Monday, February 29, 2016

Standing Alone

What if we take a frightening little excursion this morning to a place most of us would not want to be? Perhaps we might be that registered Republican who thinks that the best person for President of the United States is a lesser-known Democrat. People with torches and pitchforks might wait outside his/her home. I used the 'lesser-known' example for fear that dropping a bigger name might cause larger weapons to be used by this imaginary mob. We don't want to go to that place of standing alone like poor Frankenstein's monster. Of course in this season of Easter, one cannot help but think of our Lord standing alone at the cross.

One day, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey's colt, accepting the praises and shouts of 'hosanna' from the mob of city dwellers and Passover travelers. A couple of days later, that same mob gathers and shouts, "crucify him!' What happened? Where are His disciples, those He called friends? Where is the king's honor guard of tried and tested warriors to defend Him? Of course we know that God was always with His Son, just as we are never left alone by our Lord Jesus. Even if one of us should stand against all the rest of the world, he or she would not be standing alone. As Jesus said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:20)

Rejoice in Christ!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pretty, Ugly, or Just Pretty Ugly

However you may describe what you see in the mirror, the Lord came to give His life to save you. Whether you say that face is pretty, ugly, or just pretty ugly, Jesus saw something so beautiful in you that He died on the cross to save that person you just put down. We have a tendency to make snap judgments on appearance, especially our own. Jesus judges in love and righteousness. I have addressed this situation more than once. It's time to write about it once more because we can be quite hard on ourselves. As long as are down on the old ugly self, the world likes to jump on too with images showing how we all should be according to the prevailing winds of beauty and fashion.

Youth, beauty, fitness - the celebrated models of the world. My mirror doesn't speak of any of those things, Boo, hoo, hoo! So, what did Jesus see that would be worth the cross, torture, death, persecution and pain? Apparently someone He wanted to save exists in front of your mirror image and mine. Did Jesus say that one of us has surpassing beauty, eternal youth, or perfect fitness? Nope, but He did speak of a pearl of great price, a treasure hidden in a field, and someone worth dying for. Yes, the mirror image may seem like gazing at a rough and broken field, but somewhere in there is a treasure the Lord died to keep forever.

Have a lovely Friday dearest treasure of the Lord Jesus!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quietly, Gently We Go

The world is full of strength fantasies. I probably don't even have to name them for you, as any one of us can name a few without even trying hard. We all want control through superior strength in some area of our lives. Yet God calls us to yield up our lives to Him; a quite opposite sort of thing. Yielding is to our fallen minds not a sign of strength but of weakness. Athletes in a fighting sport strive for a submission hold to win the contest. God calls for submission from us, voluntarily with no fight involved. That's a good thing because I cannot think of a more unequal contest than to fight against our Lord!

Meek inheriting the earth, submitting to the Lord's will, surrender to Jesus, our faith is full of phrases that are alien and strange to our strength fantasies. Our greatest hero was one who meekly went to a criminal's death on a cross; surely a sign of complete surrender and loss if ever there was one. Then, at the end of His word, the sound and shouts of victory through the blood of the Lamb. How can this be? Maybe in this fallen world of sin we tend to have an upside down view of what it is to win the final victory. Could it be that the greatest gift God gives through the Holy Spirit is the ability to submit to Him?

Quietly, gently we go to Him. We want the mastery but God relieves us of the burden. Gradually we learn the right responses to circumstances, temptations, and trials of our faith. In love we grow closer to our Lord and the family of God. We learn to let the Lord hold the strength, power, might, and authority. We learn to live in Christ.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Scary Things in Scary Places

If I were some kind of song writer, I might have a catchy tune to go with that title. Although we should be wary of studying the occult too much, reading about scary things in scary places does not change who God is and the fact of His Almighty-ness. God is sovereign even when we are caught looking aside from the narrow path to gaze upon something frightening. A good mystery novel may make my hair stand on end, but God is still the Lord of Heaven and Earth. A sudden noise in the night, real or imagined, may cause me to grab for the flashlight and my glasses, but God sees all and is not in the least bit alarmed. Perhaps you have few fears in life, but I seem to fight many every day. Like poor Charlie Brown it seems to be my natural state. Fortunately for me, my God is the Almighty Sovereign LORD.

Most fears that we face come from looking at a lack of control or weakness on our part. We strive to control all that we can in order to quell the fear. However, since much fear is based on imagined futures that we no control over (and are in fact highly unlikely), where do we turn for comfort? God gave us a message on that subject:

Behold, the former things have come to pass,
​​And new things I declare;
​​Before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:9)

Hmm, this would lead me to believe that the future is under God's control. Those things I imagine? Not a prophecy but lies of the devil. The most frightening prophecies of the future are found in the Revelation. Yet, the fact they are written down beforehand speak to God's knowledge of them. The manner in which the tribulations come also tells of sovereign control. Seals are opened by the One found worthy: the Lamb of God. Trumpets are played skillfully by the angels assigned to that task, and the seven vials show us measured judgments carefully poured out. Scary things exist in scary places, but we must look at our Lord Jesus in prayer.

Have a fearless day in Christ!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

We May Need Those Persecutors

A dove meandered nonchalantly across the driveway in front of my truck this morning. Back in the day when my cat lived out there, those doves did some chalanting I can tell you. The nonchalantey doves were called 'lunch'. My French language butchery aside, I wonder if God removed immediately all of our predators, problems and persecutors, would we continue on the path to sanctification as He desires?

Wealth, ease, luxury, popularity, these things can be dangerous to the developing Christian. Not that any of it is of itself bad, but we tend to conform to the environment by slacking off. We need some slack off time to rest from our trials, but to have nothing but that sort of time might just leave us stuck in a sort of faithless faith, if you will. God could certainly stand against every predator, problem, and persecution we face in total prevention mode, but He may also use them for our good. In fact, Paul reminds us of that very thing in Romans when he confirms what we must suspect by now, " And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (8:28)

Rejoice in just the right amount of persecution today, carefully managed in His tender care,


Monday, February 22, 2016

From Is to Was So Quickly

A famous author passed into her sleep last week and that morning I checked her Wikipedia page. Within four hours or less, she had passed from 'is' to 'was', just that quickly. One of our great desires in this world is to be noticed and then remembered by someone when we pass from it. We may not be famous, but in a similar way we will pass from is to was so very quickly. One day we are this job holder, and his friend, and her relative, and then like a puff of air across a field, we were this person who was his friend and was her relative. Someone takes the time to write up an obituary and a few others plant our 'was' box in the ground. Gone.

Why else do so many seek so hard for eternal life? Why do so many seek in the wrong direction? Jesus brought the words of eternal life to us. The disciples knew it; the Pharisees denied it, but the words of Christ are life eternal. Our desire to pass from an is to a was and on to an is eternal is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus: the One who was, who is, and who is to come. (Rev 1:8).

Set your hope in Him!

Friday, February 19, 2016

We Will Give Our Testimony!

In the second woe in the Revelation, two witnesses appear. There is no clue where they came from or how they got there, just a sudden appearance of two witnesses with superpowers. The two witnesses can breath fire if anyone attacks them, shut off the rain, turn the waters to blood, and send plagues on the earth as often as they like. (Read Rev 11 for their story.) For a period of 42 months these two witnesses give their testimony and none can stop them. Praise God!

We have a time period of giving our testimony too. We may not have superpowers, but in this age and nation where we live, we are not usually attacked either. We may not like all that we hear through the various media in these times, but that same freedom of speech allows us to testify. If God calls us to "Come up here" today, then our testimony is finished. Otherwise, we will give our testimony. And with the difficulties of this world, living in Christ is our first testimony. The world needs to know about the saving grace of Jesus and we show it in our changed lives.

Rejoice in Him this fine Friday!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Those Who Will Be Saved, Will Be Saved!

Throughout the Revelation as we read of frightening and awe-inspiring events revealed, announced, and poured out upon the Earth, we also recall that those who will be saved, will be saved! This is important to us because we love our neighbors. The great tribulation isn't primarily about God's judgment, though that does happen, but about God's huge effort to gain the repentance of those who are His remaining lost sheep.

Fire, smoke, signs in the heavens, it's all there at the end times, but does any of it work? Of course it does. We read in chapter 7 of the Revelation that a crowd has gathered, all those who are saved out of the great tribulation; a multitude too great to number from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue. Do people you know not believe in the Lord Jesus? Be of good cheer for there is great hope for any person to be saved in God's final effort. All those who will be saved, will be saved!

Of course there is a better time to be saved: Right Now!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What Does the Usual Matter When the Miraculous is Upon Us?

Everywhere Jesus went He did miracles. Even in those unbelieving places where faith was hard to find a few miracles followed where Jesus walked. As I watched something unusual happen this morning, I thought what does usual matter when I have just witnessed the thing. But unusual doesn't make a miracle. Jesus brought something more than just a bit out of the ordinary. Do we expect the miraculous enough today? Are we falling into the Pharisees' love of the usual?

When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees ran back to their Book of Usual Rules and condemned Jesus. They failed to note the love and mercy of our Lord in healing the man. And what better way to honor the Lord's Sabbath than to make a man whole? Yet, the Pharisees were ready to stone Jesus to satisfy their love for the usual rules. I believe the miraculous waits at the door for us to look away from the usual and welcome Him into our world. The Great Tribulation will soon be here, but before that time we look for a great miracle known as the Rapture. How many might be left behind simply because they love the usual when the miraculous is upon them?

Enjoy the day in Christ and look for His miracles!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Can't Measure Up

Oh dear, we finished the study of Romans with Paul's wonderful, beautiful benediction, and now I have to write to you. There's no way I can measure up. Well of course not! Look at Jesus, how well do I measure up there? Perfect, sinless life? That's out for me, it was many years ago. Words of the Lord straight from Heaven? I'm down here on Earth. Not that the Lord can't or won't speak to me, but once the word comes it still must go through my human mind and fumbly-stumbly typing fingers. That's when we realize that Jesus didn't write a gospel. Nope, He used Mark, John, Luke, and Matthew to do the writing. They couldn't measure up to Jesus either.

We are becoming who God made us to be. A measuring stick that sets a mark we can never equal only serves to show us our need for Jesus. I wasn't meant to measure up to Paul as a writer; I was created to be the writer I am. Jesus didn't die to make a zillion little Christs, He died to redeem what He created. Paul has his special place in the family of God, as do you and I, and everyone who believes in Jesus our Lord. We cannot measure up to each other, and we will never measure up to our Lord Jesus. As God told our dear friend Paul one time, "My grace is sufficient for you!"

Have a wonderful day as you think of our Lord we call Wonderful!


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Faith of a Ruler

We like it when a ruler, the president, governor, mayor, or even our boss at work, has faith in God first before authority. How does a ruler come to faith in God though? We may attempt to elect a faithful ruler, but some will say anything to get elected. In the parables our Lord Jesus told, another position came before the position of ruler was granted.

“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' " (Matt 25:21)

First the ruler was a good and faithful servant. In this world, the position of servant is often looked down upon. The servant is often known as one who is less intelligent, unable to get a better job, or disadvantaged in some hidden way, even though the judge in that moment knows little or nothing of the person performing the service. In our work, we may strive to climb the corporate ladder so that we don't have to do menial labor. Jesus told us to become faithful servants first if we want to rule. "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant." (Mark 10:43) The faith of a ruler it seems must grow from the faith of a servant if we want our ruling authority to come from God.

Now, if we can just find out which of those presidential candidates when through faithful servant training first!

Happy President's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Divine Revelation

I like to study the big revelation, the one at the end of the Bible we know as The Revelation. However, that is not the only divine revelation in the Bible. We know that someone revealed the story of the beginning to Moses because he wasn't quite old enough to have been there with Adam and Eve. Then there is 1 Kings 19:11-13:

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

One might understand that question at the end as a rebuke or even a superior's desire for a report, but then again it has a certain humor to it also. A huge wind, so strong that it broke off pieces of the mountain. Then an earthquake and fire. Finally a little voice in the stillness. A whisper.

The prophet of the Lord had run like a scared puppy to his hiding place in the cave. He probably expected the Lord to come after him with the big destructive forces of nature, wind, earthquake and fire, but the passage states that the Lord was not in any of those things we fear. Instead, the Lord comes with the small voice in the peaceful stillness. There is Elijah the great prophet trembling before the Lord, twice he had said that he was left alone, the only believer in God, but the Lord seems to say, "I am here with you always."

The Lord could come to us with destruction for our sins. Instead, the love of the Lord for us brings Him with compassion, invitation to confess, restoration, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Like Elijah found, we are far from alone as the Lord is with us always and there are many who still believe in Him.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reaching Down, Reaching Out

"And in that day, God reached down and placed them together, by two and by three He placed them so. Also in that day, God caused the two to reach out to the one, and in their communion, He saw that it was good." I cheated and placed quotation marks where they do not belong, but that almost sounds biblical. It is a glimpse of how we feel when God reaches down and causes us to reach out to include others in our fellowship. The groups do not have to be large. Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matt 18:20) Just the same though, the group of folks gathered in His name can be quite large or even just a little larger than two or three.

When we reach out in the strength of God's Spirit and welcome another into our fellowship, we follow the commandment of Christ to take the good news into all the earth. We also follow our Lord's command to love our neighbor, and His new commandment to love one another. In our fellowship, we are obedient to the Lord, and He is there in the midst of us.

Have a blessed day in fellowship with Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

No Strings Attached

“And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. (John 14:29-31)

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just before He went up to Jerusalem to be crucified. The ruler of this world was coming to have his day, but Jesus said an interesting thing here, "He has nothing in Me." What can this mean?

It has been shown that older people tend to be happier than us striving young folks. I don't think that is simply due to retirement, which would be easy if it were true, but because they have thrown off in the power of the Holy Spirit those strings the devil can tug on. Over the course of a lifetime, these happier old folks have wisely thrown off the chains or strings that bind them to this world. Strings the evil minions of this world use to pull us to and fro. When the ruler of the world came, Jesus had no strings attached.

The strings we have are many: imaginary fears, lusts of the flesh, greed, unbelief, and discouragement. The enemy uses these in the worst possible ways. Our sanctification while we walk this world with our Lord is to cast off those strings so that when the time comes to go home, we are free to fly to Heaven to be with our Lord forever, free, unencumbered, and unburdened. Of course, we can't just get up one day and do this in our meager strength; we need the power of God's Spirit to accomplish this thing. The anchor points for these strings or chains are buried deep within us, right where God sent His Spirit to work and live in us.

Have a worshipful workday in Christ!


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Crunchy, With a Big Noise

Driving to Bible study this morning was an exercise in waking up the town. The ice has frozen on the streets into big ridges, bergs, and shards such that the truck tires cause a huge crunchy sound with a big noise. There is no hiding the movement of vehicles this morning. In the days of old, a few disciples were concerned with the return of their Lord, some probably thinking they might miss it for the busyness of the world. We know from the scripture stories that Jesus comforted them saying that the time would come when rumors would fly that He was out in the desert or in various other places but to not believe such things. The coming of Christ at a future day would instead be obvious to all, as the lightning flashes from the east to the west across the sky. Quick, bright and unmistakable is the Second Coming, we don't have to worry over missing it.

Rumors have become much faster today with social media and satellite news relays, but we still don't have to worry over missing the signs of our Lord's return. Think of how quickly some things have spread across the Internet in our day. They will not be faster than our Lord's arrival. Ponder how many people may know a thing in this age. When Christ returns everyone will know. A World Cup game may be viewed by many, Christ's coming will be viewed by all. No worries! When Jesus comes, we will know.

Have a great Tuesday in Christ!

Monday, February 08, 2016

That Little Prayer

Another dull weekend without much going on...well, there was this little football game. Okay, a bit of theatrical understatement for effect. Around these parts, especially in Denver, productivity is out the window for the next couple of days as we celebrate the Bronco's Super Bowl victory. Tomorrow is probably an unofficial state holiday as the parade rolls through downtown Denver. A February celebration that I had nothing to do with accomplishing. Or is that entirely true?

A little prayer for a win is all I asked to see the happiness of those around me. I like to see the people all around as the local team wins a championship. Of course none of us played on the field, coached the team, practiced or participated directly, but we should never discount that little prayer each of us gave up to the Lord. It isn't that we know the Lord answered with a yes or no, after all there were many folks in North Carolina who offered up the same prayer for the other team. The reason we don't discount that little prayer is because of who received it.

Each day we offer up a ton of little prayers to our Lord, and He hears every one of them. In many cases the positive answer was in the works ages ago. In other cases, the Holy Spirit edits the selfishness out so that we learn to pray as we ought. I'm sure the Lord would enjoy an uninterrupted hour-long prayer from any of us, but He hears that little prayer just as well. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective - whether it is lengthy or of a more modest duration.

Enjoy a great new day in Christ!

Friday, February 05, 2016

How Do We Get There?

How did it get to be Friday already? Well, a little work, a little snowstorm, a bit more work, then a lot of work, and Friday was here. Jesus will one day return for each of us, but we often wonder, "How do we get there?" The answer is much the same as Friday arrives each week. We do a bit of work, enjoy a bit of sleep, a few meals are rejoiced over, play a few games, watch a show or two, and we tell of our great Savior through our actions and words. Then, on a date and time when no man knows, Jesus returns. We may be at work or at play in that moment, but we will know without a doubt the time has come. Jesus said:

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt 24:27)

Like the days of the week we don't have to worry about getting there. The day will come whether we watch the clock and calendar or we go about our business. As the parable teaches us, it is much better to be found at work when the Master returns.

We're here! Have a great Friday!


Thursday, February 04, 2016

My Alwayses Need Not Be Permanent

Snow as a child is nothing but fun. Snow as an adult is more often about work - the difficulty in getting there, the danger in coming home through it, and once at home the amount required to move/shovel/clear/throw/plow and otherwise get it off the driveway, streets, and sidewalks. Somehow we age from cheerful snow player to grumbling snow slave. We live in a fallen world, but it need not always be so.

This morning, I realized that those things I have 'always' done may change soon. What is this change Christ has made in me? Things I formerly always thought are gone in some cases, persistent in others, but a change is underway. Perhaps the most astounding change is in those things that I once 'always' did or failed at whether in thought or deed. It seems that this rebirth in Christ means that my alwayses need not be permanent. The same might be said of my nevers and everytimes. I'm sure getting a lot of red squiggles under my words today. This need not always happen. Perhaps Paul said it best:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor 5:17)

Enjoy a renewal in Christ!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Horribly Complex Irritating and Exasperating Process

And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. (Gen 4:3)

Back in the day, Cain planted some seeds, grew the plants, and brought of their fruit an offering to the Lord. It took a process of time, but overall it seems a fairly simple process to us. Now if we had to invent a seed from scratch, figure out how to make atoms a certain way in order to create water, work out how the water works on seeds and plants, provide a new thing called a sun and produce this material known as light and so on, we might not call the process simple at all. God has provided a great many things to us that simplify our processes. On the other hand, we have provided a government for ourselves that seems bent on going the other way.

In the office, Mike and I have been endeavoring to persevere through a thing that should be simple yet has been made into a horribly complex irritating and exasperating process. When God found Cain's offering unacceptable, the man grew angry at God and murdered his brother. The temptation to similar actions may come to those who find a simple process made into a Rube Goldberg machine by the very offices meant to serve we the people. For those of you too young to recall, a Rube Goldberg machine is a comically involved, complicated invention laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation. Of course the point of living in Christ is that we don't act on those impulses but act in love.

No matter how big and faceless the bureaucracy, we call them 'neighbor' and love them as Christ does. When the urge to weep in frustration, gnaw the tongue in exasperation, and bash the head on the keyboard in irritation arises, we remember to do and think good to those who hurt us. A tough process that, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Usual Snow Metaphor

The snowfall may be changing directions as I write. Somewhere out there is a truck of mine buried in a snowbank. Yes, we have our blizzard and it's time for the usual snow metaphor or simile or whatever. I like Isaiah 1:18,

"Come now, and let us reason together,”
​​Says the LORD,
​​“Though your sins are like scarlet,
​​They shall be as white as snow;
​​Though they are red like crimson,
​​They shall be as wool."

Snow covers everything in a snowfall like this one. I find it enlightening to remember the Lord's statement right there in the middle of that verse. Looking out at my yard this morning, I cannot see how poorly I kept it this year. The snow covers all my yard sins and makes a beautiful white coating. In the same way, the blood of Christ covers all sins. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." God gave us the perfect example for His mercy and grace in the snows that come from time to time.

Keep your head above the snow drifts and don't go out if you don't have to today!


Monday, February 01, 2016

When The Blizzard Comes

We have missed the last several winter storms in this area, but this time we may get what we deserve so to speak. We have mocked the weather gods at our peril and now the time to pay may well have arrived. Or, we may be missed again. I cannot tell what a day will bring, only God can tell us what will happen tomorrow or the next day. My prophecies made solely in my knowledge are weak and untrustworthy. Oh, I may guess right from time to time, enough perhaps to tempt me to try again, but those would be dangerous prophecies to follow. True prophecy comes from God and not from the likes of you and me. However, every prophet God used came from the everyday people. The difference between them and us is that God had some message He wanted delivered through the person He chose.

Be watchful! I believe that a time of prophecy has already begun and more are on the way. When the blizzard of prophecy comes, it will be sudden and powerful; going out as God's word does in these dark times. It may be that one of us will be chosen, working our little job, striving in the Spirit to endure to the end, and just looking forward to our eternal home. One day - Boom! - caught up in the Spirit and shown wonders like Ezekiel, John, or Paul - and given a message from God to deliver to the people. Tomorrow - great wonders and dread for one of us as God plucks him/her from obscurity to become the next messenger of the Word, or it may just snow a lot. Today is what we have and as the psalmist said:

This is the day the LORD has made;
​​We will rejoice and be glad in it. (118:24)