Monday, April 30, 2018

A Good Story, With a Tough Point

Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Mark 12:1

Jesus told some stories with sharp points to them, and the religious leaders of Judea did not fail to understand some of the more pointed ones. The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers got them right in their religious pride and they sought to harm the storyteller. You can read the rest of the story in Mark 12:1-12, of how the wicked vinedressers hurt and killed the owner's servants until finally the son was sent. "They will respect my son," the owner thought. But the hearts of the vinedressers had become so evil that even the son was murdered by them. Was this foolishness on the part of the owner?

To the world, what is a provision of many opportunities to do the right thing looks like foolishness. We forgive seventy times seven times and the world calls it foolishness. The Lord continues to send prophets, preachers, missionaries and ministers; and these are slandered and slain, and the world may see this as foolishness. "Why does the master not come himself with force to slay those wicked vinedressers," one might ask. They will not see that when our Lord does come with the force of His vengeance against those who would hurt and kill His servants that it will all be over. No more chances to repent and do the right thing. The wicked vinedressers of the world will be cast into the outer darkness. It is a tough point, and one the world would deny. That denial will not change the ending of this story though. Repent while the Lord allows time for the world to do the right thing.


Friday, April 27, 2018

What is Poor? Which is Rich?

The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up. 1 Samuel 2:7

Some would claim that it is hard work that makes a person rich. That is a way to take credit for what appears good to us. If I am rich, then I must have worked hard and deserved this condition of wealth. Look how good I am! Poor on the other hand generally happens to someone. No one claims to be deserving of poverty due to his lack of effort, it just sort of happened. A different form of attention is desired here, one in which guilt and shame are not heaped on the victim. Look at me, this isn't my fault, pity me and give me another opportunity to become rich like you. Yet, what is poor? Which is rich?

If I could write a check this morning and purchase the Union Pacific Railroad, assuming the check did not immediately cause an unseemly mirth and choking fits of laughter such to render everyone helpless, I could be considered rich. In a realm closer to reality, I had a tasty breakfast this morning with bacon, fried eggs, toast with peanut butter, and coffee. I feel quite rich right now and I am grateful to God for His provision. So which is rich? Given that any check written by me with enough zeros behind a number to cause a large public company to pay attention would only cause hilarity at the bank just before they had me arrested, am I then to be considered poor? Perhaps not, but if I should have no food to eat or money to purchase any food tomorrow, would I be poor then? If our entire judgment of rich and poor is based on what we are able to do or not do, is this not a relative measure? So, what is poor and which is rich?

Am I lost in an argument that I can never solve?

Hannah prayed the prayer from which our verse for today comes. She prayed it way back before 1,000 BC, or something like 3,000 years ago. They had rich and poor then, and we have rich and poor now. This morning, I am not going to solve any problems we think we have between rich and poor with just a little writing on my own. God, on the other hand, must have a purpose and a plan going on, for He could solve any rich/poor thing right away and right quick. Whatever might be thought a problem on my part may in fact be on the Lord's training plan for me on this day. To be suddenly made from rich to poor or back the other way might delay my journey home from here in Prodigal Land, and I don't want that!

For the call has gone out for all of the prodigal sons of Adam and daughters of Eve to return to the Father, and it is toward home we must turn. Let us follow our Lord Jesus home from this day until our journey is completed.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

At That Time

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

We know there is deliverance, this and other verses promise it, but we do not know the timing. "At that time..." our Lord says, and faith is content with the Lord holding that time safely for us against the many things in this world that would distract us. I don't like the foretelling of a time of trouble, especially one of which the Lord says, "such as never was since there was a nation." My imagination runs away and hides from that awful knowledge, for it does not take much to think back on all the persecutions, tortures, wars, diseases, and other troubles that have come and gone over the years, and then put a 'worse than' in front of them all to see something of this time of trouble that is foretold.

However, encapsulating all this time of trouble are those two great promises: Michael standing up - the one who stands watch over the sons of Daniel's people, and that deliverance for "every one who is found written in the book." Many other promises in the Word of God speak of deliverance for those who believe in our Lord Jesus. As that time of such trouble approaches in this world, it is these loving promises of our Lord that we must cling to in faith. Trouble will have its time, but at that time we have God who loves us in His everlasting goodness.

In Christ we live,

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What Is Good For This Life?

For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun? Ecclesiastes 6:12

Have you looked at your monitor to discover that a cough or perhaps a sneeze got by your cleaning vigilance and now, ew, the white background shows the funk? I hope you are not eating breakfast while reading this! I would like to present myself before God like that white screen: clean, perfect, showing not the smallest sign of the former funk of the world. My vigilance is suspect, however, tainted by quite large signs of self-interest. I want to see myself as good, but the Law shows a different picture. Without a cleansing by One who has no stain of sin to transfer to my 'screen', I am going to discover a bit of a mess where I hoped all would be clean and white.

Solomon, who was given all that we think good for us in life including wisdom, riches, authority as king, power, and talent, wondered who can know what is good for man in life. The wisdom granted the king by God is what caused him to ask the question. Where it leads those who will believe in our Lord Jesus is to, well, Jesus our Lord! Who can know what happens after? He does, for He died for our sins and lived again. Who can know what is good for man in life? He does, for He came down into a manger in Bethlehem and lived the life of a man. His life was one that was not spent in vain. His life was given for us, to save us and to cleanse us from the stain of our sin.

The good questions in life lead us to Him; the good answers are Him! Praise Jesus our Lord and Savior!


Monday, April 23, 2018

A Rotten Imagination

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 8:21

As the Lord promised in His heart to not destroy all life from the Earth again, man was tinkering around with a rotten imagination. Yes, I too have lived for brief periods in my rotten imagination. Some might call it daydreaming, but from my youth just as the Word states I have gone often to my imagination for entertainment, wishful thinking, and to churn over some emotions for a spell. And I can read in this verse that I'm not the only one who has done and does this. Some of you may not seem very imaginative to me, but this verse has told you out! Sorry, the Bible does not let the hidden things lie covered from those who will read and study its words of wisdom.

Alas, now that my rotten imagination has been exposed for the sinful thing that it is, I shall now write everything that comes to mind and share the burden with you. No, no, no! The Spirit calls for some much needed censoring even as He works within me to change that imagination to something better suited to the service of the Lord. Is it any wonder the dear Spirit of our Lord Jesus begins His work in such a dark place? Out of the heart, our Lord said way back in the day, comes all the rotten stuff that gets us into so much trouble with Him and the Law. Thank the Lord that His Son, who first paid the price demanded by the Law for this rotten imagination of mine, is the One who will faithfully cleanse me from all unrighteousness!

It's a great day in the Lord!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Right Now, Wherever They Are

I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” Luke 17:34-36

Jesus tells us of that night in this passage of His holy word; He tells us of the Rapture, for the unbeliever a greatly chilling prophecy. We don't know the date or hour of this great event or what each individual will be doing when it comes, but we do know it will happen right now, wherever they are and we know that people in general will be sleeping or working. In this Jesus shows that He knows the times and time.

The time is so immediate and quick that men and women right beside each other doing the same activity, working or resting, will be taken completely by surprise. One will be taken and the other left behind. The times are what we have in this age in a deceitful attempt to confuse the issue. In one part of the world it will be dark and people sleeping, while in another part folks will be doing their work. Note how we typically sleep for 1/3 of each day or about 8 hours, and the Lord shows one pair sleeping and two pairs awake and active. He knows the times, and the times are right now, wherever they are. It may be just past midnight tomorrow in Auckland, New Zealand, but that won't stop the right now of the Rapture happening all over the globe at the Lord's command, and over here we will not have to wait for that tomorrow to come.

We may also see in this passage two men in one bed, and in this age of tolerance in the world that is indeed a warning for us that the timing of this great event is near. Has that not happened before in many an age? Sure, but acceptance of such things is perhaps more widespread across the world than ever. Time for us to be watchful; the time is very near!

Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ,


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fallen Adam, Fallen Me

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

There is a temptation to think that one of us, or perhaps a hero of the faith from the list in the book of Hebrews, might have done better in Adam's place. After all, we think we have some small idea of the consequences from Adam's decision to partake with Eve, his wife, of the forbidden fruits of that tree. Surely, we pridefully think, that with such knowledge of what the fall caused we would not do such a thing and inflict it on the generations of man to come. Bah, in thinking such things we forget the advantages Adam had in that garden God made for him.

Adam had no genetic defects or conditions passed down through the generations of a family. None. Created from the dust of the Earth that God saw was good, Adam did not need to send in a saliva sample to test his DNA. He had no genetic twitch along the DNA chain that would cause him to think he was born a football or any other strange thing, a sort of claim that is oddly common in our age. Adam had no parents to blame for a faulty upbringing. A quick temper was not passed down from a father given to smacking little Adam around at the slightest offence. For Adam had no earthly father and he was never little. Even a mistake in childhood did not follow Adam into his adult years on that permanent record we were warned about as kids. Adam probably had no idea that alcohol, drugs, or many other things could alter his mood, make him act like an ass, or grab his mind in a near unbreakable hold. Adam was innocent in the best possible way, strong in all the ways a loving God created him, and able to walk shamelessly with His Father God in the cool of an evening in a garden without any danger to his person from the animals whom he had dominion over. With none of those advantages, how could one of us ever think we would not fall like Adam did but much more quickly and without the excuse of Eve doing it first?

As Paul pointed out in Romans, with a little summarizing by yours truly: fallen Adam, fallen me, and all of us need a new Adam to bring us back to the Father. Praise God that Jesus our Lord gave Himself to bring us home to God our Creator!


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fearing the Pain

Fear took hold of them there,
​​And pain, as of a woman in birth pangs. Psalm 48:6

Have you injured, sprained, strained, torn, or broken something in your leg at some point in this life? Often in such a condition every step can become an exercise in fearing pain. Soon, you may have trouble walking at all, and all the other parts of the body start sympathetically feeling the pain too. With so much pain going on it is no wonder that we begin to fear any more pain. With each step an adventure of the worst kind, it may not be long before a person gives up the fight and seeks help, perhaps even going so far as to visit a doctor! Fear takes hold of us in this life, and often it comes from pain.

It is interesting that today's verse sits in the middle of a psalm glorifying God, almost like there is more to the immediate picture than our pain. It is hard to know anything beyond the present hurting, but faith led the sons of Korah to write about the glory and beauty of God even as they too knew the pain and fear of this life. The kings of this psalm are all of us. We live in wonder as we look upon what we read of our God in the Bible. We wonder as pain comes and fear, and soon we are fearing the pain, and yet, there is our God. Beautiful, kind in loving, gracious in judgment, and always well aware of every painful and fearful step we take.

Take one more step, pilgrim, we are on the way to the Promised Land, and our God will see us there!


Monday, April 16, 2018

No Words Added

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” Revelation 6:6

I had to check this prophecy for eggs, but it does not mention the recent price jump we have seen at the grocery store. Once again I missed my chance to invest in the futures for some product that rose dramatically in price. If indeed the Easter celebration is to blame for the shortage, then we can certainly fix that next year. For the celebration of our Lord's resurrection is in no way dependent on boiling eggs. However that was not my question in looking at the Revelation this morning.

I wondered if we should in our keeping watch for signs of the end add eggs or peanut butter or any other shortage item to the list of those things mentioned in our verse for today? I don't think barley is all that common in our diet anymore, and I haven't worried over the price of wine for years. But there is that curse at the end about adding anything to this prophecy, and I don't want any of those plagues added to me.

We might be unsure whether Jesus or John added those words to the Revelation, but I think John did this and for a good reason. John, in his wisdom from the Lord, did not want the Revelation, already a fantastic prophecy, to become a legendary fantasy by storytellers adding embellishment over the years. John may have seen some embellishment on our Lord's ministry by the time he received the Revelation of our Lord Jesus, and he wanted to make sure that sort of thing was stopped.

So, no adding the eggs? No, but in place of John passing along an exhaustive list of every food product ever used from Adam to the return of Christ Jesus, we can know that any food will become short in supply and ridiculously expensive in the Tribulation. Good thing there is a Rapture first!

Rejoice in Christ today!

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Storehouses of Snow

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war? Job 38:22-23

A portion from that first one seems to be coming our way on Friday the 13th. According to the Lord though, this snow and hail is reserved for a particular day. Will the snow and hail be deployed to add to the confusion of battle or to put a stop to it? Blizzards will come and go as they have for many a year. The question put to Job was of a different order altogether. Storehouses containing such snow and hail that the time of trouble, that day of battle and war will be affected. Just how much snow and hail would this require? Like Job, we have no chance of answering that question, nor have we entered those storehouses. God knows things that we do not.

Of course He does! That does not mean that our Lord is any less good or loving. The mysteries of our Lord are not there to harm those who believe in the saving grace of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe those storehouses of hail and snow are set aside to put a stop to that day of battle and war, and to gain the attention of those who need to pay attention to our Lord. Among the many great and terrible things that will happen in the end times, this is another that is a shout from the Lord, "I am here, and I want to save you from your sins!"

Let us pray that all of them will answer His call. If they will not, the Lord may drop a snow drift on top of them as a timeout to reconsider.

Have a great Friday in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bread From Heaven

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:4-5

Behold! The local grocery store shall open this day and there shall be no charge! But, each must take only what he or she needs for one day and no more.

You and I can imagine the brief period of chaos in and outside of the grocery store that announcement would cause. It would be quite difficult for any of us to obey the law with so many piling up cart after cart and hauling them out. Fights would ensue with shelves inside the store quickly emptied, and the police would have to be called in to restore order. Even with trucks lined up out to the highway to restock the shelves, it would take quite some time before people would gather only according to their daily needs, and some few would still attempt to gather more and sell it on Ebay. We know this would happen because we feel the temptation too.

Like the Israelites of ancient times, we do not have it in our fallen selves to obey the law. Therefore, as I cannot trust myself to only gather what I need, I shall go on a diet and not participate in that gathering. Nope, obedience to the law means not skipping my daily quota as much as it means not gathering too much. We cannot escape the law that way. Some have tried to move away from our Lord's command to love our neighbors by living where they have none. It seems once more that the answer to obedience comes from our Lord much like that manna did back in the day: daily, free of charge, and only available from Him. Maybe the answer is Him!

Yes, Jesus our Lord is the Bread from Heaven. How do we gather our daily quota of Him? The same way Paul and Silas did: prayer, singing hymns, thanksgiving, fellowship, loving, and the study of His word.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Deep Scars

And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Why? we might ask, was this necessary? Imagine living forever with a growing accumulation of deep scars. No, not those scars you see on your skin, the surface of the body, but those deep scars - the ones that do not show to the eye.

We have scars on the mind, emotional scarring, that does not show to others. It can come from many things in this life such as betrayal and the separation of a loved one by death. These scars are deep and they hurt us until we see our Lord and He dries our every tear. Now, once more try to imagine living forever with this sort of awful thing piling up as the decades, centuries and eons go by. Scar upon scar, emotional hurts and wounds going back to early in our lives and no end of it in sight, ever. It was a great mercy to us that God had Adam driven forth from the Garden and the tree of life.

Many of you have told me stories of these deep scars in your life. These things also tend to rise closer to the surface during those times of stress when we have taken on too much, or too much has come our way whether we wanted it or not. The best answer is to go directly to our Lord in prayer as quickly as possible, and so much is indeed possible in His love!


Monday, April 09, 2018

Died Without A Name

Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. Ecclesiastes 9:15

Fame: the flesh seeks after it desiring its imagined benefits. Here Solomon recalls a man who was the opposite of famous, and yet he did a great thing in his wisdom. No honors came his way, no one remembered his name or his face, and yet the city owed its salvation to him. Get ready O man or woman of Christ the Lord, for you and I may die just as famous as that wise man.

We may not live a life of notoriety; no one among the rich and famous may know us, and our name may not make even the list of Who's Not. Yet, we bear the words of light and wisdom: the good news of Jesus Christ. And the gospel of our Lord is the one thing that can save a city.

Poverty may be our lot in life, yet there is wisdom in the Word of God. The monthly bills may seem an unwinnable battle, retirement may have retired from your presence, and you may have no financial answer to a major disaster in life, but you do have the wisdom of knowing your Lord and Savior. You have the power of God in you to save an entire city!

What wealth we have in the Savior! The world may not know our name, but the Savior does! Rest in Him,


Friday, April 06, 2018

Made Manifest

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10

To be manifest is to be made apparent or seen clearly.

There is going to be a change in those who give themselves to Jesus. John here points out that the touch of God is going to show in the behavior of the saved. While the world wants all to come together as one people, there is a division going on perpetrated by the very Word of God. The division that takes place internally in Hebrews 4:12, also is made manifest in the world as a population. We don't get to have the old flesh of sin show up in Heaven with the new spirit of righteousness.

Some would say that churches must include everyone in order to show brotherly love. However, the Word speaks in the Revelation of people who do not belong in His churches. There are those who are the children of the devil made manifest who also want to come into the church without repentance. It is like the Bride of Christ is putting on the robe of His righteousness while the enemy is handing her the filthiest of rags and demanding that she wear these too. And then the big lie is spoken, "See how judgmental this Church is? She must include all or she does not love as she ought." Sorry, but the Bride of Christ cannot be any less than perfectly prepared to wed God's Son. And for that we must be separated from the sins of this world.

Those saved by the blood of the Lamb earnestly desire our purity; and though we are not there yet, a manifest separation is taking place each and every day. The most obvious time will be that of the Rapture when one will be taken and the other left behind. Now that is a manifestation!

Grace and peace to you who belong to the Son!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

There's Something Wrong With You

Suppose a man marries a woman but she does not please him. Having discovered something wrong with her, he writes her a letter of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house. Deuteronomy 24:1

This verse today appears to be an easy out for a man. Moses gave us this and it is even done under Islam to the present time. Must be a good idea to have lasted so long, eh? When I read just this verse to start the chapter, as a writer I see the setting and characters: man, wife, house, and this is what is going on at this moment in the story. There is neither praise nor condemnation, just a statement of the circumstance. God is not saying that a man is allowed to do this and it is alright with Him. Later, Jesus seemed rather cold on the idea of divorce except in the case of unfaithfulness, and of course cold to my Lord Jesus means sin to me.

What is interesting is the abrupt termination of a relationship. Arranged marriage or chosen freely, this seems just too easy, too quick. It may not have happened that way, the scriptures are at times very understated. The man may have had to go before the elders and explain what exactly did not please him about the woman. Yes, it does seem unfair, but this devotional writing isn't about judging the ways and times of the folks back in the day. What it is about this morning is relationships. Every relationship, it seems to me, is going to come to that point where one discovers something wrong with the other.

Most of those wrongs are going to be simple differences in how we do things. Detail-oriented persons tend to irritated by the big picture types. A perfectionist would have difficulty relating to a 'good enough-er'. The neatness fan is rubbed wrong by the slob. There are a legion of examples. Yet, neither method may be wrong in God's sight. The relationship that gets past this point of irritation can grow into an excellent team with one partner adding the other side of a difference to the other and making the sum of the parts that much greater. (There's an old saying I'm mucking up there.)

So, when I get to that point in a relationship where I say, "There's something wrong with you..." the other person will no doubt have long since discovered several things wrong with me; I might even receive a detailed listing with cross references, but wait, that isn't the point I was trying to make! It is at that point that prayer and the guidance of our Lord's dear Holy Spirit will lead me to accept the difference, and then add it to our team to the glory of God. With God's wonderful help, I might even learn to not state it in quite that way!

Have a better relationship with one another on this day, even if there is something wrong with me.


Wednesday, April 04, 2018

From Him

Both riches and honor come from You,
​​And You reign over all.
​​In Your hand is power and might;
​​In Your hand it is to make great
​​And to give strength to all. 1 Chronicles 29:12

David knew from Whom his position and possessions came. Do we always know the same thing? I have on occasion laid back in a chair and stated that I had earned my rest. On what did I base that? My complete knowledge of how much work is required to earn a rest in that particular chair and at that that special time? How much time did I earn for that rest? Much better it would be to praise God for that rest which He dispensed to me at that time.

David knew that all good things come from God, and that gratitude and honor is our best action, not crediting the self with glory that rightly belongs to our Father. Rest is needed by us at times, but earned it? How could we ever know that? A grateful attitude can help me and you to avoid grabbing the glory that belongs to Father God. A 'Thank You, Lord' goes a long way with Him. A prideful attitude of how we earned something, not so much.

From Him come the good things in life we can enjoy without guilt. From Him come grace, faith, love, kindness, goodness, self-control, and all the fruits of the Spirit that we need. And, riches, honor, power, might, and of course, rest all come from our Lord God. Praise and honor to our Lord, who dispenses those good things without limit.


Monday, April 02, 2018

Esteemed Him Not

He is despised and rejected by men,
​​A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
​​And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
​​He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3

Esteem: respect and admiration, typically for a person. There was a day when no man gave our Lord Jesus the respect and admiration due the Son of God. We are so embarrassed by that situation that we will even try to deny it. Yet, there He was on the cross, bearing the death of a criminal along with all the sin of you and me. We cannot admire all that sin, even though some portion of it belongs to each of us. Isaiah, Israel, and all the rest of us did not esteem the Lord Jesus on that day. And then came the risen Lord!

Mary Magdalene thought Him a caretaker. A couple of disciples failed to recognize Him. And Thomas refused to believe until he could see and touch Him. Somewhere in the varied reactions and expectations, an example of each of us can be found. I might well have made the same mistaken conclusion that Mary did as my mind has been known to connect a few circuits in the wrong order in times of stress. And Mary had every reason to be stressed as she thought her Savior dead and buried on that Sunday morning. Peter and John had to be informed as they were not there in the cemetery. Peter might well have been sleeping the exhausted sleep of the guilty over his three denials, but the Risen Lord Jesus was going to fix that too.

Each of us may give up the shame of that day when we did not esteem Him, for in the Risen Lord we are healed by His grace. Let go of the unworthiness you think you know and live in the worth beyond compare our Lord has given to each of us by His grace. Once we did despise and reject Him, but in His death and resurrection we are forgiven and reborn to a new life in Him. Now is the time to live in Christ!

His grace, peace and love to you on this Easter Monday!