Friday, January 19, 2018

I Know, But Do I Know Him?

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” John 4:25

A bit later Jesus introduces Himself as Messiah to the woman. She knew about Messiah, but she couldn't know Him until He revealed Himself to her. How often I wonder have I known much about Jesus by study and yet not known Him until His Spirit gave me a revelation? Many in this world know about Messiah, but not so many know that Jesus is Messiah. Others have studied the life of Jesus, but Messiah or the Christ is not in any way personal to their knowing. A relationship has not been formed and the gift of salvation remains unknown and unaccepted. How many, one might ask, might stand before the judgment throne reciting memorized facts about Jesus but not recognize Him even as He judges them? Many a sad tale may come to be written in that way.

Praise God there have been enough in every age who have seen the revelation of Jesus the Christ in their soul that one day a great multitude will gather in Heaven to sing His praises! One day He will be revealed as He comes in the clouds of glory. With Him or awaiting Him, we too will see this coming and we await it even now as the woman in John 4. That day, though, no doubt will prevent the knowledge that the Lord comes. This appearing will not be a man of the Jews who, for some reason, stopped to speak with a woman at a well in Samaria, but the second coming of the King of kings! We will know Him.

The Spirit of God reveals our Lord Jesus to us even now, let us praise Him!

Bucky

Thursday, January 18, 2018

This Morning's News

Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. 1 Samuel 11:6

If it should seem to you that the news of the day has become especially adept at arousing your anger, you are not the only one! Way back in the day, more than a thousand years before our Lord Jesus was born, Saul received some news that made him angry. However, this was not the sort of frustrating news we get today but something that made the Lord Himself angry.

The verse for today speaks of the Spirit of God coming upon Saul to arouse anger in him. Most of us in this age look to the Spirit for a calming influence with all of the anger that is thrown at us in the news. What was it that aroused the anger of the Lord so? It seems that the Ammonites had made a threat toward a city of Israel that was to be for a humiliation of God's chosen people. Think that God does not defend those He calls His own? The remainder of this story in 1 Samuel 11 might change your mind.

So aroused was Saul, that he gathered the fighting men of Israel and came down on the Ammonites with the wrath of the Lord, as the Word says, and slew so many that those Ammonites who survived were scattered so that no two of them were left together.

What was Saul up to when this news came? He was not yet king, he was coming in from the field following the herd. Kind of makes us wonder what is happening in this morning's news that might cause the Lord to arouse an emotion in us to act in His will, eh?

Righteous is the Lord in all His ways!
Bucky

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Lord's Fasting

​“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
​​To loose the bonds of wickedness,
​​To undo the heavy burdens,
​​To let the oppressed go free,
​​And that you break every yoke?" Isaiah 58:6

Breakfast was on my mind this morning, as it often is in the morning, so I searched for break and fast in the Bible and came up with this verse only in all of the Bible.

We have this tendency, a desire of the flesh perhaps, to present to the Lord a resume of our good deeds done religiously. We bring tales of our fasting to the Lord hoping for a trophy maybe, Fasting Champion 2018. He tells us instead to look to our neighbors. Jesus our Lord was asked why He did not fast as He was living the list of loving actions we see in the verse from Isaiah. We have His good example to follow.

In place of trying to impress the Lord with our self-righteous and religious deeds, we might do as He says and look to our neighbors. What burdens do they bear that I have overlooked in my efforts to make myself into a better man? How much of my self-improvement program would be better handled by the Lord's Holy Spirit as I take the time to look at the needs and burdens borne in suffering all around me? What help can selflessness lend where selfishness now rules?

What a reward to relieve a neighbor of a burden!

Your brother in Christ,
Bucky

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What Comes Tomorrow?

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Matthew 3:1

John is a New Testament sort of name. It does not appear in the O.T. at all. But unlike most of us, John does appear in Isaiah. How did he do that?

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
​​“Prepare the way of the LORD;
​​Make straight in the desert
​​A highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3

John refused to be called the Christ, but he did admit to being the voice of one crying in the wilderness. That is some serious brass if he is in fact a false prophet. To have the religious authorities come out from Jerusalem and to claim a verse from Isaiah for yourself would be to risk a charge of blasphemy and that sudden, instant, and even immediate death the religious Jews were famous for handing out. The Messiah had better be along right soon or John the Baptist would quickly be John the Former.

However, we do know from the scriptures that Jesus soon arrived claiming many more verses from the prophets to Himself and confirming John in his office. So, why did they not believe Jesus? Well, that was prophesied too. It seems that our Lord knows all that is to come. What does tomorrow have in store for His faithful followers? The prophets in both Testaments have much to say about that!

Rejoice, for He returns for us soon!

Bucky

Monday, January 15, 2018

Comfort Ye My People

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

One of the oratorical hymns of Messiah by George Frideric Handel is titled Comfort Ye My People from the 40th chapter of Isaiah. It is well used as a command to God's ministers to give comfort to all those troubled souls in this age of spiritual warfare. One of the great comforting verses is given in Deuteronomy with the promise that our Lord God will not leave or forsake us.

Us? Is not this verse directed specifically to Israel? Yes, it does seem to be that way. Are we then grabbing comfort that does not belong to us?

Throughout the ministry of Jesus our Lord, Gentiles came in faith to the Lord to get the great hope He brought first to Israel. Those Gentiles were our spiritual ancestors and we continue to reach for Messiah who came first to His nation of Israel. There came a time though when Jesus was rejected by Israel and went instead to the Gentiles. Paul came to that same point and his ministry among the Gentiles brought forth much fruit for the kingdom of God. You and I were born Gentiles and like those of us who reached out for Jesus and were healed, saved, and restored to life in His time, we too reach out in faith for those things first promised to Israel. This too was promised in the prophecies.

Be glad that we are that nation who recognized our Lord Jesus and joined in His salvation. Be comforted by Jesus our Lord on this new day.

Bucky

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Warily Watching the World

By his lips doth a hater dissemble, 
And in his heart he placeth deceit,

When his voice is gracious trust not in him, 
For seven abominations are in his heart.  Proverbs 26:24-25 (Young's Literal Translation)

I searched for 'dissemble' in the Bible and foundeth one in the YLT which soundeth not unlike the King James doth soundeth!

To dissemble is to play with words so as to deceive your neighbor. The child playing in the tub states that he has a washcloth, but the mother not being born nearly yesterday asks, "But did you use it?" Having a thing is of course not the same as using the thing. Years later as a county official the child may use the same sort of dissembling as he claims the county has this piece of equipment when questioned by the media. The zealous investigative reporter may indeed find said equipment in the back of the county yard enjoying a good rusting and standing on flat tires. Dissembling has been used by many a public servant. Sometimes they are caught at it, other times it works and is then likely to be brought out as a tool later on.

We were told by the Lord to be wary, like a serpent is wary of the boot descending toward it or the sharp-eyed hawk floating on the wind currents above. The world is going to dissemble, and obfuscate, and just plain lie to us. This place is at the moment still the princedom of the great deceiver, and at some point you and I will face that deception. Be wary!

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24 (NKJV)

If possible? Yes, if it is just me alone, it is quite possible to deceive me. We must of course depend upon God's dear Holy Spirit within us to warn of that deception, for it is already at work as Paul said, and will soon become the new normal as we approach the finale of this world.

Even if you do fall to deception, depend on His grace!

Bucky

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Waiters

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14

Jesus went to an inn on the outskirts of a town one day to see how his people were doing in this age. Taking a seat in the middle booth, the Lord looked out at the passing traffic.

One waiter noticed his new customer and knew who the Lord was. This waiter was a doer, and he looked down on those who didn't. "Leave reflection to mud puddles!" he would say often to those who paused to think things through. This waiter wanted very much to please the Lord and proceeded to show Jesus every plate the inn offered for the noon meal, plus a few others he tried on the spot. In his zeal to show the Lord how good he had become, this waiter only slipped once, spilling just a little tomato soup on the Lord's spotless robes of white.

Another waiter, who shared the lunchtime assignment of that particular middle booth, also noticed the Lord sitting in his booth, for he was not sure whose turn it was to serve at that moment. This waiter was one of those thinkers despised by the other. He began to reflect on what he might be called upon to serve the Master. Anxiety crept into his thinking and as he sat back observing the Lord, waiting for a sign of which dish to bring out in order to best serve his Lord, he began to ruminate on all of his past mistakes, including that time he had spilled a quantity of tomato soup on the Lord's robes.

The Lord Jesus opened his mouth to speak, and both waiters paused - one his rushing feet and the other his rushing thoughts.

"What I would like," the Lord said, "is for the both of you to come and dine with me."

Bucky

Thursday, January 11, 2018

From No Hope To Greatest Hope

"that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12

Many a disappointment in this life has taught us the futility of placing our hope in the institutions of this world. Paul to the church at Ephesus wrote of a people having no hope at all. Some of those he wrote to were likely what the world would call successful before they came to believe in Christ. Like us, they understood what Paul meant by 'having no hope', and yet they also could recall that time and how they placed their hope in the things of this world. Many a person in that former condition, that we too might recall from our experience, would be baffled by Paul's assertion; they would list their job, income, possessions, health, and in some cases their youth, as proof that they had great hope in themselves and in this world.

Praise God that He has shown us the better way! And quite often that showing has involved loss. We have lost homes. We have lost jobs. We have lost income. We have lost businesses. We have lost our health. We have lost a great many things that appeared to the worldly eyes to offer some hope of security in this world. Praise God that we do not have to place our hope in such fickle things anymore!

For a time we mourn the loss of these worldly things because we still see with the eyes we first opened in this world. We have felt the pain of trying to pay bills without money in the account. We have felt the sick pain of maintaining a job or business when suffering an illness or lack of that perfect health illusion. Sometimes it very much seems to us that this world is out to prove unequivocally to us that Christ is the only hope we can count on. If that is indeed the case, then let us with all due speed learn that lesson!

Praise God that our hope is now in Christ Jesus!

Bucky

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Pretty Bible

But the word of God grew and multiplied. Acts 12:24

So here in the 1st century as the disciples grew in number, we read that they took to printing lots of Bibles. No, if our history is correct that wouldn't happen until the printing press was invented centuries later. Even those places where monks would gather to laboriously hand write new Bibles would not be formed for many years. So what is this word of God that grew and multiplied?

On the bookshelves of many homes one might easily find a pretty Bible, sometimes covered in a layer of dust, but still with its gold gilt edges and fancy leather cover it is a fine book to look at and perhaps even wish for one like it. But many other books have been printed and decorated in much the same way, why are they not special like the Bible is to us? In any case, the early apostles had no ability to produce such a pretty Bible as we can easily purchase today. That cannot be the thing which made the word of God grow and multiply here in the Acts.

If numbers of copies and the pretty attractiveness of the book are not what grew and multiplied here, what is it about this thing? If the 1st century homeowner could not run to his or her bookshelf and grab a beautifully bound and printed copy of the Bible, what made this word of God grow and multiply? Why do I switch so easily between the Bible and the word of God, are they one and the same?

Of course it is about faith. I believe in Jesus and the word of God comes alive in me, and in doing so it begins to grow and multiply within the heart of the new believer. The Bible, the word of God, is forever linked to God's own Holy Spirit, the One given to us by Jesus and who will never leave nor forsake us. As He reminds us of scripture, the Spirit grows the word of God in us. But, there is more to it than that. John the disciple and one beloved of Christ, realized through the Lord's revelation that the word of God was personified in Jesus the Christ. He lives! is a statement of more than we know. The very word of God lives in us, and that is how we know that a pretty Bible on a dusty shelf does not grow and multiply. It is the Son of God, the Word, who grows and multiplies in us through His dear Spirit who is God in us.

Immanuel forevermore!
Bucky

Monday, January 08, 2018

Finding It In The Heart

"For You, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You." 2 Samuel 7:27

Prayer as a word does not occur until this verse in the King James version of the Bible. However, we know that prayer as in talking to God occurred many times before this. A big point is that the Lord is establishing the house of David, and just after Christmas we know why that house was important. What came to me though was David's statement of finding it in his heart to pray this prayer.

David probably did not do a treasure hunt sort of search through the fields of his heart and exclaim, "Well, lookee here at what I found!" We know from our own experience that what God places in our hearts to pray for may come at any time, even 3:00 am. Sometimes that early morning/dead of night call to prayer is the best time for the Lord to gain our attention during our busy lives. What surprises me are those times when I am called to pray for persons I don't even know. Of course God knows all and though I may not see an answer to prayers for someone far away, I trust in Him to respond in His goodness and love. We tend to seek out the big revelation like John received on the island of Patmos, but more often we are called to a prayer that is more our size.

Praise God for His provision of prayer to us.
Bucky

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Unclean Falling Lizards

‘These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind; the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. Leviticus 11:29-30

An unusual weather event brings with it unusual news reports, such as the report of falling iguanas in Florida from the cold temperatures there. (Cold being relative to the location as usual.) Around here last week the poor lizards would have been frozen solid and unlikely to survive, as opposed to the 'frozen' news headline I read which is an exaggeration.

Reading a bit of the Law of Moses, we see that there were no survivalists among the Israelites as many of the things a person might use for food in a pinch were banned by the law. Unclean! simply to touch them; obviously eating an unclean thing would be problematic. As I was about to run out onto the streets yelling a warning about unclean falling lizards, along came Jesus saying, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” (Mark 7:18-19)

The Lord also went on to tell His disciples about all those terrible and defiling things that come out of the heart of man. We are defiled from within. While we look around at the world, fearful of defilement by an outside source, we spew forth from an unclean heart the defilement we fear. That is of course the very thing that Jesus came to save us from! Praise God for the cleansing of the heart by the blood of the Lamb that goes on in us even today. And if you should need to travel way down south today, watch out for those falling lizards!

Bucky

Friday, January 05, 2018

Work, But Rest Too

For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works” Hebrews 4:4

The first Friday of 2018 is here! The holidays have passed for another year and it may seem a relief to get back to plain ol' work. We also have a duty to rest. That may be a difficult proposition for some.

A day of rest for the body and soul. A day of doing nothing at all. Just lost some folks right there. Nothing?! I can't do that! They say with a shudder. For a day each week the Israelites were to do no work, not even cooking. There were not to leave their tents. No guard duty.

Wait, you mean that the entire point was not to rest? I'm working out some faith here, but perhaps the point of the Sabbath rest was to trust. The rest observed was only the outward, obvious thing that was going on while in the heart the Israelites were learning to trust God and let things rest with Him. For a day each week, they had to leave their security completely in God's hands. No guards with spears circling the resting camp, for that would defile the Sabbath and the guards. A sea of tents without apparent human activity. Ripe pickings for any enemy who happens along, or so it would seem from an earthly view. Our Lord is always who He is though, do we trust Him enough to leave our endeavors with Him for one whole day this week?

A day of rest does our body good. How much good might come to us from resting our anxious thoughts for a day? I work at that anxious toil way too much; I'm sure a day off each week would do me much good!

Let us all resolve to rest in our Lord one day each week, and may God bless us in this,

Bucky

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Looking Ahead!

For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:25-26 NLT

A Christian may easily look at himself and see that perfection as measured by the Law has not yet come. However, by Paul's testimony we see that God looks at Himself and sees that it has been purchased for us by His Son. No one must ask God if that is His final answer, for the Lord does not give answers as men do in their ignorance.

Therefore, looking ahead let us see the perfected creature we shall become in Christ Jesus. Want to keep a resolution to do better in some way? Look to the Lord and look ahead as He does to the righteous saint that God has made by His Son.

Is this the Christian fantasy world the scoffers would accuse us of living in? Only if we think that God lives in a fantasy world. Paul did not seem to think that was the case as he wrote down for us a testimony of what God has done in His Son, our Lord Jesus the Christ.

Amen, come Lord Jesus!
Bucky

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Ministry In Peace

Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10

What was this city Paul was so afraid to speak in? Corinth. Yes, the church of two known letters from Paul and more that are lost to history. He stayed there a year and a half to minister in peace. But the great apostle Paul needed the words of God to comfort and correct him. What great words might have been lost to us from the Bible had Paul been left to give in to his fear. And what was that great comfort of the Lord?

That the Lord was with him was certainly foremost, but there is that one about many people in this city. Apparently Paul had not met these people yet, or at least not the many the Lord spoke of to His apostle trembling by night. Like a certain group of frightened shepherds, the Lord Jesus had a message He wanted Paul to deliver, and He didn't want Paul to take off just yet.

We too live in a land where we can minister in peace. Some would have us keep it inside the walls of churches or houses. Others would rather that all churches be banned. But for now we are protected by the law of the land. However, I also believe that God would say the same of the United States of America as He did of Corinth. You and I have likely met only a few of the many people who belong to God in this nation, but our brothers and sisters in Christ are out there. Are they saved yet?

It is likely that many of God's many people in Corinth had not yet become found sheep. That would happen as Paul spoke and kept not silent while ministering the good news of Jesus the Christ. Indeed Paul's letters to the church in Corinth speak to us even today as the apostle did not keep silent in writing after he departed for other pastures. Praise God for His words of comfort to us!

Bucky

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Starting The New Year

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 7:11

Our cold snap is ending today, but that does not mean that it has ended this morning for it is very cold out there! We are not looking to start this year with quite the same change that Noah faced on his day in the verse for today. Noah got up and observed the world changing forever. Usually our new year begins with a more mild observance: it's cold, the first super moon of the year, things like that. Noah began a new phase of human history as the Great Deluge began on that day. I kind of like the mild changes of the new years of this time.

However, one day, perhaps on a January 1st, we have this prophecy of a great change:

So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Revelation 9:15

A quick sentence, soon finished, but such biblical understatement. Actually it is not understated at all, we are just accustomed to many superlatives attached to something like that. A third of mankind. Four angels. What would a dozen angels do? And this is not the hand of God Himself.

For the moment we live in a time of mild changes and let us thank the Lord for that. Certain days to come hold quite dramatic changes even if they are stated in a straightforward way in the Word of God. These days will come just as Noah's day did. A good reason for all to cling to Jesus in prayer all the time!

Have a great new year!
Bucky