Saturday, December 30, 2017

That Elite Group At The Very Top

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 1 Peter 1:2

The tap on the shoulder, an invitation given grudgingly. "You are invited," the member says, "to that elite group at the very top of your profession, that thin air on the mountain's peak that few achieve. It is a very great honor, one that no one in her or his right mind would ever refuse." The world has several of these exclusive clubs typically marked by a few who get to vote on allowing new members to join. "Only the best of the best," they say, "are allowed in with us!" Then, a strange man came among us, choosing not the best of the best, but the worst of the worst.

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children.” Matthew 11:19

A friend of sinners, eh? Good, because when He chose me that is the description that fit me like a custom glove tailored to my hand with careful measurements taken with the utmost attention to detail. Jesus invited me to join His group, and from what I could see His group at the time of their invitation could hardly be called the elite of anything. Excellent! I fit right in with y'all! It is almost like Jesus went out to chose the worst in order to make us the best. How? And why do we not look like the best to our crooked and worldly eyes... oh, maybe that is the reason.

Yes, this world has many elite groups and standards that we did not meet. You and I may not be judged by the world to be the best of the rest at a profession, education, hobby, physical beauty, athletic prowess, or couch potato endurance and channel surfing, but for some reason He chose us. The one requirement for membership in His group we had to meet was His law, and not one of us could do it, so He set out to bring us into His group by Himself. Talk about an elite group, no one met His standard! Yet, all who believe in our Lord Jesus are brought into this special group who are given eternal life. Wow, that is some prize for a bunch of initiates who are undeserving and unworthy! How does He do it? Better question: Why does He do it?

It must be love that gives us His grace. It seems strange to us, but the one requirement we can meet in Christ is to be loved by Him, and He loves us everlastingly!

Happy Old Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Word of God

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. Revelation 19:13

His name IS called The Word of God, not was or will be but is! In Revelation 19, John sees something awesome. Not a baby in a manger this time but The Word of God ready to judge and make war. His eyes like a flame of fire and out of His mouth came a sharp sword. This is not a harmless baby swaddled up and laying in a manger of the town stable. This is The Word of God as He will return to claim for His own the earth that belongs to Him. This is the unstoppable Word of God going forth to do battle on His white horse. This is our Savior!

As the problems of the world weigh heavily upon us, we must turn our eyes to this word picture of The Word of God. Many things we deal with every day can bring us down, for we are quite weak - easy prey for the powers and principalities of this present darkness. John caught up to the heavens saw a power far beyond anything this world hosts; he saw the One in His glory ready to come to our salvation for all time. John was privileged to see The Word of God, and soon you and I will also for the world becomes gloriously dark. The Light that shines in the darkness comes quickly!

Get ready to behold the brightness of His coming!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Discovery of Sin

And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave..." Genesis 18:20

Recently it seems that our mass media has discovered sin once more. Targets are selected, triggers pulled, and the outcry becomes great as, lo and behold, we have a popular sin to grind on the millstone of public outrage. What surprises is the thought that it might be new. There was an outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah thousands of years ago; says so right in God's word. The sins likely involved sex just as today's reports of sin contain the sexual immorality that Paul urged us to avoid. It may seem to some that sexual sin was discovered just in time for the last elections, but alas, no, sin is almost as old as man and woman.

In this world when you point at a male and say, "man", you might as well point and say, "guilty of sexual sin." What we have on Sodom and Gomorrah is our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. There are many men we can point to and add, "Forgiven!" in place of sin. This does not excuse the sin or the consequences, and it does not mean that we are not sorry for that sexual sin, but it does remove it from God as far as the east is from the west. Something to think about before we join in the finger pointing the world so enjoys.

Yes, well might we say that not only were we born into sin but we also grew up and took to it like a fish to water when it comes to sexual temptations. However, believing in Jesus opens the door to the great physician who heals, cleanses, and removes the infection of sin from us. Deeply guilty we are in this world, but His blood paid for that sin and His grace removes the stain from all who believe in Him! Truly the wold will not understand this and will want more blood, but let us support our brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer and fellowship. In Christ the ugliest sinner becomes the most beautiful of saints. Praise and honor to God our King!


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Good News Of Each Other

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you— therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8

Christmas is often a time that we share good news of each other, usually in the form of a letter enclosed in a Christmas card. Like Paul and his friends in Thessalonica, we may not be able to see each other in person due to circumstances beyond our control, but we earnestly look forward to that good news. But this was not news of babies born or weddings attended, this was news of faith and love - and the desire to see each other. Paul was so caught up in the love of his fellow believers that he said, "For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord." Paul was joined in the Spirit to his saints in a far place.

Indeed we laugh at the world and its six degrees of separation. For in Christ all who believe are joined together by His Holy Spirit and connected by our relationship with God, a bond which cannot be broken and is immediate and personal.

In Christ together forever,

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

His First Duty

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:21

The marvelous events of the birth of Christ were over and His first duty began, and may I say, "Ouch!" The requirements of the Law of Moses had to be met and our Lord Jesus was not exempted. What? Nope, no exemptions for the King of kings and Lord of lords.

In our suffering, we sometimes hear that temptation to think that Jesus somehow, somewhere got a pass on some amount of suffering. We know better, but that small whisper comes anyway. From the His birth in Bethlehem in a stable to the ritual circumcision and on to His crucifixion and death, we read and know He suffered greatly. Yet, there is still that temptation that hits like a dart from the bush.

Of course the Enemy would love to have God's children writhing in the clutches of doubt and those darts are difficult to fight because the flesh which we bear likes to believe such awful things. When we suffer a little, it is easy to believe that not only does our Lord not understand but that our brothers and sisters in Christ do not suffer as we do. We could hardly have two greater wrong thoughts in one sentence! Jesus knows our suffering because He suffered much greater sufferings and He is here with us even now. Our siblings in Christ also suffer because they share the same Savior and the same Enemy.

A brother or sister in Christ may hide the pain better than others, but we who believe in Him will endure some suffering in this world. Praise God we are all counted worthy to share our small amount of His suffering.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Goodwill Toward Men

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 2:13-14

No one has come up to me and introduced himself as a member of the heavenly host. This is hardly surprising given that most of the time the heavenly realm and host is not visible to fallen men on this earth. However, the shepherds, still abiding in the fields and perhaps frozen in shock, saw a multitude of the heavenly host. I don't think any shepherd had any trouble remembering this event in his later years of this life.

What was the angel and a multitude of the heavenly host up to on this night in the fields of Judea where sheeps and shepherds abode? They were praising God of course. Given that the Christ had just been born over the hill in Bethlehem, I wonder if that punctuation should be more like: "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth. Peace! Goodwill toward men!"

Before you castigate me for arguing with God's Holy Word, the invention of English punctuation came along much later and it is not always obvious to the manuscript scholars and translators where it should go.

I hope you enjoyed your peach yesterday, as I wished you one. For those of you who shouted peace at me in all caps, I rejoiced with you as, until this morning, I was unaware of the sabotage my typing fingers had perpetrated upon me. H and E are not even typed on the same hand, how did that happen? I suppose I may never know. I like to wear a hat around that states, "Christians ain't perfect, but Jesus is." I stand by that statement. I can testify to it in typing and speaking, just watch me long enough!

REJOICE! in the peace and peaches of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ!


Friday, December 22, 2017

Something So Unusual

And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

A sign to you, the angel said. That was all the shepherds had to go on was a town, a baby in swaddling clothes, and a manger. We have the modern temptation to look upon the 1st century as a sort of barbarian-infested madness wherein people somehow lived without cell phones and iPods. "How could those dirty shepherds find the Christ Child among the dozens of babies born in animal feeding troughs that night?" the modern reader is tempted to ask, and with no GPS to guide them to the stables at that.

A sign is something so unusual that it cannot be missed. I'm not completely sure what a swaddle is or even how to do it, but I'm thinking that swaddling clothes was not so unusual. However, placing a newborn in a manger was so unusual that the shepherds had only to go to the stables. Of course the people in Mary and Joseph's time didn't place something so precious in animal feeding bunkers unless there was no other choice. Surely most babies born in that time received the same tender, loving care that we lavish on our newborns even now. That there was no room for them in the inn was known to Luke because Mary remembered it years later as another unusual thing. Of course young mothers were not sent out to the stables to have their babies then just as they wouldn't be now. Something so unusual happened and the shepherds were directed to it with that very sign.

A seemingly simple sign to the shepherds from an unusual source brought them to a wonder: the Son of God born in a lowly place; a Savior to save the fallen sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.

Peach on Earth as we begin the Christmas weekend!


Thursday, December 21, 2017

And Behold!

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Luke 2:9

It wasn't a dark and stormy night as Snoopy would write. The storm, if we can call it that, may have taken place when the parental guardians of God's Holy One found that the birth of the Christ child would take place in a smelly animal shelter; thus imparting to any affirmative response to, "Were you born in a barn?" an honor we are not worthy to receive. For the shepherds, who were simply abiding in the fields that night, it was quite likely a very normal night with the usual comforts and discomforts that sleeping with a bunch of sheep might bring.

And behold...

The expression is about as strong as Luke gets in his report of those things done in Judea at about the time the calendar changed from B.C. to A.D. Like the visitor Zacharias had by the incense altar, we get the impression that the angel was not there, then he was there. It was a surprising and fear-inducing appearance; an uncanny occurrence in an unexpected place. The admonition to learn to expect the unexpected is put to shame as the unexpected intrudes on the usual in a marvelous way, and says, "Do not be afraid!"

The Lord gets the attention of those He wants to impart a message to in a rather memorable way. Sometimes a good startle, it seems, is the way to break through the usual we are caught up in and make us to understand that something rather remarkable has happened in the world. The shepherds knew it, and in this age from their account, so do we.

Have a wonderful Christmas with the One we call Wonderful!


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Just Regular Working Folks

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

Around these parts, the title for today might be 'winter is coming' but that one seems overused nowadays. This year, it would seem that winter will begin exactly on time after a quite mild autumn for us. Back around the year in which Jesus our Lord was born, some people were doing what most of us will do today: going to work that is. Whether we are retired from one long-term job and just going out to the shop behind the house to work on something, going to a business owned and operated, or employed by another, we will do just what a bunch of shepherds did back in the day. We don't know for sure what season it was, but those folks may have sensed a coming change in the weather too. What they didn't sense was an outburst of angels.

We look at the heavens and ask the weather prognosticators what will happen today and tomorrow. Those shepherds probably looked at the heavens and admired God's handiwork in the stars. Neither of us typically look toward Heaven to see if angels have anything to announce. That night, the shepherds would have been a bit less frightened out of their wits had they done so! We too look forward to a particular night when an announcement will come from Heaven and our Lord Jesus will return for us. The shepherds and us are just regular working folks, but we may be well advised to pay more attention toward God's Heaven as on just any regular working day or evening, we too might find ourselves bathed in the light of God's glory as an important announcement is made.

Grace is here and Christmas is coming once more!


Monday, December 18, 2017

Enjoy The Wait

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:30-31

One week until Christmas Day! As a child the waiting can be tremendously difficult. We are in a similar period in our waiting for Jesus to return. We long to see the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and yet we must wait. So, might as well enjoy the wait!

Enjoy the wait? When in this life has waiting ever been enjoyable? Fallen and broken humans that we are, we don't do waiting very well. Whether it is the anxious waiting for something we dread or the childlike near certainty that the big celebration day will never come, we don't do waiting very well and to enjoy the wait seems an impossible task. However, when Paul calls us to rejoice in all things, that is his command to us - enjoy the wait.

Just like salvation, what is impossible for us is possible with God. Looking around at the world, we cannot fathom how anyone could possibly enjoy this period of waiting for our Lord to return. As always, we look in the wrong direction when we do that. Look to God and learn from Him how to endure and enjoy the wait for His Son's glorious return.

One week to Christmas, aagh! I can't take the waiting! What if it were only five days until the Rapture of His bride, the Church? Could we stand the waiting then?

Have a Merry Christmas this week,

Friday, December 15, 2017

Peace, A Gift of God

But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. Psalm 37:11

Easily might one of us lament that we cannot buy up land and properties as some do, but in the great sermon Jesus gave and in the psalm our Lord gave us the key to inheriting more land than we may know what to do with. Perhaps you also labor under the blessing of not having enough loot to buy up the earth. No problemo! Seek meekness instead.

We have not yet known an abundance of peace. Although no one may be assaulting your residence at this moment, we have read and heard about those wars and rumors of war all of our lives. And then there is the war for your soul and mind. We do not know an abundance of peace in this world. Yet, we also know that God's promises and gifts are true, as He is the Truth.

Therefore, we have not yet inherited the earth through our meekness under the Father, and we have not yet known an abundance of peace as we are still under the tribulation of this world. But, God has promised that we shall and Jesus has given us His peace.

The Roman world wasn't any better when our Lord was born, but the angels gave God's message of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. So, do we believe what we see all around us or what God has promised? Of course we know from Hebrews 11:1 that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. That means the elders lived in faith just as we can now. It is still about faith. God's promises will be fulfilled in His time. David chose faith when he wrote our verse for today as he too did not enjoy an abundance of peace in his lifetime. Then Paul had an answer for us as well since we through Christ live at peace with God. His gift of peace is already at work within; let us rejoice in the coming fulfillment!

Grace and peace to you in this Christmas season!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Joy It Is

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11

In this age it is easy to write about the darkness of sin, for it is often reported to us and is indeed all around us. And we too are tempted toward it daily by the old nature of our flesh and the desire of the enemy to see us fall. The Lord gave me joy today as the subject when I was tempted toward writing about darkness.

When it comes to darkness and tribulation in this life there is no lack of material to write about. When it comes to rejoicing and joy, then it becomes a real struggle to find some good news to report. Good news... something about that seems to ring a bell deep in my Christian discipleship, if only I could put a name to it.

Of course in this Christmas season we have many reminders of the good news named Jesus and Immanuel. From the very first moments of His birth, good news came to us. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people," said the angel to the shepherds abiding in the darkness of the Judean fields. The shepherds up to that moment may have struggled to find good news to pass along just as we do in this day. After they had visited a certain manger in Bethlehem though, they had some glad tidings to report, some good news for all to hear. They had a testimony of Jesus the Christ, and that is all the good news we need.

A light has shined in the darkness, have a merry and joyful Christmas in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Royal Line

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. Luke 2:4

The story in fantasy land starts with a hidden king, queen, prince, princess, etc. There is a prophecy that a child from the royal line of the great ancient ruler who lived in a time when everything in the kingdom was right and just and altogether peachy will return to set everything right. In our fantasy story Joseph should stand up and be that king, but he didn't. Joseph had to work for a living and the company he worked for kept telling him in the middle of the night to get up and move his family. Is it Mary then? Was Israel due for a queen? Nope, she raised several children but did not rule the land or boot out the Romans.

Ah, it's the firstborn son! Of course, we should have known in our fantasy story that the background must be set up first. A humble beginning, a family that is somehow repressed or disadvantaged from partaking in their royal position (and the imagined benefits thereof), and of course the danger from the forces of the world's evil government. Now we're getting somewhere! The wise guys will of course know this king and the evil usurping ruler will attempt to do something really dirty and underhanded to murder our hero king before he can grow up to be our conquering savior. All set now!

And then the child grew up and died as a many a criminal did under the occupying evil power from a foreign land at the strong urging of the oppressed people? What happened here? Our fantasy story of right and good rising up to win the day went way off track. Evil was not defeated, no king took his throne in the capital city, and the hero of the story lay cold in the tomb.

You will easily recognize that we came in the middle of that story and have not reached the end yet. Jesus did not take up the throne of Jerusalem in the 1st century because the world was not ready for Him to be king. Quite a few priests, rulers, and others thought this story ended one Passover Sabbath back in the day as Jesus lay in the tomb outside Jerusalem, but we know better. Isaiah passed along to us many prophecies about the first appearing of our Lord, but he also wrote down many more that have not yet come to pass. Jesus himself promised to return and bring us with Him to our eternal home, and that has not yet happened. The triumphant end to this story where the King of kings comes to vanquish evil and reign in righteousness is still to come for us. Because of all the stories of that good and true king returning from a humble birth after many hidden generations, this one is no fantasy. The darkness is deep in our time, but the light still shines from Bethlehem and our King is coming soon!

Have a Merry Christmas on this day!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Walking In Darkness

​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

Why do we celebrate the birth of Christ so much? No one but God even knows the exact date of our Lord's birthday, yet we have this big celebration leading up to December the 25th. Certainly the season of giving lends itself to commercialization, but much of that is simply people struggling to survive another year and wanting to give their loved ones valuable gifts as well. The commercials may get tiresome, but let us not deny another the benefits of a season when gift giving opens up the tight wallets just a bit. But, other holidays open up the bank vaults to spending too, so that cannot be the only reason to celebrate Christ's birth.

We don't know the date and we can spend at any time of the year, so why the big celebration? I think that even those who do not yet believe see the light shining in the darkness. Hope is a word which does not occur often enough in the news reports we read each day. Yet, one night in Bethlehem of Judea, a child was born with some special announcements. Shepherds saw the hosts of Heaven singing glory to God in the highest. A betrothed virgin received an angelic visitor who came with a remarkable message. An older married couple conceived late in life a messenger who would announce the coming of the Child's ministry. A man about to be married had a dream wherein an angel informed him of his betrothed's complete faithfulness to God. Wonders surrounded this birth in fulfillment of centuries old prophecy. And this birth gave us hope for a healing light that could remove from us the burden of our sin.

The Christ came and He did all that God's justice demanded to pay for the sin of all God's children. Our hope is in Him, and the celebration of His birth is our gratitude for that great gift God gave to us these many years ago. Walking through life in darkness, we have seen a great light and His name is Jesus!


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Starting The Season 0-1

As it is written: ​​“There is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10

It is not a question of fairness, though we feel it unfair, but each and every one of us began this season called life with a record of 0-1. Before we even knew to play in the game or what contest we were engaged in, we had a loss on our record. And, since God in His perfect holiness cannot allow any 'teams' with a loss on their record into His eternal kingdom, we were lost before we had a chance to gain a winning record.

Of course, a quick read through the law with an honest look at our deepest thoughts would reveal not only that one loss we began life with, but many, many more besides. With a few selfless good deeds on my record, I would estimate mine at something like 45-1,075,624,212 or something like that. And that is giving myself more credit than I deserve I suspect. In other words, there is no chance at all for me to redeem my 'team' by a winning record of truly selfless good deeds in my later years. Place dear old me on the scales of justice at the end and surely I will fall below the mark.

Thank the Lord on High that it is not dependent upon my good record!

No, there is a much greater weight on the good side of that dreaded scale - the weight of a Savior who died for me on the cross quite near where He was born. Every loss my 'team' suffered in this life is paid for by the Lord Jesus. Had the Huskers and Broncos had such an overwhelming victor on the winning side of their records this year both would have been champions. Whoa, that was a real stretch of fantasy there! Actually, Paul's comparison would be more like a team that had never won a game being given the championship trophy. So it is with all of us who are saved by Jesus - we have nothing to offer Him in the way of a victory over sin and death: all of the victory comes from Christ alone!

Merry Christmas to you on this sunny weekend!

Friday, December 08, 2017

It Began With Prayer

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. Luke 1:13

Both divine command and prophecy, the angel informed the priest that he would have a son and what to name him. Which is a good thing because Bubba the Baptist doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Where did this rather startling announcement come from though?

Luke lets us know that Elizabeth and Zacharias were middle aged or greater and that they had been given no children to bless their lives. For however long he had done it, Zacharias had prayed for a child but the time had not come until later in life. So, what was it about this prayer that brought the angel running to tell Zac the good news? Perhaps just the timing of the thing? Certainly God is in charge of the timing of all things, but we might know at least one thing that Zac's prayer was not - selfish.

Say Zac went into his closet and prayed something like this:

"Lord, grant me a son that I might show those no good bumpkins at the city gate that I still got it!"

Probably not a prayer that would be rising up before God like a sweet incense. However, what if Zac got down for 40 or 50 years and prayed that his wife might be blessed with a child for her comfort? Or maybe a conversation with God of how much Elizabeth had been hurt by the talk of the other old ladies who were now grandmas and great grandmas, and how they looked down on her in so many ways? Zacharias had perhaps learned over many years to pray selflessly and generously, and those prayers are a sweet incense before God.

The birth of John, who would go before the Lord Jesus like Elijah, came about with a prayer. What prayer might you and I speak in our closet that would go before the return of our great Lord?

Have a prayerful Christmas!

Thursday, December 07, 2017


To declare the name of the LORD in Zion,
​​And His praise in Jerusalem,
​​When the peoples are gathered together,
​​And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.  Psalm 102:21-22

The world changes a bit right before our eyes: Jerusalem has been declared the capital of our president. Does this mean anything? Yes, many nations still recognize the word of the US president as having far-reaching consequences in the world. What might it mean for the return of our Lord? ('Cuz, that's what we really want to know, ain't it?)

This event reminds me of what Jesus said to John the Baptist of how they had to do things properly. John did not want to baptize Jesus but be baptized by Him. "But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him." (Matthew 3:15) It might seem to us that Jerusalem should be named capital after Jesus returns there, but perhaps this is another of those proper order things that are done to get us ready for the return of our Lord.

Might there be other consequences from this announcement by our governmental leader? Sure, and some may be difficult to bear as the world reacts to this news. Let us not let fear keep us from fulfilling anything that must be done prior to the coming of our Lord Jesus. Such as? Such as celebrating another annual celebration of our Lord's birth!

Have a merry Christmas in Christ our Lord!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Evil Causing Pain

And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. 1 Chronicles 4:10

His mother saddled Jabez with a tough burden in life. The name Jabez means 'he will cause pain', and his mother named him that because she bore him in pain. Jabez had to live with the burden of his name until he brought it in prayer to the Lord God. And just like that, the burden was lifted from him!

We have prayed for blessings, an enlarging of territory in various ways, and that the hand of the Lord would be with us. We have even prayed at our Lord's advice that the Father keep us from the evil one. Jabez, perhaps feeling the burden of his name, prayed to be kept from doing evil so that he would not cause pain to others. This is certainly an obedience to our Lord's command that we love our neighbor as ourselves!

What a great relief Jabez must have felt to have that burden lifted away. We too can have long-held burdens lifted from our weak and quaking shoulders by the Lord our Father. Whether the pain was caused to us or we caused the pain to others, the Lord works swiftly to remove that which is crushing us to the ground. Not swiftly enough for you? One day we will see how swiftly the Lord worked in our behalf, but for now some burdens do seem long and terrible to each of us. Bear up faithfully and patiently, dear one, the Lord has not forgotten any of His suffering sheep!

A merry and grateful Christmas to you!

Monday, December 04, 2017

A Unique Event

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

A search in the New King James version of the Bible shows that 'overshadow' is found exactly one time in the word of God. The honor of this overshadowing is bestowed upon Mary, but it is the power of the Highest that does the overshadowing. What a unique event this was!

Of course this does tend to bring up a few questions. Did the Lord use one of Mary's eggs? How far along was baby Jesus created in Mary's womb? You may think of others, but what we need to know is told to us through the holy scriptures. God's Son came down to Earth in a unique way. Unique, but well-publicized - there was no secret here. Isaiah was given the advance notice about 700 years earlier of the virgin birth, Micah was given the birth location, and many other prophets were given additional news about this very special birth. Then, at the time of the event, kings or wise men from far away were notified, shepherds in the field were told, and of course the happy parents knew that this special birth was from God. So, when the power of the Highest overshadows you, be ready for a unique event!

And indeed, each of us does enjoy a unique event when we come to believe in Jesus the Christ. For it is the power of the Highest that grants a rebirth in the Spirit to those who believe in Him. As Nicodemus found out, we will not come out of the womb again, that overshadowing is unique to our Lord Jesus, but we do enjoy the fruits of the Spirit from this rebirth.

From the rebirth in Christ made possible by the unique birth of Christ, Merry Christmas to you!


Friday, December 01, 2017

A Horror Story of the Bible

And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. Judges 19:1

Judah, Bethlehem, no king in Israel, a young virgin, later there is a donkey and a journey involved, but this is not the Christmas story, not by a long ways. Reading the story in Judges 19 involves delving into so much iniquity that we get a picture of what it will be like when the Comforter takes a step back and man is left on the Earth without God. Sin piles upon sin and there is death in horrible ways, destruction, disloyalty, disregard for human life and dignity, debauchery, so that it becomes hard to list all the sin in this story.

The Lord is not mentioned at all in this horrid chapter, the children of Israel are not in Jerusalem, and women are offered to the sons of Belial, and that is only part of the grotesque morass of sin in this anti-Christmas story. Those who want God out of all things should take a moment to read what it will be like here when God does as they desire. Think anyone will be empowered by God's departure? Best think again, for this horrible chapter shows exactly what will come when the spirit of restraint God has given to the world is removed and His church is taken up from this place.

God's word shows us in several places what happens when we are left to our own devices as a group and as individuals. The Christmas story, on the other hand, is what happens when God comes down to us and makes a way for us to live in Him!

Have a merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

He Came To Save Us

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17

Good morning on this final day of November! Imagine the junior Pharisees watching Jesus as He walked into the public tavern, certain in their minds that soon the sinners would be fleeing the place. Surely a stern modification of behavior was coming forth! It did, and soon the junior Pharisees would hear Jesus telling those sick from their sin and saved only in Him to not be like the Pharisees. What?!

In a time when people were much like us, Jesus came to save the lost sheep of Israel. The physician went straight to the sick, or at least those of the sick who would behold their sickness and reach out to Him for salvation. The powers of the land of God's chosen people refused to believe that they could be sick at all. Was not their behavior above reproach? Nope, Jesus reproached it several times in His ministry. Did not the strict obedience to the Law of Moses and a multitude of additional traditions save them? Nope, Jesus told one of their big dogs - the teacher of Israel - that he must be born again and start from a new beginning. Religion, surely that would do it, right? Nope, Jesus told His disciples to beware the yeast of the Pharisees.

They too needed a Savior, and He stood right in front of them. The powers that ruled in the province of Judea would refuse our Lord and kill Him, and He would rise again and send out His messengers to the Gentiles. And in our multitudes we have been saved by our Lord Jesus! Praise God for Him as we celebrate His birth in this season of the year.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dreams To Behold

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” Genesis 20:3

Did you receive a message from God in a dream? Perhaps not in the one where your pet bunny grew fangs and attacked your tummy, for that one just ease up on the spicy food before bed time. You can bet though that Abimelech paid attention when God spoke to him in a dream thousands of years ago. 'Indeed you are a dead man...' would tend to get one's attention in a memorable way. The dreams that we have that we cannot recall mere minutes after getting up probably have no meaning to worry about, but there are those that stay with us throughout the day. Sad dreams, frightening dreams, and dreams where God says "Behold!" are memorable with good reason, and since the Lord warned us through the prophet Joel that we would be activated by His Spirit just before the end times; we may want to practice writing down those shocking dreams.

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

We have been warned! Also, I am glad to see that the Lord is not what we call politically correct. "And also on My menservants and on My maidservants ​​I will pour out My Spirit in those days." v29. So, menservants and maidservants, let us prepare to tell of our dreams and visions for the time is at hand!

A new day dawns,

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Good Man With Good News

So the watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.”
And the king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good news.” 2 Samuel 18:27

35 'Cyber Monday' ads and counting in my e-mail this morning, plus one about a fast credit decision. The world is constantly ready to help us...spend our money. So much striving and scrapping for money, we can get out of it by doing without for a while. Been there, tried that, and it's a fast way to start receiving bad news from the letter carrier and phone ringer. We don't have to give up working for a living in order to put money in its proper place as a tool. Instead we can look for the good man with the good news!

Christmas time begins in earnest with the conclusion of the Thanksgiving weekend, and that time is a great time to remember the good man with the good news. He brought us the good news of mercy, forgiveness of sin, and grace, and of course the good news that God loves us. Never did a less deserving group receive such good news as we did when we first heard the good news of salvation through Jesus the Christ. Well, except for those shepherds abiding in the field by night.

Were those shepherds a particularly bad lot? Probably not terribly different from the main part of their human brethren and sisteren; all of us were born into sin and became proficient at it through practice. The good man with the good news brought to us a different way - different from religion and attempting to earn salvation through works that is. He brought us Himself: the good news of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. This gift of Himself is our first and best Christmas present.

Enjoy His gift today and have a merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

It Is In Writing!

“All this,” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.” 1 Chronicles 28:19

What the Lord gave King David in writing has been preserved for us these many years in what we call the Holy Bible. Histories, prophecies, and psalms have survived thousands of years since David's time, and today we can give thanks for the word of God.

I stagger a bit mentally to think of how many men and women throughout the centuries worked to preserve the Bible. Many of us could with the expenditure of a bit of paper, toner or ink, and time, print out the text of the Bible in a short time. Back in the day though, those 783,137 words were copied by hand writing each and every one of them. Not many homes in that day had a full copy of the Bible! If that much paper and ink is not on hand for your printer (mine is out of toner), a few moments on any of several web sites can have a new Bible on the way to your home. If no money is on hand, a quick call to a local church or the Gideon's ministry should produce a Bible for any of us at almost any time. But no! we are back in time with Brother Bubba the monk, and the abbot hands him an authorized copy of the Bible and points to a writing desk with quill pen and ink pot. 783,137 hand-written words later, Bubba has his copy of the King James Bible (and a much stronger writing hand). Yes, I think we can give thanks for the availability of the Word of God in our age.

Invite God to your Thanksgiving feast as the guest of honor. He has made us understand in His Word, and praise God that we don't have to write it out by hand to get a copy!


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On Thanksgiving Eve

​Who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
​​And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things;
​​Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Isaiah 30:10

There came a time in the history of Israel when the people did not want to hear criticism of their nation, not even from the Lord Himself. I can understand not wanting to hear bad things about our nation, but when the Lord speaks we do well to listen. The problem in this age is that some will criticize a government or nation for their own ends and have no truth in them. Is the Lord speaking through His prophets or is there simply a lot of noise?

On Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful to our Lord that the United States of America still stands, and that many in this nation worship God and tell of His Son. I am thankful to the Lord that so many of us can speak our opinions and not be thrown in a dark jail cell, as happens in many places around this world. I am thankful that many young men and women will serve in far away places this Thanksgiving that we may still enjoy the freedom to sit down to a feast of giving thanks to our Lord. I am also grateful that you and me may sit down and express our love and faith in our Lord Jesus, and do it trusting in our Lord's divine protection.

Not all is right in America, and we deserve some criticism in the world. However, as the love of the Lord flows down on us, let us give thanks for all that is right and good through our Lord's grace and mercy.


Monday, November 20, 2017

The Price of Taking The Wrong Road

Now the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. Numbers 22:23

A man died this weekend whose name I have heard frequently throughout much of my life. I'm not going to mention his name again because we have heard it too much already. The man is infamous for sending his followers to murder in case you need a further clue. In a way the all-too-frequent mention of this man reminds me of Balaam in the Bible, where we can read about him all the way from Numbers through the Revelation. Balaam's story begins with a man talking with God. Balaam should have become one of the great prophets of the Bible with this access to our Lord, but instead he had a high regard for money and material wealth.

When the servants of Balak came to get an answer about the question of cursing the Israelites, Balaam says, 'not even for a houseful of silver and gold...' And therein begins Balaam's problems. Where he should have let his no be no, he mentions a starting point in money negotiations. And from there on throughout the Bible, Balaam's name becomes one of bad example - don't be like Balaam. And such is his fame all the way down to Revelation chapter 2.

The most famous story about Balaam is of course his little chat with his talking donkey. Balaam began his ministry with such advantages: a prophet of the Lord being the foremost, but having a donkey wiser than himself was certainly nothing to take for granted. Then the donkey testifies to a lifetime of service and wonders why Balaam is so faithless in this one service. As it turns out, Balaam has no faith and only turns aside when he is shown the angel of the Lord.

And such is the world today. Faith is scoffed at, money is king, and only when they can see the Lord in His glory will they acknowledge Him. But when that time comes it will be too late, and they will pay the price for taking the wrong road in this life. Don't wait to see the Lord with his drawn sword, turn aside from your way now and believe in Him!


Friday, November 17, 2017

The Rule of Love

When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him. 2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV

When my good behavior was based in the rule of law and the authority figures who both policed and prosecuted the law were removed by time or distance, I found that my good behavior was far more apt to slip out from under me. This hardly makes me unique of course, many a child has grown up to college age and found the college life to be much more libertine than expected, and then been further surprised by his or her participation in those liberties. (The feminists of the world will be glad to note that in my observations the girls were no less apt toward slippage than the boys.) You might say that without the authorities, the authority of the law was not recognized.

In fact during my time serving in that most authoritarian of places, boot camp, I found that as soon as the authority turned his back I could be sneaky, underhanded, and even devious. I'm quite sure that I listed no such goal in the 10-year plan portion of my high school graduation book. Yes, like many a young man or woman, I discovered the sinner in me really liked to stand forth when I was strong.

Ah, there it is, not only was it when the authority seemed absent, but it was those times when I thought of my own strength that I fell hardest into sin. The good kid was only good when under a mightier thumb. Rehoboam seems to have discovered the same thing. Established and strong, at least in his own sight, he abandoned the law of the Lord. Sadly, as he was king the entire nation fell with him.

In order to return to my Lord and His law, I had first to become weak in my own estimation. We do this through repentance and confession, but it is enabled by my Lord's dear Holy Spirit. (And yes, He can use a traumatic circumstance!) It is told best in the parable of the prodigal son by Jesus. And it is experienced by about every Christian I have met. We all endure a time of strength and disobedience and return to the Father weak and more available to His authority, whether we think He is looking or not. Of course as love grows in us from the Father's love for us, we know that He is always looking and that gives us comfort where once it incited a desire to rebel. The prodigals returned weak and willing to submit to the rule of love.

Praise God for His patience with the prodigals!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Anger Dump Truck Meets The Anger Incinerator

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Colossians 3:8

While there are several types of anger and the people who use them, there are two that struck me today which I will name the anger dump truck and the anger incinerator.

The first, the anger dump truck, is that person who carries a load of anger out in the open and quickly finds a place to dump it. The wise one will learn to find a dumping ground with nothing in it of value, particularly not other persons. Which brings us to the worst behavior of these anger dump trucks, and that is to dump that anger on another person. Great harm is caused by this sort of dumping, harm that can last for generations.

The other type for today is a behavior that I have done too often: the anger incinerator. This type is that person who receives a load of anger and internalizes it with heat and burns quietly keeping all of it until the last bit of anger fuel is burned away. Obviously this is quite a stress on the machinery. While no one but the incinerator is harmed by this behavior, the harm to this type of person is also great.

This is not a call for judging one behavior worse than the other, but recently it has been shown to me how terrible it is when the worst of the anger dump trucks - those who dump their load of anger on other people, and the anger incinerator come together through the circumstances of this world or perhaps the designs of the evil one...and perhaps we should recognize that God may also bring them together to test both and refine them for His glory.

What form shall this refinement take? I believe that a bit of the Lord's word from our dear friend Paul will help in this: put off all these! Read our verse above for today, and the command is clear. I should no longer be the anger incinerator. While it is up to the brother to stop being the anger dump truck, it is certainly up to me to come to my Lord in prayer and learn to put off these things. And, brother, does this verse ever describe exactly what the boss and I have endured from this dumper in the past several weeks!

And now, before the next test, I need prayer preparation and faith in the healing power of my Lord and Savior!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Some More Bad News

And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. Exodus 33:4

Another sexual harassment allegation? Where does the bad news end? I can tell you today that if we are going all the way back to the beginning of my life, we will find plenty of sin for me to feel guilty about. This political tool may fulfill the devil's purpose for today, but any of us are likely targets. Take me back to the days of my youth and you may well hear the exhortations of Paul to avoid sexual immorality ringing from the rafters of the little church I grew up in. And yet, you would also find ample evidence that I did not listen very well. All of that is simply some more bad news, and that is not what I am called to share in this world of today.

Long ago God established that we are sinful and stubborn people. His chosen nation of Israel in Exodus 33 received a tongue lashing from the Lord and they mourned. I fear that in this age that same message would bounce off of many and that mourning would be only among a few. As sinful as we are in person or as a nation, the good news of Jesus Christ remains the same. God provided in His Son a solution to this problem of sin, and that solution is wholly of Him and not of us.

The good news of Jesus Christ begins in forgiveness and it continues through grace and onto eternal life in Christ Jesus. All of this was paid for by our Lord long ago and He makes it available to us freely for the asking. Ask, seek, and knock on the door, our Lord tells us and we will find the good news we need in the midst of this present darkness. Repentance brings mercy and forgiveness of sin, and then the Lord will never bring that old sin up ever again. As far as the east is from the west our Lord puts away those dreadful deeds and thoughts of sin in which we have wallowed. In Him - we live!

There is too much bad news in the media today; put away the news and read God's good news instead.


Monday, November 13, 2017

The Great Hallelujah!

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Revelation 19:6

We say 'Hallelujah!' or its King James counterpart 'Alleluia!' often in our praising of the Lord God. It is interesting that in all of the Bible this word only occurs four times: all of them in chapter nineteen of the Revelation. The people in Heaven say it first in verses one and three, and then the four and twenty elders and the four beasts in verse four, until finally all of God's servants shout the word in verse six. It's like the word is saved up until we can all use it best.

No need to stop using it though, practice will do great good for us until that day we can say it best unto our Lord. Indeed there are many things we practice here until we can do them properly in that great day when our Lord welcomes us to eternity. Love for example is something we need much practice at in our relationships. I cannot think of a single relationship that I have not done something to harm through either inaction or a hurtful action on my part. To love well I need some more practice. Faith and prayer are also skills we must practice at often. Ever become distracted on a big project and then knelt down to pray only to feel a cool distance? Yes sir, out of practice and the relationship suffers.

One day though, we will be promoted by our Lord Jesus from fumbling amateurs to pro status, and then we will join in that great "Hallelujah!"

God's grace and peace to you this week,

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veteran's Day 2017

“I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Revelation 2:19

Jesus knew well the service of the church in Thyatira, but there was some tough stuff behind His 'nevertheless' too. That could easily describe any of us. We do have the fruits of the Spirit growing from our branches, but we also have some things in our lives that the Lord would have against us. I have yet to meet the perfect Christian.

In 1983, I began four years of military service in the United States Marine Corps. In those four years, and contrary to some of the boasting I heard, I did not meet one perfect person. Nope, sorry, not one. Since the end of my active service, I have not yet met a perfect human being in the flesh. Nope, still looking for that perfect human.

In our verse for today, Jesus cut down the church at Thyatira because they were not, no, no, dead wrong! Congratulated on works, love, service, faith, and patience, the church had some thing that needed a cleansing, but perfection was not the issue. Perfecting is our Lord's work; and if He were to hold a lack of perfection against any of His saved ones He would only be holding it against Himself. After all, imperfection cannot perfect itself - how could it know perfection being imperfect?

No one that I knew joined the service to become perfect. We served and we are thanked for our service on this day. In a similar way, we give ourselves to Jesus to serve Him. And from the day of salvation we are all perfect humans? Nope, sorry, Christians join the service of God, but if it was an army of human all-stars He sought, I don't think I could belong and my brothers and sisters in Christ would say the same thing.

Perfection is something I leave with God; service is something to which I can say, "Yes, Lord!" And perhaps one day too, my Lord will say to me, "And as for your works, the last are more than the first."

Ever increasing faith!

Friday, November 10, 2017

We Have A Better Message!

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Matthew 4:23

In Galilee of the Gentiles, sounds like the fulfillment of a prophecy! The world has a great many messages for us, and it likes to say them as loudly as it can. Here in the witness from Matthew the tax collector, we find Jesus going about His Father's work. What we may not think about in the wonder of our Lord's ministry was that at this time there was quite likely a similar 'sea' roaring and sloshing about as we see in today's protests around the world. Jesus could have dropped everything to go answer them with His truth, but He continued about His Father's work in Galilee...of the Gentiles.

We have a better message than this right or that right, right or left, front or center, politician A or politician B. We have the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. Injustice, or at least some person's view of it, like poverty will be with us until our Lord returns. Shouting won't get rid of it; loud foul language will not banish the fallen characteristics of this world. Joining in a fruitless debate with name calling will not shine in the darkness as our Lord did so well. With our Lord as an example, let us go forth bearing the good news of Jesus. We have, after all, a better message.

Happy Birthday! To all those Marines out there bearing a gift of good news from our Lord and Savior,


Thursday, November 09, 2017

Great In The Sight Of The Lord

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Luke 1:15-16

We enjoy watching those who have practiced a skill since a very young age as they show a talent far beyond our own ability. Imagine then how skilled John the Baptist was at his craft having begun before his conception in the womb of his mother!

But was it that way? Practice, dedication, perseverance... human effort? The order of things in these verses is interesting: John will be great in the sight of the Lord before all those other things he will do. We tend to reverse that order, as in I haven't touched wine or strong drink therefore I must be great in the sight of the Lord. ("I" in this case not meaning me, as I have touched both in this life.) Always it is our accomplishments we want to make us great in the Lord's sight. But here the Lord declares it first, and then all of those great things follow. Very similar to the command Jesus gave in His great sermon to seek ye first the kingdom of God, and then all the other things will be added unto ye.

I cannot by my effort make myself great in the Lord's sight. If the Lord wills it, the Lord declares it and it is so. And so it is with our salvation. My behavior doesn't save me, the efforts and declaration of the Lord makes it so. When we pray that His will be done, we pray that all will be saved. Therefore, let His will be done today in the lives of neighbors, friends, all we love in Christ!

Greatest is His gift to us of His Son, our Lord and Savior,


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Why Do We Suffer Old?

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalm 73:26

The saying goes: there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. There are old, bold Christians however, but why must we suffer old?

It would be much easier to tell the true believers apart from the world at large if they one and all stopped aging at their rebirth in Christ. This would also be a powerful incentive to believe in my Lord Jesus. However, faith would not be involved at all in this scenario, only a self-interested decision on whether to accept Jesus as savior at 19 or wait until 25, or perhaps 33 years old is the perfect age for some others. One can only imagine the number of books that would be printed and read on what age is the perfect one for that eternal youth with just the right amount of maturity. And then the Union of Nineteen Year Old Believers voted to renounce our Lord in order to gain a few more years maturity and all hell broke loose.

No, no, no... it is about faith and yes, we who believe in our Lord Jesus the Christ do have to suffer old. However, the way we see it is that each day is but one day closer to our being called home by our beloved Jesus to an eternity with Him that we can scarcely imagine in this age. The world has an evil ark loaded with pairs of sufferings and it is just waiting to inflict them on any who will believe in Jesus. Of course, the gunner of that dark ship may say, "There's another Job, get 'im!" but we are only afflicted with what our Lord allows. And every suffering we endure is used by our Lord to make us into something beautiful beyond our ability to describe at this time.

My Lord Jesus is coming, and He is going to sink that dark ark!


Monday, November 06, 2017

A Church Test

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah 4:14

Did you go to church expecting armed combat yesterday? No, you and millions of people attended church yesterday and did not need to tote a firearm. Do we wear body armor as the new church fashion? The time for that may be nearer than we thought yesterday morning. While you and I look forward to that day when we turn our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, we need to have wisdom in this.

Nehemiah writes of a time when Jerusalem was rebuilt. Families armed themselves and faced the enemy. Half stood guard with sword, spear and bow while the other half worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Their vigilance and willingness prevented the fight they feared. Are we to do the same now? Or, is this the time for martyrdom?

In the early years of the church, persecution by the ruling government caused many a martyr's death. They did not take up the sword but went willingly to die for the cause of Christ. In chapter 11 of Hebrews we read a rather gruesome list of those who died for their faith in Jesus. Is this that time foretold to us when many of our brothers and sisters in Christ will fall as martyrs? We need wisdom in this.

There is always one way to wisdom and that is by prayer to our loving Father in Heaven. He always waits for those who will ask of Him. Churches and individuals must ask for themselves. It is not for me to say do this or do that when God the Father is just a prayer away. Please do not put a pastor or a pope or, gulp, me between you and God; go to Him in prayer. And then, accept His answer: it will lead to something wonderful!

In Christ,

Friday, November 03, 2017

Looking Past Today

Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30

That grass would not have a rejoicing day if all it did was look at 'oven day' coming tomorrow. So, how long has it been since you looked ahead past today to your own 'oven day'? As a person tempted often by anxiety and worry, you may ask me that and I might have to confess that I was doing just that until you interrupted me.

Worrying tomorrow's worries, imagining a today that won't happen, and borrowing fear from days ahead are and have been specialties of mine. I have grown quite proficient in this sort of activity, and every bit of it is sin.

Then, there is a sort of complimentary benefit to that kind of activity: having a worry for today that I am tempted to look past to an imaginary better tomorrow. It is certainly right to live in faith that tomorrow will be better than today; I'm not asking anyone to give up the promises our Lord left with us. The trial the Lord has set for me today does merit my attention though, and procrastination is another of those temptation things to be resisted in prayer and the strength our Lord gives to us.

Taking out a high-interest loan of imaginary trouble from tomorrow is as bad as stockpiling real troubles for tomorrow that should be solved today. And of course a brother or sister in Christ might be depending upon me to do my part in today's trouble lest their daily burden become overwhelming tomorrow.

Today is where my Lord Jesus walks and my place is with Him. Tomorrow will have to wait its turn.

Have a great today with Jesus!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Fallen Bodies, Fallen Lives

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34

"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!" the minister quoted to the young men and women gathered before him, each of them convinced of his or her own might and all ready to begin their prodigal journey. Raised in the church, some would meet drinkers of beer and learn to drink beer, while others would meet promiscuous sexual adventurers and soon learn to experiment sexually. The most pitiable of all among this group of young prodigals met unbelief, and soon learned to walk very far away from the Lord of their childhood to a land where every sort of sin was encouraged and celebrated.

Some part of this story could of course be our own for those of us who grew up attending church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening and any other time a group of any sort gathered in the church. We may have learned that God lived there in that church; it was His house after all. To the young prodigal, stepping out of the church meant freedom from God and His almost countless rules and regulations. Furthermore, at a certain age we got to step away from the parents and their rule and rules. Freedom!

Like the young prodigals of our story, we probably soon found our free young minds and bodies keeping company with evil. Not vampires and werewolves of course, even the prodigal son in our Lord's parable did not keep company with the pigs right away. No, in evil company we gradually fell away from good habits. In place of awakening to righteousness, we woke up with a bad taste in the mouth and perhaps a head spinning round and round, and we learned to boast of it! Evil company loves fallen bodies; sin latches on to fallen lives.

Praise our Lord Jesus that His tale of the prodigal does not end there! The God who loved us in our youth is always ready to welcome another prodigal home to a white robe and a feast. Why was the prodigal so ashamed when he returned? Paul tells it; the evil company may not have a knowledge of God, but those of us raised in His knowledge should be ashamed of any prodigal habits we might be clinging to years after our return to the Father. "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin."

Rejoice in Christ, former prodigal, let us live together in Him! And may I say a 'Hallelujah!' that our Lord is not confined to a building back in my hometown? Amen. Hallelujah!


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Remove the Temptation!

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38

Put up the Halloween decorations, it's over for another year. Take the leftover candy into work and share the calories with your mates. Get all that sugar stuff out of the house and remove the temptation.

Temptation is tough for our poor flesh. My flesh seems to have the willpower of an old rusty push mower: it only does what I want with a lot of effort. Keep candy in the house, and I will eat it until it is gone. The best credit card for me is the one with a charge limit of $zero. All of that weakness comes just as my Lord said, from me depending upon my weak flesh to have the power to resist. The new spirit born in me at salvation is indeed willing, but the flesh is an enemy agent working behind the lines.

One great day of the Lord though, all temptation will be removed and a cleansed heart will have no use for any tempting thing. In this day temptation is everywhere for us, so much so that our Lord taught us to pray that we not be led into it. We must be constantly on guard lest temptation strike its underhanded blows. And of course we know from cruel experience that temptation is going to come on strong when circumstances place us at our weakest. Thank the Lord that He is never weakened, slow, or careless in His almighty attention to our staggering steps. The power to firm up our walk with Christ and to resist temptation is in Him, and we access it through prayer constantly!

Great is the Lord!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Awake, You Snoozers!

Therefore He says:
​​“Awake, you who sleep,
​​Arise from the dead,
​​And Christ will give you light.”  Ephesians 5:14

We ignore that admonition in the Proverbs and think we know what goes on in a cemetery. Deep down in the ground lie a bunch of moldering bones, some better preserved than others, but no one is asleep...or so we think we know. One way speaks of a bunch of zombies ready to come out on Halloween to seek for living flesh to eat. Another way imagines Jesus standing by the cemetery and telling the snoozers to awake. Which seems the more silly to our so knowledgeable flesh? Yet one of them has already been demonstrated to be quite possible.

Jesus stood by the cemetery and called out, "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11:43), and the man did!

To the world, both ways mentioned above seem equally silly, though they have made many a movie or show about the former and hardly a one about the latter. Zombies, it seems, are quite safe with the world and its powers, but make a show about Jesus and Lazarus and see what happens! Hardly had poor Lazarus come forth to his renewed life and the powers of the world were plotting to murder him. The sleeper awakened by the authority of our Lord over death and the grave...and the powers of that time wanted to kill them both and be rid of them. What a world we live in. Praise God that by the authority given to His Son, the sleepers will soon awaken as His time comes.

Let Heaven and Nature sing!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Comes The Cold

From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind,
And cold from the scattering winds of the north. Job 37:9

I'm not sure why cold should be so much on my mind this morning, but the front that arrived yesterday might have something to do with it. The days have not yet reached Halloween and it is only 21° outside. Brrr! The house even sounds different when the temperature drops low.

I see that in the time of Job, which we are not sure what BC that is exactly, but Job lived sometime between Adam and Malachi, perhaps before even Moses' time. And in that time, the winds blew the cold down from the north just like in our time. At least we know that Job lived north of the equator, or maybe the equator hadn't been invented yet. Some things just haven't changed in the centuries between us and Job.

In the Olden Testament times they waited on Jesus to come, just as we wait on our Lord to come now. They did not know the date of His arrival and neither do we know the hour and day of His return. On a particular night in the winter months someone probably asked Job, "Is it cold enough for ya?" And Job wept for the many zillions of times that question would be asked by future generations before someone finally got tired of it. Of course once we grow some fruit of the Spirit we will patiently endure all things - even the seventy three thousand nine hundred sixty fifth time we must hear that dreadful question!

Happy Friday in Christ!
Bucky P.S. I copy this from my e-mail posting and I see that poor Job got left dangling in his time in an incomplete sentence. How dreadful! B

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Angel Answers

“Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:14

The funny thing is that we don't know unless our Lord tells us the answer to this. We can however make a decision on it. God introduced Himself to Abram again in Genesis 17:1, "I am Almighty God..." Now, the Lord our God is all mighty, and thus nothing is impossible or too hard for Him, or He is lying and something is too hard for Him, or He is a loony and several things are too hard for Him but He is in denial. You have heard the same choices offered by C.S. Lewis regarding our Lord. So, is anything too hard for the LORD? We who believe Him and take His word as truth would say, "No! Absolutely nothing is too hard for our Lord!"

But, what one angel asks, another might answer centuries later, or maybe it was the same angelic messenger come to inform a descendant of Sarah.

"Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:36-37

Yes, we have our answer, but the decision remains the same. We believe and receive the message, both question and answer, or we refuse to believe and remain condemned by unbelief. Well, there it is! I choose to believe through His Holy Spirit and for God nothing is impossible - including it seems enabling a doubter such as me to believe in that which I cannot see.

Thank You, dear Lord God, for enabling my heart to believe!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Cauldron of the Pharisees

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. Luke 18:11

In my teenage years I was desperate to join something and be accepted. I joined a church and was handed a rule book. I joined a fraternity at college and studied a rule book. I enlisted in the Marines, and wouldn't you know it, they too had some rules about how the ideal Marine behaved. Most groups have their rules for proper behavior. Not all rules are bad, but living under a system of rules hoping to save yourself is idolatry. The rules or the organization become the savior, or worse, a man or woman who speaks well becomes the idol who promises salvation by religion. Systems of rules can lead to all sorts of mayhem. So great was the Pharisee's faith in their rules they refused to recognize Messiah as He stood before them.

It is interesting that one of our first revelations from God's dear Holy Spirit is that we are indeed just like other men in our lusts of the flesh. Temptations have not changed since way back in Adam's time. Unlike Mr. Pharisee, we realize quite early after our rebirth in the Spirit that we have this baggage common to all men. Rules point it out to us in no uncertain terms, including the penalty for our lusts, but the rules do not solve the problem. All of us deserve the death penalty for thoughts and actions contrary to the Law of Moses, and yet we have this savior. A Savior the watchdogs of the Law quite failed to see though they thought they were keeping the Law.

As we approach Halloween, it brought to my pudgy little mind the danger of that bubbling cauldron of rules the Pharisees tended with such care. We want to watch out lest we fail to heed our Lord's warning about the leaven of the Pharisees. Flaying someone with a bunch of rules will not save them. Giving testimony of our wonderful Lord and Savior and how He saved us is the way of love.

May the love and grace of our Lord Jesus grab you in a big bear hug today!


Monday, October 23, 2017

Desperately Hoping

" a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Corinthians 15:52

Do you know fear? Got a little phobia to contend with? You don't know fear. It is those who refuse to believe in the Christ who know fear. They have heard the prophecy of the Rapture, of how it will happen in a twinkling of an eye, and they are desperately hoping that Paul is wrong.

Boldly they scoff at the messengers, and then tiring of that they try to silence the Word of God as it goes out to the far corners of the Earth. In time they will see that not working and they will turn to stamping out the messengers of the Lord. Desperately hoping that if no one speaks it then the Word cannot be true, they make their final attempt to murder every one of God's messengers.

Many will come to God's Heaven as martyrs for their testimony, but the Word will remain true.

We think that we are desperately hoping for the return of our Lord Jesus, but we don't know desperate hope. We believe in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Our hope is based on the Word of our Lord, and it is far from desperate, more like just a little impatient. No, desperation is the province of those who hope that by denying a thing it will just go away, somehow become untrue. As our Lord lives, He cannot become anything less than who He is, and He has always been Faithful and True.

Go forth in the great hope of Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior!


Friday, October 20, 2017

One Recipe

“Also take for yourself wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread of them for yourself. During the number of days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it. Ezekiel 4:9

Good Friday morning! As October begins to wind down toward Halloween, I searched the Bible for coffee and pizza and did not find any. Sadness fell down over me like a drape cast loose by a breeze through the window. Should not the Bible come with just one recipe for great pizza?

Of course God had more important things in mind than baking when He inspired the Bible writers, or did He? I began to wonder if there was a recipe for anything in the Bible, and there is! Ezekiel bread. Ezekiel received a recipe for a 6-grain bread, something folks pay extra for in the grocery store these days. There is also a formula or recipe for a special incense to be used only in the Temple worship. When it comes to recipes in the Bible, I suppose it is what the Lord wants that matters most.

Searching the Bible for a great pizza recipe is looking for what I want. The Bible instead presents to me what God wants, and this includes what my Lord wants for me. Some of the things which we consider of surpassing importance down here, like a great pizza, might not be so important after we sleep for a bit. At the resurrection, we may not be so concerned with many of those earthly things we find so diverting here and now. I am looking forward to it, for many of the things that catch my attention so easily now are those things of the flesh that hold back my spiritual growth in Christ.

However, we should not give up our dreams of heaven either. For God as the greatest servant, who went so far as to die on the cross to save us, will not forget how much we enjoy good food. I recall a promise of some excellent fruit in the days to come.

Grace to you on this Friday!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

He Was Warned

However, he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the blunt end of the spear, so that the spear came out of his back; and he fell down there and died on the spot. So it was that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died, stood still. 2 Samuel 2:23

Try not to think too much about visualizing this one; it is biblical-ly graphic. The 'however' at the start of this verse does tell us that something went before, and indeed it did. Abner advised the man to turn aside, then Abner warned the man to turn aside and stop following him, or be struck down. I don't know if we can say that young Asahel got what he deserved, but he was warned.

In a similar way many people have been warned many a time to reject the way of this world and follow our Lord Jesus. They follow the way to destruction and one day will get what they have been warned to turn aside from. Ezekiel was responsible for those he did not warn as God's watchman, but those who refused to believe his message were not counted against him. We too have an important message for the world, but one day the time for warning will be finished and the danger shall arrive.

Why should that danger ever arrive? We have such good news for all those born into a world of sin! We should look down from Heaven and see the Beast, the Antichrist and the False Prophet looking around at an empty, well-shaken and burned up world asking, "Where did they all go?" Sigh, it surely would be, but that isn't what the Bible says, and as I believe the Word of God so I also know that many will refuse to believe in Jesus to their destruction. But that's no excuse to pass by even one lost sheep and give up him or her to the fate of this world. The Good News is good news!

Have a great and wonderful Lord in this day!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Troubled Sea

“I create the fruit of the lips:
​​Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
​​Says the LORD,
​​“And I will heal him.”
​​But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
​​When it cannot rest,
​​Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
​​“There is no peace,”
​​Says my God, “for the wicked.”  Isaiah 57:19-21

A little window on the world opens up before me by this modern marvel the Internet, and yet what do I see but a troubled sea. Knowledge has increased but love has grown cold. Peace abounds throughout the world, but war is threatened almost everywhere. People rush about busying themselves out of the fear and despair they carry with them. All of this foretold thousands of years ago by our Lord.

The sea of the world is troubled greatly, but the Lord God told us all of this would happen. Our Lord is on top of this! He knows all about it! God is not caught by surprise, nor did the message come to Him in the dead of night. A red telephone in His heavenly office did not suddenly ring with the bad news. If the Lord God is quite on top of all of this troubling news and He foretold it so long ago that it seems ancient history to me, then I have no need to worry over it. The darkness appears to grow and overwhelm, but it's all the last big show of this world's powers; and all it means is that my Lord Jesus is coming again soon.

Comforting peace in the Lord Jesus Christ to you on this day,

Monday, October 16, 2017

Strange Times Indeed

Your eyes will see strange things,
​​And your heart will utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:33

In Proverbs today, Solomon wrote or collected this one about what happens when a person is given over to wine, or any other alcoholic drink for that matter. Taken out of context it appears as a curse; maybe I should have used it last Friday. However, in this world of today, one might also describe following the daily news in just this same way. It fits as a description of what happens to one watching many of the prime time television shows or the movies offered to us just as well. Our culture is full of dangerous traps and snares in this age.

There may be more channels of temptation available in this age, but the temptations remain the same as what our Lord Jesus faced in His temptation: lust, greed, power, idolatry, envy, and so on. We can roll around in the stuff or we can look unto the Lord and rejoice in Him. We have the freedom in Christ to educate ourselves in every perversion or we can learn good and uplifting things from Him. It is a decision we are free to make, but stare at the world's darkness for long and you will see strange things. Praise God that our Lord is so good at finding His wandering sheep and bringing us back to Him!

Rejoice in the love of Jesus this week!


Friday, October 13, 2017

Listen To This!

​“Listen to this, O Job;
​​Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God. Job 37:14

There is something wrong happening down in Cuba. The suspicion of the moment rests on some sort of sonic weapon. The motives of the wielder, if such a weapon exists, are another question, but some harm has come to the alleged victims. From an article on Fox News: It is unclear whether the sounds are directly responsible for the attacks, which have been shown to cause hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep, and other problems. So, they released an audio recording of this purported attack. If you listened to it and now have trouble sleeping, hearing, balancing, thinking, or seeing, you might want to avoid listening to such things in the future, or you may just be suffering the effects of old age.

I didn't play the recording. It seemed a sort of invitation to stupidity to listen to what might be a recording of the sound of a sonic weapon. I would much rather take the advice in Job and consider the wondrous works of God. "Listen to this, O Job," Elihu said in chapter 37, and in this case he gave poor Job some good advice. Stand still and consider...except that we know what comes next! Yes, Job chapter 38 when God comes to the meeting and asks some questions. Listen indeed, O Man, 'cuz God's questions will humble the proud quickly!

Stopping our headlong rush in this life to stand still for a time and consider the wondrous works of God puts us in touch with the Spirit of God within. In the beginning, God saw that His creation was not only good, but very good. We must take the time to stand still and see the wondrous works of our Lord. Although Man fell and the Earth became cursed for our sake, the wondrous works of God shine forth if we will stand still for a time.

Autumn has come, and one wondrous work of God surely must come to mind, stand still for a bit today and see it!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

All Too Well

He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition...
      ...making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:9&13

Proficiency in a skill or talent is something we strive for in our lives daily. We also like to watch people who have worked from a young age to increase their proficiency in a talent. Jesus pointed out something in the Pharisees that they performed all too well: rejecting the commandment of God.

And they probably didn't remember practicing for this skill.

We do some things all too well without even trying hard. Want proof that we are born in sin? Simply watch how easily sins come to children left without parents or with parents who cannot be troubled to raise them to obey much of anything or anyone. Think of that first lie you were caught in; where did you learn to lie? When were the practice sessions held? However, the subject at hand back in John Mark's day was over regulation. The Pharisees had so many traditions, 600 or more, that at least one had come into conflict with God's commandments.

We are of course law-abiding citizens of a great nation. Never would we be considered lawless, surely? I read a story of a project headed up by a Justice Department official to count the federal criminal laws in 1982. The team counted 3,000 criminal offenses over a two year project before giving up, and that was 35 years ago. How many must there be now? The Pharisees, it seems, handed down a tradition of rule making to our government that would make their most ardent tradition makers proud. 600, what a bunch of pikers! We don't even know how many criminal laws we have, and to think we are obedient in all laws - you and I might be criminals even as we sit here! Who could know?

How important is it then to behold God's law and keep it? Thanks be to God that Jesus our Lord gave us a great simplification: two commandments involving love, plus this new one: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34

Amen, love one another!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Oh Dear! Proof of Him

But Saul became more and more capable, and was causing consternation among the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 9:22 NET

It seems we had some intense discussion in our little town board meeting on Monday evening. I was not there having worn myself out doing a trash-out on yet another foreclosed house, although by 6:30 that evening when I finished I certainly could have raised the stink level at the town meeting. Yes, a great consternation might have engulfed the meeting well before the fireworks began. But that isn't how Paul did it.

The word, consternation, is not used in the New King James version of the Bible, so I had to stretch out a bit. However that may be, Saul, the same we know as Paul, caused consternation in a group of folks by proving that Jesus is the Christ! Now that is the way to cause some consternation. For our education purposes: Consternation is feelings of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected. While the sheriff and the mayor going at it in a public meeting is certainly unexpected, I think what Paul did trumps anything we might see in a town board meeting.

To a group of Jews, Paul proved that Jesus is the Christ. Had this come from a Gentile, it would have been quite remarkable, but Saul, as he was known by his Hebrew name, was one of them, a champion of Pharisee University, a former persecutor extraordinaire of those who followed the Way. Yet, here was the man with a changed life proving that Jesus is the Christ. May we also show our changed lives to the world through God's amazing Way.

Praise to God for old Saul!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Rejoicing in Hope

... rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; Romans 12:12

This verse is but a piece of a sentence from Paul, but oh what wonderful exhortations to us! Rejoice in how valuable the word of the Lord may be to us with just one verse. Notice the weight of teaching with just three little groups of words. We need much context with this lesson, but the Holy Spirit responds to the word with the riches of grace and faith.

Rejoicing in hope: Yes, we live in a fallen world struggling to pull a living out of a cursed soil. Whatever our job or profession there seldom seems to be enough for us to harvest. Yet, we have a great hope in Jesus, who has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven. And it is this hope that allows us to be...

Patient in tribulation: The Lord said we would have it in this world (John 16:33) but to be of good cheer. Patience during the testing when suffering seems to be the only thing going for us is a tough road to walk. When pain comes, I think enviously of those Jesus healed with a touch, completely and in a moment. Healing that quickly has not happened yet for me, Peter's shadow has not fallen over me nor has the Master's touch been felt in my infirmity with an instant reprieve, but I do look forward to those healing leaves of Heaven. We have faith, and quite likely more help than we know in our Lord Jesus. We find our help and solace in...

Continuing steadfastly in prayer: It is our way to the Father's throne room, a small part of the sweet incense rising up before the Lord, our prayers are ever before Him. Steadfast prayer often comes to mind faster when the pain is more intense and longer lasting. However, Paul did not give us this advice for just those rough days but for everyday. Through steadfast prayer we can rejoice in hope on the good days too. Be of good cheer for one day we will no longer need patience in tribulation, and the rejoicing will begin for good!

Have a great week, winter is here!

Friday, October 06, 2017

Searching For Joy

So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 30:26

Happiness runs and hides from tough circumstances but joy is a more constant companion. I eagerly await my showers of joy from the Lord!

Hmm, I don't feel any showering. Maybe that is my problem. It may be that I have fallen into the trap of this generation in expecting everything to be handed to them with no work involved? In Turning Point today, Pastor David Jeremiah wrote about a man's search through the scriptures for all instances of joy (and cheer, gladness, happiness, blessed, and hopeful). Of course I rejoiced that all that he found would be quickly and easily handed to me. Uh, no, it was the search that caught my eye. A quest may be what the Lord desires of me for my development in His kingdom.

A word search is simple thanks to the Blue Letter Bible web site, or for the old-fashioned folks a copy of Strong's concordance, but what about the context of these instances of joy? That is where Bible study will come in with prayer to align myself with God's guiding Holy Spirit. A quest for joy in the Bible is a noble effort, one sure to produce rich rewards and a changed life. And we could surely use some joy in this dark age.

For example in the verse for today we find a joy that had not happened in quite some time. So long that the writer made note of it for future generations to read and study. If the joy of the Lord has left you and me for a long time, perhaps it is time for us to quest for His words of joy in the Bible and find something that hasn't happened since way back in the day.

May God work in us to work in Him on this great day!


Thursday, October 05, 2017

A Rapturous Self-Interest? You Bet!

Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” Revelation 6:1

It goes downhill fast from there. Scholars and ministers of the Word are not quite sure when the Rapture of the Church will take place. Before is the preferred timing because the judgments revealed in the Revelation are downright frightening. I will admit to a certain rapturous self-interest in the premillennial point of view on the Rapture. Sign me up! I don't want to be here when those judgments go from revealed in God's word to actually entering the stage of world events.

Three out of four people alive at the breaking of that first seal will not live to see the completion of the Apocalypse and the return of our Lord Jesus. Those are not great odds, and the one of four that makes it will endure all manner of suffering and deprivation for those seven long years. It is estimated that the odds of becoming involved in a deadly auto accident are one in three in a lifetime. That means two out three will not have to endure one - and I couldn't even beat those far better odds. How in the world could one such as me expect to survive the Tribulation? Yes, there is a bit of self-interest in the premillennial hope of the Rapture, and I wholeheartedly admit it!

The good news is that I want everyone else to go with us in this escaping of the terrible Tribulation. If the Rapture is the ejection seat that rockets us out of here before that first seal is broken, we should be pulling on that handle. I tried this morning, but Jesus hasn't pulled the safety pin to arm my ejection seat yet. Like all of you I will have to wait on His timing. While we are waiting though, we have this Good New of Jesus Christ to spread around, and a life lived in faith and His love is a great way to do it!

Here's to all of us going home before that terrible Tribulation!


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The News We Need Today

How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

There is too much bad news in the world right now. We need to be watchful and stay aware of it, but it can be a temptation to stare into the darkness too much. Indeed those living in darkness have seen a great light, and He brought us the good news of eternal salvation. Far better for us to stare lovingly at the Light and the Life than to spend much time mulling over the darkness in the world. That darkness can seep into our souls and bring the most cheerful of God's children into despair over the state of this world. Prayer is our answer when all seems dark around us!

Prayer is our lifeline to the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer takes the mind from darkness and into the light, and indeed is our connection to that great Light who shined in the darkness of Judea way back in the day. Let the darkness remind us of how much we and the world need our Lord Jesus. We need some good news today, and Jesus is the good news!

May the good news of our Lord come to one and all this day,


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

What Was Far Away

I was sad, as though they were my friends or family,
as if I were grieving for my own mother. Psalm 35:14

What was far away comes closer as the stories emerge of persons we knew nothing about on Sunday morning.

Death capriciously danced through a concert on Sunday evening in Las Vegas. A husband was taken, the wife left. A mother taken, the husband and children left. One friend is gone, the others are left to wonder why. Soldiers for generations have known that there is no accounting for who death will choose in a particular battle. Why leave one spouse to grieve and not take both? Of course marriages have been broken by death for as long as we can remember; it's even in the marriage vows spoken at the ceremony. And then, there was that grief from far away that came closer as we learned their stories.

David stated this so well in his psalm.

First it was just the names, but then the stories began to arrive. Unknown victims become persons with names, faces, families, and stories. We grieve over them though we have never met. Why? I believe that the Spirit of God grieves in us. Some will not admit to any such thing, I'm sure, but something connects us that we cannot explain. Someone grieves who is greater than us and we feel some of His pain. What was far away comes closer with this connection through our Lord God.


Monday, October 02, 2017

A Dangerous Anger

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

The news headlines will have it in bold print this morning, I don't have to tell you anything. Another person with something against people he or she does not even know has shattered any illusion of safety in this land. It is a sad thing.

The Apostle Paul when writing his letter to the Thessalonians was not writing of someone who sets out to kill as many people as he or she possibly can. Murder whether of one or of many is against God's law and always has been. What Paul wrote was by way of warning. None of those Thessalonians lived to see the day of the Lord, and none of us living now may see it in this lifetime either. On the other hand, Paul was convinced that the signs pointed to soon, and we feel the same way in this age nearly 2,000 years later. The point is to be ready to be with our Lord on any day.

Could today be the day that someone is so angry at something entirely unrelated to me that he runs me over with a cement truck? Any of us might ask ourselves that question and come up with that ever present 'maybe'. For a day or two, I'll be extra careful when crossing the street! It is a dangerous anger that diminishes the life of another to where it can be ended so callously. There is only one answer for us when that anger is so far away: prayer. It seems like a powerless answer to many, and they are correct, I am powerless in this, but my Lord is not! Why didn't He stop it? Ask Him! My Lord is not afraid of us asking, in fact He calls for us to do so. See Isaiah 1:18 for your personal invitation to reason with our Lord God.

Have a prayerful day in Christ Jesus,