Friday, February 28, 2014

Picked On From The Start

Good Friday! Way back in the day, that name we love was coined as a put down. Yes, the name Christian was used to sneer and scoff at those 'little Christs' or Christ ones. Today, we belong to Christ by the name of Christian, but the world still wants to use the name in a derogatory manner. Our brothers in Christ were picked on from the start, just as Jesus told them would happen. They soldiered on in the cause of Christ, and eventually Christian became a name to be desired for its association with Jesus the Christ. However, there is still a division over the name.

No small amount of quacks, charlatans, and false prophets have also claimed the name of Christian. Jesus warned us of that also. Set out to mock Christianity, and you can find all the evidence you need of the silly, profane, and false in cults and sects around the world. I know this because I watched a documentary earlier in the week wherein a fellow did just that. However, look for that sort of stuff masquerading as Christian and you ignore the movement driven by God's love.

We may be a minority, or simply a less noisy majority, but we are here. Such a thing does not excite the world like the pursuit of power or wealth or the driving of revenge, but love keeps us going. Many movements and governments have fallen in the centuries since Jesus came, but those who love Christ keep the name of Christian alive as an honor to Jesus our Lord.

Love your neighbor today,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Praise Music to Remind

Oh, the weather forecast is naught but tales of woe, more cold and more snow. Good morning on this fine day in Christ! "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." Matthew 26:30. Is this the only time Jesus and the disciples sang? We may be divided on this, because some of us like to sing, others to listen to singing, and some may not like music at all. I like to think that Jesus and his crew sang often. Perhaps some of them played instruments after the evening meal. Music was likely just as important to them as it is to us now.

Praise music reminds us of our God, scripture, and doctrine. We listen and sing the good feelings of knowing Jesus and of His salvation. We can use music to drive away the bad feelings the world heaps upon us. The light in us shines brighter when we are praising God, and music can help us in this. We are encouraged to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Love may be easier sung than spoken. Sing a prayer, play a joyful tune on your favorite instrument, or simply enjoy the praise and worship music of the pros on the radio. Enjoy music to the glory of God the Father!

Have a wonderful day in Christ,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And So Does God Test Our Faith

Good frozen morning! Whee, the sun is shining way down low, but the temp is still below zero! Ming fyngers gots xo colled dis mornin, eye cannt typee! Did you ever come in from a little snow shoveling and feel the temptation to put your hands in the hot oatmeal in place of eating it? This morning is one of those days. By taking your various pairs of gloves outside, you can test and find which ones really cut the mustard on the cold days. Gloves that were on special at the big store may prove less than worthy on the less than zero days, but then again you may have found a real bargain. Gloves that you paid dearly for, may also prove less than adequate, but chances are better that they won't. Not many gloves can beat a good pair of mittens on a day like this. And so does God test the faith of those He calls.

One may be poor, but his faith is solid. Another may be rich, but his faith is shaky. Either may be like a good pair of mittens, because faith does not depend upon net worth. God takes each of us out on the tough days and gives us a good test to see which faith will hold up. We don't like those days though. Let us stay inside where it is warm. Test us on the nice days! Yup, grumbling may be more likely under the test too. And, it may be a sign that the fabric of the faith is tearing a bit. Our faith testing is like being taken out on a cold, cold morning and getting put to work shoveling snow. However, unlike the pure, white snow, what thing did God scoop out of us in this test? What did the Lord find out about our faith under the strain? We may not get an answer on that, but we trust that God did exactly what was needed.

Have a wonderful snowy day in Christ!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sometimes It Just Works Out That Way

Oop, looks like back to school for the kids here this morning. But, they are off on Thursday and Friday for parent-teacher confs. Sometimes it just works out that way. If we had in Christ every happy event or fortuitous circumstance, then our witness would be easy. If only in Jesus did we find perfect health and showers of wealth, then truly the lines for the baptism service would be lengthy. If the name of Christian went with all the good things we desire in the flesh, then doors on the church building would be superfluous for all the traffic coming and going from the world. In this world, Christians struggle with finances, education, work, disease, trauma, death, separation, divorce, and all the other issues that is the common lot. Sometimes it works out that a brother in Christ is wealthy. Other times it may work out that a sister in Christ enjoys seemingly perfect health. But more often than not, suffering seems our lot.

We are not made better than the unbeliever by guaranteed health and wealth. Many times it seems those most opposed to the good news of Christ also enjoy the material benefits of this world. Our joy in this life must spring from something better, something more lasting than the benefits this world pays. For it is also true that the wealthiest and healthiest also may suffer the worries of how easily health and wealth can depart from anyone in this world. We live in this life but one twinge or pain away from a dreadful diagnosis. We store up a little wealth, and 'poof!' it is gone in a flash. What we must do is thank God for the good things we enjoy today. Tomorrow, all may be changed for the better, or, for the worse, we cannot know today. Trust God for today, and trust Him even more for tomorrow.

God bless and keep you,

Monday, February 24, 2014

Buried In It!

Oh yeah! We are buried in it! God's grace covers completely. No sin remains uncovered now, in the past, or in the future. But, is that then a license to sin as we please? Certainly not! Grace does not promote taking advantage of itself. God does not give in order to increase what is not His own. God's mercy is for the remission of sins, not to increase them. The flesh may see what it thinks is an opening, a loophole, but we know by now not to trust the promptings of the carnal mind. We go forward to do in love, not in rebellion. Grace was made to cover the repentant sinner saved by Christ. Grace was not made to conceal a rebel.

If on Saturday evening we took a sleeping bag outside and went to sleep in it on the cold, cold ground and then didn't awaken until this morning our snow covering would be complete. But, a bit of rising up, a little shaking, and the snow would come right off. Grace is no temporary covering. The layering of grace over us is complete, but it does not shake off with a little activity. We don't have to sit still for grace to remain. The most vigorous activity does not dislodge our covering of grace. Move the snow-covered sleeping bag far enough south, and the snow melts in the heat of the sun. Grace remains on us in every location. Wait for a stout wind, and a snow covering may leave us uncovered. Grace is based in the Lord, and He does not leave us or forsake us. Many mistakes in life may seem to make salvation doubtful, but grace is a gift from God and cannot be lost so easily.

Like new fallen snow, grace covers completely and is beautiful to behold. Trust God to keep it that way.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

All Indications Are Good, But You're Lost!

Good Saturday morning! We expect another snowstorm today. Praise the Lord! You stand on the edge of a city. The sign says "Welcome to Metropolis!" The GPS display indicates the latitude and longitude coordinates are correct for Metropolis, and the map data agrees with the coordinates. The only problem is that you are standing outside Lostopia. Earthly indicators can be wrong. A thing may sound good, but it is not in agreement with scripture. The believers in Berea checked with the scripture when a new preacher showed up. You and I must do the same.

Another example comes in the final judgment. Jesus told of those who would appear with a complete resume of good works, only to be told that He knew them not. Convinced they have found the right place, the people will appear before the throne to be told that they are lost indeed. The world encourages us to find ourselves. Lost folks are good with that, "I'm right here!" being the most common response. As a lost sheep, we must be found. It does us no good to holler out that we are right here at the end of this box canyon. The location is correct in form, but does no one any good.

It is fun that the first step to reconciliation in Christ is to state the truth, "I'm lost!" The Good Shepherd immediately finds us and brings us back to the Father's herd. Of course the journey back to the herd might be long and difficult, depending on how lost the sheep has become in his or her struggles to find themselves.

I wandered off to find myself,
Only to find myself lost.
The Shepherd found me
And led me home.
The journey home took a lifetime,
And only near the end did I see how lost I'd been.


Friday, February 21, 2014

No Magic, Just Me Lord!

Good Friday morning! The sun is shining and the weekend is near. Friday was the day when geeks gathered to share their geekiness by telling of the weekend plans. How many Star Trek episodes will you watch? Which version? Maybe a Dr. Who marathon this weekend, or perhaps all of the Star Wars movies in one weekend. Jargon, abbreviations, acronyms, and other arcane lore would fly with the average velocity of the old bull or fish stories. Running through all was the magic powers of technology. We didn't want to be here; we wanted to be there, at least in our imaginations. Comic books filled that niche at one time, probably still do. Fantasy books work the same for others. Middle Earth or Hogwarts, just bring on the magic powers. Paul spoiled everything.

Yes, the great apostle to the Gentiles told us that he had learned to be content here, in whatever circumstance, probably even with who he was in the present. No magical powers, no super technology, the poor fellow probably gave up on jumping over tall buildings and saving damsels in distress. Paul had his weakness to boast of and a 'thorn in the side' to keep him humble. He had learned to be content in Christ. I'm learning too.

The Lord accepted me just as I was then and just as I am now. If God wants bullets to bounce off me, then He will have to provide. If God wants claws to sprout from my hands or webs to shoot from my wrists or me to get angry and turn into a big green monster, then it is up to His power. The carnal flesh desires some imaginary, magical, technological, fantastical, advantage over my neighbors. Jesus just commanded me to love them. The carnal flesh desires some mythical, mystical, supernatural, power that will cure all my problems immediately. God tells me to trust in Him alone. The world desperately wants some imaginary power to come along so that they can turn away from God. We need salvation and there is only one way, truth, and life. And any who would be saved must come to the Father through Him. We don't need magic; we just need Jesus.

Have a great weekend in Christ!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Wish I Could Help

Good morning! Winter has hinted of a comeback with a bit of snow and ice this morning. How many times have I looked at a particular resource of mine, saw that the tank was dry, and wished that I could help someone in need? Many times, but why do I waste time wishing when the power of Almighty God is available in prayer? Prayer is the door faith walks through to stand before the Lord with a request. Any fool can wish, but we have a better way available to us.

The better way of Jesus provides for God's glory. My grumbles and complaints are well-washed with my self-interest. My desire to be the provider for all may be a sneaky way of wanting to take God's place. That temptation provided for the downfall of a certain angel. Ouch, bad pun there. Submitting to the will of God means that God does the providing. The Lord may use me, or He may use a brother in Christ, or He may provide nothing in some cases. The Lord may use other ways and means to provide; many of which have nothing to do with me except for one thing...prayer. Oh, if I could grow in Christ to think prayer first in place of that first moan of the carnal flesh! Hey, just the fact that the thought comes a little later is proof that Christ is at work in me.

I wish I could help, and I can! By coming before Jesus in prayer, I can provide my help to all who need it in the best way possible. If I see a need, and the only way I can help is to pray to God, then I am content with my part. Let God have the glory, let His people pray.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Standard Contract

Good morning! This is a standard contract (Translation: Please don't take the time to read all of it, or we'll be here all day.) Sign your name at the bottom. (Wake up! I told you not to try reading it!) We have all sat through something like this in an office or conference room somewhere. The usual contract to buy stuff is so dull in its legal language we have to wonder how anyone wrote the thing without suffering a self-induced coma. Of course, the standard EULA (end user license agreement) on the software you buy is much worse. Opposite of all that is the transaction of salvation.

A person could render it down to a few words. The repentant sinner declares: "Lord, I believe." Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven." Yet, the transaction is also very personal. Those who need more words can have them. Those who are content with less are saved in that way too. Some like to redo the transaction every week or so. Others know that once is all it takes. A baptism declares it publicly, but salvation is very private as well. We enter the surrender process for many different reasons. Some are sick in body, others simply sick of their sins. One may look up from the gutter of drugs, others because wealth and fame did not satisfy. Job loss brings one to Jesus, while that other person would dearly like to part with their employment situation. All of us may realize that this world likes to put a box on us, and then cave the sides in until we are crushed. In every case, the most important contract of our lives is also the simplest. We believe in Christ, and Jesus takes care of everything else to save us. And there isn't even a dotted line for a signature.

Praise God for the salvation found in Jesus!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's a Sin Addiction

Good morning as we look around and start a new day. A study published recently claims that porn addiction does not meet the definition of an addiction. Maybe, but like every other sin that grabs folks and won't let go: It's a sin addiction. Some may be chemical in nature, affecting the brain wiring, and others circumstantial, as in the flesh just wants to do it, but all sins grab hold of the victim and keep coming back for more. If the Tempter finds a person weak in one area, he is going to keep striking it. A hole in the shield of faith lets in the darts of the Adversary over and over until the believer is reeling from the pain of it. We as natural-born sinners are not strong enough to fight it in our own might. However, we have an answer for this sort of thing.

Jesus gave us a new spirit, and by doing so put us right in the thick of battle. The flesh born into sin is not gone yet, and it fights to hold onto its old territory: that would be you and me. Sometimes we hear of God graciously removing a temptation from a soul given to Christ. In most cases, I think that the new believer is coming aboard the mercy ship with the same old temptations. We are forgiven both past and future, but the enemy does not put down the tools that worked so well in the past. A person tempted by porn will likely face that same temptation until Jesus removes it once and for all in Heaven. We can have the victory in Christ though, if we will receive His authority and submit to His authority. Nothing is ever easy it seems, the rebel flesh will rise up just as soon as we try to live under Christ's authority.

There is victory over that too, and it comes from the same place. The victory may not be immediate over all the temptations of this world and the rebellion of our carnal flesh. The answer we seek comes through prayer and a lifetime of submission to our Lord Jesus. Keep on hoping, because one day our burdens will be laid down for good and for ever.

Praise the name of Jesus our Lord,

Monday, February 17, 2014

That Should Be...Just About Right, I Think

Good Monday morning! The moderate temps of the past few days have been a blessing to us. Praise God for His blessings each day!

Sometimes when we think of eternity with Jesus, and then we look at the condition of the self, and we think that forever should be just about right for getting 'me' straightened out. If indeed I were in charge of making me acceptable to God, then forever might not be enough. Why else do those who depend on self-righteousness end up spending eternity away from God? But Jesus is not me, and His cleansing blood does not take forever to work its wonderful work. When Jesus declared His work accomplished and finished on the cross, we have only to believe and there it is!

Once more, looking at the 'me' that does not seem to fit. However, we are to look at Jesus. Just like the devil still having a little time to do his dirty work, we too are not finished with our sanctification yet. The cross only had to be done once, but the effects are still working through humanity and the world. Jesus rose from the grave once. We don't have to wait for Him to do it again. You and I were saved by Jesus once. It is done. We don't need to wait on forever to be acceptable to God; we only need wait on Jesus to bring us home.

Have a wonderful week in Christ!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

It's Over

A moment of silence, please, as I toss out the post-Super Bowl issue of the sports magazine. As a Bronco fan, I had hoped for an issue to place in a special drawer, perhaps protected by a plastic sleeve, to keep for a while. However, the memory is just too painful and the cover of the magazine is a harsh reminder of our team's dismal failure. For those folks in Seattle, 'abject whomping' might be a better term, but they can keep their own copy safe; mine must go. What's done is done. As Paul reminds me, I must put aside those things which have gone before, and press on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The use of a sports story is somewhat less than serious, but we all have things in the past that must be let go. It's over; hand in the memories, stop writhing in shame, put aside the regret and what-if's, and move on to the goal God has in mind for us. Our favorite team's loss in a big match is hardly life threatening, but many of us have things in our past that cause pain even today. Imagine Paul's pain and emotional distress as he thought of the days when he pulled people from their homes to face torture and stoning. Imagine the apostle's shame as he remembered how right he thought he was in those days. What a sterling example of leaving the past behind and moving on to his calling in Christ!

Turn around stories are great, but let's move on in Christ. Move on to the new life in Jesus, and use that story only as a testimony of God's grace. Put down that whip of self-shaming from the past. Have a better day in Jesus!


Friday, February 14, 2014

A Little Rose

Happy Valentine's Day to you! My love to you on this day of celebrating love. Breakfast is sizzling on the grill, and I'm not lifting a finger to make it happen this morning! I'm a guest in Sidney today, and live from the MacKenzie house we have the devotional. The things we do for each other, such as cooking breakfast, are an expression of love for one another. We are in Christ when we both accept a service and perform that service. Jesus told Peter that the disciple could have no part of Him if the foot washing was refused. In the same way, to refuse a gift or a service is to have no part of the love we share. To refuse to accept salvation is to stand apart from the Christ our Lord. Today, I give you the gift of a devotional in Christ, a little rose to begin your Valentine's Day celebration.

We all want to share in the love of God, and from each other. Sometimes we resist a bit. The flesh wants to stand alone, strong in its own power. The spirit wants to fall completely into the love of God. Our Lord granted us His Spirit to help in that fight. Love is not an easy road. We need constant reminders from the Word and from His Spirit to walk the narrow way. A day of remembering love can only help us in this journey. Along with love is the response we learn: gratitude.

A hearty thank you to Cheryl for a great breakfast this morning, and my gratitude to God for all He has done for me. God's love and blessing to you on this Valentine's Day!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Rescuer and the Comforter

Praise God for the new day! Reminders that God is in control and faith is not an issue of how strong but in Him come to me in God's perfect timing. As the song goes: once I was lost, but now I am found; I needed a rescue and Jesus is the Rescuer. We like the word 'savior' but it means the same thing. You and I needed salvation and Jesus rescued us from drowning in the swamp of sin's payments. Then, just to make sure that we are reminded constantly, Jesus sent to us the Comforter.

Does it feel like you keep falling back into that swamp of sin and despair? I know what you feel. Do we sometimes question whether the rescue didn't fail? Yes, that thought often comes during the tribulations' worst moments. Faith tells us that God has it all under His sovereign control, but sometimes it doesn't feel like it down here near the shores of that swamp. There are ministers who paint a rosy picture. All of their problem stories are from the past. God's marvelous hand moved them to a point of prosperity, and life is one big smile. You and I may live a season like that in this life. Hard to believe? It hasn't happened to you yet? Yeah, I know what you mean there too.

It isn't always centered in our tendency to worry. Often, it just seems that life in this world throws blow after blow, like a boxing machine that no one can shut off after the human fighter is nearly out on his feet. Sometimes we need a standing (or maybe sitting) ten-count, but God doesn't seem there to give us one. The reminder that comes to me from the Comforter is always the same; "You are stronger than you Christ!" The final phrase is so very important. So much so that Mr. Swindoll pointed it out last night on his program. In my own strength, my estimation is pretty much spot on by now. But in Christ, all that weakness is for God's glory, and His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12)

Here I am, Lord. My life is Yours!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is It Time For Warming?

Whoo, single digit temps this morning and frosty, but is it time for warming? The weather prognosticators say so. We shall see. Real winter has been here for just a couple of weeks, though it seems longer, but already I am ready to see a little warming.

Is it time? God probably hears that question every day and night, many times over. We know that God sets the times and dates, but we constantly want updates. Patience is not a common virtue amongst us in this day. If we could get an honest survey, even Christians might say that God's timing is often just too late. We know that God's timing is just right, but what we say deep down in our hearts is not quite the same. The carnal desire of the flesh is to constantly give God a thumbs down on His sense of what time is the best time. Praise God the Spirit brings us truth.

Peter reminds us that God is not slack, but patient that all might be saved. We walk with Jesus in faith, trusting the Father's time and timing in all things. What seems late to me is simply my impatience talking. Why is my sanctification and perfecting taking so long? It isn't, of course. God is making me just right and fully prepared to be with Him in His perfect time. Why aren't you in Heaven yet? Perhaps because God in His loving kindness would have you to be a blessing to the rest of us for just a bit longer. The minister who has not been called home yet has at least one more message to give. The singer longing for Heavenly choirs has one more song to sing before her time arrives. It is indeed time for the warming of our hearts toward God's perfect time.

Go with God this day,

Monday, February 10, 2014

Don'tcha Just Wanna Yell?

I remember when the days like yesterday would have sprouted a crop of snowmobiles on the streets. After years of drought though, no one seems to keep these nearly-extinct creatures out back of their shed anymore. Dealerships are long since closed and spare cash has gone into something else. Of course no one mentioned cheap and snowmobile in the same sentence except for the few times the thing died out in a field and left him or her to trudge through two miles of snow back to the nearest farm. Alas, another creature has retreated back to the mountains or the far northern ranges.

Okay, snow clearing operations are in full swing on the streets of our little town. I look across the neighborhood and see empty driveways with vehicles parked on the streets in the way of the town employees doing their best to make the streets clear and safe for us. Don'tcha just wanna yell at 'em? Is that urge to yell spreading the good news of Jesus Christ? Oops... maybe not.

I don't know what is going on with those vehicles and their owners, what thought may or may not be going through their respective heads, or why the vehicle cannot be moved in time. Like those snowmobiles of the bygone days, vehicles sometimes cannot be moved under their own power. Peoples is that way too. Some mornings we get up and cannot be moved from under a cloud of flu or a bad cold. Winter is a bad time for people with anxiety and those with asthma. A little understanding might season my life better than the yeast of the Pharisees.

Jesus told his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Immediately, they thought the Master was coming down on them for not having enough bread on hand. (You will find the story in Matthew 16.) From time to time, I think on this passage. What exactly was the 'leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees? They did spend a lot of time accusing Jesus of violating the letter of the Law (or their traditions). Is that where that desire to do a little yelling comes from, the letter of my law? The P's and S's also missed who Jesus was; often accusing the Son of God of blasphemy. This desire to stand on what they decided not to believe is related. All of it adds up to I/we are right and everyone else is not. Yup, could make it tough to love the neighbor if I insist on that!

Find the strength to love in Christ,

Saturday, February 08, 2014

God Wants You For Eternity

Good morning as the sun rises over the garage. Well, we didn't have the sub-zero stuff last night. Felt right nice to go outside this morning without a "Whoa!" catching in my throat. There is hope in the forecast after that one more storm due in tonight. Doesn't that seem just like life? There is hope if we can make it through this one last storm! Always there seems one more storm. I thought this morning about the way in which God bestows His blessings. Often, I have thought that I know better about when, what, and how much. But, what if I saw with the wisdom of God? Would I be so quick to say the prayer that specifically states, "I need this right now" or "He/she needs that right now, Lord"?

Say that you prayed for your small church to receive a manifold blessing of loot to fill the church coffers and ease the difficult church board financial discussions each month. God responds with a shower of offerings, and all seems just fine. However, the end result isn't what you expect. What was once a church united in desperate need under God becomes a wealthy country club-like church bickering and backstabbing, voting out members for the least offense, and generally looking down the nose at those new families who joined after the monetary rescue. We don't know that would happen of course. But, knowing that possible outcome in God's wisdom, which is available to us for the asking, might we not rethink that prayer?

Now, what about God's wisdom in your/my situation? We strive, we work, we try this, seek out that, but sometimes nothing seems to change for very long. The same problem returns again and again. The big question arrives: Is this circumstance God's will for my life and I should just accept, or, should I continue to strive against it until breakthrough is achieved, or, even to wait for that moment when, as Jesus said to Paul, "It is hard for you to kick against the goads" and accept the complete turnaround in life that gives us new direction? Yikes, take a deep breath after that sentence. From that bit of a verse in Acts, I wonder if Jesus may have spoken to Paul earlier on the road to Damascus, but Paul would not listen until overawed by the splendor of the risen Christ and blinded by His glory.

There is no fit-all answer when the big question arrives. We accept that we are sinners and must have the salvation of Christ. We may be given a 'thorn in the side' like Paul, and we accept that situation as glorifying God in our weakness. We may be given the heavenly vision of the risen Christ and have a miraculous turn in the direction of our lives. Like Peter, we may strive and strive, and then an outpouring of the Holy Spirit overcomes our former denials, blasts through a lack of education or public speaking skill, and makes us into the leader of a young church. Then again, all of that could happen to any and all of us.

You and I cannot know in many cases except through painful and slow testing what God's will is in a matter. Many of us have faced mid-life turning points, while others at that same age have continued on, enduring to the end. Both have done this in Christ, and what is God's will for one does not fit God's will for the other. At other times, many brothers in Christ may walk together for a season, uplifting and encouraging each other. There is good news in the not always knowing as we would like in the manner of being told specifically as Paul was on that road so long ago.

In faith, we joined God's team and He accepted us for eternity. That's right, we don't get let go from this team. God wants you and me for eternity. Sometimes we feel like the player sent out onto a field he has never seen before, to play a game he has never heard of, with a crowd of saints chanting for him to "Go! Go!", while being exhorted by the man in his Sunday suit to score the winning goal. All the player can feel is his weakness, and all he knows is his ignorance. But a little faith, even as a grain of mustard seed, a little prayer on trembling knees, and all the might and strength of Heaven's Almighty God will see him through the task.

God's love and peace to you on this day,

Friday, February 07, 2014

Totally Uncoordinated

Good Friday morning. The thing about the outside temperature just doesn't bear repeating. It just is; and we learn to deal with it and praise God for our ability to adjust. This morning, I tried to skritch the cat and pull open the drapes at the same time. Of course I couldn't do it very well. Stop the one, and the lose the cord on the other. Then get confused on which action went with which hand. I'm so totally uncoordinated. I have never understood how those drummers can coordinate all four limbs independently and so well. I think, "It's just like walking. Each arm moves opposite the other, and each leg moves differently." With that thought, I trip over a curb. Yup, totally uncoordinated.

My spiritual walk with Jesus appears to go much the same way. Sometimes I think that I should tell my friends in Christ how well my stumble with Jesus is going. If it isn't a hoof in my mouth, then it's something I'm thinking that is wrong. If my hands aren't up to no good, then my eyes are looking where they shouldn't. Praise God that I only have one decision to remember - that of saying "Yes, I believe." to Jesus and accepting His salvation. Once I surrendered my all to Christ, from then on grace has me covered. Stumbling and bumbling my way with Jesus, we will arrive at the pearly gates. After I trip over the golden pavement, I expect to look up and see y'all there too.

Have a great Friday in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Cold Outside, Warmth In the Heart

Uh, oh! The sun didn't get up this morning. Cold with a dusting of snow is the story of the morning. Cold has been the story of the week. Let it not be the story of our hearts though. Warm up first toward God. Know deep down and on the surface that God loves you and me just as we are right now. There is no amount of self-improvement I can do that will make God love me more. All of my failures and trials are bound up in His love. All of my successes and triumphs are held together by His love. Can I grieve God by my sin? Sure, but that does not separate me from His love. Can I disappoint God through actions or inactions? At times I 'm sure that happens, but God's love is not cut away from me in those moments. God's love is greater than my feelings of guilt and shame. God's love overcomes my fears and selfishness. God's love endures through the evils heaped on me by this world. God's love is a great and wonderful thing in this life right now.

We sometimes think that God will love us more in Heaven, you know, after Christ has perfected us. The cross says otherwise. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," Jesus told the disciples. (John 15:13 RSV) The greatest expression of love by God has already been given. Believe and receive it! We can rest in God's love knowing that trials and testing will come, but God's greatest love is already ours. In fact, without the trials and testing, we might well wonder that God no longer cares for us. Since nothing can separate us from God's love, let us grasp it close and warm our hearts with it.

In the matchless name of Jesus our Lord,

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A Hopeful Start

"They will spring up among the grass, like willows by the watercourses." Isaiah 44:4

Good morning... good n' cold that is! This morning as I struggled to find silence in my heart, the Lord gave me a very hopeful verse. Some of you know trees that grow seemingly overnight. You mow your lawn and - heyo! where did these trees come from? This verse reminds me of that. A promise that we will spring up from among the grass of humanity, not for our own glory, but for the glory of God. One evening the grass appears all the same. There appears nothing above the common crowd. The angels have nothing to swing the sickle at for the harvest to come. Then, the morning dawns. God's new mercies are distributed like rain over the grass once more, and what is this? Tender, young trees have shot up overnight. Salvation has brought forth a small forest among the grass by the river. Who are these little trees?

They are us, you and me, we accepted Jesus as Lord and now we have grown above the grass of the world. Like trees everywhere, we all point up to God. As trees above the crowd, we will take the brunt of the winds of scorn flowing across the land. We are tended with loving care by the Master though, so fear not those winds. One day, we will grow under this care and shade the grass beneath our limbs. That is the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. The harvest will come, but only when the number of trees is complete.

I like a hopeful start to the day. One verse from God's word is all that it takes to get me started. How much more then can one of His books do? Or the entire Bible? Praise God for the new day!


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

"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." John 14:27

Cold and snow once again, winter is here for sure. Jesus said it, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." yet we don't always obey that command. Before that command though, Jesus left us His peace. We could not hope to obey our Lord's command without something to overcome Adam's sin that left us as fallen and fearful creatures. Jesus, our Lord, gave us peace in our hearts, and peace with God.

The world gives us unhealthy doses of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. So, Jesus said that He does not give as the world gives. We need peace more than ever as the world speeds up. A lot of folks talk peace in this world, but they only see it as the absence of war between nations. Many things make war on us through intimidation, threat of catastrophe, overwhelming demands of precious time, and working to the point of exhaustion. But, don't think those are the world's only weapons.

Others are left alone with nothing to do as their lives slowly drain away in front of a television. Friends and relatives are kept away by work and other demands while loneliness destroys from within. I'm sure you can offer up some examples too. We need the peace Jesus gives even as we endure the constant tumult of World War Now. When the nations take up arms against each other, that's just another symptom of our fallen world. This war has been fought ever since the Serpent took the first shot in the Garden of Eden. It will end when Jesus returns.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Utter Humiliation

Good Monday! I thought that I knew the depths of humiliation at several points in my life, but then again, it may have happened to someone else last night. I won't give out their team name, but what do we say when our team loses so... ah, yes, the Olympics begin on Thursday! NASCAR season begins this month. Let's talk any sport but foo...foot. Yeah, that thing we were all excited about this weekend. Oh, well. Let us congratulate Seattle under the golden rule, and then move on with life this morning as best we can. Little did we know that God sent the Comforter for the day after the big game that turned into the big debacle. How could we know on Saturday that second place would hurt so much on Sunday night?

Phew! How do I go on without talking about such an event? There is something happening in you and me that does not depend upon big events in life. Yes, God is changing us and this goes on while we go about our everyday lives. We notice the big events, and remember them better than the so-called normal days, but God is at work in the heart of His people at all times. The church with Christ as its head builds and grows with each passing day. You may not think that anything happened in your walk with Christ today, but God worked on your heart. I may think that I actually slid backwards on this day, but God may see it differently. The morning begins a new day with fresh mercies from God.

Have a great day in Christ!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

My God is a Warm God

Good morning on this cold Saturday! The world wants to make my God cold. I heard this morning that God is a set of equations. I also heard that some don't like to use the 'God' word. Which is particularly strange given all the times in an evening of movie watching that one can hear our Lord's name used in vain. There was more but I won't try to make the morning any colder than it is already. Indifference is a horrible thing. The rich man didn't hate Lazarus in the parable Jesus told; he was indifferent toward him. Few people hate their neighbors, but many are indifferent toward them. To make God a shunned term or a set of equations is to be indifferent toward the Creator. Of course, those who are indifferent first deny that He was Creator.

The worst thing to do to a person in need is to be indifferent. To not know of the need is subject to a whole lot of circumstances; many of which do not lay blame at our feet. However, to know fully of a need, and then walk away without caring is horrible. To be unable to help seems awful enough to us, but to not care is heinous. Sometimes it seems to us that all we can do for so many needs is to pray. "All we can do..."?

Praise God that prayer is the best thing we can do, and we can do it for all needs. My God is a warm God, and His heart burns to be there in every need. Our biggest, longest, most immediate need is for salvation, and God sent His Son to the cross for that. There most certainly is no indifference in the sacrifice of Christ! Lazarus died in his need, but God snatched him up and assigned Abraham himself to see to the needs of the poor beggar. For us it might be like dying and having the Apostle Paul assigned to see to our healing and restoration before presenting us to Jesus. Of course, God already assigned His own Spirit to minister to us in every moment. No, I reject the indifference message of the world. My God is a warm and loving God!

Have a wonderful weekend in Christ,