Monday, March 31, 2014

I Feel The Sting

Good morning as the debate rages outside. Snow or rain? The weather seems in a mood for either or both today. This weekend, I felt the sting of powerlessness. We don't much like that feeling. I think given the choice all of us would choose to live filled with the power to do something about many of the things we live with every day. A bunch of titans would walk the Earth. Need some money? I make you rich through my power! Need some healing? I make you well right now! The government not to your liking? Well, let me just make the adjustments you want! The problems we have now would of course be multiplied exponentially as billions of powerful titans changed everything that bothered every one. Then, there is the obvious question; if all of us were powerful, who would we help?

We may feel the sting of powerlessness, but it is best to follow God's way. Far better for all of us that One alone holds the ultimate power, and that He holds the wisdom, righteousness, and love to match it. We have faith and prayer. Those may seem puny in comparison, but that is because we tend to look at ourselves first. All those great qualities of God become available to us through faith and prayer. Does that mean that God always responds exactly in the way we wish? Ah, no, even the billions of wishes in the world are in conflict much of the time. However, we also gain the power to wait patiently on the Lord's way, and to trust in His answer as the best way.

For our comfort in this latest trial, let us recall James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." Oh, the power and effect I hoped for! To the prayer closet, Christ's man!

Love and affection in Christ,

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Heads Up, It's The Super Mega Pack!

Oh, yeah! I'm home and ready to write. Now, what to write about on this fine, somewhat hazy morning at the end of March? I notice as my oldishness increases slightly each year, that some would have us buy more stuff. This comes up after my early morning trip to Wal-mart and the purchase of something called the super mega pack of paper plates, all 282 strong! I can only imagine the quantity Sam's must sell of the same item. This morning, besides the S.M.P., I bought mega rolls, maximum strength's, 1st Defense, 23 flavors, dual packs, triple packs, super size, and in case I might have forgotten it...the Original. With all of the super-marketing going on, I can see why I must be reminded of the original. Oh, and lest I try to ignore the seizing of muscles, two of the 38-lb multi-cat scoopables for 76 lbs of something soil-like for my cats to soil. I wonder if it would be easier to scoop the multi-cat outside to do his business?

Life is complicated enough these days, but it seems that even a trip to the supermarket must be made more difficult to get us to buy the stuff we need anyway. Super-mega Bible study anyone? Why then is the Bible the same as it has been for many hundreds of years? Don't we need new marketing terms for the Word of God? Should we be studying the new and improved Revelation? I suppose not, it seems that John said something about adding or deleting words from the Word. Plagues and other horrors were to be added to the one who thinks God's Word needs a little additive to make it go down easier or something. I write not of the different translations of course. Those are to help us with the changing idiom of plain old American English, which isn't plain or even static as the generations go by. Praise God that when He inspired and revealed His Word, it was good!

Have a great Saturday in Christ!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Speaking of Phases

A coating of snow arrived this morning, much to my surprise. At times in life I have fallen into the worst sort of legalism. Sort of: Rules is rules, and only fools would break the narrowest possible definition of the rules! Yesterday, I mentioned those phases of the Christian growth that we might rather avoid. Legalism is certainly one of them. Legalism in the Christian sense makes the growing Christian miserable, AND it makes all those around him or her miserable too. Legalism walks about using the biblical rules as a club to pound others senseless. There is no love in legalism. Yet, in our growth from newly reborn Christian to fully mature child of God, we all seem to find that phase.

The good part of that time is in the realization that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard. We know that our salvation is wholly dependent upon Jesus and Jesus alone. We understand that we are no better than the pagan unbeliever, except that Jesus has saved us. Exactly what the Law is supposed to do. Hooray. But, when we fall into the harsh legalistic judgment of the self and others, we start beating that whom God loves into the ground of despair. God loves you and God loves me, and it's not up to legalistic me to beat down thee or me!

Let us love one another in Christ, and have a great and wonderful Friday in God's love!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hey! I Think a Mistake Has Been Made

Yaargh! Plain Jane the Brain Drain and the Empire of No returned in a dream! Save me! Just to set your mind at ease, 'Jane' is not a human female of any age or appearance. There's my politically correct disclaimer for the morning. Here I am, well fed and happy, ready to start the day with a devotional message. Sputtering about, brain-drained, no ideas coming forth, the dream Jane having done her work all too well. Hey! I think a mistake has been made somewhere. I'm not this writer who can produce a devotional every morning on demand!

We are reborn in Christ. Then we have a mission in Christ. At some point in that life, most of us will come to a pinnacle of doubt. I'm not that person in that calling. How did I get here? We may be doing the same job as before our rebirth, or we may have moved into a new calling, but that dull, bland peak of doubting comes along whenever it feels like testing us. Having served with passion and talent for several years, perhaps several decades, the Christian is stuck in glue. I can't preach another sermon, there's no more in me! I can't sing before people; why did I think I could? It happens.

Years ago, I stated that I would not go through one or two of the stages I heard in a sermon on Christian growth. "Don't need to do that," I confidently repeated to myself. If any Christian needs humbling in any way, of course God is only too happy to run 'im through a particular season to get the desired result. Whether that stage involves doubt or boredom or a complete change of situation, our Lord will make sure that we get exactly what we need to grow into full Christian maturity. Poor Christian might even find that he must go back for a time to a place he thought left behind forever.

No, I'm pretty sure the Marines won't have me going to boot camp again. Probably wouldn't survive it this time around! If you must go back for a time, trust in God even more than the first time through. Have a great Thursday in Christ!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How Have I Changed?

Good spring morning to you! Perhaps not every day, but at least once in a while we must examine the life Jesus gives since our rebirth in Him. One question we must look to is: How have I changed (or been changed)? Of course, all the credit for positive changes goes to Jesus our Lord, but it is good for us to note them.

The same temptations we faced back in the days of sin probably still assault us now. However, are those temptations now defeated in Christ? Do we see victory at times? Perhaps not in every battle, but in the strength Jesus gives do we win a few? What about those feelings toward others? I can recall a day when a favorite sport of mine in I.T. (MIS, back in the day) was to belittle those with less technical knowledge. That temptation is still there, but now the spirit in me no longer desires that action. Yes, every now and then someone does make it too easy, and resistance is strained to the breaking point. Every fall though does not show an improvement the other person needs to make, but the space I must grow into while growing into the shoes my Savior showed me by His example. Er, uh..."grow into while growing into"?!? I left that to show that my writing skills in the morning may have a bit of growth room left too!

Ah, ha, ha, we all deserve a good laugh this morning! Hopefully, the next one won't be at your expense. Love Jesus with all your heart, and love one another as He commanded.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Is Worse?

Good Tuesday morning! What is worse: going through one of those death valley shadows yourself, or watching another person endure the difficulty of it? Our first answer probably volunteers the self. That answer that comes out before we can stop it tends toward the selfish most every time. However, that answer may not be correct. We suffer along with each other, and watching the other person go through a deep tribulation may cause us more emotional pain than the trials we endure with Jesus in life. As we grow in the faith, we may be much more willing to endure a trial than to have someone we love endure the thing.

What advice do I give him in his time of trial? How do I approach her without hurting her feelings even worse than they are now? Part of the problem with another person's trial is the very powerlessness we feel. Though it shouldn't, sometimes praying for the other person seems a thin and weak answer. We know better! Prayer is the best answer because we are bringing that request to the almighty God. Prayer is the first and best doing for the other person, but does not rule out the physical actions we like when God sends us to the rescue. Yes, in prayer we may find God showing us the way to help out without trampling on feelings or shoving an unwelcome nose into the business.

It hurts to just watch a person endure suffering. So don't, jump right into your prayer room and learn the right actions from God. Yup, that too - we may find that the test also involves our waiting and watching in emotional pain while God takes care of it in His own way. We still get to pray though!

In Christ,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Twisted Take Number 1

Yup, the Nebraska team, like its former mates Oklahoma and Colorado, took school seriously and went home after one game in the tournament. The Nebraska women's team won its first-round game in the tournament. I guess they're just not as serious about their education. Ah, the turn of a viewpoint, the twisting of our take on the situation, we can always make something look better or worse, or perhaps just a bit different by looking at it from a different angle.

Indeed, the natural view may be that Jesus just came to show us up, to make us look bad by living the perfect sinless life. However, John 3:17 gives us the heavenly view: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." The worldly view is that the commandments are to keep us from doing what we want or having any fun. But the heavenly view is toward our not hurting ourselves through actions of hate and disrespect. No one could keep the law, but God sent a better way in His Son. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

Enjoy the week in Christ Jesus!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday in the Snow

"The kitties are fed, no longer blue. Their noise has diminished, now I'm happy too!" Sung to whatever tune you want to make up. I see that many of the psalms have notations regarding the melody used in singing. However, that doesn't really help us now as the music has been lost to the centuries gone by. At one time, churches sang only the psalms, but likely not to the original tunes. Music and singing is such a gift from God that we often don't realize how precious it is to us. Many people prefer live singing in their church services. It sure beats the dead singing. I for one find their sort of music a little creepy. We are told to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Indeed, those in the afterlife, or upper-life or up there in Heaven, are heard to make many joyful hymns to the Lord in the Revelation. Singing and music it seems will be present for some time to come.

What music glorifies the Lord with the falling snow outside? Perhaps any music that makes us happy, joyful, worshipful, or get up and dance. The music of the psalms may be lost so that we don't think up limitations to what we can sing or play or listen to for our music. It is interesting that the group Jesus came down on the most, the Pharisees, seems to keep coming back into our worship and religion. Nothing but the psalms? Bah, think of the many great songs we might never have heard in our worship.

Have a great and joyful weekend in Christ!

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Step, And The Journey Begins

Good Friday morning! How is your bracket doing? Colorado got sent back to classes yesterday. Oklahoma is due in school this morning. Will Nebraska do any better today? Some people are wondering what in the world I'm writing about this morning. The big college basketball tournament is the only time of the year I pay attention to NCAA basketball. I'm just not much of a fan of the sport. Even during the tournament I only pay attention to read about the big upsets, and there were 3 good ones yesterday. Now, this devotional is not about sports except as they relate to our life in Christ. And I don't have any startling analogy that fits this morning, so I had better get on with the main show.

As I began sputtering about not writing much of anything, I asked the Lord to help me out here. The Lord told me that He was ready to go, but that I wasn't going much of anywhere yet. Yes, taking that first step is a big responsibility on any journey. The prodigal had to not only decide to go back home, he also had to overcome the inertia to stay in the awful place he found himself. Abram couldn't become Abraham without getting that first step toward the promised land out of the way. When Israel refused to cross the Jordan, God sent 'em out to the wilderness to wander for forty years. Not taking that first step has consequences. Israel took a lot of steps with no other reason than to get the faithless ones out of the way. I don't want to be faithless to my God. So, when a step in faith is required, I trust that God will give me the strength to get the journey underway.

Praise God for Fridays!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring! Let Us Renew Our Love of Jesus

Good morning and a hearty welcome to that first day of Spring! Winter seems long this year, but in time it must always give way to the coming of spring. Of course, here in the more northerly areas, we know that does not mean that trees automatically spring into bloom and flowers may hold off for a bit yet. The weeds are coming up though. Still, whatever the weather does today, it is nice to see the date arrive on the calendar. Easter is a month away yet, but the first day of spring is a good time to renew our love of Jesus. A few moments today in private with the Word of God will do quite nicely. Read a psalm or two, your favorite passages from the gospels, or perhaps that letter of rejoicing: Philippians. Take time for prayer and thanksgiving in your prayer room alone with Jesus our Lord. Do a good deed in the Lord's name. Sit back for a while in your favorite chair and enjoy being with Jesus.

We have many ways to worship and praise our Lord, and we can do them on any day. Once in a while though, it is nice to have an unscheduled holiday, whether at work or not, to renew our love for Jesus. If you can, take the day and get away to a quiet place to listen as Jesus loves you. Yes, we were not the first to express our love. Jesus did it way before we were born on this earth. We send up a few drops of love, and a deluge comes back our way. Even in those times when our mind is far away, the love of Jesus flows into and over us like a mighty unstoppable river. As the apostle wrote: nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Have a loving day,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Good morning! Hey, my first testimony of the day. Yes, in saying that it is a good morning, I can either give my testimony that it is indeed a good morning, or I can write a useless greeting that means nothing. Why then, would you believe anything else I write if I type out a 'good morning' as nothing more than a couple of general words to get the typing fingers moving? Exactly, you wouldn't and I shouldn't, my devotional is my testimony and every word must come from my eyewitness.

In telling stories from my days of yore, some may seem easy to doubt. It is easy to pad a story with a few details or descriptions to make it seem more exciting that it was during the actual events. When I tell a story, I can easily understand some doubt. When I give my eyewitness testimony, I rather like to be believed. An eyewitness testimony is more than a story for entertainment. Matthew wrote down his gospel as an eyewitness saying in effect, 'these things actually happened when I knew Jesus.' We go out to give our testimony in the same way. The problems come when our testimony is so wonderful in some way that it sounds a lot like one of those stories of days gone by.

Matthew referenced prophecies from of old and showed how Jesus fulfilled them. People of the time had trouble believing his testimony. Some of my testimonial tales may be hard for those who were not there to believe as well. As the years go by, memories pile on top of memories and it can be easy for the doubter to suspect that I've lost my marbles. There was a big marble auction out at the fairgrounds over the weekend, possibly some of mine got mixed in and sold. However that may be, it remains an insult to the eyewitness to doubt the testimony. Stories from back in the day, especially those involving fishing or hunting, may be subject to a certain skepticism. Testimony is a cause for listening and learning. Of course, to make sure we are showing the love of Christ, let us fact check our testimony that we not give good reason to the doubters. After all, we have no need to embellish the work of Christ in us. When a sinner becomes a disciple by the sacrifice of the Lamb, adding embellishment only diminishes the awesomeness.

Have a wonderful Wednesday in Christ!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Returning To The Fold

Good morning on this breezy day! Maybe 'breezy' is a bit of an understatement. Often, when the wind is blowing through these parts at 0600, it will be much worse by 10. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; says so right in the Word. However, this Good Shepherd chose a flock of the most prone to wander and unruly sheep ever invented. All we like sheep have gone astray, and we do it in thought and deed almost daily. We can be easily led astray by a little temptation, and almost as easily by the attack of the thorns. Even in the herd with our shepherd, we have a strong desire to look around at the world outside.

I may use figurative language, but I also know from my experience that this holds true for me. Returning to the sheep fold is not easy. Sometimes, like the prodigal, I must walk from a far country to return to my Father and the Good Shepherd. Of course, unlike the prodigal, I don't walk that journey alone. The Good Shepherd has traveled far at times to fetch me back to the fold. The mind likes to go on intellectual explorations in strange places. The body likes to whine and complain (and grow older), and the senses will turn the head at the slightest provocation. All me like the proverbial sheep goes astray fairly often.

Praise God for our Good Shepherd. Returning to the fold is not a bitter experience; that's what happens out in the lost fields. No, returning is a joyous time of reunion with my fellow sheeps. We don't tend to say, "Where have you been?" We tend more to the "Welcome back!" It may seem at times that I'm the only one prone to wander off, but that just isn't true. Our Shepherd knows where we've been, and He is not one to accuse; that comes from the other side, 'ol darkside devil and his gang.

Praise the Lord for the returning!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Inquire For the Word

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today dawns and what, we wonder, should we do on this day? Something in the Bible surely applies to this, probably many verses, but let us look at one. Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire for the word of the LORD today." (1 Kings 22:5) The history of the kings of Israel holds many examples of kings who did righteously in the sight of the Lord, and those who did not. Some kings listened to the Lord's prophets, others listened to the prophets that told them what they liked to hear. Some kings took a special delight in killing the Lord's prophets. We have the Holy Spirit in this age. Do we listen? Do we first inquire?

God knows every need of mine, even the ones I do not know to ask for, why must I inquire of Him? Maybe, my Lord just likes to hear from me and you. To inquire of the Lord is to acknowledge His preeminence in our lives. To come before the Lord in prayer seeking counsel is to give first place to God's wisdom over our wisdom. We seek the all-seeing vision of our Lord over the limited and restricted view we have here on Earth. Much as it goes against our carnal nature, can it be that the Lord just wants you, me, and Him together in all things? The Lord has the best answers for us in all we do. What an awful thing to ignore our Lord and try to depend on our knowledge and wisdom.

Our Lord likes to be asked. This is not for His benefit, but for ours. At the same time, strange though it may seem in light of my sinful record, the Lord wants to be near me. My asking is one way to draw the reluctant sinner to be near the Lord of light and mercy. The same works for you too. The Lord of all wants us to come to Him! Let us today inquire for the word of the Lord.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

To Do The Things We Can't Do

Good Saturday to you in Christ Jesus! One day in the hospital many years ago, I got into some odd mind set where I stuffed my mouth full of bread. For some reason, I thought in the moment that I had to get it all in. Of course, my mouth dried up from all the bread and I could neither chew nor swallow the big lump. Now, back in my youth I was told many times that I could do anything I set my mind to accomplish. Wrong, I had to reach up and get enough bread out of my mouth to keep from choking and gagging on the stuff. At the time, dealing with two long-arm casts, this was no easy task. For some hours afterward, I wondered at my foolishness and at the source from where that peculiar idea arrived in my mind. To this day I do not have a definitive answer.

Whatever the rah-rah boys may say, the spirit within me is full of grand or mundane ideas, but the flesh it lives in right now can only perform a much more limited repertoire. I can play the piano some, but I haven't practiced or had a lesson for almost 40 years, so I cannot play the piano well. I have never played a violin, so it can be said that I cannot play the violin at all. I could set my mind to practice and train at either skill, but the chances of virtuosity arriving in the time I have left on this earth is not great. However, there are other things that I have no chance of doing on my own, no matter how much I set my mind on it.

I cannot, for example, reach into another person's body and heal them. Reaching my hands into another body, or even my own, is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. Surgeons need cutting tools and years of training in anatomy to perfect their skill. Even those professionals don't just reach in and move stuff about like a big Lego set. The human body doesn't work that way. I cannot step in front of a speeding truck and stop it. The truck would stop me in a rather permanent way. Setting my mind on stopping the truck's momentum would make little difference in the forward velocity of the thing. I am so powerless in so many ways...but I'm okay with that.

You see, to do the things we can't do, we must come to a higher power. That term has been used tritely, and vaguely, and in many other wrong ways in this world. However, Jesus is a higher power, and His power is effective, wise, gentle, and unstoppable. I have access to my higher power through faith and prayer. Jesus may answer in the negative, because what I asked is not good for me. Jesus may work what I ask through another person. Jesus may tell me 'not yet'. Jesus may accomplish what I asked in His way and not involve me at all. Or, Jesus may work in me and through me to accomplish His good purpose and for the glory of God the Father. Don't give up on faith and prayer in our Lord Jesus; it is how we do the things we cannot do!

God's great love to you,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cheerful Gratitude

Good Friday! I hope that you have some plans for fun and cheerful gratitude this weekend. Does it go against our carnal nature to put cheerful and gratitude together? Sometimes it feels like it. A religious person might go for the sacrificial part of giving in a big way, and put his countenance into one that says, "look, and pity me for I have given much!" God sees our giving, and His count of how much does not depend upon the dollar figure of the gift. It is interesting that God likes our gratitude, and He likes our cheerful. But, where He really wants to meet us is at cheerful gratitude.

Cheerful gratitude doesn't harbor reservations about the gift. It brings a good feeling of faithful freedom when cheerful gratitude lives in us. Our spirit and God's Holy Spirit agree that it is good to meet in cheerful gratitude. Good feelings abound; sin is far away, and just maybe this is a little taste of Heaven. I find that cheerful gratitude brings me close to God and to those He loves (including me!). Cheerful gratitude takes my focus off my problems and pains, and places my mind on the giver and His wonderful gifts. Of course any good thing that takes the focus off the problems that surround us daily is a cause for some cheerful gratitude!

Enjoy the weekend in Christ!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It's, uh, Sometime in the Morning

Good morning, it's 0617 and it's quite dark outside. After my statement of the obvious, I noticed this morning that there was a cat where my oatmeal carton should be sitting. Something or two was definitely out of place. If a space opens in the house that the cat has not seen for a day or so, that space must be checked out. Move a piece of furniture, and every square inch of the revealed space must be thoroughly reviewed by the cat/occupant of the domicile. How does this relate to our Christian life? I don't know. It's early in the morning in what is still the first week of the spring time change and my brain is just not awake yet. I wonder if my slowly awakening brain gives me some insight into others.

I have this theory that the mind does not reside in the brain, but uses the brain as an interface computer to the body. When the brain is not awake yet, the mind is still just as powerful and thoughtful, but those actions do not reach the typing fingers in my case, or the speaking mouth in other cases. Is the life of what we call a retarded or mentally slow person not one of stupidity, as many might surmise, but one of incredible frustration? The spirit to move the body to communicate is there, but the brain is faulty and the interface thus does not function well. Inside, the mind is not dull, but terribly frustrated by its inability to get through to others of its kind. Fingers that should dance over the piano keyboard are instead clumsy and the melody pounded out is painful to the ears. Does the mind deep behind that malfunctioning brain intend a music so beautiful that Mozart would blush with envy? We don't know, and we may never know. Will we one day meet that kid, the one we thought so unable to learn way back in our school days, in heaven and hear the most eloquent words and ideas come forth? Maybe so.

Have a wonderful day in Christ, and thank God for the ability to read and communicate with each other. It does make it much less frustrating to spread a little of the good news of Jesus.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ah, The Pressure Play

Good morning! I don't want to spread the love or good news of Jesus today. No, instead I want to hold your feet to the fire in some way. Why? Of course it makes me feel good, powerful, a legalistic guardian of the faith, ready to battle waste in the Christian world. Have you used every penny and second well for Christ today? No! Then I'll dump some new pressure on you from my devotional high seat today. Don't feel like walking with Jesus when I do that sort of thing? Maybe if I get out my piety whip and use it liberally on your poor aching back, you will step into line. Still not doing it for you? The world is much better at beating you down, you say? Yeah, I'm there with you. We don't need any piety whips or reminders that we must redeem every moment and every penny given by God.

How about a walking, talking, friendly, and ever loving relationship with God's Son? Yeah, gimme some of that in place of the whip of religion. Yes, God has given me 86,000 seconds to use today. However, I can't even notice every one, much less thank God for them individually or make sure that each is used in labor for the kingdom. A few moments of pondering what I will have for breakfast, and suddenly many of those seconds are gone. Do I kneel down and beg forgiveness for that small lapse? Time tracking long ago beat me down in the corporate world. If every second is a gift, why then do I have to account for each like a POW captured in the Piety Wars? Imagine a family so legally uptight that the kids were forced to account for every second's usage of their Christmas presents. How awful! "Have you filed your Gift Usage Form 11778-rev. B for Aunt Hilda's gift yet, Bobby?" Yaaaah! Let me out of this tendency to legalism!

Christians may be among the worst at grabbing every rule in the Bible and beating up themselves or each other with them. The truth sets us free, and we grab a big bunch o' rules and flay about trying to whip us all into line. How do we even know that our line aligns with God's line, anyway? Perhaps we should first take the opportunity to walk with Jesus for awhile. Let us follow two commands Jesus gave us first. "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”. (Mark 12:30-31) Love, not overbearing legalism, seems to be the will of our Lord Jesus in these commands. Let us learn to walk in that every moment first.

God's love to you through the matchless love of Jesus in me today,


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Duty Calls...sigh, Again.

Foofield smins! Eh? The first day of the spring time change is a sleeper; the second an oddity. But that third day, the Tuesday, that just seems to be one of tough adjustment. Where is my head? It feels misplaced somehow! Why am I trying to write this at 0554? Duty calls, things must be done, appointments to be kept call for me. The wind is coming up early this morning, that speaks of a change in the weather.

Sometimes duty calls when we don't feel ready. A part of our tribulations on this earth means that may happen more often than not. The call of duty gives a ring, and we give a groan. "In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) Whoa! I want some of that overcoming too. How do I become an overcomer in Christ? Well, I almost hate to tell myself this so early in the morning, but when duty calls, we must get up. When tribulations come to the door, we must answer. Endurance builds enduring faith, and those tribulations can be tough to endure. However, never, never are we facing the latest challenge alone. Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us even to the end of the age. We need constant reminding of this because it often seems that we face the world alone. But, like the feeling that my cranium is misplaced this morning, that feeling just ain't true!

Have a glorious morning in Christ!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beware the Unbeliever's God

Aaah, the Monday of daylight savings time. Once more I am tempted to use the devotional space for a political rant. We'll just say "Good morning!" and let that temptation go on its way. Today, let us beware of the unbeliever's god. You know the one; you have probably cowered from him a few times. The unbeliever knows some of the biblical stories, but ignores many others. To the unbeliever the god is punishment, retribution, condemnation and eternal hell. Yet, my Bible says that God is not willing that any should experience these things. The unbeliever thinks his god is all about that final judgment; is he good enough? Surely, this judgment is based on the lowest common denominator. Name a person in history worse or more evil than the unbeliever and he is off the hook. Tra la la, off to heaven we go. My Bible says something a bit different there.

For all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard. No one gets a free pass to heaven, and no one gets to use other sinners as a stepping stone up. Yet, God also provided a Way to Heaven, and a man who died to save all. That man was God's Son. All can be saved in Jesus, and know the righteousness of God. But many would rather depend upon their own righteousness and cower from a god of divine displeasure. Living this way is too difficult for anyone, so in time they would rather not believe in a god at all. Unfortunately, by ignoring the saving mercy in God's Son, they fall into the God of judgment they feared all along. The good news is that while we walk this earth, we have time to tell of repentance and the saving power of Jesus' name. We can speak of a God who loves mercy.

Praise God for the new day,

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Serving the Master

Good Saturday morning! The day is getting on, and tomorrow it will seem to get on even faster. In 2 Kings 5, we read an interesting story. Naaman was a warrior, general, and the king's favorite in Syria. The Lord had given the Syrian armies victory, his wife and his boss loved the man, and oh by the way, he was a leper. In all the events of kings and prophets, Elisha in this case, we may find it easy to miss one little lesson. How did Naaman find out about Elisha? Right, a girl captured in a raid from Israel served Naaman's wife. Now, the things we might expect in this day would be for the girl to be a spy and report the matter back to the ancient version of Mossad in Israel. Or, perhaps to use the circumstance to laugh at the enemy, and make him pay for her slavery in a foreign land.

The girl from Israel does neither. She takes the opportunity to serve by telling her master's wife about this prophet in Samaria who can heal Naaman. Our master on earth may not be the one we would choose. Your boss may be a greedy, grasping, coveteous old sinner; a mean hand at the grindstone in all things. Your life at work may seem overwhelming, overbearing, and over-stressed. Yet, God may have you there to serve for His purpose. What a horrible thought for a Saturday! You may be crying out to God for rescue. "Lord, please move me to another job! Somewhere else...anywhere else, but move me quick before I die!" The answer the Lord gives may not be "Okay", but more along the lines of "Stay put, you!" Aaagh, no! We want the freedom to run away from problems.

In this world we will have tribulations. The Lord is faithful to bring us through them for His glory. I'm hungry; time for breakfast!


Friday, March 07, 2014

A Dirty Housekeeper

Good Friday morning! No, not that kind of house, though I am not perfect in that regard either. We are speaking of the house that God built, the temple where the Holy Spirit resides after salvation. We're talkin' lust instead of dust. That stuff we let into the house of the mind that causes sin - greed, coveting, hate, envy, and the other stuff that we don't always make much effort to remove in a timely manner is the dirt and detritus of this house. When we look at the filthy corners of our home, we must stop to wonder that God would even want His Spirit to live here. Oh, but He does, and the Spirit brings a much bigger broom than we have in our cupboard.

During our sanctification, we do a lot of cleaning in our lives, or so it seems to us. Most often I suspect that we are the child sweeping a little while the Spirit sweeps a lot. The cleaning effort we are capable of is certainly much less than God's Spirit does in us. The real problem comes when that sneaky carnal desire of ours sneaks around tossing dirt back into the cleaned corners of the mind. Then, instead of helping in the cleaning, we try to hide that little bit of dirt. Sigh, at times we think perfection is so far from us. But then, Jesus says, "I'm right here with you!"

Enjoy a great Friday in Christ!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Keeping The Spirit Too

Okay, Lent has begun. What did you give up? Religious observances longer than 2 hours? I'm not quite sure that is really in keeping with the spirit of the thing. Of course, there is a spirit of the command in not judging others too. So, I guess we both have some spirit keeping to look at today. The legalist Christian likes to wield the law on others like a club or a whip in a vain effort to make himself look better. The perfectionist Christian uses the law to load himself with shame and guilt in a vain effort to perfect himself. Neither method sees the spirit of mercy that God gave us with the law.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Justice is there, for God does not set His justice aside in His great love. However, for the legalist, the command is to love mercy. For the perfectionist, the command is to walk humbly with God. Now, walking humbly is not as the perfectionist thinks. Humility is not walking with God saying, "I am a worm, the dregs of human life; I am worse than nothing." No, humility is listening to and reading what God says about us. Would Jesus go to the cross to save a bunch of dregs? Well, yes, but that isn't what we are made in Christ. By the sacrifice of Jesus we have been given great value. Mercy is not as the legalist thinks. We do not point out the lawbreaking with glee and then 'let him off'. Mercy is to bring the sinner before Christ to receive forgiveness for judging, and then to help the lawbreakers without that beam in the eye getting in the way. Justice is of course what Jesus satisfied on our behalf for all the things we have thought and done that broke the spirit and the letter of the law.

Now we can go keep Lent, or not. We do not have to for legal reasons, but we can because we like to honor God in this way. Salvation does not require it, sanctification does not demand it. We are at liberty to keep it to honor God, or to leave it alone because we think it adds unnecessary burden to others or the self. If you keep it, do not make a big deal of it. Tell God in your prayer room, and pray for the strength to complete it faithfully.

In Jesus name!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A Shaky Quantity

God's love and peace to you on this fine morning! You've done it before, and it is quite likely that I have as well. Some task or job we do every day brings with it some quantity that we take for granted. That is, we take it for granted until someone else finds out our estimate of the quantity is a little shaky. The substitute teacher finds out for herself how many kids are in the class, and it's more than "just a few". When the kids are wound up from a 'cute, little show', she also finds out how easy they are to control. Even to the bystander the quantity may be a little shaky. We don't know how hard the work is until we walk a mile or two in the other guy's sneakers. All that fellow does is drive a car around an oval track for a few hours on Sunday. How could his job be called tough? There is no end to the doings of the human race that may look easy or light from a certain unfeeling distance.

In a little sermon, Jesus gave us some instruction in gaining insight into some of these things. "If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles." (Matt 5:41) As a part of teaching us to not seek revenge, Jesus told us how to gain insight into the other person's situation. I ran into this a lot back in the big corporation. Always, some group or person over there, out yonder, or in that other place had it pretty good, or at least better than 'we' have it here in this place. If it wasn't a different part of the corporation, then it would be great to work in a smaller shop, or perhaps not at all for a spell. We have all looked around at others and estimated a shaky quantity. Then that Paul had to go and preach about learning to be content.

Yes, looking around the world, we tend to find every situation but our own to be much easier for learning contentment. We like to think that God made Paul magically content whether he was wealthy or poor. We don't want to think that Paul had to endure both of these things first, and probably more than once, before he learned that contentment. Single folks think that married folks have it great, and the married people sometimes yearn back to the simplicity of living alone. The desk-bound worker wonders if the construction job might not suit better, while the laborer on the hot day thinks that a desk job in the air-conditioned office would be just the ticket. Paul must have found a better direction to look for learning contentment and estimating his quantities. Maybe we can look to Him too!

Have a great day in Christ Jesus,

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Where Did That Come From?

Good morning! A surprisingly warm day yesterday, praise our Lord! The question that comes to mind is: Where did that come from? The blessings from our Lord may come from out of the blue, so to speak. Sometimes, we don't even know to ask for a particular benefit or boon, and yet the Lord provides it to us when we don't expect it. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit makes intercession because we do not know how to pray or what to ask. Yet, we are surprised by sudden blessings. Well, maybe that is the way God wants it!

I like a good surprise gift, either in giving or receiving. Why should it surprise me that God likes to pour out an unexpected blessing? I have a tendency to look for the worst to come. Therefore, the unexpected blessing is more likely, maybe. I cannot use some sort of reverse-psychology technique on God; that will never work. So, the temptation is set aside, and the appropriate response is praise and gratitude. I expect that the unexpected blessing will often be the norm, for my vision is so limited in this world. Praise God for His lovingkindness to me and to you. Let us all praise His name for the blessings of yesterday, and those we do not see coming this day.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the wonderful day that was yesterday and for what you have for me today.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Tomorrow Is...

Good morning on this day, not that next day, but this day. How many times have we awakened on one morning only to remind ourselves that tomorrow is something or some day? What about today, this day we are given? Today I am watching my pot for some reason, and as the cliche goes it isn't boiling. Anticipation is a hard thing to follow. It skips over today and says that tomorrow is something we cannot have today. Okay, maybe we can give a pass today because, "I don't care what tomorrow is, as long as it isn't Monday!" Yes, today is Monday, and of all the days this is the one we like to skip the most. A good legalistic finger pointing is probably not what we need to start the Monday. So...

Yesterday's tomorrow is now here. Hallelujah! God loves me and you, and nothing, not even a Monday, can separate us from His great love. Each day we are a bit closer in our journey to be with Jesus forever in the glories of Heaven. Any mistakes or stumbles from yesterday are safely in the past, and today, God's love flows over us once more. Right in the middle of all those lamentations, Jeremiah reminds us that God's compassions are new each morning. (Lam 3:22-24) This is a good morning to remember the lovingkindness of God and seize on a few of those mercies. Remember the peace Jesus left with us. (John 14:27) Recall the prophecies of the glorious age to come (many places in God's word!) and the promise of our Lord's return. Yes, I think that helps with today quite a lot.

God's grace and peace to you,

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Thankfulness in the Dark

It's Saturday; it's snowing. Didn't we just do this last weekend? The world is a dark place. Not from absence of sunlight, or because of the snow. It is dark from the sin covering the land. The easiest and fastest ways to get the things people need and want usually involve sin. Hard work and patience in many circumstances are not possible. How does one living in the city work hard at a job that doesn't exist? Do you dare tell her that hard work is all she needs when no job offer has arrived for five long years? Some folks are in those very circumstances, and the long-term unemployment checks will soon end. But people hurting financially is only the tiny tip of the iceberg when it comes to the darkness ruling the world.

How do God's children reach thankfulness in the dark? For one thing we are not grateful for the world beating people up in every which way that it does. We must look to God. We learn to be grateful in the dark, not for the darkness. We have a great hope in Christ!

The people who walked in darkness
​​Have seen a great light;
​​Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
​​Upon them a light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

The great light of Jesus has shined in our lives. For this we are grateful. Jesus walks with us in this darkness, for He will never leave us nor forsake us. That prophecy from Isaiah isn't just for Christmas, kids. We have the light shining in us now, and a sacred duty to share it. Thank You, dear Lord Jesus for your great lovingkindness in this darkness of the world.