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,


Friday, August 24, 2018

Adam Had A Purpose

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Genesis 2:15

Our father, Adam, was not dumped in a nice place to simply goof off. He had a purpose and an assignment. However, we should not think that this was something that Adam was unsuited to perform like me on roller skates or something.

Even in my youth I was not well suited to rolling around on shoes with wheels. What some appeared to do effortlessly backwards or forwards, I struggled on the edge of disaster to perform at all. You will note that I did not become a professional roller skater. The one who invented that trite phrase about becoming anything you want to did not see me roller skate back in the day. There is something though in this life that I am suited well to perform.

This something will require training and practice, as toil is our lot now since the fall of Adam, but most of all it will require my Lord Jesus. To attempt the accomplishment without our Lord is nothing but a vanity. Solomon discovered that human vanity after much study and experimentation in his life, but most of all he had an overflowing measure of wisdom from the Lord. Paul wrote much that we learn from and struggle to implement to this day. He did it after years of study and practice, but mostly he did it after a powerful visit from the Lord and a constant presence in his life of the Lord's Spirit.

We do not work alone. The Spirit of our Lord God is in us this day. Want to accomplish something, have a purpose, and work for the kingdom of God? Look to the Lord and receive from Him the faith, wisdom, knowledge, and steadfast effort we need to work in His house. And don't act like He is holding a whip to drive us to this thing! Our reward in the doing will be greater than we can imagine.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hear What The Spirit Says

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." Revelation 2:7

The midst of the Paradise of God sounds like a good place to go and stay forever. But, we have to do one thing which we are not very good at: listen to the Spirit. We go like that Yoda character, "My own counsel will I keep..." so often are we so smart in our own estimation. My own counsel has led me to some rough places where I was able to sample extensively from the consequences of my own failures. Could it be that God has a better way?

We so easily take the lesser way and the lower road, counting on difficult experience to teach us the right way to go. God is already righteous, would it not be much better to learn from Him? If we listen to His Spirit, would not the teaching be both better and easier? My own counsel has proven to be such a wicked servant, I'm thinking that learning to listen to the Spirit at all times is the ear to develop. How wise is that? The Lord gives me the ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, so I can claim no wisdom for my part. Seeing no wisdom of my own, I must ask for wisdom from God.

And thus do we start down the road to righteousness and wisdom and love and all the other fruit of the Spirit by realizing that we have none in ourselves and learn or get them only from the Spirit of God. Great is the name of Jesus!


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Rejoicing From The Lord's Mercy

Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
​​That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Psalm 90:14

From a psalm by Moses. This psalm has been around a long time. I think I write that every time this psalm comes up here. Moses perhaps feels the span of many years here and asks for a satisfying measure of God's mercy early in life. Rejoicing and gladness all our days would be something, and what to us is a long time later, an answer comes!

​Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
​​Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
​​Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Jeremiah wrote the Lord's answer, we have new mercies and compassions each morning. It is indeed a mercy from the Lord that our sin does not consume us each day. It is the compassion of the Lord that is given each morning to start a new day in the love and grace of His wonderful Son. It is the Lord's mercies that take away our vision of the Lord God as a hammer and His Son snatching us away from the awful descending blow. It was always God's mercy and compassion that failed us not, and from His love and goodness came our Savior Jesus the Christ.

Now that makes for a day of gladness and rejoicing!


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Jesus And The IQ Test

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. Hebrews 6:1

"Daddy, what was Jesus' IQ?"

Go ahead, you wanted to be a father, a question such as that one is where a father earns his daddy points. If Jesus were to take one of our IQ tests and scored anything less than perfection, the test would be flawed. We know that perfection is one of His qualities. The Pharisees, on the other hand, refused to know such a thing and tested our Lord constantly. Which brings up another interesting point. If testing the Lord was their job, and the law and the prophets was their excuse, then why didn't they test the Lord in the way they knew was laid out by the prophet?

If the prophet in question, Jesus or John the Baptist or any pretender, simply enjoyed the tithes and offerings brought and failed to bless the land then they would be exposed as a fraud, right? Well... the tithe test never did benefit God directly, as He does not need our provision, and such a test can easily expose the motive of the tither. That is, if we work out the percentage carefully, and take the $57.33 it works out to into the temple expecting God to respond with a winning lottery ticket by way of blessing, then we expose the greed behind our selfish giving. It would be moot anyway; Jesus already passed the test that matters most to us: He laid down His life to save us and then took it up again exactly as He said He would proving His love and His word beyond question. Now the test is on us: do we believe in Him?

Hmm, now it is a noon devotional because I walked out this morning without sending it. I think that is one of those old age things I was warned about!

Love in Christ,

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Little Deep Sleep

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Genesis 15:12

Yikes, usually a deep sleep is a cause for celebration. A deep sleep seems to become more difficult to attain in my later years, but if this is going to happen I'm not sure I want to keep trying. Reading back in the story though we find doubt, uncertainty, fear the Lord will not do just as He said. Yes, Abram wanted a confirmation sign after the Lord had given His word.

The word of God is the very best assurance because of who He is. We doubt Him at our peril. The Lord said that He is coming back to take us to the home He went to prepare for us, and that word is all we need. Did Abram's descendants get 400 years of slavery because Abram would not believe without a sign? We hope not for Abram's sake, but that doubt did bring a prophecy of the years of toil they would face in Egypt. However, the Lord also comes back with that prophecy of a large Israel, one that has not yet been seen upon the Earth. Perhaps Abram was able to get some better sleep with the thought, "I messed up again, but God is good!"

Read the word of God, and have some sleep without doubt,


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Is It Not Possible?

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Matthew 24:23-24

There has been many false christs and false prophets even in our time, but not the signs and wonders spoken of by our Lord, at least not that I have yet seen. I say that because these signs and wonders are going to be impressive by the Lord's description of them as 'great'. We will not fail to miss them, just fail to believe in them. When our Lord says, "if possible," I get the sense that this deception is not going to happen to the elect. Why?

I have in my time fallen for a great many deceptions. Some were harmless but not beneficial, and fell into the dead weight category. While others were very harmful and required a running away or shunning of them. And in some cases I looked the fool (and was foolish too), and occasionally I must confess to having been there and done that. We all learn the hard way sometimes and I am no exception to that. So, how could it not be possible for a believer such as myself to fall for these great deceptions?

Of course we know the answer to that! First, it isn't me or you that is not deceived. Second, it is the Lord's precious Holy Spirit in us that keeps the elect from these impressive deceptions. It is that "Whoa!" deep inside the soul that prevents us when the flesh yearns to go. It is the turning of the eyes by the Spirit that shows us something the worldly ones cannot or will not see. It may even be the Spirit of the Lord that causes our feet to stumble and fall when the flesh has gone toward the deception too fast and is about to get us into trouble. The sheep may act dumb at times, but we have a divine Protector who will keep us safe.

Thank You, dear Lord, for Your Comforter sent to live in us,


Friday, August 17, 2018

What Is Just Out There, Maybe Tomorrow Morning!

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

Fear, it's a real let down. Usually this verse is a Christmas message, but today the Lord wants us to know that His love wants us to have the best. What is just out there in our future, maybe as soon as tomorrow morning, is all the good our Lord desires for us. Zacharias was afraid of the angel of course, we would be too, but the angel addressed all of his fears in this. The fear of dying with no son to carry on his family name, the fear of his wife's shame and loneliness, the fear of not having his prayer heard, and many others we might not think of in this age.

Do not be afraid is the command we receive often in the Bible. Change the fears around to our current situation and we are Zacharias worrying that our prayers are not heard. Will it take an angelic visit to remind us of God's goodness and love? Or, can we recline back into that faith we once had in our Lord Jesus and know that by God's grace we are waiting just a little time until the very best will be given to us once more? Jesus once said that the amazing return of anything we have given up for the kingdom of God will be given, not in the next life, but this one - maybe, just out there, tomorrow morning or even on this day.

Sometimes a little boost is needed in my faith, grant me that faith please, dear Lord Jesus!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

God's Most Difficult Case

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15

Oh, the pride in us when we dispute among ourselves those last five words. Paul claimed the title of chief sinner and set off an argument that has lasted for almost 2,000 years. Even as Timothy read the words, he probably disputed in his heart with Paul, his teacher and mentor. If God announced a contest to challenge Paul for the title of chief sinner there would be a line around the world, dead folks would be getting up from the grave to join the line, and believers yet unborn would try to make their claim for the title. Oddly, I suspect that not one demon or prince of this world would be in line.

Of course we look in the wrong direction in this rather unholy contest. We need only look to God and His Sovereign omnipotence to see that there is no such thing as a most difficult case for Him. Isaiah confessed his unclean lips and God sent one of His messengers to cleanse the prophet and prepare him for holy duty. Peter might be one to challenge Paul for that dreadful title, but he too was forgiven and saved by our Lord. Every Christ-one to Christ follower to Christian has tried to make like he or she was perhaps the toughest case for the Lord's salvation and all have been saved by our Lord Jesus.

If there were some 1-10 scale of salvation difficulty, you might be a 4 and I an 8, or you might be a 9 and me a 5, and yet it would make no difference to God's saving power through His Son. Paul might be surprised to learn that he was only a 3, or God might one day confirm that Paul was indeed the only 10 while all the rest of us were both easier and quicker to be saved. It doesn't matter because the statement that He is mighty to save is based on God's all-mighty sovereign authority, and there is nothing that can stop that once a person believes in the saving grace of Christ Jesus.

Let it be so, said the lesser sinner, giving honor of place to Brother Paul who wrote for God such wonderful letters that we learn from to this day.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Moving Ahead Of You

"When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the LORD is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army." 2 Samuel 5:24

Waah! David got a sign; why can't I get a sign? We read in the context of this verse that David did not ask for or seek after a sign, but inquired of the Lord what he should do when the enemy had him in a tight place. The sign or signal was the Lord's gift to David.

We tend to seek a miraculous sign to confirm our faith, but faith has no confirmation only assurance. The flesh wants confirmation by the senses, a sign, but when Jesus stood before many back in the day, the many did not believe in Him even then! Yet, Jesus continued on His way and saved us from our sin at the cross.

Believing in Jesus is such a privilege, faith a precious gift from God. In Judea during the time of the Roman Empire, our Lord Jesus moved ahead of us and opened the way for us to return to God the Father. Reconciliation, peace, mercy, and forgiveness of sin, all brought about by God and His Son moving ahead of us. The sign has already been given, we have only to believe in Him and walk this life in faith.

Hallelujah for the day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Abominable Biting Bugs of the Bible

And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. Exodus 8:17

Insects get a tough rap in the Bible. Most of them are simply abominations under the Law, a few may be eaten such as crickets, locusts, and grasshoppers, and others are used to abuse Pharaoh and his folks. In the end times the two witnesses will have the power to inflict the insect plagues whenever they will and even the demons from the pit come out like locusts. Insects just don't get any credit in the Word.

Good, I can live with that! Most of us are probably in no danger of placing insects on a pedestal to worship anytime soon. They bite, sting, suck and cause all manner of itching and pain. Many carry diseases with which they have slain a significant portion of all those who have lived upon the earth. I'm glad the Bible comes down on insects hard. Little abominations indeed!

But, some would say in this age, life on earth is dependent upon the insects and bugs of all kinds. Sorry, but I believe that God is essential to life and I will stand on His Word. He is...the way, the truth and the life!


Monday, August 13, 2018

The Smoke of Anger

​Smoke went up from His nostrils,
​​And devouring fire from His mouth;
​​Coals were kindled by it.  Psalm 18:8

Smoke is on my mind for some reason this morning; it might have something to do with the haze and odor of smoke over the area from the wildfires in the west. Then again it might be the sinus pain through the night and odd sleepiness yesterday.

Smoke, we have a rather comical vision of smoke coming from ears or nostrils because of its use in comic strips or cartoons. However, that vision did not start out in humor but in all angry seriousness in a couple of places - our verse for today, and in the psalm recorded in 2 Samuel 22 (which are remarkably similar). David showed us a picture of an angry God, complete with the smoke coming from the Holy nostrils. Directed at you or me this would be a cause for great concern, but David shows the Lord our God angry on his behalf. There is a similar vision of an angry God near the end when He comes to do battle on behalf of those remaining saints in Jerusalem and Israel. Notice that in both cases we don't fear an angry God so much as we fear God angry at us!

Good, keep it for a time. Fearing God's anger is a good start to avoiding sin. Just remember that Israel could not save itself that way. We live in grace, and grace came to us through our Lord Jesus taking God's anger at all sin upon Himself. The Judgment fell on Christ alone, and now we live in His righteousness!

Alive in Christ Jesus!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Far Away From Something

For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. Ezra 9:9

Have you ever found yourself far away from something good? Ezra made note of this in a highly summarized story that yet has all the pertinent facts, all in one verse. What we are looking for today is how far away Ezra was from that good thing he longed for: the rebuilt temple. "We were Persia," is not a very good start to this story. How many times have the masters willingly allowed the slaves to leave? Yet, the story goes of God's mercy, faithfulness, and strengthening until not only the temple was rebuilt but the wall of Jerusalem too!

So, how far away are you from that good thing you desire in Christ? His glorious return? We don't know how far away that may be, but the mercy and faithfulness of the Father are right here, right now. Maybe something a bit more mundane? The old transport worn out? The dwelling place need some repairs or remodeling? Perhaps a little body modification that seems so very far away when you looked in the mirror this morning? Yes, we know of these problems and we understand...that God is ready to revive you and strengthen you, and that He has never forsaken you no matter what form of slavery you have found yourself mired in at this time. God has saved those who believe and those who do not yet believe from every kind of addiction or trap that this evil world can invent. It may seem so far away this morning, but that first step is revived in us and ready to roll out! Trust in God.

Amen, in Christ we stand!

Thursday, August 09, 2018

An Expression of Faith

The Mighty One, God the LORD,
​​Has spoken and called the earth
​​From the rising of the sun to its going down. Psalm 50:1

The earth is called by the Lord from east to west. The Good Shepherd does not leave out this nation over here or that one to the east from His sovereign call. Does it seem like many a nation in our time has ignored this call? Sure it does. No doubt from wherever Asaph was when he wrote this psalm he could see nations that did not appear to have heard this call so faithfully recorded by him. He wrote in his psalm an expression of that faith, a testimony to the call of our Lord to be saved one and all.

Asaph and his contemporaries probably still had those Philistines around. And, according to the prophecy of Obadiah, Edom never passed up an opportunity to kick Israel a good one when she was down. The reason Asaph wrote of the call of the Lord probably was not confirmed by the evidence of things seen but by the evidence of faith. We have that same opportunity to testify of our Lord in this world of today. We have our Philistines that hate the people of our nation and our Edom that will not pass up a chance to give us the boot. Stand in the middle of a street in many parts of the world holding up an American flag and your days will not be long on the Earth. Proclaim the salvation of Jesus to anyone in some places today and again, your life will not go on much longer. Yet, we can still affirm in our faith that the call has gone out from the Lord to one and all.

The Mighty One, God the Lord will return soon, the call remains in force and they can answer in repentance or answer to the judgment. All have that choice.

I prefer to answer in repentance; the Lord knows all about me, answering the judgment call would be just too terrifying.


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

We Have A Choice?

​For He is our God,
​​And we are the people of His pasture,
​​And the sheep of His hand.
​​Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
​​As in the day of trial in the wilderness..." Psalm 95:7-8

Pharaoh, as in the time of Moses and the heart hardening, did not appear to have a choice in the matter. If so, then God will not treat Pharaoh unfairly in the judgment. We might look upon it as Pharaoh had a choice, decided his course, and God strengthened his resolve to maintain that course. Maybe, but that seems a bit out of line, as in translating God's words to what we think might fit better in our estimation. God said in Exodus 4:21, "But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go." Later in 14:4 God states that He will harden Pharaoh's heart once more. Those seem quite plain and straightforward, as in not allowing for me or you to transliterate and translate to suit our purposes.

The Israelites had a choice as of the time of Psalm 95, to harden their hearts and resist God, or to soften their hearts and obey the Lord. I believe that we too have that choice and it is in our eternal best interest to obey. So, all of my resistance is my fault? Yes, absolutely, but that does not mean that I or you are not without help in the heart-softening department. God's wonderful and gracious Holy Spirit runs through those hardened hearts of ours and works magic, as in the miracle magic of God and not the hocus-pocus deception of the world.

There are a lot of as in's going on this morning, I will take my leave of you for now, as in if God is willing we will share a devotional time together again on the morrow. But, maybe the greater will and resolve in this will have us all to be with Him tomorrow and we will rejoice in the clouds of His glory!

In Christ the Lord,

Monday, August 06, 2018

History Is His

​“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel,
​​And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
​‘​I am the First and I am the Last;
​​Besides Me there is no God.' " Isaiah 44:6

In the Revelation He is the Alpha and the Omega, here in Isaiah the First and the Last, history is His.

Now, we live in the in-between times and there are going to be, and are already, a lot of pretenders to the throne. Paul, John, and Peter heard the words of these pretenders in their time and warned us of this time. Daniel foretold it and so did our Lord Jesus. We have reached that time when knowledge and lawlessness are increased all around. Communication of a new thing is so very fast in this age. And it all seems so out of control as we look at the news on any morning. Yet, history is His, and for that to happen, He must never lose control, not for one second.

You have probably been a part of some project where first one thing went wrong, and then another, and finally events spiraled out of the team's control until the end result seemed guaranteed to be complete failure. The recriminations began, management looked down upon you from their superior attitude and demanded a report of what happened (in simple form, with bullet points), but no one on the team could come up with how it all went so far to the wrong. It appears that is what is happening in the world today, and do we not have yet another earthquake in a diverse place?

That is and was prophesied by our Lord, and that is the point. All of this seeming uncontrolled mess is and was predicted and foretold by our Lord thousands of years ago. Nothing happening today has caught our Lord by surprise. There is no heavenly wringing of the holy hands of God this morning. Jesus our Lord is not sitting on the edge of His throne beside God wondering what to do. All is in His almighty control. Hebrews 1:3 gives us the word of what is going on:

  The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

All going according to His plan today,

Friday, August 03, 2018

Not One Failed Promise

“Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses. 1 Kings 8:56

King Solomon was a real wise guy. Yes, we like to say it that way, but we must acknowledge that when God gave wisdom to Solomon He gave it hugely. So, from the wisest man who ever lived, (Short of Jesus our Lord that is!) we have this testimony of our Lord God, not one failed promise. And the Hebrews had records to prove it too. That has not changed.

After Solomon, there were some promises made to those who would follow the foreign way of the idols and false gods. In the fullness of time, those promises arrived too, and first Israel was gone, and then Judah, just as God promised. No matter what Israel did by way of idolatry though, there was promise of a savior who would turn man back to the Lord. A bit later, a bit being after the Exile and return to Jerusalem and then another 400 years or so, Jesus the Lord arrived on a starry night when shepherds abode in the fields. Again, a promise fulfilled, and our Lord Jesus went on to fulfill a great many promises of the scriptures. Now, we look for promises fulfilled in our time. We may get them and we may not, but those promises will be fulfilled in God's time. You and I may not live to see the rapture but it will come, and waiting in the grave or waiting here in our days of toil, we will go to be with our Lord Jesus in the clouds of His glory!

Have a blessed Friday on that thought!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Racing For Grace?

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:8

Man was evil in his heart continually. That means Noah was perfect and God saved him out of all the others because of that righteous perfection, right? We may have thought that way without realizing it. But the Lord's word says that Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Wait, the word does say that Noah was a just man, that he walked with God. Does that mean the man saved himself from the deluge? Sorry, the word says that Noah found grace first, that means it is all God's work in him.

The flesh and its desire to save itself, and thus take the glory from God, wants Noah to be righteous in his own efforts, sanctified by his religious observance, and even obedient to the law in his own strict ways and training - something, anything that we as creatures of the flesh can achieve on our own without God. The flesh does not want to believe that Noah was just the same as those other men that God destroyed in the flood. The flesh dearly wants to know that Noah had something special to offer to God, something Noah achieved all on his own. Noah the superman, Noah the special one, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

We are not racing each other for the last seat in Heaven. Like Noah we brought nothing special to the Lord's table and we have nothing to offer up to Him that would make us the guest of honor at His banquet. We found grace in the eyes of the Lord at His discretion; He chose us before time began, and our Lord did all the work of saving us from the coming destruction. To God be the glory, because grace certainly didn't come from me or you.

Saved by grace in Christ the Lord,

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

God's Old Ways

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
Disaster after disaster
is coming your way! Ezekiel 7:5

Many of us grew up thinking that the Old Testament God was angry with all of mankind since the reaching out of Eve in disobedience. The Flood, Pharaoh and Egypt, the Philistines, and of course the exile of Judah, plus all those 'off with his head' punishments in the Law of Moses tend to point us to the divine retribution view of God the Father. Perhaps many a father and pastor reinforced that view at home in those days too. With this view we could not help but think of Jesus as different, a sort of shield between us and God.

But this simply cannot work with all of the words of Jesus.

The verse for today tends to backup our claim of God's hard old ways. However, even if we had only the Old Testament we could see that this is too narrow as well. The disasters came to Israel because of detestable sins; the miracles came because God wanted to do them. I cannot recall a single time that God said Israel deserved a miracle because of their good deeds. Blessings yes, that was part of the agreement for obedience to the Law, but miracles? No, every one was done because that mean old God wanted to do them. So, does that lingering view of God as mean to us hold up? Would the widow with her restored son stand with us in that antiquated view? Would the Israelites escaping out of the dried up Red Sea say that with Pharaoh's army drowning behind them? Pharaoh's soldiers might, but what came before that? Yes, hard-hearted Pharaoh and his detestable sin!

So, why doesn't God give us the smack down for our detestable sins? When our Lord God turns to us, He sees Jesus His Son and the full payment for every detestable sin. There is no shield from Almighty wrath, only a complete satisfaction of God's justice, leaving our Lord God free to love us completely. How can we know this? God sent Jesus to do His will, and greater love has no man...

Rejoice in God's love today,

Monday, July 30, 2018

Cool Morning

I slept, but my heart was awake,
when I heard my lover knocking and calling:
“Open to me, my treasure, my darling,
my dove, my perfect one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night.” Song of Songs 5:2

July is ending much the same as it began with cool mornings. It seems that in Solomon's time folks got up early to court; we tend to look upon it more as an evening pastime. Much of our lives might be spent looking for that perfect mate, perhaps we are searching during the wrong time of the day?

I thought last night that if I were somehow to find this woman who is not quite perfect, as only God is perfect, then just short of perfection as she may well be, she certainly would not want to entertain the likes of me. My only hope in such a situation would be the old opposites attract thing.

My hope of perfection lies in Christ the Lord, for in my own strength I will quit, give up, put it off 'til tomorrow, slack off, goof off, or just find it too exhausting. Of course there is the view that as an imperfect, fallen man I will not even apply my meager and weak efforts in the right direction to begin with!

Imperfection can hardly perfect itself, and that is why those of us who are given the gift of understanding how fallen we have become will surrender daily to the Lord our God.

Have a grateful new Monday in Christ,


Friday, July 27, 2018

I Do Not Know You

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21

Late in the evening I saw you. Yes, you! You know who you are. For everyone else, I must mention that your cape looked just spiffy, and those blue undies worn on the outside were quite the fashion statement. The two crooks you carried so easily to the waiting police van didn't stand a chance against such strength and speed. You are quite the superhero, almost comic book quality! I realized at once that I didn't know you quite so well as I had thought.

That may be a bit of Friday silliness, but it is also quite true that I do not know you. Your innermost thoughts are not available to me; those private parts are kept hidden from public view. If I cannot know my fellow humans so well, then how can I know God whose thoughts are higher than my own as the heavens are above the earth? And we know of course that without His revelation to us in His word and in the heavens and other places He chooses, I have no chance of knowing God. And yet, even in a foolish message such as this one, I can say, "We are saved in Him!"

Paul told the Corinthians that God was pleased to save us by belief: belief in His Son of course. We know in whom to believe also through His word and all that foolish preaching. The world may think the message foolish and by association the preacher just as far gone into foolishness, but we know through His wonderful word that this message is life to those who will believe in our Lord Jesus.

Have a great weekend in the love of God!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Job To Do

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:1-2

If our salvation can be likened to the plant world, it is that cracking of the seed and bursting forth into the air of that little plant. Now, we are like the little plant that finds great joy in that bursting forth, and then hopes that is it for the pain and suffering. We would rather grow at our own pace and in our own way because the old shell and pieces of shell of that former life in the flesh still cling to this little plant. However, we have a plant's job to do, and that is to bear fruit for the kingdom.

The rebirth in Christ for us was just the beginning. As each act of faith, love, or righteousness makes us grow more in Him, so will more testing come, which is the pruning mentioned in our scripture for today. We also come to know that each of us must become a branch of the true vine, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. If we started from a seed apart from Him, it must not remain that way or we will quite fail to grow and produce fruit. I simply cannot imagine billions or even millions of little plants growing into the true vine, but our Lord Jesus put His great work of salvation and sanctification into these garden terms so that we might have some understanding.

The great thing is that I don't have to understand completely all of His work or word, only that I can trust in Him completely to work it all out in me and you. My job is to believe in Him!

Rejoice in His work today,

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

When God Makes Promises

Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” Genesis 13:17

Land would be quite important for a man promised descendants greater than the number of stars in heaven. Oh, that was another promise of the Lord our God.

Abram was one man, an old man, with one wife, also of that age where birthdays are no longer mentioned, and he owned no land in this new place the Lord had shown to him. Canaan, the land Abram was to take a hike through its length and width, was not exactly a suburban lot. Yes, the Lord made promises that only He could fulfill.

We are given equally impressive promises in the Word. A living man would lay down His life to save us and then raise Himself from the grave on the third day. That's an impressive promise. But, He then promised that He would one day return from Heaven to receive us from this cursed Earth. And, oh by the way, He also promised to make all things new. There are Galilee boatloads of other promises made to us by the Lord in His word. All we have to do is wait on Him!

The promises of our Lord are far beyond the capability of man, and He gives them to us. Gives? What have we done to deserve all of this divine magnificence? Nothing, but giving is what our Lord does for those who will believe in Him.

Peace to you this day in Christ our Lord,

Monday, July 23, 2018

My Strength Is The Sand

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." Matthew 7:26

Back in the day, I built a few houses on the sand. When that great fall came and I looked upon the wreckage of my former houses, I realized that my strength was the sand. Any strength of mine, emotional, physical, financial or otherwise, has been quite thoroughly washed away by the tides of this fallen world. And I was glad for that washing! No? Okay, I learned in the power of the Holy Spirit to be glad of that washing.

The danger in my strength comes in placing my faith in something so easily swept away by whatever tide may come along. My strengths were never so great as I had thought them, and thus my houses were easily put down. In this world there are those who have achieved great success and it is them I pity most. If anyone might come to believe in the ability to save oneself, it is those who have the applause of the world to listen to as they go to bed. How can that person come to realize his or her need for the Lord when they have so much fame, fortune, or physical ability?

Therefore, before we moan overmuch about our condition and the wreckage of those great houses we built on the sand, perhaps we should take a moment to thank the Lord for the knowledge that we all must have His salvation and depend upon Jesus Christ alone for life eternal. I like it! My strength turned out to be far too little for this life; I'm glad to have His strength for this life and the next.

God's love and grace to you on this fine Monday,


Friday, July 20, 2018

A Prosperity Gospel

​“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
​​And do not return there,
​​But water the earth,
​​And make it bring forth and bud,
​​That it may give seed to the sower
​​And bread to the eater,
 ​​So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
​​It shall not return to Me void,
​​But it shall accomplish what I please,
​​And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:10-11

Now there's a prosperity gospel I long to hear! God's word going forth and prospering in the thing for which He sent it. What good news! What a delight to read! And it comes with God's guarantee.

When we send out a message many of our methods are by no means guaranteed. A letter from back in the day, thanks to the efforts of our postal service, almost always arrived in the hands of the addressee. However, simply addressing, stamping, and placing the letter in the hands of letter carrier was not a guarantee. Electronic means of today are even less guaranteed as e-mails are, digitally speaking, pretty much flung out onto the Internet and routed to the intended recipient. A number of failures could happen along that information road, though they do not happen very often. Other connection methods, cell phones for example, may be even more tenuous in their connection. On God's message comes a personal guarantee from the Almighty Himself.

The Word of our God shall not return to Him void, and it shall accomplish what He pleases. That is quite a guarantee. I could say that, but no message of mine would bear such a warranty. What is the difference? Oh, that is such a silly question! The guarantee of the Lord is backed by the Lord. Mine is backed only by me, and I'm just another message flinger without any means to assure the delivery and return. Yes, there is the tough bit, the return. God's assurance also guarantees the return shall not be void. Anyone might speak or write a message, but who besides the Lord can guarantee accomplishment and return with full accomplishment of His will?

As our Lord says, "I am God, and there is none like Me." (Isaiah 46:9)

Love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior,

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Measured Wrong

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matthew 7:2

Myself approached the judgment throne and Myflesh showed the parade of deeds both good and evil. The deeds of evil trooped before the Judge in a powerful show of warriors mounted and fully armed; black was their armor and black were their horses in an array of cavalry too many to number. Myself swooned at the numbers and strength of those evil troopers as he saw their captains and corporals, rank and file led by a fierce colonel named Pride. Myflesh felt that pride as he looked upon a life going by that he had lived in the world.

Finally the good deeds came at the end and Myself was shocked to see a cartload of filthy rags pulled by a single broken-down nag of such an ugly appearance that he had to turn away. What was this? Where were the favors and loans, gifts and gratuities? Surely in a life of 80 years he had done enough obedience to the Law to be saved?

"Perhaps you measured wrong," a voice said, "those were all the things that were left behind at the Cross. These do not belong in this place."

Myself took a step back and Myflesh fled shrieking into the wilderness with his legions of evil warriors. I looked and beheld a glorious wonder, a man both bright and clean, of such purity that I trembled to look upon Him.

"Use My measure," He said to me as He handed me a measure labeled simply, Grace.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Constant Temptation

Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

It is for us a constant temptation to think of the Bible, God's Holy Word, as a work of man. It is the same temptation the Serpent offered up to Eve. Since that time we have desired to go our own way in the flesh, and one way to accomplish that is to dismiss the Word as a mere work of human imagination. Without the Word, so the temptation says to us, we have no consequences for the worst of sins, or for any sin at all. Without the Word we have no Christ.

For some this may seem an advantage, but to those of us who believe it is the very tragedy of life on this earth. No Christ? Without our Lord Jesus we have punishment for sin without mercy, life without grace, and no salvation. Oh, I see, the believer in the goodness of humanity sees that without the Law there is no sin and therefore he can do whatever he wants without consequence. Hmm, if I recall a story of a man named Job, to take away the God-inspired Word of the Bible is like taking away the four messengers from Job's home. Poor Job would still have the consequences of the Devil's assault, but he would be in ignorance.

The Word of God tells us that our sin is not the only sin. Job was righteous, but he still suffered the consequences of the Adversary's sin. Without the Word of God, the soldier may have armor and a shield, but no weapon to fight the enemy. Without the Word we have no comfort when the consequences of sin land upon us. How could a man such as Paul come up with the concept of a saving grace earned by Christ the Lord on the cross...without the grace of God to inspire this idea in his writing?

In Christ the Lord,

Monday, July 16, 2018

Choose Now, The Midnight Cry Comes Soon

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25:1

From instruction received in the Word we know the tale of the ten virgins and their lamps. Don't be foolish like the five who brought no oil for their lamps we are taught, and so we strive to keep our cupboards full and our refrigerators stocked. Does this parable teach us to be selfish with our oil? For at the exact moment of their greatest need, half of the bridesmaids were refused any sharing. As is the case with our Lord's parables, it is not so simple as that. We know from other teachings from our Lord about God's provision, and this is not about provision.

The world teaches us to accuse, kind of goes with the title of the prince of this world, aka the Accuser of the Brethren. We easily are moved by the flesh to find fault with the prepared virgins for not sharing with the foolish virgins. However, the parable is about a choice we all must make. Note that the ten virgins go out together to await the coming of the bridegroom. He appears to the virgins to be late, delayed by what they do not know and does not come at a decent hour. (Odd how the flesh seems to forget to accuse the bridegroom in this case.) Also, all of the virgins lay down to sleep together and all of them trimmed their lamps together. Caught unprepared at the midnight cry, the five virgins run to the store, at midnight no less, to purchase oil for their lamps. All the ten virgins did things together except in this one thing: choosing to take oil in their vessels with their lamps.

The choice is to believe in the Son of God or to be caught unprepared when His time comes. It is not about sharing, for there was always plenty of oil for all in the story, it is about being prepared while the door to the wedding hall is still open. A time will come when the gates of Heaven are shut up and closed down. The wedding of the Lamb and His Bride will take place and there will be some people left out. The parable is about those who want all the benefits of Heaven, but do not want to acknowledge the ruler of Heaven, the Son of God, as their Savior and Lord. The foolish virgins want to go their way and refuse His way until it is too late. The midnight cry sounds and they are found outside. We live in the time of choosing, but it will not last forever.

Our Lord wants to save all ten virgins; we who believe in Him want all of us to be there for His great wedding; the Holy Spirit of God works tirelessly to spread the oil of Christ around to every lamp. Choose now, before the midnight cry.

Love in Christ,