Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Big Changes In The Storm

​I would hasten my escape
​​From the windy storm and tempest. Psalm 55:8

Every time my faith is tested and strengthened I want to do as David contemplates here in the verse for today. Yes, I cry out to the Lord to hasten my escape almost from the moment the storm's wind beats on my door. I am much like my brothers and sisters in Christ in this.

We like the times of calm seas for sailing, a sunny temperate day for walking, and a full pantry for eating. However no one becomes stronger in the faith in those times. Anyone could remain true to the Lord if faith were never tested. A quiet repose after an easy life shows little of faith, but faithfully praising God through a storm of epic proportions shows a strengthened faith upheld by the Lord Himself. And that storm can bring big changes in life that show our need for faith in Him.

As we close out February of this year, many are facing big changes. Saying farewell to a company that provided a job for years, leaving a town and home that have been theirs for decades, and all the emotional upheaval that entails is coming for many in this area. Pray for a strengthening of their faith and ours as the storm is upon us. Those left behind will need faith too, as the economic loss will affect them for good or bad. Steadfast endurance is called for, as the recovery from such a loss may take years. In all of these storms and changes though, our Lord Jesus Christ remains faithfully with us.

Fear not, rejoice in the strengthening of our faith in Christ!


Monday, February 26, 2018

Hear the Word, and Get More

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. Mark 4:24

This at the first may seem to be a complex verse, but from what I have learned thus far in my study of the word, God wants us to hear and understand His word. The Bible is not like that claw arcade game where most of the time the player reaches in and all the prizes slip away from his grasp. There is usually no trick to hearing and understanding the word of the Lord; we simply ask of Him and His Holy Spirit teaches us.

So, simple and straightforward it is! We read a warning to be cautious in what we hear, and surely this will also pertain to reading and seeing. Then, we are warned that to be stingy in our measure will bring the same back upon us when we need to receive. And finally, when we hear what our Lord is saying through His word, then we will be given more of it. Is that it?

A great thing about the Word is that if you dig in with a teaspoon, it will teach you in like amounts. But if you go into it with a shovel, that too will return to teach you in the same measure. And if you are a real champion of the Bible study, you can dig in with a steam shovel and get a return by landslide amounts. The Word of the Lord is shallow enough for a quick skim, or deep enough for some steadfast drilling-down study. We will not run out of God's word in this short lifetime. Even Methuselah did not live long enough to outlive the riches of our Lord's Word. So, feel free to measure yourself a healthy amount of God's word today, there is more than enough for all of us. As you read, hear the Word and get some more!

Love in Christ Jesus,

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Somehow We Know

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You. Psalm 143:8

Take only this verse for this morning and examine the One to whom this is addressed. Wait, all we get is 'Your' and 'You', yet we know just like the translator did to put a capital on those words for they are addressed to our Lord. Somehow we know.

Could it be the lovingkindness? A word used often of our Lord. How about lifting up the soul? For something so valuable to each of us, only the Lord will do for entrusting our soul. But people throughout history have been easily misguided and led astray to many strange ends. Here we also see the prayer - cause me to hear Your lovingkindness and cause me to know the way. We know the words of praise and prayer to the Lord by the Spirit in us, but we are born fallen and need the guidance of our Lord to return to Him. Even born again in Christ we need His guidance as we walk with Him on this life's journey.

Somehow we know the prayer of a man lifting up his soul to God, probably by the leading of the Spirit in us to pray for those same things. So close do we draw to our Lord and each other that we may even know this to be a psalm of David, and indeed it is. "Hear my prayer, O Lord," "deliver me, O Lord," and "Revive me, O Lord," resound in this psalm and in our hearts as our brother calls out to his Savior. We know through our Lord!


Friday, February 23, 2018

A Deeply Held Unknown Prejudice

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Acts 10:44-46

"Wait, what?" the Israelites with Peter said, "that Spirit of God belongs to us!" Okay, so I made up a few words for them, but they may have thought that they had an exclusive right from God and this brought on some astonishment when the Spirit was given to a bunch of Gentiles. Dogs were closer to the kingdom of Heaven than Gentiles to the Jewish way of thinking, how could this happen? The new converts from Peter's home nation had some learning to do about that promise that ALL would be saved who call upon the name of the Lord.

We too may have grown up with some preconceptions about who can be saved. We may not know those prejudices are there until the Holy Spirit is given to someone we - yes we must admit it now - didn't think could be saved. It is shocking; it is surprising; how could we, God's saved children, have anything against a fellow sinner? Those with Peter may not have realized their deeply held unknown prejudice until astonishment came upon them at the salvation of that bunch o' Gentiles. As the new believers in Christ magnified God, a bunch of people who should have been celebrating stood by with their jaws agape.

Praise God that His dear Holy Spirit is available to all who will believe!


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Deeply Divided

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand." Matthew 12:25

One might well wonder how long the United States can remain united with such (apparently) deep divisions as we see in the news each day. Indeed, if such divisions are shared throughout the land, then by the promise of our Lord the nation cannot stand and will be brought to desolation. However, as we have seen, the media we watch does seem to delight in presenting the opposite poles while ignoring the center. Are we so divided as some would have us believe?

Our division has a cure, but everyone must accept Him. And there is the problem we face. Some, on one side or the other, do not want to come home like the prodigal son and find a restored relationship with the Father. Dare we face the horrible fact that some of our fellow citizens actually enjoy prying at the divisions in our nation, and that they will use the largest pry bar they can find? Sadly it is true, but no one can show that evil intent so well as the One who came to bring the sword. (Matt. 10:34). Wait, what? Do you mean that all this division, outrage, and strife might be a part of His plan for the age? Does this mean that the One who teaches us to love one another also divides the sheep from the goats? Absolutely!

In the end, Jesus will say to all, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11

And He divided them, the sheep from the goats,

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

God Can't Speak To Me

And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel. Genesis 35:15

A man says that God spoke to him through a note left in the frost of his windshield, and we say, "Crackpot!" Another says that God spoke to her by a voice she heard in the shower, and we say, "Crazy!" A man riding his donkey claims that it spoke to him when he tried to make it ride down an angel of the Lord, and we say, "Oh, wait, that's from the Bible!" Another man says that a burning bush was not consumed and when he went over to get a closer look the Lord spoke to him, and we say, "Uh, that's Moses, it's a famous story from the Bible and he is a hero of the faith!"

If I say that God cannot speak to me, then He probably won't. If I limit God to only the words contained within His word that we call the Bible, then He may speak no further. But God may have some specific instructions for me that I'm holding back by my stubborn refusal to hear Him. What's worse is that by throwing derogatory labels around, we may cause a neighbor to stop hearing from the Lord and we might miss a message of love and comfort that we need. It's tragic and comic how some will lean into every red-letter word from the Word of God, and yet tell a neighbor that God is done speaking to us and further words from Him are impossible.

Impossible, said of God, really... surely by now we know better than to say that.

May our Lord speak to you personally today,

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Good News From A Far Country

​As cold water to a weary soul,
​​So is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25

This morning, I cannot think of a country farther away than God's Heaven. (Though it is likely much closer than we think.) A quick glance at the news this morning, and Heaven seems quite far away from here. Even my imagination comes up short when trying to guess at what the Lord's home must be like. Do they have a transmitter of some sort there to send us some good news? As the parable of our Lord Jesus goes, God sent His prophets and finally His most special messenger, His Son.

The good news from a far country that we seek has already come down and delivered Himself. Indeed, Isaiah tells us that those living in darkness have seen a great light. Today we can stare into the darkness of a seemingly inexhaustible supply of bad news from the world, or we can look toward a far country and receive the good news of Jesus Christ. However, I have it on good authority from the very word of God that He is not staying there!

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." a message from Jesus in Revelation 22:12-13

Yes, we can look toward the light of His good news for He is coming quickly, and His good news is so needed in this dark place!

The good news from a far country is coming quickly!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Calling Him 'Enemy'

Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” Matthew 12:24

It is one thing to fail to recognize the Lord Jesus, but here in Matthew the Pharisees called Him 'enemy' and by the name of an enemy at that. They said that the Son of God had power only by the ruler of the those who opposed God. Those guys really go for that old 'in for a penny' thing. Could anyone so opposed to the Lord Jesus be saved? For with God nothing is impossible!

We have only to look at Saul of Tarsus, or Paul as we know him in the Greek version of his name, to see the saving grace of Jesus our Lord. One meeting on the road to Damascus and Paul was turned around from the opposition of the Pharisees to a champion of the Christian faith. It was a big meeting and its effects were dramatic, but Paul's opposition was thoroughly educated and deeply ingrained. Yet, the saving power of Jesus is the greater power and Paul's story became a blessing to all those who believe.

What about your story or my story would be a blessing to all those who will believe if we just share it with them? Who might be turned to the Lord by a good story? Let us endeavor in Christ the Lord to find out!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Created, Claimed, Redeemed

You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation. Exodus 15:13

The first point of the enemy's attack must be upon Creation. To believe in God is to believe in His word, and that word begins with God's creation of the heavens and the Earth. If the enemy can get the created to turn away from their Creator, then his work is accomplished. However, even after the turning away of Adam and Eve, God claimed them as His own. It was not the enemy who made skins for them after their nakedness was revealed by their disobedience. Provision, care, and love were poured out upon the disobedient children of the Lord even as they took their first opportunity to rebel against Him. Then, there was a redemption.

Jesus came down from on high to accomplish what sinful man could not, He redeemed God's creation. The way back to the Father is through the Son. Redemption was needed before we could go to God's Heaven. How strange it must be to the enemy to look back and see those he turned away being loved and cared for by the Father. Stranger to the enemy was the Son who came and redeemed us from that sin. So afraid of that outcome was he that the enemy attacked the Son with all he had by way of temptation and opposition, but it did not work. Our Lord Jesus stands triumphant having redeemed all.

We want to climb up to Heaven in our strength, note how we are guided home in our verse today.

Christ the Lord!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Worn Out

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

Another mass shooting, do you feel worn out yet? The only reason I do not is a higher power, for it is not in myself to have the strength to stand before so many news stories of this type. Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, is the reason I can go on and even write about this thing. I place my faith in the One who has made me a saint of the Most High. My Lord Jesus is the only way I can see to rejoice in the Lord always while I see once again the story of another murder of children in school. My brothers and sisters in Christ will face similar feelings on this day.

A spirit of murder stalks our land. I do not know if the time, times and half a time has begun yet, but it surely does seem that so many have been given into the hand of this evil power. Some would blame the existence of firearms, but they and other weapons are only tools of this spirit, and tools can be used for other purposes. Willing servants of this evil power abound in our land and they are already past any wall we can build. (Whether a wall might stop other persons of evil intent who are outside our borders is not our subject for today.) The servants we might stop at times, but the ones who get through are doing great harm to our nation. What we need is a savior, someone with the power to know what is going on inside the mind of those who would plot to murder and then carry out their evil schemes. What we have is a direct communication channel to the Most High God that is called prayer.

...and the world cried, "Useless!" among other derogatory and faithless words concerning our mental state and intelligence.

Yes, stopping to pray to God for salvation from this thing will set us at odds with the powers of this world. To those who do not believe in our Lord Jesus we will appear foolish and weak. I'm okay with that, as long as they begin to understand that the One I pray to is neither of those things. And when enough of us believe and ask of Him in humility and love, I believe He will act. Let us mourn the fallen and come to our Lord in prayer.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love One Another

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34

Happy Valentine's Day! As I read the verse for today, I was glad of the list of exceptions that immediately follows it. No, no, no, there is no such list. How many times have we applied an exception to the Lord's new command when none exists? Verse 35 of this chapter in John reads: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Oh... but reading some Christian comments and statements one must surely be led to read further for that list of exceptions to our Lord's command.

All of us have seen the apparent exceptions such as the bully who picked on another for years and even after the school years had long since passed by. Surely we can grant an exception for that? How about that ex? Surely the one who lied in court and took away your kids deserves an exception to the command to love. We know of course that our Lord granted no authority to us to make exceptions to His command to love one another. Yet, we are tempted daily to do just that.

On this annual observance of love that we call St. Valentine's Day or just Valentine's Day, let us make every effort to remove any old exceptions we may have created to that new command our Lord gave to us. Maybe that boss who contrived to terminate that position we thought was our path to retirement? Nope, sorry, we must love him or her too. I'm glad our Lord did not make exceptions to His rule. After all, like poor Scrooge in the story, I might find that in the eyes of Heaven I was the one most deserving of an exception!

Praise God for His great love!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Weakened Recovery

At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. Isaiah 39:1

The rest of the story is that King Hezekiah would invite the envoys who brought the letter and present into his house and showed them the lot - treasures, works of art, his favorite pipe or whatever else the king had to show off. Isaiah would then bring a message from the Lord saying that all of that would be taken away and hauled off to Babylon.

It may well be that King Hezekiah suffered that weakened moment we may get as the recovery from sickness brings on a feeling of relief. The person feels better, perhaps for the first time in many days, and that giddy happiness can leave us open to an attack by the enemy, political or spiritual. Yes, it does seem unfair; we should be able to enjoy the moment at least. I guess the enemy likes a happy meal too.

As the devil stalks about seeking whom he may devour, those in a weakened state are easy prey. A celebration, whether large or small, may be a distraction that allows the enemy to slip in a blaming bolt past our defenses. Sometimes that bolt comes right through the open mouth as like King Hezekiah we may open it to show off instead of praising our Lord. A blaming bolt is where we cast blame and get into trouble that way. Of course, I meant to type flaming bolt, but my fingers had a different idea in mind it seems. Either way we end up in trouble right in the midst of the celebration of our recovery. In this world, it seems that a celebration must have in it that measure of caution and watchful vigilance that we are called to in the Lord's service. One day, that great day, we look forward in joy and anticipation to the wedding feast of the Lamb - I think then we can let our guard down and celebrate with Him forever!

To God be the glory!

Friday, February 09, 2018

God Works In The Misery Too

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

It's a miserable runny Friday in the land of mountain-less Colorado. For weeks now persons of low repute have come into the office sneezing, hacking, sniffling, and coughing; and I have resisted their onslaught of germ-laden air successfully...until yesterday. Now like most big boys who endure sickness poorly and with much whining, I'm going to wail like a little boy too. Actually, this makes a really spiffy example of how we must walk with our Lord each and every day!

We read Peter's admonition to be sober and vigilant, but we tend to take it as advice for this one time. Like that time we walked along the edge of a bad neighborhood. As we made it past and back home, we let our guard down. However, we cannot just resist for an evening or even several weeks, we are to BE sober and vigilant. That speaks of remaining in Christ, fully armored in the full armor of God, holding up that shield of faith at all times, and learning to use that sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

When we don't remain in that posture of spiritual war, we fall to the weapons of the evil one. If we successfully resist in the one time, the enemy goes away for a time for the fruit of the Spirit, patience and endurance, is not in him. However, as he or his minions stalk about, our turn will come again, and just like with my little virus adventure that began yesterday, if the resistance fails for but a moment the fall will come. But the shield of faith has something to say: God works in the misery too!

Praise God for His saving grace in the storm!


Thursday, February 08, 2018

A Tough Step

And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36

Want to be more like Jesus? Here in this verse are three good steps, tough steps, that we might take to become more like our Lord. Abba - the modern equivalent might be 'daddy', and here we see our Lord calling the sovereign creator of all things by that name. I think that even now after years of association with our Lord God that I feel more inclined toward hiding in the bushes like Adam and calling out a lengthy list of the Lord's titles than to walk with Him asking, "Daddy?" The flesh in me still feels that distance of sin which He abolished at the cross. That is my fault of course for listening to the accusations of the Accuser and hearing the desire of the flesh to bridge the great divide by my effort at religion.

The second is admitting and believing that all things are possible for God. The accusations of the enemy are not baseless; I was born a sinner and it shows still. However, I was born again a saint in Christ Jesus, and His work shows in me too. His work. What is more impossible for us than to save ourselves? It is His seemingly impossible salvation that brings us in a lifetime journey at long last to that bridge across the immeasurable chasm that Adam's sin made between us and our God. That bridge we cross with our Lord and Savior to come at last to the Father and call Him, Abba, Father!

Finally, we must have help with this one too, and that is to give up our will and live in the will of the Father. This is the one time in our Lord's life that we see Him not wanting to do all that the Father gave Him to do. Yet, "nevertheless," He says, "not what I will, but what You will." Giving up the will of the self and what we want is also a tough step. We grow and become smart in the ways of the world, and we think we know what we need and want. However, what we need and want is for His will to be done, and only then can we know the joy of life as our Abba would have it.

All of that reminds me that I am wholly inadequate and that His way, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, is the way to go!

In the love of Christ,

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Dependent Upon The Lord

Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12.

Growing up we are dependent upon our parents, and they answer to the Lord. This is an enjoyable time in life where we get to ask Mom, 'What's for dinner?' about 10,000 times. As we grow past that stage and into adults, we become dependent upon no one... or so we think. Yes, part of growing up and away from home is the independent attitude that often characterizes young adults in their late teens and twenties. It is a mistake of course and one that most people will grow out of in time as realization comes that no one is so alone that he or she is not interdependent on all that is around them. What sets those who believe in Jesus apart from the world is our growing and wonderful knowledge that we are and always have been dependent upon our Lord God.

The first is that dependence upon Him for our salvation as we come to know that there is no other way to the Father except through the Son. (John 14:6). We also come to know that it is His provision that allows us to work and make a living in this world. As many are finding out at this time of the year, a little flu and there is no working. It is God who provides us with health and strength to work. And therein is the difference that sets us apart: Believe and enjoy the provision of our Lord with gratitude, or don't believe in Him and refuse to admit His provision.

So, what was that bit Paul said about living not dependent on anybody? Paul realized his dependence on the Lord as much as anyone. What he didn't want us or his Thessalonian brothers and sisters to do was to live on another person's work. This is not to say that we should refuse to accept help when we need it from our brothers and sisters. Many a faithful believer in Christ suffered through a deep valley in this recent recession we endured just a few years ago, and not all have recovered yet. Trials and tribulations will come in this world, but if we have the provision of strength and health from God, we must put it to work!

It is a good day to glorify God with some work!

Monday, February 05, 2018

How Important Is The Word?

The wise men are ashamed,
They are dismayed and taken.
Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD;
So what wisdom do they have? Jeremiah 8:9

Every nation has some group of wise men/women serving as advisers or senators or whatever title they have in the moment. In some few states they may simply take dictation, but they are there for however long their time lasts. Those of us down, way down, on the national ladder hope that those serving on the upper rungs have a measure of wisdom from God. The question in our current time is: Do they have any wisdom at all?

In the time of Jeremiah the prophet, the wise men found themselves ashamed, dismayed and taken. This is not the end result we are hoping for from wise men. Certainly those wise men who sought out the young Christ did not end up this way. Of course they are called wise for seeking out the Lord Jesus; while the wise men Jeremiah writes of had rejected the word of God. So what wisdom do they have? Well, none at all it would seem, and in later verses they also lose their wives and lands. There would appear to be a strong connection between rejecting the word of God and losing everything.

How important is the Word of God? With it we have life in Jesus Christ. Without it...loss of all. Who will save if the Savior is rejected by the shunning of His good news? Who will redeem if the Redeemer is not taken at His word? Believe, and take the Word of God as the truth of God. For it is the word of life and light in this present darkness. I am so glad that you have accepted the Word of God in your life!

In Christ Jesus,

Friday, February 02, 2018

The Plentiful Rain

You, O God, sent a plentiful rain,
Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance,
When it was weary.  Psalm 68:9

The weary times come way more often than we like in this age. Although we should see it coming - there was the toil and sweat thing told to Adam in Genesis 3 - we of course prefer the times of rejoicing and rest. However, in many a time and place our toil and sweat seems to accomplish nothing and we grow weary of a world that seems dead set against us and our efforts. And it was in one of those moments that our Lord sent a plentiful rain which David recorded in a psalm for us to remember in those tough times. Great and good is the Lord our God who sends the plentiful rain in the time of drought.

Now if I could just get the Lord to provide when I want...

That would be just the worst thing that could happen to me. The Lord responds in His wisdom and sends His provision in His love and goodness. My timing, though it may seem just right to me, is not often just right at all from the Lord's omniscient view. My idea of what amount and where it is needed is based on a small (really tiny) view, while the Lord's view is from His complete and perfect knowledge of all things and times. His way is, as it has always been, the best way.

Thank You, our dear Lord Jesus, for Your plentiful rain in Your perfect time!


Thursday, February 01, 2018


“For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, so that they did not go into the land which the LORD had given them." Numbers 32:9

Discouragement, that powerful weapon of the evil one, has prevented projects from starting, halted construction halfway through, and left many a Christian washed up and alone. Why does the evil one like it so much? Because it works. That which we call depression begins with discouragement and ends when the flower of courage blooms once more. If what we call anxiety is but fear by another name, then depression is the discouraged child of the Lord paralyzed by despair. It is an enemy worth fighting for the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ!

The story of the Israelites arriving just across the river from the land promised to them by God is the great illustration of discouragement. Ten scouts spoke discouragement and took the heart of faith out of Israel. The people heard the reports, sifted out the faith of Joshua and Caleb, took stock of themselves, forgot all that God had done for them, accepted discouragement, and turned away from the land flowing with milk and honey. Not one of the men over 20, with the exception of faithful Joshua and Caleb, would see the promised land. And the Lord in His anger turned His beloved Israel around to wander the wilderness for 40 years.

What wilderness have you or I decided to wander because of discouragement? Where would the Lord lead us in faith, if we would take courage from Him and believe? Tough questions to look at the self and answer, but Israel did come to its promised land after the discouragement was worked out. Trust in Him!