Friday, March 31, 2017

Career Day

Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
​​Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 1 Chronicles 16:23

With my experience in a big company I could tell much about what is wrong in corporate America. But these things are well known through many channels and it is all too easy to critique human institutions. What is my calling then? What is that purpose to which I should turn my attention until my dying day? We all may face that urge to do great things for the Lord, but we often define greatness by what we think is great and not what God says is great.

About a thousand years before our Lord was born, King David of Israel had some advice for us on living each day: sing to the Lord and proclaim the good news of His salvation. Notice that there is no career direction in that, something many of us have searched in prayer for in our time. No direction to be a doctor or a lawyer, nothing about which job to take, just sing and proclaim. Yes, you might be a tycoon or a pauper, a prince or a plumber, a clerk or a champion, a janitor or judge, but all have the chance in life to sing to the Lord and proclaim the good news.

Whatever our means or circumstance, this is one career we can all work in until that day when Jesus calls us home. Our singing may not be quite up to Broadway caliber, perhaps even remind someone of frogs croaking under the pale moonlight, but the command was to sing to the Lord. Our proclaiming might seem more like a quiet whisper during a thunderstorm so small is our voice, yet we are to proclaim the good news of the Lord's salvation, and that speaks volumes of light into the darkness of this world.

Enjoy a wonderful Friday,

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Get Your Head Out Of The Bible

Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Proverbs 9:8

A response appeared in our paper this week that included the line, "Get your head out of the Bible" and I just couldn't let that go. Like it or not, when we speak out for Christ we will run into the scoffers. It may be subtle or very overt but the hatred for God's Word will show through, and you or I will be on the pointy end of it. We will want to gird up our loins with the Gospel because comfort will be needed when the weapons of the enemy begin firing in our direction. Get my head out of the Bible? I'm sorry, but no, my head very much wants to be in the Bible.

It is revealing to us that one line sounds so very much like another today. Usually it goes, "Get your head out of your [rear end, posterior parts, etc.]." The world it seems today would equate one with the other. The hatred for God's Word is strong in the powers and principalities of this present darkness. We will feel the shots strike our shield of faith, but keep it up there, Christian, don't let that shield drop!

When it comes to political opinions, I may be right or I may be wrong, but I want to keep my head in the Bible and speak from there. God's Word has become precious to me. Advice from the scoffers? Much less than before Jesus saved me. We will want to pray for the one who spitefully uses us in the public forum. Yes, it hurts when our faith is strongly rejected and our names put on a sign for all to read, but comfort comes from the Word of God.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Two Loves: A 24/7 Job For Life

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

It took Jesus a few seconds to sum up the entire law and prophets that we call the Old Testament. We might throw in the prophecies of the New Testament as well, but the summary remains the same: two loves. From myself to God with all of my heart, soul, and mind a greatest love; and from myself to my neighbor an equally important love. These two loves are a 24-hour, 7-day per week love for the remainder of my life and beyond. I can't be fired from this job for it is based and is sourced from God's love for us. God will not quit loving each of us with a complete and perfect love, and that love enables you and me to learn to love Him with that complete love of heart, soul, and mind.

Neither myself nor my neighbor may on the surface appear to be worthy of love. Yet, God has given us His love and commands that we complete the triangle by loving each other as He loves us. As with any new job, we were not very proficient at the first. In time we will grow to be proficient and professional in our loves for God and our neighbor. Wow, that sure makes me sound better than I appear to be. Of course it does, this love has never been dependent upon my skill, knowledge or capacity to produce love. This growth in love comes from the sacrifice of the Man Himself: Jesus my Lord and Savior!

Great and mighty and loving is the Lord our God,


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Where Did My Faith Come From?

We have a wonderful rain going on today and I believe it will continue. Why do I believe this? I have a certain amount of experience with the weather, meteorologists and our modern weather radar. That isn't faith, for faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Extrapolation from former experiences does not count as faith as it is evidence of things that I have seen. What about Jesus?

I have never seen Jesus as He lived and died and lived again long before I was born into this world. What causes me to believe in Him? Faith. Yet, where did this faith come from? I can generate a guess or an estimate based on experience and knowledge, but faith is neither of those things. I believe the substance of Him whom I hope for rests in Heaven at the right hand of God the Father. How can I know this? I have no evidence of His person that I can see, yet there does seem to be a substance to my hope in Christ. Before I came to believe in Him, there seemed to be no substance or evidence at all. What changed?

Jesus changed me. And it is from Him where my faith comes. I can't generate faith; I can only use what He has given to me. Faith does not count to the world because it cannot be quantified or observed. Yet, since coming to believe in Him, I have seen evidence and substance of His work both in me and in my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Great and mighty is the name of Jesus my Lord!


Monday, March 27, 2017

Boat Brothers

Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matthew 4:21-22

Jesus had just called Peter and his brother Andrew away from their nets, and then he found James and John and called them away from the their boat. Being an analytical type, I want to analyze the Lord's choices. Did He need two sets of brothers or simply four fishermen who happened to be two sets of brothers? Did our Lord need Peter, Andrew, James, and John specifically because of who each man was? Maybe our Lord just needed four Galileans and it didn't matter what their names, jobs, and relationships were. Coming when called is a quality we desire in a pet, but I don't think that could be it. So what could be the reason for these four men?

Our Lord kept His own counsel when it came to His choices for the twelve disciples. In this age we might ask, why no women? But we will get no explanation in the Gospels. Our Lord chose the boat brothers and that is who He chose. Later, our Lord would make even stranger choices such as a tax collector right out of his booth, and why choose that treacherous Judas? We don't know. However He chose, out of all of Israel these twelve men were chosen to accompany our Lord Jesus and learn directly from the Master. Perhaps there was nothing special about them at all to the fallen eyes of Israel, and maybe that was the point. It may be that their only special quality was that they dropped their nets and left their boats to follow the Lord.

Why didn't the Lord go to Pharisee U and ask for the twelve top students? Can you imagine Jesus with twelve junior Pharisees each trying to impress Him with their knowledge of the scripture? Would any of them have said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt 16:16) as Peter did?

It may well be that each and every one of us called by the Lord is far more special than is possible for the other children of the family to see here in this time. We'll just follow Him in faith!


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Shoved Into Overdrive

And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Genesis 33:13

If you or I were faced with one of those Bible trivia questions, "Where is the term, 'overdrive' used in the Bible?" we might falter or even suspect a trick question. In the NKJV we would be correct, but in the venerable King James version we find it used in the verse above. Of course we might be forgiven for thinking of the automotive term which is certainly not in the Bible.

Here in Genesis we find overdrive used as we often feel it. Work in America has come to the point where many feel overdriven; and that is the past participle of overdrive though my spell checker squawks at it. You may even now be attempting a recovery from a week of too many demands in your job. In our verse today we find a tender love and concern for the flock, something our corporate culture might take note of in this age. We take note of that great assertion: My lord knoweth...

Indeed, we find other instances in the Word where our Lord knows how far to drive us in a day. He knows not to quench the smoking flax of our weakness. Tribulations we cannot bear He carries us through. A greater knowledge of our strengths and weakness does not exist than that which is known to our Lord. The bruised reed of our Christian life is tenderly cared for by none other than the Almighty One. The young flock is watched over by the Good Shepherd. You and me are cared for perfectly by our Lord.

And with that, have a restful and enjoyable weekend!


Friday, March 24, 2017

The Sacrifices of Righteousness

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
​​And put your trust in the LORD. Psalm 4:5

On the surface, we might think of the old Israelite system of offering up the goats and calves to be killed for a sacrifice, and that certainly is a sacrifice. However, the scriptures are often timeless in their wisdom and have meanings that apply to us in the church age as well. What could be the sacrifices of righteousness in our age when we do not have animals slaughtered to atone for our sin?

As a sacrifice is to give up something, perhaps we can give up the urge to strike back at someone and pray for him instead. We could give up that desire for revenge and entrust that injustice to God. According to the proverb, we must sacrifice our own understanding and trust in God in all things. This can be quite the sacrifice when we have a lifetime of education and experience to lean on and those things have generally proven reliable as a guide. As the day goes on and we thank God for the rain, you will likely think of other things that we might offer as a sacrifice of righteousness; feel free to share!

Have a great Friday in our great Savior, Jesus!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hope of Rain

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,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:44-45

The way to become children of our heavenly Father is set down by His Son Jesus. And it goes against everything the flesh would have us do for our enemies. If I claim to be a son of God the Father, then I have to love my enemies and do all those other things AND they get rain on their garden too? Could I just try really hard on those first things and we let their garden dry up as a sign that they are getting what they deserve? No, love goes all the way.

We rejoice with those who do not believe in God when their garden thrives in the merciful rain God has sent. The time we have left here before the end is a great mercy given to all of us by our Father God. Our faith would be weak indeed if we only believed in God because everything went successfully for us and our garden produced bountifully in the rain that the heathens did not get. We would be just like those fair-weather friends of Job if we accused all those who suffered loss of unbelief. We have a hope of rain today, praise God that enemies, persecutors, spiteful users, and those who curse at us will receive God's bountiful provision on this day.

Have a bounteous day in Christ!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Addition of Faith

Every Christian recipe for living must have an addition of faith. We don't know the amount and are even unsure of the measurement. Some seem to have plenty of faith, while others must have only a little so much do they struggle in their application of it. Love is greatest and hope is essential, along with many other fruits of the Spirit, but all of our recipes need some measure of faith too. Faith produces miracles out of what is merely worldly.

A boy brings a few loaves and fishes to the disciples and faith in Jesus makes it into a meal for 5,000 men plus their wives and families, and leftovers were collected. The worldly and fearful mind said, "A ghost!", but faith in Jesus saw Him walking across the waves. Of course fear can be quite strong to even the faithful mind making it necessary for Jesus to call out that it was in fact Himself. Our faith and our fear are often at war. We are surrounded by the world, but we look to Him in faith. While fear has an easy path to attack us and rises up at the drop of, well, pretty much anything, faith requires effort and concentration. It takes a lifetime of practice and the strength of the Spirit to become steadfast in faith, but anyone in the world can have fear. Fear comes naturally to the fallen; faith must be added to the mix. Faith... Stop!, alright, we get it.

I think that I could go on and on comparing fear and faith, mostly because much of this new life in Christ seems to be that constant fight between them. And that, I think, does not make me one bit strange or unusual among my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Work through a faithful day in Christ the Lord,


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Command Seems Wrong

“Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you." Genesis 27:8

I was so grateful for his purchase of my breakfast this morning that I took Mike's truck and left him downtown. That'll teach him to leave his keys in there! Of course it was at his command that I did this thing, so what seems like ingratitude is in fact obedience.

In a similar way, things that seem wrong to the world in our ways and behavior may in fact be obedience to our Lord. For example a person need only watch a few movies to realize that vengeance is the world's way for those who have been wronged. Get 'em back, get even, or execute the law's penalties by your own hand, whatever it takes to gain satisfaction is the message of our world. Jesus told us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us, even to pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us. How different can you get? Obedience to the Lord may leave us looking very much like what the world calls a doormat - stepped on, stomped on, and full of mud. I guess it is no wonder that my family in Christ seems so at odds with this world we live in.

Have peace in Jesus,

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring!

For affliction does not come from the dust,
​​Nor does trouble spring from the ground. Job 5:6

Happy Spring to you! Winter ends at last; the warmth and growth of spring begin. Yes, that is what happened this weekend, but for us this does not usually last. My apricot tree bloomed and that, unfortunately, has in the past four springs only meant that the next freeze is on the way. So, if we are of a morbid turn of mind, we might say, "Spring! When the delicate white apricot blossoms freeze, turn black, and die." No fruit for you.

Have a care with our verse for today. Anytime we see Job referenced we want to find out who is talking. Is it the Lord? In which case we should learn and obey. Is it Job, who was accounted righteous by God Himself? Or, as in this case today, might the speaker be one of Job's friends who were in the wrong and all they say should be sifted carefully with the Holy Spirit as our guide?

We know from the earlier chapters in Job's story that for him at least the trouble did appear to spring from the ground, or perhaps the air, for Job had not sinned in this case. The troubles came upon Job so suddenly that one messenger could not finish before another showed up. The home of one child fell so quickly that none of Job's children got out alive. Had Job been consumed by guilt over a sin hidden away, he might have sided with his friends, "Aha, I have sinned against God and must repent!" But he didn't.

For all Job knew, his affliction did come from the dust and his trouble sprung up from the very ground. We know from the story that it came from the Accuser and that Job was not at fault in any way in his present tribulation. And so it may go for us.

Have a happy Spring day in Christ Jesus!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Many Are They

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!
​​Many are they who rise up against me.
​Many are they who say of me,
​​“There is no help for him in God.” Psalm 3:1-2

David faced some opposition in his nation. Some may have been cronies of Saul looking for some vengeance, others may have been friends of Uriah seeking some justice, some maybe just got up on the wrong side of the reed mat that day, and then there were the rebels. According to the note for the third psalm, David had fled his throne and city from the rebellion of his own son. Many are they, David complains to the Lord.

We face the same sort of thing in our lives. It may be people, medical problems, physical aches and pains, government rules, or the powers of this present darkness, but we too have our increase of them who trouble us. As David proclaimed and we have found, the answer remains the same: faith.

When the enemies say, "There is no help for him in God," we know better and our faith stands strong in Him who delivered David. We have good help in love from our brothers and sisters in Christ, but they too face a legion of troubles. It is in our Savior Jesus wherein we find the strength to stand in faith. Easy peasy? Well, no, easy was not promised, but an eternal home with our Lord was!

Have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Holding Back

You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 2 Corinthians 6:12

Drop this verse on us without its story and we are a bit baffled. Eh? What? Restricted by my own affections? Paul had written previously to the church in Corinth and there is much more in this letter as well. To summarize: Paul did not feel that he was getting in return all the affection he was pouring out onto his church. This is unfortunately not at all uncommon in our relationships. We don't know how to love as we should and we have trouble returning the love given to us.

How many of us could say that we have returned the love of God as much as He has given to us? Given that all of us reading or writing this have not died on the cross to save God from His sins, well , we just are going to come up short. Jesus, the Son of God, gave His life to save us from our sins. He didn't have any sins, so we are never going to catch up that way. How ridiculous is it to even suggest that God might have a sin we could die to propitiate anyway? However, God's love is so great and perfect that it is not dependent upon a full return from us. More good news: He is going to enable and teach us to love Him and our neighbors in that same selfless way.

Jesus showed the love; Paul wrote it down for us in his other letter to Corinth. God also gave to us a precious gift in His Holy Spirit living in us. We can learn by prayer and listening for that voice of the Spirit as we walk this life. We will learn to not be found holding back our love and affection as Paul's church was from him.

Praise God for His patient and loving teaching,


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Vanishing Path

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
​​But the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalm 1:6.

The woods are lovely dark and deep... with that nice smooth path beneath my feet. (Apologies to Robert Frost). In the first psalm, King David speaks of two paths, one for the godly and one for the ungodly. The first way is shown to us in John 14:6, where we learn that Jesus is the Way. The other path is shown to us by the world, and it does look inviting.

Broad and smooth, this path winds through the woods of life. There are seats along the way for the scoffers and scornful. They rest in ease, laughing at those new to the broad path, mocking with scorn those seeking a certain narrow gate. This road is easy with inclines smoothly taking the easiest routes to get to desired goals. Travelers think that it goes on forever, but David said that this way shall perish.

Imagine, there in the deepest and wildest part of the woods, after friends have gone their own way and others have stopped to rest further back, the path that was so broad and easy just vanishes. There is no going forward and no going back. The entire path has perished...gone like the illusion of truth in a bad lie that is revealed. The way was so easy that direction seemed unimportant, even insulting, and now dark trees all around block any chance at knowing north from south. Light and life drop away. No one comes to help because there is no path. Strange noises, ignored while the going was easy, begin to intrude as fear mounts high, choking off what was known as rational thought. What was thought to be known is now completely unknown. Darkness and horrible noises draw ever closer in the fading light of a worldly dusk. Does anyone hear the scream of the ungodly when the path vanishes?

It sure is dark outside. I wish some lout hadn't gone and changed the time again. Phoo! Can I get a teddy bear over here? Let us not forget the ungodly. Pray for them to call for that rescue before it is too late and a terrible fear prevents even those few simple words, "Save me, Lord Jesus! I repent of my way."


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ready to Check Out

An older fellow comes into our office now and then, sometimes twice a day, stares off into the distance and tells of how he is getting ready to check out. I think he means to check out of this life, but it may be that he is just out of coffee and ready to leave. One can never quite tell with old men. If he expires in our chair, I'll just roll him out by the street. Hopefully someone will come and pick up his carcass before he gets smelly. The chair is a write-off either way.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7

Paul knew when his time was up; the Roman executioner may have been one clue. However, for most of us the time of our checking out may be a mystery. And for that I am grateful. A date circled on my calendar would be rather depressing. Sort of like the worst possible doctor's appointment left there to cause dread and despair as the date draws ever closer. Most mysteries cause me to wear myself out trying to solve them, but this one big mystery I am content to leave with God. Some burdens are too large for me to bear, but my Lord is more than capable.

If I haven't brought you down too much, have a great day!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Sprung Forward

He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time. Daniel 7:25

Twice each year I cannot but think of this verse in Daniel. Of course we are watching out for a person; thinking to change Daylight Savings Time hardly narrows down the suspect list as most of us this morning are thinking of changing the time. Typically this might involve a swift kick to the posterior of the person or persons who invented and implemented the DST. That wouldn't change the time of course, but it might feel really satisfying.

The second part concerns me a lot: wearing out the saints of the Most High speaks of struggle, frustration, exasperation, and a long fight with great difficulty. This morning we can spend some time growing familiar with what it feels like to be worn out. Then there is that speaking words against the Most High. We love our Lord, and we don't like to endure someone speaking words against Him. However, the same freedom that gives us the right to speak words of love and salvation in Christ, also gives the enemy the time to speak words against the Most High.

All of that seems fairly depressing, but one thing we know: God is good. Whatever the man of lawlessness may speak, God is not hurt by those words. God's power is absolute and blasphemies will not shake His throne. Whatever this enemy may do in his short time, God can heal and restore faster and better. This terrible trial of our faith God will use to prepare His kingdom for eternity. Lost sheep will be saved, the Earth will be renewed, and Jesus will reign. Amen. I may feel sprung forward today, but Jesus is returning soon!

Have a great week in Christ,

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Pinball Without His Wizard

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

The narrow way, it is even the section title in my study Bible, but Jesus didn't say, 'narrow way'. He did say the gate is narrow. What we do get is a difficult way.

Often I have wondered as I bounce from difficulty to difficulty like a pinball without his wizard, why I have so much straying room if the way is narrow. Alas, I was only promised a difficult way if I ever found the narrow gate. Partly that is a relief to me, for how are we to walk the way together, brother and sister in Christ, if it is so narrow? On the other hand, I would appreciate some guard rails along this way, for my tendency to stray is great. How else though will a fallen sinner be sanctified for his Christ than by enduring the flames of tribulation and bouncing into the pains of difficulty?

Along this difficult way, we roll into the pains of life, and not all that I have suffered are the same that you have suffered. While the way may not be broad like the one leading to destruction, the way has enough width that we do at times roll along together. Of course there is always space enough for our Lord and Savior to walk with us.

Have a happy Saturday!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cats Are Not Biblical

No verse today because I couldn't find one that mentioned cats. Cats are not biblical; we must get rid of all cats. Quack, quack, quack, one does not necessarily follow the other. If we tried to use that logic we would have to get rid of ourselves since not one of us is mentioned by name in the Bible either. At least I hope not, because unless your name begins with Anti, or rhymes with feast, you didn't make the last book of the Bible, which in those two cases is a good thing. You may be named after someone in the Bible, but chances are pretty good the scripture didn't refer to you specifically. Some of us may seem that old, but that is a slight exaggeration to our age. Many animals and types of animals don't specifically make the words of the scripture, but that does not mean they don't, or didn't, exist.

Cats did make the Hebrew oral traditions, the Talmud, which were not written down until after Jesus had ascended to Heaven. From this we know that the Israelites did have a word for cat, and may even have brought some from Egypt. The scriptures seem quite clear that the Israelites desire to go back to Egypt was from a lack of faith in God and had nothing to do with wanting to go back and get their cats, since as we have already found, cats are not mentioned in the scriptures. Of course, I only searched on cat or kitten. Lions are certainly mentioned in the Bible scriptures.

Back in the day, I sometimes wrote a little less than seriously on a Friday devotional. Today I have wasted a morning in writing about cats; cats that are not Biblical. If you are worried that this may be the last day we are here and my words will be my last, then grab your Bible quick! My words will never save anyone, but the Word of God holds the words of someone we know as Savior. His story tells of how He saved us all. Start with the gospel of John; if we are all gone tonight to be with Jesus, you may not have time to read the entire Bible today!

In Christ the Savior,

Thursday, March 09, 2017

What About Them?

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21

We know from this story that one man couldn't even save himself, and he had one advantage many of us will not know in this lifetime - wealth. Not a comparative kind of wealth such as we see on the social media, but real wealth where this young man had no worries about money. We can see from the verse that Jesus loved him too.

Set aside the riches, and imagine for just a moment that one of us had been raised to keep the law of Moses down to that last jot and tittle. This person, you or me, made it through the teenage years without rebelling against that training, and managed to avoid all the temptations of the world in adulthood up to the time of dying. Standing before the Lord, we have this impressive feat to show Him. And He asks but one question. Motioning to the people awaiting judgment behind this paragon of law keeping, our Lord asks, "What about them? I love them too."

I try to imagine myself as this paragon of the law but it never works, so it must be you that we are imagining here. However, from this attempted parable we can see that one person saving himself or herself just doesn't help the rest of us at all. And if that should ever happen, we can see that it would leave out a whole multitude of people too great to count that John saw in Heaven. Someone, it seems, not only kept the law but managed to do more than that, much more than that. Who is it that could keep the law his entire life and saved this great multitude as well? Who could present his life as perfectly lived before the law AND could answer the question with, "I saved all of them too."

That's an easy one for those of us who believe in our Lord Jesus! He did all the saving we need.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

What Are We To See Today?

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

What is the biggest problem with distractions in this age? We might say their number, as in there are too many to face. We might say their variety, as in the many different types are overwhelming and one will always get through our defenses. We might even claim their availability as our most fearsome challenge in this age. Any or all of these things could be our undoing in this age. But the worst of it may be that it prevents our vigilance when Antichrist could take over the world in but a moment through the many means at his disposal.

Today the lion's roar seems to come from all around us at all times of the day and night. The Apostle Paul warned us of the flaming darts of the enemy and there is a storm of those darts in the air today. So much seeks for our little attention span that we wonder that anyone can remain vigilant. Then there are the many mind-altering distractions available to us. Remaining sober and vigilant seems impossible in this time, and the news sometimes makes us wonder if we want to.

Ah, but the word of the Lord is not only my command to live by, but my good help as well. The world and its prince have always enjoyed the means to overwhelm any of us but one. That One was our Lord Jesus and He made us an assurance - He has overcome the world. Then, He made us a promise: He will never leave or forsake us even to the end of this very distracting and discouraging age.

Rejoice in the Lord today!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

No, I Don't Think You Should

Yes, all of you be submissive to one another,
and be clothed with humility, for
​​​“God resists the proud,
​​But gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

Does submitting one to another mean that we all do whatever the other person says? Might we not end up going to and fro like a barnyard full of headless chickens? What happens if we go to one brother in Christ and he is all for our course of action, but the next brother says, "No, I don't think you should..." Which way do we go in submitting one to another? And do my thoughts prayerfully considered mean nought? Is submission a contest between who among the three I believe to the wisest in Christ? Job had three friends plus one (and a wife!) who considered each of themselves right and correct, and a whole lot wiser in their minds than poor Job.

Submission to one another may not mean taking whatever course our brothers agree upon among themselves; they may never manage to agree. However, humbly giving due consideration to the measure of faith, knowledge, and wisdom that God has given to each of us who believe in Him goes a long way to showing that brotherly love we strive to present to the world. What we must avoid by humble submission is that arrogant attitude of 'I'm smart and know better than all y'all!' that tempts us at every turn.

Of course the last part of that verse is the worst position of all. We don't want to be so overcome with pride that we think that in anything we are smarter, wiser, or more knowledgeable than God our Father.

Humble submission to the Lord is the way for me; please help me, Lord, to be that way.


Monday, March 06, 2017

The Promised Land

“It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. Exodus 12:25

Where we get the Promised Land from is our verse for today. As is often the case, the title is a shortened version of the promise. Imagine that. Of course there is a whole history behind those oft-repeated words, the Promised Land.

The Lord makes several promises in one verse: It shall come to pass - the thing the Lord has spoken will happen, count on it. 'When you come to the land' - you will get there. A time schedule is not given, could be days, maybe years, perhaps decades, but you will arrive there. And, the Lord will give it to you, just as He promised. A gift for the accepting. All they had to do was believe. Uh oh. Yes, we know from the history that the Israelites balked when they came up to the land promised by the Lord. 'You shall keep this service' speaks of peace in the land, the ability to keep a service, nothing less than the Passover itself, when the people entered the land. A great promise in a great promised land, but they couldn't do it. All they had to do was believe in the Lord.

What promise does the Lord give us that we have only to believe in Him and accept? There may be many that you or I will face as a test of faith. Can we accept that the Lord's grace covers our lusts of the flesh? Is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross enough to satisfy God's judgment or are we, as a sign of unbelief, insisting in some way that He do it again? Did Jesus go to prepare a place for us, or do we want to doubt that too? All the promises we accept in the name of our Lord Jesus. Put away those doubts for good.

Have a bright and shining new week in our Lord!


Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Weatherman Sayeth

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” 1 Kings 17:1

We speak of the weather a lot. I imagine that people around the planet do so in much the same way. The weather remains a force that we can do little about and it affects us daily. Now, if you want people to talk about you, imagine having the authority to declare a total drought.

Elijah shows up on the scene before Ahab, that king we spoke disparagingly of the other day, and declares that the heavenly tap will be shut off except at his word. That is quite the thing to say to a king! And his popularity with the local farmers could go either way depending upon what he says and whether Elijah can back up that statement.

Imagine with us for a bit as Elijah goes away for some alone with the Lord time. After a year or so, Elijah travels back to the court passing dried river beds, crops withered in the field, and some ground wells producing water by the cupful with just a hint of dust in the flavor. The prophet struggles to remain strong until the king repents as he passes thirsty little kids with their big sad eyes.

"Good morning! King Ahab," Elijah calls out a cheerful greeting to the monarch of the land.

"Why you... you sorry Tishbite..." the king growls. "Off with his head!" Soldiers charge toward Elijah with murder in their eyes.

"My dead body cannot speak to bring the rains back," Elijah says quietly. The smell of overheated boot leather drifts across the room as the soldiers screech to a stop mere feet from causing a permanent drought.

"Oh yeah, prove it!" Ahab hollers as he capers about on his throne, cheated of a bloody execution.

"Rain!" Elijah commands.

The deluge overflows the gutters, people dance in the streets with their mouths open to the heavens, the cisterns fill to the brim, and a little dog floats forlornly toward the sea on a piece of bark caught in the rushing stream.

"Stop," Elijah says amid the tumult.

The sun comes out; crops gasp, choke and fall over into the mud, the people start to feel thirsty again, and the little dog runs aground on a sandbar.

"Ready to give it up for the Lord, King?"

"I know of know god but that wife of mine," the king sneers. "Coincidence, that's all that was."

"See you next year, King Dustbowl" Elijah disappears back to the wilderness once more.

The power of the Lord is great and awesome. Scarcely do we pay attention to His mercy in allowing the rains to come and the snow to fall. Even today with our irrigation systems and electric wells to pump water from the ground, a drought causes worry, fear, and suffering. Should an Elijah shut off the rains for years, we would seek him out in the wilderness and ask what we should do to cause the rain to fall once again. He would of course tell us to seek God, return to Him, and walk in His way. And that, my friends is what the Revelation is all about - pouring out the judgments to get fallen people to repent and seek out their God.

Rejoice in His mercy!

Friday, March 03, 2017

The Worst of Us

And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.1 Kings 16:33

Not just any of the kings before him, but all of them! We might consider Ahab one of the worst of us, but it was his wife that sent the terrors into Elijah. So which of the figures in our modern history is the worst of us? Does laying millions of human deaths at the feet of a particular name make that person the worst? Would it be a man laughing at another person's misfortune that puts him in contention for the worst? What about any or all of my sins; do I get to be the worst because of a lifelong knowledge of the Law from God's word has not prevented me from sinning even to this day? Is there something you have not shared with your brothers and sisters in Christ that would make all of us point to you and say, 'Worst!'?

Jesus didn't point any fingers on the cross. He asked the Father to forgive 'them'. Perhaps that group of they is simply all of us. Poor in spirit, sinning in heart, bumbling, fumbling, people from all ages, nations, tribes, and tongues, the worst of the worst every one of us all in need of the Lord's forgiveness. Yup, I think that's the ticket! I don't need to judge any one person. No further need to search for the worst of us in hopes that my name makes the cut above the list. For all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard. You, me, Paul the Apostle, John the Revelator, Ahab and that wife of his, Peter the Rock, all of us are the worst, and all can be saved by the blood of the Lamb. Any of us may believe in the Lord Jesus and live in His grace. Amen.


Thursday, March 02, 2017

Age of Blasphemy

And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Revelation 16:9

In ages past we read of peoples repenting before the chastisement of the Lord. In recent years as great waves and strong winds have caused harm and loss of life we have heard the call to repentance given to men and women. However, toward the end of things, there will come an age where in the face of plagues and tribulation, the people will not repent.

For some they will be too proud to admit their unbelief is wrong. For others they will simply think themselves too good to be deserving of such punishment, and some will be insulted at even the suggestion of their need for repentance. As we look upon our sin even after rebirth in the Spirit of Christ, we marvel how any can be so obstinate in their pride and unbelief. The Spirit graciously showed us our need for repentance and granted us the ability to respond in belief. A time will come though when unbelief in the face of God's judgment brings an age of blasphemy.

The question about this coming age that plagues us now is: how close are we to this time? Are we in it? Not yet, but we can easily see that if the Rapture occurred on this very day, that age will have begun. The war of unbelief against belief has been waged for many years now. If believers are suddenly gone, the reign of unbelief will begin throughout the world. And, strange as it may seem to us, some will refuse to believe and repent even when facing the Lord's judgment. Weird.

May God have mercy on us all as this age comes,


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Down With Doubt!

“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." Mark 11:23

Jesus said it. We claim to believe in Him. What seems to be the weakness that prevents our mountain-moving faith? Of course we know the answer is given right there by Jesus in His statement. We doubt. Well, down with doubt! As of now I will hate the thing that prevents me from having all that my Lord said I could have in this life. Down with doubt!

Will I now have those riches I wish for? A life of ease and comfort without a single storm cloud of health crises on the horizon of my idyll? My wishes seem kind of self-centered in this new faith, like it's all about me. What if that mountain I need to move is in the helping of another person and won't accrue any monetary gain to me at all? Would I still throw down doubt and believe with my whole heart? If my sudden wealth would destroy every relationship that I now have, would I still throw down doubt and speak my wealth into being only to benefit me?

God's way is shown once again to be the best way. We are disciples learning to set aside doubt and think of others before ourselves. We don't gain this mountain-moving power of faith without learning some of God's wisdom, goodness, and love. Imagine a revival in town last night causing dozens of new believers to go out rearranging God's geography this morning. Might make it a little tough for everyone else to get to work. Could be a little difficult for those Pacific fishing fleets headed out of Puget Sound when some Colorado mountains start splashing down in front of them.

Thank you, dear Lord, for teaching love, goodness, peace, and patience before we start moving the big chunks of earth about in our ever-growing faith in You.