Friday, July 31, 2015

A Nice House Don't Fix Much

Experience and listening have taught me that many of our problems cannot be fixed by a nice house. This of course does not stop folks from buying and selling in the real estate market, wishing and working, and dreaming of that perfect home. Before we condemn all the house dreamers though, a shack in the desert may fix even less. When it comes to despair, fear, anxiety, worry, and quite a few other emotional problems, our houses and homes on this earth just don't provide much of an answer. People can despair of life and its problems in a nice home much the same as in a hut or a tent. Financial problems may be far worse in a nice home where the payments can eat up all a person's reserves in a very short time.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
​​They labor in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1a)

The first two lines of the psalm today tell us that we must look elsewhere first for our answers. A nice house is indeed nice and we wish that everyone had one to live in. However, as most of us have realized by now in this world, nice stuff doesn't solve those problems we need solved the most. Our first and best answer to the ills of sin has been and always will be our Lord Jesus. We may do a lot of vain laboring if we don't first look to our Lord.

Enjoy this last great day in July in the grace and love of our Savior!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Persistent Knocker

A woodpecker has been entertaining us each morning this week. Not to worry, he doesn't start until the sun comes up. I admire the persistence of the beast, even as I hope for a change in the tune he plays. Do we remember that Jesus told us to keep on knocking and asking? Sure we do, but somehow I get the impression that my persistence will wear down God's will in some matter, and I'm purty sure that Jesus didn't mean that at all.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matt 7:7-12)

Hmm, it could seem to read that way but that is only with my focus on me where of course it doesn't belong as a child of the King. The love of God is what I see in this passage and the persistence of effort in faith as we follow Christ. We come to God persistently to let Him know of our faith and trust, not to wear out the ears of the Almighty, as if that were possible. We take action first by giving to and treating others as we would like to receive and be treated. If I can at all make an impression on God with persistence in asking, seeking, and knocking, how much more then can I impress God with persistence in giving and doing good to others? Indeed in Mark 7:24-30 we can read of the Gentile woman persistently asking for her daughter, and in time Jesus took notice of her faith and worship (and persistence!), and cast out the demon.

Have a pleasantly, selflessly, persistent day in Christ!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

God's Delicate Balance

What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? (1 Cor 4:21)

Paul asked the Corinthian believers a question, and it doesn't take a genius to guess which they would prefer. None of us like the rod of correction and few indeed would prefer it over a spirit of gentleness brought with love. When we are transplanted to a new community or group, we may want to wade in with the rod of correction. The imaginary feeling is good, all will see our rightness, and easily we fantasize a hero's welcome. However, in this context we may well be that 800-lb gorilla standing off to the side of the little merry-go-round.

God has delicately balanced the community and given to each a special place in it. Some kick harder while others do more balancing. Not all of the riders push at the same time, and some do more as others take a break. The wheel keeps on turning according to God's plan. But wait! The gorilla feels the urge to take a run and jump in with both feet to that small space God reserved just for one transplanted brother in Christ. Obviously, should God allow that gorilla leap, people will go flying and get hurt. The delicate balance achieved over decades may be thrown far off and never recover.

What may be tempting and seem right to us may be the wrong thing at the wrong time. The rod of correction from Paul might well have been the 800-lb gorilla leaping onto the delicately balanced platform of the turning wheel. We might easily fall into that same trap in our thinking. So, Paul asked in a letter which the church would prefer, and likely that was more than enough to get their attention. Paul was their spiritual authority, prophet, and teacher, quite easily able to send people flying with the rod of correction. Gentleness and love are the answers for us, just as Paul gave the choice of those better methods to his fellow Christ-ones.

Have a gently loving day in Jesus!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Right Where He Wants Me

A passage in the gospels contains the very words of Christ, but there is just one problem: I don't seem to have a clue what the Lord said. We run into these passages in the Word, and like the disciples before us, we are left babbling and confused. What did the Lord tell me to do in this verse? How can I obey when I don't know what He said in that chapter? One possibility of course is that our Lord Jesus wanted His disciples, including those living today, to remember always that He alone understands all and we only need to trust in Him. We may not understand many passages that our Lord spoke until we see Him at His return. By this, we may come to realize our complete dependence on God.

The treasure of the Word requires study, and steadfast faithful study it must be for us to arrive at that point where we understand all we need to know from the Word of God. Some jewels in the treasure are near the surface and easy for new believers to grab onto, while other jewels are buried deep and will require a lifetime of digging for us to grasp. Some of the jewels in the Word may be reserved for Heaven too. As we continue our study though, we rest in the assurance that God will reveal more as He increases our proficiency in understanding His Word.

Enjoy a studious Tuesday in the Word!

Monday, July 27, 2015

It Helps to Say Thanks

The bird calls out on a July morning. How can the same bird who makes a pleasant cooing sound also make that harsh cawing sound? Have you noticed a multiplication of sufferings since you came to believe in Jesus? The writer of Hebrews noted the same thing many years ago. "But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings." (10:32) It seems that after salvation we may enjoy the fulfillment of one or two of our Lord's promises: the world turns its hatred upon us and we have many tribulations. Of course if those are fulfilled, can we not expect the many other and better promises our Lord spoke to come true as well?

The same mouth that cries out, "Oh, I am afflicted!" can also speak the gentle words of gratitude to God. We have the down payment of many great promises in the Holy Spirit; surely our gratitude can begin there. The promise to return and take us to a heavenly home comes all the more easily to mind when we endure sufferings in our earthly home. But not all of the Lord's promises only come in the sweet by and by, as the old hymn goes. The promise of peace and joy, grace and mercy, and God's steadfast love all come true in the harsh here and now. Seasons beside the still waters and banquets in green pastures we can look forward to in this lifetime. Hmm, I might be mixing a few biblical metaphors there.

Even on a Monday morning we can put some gratitude in our attitude by recalling the One who died to save us. What gentleness and grace our Lord showed to His sheep lost in sin. What compassion from God our Father to send His Son to take the death we deserved. What marvelous grace and mercy the Lord gives to us each and every morning! What a joy to know the Lord Jesus a bit more each day! Yes, it helps to recall the Lord's goodness on a nice morning, and say "Thanks, Lord!"

Have a great Monday in Christ Jesus!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Anger Turned Away

And in that day you will say:​
​​"O LORD, I will praise You;
​​Though You were angry with me,
​​Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me." (Isaiah 12:1)

In chapter 12, Isaiah writes a hymn of praise that will be sung by another at a future time. "In that day..." the psalm will begin with gratitude for an escape. The Lord's anger is turned away. What turns the coming wrath? What changes the deserved woe to comforting? Repentance is not mentioned, yet the Lord turns from anger to comforting. What can cause such a change in attitude toward you and me? We may repent but how long will that change of heart last when dependent upon our weakness? Something more must change God's feeling toward this poor sinner.

For this, we must turn to something in God our Father. What in God's word indicates some quality so great that the Lord's anger is turned to comforting? Even during a repentance such as of David or Hezekiah, what is it that turns anger to comfort for the lost sheep? God is always right, and therefore right to be angry with the sinner. Yet, here is this great change. What satisfied the just anger of our Lord? The title of Dr. Jeremiah's devotional keeps reminding me this morning off to the side on my screen; that title is of course, "Christ the Cure".

We know from our study of the Word of God that this man, Jesus, satisfied God's anger and turned it to comforting. At this future date, we can all sing praises to God because His anger was turned by His Son at Calvary. Nothing we did changed God's anger at sin, something greater, the greatest love of all, effected a cure for us. God's great love for His Son splashes all over us while His anger died at the cross. Jesus sent to us the Comforter after He satisfied the anger of His Father, forevermore. Daily we are comforted where once God's anger was our just due. "O Lord, I will praise You!"


Thursday, July 23, 2015

His Love Endures Forever

Reading the Bible and thinking about what God's love has endured already, we see much reason to be relieved. Yes, God did punish the children of Israel but His love did not stop. God left the temple as Ezekiel bore witness but His love remained steadfast. Daniel watched God's love in action, as did David, and John, and Peter. The great tribulation will come, but God's love does not stop. How do we know this? If at any point in all of that God's love had stopped, the children of Israel would not have been able to say that His love endures forever.

Foolish indeed would be the psalm that went something like, 'Great is His love that endures forever...except for that time back in the wilderness and that one time by the Nile, oh, and that other time at...' We cannot accuse God that way and neither did the psalm writers back in their day. God's gracious love endures forever we sing along with the saints of ages past. Though our sins match theirs in every way still we say that God's love endures forever. What remarkable steadfast love our Lord has for us that He would send His Son to save us!

Live in the love of God this day,

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Complaint to the Lord

​ O LORD, how long shall I cry,
​​And You will not hear?
​​Even cry out to You, “Violence!”
​​And You will not save.

​​ Why do You show me iniquity,
​​And cause me to see trouble?
​​For plundering and violence are before me;
​​There is strife, and contention arises.

​​Therefore the law is powerless,
​​And justice never goes forth.
​​For the wicked surround the righteous;
​​Therefore perverse judgment proceeds. Habakkuk 1:2-4

The prophet Habakkuk is often overlooked both due to the rather brief nature of his book and because his name is a bit problematic to spell. I don't know that those are the reasons, but I recall very few sermons from Habakkuk in my days. Yet, there is an important lesson in Habakkuk, probably more than one, but the message begins with a complaint to the Lord. Is this a grumble, an accusation? Certainly it might appear to be so, and the Lord immediately zaps the offending little prophet with a lightning bolt, right? Nope, actually the Lord tells Habakkuk what is good for us too "Watch and see!"

The Lord gives Habakkuk reassurance and promise - that he will be utterly astounded and that the work of the Lord will happen within his days. Not some distant unguessable future and not some little work that he might miss, no, Habakkuk will witness the mighty hand of the Lord in his lifetime.

We bear witness to a similar time when the law seems powerless or even downright goofy, and violence walks the land unchecked. Yet, we too may want to watch and see the mighty hand of the Lord. We too witness the astounding work of the Lord in our lifetimes as salvation comes to all those who will believe.

Have a wonderful Wednesday in Christ!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pruning Plant Process Practically Pretty

I did my best to make the title as nonsensical as possible, and I believe I pretty well succeeded. Back in the days of my youth, I spent a summer pruning tomato plants every other day. On that day, we could look forward to scaly green hands that resembled something out of The Mummy's Curse or maybe Swamp Thing. There was nothing pretty or beautiful about our greeny grubs after a couple hours of pruning the little suckers off the main branches. Pruning, however, was necessary for the health and production of the plants. Jesus used this same process by reminding the disciples of what the farmers did to their grape vines in His day.

Plants, it seems, grow all willy-nilly and not in the best most productive way possible. Adam tended the Garden of Eden so perhaps this method is something handed down to us from the very beginning. Other than the monster fingers, pruning tomato plants is a rewarding sort of occupation producing more and better fruit, a cleaner plant, and the good work of tending a garden that seems to fit us so well. So it is with little wonder that after a good sermon on pruning and garden tending that we turn right easily to pruning our brothers and sisters in Christ. Ah, ah! Try to tell us you haven't done so and we'll make a pruning suggestion for you too! :-)

Jesus told us in John 15:1-2 that God is the vine dresser who does the pruning. There doesn't seem to be a mention of volunteers for the job of pruning on each other. The beam in our eyes may prevent us from seeing where the pruning needs to be done on our own branch. But, fortunately God knows right where to apply the pruning shears for our best growth and fruit production.

Love, joy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Grace in a World of Depravity

Back a little ways in the New Testament the apostle Paul invented grace, right? So it would seem to us at times, but a search in the Bible text reveals grace mentioned quite early. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Genesis 6:8 is the first use of the word, but Adam and Eve received it first. After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God let them walk out to take up life in a world more like what we know today: a tough place with a lot of thorns and reasons for anxious toil. God gave Noah not the eyes of justice as He gave to the rest of the depraved world but of grace. When the flood came, God let Noah live. Adam and Eve found grace even outside the Garden when God let them live. Indeed we seek nothing less than for God to let us live... forever with Him; that's a lot to ask for sinners!

Praise God that Jesus our Lord died the death we deserve for our sins. We receive grace in place of justice. In the great twist of history, One who deserved nothing less than life died for the sins of the world, while the many who deserve death receive grace. How can this be? God's love must explain this outpouring of grace from Genesis through the Revelation. We live because He loved. Indeed, "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." Note that John 3:16 gives no reason on our part that we should deserve eternal life - only one condition of the heart that must come from God's Holy Spirit - believe.

God's love to you on this fine Monday morning!


Friday, July 17, 2015

No Satisfaction

The wisest king, short of the One who is to come that is, set out to show us how useless is our effort without God. Vanity, foolishness, absurdity, the king said, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

All things are full of labor;
​​Man cannot express it.
​​The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
​​Nor the ear filled with hearing. (Ecc 1:8)

Reading the first chapter of Ecclesiastes could very well bring one into a funk or depression. Why bother attempting anything at all? Of course, the key is that Solomon is speaking of labor or effort without God in us. Going it alone, doing for selfishness, laboring for the good of me, and other self-centered efforts are indeed doomed to fail. Without God we cannot hope to be saved, for who among us is strong enough to lift the self up to Heaven? Who is smart enough to calculate a way to the throne of God?

We need God's way, His truth, and... ya know, I do believe we know who that is! Jesus indeed died on the cross to save us from the penalty of sin. God's Son gave us Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We need search no further or plot to pave our own way with the ashes of our failed deeds. Jesus lives, and in Christ we live too.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Keeping One Thing

Cloudy or blue and early? It's a little hard to tell at this point in the morning. We have one thing on ages past, and that is the amount of information available to us from all over the globe. Do you ever feel that if you run across just one more thing to remember, that shoving it into the ol' memory will cause another thing you simply must remember to pop right on out the other side? I suspect that has actually been happening to me for quite some time but I don't recall what it is that popped out. We have so much available to us that the signs of the times we are to watch for may well get lost in the deluge of possible signs we see in the news every day. Information overload was coined a long time ago, so long in fact that we forget people were worried about this before the Internet and mobile devices arrived on the scene.

Praise God that Jesus simplified things for us by saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) Simple in this age of information saturation is a good thing. We don't have to worry about whether we chose the right way among a host of potential choices. We don't have to muddle about seeking a truth among many, or trying to find the way to life that works for us while helping a friend deal with a different life way that works for him. Jesus gave us a simple choice in a world that offers us complexity, variety, and confusion. One way and no one comes to God except through Jesus our Lord. One narrow gate, one Good Shepherd, one way for those who believe in Jesus, and He is the way for you and me!

Love and grace from our Lord Jesus Christ to His saints in this confusing age!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

There's Lots of Anti, But We Need the Christ

I see lots of antichrist mentioned in the devotionals and messages of today. It is not hard for us to see evidence of the coming Tribulation in the news. The abomination of desolation appears to have arrived in the Middle East. Yet, among all this bad news we only have need to look to the enemy and foe of all that - our Lord Jesus. While antichrist hogs the news headlines, we look ever more often to the Christ.

Many have noted that when we are hard pressed in the testing of our testimony, we look all the more often in prayer to our Lord and Savior. Faith shines brighter in the darkness of trial. As the darkness of antichrist shadows the land ever more deeply in this present age, we shall shine all the more powerfully in Christ the Lord. While we watch vigilantly for the anti's, we wait prayerfully for the Christ.

Have a glorious Wednesday in Jesus!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Great Chapter

Wheehew! It's not wasting any time getting to the hot part of today. Praise God it is good for the wheat harvest though. I love chapter 14 of John in God's word, and I looked forward to the teaching of it in this morning's Bible study. We are privileged to learn from God through His Word! Now, what did we learn this morning? Hmm, so many quotable verses in this one that I have trouble finding just one. Of course, the entire Word of God is that way. The treasures of the Word are multitude from "In the beginning..." to "Amen, come Lord Jesus!" We learn of life and the living of it. We learn of salvation and our great hope in Christ. All the Word is full of God's love and His enduring sacrifice on our behalf.

I suppose the 27th verse is my choice for today. We need the peace that Jesus gives in this world of today. Not that Peter, John, and the gang needed it any less that we do, they certainly needed His peace too in the time of Roman occupation and sin domination. Like us, they awaited the return of Jesus when all seemed dark and surely ready for the Lord's re-arrival. The peace of Christ gives us the strength to endure when the Lord's second coming seems at times far away and at other times perfectly imminent. As Jesus told the disciples then and us now, let not your heart be troubled!

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)


Monday, July 13, 2015

Where Would I Be Without Him?

Scores of birds roost in the tree outside; it seem that my tree is their chosen one for this year. Where would they be without this tree? Of course, the birds would simply roost in another tree. However, if our chosen tree is Christ, and there we find all sufficiency, safety, and salvation; then every other tree is less than good for us.

Many little birds will find their roost in the money tree. "With this I can buy all I need," the little bird says, "I have well earned my rest here in this tree of Mammon" Another little bird finds his shelter in the tree of professional achievement. "I am secure in my position, high enough above the other birds to be safe forevermore," the bird croaks. Another bird roosts in the tree of intellect, another in the tree of political office, or the tree of sexual pleasure, or many other trees that we can name. Some of these trees may appear to offer some sanctuary, but all are less than the perfection of that tree we know.

The kingdom of heaven is like the smallest of seeds that grows into a mighty tree where all His little birds find the shelter we seek.


Friday, July 10, 2015

The Shaming Glare of the Spotlight

Hmm, it seems that July will return to us today. We need to get the wheat harvest done, so a little discomfort we'll endure for the sake of all. This morning, early this morning, the thought came that I do not perform well in the spotlight. Well, of course not! This is not exactly a unique condition. Performers rehearse many times before the performance. Athletes practice for a season before the season arrives. Olympians train for years for their moments in the spotlight's glare. There is good reason that few actors are allowed to ad lib in their work. Ever since Adam hid in the bushes and then pointed the finger of blame at Eve we have struggled to perform well when put in the spotlight.

The spotlight with the house lights dimmed is a tiny metaphor of God's piercing gaze. We feel shame when put in the light. We fumble our notes and drop our cue cards when caught in that merciless glare. Lines of excuse desert our guilty minds when the light shines. But for those of us who believe in Christ, it's a false feeling. Yes, sin dogs our spiritual heels for yet a little while, but God sees us through the cleansing blood of His Son on the cross. His mercies endure forever, our shame but a little while. We have good reason to be ashamed in this life, but better reason to stand up and be seen in Christ our Lord! Forgiveness in Christ: the implacable enemy of shame.

Have a blessed day in the love of Jesus,


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Some Good News

A prophet bemoaned his fate in the desert and the Lord responded with a little comforting news: there are yet 7,000 faithful ones in the land. We see the state of the world and our nation, and we are tempted to moan to the Lord too. However, poll numbers tells us that there are way more than 7,000 faithful believers in this land. Many of them no longer attend mainstream Protestant churches and the media makes much of that. This does not mean those who have left a particular denomination have given up on Jesus.

Walk the streets of a large city and you will find those who believe in Jesus Christ. Stay overnight in a small town and you will find more of God's children. In all the towns and cities between the very smallest and the most populous you will find those who worship God. Farms and ranches on the edge of the wilderness hold Christ followers. The world may cause us to feel alone or even lonely at times, but we have many brothers and sisters in Christ in many expected and unexpected places.

Only God knows which of the millions who claim to be Christian are in fact His children. As for us, we'll go with all of them. If the Rapture comes today and some of those claiming the title are left behind, then we'll know different. Until that time, if you say that you believe in Christ, then I believe you. If your politics and principles do not quite agree with mine, then that's okay. We can strive to become of one mind together in Christ.

To those of God's children facing the day in the strength and grace of our Lord Jesus, love one another as our Lord commanded us,


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

All We Can Do

A man was fearful of pickpockets in the city. He took a proactive stance, to use the current buzzword phrase he heard at work, and paid for classes in body awareness and basic personal defense. He tried to be aware of his immediate environment at all times. He moved his wallet to a front pocket and began wearing a money belt. Feeling better prepared and filled with new confidence in his own strength, he stepped out late one evening for a stroll in the park. As this world would have it, an accomplice distracted the man by taking a photo with a big flash unit, while a mugger whacked the man over the head knocking him unconscious before stealing his wallet and the money belt. To add insult to his injury, before the man could recover his senses, someone made off with his pants and shoes.

All we can do in this world in the strength and wits that we possess will not be enough to save us. Forces small and large defeat us in this world. How then can we ever think to save ourselves from the powers we know not? How does man in his weakness ever think to challenge God in his immeasurable strength? Yet we see it all the time. Perhaps we have tried it once or twice too? All we can do will not amount to salvation when we face the final judgment. We cannot hope to balance the divine scales with all our good deeds. Ironically, the least thing that we can do produces the greatest of saving grace.

Believe in Jesus, trust in His forgiveness, and judgment is satisfied, righteousness is ours, and eternal life is given to us. How do we deserve such divine favor? Of course, we don't, not in our own strength and never in our own goodness. In Christ alone we are saved. The smallest seed of faith grows into the greatest of trees. No work we do can produce what God gives freely through His Son. All we can believe.

Rejoice in the day through Jesus Christ our Lord!


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Governed by the Exceptions

Ah, a cool morning in the hot season! The cat is eating his foot; the smoky smell of wildfires haunts the atmosphere, and the wheat harvest begins any day now.

Does it seem to you that we are governed more by the exception than the rule these days? A kidnapping happened back when, so parents are background checked to deliver their kids to a summer camp. No one dare touch a kid that is not their own, and sometimes even if it is their own. One person misuses a certain flag, so all must give it up to the demands of the mob. Examples abound of the few having power over the many in various ways. Organizations and companies throughout the land must live 'checking their six' as the pilots say, to make sure, as best they can, that they are not sued. Truly we live in an age of the offended few crying with a loud and at times powerful voice. There seems to be no understanding or empathy in many cases. Businesses are forced to go against their principles, religious or otherwise, through the power of the state wielded at the behest of a few outraged voices.

None of that should surprise those who believe in Christ. We were warned that the world would hate us. We can read the prophecies of rulers gone loony in the end times. I'm not telling you anything you don't know already from your watching the signs and study of the scriptures. All we need to know is that the return of Jesus must be close indeed in this age. Looking to the skies will soon be a Christian pastime, if it isn't already. Our great hope draws near!

Have a happy day in Christ!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Was Jesus Mellow?

This morning I wondered if Jesus could be thought of as mellow, perhaps a bit of a stoic; always in control of his passions and pleasant to be around with no emotional fireworks in the forecast. I suppose if one cherry-picked a few scriptures out of the four gospels, one might come up with a religion of peace that emphasized only the quiet times in our Lord's life. Jesus did leave us His peace (John 14:27), but it was in the midst of plenty of emotion. Anger at the obstinate unbelief of the Pharisees shows in many verses. Our Lord grew so angry at the abuse of His Father's house that He made a whip and chased the money changers out. Jesus marvelled at the faith of a Roman, wept at the grave of His friend Lazarus, and rebuked Peter, James and John. Isaiah foretold a man of sorrows, and it seems our Lord was indeed deeply moved by the hurts of the world. No, mellow does not seem accurate as a way to describe the Lord.

One of the most impressive things about our Lord was that He felt. Sorrow, anger, love, and the whole range of human emotions were present in our Lord. He was a man and He was God. Then, He rose again from the grave on the third day and we can say that He is a man and He is God. Sometimes we call Jesus our rock, but that isn't because we think Him hard and unfeeling. Strength and stability reside in that metaphor, but Jesus our Lord felt as we do without the doubt and worry, or the shame, guilt, and self-pity that give us so many problems in this life. Thank you, dear God, for sending Your Son to feel the good emotions You gave us to Your glory.


Friday, July 03, 2015


Surrender to the forces of the world? Never! Surrender to our Lord Jesus? Always! As we take up our cross daily, we also surrender our will daily to our Lord Jesus Christ. Does this get any easier as we grow in Christ? I believe that to be true. Whether it is from a more obedient heart or we just get more and more help from the Holy Spirit, I cannot tell yet. Maybe it's both.

This weekend we celebrate our independence as a nation. Independence is a good thing, under God. Without obedience to God, we are not independent at all. Without God as our Lord, we are enslaved to sin and lost. The Lord God our Father raises up nations, rulers, and governments. He also brings them down. Some would have us be independent of God, but I see no hope in that. Either we choose to believe in Jesus and all that He says, or we are no good to the world. Without Christ we are just another empire that had its time and is in decline, a dying tool for the Antichrist to use in building his new Babylon. With Christ we can be that city on a hill the Pilgrims hoped for, the shining light to the world Jesus commissioned, and a haven to the persecuted. Can we ever get there? Is America lost?

Many of God's children live here. We pray for our nation and our rulers. We pray for God's will to be done and that He will see the right president elected next year. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray that all Americans would receive the good news of Jesus. We have believed in Jesus our Lord, and in Christ we stand. We place our hope in Christ Jesus and pray for the strength to do the next right thing. For we know that the best nation can only be built from the best citizens, and the best citizens know that one nation under God is the best place to live. < p /> Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Quiet, A Christian Hangout

Two days before our Independence Day celebration, and I cannot help but thank God for the quiet of our little town. What we cannot always find in a day is the very place we are to meet God in prayer. Jesus told us to go into our room and shut the door when we pray. For a time, we are to shut out the world and its needs, get quiet and get with God. Certainly the Lord is capable of shouting over the din of the world, but much better for us is that quiet meeting with the Lord: a Christian hangout in a world of noise and confusion.

Watch your cat or dog during the fireworks. We feel that same fear whether we realize it or not. The mind may not know, but the body is reacting to the sharp and sudden noises. Some of us react more and some less, but those firework things are not natural for us and do not contribute to our peace. On the other hand, getting alone with God in prayer very much contributes to peace, and we need a lot of that in this world of conflict.

The fireworks at Independence Day may bring it to mind, but each day all the year long we get noise in the form of news reports of war and rumors of war, earthquakes in diverse places, and the suffering of so many in this world. Too much of that cannot be good for us. There is however no such thing as too much prayer with our Lord. We can do it at work and at play, but we are to do it alone with God in a quiet place. Prayer may well be the last thing we are able to do in this life, but what a privilege and power it is! Talking with God, how did one such as me ever deserve that?

Have a great weekend (in case you get an early start today) as you go forth in Christ!


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Love is The Answer

When the Destroyer comes, love is the answer with which we fight and respond? Doesn't seem quite the answer, but yet it does at the same time. Paul gave us a sword to use as a weapon in the fight: the word of God. We have faith as our shield and salvation as a helmet. Where does love come in to our arsenal for the victory? Why didn't Paul assign love to a piece of equipment, like maybe a bow so we can shoot back?

In another letter, Paul describes love and what it is not. When we read 1 Corinthians 13, we find that love does not seem like a weapon or a defense, and yet it does at the same time. The love of God allows the fully-armed soldier in Christ to stand. Love prevents that same soldier from misusing the powerful weapon he is armed with, "...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Love endures in the fight we suffer in this world. Love is patient with those who do not understand. Love is kind to those who hurt us. Love saved us at the cross and rejoiced with us at the resurrection. Love, hope, and faith abide, but love stands greatest according to the apostle Paul.

The greatness of love we scarcely understand at this point, but daily God teaches us the wonders of His love.