Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I'm Glad

Good morning on this Tuesday! Saturday's devotional spoke of what many seem to realize: that is both the good and bad of the end times. I'm glad so many of you are watching in these times, heeding Peter's warning to be sober and vigilant. These times do seem like the dimming of the house lights just before the curtain rises on the big show. The signs point to woe for those who do not yet believe or have rejected Jesus. On the other hand, as Pastor Adrian Rogers once noted, it is getting gloriously dark! The darker the world becomes, the more we look forward to the arrival of our Savior.

Why are we so concerned with what others are doing though? My friend from college married his boyfriend a couple of years ago. That doesn't affect my marriage, I ain't got one. The problem is in the Law. God gave us laws because disobeying them is bad for us. When our government stands in opposition to the Law saying, no, this is alright according to our Constitution, then we have a problem. People look to the government for a moral code, restrictions on how to behave, and how to do what is right. When God says this thing is sin, but our government says that it isn't, we have confusion in the ranks.

Fortunately, you and I are not here to judge behavior. We have good news: Jesus.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Recovery and Love

One of the wonderful things I see about the Church is that after a disappointment handed down by the world, we quickly see the recovery and resurgence of love in God's Church. The world will act as it will, following its prince to eventual destruction. However, God is in control and that does not change. We in the Church turn past our shock, anger, and disappointment at bad news to the Good News of Jesus Christ; love and recovery soon follow. Jesus is the Way, and love is what His followers show to the world.

Love begins the two great commandments Jesus spoke to the people. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, and all of your strength. And, equally as important, love your neighbor as yourself. Our Lord said that in those two commandments of love were all of the Law and prophets. As we wake up and get underway this morning, let us remember love in our speech, in writing, in whatever way we communicate to the world. Love shows that we are God's children. Our love for others shows that we love Jesus first. Our love shows God's love working in us. When it is easiest for us to show anger or disappointment toward the world, then it is most important for us to show love instead.

Jesus had reason to spend the three years of His ministry condemning the sin of the world, but He didn't. Instead He came in love: For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Show the world a loving day in Christ!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

When Heaven Calls

An ambassador in a foreign land always keeps one ear open for orders home. The ambassador listens for messages from his government and passes them on to the rulers of the land to which he is assigned; as he works hard at his job, he does not want to miss the call to come home. In the Revelation, there is a prophecy of the fall of Babylon the Great. After notice is given by an angel of the doom of the evil world power, a voice from Heaven calls, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." (Rev 18:4) That is a message we don't want to miss.

I often wonder if we will recognize Babylon the Great when that time comes. Are we living there now? We may do well to keep an ear open for that message from Heaven, for I believe that yesterday the floodgates opened in our land. With the same legal reasoning, others will come to define a privilege that states must not infringe. Bigamy and polygamy must surely follow now, but where will it end? What activity is a privilege and which a crime? Reading the end times prophecies, we often thought that Babylon the Great would form almost overnight and be easily recognized for its sin and depravity. Now we know, Babylon the Great will be raised up one law, one court decision, one executive order, at a time. God's people will be living in the land, and one day may be shocked to hear a message called out over the land they love, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins..."


Friday, June 26, 2015

Where Do The Field Mice Go?

Friday once more! The weekend is upon us and life begins anew each weekend. That must make the boss feel good in an evil despot sort of way. I wonder if pastors ever feel less than serious about a Sunday sermon they are preparing on a Friday? Perhaps the best preparation day is Thursday, because as every pastor knows you don't ever want to be doing a sermon on a Friday. I just made that up, don't know if it's true or not. Friday does however bring out the not completely serious side of me when it comes time to work or write a devotional. This is common throughout the Monday to Friday working world. We tend to feel light-hearted, and, if the work week was particularly tough, maybe a little light-headed on a Friday. Does this make for a lack of work accomplished on a Friday? Maybe for a time, but eventually we all (at least I hope it is all) realize that there are things to accomplish before we take off for the weekend.

According to Leviticus, the mouse ranked among the unclean animals. The Israelites were not to munch on mouse pies or consume mice burgers in their day. This might sound a bit funny until you realize that grain was a staple and mice really like grain. Did unclean mean that mice had to be kept out of fields? If so, where do the field mice go? Of course, unclean meant certain animal were not on the diet, not that they could be easily avoided. On the other hand, it gave the Israelites a God-given command to learn about grain storage and keeping food from those ever-searching little mice.

We sometimes rebel against a command of our Lord while failing to see the practical side of the Law. Obey the Lord's commandment and reject coveting your neighbor's wife and there is much less chance of adultery. Also we then obey the command Jesus gave to love your neighbor as yourself. And all of the neighborhood has peace when the commands of our Lord are obeyed, making home a much better place to live and sleep!

Have a productive Friday in Christ!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pausing for Reflection

You may have tried this at a job sometime back in the day and met with a supervisor who thought there should be no pause in your day other than those mandated by the company. Thoughts or reflections are often not valued by a company. Actions can be seen and measured, reported on charts and graphs, and analysed in meetings (ironically where any productive thinking usually stops). You may have run into the manager who claims that thinking is above your pay grade, job, or position, and means it too! I had that experience a few times. Of course, doing nothing but thinking and reflecting doesn't help a company either. Action must follow; whether it be the discarding of a boneheaded idea or putting into practice a great idea.

After Jesus went to John the Baptist to start His ministry, He didn't sit out in the wilderness and think for 3 years. Our Lord was a man of action and reflection. Pausing for reflection implies that we have action on either side of the pause. Prayer is an action. Good deeds done in love are actions. Worship of God is an action. We have many avenues of action, and good reason for the pauses to reflect and think. Prayer is also a reflection. We work best with both the action and the reflection.

In our ministry, reflection in prayer is a good start to any action, for not all of our intended actions are godly and good. Those boneheaded ideas still creep up from time to time. Many times have I wished a bit more prayerful reflection had preceded one of my boneheaded actions! Praise God for grace and forgiveness.

Have a reflective and action-filled day in Christ!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Power of Life and Death

A man lays on the operating table fully conscious. The doctor approaches his IV with one of those big stickers in hand. Fortunately for the man, the needle goes into the tubes and not into some painfully sensitive part of his anatomy. The doctor warns the man, "Lie very still now, too much of this too quickly will kill you!" The man, upon his life, lays very still. Later, he begins to wonder, why then have that much of the deadly stuff in the big sticker? Is the doctor too lazy to bring multiple doses? Is the administering of such stuff a boost to the doctor's ego? After all, for just a moment the doctor will appear to have the power of life and death over the man.

It may sound more like a Hollywood script than actual medicine, but don't be so sure. We are often tempted by the thought of mortal power over our neighbors. Despots appear to have it, and for a time may use it indiscriminately. Pilate thought he had it over one man as He stood before the mob demanding His crucifixion. Jesus reminded the Roman governor that only if granted from above would that power belong to him. (see John 19:10-11). In Job, we read that even the prince of this world had power only up to the point God allowed over Job's life. Through the use of a government power or a weapon of some sort, many think they hold that mortal authority. Indeed, many human lives are ended in just that way.

However, that is but a temporary thing. Pilate's solution to Jesus didn't last; our Lord rose again on the third day. Jesus raised Lazarus and several others from death. Something about this death power thing does not last long, like perhaps the ultimate authority rests above, as Jesus told Pilate. The governor perhaps thought that Jesus referred to Rome and Caesar in His statement, but we know that above for Jesus is above for those who follow Him, and that means God. That power of life and death rests in God alone, and He loves us. As Job concluded in faith even as he mourned his children, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (1:21b)


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Not for Naught

These days we may sometimes hear a coworker say something like, "I ain't doing it for nothing!" A couple of years back that didn't happen as employers found themselves with a weak jobs market due to the Great Recession. Employees, fearful of joining the legions of the unemployed, did in fact take on extra work for nothing. As the economy recovers, workers may one day find the ability to give a firm 'no' once again, and get to keep their jobs. Your situation at work may of course have nothing to do with the recession or recovery.

Sometimes our work for Christ seems like all work and no pay. This is obviously the wrong view and fails to take into account the value of eternal life given to us by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. God gave everything to save us; who are we to demand something so corruptible as money? These sorts of thoughts are the flaming darts of the devil that Paul warned us about. God withholds nothing that is needful for us, including His wonderful Word and the Holy Spirit our guide and advocate. We have protection we do not know and provision we sometimes fail to realize in this life. And, in the end, Jesus promises to return and bring His reward with Him. We labor not for naught!

When the evil thoughts fall away and we get to that place where the return of our Lord is reward enough for all our labors, then, Jesus returns with reward for all our labors! Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus!


Monday, June 22, 2015


If you are tempted to think that you are indispensable at work, you are most likely deceived. On the other hand, the boss may let you know that you are quite dispensable on a weekly or even a daily basis. We live in an age where no one gets the indispensable label at work anymore. Companies that once cut back by firing the workers with the least time in service, now start with the long-time and senior employees. Some people work hard at education, piling up degrees in hopes of gaining that indispensable tag. Others work long hours, perhaps ignoring health and family in order to be indispensable to the firm. Some even start their own company for the supposed security that ownership brings...only to find that customers don't consider their company any less dispensable than any other. The world it seems is a tough place to live and work. No surprise there, God said that very thing just after sending an angel to chase Adam and Eve from Eden.

Then, God sent His Son to tell us that we are quite indispensable to Him. Every lost sheep is found and accounted for, not one is turned away. When the Son went to Jerusalem to do His duty at the cross, He died for every one of His sheep. There are no cutbacks, RIFs, layoffs, or company failures in the Kingdom of God. Each and every found sheep has a task to perform in building the kingdom. All of us have a Savior who lives for us daily. We are adopted into the family of God, and the sons and daughters are never cut loose. Those sheep who feel prodigal for a season are awaited by the Father with eager anticipation and welcomed home with delight and rejoicing. The cross proved how far God went to bring all of us back, for we are all indispensable to Him.

Now, have a better day in Christ!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Endure, Not the Most Pleasant Command

Ah, Saturday! We could endure the weekend quite a bit longer if only it weren't just two days. The command in the Word to endure to the end generally isn't our favorite among the commands our Lord gave to us. Love, peace, abundant life, rejoice, these sound much better. Endurance speaks of pain, stress, sacrifice, and other things we don't enjoy quite so much in the moment. Paul wrote to Timothy: "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Tim 2:3) That, just doesn't sound like lots of fun and giggles are headed our way!

I don't know how Timothy took that command, but this "you" would rather hear that I must endure years of joyous living with abundant wealth and good company. The flesh wants it easy. A good soldier, or Marine in my case, endures much during a term of service. We don't always enjoy it in the moment, but at the end we do have a pride of accomplishment. Remembering our gratitude to God for seeing us through makes it all the better. The reason to endure hardship is the building of our faith; the help we need to endure we find in Christ Jesus. Being a good soldier of Jesus Christ mostly comes in the 'of Jesus Christ' part. We add effort and longsuffering for the love of our Lord; He gives us the strength to endure from His great storehouse of love, strength, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness, and all the other fruits of the Spirit in His massive store. The love of Jesus gives us what we need to be good soldiers of Christ.

Have a productive Saturday in the love of Jesus!


Friday, June 19, 2015

When Prayer Involves Friends

Job suffered much loss in his life when the devil was allowed to have his way with Job for a time. We like the restoration part of Job's life right after his repentance, but do we realize quite what the Word says?

And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)

This, of course, is not some magic incantation. We may be tempted to think when we're down that running a few prayers about our friends through the mouth will get us double what we lost, but that is not exactly what is said here. Eh? It appears to say exactly that? Yes, but we know the LORD sees into the heart of man. Go into that prayer with gain for yourself in mind and it is nothing but the selfish prayers we've spoken before. What the Word would have us to do is pray selflessly as Jesus did. Job prayed for his friends with no thought for getting something for himself, and then the Lord poured out the blessings upon the man.

It is easy for us to take words from the Bible, such as that passage about tithing, and then give or pray with that thought of getting deep down in the darkness of the mind where we don't want to admit that selfish avarice still lurks. Perhaps we are keeping it for a rainy day or something. Take it to the Lord and confess it. Pray for your friends without the thought of gain for yourself. Watch, and don't expect selfish gain, what the Lord will do with a selfless prayer.

Enjoy a prayerful day in Christ!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

God's Will is Best For Me

What is trust but understanding that God's will is the best for me? It isn't easy: whether from an accumulation of experience in our older years or the sharp intelligence all young folks think they have, we tend to think we know what our needs are when we come to God in prayer. If either were correct, we wouldn't need the Holy Spirit making intercession for us. It's funny that we seem to know when a child is spoiled through being given everything he or she wants, but we come to God saying nothing but the I-wants and I-needs as we see them. As I write, it is from personal experience that I speak. I'm no better than anyone else in this!

If I were given a transcript of all my past prayers, I might be well ashamed to see how much like a Santa Claus list it appeared. I hope that as the years have gone by I would see some improvement as I read through that transcript, but some days I still catch myself praying the same old I-wants that have gone before. Yet, there was David saying, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Why did he have to go and say that? One thing I know though, even in those days when my prayer has the taint of selfishness, I'm talking to God and pouring out my heart to Him. If my prayer has a sickness, my God is a healing power second to none. My prayers may not be perfect, pretty sure they are not, but coming to God in prayer is the way to the cleansing power of Christ's blood. Add the intercession of God's Holy Spirit, and I can be sure my Lord gets what He wants from me in prayer.

His will be done!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Conductor

Back in the day, a man went down to the recruiter's office and joined the train corps. More than anything the man wanted to be an engineer and guide trains down the track safely and efficiently. The recruiter was a sly one, as the breed tends to be, and told the man that all engineers begin as track repairmen first. By a stroke of fortune, however, the man had arrived at just the time the train corps was short of conductors. He could skip ahead of all those rail pounders, if he signed up that day. The man couldn't believe his luck and immediately signed the contract without really reading it.

A couple of weeks pass in conductor school, and the man graduates to actually riding on a real train. The engineer points to a steering wheel and tells the new conductor to keep the train on the tracks at all times. The engineer explains with a perfectly straight face, that he only controls the brakes and something oddly named the reverser. With careful attention to his duties the man steers the train up and down the tracks for 20 years. Proud of his safety record, the conductor takes his eyes off the tracks one day and looks around a bit. The train is crossing a field filled with wildflowers, it's beautiful. He sneezes. Suddenly, the conductor with the perfect safety record realizes that with a sneeze and a jerk of the wheel, he has ruined all. Looking up, the train runs down the track just as it always has. He jerks the wheel back the other way. Nothing. Wait a minute...

Without Jesus, that is what you and I accomplish. Without Jesus, our steering wheel ain't connected to anything!

Have a great day in Christ!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Without Jesus, the Story Ain't Much

This morning in our Bible study we read the story of Lazarus. Not much is known about this man other than Jesus raised him from the dead. Without Jesus, the story of Lazarus amounts to a note about a man who lived with two of his sisters in the town of Bethany, and then he got sick and died. We know stories like that in this age, and they are quite common. In fact, any of us could take sick and die at any time. What makes this story special is what Jesus did. That is what makes my story special, and the very thing that makes your story great.

When Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been rotting in the grave for four days. The mourners and comforters have gathered, and the sisters Mary and Martha are hosting a pity party. Nothing even that unusual there, but Jesus tells them to roll the stone away. Yikes! Over Martha's protest, Jesus has them do the dirty deed, and then with a short prayer of thanksgiving, calls Lazarus to come out. Yeah, right, a dead man four days gone? Lazarus obeys. Whoa, the story then becomes that special story we know so well from countless Bible studies and sermons. All because of what Jesus did in this man's life and, um, death.

Your story and mine goes much the same. The tale is nothing special until Jesus comes into our lives. Then we have rebirth, life abundantly, peace, tribulation, and in the proper time, resurrection and eternal life with a great wedding thrown in. Now that's a tale to tell around the campfire!

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Thousand Things

This life seems filled with a thousand things that demand our attention. Duties around the home, assignments at work, relationship building, or just things that we want to do all demand time and effort of us. Sit where you are and think for a moment of all that you need to be doing, could be doing, or just-can't-get-to-it-today doing. An overwhelming list may present itself for your inspection and despair. And if you run out of things for yourself, ask of another, particularly a boss or a spouse, and you may find the list immediately doubled! Did any one of us think to ask God today what He would have us to do? Oh no! Surely a never ending, God-sized list is headed our way.

Maybe, but just maybe the list God would hand to us might say something like, "Abide in Me". We may expect a thousand things on this list, but it may simply say, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you." We expect more tasks than we can handle, but God may well give us that little bit from John 14:27. Think of someone you want to spend time with. Did you want that person fluttering about doing a thousand things while spending a tiny bit of their time with you? No? It may well be that God doesn't want that either.

We will have much work to do on this day, but perhaps number one on that list should be: Spend time with God, quietly, without haste or worry. Delight in Him as He delights in you and me.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Third Day

Ah, the third day of camp cooking! This one arrived faster than any one that came before. Many scrambled eggs have given their little lives for meals thus far. What do you mean that a scrambled egg isn't a critter? I caught two just last night, and they made some good eating too! Whatever your opinion, we often celebrate a third day. For us the third day of most any event reminds us of our risen Christ. We can't help it. The rebirth put us in mind of the resurrection. The third day tells of a new beginning, a casting off of the old and a putting on of the new. Although the excitement of the chase in our youth has given way to 'chasing' down motionless eggs trapped in their little cartons inside a refrigerator, we look forward on a third day to a new life in Christ.

Wow, sometimes my silly imagery leaves me wordless. It must be a Saturday and the third day of camp cooking. I'm glad that Jesus accepts silly writers as well as the reserved bankers, quiet librarians, and mortified morticians of our day.

Enjoy a wonderful weekend in our wonderful Lord Jesus!


Friday, June 12, 2015

Who Are You?

Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”
And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. (John 8:25)

I see from this morning's Bible verse that Jesus was not a stranger to those who asked the question and that the question had already been answered. Why then did that group of people so often called 'they' continue asking? They seem to be always with us and the answer is always the same. They are those who refuse to believe in the Christ no matter what He said to them or how many of the sick He healed or how many blind eyes He opened. They did not want to believe and so they hoped perhaps for another answer when they asked once more, "Who are you?"

Jesus, of course, reminded them that He had given that answer already. The Son of God does not change any more than His Father in Heaven. We have a constant and steadfast Savior. Perfection does not need to change. The Almighty would be something less if He changed from His all mightiness. Yet, the world continues to hope for a different answer. One more to their liking, maybe even one just like them.

We know that He is Lord!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

In the Morning, When I Rise...Early

The annual service of the breakfast cooking has arrived at an early hour. As 'early' was much on my mind today, for some reason or other, I ran a search on 'early' in the New King James version of the Bible and found 83 instances to work with. Back in the day they made note of early risings too, probably because like me they felt that an early rising merited some consideration, maybe. God is always up, I'm not sure that I can impress Him with an early rising. Job got up early for a rather interesting reason.

So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly. (Job 1:5)

Job got up early for his beloved children. The reason he uses is even more interesting: "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." What? I thought that the mental sins only came after Jesus said so in the New Testament. No, it seems that sin, by thought or deed, has not changed. Jesus simply reminded His followers of what Job already knew way back in ancient times: God knows all our sins, whether we keep them locked up behind our closed lips or actually commit them where they can be seen. Job loved so much that he offered an early sacrifice in case there was an unspoken sin. Jesus loved so much that He died for all sins: the ones we think and the ones we do.

Thank you, Lord, for the forgiving of our sinful thoughts! Amen.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Broken Strength

​“For by strength no man shall prevail.
​​The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces;
​​From heaven He will thunder against them.
​​The LORD will judge the ends of the earth." (1 Samuel 2:9b-10)

That first part of the quote strikes at the heart of my earthly desires. It is by strength that I want to prevail in my fantasy visions. Feeding those fantasies are any number of novels, movies, shows and comic books that encourage us in that direction. Who doesn't want to be a superman? Who wouldn't like some super power?

Of course in our comic book fantasies the hero does not become overwhelmed by pride and arrogance. He or she does not look down on the little folks but continues selflessly serving the undeserving ones. You and I would likely succumb to the pull of pride just like those in this world who gain a little more than their fellows upon the earth. Does the puffed up prideful person ever wonder whether he or she has become an adversary of the Lord?

We ought to be careful in this regard. When I attempt to prevail by my strength without that prayer and supplication which marks the Christian I may well be working against my God in an adversarial effort. Such efforts are doomed to judgment, and I certainly don't want God thundering against me!

Have a grateful day in Christ!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

How Often Apologies

Summer makes its first visit today...I probably already said that last week, or the week before, or sometime back in the day. Hot day expected today, whatever babbling nonsense I may write. How often do you say, "I'm sorry, Lord?" I find myself doing it quite a bit more than I would like. Language of an unsavory nature I learned back in the day still creeps up to the surface every now and then. Sinful thoughts arrive almost before I can stop them. Fortunately, as Jesus has grown in me, I don't have to apologize for quite as many deeds as in the past, but Jesus also said that those thoughts count the same. It's a good thing that my salvation is not about some big scale with the good on one side and the bad on the other.

We live in grace, but that should not lead us to take sin lightly. Apologizing and asking forgiveness of God seems like a daily thing with us. Hmm, could be that Jesus gave us something in the Lord's Prayer that speaks to that. Forgiveness of sins and the word daily occur somewhere in there, probably there is good reason for that. Daily bread, daily forgiveness, the need for both seems to decrease a bit with age. Some great day, we will have no more need for the one, perhaps we can enjoy the other without guilt too.

Have a great Tuesday,

Monday, June 08, 2015

Blessed With His Life

Not one of us can die to save anyone. My death will not bring saving grace to you, and your death will not give me eternal life. Jesus alone died to save us all. However, we are also blessed with His life. By following our Lord, we too can bless others with our life. Think of a Christian, famous or simply a neighbor, who blessed you through actions or words; he or she blessed you with life. Each of us in Christ has that ability to bring blessing through living. Yes, it may also work the other way.

A Monday is one of those days when many go into work and quite fail to bless others. Some of it is that their job is a terrible fit for the type of person they are, but they gotta work for that money. Much of the problem may well be that we are often told that Mondays should somehow be that way. Faith in Christ Jesus says that it need not be that way for us.

Today, as it is a Monday again, let us make every effort to bless others with our life. Look to Christ for the strength to do this. You and I cannot do it alone, but a smile on a Monday may be one of our best witnesses to the changes Christ has made in us.

Have a blessed Monday in Jesus!


Saturday, June 06, 2015

No One In History

We sometimes look back upon historical names and use this one or that as an example of evil. Surely, there are many examples for us in this regard. However, not one of those could not have been saved by the blood of Jesus. No one in history is too bad or evil to be saved by the blood of the Lamb. Are all those saved? That we do not know, for each can make the choice to believe in Christ even up to that last moment of life. Even the suicidal disciple of Christ might have repented even as he carried out the hanging act upon himself. Yet, it is not the degree of the evil acts that is in question.

When we question whether a person or our self can be saved, we question the ability of God to forgive. We doubt the efficacy of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. These are heinous sins indeed! But we are wrong to ever doubt that crimson flow from the Son of God. Nothing but the foolish choice to never believe can stop the cleansing blood of Jesus from saving anyone.

Go with God!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Lies They Tell Us

Jesus told us about the devil in John 8:44. In just a few words we find that the devil is a murderer and a liar. Those who live under the yoke of the prince of this world will behave as he does. The lies they tell us should come as no surprise to us. However, if the world constantly told us lies then we should have no trouble discerning truth. The lies are mixed in with facts, hidden in true stories, buried in red tape, camouflaged, obscured, and of course lied about.

Almost no one is fooled by one who lies constantly. His stories grow more outlandish with each telling and the likelihood of his facts become the stuff of bad fiction. A stranger in town may be taken in for a bit, but soon he too sees the constant liars game. What we are up against is far more difficult. Look at the temptations of Christ: the devil used scripture to tempt the Lord to sin. In much the same way, those who believe in Jesus will also face the temptation by scripture. We will hear the lies that sound good. Scripture will be quoted to us in ways that give the flesh excuse for behavior that is not like Christ. Our defense? Scripture.

What? The same words used to mislead us are also our best hope? Not quite. Jesus answered the devil with the Word, and so must we. However, where our Lord was tempted by the enemy to use the promise of God in a selfish and self-serving way, He answered with words that glorified God. It isn't that Jesus didn't need food for His body, He very much did after 40 days without any, but that He could not obey a command of the devil. Serving Himself by obeying the rebel enemy was the test Jesus faced in an extreme circumstance but our Lord did not fall. Serving herself in normal circumstances at the command of the enemy was what Eve faced, but she fell and brought Adam along with her. Eve needed food for her body too, but not from that tree in disobedience to God's command and not in obedience to the Serpent.

We face the same testing. Using God's word to serve ourselves at the command of the enemy may change a good scriptural promise into a bad sin. We must obey God above all, and sometimes that may mean skipping something that the enemy encourages or commands us to do. Seem confusing? Discernment or wisdom may well be one of the toughest Christian skills to master. Praise God we have the Master to help us.


Thursday, June 04, 2015

Listen, Hear the Sound of Suffering

One of the qualities of God we see much in the scriptures is His listening. James tells us that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. As we know this cannot be from any power or effectiveness that we possess alone, it must therefore come from God's listening. Jesus appeared to speak quite a bit in the four gospels, but any of us could easily speak all the written words of Christ in a day or less. What He did much in the same gospels was to listen, and hear the words both spoken and unspoken all around Him. Think of all the prayers God must hear in a single day or even just one hour; yet, we are assured that all are heard by our Lord. That short, intense prayer for help comes quickly, but the Lord hears all of it and more!

We too, as disciples of our Lord Jesus must learn to listen and hear the voice of suffering around us. We don't always do it well, thinking perhaps that our talking is the way to the heart of those in need. The distractions and duties of a life in this world also work against our hearing the suffering all around us. And, there is of course our suffering too that takes up our attention as we pour out our distress to the Lord. What should remind us that others are hurting as we are does not always register with us even in prayer. Our duty of love is clear, listen! Hear the sound of suffering and lift up the sufferer to the Lord in prayer.

May God have mercy on this world,


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Vanquished By the Little Ones

What began as a dry spring turned in May to plentiful rain and a bit of snow. Now, we begin to reap the benefits including a veritable army of little flying creatures. Generally, these LFCs come in flavors, such as some seem to enjoy the shade while others are more sun oriented. These latest ones appear to simply like human wherever they can get it and their flavor is not exactly tasty or palatable. I don't know how many there are, but yesterday the consensus was simply: too many. As I pondered this, I realize that little sins can vanquish us even as we guard against the big ones. Furthermore, I probably have written a devotional very much like that at about the same time of the year, perhaps more than once. It may be that the little flying creatures bug me just too much!

We have an ambassadorship here on this earth. However, we also have this wonderful heavenly home that we have not seen. We long to be there, but our job is here. When something bugs us about here, we like to see in the prophets that it won't be there. Finding it in the Law wouldn't be so bad either. Something like: There shalt be-eth no annoying-ish little bugs in Heaven. Of course the Law and the prophets had more serious fare than addressing what bothers me or you at this time of the year.

Praise God our Lord Jesus came to cure a deeper need than our little irritations and annoyances. We have a savior who loves us so much that He died to cure our sin illness, now and forever.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

That Which Lies in Reach

The usual spring thunderstorms-in-the-night event arrived last night. Me and the cat both looked a little sleep deprived and spooked this morning. Last night, I thought on temptation. There are some temptations that are immediate and seemingly impossible to resist. I'm thinking of say an open sack of your or my favorite candies in the house. Your willpower may be powerful, a thing of beauty to behold, but I can tell you that in my house the remainder of that sack of candy is toast. As long as the temptation lies within reach, my willpower is a weak and sickly thing that fails in the test. On the other side of that is that ten million dollar mansion on the edge of town. We are probably good at resisting that because the 20% down payment is so far beyond our means that we laugh at any temptation to purchase that house. It's those temptations that lie within reach that get us.

When the devil tempted our Lord in the wilderness, it wasn't with wild and far out things. Jesus could certainly have turned those loaf-shaped stones into bread. The angels would have saved the Lord from a terrible fall at His command. And, the devil did gain the dominion over the world when Adam gave it up, and might have ceded rule of the kingdoms to Jesus (or he may well have been lying). All the temptations the devil threw out there were within our Lord's reach, but Jesus reached for none of them. He answered the temptation with scripture.

I can say with some certainty that there is a lesson in that for you and me.

Have a scriptural day in Christ!

Monday, June 01, 2015

No Condemnation

"Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:11)

One of our worst fears is realized here in this story. Caught in the very act of sin, the woman is hauled by the authorities before the public and then before God in the person of Jesus. Faced with certain death at the hands of the religious authorities, what more can she expect from the ultimate authority of the Law? But it ain't so! Jesus first gets rid of her accusers and then refuses to condemn. Fear of public shaming, a painful death, and eternal punishment - take your pick of the worst fears, but none happen! She is in a way given a new life, reborn by Christ Himself. Not a doom of pain forever, but an impossible command: go and sin no more.

We have no hope in ourselves of obeying that command. By faith, we know that Jesus would not send the woman away without sending His Holy Spirit, knowing also that He would pay for her sin by His blood, and having planned for the grace of God. 'Go and sin no more' is a provision where we see an impossibility. A new life given where condemnation sat before. The woman is not told to go back to her lover and continue in the same old life though. Where she faced the mob of accusers, now she faces her Lord and Savior. What will she do with this new life?

Some stories in God's word just bear repeating. Have a great June in Christ!