Thursday, April 30, 2015

Feeling Your Pain

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser." (John 15:1) Jesus gave us the truth about our connected nature in this statement. Each of us is a branch of the true vine. When God prunes a branch, Jesus knows it and feels that pruning. We cannot stand alone, for a branch dries up and withers without this connection. Jesus does not want us to separate in any case even though He must feel every pain and heartache coming down the vine from all those branches. Jesus makes a point in the next verse of the pruning His Father does. You or I may feel alone during a pruning and the devil may tempt us to think that is the case, but nothing could be further from the truth; we are connected firmly to the Truth.

Branches upon branches, all crying out to and receiving the true light of grace from the Vine. As we think on the number of branches attached to the True Vine, we are staggered by the mighty cares and responsibility of our Lord. Millions, perhaps billions of branches all dependent on the Vine. But it is not our place to worry over the cares of our Lord; He is more than capable and mighty to save. We also should know that it is not just fears, worries, pain, and sorrow that flows to our Vine. Jesus also knows the good deeds, our lovingkindnesses, and sacrifices we make for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, at first we think of all the bad stuff the Vine must endure with us, but there are better thoughts to know.

Recall your wedding day and those good feelings - the Vine was there with you. That triumph at work, the passing of a test, and the good news that came in the mail - all moments we shared with our True Vine. Jesus is the Good News, but we also have good news to share with our Lord. When we enter into prayer this day, maybe it doesn't have to be a list of the woes of the world this time. I'm sure Jesus likes to hear our good news too!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Need On Our Side

The weather forecast for the next few days appears to say 'Spring!' for us. Whoops, went away there for a bit. I noticed a bit of e-mail contact housecleaning that needed my attention. Yes, the devotional should come first just as Jesus must come first in all things in my life! Even when taking out the trash, Jesus must have the place of preeminent honor in my daily walk. How does my Lord and my chores come together in the same thought? Isn't it disrespectful to mention the One who died for my sins and.. uh, the waste products of my worldly life in one sentence? You can decide that for yourself. The thought for today is our need for the Holy Spirit.

We have little hope of speaking or writing the righteous thoughts or performing the loving actions without the strength and guidance of our dearest Counselor, the Holy Spirit. I am too easily distracted even during a personal Bible study. Prayer easily slides off the rails as we kneel down and think of one thing and then another. In a quiet moment of meditation our thoughts of God veer unaccountably into the mundane thorns of our daily life. The need on our side for God's guiding Spirit is great. Praise God that Jesus promised to send us another Counselor, who does guide our thoughts and makes intercession for our prayers. Just like Jesus is our salvation, so His dear Holy Spirit is our sanctification, and intercession, and guidance, and encouragement, and the promise of God's eternal love.

There now, have a better day on your side!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

You Came For The Food

The pot luck at the church features food. A meeting for prayer at the restaurant involves food. We meet at the home of a church family and food is brought out. So, Jesus feeds the five thousand and a great miracle is enjoyed by all. He crosses the Sea of Galilee on foot one night, and the crowds follow the next day by boat. When they ask, "Rabbi, when did you come over here?" Jesus says, in the modern vernacular, "Y'all just came for the food!" Well, yeah, food is a big part of our lives. We cook and enjoy; eat and enjoy even more. Food is a big deal for us. So, continuing in John 6, Jesus uses this to teach about what is really important.

In the first of His wonderful 'I Am' statements, Jesus says, "I Am the bread of life." Not the bread that satisfies the stomach for just a little while, or even the bread necessary to sustain our earthly life for a few more days, but the bread of life. As in eternal life, something unending and forevermore, brought to us by Jesus in Himself. We came for the food, but received something much more. Like the woman at the well, we wanted a magical food and drink that relieved us of a daily chore, but Jesus brought us something good for eternity. Praise God for seeing the need we really have.

In Christ,

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Godly Stamp of Approval

When taking stock of the sin in a life, we may be tempted to just give up trying to be like Jesus. But did you know that we are mentioned in a prophecy? In Revelation 7:9, John tells of a time when he saw a multitude in Heaven too great to count. The prophecy is: "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands..." That's you and me in that crowd. Sure, we say we don't belong there just yet, but whose word will be fulfilled in that prophecy, ours or God's? I'm quite sure that John in that glorious moment looking on those God saved through His Son did not care what we might have to say about our condition, but marveled at what Jesus the Lord revealed to him about the end.

You and me will never satisfy God's standard as stated in His Law in our own strength and ability. Our Godly stamp of approval is Jesus Christ. Another prophecy in the Revelation speaks of the sealing of God's own. Indeed, as we strive to attain some imaginary level of approval, hoping to salve a smarting conscience perhaps, God has already stamped us approved through His Son Jesus Christ. Our journey may have days or years or even decades to go on this earth, but Jesus has already won us at the cross. In the next verse, John bears witness to the witness of that great multitude: "...and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Of course it does: best we remember that today!

Have a great new week in Christ's service,


Saturday, April 25, 2015

That's It, Time's Up!

“For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” Gen. 7:4 NKJV

On a nice spring day here on the high plains, I bring up one of the more chilling verses in the Bible. Jesus, speaking to His followers on Olivet, told how in the last days life would be going like it was when Noah entered the ark and shut the door. Here we have Noah getting word of the final countdown, the one week remaining to him to enjoy life as it was from the beginning of his years. One week. Think about that one for a bit. What would you or I do with seven more days before the end of all things as we have known them up to this day?

Our promise of the coming day of the Lord speaks of similar destruction, but we have one great advantage over Noah and his little family. We get to go together should the Rapture come this next week. Noah had his family and a bunch of animals, and one week before God rained down destruction on the Earth. I wonder if Noah even had anyone to say 'so long' to after the years of scoffing and bad jokes at his expense? Did Noah love his neighbors and feel sorrow over their coming end? It would not surprise us even in this age of scoffing to know that much of the first weeks on the floating ark were filled with grief. We can only speculate.

Of course, Noah may have had his warning, but that doesn't mean he wasn't busy for that final 7 days. Animals in our day are not the most cooperative when trying to herd them onto a boat, even if it is to save their lives. Noah may well have collapsed exhausted behind the shut door of the ark just as the first drops began to fall. We too will have work to do up to that final day, and since no man knows the day of our Lord's return, we also get no last week warning. However, we do have our faith in Christ and the strength to endure to the end.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, April 24, 2015

What Part Am I?

So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them. - Jeremiah 27:7

Given this verse this morning without context, one might at first think of a prophecy of Jesus until we get to that second part. Wait, our Lord can never be forced to serve another king! Exactly. The context of this prophecy refers to Nebuchadnezzar. We can know this for a certainty because in verse 6 the man is specified by name. Before Daniel arrived in the court, the Spirit of God sent the king a dream many times. Then, Daniel received the interpretation of this dream from the Lord. Separated by some time and distance, Jeremiah the prophet also received the words about Nebuchadnezzar. So, what part do you and me play in the kingdom?

We once thought it good to be a part of the 1%, maybe this is our chance. Then again, when it comes to the work God began long before our birth, our human weaknesses, and how easily the lost sheep wander out of the fold, maybe we are a part of the 1% of 1%. Building a welcoming church building, holding a Bible study, greeting people as they come to our town or state, or any of the other work we do in the kingdom may be just 1% of the work of God, or a whole lot less than that. Yet, after the work of salvation, which is all on God's Son, we do have a part and God would not have us slack off on the performance.

It is interesting to note that by the time of Nebuchadnezzar's grandson, God had been at work for quite some time in this project. Indeed, by the time those of us who will read this devotional came upon the scene and believed in the Lord Jesus, God had been at work for many a century. Nations rose and fell and His command, but still there is a part for you and me to play in building the kingdom of God. Let us play that part with prayer and faith in our Lord Jesus!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Welcoming Place

A couple of people were talking within my hearing yesterday, so I thought that holding their conversation up for public ridicule in the devotional would be the ticket for today. Actually, they just gave me an idea for a subject. A new store opened near our town; it seems there is a problem with the feel of the store for one, and the design, layout, or appearance of the entrance for the second. As a person who developed the PTSD, I can relate to this sort of thing. I have been to places where the ambiance, atmosphere, appearance, architecture or something just didn't sit right with me and all those 'a' words caused another one in me: anxiety. The bottom line for a retail operation is sure to be affected by poor design of an entrance. People must feel welcomed by the entrance first and the remainder of the store as well. What does this mean for us as we help to build Christ's kingdom?

We may easily think that nothing of these things has any bearing on the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit will move those who will believe to come to any ol' church and that our job is to study the Word of God. I'm not so sure that will work for us. God didn't save us through the sacrifice of His Son so that we might check our brain at the door and wander into the church building with an empty head. If our meeting place is not welcoming, the unbeliever has but one more reason never to enter. Of course, the church building is but one example. We must make our Bible study place welcoming, our homes welcoming, and even our personal appearance welcoming to make that contact when the seekers come seeking the Lord.

Now, the specifics of how to do that... Well, that's a subject way too big for this morning or perhaps even for an entire day. As in all challenges in the Christian walk, prayer comes first. Take it to God in prayer.

Have a great day in the Lord!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Let Faith Speak! And Praise the Name of Jesus

It is a fine morning when we awaken without doubts in our minds over Jesus and His salvation. We know that everyday should be that day, but faith seems more destination than dispensation to us today. Faith may appear as that complex exercise that only the truly accomplished Christian can attain and perform. If our doubts cannot send faith reeling this day, then a few rounds with our shame and guilt will do the poor little fighter in for good and all. Yet, faith, that most enduring of qualities comes back stronger and faster. We don't know for sure how this happens, but our faith is not the lightweight and unskilled recruit that showed up that day so long ago. Our faith may not yet be the mighty warrior stepping forth to battle doubt in the fullness of Christ-like power, but it is not what it once was before the many hardships came that first cast doubt upon the salvation we received from Christ the Lord.

We have the promise that Christ will complete the work He began in us. We have a little faith in the beginning that may be quite bold and loud. We have more faith as we endure many a trial in this land of sorrows. God is not slack concerning His promises and though it may appear slow and troubled in growth that faith we have in Christ works out daily and grows stronger, more powerful, and more firmly standing on the rock of our redemption. Fear not, let faith speak and praise the name of Jesus! Little Faith has grown up some since we last looked at what Christ has done in us.

Amen, thank you Lord Jesus!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Good Tidings

What are tidings anyway? Taken out of its context, the title seems a bit odd. We don't seem to do tidings anymore, good, glad, or otherwise. The definition is one we know from many readings of that passage in Luke 2, it is simply news or information. But in Luke 2, the angel brings good tidings of great joy. You might say that the angel brought the gospel. There's more to come! The angel also brought one of those great messages we need: Fear not. We need to hear that message of fear not or don't be afraid often, because we are so often afraid. Then there is the combination: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy..." Not only do we not fear, but we are to behold the good news that is to come. And, just in case a shepherd or two may have entertained thoughts that we frequently have in this age of mental distress, such as, "Oh that message must not be for me, I never get any good news!" The angel says the good tidings are for all people.

Unless you can somehow exclude yourself from the group of all people, you and I must accept that we have this good news to receive and rejoice over. Why then so much difficulty in the world? Anyone can of course fail to believe the message and the messenger. We always have that choice, and much evil follows that unbelief. The shepherds of long ago believed and thus we have that great message of Luke 2:10: "And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.' " How wonderful it is to receive good news on a Monday morning! The angel did not leave the shepherds at that though. The good news was not simply an announcement of good news but the news itself. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

And that is better news for a Monday!


Saturday, April 18, 2015

That Old Hymn

A few of us left on the earth can remember the old hymns sung in church before the turn of the century. Back in my day, I liked the hymns played at a faster tempo. Now that I'm a bit older...I still like the faster ones, I just can't keep up as I used to do. I may need a few more decades before I'm found singing the first verse while everyone else is already on the second, but such things are no longer out of the realm of the possible. What I may have scoffed at back in the days of youth, I understand better as my questions about the old folks got answered by experience one or two at a time. As each birthday passes, those strange creatures known as adults become more understandable to me. Of course I'll never quite catch up, because as Bernard Baruch once said, "To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am."

However, like it or not, at some point I did as Paul said and put away the childish things (well, mostly) and thought as a man. Strangely, at some other unknown point I began growing back toward that childhood thing. The great thing in this is that our Lord promised to never leave us or forsake us. Whether I find myself old in years and young at heart, Christ will be with me. If I find myself middle-aged in years but old at heart, Jesus is there. When I was young in years and ignorant of the older things, Jesus led me through that time too. During all those many years, that old hymn played in my heart even when I wasn't paying attention. Which old hymn? Your choice is as good as mine. Enjoy whichever old hymn seems to suit your occasion or circumstance for today.

Have a great day in Christ!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Who We Need

Two people meet in a saloon back in the Old West. To them it isn't 'old' anything just the West or perhaps 'home', but that's beside the point. As is common in such meetings they begin swapping stories. In this case, the stories are about how bad he or she had it during that one year. The other one strives to top the story with another tale of woe from his or her past. We can tell from our view through that digital broadcast-quality camera all the old time saloons seemed to have that much suffering has happened in both lives.The question is of course who is going to help these poor unfortunates.

We do the same thing and who we need now is the same as the One they needed back in the day. We need Jesus. We need Him because our first tendency is to look to the self and what he or she has to offer to fix the situation. Usually that inventory comes up woefully short of a solution, and then we look to that other person who, as it turns out, has equal or greater woes of his/her own. We all want to be that super-wonder man or woman who has not only the solutions for his or her problems in this life, but also the solutions for our friends, relatives, politicians, government leaders and the fellow we just met on the street. The times we can help another person are a great privilege, but the One we must give credit for that ability is the same One we need in our times of trouble.

In all times, good or bad, we need the One who saves, Jesus our Lord.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

When It Comes to Devotion, It's You Lord!

In the devotional for a day, many things, events, and subjects may come from my experience, a quick reading of a Bible verse, or even something I see in another e-mail message. However, when it comes to the writing of a devotional, it is God, His precious Holy Spirit, and His Son Jesus Christ who make up the object of our devotion. We want to see the Triune God in His holiness, in His almighty ways, His provision, and especially His great love for us.

As faith takes hold of lives given to Christ, we want to hear what the Lord did in the beginning. Facing the end times, we want to hear what God will do and of His great renewal of the earth and heavens. We like to read in the Word, both our favorite stories and those that instruct us in the mistakes and sins that people much like us made back in their day. God's perfect law becomes less a whip to drive us and more of a standard that one day God will create in us. We look forward to the completion of God's work and His Revelation. We most definitely long for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

As our devotion to God grows, so grows our devotion to each other. And thus we learn and grow into those two great commandments Jesus gave to all.

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)


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Fleecing or the Faith?

Calculator, ledgers, lists, pad and pencil, computer, and many, many forms: the basic tools of the taxpayer's trade about mid-April. What a privilege to be a taxpayer again. I'm trying to say that without weeping into my coffee. Jesus told the people to give Caesar his due, in other words to pay their taxes. We may think that our Lord had no idea how big and greedy government would become in our day. Imagine the IRS working on commission. That was the way of the tax collector back in the Roman days. Whatever a tax collector (publicanus) collected over his duty to Rome was his to keep. You might then imagine the temptation to fleece the rich...and then just about everyone else as well. Government-sponsored extortion as a career by people working for an occupying foreign government, do we wonder why the tax collectors were hated?

No doubt when Jesus told the people to render unto Caesar there was some resistance, a little pushback in a few minds. We feel the same when the tax bill cometh. But, what if we do this not simply as civic duty, but as a sign of faith in God's provision? Whether you are the two-months ago type of tax preparer or the not-before-11:59pm-April 15th type, the tax bill probably comes as a burden. If not, then you may have withholding going on from each paycheck. You were taught to share as a child, the government teaches withholding. Go figure...which is just what a lot of taxpayers will be doing today. The taxes may wipe out your savings or dig a new credit card hole for you, but faith reminds that God will restore what the locust has eaten. Today, I kind of like the imagery of the tax collectors as locusts.

Have a faithful day in Christ!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Greater is He

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

This world seeks to throw us down, and easily may it do so when you or I try to stand alone. John points out something profound when he gives us the truth in words - the One in us is greater than the prince of this world. John writes with a paternal flair in this and comfort we gain from it. So often we feel like little children as the powers of the world rage at us, pushing the little Christ-one this way and that. Greater is a good thing when we take stock of our resources and strengths, and find that we most surely need a greater power. Greater is also good when that greater power loves and cherishes His little children. We do not serve an indifferent greater power and He cares for us as a father does his little ones.

Often, I think that I am alone in some circumstance. John's verse this morning tells me the truth of it. He who is in me must needs always be with me else God's love would be less than it is. Greater would become lesser for a time and that just ain't the way our Lord is. Praise God for the paternal affection of John in his letters. A paternal affection modeled on the one the apostle saw in his Father, the Lord our God. Little do we understand how constant and 'greater than' the love our Lord Jesus has for us His children.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Joy in Christ

The times are tough for everyone, just as they have been since Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden. Yes, there are those who prosper in their way, some through wickedness and others through the blessings of God. We may think he or she or that other person has it easy compared to you and me, but most likely there is something we do not see causing suffering that we cannot know. If not, and that person really is prospering in all his ways, then praise God that someone is! Those who believe in Jesus have something that no amount of prosperity can replace: the joy we have in Christ.

Some days it may be difficult to find that joy due to circumstances in this life of ever increasing faith. Other days, that joy may be front and center jumping up and down clutching happiness to its breast. We will know both kinds of days and all those less extreme types of days in between. This morning, you may be having trouble remembering that last day when joy and happiness danced their dance of praise to God. Look forward to the next one, for there will be at least one more for all of us. In the Revelation, John receives a promise for us: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (21:3-4) I think all of us have some former things with us today that we will be overjoyed to see pass away.

Have a joyous day in Christ!


Saturday, April 11, 2015

When The Time Comes

All creatures want to live; that desire resides in all of us and we struggle with accepting death. Of course there is a reason this subject arrives today. The cat outside was walking funny yesterday and I had to wonder how much longer the poor old kitty (about 14 yrs) can make it. This morning, she cannot walk at all, and the pain of moving is about as obvious as it gets in a cat. I'll make her comfortable as much as I can, but Monday morning we'll go to the vet's clinic. Unless there is something going on that I cannot see that can be easily fixed, it is most likely that the cat's time has come. The feelings are tough with a pet, how much worse when the time comes for a friend, a relative, or a spouse?

Is it any wonder we need Jesus to help us with death? The coming of that time is too painful and frightening for us. Yet, Jesus said that He goes to prepare a place for us. Would He then make it terribly difficult to arrive at that place, or will our Lord bring us gently through that door at the end? I suppose the hardest thing may not be our own departure but having to watch others make their way into that place we cannot see. Suffering of any type is terribly difficult to watch.

Entrust your burdens to Christ and I will too.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Grab Yourself a Bit O' The Word

Why can't I think of anything to write about this morning? Too few brain cells active on a Friday morning perhaps? Too many anxious thoughts swirling in the mind maybe? It may well be that I am depending upon myself as is too often the case, and not recalling that Jesus said that we can nothing without Him. I am a dried up branch if I do not remain attached and feeding from the True Vine. To keep this thing going that we call following Christ, I need to grab a bit o' the Word.

Situational awareness leads us to memorize or read passages and verses from the Bible that fit where we are and what is going on at the time. If we are fearful, we might recall the words Paul gave to Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind." Your translation may use 'self-control' in place of 'sound mind', but I like the one quoted in this age of anxiety, depression, and other mental illness. That spirit of fear we hear from so often - not given by God, so we are free to fight it, resist it, and denounce it in the name of Jesus.

Feel a spirit of lust invading your peaceful Friday? Look to the psalm where David had to face his sin and repent before the Lord. What? I'm not giving book, chapter, and verse references today? There are 150 psalms to search through, which one are we talking about here? Ah ha, go on a treasure hunt in the Word of God today; you may find many passages and verses that fit the current attack on your faith. I have found that a treasure hunt in the Word produces results far more often than those other kinds of treasure hunts we engage in.

Have a beautiful Friday in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, April 09, 2015

THE Book to Read

I read a good definition of eternity in the comics this morning: imagine a book that each time you read a gets two pages longer. Now, you only have one book to read, but in which place do you want to spend eternity? Aaaiieee! Do we get to choose the book? I like books, but I also like them to end. A good ending makes a good book into a great read. There is this one good book that we call the good book. It has an awesome beginning full of history, great deeds, and adventure. In the middle is this wonderful peak, perhaps the greatest story ever told. But there is more! This book turns foreshadowing into an art form - all the hints about the future come true in marvelous ways! Want more still? Yes, this book is about life, you, me, what has happened in our great past and a God who loves us. Throughout this book are revelations about our future and a way to have an eternal future in the best of places. Sounds almost too good to be true.

That much we know, for this book pulls no punches when it comes to describing the people who went before us and the condition of us in the here and now. Sin enters the story right near the start and doesn't leave until near the very end. Murderers, rapists, liars, the deceitful and treacherous, and all the worst sorts of people live in these pages and the main character reminds us that we are no better. We have a big bad in this story, a great enemy who stalks us seeking to devour. There is mortal peril that involves eternal condemnation - but also a bright and glorious future eternity just for the admission of sin and belief in a Savior.

Of course you know the book I am referring to and that it is a collection of books of history, prophecy, instruction, law, letters, messages, personal accounts, and God's love. In all our Bible reading and study, we must not miss that last one. God's love is the central theme throughout this great book from Genesis to the Revelation. Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13) How does that make you feel dear friend of Jesus?

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Those Yet To Come

Today may well be the start of that end time with the rapture of the church...or, we may wake up tomorrow and go to work as usual on a Thursday. Generations may yet come to this earth before the Antichrist and the Tribulation and all that begins. Weddings, children, grandchildren and graduations may come to pass before the end times. You and I may be long gone and buried before the day the Lord has set for the return of Christ arrives in all His glory. Like the generation long ago that Paul admonished to get back to work, we may find it easy to quit and wait for the Tribulation. God may tell us in few words or many that our mission is not complete just yet. And it is not such a bad thing to watch the generations come and go while we work.

The Word tells us that the fruit of the womb is a reward from God (Ps 127:3). Jesus told the disciples that in the end days there would be weddings and the many other usual things of life going on right up to the final moments. We yet have time before the final harvest to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. While we do that, we may get married, have children, work at a job, and the many other things that make up our daily life. Nations may rise and fall, rulers come and go, and one or two toe stubs may yet be in store for us in this life. All of us are now hoping that last one isn't true. Toe stubs? What a horrible thought! Where is the joy and love in this message? Alas, all the painful things we hope the rapture of the saints will rescue us from may yet arise in this life. Jesus will see us through!

Have a great day in Christ!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Where Do We Go From Here?

Sunday, the big event: Jesus rose from the dead and the tomb was empty. Monday, tell everyone! Tuesday comes and the question must be asked, where do we go from here? There are those days in the Christian life where no instructions arrive to send us to visit a sick person in the hospital, pray for those in need, or sing a hymn of praise. All these can be done, but the express order line from God is quiet and angelic messengers seem to be in short supply. A sort of pause settles over the land of the Christian. The mighty armies of Heaven are not on maneuver, the assault of the evil one hasn't happened or has finished, and we wonder that same question: Where do we go from here?

It may well be that God has you and me positioned just where He wants us for the time being. A day without big events is something many look forward to in their hectic life. We must enjoy it while we have it. Some Christians are on the move this day and would look at us with a bit of envy should we choose to complain. Gratitude for the times and seasons of pause is our loving response to God. We know that the time of moving for the Lord will come in its due time. Perhaps our next move will be the one where we come home to that place Christ has gone to prepare for us. We may also have many a task to accomplish in Christ before that time too. Where do we go from here? Today, the answer may well be that we stay right here. Praise God for His plans!


Monday, April 06, 2015

Back To Work

The angel gave a message that the risen Jesus would meet the disciples back in Galilee. (Mark 16:7) In Galilee, the disciples quickly began the work of the old life. Jesus arrived to find Peter and the boys fishing once more. After all the great events in Jerusalem, note how easily they went back to the old life. This is not a condemnation of fishing or any other way of making a living, but a demonstration to us that we need Christ and His Holy Spirit always lest we slip back into that old life.

While our salvation is assured in Christ Jesus, we have a tendency to the ol' backsliding into sin. Every bad habit and addiction shares this tendency. Have a bad day at work and there it is, waiting with open arms to welcome back the former sinner. Stop praying for a few days and Mr. Old Life wants to call you buddy again. Give the word of God naught but a passing glance for a few weeks and the old gang of sins stops in for a welcome back party. So...that means all I have to do is pray and read the word each day and perfect sinless life here I come? That sounds much like the answer the Pharisees found: read the scriptures, obey the rules, walk the narrow path each day, and it doesn't hurt to use the Law and our traditions as a bat to beat folks with eh'? If those pious Pharisees of old had the answer, why was our Lord Jesus so hard on them?

That tendency to sin must be rooted out by the Lord's dear Holy Spirit working in us through a lifetime. His work of sanctification goes on until the Lord Jesus welcomes you and me into His heavenly home. Not one of us can qualify under the Law by our efforts. Avoiding sin is good, doing good works is better, but our hope of sanctification lies right where our salvation does: in Christ alone!


Saturday, April 04, 2015

Darkness Covered The Land

I am remarkably non-motivated this morning. Imagine then how the disciples following Jesus of Nazareth felt on this particular day with their Lord in the grave. The world and its prince rejoiced; "Savior, what savior?" they may have said as the priests and Pharisees declared their troubles at an end with this man from Galilee. Many persons throughout the ages have noted a strong capacity in humans to do or think what is worst for us. Pilate asked "What is truth?" of the Man who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." The very Man who stood before Him at the judgment seat was the truth Pilate sought. The religious leaders who looked for the coming of Messiah demanded that same Roman governor execute the Messiah. On this day, many a doubt probably crossed the mind of all the disciples save the one who took his own life. Darkness of a most unfaithful sort indeed covered the land on this day. Yet, what was that light shining in the darkness?

Of course the very worst thing for our eternal life is to reject the very One who holds victory over Death and the grave in His mighty hands. As the new day dawned on a Sunday, Mary Magdalene found a certain tomb standing open that had held the body of a certain dead Savior. Something had gone very wrong with the plans and partying of the world's powers. John and Peter looked into the tomb and found only empty grave clothes and a folded hat. The Roman guards were fled, and then bribed and ordered to spread a lie. Darkness fought back with its usual methods, but the Light had shined forth from a tomb of all places.

Mary asked a 'gardener' what he had done with her Lord's body. Probably not a question the gardeners of the graveyard district received on a regular basis. One would not expect them to play practical jokes on the recently deceased or their grieving relatives and friends. With earthquakes, darkness at midday to afternoon, torn veils in the temple, believing Romans, and forgiven thieves, a person might expect Mary and the disciples to be ready for what happened. Furthermore, Jesus himself told them He would rise again on the third day. Yet, even with all of that they were caught in that spiritual and mental gloom. We surely have trouble believing what is best for us!

Several times and to many people, Jesus would show himself risen over the next month or so, yet they had trouble believing in the Risen Lord. What if Jesus had showed himself to Pilate late one night a week or so later? Maybe those records were classified by the Roman government and buried in a deep vault somewhere. Our Lord had the opportunity to do some ornery things for a while. Imagine our Risen Lord visiting poor old Caiaphas once or twice a day for a month just to say, "Hey!" Meh, probably wouldn't have worked when even those who were intimate with Jesus had trouble recognizing Him in His risen state. That resurrection must be some change; I look forward to it.

Have a wonderful Resurrection Day in Christ Jesus!


Friday, April 03, 2015

A Conflict of Feelings

Snow on the ground, cold in the air, but, but it was just 80-something the other day? Ah, yes, normal weather shifts for the start of spring here on the high plains. On this day though, we must always come back to what our Lord endured: a night without sleep, rushed from court to palace to high priest's house to other places all while bound and standing some sort of false trial. Then, scourging in the Roman manner, striking, crowned with thorns, more pain and suffering and humiliation, before finally carrying at least a stout and heavy wooden crosspiece if not an entire cross to physical collapse, and the ultimate humiliation of death by crucifixion, the worst form of death the old world could invent. Yet, all of that is cause for celebration with us; how can this thing be?

We are caught on every Good Friday with this war of feelings. On the one hand we feel the guilt and shame of what our Lord endured because of our sin. Yet, the cross was a victory of Jesus over death and the grave. By His stripes we are healed and it is through His payment for our sin that we are set free from the law of sin and death. This conflict of feeling is, I believe, exactly what we should feel on this day. We are still in this world and do suffer the curse that sin brought to it, but we also know the relief of laying our sin burden at the foot of the cross. We know more each day of the Truth who is Jesus our Lord, and each day we are set free a bit more on our way to sanctification in Christ. Yet again, each time we sin we feel that awful guilt over what our Lord endured in our place. All on Him.

One day, Christ will end forever this conflict of feelings. Like one final and glorious Resurrection Day, we too will be one with Christ in His glory. No more crying and sorrow and pain as the sin clouds of this earth depart forever. Until that day, ponder on the suffering of our Savior, but also rejoice in what our Lord accomplished on our behalf.

In Christ we live,

Thursday, April 02, 2015

See Well Enough

My dream of earning a fighter pilot's wings ended early in life when I began to acquire a bookish demeanor. In other words, I got glasses in the second grade. Back in the day, we didn't have options such as Lasik surgery to correct us near sighted folk. If someone stole my glasses and I was found asking a tree to return them, I failed the initial examination for fighter pilot school long before I even knew that the Air Force had eye exams. There simply was no sense in showing up at the Air Force recruiter's office when my peers knew already that they wouldn't let the four-eyed fellow pilot so much as an unmanned target drone. In college, while our fraternity president was being courted by the Navy to fly fighter planes, I decided to give boxing a try one evening.

A few of my pledge brothers got together in the chapter room and someone found two pair of training gloves. Not wanting to be found wanting in the courage (or foolhardiness) department, I took off my glasses and entered the 'ring' with one of the bigger pledges in my class. One might argue these many years later whether I walked into one, stood still too long, or just didn't see it coming, but one good whack ended my boxing career right on the spot. Baseball offered much the same in the way of humiliation for me. When the coach said to see the spin of the ball as soon as you can, I was found saying "Ball?" Corrective lenses never seemed to do enough and setting them aside was dangerous to my health. What is all this coming clear about my vision all about?

Paul said that all of that does not matter. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul said: "For now we see through a glass, darkly..." (13:12a) While some may say that means Paul had poor distance vision too, I tend to think the great apostle was telling us how it is here in this life. Even with the Word of God given to us for reading and study, we see poorly what the Bible tells us. We look around at the world but we don't see as we ought through the darkness of sin. It isn't a good or poor vision thing, it's a curse of sin thing. The prophecy of the end time is called a revelation or an unveiling because we need it to see what is coming. However, even with that we have difficulty understanding or seeing well what we face in the Tribulation. Praise God that my Lord Jesus sees all things. Just one more example of my complete dependence Him!


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Quick Fix Sounds Good, But...

Good morning! Could Jesus have somehow beamed the knowledge and gifts of the Spirit into His disciples in one day? Probably, but we must wonder if that quick fix method is always the right one. In this world we have many opportunities for the quick fix. God doesn't always grant that to us and we may wonder over it. The question we may want to ask is: What is the Lord developing or growing in us that requires the long, slow method? In either case, slowly or quickly, we have faith in the Lord's sovereign will and wisdom. A good crop of endurance, patience, or self-control may not grow overnight. A tall plant of faith may shoot up overnight, but may only grow strong through years of weathering ever-increasing storms. This life may seem long to us on one day or short on the next, but always Jesus is right here laboring with us. A long train passes slowly while we wait at the crossing, but it carries a big cargo to its destination.

Betcha can guess where the train analogy comes from! We get one or two by here on a morning. Speaking of patient endurance, Jesus waited through days of knowing all that awaited Him during this Easter week. My anxious imaginary fears are more than enough, I cannot imagine what our Lord endured to save us. Praise God that our Lord endured His mission; we live in Christ!