Friday, December 30, 2016

The Majesty of His Presence

​​“And it shall come to pass afterward
​​That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
​​Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
​​Your old men shall dream dreams,
​​Your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)

Wow, what a dream! Yes, I woke up and said dream and not vision, so I guess I see where I fall on the old and young meter. I'm okay with that; it has been a long journey thus far. Jesus is coming, and He is returning to us soon. In the dream, overwhelming guilt as the measure of our sinfulness came over me. As one, myself and those with me fell down to our faces, but then: the majesty, glory, power, and overwhelming beauty of His presence came over us. No, in the dream I did not see Him, though I very much wanted Him to come through the doorway we faced. I do however this morning have no doubt that we will never tire of His presence in all of eternity. What majesty! The beauty of His presence as it rolled as a wave before Him! Do not give up hope, dear ones, His coming is so close now.

Just before the Christ came in my dream, the news was on a monitor in the place where I was, and in the news they mentioned the name of the Antichrist. Do you think I can remember that name upon awakening? Of course not, but it was there. What that tells me is that the wonder of His return will blast away all that worldly stuff from our minds and hearts. We will not remember the pains and sorrows of before in the light of His wonderful being. What a charge that puts into me this morning! The worldly trials and tribulations just don't seem so powerful or important today. I hate that the feeling of His presence fades so easily in this world, but I love that He will come and so very soon!

Have a powerful new day in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

From Lost Sheep to Found Sheep

The lost sheep of the Lord struggle to find their way in the world. The found sheep of the Lord's pasture continue to struggle through this life with their former nature including the lusts of the flesh, but now we struggle with good help from our Lord. I do pity those who are lost sheep because I remember what it was like to struggle in only what strength I possessed in myself. Many mistakes taught me through bitter experience, and worse, the Lord kept knocking down all my sand castles.

Sand castles in this context are not those a child builds on the beach, but the houses built on the sand that Jesus spoke of in His parable. (See Matthew 7:24-29). Whatever strength of mind or body we might think we possess in our own right without our Lord Jesus is just such a sand castle. Age, injury, disease, and other things can knock down these castles built on the sand. I simply chose to give God the glory for knocking them down, as He is in control of all things, because those sand castles had to go for me to depend totally on my Lord alone. Found sheep don't get to keep their sand castles, and great is our rejoicing when our faith is in the Lord and in Him alone. Lost sheep? Well, they tend to call the Lord unfair when their houses built on the sand fall over in the storm.

So, found sheep planted firmly in the Lord's house or lost sheep swept up in every storm and deposited with the flotsam wherever the waves of the world will? Seems kind of obvious, but those lost sheep just keep building their sand castles. Pray for them, and let us keep our little sheep feet planted firmly on the Rock of our Lord's salvation!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What Are They Among So Many?

The new year is quite close now, just around the corner of a few days so to speak. What will we do with this new beginning as we look in hope to our Lord? Give?

Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:7,8,9)

Our little bit of giving often seems swallowed up among so many. We look out and desire to help but our meager resources seem so little against a need that is so great. In the feeding of the multitude, John tells the tale of how one lad brought forward his lunch as a gift to the Lord. Even the disciples saw the human problem, "...but what are they among so many?" We know the rest of the story though, Jesus took and blessed the lad's lunchbox and many thousands of people ate and were satisfied, and then the leftovers totaled much more than the offering. How did He do that?

Sometimes I wonder if they let the boy take the 12 baskets back to his mom. One lunch, thousands fed, 12 baskets of barley loaf pieces left over. And the Lord said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." Far more leftover than we started with, and "so that nothing is lost," He says. I love the Lord for His understated humor.

How often, I wonder, have I held tightly to my 'lunch', afraid of losing it, and lost the blessing of the twelve baskets? How many churches have done the same thing? For all have been stingy before the Lord, forsaking the blessings of His bounty, by way of that human question: "But what are they among so many?" Doubt no longer, believe!

In His holy name,

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Over?

We had a white Christmas! We also had a bit of a blow along with the white as the wind roared in from the north. I am still enjoying the Christmas holiday, but for many Christmas is over. What happened with our Lord for the next 30 years after His magnificent birth celebration?

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40)

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52)

Looking back on your/my transition from infant to toddler and adolescence, would anyone write that about us? When it comes to the teenage years, many of us might read something like, "And then puberty hit, and he/she became a complete stranger in the house, spiced with moments of sheer idiocy." Reviewing some of our more hair-brained moments in those years, many might wonder how we made it to adulthood at all.

Then Jesus began His world-changing ministry.

Do as Jesus would do: how can any of us ever measure up to that? Oh, and by the way, He died on the cross to make restitution for our sins, and then rose again on the third day. I think living in His grace will be quite enough for me to work on in this life, and I will need His help even to do that. Fortunately for me and those like me, His Christmas gift just keeps on giving!

Have a wonderful new week in Christ Jesus!


Friday, December 23, 2016

I Need You Lord!

The people who walked in darkness
​​Have seen a great light;
​​Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
​​Upon them a light has shined.  Isaiah 9:2

A young girl sought a way between the legions of servants bearing trays of meats and bottles toward the great hall. The Prince of the Realm held a feast in his own honor, and he sought the life of young Marta; a life she did not want to give up to satisfy another of his unholy cravings. Too many friends had she lost in this way; too many young lives ended to quench a passing thirst of dubious value. So she ran.

The castle surrounding that great central feasting hall was large and confusing beyond all reason. Marta ran against the current of servants until she entered the Prince's huge kitchens where all manner of roasts and delicacies denied to all but the most favored of servants were prepared. Breathless, she stopped to seek a way out. Surely the kitchens were served somehow by docks and delivery doors for the appetites of this place matched its size. She felt a push on her back and ran once more, just in time to avoid a large cleaver the head cook threw at her legs, seeking to wound the fleeing sacrifice. Cooks and servants laughed at her plight, throwing other implements to impede her but she made it into the warehouse area.

Marta wept a little as she ran on into the seemingly endless shelves and racks. She had known those people all of her young life, and yet, at the Prince's command she was outcast, prey to be wounded and slain for their entertainment. A servant Marta had never before seen motioned her toward a small doorway. She was lost and she knew it, as likely to find a secret passage right into the very place she sought to flee as to find escape in her own power. She did not know why, but she trusted this man.

He did not look at the Prince's favored men with their perfect faces, strong and chiseled in all the right ways. He did not bear their overwhelming arrogance and the mark of their incessant competition was not on him. In fact, Marta realized as she stopped at the door, he was one you might not notice at all if he didn't want you to see him.

"Flee down the stair, child," the man said to her, "and remember, I will be with you always."

What an odd thing to say, but Marta was grateful, for no one back there, and they were getting closer, she knew would lift a hand to save her now.

The man handed her a lit candle and then shut the door behind her, locking her in the small passageway. She had no hope behind, so she moved forward holding her small candle as far ahead as she could reach.

Down the stairs, and they had no end as far as the light could shine. Down and still further down with occasional landings where Marta took short rests. Darker and darker as her candle struggled to penetrate the overwhelming darkness with its small light. Marta breathed harder, the air resisting her gasping lungs. Suddenly, she could go no further. Stones the like of which she had never seen in the castle surrounded a tiny landing that faced a heavy door. Marta pushed against the door with all of her remaining strength, but it did not budge. Made of heavy wood and bound with iron, Marta could no more tear it apart than overthrow the Prince's castle so far above her.

Marta sat down on the lowest stair. Surely the soldiers of the Prince would find her now. She had nowhere to go.

"Why did you send me here?" Marta wept aloud. "I need you, Lord!" For she did not know what to call that man who sent her down this dark passage. Surely he was a lord, for who else would dare to oppose the Prince? Her crying became all the more desperate as her little candle went out.

"Why do you weep, child?" He asked.

Marta looked around. The man held aloft a torch of such brightness that Marta could not understand why she did not see it before. It was, she thought, such a torch that no darkness could conquer, no evil will snuff out.

"I thought you had led me down here to die, Lord."

"Always, though death casts its shadow over you, I will be here to lead you onward, my child," the man spoke such gentleness that Marta reached out to embrace him. "Let us go into the light of day, child."

To Marta's surprise, he reached out and pulled the door open. Bright light flowed into the little landing, a daylight sort of brightness and more, a living sort of light, and such people! Dressed in bright white linen, shining in the brightness of His glory with breastplates of steel and adamantine helms they awaited their Lord.

Two of the most beautiful creatures came to stand beside Marta. They too were armed with fearsome swords.

"My servants will guard you. Rejoice and weep no more, for you have passed Death's doorway and stand on the edge of eternity," the man said. "This castle of evil shall not stand, My time has come!" The power of His voice shook the base stones of the Prince's castle, mighty though they appeared, and Marta knew that no earthly power could stop the coming of the King.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Christ Is Come!

Days go by when nothing much seems to happen. Then, the government orders a census. Warm or cold, the season is what it is and the shepherds get turned out into the fields to make room for all the royal line of David to arrive in Bethlehem. For a time they get to discuss the disruption of Rome on their lives around the evening campfire, but little did they know the main event was not the census at all. A few more days go by with the sheep doing their thing and the shepherds moving them from place to place; life settles down once more into a time of nothing much happening.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

​​“Glory to God in the highest, ​​And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:8-14)

Behold indeed, it would take a pretty dense shepherd to miss all that going on. Sudden, shocking, an awakening moment had come upon the world. The Christ is come! And that is where we find ourselves today. We go to work and watch our 'sheep', in whatever form they may take. Days go by when nothing much seems to happen and just as suddenly, behold, the Christ will return for us.

Blessed be the name of Jesus in this Christmas season!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sounding Off Similarly

Yes, a different sort of S.O.S. We may find our speech and writing growing closer over the years, but not so much I think from each other. You are not in me, and I am not in you. The greatest influence must be the one who comes to live in us. If we sound similar, it must be from the Lord's Spirit inside of those who believe in Him.

Having similar teachers from the Word of God is one influence, but that too is external. When the Word of God enters into us and resonates with the Spirit of Him who died on the cross for us, then we sound off similarly. And not as a tuneless horn or a harsh clang do we sound, for the love of Him who rose again is in us and flowing through us.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)

Say the wrong thing yesterday? Perhaps so, but over the years as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us in His own time, we will sound off as a harmonious band; an orchestra well-taught and well-tuned, led by the Spirit of God Himself as conductor and playing His symphony.

Blessed is the song that began on a Christmas night long ago,


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Joe, the Carpenter

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Joseph probably didn't go by 'Joe', but we'll translate him into the modern vernacular a bit this morning. Joe, the carpenter, had a day job, much like you and me. He went to work, perhaps griped about the boss, got told that he was the boss, and dealt with customers. Joe had the normal ration of hopes and dreams, one of which included a certain young lady by the name of Mary. Imagine Joseph coming home after a tough day's work, taking a bath, walking over to the future in-laws home for dinner, and getting called aside by Mary to receive some tough news: The future wife is expecting, and Joe had nothing to do with it.

To his credit, Joe did not want to take vengeance and put her out for public shaming, and this was before the angel arrived in his dream. Joe might have reacted in anger, felt the sting of humiliation, or harbored a root of bitterness, but he didn't. From among the children of David's line, God really chose the right man and woman for His earthly parents. Whatever your name is this morning, God chose you too, and He died to save you from your sins. You are one very special Christmas choice our Lord made!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Don't Wait Too Long

It's Christmas time! I have waited a bit longer this year, but I think we can say this week is Christmas time as we are in the final days leading up to our Sunday Christmas celebration. Of course every day all year long is a Christmas when those who are born into this world are reborn in Christ Jesus and saved. Many live each day thinking that surely they have one more day to make that decision to accept Jesus as Lord. Every Christmas should be a reminder that like those people long ago looking for Messiah, the day will come upon us quickly even after hundreds of years of warning.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Th 5:2)

Yes, we do know, but there are those who may not and so we go on spouting the good news of Jesus to any who will hear. We do not want anyone to be eternally like the person who wakes up on December 26th only to realize that he has missed Christmas entirely. Somehow the season slipped by him one day at time. There will come a time for the inattentive that the last Christmas he missed was the last one he will never see. Our Lord is not willing that any should be lost, and we have a great opportunity to help Him not lose any of His lost sheep.

Have a merry Christmas celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Faith: I Will Be With You

I was curious this morning where God first made a promise with the words, "I will be with you." Quite early in the Bible, and it was a test of faith too. Isaac was living in the lands that would become Israel in the proper time, and he ran into another famine like Abraham did. However, this time the Lord told him to stay put.

Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. (Gen 26:3)

'Stay there' may not be the command we want to hear from the Lord when things look tough. "This circumstance is likely to be the end of me; can I stay here, Lord?" is not a common prayer among those who believe in the Lord. Our first reaction to such things is usually to get up and move away. So common is this feeling that we even feel the urge to up and move when things look okay or even advantageous. What can change that feeling or urge is who we are here (or there) with.

Our friends in Christ can make all the difference when that urge to run comes over our quaking knees in a scary situation. We feel a loyalty, a kinship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. How much greater then is the comfort of the presence of our Savior when it looks tough outside and He says, "I will be with you."

Abraham faced famine by going down to Egypt, but to Isaac the word of the Lord when the famine came was to stay. When things are difficult, we may be told to go or to stay. The important part is that great promise from the Lord: I will be with you.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Place Called Sin

"I will pour My fury on Sin, the strength of Egypt;
​​I will cut off the multitude of No"  (Eze 30:15)

Ancient Pelusium received the sort of name that our friend Peter did back in the day. Being known as the strength of a nation might be cause to walk with our heads held high, but to be named 'Sin'? And by the Lord God too! In the final book of the Bible, a city called Pergamos held the throne of our enemy, and some of God's people lived and worked there. It seems that some places may indeed be worse than others. Why are some who love the Lord called to live in those places?

We don't know or cannot see all of God's plans as they are performed right before our eyes, but we trust in His way. We don't want to live in the central district of a place called Sin, but we may be called to minister there as a representative of our Lord Jesus. How will the flame of revival ever start if none of God's little sparks will jump into the woodpile He has prepared?

You may not feel like much today. The place where your life has carried you may seem like the very center of Sin City. Your spark for Jesus may seem to be ready to go out. Yet, this was said of our Lord Jesus in fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 42:3:

A bruised reed He will not break,
​​And smoking flax He will not quench,
​​Till He sends forth justice to victory. (Matt 12:20)

We may be just a little spark on the tip of a slender stalk, but He can do much with the smallest of offerings! Have peace in Christ,


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Welcome To The Mid-Week Monday

No, no, no, one Monday per week is plenty, sometimes more than enough. Some might think that God is not concerned with the days of the week. I'm not sure where that would come from as a quick read through His word would show that from the Creation to the Revelation He is quite concerned with days. In fact, at the end of things, there is this note:

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. (Rev 9:13-15)

It may be hard to see it for that ending, one third of us gone is a bit much to grasp on a Wednesday... or a Monday or any other day. However, this does show that God is quite aware of the days; this prophecy even has an hour on the calendar date. This may speak to the swiftness of this particular plague of death. After all these four angels have a little help, if one can call two hundred million horsemen a 'little help'. So, when one of our electronic devices reminds us, "Time and date not set," we can remind it of this verse from the Revelation. But, we don't want to end this on such a terrible note.

There is one more time and date that is set, and only God the Father knows it. Yes, our Lord Jesus will return for us, and that event has a special time and day set by the Almighty!

The days are dark but our redemption draws near!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Walking Into The Snare

This world has become proficient at the snare. This, I'm sure, is not news to you. In so many ways each of us has felt the tug of that worldly snare around an ankle, usually just before the face is planted in the dirt. Hopefully, that is a figuratively-speaking face plant, but sometimes we have to get up and wash off the ol' honker quite literally. Yesterday, I listened as a young man outlined his medical and financial problem. He needs an operation, but the recovery is 4-6 months, during which time he cannot do his job. No job of course equals no income, which in turn produces living on the street in the cold, starvation, and other enjoyable activities. The job causes more damage to the joint in question, but the powers that be have declared him too fit for disability. Their solution is for him to get a job he can do while recovering from surgery. He is well and truly in one of the world's snares.

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. (Ps 91:3)

We have this promise from the Lord.

There it is. I can bear witness that He has removed me from a very similar snare.

We have this promise from the Lord.


Monday, December 12, 2016

The Makings of a Rough Christmas

Every year it seems we hear about someone losing a position just before Christmas. The birth of our Lord even includes that possibility. Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to be included in the Roman census of the line of David. This may have cost Joseph his job in Nazareth. This seems more likely when we recall that the wise men found the young family still in Bethlehem when the star led them to the house. What we look forward to is what God can bring out of tough times for us. Who we look to is the one born on that first Christmas. If Joseph lost a good position in that time, then he can rejoice with us that God's word was fulfilled as spoken by the prophet. Jesus was born right where the Word of God said He would be born.

This year may have the makings of a rough Christmas for a few of us or even all of us. Yet, what good will God bestow upon us from this rough time as we look to our Lord for the strength to bear it? What strength of character or growth of faith will God bring out of you and me from a time of difficulty? We have this great hope from that first Christmas: He came and He is coming again!

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Rev 22:12-13)

We don't have long to wait for He is coming quickly and bringing His reward. He is the beginning and He is the ending. He is our Lord Jesus the Christ, and no matter our circumstance or situation, we can celebrate His birth and look with great hope to His return. The greatest gift has already been given. Blessing and honor to our Lord Jesus: He is Christmas!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Spiritual Age

We live in a spiritual age and it is a battle of cosmic proportions. A Samaritan woman at a well received this news from our Lord:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-14)

Our Lord Jesus has departed for the heavenly realm and He sent His Spirit to dwell in us. Until the return of our Lord, we do as He said: worship God in spirit. It is an age of faith where we cannot touch or see Him. His voice may not sound in our ears, but in the depths of prayer with Him. So, what is the battle we wage with the Spirit as our Lord?

Many would say that the various mental illnesses we do battle against are of the brain. I believe there is a deeper cause: that war of the spirit we fight daily. Yes, the effects of this war are visible on brain scans and in the actions or condition of those suffering in this war. The cause, however, comes from that deep war of the spirit where on one side is God the Spirit and our reborn nature in Him, while on that other side is the desires of the flesh and those powers and principalities of this present darkness as Paul named it in his letter to the Ephesians.

Those who take their own life, and often the lives belonging to others as well, are the corpses that litter this battlefield. Their passing does not go unnoticed and much suffering accrues to those who must battle on with that added burden. The casualties of this war are beloved of God and us, whether their illness allows them to believe it or not. But what of the wounded, a number typically much higher than the dead in the butcher's bill of battle?

Those who battle with chronic disease and mental illness are those wounded. The voices who would say that persecution is far away and not 'over here', do not understand the nature of this war we fight. We rejoice for their sake that they do not suffer such things in this life, but a bit of understanding and empathy might serve them better for the sake of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Wait, you say, not all those who suffer mental illness are believers in Christ Jesus. I agree with you, but, the Lord our Savior wants them too, and the enemy does not like it one bit! The aim of the enemy general is to attack our reserves, and those unsaved lost sheep are our reserve forces. Let us not forget to give them some good news.

Now, after all of that, look to Jesus and have a better day in Christ the Lord!


P.S. And remember, in the end, He wins!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Coffee Cups Warm Hands Well

Yes, the past couple of mornings have been good for holding that coffee cup full of hot coffee in a pair of cold hands, aaahhh! So, what does God have to do with this? Is this not a Christian devotional? Well, let us count the blessings as they used to do back in the good old days. The Lord provided me with the strength to work and earn money to purchase those things needed for a hot cup of coffee. He also provided money, time, and a peaceful environment for all those who brought electricity to my home. Far away, perhaps in Columbia, the Lord provided the right slope, soil, temperature, humidity, and rain to grow coffee beans. A ship brought them here to America where those beans were roasted just right, packaged, and shipped to me. Lots of people doing many jobs, earning a living for their families, all of them with the opportunity to praise God for His blessings. And of course, the Lord blessed me with another peaceful awakening this morning and another day to praise Him on this earth.

And I have this urge to complain about a pair of cold hands? Tsk, how ungrateful is that old man, the flesh!

Thank you, dear Lord, for a cold Friday morning to enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Gratitude to you, my Savior, for my wonderful friends in Christ who will read a bit of my babbling, perhaps while they enjoy their own cup of coffee on a cold morning. Thank you, Father, that peace sits on our land through the sacrifice of many over the years. May we always remember to give thanks to you our God for Your many great blessings.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Use It Or Lose It

By that urging are many senior citizens motivated to stretch, yoga, lift weights, jog, run marathons, swim oceans, and climb mountain ranges. For most of us, following that command leaves us with no fear of losing either our mouths or our anxious imaginations. We use our mouth for eating and of course, talking. Our anxious imaginations are quicker and easier to use, and enjoy a furious workout on many a day. What are we so afraid of?

And with that question, some of us could produce a list of staggering length without even trying very hard. There are indeed many things that we can be afraid of in this world...but living in such a state was not the command of our Lord! From the very beginning of His life, the angel announced, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people!" (Luke 2:10) Immediately after that, the angel told the cowering shepherds of the birth of our Savior, Jesus the Christ. Good news we have from Him; great joy He provides to us. And like one of the little sheep who didn't quite understand the big event of that Christmas night, we still cower in fear at times. Therefore, when this Christ child was all growed up, He said it again: "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

And that, my friends in Christ, is our command for each day when the fearful things rise up all around us and inside of us.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Man of Action...Do Nothing?

One of the great conundrums we may face in this life is a time when all of our action comes to a screeching halt. Peter and Paul carried a great authority in Christ throughout their ministries, but at the end we know of no action either took to extend their lives when the Roman executioners came to bring them to their final moments. Stephen spoke God's words in his trial, but then meekly took his place before the men with rocks in their hands. For all we know, Stephen may have been a man in the prime of his life with strength and martial skills that none could match. Yet, he followed His Lord to a place where he did nothing. O man of action, one of your more difficult tests may be on that day when God commands, "Do nothing."

We prize a man or woman of action in this age, just as our ancestors did from the earliest days. We like to be that person with strength in hand and brains in the head, ready to help out and accomplish the task at hand. We may come to that point in life where God doesn't want our help. "Do nothing" is a tough one for us to accept and obey. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ might even be driven a little bonkers (a medical condition) by this command from our Lord. Our actions are often carried out to satisfy our will, but one day God may answer that prayer we pray, "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven," by stopping our action for a bit.

Rejoice in the Lord's day!

Monday, December 05, 2016

A Flat, Dry Place

It seems that cold is on the way. After the autumn we've had, cold seems a rather strange condition to worry over. Winter is the flat, dry place of the year in these parts. We don't usually receive a lot of moisture even when it does snow. Yes, that seems rather a paradox since snow is made of frozen water falling to the earth. However, as those who live where snow falls know, snow can be wet or dry. So it seems with a paradox of the Christian journey; we have times where we cross a flat, dry place. Sometimes the Christian will call it a flat, dry, cold, quiet, and stale place where faith seems difficult to grasp and the Lord is silent. Even the Bible, the Word of God may seem flat and dry to the Christian during this season of our earthly journey. Congratulations! If you have gone through this time, perhaps even more than once, you have grown from Christian infancy to adulthood.

God has not abandoned us, that would go against what His word says to us. However it may seem that for a time we journey alone. Don't believe it! What seems is not what is. When Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us, He meant it. The funny thing is that the more we believe our unbelief the more it appears to be true. It is faithless to say that God has left us alone, but the more we say it to ourselves the more it will appear to be. If God is quiet for a time, it does not mean that He is not there (or here). I suppose the way to get through that flat, dry place in life is to work; work at reminding the self constantly that He is with us all the way. Read the Word and see the journey of others who found themselves in the same place. Waiting on the Lord at such a time is tough, but perhaps it is a tough Christian He is creating by these times.

Rejoice in His presence, especially if He 'feels' a little distant right now,


Friday, December 02, 2016

The Pride of Human Effort

Winter is nearly here on the calendar and my house felt it this morning. All of my effort in all of my human strength cannot stop the cold of winter from catching up to us. Sorry, I'm just not up to it. You'll have to look to one of the great city-states of old to see if human strength can stop winter from coming.

Human effort came to a peak in a few places in the Bible: Babel, Babylon, Rome, and Tyre to name some examples. In Tyre, God saw a great, strong, and wealthy city; one in which every advantage the world can offer had gathered. Smart and wise counselors, a strong ruler, trading and merchant shipping, wealth, and a strong army of elite soldiers picked from many nations. The city had natural defenses for protection and easy access to trading routes and the sea. Human pride rose up tall where human accomplishments built a foundation of faith in man. Then God gave warning of where pride and faith in man will take us:

“Your riches, wares, and merchandise,
​​Your mariners and pilots,
​​Your caulkers and merchandisers,
​​All your men of war who are in you,
​​And the entire company which is in your midst,
​​Will fall into the midst of the seas on the day of your ruin. (Eze 27:27)

Reading in Ezekiel 27, we see a list of the many advantages that Tyre had in their day. But, a strong east wind was blowing, and the people of Tyre were about to do a bad thing: they would scoff and laugh when Israel, God's chosen people, fell as punishment for her sins. The city of Tyre saw more opportunity for plunder with the defeat of their neighbor, but God would send the same wind that struck down Jerusalem to blow Tyre right into the sea, namely a king named Nebuchadnezzar. You see, Nebuchadnezzar had God's mandate and His strength behind his efforts, and the mere human effort and strength of Tyre could not stand. In the case of Tyre, pride did indeed go before the fall.

Faith in man's strength will always fail us; faith in God will always save us.

Have a great Friday in Christ!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Amen Cannot Mean 'Over and Out'

The tooth giving me trouble is gone, and I feel better already. In the fiction stories, I might read a tale of two or three big goons and a pair of pliers, but thanks be to God is was not that way yesterday. As God grows faith in place of fear and overcomes my anxiety with His assurance, medical care does not equal torture.

In my wandering and growing years, the word 'Amen' came to mean the end, over and out, a signing off as though I was no longer talking to God, and perhaps, didn't want Him to hear the thoughts that might come next. In the stories of the church beginning, we have this:

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. (Acts 12:5)

Constant prayer by the church. What a great concept! And as all those who believe in Jesus are the church, no matter where they are in the given moment, we should be glad to pray constantly. Therefore, amen cannot mean 'over and out'. And so shall it be is a prayer to God's will. And God very much likes to hear from His children all the time. He did not reserve Sunday morning from 10-12 on our calendar as a kind of recurring once-per-week meeting. We don't tithe our time, all of our time is His! Not because the Lord wants a bunch of drudges working 168-hour weeks under some obligation, but because He loves us and wants to be with us! Yes, when I think about my Lord, a lot of exclamation points start coming out. I am awestruck by the fact that God, the creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and Earth, wants to know me, be with me, and hear my every thought.

May His name be forever praised!