Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Serious Men and Women, With Serious Purpose

When we think of serious people, we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that they never laugh, smile, or enjoy life with maybe the exception of a brief nod to their accomplishments. Some read the scriptures and consider Jesus, Peter, and Paul to be people of this type. Our interactions with Nebuchadnezzar in the Old Testament seem quite serious too.

“For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken,’ says the Lord GOD. (Eze 26:7-14)

A serious man with a serious purpose. The Lord commanded Nebuchadnezzar to take down a city and its villages. A siege of a city was a serious undertaking back in the day, and it would be today as well. Months of planning, logistics reaching all the way back to his capital, training of cavalry and infantry, education of the engineers, and his base had to be secure back home too. Then, the weeks or months to get the army in place, followed by the weeks or months a siege would last. Nebuchadnezzar had a firm will and a lot of help from generals and privates. However, God through His spoken word had already declared this serious man to be victorious. So, do we need to be serious in manner and countenance to be victorious in Christ?

I don't believe that is the case. We are tempted to conflate serious with dour, grim, and unsmiling; and when a tough job is at hand we may have trouble being anything but those things. However, a serious mind applied to a serious mission does not have to be at all times grim and downcast. Scraping the skin off the nose on the ol' grindstone tends to hurt!

Jesus had a serious purpose: to save us from our sin. Yet our Lord was criticized for keeping the company of those the religious leaders considered somewhat less than serious. We have those times for being serious-minded with serious purpose, but since we also want to keep company with our Lord, maybe we don't want to be so grim all the time. He seemed to like being with those who enjoyed life with Him.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Silent Life of Ezekiel's Wife

Snow? It wasn't supposed to snow today. It is only a little, but it is still snow. Surprise, Ezekiel the prophet had a wife. We meet her in Chapter 24 of his book.

So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded. (v18)

There she went, hope you got to know her quite well. We can't even get up a good trivia question regarding her name.

During this time, Ezekiel also had a silence going on in which he could only speak the words the Lord gave him. After the Lord told Ezekiel that his wife would be taken, he could not tell her what was coming or even let her know in words that he loved her or say goodbye. On top of that, E. was not allowed to mourn, weep, or let tears run down his face after his wife was taken.

Ezekiel's wife doesn't speak a word of the text, and yet our very small knowledge of her life may say quite a volume about us. We might think God mean or cruel to take a man's wife like that. Should we though? As we get older, many of us think that a quick taking by the Lord, who is good and gentle, sounds like just about the best exit we could hope for from this life. Many are taken from us without warning, suddenly; Ezekiel received advance notice and had a little time to spend with his wife before her time came. Above all is that question: Do we trust in God's goodness?

A separation hurts. Be it spouse or children, parents or friends, we hurt from the sorrow of separations in this life. But, this life is not God's final answer, and we trust in His sovereign goodness that tells us of our loved one's dwelling place in a better kingdom, God's kingdom. We may want to think more on God's goodness, and a bit less on the sorrow of our situation.

Have a blessed day in Christ!

Monday, November 28, 2016

And Suddenly

Yes, 'tis the season at last! Yesterday began Advent, Friday kicked off the shopping season, and today the decorations go up. You're kidding on that last one right? Everyone but me must have the decorating done by now. It's true; I got the decorations out and hauled into work, but it looks a lot like a stack of boxes right now. There's not a lot of Christmas cheer in looking at a pile of cardboard containers. There is a great temptation to get caught up in the surface of the season and perhaps forget that it is Christmas.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. (Luke 2:8)

We know from many years of hearing these few words that something big is about to happen. But, let us not miss that these shepherds were going about their daily work, the flocks of sheep bedded down for the night. In most ways, these shepherds were completely unprepared for what is about to happen to them. No decorations twinkled in their fields, someone had not announced Advent to them, and shopping had been taken over by herds of people reporting to the census takers in Bethlehem. It is likely that the shepherd's conversation was dominated by the Roman census and the changes and sacrifices required for this thing to take place. So much business going on for government and living, and so much about to change forever!

So very much like us today. Busy, work, toil, some of it fun and other tasks nothing but toil, and yet, could this be the day? Might the Christmas decorating be left half done as the saints of God are called home? It could happen! We do not know the date, but we do know what will be going on when the time comes - just what you and I plan to do this day, work as usual. Much like those shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flocks. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying..." (v 13)

And suddenly indeed,

Friday, November 25, 2016

Pharisee Paradise

Once in a while, back in yonder day, my sense of humor got me in trouble during my four years of service. The military is a bit of Pharisee paradise you see. On top of government law, there are added military-only regulations (saluting, for example) that can get one in just as much trouble as a violation of federal or state laws. The Pharisees of our Lord's day would have loved the strictly regulated environment of our modern military, or even a government job in this age, or for that matter a job in a large corporation. All of these places add many rules on top of the law just as the Pharisees did in their day. We have no small number of churches and denominations that appear happy to do the same thing.

As critical as our Lord Jesus was of the Pharisees, I believe I can speak with some authority that writing a large rule book and using it to beat down the congregation was not what Jesus came to do. Would our Lord, who used some of His toughest language against the Pharisees, feel welcome studying a big ol' book o' rules in a church supposedly dedicated to His Father?

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. (Matt 23:13)

No, we don't want to be like that. Let us avoid creating another Pharisee Paradise. If we act always in faith and love as shown by our Lord, no added rules are needed. In fact, He summed up the entire law and prophets in two commandments.

Have an exciting Black Friday, if that is your kind of thing.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is our special day of giving thanks to our Lord. A tradition declared in remembrance of that first feast between a group of Pilgrim survivors and their Indian guests. We love this story because centered in it all is gratitude to God for His provision. The story also has that fruit of the Spirit we desire in this life: peace and purpose.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Col 3:15)

A peaceful meeting between two peoples learning to understand one another without the hatred and violence that came in many other meetings between peoples both in Biblical times and in our nation's history. God showed that it could work if He was involved. The Pilgrims also had purpose in their difficult journey to a wilderness across a stormy ocean. They wanted to plant the light of Jesus in a new land, one in which they would be free to worship without government interference, sponsorship or oversight. We enjoy this freedom today, though the enemies have tried to tear it down.

With peace and purpose, they gathered for a feast in gratitude and faith. And their gratitude on that day almost 400 years ago was directed to God. Thanksgiving is our holiday to give thanks to God, and we love Him! Whether you are feasting or fasting on this day, give thanks to God. You may be joining in a dinner at home or traveling to be a guest, give thanks to God. Just don't do it because you think you must, give thanks out of love and sincere gratitude, give freely to God who gave so much to us.

Love and joy to you on this Thanksgiving Day!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why Do I Need Prayer Intervention?

So, I am known by some as the local computer/IT/PC-fix it man; what happens when I can't fix my own? Crash after crash this morning, until finally the infamous BSOD. The question raised yesterday is: What do I write for the next 3,000 posts? Wrong question, or at least the question is out of order. First, how do we/I fix the PC? Sometimes we just don't ask the right question. It is difficult to write and post anything at all on the Internet when the primary means to access said network is sick, ill, on strike, or just being resistant. That doesn't compare at all to prayer life.

In prayer, I think I know what I need, and then I go to the Lord in prayer. It seems pretty simple and straightforward. So, why do I need prayer intervention? I guess I just explained my own problem, "I think I know" sort of tells the whole tale. The process only seems simple when the praying newbie is simple. As Paul informed his readers back in the day, and all of us today via the Word of God:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)

Aha, we do not know what we should pray for as we ought; and this from a former champion of the Pharisees who had prayed to God all of his life! In so many ways we are so weak that we don't know how weak we are. Therefore, the Holy Spirit comes to our rescue in our most basic privilege: prayer. We can ask, and God encourages us to ask through His Spirit, but we also need that intervention. We need the right questions to be asked and the right requests to be made of our Lord, else we don't get anywhere fast.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Meant To Be Or Keep Trying?

Of course it would be tough to get this out today. No time in the morning, two PC crashes at home at lunch and finally, it's late in the afternoon at work. This is the time to begin thinking that maybe this is meant to be done... tomorrow!

Thanksgiving is upon us this week, and I am grateful for 10 years of devotional writing as of this past September, especially for those of you who remember all of 'em! Are you kidding? I don't even remember all of them! Today is the 3,000th devotional post on Blogspot. I waited to commemorate the 10th anniversary to hit that big posting number, or maybe that is posted number. Somewhere in all of that is a lot of writing about our Lord and how good He is to us. One of those displays of our Lord's affection for us is the times we have to just keep trying.

Yup, it would be easy to kick back the rest of Tuesday and say, "It must be meant to be done tomorrow." But after two cups of hot apple cider, I just don't think the easy answer is the one for me today. Even if I must go home and try booting my PC around a bit, this big number 3,000 is going out today. If it were up to only me, I would have quit long ago.

Thank you, Lord, for the endurance and patience to write so many devotional messages over such a long time! Thank you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for reading at least one or two of them over the years, that too may be a triumph of endurance and patience in our Lord Jesus!

May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you until the Rapture of His flock!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Oh, Let's Be Thankful!

How to live the Christian life is a question many a follower of Christ has asked throughout the ages. Many of those things our Lord did were one time things. As far as I can tell, there were no angelic hosts singing in the heavens when I was born and my conception I can safely assume happened in the normal way. My knowledge of the scriptures at the age of 12 did not dazzle the professors of the word and I have not at least thus far brought anyone to life. You can probably make similar claims, but that does not call our faith into question. On the other hand, this week is a good reminder that you and I can be thankful for all our Lord has done.

One of the excellent ways we have to follow Jesus is to cultivate a steadfast grateful attitude; you can shorten it to gratitude, if you wish. Yes, it does not come easily and we need our Lord's constant help to be steadfast in gratitude. During the times when pain threatens to overwhelm, we may struggle to be thankful. When tragedy strikes and we do not see the good God is bringing from the situation yet, giving thanks for the circumstance does not readily come to mind. However, it is in those times that gratitude may be our best witness of the many blessings God has given to us.

Job was hit with so much bad news that the messengers were nearly shoving each other out of the way to deliver bad tidings. And, praise God, Job was not super-gratitude man after all of these tragedies laid him into the ashes in mourning. Job struggled to show gratitude to the Lord; he wanted to meet the Lord in court, to bring God Himself to judgment! Many of King David's psalms start with a deep and bitter complaint. Moses didn't quite skip through the wilderness with a merry tune on his lips each day. We have a lot of good company in the tough life category, but we also have the Spirit of God in our hearts to raise up gratitude when we need to express it most. Trust in God and we shall have good help in giving thanks this week!

Thank you, dear Abba, for Your steadfast blessings!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Antibiotics vs. Probiotics

I see that the record low for this date is 15°, to which I can say, "Not anymore!" The weather site says that it is a mere 8° outside and the house is making those noises that say, "It's really cold outside me!" as the furnace works to make it tolerable in here. A morning like this reminds one to pay that utility bill with a thankful heart. Now to the combat at hand.

The dentist prescribed antibiotics; I take probiotic supplements. So, in the war of antibiotics versus probiotics, who will win? It is tempting to bet on the professional biotics, because professional usually means skillful or accomplished. Anyone who has had a run in with a bad contractor or plumber will often say that he was less than professional. The reason behind this rather silly analogy is to address the temptation to believe the lie that God vs. Satan is a battle of equal opposites.

The Bible begins with God creating the heavens and the earth. If there were an opposing equal, would this creation have happened? Only later does the Serpent enter the story and cause trouble. Then there is the word given to Isaiah:

​“How you are fallen from heaven,
​​O Lucifer, son of the morning!
​​How you are cut down to the ground,
​​You who weakened the nations! (14:12)

Other passages in the Bible speak of our God standing alone and there is none like Him; the Bible does not tell of an equal with an opposite agenda. There cannot be two almighty forces or there would be a cancelling out. The Lord our God is the Almighty. In fact, at the end of this age, we are comforted by God sending one of His angels to chain the Adversary and toss him into the bottomless pit.

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. (Rev 20:1-3)

That could never happen to an enemy of equal power and might, especially when one of the servants is sufficient to toss out the Accuser for a thousand years!

Have a faithful and rejoicing Saturday in Christ Jesus!


Friday, November 18, 2016

All I Know Is That He Is Able

There are a great many things that I cannot explain about salvation, sanctification, the Rapture, and I could go on. I cannot explain for example how the Holy Spirit enters the saved person and begins to work in him or her. I do not know the method or means by which Jesus ascended into Heaven. How was John 'brought up there' in response to the command? How is it that Heaven is hidden from us? Mysteries of the gospel: they are so fun to ponder!

We have a tendency from the flesh toward unbelief. The problem with that is it leaves us open to doubting God's ability. We must of course read the scriptures and see that our Lord is extremely and Omnipotently capable! Water out of a rock? No problem for our Lord. Food in a desert waste? Our Lord can provide it daily. A finger of an ocean in the way of an escape? The Lord can divide it and provide a dry seabed for the crossing. A stormy sea hindering His disciples? Our Lord will just walk across the top of it. Not enough food for the multitude? He provides a multiplication fit for thousands to eat and be filled. The scriptures rain on our sandcastle of doubts. The Word is a tidal wave washing away our sandy structures of unbelief!

I don't know how our Lord does many of the things He does. All I know is that He is able, and not only is He able, He is!


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Proof That Faith Exists?

So, winter comes at last today or tonight (or maybe tomorrow, late or early); we ran out of oil in 1973, or maybe 1987, but the largest discovery in the US was announced in Texas; and people have trouble believing that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead? With the news we have endured over the past few decades, it doesn't seem that far fetched. Ah, but that is the backwards way. We don't look for the truth by showing the lies have been proved wrong about something else. If you want to be proven honest in court, you don't produce a parade of liars as witnesses to their own dishonest ways. When we want to show from the Word that our Lord rose again, we look to the words of truth: what do you believe about Jesus the Christ?

The Bible produces eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Yet, if a person does not want to believe, the eyewitnesses are proven liars in the court of the unbeliever's mind before we can even present the next part of our case. Jesus sent prophets centuries before His arrival to tell of His life and death and life after the grave, yet even His own people did not believe. The Son of Man Himself said three times that His life would be given for many and then He would rise again, but even His own disciples did not believe at that time. Any of us may find it easier to believe in the permanence of death than in the resurrection of our Lord; in fact before we came to believe in faith in our Lord's resurrection from the dead, that is exactly what we saw in our future.

Jesus saw something else coming in this age, and then He proved it by rising again from death and the grave. But we cannot see that with the eyes of this earth, we must believe and have faith in Christ. It's tough, I cannot prove that faith exists. I cannot produce Jesus in a court and touch Him as proof that He is risen. But, somehow, I believe in Him! Faith is a funny thing. It is easily mocked by the world, constantly scoffed at, impossible to touch, smell, hear, or see, and yet the very One in whom we place that faith said it is powerful enough to move a mountain. I cannot grab a shaker of grace and pour it over me, but I know the grace Jesus earned on the cross exists just as much as my faith. How can it be so? Maybe we should...ask Him!

In Christ,

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tough Times Will Come

It seems we have casually thrown around the message, "Winter is coming", for a month or so now, mostly in jest as this autumn has been among the warmest I can recall. However, tomorrow we may get what we deserve for mocking the season! Much colder predicted for tomorrow and no return to the 70's is in the forecast. The start of winter will come at last. Though a high in the 40's in November is not that bad around here; we have been spoiled with a fall of good weather. For the Christian, we might say in a similar way, "Tough times will come."

Jesus said it in His way of course, "In the world you will have tribulation." Like one or two others, I wanted the Christian road that was smooth and easy; you know the one, the one where God takes away all illness, aches, pains, trials, and even the little bumps in the road. I think I can safely say that not one who believed or believes in Jesus ever got a life like that. Whether it was emotional, financial, spiritual or physical, the persecution, trials, and tribulations arrived and knocked us about the head and body. We as a body have suffered setbacks, sickness, death, sorrow, stress, poverty, plenty, and anything else one might imagine. And then Jesus said, "but be of good cheer."

What? We have to be cheerful about suffering these tribulations? No, it wasn't a rule to make us smile those fake smiles while in terrible pain. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) The cheer we know is that all the tough times have a purpose. Faith does not grow and flourish in a field of ease and luxury. Faith grows when times are tough, and those times will come. But be of good cheer, our Lord Jesus has overcome this world!

One of my favorite verses, I may have written on it once or twice before this. :-) Bucky

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

But, We're On The Border!

Good morning to those who love Christ Jesus and are called by Him! Filling in a web form yesterday I ran into a problem, it called crossing the border an error. Little did the designers of said form know that it fits rather nicely into my message for this morning. Yes, we are on the border and the world does not like it. Misery loves company, as the old saying goes, and they do not want us to cross over to be with our Lord Jesus! We may not realize just how close to the border of paradise we are on this fine day.

When John looked up he saw a door standing open in Heaven. How close do we have to be to see a door and know it for what it is? Even in worldly terms we need to be fairly close. The great divide may be too deep for us to cross on our own, but it may not be as wide as we might be tempted to think. The bridge made by our Lord Jesus may not be so very far after all. The border between the Shadowlands and the reality of eternity with our Lord is just a short command away from us. "Come up here!" and John was there in the Spirit. How quickly will we make the journey when this old body is left behind? Paul said like going to sleep and waking up. In the blink of an eye. Whether we think about it or not, we are right on the border of our home!

Yes, we may have some trips near that border for a short time as we testify of the Good News. We all hope that this world's final blow will not be painful or drawn out. Faith reminds us that through tough times or resting, we are closer to our Lord and our home than this world would have us know. We are right on the border!

The Lord is at hand, be anxious for nothing!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ah, The Glory of God!

Glory is the credit we give to our Lord, although His glory is more than that and not dependent upon it. The heavens declare the glory of God according to a psalm of David (19:1). It is good for us to declare God's glory in our lives by testifying to His salvation and the good news of Jesus Christ. Our story is His story, what He has done in our lives especially to change our lives form the fallen sinner's life we led before His sanctification began in us.

I don't know how you fared back in the day, but before the work of Jesus began to show in me, I was pretty self-centered. Unfair was defined by me in relation to my wants and desires. Love, goodness, and giving were nice things as long as they flowed my way. Luck and chance were mean and hateful when they didn't land on my number. Superstition had much to do with everything because 'self' was at the center of things. It wasn't constantly this way of course because I was taught to share, obey the law, and live as a good citizen. However, how well I did these things had much to do with fear of punishment for breaking rules and laws. I was mostly about me until He came into my life!

The changes that God wrought in me were quite often too subtle for me to see right away, mostly because I tend to look on the outside first. It is difficult to see God's love, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness growing inside of me by staring at a mirror. Faith doesn't show up well in things I can touch and feel. It is easy to feel older as the years roll by, much more difficult to feel more faith in God. (Probably because faith isn't a feeling.) Ah, but the glory of God is coming soon, and better still it is not tied to the old me!

How great is God that He should love us while we were yet sinners! How wonderful that God chose you and me before we made all those outward changes to make ourselves more acceptable in our own sight (or even in spite of them if we were successful in those resolutions). Hmm, it seems the glory of God is in His work, not mine. Without Him I tend to do vain things that benefit me. In Christ, my work is His work, and it has a more lasting glory that is all due Him! Blessed indeed is the name of our Lord Jesus! Immanuel.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Well, It's Over

A holiday was enjoyed by all yesterday. Okay, maybe just a whole bunch of folks. No, all I really know about is me and a few others. I'm not sure I can even know about them. I would like to think that everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, but some may not have enjoyed it quite so much. I did make it to Big B's for a free burger basket, and then I had one of those pieces of pie that we cannot enjoy daily for fear of gaining 600 pounds. I didn't make it to the school and Rotary event, but not everyone is made for all things and that's okay too. However, I do feel a little down today.

No matter how much preparation and anticipation goes into a holiday, in spite of how much we put into the celebration, the holiday ends. We cannot keep it. Memories will fade in time. People will no longer speak of it. The day is gone. That is one sad thing about life here on this fallen earth; at some point, we stop and say, "Well, it's over." Perhaps there is something there that will change when we enter eternity with our Lord.

Heaven's celebrations will become the New Earth's celebrations, and maybe we get to keep those days. Every time we think of the wedding of the Lamb, we may get that day all over again. Celebrations may not just be high points of our relationship with the Lord, but the place where we go further in and higher up. No let down day after the big celebration? I'm not sure how to imagine that right now in this life. It may be something I'll need to trust God to hold onto for now.

Have a great weekend in Christ!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Called Forth To Serve

Good morning on Veteran's Day 2016! Not all of us felt the call to serve our nation in the armed forces. However, in Christ we are called forth to serve Him and our neighbors. That call began with our Lord's mission, stated here:

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

In our flesh we often feel a call to rule, some more than others, but servant leadership seems a lost art among us in this age. Back in the day of our Lord, many tried to force Jesus the Servant to become Jesus the King. That still seems rather backwards to me, but perhaps that is the Spirit's work in me. Jesus is the King of kings, but not all of us together could force the Lord to sit on a throne of our choosing. So, why then do I catch myself trying to rule over the Lord by expectation in my prayers?

Faith is praying for His will to be done and waiting in expectancy for the working of His will in my life. Expectation is praying something and expecting Him to hop to it. I can't pray 'Thy will be done...' and then pray for nothing but my will to be done; that just doesn't work out. Service is not going to the ruler and telling him what my will desires. How far would that get with a human king? Yet, there have been those times when I have found myself doing just that with the Lord in prayer.

Therefore, on this Veteran's Day my prayer is that the Lord by His mercy and goodness will strengthen me to serve and to know what service is in every circumstance. Blessed be His name!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Let Us Hasten To The Gathering

The end of the day draws near. The time of the reaping is upon us and the harvest is ripe. How long, we ask, until the Master returns? Perhaps He sees from afar that one sheep from His flock is yet lost in a far canyon. It may be that one field of wheat yet remains that is awaiting the Word of God before it can be harvested. Our final meeting with the Lord cannot take place while there is yet work to be done. Let us hasten to the gathering of God's children by finishing quickly what we have to do in His name. Don't try to do it alone! Seek His mercy and love as we set about those final few tasks which must soon bring forth the gathering and rapture of His church, His beloved bride.

As you can tell, I read my C.H. Spurgeon before starting the task of my own on this day. The idiom of 19th century writing is, at least it seems to me, a bit more lyrical than our tone in this age. We may have e-mail and texting to thank for that, systems which both value brevity in our communication over lengthy sentences and lyrical verse. Most of us do not want to face a 4-page e-mail to start the day, and texts can be cut off if we are not very brief. However, that may not be inappropriate in this age. The end may indeed be just a short time away, and therefore all communication of the gospel must be brief, quick to the point, and sent without delay. Those who have not heard or do not yet believe may not have time for hours-long sermons or letters that span pages; the end times are upon us all! Let us then hasten to the gathering of God's final lost sheep. We may mourn the loss of a slower-paced life from back in the day, but the quickening pace of the world may indeed point to the final sprint to the finish of this race.


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

An Interesting Morning

So, we have elected a new president. Does this mean that I dropped all prayers for our nation and breathed a relieved sigh that the election was over? Well, no and yes. This morning I felt a stronger burden than before to pray for revival and awakening in our nation, and it has nothing to do with the candidates or the winner, but it may have something to do with the election and all its negative news being finished at last. Relieved of the burden for praying over ballots and voters, I can turn to praying for salvation for all.

The presidential election and the many other results of this election make for an interesting day. Hopefully some persons across our nation can behave better today than they have in the weeks leading up to the election. (Alas, already news is spreading that some few have not.) Whichever 'side' we have landed on this morning; whether we see the vote as a victory or a defeat, I hope that we can recall the command of our Lord Jesus to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Salvation and loving one another, now wouldn't that solve quite a few amendment/proposition/ballot referendum/vote thingies before they even needed an election! I'm not asking for much on this interesting morning, just a complete reversal from the sin in which all were born, almost like a rebirth. Hey...maybe I'm onto something there!

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Let Thy Will Be...Voted On?

What a fiasco that would be. Try to imagine a couple hundred million people trying to vote on what God's will would be for the next year. All those individual needs and wants, frailties, fumbles, and falsehoods, all vying for what they think is best for God's will for all of us in the next year. If you are not frightened enough yet, think on a four year term next. Now think of those two hundred million people all praying in Christ, "Let Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." Whoa! That could happen. All we need is a revival, another great awakening of faith, a nationwide turning to Christ. This is not beyond our Lord's capabilities and would make such a difference in the world.

We do not get to vote on God's will, and that is a wonderful thing. However, we do get to come to Him in prayer. Prayer is better than a vote because it starts with His will and not ours. We don't have to use the same exact words each time in prayer, but the model Jesus gave to us certainly contains the elements we need. Acknowledging God's holiness, seeking His coming Kingdom, praying that His will be done, petitioning His provision and mercy, and a reminder to obey His command to forgive. Temptation is best avoided and we don't want anything to do with that evil one. And finally, give it all up to Him forever.

Today, as the vote is taken across our land, I feel a strong urge toward prayer. May His will be done!


Monday, November 07, 2016

Has Time Caught Up With You Yet?

This weekend is part of our semi-annual self-inflicted torture ritual wherein we adjust the daily time. I only say self-inflicted because it originates in Congress and we voted them into their positions. Perhaps in some parts of the country we can begin un-inflicting ourselves on Tuesday, hey? Yes, consider voting for candidates who will stop the semi-annual torture of the time changes!

If you failed to compensate for the time changing on any or all of your clocks, time may not have caught up with you yet. This causes unusually early rising in the morning as it did with someone whose name I won't mention this morning. To cover for the guilty, we can just call her "Mom" in any further examples.

It is interesting for those of us given to anxious worry that time never quite catches up with us. We seek out imaginary futures, fill them with dread and worry, season them with fear, and cause no events at all in the real world. Time never catches up with a future that exists only in our imaginary horror show. We do however harm ourselves with this sort of activity as anxious worry induces real changes in the body. In other words, sick with worry isn't just an idle expression, or maybe that should be idol expression.

When time does finally catch up with me, I find every time that Jesus was not with me in that imaginary phantasmagoria I created out of worry. I used the example of my court time in a devotional a while back. Had I been able to charge like a lawyer does for all of that court time, I figure I would have earned something like a million dollars this spring and summer. When the case was settled, I had spent no time in court in the real world. The present was where my Lord Jesus was when that real time caught up to me. Now that I have 'fallen back' by resetting my clocks (those that didn't set themselves that is) perhaps I can use this reminder to remain here in the present with my ever-present friend, Jesus.

Blessed be His name,

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Saving Those Sinners

The word repentance does not occur in the New King James version of the Old Testament, but in the New Testament it suddenly becomes a big theme. Not to worry, repent, return to the Lord, and similar terms and phrases are much in evidence in the NKJV Old Testament. Much of the Bible is about people or persons and the need to turn to the Lord and be saved. Why so much valuable scripture given over to repentance? Because every one of us needs it!

Only one man lived who did not need to return to God for salvation, and He said:

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7

Jesus was kind enough to mention me in scripture, for I am certainly that one sinner who repented. I cannot take that title alone though. Many brothers and sisters in Christ have come before me since Jesus spoke His words, many a sinner has repented during my time, and up to the end of the Tribulation many more will come to Jesus for salvation. We might even pause to wonder where the 99 just people were to come from since, other than my brothers and sisters who trusted in Jesus for their saving, who indeed is justified?

Well then, if 99 just people cannot be found to provide joy in heaven, it is up to our Lord to provide saved sinners to joyify His heavenly realm. Praise God there is much we can do to help Him provide fuel for this fire of joy lighting up Heaven.

Have a great Saturday and be a light to those around you,

Friday, November 04, 2016

Everyone But You

Separation from this world is not something the flesh wants to feel. When the Savior's call comes, we may want to look back and indeed it may take some quite a while to make that decision to follow Him.

Moving to a new town, losing a job, not getting a promotion, and other circumstances can give us an 'everyone but me' sort of feeling. A diagnosis of cancer or a disease that carries some name we never heard of can give us that same separated feeling. A financial crisis that causes cutting back of social activities we enjoy might also bring on the 'everyone but me' feeling of doom and woe. The world has many opportunities to make one feel alone and unwanted! Then, something happened:

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:16-17)

Yes, the Savior chose you and me. And He commands us to love one another. It is a strange thing that while the world would make me feel separated and alone, Jesus calls us apart from the world and that makes one feel loved and chosen. The love of Christ frees me to feel a part of something grand, the kingdom of God!

Have a loving Friday in Christ!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

A Little Trip to Weirdness

So, the Cubs won the baseball championship, Cabela's is all but sold to Bass Pro Shops, and our November weather is very September-like; what comes next? Election Day of course, are we to go further down the road in our little trip to weirdness? It may well be time to read the Revelation again, along with certain passages in quite a few other books of the Bible telling of what to watch for near the end of time.

It is interesting that one of the signs our Lord gave to us in Matthew 24 is that many will be offended. Outrage seems to be a popular pastime, even more than that, a passion in this age. Love has grown cold in many hearts, another sign. And, false prophets of many types abound, all trying to get their face on the news and speak their false words to the masses. So, what is He waiting for? That too is explained to us, perhaps just in case we get anxious about our Lord's return. He is of course waiting for every last sheep that belongs to Him to come home. The very last sign before the end will come, in the words of our Lord:

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)

This gospel, the Word of God - every nation will hear the preaching of the ministers of Christ before that end comes. So, we may get to see a whole lot of weirdness before Jesus returns, but we also will get to hear the Gospel more, perhaps much more, before the end comes. Or, are we just waiting for that last one, the one about to believe in a little village in Lower Slomoeronia. We might be but moments away from the Rapture of the Church!

Amen, come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Thy Word

Going back to the King James version this morning, we have this little gem:

My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. (Ps 119:28)

The longest psalm and chapter in the Bible uses 'Thy word' 35 times in its 176 verses. It may be that the Word of God has some importance to the authors of that long psalm.

Our Lord is faithful and true; when He gives His word we have no fear that He will not perform and keep His word. The word of God is precious to us; a treasure we hardly deserve, but in it are the words of our eternal hope. When circumstances are tough for us, His word brings comfort. When a celebration is in order, His word brings news of more and better celebration to come. When we yearn for the return of our Lord, His word assures us that the time will come.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Ps 119:105

His Word has spoken!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Happy All Saints Day, Saints!

One more week to go... pray for our nation, please! The day we enjoy the privilege of voting comes closer. And now, saints of the Lord, it is your day! Give yourself a hug for believing in Jesus. Not everyone makes that decision and not all will be saved. Our Lord has begun a great work in you and He has assured your place in Heaven. Once you were lost in your sin but the Lord Jesus has caused your rebirth in the Spirit. Before there was no hope for you, but now He is our hope and redemption. Does it seem like all the work is on His part thus far?

When it comes to salvation, the work is indeed all on our Lord. Come to think of it, that sanctification thing is pretty much His show too. I wonder where Heaven is? I think Jesus will have to come back and get us for any of us to get there too. Go forth! Make disciples of all the nations. Is that something the saints can do alone to become saints? No, even the great apostles back in the first days of Acts had to wait before the Holy Spirit came on them. I'm guessing that none of us would accomplish much without an enabling and empowering by the Spirit either. This really is His story, isn't it?

Praise God that He loves us and wants us to do well in His work so much that He does enable and empower His saints. So, have a happy All Saints Day, Saints! He chose us and brought us to Himself.