Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Proper Pain

To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”  Genesis 3:16

No, no, no, we don't like pain. Make it go away, please Lord! From the very beginning of the fall the Lord gave us new pain. The woman got a double helping - pain in childbirth and a husband to rule over her (what a pain!). And ever since those first pains, we have cried to be free of pain. Man gets pain in his work as he toils in the field. The thorns puncture his flesh and he runs to get comfort from his woman, who is pained because her man is in pain. We just have a lot of pain going around from all the way back to just outside of Eden.

Of course, man and woman cannot live this way forever. So, Genesis 3:16 will in the fullness of time give way to John 3:16. God gave His Son to be punctured by the worst of thorns that we might be saved, forever. And from that salvation we have the proper pain - the pain of the knowledge of our own sinfulness. But we don't need to dwell on that pain overmuch. Salvation brings grace, and the grace of God in Christ Jesus brings constant comfort, if we can but turn away from all the pain for a moment and seek His face. In Him we have the sure promise that all of this pain will be brought to its conclusion and His purpose will be served by all things. Yes, even those who don't want to serve Him.

Blessing and honor to the name of our Lord Jesus!

Monday, February 27, 2017

That Essential Good Start

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5

The Gospel of John begins so beautifully. It tells of two beginnings: the beginning of Creation when all that God saw was very good, and it tells of our rebirth in Christ when His work is made perfect in us. Did you just doubt there? I did.

The doubting we have in this world does not diminish Christ's perfect work in us. The flesh and the powers of this world will cast doubt at us, and too often we fall for it. We doubt the words of Jesus on the cross, "It is finished!" A man doing the usual crucifixion as punishment for crimes might have said, "I am finished." Jesus as we know was doing a larger work, saving the world. Jesus our Lord concluded a great work on the cross; of course the grave couldn't hold Him! Our rebirth in Christ has that essential good start: the work of Jesus completed at the cross.

Why did Peter begin to sink into the waters? He looked at himself and the world as he saw it, and in doing so took his eyes off the Savior and put his doubt ahead of his faith. We do the same in many ways daily. Looking to satisfy the flesh, we doubt His promise of eternity. But in Christ we have that essential good start, and that will see us through to the finish. Our Lord is the great overcomer, and nothing in this world can prevent Him from bringing us home. Our salvation rests in Christ alone! Doubts will be shattered and left by the wayside as faith in Him restores our confidence built on His work. We cannot become lost again when the Good Shepherd has found us.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Jesus the Pioneer

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:3-4

Now there is a word to compliment a person with. Pioneer: one who goes before preparing a way for others to follow. Actually it is more of a fact than a compliment. Either one is a pioneer or you are one of those following behind the pioneer. Many a pioneer probably didn't set out to become one. The pioneer of a town may have been trying to get away from everyone else. "Why would anyone want to live way out there?" Later, others found out why it was a pretty spiffy place to live and a town was born.

Others may have decided that anywhere else had to be better than where they were and became unwitting pioneers. But our Lord Jesus declared His way and that those who believe would follow. Not only would He go first and prepare the way, but He would return and guide us home. Guides in our nation's history held just such a place, perhaps in honor of our Lord. Those who knew the way would return along the trail (Alone?!) and guide others along that established way. Jesus is of course in no danger having faced His temptation and overcome them all. This is who will lead us home along the way He pioneered, the Lion of the tribe of Judah with all the heavenly host at His command. I don't think we need to be fearful for the future.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Faith Gets Back On Track

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith." Romans 1:17

From faith to faith: we see a staircase rising up to Heaven as we earn our spot one step at a time. Yeah, that would be in line with a human religion, one controlled by and created for humans, an invention of man's desire to be in control. So, what did Paul mean by faith to faith? Maybe what we experience in this life as we follow the Master. We live by faith to faith because in between those faiths we have this little problem of unbelief. We doubt in those moments our salvation even though it is based on His name, His work, His sacrifice, and not on what we have done. We indulge for a moment in a bit of self pity over what the other fellow has; forgetting in that time of unbelief all that we have and are promised in Christ. But the revelation of God is that we are loved in those moments too, and faith gets back on track.

There is a journey involving faith, but this is a lifetime journey and sometimes the stairs lead downward through a dark valley. Our trip to Heaven is assured in Christ, and our thanks to God that it is not some ladder or staircase we must climb for many of us would faint along the way in our weakness and fall off. Instead we are led by the Lord along a narrow way that leads from a narrow gate that few find. Faith is the times we are wholly trusting in Him and making good progress along the narrow way. Unbelief is the between times when we are at the edge of the path looking into the darkness and making no headway along the way. Often it is something painful that turns us back to our Lord and faith.

Then, since I seem to be full of metaphorical today, there comes those tough times when faith grows, the path heads downward, the dark valley seems full of fire and storm, but He leads us through. This is not a time of unbelief, nor a penalty for doubt, but a trial of an ever strengthening faith. Trembling we follow the Shepherd as the path grows slippery with the rain of tribulation. Our flock seems so small against a world of billions, yet not one sheep doubts that the Shepherd will bring us up again to a pasture of comfort, a plateau of restorative faith, for He is good.

A word of praise to our Good Shepherd!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Things Are Not As They Should Be

A change is promised for today from balmy spring temperatures back to the frigid blast of winter. Of course it is February, we were living in a sort of borrowed time there for the past few days. Things were not as they should be in weather terms. While we enjoyed that time of mild weather, we know that it cannot last. We know in our believing hearts that this time of evil on the earth cannot last either.

"Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Revelation 12:12

Once upon a time there was no separation between heavens and the earth. The earth was at peace with God, and Adam walked with his Lord in the cool of an evening. Then things became as they should not be and they have been that way ever since. However, our verse for today reminds us that the Serpent is a short-timer. All this suffering will end for those who believe. Earth and the heavens will once again be reunited with our Lord God. We don't know the day but we do have His promise.

Until that great day comes, be faithful and loving to each other, and love the Lord Jesus with all your heart!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

President Washington's Birthday

Good...afternoon, my brothers and sisters in Christ! This is one of those days where the morning does not go according to my usual routine. Rebooting computer, slow and stupid movement in my thinking parts, coffee doesn't do its job (I still drink decaf), whatever the disruption to the routine, work time arrives and something still isn't done. Maybe it is more than one thing that doesn't get done, because as you well know when a morning starts out bad, it may be all day before things can get back into whack. I'm not even sure what 'into whack' would be, but I was there when they went out of whack. But that's nothing.

Every now and then, a story comes along that reminds us of how good we have it. Yesterday it was yet another house fire in our little county, and this morning it was confirmed another person died in the fire. Later, we heard from a lady who was driving just a few car lengths from a bridge going out in a flash flood. She watched a truck plunge into the flood and the driver lost his life. A bad morning is nothing to these tales of woe. Perhaps our Lord Jesus gave us the Revelation for that very reason.

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in a bunch of little problems when life-altering events are going on for someone else. A mountain is galloping by and we are focused on the molehill in front of us. There are days when we are reminded that our problems are nothing; the real suffering is going on all around us where our prayers and compassion are needed.

Have a glorious day and wish ol' George a happy birthday,

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

O, My Dull of Hearing

...of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (Heb 5:11)

Yes, it is hard to explain something to one who is dull of hearing. Not to be confused with the more recent slang 'hard of hearing', this was not a comment on their ability to hear words but the Hebrews lack of understanding in more mature spiritual concepts. Nor was this a slap on their intelligence, for the people who received this letter were by no means stupid. This was similar to what Jesus quoted from the Old Testament prophet: they were listening, but not hearing; reading but not understanding the Word as it was told to them. (Jesus of course quoted it correctly, I am paraphrasing a bit from my poor human memory.) And it was not always this way as the verse contains a 'have become'.

Any Christian or congregation might face a time when hearing of the word becomes dull. Sermons are coming but understanding is lacking. Messages and Bible study are partaken of, but nothing is gained. Is it permanent? If you are questioning, then I would say that the Spirit is at work and, no, the condition is not permanent. Who is in danger? Not the minister who wonders why his words cannot break through the apathy any longer. No, and not the person among the church who wonders why his faith seems flat and dull lately. Nope, the one in danger is that fellow who looks around, exits the front door and goes out to the car after the message, looks over at the wife and says,

"Did you hear that, Betty? The preacher thinks all those other guys can't hear him anymore."

Watch out for and give a prayer for those dull of hearing who do not hear the Word calling directly in their dulled ears.

And for those of you with the clear hearing of the Spirit in your hearts: Jesus loves you with a special love today!


Monday, February 20, 2017

Learning His Points

Happy President's Day! As the separation of decades erodes the importance of this holiday from our weak and earthly minds, I search for a verse in God's word to make my point. It won't cooperate. And with that, I realize that God's word was not given to make my point but that I might learn His points. A disciple follows his master and does not run ahead to point out the way the master should go.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master." (Matt 10:24)

How easily a verse comes to make His teaching point!

The flesh still wants the mastery, and thus it seeks justification for its actions, desires, and lusts through the Word of God. Even our enemy, the devil, tried to use God's word to tempt the Christ, but was answered from the scripture in all points. We don't want to be on that side of things, and through the Spirit of God living in us we learn to see the Lord's light shining in the Word. Always it is easier to step down into the darkness and more difficult to climb up into the light of Jesus. Praise God the Master lifts us up!


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Annual Superman Check

More powerful than a locomotive? Not really. Faster than a speeding bullet? Actually slower than most of my fellow humans. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Not even if I start on the elevator. Nope, this year is the same as many previous years, not a superman, just one of the boys. I build up these expectations throughout the year, but each year the, uh - what day is it? - the 18th of February rolls around and I am disappointed that I have not developed any super powers. Of course, you will easily see that the problem is not in my lack of what we call super powers but in those expectations.

There were in the Roman province of Judea a great many expectations for the coming of Messiah. The removal of the unwelcome title of 'Roman province' being just one of the expectations the people of Israel had for their future king. The tax burden they suffered under was another one that caused them some expectation of relief. To their great disappointment, Jesus did not go about fulfilling expectations. The obvious conclusion reached by many was that since the man from Nazareth did not fulfill their expectations, then He must not be the One True King.

But, but, their expectations were based on scripture, how could they be wrong? In order to make expectations of scripture, one must only pick the ones he or she likes best. Those other ones such as Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and others must be ignored, or, dare we say it, disbelieved. Want a firm expectation of heaven for all? Simply disbelieve everything our Lord Jesus said about hell. Can we get rid of that one that tells us of tribulation in this world? Only if I disbelieve the faith of all those suffering around me. Now that would be a cruel thing for a superman to do.

The prophecies of our Lord's suffering and death were fulfilled, and so we must endure some of that tribulation for a while.

However, be of good cheer, He has overcome the world!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Remember The Children

Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. (Matt 10:21)

The New King James version of the Bible contains 1,350 instances of the word 'children'. That seems to be a rather important subject in God's word. Yet perhaps the most chilling usage is in Matthew 10 where Jesus foretells a time when children will have their parents put to death. Imagine the many times when a child might find it convenient to have his or her parents taken away. A child's word backed up by the state, and the child's parents are taken away to be executed. That couldn't happen here, could it?

Sadly, we can read in our Lord's statement that it will go both ways. Overwhelming deception must be the reason behind this scourge of legalized murder, and of course a justice system that will believe anything. Are we there yet? No, not quite, although each of us could cite examples we have seen in the news. Lies under oath have produced lengthy prison terms for some, perhaps even executions for others. How far are we really from this time of fear? How far are we from that time of lawlessness spoken of by Daniel, Paul, John, and Jesus?

Remember the children and bring them up in the way of the Lord. For we may not have much time left before the children of a generation turn on their parents, and a father against his child, and brother against brother until death is the only winner in the contest. Remember the Lord while we may.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Man Causing Pain

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in 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 Chron 4:9-10)

You might think yourself born with a painful name; many people don't like their birth name for lots of different reasons. How about if you were born with a name that means, literally, 'He will cause pain'? Jabez must have understood the implications of his name for in the next verse he makes a great prayer to God, "...and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" That is a prayer for the ages!

Some of my most shameful memories are of times that I caused pain to another person. And then there are those other times that I don't realize until years later that I caused pain because of my selfishness, indifference, or ignorance. With the prophecy of his name ringing in his mind, Jabez called out for the Lord's help to avoid these very things. Yes, I could have made good use of this prayer decades ago. Many a time I have put the 'bless me and enlarge my territory' part to use, seems I can hardly stop doing that bit, but the love Jabez shows in praying that he not cause pain through evil has not always been in my heart.

You and I may not be able for reasons of time or distance to do good works for someone (We can always pray on their behalf!), but starting with an earnest prayer to not cause pain to our loved ones is a great start to loving your neighbor as yourself.

I pray for each of you to enjoy a pain free day in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Our Friend, Cubit, R.I.P.

And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Luke 12:25)

As you might imagine, our introduction to Cubit comes with Noah all the way back in Genesis 6. Cubit figures prominently in temple and tabernacle plans. He enjoyed an illustrious career for centuries in the construction trade. However, Jesus asks the same question in Matthew and Luke, and then poor Cubit is laid to rest. Not mentioned again after Luke 12:25, our friend Cubit, may he rest in peace. Jesus sure had a way of closing out discussion on a subject.

It is a simple question, who among you can add a cubit to his height by worry? Had I been able to answer in the positive even once I would stand over seven feet tall. If that sort of thing continued with each worry session, I would have long ago died with my head at an altitude where there is insufficient oxygen for a human to survive. On the surface it might seem a ridiculous question, but Jesus made a point that brings to mind all the times of worry I have indulged in throughout this short life. There have been more than a few.

Jesus used a ridiculous question to point out a ridiculous thing we do. Imagine the sprouting that would go on from just one news show in this age. A half-naked crowd gathers at Bubba's Big n' Tall the next morning:

"Watched the news last night, did you?" Bubba says as he opens the front door.

"Yeah, should've known better. Got anything in 68 long?"

What have we prevented in this life by worry? Perhaps a good night's sleep. We could worry over the Apocalypse, Armageddon, and the Revelation until the time comes, but come it will. As our Lord opens the seals and His angels sound the trumpets and pour the vials, all will happen according to His plan and judgment. All the things in this life we worry over for tomorrow, our Lord commands: Do not worry!

No worries today, my Lord Jesus is in control!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let such as love Your salvation say continually,
“The LORD be magnified!” (Psalm 40:16)

In the days between conception and delivery, Mary the mother of our Lord sang, "My soul magnifies the Lord!" (Luke 1:46) The baby she carried was the Lord's salvation, the child promised by God to save us from our sins. On this Valentine's Day, we magnify our beloved Lord Jesus too. We sing our songs of love to our Savior!

Is it okay to send some love to a sweetheart too? Of course, the second great commandment our Lord gave us, equally important to the first, was to love our neighbor as ourselves. And what is that sweetheart but your closest neighbor? Send out the love this Valentine's Day!


Monday, February 13, 2017

By Way of Warning

Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Matt 13:33)

Leavening figured fairly large in the Hebrew lexicon; the removal of any leavening agents from the home was a part of the annual Passover ritual commanded by the Lord, to give one example. In a similar way to our verse for today, a small amount of a spice is used to flavor a recipe. This morning, I refilled my cinnamon shaker from a bag, and proceeded to get a bit of cinnamon all around the work area. I got to sample a bit of that same cinnamon in my breakfast. That is the nature of a spice, a little goes a long ways and the flavor hangs about for a long time.

In the kingdom of God we act in that capacity, flavoring and salting and even raising up the whole dough of the community. We are not on top like the sesame seeds, but take a bite and we are there. In us, the Spirit of the Lord acts as He said; turn up the heat a bit and watch as the leavening agent raises us up toward the heavens in earnest prayer. All of our actions will be flavored by the kingdom of God, and our intentions have that spice of the Lord's Spirit.

Now, by way of warning, let your actions match your intentions and remember that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Give a gift of love to your sweetheart.

Blessing and honor to the Lord who loves us!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Name Not Important

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name. (Phil 2:9)

Call a person anything, surely he or she will answer, right? No, actually people can get quite insulted if you address them by any name other than the expected one. Some children are even taught that 'Hey you!' doesn't cut it, and should be replaced by something more polite along with how to give a quick introduction by name. Many who call into our office do not give names before their questions, and it can be tough to get a name out of them. We live in a world where identity theft is too common, and people rightly get protective of their name. Even God is protective of His great name, insisting in the Ten Commandments that it not be taken in vain. His Son will one day return with a name above every name. So, yes, a name is very important and precious to us.

Mostly our names come from our parents. We may have nicknames applied in school or at work, but even the government recognizes us by our given name. The social security number by which we are taxed and tracked has not quite taken over completely just yet. What makes the forthcoming mark of the beast so terrifying to us is that it may well be nothing but a number chosen for us, right? Well, not exactly, the mark of the beast is made terrifying by who and what is behind it, and what it will be used for when the evil times come. In the meantime, we have a name and a title to which we can cling in times of trouble: Jesus the Christ.

In a world of famous names who know nothing of you or me, not even our names, there is One with a hugely famous name who knows His sheep by name. Should we come to that final extremity of age and disease or injury wherein we cannot even remember our name, He will. At our passing from this current world, we will not arrive anonymously into the heavenly realm but will be known by the Lord of All Creation... by name.

Sometimes we who are given to a certain anxious unworthy feeling in this life might say that our name is unimportant. This is false: if Jesus knows my name, then it is important. Blessed be the great name of our Lord Jesus!

And thank you, Lord, for knowing me by name!

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Host of Measurements

Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man’s hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod. (Ezekiel 40:5)

Rolling along in Ezekiel, we run into chapter 40 and a host of measurements. For some folks this precision word picture of a structure is a comfort. These persons have the architectural skills to see in the mind's eye this building as it is measured by the man of bronze. I'm not one of those persons. For me it is like running into the pointy ends of a host of numbers who want to skewer me on the barbs of math and roast me over a slow fire of calculation. My mind writhes in the grip of a numerical assault in the verses of Ezekiel 40.

Of course I didn't help matters by converting all of the measurements to feet and inches as an aid in understanding the size of this construction. What is more interesting to us mathematical clods is that this building/construction/structure has not been built yet to our knowledge, at least not on this Earth. We know from the verse quoted above that this is none other than God's house in a place that does not look like this at this time. The beginning of the measurements speaks of a wall over ten feet thick. Perhaps imaginary walls to us, who are given to think we know what is here and what is not, but to God they are quite real and possibly even more real than the walls of the house I sit in right now. Why? Because man has built this house and God built the walls and gates that Ezekiel's man of bronze is measuring in the first verses of mathematical-architectural splendor. And just how real is this house of God? The man is measuring it, is he not?

Like the city in the Revelation, the fact that it can be measured shows that the building exists, here, or there I mean, wherever Ezekiel was taken and shown this edifice of marvelous mass. In Israel near what appeared like a city, there sits a house to be described in intricate detail through much of Ezekiel. God spends a lot of vision time with His prophet to show us something grand. On this side of Earth, Heaven and Eternity, I feel too blind to see and too dumb to understand God's blueprints.

Praise God for the pointy ends!


Thursday, February 09, 2017

Under Construction, Nobody Home

In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city. (Ezekiel 40:2)

As Ezekiel looked around with his heavenly vision opened by command of the man of bronze he met there, he sees something like the structure of a city. I looked in the other translations of the Bible, and most keep this phrasing. Whatever Ezekiel saw, he didn't just say 'city', something about this didn't quite fit that yet. It may be that he saw no people there, no activity going on, or perhaps it looked incomplete to his awakened eyes. Ezekiel looked and saw something like a city, but it was under construction and nobody was home. Meanwhile, back in Persia, Ezekiel's fellow Jews were waiting out the 70 years of captivity and mourning the destruction of Jerusalem.

I thought what a great metaphor for this life we have in the first part of Ezekiel 40. We too live in the shadow lands with eyes unseeing and ears not able to hear, enduring the pains of captivity in a foreign land. Yet we have great reason for hope. Our Lord has come, died on the cross, and risen again to new life in Heaven. We endure the time of exile, but He is coming again. Until that time, the Master Builder has gone into the great city to complete His work there. He is by His promise preparing a place for us. The Son of Man has gone up to that city to the south and soon it will be ready for a great homecoming.

Just a note from the Shadowlands, Lord. Prepare us for Your service, please; we want to come home!


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

God of Action

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. - Matthew 28:18

Sometimes we think that God is like the overseer of our action, holding the whip of His word ready to smack us into motion, threatening always that eternal punishment to the slow to get moving at His command. That is harsh and certainly unfair to our Lord. That is also what we would do in His place. You only deny it through long association with His Holy Spirit, but the fallen sons of Adam cannot wield absolute power without falling further still. Only one Man lived who had all authority given to Him and yet lived only to serve all. Praise God for our friend and servant, Jesus the Christ.

God is a divine being of great action, but most of it is His actions. While He does oversee our actions, His actions are so much more than any and all of us combined that we cannot even comprehend the width and breadth of His actions on just one day. It is a blessing to see His hand at work in human affairs though!

Things happen that we cannot see and a long standing problem is resolved almost magically to our limited vision. We who believe in Him give to Him the glory. Even those actions that He grants to us as a part of building His kingdom are only possible in and through Him. We are weak, and His strength is made glorious in our weakness. Praise God for His actions, and for those few which He allows you and me to have a part in.

Jesus loves us with an everlasting love!


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Is My Silver Cord Loose?

For one brief moment in the Bible, the silver cord is a metaphor for life here on this earth.

​​Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
​​Or the golden bowl is broken,
​​Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
​​Or the wheel broken at the well. (Ecc. 12:6)

Solomon uses four metaphors in the verse, but the silver cord seems to stick with us. All speak of how easily life is ended here, for each of the four probably happened more often than their owners would wish. The first three words are of course the most important, remember your Creator.

Our Creator is our comfort when life seems very loosely connected to the present. A little inflammation, a bit of nausea, that old pain back for another visit, and we might find ourselves asking of the Lord, "Is this it, Father? Are we done here?" If the connection to my silver cord needs an adjustment, then I know the One who is best equipped to cinch up my girdle, straighten my harness, and put my helmet of salvation back on right.

As we get older, life hurts more. Hardly a day seems to go by without some sort of pain making its presence felt, but older people are often happier people. How can this be? I think it must be the remembrance of our Creator. More often do we turn to God than we did in our younger years. Quicker to take up a prayer are we and much faster to raise the shield of faith. Our skill at wielding the sword of the Word is noteworthy now as well. So, watch out murderous devil for us old folks are in a fight we cannot lose. Slay us, and we go to be with our Lord Jesus forever. Keep us here and the Spirit will strengthen us to spread the good news of Jesus to the farthest corners of the earth.

Have a great day in Christ Jesus!

Monday, February 06, 2017

God Will Give Me Justice

Let's hope not; I would much rather have salvation and grace! For the downtrodden and persecuted it may seem the statement of the week, "God will give me justice." We are of course speaking of the downtrodden and persecuted in Hollywood movies. While the prayer sounds good on the surface, what a person means when praying that line is: God will give me justice... by executing vengeance on that other fellow until I am satisfied. Jesus gave us a different way:

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44

It is tough for us; the flesh yearns for vengeance when we perceive an injury or wrongdoing to ourselves or those we love. We would much rather think of ourselves as good and justice that which happens to the other person. Those are the easy ways; the ways we were born into in this world. The way of Christ is of course much more difficult, to the point of impossible for us to do alone.

Praise God that alone was never what Jesus intended for us.

In Christ the Lord,

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Rejoicing in the Dance

“Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning to joy,
Will comfort them,
And make them rejoice rather than sorrow." (Jer 31:13)

Mourning over one thing or another seems to make up much of what we do here on this earth. Friends and relations fall along the way, and we mourn them. We lose houses, farms and other stuff and we mourn the loss. A favorite tool wears out and is not made anymore. A friend moves away and we cannot see him or her daily. A company parts ways with us and we mourn the loss of the job. Life is not all loss, but we do seem to have quite a bit of it. Through Jeremiah, God tells us that there will come a time when mourning and sorrow shall be ended.

To have the witness of two, John is told the same thing centuries later in the Revelation by our Lord Jesus. We can look forward to the time when the young women will rejoice in the dance with the young men and the old. God Himself will comfort us, turn our mourning to joy, and make us to rejoice rather than sorrow. It is a good promise based on the very word of our good God.

Blessing and honor to His Holy Name!

Friday, February 03, 2017

God's Apostrophe

Okay, so it isn't known as Groundhog's Day as I wrote yesterday. I will stand corrected. However, I looked at the other two holidays this month and saw apostrophes on both. Valentine's Day gets one as does the President's Day. Why then must we yank a cozy groundhog out his winter quarters, hold him up to public spectacle, blame the length of winter on him (some years), and then take away his possessive apostrophe on his very own day? One thing we cannot take away though: God's apostrophe.

This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

God's day! We will rejoice in God's day and be glad in it. I like that verse. And which day is declared? This day. Just let them try to take away God's day from Him. He holds this day as tightly as He does God's people: Israel. Throughout the prophecies we find God's people, His nation, the house of Israel, and His lost sheep.

Those who believe in Jesus are the sheep of His pasture. Once lost sheep, we are now found in Him. He puts His apostrophe on us and calls us, "Mine!" It is good to be one of God's people. We rejoice in His apostrophe holding us tightly to His bosom. We have heard the call of His Savior and we are learning the sound of God's voice. We also struggle a bit with that other label, the one He gave us in John 15:15 - God's friends. Of course you and me are unworthy, that isn't the point. The point is that He said it.

Gather together God's friends, and rejoice with Him!


Thursday, February 02, 2017

What a Fine Thing!

And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:14-16)

Happy Groundhog's Day! What a fine thing that Peter's shadow could heal the sick and free the possessed. Perhaps we do not realize just what a wonderful work of the Lord this was for us. How easy would it be to get a prideful heart by having the healing touch? For me, I don't know about you, it would be a real danger. How much control does a person have over his shadow? Not much. It would be like I wasn't even doing the healing. Which is of course the point: God did it when Peter's shadow passed over.

A shadow is such a flimsy thing. There is no real substance to it. The length of it grows without my doing a thing, but also shrinks and even disappears with the absence of light. Well do we recall that the power of the Highest would overshadow Mary (Luke 1:35). I would find it difficult to ascribe anything to myself by the actions of my shadow. It is a fine thing when the Lord works through us without giving us cause for pride. Peter could hardly take credit for his shadow falling on a person and the healing of the Lord coming at that time. Great is our Lord who would do this for us! Peter could then tell of the Lord's Christ while the healed made way for others to know the healing power of God through a shadow. What a fine thing - receiving grace by way of the Good News through the ears while the power of the Most High overshadowed the illness of the body.

May God our Father work through us on this day!


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Let The Children Come!

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

The disciples in that moment thought they were right to rebuke the children. Jesus rebuked the disciples. Well are we rebuked by the wisdom and goodness of our Lord Jesus. Get too smart in your own mind and you become one of the unteachable. Try once to show the Lord how learned you are in His word, and He will show you an unsearchable, unknowable mystery that humans cannot explain. The children who make up the kingdom of heaven are one of those mysteries.

We train in the word of God for years, only to come up against this stumbling block: Jesus loves the little children. Irresponsible, ignorant, innocent children running to Him as though this traveling rabbi was the most important thing in all the world. Well of course He is!

Perhaps we worry too much over our responsibility in this world and not enough about our response to Him. The children ran to Him, the disciples said, 'Don't do that,' the Lord said, "Let the children come!" The children responded joyfully to His presence; the disciples set themselves as some kind of honor guard to prevent some of His beloved from running to Him. A very responsible position to be sure, but one the Master did not request. Who might we be preventing by our respectable responsible position?

Let the lost sheep come to Him! We may be dirty, sinful, and contaminated by the world, but we too want to run to our Lord and Savior. We want to become children in the kingdom of heaven!

God bless us all, every one,