Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Last Day (of the Year)

The morning of Thursday, just another day, right? Somehow that last day of the year is not just another day for us. We have the conclusion of 365 days in one year and we like to look back on the life we lived this past year. Why do we do this? Why say goodbye to a year when tomorrow is just another day? God gave us the years and they were important to Him in the Creation.

"Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years." (Genesis 1:14)

Days and years: something that God created that was not overthrown or thrown off by Adam's sin. One day we feel a bit sad with the closing of a year, and the next day we feel a renewal of hope in the beginning of a new year. One day each of us may feel a bit sad on the last day of our life on this earth, but the next we will feel a permanent renewal of hope and joy as we see Jesus. Each year at the close, we get just a bit of that by way of reminder. So, that's a big yes, this is not just another day for us. The last day of the year is indeed something to live and reflect. Tomorrow, not just another day but the beginning of a new year in Christ.

A little grief then great joy, rejoice in the Lord!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Rumble of Repetitive Sameness

Hear that? It comes this way! The rumble of repetitive sameness draws near and we are powerless to stop it. Is it that way though? Look at that hand knitted or crocheted scarf. Is it not beautiful in its repeating pattern? See the pattern in the carpet or tile, do we not take comfort in the stability of its repeated design? We may be of that type of person who fears the job on the production line where every piece is the same year after year. Even that sort of person can take comfort in the unchanging vista (at least to our limited view) of the mountain range to the west. Above all is it not a comfort to know of God's unchanging sameness in His holy perfection?

Much of what we judge right or wrong comes out of our viewpoint. We want to be able to say quite emphatically and without the least doubt that this thing is wrong or right or whatever. We may realize fully that our point of view is a slippery thing often dependent upon circumstance and how we feel on any given day. Yet, we still want the independence to decide right and wrong, good and evil, and declare the thing or action to be ever so. Open the Bible, see the Pharisees telling the Lord of all that He cannot do this thing. Read as the Pharisees set themselves as final arbiters of the Law to pronounce doom upon the Almighty for telling them who He is. We face the same temptation and we don't always resist the Tempter as we should.

To some the rumble of repetitive sameness may be in that very production line that others fear. To them the sound is a comfortable living with the ability to give the children a chance at college. The sound of the conveyor belt each day may be a repetitive sameness to you or me, but to those who take comfort from it the sound is one of progress toward a goal. I don't get to say that this person's means is a horrible thing from which he must be freed. We who follow Christ have but one thing we must do for him. We get to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Often, we will find that his contentment in life is due to Jesus being there before us. We can then share the good news with each other, loving our neighbor as our self.

Have a loving day as we journey toward the New Year!


Monday, December 28, 2015

Heal One, Release Another?

Good Monday morning in the between the holidays season! Lots of folks take this week off and I am glad for them. Others will go to work much like normal today with the exception that all the kids off from school will be laughing at us. Then there are those few who are fighting off the Grim Reaper in this season of the year. My former neighbor in Sidney is one such person. I have followed his struggles on Facebook and prayed many a time but still the battle goes on. What do we say when the prayers for healing seem to go unanswered and it appears that God is silent? That is always a tough one.

God is good and He acts in love. This I believe in faith. I cannot prove it based on my anecdotal evidence of medical cases. I have seen many healed slowly after serving time in the ICU, enduring surgery, graduating to the general ward, and finally released to recover at home. I have heard of miraculous healing taking place too - no time in the ICU! Then there are those cases where the release is from this life. Which of them is God's will? All of them, or maybe none of them?

I don't recall the Bible mentioning a hospital in the Garden of Eden. Our need for healing may only come from Adam's decision to go it apart from God by his disobedience. All the sickness and injury we experience in this world may be different forms of those thorns the cursed earth brings forth. All of them hurt us but some drive deeper than others even to the point of death. Is it any wonder our Lord was crowned with thorns by the world?

In Christ,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Good News of His Birth

We were out of options. Paradise was lost, the law couldn't save sinful man, and a special people finally disobeyed so much that God's presence left the temple. All we had left was one hope, a savior who would come out of Bethlehem. On that first Christmas, the shepherds heard the good news of His birth from angelic messengers. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

The angel imparts the news of the coming of our one great hope. The news of the ages spoken on a night in Judea. Darkness is banished as the angelic hosts arrive to celebrate the good news. God's great gift to mankind is born! A manger was His bed, a stable His first earthly home, but with the arrival of Jesus we were saved. How wonderful the good news! How joyous the tidings!

Rejoice in the virgin birth and in the good news of our Savior!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fear Fell

Merry Christmas as the day draws ever closer! In Luke 1 we read about Zacharias, a priest whose lot was to burn incense one day in the temple. First, he enjoyed the honor of selection, but then fear fell on him. To paraphrase the scripture a bit, it seems that an angel stood to the right of the incense altar. As in many other cases in the Bible, the angel first tells Zach to not be afraid. Angels bring messages of good news from God, but we in our sinfulness suffer that avalanche of fear when confronted with the uncanny.

It is interesting that while we pray for and take comfort in guardian angels, when actually confronted by an angel the people in the Bible are frightened. We can claim no exemption as I am quite sure that I would be frightened in much the same way as Gideon, Zacharias, Mary, and the many others who met angels in the scripture stories. A bit over a year later, some shepherds abiding in the field by night had the same reaction - they were sore afraid. There does seem to be a lot of fear in the Christmas story.

The good news is that amongst all that fear, God sent His Son to cleanse us from fear. Do you still suffer the problem of fear in this life? Yes, me too. We have been given faith in the Good News though, and that faith will one day see the banishment of fear, forever. Another interesting picture to hold in mind is that while our Shepherd leads us toward home, He drives fear before Him. Rest in His love as we celebrate the birth of Christ!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmastime Again!

Merry Christmas! I'm feeling the joy of the season once more. The sun is rising over the snowy cold plains, and the love of Jesus pours down from Heaven as we prepare for another day. Immanuel, do we use the name Christ was given way back in Isaiah as much as we should? His name means, 'God with us', just as Jesus said after He rose from the grave,"... and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." (Matt 28:20) Always with us, just as His name foretold. I wonder that His name has not taken hold in us as much as it should. Of course, His name is Jesus too, and God has indeed saved His people from their sin.

Our Lord has many names: Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We don't have to worry about getting them all in every time we speak of Christ. Just speak to Him as we rejoice in the season of His birth. Give thanks to the Lord and praise His name! Perhaps Immanuel is something we remember more than we speak. God with us, God with me. Thank you, dear Lord Jesus, for being with us always.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Ho Hum, It's Christmas Week

Christmas shopping for weeks, the Nutcracker already done, too many Scrooge/Christmas Carols watched and read; and It's a Wonderful Life I've seen twice this year - once in B/W and once in colorized. One more Christmas song and I'll give up the whole thing for Lent. What happened? Did I peak too early in my holiday celebrations or is it just a Monday?

It's easy to get weary during a month-long celebration. We don't have the endurance or strength for a holiday this long. In fact, if I didn't have a chance to take a break with some work, I'm not sure I could go on. Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? In this life, I do believe that is quite possible.

Physically we tire quite easily, emotionally we may go on a bit longer, but in time we will grow weary there too. So, how are we going to make it through an eternal celebration? Of course, as Paul was kind to point out, something must change. The corruptible must put on incorruption. The failing flesh must be reborn of the Spirit, and as Nicodemus found it must be different than our first birth. We need God to prep us for the eternal celebration of life in Christ! Praise God, He is doing just that.

Have a Merry Christmas this week!


Friday, December 18, 2015

The Gift We Get Each Year

Christmas, one week from today, hooray! The struggle to give the right and proper gift comes to us all. What to get for the man who has everything? What to get for the mom who says that anything will do? The former kind of excludes all and the latter doesn't help narrow it down much. Eeek! Holiday stress! Then, there is that gift we get every year.

No, I'm not talking fruitcake here. Each year at Christmas, we receive from God the Father an "I love you!" It seems just a little more beautiful and a bit more joyous than the love God gives each day. Not that God's love is any less on those other days, the difference is in the perception of the imperfect ones receiving the gift. At Christmas we are reminded of God's great love in that special way that says, "Jesus!" We celebrate the birth of the Christ, and that adds a special kind of love to God's Christmas gift.

Next Friday, when God gives me that special Christmas gift of His, I believe I'll take notice and do my best to give a special thanksgiving for His great gift. Have a merrier Christmas in God's love!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Life Reversal

Already this morning I have made two egregious gaffs, what will the remainder of this day be like? To be sure, I looked up the word 'egregious' and found as expected that it means: outstandingly bad; shocking. The funny thing is the archaic definition which was: remarkably good. What happened to this poor word? It seems to have suffered a serious life reversal. That reminds me of what happened to our Lord.

Sure, one might think of His entry into Jerusalem that we celebrate as Palm Sunday and then His rejection by the same crowd at His trial, but I was thinking today of His coming down from Heaven. It might seem a terrible reversal to enjoy a place as the Son of God in Heaven and then to be born into this world suffering what we suffer and seeing the terrible suffering of others, and it most certainly was. However, we are told in the Bible that Jesus volunteered through His great love in order that we might be saved.

Serious life reversals come to many of us, but seldom is it voluntary. Usually, we try with all our might to avoid such things; what with them being the frightening and uncomfortable adventures that they are. Only a greater love must be present in our Lord Jesus that He would give up Heaven to die for the likes of us. How remarkably good is our great God!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Merry Christmas on this cold and snowy morning! We are convinced of many things through our faith in Christ. The virgin birth in Bethlehem, the wise men traveling to see the newborn King of the Jews, a star guiding those travelers to the place where Jesus was, and many other stories of the Christmas celebration. We are also convinced of what came after in the life of Christ. There are a lot of other things that have been added to Christmas over the centuries, but we hold true to those things that are Christ.

Paul was convinced that nothing could separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Love is central to the Christmas story. The love of God may be what some resist hardest of all. Accepting God's love threatens that independence some cherish above all things. Is it so hard to be dependent upon God and let Him love us? That is a question only the individual in us can answer. We all face the temptation to be strong only in our own might. With that understanding in our hearts of what those who would fight against the love of God as shown in Christmas struggle to accept, let us take the love of Jesus and our dependence upon the Almighty and rejoice in this great holiday!

Ow, I think I broke something writing that last sentence, maybe my independence? May God have mercy on our nation this Christmas.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

They Couldn't Have Been There

Wow, it must be getting closer to Christmas both inside and outside today. The weather foretells of a white Christmas and the tone of the pile of shopping ads in the ol' inbox smacks of vendor desperation.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (Luke 2:8-9 KJV)

The shepherds were not supposed to be out in the field on December 25th. At least that is one of the arguments against our Christmas Day. How do we know that though? Throughout many twists and turns in this life, you and I have found ourselves in a place we weren't supposed to be at a time we weren't supposed to be there. That is generally part of the back story of many disaster novels and movies too. The shepherds may have been turned out to make room for David's latter day generations as they descended upon little Bethlehem to be registered by the Roman authority.

For their troubles, the shepherds got to be sore afraid. Wouldn't you be? An angel of the Lord coming to visit and a good old-fashioned surrounding by the glory of the Lord might make any of us sore afraid. Yet, what great news they got to hear first!

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord!"

Merry Christmas,

Monday, December 14, 2015

You Should

Tis the season of giving, and it sure is easy to give a lot of rules to folks, eh? We study the word of God and learn the rules. Jesus came to Earth and fulfilled the law. We are freed from slavery to the law by His grace. We turn around and lay a bunch of rules on people. How is it that we manage to do that so well?

Perhaps it is the example of our government: the earth groans with the weight of governmental rules and regulations. It may well come from our childhood authority figures and we just pass it down to the next generation. Some rules are just good advice or warning: Step off a cliff and you'll fall. (Codified under Title 473 of the Code of Federal Regulations: Gravity.) Others help prevent injury to others. Obeying those stop signs ranks kind of high on my list in this category. However, the only real problem with all those rules may begin with the words, 'You should'.

When we preface quoting the rules with that personal command we may err on side of the Pharisees. Those two words say that I know better than the other person and that I know all about his special circumstances, sort of a grand theft of God's place if you will.

Since I don't know all about his or her personal circumstance, I might try it with a little understanding and compassion when another asks my advice. "Hmm, that's a tough situation to live with, I will pray for you and seek God's wisdom in this." Then, if I have personal experience, I could relate a story like, "Back in the day, I faced a similar situation and I did this thing, and I sure wouldn't do that again!" (Too many stories of that nature.) Of course, the first thing was the asking part. A 'You should' is much worse perhaps even socially embarrassing when there has been no asking.

Have a merry Christmas and love those neighbors as yourself!


Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Bit More o' That Christmas Spirit, Please!

Yesterday's news was a portion of woe, but today's is much better. We say, "A bit more o' that Christmas Spirit, please!" Yes, the house was a total loss and the family displaced. Yes, the children's presents under the tree were all consumed in the fire. As of yesterday afternoon, the news had gone out that the presents were replaced, clothing in the appropriate sizes for all the family had arrived, and money donated to see the family through this tough time.

It is with news like this that we may not believe we deserve to live in a community such as this with such generous people. To have the love of neighbors demonstrated so well is humbling and gratifying. God's provision is good and timely.

So we go forth into the weekend with our faith proven once more and a goodly portion of that Christmas Spirit. Have a very merry Christmas!


Friday, December 11, 2015

The Bad News at Christmas

Two weeks until Christmas! Yet, more bad news. How many times in this age have we heard of homes lost just before Christmas? How temporary are things in this world. Bad news at Christmas hits hard. A time of joy and peace we long for arrives and the mood is shattered by disaster. Then, the sun rises on a new day. A reminder that God is not moved off His throne. Opportunity to help arrives with the disaster. The family escaped without injury, better news! Possessions can be replaced with generosity but human lives we cannot return. Praise God the family lives!

Yes, we lost another house and all the kids' presents to fire in this little community last night. Always a heart-breaking kind of story and one we seem to hear too often. Christmas will still come though, and with it a reminder that the things of this world pass away. We enjoy giving material things to touch and hold, but the good news of Jesus Christ will survive any calamity. Love, friendship, compassion, and kindness survive where worldly things are consumed.

It is tough to write about the tough things we suffer. I find it much easier to write of the joy at Christmas than to pass on bad news, but we are to share with our brothers and sisters in Christ. May God's blessings in this Christmas season touch our neighbors in a special way.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

To Save The Lost

"The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:10

Why do we celebrate the birth of Christ? Someone may ask us that question today. To them, a child of the modern world, Christmas may be a national holiday set aside to bolster retail sales prior to the ending of the year, Santa Claus a corporate shill invented to help sell product (there's some basis for that one), and a bit of time off work for families in the capitalist state. Yes, we have a different take on this holiday, but why?

The Blue Letter Bible blog gave 12 reasons for Christmas and I grabbed number four today. To save the lost is plenty of reason all by itself for Jesus to come to Earth, and I'm glad He did. You might say that I am grateful with my very life for Jesus coming to save the lost. The problem is that those who do not believe cannot understand that reason on their own.

Many in the world are, or at least think they are, in complete control of their lives and destiny. The security they seek in life is just around the corner of one more year of work or that next promotion or perhaps a few more crunches in the gym. Worse, the religious leader tells them that just a few more good deeds will see them safely home in the hereafter. To admit to being lost and dependent upon a savior is too much of a blow to their sense of security by human effort. Like the driver who won't ask for directions because he or she does not feel lost, that person cannot admit to a need for salvation.

Praise God that we have found the need and the salvation through Christ our Lord! We know lost and we know the Lord. Christmas is that time of the year when we celebrate the arrival of our Lord and Savior.


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Harbinger of the Good

Aaargh! Already I have forgotten the oatmeal on the stove. Is this how the day will go? A harbinger is often seen as bearing bad news, but it wasn't always so. In one definition, I read that originally a harbinger was one sent ahead of a travelling party to arrange for lodgings. A good harbinger might then have rooms at a nice inn and negotiated a good price, opened the rooms up to air out, made sure of fresh linens, and even scouted the local restaurants. These days harbingers have fallen out in favor of the Internet on mobile devices. The tendency toward the bad news in our age might also come from the amount of bad news we have access to in any given day. It just seems like everything is a harbinger of worse to come I guess.

Well, it doesn't have to be that way with us. John the Baptist was the herald or harbinger of the Lord Jesus. He brought good news of the coming good news! The tribulation we suffer prior to the end is not so bad when we see what comes after. Paul in Romans 8:18 wrote: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Good news for those of us who suffer! The coming glory to be revealed in us is so great that there is no comparison with the suffering present. What a great and good God we worship!

Merry Christmas in the love of Christ Jesus,


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

An Unwanted Journey? Maybe Not

It's true that we take some uncomfortable trips at times. Going to the doctor in another state because the doctor in your hometown couldn't fix that thing that is hurting in his office is not the most fun journey. Traveling to a town a hundred miles away to bail a friend out of jail because he got into some legal trouble is not the trip we may have wanted to take. Mary and Joseph perhaps wanted to have the baby Jesus in Nazareth because family, friends, and Joseph's business was right there. Perhaps they had a favorite midwife or healer who had a 100% success rate in delivering babies in their hometown. Bethlehem? Who lives in Bethlehem that we know? I hear they don't even have a decent inn at Bethlehem.

We don't know why Joseph and Mary journeyed while Mary was near to baby time, but that is what happened. Not the best time to make a mother expecting her first child ride a donkey 70 miles it would seem to us, but down the road to Bethlehem they went. Then again, what if the Adversary could keep Jesus from fulfilling just one prophecy, like maybe the one about the Messiah coming forth from Bethlehem?

It may be that Joseph and Mary wanted very much to have Jesus born in Bethlehem, but faced all manner of obstacles in getting there. Joseph may have seen a sudden rush of jobs in the carpenter shop that needed finishing. Mary's father might have refused permission until that decree came from the Roman emperor. Mary may have struggled in her first pregnancy with illness. To think that Joseph and Mary didn't want to make the trip may well be unfair. If the Devil could have stopped the birth of Jesus... Ha, who are we kidding? When the Almighty says something is going to happen, there's just no stopping His sovereign will!

Praise God for the virgin birth in Bethlehem of His wonderful Son, Jesus!


Monday, December 07, 2015

Christmas Prophecy

Merry Christmas at this most joyous time of the year! Isaiah 9:1-2, Micah 5:2, are just a couple of the prophecies of Christmas fulfilled in the following passage:

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. (Luke 2:4-5)

There are more, but the point is that centuries before the Messiah came, God had put down in writing the who, what, and where. God reserved the when to Himself, much like a certain other prophecy we look forward to on this day. We think it impressive when someone correctly guesses the score and winner of a football game a few days before game day.

I hesitate to think of all that had to come together to make sure all was ready for Messiah. Israel as a people and a nation, the physical location of Judea, Galilee, Nazareth, and Bethlehem even to the tribe and family that lived there. Then, the family line had to be maintained from David all the way to Jesus, unbroken and alive through the battles and accidents of the world for a thousand years. Think of the accidents and illnesses that have taken our loved ones through a mere 100 years or so those living right now can remember and we can see the difficulty of keeping that one family line going for ten times that span. Then God did it twice as we read the family trees of Mary and Joseph in Matthew and Luke. All that accomplished for but a couple of the many prophecies of Messiah.

All we lack is the when of the Second Coming of Christ, is there any doubt that God will do all that He requires to make that happen? None for me, sir! Amen. Come Lord Jesus!


Friday, December 04, 2015

The Stage Got Moving

In the waning days of the BC era, a man and woman were engaged to be married. Not a big deal in those times as far as unusual news might go; certainly lots of people got engaged and married in their time much like we do now. However, the young lady was already pregnant before the marriage ceremony had taken place. News of a gossipy sort to be sure, but again probably not as uncommon as the leaders of the time might like us to believe. The young lady was still a virgin. Oh, that's different, but that's a story for another time. The problem we read today is that Joseph and Mary were in the wrong town. The Messiah was to come from Bethlehem and they were not there even as Mary was great with child. The Son of God was ready to arrive but His stage was stuck in Nazareth. Enter the far reaching hand of the emperor in Rome.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. (Luke 2:1-3)

Of course the family and couple wanted to have the baby near home. We would too, no blame to them for that from us, but God's will has a way of working out. Most likely a date was set on the decree from Caesar and a punishment for not making it in time. Given that Judea was occupied territory, the punishment was probably harsh or even final for disobedience of the emperor's will. Joseph packed up the stage, or donkey, or his feet, or whatever, and off the young couple went on the 70-mile or so journey to Bethlehem. All because of a government census ...and a certain prophecy from God that needed fulfilling.

Many things are going on in the world today that may look like chaos and confusion (and they probably are), but God is not asleep at the switch or enjoying some alone time in a galaxy far, far away waiting on the next Star Wars movie. His will and His prophecies are coming due. We look around at the news in this world today and well we may wonder whether we will celebrate Christmas here or perhaps with the One who was born on that day in person.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Someone Attacked Christmas Yesterday

Speculation about the motives of the killers will run rampant in the news media today, but I am concerned most about the attack on my faith. No one tried to shut down my Bible study yesterday and no one that I know of tried to stop my devotional or interfere with my prayers to God. Yet, somehow I feel that my faith was attacked because the killers targeted a Christmas party. I also realize that while Santa Claus may have been invited to this particular Christmas party, Christ the Lord may have been kept waiting outside. Still, I feel that because my Lord lent His name and title to the holiday party then anyone trying to end a party by murder must have something against Jesus. Therefore, I will take up that best weapon against evil in the world - the sword of the Word of God!

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matt 1:22-23)

God is with us even and perhaps especially when the world seems a very dangerous and evil place to live. As we go to a Christmas party or to decorate a home or office for this holiday of our Lord's birth, let us remember that this anti-Christ evil has a very limited time. No matter how many fall to the guns of the murderers they cannot change the fact that our Lord Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and He is coming back soon!


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Eve (or two) Before Christmas

Let's say for this morning that it is about 10 BC on the calendar. Things are tough all over, but in Israel the prophets that once spouted reams of scripture have been gone for about 400 years. The great kings of old, David and Solomon, are represented by Herod, a king approved by the Roman occupiers but of questionable lineage and blood. God's voice must seem silent to those few remaining who believe in the Lord. Does anyone in the land have a clue about what is about to happen?

Well, there was one man, Simeon, it seems who was told he would not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ. (Luke 2:26) Maybe he was around this year and his waiting had begun, but we don't know that for sure. Other than Simeon, the people of Israel waited much like we do today: they knew Messiah was coming but not when. The eve or two before Christmas was pretty bleak it may have seemed on the spiritual front.

Advance the calendar a few short years and this is the year Jesus will come. However, those folks still do not know that the arrival of the Christ is imminent. Mary is already pregnant and well along. Zacharias has met with Gabriel and served his sentence of silence. Elisabeth has born the herald and messenger, little John the Baptist. Simeon may or may not know of his doom at this time. Yet, for most of the land they are still in that waiting and wondering mode. The eve before the first Christmas is yet a time of stark silence from the Lord by the reckoning of most believers. But we know from scripture that much was going on in God's work at this time.

That is the case on this day more than 2,000 years later. We are waiting and wondering, but God's work is ongoing and advancing. This day may be the eve of that next Christmas when Christ comes to take us home. Don't give up hope, as the first blessed birth happened then, so will the second coming in God's perfect time.

Have a Merry Christmas! (Go ahead and start now, it's only about 22 days to Christmas.)


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

What Some Folks Knew

Lots of people knew the Christ had arrived. Shepherds abiding in the field (keeping watch o'er their flocks by night), Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist's parents, some wise men far away, and a prophet and prophetess hanging around the temple (a few days later). It was no secret. The arrival of a savior had been foretold centuries before and written down in holy scripture. Angels announced the birth and sent forth some shepherd messengers. I guess we could say that our Lord did not exactly sneak into the world.

What some folks knew back in the day, we can know and proclaim today. Jesus, God in human form, came down to earth to save us all. We love God because He loved us so much that His Son died to save us on the cross. Born as a baby into a world filled with the stain of sin, Christ came to love. How did we earn such a blessing?

Of course, we didn't. God's love came down without our deserving Him in any way. Love didn't wait for someone to attain some degree of holy because none of us could make that grade now and none could then. If Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, or Daniel could not live a life deserving of a savior, how could we? The arrival of our savior was not earned by us or them, but it was because of the lost sheep of many generations that He came. Love set the time and the timing. Love saw the need and the needy. Love gave the prophecies and sent the prophets to spread the knowledge. What some folks knew then and we know now, is that love came down in the Christ child.

Merry Christmas in Christ!

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Knots in My Rope

We have many fine opportunities to get knots in our rope in this age. Not that folks back in the day had it easy or anything, but we have perhaps too many means of getting bad news. Each message can bring more bad news until we have one big knotted-up rope. The voice of the old man wants to cry and whine, and maybe stick in an 'unfair!' here and there. The old man thinks that God is mean and feels that grumbling ought to do the trick. But we don't live in the Spirit without a new voice rising up to contest what that old sinner says.

Love reminds us that God is anything but mean and does not need to tie knots in our line to bring us to sanctification. However, since we have labored to tie some of the knots and the world has provided many others: the voice of faith in Christ says that those knots have a purpose, and that though our loving God did not cause them He can certainly use them for our good. Faith reminds us that God will untie those knots at just the right time.

The start of the Christmas season is a real knot-tying time for many of us. Our Adversary does not want any of God's children to enjoy this time. A time of joy and renewal for Christ-ones is not in the world's plan for us, but it is God's plan and ways that bring us joy and peace. We don't always know or notice all the ways small and great our God is working for us and in us daily for our sanctification. We do get the reason for the season though!

Have a very wonderful and merry Christmastime in the love of Christ!


Friday, November 27, 2015

A Little Extra Charge

Thanksgiving feasting passes for another year but the leftovers remain for a while. As winter begins, I start charging up my truck battery every couple of weeks. Living in a small town as I do, the truck does not go far enough in a day to charge the battery, so I must give it a little extra charge. I have found that my walk with Christ requires a little extra charge from time to time. Perhaps it is due to not driving enough miles each day in His word. Maybe it comes through an insufficient current of prayer. It may well be that this life is just too tough for the children of God and we need that little extra charge on a regular basis. Above all, it may be a reminder that I can never bring myself home to God's Heaven in my own strength.

We need the constant current of prayer and meditation in the Word. We also need that extra charge at times. In this season, we may find it in Christmas songs or in Christmas programs at the church. We may find a little extra voltage in the joyous faces of children at Christmastime, or even in a cheerful greeting from our brothers and sisters in Christ. All of this simile and metaphor may be the long way of saying that you and I need Jesus every day, even every moment.

Have a very merry Christmas in Christ!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

To my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, Happy Thanksgiving! I pray that your celebration of Thanksgiving holds joy, peace and the love of Christ.

Giving thanks to God for our many blessings,


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's Tough To Be Thankful Sometimes

The day before Thanksgiving dawns with a promise of change in the weather. Last night, I slept like the proverbial log, very easy to be thankful. Unfortunately, my log was one rolling down a rocky hillside, much tougher to be thankful. We all have those circumstances and situations where we find it tough to thank God. We have a few examples in the Bible where our heroes of the faith found the same problem. Paul asked three times for a certain thorn in his side to be taken away. The great apostle wasn't feeling the love in his circumstance until God explained to him the reason and provided the grace. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, asked that a terrible cup might be taken away from Him, but obeyed God and said, "Not My will but Thine be done." We are grateful to Him because the reason was to save us!

It's tough to be thankful sometimes. Tests, trials, tribulations and other circumstances come our way frequently in this fallen world. If you believe in Jesus, then I doubt you have it easy. The world just doesn't like to go easy on those who believe in the One it hates. Yes, there is an evil power behind that hatred, and yes we do get to share in the suffering of our Lord because of it. However, between us and that hate is the sovereign power of God, and we can be thankful for Him. Like Job, we may suffer many terrible things in this life, but we are always in God's mighty hands.

Thank You, dear Lord, for Your grace!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Grace Makes Thanksgiving

Two days, and the travel has already begun. Thanksgiving means getting away from home for many, for others it is a time to stay put. In either case, we trust in the Lord to guide us and keep us safe against the day of His returning. This spirit of faith in us also causes us to speak out for Christ as Paul tells us in today's scripture:

"And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 4:13-15)

In this, we also learn where our giving of thanks comes from - grace. What an amazing thing that grace raises up in us the thanksgiving that God desires from us. We learned a couple of days back, or many books and a thousand years or so in Bible time, that the Law commanded thanksgiving offerings only come from freewill. Since all good things come from God, how do we choose to give thanks? This is what Paul tells us in this verse this fine morning. Where grace comes by way of faith in Christ, thanksgiving to God our Father will abound to His glory.

Amen, come Lord Jesus!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Week!

It's here! The week of thanksgiving leading up to Thanksgiving! I realize for some that the holiday is all about travel, food, football, food, time off work, food, shopping, and food. However, as we recall who saved us from our sins, granted us grace for eternal life, and promised to come back for us, we tend to get all thankful at this time of the year. We don't know the author of this psalm but he or she said it quite well.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. (Psalm 100:4)

Be thankful to Him, and indeed we do on this week especially. This may well be the manner in which the saints will enter into the New Jerusalem when it comes down in the great day of the Lord. This may be how you and I will enter Heaven should we sleep before that time. Thanksgiving and praise lead us into prayer and meditation, worship and song here and now. How much more will the sight of our Lord's city cause us to burst out into thanksgiving and praise! Great will be our rejoicing when Jesus comes to take us home.

Enjoy this week of giving thanks to our Lord,


Friday, November 20, 2015

Magnify The Lord!

How does one magnify the Lord? It seems at first an impossible thing to accomplish. The Lord is all present and all powerful, how can a worm like me magnify the Lord? Yet, a couple of times in the Bible we have answers to that. First our psalm-ic friend David tells us of magnifying the Lord with thanksgiving.

But I am poor and sorrowful;
​​Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high.
I will praise the name of God with a song,
​​And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:29-30)

So many lessons on life and living come from the psalms that we might well expect to learn of this in the music of the Bible. Obviously we don't make the Lord bigger in size such as one would magnify a grain of sand with a magnifying glass. Instead we magnify the Lord by telling of Him in our thanksgiving. Jesus is our salvation. Therefore, we spread the Good News of Jesus Christ just as He commanded. Which is how Mary began her great thanksgiving song.

"My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46)

Look, we have a Christmas lead in for thanksgiving. Let our souls magnify the Lord in thanksgiving this holiday season!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Voice of Thanksgiving

One of our greatest witnesses in this life is the voice we use toward the Lord. Is it one of anger, shaking the verbal fist at God over this thing or that thing that happened to you? People see that and they wonder, 'Where is the love?' Like Job, we may demand to meet God in court over a seeming injustice in our lives. We also, like Job, may in time be brought up short by the realization that we are quite in the wrong. David tells us of a better way to proclaim the Lord: with thanksgiving.

That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works. (Psalms 26:7)

The voice of thanksgiving may not gather the same attention quite so quickly as anger, but we can see that it is a much better witness of our Lord's goodness and mercy. The love they seek is in the wondrous works of God. We get to tell of them!

During this season of giving thanks, let us speak with the voice of thanksgiving. If your day is so terrible that you cannot think of anything to be thankful for, ask the Lord and let Him show you the way, or even better - the Way. Even on the worst of our days, the wondrous work that Jesus did for us still holds us safely in His salvation. We can be thankful for our Lord Jesus when things seem just awful. When the trials of life threaten to overwhelm, witness with the voice of thanksgiving that God loved the world so much He sent His Son to save you and me.

On those worst of days, the voice of thanksgiving might just lift us out of our self-pity and into the knowledge of God's love. Give it a try!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Freewill Offerings

Just a bit over one week from now, we will offer up to God our thanksgiving on a holiday not coincidentally named Thanksgiving. In the Law we have this command from the Lord:

"And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will." (Leviticus 22:29)

Some things, holidays being one, can become institutionalized and religion-ized until we forget that the original command and purpose was that it be of our choice. God didn't want thanksgiving that was done from duty or obligation, particularly that which was forced by an authority. So we have a command from the ultimate authority that thanksgiving be done only when freely chosen. And they say the Bible is without humor.

We see that now, but there was a time when it was dark to those of us who did not believe. What good is a religious system that commands freewill? How do you control the people that way? Of course, God wants our thanksgiving to come from a thankful heart full of love. We should give thanksgiving offerings to God often, but not because we have to or feel it is our duty. Offer it of your own free will, what a great privilege and honor! How many times in this world have you been made to obey some regulation and not understood the need? Here is one that commands that it be followed only out of the freedom to choose to do so. If I have any authority and command you to celebrate Thanksgiving, then I ruin its goodness for you. As God commands, do it of your own free will.

In God's grace,

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Do You Feel Anger?

A good question for any day, but especially so when the news media reports on events that should make most anyone angry. Terrorist acts, deaths of children, persecution of Christians, lies of politicians, a bright sunny day in a place where you ain't - there is usually something for everyone when it comes to anger. Jesus felt anger too.

In and of itself, anger is not sin, for we know that Jesus never sinned. We can be angry when anger is called for, but the peace Jesus gave to us should always return. Remaining angry for too long tends to cause damage both inside and out. Jesus even told us to be angry and sin not (by David in the Psalms (4:4) and Paul quoting the psalm in his letter to the Ephesians (4:26)). The second part of David's verse tells us a valuable insight: "Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still."

After the anger comes, we may need at times to repair to the bed for some meditation alone with God heart to heart. I have at times found to my embarrassment that my anger was unjustified and myself just downright in the wrong. Of course, if the anger is directed at God, we are always going to end up that way.

Enjoy a peaceful day in Christ!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Latter Days

Reading Acts 2, I find it interesting that just after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit energized the disciples, Peter stands up and reminds the crowd of the words written by Joel the prophet. You recall some of the words:

But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘​And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
​​That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
​​Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
​​Your young men shall see visions,
​​Your old men shall dream dreams.
​​And on My menservants and on My maidservants
​​I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
​​And they shall prophesy.
​​I will show wonders in heaven above
​​And signs in the earth beneath:
​​Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
​​The sun shall be turned into darkness,
​​And the moon into blood,
​​Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
​​And it shall come to pass
​​That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
​​Shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:16-21 from Joel 2:28-32)

This is a prophecy about people making prophecies. You might even come up with a tongue twister, "Peter prophecies per the prophet's prophecy that people will prophecy!" That was so hard that I had trouble typing it, forget speaking it.

This prophecy is the one that sometimes gives us trouble. Was that dream I had last night significant? Should I be telling the world? Am I young or old? Our part is not with the young men or the old men for they are 'yours'. Where we fall is in the menservants and maidservants of God, the 'My' part. Ever wonder why there are so many men and women preaching today? This prophecy is why. God said once through Joel, twice through Peter, and again through all of us that this would happen. Don't knock those menservants and maidservants: you and me and they are part of this new army of prophets speaking through God's Holy Spirit. Have fun, prophet of God!


Friday, November 13, 2015

Not My Will, But Thine

Ah, Friday, what a great day for God to release me from suffering! I know this works because that is what happened when Jesus asked that God take away the cup of suffering from Him! It worked right? Anyone? No? Uh oh...

We know from reading the Word that Jesus said those great words signifying His eternal submission to the will of God His Father, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) We win because God's will did not waver and His Son did not escape the suffering. Therefore, should we ask for God to remove our suffering when our Lord and Savior did not escape His? Do we dare expect such a thing even on a Friday? Actually, given that Friday may have been the day of our Lord's greatest suffering, we might be way off base in asking for release on this day of all of them. "Nevertheless not my will, but thine..."

In this life, we face much suffering. Like Job, God doesn't send the suffering to make us hurt, He doesn't send the suffering at all. We may be targeted specifically by the Adversary, like Job, or things may just happen in this fallen world. We may have a spouse who tries to cheer us up by saying, "Curse God and die!" like Job's wife did. Or, we may have friends who gather to verbally beat a confession out of us as Job's friends did, fully convinced that Job had done something very wrong. Think of the alternative Job's friends were desperately trying to avoid: the man had done nothing wrong and yet his life was turned upside down by disaster after disaster. You can see why Job's friends earnestly wanted Job to have done something heinous that they could easily avoid doing.

I cannot claim to be without sin in my own thoughts and actions. How much more should I suffer than my Lord Jesus who did nothing wrong? Hmm, but Jesus did all the suffering for my sins in my place. Better to ask, "How do I merit such a sacrifice on my behalf?" Of course, I do not merit any such thing. The love of God sent His Son to save me from my sins. So, why again do I dare to ask for removal of suffering? God is good and I have faith in His goodness, love and mercy. No quality of mine is enough for this asking, it is all dependent upon God's goodness and love.

May God bless us on this Friday and every other day too!


Thursday, November 12, 2015


Isn't that the way it goes in this world? We worry about one thing that might happen while another is sneaking up on us from the rear. In case you haven't heard yet, Sidney is losing the cabling plant owned through the years by Prestolite, Krone, ADC, Tyco, TE Connectivity, and finally Commscope. Some of that mess o' names were parts of/subdivisions/subsidiary companies of the other, but for the people working there it meant their jobs and means of making a living. I dealt with them for many years and bought a ton or two of cabling with their various brand names. Many Cabela's facilities boast cable that has served well and lasted for many years. The plant will be sold, so there is a possibility that it will be purchased quickly and put back into operation, but possibilities never put food on the table and they don't usually pay very well.

A pile of years ago, I might have worried more over the loss of my supply (the cable), but today the Lord has brought me to see the plight of the people. Uncertainty in your finances is a frightening way to live. The fear spreads throughout the community as wallets and purses get held more tightly. Do we declare the Holiday Season of Fear or do we look elsewhere for assurance?

I have held that dreadful season a couple of times in the past decade, and it is probably the least fun way to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. Looking to God is definitely the way to go, but it must be every morning and evening and quite a few times in between. The fear creeps back in every day through the myriad of little things we do. Pay a bill and wonder how many more times you can afford to pay it. Buy groceries and you are reminded of the dwindling or empty pantry back home (if you still have one). Little luxuries like a movie or a CD become risky if not impossible. Those and many other things project that fearful uncertainty right back into the forefront of your mind. Each time, returning to the Word of God with verses memorized helps to turn us back to God in prayer. In those times of fear it is then that we realize what Paul meant by constant prayer. Fight the fearful uncertainty with the blessed assurance of God.

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ,


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Armor We Wear

Snow falls on this Veterans Day. It may well have done so on the 11th day of the 11th month so many years ago when the First World War concluded with a treaty. Someone then coined the phrase The War to End All Wars. It wasn't. Perhaps a reading of the Bible might have prevented that little slogan that so badly failed. WWI was terrible, but in the Bible Jesus tells of wars and rumors of wars before the end. We may need to give those folks from long ago a break though. The Revelation speaks of conquest, war, plague, and famine. The time before the war, the great war, and the influenza epidemic right after that war may well have seemed that a fourth part of the world had indeed suffered under the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Then along came the great depression as though to confirm the famine part. Had we lived in those times, we might well have thought the end had come, the tribulation started and Jesus on the way with the hosts of Heaven.

So where do we stand in relation to eternity on this Veterans Day? Several of us have served in those wars and rumors of war, all of us have lived through it. Earthquakes shake the ground in diverse places. Persecution happens all over the globe. Yet, Jesus has not come to take His beloved home. We soldier on.

Indeed, Paul used the model soldier of the Roman legions to issue all of us a set of armor for the war we fight daily. A breastplate of righteousness, polished and gleaming. Not our righteousness but the imputed righteousness of Christ Himself. The helmet of salvation - not earned, but given to us, protecting our head and the wonderful mind inside. A belt of truth to protect our softer parts, and who is the Truth but Jesus our Lord! Feet, those important carriers of us when all mechanical things have failed, shod with the gospel of peace. A shield of faith to protect everything and a weapon of unsurpassed potency that is the Word of God.

We celebrate today those who served in our nation's armed forces, and we do well in that, but in Christ all of us are veterans of the most important war, the war to choose eternal life.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

One Hefty Lesson, Please!

Whew! I think I expended all I had in the Bible study lesson this morning, so I have nothing left for you. While I am quite exhaustible in many ways, the dear Holy Spirit of our Lord is perfectly not. We have within us a well that never runs dry. When I have tapped out and dried up, the Lord has only begun. No desert has ever dried up so fast as those of us who depend upon a personal store of love, grace, peace, and hope to share with others. Our personal store is tiny; the tank of our cistern very small indeed. We have so little to share that few will notice when we dry up and blow away. However, tap into that inexhaustible storehouse of love and joy contained in God's Spirit within and we gush with the flow available to the least of these.

When it comes to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and the other fruits of the Spirit, God is never stingy or miserly. We have all we can hold and then some. We drink all we can and overflow with the goodness. One hefty lesson from the Word, please! And God pours it on us with both His mighty hands. We reach for the regular coffee and find the pot filled with super-mocha-cafe-espresso triple-brewed ultra-Atlantean blend. (Please don't ask me "Where can I get some of that?") In other words, God is always ready to help when we have reached the end of the little bit that is our offering to Him. Ask and ye shall receive!

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Monday, November 09, 2015

Back to the Book

Advertising uses the word 'creamy' a lot to describe various food products and occasionally some that are not for food. One might think that the best ingredient to use for making something creamy would be cream. However, we are just beginning to come out of the cholesterol scare of the last 2 or 3 decades so cream is still not often used to make something creamy. In our Christian training we have access to a great many books that are not the Bible. Though the books are helpful and good for us, we still need the pure word of God. It is interesting that even with our common abuse of many words, the one set of books that remain biblical is the Bible.

Of course I won't be totally correct in that. In this age of writing most anything on the Internet, someone will have used 'biblical' for something other than the Bible. What we want to get at is the yearning we have for getting back to God's Word often. Max Lucado's book, 3:16: The Numbers of Hope is a wonderful book, but it doesn't replace John's gospel (and was never meant to, I'm sure). Various commentaries are great to have on the book shelf, but still we like to reach for the the Bible, that great book on which the commentaries are commenting. The Spirit calls us back to the Word, and what a wonderful Word He is!

Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. (Proverbs 30:5)


Friday, November 06, 2015

What A Mess We're In!

No, no, the little cloud is not on the horizon; the entire sky is covered in the darkest thunderheads. The danger is not faraway; it's right here! There are those days when the trouble seems to have arrived in the blink of an eye. The little cloud of warning yesterday has grown into the full-blown hurricane this morning. It's just too bad I missed the little cloud. We all have days like that.

Whether we fell asleep and missed the warning signs or the storm came quicker by far than we expected, the troubles are now here and fear rises to choke off our action. We can hardly pray for the fear that blankets our thoughts and emotions. God must be off on vacation. What happened?! Panic seems too tame a word for what we feel, and everyone talking about it doesn't help to get a handle on the thing. Yet, somehow, God's throne is not rocking and rolling on the waves of trouble. The crystal sea before the throne remains still and calm. Isn't God paying attention? What a mess we're in!

When prayer does come, we always find the same thing - God is not upset or afraid. His Holy Spirit is not agitated within us by our thoughts of fear, but perhaps just a little disappointed that we haven't showed up in prayer all the sooner for our feelings of dread and despair. The wolves may be scratching at the door and the buzzards circling overhead. Horrors of the world may parade themselves before you. The peace of our Lord is still given to us.

David faced times of fear, and from them come great psalms: try Psalms 56 & 57 when that time of fear comes to you.


Thursday, November 05, 2015

Let Us Look For The Lord

The Unbeliever looked for the Lord in books but found nothing to convince him. The Unbeliever looked for the Lord in humans and found no one good enough. The Unbeliever looked for the Lord in nature but found only striving and blood. The Unbeliever looked for the Lord in technology and science and the other deeds of man, but found no hope there. He read the Christian Bible, but found it full of much of what he had already discovered. The Unbeliever then, through lack of evidence, convinced himself that God doesn't exist. The world welcomed him with open arms, a hero to the unbelieving. Someone wanted that unbeliever though, someone who does not give up easily.

Years passed, and the Unbeliever felt the pains of growing older. Modern medicine helped him some, but cures for the worst of his ills and pains were themselves often brutal, slow, and not entirely effective. While looking upward from a hospice bed one morning, the Unbeliever began to ask, "God are you there?" Death stood in the corner of his room, but something held it at bay for the moment. A cacophonous parade of sins marched past, but greatest of all of them, the champion anchoring the entire line, was his own cherished unbelief. Near to Death it stood, powerful and unrepentant, a sin to be reckoned with. The Unbeliever had found no hope in his unbelief and he had none to comfort him at the end. Death drew closer.

Suddenly the parade ended, frozen in the midst of their celebration, stopped cold by someone. A man stood beside Death. A man of no particular beauty, one that a person might overlook in a crowd. He told the Unbeliever that the entire parade of sin had been paid for long ago on a cross near Jerusalem. As the man had paid for them, he wanted them back. All the Unbeliever had to do was believe.

We know that story in a way because we too looked for evidence of the senses at one time and found it not. We walk near Death every day as the multitude of possible deaths pass us on every side. We wish that every unbeliever might meet the Lord and believe as Doubting Thomas did. Some do meet Jesus: Paul on the Damascus road, Stephen as the heavens opened before him, and John as he was called up there. One did not believe and two very much did believe in the Lord. Most of us will not get to meet our Lord until that moment when He brings us home. Yet we believe, and we pray for those who do not. Those prayers are not ignored. Perhaps even now a lifelong unbeliever will meet the Lord in his last few moments. Keep on praying!

Have a wonderful day in Christ!


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

No Denial, Just Prayer

Have you ever been bothered by something? Some would have us do a sort of mental trick by repeating a denial until the problem somehow magically goes away. If you've ever had a hungry kid or pet, you will know that the brink of insanity is much closer than one might think and that repeating nonsense is one way to get there faster. A much better method we find is to bring all problems to God in prayer.

Prayer is our constant communication channel to the Creator of Heaven and Earth. A privilege of staggering proportions is prayer. No denial, just prayer. We realize and speak our need for God by prayer. Jesus taught us to pray and gave us a model to follow. Many times our Lord went away by Himself to pray to God. In His final moments on the cross our Lord Jesus prayed by calling out to God. We follow our Lord by praying.

Denial probably never solved anything. Prayer on the other hand brings you and me to God. He already knows about the problem. What He wants is for us to come to Him in prayer. Paul reminded us to let our requests be made known to God. (Phil 4) Find new strength, good help, endurance, perseverance, encouragement, and resolution in prayer. Don't be afraid of wearing out the divine ears, Jesus told us to come often to prayer and repeat as needed.

In Jesus Name!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Faith In...

In my own strength I have accomplished nothing worth mentioning. Actually, even those unmentionable accomplishments were accomplished under the strength God gave to me before I knew that God had strengthened me to have faith in Him. What did I just write anyway?

Faith in all things is our journey with Christ. We don't come by this naturally, for born as sinners we look first to the things we can sense. I cannot feel faith, or touch it, or see it. Yet, I know that it is there in me. Where did this thing come from? The Book of Hebrews tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. (11:1) Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that it comes by way of gift. I didn't earn faith, find it by the roadside, or accomplish it in my strength. My faith came by way of a gift from above. First through Christ who died for us, and then by way of the Holy Spirit given to us. I don't get to claim that it was my accomplishment. I cannot mount the podium to receive a faith award, yet I received an award of faith just the same. How did I rate such a wonderful thing?

It can only be through God's love that we are given such faith in what we cannot see or feel or touch. Faith in writing comes when I begin writing; I don't deserve it, but I do get to exercise it. Faith in ministry comes to those who minister. They deserve it no more than do I, yet the ministers minster in faith so well. Faith in Jesus comes to those who believe in Jesus. Part of me wants to grab faith and present it to those who do not believe. "Here it is! See it?" But that cannot be or faith would no longer be faith.

Glory to God for the gift of faith,


Monday, November 02, 2015

I Love to Have Him Here With Me

In its terrible pride the diabolical part of me seeks to proclaim some extreme. Gladly it would say that I am the worst of the worst in something or the most of the most in something else. The Lord is with me always though. His Spirit and my spirit communing together in holy fellowship. The Lord tells a different story about those extremes. I love to have Him here with me. For what that diabolical pride would speak of me, I don't need. I am content to be one of many sheep in my Lord's pasture. Special because of Him, and not through something I have done or failed to do. Blessed through His grace and not through my merit. Saved by His blood and not by a religious system. Just a sheep in the Good Shepherd's flock is much better than anything that diabolical pride has spoken in any case.

Each day we need to be reminded of and take into our hearts our Lord's presence. The Lord will not leave us because we don't think of Him on a particular day, but the day goes so much better when we take that time to pray, meditate on the Word, and just be aware of His presence in our lives.

Imagine the Lord always waiting to hear from us. Eager to hear our slightest and briefest thoughts directed to Him in prayer. We don't need a priest to tell it to, nor a carefully edited formal prayer. We only need to speak to our Lord from the heart, at any time and at all times. Blessed and glorious is our Lord, who loves us so much that He wants to hear from you and me today!

Have a loving and graceful November with the Lord Jesus!


Friday, October 30, 2015

When I Don't Hesitate

One day I will not hesitate to thank God for the painful and sorrowful things in this life, and then I will know that my faith in Jesus has grown. I base that knowledge on the verse Paul wrote back in the day:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

All things? Yes, the painful and the sorrowful working together for good to those who love God. Seems a bit far out there right now. The first thing I pray for is relief from the pain and strength to endure the sorrow. I don't like pain; it hurts. Sorrow is something that I would be glad to do without.

By the time Paul wrote to the Roman church, he was probably a middle-aged man. He knew by this time both sorrow and pain, yet he still wrote down that verse. The great epistler did not say some things or just a few of the nicer things in life, but all things working together for our good. I do not yet know all of God's purpose, but it must really be something to make pain and sorrow work together for our good. Of course, those are not the only things working together.

We also have God's Son, His great love, His goodness, mercy, grace, His Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters in Christ, God's Word, and many other wonderful things working together for our good. That sounds better! Perhaps I will hesitate less in knowing that it is never just the pain and suffering, but a whole lot of better things coming down from God our Father for our good.

Have a worshipful Halloween weekend!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Other Side of the Dark Place

I have enjoyed a long-term relationship with a certain dark room in the basement of a house. Not a house that I have lived in, or one that I can recall visiting. The house changes from dream to dream, but in the basement is always this dark room full of fear of the evil one. The room is so possessed that my dream self struggles to speak the name of Jesus in those dreams. Three times last night I had that dream, but the last one was the most interesting. In it, I visited the room on the other side of that dark room.

On the other side of the dark place, a thin sliding door of metal separated the rooms. No lock or latch kept the door closed, but in that room I was told that two women worked a laundry for many years. What kept the darkness bay? The voice told me that their faith was equal to the task throughout those many years. Faith, not good deeds or clean living (pun fully intended), just an abiding faith in Jesus. A lesson for me in a dream that has plagued me for a long time.

Faith as a sliding door? Yes, for too easily we slide aside that faith and indulge in the fear. Yet, that door of faith is made of metal representing strength and durability. But faith is not only the sliding door, for we take our faith with us. It wasn't the faith of the door that kept the evil at bay all those years, it was the faith of the two women in their Lord and Savior. We are issued a powerful weapon in the Word of God, but we also have that shield of faith in our gear. At times that shield may seem pitifully small and thin, but it is enough when that faith is in Christ the Lord!

Enjoy a faithful day in Christ,

Monday, October 26, 2015

Undeserving and Rightly So!

Good morning on this autumn day! A devotional message I read this morning asks what or how do you and I feel when accepting the love of God? I will answer that one; I feel undeserving and rightly so! As God has made me more aware through the years of His training of that sinfulness that lurks in the animal and diabolical parts of this Christian, I rightly feel undeserving of His great love as shown in Christ. Yet, God did not base His decision to love us on how we feel.

Long before we were born on this Earth, God sent His Son to save us. Jesus told parables about the kingdom of Heaven in that time. He often started with, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." Throughout the ministries of my youth, that was taken to mean: This is what you should be like and you are not! In other words, a stick to be beaten down with, and for quite some time I was indeed beaten well down. Yes, we should strive to be like Christ, but Jesus said to us what the kingdom of Heaven was doing to save us. You, pearl beyond price, Jesus gave all to purchase on the cross.

Jesus was that tiny mustard seed planted in the field of a big world. Read the kingdom of heaven parables in Matthew again. As you read each one, know that Jesus was telling of Himself and what He was doing in the world. Jesus planted the good seed and weeds were sown by another. Jesus gave all to purchase you and me. Jesus wanted to settle accounts with His servants, but they weren't ready for that final settlement. Therefore, Jesus paid the full price to redeem us all. We owed an amount that we could not pay, so Jesus forgave us. Jesus is the bridegroom and He is coming!

Of course I don't deserve His grace; if I deserved it, it wouldn't be grace!

In God's amazing grace,

Friday, October 23, 2015

Facing His Goodness and Love

We have a severe trial ahead of us. Today, we must face God's goodness and love. Hold it there, mate! You say that is a trial? Yes, I do. You see, we can face the thought of a just God and a set of rules. Do this and you're okay with God; don't do that or you will be condemned, etc. The Pharisees were okay with that too. Facing only God's justice, we have a clear path ahead, or so we like to think. Then, Jesus came along. He said that what we do is only part of the problem. Even what we think condemns us, but that is only another part. Finally, the Law proclaims us guilty and condemned just for being born of the line of Adam. So, even if we do all the right things according to the Law, if we don't have faith and believe in Jesus, then we stand condemned because of Original Sin? That pretty much sums up our plight. We can't win.

Exactly, but we have a Savior, and therein is our trial. When we believe in Jesus, in place of standing trial before God's justice, we now stand trial before God's love and goodness. And what a trial it is! We cannot save ourselves, Christ has saved us. We cannot justify ourselves to God; Jesus gives us right standing with God. We cannot live in righteousness; God imputes His Son's righteousness to us through faith in Christ. We cannot cleanse ourselves; Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We expect at any moment to see God's justice come crashing down, but Jesus brings us God's love and goodness. What an awful trial to face on a Friday!

Enjoy a righteous Friday in Christ!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Destruction is Only Half the Answer

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:42-45)

Many times it seems to us that destruction is the answer. A problem presents itself in life and the way to remove the problem is to destroy the device or structure that is the seat of the problem. A city council has a plan to revitalize the community and an old structure stands in the way. Perhaps it has become an eyesore or worse, a den for drug addicts. The owner may not have the resources to remodel or cleanup the building for a host of reasons. The city council moves to condemn the property and, we hope, the owner is compensated fairly for his or her loss. The building is demolished and the problem is removed, right? Not quite, the destruction part, while at times satisfying to us, is only half of the answer.

A vacant lot may have some uses, but a construction of some type will have much more benefit to the community. So goes Paul's argument about the resurrection. We must become something better. Sanctification can be seen as a gradual dying of the old person, the one lost and enslaved to sin, and a rebirth of the new. Sown in weakness to sin, pain, grief, and many other things that would be wholly out of place in Heaven, we are raised in the power of God to eternal joy, love, peace, and life. After Jesus rose from the grave His terrible wounds bothered Him not at all. No pain... on some days, that alone seems reason enough to embrace the new life in Christ. We will have so much more though that we cannot imagine God's eternal home. There's some good news for today!

God's grace and peace to you in this life, right now!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Was Yesterday?

A lot of yesterdays rise up to rebuke me in my life. Like many a Christian before me, I have a pack of howling yesterdays that would throw me down and devour me from inside. It is time I take up the Word of the Lord and rebuke them instead. What was yesterday? A day that is gone. I cannot reclaim it or redo it. Should I be given the chance to recast that yesterday with a group of celebrities supporting my role and a script written by the best screenwriters, it might make for a fun movie but it would still be gone forever. Instead, I just have my life given to me by God through my faith in Christ Jesus. Why pray tell would I want anything better?

Faith tells me that God cast the players in my yesterdays with the same care that He watches over today. Lessons learned from tough experiences were all taught by the Great Teacher, carefully and in His great love. Whatever failure or tragedy played out on that terrible yesterday was not for one moment out of God's sovereign control. Better still, that yesterday need not affect me on this day if I will rest in my Lord's love and gentle grace. I can make today better by learning to trust in the Lord all the way. Then, there will be one less yesterday joining that dreadful pack.

What was yesterday? Just a day that is gone, leaving us one day closer to our reunion with Jesus. Get up today and start again with fresh mercies from God's grace.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Slipping In With a Bag o' Dirty Rags

It is easy to believe in a system of accomplishment whereby we show up at the pearly gates and present Peter with a trunk full of our good deeds. We would like to have the disciple open the lid and gaze in wonder at the jewels and treasure therein and even marvel, "Why couldn't I have been this good!" But it ain't that way. Instead, Peter would open up the dreadful, stinking trunk and gaze with horror upon our dirty, filthy old laundry; the sad result of a lifetime of selfishly performed deeds meant to save us from that which we cannot remove on our own. Isaiah said that all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (64:6). Why would we present such a thing to the Lord? Why try to slip into the Lord's heaven with a bag o' dirty rags? Yet, that is the aim of many a religious system in the world.

In place of that, Jesus gave us a new way, Himself: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. After that, He just promised to return and bring us to that place He has gone to prepare. (Read John 14:1-6) He saves us and He brings us home, what a deal for us! Indeed if it is accomplishment we seek, then the accomplishments of our Lord and Savior are something to boast about. Enduring the scourging and the cross, rising from the dead, and ascending to Heaven, these are but a part of the Lord's accomplishments on our behalf. Perhaps the most personal accomplishment of our Lord is also the most precious to us: the Good Shepherd comes personally to save each of His lost little sheep. I love My Lord and what He accomplishes!

Amen, come Lord Jesus!

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Most Potent Word

Sit down and take up your Bible like a novel; read it cover to cover like the best page-turner. Tough to do, right? The Word of God has a potency that other writings lack. His story cuts right down deep into the mind and spirit. We have trouble taking all of it in at once. Just to sit down and read one of the gospels from start to finish is difficult. "Too much!" we say to the Lord, asking Him to ease off on the volume of blessings, teachings, conviction, and spiritual music we hear from one reading of one gospel. Perhaps a small letter like 3 John we can manage in a sitting, but watch out, that smaller part of the Word can cut deeply as well.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Read one verse at a time in many parts of the Bible and the teachings abound. Other places hold marvelous stories that cover a few chapters. We use the stories to learn and to teach children how they should live. Reach for comfort in one psalm or in one paragraph. Heed the warning of a few prophecies or seek guidance for living from one epistle. Realize the wonderful future we have in Christ from prophecies of the eternity to come. Read a genealogy of difficult names and see the constancy of God from generation to generations. We have so much to gain from God's Word!

In the land of shadows, those living in darkness have seen a great light,


Friday, October 16, 2015

Dropping on the World's Charts

Ah, the first freezing night, now we know that autumn has come! Once upon a long ago time, I was described as a smart kid. Then, years later in the corporate world, it was said that I was fairly intelligent. Last night, a person on the phone used the term 'not very' in front of my intelligence. It would seem that I am dropping on the world's charts. The funny thing is that I don't particularly care what the world thinks on that matter anymore. God's Holy Spirit has made me smart enough to believe in Jesus, and He is all I really need.

The world has some harsh measuring sticks for us, but we don't need to go into all of them this morning. Why hurt our own feelings? God has some different yardages for us. Want to be good enough? None of us are good enough for His standard, but He loves us with an everlasting love. Want to be strong enough to walk to Heaven? Can't happen, mate! Yet Jesus will bring you home when your time arrives.

In the world we need some measurable advantage: luck, physical strength, lineage, political power, beauty, wealth, or even intelligence. That worldly part of us wants to think that some combination or earned amount of those things will save the person or race. We may strive for years to accumulate more of one or all of them and envy those who seem to have an abundance. After Jesus saves us from all of that, we come to know that stuff matters less than we thought. Luck and wealth are slippery and not to be trusted; beauty and strength fade with age; power and intelligence can leave us in a moment; and all are born in the lineage of Adam. In fact, to be reborn into the lineage of Christ Jesus is the smart thing to accumulate in this world, and that salvation is freely given to all who ask of Him!

Have a wonderful, chilly Friday in Christ!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Where From Here?

Do you ever get up wondering where the Lord is leading from this place? Is it back to the same workplace on this day? Back in the time of Jesus, slaves had no choice in the matter. Though financially or otherwise it may not seem like it, we have much in the way of choice for our work and career. Do you expect big changes today in your situation? Many people have lived and died with little in the way of change from generation to generation. Are we better off now than some group of they were back in some then? We don't know the answer to many of our big questions, but we do know that Jesus promised to be with us always.

In the Bible, we find that God never changes. God speaks in Malachi 3:6, "For I am the Lord, I do not change." While our life may at times seem as the ocean's rising and falling, twisting and turning, and with currents carrying us far away from where we think we want to be, God remains steadfast and unchanging. Problems afflict us daily, sometimes greater and larger, but other times lesser and more manageable, yet God stands firm. When we are tempted to feel as Job in full cry, we might want to recall this one:

"Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened,
​​That it cannot save;
​​Nor His ear heavy,
​​That it cannot hear." Isaiah 59:1

At that time, the iniquity of Israel had separated them from God's hearing and saving. Now that is a terrible time to be in! We do live in a wonderful time, for Jesus has taken care of that separation for good. We can daily, moment by moment, bring our ills, conditions, circumstances, sins, temptations, problems, potentials, possibilities, presumptions, plans, and gratitude to the Lord in prayer. Thanksgiving is in fact a great place to start.

Thank you, dear Lord my Father, for this great and wonderful day in Your sovereign grace,


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Carried On The Shield? Maybe Not!

My neighbor's wife endured to the end through a period of dementia and recently went home to be with Jesus. We sometimes enjoy a little allegory by comparing our entry into Heaven to that of a soldier completely expended in the field and wounded in battle. "When my time comes they will carry me home on my shield of faith to my heavenly home," we say with a self-serving wave of pity-me thinking. Indeed we may well be expended completely in this life and leave it as a soldier wounded and carried from the battle. However, I'm not sure we should confuse that with our entry into God's Heaven.

How quickly did Jesus heal the woman's daughter in Matthew 15:28? "From that very hour..." in the NKJV, and might we not be healed from this life in the same way in that very hour of our departing? Certainly! Let us plan to go home as saints. The prodigal would gladly throw himself at his father's feet to beg for a place as the lowest of servants, but the good father raised him up in love. I believe that our Lord Jesus is more than capable of bringing us into His heavenly home in far better shape than we leave this life. Let there be no wounded ones dragged over the threshold of Heaven. Let us instead accept His healing and come into Heaven with our heads held high as befitting the army of our Lord. Then, we can kneel at His feet willingly and with great joy.

To the glory of God, we fight this battle! Have a great day in Christ,


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Desperate People, Amazing Grace

Good morning on this autumn Tuesday! Trees are changing their leaves, don't you wish you could change the demons in your mind so easily? We live in an age of desperate people. I watched a news segment some years ago where people desperate for relief from their pain actually grabbed honey bees and incited them to sting their bodies. Most folks work to avoid such things, these folks claimed it helped for a while. Folks suffering mental illness seek relief in all sorts of directions, but I can tell you from experience that the sure cure seems to be the return of Christ. Until that time, we have what Paul rejoiced in during his years of trial - God's amazing grace.

We find a lot of temporary and very short-term solutions to problems in this age. We have more drugs, religions, and techniques available to us than at any time before us thanks to the nearly instant communication we have with most of the world. If a new drug is discovered in Africa today, we can easily hear about it later this afternoon. Should someone invent a new pain-relief device in Asia later on this morning, we may well have an order form available on the Internet by noon (and beware that deluge of orders even if the thing isn't yet proven to work!). Things happen so quickly in this age. Desperate people rush to and fro as knowledge increases by leaps all around us. (Daniel recorded the prophecy on that one a long time ago.)

In all of our trials and suffering though, one thing we have that will let us endure to the end - God's grace. Desperate people need amazing grace. Beneficial drugs are good, techniques to mitigate pain are helpful, but only one thing is sure for us, God's grace will bring us home. I cannot say who is suffering more, thee or me, at any given time, but I do know we both have God's amazing grace freely available through faith in Jesus Christ.

Enjoy a graceful day in Christ!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor

Life became much more complicated when the command to love our neighbors went into effect. The character on the television show spouting off the line telling us to look out for #1 may have an idea for keeping life easy, even simple in the short term, but Jesus gave us that command again. I don't need to cite examples in this, we all know by now that living life selfishly is easier in the short term. Even stalwart Christians will find such a strategy calling to them now and then. If I look out for me first and get all my problems beaten into submission, then I'll be ready and able to help out the person next door, right? Hmm, anything that starts out with 'me first' could be a problem as we follow Christ.

On the other hand, the command to love our neighbors was not one of ignoring the care of self and your family either. Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, perhaps in yet another attempt to trap Him with words, and He told us those two great commandments.

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 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 12:29-31)

In another gospel, Jesus says that all of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. The second is what we are looking at when we are called to 'Love thy neighbor'. Note that the commandment tells us to love our neighbor as our self. Not only do we love as well as, but at the same time as, and with the same regard as we love our neighbor. Is that backwards? Not in all cases I think, for some do indeed find it easier to love another and much harder to love what they see inside of themselves. God created both of us, the neighbor and the self, and He loves us with His perfect love.

Have a happy Indigenous Peoples Day!


Friday, October 09, 2015

How Does He See Me?

The fog approached me as I walked toward it. The effect on my vision much like the approach of old age and death. What do we know? Only that God holds us securely in His hands and that after that fog bank has passed we will be with Him in a better place. Until then, we are much given to concern over our status. How does God rate my actions today? Did I do the right thing in that situation? Where do we go from here?! Another batch of questions we need not worry over.

Each morning, God rises with us and takes a look at us through His Son. Paul reminds us that we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24); that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39); and have the gift of righteousness in our Lord Jesus (Romans 5:17). We like the short version in this age, and that is that God looks with His love through Jesus and sees you and me as justified and righteous or 'just right'!

Enjoy your status in Christ today,

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Not So Far Away Now

Courage, we need it more often than we think, but probably a lot less than we fear. Last week, we were reminded that Christian persecution is not so far away as we thought. The first to stand in the face of death and proclaim the title, Christian, needed some courage. How much did the second one need though? Indeed it is often the next time or the second time that we need more courage than the first time we stood in Christ facing our fear. The second time we know more of what we face, and that may make it worse than the first time when most of our fear was of the unknown. So how much knowledge must we gain to face what we fear fearlessly? I'm still working on that one.

Perhaps it is the wrong answer! The prophet Daniel spoke of knowledge increasing, but at the same time people rushing to and fro. Is it possible that more knowledge of the earthly thing does not diminish the fear as we had hoped? Many times Jesus spoke the words, "Do not be afraid!" Does our Lord hold another answer than that of study and knowledge? As always, our answer is in Him.

If human knowledge could banish all fear, we would surely be fearless by now. It seems that whatever the sum of humankind's knowledge becomes, it will in no way banish the fear of death, injury, hurt, or loss. Building up a treasure house of knowledge here on earth cannot conquer the fear that Adam gained in his fall. We need, as we always do, a Savior and Lord to show us the way of courage now, and one day that eternal peace with Him where fear has no place and no voice. The temptation to be afraid will come at us in this life both from within and from without. However, we have a Good Shepherd who will lead His sheep home and strengthen us to courage in this fight.

Blessed be the name of Jesus!


"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

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Behold, The Ravenous Horde!

We visited a home yesterday and found something a bit unusual in this age: a housewife and her six children. Each morning at breakfast time I 'm quite sure she knows the full meaning of the term 'ravenous horde'. I'm thinking along these lines because I have not had my breakfast yet. We must, however, when searching for that reason to go on spreading the good news of Jesus Christ remember that out there is a ravenous horde straining for any bit of better news than the world offers. We have plenty of the bad news to feed on, but each of us who walks with Christ knows some good news to share. As you set out to do your bit for the King of kings, behold, the ravenous horde!

Jesus said it better as He told the disciples that the fields were white; ready for the harvest. (John 4:35) The church age is not over just yet and we face that same view of fields ready to hear the good news we hold. Let the light shine and the day break. Our Lord is wonderful beyond description and faithful to the end! Send forth the good news of salvation that endures beyond the grave and overcomes the tribulation of this world. Rejoice! that you hold an imperishable faith in "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". (John 1:29) Be glad, for the joy of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ comes near!

And have a great day in Jesus too!


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Some Good News, Please!

After reading the first couple of chapters in Paul's letter to the Romans, indeed even much of chapter 3, one might be ready for some good news of Jesus Christ. After a thorough pummeling by the Law and the Prophets, Paul concludes his argument that all stand guilty before God's judgment. The excuses for the heinous sins outlined in chapter one are shot down by Paul's reasoning, the condition of our depravity is exposed for all to see, and we are ready for some good news. Seldom can a minister preach on that first part of Romans without sneaking in a few hints that something better comes. The receivers of the Word sit ready in their seats pleading, "Some good news, please!" Indeed, it is not long in coming. The conclusion of the Law that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard is followed by the good news of justification by faith in Christ.

We don't remain spitted and roasted on the Law for long before Paul begins to let us in on the cure for our awful condition. Born sinners, we are reborn in Christ to something far better. Unable to save himself in any way, the sinner awakens to find that Jesus has accomplished all that needs doing for salvation. Grace is freely given to those with no means to pay. The satisfaction of our judgment price was paid through Christ Jesus long before we were born into that sinful sickness. How did we ever come to have it so good? Of course, no one who believes does so because he or she feels any entitlement to salvation. We trust in the undeserved favor of our Lord Jesus who died to save all those diabolical sinners caught and standing guilty before the Law. Good news for those with no possible way to save ourselves.

Rejoice in the Good News of Jesus our Lord!


Monday, October 05, 2015

Following Jesus

Back in the days of Rome, we hear a story about a disciple of Christ named Lastus. This name was not as one might imagine given at birth. Lastus earned his name through years of diligent effort in the wrong direction. Thus, when the call came from the Master, "Follow Me", Lastus went last and didn't quite know where the group of new disciples had gone. Making the best of it, Lastus arranged for news of this new rabbi and his disciples to be sent to him. While this was good news of a sort, Lastus missed out on the opportunity of many lifetimes - he didn't get to see Jesus perform those miracles that came in the messages 'from the road' as it were. Lastus had all the information, but he didn't have what was best. In his time, the best was to follow Jesus wherever He went for as long as Lastus was allowed. That way, Lastus might one day be called Firstus, or whatever the Master chose for him. It's a dumb name to begin with, but you can see the picture.

In this age of faith, we don't get to follow Jesus in the way the disciples did back in their time. We might go to Jerusalem and walk the steps where it is thought that Jesus carried His cross, but that was done long ago, way before our time. We follow in faith, but still we must follow and go when the time to follow has arrived. In some things, I don't think that will be a problem. When the Rapture comes, for example, I don't think we will look around and maybe think about staying a bit longer. Nope, Jesus calls and all who are called by His name will follow immediately. On the other hand, day by day we also are called, and sometimes we may hesitate or delay. The call may be as simple as prayer or to meditate in the Bible, and we find something else that needs doing first.

Cleanse our hearts and strengthen our minds, dear Lord, to follow You right away and immediately each and every day in this life. Amen.


Friday, October 02, 2015

Stormy Morning, Joyous Day

The morning begins with a storm or just the return of something annoying, but you know that kind of day. How do we ever become that person who rejoices in the day the Lord has given when we have so many days begin that way? Another of the impossible commands of our Lord perhaps? Some days, I think it would be nice to just chalk up all that I cannot seem to overcome to impossible commands, but I don't think the Lord would have me give up in that way. Yes, the commands of the Lord do set a standard that we cannot meet, but that is only in the efforts and strength on our own that it is impossible. All those tough days at work or home invite us to put all our efforts toward that point where God's glorious provision and strength take over, and we rejoice in His triumph. Of course, who gave us the strength to get up on that tough morning?

When my strength is exhausted, I am overdue for thanking God for the strength He gave me to exhaust. Indeed, it takes an effort of gratitude to remember the truth of Jesus' words, "“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) In Christ, we see the stormy day as a time to thank Him all the more for the strength and grace already provided to us, even before we get started facing the day. Rejoicing comes when we know that God is always there with us, the storm just makes us realize a bit more.

Have a joyous day in Christ!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Lesser Eggs

Once upon a time, I purchased almost without thinking the most expensive eggs in the grocery store. These were sorted and selected for size and uniformity, given little red markings, and sold in a nicer package than the 'cheap' eggs down in the bottom of the cooler. With the better eggs one could learn the muscle memory that cracked the eggs without any surprises such as shells in the pan or leaving egg all over the counter. Not so with the lesser eggs I deal with now! One might crack with the tiniest tap and leak all over, while the next leaves me wondering if will need a hammer and chisel to break the shell.

In this life, you have experienced that same sorting and selecting from an early age. Anyone remember being chosen last or near the last in those grade school teams? Like many others, my lack of future professional-caliber athletic talent did not go unnoticed by those choosing their teams for the big sports contest. When it came to sports, I was a lesser egg. You may have come to the same conclusion in some other sort of contest. When the cream rose to the top of the corporation, somehow you were left behind. The academic awards came and went, but you weren't even invited to sit in the audience. Most every sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd has been rejected by the world in some way. We are the lesser eggs. We are in good company.

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
​​And as a root out of dry ground.
​​He has no form or comeliness;
​​And when we see Him,
​​There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

​​He is despised and rejected by men,
​​A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
​​And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
​​He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:2-3)

Looking at the famous people of our world, we may well realize that not one would choose us for the team of worldly buff and wonderful rich folks. Jesus went around choosing His team carefully too. A despised tax collector? I'll take one of those. Fishermen cheap at twice the price? Give me several for My team. Zealots are a real pain in the neck? Give me one for the Twelve. A doubter? I need one of those for sure! Oh, and I'll take that one who will betray me to be crucified too. We may well look at what we have to offer Jesus and wonder how in the world He could choose us for His team. Of course 'in the world' is the problem with our view! A dozen lesser eggs in the world's eyes we may well be, but Christ chose us just as we are. Does our choosing confound the princes of this world? Well, praise God for that!

In Christ,