Friday, December 30, 2016

The Majesty of His Presence

​​“And it shall come to pass afterward
​​That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
​​Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
​​Your old men shall dream dreams,
​​Your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)

Wow, what a dream! Yes, I woke up and said dream and not vision, so I guess I see where I fall on the old and young meter. I'm okay with that; it has been a long journey thus far. Jesus is coming, and He is returning to us soon. In the dream, overwhelming guilt as the measure of our sinfulness came over me. As one, myself and those with me fell down to our faces, but then: the majesty, glory, power, and overwhelming beauty of His presence came over us. No, in the dream I did not see Him, though I very much wanted Him to come through the doorway we faced. I do however this morning have no doubt that we will never tire of His presence in all of eternity. What majesty! The beauty of His presence as it rolled as a wave before Him! Do not give up hope, dear ones, His coming is so close now.

Just before the Christ came in my dream, the news was on a monitor in the place where I was, and in the news they mentioned the name of the Antichrist. Do you think I can remember that name upon awakening? Of course not, but it was there. What that tells me is that the wonder of His return will blast away all that worldly stuff from our minds and hearts. We will not remember the pains and sorrows of before in the light of His wonderful being. What a charge that puts into me this morning! The worldly trials and tribulations just don't seem so powerful or important today. I hate that the feeling of His presence fades so easily in this world, but I love that He will come and so very soon!

Have a powerful new day in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

From Lost Sheep to Found Sheep

The lost sheep of the Lord struggle to find their way in the world. The found sheep of the Lord's pasture continue to struggle through this life with their former nature including the lusts of the flesh, but now we struggle with good help from our Lord. I do pity those who are lost sheep because I remember what it was like to struggle in only what strength I possessed in myself. Many mistakes taught me through bitter experience, and worse, the Lord kept knocking down all my sand castles.

Sand castles in this context are not those a child builds on the beach, but the houses built on the sand that Jesus spoke of in His parable. (See Matthew 7:24-29). Whatever strength of mind or body we might think we possess in our own right without our Lord Jesus is just such a sand castle. Age, injury, disease, and other things can knock down these castles built on the sand. I simply chose to give God the glory for knocking them down, as He is in control of all things, because those sand castles had to go for me to depend totally on my Lord alone. Found sheep don't get to keep their sand castles, and great is our rejoicing when our faith is in the Lord and in Him alone. Lost sheep? Well, they tend to call the Lord unfair when their houses built on the sand fall over in the storm.

So, found sheep planted firmly in the Lord's house or lost sheep swept up in every storm and deposited with the flotsam wherever the waves of the world will? Seems kind of obvious, but those lost sheep just keep building their sand castles. Pray for them, and let us keep our little sheep feet planted firmly on the Rock of our Lord's salvation!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What Are They Among So Many?

The new year is quite close now, just around the corner of a few days so to speak. What will we do with this new beginning as we look in hope to our Lord? Give?

Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:7,8,9)

Our little bit of giving often seems swallowed up among so many. We look out and desire to help but our meager resources seem so little against a need that is so great. In the feeding of the multitude, John tells the tale of how one lad brought forward his lunch as a gift to the Lord. Even the disciples saw the human problem, "...but what are they among so many?" We know the rest of the story though, Jesus took and blessed the lad's lunchbox and many thousands of people ate and were satisfied, and then the leftovers totaled much more than the offering. How did He do that?

Sometimes I wonder if they let the boy take the 12 baskets back to his mom. One lunch, thousands fed, 12 baskets of barley loaf pieces left over. And the Lord said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." Far more leftover than we started with, and "so that nothing is lost," He says. I love the Lord for His understated humor.

How often, I wonder, have I held tightly to my 'lunch', afraid of losing it, and lost the blessing of the twelve baskets? How many churches have done the same thing? For all have been stingy before the Lord, forsaking the blessings of His bounty, by way of that human question: "But what are they among so many?" Doubt no longer, believe!

In His holy name,

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Over?

We had a white Christmas! We also had a bit of a blow along with the white as the wind roared in from the north. I am still enjoying the Christmas holiday, but for many Christmas is over. What happened with our Lord for the next 30 years after His magnificent birth celebration?

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40)

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52)

Looking back on your/my transition from infant to toddler and adolescence, would anyone write that about us? When it comes to the teenage years, many of us might read something like, "And then puberty hit, and he/she became a complete stranger in the house, spiced with moments of sheer idiocy." Reviewing some of our more hair-brained moments in those years, many might wonder how we made it to adulthood at all.

Then Jesus began His world-changing ministry.

Do as Jesus would do: how can any of us ever measure up to that? Oh, and by the way, He died on the cross to make restitution for our sins, and then rose again on the third day. I think living in His grace will be quite enough for me to work on in this life, and I will need His help even to do that. Fortunately for me and those like me, His Christmas gift just keeps on giving!

Have a wonderful new week in Christ Jesus!


Friday, December 23, 2016

I Need You Lord!

The people who walked in darkness
​​Have seen a great light;
​​Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
​​Upon them a light has shined.  Isaiah 9:2

A young girl sought a way between the legions of servants bearing trays of meats and bottles toward the great hall. The Prince of the Realm held a feast in his own honor, and he sought the life of young Marta; a life she did not want to give up to satisfy another of his unholy cravings. Too many friends had she lost in this way; too many young lives ended to quench a passing thirst of dubious value. So she ran.

The castle surrounding that great central feasting hall was large and confusing beyond all reason. Marta ran against the current of servants until she entered the Prince's huge kitchens where all manner of roasts and delicacies denied to all but the most favored of servants were prepared. Breathless, she stopped to seek a way out. Surely the kitchens were served somehow by docks and delivery doors for the appetites of this place matched its size. She felt a push on her back and ran once more, just in time to avoid a large cleaver the head cook threw at her legs, seeking to wound the fleeing sacrifice. Cooks and servants laughed at her plight, throwing other implements to impede her but she made it into the warehouse area.

Marta wept a little as she ran on into the seemingly endless shelves and racks. She had known those people all of her young life, and yet, at the Prince's command she was outcast, prey to be wounded and slain for their entertainment. A servant Marta had never before seen motioned her toward a small doorway. She was lost and she knew it, as likely to find a secret passage right into the very place she sought to flee as to find escape in her own power. She did not know why, but she trusted this man.

He did not look at the Prince's favored men with their perfect faces, strong and chiseled in all the right ways. He did not bear their overwhelming arrogance and the mark of their incessant competition was not on him. In fact, Marta realized as she stopped at the door, he was one you might not notice at all if he didn't want you to see him.

"Flee down the stair, child," the man said to her, "and remember, I will be with you always."

What an odd thing to say, but Marta was grateful, for no one back there, and they were getting closer, she knew would lift a hand to save her now.

The man handed her a lit candle and then shut the door behind her, locking her in the small passageway. She had no hope behind, so she moved forward holding her small candle as far ahead as she could reach.

Down the stairs, and they had no end as far as the light could shine. Down and still further down with occasional landings where Marta took short rests. Darker and darker as her candle struggled to penetrate the overwhelming darkness with its small light. Marta breathed harder, the air resisting her gasping lungs. Suddenly, she could go no further. Stones the like of which she had never seen in the castle surrounded a tiny landing that faced a heavy door. Marta pushed against the door with all of her remaining strength, but it did not budge. Made of heavy wood and bound with iron, Marta could no more tear it apart than overthrow the Prince's castle so far above her.

Marta sat down on the lowest stair. Surely the soldiers of the Prince would find her now. She had nowhere to go.

"Why did you send me here?" Marta wept aloud. "I need you, Lord!" For she did not know what to call that man who sent her down this dark passage. Surely he was a lord, for who else would dare to oppose the Prince? Her crying became all the more desperate as her little candle went out.

"Why do you weep, child?" He asked.

Marta looked around. The man held aloft a torch of such brightness that Marta could not understand why she did not see it before. It was, she thought, such a torch that no darkness could conquer, no evil will snuff out.

"I thought you had led me down here to die, Lord."

"Always, though death casts its shadow over you, I will be here to lead you onward, my child," the man spoke such gentleness that Marta reached out to embrace him. "Let us go into the light of day, child."

To Marta's surprise, he reached out and pulled the door open. Bright light flowed into the little landing, a daylight sort of brightness and more, a living sort of light, and such people! Dressed in bright white linen, shining in the brightness of His glory with breastplates of steel and adamantine helms they awaited their Lord.

Two of the most beautiful creatures came to stand beside Marta. They too were armed with fearsome swords.

"My servants will guard you. Rejoice and weep no more, for you have passed Death's doorway and stand on the edge of eternity," the man said. "This castle of evil shall not stand, My time has come!" The power of His voice shook the base stones of the Prince's castle, mighty though they appeared, and Marta knew that no earthly power could stop the coming of the King.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Christ Is Come!

Days go by when nothing much seems to happen. Then, the government orders a census. Warm or cold, the season is what it is and the shepherds get turned out into the fields to make room for all the royal line of David to arrive in Bethlehem. For a time they get to discuss the disruption of Rome on their lives around the evening campfire, but little did they know the main event was not the census at all. A few more days go by with the sheep doing their thing and the shepherds moving them from place to place; life settles down once more into a time of nothing much happening.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

​​“Glory to God in the highest, ​​And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:8-14)

Behold indeed, it would take a pretty dense shepherd to miss all that going on. Sudden, shocking, an awakening moment had come upon the world. The Christ is come! And that is where we find ourselves today. We go to work and watch our 'sheep', in whatever form they may take. Days go by when nothing much seems to happen and just as suddenly, behold, the Christ will return for us.

Blessed be the name of Jesus in this Christmas season!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sounding Off Similarly

Yes, a different sort of S.O.S. We may find our speech and writing growing closer over the years, but not so much I think from each other. You are not in me, and I am not in you. The greatest influence must be the one who comes to live in us. If we sound similar, it must be from the Lord's Spirit inside of those who believe in Him.

Having similar teachers from the Word of God is one influence, but that too is external. When the Word of God enters into us and resonates with the Spirit of Him who died on the cross for us, then we sound off similarly. And not as a tuneless horn or a harsh clang do we sound, for the love of Him who rose again is in us and flowing through us.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)

Say the wrong thing yesterday? Perhaps so, but over the years as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us in His own time, we will sound off as a harmonious band; an orchestra well-taught and well-tuned, led by the Spirit of God Himself as conductor and playing His symphony.

Blessed is the song that began on a Christmas night long ago,


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Joe, the Carpenter

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Joseph probably didn't go by 'Joe', but we'll translate him into the modern vernacular a bit this morning. Joe, the carpenter, had a day job, much like you and me. He went to work, perhaps griped about the boss, got told that he was the boss, and dealt with customers. Joe had the normal ration of hopes and dreams, one of which included a certain young lady by the name of Mary. Imagine Joseph coming home after a tough day's work, taking a bath, walking over to the future in-laws home for dinner, and getting called aside by Mary to receive some tough news: The future wife is expecting, and Joe had nothing to do with it.

To his credit, Joe did not want to take vengeance and put her out for public shaming, and this was before the angel arrived in his dream. Joe might have reacted in anger, felt the sting of humiliation, or harbored a root of bitterness, but he didn't. From among the children of David's line, God really chose the right man and woman for His earthly parents. Whatever your name is this morning, God chose you too, and He died to save you from your sins. You are one very special Christmas choice our Lord made!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Don't Wait Too Long

It's Christmas time! I have waited a bit longer this year, but I think we can say this week is Christmas time as we are in the final days leading up to our Sunday Christmas celebration. Of course every day all year long is a Christmas when those who are born into this world are reborn in Christ Jesus and saved. Many live each day thinking that surely they have one more day to make that decision to accept Jesus as Lord. Every Christmas should be a reminder that like those people long ago looking for Messiah, the day will come upon us quickly even after hundreds of years of warning.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Th 5:2)

Yes, we do know, but there are those who may not and so we go on spouting the good news of Jesus to any who will hear. We do not want anyone to be eternally like the person who wakes up on December 26th only to realize that he has missed Christmas entirely. Somehow the season slipped by him one day at time. There will come a time for the inattentive that the last Christmas he missed was the last one he will never see. Our Lord is not willing that any should be lost, and we have a great opportunity to help Him not lose any of His lost sheep.

Have a merry Christmas celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Faith: I Will Be With You

I was curious this morning where God first made a promise with the words, "I will be with you." Quite early in the Bible, and it was a test of faith too. Isaac was living in the lands that would become Israel in the proper time, and he ran into another famine like Abraham did. However, this time the Lord told him to stay put.

Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. (Gen 26:3)

'Stay there' may not be the command we want to hear from the Lord when things look tough. "This circumstance is likely to be the end of me; can I stay here, Lord?" is not a common prayer among those who believe in the Lord. Our first reaction to such things is usually to get up and move away. So common is this feeling that we even feel the urge to up and move when things look okay or even advantageous. What can change that feeling or urge is who we are here (or there) with.

Our friends in Christ can make all the difference when that urge to run comes over our quaking knees in a scary situation. We feel a loyalty, a kinship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. How much greater then is the comfort of the presence of our Savior when it looks tough outside and He says, "I will be with you."

Abraham faced famine by going down to Egypt, but to Isaac the word of the Lord when the famine came was to stay. When things are difficult, we may be told to go or to stay. The important part is that great promise from the Lord: I will be with you.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Place Called Sin

"I will pour My fury on Sin, the strength of Egypt;
​​I will cut off the multitude of No"  (Eze 30:15)

Ancient Pelusium received the sort of name that our friend Peter did back in the day. Being known as the strength of a nation might be cause to walk with our heads held high, but to be named 'Sin'? And by the Lord God too! In the final book of the Bible, a city called Pergamos held the throne of our enemy, and some of God's people lived and worked there. It seems that some places may indeed be worse than others. Why are some who love the Lord called to live in those places?

We don't know or cannot see all of God's plans as they are performed right before our eyes, but we trust in His way. We don't want to live in the central district of a place called Sin, but we may be called to minister there as a representative of our Lord Jesus. How will the flame of revival ever start if none of God's little sparks will jump into the woodpile He has prepared?

You may not feel like much today. The place where your life has carried you may seem like the very center of Sin City. Your spark for Jesus may seem to be ready to go out. Yet, this was said of our Lord Jesus in fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 42:3:

A bruised reed He will not break,
​​And smoking flax He will not quench,
​​Till He sends forth justice to victory. (Matt 12:20)

We may be just a little spark on the tip of a slender stalk, but He can do much with the smallest of offerings! Have peace in Christ,


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Welcome To The Mid-Week Monday

No, no, no, one Monday per week is plenty, sometimes more than enough. Some might think that God is not concerned with the days of the week. I'm not sure where that would come from as a quick read through His word would show that from the Creation to the Revelation He is quite concerned with days. In fact, at the end of things, there is this note:

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. (Rev 9:13-15)

It may be hard to see it for that ending, one third of us gone is a bit much to grasp on a Wednesday... or a Monday or any other day. However, this does show that God is quite aware of the days; this prophecy even has an hour on the calendar date. This may speak to the swiftness of this particular plague of death. After all these four angels have a little help, if one can call two hundred million horsemen a 'little help'. So, when one of our electronic devices reminds us, "Time and date not set," we can remind it of this verse from the Revelation. But, we don't want to end this on such a terrible note.

There is one more time and date that is set, and only God the Father knows it. Yes, our Lord Jesus will return for us, and that event has a special time and day set by the Almighty!

The days are dark but our redemption draws near!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Walking Into The Snare

This world has become proficient at the snare. This, I'm sure, is not news to you. In so many ways each of us has felt the tug of that worldly snare around an ankle, usually just before the face is planted in the dirt. Hopefully, that is a figuratively-speaking face plant, but sometimes we have to get up and wash off the ol' honker quite literally. Yesterday, I listened as a young man outlined his medical and financial problem. He needs an operation, but the recovery is 4-6 months, during which time he cannot do his job. No job of course equals no income, which in turn produces living on the street in the cold, starvation, and other enjoyable activities. The job causes more damage to the joint in question, but the powers that be have declared him too fit for disability. Their solution is for him to get a job he can do while recovering from surgery. He is well and truly in one of the world's snares.

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. (Ps 91:3)

We have this promise from the Lord.

There it is. I can bear witness that He has removed me from a very similar snare.

We have this promise from the Lord.


Monday, December 12, 2016

The Makings of a Rough Christmas

Every year it seems we hear about someone losing a position just before Christmas. The birth of our Lord even includes that possibility. Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to be included in the Roman census of the line of David. This may have cost Joseph his job in Nazareth. This seems more likely when we recall that the wise men found the young family still in Bethlehem when the star led them to the house. What we look forward to is what God can bring out of tough times for us. Who we look to is the one born on that first Christmas. If Joseph lost a good position in that time, then he can rejoice with us that God's word was fulfilled as spoken by the prophet. Jesus was born right where the Word of God said He would be born.

This year may have the makings of a rough Christmas for a few of us or even all of us. Yet, what good will God bestow upon us from this rough time as we look to our Lord for the strength to bear it? What strength of character or growth of faith will God bring out of you and me from a time of difficulty? We have this great hope from that first Christmas: He came and He is coming again!

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Rev 22:12-13)

We don't have long to wait for He is coming quickly and bringing His reward. He is the beginning and He is the ending. He is our Lord Jesus the Christ, and no matter our circumstance or situation, we can celebrate His birth and look with great hope to His return. The greatest gift has already been given. Blessing and honor to our Lord Jesus: He is Christmas!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Spiritual Age

We live in a spiritual age and it is a battle of cosmic proportions. A Samaritan woman at a well received this news from our Lord:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-14)

Our Lord Jesus has departed for the heavenly realm and He sent His Spirit to dwell in us. Until the return of our Lord, we do as He said: worship God in spirit. It is an age of faith where we cannot touch or see Him. His voice may not sound in our ears, but in the depths of prayer with Him. So, what is the battle we wage with the Spirit as our Lord?

Many would say that the various mental illnesses we do battle against are of the brain. I believe there is a deeper cause: that war of the spirit we fight daily. Yes, the effects of this war are visible on brain scans and in the actions or condition of those suffering in this war. The cause, however, comes from that deep war of the spirit where on one side is God the Spirit and our reborn nature in Him, while on that other side is the desires of the flesh and those powers and principalities of this present darkness as Paul named it in his letter to the Ephesians.

Those who take their own life, and often the lives belonging to others as well, are the corpses that litter this battlefield. Their passing does not go unnoticed and much suffering accrues to those who must battle on with that added burden. The casualties of this war are beloved of God and us, whether their illness allows them to believe it or not. But what of the wounded, a number typically much higher than the dead in the butcher's bill of battle?

Those who battle with chronic disease and mental illness are those wounded. The voices who would say that persecution is far away and not 'over here', do not understand the nature of this war we fight. We rejoice for their sake that they do not suffer such things in this life, but a bit of understanding and empathy might serve them better for the sake of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Wait, you say, not all those who suffer mental illness are believers in Christ Jesus. I agree with you, but, the Lord our Savior wants them too, and the enemy does not like it one bit! The aim of the enemy general is to attack our reserves, and those unsaved lost sheep are our reserve forces. Let us not forget to give them some good news.

Now, after all of that, look to Jesus and have a better day in Christ the Lord!


P.S. And remember, in the end, He wins!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Coffee Cups Warm Hands Well

Yes, the past couple of mornings have been good for holding that coffee cup full of hot coffee in a pair of cold hands, aaahhh! So, what does God have to do with this? Is this not a Christian devotional? Well, let us count the blessings as they used to do back in the good old days. The Lord provided me with the strength to work and earn money to purchase those things needed for a hot cup of coffee. He also provided money, time, and a peaceful environment for all those who brought electricity to my home. Far away, perhaps in Columbia, the Lord provided the right slope, soil, temperature, humidity, and rain to grow coffee beans. A ship brought them here to America where those beans were roasted just right, packaged, and shipped to me. Lots of people doing many jobs, earning a living for their families, all of them with the opportunity to praise God for His blessings. And of course, the Lord blessed me with another peaceful awakening this morning and another day to praise Him on this earth.

And I have this urge to complain about a pair of cold hands? Tsk, how ungrateful is that old man, the flesh!

Thank you, dear Lord, for a cold Friday morning to enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Gratitude to you, my Savior, for my wonderful friends in Christ who will read a bit of my babbling, perhaps while they enjoy their own cup of coffee on a cold morning. Thank you, Father, that peace sits on our land through the sacrifice of many over the years. May we always remember to give thanks to you our God for Your many great blessings.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Use It Or Lose It

By that urging are many senior citizens motivated to stretch, yoga, lift weights, jog, run marathons, swim oceans, and climb mountain ranges. For most of us, following that command leaves us with no fear of losing either our mouths or our anxious imaginations. We use our mouth for eating and of course, talking. Our anxious imaginations are quicker and easier to use, and enjoy a furious workout on many a day. What are we so afraid of?

And with that question, some of us could produce a list of staggering length without even trying very hard. There are indeed many things that we can be afraid of in this world...but living in such a state was not the command of our Lord! From the very beginning of His life, the angel announced, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people!" (Luke 2:10) Immediately after that, the angel told the cowering shepherds of the birth of our Savior, Jesus the Christ. Good news we have from Him; great joy He provides to us. And like one of the little sheep who didn't quite understand the big event of that Christmas night, we still cower in fear at times. Therefore, when this Christ child was all growed up, He said it again: "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

And that, my friends in Christ, is our command for each day when the fearful things rise up all around us and inside of us.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Man of Action...Do Nothing?

One of the great conundrums we may face in this life is a time when all of our action comes to a screeching halt. Peter and Paul carried a great authority in Christ throughout their ministries, but at the end we know of no action either took to extend their lives when the Roman executioners came to bring them to their final moments. Stephen spoke God's words in his trial, but then meekly took his place before the men with rocks in their hands. For all we know, Stephen may have been a man in the prime of his life with strength and martial skills that none could match. Yet, he followed His Lord to a place where he did nothing. O man of action, one of your more difficult tests may be on that day when God commands, "Do nothing."

We prize a man or woman of action in this age, just as our ancestors did from the earliest days. We like to be that person with strength in hand and brains in the head, ready to help out and accomplish the task at hand. We may come to that point in life where God doesn't want our help. "Do nothing" is a tough one for us to accept and obey. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ might even be driven a little bonkers (a medical condition) by this command from our Lord. Our actions are often carried out to satisfy our will, but one day God may answer that prayer we pray, "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven," by stopping our action for a bit.

Rejoice in the Lord's day!

Monday, December 05, 2016

A Flat, Dry Place

It seems that cold is on the way. After the autumn we've had, cold seems a rather strange condition to worry over. Winter is the flat, dry place of the year in these parts. We don't usually receive a lot of moisture even when it does snow. Yes, that seems rather a paradox since snow is made of frozen water falling to the earth. However, as those who live where snow falls know, snow can be wet or dry. So it seems with a paradox of the Christian journey; we have times where we cross a flat, dry place. Sometimes the Christian will call it a flat, dry, cold, quiet, and stale place where faith seems difficult to grasp and the Lord is silent. Even the Bible, the Word of God may seem flat and dry to the Christian during this season of our earthly journey. Congratulations! If you have gone through this time, perhaps even more than once, you have grown from Christian infancy to adulthood.

God has not abandoned us, that would go against what His word says to us. However it may seem that for a time we journey alone. Don't believe it! What seems is not what is. When Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us, He meant it. The funny thing is that the more we believe our unbelief the more it appears to be true. It is faithless to say that God has left us alone, but the more we say it to ourselves the more it will appear to be. If God is quiet for a time, it does not mean that He is not there (or here). I suppose the way to get through that flat, dry place in life is to work; work at reminding the self constantly that He is with us all the way. Read the Word and see the journey of others who found themselves in the same place. Waiting on the Lord at such a time is tough, but perhaps it is a tough Christian He is creating by these times.

Rejoice in His presence, especially if He 'feels' a little distant right now,


Friday, December 02, 2016

The Pride of Human Effort

Winter is nearly here on the calendar and my house felt it this morning. All of my effort in all of my human strength cannot stop the cold of winter from catching up to us. Sorry, I'm just not up to it. You'll have to look to one of the great city-states of old to see if human strength can stop winter from coming.

Human effort came to a peak in a few places in the Bible: Babel, Babylon, Rome, and Tyre to name some examples. In Tyre, God saw a great, strong, and wealthy city; one in which every advantage the world can offer had gathered. Smart and wise counselors, a strong ruler, trading and merchant shipping, wealth, and a strong army of elite soldiers picked from many nations. The city had natural defenses for protection and easy access to trading routes and the sea. Human pride rose up tall where human accomplishments built a foundation of faith in man. Then God gave warning of where pride and faith in man will take us:

“Your riches, wares, and merchandise,
​​Your mariners and pilots,
​​Your caulkers and merchandisers,
​​All your men of war who are in you,
​​And the entire company which is in your midst,
​​Will fall into the midst of the seas on the day of your ruin. (Eze 27:27)

Reading in Ezekiel 27, we see a list of the many advantages that Tyre had in their day. But, a strong east wind was blowing, and the people of Tyre were about to do a bad thing: they would scoff and laugh when Israel, God's chosen people, fell as punishment for her sins. The city of Tyre saw more opportunity for plunder with the defeat of their neighbor, but God would send the same wind that struck down Jerusalem to blow Tyre right into the sea, namely a king named Nebuchadnezzar. You see, Nebuchadnezzar had God's mandate and His strength behind his efforts, and the mere human effort and strength of Tyre could not stand. In the case of Tyre, pride did indeed go before the fall.

Faith in man's strength will always fail us; faith in God will always save us.

Have a great Friday in Christ!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Amen Cannot Mean 'Over and Out'

The tooth giving me trouble is gone, and I feel better already. In the fiction stories, I might read a tale of two or three big goons and a pair of pliers, but thanks be to God is was not that way yesterday. As God grows faith in place of fear and overcomes my anxiety with His assurance, medical care does not equal torture.

In my wandering and growing years, the word 'Amen' came to mean the end, over and out, a signing off as though I was no longer talking to God, and perhaps, didn't want Him to hear the thoughts that might come next. In the stories of the church beginning, we have this:

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. (Acts 12:5)

Constant prayer by the church. What a great concept! And as all those who believe in Jesus are the church, no matter where they are in the given moment, we should be glad to pray constantly. Therefore, amen cannot mean 'over and out'. And so shall it be is a prayer to God's will. And God very much likes to hear from His children all the time. He did not reserve Sunday morning from 10-12 on our calendar as a kind of recurring once-per-week meeting. We don't tithe our time, all of our time is His! Not because the Lord wants a bunch of drudges working 168-hour weeks under some obligation, but because He loves us and wants to be with us! Yes, when I think about my Lord, a lot of exclamation points start coming out. I am awestruck by the fact that God, the creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and Earth, wants to know me, be with me, and hear my every thought.

May His name be forever praised!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Serious Men and Women, With Serious Purpose

When we think of serious people, we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that they never laugh, smile, or enjoy life with maybe the exception of a brief nod to their accomplishments. Some read the scriptures and consider Jesus, Peter, and Paul to be people of this type. Our interactions with Nebuchadnezzar in the Old Testament seem quite serious too.

“For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken,’ says the Lord GOD. (Eze 26:7-14)

A serious man with a serious purpose. The Lord commanded Nebuchadnezzar to take down a city and its villages. A siege of a city was a serious undertaking back in the day, and it would be today as well. Months of planning, logistics reaching all the way back to his capital, training of cavalry and infantry, education of the engineers, and his base had to be secure back home too. Then, the weeks or months to get the army in place, followed by the weeks or months a siege would last. Nebuchadnezzar had a firm will and a lot of help from generals and privates. However, God through His spoken word had already declared this serious man to be victorious. So, do we need to be serious in manner and countenance to be victorious in Christ?

I don't believe that is the case. We are tempted to conflate serious with dour, grim, and unsmiling; and when a tough job is at hand we may have trouble being anything but those things. However, a serious mind applied to a serious mission does not have to be at all times grim and downcast. Scraping the skin off the nose on the ol' grindstone tends to hurt!

Jesus had a serious purpose: to save us from our sin. Yet our Lord was criticized for keeping the company of those the religious leaders considered somewhat less than serious. We have those times for being serious-minded with serious purpose, but since we also want to keep company with our Lord, maybe we don't want to be so grim all the time. He seemed to like being with those who enjoyed life with Him.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Silent Life of Ezekiel's Wife

Snow? It wasn't supposed to snow today. It is only a little, but it is still snow. Surprise, Ezekiel the prophet had a wife. We meet her in Chapter 24 of his book.

So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded. (v18)

There she went, hope you got to know her quite well. We can't even get up a good trivia question regarding her name.

During this time, Ezekiel also had a silence going on in which he could only speak the words the Lord gave him. After the Lord told Ezekiel that his wife would be taken, he could not tell her what was coming or even let her know in words that he loved her or say goodbye. On top of that, E. was not allowed to mourn, weep, or let tears run down his face after his wife was taken.

Ezekiel's wife doesn't speak a word of the text, and yet our very small knowledge of her life may say quite a volume about us. We might think God mean or cruel to take a man's wife like that. Should we though? As we get older, many of us think that a quick taking by the Lord, who is good and gentle, sounds like just about the best exit we could hope for from this life. Many are taken from us without warning, suddenly; Ezekiel received advance notice and had a little time to spend with his wife before her time came. Above all is that question: Do we trust in God's goodness?

A separation hurts. Be it spouse or children, parents or friends, we hurt from the sorrow of separations in this life. But, this life is not God's final answer, and we trust in His sovereign goodness that tells us of our loved one's dwelling place in a better kingdom, God's kingdom. We may want to think more on God's goodness, and a bit less on the sorrow of our situation.

Have a blessed day in Christ!

Monday, November 28, 2016

And Suddenly

Yes, 'tis the season at last! Yesterday began Advent, Friday kicked off the shopping season, and today the decorations go up. You're kidding on that last one right? Everyone but me must have the decorating done by now. It's true; I got the decorations out and hauled into work, but it looks a lot like a stack of boxes right now. There's not a lot of Christmas cheer in looking at a pile of cardboard containers. There is a great temptation to get caught up in the surface of the season and perhaps forget that it is Christmas.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. (Luke 2:8)

We know from many years of hearing these few words that something big is about to happen. But, let us not miss that these shepherds were going about their daily work, the flocks of sheep bedded down for the night. In most ways, these shepherds were completely unprepared for what is about to happen to them. No decorations twinkled in their fields, someone had not announced Advent to them, and shopping had been taken over by herds of people reporting to the census takers in Bethlehem. It is likely that the shepherd's conversation was dominated by the Roman census and the changes and sacrifices required for this thing to take place. So much business going on for government and living, and so much about to change forever!

So very much like us today. Busy, work, toil, some of it fun and other tasks nothing but toil, and yet, could this be the day? Might the Christmas decorating be left half done as the saints of God are called home? It could happen! We do not know the date, but we do know what will be going on when the time comes - just what you and I plan to do this day, work as usual. Much like those shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flocks. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying..." (v 13)

And suddenly indeed,

Friday, November 25, 2016

Pharisee Paradise

Once in a while, back in yonder day, my sense of humor got me in trouble during my four years of service. The military is a bit of Pharisee paradise you see. On top of government law, there are added military-only regulations (saluting, for example) that can get one in just as much trouble as a violation of federal or state laws. The Pharisees of our Lord's day would have loved the strictly regulated environment of our modern military, or even a government job in this age, or for that matter a job in a large corporation. All of these places add many rules on top of the law just as the Pharisees did in their day. We have no small number of churches and denominations that appear happy to do the same thing.

As critical as our Lord Jesus was of the Pharisees, I believe I can speak with some authority that writing a large rule book and using it to beat down the congregation was not what Jesus came to do. Would our Lord, who used some of His toughest language against the Pharisees, feel welcome studying a big ol' book o' rules in a church supposedly dedicated to His Father?

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. (Matt 23:13)

No, we don't want to be like that. Let us avoid creating another Pharisee Paradise. If we act always in faith and love as shown by our Lord, no added rules are needed. In fact, He summed up the entire law and prophets in two commandments.

Have an exciting Black Friday, if that is your kind of thing.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is our special day of giving thanks to our Lord. A tradition declared in remembrance of that first feast between a group of Pilgrim survivors and their Indian guests. We love this story because centered in it all is gratitude to God for His provision. The story also has that fruit of the Spirit we desire in this life: peace and purpose.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Col 3:15)

A peaceful meeting between two peoples learning to understand one another without the hatred and violence that came in many other meetings between peoples both in Biblical times and in our nation's history. God showed that it could work if He was involved. The Pilgrims also had purpose in their difficult journey to a wilderness across a stormy ocean. They wanted to plant the light of Jesus in a new land, one in which they would be free to worship without government interference, sponsorship or oversight. We enjoy this freedom today, though the enemies have tried to tear it down.

With peace and purpose, they gathered for a feast in gratitude and faith. And their gratitude on that day almost 400 years ago was directed to God. Thanksgiving is our holiday to give thanks to God, and we love Him! Whether you are feasting or fasting on this day, give thanks to God. You may be joining in a dinner at home or traveling to be a guest, give thanks to God. Just don't do it because you think you must, give thanks out of love and sincere gratitude, give freely to God who gave so much to us.

Love and joy to you on this Thanksgiving Day!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why Do I Need Prayer Intervention?

So, I am known by some as the local computer/IT/PC-fix it man; what happens when I can't fix my own? Crash after crash this morning, until finally the infamous BSOD. The question raised yesterday is: What do I write for the next 3,000 posts? Wrong question, or at least the question is out of order. First, how do we/I fix the PC? Sometimes we just don't ask the right question. It is difficult to write and post anything at all on the Internet when the primary means to access said network is sick, ill, on strike, or just being resistant. That doesn't compare at all to prayer life.

In prayer, I think I know what I need, and then I go to the Lord in prayer. It seems pretty simple and straightforward. So, why do I need prayer intervention? I guess I just explained my own problem, "I think I know" sort of tells the whole tale. The process only seems simple when the praying newbie is simple. As Paul informed his readers back in the day, and all of us today via the Word of God:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)

Aha, we do not know what we should pray for as we ought; and this from a former champion of the Pharisees who had prayed to God all of his life! In so many ways we are so weak that we don't know how weak we are. Therefore, the Holy Spirit comes to our rescue in our most basic privilege: prayer. We can ask, and God encourages us to ask through His Spirit, but we also need that intervention. We need the right questions to be asked and the right requests to be made of our Lord, else we don't get anywhere fast.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Meant To Be Or Keep Trying?

Of course it would be tough to get this out today. No time in the morning, two PC crashes at home at lunch and finally, it's late in the afternoon at work. This is the time to begin thinking that maybe this is meant to be done... tomorrow!

Thanksgiving is upon us this week, and I am grateful for 10 years of devotional writing as of this past September, especially for those of you who remember all of 'em! Are you kidding? I don't even remember all of them! Today is the 3,000th devotional post on Blogspot. I waited to commemorate the 10th anniversary to hit that big posting number, or maybe that is posted number. Somewhere in all of that is a lot of writing about our Lord and how good He is to us. One of those displays of our Lord's affection for us is the times we have to just keep trying.

Yup, it would be easy to kick back the rest of Tuesday and say, "It must be meant to be done tomorrow." But after two cups of hot apple cider, I just don't think the easy answer is the one for me today. Even if I must go home and try booting my PC around a bit, this big number 3,000 is going out today. If it were up to only me, I would have quit long ago.

Thank you, Lord, for the endurance and patience to write so many devotional messages over such a long time! Thank you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for reading at least one or two of them over the years, that too may be a triumph of endurance and patience in our Lord Jesus!

May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you until the Rapture of His flock!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Oh, Let's Be Thankful!

How to live the Christian life is a question many a follower of Christ has asked throughout the ages. Many of those things our Lord did were one time things. As far as I can tell, there were no angelic hosts singing in the heavens when I was born and my conception I can safely assume happened in the normal way. My knowledge of the scriptures at the age of 12 did not dazzle the professors of the word and I have not at least thus far brought anyone to life. You can probably make similar claims, but that does not call our faith into question. On the other hand, this week is a good reminder that you and I can be thankful for all our Lord has done.

One of the excellent ways we have to follow Jesus is to cultivate a steadfast grateful attitude; you can shorten it to gratitude, if you wish. Yes, it does not come easily and we need our Lord's constant help to be steadfast in gratitude. During the times when pain threatens to overwhelm, we may struggle to be thankful. When tragedy strikes and we do not see the good God is bringing from the situation yet, giving thanks for the circumstance does not readily come to mind. However, it is in those times that gratitude may be our best witness of the many blessings God has given to us.

Job was hit with so much bad news that the messengers were nearly shoving each other out of the way to deliver bad tidings. And, praise God, Job was not super-gratitude man after all of these tragedies laid him into the ashes in mourning. Job struggled to show gratitude to the Lord; he wanted to meet the Lord in court, to bring God Himself to judgment! Many of King David's psalms start with a deep and bitter complaint. Moses didn't quite skip through the wilderness with a merry tune on his lips each day. We have a lot of good company in the tough life category, but we also have the Spirit of God in our hearts to raise up gratitude when we need to express it most. Trust in God and we shall have good help in giving thanks this week!

Thank you, dear Abba, for Your steadfast blessings!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Antibiotics vs. Probiotics

I see that the record low for this date is 15°, to which I can say, "Not anymore!" The weather site says that it is a mere 8° outside and the house is making those noises that say, "It's really cold outside me!" as the furnace works to make it tolerable in here. A morning like this reminds one to pay that utility bill with a thankful heart. Now to the combat at hand.

The dentist prescribed antibiotics; I take probiotic supplements. So, in the war of antibiotics versus probiotics, who will win? It is tempting to bet on the professional biotics, because professional usually means skillful or accomplished. Anyone who has had a run in with a bad contractor or plumber will often say that he was less than professional. The reason behind this rather silly analogy is to address the temptation to believe the lie that God vs. Satan is a battle of equal opposites.

The Bible begins with God creating the heavens and the earth. If there were an opposing equal, would this creation have happened? Only later does the Serpent enter the story and cause trouble. Then there is the word given to Isaiah:

​“How you are fallen from heaven,
​​O Lucifer, son of the morning!
​​How you are cut down to the ground,
​​You who weakened the nations! (14:12)

Other passages in the Bible speak of our God standing alone and there is none like Him; the Bible does not tell of an equal with an opposite agenda. There cannot be two almighty forces or there would be a cancelling out. The Lord our God is the Almighty. In fact, at the end of this age, we are comforted by God sending one of His angels to chain the Adversary and toss him into the bottomless pit.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. (Rev 20:1-3)

That could never happen to an enemy of equal power and might, especially when one of the servants is sufficient to toss out the Accuser for a thousand years!

Have a faithful and rejoicing Saturday in Christ Jesus!


Friday, November 18, 2016

All I Know Is That He Is Able

There are a great many things that I cannot explain about salvation, sanctification, the Rapture, and I could go on. I cannot explain for example how the Holy Spirit enters the saved person and begins to work in him or her. I do not know the method or means by which Jesus ascended into Heaven. How was John 'brought up there' in response to the command? How is it that Heaven is hidden from us? Mysteries of the gospel: they are so fun to ponder!

We have a tendency from the flesh toward unbelief. The problem with that is it leaves us open to doubting God's ability. We must of course read the scriptures and see that our Lord is extremely and Omnipotently capable! Water out of a rock? No problem for our Lord. Food in a desert waste? Our Lord can provide it daily. A finger of an ocean in the way of an escape? The Lord can divide it and provide a dry seabed for the crossing. A stormy sea hindering His disciples? Our Lord will just walk across the top of it. Not enough food for the multitude? He provides a multiplication fit for thousands to eat and be filled. The scriptures rain on our sandcastle of doubts. The Word is a tidal wave washing away our sandy structures of unbelief!

I don't know how our Lord does many of the things He does. All I know is that He is able, and not only is He able, He is!


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Proof That Faith Exists?

So, winter comes at last today or tonight (or maybe tomorrow, late or early); we ran out of oil in 1973, or maybe 1987, but the largest discovery in the US was announced in Texas; and people have trouble believing that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead? With the news we have endured over the past few decades, it doesn't seem that far fetched. Ah, but that is the backwards way. We don't look for the truth by showing the lies have been proved wrong about something else. If you want to be proven honest in court, you don't produce a parade of liars as witnesses to their own dishonest ways. When we want to show from the Word that our Lord rose again, we look to the words of truth: what do you believe about Jesus the Christ?

The Bible produces eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Yet, if a person does not want to believe, the eyewitnesses are proven liars in the court of the unbeliever's mind before we can even present the next part of our case. Jesus sent prophets centuries before His arrival to tell of His life and death and life after the grave, yet even His own people did not believe. The Son of Man Himself said three times that His life would be given for many and then He would rise again, but even His own disciples did not believe at that time. Any of us may find it easier to believe in the permanence of death than in the resurrection of our Lord; in fact before we came to believe in faith in our Lord's resurrection from the dead, that is exactly what we saw in our future.

Jesus saw something else coming in this age, and then He proved it by rising again from death and the grave. But we cannot see that with the eyes of this earth, we must believe and have faith in Christ. It's tough, I cannot prove that faith exists. I cannot produce Jesus in a court and touch Him as proof that He is risen. But, somehow, I believe in Him! Faith is a funny thing. It is easily mocked by the world, constantly scoffed at, impossible to touch, smell, hear, or see, and yet the very One in whom we place that faith said it is powerful enough to move a mountain. I cannot grab a shaker of grace and pour it over me, but I know the grace Jesus earned on the cross exists just as much as my faith. How can it be so? Maybe we should...ask Him!

In Christ,

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tough Times Will Come

It seems we have casually thrown around the message, "Winter is coming", for a month or so now, mostly in jest as this autumn has been among the warmest I can recall. However, tomorrow we may get what we deserve for mocking the season! Much colder predicted for tomorrow and no return to the 70's is in the forecast. The start of winter will come at last. Though a high in the 40's in November is not that bad around here; we have been spoiled with a fall of good weather. For the Christian, we might say in a similar way, "Tough times will come."

Jesus said it in His way of course, "In the world you will have tribulation." Like one or two others, I wanted the Christian road that was smooth and easy; you know the one, the one where God takes away all illness, aches, pains, trials, and even the little bumps in the road. I think I can safely say that not one who believed or believes in Jesus ever got a life like that. Whether it was emotional, financial, spiritual or physical, the persecution, trials, and tribulations arrived and knocked us about the head and body. We as a body have suffered setbacks, sickness, death, sorrow, stress, poverty, plenty, and anything else one might imagine. And then Jesus said, "but be of good cheer."

What? We have to be cheerful about suffering these tribulations? No, it wasn't a rule to make us smile those fake smiles while in terrible pain. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) The cheer we know is that all the tough times have a purpose. Faith does not grow and flourish in a field of ease and luxury. Faith grows when times are tough, and those times will come. But be of good cheer, our Lord Jesus has overcome this world!

One of my favorite verses, I may have written on it once or twice before this. :-) Bucky

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

But, We're On The Border!

Good morning to those who love Christ Jesus and are called by Him! Filling in a web form yesterday I ran into a problem, it called crossing the border an error. Little did the designers of said form know that it fits rather nicely into my message for this morning. Yes, we are on the border and the world does not like it. Misery loves company, as the old saying goes, and they do not want us to cross over to be with our Lord Jesus! We may not realize just how close to the border of paradise we are on this fine day.

When John looked up he saw a door standing open in Heaven. How close do we have to be to see a door and know it for what it is? Even in worldly terms we need to be fairly close. The great divide may be too deep for us to cross on our own, but it may not be as wide as we might be tempted to think. The bridge made by our Lord Jesus may not be so very far after all. The border between the Shadowlands and the reality of eternity with our Lord is just a short command away from us. "Come up here!" and John was there in the Spirit. How quickly will we make the journey when this old body is left behind? Paul said like going to sleep and waking up. In the blink of an eye. Whether we think about it or not, we are right on the border of our home!

Yes, we may have some trips near that border for a short time as we testify of the Good News. We all hope that this world's final blow will not be painful or drawn out. Faith reminds us that through tough times or resting, we are closer to our Lord and our home than this world would have us know. We are right on the border!

The Lord is at hand, be anxious for nothing!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ah, The Glory of God!

Glory is the credit we give to our Lord, although His glory is more than that and not dependent upon it. The heavens declare the glory of God according to a psalm of David (19:1). It is good for us to declare God's glory in our lives by testifying to His salvation and the good news of Jesus Christ. Our story is His story, what He has done in our lives especially to change our lives form the fallen sinner's life we led before His sanctification began in us.

I don't know how you fared back in the day, but before the work of Jesus began to show in me, I was pretty self-centered. Unfair was defined by me in relation to my wants and desires. Love, goodness, and giving were nice things as long as they flowed my way. Luck and chance were mean and hateful when they didn't land on my number. Superstition had much to do with everything because 'self' was at the center of things. It wasn't constantly this way of course because I was taught to share, obey the law, and live as a good citizen. However, how well I did these things had much to do with fear of punishment for breaking rules and laws. I was mostly about me until He came into my life!

The changes that God wrought in me were quite often too subtle for me to see right away, mostly because I tend to look on the outside first. It is difficult to see God's love, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness growing inside of me by staring at a mirror. Faith doesn't show up well in things I can touch and feel. It is easy to feel older as the years roll by, much more difficult to feel more faith in God. (Probably because faith isn't a feeling.) Ah, but the glory of God is coming soon, and better still it is not tied to the old me!

How great is God that He should love us while we were yet sinners! How wonderful that God chose you and me before we made all those outward changes to make ourselves more acceptable in our own sight (or even in spite of them if we were successful in those resolutions). Hmm, it seems the glory of God is in His work, not mine. Without Him I tend to do vain things that benefit me. In Christ, my work is His work, and it has a more lasting glory that is all due Him! Blessed indeed is the name of our Lord Jesus! Immanuel.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Well, It's Over

A holiday was enjoyed by all yesterday. Okay, maybe just a whole bunch of folks. No, all I really know about is me and a few others. I'm not sure I can even know about them. I would like to think that everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, but some may not have enjoyed it quite so much. I did make it to Big B's for a free burger basket, and then I had one of those pieces of pie that we cannot enjoy daily for fear of gaining 600 pounds. I didn't make it to the school and Rotary event, but not everyone is made for all things and that's okay too. However, I do feel a little down today.

No matter how much preparation and anticipation goes into a holiday, in spite of how much we put into the celebration, the holiday ends. We cannot keep it. Memories will fade in time. People will no longer speak of it. The day is gone. That is one sad thing about life here on this fallen earth; at some point, we stop and say, "Well, it's over." Perhaps there is something there that will change when we enter eternity with our Lord.

Heaven's celebrations will become the New Earth's celebrations, and maybe we get to keep those days. Every time we think of the wedding of the Lamb, we may get that day all over again. Celebrations may not just be high points of our relationship with the Lord, but the place where we go further in and higher up. No let down day after the big celebration? I'm not sure how to imagine that right now in this life. It may be something I'll need to trust God to hold onto for now.

Have a great weekend in Christ!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Called Forth To Serve

Good morning on Veteran's Day 2016! Not all of us felt the call to serve our nation in the armed forces. However, in Christ we are called forth to serve Him and our neighbors. That call began with our Lord's mission, stated here:

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

In our flesh we often feel a call to rule, some more than others, but servant leadership seems a lost art among us in this age. Back in the day of our Lord, many tried to force Jesus the Servant to become Jesus the King. That still seems rather backwards to me, but perhaps that is the Spirit's work in me. Jesus is the King of kings, but not all of us together could force the Lord to sit on a throne of our choosing. So, why then do I catch myself trying to rule over the Lord by expectation in my prayers?

Faith is praying for His will to be done and waiting in expectancy for the working of His will in my life. Expectation is praying something and expecting Him to hop to it. I can't pray 'Thy will be done...' and then pray for nothing but my will to be done; that just doesn't work out. Service is not going to the ruler and telling him what my will desires. How far would that get with a human king? Yet, there have been those times when I have found myself doing just that with the Lord in prayer.

Therefore, on this Veteran's Day my prayer is that the Lord by His mercy and goodness will strengthen me to serve and to know what service is in every circumstance. Blessed be His name!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Let Us Hasten To The Gathering

The end of the day draws near. The time of the reaping is upon us and the harvest is ripe. How long, we ask, until the Master returns? Perhaps He sees from afar that one sheep from His flock is yet lost in a far canyon. It may be that one field of wheat yet remains that is awaiting the Word of God before it can be harvested. Our final meeting with the Lord cannot take place while there is yet work to be done. Let us hasten to the gathering of God's children by finishing quickly what we have to do in His name. Don't try to do it alone! Seek His mercy and love as we set about those final few tasks which must soon bring forth the gathering and rapture of His church, His beloved bride.

As you can tell, I read my C.H. Spurgeon before starting the task of my own on this day. The idiom of 19th century writing is, at least it seems to me, a bit more lyrical than our tone in this age. We may have e-mail and texting to thank for that, systems which both value brevity in our communication over lengthy sentences and lyrical verse. Most of us do not want to face a 4-page e-mail to start the day, and texts can be cut off if we are not very brief. However, that may not be inappropriate in this age. The end may indeed be just a short time away, and therefore all communication of the gospel must be brief, quick to the point, and sent without delay. Those who have not heard or do not yet believe may not have time for hours-long sermons or letters that span pages; the end times are upon us all! Let us then hasten to the gathering of God's final lost sheep. We may mourn the loss of a slower-paced life from back in the day, but the quickening pace of the world may indeed point to the final sprint to the finish of this race.


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

An Interesting Morning

So, we have elected a new president. Does this mean that I dropped all prayers for our nation and breathed a relieved sigh that the election was over? Well, no and yes. This morning I felt a stronger burden than before to pray for revival and awakening in our nation, and it has nothing to do with the candidates or the winner, but it may have something to do with the election and all its negative news being finished at last. Relieved of the burden for praying over ballots and voters, I can turn to praying for salvation for all.

The presidential election and the many other results of this election make for an interesting day. Hopefully some persons across our nation can behave better today than they have in the weeks leading up to the election. (Alas, already news is spreading that some few have not.) Whichever 'side' we have landed on this morning; whether we see the vote as a victory or a defeat, I hope that we can recall the command of our Lord Jesus to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Salvation and loving one another, now wouldn't that solve quite a few amendment/proposition/ballot referendum/vote thingies before they even needed an election! I'm not asking for much on this interesting morning, just a complete reversal from the sin in which all were born, almost like a rebirth. Hey...maybe I'm onto something there!

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Let Thy Will Be...Voted On?

What a fiasco that would be. Try to imagine a couple hundred million people trying to vote on what God's will would be for the next year. All those individual needs and wants, frailties, fumbles, and falsehoods, all vying for what they think is best for God's will for all of us in the next year. If you are not frightened enough yet, think on a four year term next. Now think of those two hundred million people all praying in Christ, "Let Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." Whoa! That could happen. All we need is a revival, another great awakening of faith, a nationwide turning to Christ. This is not beyond our Lord's capabilities and would make such a difference in the world.

We do not get to vote on God's will, and that is a wonderful thing. However, we do get to come to Him in prayer. Prayer is better than a vote because it starts with His will and not ours. We don't have to use the same exact words each time in prayer, but the model Jesus gave to us certainly contains the elements we need. Acknowledging God's holiness, seeking His coming Kingdom, praying that His will be done, petitioning His provision and mercy, and a reminder to obey His command to forgive. Temptation is best avoided and we don't want anything to do with that evil one. And finally, give it all up to Him forever.

Today, as the vote is taken across our land, I feel a strong urge toward prayer. May His will be done!


Monday, November 07, 2016

Has Time Caught Up With You Yet?

This weekend is part of our semi-annual self-inflicted torture ritual wherein we adjust the daily time. I only say self-inflicted because it originates in Congress and we voted them into their positions. Perhaps in some parts of the country we can begin un-inflicting ourselves on Tuesday, hey? Yes, consider voting for candidates who will stop the semi-annual torture of the time changes!

If you failed to compensate for the time changing on any or all of your clocks, time may not have caught up with you yet. This causes unusually early rising in the morning as it did with someone whose name I won't mention this morning. To cover for the guilty, we can just call her "Mom" in any further examples.

It is interesting for those of us given to anxious worry that time never quite catches up with us. We seek out imaginary futures, fill them with dread and worry, season them with fear, and cause no events at all in the real world. Time never catches up with a future that exists only in our imaginary horror show. We do however harm ourselves with this sort of activity as anxious worry induces real changes in the body. In other words, sick with worry isn't just an idle expression, or maybe that should be idol expression.

When time does finally catch up with me, I find every time that Jesus was not with me in that imaginary phantasmagoria I created out of worry. I used the example of my court time in a devotional a while back. Had I been able to charge like a lawyer does for all of that court time, I figure I would have earned something like a million dollars this spring and summer. When the case was settled, I had spent no time in court in the real world. The present was where my Lord Jesus was when that real time caught up to me. Now that I have 'fallen back' by resetting my clocks (those that didn't set themselves that is) perhaps I can use this reminder to remain here in the present with my ever-present friend, Jesus.

Blessed be His name,

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Saving Those Sinners

The word repentance does not occur in the New King James version of the Old Testament, but in the New Testament it suddenly becomes a big theme. Not to worry, repent, return to the Lord, and similar terms and phrases are much in evidence in the NKJV Old Testament. Much of the Bible is about people or persons and the need to turn to the Lord and be saved. Why so much valuable scripture given over to repentance? Because every one of us needs it!

Only one man lived who did not need to return to God for salvation, and He said:

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7

Jesus was kind enough to mention me in scripture, for I am certainly that one sinner who repented. I cannot take that title alone though. Many brothers and sisters in Christ have come before me since Jesus spoke His words, many a sinner has repented during my time, and up to the end of the Tribulation many more will come to Jesus for salvation. We might even pause to wonder where the 99 just people were to come from since, other than my brothers and sisters who trusted in Jesus for their saving, who indeed is justified?

Well then, if 99 just people cannot be found to provide joy in heaven, it is up to our Lord to provide saved sinners to joyify His heavenly realm. Praise God there is much we can do to help Him provide fuel for this fire of joy lighting up Heaven.

Have a great Saturday and be a light to those around you,

Friday, November 04, 2016

Everyone But You

Separation from this world is not something the flesh wants to feel. When the Savior's call comes, we may want to look back and indeed it may take some quite a while to make that decision to follow Him.

Moving to a new town, losing a job, not getting a promotion, and other circumstances can give us an 'everyone but me' sort of feeling. A diagnosis of cancer or a disease that carries some name we never heard of can give us that same separated feeling. A financial crisis that causes cutting back of social activities we enjoy might also bring on the 'everyone but me' feeling of doom and woe. The world has many opportunities to make one feel alone and unwanted! Then, something happened:

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:16-17)

Yes, the Savior chose you and me. And He commands us to love one another. It is a strange thing that while the world would make me feel separated and alone, Jesus calls us apart from the world and that makes one feel loved and chosen. The love of Christ frees me to feel a part of something grand, the kingdom of God!

Have a loving Friday in Christ!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

A Little Trip to Weirdness

So, the Cubs won the baseball championship, Cabela's is all but sold to Bass Pro Shops, and our November weather is very September-like; what comes next? Election Day of course, are we to go further down the road in our little trip to weirdness? It may well be time to read the Revelation again, along with certain passages in quite a few other books of the Bible telling of what to watch for near the end of time.

It is interesting that one of the signs our Lord gave to us in Matthew 24 is that many will be offended. Outrage seems to be a popular pastime, even more than that, a passion in this age. Love has grown cold in many hearts, another sign. And, false prophets of many types abound, all trying to get their face on the news and speak their false words to the masses. So, what is He waiting for? That too is explained to us, perhaps just in case we get anxious about our Lord's return. He is of course waiting for every last sheep that belongs to Him to come home. The very last sign before the end will come, in the words of our Lord:

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)

This gospel, the Word of God - every nation will hear the preaching of the ministers of Christ before that end comes. So, we may get to see a whole lot of weirdness before Jesus returns, but we also will get to hear the Gospel more, perhaps much more, before the end comes. Or, are we just waiting for that last one, the one about to believe in a little village in Lower Slomoeronia. We might be but moments away from the Rapture of the Church!

Amen, come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Thy Word

Going back to the King James version this morning, we have this little gem:

My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. (Ps 119:28)

The longest psalm and chapter in the Bible uses 'Thy word' 35 times in its 176 verses. It may be that the Word of God has some importance to the authors of that long psalm.

Our Lord is faithful and true; when He gives His word we have no fear that He will not perform and keep His word. The word of God is precious to us; a treasure we hardly deserve, but in it are the words of our eternal hope. When circumstances are tough for us, His word brings comfort. When a celebration is in order, His word brings news of more and better celebration to come. When we yearn for the return of our Lord, His word assures us that the time will come.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Ps 119:105

His Word has spoken!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Happy All Saints Day, Saints!

One more week to go... pray for our nation, please! The day we enjoy the privilege of voting comes closer. And now, saints of the Lord, it is your day! Give yourself a hug for believing in Jesus. Not everyone makes that decision and not all will be saved. Our Lord has begun a great work in you and He has assured your place in Heaven. Once you were lost in your sin but the Lord Jesus has caused your rebirth in the Spirit. Before there was no hope for you, but now He is our hope and redemption. Does it seem like all the work is on His part thus far?

When it comes to salvation, the work is indeed all on our Lord. Come to think of it, that sanctification thing is pretty much His show too. I wonder where Heaven is? I think Jesus will have to come back and get us for any of us to get there too. Go forth! Make disciples of all the nations. Is that something the saints can do alone to become saints? No, even the great apostles back in the first days of Acts had to wait before the Holy Spirit came on them. I'm guessing that none of us would accomplish much without an enabling and empowering by the Spirit either. This really is His story, isn't it?

Praise God that He loves us and wants us to do well in His work so much that He does enable and empower His saints. So, have a happy All Saints Day, Saints! He chose us and brought us to Himself.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Let The Spirit Reign

Jesus ascended to Heaven in Acts 1:9 and He sits at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 1:3). This tells us that our Lord Jesus is not here, and we have His promise that He will return one day. Very shortly after His ascension to glory, Jesus gave the Holy Spirit, who came in a like a mighty rushing wind (Acts 2). So is the Holy Trinity split, one down here and 2 up there? How does that work? Of course, I cannot answer that. The mystery of our God who can be a Trinity and yet One is beyond my small ability to explain or even to understand.

In me I know the Holy Spirit of God is in for a fight that He will win. I know through faith in my Lord Jesus. However, I also see the lusts of the flesh, that old man, putting up quite the defense of what it considers its domain. Like the unbelieving child of the world that it is, the flesh of this body is not easily convinced that the Spirit knows what is best. My command to let the Spirit reign is met with the claws and teeth of that old animal within. Fortunately for me, the wisdom of God sent His Spirit right onto the very battlefield the animal flesh would defend.

Jesus did not send the Spirit to walk beside us or to stand over the top of us. He sent His Spirit into us, and the fight was on from then until our dying day. Faith says that victory is certain, but sometimes the lustful strength of our flesh can cause us to doubt. That is where faith calls us to let the Spirit reign. Our strength to fight ourselves is not nearly enough to overcome our birthright, and it sounds a bit self-destructive at that. What we are after though is complete victory, to become that man or woman who trusts and obeys God out of love. That can only happen when the help we need from outside of us comes inside of us and carries the fight to the enemy's home ground. We must have total victory, and only the Spirit can win it for us by the blood of the Lamb. Let the Spirit reign!

All glory to Him who will keep us until that day His work is complete, and bring us home to His Father forever!


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Oh, Praise Him!

Autumn Saturday mornings back in the days of my youth sometimes brought a parade. At least once, and probably two or three times, the band would march in these parades. Ours was a fairly respectable band of about 100 or more marchers from a small town, but we were also far from the largest marching band. Now, imagine a band of 10,000 marchers. No, not the one of now or even back then, the one where the middle would be out of step with the front and the back would be running to catch up because of the accordion effect. No, this band steps out at the same time and maintains perfect lines and rows. This band has no need of sheet music, for at the drum major's command it plays an anthem of praise composed right on the spot as it marches. Instruments and percussion accompany the voices of the crowd along the parade route as all work together to praise the Lord Jesus, the parade marshal.

Of course this is nothing but a dream right now. To coordinate such a large band now would be beyond our abilities. If you have ever marched in a large military parade, you know that the effort at practice required is tremendous just to get a battalion of several hundred marching in a military manner. In a division parade, which would be about 10,000 marchers, there is only one band, and it is quite a small part of the parade. Even physics would seem to be against us as it would seem to the crowd that the back of the band was playing a different tune from the front as it would take a couple of seconds for the 'oomp' of the tuba at the back to reach the 'toot' of the trumpet in the front. And to compose the tune on the spot? Yikes, try not to imagine the cacophony of 10,000 individuals making up their own music as they marched.

A praise parade is a vision for the days when we are marching up God's holy mountain in a time that has not yet come. It doesn't work now, but it will then. We are separated now by duties, jobs, and circumstances, many beyond our control, which conspire against such a unified effort at praise. We live and labor in a fallen world with plenty of enemies seeking our ruin. But it won't always be that way; we have our Lord's word on that.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In His holy mountain. (Psalm 48:1)

Have a blessed Saturday!

In Christ Jesus,

Friday, October 28, 2016

Whatever Comes

I am convinced this morning that whatever may come today, the Lord and I will face it together. Now, since my partner in this day has full knowledge of the day, and moreover, is all-powerful so that none can stop what He starts, what reason is there for me to worry?

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! (Rev 19:6)

Omnipotent - all powerful, Almighty, the one who walks with me and sees me through this life is all of that. What can hurt me when my God says, "No"; what can stop me when my God says, "Go!"? And just where might He send me on this day?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11)

Whatever comes this day, I know the Lord has a great future for you and me. Thoughts of peace from the Lord, who could certainly be our worst enemy should He so choose, are a great relief to such a sinner as we once were. A future and a hope are those things we can trust in completely from the Lord our God. I am glad this morning that the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

Have a peaceful Friday in Him!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Waiting On Our Prayer

The calls have gone out, and some prayer has been raised to the Lord. Yet, I sense a waiting from the Lord our God for enough prayer and more prayer voices. Yes, the call for revival in our nation has become strong, but I don't believe the Lord will act until enough of His children get behind it in prayer and fasting.

We tend to think of revival as a whole bunch of unbelievers turning to the Lord to get saved, and it is! But first comes the revival of God's people to pray for those who do not yet believe. We come to Him in prayer with our request for revival. We sit out a meal in prayer to put some emphasis on our desire to see that revival. A little sacrifice to sweeten the incense of our prayer as it rises up to God. We follow our Lord Jesus in wanting to see the unsaved repent. We become the first fruits of the great awakening by waking up to pray for revival in our land. We hold in our hands the prayers that will send forth God's Spirit on a mission of revival!

America has experienced great awakenings before this time, and each time it was needed for great spiritual change in our land. I believe that before each of these awakenings was a time of prayer and a call for prayer that rose out of pulpits and pens. God's people responded by going to the prayer room and bringing a special request for God's action in revival. We can see the need: let us pray!

In Christ our Lord,

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

That First Summit

Way back in the bright ages of time - because why should they be dim when it is recorded in scripture? - Jacob and Laban held the first summit, so named because it was in fact on the summit. A peace treaty was made with conditions for both sides, oaths were sworn, and Jacob made a sacrifice to seal the deal.

Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread. And they ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain. (Gen 31:54)

And in the morning came the sound of scoldings from the tents of the brethren as the wives had their say. We too might ask why they stayed all night on the mountain after the ceremony. Was it too dark to find their way down? Not sure the wives would accept that excuse. Did the bread make them goofy, or did someone neglect to record what they washed it down with? Or, did the calling of God as witness require a solemn ceremony that lasted all night?

It is easy to put on the patriarchs all the sins we are tempted with each day. And while all these are certainly possible, the scripture has many stories of these sins, we don't have to force our sins on those of days gone by. God was called as witness and since this is recorded in His word, I believe He showed up for the ceremony and it took all night to celebrate the peace treaty. A family settled their differences, with God's help, and made peace.

Now, if only we could remember to call God to help us make peace in our families.

God's love and blessings to you,

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Morning Like No Other

Hmm, it seems there is some sort of anniversary today, but probably not the one some are thinking of on this fine morning. Yes, this is the anniversary of the Grenada landing way down south where it is hot, hot, and humid, humid even on the 25th of October. I didn't stick around for the end of it; we had a mission in Beirut calling us eastward. However, that isn't the unique morning I want to talk about today. That morning like no other is the one when Jesus returns.

It is both biblical and our experience that life can go on for years, decades, and even centuries where things are pretty much routine. Things do change, but not very quickly. Then, like that night when Jesus was born these many years ago, (like more than 2,000 years ago) something changes in a way that makes the word 'change' seem kind of, um, like small change. That is the day we are talking about when Jesus returns. Change hardly begins to describe that day, and yet we have such a small concept of it.

What will happen on the day that Jesus begins His 1,000 year reign on the Earth? Who will be around to see it? Will He have orders for me, or tell me to go be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth? I don't know; I'm just little (relatively speaking) old me on this side of the future, looking with my limited vision into the fog of the morning. This morning also is like no other because the Lord has given it to me for building my faith, rejoicing in Him, enjoying the company of my Lord, and other things. This is the day the Lord has given, we will rejoice and be glad in it! (Ps 118:24) The day Jesus returns will indeed be like no other, but it is my job to live this day; and just maybe one day, even today, those will be one and the same!

Have a great day in Christ Jesus!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Shining Brightly or Sinning Darkly?

The hail of June 27th ruined a switch on the streetlight next to my house. So, for the past four months I've enjoyed a street light that lights up in the dark, then goes out, returns to a dim glow, and then lights up once more, repeating this pattern all night long. It reminds me of my struggle with sin in this life. I am certainly hoping that my periods of shining brightly with the light of Christ's love are growing longer and the periods of sinful darkness much shorter, but it can be hard for me to tell. As for the other part, I think all of us can see the connection between me and a dim bulb.

So, am I shining brightly or sinning darkly? Both of course, for the fight between the old man of the flesh and the new man of the Spirit goes on. Even Paul the great apostle complained of doing those things he no longer wanted to do. How can we possibly be saved with this fight going on? One might well say that this fight between the flesh and the Spirit is the sign that we are saved, reborn in Christ. Without the Spirit in us we are back to obeying the law as best we can, or at least trying to not get caught. Without the Spirit we are at peace with the world. With the Spirit we are at peace with God.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 6:1-2)

We are justified by faith, not our actions. It may be that I will be convicted by the Spirit of sin right up to the very end of this life for one reason - to prove to me that I cannot save myself. Rightly do we say: Jesus saves!

Rejoice in the love of Christ this day!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Why Am I Planted In This Desert Waste?

And now she is planted in the wilderness,
In a dry and thirsty land. (Eze. 19:13)

This verse does not sound very hopeful to us down here below. Our view of God's great plan is often skewed to the depressing by the limited vision of our earthly station. In Ezekiel, the prophet tells us that the whole promised land thing just didn't work out. So, God sent them round the desert for a bit - a 40-year bit. And now she is planted in the wilderness. But what can God bring out of that planting?

We look around and sometimes we think that God must have made a mistake somehow. Surely, the land of the Lord's abundance does not look like this? Why, my house/shack/trailer/hut only has 2 rooms, and that car/horse/cart won't go this morning, and did you see the state of my fridge/pantry/garden today? And we don't even want to go into that job, the insecurity, the low pay (and isn't it always, no matter how much we are blessed with?), the terrible working conditions, and that boss, aagh, surely he/she must have been bred in the pit of hell. What a miserable lot of moaners and complainers we can be on a given day! Yet, the Spirit leads us back to God's planting.

What joy and mercy are in the planting right where we are this day! If we can hold that steadfast faith and release the Spirit to encourage and enlighten us, we might just see a bit of God's workings as He grows us in a barren land, or even realize that this land is not so barren as the prince of this world might like us to see.

Each of God's children, reborn in Christ and saved by the blood of the Lamb, may spend some time planted in a desert before we are ready for the promised land. However, grumbling against the Lord's will and way is probably not the way to grow in the faith. Trusting, believing, and obeying the Lord in all things no matter where He has us planted today that is the path of wisdom for us.

Praise God for His great and patient love!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Muddy Child

Then I said to them, ‘Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ Ezekiel 20:7

A muddy child played in a muddy bog throwing mud on himself declared, "I am cleaning up my self!" When at last he saw that it could not work, he invented a system whereby he and the other muddy children would take turns throwing mud on each other, each declaring the other cleansed. In time they agreed that could not work either Finally, a system of cleansing become popular where some would run a pump while others held a hose and sprayed mud upon the assembled masses of muddy children. And they saw that it was good.

In the scripture we read the story of the Israelites entering the promised land. Oh wait, they couldn't and instead spent 40 years wandering in the desert wastes. God asked them to throw away their abominations and they could not do it for themselves and to their own benefit. The fear they had in them, that they could not toss aside, prevented their entry into a land flowing with milk and honey. Fear, the abomination we cannot toss aside on our own.

God has a better way, the Way, and He is working in us to abolish that abomination of fear. It may be immediate or it may be gradual, but one day we will each fearlessly enter into the kingdom of God. There it is.

God's love to you in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Time of Faith Building

For most of us, success hasn't spoiled us yet because we are not quite sure what that success thing is they talk about. However, we would like to maybe try some of it to see if it suits us. Perhaps a house in Hawaii for living along with a more modest home near relatives for visiting. A couple of cars just to play with and a really good one for when it is needed. A certain amount of money for investing and a plentiful flow to the ol' bank account to pay the bills - we have a pretty good idea of what we think success is, we just haven't experienced it quite yet.

On the other hand, we asked for God to build our faith when we gave ourselves to Jesus, and by now we have a much better idea of what trials and tribulations mean. We have more than once entered into a time of faith building...and the flesh didn't much like it. Times were lean, the flow to the bank account was too little or shut off for some reason, and the bills piled up without resolution. We may have enjoyed more than one car, but that was in the fervent hope that one of them would start to get us to work, if we had any employment to drive to that is. One house was more than we could afford and just a short vacation in such an expensive place as Hawaii was way out of our reach. We were building our faith in God, and probably didn't even see it for the tears we shed over our circumstance.

You know, young grasshopper, I'm not sure that we will be able to see all the faith our Lord built up in us until that day when He takes us to our eternal home. The struggle down here has grown a strong and tall tree of faith that only the Lord can see right now. We might become proud if we could see all that He has grown in us through trial, tribulation, struggle, and strain. And no, the flesh does not like faith building; it wants the easy life with luxury.

Have a faithful struggle today,