Thursday, March 31, 2016

That Bible Moment

I like that moment in the Bible between Daniel 2:13 and 14. Daniel and his friends weren't even in the courtroom when their death sentenced was passed. But at the king's command, the troops went out to commit wisemanicide throughout the capitol. Daniel and his companions were on the hit list, and not much was going to stop the king's men from their task. At the end of verse 13, we are left hanging as we pause to wonder how Daniel will escape. Then, with a calm word in the face of the storm coming his way, Daniel asks "Why is the decree from the king so urgent?" Of course we know the answer to that; the king isn't getting any sleep due to a certain dream that he can't recall in the light of day. When the king is sleep deprived and none of the wise men have an answer for him, well; when the king suffers, heads will roll. That's sort of what kings did to their problems or at least to those who could provide no solution back in the day.

Much of the storyteller's art comes right from the Bible. Throughout the word of God we find teaching moments, miracle moments, and moments of dire peril for those we love. For these are not characters in some story, these were people who lived and their story comes down to us from thousands of years back in time. Take a little time today to enjoy a good story from the Bible. Look for that Bible moment when a life hangs in mortal peril. See God's goodness as He comes to their aid. And know that in your moments today, He is with you always even unto the end of the age.

Longing for that moment when He snatches up the Church to be with Him forever!


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Service, The Servant's Reward

Oh, man, I'm going to write about something near and dear to my heart: doing something for nothing and going down in flames as the debt collectors hound a poor soul into anxiety and depression. Yes, the world does like to do things like that, but which is easier: trusting in God when it seems the path you are on must (you think) lead to ruin, or trusting God when taking a path that you think is right because the world says that is the way it should be? Exactly, the easier path is the one that requires no faith; the path already proven by the world and that appears to a man the right way to go.

Service may be rewarded in this life with a wage or riches or poverty. We don't know all the circumstances and we cannot know every outcome. Service may be the only reward the servant gets from his special circumstance. However, we are called to serve and to perform every service as unto the Lord. (Col 3:23). In this age, we tend to first think how much money we might make in doing a service. What we may want to ask is where the Lord is taking us.

Daniel and Joseph both appeared to be on the path to ruin. Joseph was sold 'down the river' by his brothers and soon found himself in prison. Daniel was captured by a foreign king and went from noble to slave in the enemy's court. Yet, both men became chief servants second only to the king and helped to make their nations great through God. Both men interpreted dreams and visions for their rulers through direct revelation from God. So, who were they serving really? Ultimately, all of our service is done for God, and we don't need to worry about the reward.

Have a lovely servant's day in Christ Jesus!


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rest, God's Gift to the Tired and Weary

What a morning! This was one of those fortunately rare mornings in which I had a hard time getting up and going. I was however ready to get up and take on the day at 12:18 am for some odd reason. I guess I should have gone ahead and gone to work at that time. Of course, as you well know, I would have been ready to quit the day right about now had I attempted such a foolish thing. Rest is a gift from God and necessary for the health of mind and body. I'm not sure whether it is what I ate the night before, anxiety doing its terrible work in me, the wages of sin, or just a day and night out of sync, but sometimes the rest is too short, the morning too quick to come, the day too long, or I'm just plain goofy and somehow the rest I pursued eluded my grasping and sleepy fingers. Maybe I just didn't do enough actual work yesterday.

We have a host of reasons why things don't go perfectly or even anywhere close to perfectly in this life. Only Jesus did everything perfectly and I don't know how He did it. Of course, not having the fallen nature from Adam may have a little something to do with it. Let's see, constant obedience to the Father's will may have a bit more. No sin in His life, constant love and devotion to His Father and all those around Him, perfect selflessness, and I think we may be onto something here. Our Lord worked hard and rested well.

Rest is God's gift to the tired and weary. Jesus invited us to come to Him and He would give us rest.(Matt 11:28). God made the same promise to the Israelites back in the day. (Exodus 33:14). We also get some trials and tribulations in this life like poor Job. We may not get a good rest one night, or perhaps a few nights in a row. The gift of rest may be elusive when we look into the darkness instead of being fixed on our Lord and Savior. The good news is that Jesus is always with us, and tonight we get to try again for that gift of sweet rest.

Trust in Him, and of course do your best not to rest too much at work today. Wait, it was me that had the rough night. Did I forget already? This does not bode well for the day! :-)


Monday, March 28, 2016

He Died, But He Ain't Dead!

In faith we deal with an odd situation: our Lord Jesus died, but He is not among the dead. "So, where is He then?" Many of our friends and acquaintances in the world might ask of us. That is the working of faith in us. I cannot reach out right now and grab the arm of Jesus to introduce Him to those who do not yet believe. Other friends I know by name, I can locate them here in town, over in Sidney, at the other end of Nebraska, on the East Coast, etc, and introduce them physically to those who may not believe they exist except in my imagination. I can prove to them this person does exist. With my Lord Jesus, I must use faith.

This does make the resurrection a bit more difficult. Why do we celebrate the Risen Lord with a day we call Easter? Because He lives! No, I cannot point with my finger to His risen body, but I can point out eyewitness accounts from back in the day. Conversations our Risen Lord had with doubting disciples are recorded for me to read and to share. So many witnesses saw and spoke with our formerly dead Lord Jesus that historians record their stories and ponder them. Those who refuse to believe ponder how people can be so foolish; those who believe in Him ponder what it was like to see and talk with the Risen Lord and wish they could be there.

You will not find it strange that we face the very same choice: Believe and all of God's beautiful Word comes alive. Refuse to believe in Christ, and the word of God is just another historical and dead document. Faith separates us from the world, and God's great love enables us to endure to the end. Yes, He died, but He ain't dead!

Have a great Easter week!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

In the Darkness of Fear

Saturday evening, the Passover was done; the Sabbath for that week ended with the setting of the sun. Their problems were just beginning as the disciples gathered to console each other in the darkness of fear. The Roman authorities had executed their Lord at the behest of their own religious leaders. They likely had no doubt at this dark moment in time that they were next. Their Rabbi had taught them that the world would hate them because it first hated Him. They had no further need of evidence, the result of that worldly hatred lay buried in a tomb.

If only we could speak to them from our time this evening. To tell them that in just a night's sleep, a few short hours away, their entire lives would change forever. But would that work? Jesus had already told them He would rise again. If they could not believe Him then, would they believe a bunch of voices from a distant future? How far ahead in time would you and I need to look for someone to tell us that in just a little bit of time Jesus would return for us? How close are we and yet we cannot see what is just so very obvious to our future brother in Christ? How many of the saints who come out of the Great Tribulation would tell us to hold on for just a few short hours? Could Jesus return for us on an Easter Sunday? Why not? What a great day to meet with the Lord!

Have a great Easter Sunday. Remember, if you happen to be in a darkness of fear, those disciples and friends of Jesus long ago who waited in a similar place not knowing how short their time of separation was on that Saturday evening. He is Risen indeed!

With love in Christ,

Easter Saturday: What Did They Do?

This Saturday each year is probably the most interesting to me. The shocking events of the Passover week were over and the Sabbath began on Friday evening at sundown, somewhere between 5 to 7 pm depending upon whether they had Daylight Savings Time or not. As we study the Law back in the Old Testament, we come to realize that nothing happened on that Saturday. By law, the Jews went into their tents back in the day or into their homes in Jesus' time and did nothing. They were not to leave the walls of their dwellings for 25 hours, oops, maybe days were longer back then.

We wonder and ponder at the silence of the scriptures regarding this Easter Saturday, but all is as it should be for even in death Jesus made sure the law was obeyed and fulfilled. It is interesting that of all the disagreements between the Jews and the Gentile Romans, they did come together to do God's will as Jesus laid down His life for God's world. On a quiet day, the Roman soldiers enjoyed a break as nearly all of the Judean country would be inside doing nothing by law. That particular Saturday must have been very startling in contrast to the crowds and violence of that Passover week. Is it any wonder the guards fell asleep at the tomb? Their guest of honor escaped the grave anyway, what were they guarding? But, we're still on Easter Saturday, all is quiet, peaceful...dead.

What were the apostles thinking in that long Sabbath? We almost want to laugh at them because we know the answer they cannot believe at this point. Jesus is coming back tomorrow morning! We want to shout at them as they lay about mourning. Quietly, gentle people, let them finish that Sabbath. We don't want to spoil the surprise!

Have a great and happy Easter! You will.


Friday, March 25, 2016

The Submission of God

Now that can't be right; can it? God submit? Never! He's the boss, and the boss doesn't submit. The boss doesn't strip down and wash the serfs feet. The boss doesn't go out of his way to heal the sick, after all that must be the result of bad choices in life, right? The boss doesn't forgive because none of that evil consequence is his fault, can I get an 'amen'? Uh, oh dear, the Boss, if you want to call our Lord that, did all of that and much more. It seems that God does submit to our needs even when we don't know the full need.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34

On the cross, Jesus submitted to a need for mercy toward those who didn't even know what they were doing. A criminal gets the cross, as the Romans might have coined the phrase back in their day, told of those who did wrong getting what they deserved. We know from the scriptures that the Son of God deserved nothing of the sort and could have stopped the whole mockery of a trial at any time He wanted. Yet, He submitted to the will of His Father in Heaven and to our great unrealized need for God's grace. Why did we need it?

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:18-21)

Condemned from birth, we have a great need we cannot fix ourselves. Jesus answered this need on the cross through His submission. However, this passage also speaks to that freely given and freely taken choice all of us must make - do we submit to the will of the Father and believe in His Son or remain in the darkness? Forgiveness and eternal life are available to those who choose to believe as we read in the preceding paragraph:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:14-17)

But what happens to those who do not chose to believe?

God submits to them also, for if He did not it would not be a freewill choice. The result is much different though since, "For the wages of sin is death..." (Rom 6:23). Near the end of the scriptures given to us for our salvation, God submits at last to those who will not be saved:

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

For their efforts, those who love the darkness earn a place away from God. The second death, the final payment of sin to those who will stay on its payroll; a plot of land in a lake burning with fire and brimstone. A sad end to a life of selfish effort.

No, thank you. For we believe in Christ who died on the cross just before the Passover long ago to save us from our sin. In Christ Jesus, Immanuel, we have a different promise to shore up our faith:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3)

With that promise, look forward to the celebration of His Resurrection Day, our Easter Sunday!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Duration of the Revelation

The blizzard lost something by the time it arrived here, but it's still a good snowstorm for this late in the season. Digging out will be the theme of the day, ours will just be a bit easier than many other places. Should a traveler attempt to come from north or west of us, he will endure a difficult trip on this day, it was much worse yesterday, but still tough even on this sunny day. A similar journey takes place as we read the Revelation. By the time a reader reaches chapter 21, he or she has been through a lot! To make it to the end of John's vision is no small task for us. At one point in the story, more than half the people who lived at the beginning are dead. While some authors may try for high body counts in their novels, that sort of stands in a league all its own.

Armies, conquest, martyrdom, plagues of stinging demons, death by decapitation, and even a dragon grace this story of the end times. Great as these horrors of the end are, we are overjoyed by the return of our Lord Jesus. All the terrors from before are forgotten as the enemies are put away forever and the bride comes down from Heaven to reside on the New Earth with her Lord for all time. He who endures to the end will indeed be saved. How like this life that seems.

Tough times may cause us to doubt our faith and whether we can endure to the end, but at the end stands our Lord Jesus in all His glory. Have faith and rejoice in the bounty of His love!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Forgiveness: The Fastest, Easiest, Most Difficult, Long-term, Hardest to Keep Christian Action

Years ago a thing happened and I forgave. It seemed not too terribly difficult at the time, perhaps it even became fast and easy as I practiced a bit more. However, years later I am still practicing this thing and still having difficulty with putting it away. Like a weed in the lawn, it just keeps inflicting suffering on me. Peter had a similar difficulty back in the day.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

Jesus gave Peter a tough one. Not seven times, but seventy times seven times. Like me and you, Peter probably sighed and realized that he was in this for the long haul. Forgiveness at first seems like one of the fastest and easiest actions we can take as Christians. Quick to forgive and hopefully quick to heal. However, as time goes on, some things or people just keep giving us the grief to bear. One sin may spawn another or something we cannot fix in our own strength just keeps hanging about inflicting pain, suffering, grief, and maybe even discontent. "Arrgh! I think I'm way past 490 times; why won't this thing just go away?"

The trying of our faith is a long journey, and some problems may accompany us the entire trip. Forgiveness may then become one of the most difficult, long-term, hardest to keep actions in our Christian life. Like Peter, I will go on forgiving as Christ strengthens me, and I hope that you will too.

Easter is coming; He is Risen!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Sign of Ominous Doom

I woke up this morning with the word of the Lord, "And know that I am always with you." Goodness, what is going to happen? I wondered with a feeling of ominous doom creeping over me. NO! That is not a sign of ominous doom but a loving reminder that Jesus is always here and near and right where we need Him to be. The flesh, the enemy, the world or whatever seems to want me in a state of constant fear, but it need not be so. Faith, that is the answer to the creeping attack of fear.

Faith reminds me that God loves me and His goodness constantly overshadows me. Faith tells of the day when Jesus will return and the times when He saw me through a tough moment. Faith brings to mind the story of a child born in a manger, a boatload of frightened disciples, and one who gained the courage to step out of the boat through his Savior. Faith helps me to recall that the Revelation does not end with the terrible plagues of judgment but with the eternal reward of the Lord. God's love brought me the things I should remember like mercy, peace, patience, hope, joy, and of course, self-control.

The duties of the day are quite enough without me adding groundless fear into the mix. Why stare at a horror show of imagination when my Lord walks with me?

In Christ,

Monday, March 21, 2016

Ever Met a Prophet?

My first expectations might be older man; long, dusty robe; an understanding of God's word as though he had written down at least part of it, and other characteristics along those lines. Of course, we don't know that the prophets were aged when their calling began. It seems likely that Isaiah and Jeremiah at least were somewhat younger when they began receiving the word of the Lord. As for the long robes, Ezekiel did some of his prophetic work in the buff. Nathan apparently didn't go for the writing thing, and some of the others had such short messages that their time as prophets may have been but one long afternoon in May of the year 725 BC. Daniel on the other hand received his prophecies spread out over a big span of years as kingdoms rose and fell around him. The prophets make for an interesting study in and of themselves.

So, no, as far as I know I have not met an Old Testament-style prophet. How about an angel? Okay, there's a whole new bag of characteristics to look for. Meeting an angel or a prophet would be a story to tell, as well as being just plain cool. But angels and prophets cannot save me, only Jesus can do that. As John drew near to the end of the Revelation, he was probably more than a bit overwhelmed by the mighty angels and great signs and big events he had witnessed. In verse 19:10, John goes a bit too far:

And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

John will make the same mistake again before the Revelation closes. It may seem strange to our sinful selves to think of prophets and angels as our fellow servants, but we worship God and His worship we must not give to a fellow created being.

Have a great week in Christ!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fearful Foundling

A fearful sinner flounders his way through life, flopping this way and that, hoping that death will at last end his pain. At the end, he cries out much as he did at the beginning when thrust bodily into a frightening world. "I fear what comes next!" he cries, unsure and unsaved. Fearful foundling, you need not fear. At the door of the next world stands He who is called Faithful and True. Believe on Him and salvation is yours.

Fear is a constant temptation in this life. We fear when we fail to trust in God. Near the end of the Bible in Revelation 19, we get a vision from our witness, John, of the Savior. Not the Lamb, nor the weakling baby of Bethlehem in His manger, but the Champion of Eternity, the Redeemer Christ mounted on a white steed, coming in all His glory to make war on the forces of an evil world. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah comes forth to win back His own. There is no more time for those who would oppose our Lord God, as John tells in his testimony:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (Rev 19:11)

Alleluia! When He comes again, He comes to judge and make war. There is no need for us to fear eternity: Jesus is Lord!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Like Snakes of the Earth

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

​​They shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth.
​​They shall be afraid of the LORD our God,
​​And shall fear because of You.
​​Who is a God like You,
​​Pardoning iniquity>
​​And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? (Micah 7:17-18)

When I thought of St. Patrick, I recalled the legend of him driving all the snakes out of Ireland. I guess I could have thought of men in plaid skirts squeezing air bladders, but that one didn't come up first. The context of Micah's prophecy speaks of a time when nations will come against Israel, but God will in that time show wonders as He did when Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land. The prophecy turns to a question, "Who is a God like You?"

The mercy of God on the remnant of a wayward nation makes us stand in awe. All the sin of many centuries passed over. Pardon granted to the longest serving criminals. Mercy from the almighty judge. We need it too and we find it in our Lord Jesus. Even on the day our sin makes so low to the ground that we resemble snakes crawling out of holes, God's mercy lifts us up.

So, lift up the head! We are free in Christ from that sin we carried for so long. God pardons iniquity and forgives through the grace of His Son. One time we were low-down draggin' on the ground sinners, then Jesus saved us. We may yet sin, but God's mercy is new every morning.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Time Well Spent

Yesterday, no matter how hard I tried, time and money both slipped away from me. I earned some more money by working, but spent quite a bit of time by doing so. Should I choose not to work today, time will still slip by me and money will leak out in various ways. For example, I may defer payment on something until the next payday, but that money is still slipping away. As the boss pointed out yesterday, time and money are two things that can only be spent once. The good news is that we usually get more of both. We also tend to seek out more of both on a regular basis. However, Jesus gave us some wisdom to apply to our lives.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matt 6:33)

This wisdom comes in a passage on worry, or more accurately - not spending time in worry. Jesus our Lord commanded His followers not to worry over our needs. Spending our time in worry is wasting time. Spending time in seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness is time well spent. Of course, the best is yet to come: all the time we spend in seeking the right things is rewarded by adding the things we worry about unto us.

Spend a good day in seeking His kingdom and righteousness!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Patient Pain

My pain is patient; why do I have trouble being patient? In the olden times when I was a youngster, I could do repetitive motions forever it seemed and not hurt. Now these many years later, I have patient pain. That is, the pain from some innocent and repeated motion won't hurt right away, perhaps not even that day. Then, a day or two later, I'm reaching for the pain relievers. So, if my pain can patiently lie in wait for a day, why does it seem that I am growing less patient as the years roll over me?

When I have something to say, though I am usually a man of few words, I want to say it, and I don't want to wait around. Where did this impatience come from? It may be from a feeling that time is short for us, or maybe it's just me cracking up as old age draws near. I have a feeling kind of way back in my heart and mind that the Rapture is near. That would be an us feeling for I most certainly want all of my brothers and sisters in Christ to go with Jesus at the same time. Separations are just too painful these days.

All of these things add up to a life. Nothing abnormal or unusual in feeling that my time is shorter than it was as middle age stomps around on my life with its hobnailed boots. However, Jesus let us know that endurance and patience were qualities to strive for as we grow in Him. Reading in the Revelation, we find reminders of the patience of the saints, pretty much in those very words, (Rev 14:12, 13:10), and a little note in the Gospels that "He who endures to the end will be saved." (Matt 10:22). I guess the lesson I must learn is to be patient along with my pain. Are you sure I can't learn this from patient fun?

Have a joyous day in Christ!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Our First To-Do May Be To Ask Him

Whoo hoo! It's Monday! The day we get to go back to work! It sure is dark out; will work be held today? Will the sun come up again? It must be that dreaded spring-ahead time change. Millions of sleepy people will get up to drive to work this morning; let's stay out of their way by sleeping in this morning. Sigh, some good solutions are just not allowed in this world.

While we learn to trust fully in God, we may fall into a time of doing nothing. After all, we are trusting in God to take care of us and make provision, right? There is no need to save money in an account, to invest for college, or to be prudent in our spending, because we are safe in the Lord's mighty hand. Hmm, sounds a bit like that tempting the Lord thing Jesus refused to do. There may be a time to wait on the Lord and stay out of His way by doing nothing, but one king of Israel heard a different message:

And the prophet came to the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself; take note, and see what you should do, for in the spring of the year the king of Syria will come up against you.” (1 Kings 20:22)

This king was told to do something. Get up, prepare, write a plan, and get going because an attack is coming in the spring! We too may face an attack in the spring and our need for preparation may be great. However, since we are picking out examples from the history of Israel, how about this one?

"You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”

This one sounds like a stand still and do nothing sort of message. Which are we to follow? What both messages have in common are instructions from God. To gain those instructions, someone came to the Lord and asked. Our first to-do may be to ask Him what to do.

Our prophets, preachers, and teachers in Christ may not have but one solution that fits every problem we face, and that is to bring it to God. Sometimes we hope that God will give us a battle plan of specific steps and He tells us to stand still and watch His work. Other times, we look for a rest while He does the work, and God tells us to get off the couch and start doing. My best advice for our problem solving is to place an 'Ask Him' at the top of every to-do list, battle plan. or solutions guide. Then, of course, do what the Lord says to do!

It's later now, but it still feels early...

Friday, March 11, 2016

Don't Go There

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12

As this is Friday, let us have a little fun with one another. This is the place where you might expect me to explain some trick or joke to play on each other. We are so accustomed to the ways of the world that we fall right into place in a thing like this. Fun with one another must have some prank involved it seems. When Jesus gave His commandment in our opening verse, I don't think He had that sort of thing in mind. At least it is hard for me to make the leap to our Lord as prankster. I have a hard time imagining Jesus causing the campfire to pop while Peter leans over it to cook a few fish on a nice evening or perhaps causing the roasting fishes to stand up and speak with Thomas to ease his doubts. I guess that sort of thinking is not allowed, our Lord does seem to be rather serious minded in the scriptures. Maybe our Lord was quite the laugh riot with His disciples. Do I dare to run the Savior by the judgment bar of my mind?

There is a serious component to our love of one another as Christ loved us. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, healed many very sick people, came down from Heaven to live with us, and took on the Pharisees for the sake of the people living under their religious rule. Self sacrificing love is indeed quite serious. But is that all there is? Did Jesus never laugh? Are we never to have fun together because our Lord was so serious at all times?

Imagine a quiet evening, Jesus seems to be waiting for someone, and someone does come. A leader of the Pharisees, a scholar of the scripture, Nicodemus arrives with a question. Imagine now the expression on the noble countenance of Nicodemus as Jesus tells him, "You must be born again." Priceless! Yet we are so given to avoiding Jesus with a smile, a chuckle at the discomfiture of Nicodemus. We cannot imagine, it seems, the laughter of our Lord as He enjoyed the company of those He loved. The question may not be, "Why was Jesus so serious?" but, "Why are you and me so mean?"

What bothered the religious leaders about Jesus dining with the tax collectors and sinners? Maybe it was because they felt left out of the laughter they heard coming from the place where Jesus sat with those He loved.

Have a little fun this Friday with our Lord Jesus and those He loves (and that very much includes you, my friend).


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Alone is a Bad Choice

Life is a hard road to travel, but to walk that journey alone would make it much worse than the trip demands. Jesus commanded us to love God because He is always with us, and to love our neighbors as ourselves because we need them too. Love cannot thrive in a condition of alone. We were created to be with God and with each other in a loving relationship. Alone is a bad choice for us.

Of course to escape the presence of an omnipresent God is more than a little difficult, but some try to find that place. We may separate from our neighbors for a bit to grow closer to God in prayer. To be constantly in prayer, as Paul told us to be, is to be less alone as we acknowledge God more and more. As our desire for God's constant companionship grows, so does our love for our neighbors and that least lovable of people: the self. After all, if God loves me and I don't love me, then I stand against God's will and that is a lonely condition indeed!

Follow the Lord in love,

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

They Just Don't Understand

Have you ever run into someone who acts as though you are speaking a foreign language? This is quite common for IT personnel (computer geeks), but for Christians it may be more common than we think. Jesus answered a question posed by His disciples with this:

And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables." Mark 4:11

Of course, without Jesus you and I would be on the outside looking in too. There is no place for us to become proud because of what we haven't done. And if you don't entirely understand all of the mystery of the kingdom of God yet, don't feel alone. The breadth, and depth, and height of the love of Christ for us we have only just begun to understand.

Have a loving day in Christ!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Fearlessly Jesus

Do you have a pet fear or two? Sure, we all have those things which cause us fear more than other things. Yours may involve a creepy, crawly thing or perhaps a situation such as flying. You may even feel like Charlie Brown, afraid of everything. Jesus had no fears. If we might get Jesus to admit to any fear it might be something like, "I fear you won't believe in Me." Of course, as the Good Shepherd, He knows His own sheep. So, we can't really call that a fear since He knows the outcome already. Even using 'fear' in the wrong way like that we can see that His fear is only love for us and not something that our Lord is afraid of, as our fears are for us.

Then, what if you knew that your death would be a horrible ordeal of pain and suffering? Jesus knew every detail and still went forward fearlessly as a lamb to the slaughter. A lamb with full knowledge of exactly what was to come. Fearlessly facing the fearful future is rather a trademark of our Lord. We might say that He knows what comes after and had that to look ahead past the bad stuff. Truly our Lord knows all of the future, but He most certainly didn't get to skip over the bad parts.

Many times Jesus commanded us to fear not and to not be afraid, and He lived that example. Now, He lives in us and through His strength we can conquer fear. I hope to let you know immediately the day that happens in me.

Let Jesus conquer that fear!

Monday, March 07, 2016

Ill Will

Why do we strive to maintain that Christian ideal? Is not grace enough for us all? God's grace is indeed sufficient for you and me; but what about our witness? The life we live is the witness we present to the world at all times. Even those of you given to loquaciousness do not talk all the time, whatever it may seem like to your critics. We have a life that shows the hand of Jesus to the world. How we show His hand at work in us is through the life changed toward that Christian ideal. Yup, we may not make it until we see Jesus face to face, but we can keep on trying. Why the struggle? Ill will.

Think of a negative example, and this one is just too easy, the Microsoft Windows operating system on your computer. Every time that update interrupts the video you were watching, you get a little of that ill will bending toward the big company out in Redmond. Each time your computer fails to start or worse must be rebuilt and have the operating system reinstalled, you get a bit of ill will toward those [insert your favorite derogatory name here] who programmed such an unstable system. Every time you find out that your working computer is just too old for the latest version or that they will no longer support your old version of Windows, you get a bit of that ill will bent over that way. Ill will that can build up into an overall impression that grinds down trust.

We have that same problem. All the good we do can be wiped out by a moment of weakness. All the good will we built up may be eliminated by a few incidents that stand out in the wrong way. That is why we strive toward a Christian ideal. We know that God's Holy Spirit must change us from the inside for this to work, but we have work to do as well. This job is hardly easy; we have a desire for the sinful things that just hasn't gone away quite yet. However, we do not labor alone. Praise God for our striving, and our Lord Jesus who strengthens us!


Friday, March 04, 2016

The Everlasting Mercy

Were you raised in a church that preached a final cut off? You know the one - that day sometime in the future where no one left behind could be saved; where the mercy of God was finally cut off for all time? Scary, right? Does God's mercy have some expiration date on it?

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
​​Because His compassions fail not.
​​They are new every morning;
​​Great is Your faithfulness.(Lam 3:22-23)

According to Jeremiah, no, God's compassions or mercies do not fail, in fact, he says, they are new every morning. So, which morning in the future was that where hope fails? None. What the ministers of back in the day knew was there would come a day when those remaining will not be saved by their own choice. There is no 'cannot' in the saving grace of Jesus, only a time of great tribulation when everyone will make the choice for or against. Peter tells us that God is not willing to lose anyone. One day the time of choosing will be finished. Great multitudes will be saved; will any be lost? Unfortunately, there may be some who will refuse Jesus for all time. But, God's mercies, they never fail.

Have a glorious Friday in Christ!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Beautiful and Dangerous Realm of Imagination

I knew the cat had medical difficulties because I overheard her telling someone on the phone. Sure enough, I looked down and there was the stout ball of fluff on the floor, in one of those positions only cats can be comfortable in, talking on the phone. It was either a dream or one of those Internet videos. Reality doesn't hold too many cats having telephone conversations about medical issues; especially cats that passed away almost a year ago.

We are here in this reality but imagination takes us to some fairly odd places at times. Some imaginations much more so than others. Imagination is a beautiful realm where pain and suffering are banished forever. Well, sometimes. Other folks have an active imagination where pain and suffering are the rule. This is that dangerous realm of anxiety and depression. Too many people go there on a daily basis. Like many things on this cursed earth, imagination can be wonderful and it can be wicked. Wonderful when filled with good things, and wicked when we imagine the darkness of suffering and violence. It seems that our imagination, like the physical part of us, can be healthy or it may be hurtfully ill. Learning to keep that imaginary world of anxious worries at bay is difficult for many of us.

Timothy may have suffered in this area, for Paul told him: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) Yes, that's the spirit I want!

Have a great day in Christ Jesus!


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Should We Forgive an 'If'?

This morning as I returned home for breakfast from the weekly Bible study, I wondered about an old friend from the distant past. I had the sneaking sense that he might possibly have pulled a fast one on me back in the day. If he did this transgression against me, should I forgive him that 'if'? Even if he never confessed it and probably never will? Of course I should!

While I would not confront this person, should we ever meet again that is, with such an unfounded accusation, I can certainly forgive the 'if' and free myself of the burden by giving it up to Christ. Forgiveness is curative and preventative medicine good for the transgressions and the 'maybe' transgressions that would ail us. Certainly I don't want to carry an iffy burden around for another 20 or 30 years, that would hurt only me. Transgressions against us that are doubtful in any case we might want to forgive all the sooner lest something defiling slip from the heart and into the voice and out of the mouth. Real transgressions may be more difficult and require extra forgiving effort.

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." (Matt 18:22)

A real transgression may require those 490 times all in one day, and then a bit less on the next day, and so on for the remainder of our earthly lives. A transgression that is only suspected we should be able to forgive out of our system with a few less tries, but may well be just as important to forgive as soon as that sneaky accusing feeling begins. We don't want to find ourselves in the accusation camp; we know who leads that rabble!

Have a forgiving day in Christ!