Friday, October 30, 2015

When I Don't Hesitate

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

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

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

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

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

Have a worshipful Halloween weekend!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Other Side of the Dark Place

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

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

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

Enjoy a faithful day in Christ,

Monday, October 26, 2015

Undeserving and Rightly So!

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

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

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

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

In God's amazing grace,

Friday, October 23, 2015

Facing His Goodness and Love

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

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

Enjoy a righteous Friday in Christ!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Destruction is Only Half the Answer

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Was Yesterday?

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

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

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


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Slipping In With a Bag o' Dirty Rags

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

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

Amen, come Lord Jesus!

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Most Potent Word

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

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

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

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


Friday, October 16, 2015

Dropping on the World's Charts

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

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

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

Have a wonderful, chilly Friday in Christ!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Where From Here?

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Carried On The Shield? Maybe Not!

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

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

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


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Desperate People, Amazing Grace

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

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

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

Enjoy a graceful day in Christ!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor

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

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

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

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

Have a happy Indigenous Peoples Day!


Friday, October 09, 2015

How Does He See Me?

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

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

Enjoy your status in Christ today,

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Not So Far Away Now

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

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

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

Blessed be the name of Jesus!


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

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Behold, The Ravenous Horde!

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

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

And have a great day in Jesus too!


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Some Good News, Please!

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

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

Rejoice in the Good News of Jesus our Lord!


Monday, October 05, 2015

Following Jesus

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

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

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


Friday, October 02, 2015

Stormy Morning, Joyous Day

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

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

Have a joyous day in Christ!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Lesser Eggs

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,