Saturday, January 30, 2016

Touched By The Lord

Sometimes we think the Bible is the story of the noble class. Kings, queens, and princes do abound in the word, but their beginnings are often just as humble as our own. Yes, Moses was adopted by the Egyptian royalty, but when God touched him, he was a shepherd and a disgraced former royal wanted for murder. Abram was a shepherd. Joseph a prisoner-slave. David was last in a family of brothers and not likely to aspire to anything beyond herding those sheep. Gideon was found trying to sift a bit of grain while avoiding the 'tax' collecting marauders that ruled his land. Daniel was a slave in a foreign country, and everyone in Israel seemed to think the prophets of God were fair game during open season. The New Testament changes everything of course: the carpenter's son chooses fishermen, despised tax collectors and even his most zealous enemy from among the Pharisees. Who are these people? Where's the hereditary king born into the soft bed and willing servants?

Wellll, the King of kings was born into a stable and had the softest manger anyone could find. His servants aren't always as willing as we should be and sometimes we're downright rebellious and grumble-y. His court is full of the most humble sinners and He is constantly with the sick, the weak, and the prisoners. All is not lost! The King of kings will accept nothing more; the self-righteous need not apply. Those judging themselves worthy are rejected out of hand. But, every contrite prodigal is welcomed with a clean white robe and the open arms of the Father. All we need is to repent and accept that saving touch of the Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord as you have a loving Saturday!


Friday, January 29, 2016

Response and Responsibility

In Chapter 4 of the Revelation, we are given a vision of God's throne as John saw it after he was called up to Heaven. In this room, which we call a room in order to put a container on that which cannot be contained, are many wonders. John sees the 24 elders, the four living creatures, He who sat on the throne and the throne itself with its magnificent emerald aura. For those who struggle to find a meaning in every bit of the Revelation, this chapter raises more questions than answers. Who are the 24 elders? Where do they come from? Are they humans from the Earth or have they always been there in Heaven? What call to action do we gain from Revelation 4? What does this represent in the future?

Perhaps God is not looking to place a responsibility on us in this vision related through John, but to gain a response. We see into God's throne as John places the best words he can on what he has witnessed for us. There is no question to answer, no duty to perform. What God wants is our response. Wonder, awe, a certain difficulty in even coming up with a mental picture of what John has written. We gaze upon the heavenly words of Revelation 4 with earthly eyes, of course we come up short of seeing what John witnessed. The four living creatures are marvelous and almost completely strange to us. The 24 elders are an enigma. The throne of God awe-inspiring and too wonderful for a clear picture. Lightnings and thunderings? Is that its normal condition or is a storm brewing in Heaven? Voices from the throne - what are they saying? But let us put off responsibility and just see as best we are able. Let us pray for the right response.

Have a great Friday in Christ!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

You Can't Face Them Alone

A typical device in much of writing is the friend or companion yelling something like, "You cannot face them/it alone!" This sort of thing goes on a lot in fiction land. The humor, I suppose, is that the hero is not alone, he's got that other character with him, the one who apparently wants very much to go and leave our hero to not face them/it alone. The funny thing for us is that we so often feel alone in facing something when we are never alone. Sure, you and I may not be together facing a thing, and each of us may not have another body standing beside us, but we are never alone.

Jesus promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. Yes, it might be comforting to reach out and touch the Lord Almighty in a moment of stress but that wouldn't be faith. As Thomas reached out to touch the wounds of our risen Lord, he heard that great promise, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 21:29) A good reminder to us every day in this age of faith without touching the Lord. How do we remember that Jesus is always here? The Spirit, His Spirit, reminds us if we will listen, "...and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." (Matt 28:20). Amen.

Not one of us can face the world alone, and we don't! The love of Jesus to you,


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

He Dined With Me!

I want to introduce a most famous verse from the Word of God. Uh, if it is 'most famous' as you say, why would you need to introduce it? Exactly, but sometimes a good reminder and comment on a verse is edifying and uplifting too. Here is the verse for today:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

Imagine hearing that voice from the other side of your door, opening the door, and having dinner with the Lord. We couldn't wait to tell our friends the next day. Texts and e-mails would fly from our fingers. The social media post would go viral. "What did you eat? What did He say? Is He still here?" The questions would come from your friends faster than you could answer. And yet we do not believe. That will never happen to me. Jesus is in heaven and I am here. Boo, hoo, hoo.

Yes, there is a spiritual meaning to that verse, and yes there is also an eternal meaning as I'm sure Jesus will delight to dine with each and all of us on the New Earth, but this is what He said in His word. Might there not be a meaning we can partake of here and now? Can we not invite Him in? Wouldn't dinner with Jesus be great? I know that Jesus wants to do this in His great love. So, how important is that Second Coming anyway? Well, it may be so important that He holds off on dinner for just a bit. We dine with our Lord in faith as He partakes with us in His Spirit. One day though, there will be a knock on the door of a house. It might be yours! Let Him in.

Grace and peace to you from the Amen (see Rev 3:14),


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Like A Smiling Snowman

As I look in the mirror, I'm starting to see a little sagging here and a bit of drooping there, I think the dust of the earth is starting to call back its own. With the recent snows out east, I expect a profusion of snowmen to grow up. Like a smiling snowman standing in the sun with his arms raised up to the heavens, I know that my time here is limited. My body is temporary and one day will return to the dust from which it was made. Like that snowman though, I want to make the most of this time by praising God.

I may look a bit melted compared to my appearance at say 20 or 25 years of age, but I've never been closer to God than I feel right now. My circumstance says blazing sun, time is fleeting, I am melting away, but the Spirit says that life begins when Jesus comes. One sun melts me into a puddle, but the Son restores me to life eternal. In time, the sun may look down on no sign of me at all on this earth; but in just a little more time, the Son will bring me and my brothers and sisters into a new Earth that will never die. We have so much to look forward to in Christ. The smile may droop a bit from time to time, but the spirit within soars to the song from on high. Jesus is coming!

Have a great Tuesday in Christ,

Monday, January 25, 2016

There's a Lot of Attacks Out There!

Anxiety attack, terrorist attack, heart attack, my frequent companion - the sneeze attack, and many other attacks wait out there for us on any given day. This world seems just full of things meant for our destruction, or at least the grabbing of many tissues. This weekend, I got to enjoy the weekend-without-Internet attack. I figure it a small price to pay for not being buried in snow like the folks out east. It was, however, annoying at times as I came to realize just how many bits of information I look up on the Internet in a 48-hour period. Knowledge most certainly has increased, now we await the remainder of the end times prophecies.

In a world where attacks seem to lurk in ambush on every path, the church at Philadelphia (The one in Turkey circa 95 AD, not the one buried in snow this weekend.) got by on little strength. In His message to the church in Revelation 3, Jesus writes that the church did three great things with their little strength: "...for you have a little strength, have kept My word and have not denied My have kept My command to persevere." (3:8,10) The church at Philadelphia seems like the servant who received only one talent, but instead of burying it, put it to work for the Lord. With their little strength, they stood firm in the Word like the Bereans, refused to deny the name of Jesus like the martyrs, and lived each day persevering in faith, love, and the hope of Christ's return like, well, us.

There's a lot of attacks out there, and for those with little strength perseverance is our commanded duty in Christ. We overcome by getting up each day, living in the Lord's grace, and letting our little light shine. In this present darkness a little light shines a long way!

Have faith in Christ,

Friday, January 22, 2016

Discoverer or Witness

One of the comic strips I follow is Back to B.C. by Johnny Hart. These are his strips from back in the day when he began the B.C. comic, like 1958 when some of us weren't not yet born, or even knew how to type good American English. One of the guys in the strip today wishes that he was born a discoverer instead of a witness. That reminded me of the wishing I hear from not only myself but my brothers and sisters in Christ too. We can be a pretty discontented bunch at times, even a bunch of grumblers. Oh dear, not those guys, not us!

Witness is not such a bad title after all. John was called to witness the Revelation. Matthew, Mark, and John were called to witness the life of Christ. Luke had a little different calling as an investigator of the life of our Lord, but then he was called to witness the acts of the apostles and even scribe some of Paul's great letters to the churches. Witnessing is so very important to our Lord as we can see from the testimony of John, Luke, Paul and many others. Bearing witness, carrying the story of our Lord Jesus to those who live with no hope is an important job in the Kingdom. We need not be ashamed of our witness; it is the work for which we were reborn.

Have a great Friday in the grace of our Lord Jesus!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Hate of Compromise

The term Nicolaitans does not occur in the Bible until the Revelation. Then it comes up twice in the same chapter. Who were these people and what was this doctrine? Actually Paul had addressed this issue back in his letter to the Romans with: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) In other words, the Nicolaitan doctrine was one of compromise or being conformed to the world. Jesus had a message for two churches:

"Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate." (Rev 2:15)

"But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." (Rev 2:6)

One church had some conforming folks and the other church hated the doctrine of compromising with the world. Bear in mind that these are from a collection of messages from our Lord to SAVED people. The hate of compromise is stated twice by Jesus, and we know our Lord loves to love first.

There is something in us that would like to take these messages and turn the verbal guns on others, but this is about a personal response. Giving ourselves a pass on a sinful action, failing to love a neighbor by daydreaming of sexual immorality with his wife, entertaining ideas of how to make money dishonestly, or holding grudges and many other ways that conform to this sinful world are not for us, as Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jude, John, and the other books of God's word told us in so many words. Praise God this change comes through God's Spirit from the inside, because I haven't been quite successful yet in changing it from the outside.

Thank you, dear Lord, for strengthening us to flee sin and hate compromising with it.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Does Our Work Matter?

The question buried under that may be more like: Does my life matter? Do I matter? This may trigger a remembrance of some list of accomplishments or lack thereof. Looking at the self, we will likely fall short of making an eternal difference. Maybe we will even see more harm than good in the life we have lived thus far. (Bear in mind that one who wants to steal, kill and destroy is quite good at highlighting only the bad events in our lives.) We look in the wrong direction though when we attempt to find worth in the self.

Looking at what Jesus has done to redeem my life, I come up with a wonderful answer to my net worth. Jesus gave His very life to redeem each and all of us. That is some serious worth; a pearl of great price; a treasure recovered from a field. Not only did Jesus give His life, but He suffered the death of a criminal to pay for my sin! Then, He rose again from death and the grave to prove His great love. Am I worth anything? Yes! Look at Christ and what He has done. Look at the Son of God and who He is. Have you or I done nothing to build God's kingdom on this earth? We were saved by Jesus and that makes you and me one more building block in God's church, one more member of God's eternal kingdom.

When our work is in Him, yes, it matters very much!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

As Long As We're Speculating

The subject of rushing to the defense of a brother in Christ was raised by me at our Bible study this morning, and we began to speculate on how much easier it might be if the Marine veteran in the group was 30 years younger, hadn't suffered the injuries he has, and was a bit lighter on his feet. As long as we're speculating, we might as well think that our group includes Sgt. Rock, Chesty Puller, and Superman too! As I returned home, I thought that we only have what we are given; the scars of our past injuries, the weakness of our old age, the talents we were born with, those friends present at the time...and God.

My timing may depend on a broken down old clock but my Lord said that He would never leave me. My strength might be less than the proverbial 90-lb weakling but my Lord is the Almighty. A little bit of pain, a deficiency in my diet, and a lack of sleep may leave me useless in the physical world but my God is sovereign, untiring, and always present. Sickness and disease may come home with me and make themselves my constant companions but my Lord is the great Healer. I could go on, but the main point is that none of those who belong to Christ need speculate on strength, power, or authority when God is near, as He always is for those who will believe.

And by the way, my Lord fasted for 40 days and still resisted the worst the Devil could throw at Him!

Blessed be His name,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jesus, My Unforgettable Hero

On the back cover of a book that came to me was a complimentary statement that said, "An unforgettable hero." Now that's one thing for a fictional character, but what about someone who can help us here in this life? A firefighter, police officer or EMT who breaks a window and pulls a person from a flaming wreck might be nigh unforgettable to the person saved. The soldier in the field who pulls a buddy down into the foxhole just before the bomb hits will hold a heroic place too for that one person. But what about that one person who sacrificed all to save all? Some may not believe it or in Him, but Jesus did that very thing.

My unforgettable hero is Jesus Christ my Lord. Through faith, I know that the Son of God came down from Heaven, was born of the virgin Mary, grew to manhood, and lived the sinless life. Jesus went to the cross to pay for our sins and then rose again in victory over death and the grave. Through faith, I repent of my sins and God's grace in Christ saves me for all eternity. The One who sacrificed Heaven and His life to pay for my sins, and then rose to confirm in us the promise of eternal life is the hero I have sought since the earliest days of my life. But this is one hero I can share!

Jesus said to His disciples one day, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) We all desire to return to God, and Jesus is the hero who makes that possible. The sacrifice on the cross, the grace that gives eternal life, and the love that came down from Heaven in Christ the Lord, make Jesus my eternal hero!

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Titles of Christ

Reading the titles of Christ in the first chapter of the Revelation, I often compare those titles to the titles man assigns in this world. The titles of Christ appear permanent and unique. The First and the Last, who else can claim such a thing? The Alpha and the Omega, similar but different titles. Even in Isaiah: Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Everlasting Father - these are titles that get your attention! All of them belong to Christ; they are godly titles that belong to no other. Our titles by comparison are pale wispy things that are difficult to grasp and harder to hold onto.

Anyone who has ever entered a large corporation has gained a title, perhaps the first was Guest or Interviewee or maybe Applicant. Those fortunately didn't stick around long. Then, upon acceptance, you may have become Associate or some other thinly disguised word for Serf. You gained a new title. After years and much effort, perhaps some adult education, you attained Supervisor, Manager, Director, or dare we hope too much, Executive Vice President of Puddin' Pop Production, the EVPoPPP! Yay, go you! That really sounds like a good job to have, if you like puddin' pops that is.

Titles are things the world puts out there for us to grasp for. Think about this, if that title is so wonderful, how come we strive so hard to get promoted out of it? To get a new title? A better one? More money? Ah, that one will get us every time. I once worked in a place that became infamous for promoting to a new title without granting additional salary. Ouch! Hopefully they have that fixed by now. Even the lofty title of President of the United States may only last for four little years after all the effort and money expended in getting elected. Our titles don't stick around very long.

Those titles we read in the Bible though, His titles, they are there as one states - forevermore. Another begins 'Everlasting', which is as permanent as a title can get. One good thing about our titles is that they remind us this place and our place in it will soon be gone. When we take up the titles the Bible has for us, lost sheep, sinner, prodigal... believer, reborn, saint, follower of Christ, then we do indeed take that lowest place at the banquet. The good news is that we have one big promotion coming when our friend and Lord returns to take us right up to the Bridegroom's table to dine with Him.

I cannot take His titles, but I can be His!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Seeking Jesus

Good morning! Why do we seek Jesus? I wondered about that and found several reasons in the Bible. Some wanted to question Jesus, others to see their son and brother, a few wanted to know if they were on the right track, and of course many sought healing in the physical sense. It is interesting that taking today's verse, we get an interesting picture of seeking.

When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. (John 6:24)

The people in this case knew where Jesus was not, and they had some idea where to go to find him. Just from this verse we cannot tell if they ever found the Lord, but we read that they were seeking him in a particular place. Today, the people know that Jesus is not here in the walking, eating, physical presence part of knowing. They cannot see him with their eyes, so they say that He is not here. Those who believe have a different take on that, but permit the people their seeking. From the word of God, we know that Jesus is in Heaven seated at the right hand of God. The people cannot seek Him there and so some will turn away even to the point of saying that He does not exist.

Living in faith presents an interesting mystery for us all. I cannot point to Jesus like I would a friend on the other side of the street, yet, I know that He is here with me. Those who have sought Jesus have found Him, just as He promised, but we don't get to hold onto Him as we would a father, mother, sister, brother or friend. Those who fall asleep and go away from us in this life we know are with Jesus, yet we say that He is with us always, again just as He promised. Through prayer, Bible study, worship, and meditation we continually seek Jesus and just as often find Him, but still we cannot say, "Here He is, touch Him!" One day people will make the journey to Jerusalem to touch the Lord. For today we get faith, and in Christ faith is all we need for His presence to bless us.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Quiet, Simple Meditation

The shepherds in the field, tending their flocks by night, were sore afraid when the glory of the Lord shone round about them. We might picture the quiet of the early morning hours, the flocks of sheep bedded down and making little noise, and shepherds dreaming peacefully of warm beds and loving wives when, 'Boom!' the quiet is shattered by the sudden arrival and announcement. John could well relate to that. On the island of Patmos, the last remaining apostle settled in for a bit of meditation, at least that's what we may think when he says, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." The elderly John, perhaps looking to serve out the remainder of his mission as a prisoner on the penal island of Patmos, meditated on the Lord's word on perhaps his only day off from work in the mines or whatever the Romans had him doing as a part of enforced labor. A quiet, simple meditation as befitting the senior disciple of our Lord.

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet..." (Rev 1:10)

Behind him, a loud voice, as of a trumpet. Isn't that the sort of thing that us old folks would rather not have? Imagine sitting down in your favorite chair to read a bit of the word of God when suddenly, and with great volume, some lout turns on some trumpet music right behind your chair!

As announcements go, in both cases God got someone's attention in a big way and in a way they could hardly forget. The shepherds were sore afraid. John, writing the revelation down himself as per the Lord's instructions, perhaps forgot to let us know how startled he was at the shattering and sudden intrusion into his quiet, simple meditation. We give him no blame for that, the words of Christ were the important message. The bit about, "as I pounded on my chest with a goodly-sized rock to get my heart started again, the Lord gave me this message..." could be edited out in favor of passing on the Lord's announcement.

The word of the Lord has some wonderful understated humor as we read and study. "...and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet..." John's shriek of surprise must have been lost in a translation somewhere. Praise God for those times when He gets our attention in an unmistakable way!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Duty Is To Improve Myself? How Selfish!

I searched and searched in Romans 12 as I prepared for the lesson this morning, and I quite failed to find where my Christian duty according to Paul was to improve myself. For years I labored under the delusion that to please God was to improve myself to the point where I could be a better servant to the Almighty. At some point, the Spirit pointed out to me, rather comically it seemed, that the name Almighty kind of removed the need for any help from the likes of me. In other words, if God needs my help then He is not so mighty. What I found in Romans 12 was instead many words about relationship.

Two great commands Jesus gave us: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, equally as important, love your neighbor as yourself. Both commands are about relationship and Paul expands on that rather dramatically in Romans 12. Leadership, teaching, prophecy, lovingkindness, and hospitality are about relationship. The rule about doing unto others as you would have them do for you is also about relationship. All of those failures to make myself into a Christian superman went to the cross with Christ, because I can't make myself into what I think I should be much less what God would have me to be. All that I see in my duty in Romans 12 is about loving God and loving others as I love myself.

Now, what do I do with all that time I set aside to make myself into Super Christian ver 6.0?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Ruler of Kings

Good morning as we are reminded that this is an election year for most of the year. Don't you just feel tired thinking of that? In John's time they often had a different kind of ruler, one the common person did not get to vote for or against, the king. In the Revelation, John passes on an interesting title for our Lord: "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth." (1:3) It's that last one that stands out when it comes to leaders, whether they be presidents or kings. Ruler over the kings of the earth, a fine thing to say about our Lord, one that the world might not want to acknowledge.

Of course, John makes clear from the very beginning of the Revelation that the words and titles come from God. It is God's revelation not John's. Therefore, when it comes to Ruler over the kings of the earth, it is a matter of believing it or don't. For us who believe in Him already, Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, simple as that. We need to participate in our republic but we don't have to worry over who the nation selects as the next leader. We already have a ruler over any kings or presidents that come along. Election year is a bit of a trial that seems to have started early, but no worries!

Have a better day in Christ!

Friday, January 08, 2016

No Mercy To Any Transgressors?

A Friday without a holiday, I was getting kind of used to those three to three and a half day weekends. In the year 1,000 BC, give or take a year or two, King-to-be David looked out the windows of his house and saw Saul's assassins gathering to take him out. Think of the FBI, BATF, DEA, and a few other government agencies with guns and authority surrounding your house with orders that say something like "Shoot to kill". Not because they have some warrant or crime to charge you with, but just because the king has decided that murder is the best way to solve his little problem, namely you, you little problem you.

David of course goes to the One who we must seek when the forces of the world gather to destroy us.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
​​Defend me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
​​And save me from bloodthirsty men.

​​For look, they lie in wait for my life;
​​The mighty gather against me,
​​Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O LORD. (Psalm 59:1-3)

David goes to God in prayer with a call for help. Then, in verse 5, David prays:

You therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel,
​​Awake to punish all the nations;
​​Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors.

No mercy to any wicked transgressors? As a former wicked transgressor myself, I depend on God's mercy. Can we have a stay of execution here? A little chance for all the nations to seek an advocate for our defense? Why the sudden call for universal punishment? David, as we can see in many psalms of his, did not go back later and edit what he felt to tone down the words. What he felt in the moment, he wrote to God in prayer. What David prayed to God, he set down in music and sang in the congregation. We are not quite sure what a government like that is like in this age. Transparency in government seems quite opaque to us. In any case, David simply states what we deserved as sinners against the one true God. Thanks to God on this fine morning that we did gain an advocate and a propitiation for our sin about a thousand years after King David's time.

God's grace and mercy to you and me!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Oops, Glad I Ain't That Guy

Our little town was treated to the smell of a gas leak yesterday at about 4:30 in the afternoon. I saw the town manager driving furiously about with his nose out the window, people dumping soapy water on their gas meters, and gas company trucks rushing to the town...oh, all that is a bit of marketing speak for the town manager driving down the street, one person checking his meter, and one gas truck parked at their office. Well that's not so much fun. We are more accustomed to emergencies delivered and solved in hour-long shows. What do you mean a junk collector accidentally dropped a bucket with just a cup or so of the stinky gas chemical? We want drama, chaos, and a superhero!

On the other hand, I'm glad that I ain't that guy. I'll use 'guy' because most junk collectors are still men. No matter what you might call your wife's collection of knick-knacks, most of us see the older gent in the pickup and trailer doing the junk collecting. With that in mind, we'll just be glad that we aren't that guy, Public enemy number one (more tongue-in-cheek marketing speak) in our little town today. He caused a fright, a scare, a potential calamity with his fumbling fingers. How dare he! Oh, the relief when we found out it wasn't gas at all, just the stinky chemical (methyl mercaptan, CH4S,in case you were interested.) Still, what a disruption to the normal peace he caused. Cause for outrage, take to the social media, grab the torches and pitchforks! Wait, maybe not the torches.

In every time and place someone has played the part of the untouchable, the pariah, those no one wants to be. Yet, in one time and place, a man named Jesus sought out those very people. The woman at the well who had to get her water when no one else was around, the despised tax collector, the leper, and the crippled invalid, all sought out and healed by our Lord. When we follow Him, which of the despised and rejected of men are we led to find?

Have a graceful day in Christ,

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Something Other Than

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7)

Paul set out to bring the Galatian church back into the fold. Someone came with something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they went for it. With these two verses, we don't know whether it was the Judaizers with their doctrine of circumcision and becoming a Jew first, or the gospel of works fellowship with their work-to-save-yourself doctrine. What we know is that Paul saw a 'something other than' coming to pervert some of the Lord's sheep. Later in his letter, Paul sent a more shocking question:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? (Galatians 3:1-4)

Foolish? Bewitched? Yow! Paul brings out the big guns to get the Galatians attention in a shocking way. I have experienced something like that at work a time or two back in the day. One memorable time began with the words, "What did you just do?" Paul wanted the Galatians in this same condition. "You just messed up! Hear my words and stand corrected!" We all have those times when we are just plain wrong. Correction can be tough, but it's tougher still when the teacher must use shocking words to get our attention. The Galatians had a letter from Paul, we have our teachers too, and all of us have Jesus and His Holy Spirit to guide us back into grace and His love.

God's grace to you! Watch out for those things that are something other than the Good News of Jesus Christ.


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Maybe It Is You

The new year continues on the fifth day...That could sound a bit ominous or it may lean toward the positive depending upon your view. Have you broken a resolution yet? Perhaps you took care of that by not making any this year. As far as I know there is no law commanding resolutions every time we change out calendars. As they say, everyone is a little different. You may feel more than a little different and maybe it is you who is among the very different.

We enjoy and praise God for the great variety among those who believe in Jesus. Some are perfectly at home in a crowd while others are more solitary. Some sing wonderfully while others couldn't carry a tune in a bucket as the old saying goes. Some were given a full cup for their attention span while some few were given but a thimble. Some are very pious in their worship while others prefer to speak with God on the go. Of course most of us do not fit all the way into the extremes, but rather we are like many in some things and more different in others. We also change as the Lord's Spirit works in us and through us to His glory.

If you have failed at a resolution already don't despair overmuch; it may be something the Lord wants around for just a bit longer. If you seem very different from other Christians, maybe it is you ...the Lord has made for a very different mission and separated for a time. Maybe it is you the Lord loves with an everlasting love. When Jesus says, "I want that one!" Maybe that one is you!

Have a blessed new year starting with Christ!


Monday, January 04, 2016

Until We Meet Again

The first Monday of the new year has arrived and with it the news of the passing of my former neighbor in Sidney. For my friends at Cabela's this is like a kick while they are down, bad news at a time when good news would be welcomed and is greatly needed. Cancer is still a tough one; many do not survive that first diagnosis. Cancer seems like a prosecution where the accused does not get to hear the charges against him until the sentence is passed. In some cases, it seems that every time the defendant is allowed to return to his family another judgment against him has been passed while he was serving the first sentence.

Of course when one falls we are reminded that we too stand under sentence of death. What will get us? Will it be quick or prolonged? Why can't the Rapture come first? What might Thad or my uncle Kenneth (passed last November), or the many others we knew say to us now? Probably they would let us know about Jesus and His unfailing love and goodness. They might urge us strongly to let go of the worry and embrace the Savior. We cannot know every mortal peril that lurks around the next corner in life, but we do know someone who has gone down to death and the grave, and best of all - He rose again!

To those we will meet in the resurrection and to those we suffer with daily in this life, God's blessings and love to you and yours until we meet again.