Thursday, May 09, 2013

Just At The Point of Interesting

Good morning! We might adjust that saying to 'just at the point where we are about to bear fruit'. What we are looking for today is that point that comes right after we want to give it up and tell God what a failure we are. I read in a photography magazine a couple of years ago that most aspiring photographers give up just at the point their photographs become interesting. In Christ, we have a similar point, the point just before we are going to bear some serious fruit for our Lord. It is at that point that most of us want to give up. We have seen no fruit borne in our efforts, we may be poor in the way of the world, and the enjoyment that we expected doing Christ's work seems far off.

The training period God places on our little shoulders may last for years. Patience may be exhausted as the effort goes on and on with little reward or sign of fruit-bearing. Prayer in this area appears to go up in the air and we may be fully convinced that God is off taking in someone else's prayer incense. Whatever the reason, the prayer, the toil, the learning, and our little bit of faith seems wasted. The little flame of our mission is about to go out forever. Maybe, just maybe we were on the wrong path to begin with and God is not blessing our mission because this one ain't it. That little creeping doubt begins to take hold and strangle our faith. But, and there is always a moment of time when the Spirit gets His say.

Isaiah, whom we call the prince of prophets, had this to say, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench." in speaking of our Lord and Savior. That last tiny flicker of flame on the end of your flax will not be quenched by Christ. We can snuff it out through giving up, but let us not give up on our mission before Christ gives up on us. You may identify wholly with the bruised reed, but Jesus will not break you, little reed. Trust in God, bring your concerns - okay, maybe they are more than concerns at this point - bring your pleading and crying to the Lord. Let Him know all about your feeling of doubt and your desire to give it all up. Remind Jesus that the darkness threatens to overwhelm your soul. Come in prayer to our Lord and tell Him that your patience and faith seems to be at the point of the bruised reed and smoking flax. Then, listen! The Word of the Lord will come to you through the Bible, a voice in your spirit, a statement made by a brother in Christ, in some way the Lord will make Himself known to you in your moment of despair. The spirit in you that is redeemed by Christ will hold communion with the Spirit of God whom Jesus gave to those who believe in Him, and you will know and I will know that God has spoken. Then, "He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the Earth." (Isaiah 42:3-4)

Trust in God, and be ready to hear His voice,

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Breakfast in the BooHoo Valley, Again

Good morning! I heard thunder late in the night. Could it be that spring is here to stay now? Speaking of spring, I guess I won't be sowing my wild oats again this spring. It seems that my old oats are stale. Boohoo. A hip hurts today, a throat hurt yesterday, and I can hardly wait for what will hurt later on. Boohoo. I was supposed to have bacon and eggs this morning, but I forgot and put the water on for oatmeal. I guess my old memory just isn't what it used to be, or maybe it's exactly what it used to be and I just forgot. Boohoo. God's provision hasn't arrived yet to make me as wealthy as King Midas, I guess it's just another day of scraping by. Boohoo. Even the whistle on the tea kettle seems weak and sick today, just like poor, pitiful me. Boohoo.

Do you ever get up on a day and feel like that? Everything is against me, God doesn't care anymore, and I'm just going to have breakfast in the Boohoo Valley! We most certainly know that God doesn't have apathy in His heart for us, so there may be a problem with the rest of our moaning as well. If God does care for us, and we know from His word that He does, then looking at the day in a new light may be more appropriate. The birds are back from wherever they spend the winter. The trees are showing signs of life after their long winter. I walked many blocks this morning and we enjoyed a wonderful Bible study yesterday. I have food to eat, clothing to wear, shelter from the thunder, and a garden to plant. Hmm, perhaps it's time to transport my breakfast onto the Peak of Blessing.

Often we fall into a deep inspection of all that appears wrong in our lives. Instead, we should look to our Savior and Lord. Eternal life, what would we endure in the here and now in exchange for eternal life, if we could save ourselves that is? Too late, Jesus endured what needed to be done to save us. Such love we do not deserve, yet we have it in Christ. That doesn't sound so bad. This grace is available every day in every trial. I don't think that is something to boohoo over at all. Trust says that all we need will come from God at just the right time. That doesn't sound so bad either. I don't have to keep and be responsible for something that I don't have yet, because God is taking care of it for now. Let God's grace, mercy, and lovingkindness raise me up to the Peak of Blessing today, I don't need to breakfast down here in the Boohoo Valley again.

God bless and keep you on this great day in Christ!

P.S. I caught myself fist bumping the truck and reassuring it that we would drive again. Is this a small expression of faith, or do I need to have my head examined? I'll let you decide that one. :-)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I'm Glad When I Agree With The Lord

Good Tuesday morning! Not that long ago, I wanted the Lord to agree with me. I'm going to do this, Lord, please bless it and make me successful. My prayers varied a little, but that is basically the line I used repeatedly. I guess I had the persistence part down right, but was a little hazy on whose will should be done in my life. Now, I worry less about the Lord agreeing with me, and work a lot more on my will lining up with the Lord's will so that His name is glorified in my life. But even that is only a step in the right direction. Better still would be to be in complete agreement with the Lord and jump to obedience with His will in my life. I'm glad when I agree with the Lord. That is a sign of my heart moving closer to God's heart.

King David was known as a man after God's own heart. This was not some idle opinion or a good guess. In 1 Samuel 13:14, Samuel tells Saul that he has done foolishly (Pick a king and say that, I dare you!) and that "the Lord has sought for himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people..." In Acts 13:22, Paul confirms that this was David. When David committed terrible sins, he agreed with God that it was sin (Psalm 51) and that God alone was the answer to his iniquity. We are not in agreement with God when we sin, but we can agree with God by repenting - thus acknowledging with Him that it is sin - and seeking His mercy. To obtain God's mercy, we first agree with God that we need it.

The same goes for our salvation. We first agree with God that we are sinners, and then we agree with God that Jesus is the only way to be saved. After that, God begins our training in earnest and we find ourselves agreeing with God more and more. In fact, when we arrive in Heaven, we will have been made in full agreement with the Lord that we belong there. Seems a bit of a stretch now, I'll admit, but God is in charge of this operation, not me. Think about it though, could any of us face God on His throne if we had the slightest doubt about our wedding garments? Nope, God will make sure the bride of His Son is ready.

Praise God for the new day!

Monday, May 06, 2013

My Salvation Was So Boring

Good Monday morning! Last night, a bit late I'll admit, I finished my second reading of Frank E. Peretti's two darkness novels. I like to reread books sometimes and these are good enough for a second viewing. Near the end of the second novel, Piercing The Darkness, a woman gets saved with one of those glorious experiences that we hear about, maybe not quite so much as this fictional account, but nevertheless a very moving experience. The problem is that by comparison my salvation was so boring. I didn't experience trumpets, get to feel the wood of the cross, or see Christ in person, was my salvation real?

You and I have asked that question at times, but the problem with a very grand experience in a book or a movie is that it is in a book or movie. Each gift of salvation that comes with our repentance and acknowledgment of Christ as our Lord is personal. It's between me and Jesus, or between you and Jesus, but not all of our experiences must be the same. And who says that either of our salvations was boring? Look in the Gospels, read what Jesus endured for you and for me, do those accounts seem boring? I think not. Did Jesus fall asleep during the trial? Kinda hard to do that when someone is smacking you around. Did the disciples groan and seek entertainment elsewhere? Nope, they fled in terror, not exactly a boring experience. Did those who loved Jesus yawn and go home to bed? Hardly, I suspect many of them found each other in the darkness and trembled in fear. We may never know all that Jesus endured for us, but boredom was not part of it. If my salvation seems boring, then I'm not looking at my Savior, the one who did all the saving.

Rejoice in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

I Made a Mistake

Eeek, Gasp, Alert the media! Not that kind of mistake, nor is it my first by any means. No, my mistake this morning was a simple matter of precedence. Instead of coming in from my walk full of ideas, then choosing one to write a devotional, I did the awful thing. Yes, I opened a news website and read a few articles. Worse, after one of them I read some of the ever-present parade of opinions regarding the state of our nation. Next thing ya know, all those ideas God gave me during our morning stroll had left me as the pain and despair of the world washed over my thoughts. My fault, no one to blame but myself. Now, I struggle to come up with a good idea for a devotional.

Dark thoughts are so very easy to come by in this world. The pain and suffering in every nation and state is too much for us to take in every day. We must use our God-given discretion to know when to watch the news and when to leave it alone. Certainly any writing given in honor of God should come before the news of tragedies. There must be a lesson in that somewhere. Pray and walk with God, lots of ideas for devotional writing come to me. Read the news and eat corn flakes, the good thoughts are blown out by the sin and pain and tragedy and hurting and suffering and... Hmm, maybe I'm on to something here. My mind belongs to God now, perhaps my watching must be done with more wisdom.

In our guard duties during military service, we rotated shifts. No one was allowed to guard all night without rest and officers of the watch were tasked with making sure that did not happen without a very good cause. That does not always happen in the corporate world, because, well, we might as well face it, corporations staffed with smart people can still act very stupidly. In our walk with Christ, it may very well be that we need to rotate watches. I don't mean that you should trade timepieces with someone else, but that we may want prevent a brother in Christ from watching too much news. And it can be quite addictive to watch news web sites and shows every day, several times a day, or even constantly. All of this news can be overwhelmingly depressing. To maintain our watchfulness, we may want to share this duty between us. Should something important happen, such as the two witnesses from Revelation 11 arriving outside the temple in Jerusalem, we can tell each other quickly enough.

Have a great day in Christ Jesus. Enjoy the Saturday, and go easy on the news,

Friday, May 03, 2013

Peace For The Moment

Today I cannot take credit for the title. The glory belongs to God in this one. If you listen to Christian radio, you may have heard the latest song by the Sidewalk Prophets. This one comes at what can only be described as a God arranged time or timing. The song is titled Help Me Find It and I think you will hear Christians talking about this one a lot. We all run into those moments when we just are not sure which way God wants us to go. Often we fail to ask, other times there seems to be no answer to our prayer, and then we may be in the will of God and not realize it. The chorus or hook of the song goes like this, "If there's a road I should walk, help me find it. If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment. Whatever Your will, can you help me find it?"

This describes my feeling in this time of my life so very accurately, and I am sure the song was not written with only me in mind. All of us who believe in Christ and have given our lives to Jesus want to know the will of the Father. Jesus prayed, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42) I have one fulfilled promise to bear witness to in this time, I am in a time of tribulation. I too would like this cup to be taken away from me, but following the example of my Lord Jesus, not my will, Father, but Yours, be done.

I'll admit it; I don't like tribulation. Jesus didn't want His great tribulation, but He did it because it was the Father's will. You don't want your tribulations either. However, for each of us finding the will of the Father probably leads right directly through this current tribulation and all the ones yet to come. Our time of non-ending forever green valleys and still waters will come, but it is not yet. One day we will start forever, forever, and ever with our Lord Jesus, but for now we have tribulations. Some tribulations require our action, others require our waiting upon the Lord. For those times, we must ask God to grant us peace for the moment.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Phoomf! It's Here

The day has arrived in all its glory! Yes, I have reached the tender age of 5-oy, uh, fifzy, um, it's hard to say now that it's here. Half a century of living on this earth and there is still so much to learn about God and His ways. Fifty years apparently is not quite enough to know God as well as I want to. Of course, you can point to the many years that I didn't actively search to know God. I am rather behind in terms of actual study in the Bible, but there is much experience in which I can look back and see God's hand of providence keeping me even in those years when my mind looked in other directions. Many a person has turned to seek Jesus later in life to find our Lord already present in his life.

We tend to think that as long as the sheep pretends he is a wolf, then the shepherd leaves him alone. However, God cannot be unfaithful simply because we refuse to look for Him. If God says, "sheep", we is sheeps no matter what our worldly mind may think. When the day comes that we look down with honesty and see the fluffy wool, though it be stained by the sin from our time in the world, and hear the sheepish sound of our cries, we finally acknowledge our sheephood, and lo and behold, the Shepherd was there all the time. The Good Shepherd welcomes us to His flock, and it does not matter how old we are or how long we have been wandering lost in the world.

What do I know from fifty years of sheeping around in this world? (Hmm, careful there!) Today is still just today. I cannot bring tomorrow or worry it into any better shape. I cannot erase the past or shame it into a better memory in those times when I did things that caused me humiliation. What God has set down in His words of prophecy is what will happen in the due time. Jesus will return for us, but now is the time to plant seeds and attend to the harvest. People need me, and I need my brothers and sisters in Christ. Fear the deceitfulness of worldly riches, but remember that even in poverty we are rich in Christ Jesus. It is easy to say "Take me now, Lord. I am ready to go home!" when times of tribulation come, but much better to say, "I stand ready to live for my Lord Jesus, no matter what comes this day!"

God bless you on this auspicious day! Bucky

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Dear Lord, Let Me Not Give Them My Time

Good morning for snow and chilly weather! Yes, May begins with more winter. As winter makes continued assaults on our spring, we are reminded that you and I are not in charge of much when it comes to the weather. I cannot make spring arrive and stay, and you cannot keep winter from making comeback tours each week it seems. So, who is this 'them' that I pray to not give of my time? Not a group of people, but a group of thoughts.

I pray this morning that I will no longer give of my time to anxious, depressed, fearful, or worrisome thoughts. I do it much too often, and not once has a meditation on what might come to destroy me done me a bit of good. Yes, the world is full of dangers and it hates those who declare for Jesus. Dwelling on the thoughts of darkness though is a waste of my time and harmful to me as well. Meditation on God's Word and His Son, however, is full of comfort, joy, peace, and learning.

God's love shines through His great Word. The love of our Lord is proven by the cross at Calvary. The promises of holy communion with our Lord Jesus forever on the new Earth bring a hopeful anticipation much like a childhood Christmas but much more filling and satisfying. After all a Christmas back in the day didn't last forever. Time spent thinking on death and destruction just doesn't do it for me anymore. Let us instead give our time to Jesus. Amen!