Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tone Deaf

Let's see...start with brilliant observation that only the most sleep-deprived or coffee-restricted could miss, like, "Hey, it's the last day of August!" Good, done. Now move into something we've all heard before but could stand to hear again, such as, "The Bible is the word of God" and go on from there with a neutral sort of Bible verse that doesn't cut too deep, maybe, Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Okay, nice non-controversial devotional to start the day.

Oops, I can take a tone that is a little giddy, maybe a bit happy, and then attempt to tone down the Word, but there is a danger of cutting anytime the Word is used. The writer(s) of Hebrews stated:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (4:12)

Indeed, the very first verse of the Bible is not at all neutral as many have found when coming up against the lovers of Evolution. Some do not like to hear that God created the heavens and the earth, and the animals, and us. They like the absence of moral responsibility that comes with an accidental start to a rather unlikely chain of events that, given enough time, resulted in humans.

Yes, open the Word to any point and only the most willfully tone deaf will fail to hear the very voice of God speaking to them from the pages of the Holy Bible. The Word cuts deep and, woe unto us, discerns the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Well, praise God for that because He has made my intents much better than my deeds and thoughts.

Even the great disciples and apostles of old struggled with the thought life. Paul exclaimed that he did the very thing he hated in Romans. Peter sometimes blurted out his thoughts to the Lord and received a stinging rebuke. Then again, who better to blurt out those thoughts to than the One who knows them already! For there is healing in His word as well, even in the stinging rebuke we may find while reading His wonderful Word.

Oh yes, I may try to adopt some scoffing or tone deaf attitude, but once open that Word of God and, lookout! Ouch, it cut me. It would take a very hardened heart to stand up to the sword that is the Word. I would rather have a bleeding heart for Him, than to fall so hard and so far that my heart cannot feel the precision slices of the Word of God as it cuts away the dead stuff I don't need any longer.

Have a worshipful day in the Word,

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I Need Some More Peanut Butter

What new doctrine is this? It isn't really; I just noted as I prepared my breakfast stuff that I need to get some more peanut butter. It wasn't that way in Mark 1, as Jesus taught in the synagogue, a demon-possessed man mouthed off to Him. After tossing the demon from the assembly, the people had a question among themselves, "What new doctrine is this?" Maybe we should add some of that Internet punctuation, "What new doctrine is this???!!!!"

Jesus our Lord had just taught as one having authority, and then proved it by authorizing the demon to leave, and all they can do is ask about a new doctrine? What an awe-inspiring sign. What a wonder of wonders! It's... a miracle! New doctrine? Are you people daft? Sometimes something so new comes along that we are left with nothing but dumb questions on our lips. Jesus was just that sort of man. He could leave folks dumbfounded, or even dumbly grateful. Words can fall short for us when we seek to describe our Lord and what He has done in our lives. Standing before the great and awesome throne of the Almighty without the salvation of our Lord Jesus, we might say something really helpful like, "I need some more peanut butter."

Faced with the awesomeness of our God, the fallen and earthly mind may seek refuge in the very mundane. But Jesus didn't forget that either. In two of His first miracles, He turned water to wine to keep the party going, and He filled a net with fish. Later, our Lord would see that thousands were fed from a young boy's lunchbox. Yes, the mundane is where we live much of our lives, and we need not fear that our Lord will forget us. On the other hand, we also get to live spiritual lives of great victory, and we will find our Lord very much involved with us there too!

Have a victorious day in Christ!

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Right Response

Righteousness is doing the right thing always, in other words having the right response. Now, when it comes to responsibility, we often want to give it all up entirely. Either the devil made me do it, when I do wrong, or, the Lord directed my steps when I do something right. What if, and we must face this on a Monday morning, the wrong thing is laid at the feet of our flesh, the 'old man' Paul wrote about, and requires forgiveness; while the right things we do is the Spirit working the right response from us, the new and reborn person we are in spirit, and requires giving glory to God? Ouch, that's a big 'what if' for so early in the morning.

The Lord does direct my steps, but sometimes I see something I want and jump off the path of righteousness. In other words, I have the wrong response and give in to the desires of the flesh, much like David did when he saw Bathsheba during an idle moment. Later King David went way off the path until Nathan the prophet was called in to help with a returning to the Lord. We don't get to blame anyone or any power for this straying from the path; we are in wrongeousness and we know it. The one way to get back on the path is to confess, repent, and return to the Father like the little prodigal we've been.

So, I get some credit for any right responses? No, not me. I have come far enough down the path the Lord has led me on to realize that there is no righteousness in me alone. Without God, I was far off the path and wallowing in the sin. Any righteousness I saw in myself was one of those castles built on the sand, and it has since fallen hard. The best way to avoid the stain of self-righteousness is to realize that the self has no righteousness in it. That's why we need to be issued a breastplate of righteousness from the Lord's armory!

Have a great week as we look forward to our Lord's return!


Friday, August 26, 2016

A Little Sanctuary of Goodness in a Bad, Bad World

Good morning on this Friday! Our scattering may well have divine purpose. We know from the Word that the Acts of the Apostles began with a great scattering, both in the garden at the Lord's arrest and later when Rome flexed its worldly might in persecution of the saints. The early church ended up spread over much of the world as flight became a priority for some, while death ended the careers of others. Of course, for those who believe in Jesus, we enter into our little sanctuary and realize the opportunity of new lands and people for the spreading of the Good News, and for those who have fallen, we try to taste a little of the joy of their reunion with the Son of God. In Ezekiel, a great scattering had taken place, while the city folk of Jerusalem looked down on those scattered, the Lord had some goodness to send to them by way of the prophet:

Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” ’ (Ezekiel 11:16)

A little sanctuary, I like that! A big sanctuary might be too much, not very portable in a foreign land and with a lot of unneeded space inside. A little sanctuary is just right for comfort, portability, and ease of use. We know that God and me can go anywhere inside His little sanctuary. In Him we are never alone. Though as a child of the King we may feel the tug of our homeland, in His little sanctuary we feel the comfort of His Spirit and the closeness of our relationship. Often, His little sanctuary is the very armor for our souls we need in the combat zone. A very persistent reminder of His goodness as the slings and arrows of the world zing by us. We so very need our little sanctuary of goodness in this bad, bad world. Thank you, dear Lord, for being our little sanctuary wherever we are scattered. Amen!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Remaining True To The Message

I'm really torqued this morning. An allegation has been made and the punishment of the accused has begun; some have even convicted the man already in their minds. Yet, this week my devotional writing is dedicated to God's goodness. In the face of injustice in the world (conviction in a trial is supposed to come before any punishment) how do we remain true to the message? It is not easy.

Of course if following our wonderful Lord Jesus were easy, many more would do it. Our Lord faced the difficulty of punishment before any trial. Many had Him convicted in their hearts before any legal proceedings occurred. All that human nature offers up while ignorance rules in the heart is known and was experienced by our Savior. He knows what it feels like when public opinion turns in the blink of an eye. So where is God's goodness when a person is jailed (held pending trial is the popular and legal euphemism) before any conviction is obtained?

If I want to write about the fallen world and its ways, then God's goodness is indeed hard to discover. The world and its ways are at war with God and His ways; I am looking in the wrong directions if I seek God's goodness in the fallen world. Jesus said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matt 6:33) Jesus spoke of the things we worry about, and this week I am concerned over finding God's goodness displayed in this fallen world. So, my direction from the Lord is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. And indeed, once I look in the right direction, then the Spirit adds to me the knowledge of where God's goodness stands in this dark age. The obvious answer is, right where it was as His Son died on the cross.

The entire world is our trial for sin, and we stand convicted. In God's goodness, we are not facing punishment because of one man, or that should be, One Man. We like to capitalize our Lord Jesus because He is deserving of all honor. The world may take away our freedom in many ways prior to the return of our Lord, but it can never take away Jesus from the heart of the believer. And that is God's goodness. Amen.

Your brother in Christ,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Goodness, Where Did It Begin?

This week I have tried to give back a bit of God's goodness to you by way of showing where it is among some rough and tough circumstances. If I have not been entirely successful, I take all the blame for that because God's goodness is a great-big-huge thing with Him. The first mention in the Bible of our Lord's goodness is with Moses:

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.” (Exodus 33:19)

Goodness, grace, and compassion are each very closely tied to the name of our Lord here, but we also see that God's goodness is so big that He can make it pass before Moses like a parade. Moses cannot see God's face and live, but His goodness is viewed and enjoyed - think of a child watching a really good parade for the first time. We too, if we will take a moment to tear our eyes away from the tragedy of this fallen world for a time, can see God's goodness, delight in His grace, and enjoy His compassion. God's goodness began with Him of course.

Although the word 'goodness' isn't used until the verse I selected this morning, we can go back to the very beginning and read God telling the story of how He saw that it was good. At the Creation, we read that goodness is a part of God, perhaps with love even the greatest part of our God. Punishment, destruction, death - these only come in response to the sin of people. Given what God knew would come, He certainly could have created the earth, saw that it was awful, and said, "They'll fit right in!". But He didn't, He made it good, out of His goodness.

What God seems to want to do throughout the Bible is restoration, forgiveness, grace, compassion, and love - all of which come from His goodness. So, when we say 'God is good' we acknowledge the fact that goodness began with Him, is Him, and ends with Him. God is good! Amen.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We Must Trust There Too

I was thinking this morning about moving. Not, as in me moving to another town, but the state of people moving in general. We are fairly nomadic here in this nation; we tend to follow the herds of jobs from place to place. Along the way, whether we move or we stay, we tend to, oh might as well admit it, judge others. If you stay in a place you might apply that rat title to someone who is deserting the ship. If you move you might assume the staying fellow has his head stuck in the sand, that he can't see the incoming tide and will drown in his inertia. Maybe you even call him 'coward' for not moving or not staying depending upon which you are not doing. It's just terrible to see all those others be so wrong, isn't it?

No, what I was thinking is that we must trust that God is leading our brothers and sisters in Christ too. While the moves in life that other fellow makes may seem perplexing to me, trusting in God's providence goes for him too. I don't get to decide for him; he and God are taking care of him. The great thing is that God has him safely held, whether he is making the biggest mistake of his life or not.

I'm not always so thrilled that God lets me make the big mistakes in life, but I am glad that He picks me up and helps me to learn from them. I can learn that not only is He trustworthy and good, but that I don't need to make those same mistakes again. One of those big mistakes is of course judging where God is leading my neighbor. I'll just let Him take care of that move!

Have a great and fearless day in Christ,

Monday, August 22, 2016

I Have Done Wrong

Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay.” And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. (2 Kings 18:14)

I really hate it when I have done wrong. Apparently Hezekiah did too, for he offered an invading king whatever that king thought appropriate as punishment. Thirty talents? That's like 3,000 pounds of gold! The rest of the story goes that the payment didn't work and the invasion continued, but that isn't the point we're going toward today.

The story I want to write about today involves God's goodness. Many a time, I can admit with shame and regret, "I have done wrong." I don't like it, don't want to do it, and really hate that feeling of shame. Nevertheless, the fact remains that I have done wrong and must pay for it. Then, I think of, or better still am reminded of by the dear Holy Spirit, God's goodness. No that's not quite enough: God's never ending, always replenished, steadfast, loving, and faithful goodness.

I don't know how He does it; sometimes I get tired of going out of my way to do good, but God's goodness is always there for me and you. Even in the worst of sins, the ones where I knew better and still rebelled against God our Father, there is forgiveness and love as the prodigal returns in abject contrition and repentance completely unable to repay what he has taken from the Father. And like the prodigal son of our Lord's parable, I find that the Father is overjoyed that I returned to Him. His goodness is greater by far than me.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Did He Just Misspeak?

I have a word mashup fairly often when I try to speak. Politicians claim to misspeak almost as often, usually after someone points out the error of something they said. Is it possible for one of God's prophets to misspeak? Or would that be, miswrite?

In the Bible we get some accounts of four living creatures. Ezekiel sees them twice, once by the River Chebar and again in Jerusalem at the Temple. John also sees them in the Revelation. In Ezekiel 1:10, the four cherubim have four faces, man, lion, ox, and eagle. In the Revelation 4:7 each of the living creatures has one of these four faces: man, lion, ox, and eagle. However, in Ezekiel 10:14, we get: cherub, man, lion, and eagle. Why is the eagle always last? No, no, that wasn't the question: Why in this one is the face of a cherub listed first, and wouldn't the face of the cherub be one of those four listed earlier? Did Ezekiel just misspeak in his excitement in recording his heavenly vision?

I searched in several translations of the Bible, and in the New Living Translation they changed it to 'ox' but put a note down at the bottom that says, "Literally, 'cherub' ". The others all stayed with 'cherub'. So, did Exekiel have one of those human moments when we blow it, like I just did typing the prophet's name? Possibly, and that wouldn't make the Bible any less authoritative or life-giving. In fact, it makes the word of God all the more accessible to us bumbling, stumbling, fumbling humans reading and studying His glorious word.

Have a wonderful Friday in Christ, and make a mistake or two for humanity's sake!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Be Wise and Serve the Lord

What sort of arm-twisting will it take to make me admit that I don't always want to serve the Lord? Not much, I will honestly admit to a self-serving attitude because I catch myself at it so often. So often I fear the Lord's service in the wrong way too, such as location. If I serve the Lord He will surely send me to some remote town where drugs are readily available, everyone knows every mistake you have ever made, and jobs are few and far between. Well, yes, isn't so bad here, and in fact I praise the Lord for my location quite often. If in my self-serving way I seek some paradise on Earth, I'm not going to find it. Adam and Eve were banned from Eden, and that was the last of our access to Paradise. City, town, village, hometown, they all have their problems, challenges, advantages and disadvantages.

If kings and judges need the instruction of service to the Lord, I suppose it isn't too far-fetched to think that I need the same instruction and wisdom that comes from the Lord's service.

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
​​Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
​​And rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2: 10-11.

Now, what do we do when His service seems so overwhelming? "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28) Amen.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Blast of the Terrible Ones

​For You have been a strength to the poor,
​​A strength to the needy in his distress,
​​A refuge from the storm,
​​A shade from the heat;
​​For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. (Isaiah 25:4)

Is this not what we fear in this world? The blast of the terrible ones has a chilling effect on our witness, but it shouldn't be so. If you have ever been sued with the serving of papers, you have heard the blast of the terrible ones in a legal way. Again, it should not be that way and would not if we remember first the Lord and His might. We are like a mouse hearing the blast of the storm and forgetting entirely about the wall the Lord has erected to stand firm and immovable against any convulsion of the wind and waves. Actually, we are forgetting the Lord Himself in our little mousy distress.

The government thunders its laws, politicians blast at each other (and some of us), foreign powers blast away economically, vocally, and militarily, and then we have the whole range of demonic powers blasting away at us. How are we ever to stand on our own? Of course, that is not what God would have us to do. He made the wall Isaiah wrote of hundreds of years before Jesus came. Read that last sentence of the verse today in a dismissive way. "A storm against God's wall? Ha, it means nothing! A little noise is all I hear!" For we are to stand behind God's wall, safe in His mighty power, protected by His grace and mercy, and eternally safe in His love.

One day the terrible ones will know the meaning of the terror in terrible when facing our great and terrible God. Then, they will know what terrible means when the wrath of God comes upon them.

Praise God the mercy and grace His Son bought for us on the cross is available to all!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

You Don't Need To Go There

“And they will say to you, ‘Look here!' or ‘Look there!' Do not go after them or follow them." Luke 17:23

In the latter days, and by the condition of the world we must be in those days, there will be those who run around saying that the Christ is out somewhere. We may note with some amusement that the place is never right where anyone is but always out in the distant desert or on a remote island.

It seems that Jesus met a lot of folks right where they worked. He called on Matthew from his tax collector booth, the fishermen from the sea shore, John the Baptist right where he was working, and even the demon-possessed fellow chained in a graveyard was doing his, uh, job, when Jesus came calling. So, the Good Shepherd is very good at finding the lost sheep where we are, but would we go out to see Him if He came that way? Sure, in a moment... except for the fact He commanded us not to go chasing after those rumors.

The messiah stories come and go. I read that he was in Puerto Rico once, Africa another time, and South America after that. That fellow in Texas proclaimed himself Messiah until he wasn't anymore. The rumors are coming just as our Lord said they would, and we stand fast at His command. There are times to go forth and spread the good news of Jesus, and times to stand fast and wait on Him. But when one of those rumors come, we don't need to go there.

I hope in the grace of Christ Jesus for His return,


Monday, August 15, 2016

Do We See a Disconnect Here?

It's early on a Monday morning; the weekend is over.

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Gen 22:2)

Now that would be a rough way to start the week. It is interesting that the first time God brings up love in the Bible is in the same command as a test of Abraham's faith. However, God does use love in the way a father loves his son. The first time man brings up love it is in regard to food (of course) in Gen 27:4. Do we see a disconnect here?

In the law we see a whole bunch of references to love, including the two greatest commandments - love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself, all of them in regard to loving God and loving other people. Then, along came Delilah in Judges 14:16, in which she uses the concept of love in an attempt to get her treacherous way with Samson. Yes, that disconnect is still there.

We have God on the one side speaking of love and His mercy. Love and testing our faith in Him. Love and doing the right thing always to those we meet every day. Then on our side, we have a man who loves his food, a woman who loves to use love to betray, and many other wrong-headed and sinful examples until we arrive at today and our profusion of diluted definitions for the word love. We still have a bit of a disconnect going on.

One day in Heaven, God looked to His Son, Jesus, and said something like, "It's time, Son. Time for You to go down there and show them what My love really means." And so Jesus arrived as a baby and grew up in His Father's love until He went to the cross to show us the love God has for each of us. The cross of Christ bridged the great divide, and now the dear Holy Spirit of our God has begun His work in us. Work that will show us how to love God, love one another, and love ourselves. He has us well in hand!


Friday, August 12, 2016

One Way To Start

I just wish I knew what that was. If everyone who prayed for healing was immediately and completely healed, would that be faith or just a benefit? If everyone who fell into a spot of financial difficulty could pray and have a cash delivery show up at the front door, would that be faith or might we then look at God as only a sort of heavenly ATM? One way to start through the dark valley of any difficulty, challenge, or tribulation is to trust that God knows the best way through. Period.

That best way might involve loss on our part. We don't much like it to be that way. It might be kind of nice to have the solution to our current dilemma lie in a quick shower of riches or maybe one of those miraculous healings we've read about. The blind beggar with his restored sight soon had to find employment. The healed paralytic probably met some tough expectations from those who had formerly supported him. And of course, poor Lazarus had to face death that one more time; talk about someone hoping for the Rapture!

Trusting in God's best way requires a whole lot of faith in Him, or maybe we have that just a bit wrong. Trusting involves not a great amount of faith in God, but just faith in our great God. We only have what faith we are given; how we use it is why God runs us through the testing gauntlet. It was a national disgrace that Jesus found the most faith in a Roman centurion. It seems that few among God's chosen people were using their faith well in Jesus' day.

Want more faith? Use the faith we have in Christ Jesus right now!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Where in the World is My Inspiration?

The lament of songwriters, novel writers, poem writers, and just about every kind of writer you might imagine. We go through times of seeking and it would seem not finding, but that may be only impatience. What does the Bible say about inspiration?

But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8)

Hmm, maybe I seek inspiration for the wrong ends? The desire to use inspiration for my ends may be the problem. Sitting down at the Bible to study God's word, I receive inspiration that I may understand what God has said. Sitting down to create something for my own use may not be a proper use of inspiration and so nothing happens.

Scripture is given by inspiration. I didn't make this up; it says so right in the word!

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Therefore, as scripture and understanding are given by inspiration, it may well be that seeking inspiration to make a few bucks may not be how the Spirit in my inspiration will be used? Actually, I believe that I worry over nothing. All of my life is given to God, and if He should inspire me or you to write fiction, or Bible lessons, or songs, or poems, or 247-page technical directions to the biphling flange on the next space shuttle replacement vessel, then write in the Spirit and be inspired!

God's grace to you and me and everybody!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Captain's Ship

Imagine for just a moment that you are at the helm of an old time sailing ship. You stand before the big wheel way at the back of the ship. The captain gives the order to maintain a course and points to the compass. That is your job, just the one responsibility, move the big wheel thing back and forth now and then to keep the ship on that one heading. The wind is from directly astern, the captain has set the sheets for maximum speed, and the rigging is sound. With the crew, except for the watch of course, down in their bunks for the night, you begin to enjoy the ride. Yes, we can all maintain our faith and trust in the Captain when the voyage is just so.

However, it won't last, but perhaps not for the reason we think. No storm threatens this time, no rogue wave or sudden wind to tear the sheets, just one little problem - that lookout. Up front, all the way forward in the bow, is this crewman, or at least what you think is a crewman. The Captain appears to have retired to His quarters and this lookout showed up. You don't quite recognize him, but on his jacket is the title "Known Liar".

Now, just before He retired, the Captain assured you that the ship, maintaining His course, had clear passage all night long. You know this and you trust Him. Then that lookout shouts, "ROCK!" and ducks back as though a collision is imminent. You can't help it. Without conscious command you jerk the wheel. The lookout laughs at you. Known liar indeed, pretty good actor too! This continues throughout the dark night. The Captain remains, as far as you can tell, asleep in His quarters, the lookout continues to stir up fear, and you cannot seem to stop that first involuntary reaction. Finally, you realize that the ship is well off course and you jerk the wheel back to regain the proper heading. How far off is the ship's position now? You are no navigator, but it seems that now the ship is only parallel to the Captain's course and not on it. How much to correct? How great will be His disappointment at the coming of the dawn. What danger to His ship if this is not corrected? Should you call for the mate? Do we dare awaken the Captain at his hour?

Sure, you recognize the life we live every day. It is easy to be faithful to our Lord Jesus when things are going well. But it is just when things are going so good that the great liar starts in with the fear whispers. Sudden health problems are just around the corner, he whispers through an advertisement on TV. "Your favorite pet won't last forever, how sad will be its passing!" he casts before your ears. Every fear you have ever felt is in his sights as you try to live faithfully with the flaming darts Paul mentioned falling all around you. The Captain and owner of the ship seems to be busy elsewhere when you call out for help; and doesn't the enemy make much of that fear with his little whispers and flaming darts! Faithfulness, trust, obedience all become very difficult when the great liar attacks with his minions of fear, worry, doubt, and anxiety.

A hand on the shoulder; you jump, startled out of that deep conversation with fear. "Steer just a little to the north, we'll be back on course in no time. You are not that far off." the Captain speaks gently in your trembling ear. The mate smiles, knowing the Captain was there all the time watching you closely. That lookout has disappeared. All is calm once more as His peace washes the doubts away.

Have a faithful day, helmsman! Your course is set by our righteous Captain.


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

It's a Grandbaby!

Oh it is hard to contain the joy of a new grandparent. You would think that with their advanced years and gray hairs this would be a low-key sort of event, but that is hardly the case around here. I think the sound of walkers banging together will soon drive me right 'round the bend!

Of course new grandparents are not all that old. Back in olden times some were even as young as 29 or 30 when the first grandbabies came. On the other hand, given the firm and steadfast advance of my own age it will soon not be long that I will say great-grandparents are not all that old. Now, imagine the reign of Christ on Earth when children may not be considered grown until the tender age of 100 or so (it comes from Isaiah's prophecies). Why a person might be 200 or more before the grandbabies begin arriving. Imagine the goofy joy of the grandparents after waiting that long.

God's blessings on the new grandbabies in the world, and may we return to the Lord as a nation to give those little children the Way, the Truth and the Life!


Monday, August 08, 2016

Further Up, or Down Through a Ravine?

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

We like to know that our path to God's Heaven is one of further up all the time, or at least we would like to know that if the Lord did not seem to be taking us down through yet another ravine of tribulation on what we hope is the way to the top of the mountain. Experience tells us it's true, the path to the the Lord's holy mountain is not quite as smooth and gentle as we might like. There are those times when we kneel down in prayer to beg for an elevator to the top, but our Lord only beckons us onward along His pathway.

We have some amount of weariness and fear over what may be at the bottom of that next ravine of tribulation, but down and down and through each one, through our doubts and our fears, through our weariness and impatience, the Lord leads us on. In time, the path begins to mount up once more. Though some of the steps may resemble small cliffs and even the occasional precipice, always the Lord is there with just the right amount of help or climbing gear to get us to that next level; and there will be seasons of rest in this climb up or down. I know, sometimes it seems that falling down into a ravine of tribulation took only moments while the climb out is arduous and takes weeks, months and years. If we had our Lord's true vision, I'm thinking that we would be able to see that it is that way because we did not fall down nearly so far as He led us up, and that we are so very close to the top of His mountain.

Let us climb onward with our Lord!

Friday, August 05, 2016

Pause, Give Up The Floor To The Lord

Sometimes my prayer life might sound a bit like an automatic chicken. Bak, bak, bak, bak, bak, I need this, I want that, this really hurts, that is a real problem. The only chance the Lord has to respond is when I have to reload a new magazine of needs, wants, pains and problems. Life is certainly full of those things and each of them can demand the floor to speak out its desire for relief. However, I might want to consider giving up the floor of the court to allow the Lord a chance to respond. Yes, there may be some politicians who can learn from this as well, but that's a story for another day. Today, we're talking the Christian prayer life and trying to keep it from becoming a one-way and never-ending rant.

Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness. (Psalm 143:1)

David wrote some great psalms. In the above first verse of psalm 143, I notice that he expects an answer from the Lord. Of course, in order for that to happen, the king must then expect a pause from himself to hear the Lord's answer. Indeed a few verses later we get a 'Selah' which, though we don't know for sure, may be a pause in the psalm, maybe even to give the Lord a time to respond to the earnest prayer. In just this one verse though, David also states why he expects an answer, and it has nothing to do with how good or right or needy he is. The Lord's faithfulness and righteousness is how David, the man after God's own heart, came to expect an answer to his supplications.

Amen! And may we pause in our busy days to give the Lord a chance to respond.


Thursday, August 04, 2016

A Hole in the Wall

So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall. Then He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall”; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door. (Eze 8:7-8)

Ezekiel's book of prophecy is a real treat for visualizations. The Lord shows Ezekiel a hole in the wall; a hole in the wall of the Temple in Jerusalem! What might this be? Is the Temple in disrepair? The vision continues with the command to dig into the wall, where Ezekiel finds a door. From there the prophet is told to enter in, and in this place he finds the worst sort of abominations, an art gallery in the very Temple of God, and the art is very much a statement against God.

We are often like that temple of old. A review of our current state of sanctification might show a hole in the wall. A bit of digging shows a door, and opening that door reveals a roomful of abominations. Looking at the wall and seeing the hole, we might well ask, "What can pass through that little hole? Surely it's no big deal." As the word picture God showed Ezekiel shows to us, oh my, that little hole in the wall is the gateway to the very doorstep of Hell!

Praise God, there is help in this! We need someone better at repairing those holes and cleaning out those hidden rooms than we are. Left alone, we tend to dig into those holes a bit to fulfill that sinful curiosity; yes, that one that likes to stare at the dead body beside the road, the one that looks at the images we struggle to forget afterward. Like you, I eagerly await that day when we are cleansed and presented to God the Father by our Lord Jesus!


Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Utterly, Totally, and Completely Beyond Our Experience

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. (Rev 22:1-5)

The first paragraph of the final chapter of the Bible leaves us agog as we realize how it is so utterly, totally, and completely beyond our experience. How can we understand no curse when all we have experienced is under the curse? Trees that bear fruit every month, a river of water of life, light without shadows, leaves that heal nations...what is this place?!

John looks as the Lord Jesus reveals, but all the last remaining disciple of our Lord's earthly ministry can do is report what he sees. Only one little simile, clear as crystal, shows John's attempt to understand this new place. The remainder is simply a stating of what is there, and indeed we struggle to understand in our limited terms what Jesus shows us of this promised land.

For us to be caught out in a desert waste without shade to shield us from the sun is to die, but even there night will fall. Drinking from a river has long been a risk to life and health, and few tree leaves are either edible or palatable for us. We look at maps, but how many rivers begin at a throne? And, John apparently did not get to eat of the fruit at that time, else he may have reported to us such a taste as to put us off our earthly fruits for good. We haven't begun to speak of seeing God's face, for how could we with only this experience we have lived?

What a glorious promise from our Lord!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Fighting the Powers That Be

"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:1-2)

An odd title comes up in Paul's letter to the Ephesian church: prince of the power of the air. What did he mean by that? Does our enemy control the weather? We have had a few days lately to blame on him if he does. Does he control the airwaves that we listen to? If so, this election may point to a nefarious hand. In truth, I really don't know what all our enemy can control or affect in his power. What I do believe and know from the word of God is that God is all mighty.

With God holding all mighty power, none can block or thwart His plans. There then must be only room for one all mighty power in the universe, and thus we call Him the Almighty. With God our Father loving us and holding almighty power, what do we have to worry about when fighting the powers that be on this earth? What is there to fear when our Father in Heaven is the superior power above all others? And, He loves us with an everlasting love!

Ah, to rest in the mighty arms of our Lord!

Monday, August 01, 2016

Mighty to Save

Who is this who comes from Edom,
​​With dyed garments from Bozrah,
​​This One who is glorious in His apparel,
​​Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
​​“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” (Isaiah 63:1)

There is a great preacher on Sunday morning. Choose whichever one you like, your local pastor or one of those on television or the radio. Do you suppose that he or she can save you? No? Then how about one of those Christian writers or maybe one of the singing groups with their great songs of praise to the Holy One? Not them either? Perhaps yourself then, maybe each of us can save himself or herself? Decidedly not in my case, I can in no way count on myself to be sinless and righteous in my own strength. So who is this Mighty One in the Bible verse for today?

We who are reborn in Christ and know His word can see immediately who this prophecy shouts out in answer to its own question. 'Mighty to save' must and can only be our Lord Jesus coming in His glorious second coming with strength and majesty. He speaks in righteousness; so often I find myself blurting out something in sarcasm, irritation, defensiveness, cynicism, selfishness, or pretty much anything other than righteousness. And we've already gone over the saving power of each of us, right? So it must be Jesus and we are glad to see Him coming.

Later in the same chapter of Isaiah's prophecy, we see a dual purpose in the Lord's return:

For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
​​And the year of My redeemed has come. (Isaiah 63:4)

We don't wish a day of the Lord's vengeance on anyone, but how great is it that it is only a day, while the YEAR of His redeemed has come? Yes indeed, the day of the Lord's vengeance is terrible for those on the wrong side of His wrath, but the time of the redeemed is at least 365 times better!

Have a better day in Christ!