glazed donuts. Getting those donuts fresh, as in melt-in-the-mouth fresh, was a rare treat. Rare mainly because folks with any sense were not awake at that time of the day, but nevertheless a treat for the taste buds. Mercy was far from my mind at that time. However, I was never far from God's mind. We don't often think what a mercy it is that God even acknowledges our existence, much less our need for salvation.

In antediluvian times, that means before the big deluge, God decided to destroy most of the people. The Bible does not say whether God sent prophets to warn anyone, but the people of that time were rather close to the beginning; they certainly knew about good and evil and that they were on the wrong side of it. We may not think what a mercy it is to live after God promised not to do that again. After this came the dark ages before the invention of donuts. God chose one people, gave them His law, and told them to obey and they would enjoy His mercies. They couldn't, but not because they didn't have donuts. We are blessed with God's mercy to live in a time when the law has been satisfied by our Lord Jesus. I'm really trying hard not to add, 'and we have donuts'. I think it is a mercy that God puts up with my humor. We have mercies new each morning that we know not. Praise God for our brand new mercies this morning!


Saturday, April 06, 2013

How 'bout an Outpouring of Joy

Good Saturday! What do we have to celebrate today? We can celebrate God's bounty if we have our needs supplied. Hmm, yes, but what if we don't think our needs are met today? Perhaps God's answer is a test of our faith and we must wait just a bit. On the other hand, maybe that item or condition we think is a need is only a want. We may in time celebrate God taking a want from us that it turns out we didn't need. All this so far sounds a bit material in scope, a whole lot of earth -bound thinking for a heaven-bound people. What if we just celebrate the joy of knowing Jesus a little more each day?

Each morning, God's mercies are poured out anew on us. We learn a bit more of God's steadfast love as we journey through each day. Though we cannot see it, each day Jesus puts on His tool belt and works on our dwelling place in heaven. We can know this because Jesus promised that He was going to prepare a place for us. You know how in this world we never seem to have enough time to do a house just right. Well, the reason we are not in Heaven with Jesus yet is that, I believe, He is preparing those places so they are just right for our arrival. Can you imagine the construction schedule for today? Maybe your name is on the list to arrive in the next few years, better get ready!

There is a joy in building something new, and I enjoy thinking that Jesus is getting full joy out of building those homes for us. But, something is missing first, we celebrate the simple and everlasting joy of... Savior! Jesus came to this world to save us. Long before you and I were born on this planet, Jesus did the work and made the sacrifice to appease God's justice. Eternal life began when we believed in Christ. What good news. What great joy! An empty eternal home does no one any good, we must realize the joy of salvation to start the day. Look at the cross. Who loves me so much to endure that for me? Great joy and wonder abounds, Jesus does! Rejoice in the day as we greet Him with the great joy of our salvation!


Friday, April 05, 2013

Believe and You Shall Receive

A Warm Friday morning to you! What do I receive if I believe? I will receive what the Lord says that I will receive of course. Believing in Jesus and receiving from His word are linked. I cannot have one without the other. If you address a person as friend, but then ignore all that he says, he is not a friend to you. Jesus says that those who call Him 'Lord' but do not obey His commandments are not a part of His kingdom. When we believe in Jesus, we receive His word into our hearts. And what does His word have to say about receiving, you might ask?

We receive eternal life. Read John 3:16 and learn about a love so great that those who believe will receive eternal life. We receive the Holy Spirit, a priceless gift for sure. We learned that one just a couple of days ago. John 14:26 - Jesus said that the Father would send us a helper to remind us of all that He said. And just next door is: Peace. John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." How about steadfast love? I read a study note the other night in my Bible that steadfast love is a Hebrew term that encompasses love, joy, mercy, grace, goodness, faithfulness, compassion, and patience. Who are we to deserve God's steadfast love?

As usual, what we receive is not dependent upon who I am, but the great I AM. If God reserved His steadfast love to only those who deserve it, we would all be lost forever and ever. Jesus would have stayed in Heaven, kept His peace, and avoided a whole bunch of pain and disrespect at Calvary. However, God's steadfast love flows from who He is, and we receive it by believing in that great expression of His love, Jesus Christ. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matt 13:45-46) God is the merchant, Jesus was the price, YOU are the pearl. Enjoy your Friday with that thought.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Wow, Things Sure Look Bad!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, blessing and grace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ, the savior and Lord of all who will believe in Him. Let God's mercy and grace rest on you this day.

I think you need a little shot of the Spirit this morning to start another day on this earth. Has their ever been a more difficult time to trust in the Lord? Open any news website, and a person can get all they want of terror, death, and sin. But is this time any worse than any other, or is it just that our knowledge of the sins committed in this world is greater than any time before? As Daniel told us, knowledge has increased, but not all of it is good knowledge. Trusting in the Lord is the solution to our knowledge of evil in the world, but is it more difficult now?

Daniel probably had a pretty good idea what a lion could do to a human body. Facing the door of the lions' den, Daniel had a choice to trust in God or collapse in fear. If trusting in God were easy or just easier at that time, I don't see it. Daniel's three friends faced the same choice regarding a very hot furnace, but they too trusted when it was not easy at all to trust. Things do look bad in our world, and the end times are here, but more difficult to trust? I don't think so.

Trusting in God through faith is not easy. If it were, everyone would find the way and go merrily about their miserable lives. Jesus said that the way is difficult and the gate narrow that leads to life and few find it.(Matt 7:14) We see the bad things in the world easily, that way is not difficult at all. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, and that way is difficult to follow. Why? Well we have this tendency to look at what we can see. If we try not to see it, someone is sure to help us see it. How many times is your favorite show interrupted by the 'news at 10' announcement? How many times is that news item about the wonderful thing a person did for someone in need? Right, very few. More often, it is about what someone did to harm another human being. We have no problem seeing the wide way that leads to destruction. That is why we need leading to come in at the narrow gate.

I once lived in a neighborhood where things looked pretty good for the inhabitants. Nice houses, new and late model vehicles, toys, and good jobs all around. (Once? It was just last year!) Okay, the ol' once upon a time thing sounds more fun though. Today, I wondered if I shouldn't have prayed more for those folks. Maybe, in their apparent success in this life, they could not realize their need for Jesus before eternity arrives on their doorstep. It may very well be that the narrow gate is easier to find when the world does not look quite as good from your vantage point. No, I don't recall ever praying that God would make them all poor. However, anything that causes us to look for Jesus instead of at our own 'success' might be worth it when thinking of eternity.

Things may look bad, but it could be a whole lot worse. Praise God there is still time to choose Jesus!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

How It Was Written

Good morning on an April day of um... I'm searching here, um, first quarter moon day! That is so lame. I guess some days don't get much credit when the calendar is handed out each year. I wonder what the disciples and apostles were doing on this day after Jesus rose from the grave. Did they immediately begin comparing notes for a tell-all bestselling memoir? No, from a little detective work by the scholars, it seems that most gospels did not get written right away. We know from our own experience that memories tend to get watered down over the years, at least most memories do. How did the gospel writers agree so much after so long? The key is in John 14:26

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

All things? Yup, all things. That is how Luke could interview eye witnesses and write his gospel. Matthew and John remembered the conversations from years past. John Mark wrote down words from the older disciples. We have the Gospels because of the Holy Spirit.

We would like to think that Jesus picked out a dozen or so with super memories, but the men and women who travelled with Jesus were so much like you and me that Jesus chose us too. Memorizing scripture is good, but trusting in the Holy Spirit to remind us is better. You might look at Bible study as filling up the tool belt, but the Holy Spirit is the teacher who shows us how to use those tools properly. We need the Spirit, and God has provided!

Blessed be the name of the Lord,

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

If Fear Is Not a Factor

Good Tuesday morning to you and yours! This morning, the question comes to me, what would I write if fear is not a factor? The circumstance of this or that can be set aside because it is based in fear. Some weights fall away, they bear no mention in my testimony without their dread ballast. Boldness comes to the fore, ready to point the way with faith at the helm. How does faith find its way?

We tend to guide much of our living based on fear avoidance. What might this life produce if fear is factored out by faith instead of being a set of bumpers knocking us back and forth? Looking to God, we find a better direction. We read and hold His promises. Adam felt the first fear after eating the forbidden fruit. He was afraid and then was driven from the garden. Why did God need to force Adam and Eve out? Because fear is a terrible guide of course. Adam was now afraid to stay with God, and also afraid to go away. Faith conquers fear and bids the explorer see what is over the next hill, believing that Jesus has promised to be with us always.

Fear tends to be based on what we know and see; faith is the evidence of things not seen. Fear seems to be here and now; faith appears distant like the promise of heaven. However, the power in this world tells lies, and he tells a lot of lies. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit into us. How could anyone be closer than that? Our adversary would have us locked in and locked down in fear. Faith tells of a constant companion who says often, "Fear not!" Fear is alone and fears all things. Faith walks with God and welcomes all. Fear is contagious; faith is shared. A contagion? Yes, fear spreads like a disease while faith is given away like a precious gift. Faith is the better path, but we cling to our fears.

Fear must be forced out, like Adam from the garden. Faith must be learned from the Teacher, and grown by the Great Gardener. Why the difficulty? We are fallen. One does not fall out of a deep hole, but must climb a steep ladder. Faith is planted as the smallest of seeds, often surrounded by the slobbering, growling beasts of fear. The tiny seed must be cracked open, the plant protected by the Gardener, and watered by His Word. A respectable tree of faith does not come easily, but strangely to us, it grows best when tried under affliction. We would have our gardens peaceful and quiet, but there the tree of faith grows little and is weak in the testing.

It is interesting that my worst fears came after I declared my faith in God. It is like in declaring for one side, I came under a declaration of war with the other. Well, yeah... it's not that hard to figure out, is it? Even a dumb writer can make the connection eventually!

God bless and keep you in faith today,

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Wounded Animal

Good Monday morning! The holiday is passing, a little let down comes, the animal feelings are wounded. What does the wounded animal seek? Help, it knows there is none in the cursed earth. Healing, at some point the animal is wounded so much that it knows there is no future. The wounded animal seeks a hole to hide in to spend the final moments. We feel that too when times of tribulation come. The times we most need to seek God are those we may feel the strongest urge to hide from His Word, prayer, and worship.

What is there to thank God for in this? We might ask this question as the new day dawns with no apparent change in the circumstance. Our perverse flesh puts aside the Bible just when words of comfort are prepared. The Spirit calls out to be heard, not to layer on blame and shame, but to remind us of God and His saving grace. Did you think that grace ended at salvation? Did Jesus check off your name in the Lamb's Book of Life and then move on to the next door? No! Jesus promised to be with you and me always, even unto the end of the age.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.(Heb 11:1) Did God provide for you in the way of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath?(1 Kings 17:8-16) No, perhaps He wants to provide in a new way. After all, God is the Creator, maybe He likes to create new ways to show His strength. Isaiah reminds us that Gods ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts like our thoughts. (55:8-9) Our thoughts tend to count the fishes and loaves, compare them with the five thousand men and their families and say, "Impossible!" Jesus looks up to heaven, prays a word of thanksgiving, and proceeds to feed the multitude, and has leftovers! We think we know so much, but we know so little of the saving power of Christ our Lord.

I look at the circumstance. I say this and that will happen in my imagination, and I crawl away from the Word to hide. Jesus says, "Trust Me!" Faith cannot hold the thing in my human hands, but faith says that all I need will be there when I need it. Peter walked on water until he saw his circumstance. Jesus rescued him and asked, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt 14:31) When the current circumstance passes, will you and I be asked that same question?

Praise God for His glorious provision in this life!