Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Day No Disaster Struck

Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. (Deut 28:66)

With some sort of small natural disaster seemingly common through the first part of this week, the severe storms missed our little town last night and we got a break. No fears, no worries, we got it made in the shade! Sure must have been awful for those folks back in the day who couldn't stand to read a news website for fear of all the fear presented to them. Oh... that's right now.

Deuteronomy 28 contains two main sections: the blessing of obedience to the Law, and the curses of disobedience to the Law. The curses are downright horrible, culminating in our verse for today, which describes quite well the world of today. We have achieved the apex of man's power and authority - fear. Congratulations to us as the human race. We really do have no assurance of life either for the remainder of today or for tomorrow. The Law is tough: one step out of line and the boom of constant fear is lowered. Of course it is! All the Law shows is that man cannot save himself. We know that because Jesus has saved us!

If six is man's number, then the 66th verse is appropriate to show what man has achieved by going it alone - constant fear. We need our Savior. On the day no disaster struck, we can tremble in fear over what might happen tomorrow, or we can thank God for His magnificent blessings that day, today, the day when I have no disaster to report from the front lines of the nature challenge. A blessing to share indeed from God's wonderful cup of love and goodness! Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Immanuel!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Another Day, Another Storm

So, an old friend issues a challenge to me to take a nature photograph each day for seven days. Two days, two damaging storms. What do we call this old friend's name now? Mud? Is he welcome in our little town? Will we survive all seven days of this challenge?

Half of my ash tree out front fell down in last night's storm. The noise was like someone crumpling up a big piece of construction paper; it didn't tell of the destruction outside. I wonder if my witness is noisy enough to get the attention of those going down that easy path to destruction? But what is my witness anyway? The tree missed my house by yards - I can witness to God's mercy in the midst of the storm!

It is interesting that each day we are given all we need to witness to God's glory and His everlasting mercy. What is my witness? Look what God has done; nothing more than that. Well... we have a little prophecy too in this Word of God. We can show what He has done, and rest assured (and assure others!) that the remainder will happen as well. In all of it, God's love and mercy shines through!

Have a blessed day and a great hope in Him!


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Faith, It Matters

We got ourselves a real whoopin' yesterday: windows broken, siding shattered, cars and trucks dented, and a weird sort of fall where none of the leaves turned. Yes, that was a thunderstorm, kids. No tornado, but lots of damage just the same. At such times, we might wonder if God turned away from us for a moment. Of course He didn't, but that is where faith rises up to deny that God ever leaves or forsakes us. Faith also reminds us that in a fallen world things do happen to the just and the unjust. Some of the thorns Adam earned for us fell from the sky yesterday.

Faith, it matters. Just as a lack of faith can make God's miracles absent, so a surplus of faith can be shared when others need it most. After a disaster, faith may seem a little silent, but it also can be bold and in front. Faith, it also matters in whom or what we place our faith. The government may declare a disaster area, and that helps a little now, but no government of this earth can save us for eternity. My self? Self gets older and weaker with each passing year, and my own self certainly can't save me in that eternal basis that faith's champion reminds me I need. No, you and I need to place our faith in a savior with a capital 'S'; yes that one, the Savior who came to take away the sins of the world.

Have faith in Christ Jesus today!


Monday, June 27, 2016

Cave In!

This morning, a story recalled a story that sent me down a rabbit trail to an episode way back in the day of my own life. Did you ever received a promise from a sales rep in your home that the company he worked for did not honor? Can you even recall when sales reps actually came to your home? Perhaps not, but once upon a time, a sales rep promised me something at no charge, but after the thing came in the mail his company sent an invoice with a charge on it. Eventually, I paid the charge and notched up another mark to the dishonesty of travelling salesmen. I had a cave in.

In thinking about that incident, I could write this morning of forgiveness, but we'll save that for another time. Today, the question is: are we as Christians to act the doormat? In other words, should we just wear a sign on our chests that says something like, "Doormat, please step on me"? You might say that is metaphorically speaking, but, no, that is not always true, sometimes the stomping is literal too.

Some Christians would say a hearty "NO!" to acting the doormat. They would also be correct in saying that some would take advantage of a person in that position. We've all seen it happen, perhaps even in a church. On the other hand, Jesus did speak of turning the other cheek, giving up your shirt when your cloak is taken, and going the extra mile. With these verses in mind, some Christians would tell us to let the armed burglar gun down not only ourselves but the family as well. "If God doesn't protect you then His will must be that you all die," they say. Ouch! What a terrible thing to say. And it might be wrong as well for who are you and I to say what God wants or did or did not do in every situation?

That is where the blessed assurance found in our Lord and Savior comes to our aid. Whatever you or I do in a given situation, whether we stand or fall, live or die, we do it all to the glory of God, and one day we will be with Him forever in Heaven. Whatever happens to us in this fallen world, we have a steadfast promise that Jesus our Lord will return for us. His promises are not like those of the world; we have a blessed assurance in Him!

Have a great new week in Christ!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pricing the Priceless

As I clean out a lot of junk, er, stuff in my home, I put it up on an auction site and then comes the hard part: pricing my treasures. Now to me the thing must be priced to start somewhere and I am sure it is worth hundreds of dollars; the auction will set me straight, usually in about seven days time. Some of the things I value most (books for example) don't even rate a bid. Others bring surprising amounts that seem to make no sense to me (including one set of books). I can pack up the thing and weigh it on a scale - that is a quantity that is fixed and I cannot argue with it. Shipping is quoted by one of the package services and becomes a part of the price, but where to start? Too high and no bids will be forthcoming. Too low sometimes works because bidders like to bid, but too low might also be a warning sign that I put no value in the thing because it is indeed, junk. So the starting price is a bit of a guess with some estimation thrown in. So, how about something truly priceless? Where would I start there?

Salvation, the good news of Jesus, can these things be priced or auctioned? Of course not, and trying to equate eternal life or the Savior to an earthly system of value measure does not work at all. Our Lord is beyond anything like that; I cannot price the priceless. An auction, should any site allow such a thing, might produce a price, but it wouldn't mean anything because grace, salvation, and our Lord Jesus are not for sale. Judas tried and did receive a price but he threw it back at the bidders. We can only give the good news of Jesus away for free. We can share our Savior, but never sell Him. Try to put Him in your wallet and there's nothing to be grasped. Keep Him in your heart and treasures beyond price flow forth. Those who know Him will tell you that we don't keep Him, He keeps us!

For goodness' sake, open the door of your heart and let Him in!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Good Resting Place

A resting place sure does seem like the thing to look for on a summer day. Could there be a consequence to this? Do we still live in this world? In Genesis, Jacob lay down and had a few words for his twelve sons about the last days. To one, Issachar, he spoke this interesting verse:

He saw that a resting place was good,
and that the land was pleasant,
so he bowed his shoulder to bear,
and became a servant at forced labor. (Gen 49:15)

This is not the most comfortable of prophecies! It starts out good enough, who wouldn't look for a resting place from our labors now and then? A pleasant land, yes, we can relate to finding a place like that. Working on that place we have found, bowing the shoulder to bear, sounds like just the thing. But, became a servant at forced labor? How did that happen? Sounds like that slavery thing we all very much want to avoid.

Consequences are not always intended and they do not always mean that we did the wrong thing. Laboring to fix up that nice resting place in the country we found to buy is right and proper. But in this world we may end up with a lifetime of seemingly endless laboring to get that country home just so. In putting our shoulder to the labor of making our dream resting place, we may set in motion a sequence of gotta-get-this-other-thing-done-first laborious tasks that enslave us to the overall project - probably a lot longer than we intended at the first.

This prophecy may warn us to not put our hopes of an eternal resting place in our own work. Jesus remains the one answer God gives to one of those unfortunate consequences of the Fall of Adam: toiling at hard labor.

A great thanksgiving to the Lord for the cooler day yesterday! Yours in Christ Jesus,


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Too Much of a Good Thing?

So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:17-23)

Three big ones relating to God our Father pass by in this passage: grace, glory, and goodness. Moses for his own safety is not allowed to see all of God's glory and most especially not the face of God Himself. This is quite different from Adam walking with God in the Garden of Eden during the cool of the evening.

Why did Moses rate a pass by in the first place? Of course God explains the reason why and it has nothing to do with the piety or accomplishments of Moses; he found grace in God's sight. Is that not the wonderful thing we find in Christ Jesus? Moses asks for God's glory to be shown to him. God responds with, "I will make all My goodness pass before you." Goodness, the glory of God. Well, I am surely glad for that! Imagine if the glory of God was how well He could catch and smite every sinful human. No, we don't need to run from our Lord in terror, but to praise Him for His goodness.

As Moses is hidden in the cleft, God passes by in His goodness. So great is the goodness of God that Moses cannot see the face of our Lord Father and live. How far we are fallen that the purity of God's goodness would slay us where we stand. To see the face of God right now would be too much of a good thing. Even Moses couldn't handle it in his fallen humanness. If the great heroes of the faith cannot see God's face and live, how much less sinful little ol' me? But in that is great hope. For if those we account mighty in the faith are in such a state, then there is nothing I can accomplish to be saved. All righteousness, justification, and salvation must come from God through His wonderful Son, Jesus Christ.

We are saved in Him!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Switch PPM To WWH

I surely do like to cry and moan about the weather when it's too hot, and today looks to be one of those days. As that title will mean nothing to you without some explanation, I was pondering switching my focus from poor, pitiful me to wise, wonderful Him. Of course we know that already. From songs to hymns, and poems to sermons, we know that we must change from looking at the desperate, sinful creature we started with to the wonderful new creation Jesus is building in us. In other words, we learn to focus on the wonder of our Savior. I thought a little extra about that today because on the hot days I am in need of a reminder.

Now, you folks from down south are probably wondering when it ever gets hot enough to worry about here further to the north. You are not impressed by the whining of PPM. You folks from down lower and east or south, where the humidity goes to play likely will fail to be impressed by my sniffling over the heat as well. So, the down low is that poor, pitiful me does not make a very impressive witness. Whatever the circumstance causing PPM to do his complaining is not enough make that impression we need for the Good News to take root and grow. Wise, Wonderful Him stands a much better chance of breaking through the clutter of circumstances in this age.

As Paul discovered, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2 Tim 1:12) It may be fun to gripe a bit about the weather outside, but the better witness is in Christ. I am persuaded that He is able to keep me through the circumstance and to raise me up in that day which quickly comes in this age. On that great day, I don't think I will be too worried over the weather.

Have a great day in Christ!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Planting a Pack of Frustration

Summer officially starts today, but we have had quite a bit of summer already. So, with today being the so-called longest day of the year, what are we going to accomplish by way of celebration on this day? Yes, I'm with you; we're going to get up and go to work as usual because that's the way things operate in this world. In order to celebrate a little, we must work a lot. And, if you are the one putting on the celebration for others, well then the work starts before, continues through, and finally ends well after the event. Perhaps working the celebration is even how you make your living in this world.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, toil is how we make our way in this world. It was a curse, but not a curse God cursed us with. The toil went with the desire to rebel against God's way and go their own way instead. Adam worked in the Garden, but he found no toil there. Adam did not strive to become head gardener, or senior gardening specialist, or even director of gardening science; all that competition and promotion stuff came after the fall. Adam did not dread his annual performance review, snide remarks from the boss, or yet another odd memo from HR, at least not until after the fall, that is. Never in his wildest dreams would the gardener Adam think to plant a pack of bad seeds in the garden God gave to him. But after the fall, Adam planted a pack of frustration that we feel all the way down to this day.

Praise God that it isn't all that way. The Lord loves all of His gardeners; fallen and sinful as we are, frustrated and sad at times, but always we are ready to celebrate in the Lord and to look up gratefully for the sacrifice of His Son. We long for that greatest of celebrations when the Lamb takes His bride. We enjoy little celebrations as we can along the way, and praise God for the privilege. We delight in Him and He in us. Maybe we can't celebrate every day now, but we understand this is not what God has in store for eternity. Though frustrations may pile up at work, we also know that not working is much worse.

May God bless you in your work on this great day!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Unclear on the Concept

Have you ever tried to converse with someone who cannot or will not get what you are saying? Yes, probably myself at some point, but I mean other than those conversations. You say that your position is firm, but they try one way then another to get you to move off of your stand. It can be a frustrating and at times amusing process.

When we go forth to witness, we run into a similar situation. The world cannot understand the words of eternal life without the work of the Holy Spirit first. We may run into situations where we might have more luck explaining the Christ to a baseball bat than the person we are trying to converse with. What may be amusing is in the other person's extreme effort to avoid admission of "I don't understand." We may do that ourselves sometimes.

Do we always practise godliness in our lives? Do we even know for sure what it means to be godly? Have you and I come before the Lord to admit, "I don't understand this, sir!" Like those who are unsaved, we may not like to admit when we don't know. "I teach a Sunday School class; I can't blurt out that I don't know. What will my students think?" We can take comfort that not one of us has perfect knowledge of God, His Son, or all that is in His Word. No matter how much seminary, divinity school, Sunday school, Bible study, sermon writing, hymn singing, and just plain learning from our dear Lord we have done thus far in this life, we all have quite a ways to go in sanctification. So, let us all fear God, but not be afraid to come before Him to admit, "I'm a little unclear on this concept, Lord!" There is good reason that folks back in the day called Jesus, Teacher.

To all of us who are now falling down on our weakness and shortcomings: remember well the love our Lord Jesus bears in His heart for us this day.

Your brother in Christ,

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Selling Our Work

The time arrives to sell a piece of what is yours. An old cuckoo clock, a collectible coin, some other piece of treasure you have around the home. One idle moment of thinking how much work went into the purchase of that thing and your sale is finished. Yes, I'm talking garage sales in their season. So much stuff and so many people putting it up for sale. What took hours or days of work to earn goes up for sale at a small fraction of the cost. We sell our work so cheaply because that is all anyone will pay. Another choice being to keep everything until the home is so full that we cannot walk or even see the dresser that was once back in the corner of that room. So the annual ritual of the selling of our work begins.

As I get older and, I hope, the wisdom of the years settles into my heart, I find that I would rather sell cheaply than to be owned by my stuff. In a way, it is a part of this: "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." (Romans 13:12) Paul exhorts us to cast off those sins and to remove the weights of this world that burden us. Now collecting a few things is not of itself a sin, but cling to them too tightly when it is time to let them go...

We have a duty to cast off what is holding us back anytime we can do so. So yes we do sometimes sell our work cheaply, or donate it to charity, or toss it in the waste receptacle. We strive to avoid the clingy things of this Earth that one day we may return to our Lord, where He will most likely remove several burdens from us that we had quite forgotten that we carried in this life!

Have a bit less burdened day in Christ,


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Let Me Write Love

Paul gave us the lowdown on love in 1 Corinthians 13. In one paragraph the apostle lays down some conditions for us to recognize love in action.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (vv 4-7)

Another translation begins this passage with, "Love is patient, love is kind." Suffers long? Bears all things? There are times when my capacity for suffering and bearing what I am getting from another person or company seems to be at an end. I don't want to bear and suffer in love; I want to kick someones fanny. Does shortsuffering make the list of Love's qualities? How about unkind thoughts? No? That's what I thought. It seems that I don't always match the description of love that Paul writes for us. At such times, patient and kind do not describe the storm brewing in my mind. Someone has provoked me and love is not provoked. I'm a failure at love.

Praise God that in such times the Holy Spirit is not silent. As the storm thunders in my heart, the command goes forth, "Peace, be still!" And, as the storm passes, I begin to think of the other fellow. What has caused this situation? What is going on at the other end of that phone or e-mail? Have I run into some organizational blind spot? Perhaps they cannot see what the situation looks like from the other end. Understanding helps to move away from any selfishness present in my anger. Maybe that other person cannot do what I think they should do. What seems obvious from my end is not at all clear on his. Love is indeed longsuffering, if we can obey His voice to write love, speak love, and live in love at all times. Love can be angry; Jesus was a couple of times in the Temple. But am I enough like Him in love to be angry yet?

Have a loving and lovely day in Christ Jesus!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Controlling You and Me

Have you ever looked at the many attempts out there to control your behavior? Of course you have; we are bombarded daily with 'eat this/not that', 'exercise with this thing for at least this much time or you are weak and unmotivated', 'you don't have enough of this thing so take our supplement', and you are probably deficient in a number of other ways curable for the sum of $99.95 per month for the remainder of your miserable life. Paul took aside Timothy, his young disciple, in his first letter and warned him of the things to come. One of them was this very thing we face today: what to eat or not eat.

Paul's fatherly command to Timothy goes against all those attempts to control you and me through diet. "For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." (1 Tim 4:4-5) This comes from a Jewish man who was born into an extensive dietary law. Peter faced a similar problem until God took him aside and told the reluctant disciple the same thing, "If I say it is good, it is good, and don't you say it ain't, Pete!" (I may have taken some liberties with that quote.)

Taking care of our bodies is blessed by the Lord, but we want to be careful to not let the winds of the world blow us this way and that.

I appreciate all of your condolences yesterday. Christians come together so well when one suffers a tribulation. I am glad and encouraged to be your brother in Christ.

In His love,

Monday, June 13, 2016

Passing in the Night

Early Sunday morning my father passed away to his eternal rest. I am greatly relieved for his sake as the battle with cancer was long and very painful. Often we wondered how long might he endure to the end. It is one of the signs of the fall that so many should suffer such agonizing pain so near to the time of passing when most of all we want to ease gently into that long goodnight.

Along the way to this time, we reserved for ourselves some serious doubts about my father's religion. I still doubt the religion or religious sect and its doctrine. However, in his final moments my father asked for the Word of God to be read to him, and from that I took comfort when the Word told me of a passage in Isaiah and the promise God spoke to all of us: His word does not return to Him void.

When I think of what God pleases to do, I think of salvation for one and all. The Word shall accomplish what God pleases and it shall prosper in the thing which He sends it out to do: saving His people. I know this from the fact that God Himself sent His only begotten Son to die that each of us should be saved eternally. Therefore, I base my hope on God's promise spoken in His Holy Word.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the LORD for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
                         Isaiah 55:8-13
Yours in Christ Jesus, now and forevermore,

Friday, June 10, 2016

Jesus' Dependable Devotion

Day two of Rodeo Bible Camp and we are still alive n' cookin'! The August-like weather has not stopped us yet. Unfortunately, August has shorter days than June; we're getting the full enjoyment of near 100° days for a couple of more days here in the cookin' part of the cookin' crew's hometown. Nuf said about that! Now that I'm done crying about the weather for the day (Yeah, right.), I'll slop some egg on my shirt...rats, I like this shirt too. Friday, my day of dumb-headed devotion to the Lord.

We often think of trying to impress the Lord with our devotion to Him and to our brethren and sistren in Christ. The religious facade and the pious acts may cover a deeply troubled heart. On the other hand, we may have a barely religious life with piety left by the wayside back yonder, and still have a deeply troubled heart. There are indeed a lot of deeply troubled hearts out there, some troubled for themselves and others for the friends, neighbors, casual acquaintances and even the world as a whole. We have much to be troubled about, but here is something we can trust in: the dependable devotion of Jesus our Lord!

Out of the many arguments for the devotion of Jesus to us, one stands over and above the rest: He went to the cross to save us. That is some very dependable and loving devotion to show to a bunch of whosoevers who had not even been born yet.

Have a devoted Friday in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Same Christian Model

Rodeo Bible Camp is here once more and a good crowd is out there too. This morning I met several Christians, some whom I knew already and others I met for the first time. So, why don't they all look and act the same? Aren't we all supposed to be like Jesus and do as He would do? Somehow I don't think the Lord came to save Himself many times over. He didn't need saving; we did.

We tend to think that every new Christian will be like old Scrooge on Christmas morning. The trauma of four spirits visiting in the night to tell us of all our missed opportunities and each chance we took to grow horribly wrong might do the same for us. But Jesus doesn't seem to work by trauma unless as a last resort (See the Revelation for all the traumatic events you can stand.) Most of us did not immediately become this same Christian model upon our salvation. God apparently didn't have molds stamped "Christian, 1 each" ready for our conversion.

It is quite possible that the taciturn, scholarly, quiet, and grave will remain so for at least a while or to some degree after his or her new life in Christ begins. The boisterous, outdoor-loving, loud, and outgoing will probably be used by Christ just as they are at first too. Each of us who believe in Jesus will be changed starting from the inside, but all or some of our personality traits may well be just what the Lord wants right now for His holy purposes.

Yes, it would be a real boost for our little egos if we went down the list of ideal Christian model ver 1.0, checked off every item while saying, "Hey, I'm that already!" and knew that everyone else would be changing to meet the standard soon. But God maintains His own lists, if any are needed, and since you and I were known by Him before we were born, it's just possible that the Lord began work on us long before the day of our entry into this world.

Now, go out there and be yourself in Christ!


Wednesday, June 08, 2016

He Knew Every Sin

Back in the days of simple thinking, I probably thought that God handed His Son a sort of shapeless 1000-lb weight while saying something like, "Son, this is the weight of all those sins you are dying for." As I have grown in faith, I rather expect something different today. I believe that Jesus had to know each and every sin He was dying and paying for to satisfy the Father's judgment price. While the weight of it on the cross probably was immense, Jesus had to feel the pain of each sin and know in Himself the wages paid by all that sin. Peter knew of this when he wrote:

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
​​“Who committed no sin,
​​Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:21-24)

I do not yet understand how the stripes Jesus bore can heal us now. God alone knows how these things work; we have faith that they do because He said so in His word. You and I may not feel justified on a summer morning, but we are by His word. May God bless us all on this day.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

I Say Too Much Sin - He Says "Grace!"

Today in our men's Bible study we read the first parts of 1 Timothy 3, the qualifications for bishops and deacons as set down by Paul to his friend and student, Timothy. As I read the list of those qualifications, I could see right away that I was by no means qualified. For one thing, I don't have a wife and Paul wrote that both should be the husband of one wife - so right there I am substandard. Yuk, yuk, yuk.

Actually, it goes much further than that. Have I always been temperate, sober-minded, gentle... nope, nope, and nope. Maybe those other ones? Have I at times been greedy for money, quarrelsome, violent.. aagh! I seem to be a lot better at the 'not' examples! I say too much sin; Jesus says "Grace!"

No one in his or her own strength can qualify even for Paul's brief list of what is needed for a leadership position in the church here in this life. How can we ever expect to qualify for a position, any position, in Christ's Heaven? We can't of course. That is up to God. He leads us by His Son down the road of righteousness. Those who God has lead down that road a bit must be the leaders at His calling. As the saying goes, if you feel worthy of His calling, you probably aren't. We must trust in Him to make us worthy of our calling in Christ.

Have a wonderful, bright, and joyous Tuesday in the grace of Christ Jesus!


Monday, June 06, 2016

Knowledge Has Increased

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)

Summer mornings - cool and quiet (mostly) but it is two weeks until summer begins on the calendar. As usual, the seasons come without paying attention to man's calendar. Our knowledge has increased but we do not yet know everything. We do run to and fro in this world, but the time of the ned... Ned, who's Ned? No, the time of the end is close, but no sign says that it will happen this week or even this month even as the signs point to the return of our Lord coming at any moment.

It is a ticklish thing in the Christian faith that for 2,000 years we have lived in the end times with signs that give us reason to drop our tools and look up, while in the next moment having to bend down and pick up those tools to provide for family, friends, and ourselves through hard work because the anticipated return of Christ has not happened yet. Even the great apostle, Paul, struggled to teach his new churches that they had every reason to look up to see the arrival of our Lord, and at the same time they had work to do and to keep those hands busy.

Monday morning is always a good time to look up and yearn for the Lord's return, after all the other option is another week of work. Funny how that thought does not occur in quite the same way on a Friday. It helps to have work that does not make one feel like a soap bubble on the verge of popping at every moment of the working day, but all of us who believe in Christ long for His return. Those who enjoy their work look up at times too, just maybe not quite as longingly and as often as those who work in a tough job in which they feel the pain of the square peg hammered without mercy into that triangular hole. Ouch!

For all of us, working and retired, young and old, the return of Jesus will come quickly even in the blink of an get back to work because we're in this life until the end!

Your friend in Christ,

Friday, June 03, 2016

Why The Thousand Years?

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.(Rev 20:1-8)

A longer passage than my usual for this morning, but I wanted you to count the number of times 'thousand years' was used in this story of the end times. Now if seven is the number of perfection in the Revelation, then six is just one short of perfection. Of course, we know who the One is! Six times this thousand years is mentioned in the Revelation and well we might wonder why we must have this millennium at all or why the Tempter must be released at the end of it. While God does not owe you or me an answer to our questions about His plans and prophecies, we might already have the answer to that question, and the answer is us, or what remains in us even without the Tempter to draw it out. We are fallen creatures.

For a thousand years, we will have the Lord Jesus as the great King in Jerusalem, mediating disputes between nations, providing us with His presence... peace and joy are ours! But there is a problem - those fallen lusts of the flesh. What harm can they do with the Tempter locked up and Jesus on the throne? I think we know the answer to that already.

Adam and Eve had Eden, and they fell to temptation. Noah and his family had a fresh start on the earth, but later the generations fell to the lusts of the flesh. Israel had God's presence, His mighty works, and the Law of Moses, and still they fell to those same human lusts. Since the coming of our Lord Jesus, generations of humans have faced the temptation of those lusts and fallen, even those reborn in Christ. In the thousand years, those living on the earth will have Jesus returned to rule, the Law, the Tempter locked away, the return of those who died in Christ as judges, Tribulation saints no one could number, and a time of peace to rebuild and enjoy... and what do we think will happen with those lusts of the flesh? Yeah, I guess we need the thousand years for some holdouts to realize that we must be renewed by Christ completely from the inside out. And, yes, there is going to be a rebellion at the end of the thousand years, as though some needed more evidence that Jesus really is the only answer to our fallen flesh.

Now, have a great Friday in Christ, and try not to fall to temptation today!


Thursday, June 02, 2016

God's Promises

The building of the first temple in Jerusalem was a huge event for the nation of Israel. The tabernacle before it spoke of wandering and instability (at least to the human mind), and it was a reminder of the promised land they didn't get. The new temple was built on a rock with giant stones speaking of permanence, of settling down, peace, and stability. So, Solomon the wise stands up before the people to dedicate the new Temple:

"O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion." (1 Kings 8:23 NLT)

It wasn't God's fault that Israel had to wander forty years in the desert; for Solomon reminds the people, and us, that God never fails to keep His covenant. However, we fail often and the result is wandering into situations that we don't like. Solomon lead the people in prayer at a great moment in Israel's history, but we can't visit that temple today because the nation's devotion fell to kind of halfhearted devotion and then finally to none at all. God's presence was left alone in the Temple and His prophets were thrown out and even murdered. God had kept His part of the covenant with unfailing love but gone was the wholehearted devotion on the other side.

Today, let God strengthen us back to wholehearted devotion to Him through His Holy Spirit. Let His perfect love cast out our fear and let us take hold of the peace Jesus gave to us. We do indeed have much to live for!


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Learning From The Lord

Blessed be the name of the Lord! When I am faced with my inadequacy for this task, I look to the Lord for His help. When I fail, I realize with some shame that I looked to the Lord too late. For one with Bible knowledge in his heart, this happens much more often than you might think. I think that most of us will admit to 'going it alone' more than we would like. We still fall much because of this prideful inclination we have. David, in one of his psalms that is way back near the end of the book of Psalms, sang of his falling and failing. Then, he asks for a couple of favors:

Teach me to do Your will,
​​For You are my God;
​​Your Spirit is good.
​​Lead me in the land of uprightness.(Psalm 143:10)

Great is the desire in us to walk in God's way and to do His will, but we fail. David knew enough by this time in his life to ask based on God's goodness and not because of any merit he possessed in himself. Indeed, David wrote one of those verses we don't always remember along with "for all have sinned..."

Hear my prayer, O LORD,
​​Give ear to my supplications!
​​In Your faithfulness answer me,
​​And in Your righteousness.
​​Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
​​For in Your sight no one living is righteous. (Psalm 143:1-2)

The Lord's sight sees all that we do and think and without the saving grace of our Lord Jesus there is indeed no one righteous in the sight of God. Praise God we do have the grace of Jesus; we do not labor in vain!

Have a better day in Christ; great things are afoot!