Monday, December 10, 2018

The Christmas Decision

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18

The story of the birth of our Lord Jesus begins with an admission by one of his disciples, Matthew, that all was not quite normal in this marriage and birth. After the betrothal ceremony, but before the actual marriage, the young woman was found to be knocked up - suspicion and evidence of adultery, but maybe they just couldn't wait. Uh oh, it's not the father's child, so we'll pin it on a spirit. Critics have fodder aplenty in this one, all they have to do is decide whether to believe or not believe.

There it is once again: the choice. Believe and we have Messiah, Jesus the Savior, the Son of God. The virgin shall conceive was told by the prophet Isaiah centuries before the event. Born in Bethlehem was foretold by Micah. Believe and these prophecies come true in the story right before our eyes. The virgin couldn't do it herself, so there is an agency of God at work here, His own dear Holy Spirit. Believe and we have Christmas with all its blessed events, prophets, shepherds, angels, wise men, dreams, and of course the birth of the Christ child.

Don't believe, and sure, you can appear to make some points in your criticism and sarcasm. You might appear, especially to yourself, to be sharp and smart. It's just another myth to start a new religion; heck, even the Jews didn't believe it and it came out of their legends. You sure are smart!

There is the Christmas decision: believe and rejoice in the birth of the Son of God, or don't believe and rejoice in your sharp wit. Seems simple enough. It only gets complicated if that Son should become the one way to eternal life when this life is concluded.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Precious In My Sight

Precious in the sight of the LORD
​​Is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

When we face the death of one who is a brother in Christ, we wonder what God thinks. I'm not sure why we would do such a thing when in His word He tells us exactly what He thinks about that passing from here to Himself. Precious in My sight, the Lord says to us, as He gathers in one more sheep no longer lost in this world but found in Christ. No more wandering for this one, no further doubts to test his faith, only an eternal union with our Lord Jesus and a reunion with those beloved who have gone before.

It is that union and reunion that give us hope for this brief time when we seem left behind and alone. Neither are true of course as Paul reminds us that the Lord is at hand so that we are never alone, and John tells us that the eternal union will come for the entire Church at the time appointed so we are not missing out on something that has already gone by. Therefore, one day all of us will be united to our Lord forever and reunited with those who have gone before us, and we will rejoice. Until that time, there is a season of grieving and sorrow, and the Lord treasures every tear drop.

In the love of Christ Jesus,

Thursday, December 06, 2018

A Heavy Heart

Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
And like vinegar on soda,
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. Proverbs 25:20

But our brother in Christ has gone to be with Jesus, should we not rejoice? And we will, when all of us are there with the Lord. Right now there is separation, and each time we endure separation in this world our tears flow a bit more easily. We do rejoice for the dearly departed; that he is free from the pain he endured for many years in this world and even now we can know that the Lord will wipe away his tears of pain and sorrow. The Lord will wipe away our tears as well, but the fact that the Bible promises this means that tears will be shed. Nothing wrong with that; as we learn to love one another by our Lord's command the separations will cause sorrow. We grieve for one another in this world and especially for those left behind.

My brother in Christ has passed away from here and gone to be with my Lord Jesus. Jim will be missed by many in these parts. His memorial may not get the same attention nationally as President Bush, but that's okay with us. Jesus has the both of them, and while one served in the big political arena that is reported by the media, Jim served right here where it matters most to those who mourn him now.

Some months ago I resolved to believe that all who passed away from this world had gone to be with Jesus because my Lord loves them all. Some lives make it terribly difficult to comfort myself with that faith and there will be many who refuse to believe no matter what happens in this world, but with Jim it is so easy to see Jesus in his life. And it is the Holy Spirit in Jim who helped me to see that life even at a time in my life when I was not always paying attention to my brothers in Christ.

Grieving and sorrow must be for a little while. Rejoicing will come in that great reunion, and, oh, the songs we will sing then with our Lord Jesus.

To Sally and the many others who are missing Jim even now, love in Christ to a heavy heart,


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Making Payment

But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. Matthew 18:25

Under our legal system a person cannot sell himself into slavery to pay a debt. Better still, the wife and children cannot be sold into slavery for a man's debt. Pause for a moment to imagine the outrage if such a story was played out here in the U.S. now. That master would have a forest of signs and a sea of angry people outside of his office faster than we could say, 'wait for the end of the story!'

In the story, the master is moved to compassion and, even though the man promised to pay all, not only did the master grant him a release but forgave the debt entirely! I hope you feel released and forgiven today because our master, whom we could not repay, has done the same for us with one big difference. In the story the master does not have to give up or sell his son to pay that debt.

In Bethlehem of Judea, a child was born who would be the payment for the sin debt we could not pay. That Christmas gift is so valuable that our gratitude seems but a paltry beginning for a the gift that spans eternity.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 03, 2018

All The More Reason

People will oppress each other—
man against man,
neighbor against neighbor.
Young people will insult their elders,
and vulgar people will sneer at the honorable. Isaiah 3:5

A difficult task is to speak of how people will act toward each other in the end times, but examining what our Lord has to say about this gives us all the more reason to love one another. A quick read down our verse for today shows pretty much what goes on all around the world of today. One way to follow our Lord's commandments is to avoid all of this sort of behavior. That is not always easy as we can quickly fall into company who appear to be running down the list of our verse for today and checking off each item as a sort of to-do accomplishment.

On the other hand, to borrow an overused phrase, we can rejoice in being an honorable elder if the young and vulgar are sneering at and mocking us. Yes, a bit weak, I'm struggling to put a good spin on a society fallen into a bad condition. When this time comes, and looking around at my neighborhood we are not there yet, we may have trouble rejoicing, but we are told to look up for our redemption draws near. To me that means our Lord Jesus will be on the way at that time. We will have all the more reason to rejoice when we see Him.

Christmas Eve - just three weeks away!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Hoarded Horde

"Indeed they don't know to do right," says the LORD, "Who hoard plunder and loot in their palaces." Amos 3:10

The home of a hoarder is made a spectacle on television for our viewing pleasure, or at other times it is a joke to be enjoyed among an idle crowd. But, look, over there in the corner, there is one not laughing at the hoarder joke. It isn't that he or she doesn't get it. No, it is much worse than that, That person is among those select few who have unloaded a hoarder home. Please forgive their lack of humor in this matter; he or she simply cannot laugh at this subject any more.

Last night my thoughts turned to dark humor as I was washing DVD's in my home. You might for a moment think ol' Buck has misused a word there, another victim of that oft' blamed spellchecker, or worse, slipped one of those cogs I have been known to do, I assure you that I was not viewing DVD movies but actually washing DVD's in my sink. A lot of them. I have been doing this morning, noon, and evening for the past 2 days, and I'm almost done. However, this is the easy part of the job. Let us talk vinyl records and when you can speak of thousands without wrinkling your brow or twisting your lips in disbelief, then we can discuss my new 'hobby' for the next several weeks (maybe more). The sum total of hoarded record albums and singles from this home is more aptly described as a horde, even a hoarded horde!

The tragedy in this collection of media is not the many she never opened and enjoyed, but that I could see myself in it. A short step or two across a fine line that I cannot see, and there I am surrounded by my media collection, too hemmed in to move around my home until I can no longer watch or listen to all those hoarded albums and shows that I so wanted to own. Like many folks, I enjoy having my favorite movies, shows, and recordings at hand, ready to enjoy whenever I can. However, how close am I to that point where my collection owns me? This house has been a strong warning to those of us who worked to unload it!

Then, of course, I get the occasional return of that smell, the one in the home; that is in case I forget the lesson too soon I suppose.

Praise God for the snow day!

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Taint Of Corruption

...because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Romans 8:21

If you have cleaned out a corrupted house, then you will know how the taint of that corruption tends to cling to stuff brought out from the house. This of course includes the clothing and people who have lingered in the house for work or other purposes. Since Adam and Eve reached out and took of the forbidden tree, we have lived in a corrupted house. It should be no wonder then that the taint of corruption lingers about us.

Paul promises that we and the world will be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Earlier in this passage Paul states that creation eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God. That revealing is like the first sign of creation's freedom from bondage to this corruption. Bold and powerful statements from Paul. We can see how creation and those in the creation would eagerly await the great day when the Lord Jesus reveals us and frees His creation. For the moment though, we do still have that taint of corruption lingering in and around us.

Rejoice though, for with each test and trail our Lord is removing the corruption and revealing the child of God in you and me. Why does it take a lifetime, you might ask? Consider the difficulty in removing the native language of a man or woman. In a similar way, but deeper, we are born into this corruption. Unlike a language we don't even have to learn it, and so it is much more difficult and the process longer. Could God yank it away all at once? Surely He can do all things, but His way is gentle and loving in this and He takes His time with us, perhaps so that the end result is all the sweeter to us.

Trust in Him,

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fear Comes Easily

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1

Fear comes easily in this age. If you do not have any yet this morning from your circumstances or bodily condition, then simply read the news as they have shovelfuls to dump on you. Our Lord on the other hand does not offer up fear but comfort, peace, and love.

Early in the Bible, as the nation of Israel was beginning in the person of Abram, he was afraid. Not surprising to us as he probably had just received a news report from his media of that time. The world backs up the dump truck of fear to our loading dock every day. It seems the world is a bit confused on the purpose of a loading dock, but the fear it dumps out is all too effective just the same. The Lord appeared to Abram as the word of the LORD, I have no doubt this was Jesus reassuring His ancestor that the Christ's birth and victory were safe in the hands of God. And, as the shield of faith, Abram's very life was safely protected by the word of the LORD too! The cure to our fear of the day therefore must be this word of the LORD as well. As John has told us that Jesus is the Word of God, we stand fearlessly in Him.

Yes, I know, like Peter it is all too easy to look at the wind and waves. I get afraid too. Look to the Lord in prayer, look to Jesus in faith, and let all of us just keep returning to our Lord Jesus!


Wednesday, November 28, 2018


You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it! Ezekiel 33:32 NLT

The other son of man, Ezekiel, had become a rare entertainer to the city of Jerusalem. They looked upon him as a writer and performer of shows for their own consumption, but not as a prophet of the Word of God. Though having the strongest words and examples possible, Ezekiel was insufficient to break through the hardened hearts of the people of Israel. The desired action of repentance, of turning again to God, was not happening.

The word goes out from our actions, songs, life, and of course, our words, but we too like our brother Ezekiel are insufficient to save anyone. Only the Holy Spirit of our God can convict and convince the unbeliever that there is good news in Jesus the Christ. Our Lord is more than sufficient, but He did not force anyone to believe, not even those He stood before in Galilee back in His day. There is insufficiency aplenty in us, but all sufficiency in Him. It is therefore a desire for us to bring those who do not believe a picture of our Lord Jesus by the lives we live in Him.

Is perfection required for this? I hope not! My insufficiency in many things is readily apparent and seems to be growing with age. Good thing His strength is made perfect in weakness.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Try That One

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Try that one, I dare ya'! If we have delusions as to our place in this world, try scooping up a sufficient amount of dust, from on top of your furniture maybe, and form a man; then, breathe life into his nostrils. This verse today is so simple sounding, to us a gross understatement, and yet, the Bible faithfully reports just what the Lord God did.

Dr. Frankenstein read this verse and decided to give it a try. He was horrified by what he had made, and he didn't even start with dust. Given enough dust, I could make an approximate form of a man, hopefully not forgetting the detailed parts, but I have no idea how to make the pile of dust live. There are paintings, sculptures, carvings, and statues of the forms of men all over the world, but not one of them lives. In fact, it will be one such thing in the Great Tribulation that will be for us a sign of the Antichrist and his False Prophet when a form is made to simulate life. No, I guess we had better leave that sort of thing to the Lord our God.

And what a wonder it was: dust to living man. How awesome is God?


Monday, November 26, 2018

The Word Lives!

And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables." Mark 4:11

Recently, Mike and I have listened to persons in the office speak of reading the Bible, but not wanting to hear more about Jesus the Christ. "Oh, I've read the Bible," they will tell us by way of ending the conversation, if that were possible, but it appears obvious to us that the word does not live in them. We know this because at some point in our lives the word came alive in us as it never had before.

My witness in this is that in my youth I heard the Bible in church from about as early an age as a person can. Sunday school, after school activities, quiz teams, and Wednesday night prayer meetings would all follow in their time. I read through the Bible in a year and listened to it in classes. I knew the Word intellectually long before it came alive to me in my heart. Many Christ-ones who were raised in the church have experienced this same sort of thing.

There is something in us that does not fall before Sunday School, cannot be overcome with a sermon, and stands firm against all manner of religious activity. However, once the Lord sends His Holy Spirit into our heart, then the Word comes alive to us as never before. Sermons, Bible studies, and spiritual songs can all help to open the door a crack, but it is the Spirit of God who does the enlightening work bringing the Word to life in that dormant heart of ours. Somehow along that way, we began to see when the Word was alive or simply a bit of intellectual knowledge in a person. Not my doing, must be His.

God's love and grace to you, and a very Merry Christmas too!


Friday, November 23, 2018

Saved From Sins

"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

The pastor's family served an excellent Thanksgiving feast yesterday, and even picked up a couple of strays along the way; those being Ron and I. The feast was so good it knocked Ron right out after the first round of eating. We have photos to prove it!

One of the other great things about our annual celebration of thanksgiving to our Lord is that we immediately begin the celebration of the season of His birth. Whether in prayer or in Bible study, we begin a special season because our Lord Jesus is so special to us. We read in our verse for today of the saving power of the coming Son. He will save His people from their sins. Certainly a casual read of the histories and prophecies in the Old Testament will show they need it! But, wait! The Israelites are not our Lord's only peoples, for in the end the Revelation speaks of nations, peoples, tribes, and tongues gathered as the saved of our Lord. We too need His saving grace for our sins. Praise God in thanksgiving, for our Lord did not short us peoples still to come in His sacrifice and saving. We can know that we too are saved from sins.

Have a blessed Christmas season!


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Among the Gentiles

Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles,
​​And sing praises to Your name. 2 Samuel 22:50

Among the Gentiles, where the Word of the Lord has shined on us the light of His love, we praise the name of our Lord Jesus with thanksgiving on this day.

One day of thanksgiving to the Lord is not enough, and so we give thanks daily, perhaps even moment by moment to our Lord. However, setting aside one day to give thanks to the Lord and celebrate it with traditional meals and other activities is good for us and pleasing to Him. As we gather together on this day of thanksgiving, we remember our Lord's sacrifice to save us from the stain of sin under which we were first born. We recall in gratitude all that our Lord has done for us and provided to us. Thanksgiving sets us apart from the many nations who do not celebrate a day of expressing our gratitude to the Lord our God. Lift up your praises of grateful joy to the Lord on this day, and enjoy to the fullest what He has provided in this feast.

Love in Christ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Under His Authority

For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:9

Did this Roman fellow just claim a kinship with our Lord Jesus? And then does not our Lord marvel at the faith in this Gentile man? Our Lord Jesus was a man under authority, that is the authority of God. A man raised in the pagan empire of Rome recognized the coming of the one God and saw His Son, and then asked of our Lord Jesus a favor. He asked in faith and did not doubt, and he also knew that he was not worthy to have Jesus the Lord under his roof. We have done the same thing.

What? I do not have servants and soldiers under my authority, how could this be the same?

One day you and I believed in Jesus. We came to the altar to be saved and in that moment we believed completely in Christ alone to save us. We may have knelt at an altar in a church, or stood in a room at our home, but we knew then our unworthiness and need for His salvation. We also knew that each of us could in no way save ourselves. Whatever religion might have been our earlier salve for sin was no longer enough, and each of us came to Jesus to be saved and placed ourselves under His authority in that moment. In an unworthy person, Jesus our Lord sent His Spirit to dwell and made a new home in you and me.

Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus!


Monday, November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving Week

Therefore thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD." Jeremiah 28:16

Whoa, how can this verse be one of thanksgiving? Kind of heavy to start the week of our great thanksgiving celebration given to us by the Lord. The story is of a false prophet, one who opposed the prophet Jeremiah as he gave the Lord's word to the people. This promise was given to that false prophet and fulfilled in the seventh month of that very year, just as the Lord promised. From this we can give thanks to the Lord that false prophets have and will receive the Lord's justice. We can also give thanks that the prophecies of the Lord, given by His chosen prophets are and will be fulfilled in their time.

We have such great prophecies to look forward to also, including those of Heaven and the new Earth, the banishing of the Tempter and the locking up in the bottomless pit of his false prophet. The one prophecy even above those we yearn for is that of the return of our Lord Jesus and the gathering of His lost sheep to Himself forever. Yes, let us be thankful this week for the Lord's word of promise to us.

Grateful to be one of His,

Friday, November 16, 2018

A Question of Money

“Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” John 12:5

In this story from our Lord's word, it was stated that the protester was focused on money and not on the Lord. As he would later go on to sell our Lord's life to the religious authorities for a mere 30 pieces of silver, I cannot defend him against this charge. Today, to call someone by this man's name is the insult of an enemy, and hopefully untrue.

This story is also a common criticism from the world toward the church. Build a large church building and do a good job as unto the Lord, decorating it and outfitting it to the best of your ability, and surely along the way someone will wag the tongue about giving to the poor instead. Never mind the prayer and supplication, hard-earned donations, effort and sweat put into it, and of course the hiring of workers of every sort glad to have a job to work and earn money to feed their families, the critics would say, just don't do it and give that money away.

As someone who lived on the charity of others for a time, and then went back to work at a job, I can bear witness that having a job is better for praising the Lord and overall well being. I cannot perform a job without the Lord's freely-given strength and endurance, but to live off the hard work of others should only be done when the need is there and for as brief a time as possible. So, please build those churches, refurbish houses, grow companies, or whatever the Lord has called us to do and let us all work for the glory of the Lord Jesus!


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Get That Last Bit Right, Please!

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

But wasn't my time due some time ago? We may be confused about many things in these two verses from our brother Peter. Humbling ourselves is not to make disparaging comments about our self. The Lord's due time is probably not the time we think we deserve some recognition. And casting our cares upon Him does not mean we get to keep some worry to mull over in a spare moment. All of that God in His dear Holy Spirit will take care of in us. However, can we get that last bit right, please?

"For He cares for you," is such a personal statement meant to uplift us and ease that burden we feel, you know the one we haven't give up to Him yet. God cares for me? We might ask that with a bit of disbelief on the side. Peter our senior brother assures us in this age that, yes, He cares for you and me. God cares for you and me! No question about it. He proved it on the cross and in the resurrection. God cares for people like you and me. Rejoice in that today.

Grace to you on this great day in Jesus,


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

To Your Shame

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

Um, how do missionaries get their job done if they can't keep company with those having no knowledge of God?

That old human sinner we were born with would like it very much if Paul had meant anything like that. But we who have been born again know the prompting of the Holy Spirit and we know that hanging out with the old crowd is what is meant here; that group of sinners who have heard the good news of Jesus Christ and rejected it because they love the darkness.

It works something like the old Home Improvement episode where Tim gets to talking with the guys and runs his mouth about Jill too much. Yes, there is more than one episode along those lines because such a thing is so common among us. Men, yes we are the scourge of the world, the most easily corrupted... ah, no, all of us humans have that same problem of so easily bending in an evil breeze instead of resisting as we ought. The answer to this quickness toward the old ways of sin is of course the answer who first found us in our past sin, Jesus the Christ. Want to awaken to righteousness and avoid sin? Awaken to Jesus and keep company with Him all the day long.

Rejoice with Jesus this day, then we won't have to go to our shame,


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Under the Gibbous Moon

Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him. 1 Kings 16:25

The kings of Israel were in a downward spiral, a de-evolution sort of thing. We might wonder how each king might be worse than all those before him, but this Omri managed it. We find the same in the houses we clean out. This house we say must surely be the worst of it. Then, we find another house that is worse. By using the end word, worst, we only find that there is another next worst thing. I guess that we really don't know what is the worst.

It was on this latest and worstest house that I realized the short distance I stood from being in a pulp fiction novel. One nacreous tentacle coming out of that loathsome pile in that crepuscular room under a gibbous moon, and I'm right there with Conan or Tarzan or perhaps Doc Savage. The only problem being that it would never do for the 'hero' to shriek and run out of the 'dungeon'. So maybe I stand further from those pulp stories than I thought.

I am glad that we have a hero to follow and look up to in this life. And I am glad that He did not run from the dangers and disgusting things that He faced in saving us from sin. I am even more glad that our Lord Jesus didn't reserve His kingdom for a bunch of pulp fiction heroes, because if I see a cadaverous necromancer chanting over a nacreous pool moving in an otherworldly way in the basement of this house, I'm outta there!

Love in Christ,

Monday, November 12, 2018


And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”
So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Acts 10:4

Happy Veterans Day (Observed)! The actual day was yesterday, but we observe it today. To observe something is to notice it, to make it significant. Here in our verse, the Roman centurion, Cornelius observes an angel coming to him in a vision. This is a good thing to observe because in our reading through God's Word, we see that angels do not typically make themselves known just to enjoy a little chat or to pass the time of day. There are no idle words in God's service and angels bear messages for us to know and understand, messages of significance from God our Father. We do well to observe an angelic visitation.

Cornelius was commanded to send for Peter, and this was significant for Peter too as the disciple is about to have his three sheets vision. In this vision is an important message: "What God has cleansed you must not call common." Indeed those cleansed by the blood of the Lamb are no longer common. Cease and desist belittling yourself, child of the living God, you are no longer common but reborn in Christ the Lord! He has observed you.

Have a fine day in Christ, our Lord has made you significant in His sight!


Friday, November 09, 2018

The Ominous Final Battle

And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Revelation 19:19

A great battle stands before us in this verse. How many hours or days might this play out on the stage of military chronicles ? What drama of valor? How will the tides of combat rise and fall until a victor is determined? We might expect a lengthy account more in keeping with our expectations of war that we have read about or experienced. The next verse begins the story of this great conflict: "Then the beast was captured."

Wait, that's it? Yes, the end has come and our Lord does not draw out the pain and suffering of this conflict. That war between good and evil that has ebbed and flowed around us for millennia will be closed with a brief final conflict. Verse 19 is so ominous in its staging for that great battle that we expect a protracted tale of woe and dread. But then, its all over in verses 20 and 21, the enemy king is captured with his lieutenants and the enemy forces quickly destroyed by the sword of our Lord Jesus. And what has seemed so long to us will be so quickly won by our Lord. Is there any reason to believe that today is not just as much under His control?

Let us trust in our sovereign Lord Jesus!


Thursday, November 08, 2018

Strength and Song

​The LORD is my strength and song,
​​And He has become my salvation;
​​He is my God, and I will praise Him;
​​My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. Exodus 15:2

Strength, song, salvation, how does He do that? There are those times when it seems that we can little understand the words we use in regard to our Lord God. The Israelites had just escaped through the Lord's strength 400 years of slavery in Egypt. They didn't do a thing to save themselves from it, and soon they would want to go back. Yet, in the moment they stood with Moses and rejoiced in the Lord's strength and salvation with a song of praise. The Israelites stood on the other side of the Red Sea having just walked through a miracle. Many more works of the Lord God would soon follow, and yet they struggled daily with unbelief.

The Pharisees in our Lord Jesus' time demanded a sign. They had a record of the great works of God done in their ancestor's times, but still they wanted another one. Jesus did many works of heavenly authority before them, but just one more sign they demanded. They too struggled with unbelief, but in most cases the Pharisees lost that struggle and surrendered to the world and its prince.

We have a record of both the works of old and the new works our Lord did in Galilee and Judea in His time. We too struggle daily with unbelief. How will we win our fight? Not in my strength or yours, but in the strength and song of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ! We know that it is His salvation that saves us from this stain of sin and the world that sin has produced. And so as we tarry just a little while in God's grace in this alien land, let us too sing a song of praise to our Lord.

Love in Christ Jesus,

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Elect Grace!

Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Romans 11:5

Elections in America garner a lot of media coverage, but there is a far more important election to concern ourselves with in this age: the election of grace. But may I take a moment to thank the Lord that this latest political election is done? As the Grinch said, "Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!"

Yes, it is difficult to hear the joy in Heaven over one sinner's repentance when the noise of the world is so large and annoying during an election cycle. The election of grace is for eternity; the election of a few more bums, excuse me, politicians, we will survive. Up to each of you of course to decide which are the bums and which are not according to your own political leanings. To us who have elected grace, the results of a political election are not quite so important as it may be to those who do not have our hope in Christ Jesus.

Rejoice in your election to grace in Christ the Lord! This other stuff will all pass away,


Monday, November 05, 2018

Going His Way

​Through Your precepts I get understanding;
​​Therefore I hate every false way. Psalm 119:104

A few years ago, like 1605 on our calendar, a man tried to demolish the Houses of Parliament with a few kegs of gunpowder. He was upset over something and decided that his way was the best for everyone. I should imagine that everyone who has ever attempted or managed to destroy a building by way of terrorism is firmly convinced that their way is what is best for all of us. It is a strange way to try convincing someone of the rightness of another way.

If I were to blow up your house and say, "I did that because your way is not right and mine is." I'm thinking that your first thought will not be one of brotherly goodwill and a firm new resolution to follow my way. In fact, it would be difficult for me to tell you of my way with your hands around my throat in anger. Terrorists do not quite seem to be able to grasp that sort of thing.

Jesus brought the good news of His way in a very different manner, saying in plain words that He was the way and the truth and the life. No blowing up of buildings, no bashing another person in the media, no flags and armies, just a simple statement that we can decide to believe or to reject. How very odd in comparison to the ways of the world!

May God bless our nation as the votes are cast,


Friday, November 02, 2018

Take One Tablet Daily, With Food

​The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
​​But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Command an instruction and people immediately rebel in their heart. It is a condition of fallen man that instruction is not received well even in polite words read from a book. The only source I need cite for this is you, for you and I have both felt that tug of rebellion from an early age when instruction was given. We want to do what we want to do, even if we have a suspicion that it might be bad for us. Things that are good for us and things that we like do not always come together in one thing, but when they do the thing must carry an instruction not to take too much.

My vitamin bottle carried the title I used for today's writing, and that is what got me to thinking of how resistant we can be to good instruction. The Bible is a love letter from God with instructions. Jesus repeated two of those instructions and named them most important of all and a concise summary of all the books of the Law and the Prophets. And still there are those who resist admitting there is someone named God whom they are to love with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. But worse are those who believe in our Lord God and yet resist His instructions.

Raise up in me a trusting heart, dear Lord, that I may obey You always,


Thursday, November 01, 2018

He Made That Promise!

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
​​And broke their chains in pieces. Psalm 107:14

Halloween is over for another year, praise the Lord! This year I get a little pat on the back; I did not purchase my Halloween candy until yesterday morning. I figure that gave me at least 20 days that I used in years past to get into the candy that I did not do this year. Pat, pat, good job, mate! Then, I was generous in giving it out last night, so that I have less to get out of the house this morning...and take to work. We'll have to work on that last bit. To me candy in my house is a lot like an addict's stash, and candy at work is only slightly easier to refuse.

Why does this sound like one of those chains? Are we not released yet? This ongoing divorce from the flesh happens in the Lord's time and timing. The desires of the flesh serve the Lord's purpose, but that does not mean we must always give in to them. The development of self control or discipline in some areas of my life seems rather slow, perhaps even glacial. Yet, God is in charge of my remodeling and rebuilding. What appears slow to me may be a fast track project of the Lord's. As a fallen man walking on the cursed Earth, my perspective is skewed. I am reborn in Christ, and this sanctification project of the Lord's is probably going just as fast as I can stand. If I had His perspective for just a moment, I would surely understand the Lord's great work in me, pacing and timing all done in His awesome love.

The verse for today is God's word, and He made that promise! Patience, soldier of the Lord, He will complete His good work in us!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Clear Decision or Unwinnable Debate?

Would you indeed annul my justice? Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right? Job 40:8

Well, it is both. The final word in the book of Job belongs to God, and He uses it to ask Job a series of questions. This one from chapter 40 and verse 8 is one that knocks anyone off their imaginary fence: God is just and right, or the one who believes in his own rightness and justice. There is no middle ground presented here, no way out through debate. Either God is right or God is guilty. Job is right or Job is guilty. Both cannot be right when Job would accuse God. We face the same choice: enter into that unwinnable debate with God or believe Him and stand in the clear choice that God is right and just. They cannot both be right when some would depend on their own righteousness and God's word states that there is none righteous, no not one.

The good news is that not only is God right and just, but loving and good too! When the Lord returns at the end, He states that His reward is with Him. Our Lord's justice is not only about locking away the Accuser, but also sharing His reward with those who believe in Him. Let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; after all we agreed with Him long ago that there is none to be found in us.

May your Halloween be blessed,

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Lovely Names

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 1 Samuel 17:45

The boss walked in and called me by a new name Friday. "Screwgun," he stated as he walked into the office. I'm going to put it on my business card. It is also my recent promotion up the ladder from "Boy". These names are not so lovely as our Lord's names, but so much better than what my drill instructors used to call me back in the day.

Our Lord's names come from throughout His word, but a few are: Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Ancient of Days, and Immanuel. Lovely names! Immanuel is the one I like to recall often in this life. When times are difficult, Immanuel. When it is time to celebrate, Immanuel. Every time for prayer, Immanuel - translated, God with us. But it is more personal than that too, for each of us must say, "God with me!" as we know His lovely names more and more.

Praise the name of Jesus, Immanuel!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Why Write To Each Other?

For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 1 Thessalonians 1:8

A quick perusal of the news this morning is a sure way to run to the word of God. I'm sure by now that many days have come where the news from the world has made you feel soiled. The word of the Lord is a sure antidote to what is going on right now all around us. Yet, much of the Bible is made up of people sinning, much like the news of today. So, what is the difference?

Words of faith! From, God to us, a king to God, Jesus to the disciples, an apostle to believers, and finally from God to us once more! The Bible is rich in the words of comfort we need in the trials, the words of encouragement to face the day, and the word of love from God our Father. As such a big part of the Bible is made up of messages from our Lord and letters from our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are glad to write, speak, and sing one to another in the body of Christ. As many have said, all of the Bible is His story and His message of love to us.

But why write it to each other? Paul comforted and encouraged the Thessalonians by assuring them that the word of the Lord was going forth from them to every place. Keep on communicating that word of the Lord, it is going forth from you too.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Neither Stingy in Accepting nor Giving

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. Mark 9:41

The words of our Lord Jesus make me glad this morning. In the past many years since I have come to know Christ more, I have not always been in a position to command my destiny with the massive wealth of my bank accounts or been able to call in offshore holdings to supplement a shortfall. If you have noticed the biblical mastery of understatement, what I'm trying to do is the opposite - absurd exaggeration. Like most of us, those offshore banks don't want to deal with people of my financial standing. And like some of you, if my accounts are above zero then I'm doing well today. As such, I have accepted charity these past few years and I have known the feeling of not being able to pay back or pay forward these gifts. My Lord Jesus with His words sets my mind at ease with that great promise, "I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."

But, but, learning from the Lord to accept charity and gifts goes against my pride. Why, yes, it does! And what could be better for us in Christ than less pride in ourselves while allowing others to show their love for us? Great is the Lord in that all things do indeed work toward our improvement in Him and through Him.

And then, be ready, for your or my time of giving may soon come 'round again. Trust in the Lord and don't be stingy, dear believer, when it is our turn to give.

Love in Christ to you on this day,

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Oh That They Would Continue

Then the LORD heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me: "I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken." Deuteronomy 5:28

My heavens! The Israelites said something right in God's hearing? The wonder of it all! What was this they said? They were afraid to go up on the mountain with a holy God because they would be consumed by the great fire. That was only part of it, but it shows they knew their condition would not allow them to approach any closer or even to stay longer in His presence. They also said that Moses should go and get the word of God, and that they would hear and obey! Wow, wonder how long that worked out? We don't have to wonder of course, the story of the Israelites and their disobedience continues through many books of bible history and prophecy, plus a bunch of songs about it.

The Lord laments immediately after our verse for today that they might continue in this way. A right heart within us is all the Lord wants of us. Yet, neither we nor those ancient Israelites could do it on our own. The Law was perfect and they were not; God's standard is perfect and we are not. Both the old time folks and the people of today could not continue without something more, a big change to how we are born. Of course nothing is a bigger change to a birth than a rebirth!

You know the answer: Jesus has given a great grace to us by way of His salvation. Blessed and Wonderful is the name of our Lord!


Monday, October 22, 2018

Shame and Fear: Monstrous Monkey Motivators

​“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
​​Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
​​For you will forget the shame of your youth,
​​And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. Isaiah 54:4

In the fallen world many claim that we are descended from monkeys, or lacking evidence of our perfection in evolution, that we are yet simply walking, talking monstrous monkeys even now. 'But we share almost the same DNA,' they claim. We did come from the same Creator and are a part of that same Creation, so we should not be surprised that our bodies share much in common with this fallen world. However, while an instinct to avoid danger might motivate a monkey, it is the province of those monstrous monkeys in this world to be motivated by shame and fear, plus lust, greed, envy, strife, and a whole crate of equally awful motivators.

So, how do we get from sin-motivated monstrous monkey to the great promises that the Lord has given to us in His word? Nicodemus was given the answer, and we have it through John's gospel: you must be born again. As we have heard before, the 'you' of our Lord's time meant not only Nicodemus, but all y'all. All those who would rejoice in the love of God so great that He gave His only begotten Son, must be reborn. Our rebirth in Christ is the path for all those great promises of no fear or shame, no disgrace and relief from the shame of our youths. In other words, what is impossible for any of us to accomplish is possible for God to accomplish in us.

Praise the Lord for His holy work!


Friday, October 19, 2018

Broken In Pieces

Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. Daniel 7:23 KJV

Are we there yet? is the question heard on many a family drive. And, it would seem the question of many a brother or sister in Christ as we walk with our Lord Jesus toward that day no man can know. Earthquakes and wars have indeed come and gone in diverse places across the world. Lawlessness has increased throughout the earth and love has grown cold. But we are still here and love runs hot among those who believe in Jesus, I have seen and bear witness of it. Lawfulness lives in the hearts of those who believe. So something must have to happen in between the arrival on the world stage of the man of lawlessness and now, and we must be on the very edge of that event.

We may not know the day and hour when Christ shall call His church home, but we cannot be far from that trumpet call ringing out and bringing the saints of God to meet their bridegroom in the clouds of God's glory. Conditions are ripe for the final harvesting of the Earth. Are we there yet? must be our question no longer. The Earth is broken in pieces by the fourth beast and ready. The time of the snatching away must be just so close that if we could only see it we could finish the race strong.

Alas, I cannot see the hour and day either, so I guess we'll just finish faithfully in Christ, weak in ourselves but strong in Him.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Already Decided

"Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Matthew 22:17

The Pharisees had already decided a question, yet they sent their disciples to test Jesus. Which means they didn't already believe that He was Messiah. The had an answer they thought right and true, but they wanted to hear this man agree with them, or refute their right with His wrong. They were of course certain that they did not have a wrong. This was a problem.

Jesus, as you can read in the remainder of the story, was not fooled by the junior Pharisees in the least. He gave them an answer that left them marveling. No doubt the professors back at Pharisee U. gave them a failing grade upon their return. The possibility that Jesus could be Messiah just did not seem to occur to the Pharisees at any point in the Gospels.

Therefore, if the world continues to test your witness and steadfastly refuses to believe your account of our Lord's salvation, then you walk in good company, for the Pharisees refused to believe in Jesus even after He died and rose again. Peter's ministry did not shake their unbelief after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Paul's dramatic conversion did not shock their rock-solid hearts after their star met the Christ on the road to Damascus. The Pharisees back in their day were as firm in their unbelief as we would like to be in our faith!

God's grace to you,

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Devotional To Remember Today

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. Rev 1:5

Jesus loves us.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Just Not The Right Time

​Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
​​And like vinegar on soda,
​​Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.  Proverbs 25:20

Cold, do we have to talk about it? According to my usual weather site, the record cold for this morning is 28°. As I look outside, the thermometer says that record no longer stands, and by a long ways too! Yes it is cold outside and probably not an appropriate time for surfing songs or some other cheerful sunny beach tune. Have you ever wanted to cheer up someone who has suffered a loss with a happy song? Proverbs tells us to think again.

It would be a cruelty to strip away a coat from someone this morning. In the same way our Lord says in the Proverbs, it is cruel to hit someone with happy songs when their heart is heavy. It is just not the right time. This proverb points to compassion, but also to us being aware of the other person, our neighbor; the one we are to love as we love ourselves. It can be tough to come upon a mourning person when enjoying a happy mood, but in such a case we must think of the neighbor first. As our Lord said in His great sermon, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matt 5:4) Rejoice in the Lord gently when comforting the mourner.

God's peace and grace to you,

Friday, October 12, 2018

Slick Picklins, Attorney at Law

I said, “I will guard my ways,
​​Lest I sin with my tongue;
​​I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
​​While the wicked are before me.” Psalm 39:1

In his youth, Jim "Slick" Picklins employed the athletic skills of the truly inept and clumsy. It did not require a mind of surpassing analytical skill to sense that a career as a professional athlete would be forever beyond his grasping fingers as the ball once again failed to rise up to meet them as he passed by headlong and headed for another collision with the innocent earth. The other team's runners lit out for extra bases, and Picklins once again managed to make a perfectly normal outfield appear greased. " 'Slick' Picklins does it again," his coach muttered with a disbelieving shake of his head, and the name stuck to Jim with all the tenacity of any youthful derogatory appellation.

As an attorney, Jim found the opportunity to be the champion that he could never be on the ball field. Defender of the oppressed, hero to the innocent, and other such titles danced in his mind upon his graduation from law school even through his early days serving as a new defense attorney. It would be a few years before Jim's analysis caught up with his idealism. When on a cloudy and dreary day in the office with no cases in the works, Jim came to understand that most of his clients were neither innocent nor oppressed. Some were so obviously headed to the big house that they filled out a resume of crime in a similar manner to an actor taking the tough bit parts and ad gigs on the way to the leading roles. Shoplifting as a youth, burglary and theft in their teen years, and finally armed robbery and grand theft auto to round out the criminal CV before Jim saw them off to spend years locked away from society was an all too common theme in his office. Add in a few illegal drugs and Jim might not see them incarcerated before the truly serious crimes landed them a life sentence.

It was on this day that Jim discovered our verse for today. For the wicked, he came to know, had a ready answer to every suggestion or admonition Jim tried to lay on them by way of restraining their evil ways. For payment, Jim had been offered drugs, weapons, and sexual favors; the favors offered by either sex and from such diverse ages as to make a complete rotation of his head a distinct possibility. The pull of the dark side was strong in this office, Jim realized, to borrow phrase from an old movie. And on this day, Jim "Slick" Picklins began to pray more earnestly and more often for strength to follow the Way of Christ in a world of sin.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Lord's Place

For the LORD’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the place of His inheritance. Deut. 32:9

Slow Florence dropped rain for days on end, fast Michael roared through quickly but hit hard. You want to rescue all those people, every one. Yet, neither you nor I have the resources or ability to help so many over such a wide area. So, we turn to those few we can help nearby. But even one family destitute and without means can drain more than even we can bear. Maybe just one family member, but we find that helping one causes us to short another in time, attention, or effort. We simply do not have that ability to be in two places at once. And always back there in the mind is that desire to rescue all the human race, all at once and forever.

Would not God cheer us on in such an endeavor? Uh, might be He would protest with something like, "Hey, that's my place!" Truly I am not the savior of the world and I suspect that neither are you. Even together we cannot make a pair that could save the world, for it has already been done by God through His Son, Jesus. Strangely perhaps to our earthly eyes, He did not save us by granting any of us unlimited provisions. We might enjoy providing for all the earth, but there again He would claim His place from us. Salvation by the power to do anything we want? Nope, His place. Savior, Providence, Almighty, these are but three of the descriptive names of our Lord, and His place is in them. Our place is in His love, and with just a little mustard seed's worth of faith we can rejoice in His almighty saving providence in this life and all that is to come.

Have a great Friday in the love of Jesus!


Michael, Prince of Israel

At that time Michael shall stand up, 
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book. Daniel 12:1

Guardian angel is a term we hear at times, might even use it ourselves now and then. This verse may be the source of that term, a prince who stands watch over the sons of Daniel's people, Israel. Michael is one of but a very few names of angels we get to read in all of scripture. However, the times where Michael does appear are ones of victory over evil. It would appear from this verse that Michael is such an overwhelming power among God's angels that he is not allowed to 'stand up' all of the time. That his strength is so mighty seems good to me, because Israel and all of God's people certainly need a strong guardian angel.

"Careful there!" Michael might say to us as we praise his strength. For we always have the Lord God, who is called the Almighty One, with us, and God's angels will not accept praise or worship that belong to God Himself. John was met with a quick, "You must not do that!" when he tried to worship an angel during that great revelation of Jesus our Lord. Indeed we do not need to wish for a guardian angel as though God is not watching over us at all times. If we feel unguarded it is either a temptation from the devil or a lack of attention to God on our part. A little prayer and time in the Word can certainly get us back into the well-guarded fold of our Lord, the Good Shepherd.

Immanuel, which is to say, "God with us",


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rebuilding the Ruins

​And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
​​They shall raise up the former desolations,
​​And they shall repair the ruined cities,
​​The desolations of many generations. Isaiah 61:4

By the time we are done with this life our bodies are pretty much in ruins. If not before we die then certainly afterward, our bodies will decay down to a few old bones or be preserved through the embalmer's art in a strange simulation of life. At some age we may look back on our younger years and declare our bodies ruins even now.

Ruins are on the table this morning because that is what I dreamt last night. For ruins is the best description of what I purchased by way of entering the rental business in my dream. Yet, inside of those ruins were 3 apartments in beautiful condition and tenants who did not want to leave their homes. Such is the strangeness of dreams and yet, it applied to our condition.

First before we are complete ruins in the grave we are reborn in Christ, then renewed to mount up with wings like eagles, and in the life to come we are restored and even rebuilt. There are many 're' words to look forward to, but all of them are dependent upon that first one and the One who does the salvation thing for us: reborn in Christ. We may be ruins in this life, but we have the hope of Him who renews all things. Inside the ruins of this life is that great treasure, the rooms renewed and rebuilt by the Spirit of the Living God. One day the ruins will be rebuilt!

Love in Christ Jesus,

Monday, October 08, 2018

Risen But Not Seen

Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. Luke 24:22

Aha, it is because you were slacking in bed! The women got up early and saw astonishing things, but you slackers failed!

We find it easy to blame and shame. Failure must come from us therefore we can save ourselves. It is that sneaky humanism that tempts us. It is quicker and easier for us to judge the men guilty of sleeping in before we even check into how late they stayed up. We leap to heap blame and shame on them and miss the astonishing news, He is risen! The astonishment came from the news the women had to tell of our risen Lord Jesus. The humor in the tale is that it was the risen Lord Jesus who brought out the details of the story as He walked with these men, who, the Bible states, were restrained from seeing Him.

The men received their own heap of astonishment when later the Lord serves up some communion bread and then vanishes!

The stories from the gospels of our risen Lord Jesus are many, and impossible to ignore. We are left to decide once again whether to believe the eye witnesses and thus in our Lord, or to discount those people as crackpots or liars and thus do the same to Jesus, for they are His witnesses. We are His witnesses in this age, and the same will be done to us. Always remember that when they decide you are a crackpot or a liar, they are doing the same to our Lord Jesus. And on those perhaps rare occasions when we are believed, it is the Lord they believe in and the glory belongs to Him.

And always be watchful, for He is walking with you, risen but not seen.

In Christ, Bucky

Friday, October 05, 2018

Sent To Watch

Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice. 2 Kings 6:10

It is some day in this week close to the weekend, I think. It was cold in the house yesterday. That is all I know about current events. If I am the watchman sent to stand watch in this week, you are all in grave danger. The verse for today really sticks it to those who let the week's events overwhelm their watchfulness. "Not just once or twice..." Ow! Yes, if we are to stand watch for humanity over those events that signal the end of time, we had better have a more thorough report than not knowing what day it is. Steadfast watchfulness!

We need each other in this guard duty, for each of us has those days when we awaken not entirely awake. What day is it? Do I need to go to work today? What is my name? These are the questions that may greet us on any new morning. I am being a little silly in the name thing. I haven't really woken up not knowing what my name is. There have been days where I struggled with the day or date though.

Good morning in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Read The Word

And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” Acts 22:22

What word was this that brought such a strong reaction from the people of the earth? 'Not fit to live'? That is some tough talk. Yes, Paul, that former champion of persecution of the followers of the Way, had admitted that the Word spoke to him. Not only had Paul stopped his persecution, he had turned all the way to Jesus and was now sent to the Gentiles. Good news for us, Paul's ministry brought us his letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, and several others that we read often in the Bible.

From this man who if his earlier career had happened in our time would have walked into every church he could find and dragged every believer in Christ out to be beaten and jailed, not necessarily in that order, we have much of the New Testament. Paul could read the Jewish scriptures and he did, but he could not read the word of God as we know it today, so God had him write part of it! And for His great epistler, God chose the worst of the worst, that persecutor extraordinaire, Paul.

Read the word, there are more great stories of impossible turnarounds that God effected for our good. One day, your story and mine will be read as a part of His word too!

God's blessings to you on this fine day in the Lord Jesus Christ!


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The Greatness of His Love

For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.  Lamentations 3:31-33

At one time in his life, poor Job would have argued against this passage claiming that God had indeed abandoned him forever. Job was of course simply us throwing around that hyperbole. We know in our heart though His Spirit that we are never abandoned by God, but sometimes the trial is such that we cry out that surely our Lord is absent and we are alone in this terrible world.

It is easy to get down. Wake up hurting, go to bed in pain, jam a finger, stub a toe, we will always have a host of reasons to get down physically, and each one provides a good excuse for an emotional downer. If that were not enough, every emotional let down affects the body for the worse. And then we get older. Above all of this fallen pain, there is the Lord our God, promising to dry every tear and that one great day pain and sorrow will be no more.

Yes, some days we look forward to that time more than others, but God is faithful to give us strength to carry on. Rejoice in Him!


Monday, October 01, 2018

Something Other Than

(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) Acts 17:21 NASB

Have you watched the news and at times longed for something, anything, other than the story that has been running for many days? Yes, you might even be doing that this morning. There is some good news for you today, and His name is Jesus.

When we first came to our Lord for His salvation, we were looking, seeking, and hoping for something other than the news of this world. Some good news that is new would be just the thing. And thus were some Athenians and strangers made ready back in the day to hear something new when Paul arrived. If bad news can prepare a people for the good news of Jesus, then it has served a purpose. However, that is not exactly what the verse in parentheses says, and may I say, "What a bunch of worthless layabouts!"

That good old news of Jesus Christ is such a refreshing spring of new good news that it bears repeating, and never more so than in a world of nearly constant bad news. I wonder how many first hear the good news of Jesus simply by looking for something so different from what they are constantly fed in the news media of today? If there is even one, then maybe all that bad news has served a purpose. Funny that even all that bad news can serve our Lord's purpose.

Oh, the joy of hearing the good news of Jesus Christ!


Friday, September 28, 2018

Why Does God Do Something in His Way?

And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 2 Kings 5:13

Cleaning is on my mind this morning, as it is another abandoned house for us to work on today. So, I looked for a story of cleaning in the Bible and found that one about Elisha and a leprous fellow. Naaman from Damascus had connections to the king of Syria and went to Israel well outfitted and recommended. But he also had some paradigms about how things were supposed to be done, and God did not do them his way.

Arriving at Elisha's house, Naaman is not received in the usual way. Instead the prophet does not even come out to see the man who has traveled far, a faux pas in that time, but sends instructions for the dirty thing to go wash seven times in the Jordan River. Okay, I added the 'dirty thing' bit, but as a leper he would be unclean by the law. The insulted Naaman storms off in a rage and thinks of how he could have just washed seven times in the rivers near his house. It is up to his servants to end the dirty thing's tantrum and get him to obey the servant of the Lord. Fellow servants perhaps understand what it is to obey even when the instructions seem too simple or not to our liking. After listening to his servants (we might add 'for once') Naaman is healed, and thus we have our lesson too.

The Lord's way to solve a problem we bring to Him may seem to us wrong, perhaps even absurd, and yet it is obedience and trust that is the way for us to follow. We know this from the Word, do we know it faithfully in our hearts yet?

Have a great Friday in Christ our Lord!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Cacophony of Iniquity

Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
​​For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. Psalm 6:8

Surrounded in this world at times by the workers of iniquity, we call out as David did in the power of our Lord for them to just go away. The noise produced by the workers of iniquity in this world is huge and difficult to bear. By the various means of communication, we are assaulted moment by moment with a noise of sin and temptation that is at times loud in our ears. A cacophony of iniquity rings in the air of this fallen world.

Okay, I think I have metaphor-ed that to death. Yes, we live in a world of temptation and some folks just like to run to it. The lost sheep who have the joy of the Good Shepherd in us must run another way; we run to our Savior! For it is the peace of still waters and the quiet of the green pastures for us who believe in Him. We prefer prayer in the quietness of our Lord's love over the raucous worldly pleasures. Those metaphors are getting rambunctious again.

So, if I turn up Casting Crowns too loud does that make it an iniquity? That is why it is metaphorical. Thunder is not an iniquity simply due to its huge noise. A loud and awful noise is more in line with what the lovers of iniquity will have in the eternal darkness of Hell. Loud noises in Heaven are the praises of a great multitude lifted up to the Lord and certainly wouldn't be described as an iniquity. The workers of iniquity may be quietly plotting our demise, while at the same time our brothers and sisters across town may be making a large noise of praise to the Lord. It isn't the volume, it is the content.

And may our Lord save us from the content favored by the workers of iniquity!


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

That Which Was Lost

Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:10-11

Do you feel like a little lost sheep in a big and hateful world? There is good news in these verses! Jesus has come to save the lost, and you in that feeling of lost smallness are right where the Savior wants you to be at this time.

We tend to think this only happens to the unbeliever who suffers a tragedy and indeed it is a good way for the Lord to gain the attention of that unbelieving one. However, the Christian of many years faces these times of despondency too. The world kicks up a storm and though the Savior is just a prayer away, we look hard at the storm and despair of overcoming it in our meager strength. We were never to overcome in our little lost strength though! Trust in Him, make that prayer call to the One who has overcome the storm already. Wail like the lost sheep to the Good Shepherd and be saved from the current circumstance. And then live in gratitude, for when the brief time of trial is over, the Lord wants all of us safe in His green pasture.

Rejoice in the new day!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Pennies on the Floor

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:10

Faithfulness in what is least is the test, but what we want is to be faithful in the most. I also have felt the desire to be faithful in the most loot and hope that everyone notices and comments on it. Sounds a lot like a certain group of Pharisees who had their reward. Less desirable is the quiet faithfulness in dealing with the least. That circumstance where we have only a little and no one is likely to notice how faithfully we handle it is not so much fun. However, I have noticed a thing in and among these empty houses we visit and clean: pennies on the floor.

Among those of a certain lifestyle, and the loss of their domicile thereby, I have noted a tendency to abandon monetary resources. Yes, they leave pennies on the floor. The lowly penny gets no respect when it is trampled into the filthy carpet. This has been found in those houses where there is neglect: they neglect to get a job, they neglect to pay the rent, etc., and soon the house is lost to the creditor or landlord. And so, after almost 2,000 years, I have noted in practice what Jesus said in His word. Good job, me!

We can easily dismiss the little penny as there is not much that we can purchase with the power of one penny. However, practice faithfulness with that one penny and we will be better prepared when given just one tiny mustard seed of faith. Pick up those pennies and use them faithfully, and a person may find the Lord trusting him or her with more than pennies. Use that tiny mustard seed faithfully, and the Lord may grant to us the entire shady tree of faith!

Have a great Monday in Christ Jesus!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Singular Way

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

We had a great night for sleeping last night as the cooler nights of September arrived on the 20th. The neighbors were scrapping again yesterday, and they had done so good for a month or more. Sigh.

Lots of people have a way for you to live, simply read a few websites and you will find as many ways to live. Some want to manage your way to live by passing laws that state their way to live as your way to live. Another group wants your blessing on their way to live, whether you agree with it or not. Others just want your way to live to leave them alone. There are religious ways to live, secular ways to live, hermit ways to live, and social ways to live. We can work and make a living or hold out a hand for a living handout. There are many, many more to choose from.

Jesus did not say there were lots of ways to the Father, just one. He did not offer many truths, just Himself. And to live we must come to the Father through that singular way, Jesus the Christ. Great is the Lord to simplify it for us. Many would be lost among many ways to the Father. One singular way gives us hope that many more will find Him before the end comes. Two ways and I might doubt all the way to the end that I had chosen correctly. But one way relieves all that doubt. In Christ the Lord we will come to the Father our God!

Have a great Friday in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Free, But Not Innocent

Answer me when I call to you,
O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1

When I began life in this country I enjoyed many rights enshrined in the Constitution. However, I was anything but innocent. Original sin is the charge and that cute or ugly, I have no memory of which, little baby I call 'me' was guilty. I was born into the land of the free and brave, but innocence would have to wait for God's declaration.

Come to think of it, I wasn't exactly free back then either. Hopping into the ol' automobile and taking off on a countryside jaunt by myself wasn't an option until much later in life. That is one of the definitions of free to many of us, and I didn't have it. Well, I wasn't free in another sense either, that is free of the penalty for my sin. Original sin would soon be joined by a rather lengthy rap sheet of sins of commission: lying, stealing, hateful thoughts, wrath, and a few years later things like lust of the flesh would come into that 'free' life. And about the time one might think that this is one rough-around-the-edges baby without hope of redemption, I learned about our one hope in this life: Jesus.

In one thing I was free: I was free to believe in Jesus Christ. And that belief has made me free indeed, and then God declared me innocent. What a strange thing to the worldly mind!

Enjoy the day in Christ Jesus!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Further Away and Right at Hand

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
​​Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
​​“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
​​So are My ways higher than your ways,
​​And My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Have you noticed that the smarter we as the human race think we are, the further away from us the heavens get? In Babel they were building a tower that could reach the heavens. The heavens were quite close in those days. Many years later, there was this model of the earth and the stars all around. With some discoveries the heavens became a bit further away, and man thought himself smarter as he increased in knowledge. Then, the sun-centered universe model came along, and man was smarter still, but the heavens also got a bit further out there with this solar system thing. Now, the Sun is just another star in one of many galaxies and man thinks he knows that the edge of the universe is something like 15 billion light years across or about half that away from the center. Some are so smart in their estimation these days that God is not even needed in their thoughts of how the universe came to be. Those heavens are so far out of reach now that Babel seems almost silly.

Then Paul wrote: "The Lord is at hand..." At hand? Yes, as in right here, with us. I am glad. For as the heavens have gotten further away by our becoming smart in our own eyes, the more so many of us have felt lost and adrift in an alien universe. It is good to know that our Lord's heavens are further away from those who would leave Him out of His Creation, and that He is right here at hand for those of us whom He has chosen to believe in His Son, who was very much right here on this earth. And one great day this Son is coming to get us and take us home.

In Christ we live,

Monday, September 17, 2018

Like An Army

And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days. Genesis 7:24

The 'road closed' markers on the map from Charlotte to Wilmington and up to Raleigh and Winston-Salem in North Carolina are like an army. The waters rule right now; it is tough to see hope amidst the flood. Other areas have flooding too and lives have been lost to the storm. Peace has been said to flow like a river, but I don't think the author had overflowing, flooding rivers in mind. Once again we are hardly more prepared than the ancients for such large floods.

Noah was well prepared to survive the greatest flood of history, but was he so well prepared for the waiting? Not just waiting while repairs and reconstruction took place, but the waiting to get started - that time when he was ready but nothing could be done for those 150 days. At this moment, equipment and materials will be staged somewhere, ready to begin the cleanup and building. But today, as a bit of sun begins to shine on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, they are stuck waiting and listening to the rain as further showers plague the area. Just like an army, ready but stuck waiting for the time to come. We too have a waiting that has come upon us.

One day, we know our Lord will come, and these terrible floods and other catastrophes will be done for us. However, we have that time of waiting. We can't make Him come sooner. We cannot advance a date we do not know. The waiting for our Lord goes on, but we can come to Him in prayer to be made ready. And while we wait on Him, we can help out our neighbors wherever we can, especially in prayer for their salvation, safety, and rebuilding their homes.

Waiting in prayer on our Lord Jesus,

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Rain of Righteousness

​Sow for yourselves righteousness;
​​Reap in mercy;
​​Break up your fallow ground,
​​For it is time to seek the LORD,
​​Till He comes and rains righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12

Like the story of the four soils where the seeds that fell on good ground produced 30, 60, and 100- fold for each seed, we are exhorted to sow some righteousness. That is good, for at times it seems that all of my efforts to produce righteousness are in vain. We are the sower, and the sower does not see the harvest at the time of the sowing. We might imagine it, some of our wild imaginings might even come close, a little close, but the result belongs to the Lord. I get a picture of a big event in this verse, a rain of righteousness that sweeps away the chaff of the old life and grows such a harvest that the barn cannot contain it.

Sowing righteousness makes more sense. We do not get to see the results we desire because it is just too early yet for full maturity. Which explains why we are to reap in mercy, which in turn sounds like living in grace, and then break up that fallow ground. Wait, what fallow ground? Could be the future that we will begin walking through today; ground that we have not attempted to break up with the plow before this time. In this day, it is time to seek the Lord, because there ain't nothin' scarier than plowing the fallow ground of tomorrow by yourself. And we labor in this "Till He comes..."

Well of course we do! And He could come on this very day!


Friday, September 14, 2018

God Knew

Binding his donkey to the vine,
​​And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
​​He washed his garments in wine,
​​And his clothes in the blood of grapes. Genesis 49:11

Vine, donkey's colt, washed, garments, wine, blood? There is some symbolism going on here! Even more there is talk of a lion and the words are directed to Judah. This verse is from Jacob's final words to his 12 sons, in particular the blessing given to Judah by his father, also known as Israel. This happened about 1,689 years before the birth of Christ. What is even more interesting is that Jacob called his 12 sons together to hear what would befall them in the last days.

So, do the final words of Jacob tell us when Jesus is coming back? Sorry, that knowledge is still held closely by the Father our God. We do not get a date with our wine. (Ouch, poor painful pun.) However, we are glad to see that God knew His plan for salvation and imparted a bit of it to His servant, Jacob.

Some of the deeds of Jacob's life do not match up well with a prophet of the Lord. The birthright thing, the deception of poor old Isaac along with his co-conspirator, also known as 'Mom', do not seem to be the righteous deeds of a man of God. Of course, some of my past deeds would not qualify me to teach from the word either. And so it goes with all of us. God knew our deeds and yet loved us so much that He sent His Son, on the donkey's colt no less, to save us from those former deeds, and thoughts, and intentions, and all of the other sin we were born into. God knew, and He saved us anyway. Israel belongs to God, and so do we!

God's blessings to you,

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Wind Comes

​The wind goes toward the south,
​​And turns around to the north;
​​The wind whirls about continually,
​​And comes again on its circuit.  Ecc 1:6

When our brothers and sisters in Christ face the coming storm on the Atlantic coast of our nation, it is difficult to write of the conditions here, far away from the storm. We may be neighbors only in spirit and not in location, but we are neighbors in the Spirit.

Looking at some traffic cams on the North Carolina coast, it is almost a ghost town atmosphere. The whirling wind is coming later today and the people have left the area. It is interesting that with all of the technology and construction we boast of, it is still better to run from the big storm. And yet, as always, there were a few vehicles on the roads even on the outer islands. We will of course pray with them too. Always that sort of action brings up the question: foolish or faith-filled?

We tend to base the answer on the result. If they ignore the evacuation and stay to face the storm, and we see their corpse being removed from the shattered house on the news report, then we conclude foolishness. But is it? Is that the final result? A body was placed into a tomb many years ago, but that was not the final result for that one body. He rose again. No doubt before the resurrection some judged Him foolish too.

Today we pray for the storm is near,

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How Did It Get This Way?

God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
​​To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
​​Every one of them has turned aside;
​​They have together become corrupt;
​​There is none who does good,
​​No, not one.  Psalm 53:2-3

What sort of love caused our Lord to save us from this? In His place any of us would have scrapped the lot of us. What to do with a world full of sinners? Few among us get up seeking to do evil or bad though. We might even intend to do good in the morning when we rise. If even most of us intend good, what happened to the world?

Of course we know from the word of God that sin is our birthright. We are born into it, and only a rebirth in Christ by the Spirit can take us through the narrow gate and get us on the Lord's way back to God. Sounds long as He does it. Salvation is of the Lord. I have no idea how to rebirth you, wouldn't even know where to start, so go to Him, then receive and rejoice in the salvation of Jesus Christ.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Getting Late

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

About 35 years ago, I toured part of Israel and it seemed a pretty dry place. A place where growing food would be tough and However, Israel now exports food. The desert is blooming faster than the younger me would have thought possible. So, when I say that it is getting late, figure that it is getting later. If I should say that our Lord could return in the next few years, figure that it will be tonight. If I should say tomorrow, best look toward today.

Paul said the night was far gone, a pretty far long time ago. Yet, our Lord has not yet come. This is the trap to be wary of, as Peter pointed out to us, that we might think our Lord will not come just as quickly as He said He would. It will be in a time such as this, one of relative peace in the world. It will be when mankind least expects it, though each of us should be expecting the return of our Lord at this very moment. It will be today when we are looking at tomorrow. The good news is that in Christ we are ready for it.

Take us home, Lord, in Your good and perfect time!


Friday, September 07, 2018

Be Known

Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” Acts 28:28

Praise the Lord for the salvation of Jesus Christ! By that we are known as His followers. And how are we known? For doing the wrong things? For the worst sorts of behavior? Certainly not! And we strive daily to be known for doing what is right and following closely the teachings of our Lord Jesus. We want to be known for the lives He has changed to the better, for being reborn in Christ.

Yet, there seem to be in this world of today many who just want to be known. When the criticism arrives they don't care and even see it as indication their method is working. Whatever means is justified by the notoriety, infamous to them is just as good as famous. Disrespect of the elder things is okay with them as long as the click count is up on the web metrics. Dishonesty is not even a consideration but another means to gain the desired attention. And why should we worry?

We shouldn't! Our Lord told us all of this would come near the end. While all of this is going on, be known as one of His. Be known for integrity, righteousness, and the light of Christ shining out to the world. Be known as wholly given to the Lord. Be known in His love.

Be known in Christ,

Thursday, September 06, 2018

The Lord's Goodness - Right Here

​I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
​​That I would see the goodness of the LORD
​​In the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

Listen to the news on most days and it is easy to lose heart. David came to believe that he would see the goodness of the Lord here, in the land of the living, and it gave him heart. It may be that we are not given news of the Lord's goodness at work in our news media. It may be that we are not seeing the Lord's goodness due to a blindness of sin. But David believed that goodness he would see here.

We may be tempted to believe that the Lord's goodness is withheld only to come in some future time that we cannot see from here. David tells us no. Jesus tells us no (see Mark 10:29-31 for one promise). We can look for the Lord's goodness right here, right now, in this life and in this time. All may appear headed for destruction, but the Lord is still sovereign, still good, and still loving. We have our hope in Jesus, today.

May our Lord Jesus be praised in our found and renewed heart today.


Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Sting of the Scoffer

“Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you."  Acts 13:41 (quoting Habakkuk)

Paul ran into the scoffers; he should know, he used to be one.

Believing in Jesus is not easy. The flesh fights against it with every argument that it can muster. Distractions from the world flow in waves against the shore of faith. And then, there is the seduction of sin which promises the scoffer an approval rating just short of miraculous. Beside all of that is the fun of becoming the object and target of the world's scorn.

None of us particularly wants to feel the sting of the scoffer. In this world there are many who have become quite skilled at scorning a belief and scoffing at the believer. Their darts and jibes can hurt us deeply. They have discovered the tone of voice and set of face that brings others to their side to witness the verbal execution of the faith we hold so dearly. The Son of God felt this even as He died on the cross. But there is also this message for the scoffers.

Sent by the prophet in the time before Jesus came to us, and repeated by the apostle in the time when we await our Lord's return, God sent a short note to the scoffers, "Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish..." And then, our Lord promised an action so awesome that even foretold the scoffers will not believe.

Hmm, kinda sounds like that refers to the Revelation of our Lord Jesus! The Return of our Lord Jesus: coming soon to a world near you!


Monday, September 03, 2018

Men, We Labor

Then King Solomon raised up a labor force out of all Israel; and the labor force was thirty thousand men. And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts: they were one month in Lebanon and two months at home; Adoniram was in charge of the labor force. 1 Kings 5:13-14

One of the great works of the Bible is the Temple of God that Solomon built in Jerusalem. We have descriptions and measurements, but it is hard for us to imagine what this building looked like. We do have some idea of what it took to build the Temple with the tens of thousands of laborers called to the work from Israel. 70,000 bore burdens and another 80,000 quarried stone in the mountains (v15). That is 180,000 persons on the project just in these three verses. Labor was the order of the day and a lot of men turned out to labor away a month at a time on this huge project. It is interesting to note the shifts organized by month in the first group. The organizers of this huge effort were 3,300 of King Solomon's chiefs of deputies. They also likely worked 1,100 at a time by monthly shifts. Do we get the impression yet of an enormous project?

As God has put the spirit of creation in us, I wonder how many methods and machines of construction were invented during this time. The local Caterpillar dealer probably hadn't been born in Solomon's time and I saw great stones in the western wall that would have called for some cooperation and leverage to place. By the accounts in the Bible, the completed Temple was really something to behold. And then, God's presence entered in...

The works of man, even the greatest of them, lack something. Men, we labor, but God is that something our works need.

In Christ, I am a work in progress,

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Hands of Toil, Hands of Trouble

But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. Genesis 19:10

In the case of our verse today, the hands were used for good to pull Lot to safety from the mob outside the house. You may have seen a news report today about a bishop's hands getting him into trouble. Yes, men, we are on the hot seat today because I am one of you and have gotten into trouble with my hands too.

The hands of man were given us as blessings from God. Then Adam reached out and took from Eve the forbidden fruit and we have toiled with our hands ever since that time. We have also used those hands to get into trouble time and time again. Jesus even told us to cut one off if it was going to be the cause of missing out on Heaven. So important are the hands in this life that I'm thinking very few men, if any, have done this thing. Any of us could exhaustively list all the tasks we use our hands for each and every day. We could also make quite a list of troubles and sins our hands have helped us get into. If trouble has come to you by your hands already this morning, I'm sorry. Let us hope the remainder of the day will bring good works.

The hands of toil are indeed the hands of trouble, but they can also be the hands that do good works. We need some help with that though, and Jesus our Lord offered to be that help. Actually, He said that without Him we could do nothing. Paul also said that through Christ's strengthening he could do all things. The hands of the Lord are seen as those which bring us His good help. Hands appear 456 times in the New King James Bible, showing their importance in the days of our lives. In Christ we can do good works with our hands, but in the flesh we can also do great harm.

Thank You, dear Lord, for the hands which are so useful and beautifully made by You. Please strengthen me to use them for good works.


Friday, August 31, 2018

The World Terrifies Me

Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”  Deuteronomy 1:28

Trembling on the border, the Israelites had zero confidence in their ability to win the promised land. The world terrified them; the world terrifies me. When we look at the strength of the world, of course we are going to be afraid. There's certainly more of them for one thing. One against 7 billion is pretty steep odds. But then, if the entire world turned against God, it would still be 7 billion against One.

That is the wrong point of view that we often share with the Israelites of long ago. We look at the world and see such strength and even ill will directed against us. We must look to the One who loves us and know His sovereign strength.

Water from a rock in the desert. A sea parted so that the people walked through on dry land with walls of water on either side. A blind man made to see. A paralyzed man takes up his bed and goes home. So, which side has the power? Who stopped God when He acted for the Israelites? Who can stop God when He acts to save us from the world? Afraid today? I think I look in the wrong direction!

Trust and live in the Lord Jesus Christ, He stills the raging sea of fear in us!


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Pharisee U's Biggest Fan

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2

This Saul was not only fervent in his unbelief, but murderous, threatening, and connected! Saul was the Pharisees champion. At Pharisee banquets he would be invited to the top table and given the honor of the after dinner speech. The old hands would praise his energy and enthusiasm for the task, and better still he was useful to their plans. Saul went right into the high priest and received letters to the synagogues, and these letters would have meant that he had no worries over a hotel room or servants to see to his needs. No worries about collecting receipts for the bean counters back home. No worries over dates to the best restaurants in Damascus. He had it made!

As Saul journeyed down the road to Damascus, we would have seen the pennant of the Pharisee University Authoritarians on his cloak, a Pharisee sweatshirt on his back, and a heavy gold ring from the PU class of '35 on his finger. Saul was all Pharisee and charged with what he thought was a holy mission approved by the powers that be in Jerusalem. He was Pharisee U's biggest fan and proud of it. Saul belonged, felt the warm glow of official approval, and had purpose in his stride. And, as we know from the scripture story, Saul was all wrong.

The Pharisees had declared for the Antichrist way back in Mark 2, and Saul was their golden one, the champion they could count on to destroy the Way and His followers. Only, as we have read in the scriptures, the story does not continue from here quite as the high priest and the Pharisees thought it would.

Seldom is a rebirth in Christ such a big change to an earthly life and career as Paul's was, and yet, each of us has undergone a similar change in our new life in Jesus. Your/my change may not be so dramatic, so sudden, or affect our career like Paul's did, but be patient, the change will be just as profound and far-reaching when our Lord is done.

Glory to His name,

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Living For A Living

​Her heads judge for a bribe,
​​Her priests teach for pay,
​​And her prophets divine for money.
​​Yet they lean on the LORD, and say,
​​“Is not the LORD among us?
​​No harm can come upon us.”  Micah 3:11

Micah knew nothing of us in this nation right now...or did he? Reading through our verse for today we might see Micah living right now in this time. King Solomon noted that everything comes around again, and here we are filling the prophecies of Micah in this time quite well. So many seem to be in it for the money. Take away that money and watch, would that fellow run for his senate seat again? Would that pastor get up and preach in that show or revival if it were without compensation? Is the prophet more accurate with her invoicing than in her predictions? So many of us today are living for a living.

And then, they look around and say, "The Lord has our back; we cannot be harmed. Everything is going so well!"

Those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior find a problem with that. It is after our rebirth in Christ that the real testing begins. Poor decisions or rough circumstances may have laid us flat on our back and brought us to realize our need for salvation, but the cheerful walk in the rose garden we looked forward to with our Lord does not often come in this life. Problems come in their battalions at times and we never seem to 'get ahead' as the saying goes. One quick rest in the valley of peace leads to yet another hike up the mountainside of woe. And strangely perhaps, it is on that mountainside that we say almost the same thing as those others, " The Lord will not allow us to be harmed. We will get through this tough time with Christ our Lord!"

What difference then? Those others demand and expect the Lord's protection while they roll in their money, worshiping Mammon deep down. We live where the Lord leads us, whether in wealth or poverty or somewhere in between. We climb the mountain of woe knowing that our Lord is leading us higher for our sanctification and also that He is right there with us. So, the question to ask then: Is money a useful tool in life, or is it the main pursuit of your life?

And thank you Lord for all those who have used their money generously to Your glory! I am glad to know so many who are not like those others.

In Christ the Lord,

Monday, August 27, 2018

Evil From His Youth

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. Genesis 8:20-21

Great are the Lord's promises in this passage of scripture, but oh, we seem to have yet another indictment of our condition in there. That imagination of ours, the sins of the flesh play out there daily it seems like dirty movies at a sleazy theater in the worst part of town. We might well ask when that place will be shut down?

Trusting in the Lord includes faith that what needs to be changed in us will be done on the Lord's schedule. It may be that particular theater is under renovation even now. The next movie shown there may be one of love and forgiveness. Actually there is no 'may' about it. We believe in Jesus and removal of sinful imagination is already well underway. Just don't be that dirty old coot that keeps getting in the way of the demolition crew.

Imagine a closer walk with our Savior today, that will help the remodeling move along,