Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An Infectious Mess

He will infect you with all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will persistently afflict you. Deuteronomy 28:60

Ow, I can feel my sinuses backing up. This is what I get for starting a diet. The boss told me to stay home. When you're sick, no one wants you around. Even my sentences have shrunk. I feel afflicted.

The Lord Jesus loves me.

Imagine, if you will, your worst time of illness. Perhaps a childhood disease like the measles, a time when you were as they say, sicker than a dog. I'm not sure why they say that because dogs don't get sick very often. People fled from you except for Mom. The cat wanted nothing to do with you and the family dog whimpered and slunk away after one sniff. Sick, the very word sounds ill.

Then Jesus said, "I love you!"

Naming some terrible sin sicknesses, Paul tells us, "And such were some of you." Indeed when Jesus found us, we were not just lost sheep but very sick sheep. Yet, the Lord our Shepherd, loved us. The sickness of our sins did not keep Him away. The illness of the sinful heart did not stop our Lord from finding us. He covers us with His righteousness. It must be love.

Rejoice in a miserable day; He is coming soon!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Challenging Moses

Two middle-aged fellows with big sticks approach each other on a big log over the Jordan. Moses, leader of the Hebrew nation, has been told that he cannot pass. No, it wasn't Gandalf who said so, but God Himself.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Num 20:12)

So, therefore the other fellow gets to win, right? Moses may never walk the promised land, but that does not mean that challenging God's servant to duel of sticks is a good idea. Cheeky fellows of any age who seek to challenge Moses might end up taking a bath in the Jordan. And perhaps they need one.

The Old Testament has not been superseded or tossed out from the Scripture. Jesus fulfilled the Law. Yes, He did, and praise God for that fulfillment! However, the words of Christ, what we call the gospels, are full of Jesus quoting the scriptures. What is good enough for my Lord to quote is certainly good enough for me to study. Much of the prophecy in the Old Testament has yet to come to pass; wouldn't want to toss out those scriptures just yet then. The insights of King David in the Psalms sing just as well today as they did in his time. And, we have God's promise that one day the Law will be written on our hearts, that place where love and joy will reside too.

Loving the promise of God's Scripture!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Most Dangerous Jobe

​​“Why is light given to him who is in misery,
​​And life to the bitter of soul,
​​Who long for death, but it does not come,
​​And search for it more than hidden treasures;
​​Who rejoice exceedingly,
​​And are glad when they can find the grave?" Job 3:20-22

Give my apologies to Job, but I added an 'e' to his name so that folks won't think I am writing about employment today. Nope, today I write of words, depressed words, dangerous words. Job's words in his misery as he deplored his very birth, that gift from God given to all of us.

Job was in a sorry state; sorry for his children, his servants, and mostly for himself. His losses were more than he could stand and what was left for him was more than he could stand too. His wife had already wearied of his moaning and, perhaps in her grief over her children, told the man to "curse God and die!" His skin hurt so much that Job couldn't stand the pain of living, and he released some dangerous words on the Earth.

One does not want to wallow too much in Job's complaints without reading on to God answering Job's challenge and of course the restoration Job had from God. We must read the verses before the complaints showing that the Enemy put Job in this terrible trial. But many of us also may feel a kinship with poor Job, having felt very much like this many a time in this tough life. The good news is that God is good and restoration in this life is possible for Him. We don't have to stay in the dark pit of despair. We can, like poor Job, try to look to self and our righteousness to wonder why, or, we can look to God and His righteousness and know that it is ours in Christ. His righteousness gives us the strength to carry on through the trial.

Merciful Father, thank you for your peace!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Who Is My Brother In Christ?

"For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12:50)

Was Jesus about breaking up families? No, that doesn't quite seem to be our Lord's aim in this incident. On the other hand, He does seem to be making a new family, a larger family with a wider variety of brothers, sisters, and mothers. No, that doesn't seem quite right either, maybe a little to hung up on the familial terms there. What the Lord says was what He said: Do the will of God and we are all three - brother and sister and mother. Do the will of God and we are immediate family of the Lord's Christ. Immediate family - not separated by a branch of the family tree, not just a casual acquaintance, or a cousin from far away, but a brother and sister and mother of the Lord Jesus.

We cannot be Him or become Jesus; He is Lord. But in this verse our Lord puts us as close as all of His immediate family, save one. The Father of our family is God. The Son though places all those who do the will of the Father as close as can be in a family: brother and sister and mother. We are His family. Doth the religious zealot protesteth?

Do we take liberty by claiming this place near our Lord? The religious zealot may well claim that our Lord meant for only the Twelve to be His brother and sister and mother. No problem! In His command stated in Matthew 28, our Lord tells those first disciples to go out and make more disciples. In fact our Lord commands that disciples be made of all nations. It seems He wants a big family. Amen. You and I are disciples of disciples of disciples in a chain of discipleship stretching back nearly 2,000 years, but we are disciples who believe in our Lord Jesus. And as disciples we are the brother and sister and mother of our Lord Jesus. We are family!

Rejoice in our dear brother Jesus on this Friday!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Valley of the Dead

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. (Eze 37:7-8)

Oh, great, skeleton stories in the Old Testament. As though life now isn't frightening enough, we have to read about a valley of skeletons turning into zombies? But it isn't like that, as we well know. Standing on the border to verse 9, the re-fleshed skeletons are about to feel the breath of life again. The power of the Lord God has brought them from helpless, hopeless, dried out old bones to the very brink of life fully prepared in their bodies. Did you think the Lord would stop there?

In verse 11, we get an insight into how the bones feel: "They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ " Wow, depressed bones. We too may come to the brink of despair, feeling cut off from the Lord and His people, entertaining a hopeless feeling due to circumstance or calamity. Is it too late for us?

Well, if it wasn't too late for an assorted collection of dried out old bones in a valley no one would much like to visit - even the bacteria had moved on by that time, no more flesh to munch on in the Valley of the Dead - then it can hardly be too late for us to receive a renewing spirit from the Lord God Himself. A sea change from dried out and hopeless to life and hope in Christ our Lord comes over the depressed bones of His people. As His mercies are new each morning, so is the measure of faith we need for this day, a new hope rises within borne on the wings of the Holy Spirit!

And have a great new day in Christ too!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Work It Out

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Phil 2:12

Paul commanded his disciples to work out. Before we head off to the gym though, the workout was for our salvation. The work out methods are a bit strange. Paul told us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. So...put on some horror movies and work out that salvation? That doesn't seem quite right, although a bit of fright can remind us to pray. I'm fairly sure that God does not need any of the old oogy-boogy to bring us back to His flock. Well, maybe that first instinct of the flesh to think about the self is wrong in this case.

As I heard again this weekend, the matter of humility is not thinking less about the self, but thinking about the self less (as in less often). Which may give us an idea of where the word 'selfless' came into our language. The fear and trembling may well be for those who are not yet saved by the blood of the Lamb. Indeed, the verse begins with a therefore which should remind us to check into what Paul said before, and before is that great statement of Christ's lordship, Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess... (v 9-11)

So, with fear and trembling for those we love who do not yet believe in the salvation offered by our Lord Jesus, we work out our salvation on the rack of Revelation. "That's not a rack," the Lord reminds me. True, and the Lord is of course quite right as always, but within the warning of what is to come is the story of plagues that we fear for those who go after the Antichrist; and with fear and trembling for what may happen to those who choose their own way over God's Way, we workout our salvation in prayer and supplication for our neighbor, whom we love in Christ. As all Heaven was silent for half an hour at the Revelation, we too can fear for and tremble over the fate of those who choose against our Lord. This fear and trembling must then drive us to prayer for someone other than ourselves; a good workout for our salvation.

Now, down on the knees, and a one prayer, two prayers...


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On The Verge

I was on the verge of total ruin,
​​In the midst of the assembly and congregation. (Prov 5:14)

M Benson kindly pointed out this morning that we are on the verge between a really nasty freezing rain day and just a cloudy snowy day. We stand on the verge of many things, not the least of which may be the Great Tribulation and our entry into eternity. However, in Proverbs, the writer told of how he stood on the verge of ruin, while in the midst of the assembly and congregation. Standing on the verge of ruin publicly only adds to the tension, and we may well find ourselves in that sort of position.

The shame and embarrassment of public humiliation is of course something we try to avoid. Good advice, loving counsel, prayer and deep study in the Word of God can help us to avoid just such a terrifying situation. How did the writer find himself on the verge? Adultery, and he got there by not following teaching and instruction. When it comes to the verge though, any sin will do to catapult us into ruin. Sin is clever that way, and kind of mean too.

We may face public shame due to sin, but praise God for His willingness to forgive us. It is one thing to face people in shame, quite a different situation to face the Almighty in shame and disgrace.

Have a colder day in Christ!

Monday, January 23, 2017

When He Comes

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy." (John 16:20)

Every time Jesus comes we find ourselves on the opposite side the world chooses. Even as a harmless baby in a makeshift crib the world tried to murder our Lord Jesus. Shepherds and wise men rejoiced, but the evil king sent soldiers to slay the Holy One of God. Later in His life, the world had its day and killed our Lord on the cross...or so it seemed to them. As we can read in our verse today, Jesus the Lord knew all about what was going to happen. He did not flee to Mesopotamia; He faced the world for our sake, and on the third day sorrow was turned to joy.

The future of this world holds more of the same for us. The world powers will rejoice over the deaths of God's prophets in the end, but sorrow will turn to joy for those who love God and great fear for those rejoicing in the streets over the prophets' bodies. (Rev 11) At the very end of this age, the world will rejoice in its triumph while much sorrow follows those who believe in the Christ. Once again though, the return of Jesus will turn sorrow to joy, and such a joy it will be! And by the way, all those brothers and sisters in Christ we sorrow over will be coming with Him on that great day when He comes.

Great is His Name!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

It's Amazing That He's Amazing

Fallen so far as we are, it is amazing to one such as me that we can even awaken to how amazing our Lord Jesus is. Only by direct revelation could fallen persons know the beauty of God's creation, and then to know more of His beauty and wonder as we study His word and His presence, His sacrifice for such sinful worms as we, and the grace that overcomes all that is us, is more than we deserve in this world. And what we can know in the land of death's shadow is such a small sample of the majestic presence of our loving Lord. Surely the saints from the Bible were so much better than us to have known Him so well.

David wrote: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. (Ps. 19:1) but then he was the man who lusted after that woman and had her husband knocked off. Saul tried to end the early church; Sara laughed at God's messenger; and Moses killed a man in cold blood. Which of those saints were so much better than our behavior? But we don't go by their sins of course, for all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard. Faith and grace we need to stand before the Almighty. The sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf frees us to learn of His amazing ways. The presence of His Holy Spirit within enables us to be amazed that God loves us that much. It is better written that my salvation is amazing because He is amazing. Amazing grace indeed!

Great and glorious is God our Father!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration, The Same Nation or Not?

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of meeting, that I may inaugurate him.” So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tabernacle of meeting. (Deut. 31:14)

The outgoing leader of Israel brought in the incumbent, and the Lord inaugurated Joshua to lead the Lord's people. Was it the same nation now that Joshua led? In our case, we are hoping for a change, perhaps many changes, as we inaugurate a new president today.

In a few hours we will be able to say 'President Trump' and address his wife as 'First Lady'. What will this mean for the nation? We don't know yet, although the man has laid out many plans and promises. We do look with some hope for the changes he promised.

Joshua got to lead his people into the promised land, but after 40 years it was not quite the same as when the Israelites were just too faithless to enter a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses, true to the Lord's word did not get to enter having died on the other side of the Jordan river. What faith must we place in the Lord today to enter into a promised land under a new leader? For months we may have asked, "What will he do?" And now it is time to ask ourselves what will we do to make this next four years a time of revival in our land. A new president may do much, but a revival in the Lord can do so much more.

Now is the time for faithfulness to our Lord God!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Absorbing Ripples

“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)

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Rom 13:8)

My spirit's desire is to fulfill the law as my Lord Jesus has done. Paul gives the key to doing that very thing.

As we splash about the pond of life, ripples go out from us. In the world these ripples are made up of many feelings, actions, and words. We like to be with those who love Christ our Lord because there we find more ripples of love. We can carry this metaphor quite far, perhaps far enough to rock us to sleep on the waves of prose. However, we must watch carefully what ripples are washing up against us, for we absorb those ripples at least in part.

In the end times, seas of people will appear. Ripples and waves of anger wash outward from the center of these seas. Hatred may overcome many whose discernment is overcome by the waves washing back and forth across these seas. You and I may come upon a time to flee from these seas, but until that time let us absorb ripples of love from our Lord Jesus and our siblings in Christ.

Splash some love on me Lord!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Refuge For Which One?

“...lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past. (Deut. 19:6)

In this day, city of refuge has a more contentious meaning, but in the mercy God wrote into the Law, a city of refuge was where a person fled who had killed in the heat of the moment. Should a complaint give rise to bitterness, and bitterness to anger, and anger in turn to hatred to the point where a man was killed, then, no, the city of refuge was not for that murderer. However, if in a moment of heated argument a blow was struck, and struck so that the other man died, then the killer could flee to a city of refuge and have his case heard by the elders. But, just who was this city of refuge for?

We tend to think that it was for the benefit of the killer, but it may well be that God set up the cities of refuge to benefit the intended avenger(s) even more. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, and it is a sin to steal anything from the Lord. With a chance to 'cool off', an expression we can see comes from the verse today, the avengers might avoid falling into further sin by taking the law into their own hands and killing for vengeance.

God loves all of His children. Forgiveness is for both the victim and the sinner. Mercy may do more for the one who stays his hand than for his intended victim. Forbearance is a word we don't hear much anymore, but it would be well for us if its day could come again. Perhaps both parties in a fight could be saved if one would forbear to carry out a blow. Paul brought it up in his letter to the Romans:

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (2:4)

If God forbears from carrying out His justice upon the sinner, so that those who once bore that title could repent and be saved, we also who now bear His name should learn forbearance.

Praise God for His forbearance,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

His Message: My Testimony

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt 28:19-20)

If I just want to pass along His message, the grabbing of a few Bible verses should do the trick for you. However, if I want to obey His command and spread the gospel personally it seems that a bit more may be needed. How could that be?

Adding words to the Revelation calls for a curse, so I'm not sure I want to attempt tacking a few of my own words onto the end of the Bible. Sounds scary! How can I share my testimony without His message? Of course His message is my testimony so that shouldn't be a problem. But now I'm really confused.

His message began and enabled my testimony. I can bear witness to life before His message came into my heart, and then show the changes He has wrought in me through His messenger, the Holy Spirit. Without His message there is no change in me and not much to testify about as a worldly life is quite common in this world. His message empowers my testimony, and like my Lord and myself, the two go hand in hand. Therefore as we go making disciples of all the nations, we use His message and our testimony to the glory of God the Father.

Enjoy the crunchy morning!

Monday, January 16, 2017

A New Mercy

Is the work of the Lord all done? Are there no new mercies for us but just an endurance test to see if we can make it to the end? Sounds like a pity party starting up here! In the midst of lamentations, or that should be, Lamentations, Jeremiah had a different revelation on that:

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
​​Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
​​Great is Your faithfulness.
​​“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
​​“Therefore I hope in Him!” (3:22-24)

A new mercy every morning, that is the way to get up with the Lord! We must labor in Christ to realize that God will have the final word in anything. The end of this life may be quick or an endurance test, but in each our Lord has the final say. But, I was asking about today, which may not be the end, how does that mercy work on this morning? Truly God will have His say with a fresh mercy each morning too! Jeremiah passed along to us the Word from God that tells us of compassions that fail not. But what about those terrible sinful thoughts I had last night?

Yes, we strive to bring into control that monster of the mind, but imagine setting out to pay the utility bill downtown. You arrive and the clerk reports the bill already paid. Gas bill, same thing. Account at the doctor's office: paid. You take the money and go the grocery store, but the checker won't take your money and the little card machine refuses to work for you; payment not accepted where none is required. Yes, an unlikely scenario in this age I will admit. That is where our sin debt stands in Christ though. Those new mercies were bought and paid for by God's Son on the cross. The justice of our Lord is not set aside, it has been paid for us. That work of the Lord is done; but loving, providing and caring for us the Lord is pleased to do each and every new day.

Thank You, Lord for Your new mercy this day,

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Let God Judge!

‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats." (Eze 34:17)

Anytime I come upon a verse like this in the scripture, I tend to ask myself, "Which am I?" Then, it gets worse, I catch myself lending a hand to the Almighty in the selection. This type of people must be the rams, this other type must be the goats, and surely us sheep will be saved, right? The verse says all I need to know when the Father states, "I shall judge..."

We don't want to take up that burden of judging. We are talking eternal here; people like you and me consigned forever to unending torment and pain. That is a tremendous burden; one too large for the likes of us. As the Spirit reminds me in His quiet way, "Let God judge!" We do face a terrible temptation to take that mantle up for ourselves - always placing the self on the heavenly side somehow - but the Lord our God says that He will do this thing, and it is our submission to let Him judge.

Uh, oh, snowy weather on the way, be safe this weekend!


Friday, January 13, 2017

The Truth of Our Land

My heart within me is broken
​​Because of the prophets;
​​All my bones shake.
​​I am like a drunken man,
​​And like a man whom wine has overcome,
​​Because of the LORD,
​​And because of His holy words. (Jeremiah 23:9)

The prophet Jeremiah had a little problem: the Truth was in him and it spoke volumes about what was wrong in his homeland. So strong were the holy words of the Lord, that Jeremiah reeled like a drunken man. How well received do you suppose Jer's ministry was with this sort of thing going on?

That little difficulty was compounded by the prophets Jeremiah spoke of: the false prophets rampaging about the land giving people a choice of who to believe. Wait, we have a man walking like a drunk spouting words that we don't like, and a bunch of prophets, probably dressed nicely and walking straight, telling us the nation is in good shape, a great nation and one to be proud of? So was the choice the people of Judah faced in their day. The false prophets told of the greatness of Israel; Jeremiah spoke the truth of the land and its people.

We face the same choice today: lies we want to believe and truth that sounds harsh and overly critical. Of course, we know from the Word that those lies beckon to the flesh with their seductive words. The Truth speaks to us in the quiet of the night, in the study of God's Word, or in the soft counsel of a wise brother or sister in Christ. The truth may not sound so good because we want to believe we are good people in a goodly land. The lies of the false prophets may try to hide the murder of the innocent ones, the chasing after the lusts of the flesh rampant throughout the land, or the rising persecution of God's chosen ones. We may not want to believe these things, or at least tell ourselves that it is a minority among the many good people of the land. But, what will the Lord say when the Rapture comes and only those who truly believe are taken up out of this world? What truth must we speak or write even though we will be received like a crazy drunk and kicked out into the street?

Feel like a trembling little sheep yet? Praise God the Good Shepherd is with us; the mighty Lion of Judah is about to roar!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

There Was A Cheerful Song

Once upon a time I seem to recall a cheerful song about Jesus coming into my life and clouds rolling away. The problem is that after Jesus came into my life, big hairy thunderstorms sometimes chased me across the plains of that life. This is not some perception problem with me, the song is not quite right or perhaps my recall of the exact words is out of whack. But Jesus did not promise this life would be easy, cloud-free, or a gentle walk along a quiet path to the end. He did warn us of tribulation, the world's hatred, scoffers, and enemies coming in through windows, over walls, and having their headquarters in our very city. Our Lord told His disciples of being hauled before the courts and rulers for His name's sake. From what I have seen among my Christian brothers and sisters, we don't get a free pass through this life.

Now, you might say that after raining, hailing, snowing, and blowing on me until I am left ragged, soaked, bruised, and rattled the clouds did roll away eventually. Yes, one could say the song is right in that respect. But, ouch! We do face the test in this life, and we do have His promise that all will be worked out for our good. We can rejoice in the tough times having a purpose in Christ. No matter what the world throws at us, we have also His word that it will be ended one day. All of these trials and tribulations, hurts and pains, sorrow and mourning, will one day be rolled up and thrown away forever. God Himself will wipe away our tears. And, since Jesus came into my life, I have not had to face one trial, test, or tribulation alone.

Praise God for His great goodness!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Look to Him!

"Look to Me, and be saved,
all you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other." Isaiah 45:22

Admit it, we sometimes throw our hands up, wave them about, and shout for the Lord to notice us. The view of the flesh is that God cannot see us (because we cannot see Him) and we must therefore put on some kind of show to catch His almighty attention. Literally or figuratively, we jump up and down, and do things to to give the Father some help in seeing the suffering one. Throughout the Word of God though we see verses like the one above from Isaiah. The Lord is consistently reminding us to look to Him.

Through shows of remorse or piety, contrition or religion, many seek to gain the attention of the Lord. As is often the case, these things are good and right when genuine, but so many, and I have been one, put on the show for the Lord. We think that just maybe the Lord does not understand our current pain, or maybe He is concentrating on more important matters. Who could be more important than every one the Lord Jesus died to save? Who could understand us better than God who knows our every thought and feeling? Of course when we are putting on the show for Him we don't ask those questions.

"Look to Me, and be saved," the Word commands. Centuries before He was born in Bethlehem, the plan of salvation was on the way through prophecy. Isaiah got to deliver the message, but God sent it from His own Word. Is it likely, we ask ourselves on this morning, that God in His goodness would save us on the cross and then abandon us to the tribulations of the world? As the child says, "Not hardly!" The Good Shepherd watches over His flock on this day and every other. In this world we will have tribulation, but the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world!

A big 'Thank You!' to our Lord who cares for us,


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Crown of Righteousness

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Tim 4:8)

For me, really? The one who can see no end to his sinfulness, a crown of righteousness reserved in God's heaven? How can this be? Like Mary did in her time, I believe that I will just take the Lord's word for it. My earning of this crown will never happen, for even to perform good works with this in mind is to serve myself. If I go out onto the streets to perform good works with my crown in mind, then I am no better than those people who will do anything to sell an amount to meet some level that earns a prize. Heaven then becomes just some levels game and one will win the prize while others lose. We don't want that; we want what the Lord says through His apostle Paul.

The crown is laid up for all those who love His appearing. Well, to love His appearing I must believe that it will happen, that is, I must believe in Him. Which, interestingly, is the same criteria stated for eternal life in John 3:16 - Believe in Him! A crown I cannot win, an eternal life I cannot earn, all this and His promise too: the promise never to leave or forsake me. The Almighty God would never chose to hang out with one beyond hope of redemption. Therefore, His work must one day be complete in me, and I will go to be with Him forever. Praise God, I may not deserve the crown or the life, but He will make sure I get them both. That is the love of our Lord in action!

Amen. Come Lord Jesus,

Monday, January 09, 2017

Joy and Rejoicing

There are many things to mourn over this morning. I have not yet opened a news site, but I'm quite sure there is news to cause mourning already today. The word 'but' can be an interjection in a sentence when the first part needs to be rerouted. The verse our Lord has given today can reroute us from the doom and gloom of the world into a different way:

But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
​​For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
​​And her people a joy. (Isaiah 65:18)

Paul thought that we should rejoice in his time: "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4) James instructed us to count it all joy when we fall into various temptations (Jas 1:2) Just over a century ago, Charles Spurgeon didn't believe we should wait for the new creation, but rejoice right now in what God has created. All of our Christian life seems to be a rerouting from what the world serves up to us to where God would have us to be.

A terrible thing happened on any given day, BUT! be glad and rejoice in the Lord. One might not feel very well on a morning, BUT! rejoice in the Lord always. Jerusalem is a city of contention among nations and religions in this age, BUT! God says Jerusalem is a rejoicing and her people a joy. What happened there? I guess we can see the difference between the world as it is today and God as He is today. One great day, the Lord's word will be fulfilled and there will be joy and rejoicing!

Have a joyful day in Christ!

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Morning Has Come

And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. (Dan 12:11-12)

Flatly stated, the morning has come is a declaration of no real value, simply an observation that it is indeed between those hours of the day that we call morning. On the other hand, it may well be a sign to us that the long night is over, the sun is rising and the day begins anew! We live, the darkness is passing, our Savior draws near in His glorious appearing!

In the revelation given to Daniel, there is a timetable given to the prophet that has an anomaly in it. The darkness of the Tribulation is a certain number of days, and then there are a few more days added on. That is like the morning after the long darkness. Things happen in this morning, but it was not revealed to Daniel what they would be. The day of the reign of Christ is about to come, but first there seems this pause in the morning. An awakening perhaps, such as we do of a morning where coffee is made, breakfast is prepared, and we put ourselves in readiness to face the day with hearts full of hope for the rejoicing that will greet our Savior.

No, not every day I have begun has included that feeling, but those were normal days, the ones we tick off on the calendar after their passing; days that might end with just a little disappointment, no He didn't return today. But not every day will be like that. One fine and glorious morning we will see Him, the glorious Son of God in His majesty coming with the light of His great new day.

Yes, one day soon!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Useful Money

Then Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain, to restore every man's money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. Thus he did for them. (Gen 42:25)

If you are one of those who read the Bible from the start to the end each year, then you will soon run into money in Genesis 17. Our first introduction to money tells of purchasing people with it. While it appears to be a bad start for money, reading the context of Genesis 17 reveals a larger story of inclusion in Abraham's household ordained by God. In just a little time, a few chapters or so down the road of Genesis, Joseph uses money in a different way: He restores money to his brothers - they don't know it is Joseph at that time - by way of a blessing. Once again, money is not the main point in the story but only a useful device, a tool. The brothers are quite alarmed by their unexpected blessing, and they quickly return to Egypt to profess their innocence. Yes, to the very man they sold into slavery.

In this age, we face a temptation to make money the story, as opposed to a device used in the story. Money should be useful to us and not master of us. The world of course is quite interested in reminding us of money, usually through notice that we don't have enough of it. Whether it is the rich man who is never satisfied with his riches or the poor man who cannot pay his bills for having none, money tries to stand in the position of lordship. But Jesus is Lord, so we can't have money standing where it does not belong in our lives.

Jesus is Lord!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Wandering the Enemy's Camp

Whoa, hold up there a bit, wandering child of the Most High God. On this cold morning, have you found yourself checking out the empty tents of the enemy's camp? Is your dented helm lying behind you in a ditch? Your cloven shield of faith hanging from a tree branch? There are traps and snares left to guard the enemy's tents; the minions of the cruel and merciless enemy of our Lord will return. How have you come to this place?

We live in a world at war. Combat between the saints of the Most High and the minions of the hateful one rages all around us. Sometimes though, the tired and weary foot soldier of the Lord takes a terrible blow and wanders off a bit dazed. He takes off the helmet of salvation, hangs up the shield of faith, and kicks off the boots that brought him to the front lines in this war. He may find himself seemingly alone, unarmed and unarmored, wandering the enemy's camp. Idly looking in this tent or that, he may find much that is entertaining; much that he would not gaze upon if he stood fully equipped in the Lord's armor and armed with the Word.

Such times require a returning, and to return we must look to the Shepherd of our flock, the enabler of our faith, Jesus. We may find ourselves one day in a state much like this soldier of the Lord. The rulers of this present darkness may score a stunning blow and without realizing it, we have wandered away from the battle and into the camp of sin. With or without the full armor of God, our eyes are not protected and they easily see that which they should not gaze upon. But it is much harder to raise the shield of faith to block the tempted gaze when in a funk of depression we hang up that shield on a tree branch back along the way.

Every Christian will at some point in this journey home find his or her feet standing in a place we should not be, holding onto a temptation we should have tossed away; perhaps even naked and ashamed in the enemy's camp. Praise God that His army has aid stations for those soldiers wounded in the battle. The Shepherd of our flock will bring us back as soon as we turn and ask for His good help.

Blessed is His holy name!

Monday, January 02, 2017

I Think I'd Like To Pray First

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt 6:33-34)

Resolutions are a declaration of how much I want to control the year's conditions regarding myself. Therefore, I think I would like to pray first.

I could make such a list of New Year's resolutions that the accomplishing of them would surely put me in paragon status. The problem with that is that I am no paragon and will not become one simply by a wishful list of resolutions. Praying first leads me to reject resolutions as an attempt by me to control my development. I committed my life to Jesus some years ago. An attempt to wrest control back from my Lord seems rather unwise and perhaps even disobedient.

Worry over the things of this world leads me to make resolutions for a change. Never mind that years of resolutions at the beginning of each year have produced zero lasting change, I want to have that control back! Ah, but the Spirit reminds me that I was not meant to accomplish any lasting change to myself on my own. How could such fallen imperfection ever produce perfection in the first place? Rather, at the urging of my Lord's dear Spirit, I will seek Him in prayer first. His righteousness and His kingdom are my aims for this coming year. Tomorrow is a worry I don't need; today's trouble is sufficient for me.

It is a great relief to let go of the burden of becoming Super Christian; that false paragon selfishly tried to spend all his time working on his own image!

In the new year of our Lord Jesus, 2017