Thursday, May 31, 2018

Armed Against Us

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

It looks dark in this present time. The beast has kings, we have a king; the beast has armies, we have an army. By the numbers things look bleak for our side. Yet, even as they are armed against us, I like our chances. It is the 'us' that does it for me; it is Him who sat on the horse that seals the deal for our victory. Indeed in the next verse the battle is over and the leaders of the wrong side are not only captured but sentenced and imprisoned. Apparently it was not a lengthy battle.

As we look around from our stand down here in the world, it does appear that we are outnumbered many to one. There are way more of them than there are of us. They have the armies and we have the One. Martyrs are slain daily and those going to prison are taken. And yet, it is that One who gives us the assurance of the victory. It is Him who sat on the horse who holds the sovereign power in His almighty hands. The prophecy of His total victory is so unbelievable that He just has to be believed!

Rejoice in our Lord Jesus; we will see His victory!


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Lake of Jeopardy

But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. Luke 8:23

It is interesting that the word 'lake' in the New King James version of the Bible was used in Luke, and then used again in the Revelation to final effect. There were no lakes in the Old Testament. We can relate to that out here on the high plains, for without the cheating of dams and reservoirs we would have no lakes either. Like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, we would have no use for such a word if not for some blocked up streams. Of course even as the nation of God's people wandered the barren wastes, the Sea of Galilee was prepared for them just a bit to the north. The trial of the disciple's faith would come in its proper time as their Savior took a well-deserved nap.

On the lake of jeopardy, the disciples' faith was tested. Their Lord appeared to be unaware of the peril, unaware of their immediate need for salvation. They had quite given up on their faith and in Him. So easily do we give up in a similar manner.

The Lord does not sleep without providing for His flock of bleating sheep. We are not abandoned by Him though our eyes cannot see His holy presence at this time. When we give up on faith, we give up on Him, and that unbelief is a terrible sin. However long that trip across the lake of jeopardy may be, our Lord is with us. The very fact that He is not rushing about in a panic as we are should be our first clue that all is right in Him. Not simply all is at peace within Him because He is immortal, but all is right when we are firmly faithful in Him and taking every breath in Christ the Lord, fully believing and fully faith-filled. Where do we find this immovable faith? Why by trusting in the peacefully sleeping Savior as He takes His rest. The big trial at the end of things is coming, but there is no panic in Heaven. Trust in Him!

Have a wonderful and faithful day in Christ Jesus!


Monday, May 28, 2018

For Those Who Gave All

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13

Jesus our Lord lived His word by laying down His life to save us from our sin. Following in our Master's steps, there are those who gave their lives in service to our nation. We honor them on this day.

This is not a day to make criticism or judgment about the rightness of the conflict in which they died; save that for another day. For today, simply honor the sacrifice they made. For those veterans still living, thank us on another day. Today, we honor our brothers and sisters who gave all that we might be a free nation. Yes, there are numerous examples that not everyone has been or is free in this land of the free; but let us remember that does not diminish the sacrifice. If it did, then surely the great sins of mankind would long ago have diminished our Lord's sacrifice to nothing.

For those who gave all in service to this nation, let us honor their sacrifice on this day.

Let us honor our Lord who died for us and rose again from the grave. For it is His sacrifice that allowed those others to show their greatest love for friend, family, and nation. It is His resurrection that is our great hope to see our loved ones in a better time and place, one where the sacrifice of love proved by death is made eternal by the banishing of death, sorrow, and pain.

Faith in Christ Jesus and His greatest love,

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Humbling

The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth. Isaiah 23:9

There are those who have a certain status on the earth. They are celebrated for visibility on our television monitors, or the wealth they have amassed, or the number of people employed by their company, or their influence in government or society. There are even a few who have all of the above. We might be tempted toward envy for their station in life, but the word of the Lord has a warning for them and us. The Lord has purposed to stain the pride of that earthly glory, even so far as to bring into contempt the honorable of the earth.

In the preceding verse the merchant princes of Tyre are defined as the honorable of the earth. Merchant princes have enjoyed their fame in our nation and do so today. The honorable in this case then are not those persons who behave with honor, but those who are honored by society for their status. Today we call them celebrities but they are the same group.

Through a variety of circumstances, and in many cases just enough work to cause the person to take credit for it, these people have an influence on others that you and I cannot realize. We might want it through the urging of that old person known as the flesh, but we must take heed to the Lord's word. A humbling has been proposed by Him, and that usually means a tough time for someone.

We learn through the teaching of God in His word and His Holy Spirit that idols of any type are coming down. All that you or I can do and do well in this world comes from our Lord. Make an idol out of a talent we have, and the Lord will take that thing down for our sake. Make an idol out of something we have built, and our Lord will faithfully knock it down so that in the humbling we return to Him. Always, the Lord has in mind the return of His little prodigals from that far country. If an idol or two or three must needs be knocked down, crushed, or burnt up to get the prodigal to look toward the Father, then watch out! The Lord will clear the way for His Son to bring the prodigals home.

Thank You, dear Father, for knocking down those idols I try to erect in this world.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

To Start A King, Call 911

Then Jehu came out to the servants of his master, and one said to him, “Is all well? Why did this madman come to you?”
And he said to them, “You know the man and his babble.” 2 Kings 9:11

The rest of this story... could never be gleaned from just this verse. We do have some clues though. A meeting of some sort took place that the servants of the man's master did not attend, and they wondered what sort of message or conversation took place. Pretty normal really, we are curious about that which we know happened but did not witness ourselves. They dismissed the man as a madman, perhaps by the way he acted when coming to Jehu. For his part, Jehu tried to deflect the question by a derogatory comment about this other 'madman'. By quoting only the one verse, we long to know more, just like those servants.

The Lord sent a message through Elisha His prophet to Jehu. Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets, not necessarily his own son, to Jehu with a message, or at least part of a message because when the messenger arrives he says much more than what he was told by Elisha to say. The curious thing is that the servant of the Lord was to deliver the message and then flee without delay. His protection provided by the Lord for delivering the message was a single chance to run for his life!

Jehu goes with the messenger and receives quite the message, nothing less than a new king, himself, who is to overthrow none other than Jezebel. Remember her? Even Elijah was afraid of that queen. So, the messenger was no madman, and Jehu no longer a servant. Why then the dismissive comment with the oil of his anointing still dripping off his hair? I guess Jehu didn't want to start his reign being anointed by a madman in private.

If you were called by the Lord to anoint a new king of the world today, and to do so you had to call 911 and speak to a dispatcher who, without a doubt, is going to mark you down for a visit by the men in white coats, what would you do? Yes, your only message, delivered only to you in your prayer closet is: "To start a king, call 911." I think I would hope for that one chance to flee for my life, 'cuz if the Lord sends His Word, I don't want to deny His message!

Have a wonderful day with Him who is called Wonderful,


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Subject So Important

But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. Matthew 5:32

For a few moments of pleasure something dies, for the wages of sin is death. So, divorce is the pleasure and sex is the death. I have never been married so pardon me if I get something backwards here. What I wanted to study this morning is that subject so important that Jesus Himself gave an exception in the Sermon on the Mount, sexual immorality. Divorce is of course serious, and our Lord doesn't hand out exceptions without the most serious of reasons. This sexual immorality thing must be critically important.

I have read translations of the Word that use unfaithfulness in place of sexual immorality or even fornication. By that, one could see a wife being unfaithful with many other things including alcohol or drugs, gambling, an idol, or of course sexual unfaithfulness. Jesus used the wife in His great sermon, but I'm sure He well knew that husbands could be unfaithful immoral fornicators too. In fact, I'm sure he knows even as we think about it, you mental fornicator! It's tough when just the mention of sexual terms can get the flesh going in the wrong imaginary direction.

The good news is that there must be sexual morality too. I know from my early education that it involves drunken storks and lanky rabbits in sacks. And apparently it happened just outside of my house in the grass under the apricot tree, because I had a crop of baby bunnies this year. Too bad I wasn't called to participate, I might have learned all about sexual morality. There would appear to be some connection between marriage faithfulness and sexual morality too. I think our Lord counts on us to get it.

Have a great day, try out some of that sexual morality,

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Feeling Joyful

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. Revelation 19:13

How do we go about feeling joyful in the midst of such suffering? Not by denying it, that's for sure. The Revelation shows us the Lamb with His robe dipped in blood. Not only did our Lord die to save us, but He also knows the suffering on the Earth and His robe shows it. However, His name is not bloody; it is called The Word of God.

In this is wisdom: first read the word of God and get to know the Word of God better. Leave off the news of the world for a while each day and study God's word first. It is easy in this age of information to open the news, but we must be prepared for what is reported to us in this dark age, and to do that we should first armor ourselves with the word of God. The Word shows us what is coming, and thus we should not be surprised by the blood in the news. The Word also shows us what is coming after this time of darkness, and that is a promise that is not dark at all!

On this foggy morning, imagine the fog clearing away suddenly to reveal a bright new world. And that is what will happen to this present darkness quickly one day. It will be cleared away by our Lord to reveal His bright new world, shining in the light of His love. Believe it, for it is given by His Word!

This fog will clear, trust in Him!

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Happenings of Today

“Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. Acts 3:24

Peter said this around 30 A.D. and it remains true on this day as well. The prophecies of the Lord are happening today. Now the fulfillment may not be the sudden dramatic event that we look for, at least not yet, but the Lord's word is fulfilled even as we go about our daily lives. Each day someone believes in Jesus. Each day we contribute in our small way to the return of our Lord's kingdom. Each and every day the servants of the Lord go forth, most of us to a job that appears on the surface to do nothing for the kingdom of God. On the surface that is.

Meeting those in need of a savior is what our Lord Jesus did every day. He went into the taverns of the time and the synagogues. He walked in fields and rested in homes. He spoke to thousands in the daytime and met individuals at night. Our Lord was the messenger of His own message! We meet people in our work, and we have a chance each day to show the work of the Lord going on in us. Few work places will pay us to speak the word each day, but we show it in our passion for the work, attention to excellence, going the extra mile, and perhaps that hardest of all things in this age or any other: not complaining.

Yeah, haven't quite achieved perfection in that last one yet.

The prophets told us what is to come in their time, and much of that is happening today or is right on the doorstep. We have so much to eagerly wait for in Jesus!


Friday, May 18, 2018

Faith In, Armor Up!

Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few.”
So his armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart." 1 Samuel 14:6-7

Here was faith in action, and yet those warriors of God did not strip down to their undies and walk over to the enemy camp. Why not? Wouldn't that prove the way of faith even more? It would seem alright then to demonstrate our faith in God along with our gratitude for the tools He has provided by the usage of what we have at hand. It may be in a time of tribulation that one of us has nothing to use in the fight - neither weapons nor armor - and are then dependent upon our Lord. It also may be that we have weapons or other tools near to hand and that we pick them up in faith and gratitude, for in that circumstance too we are dependent upon God.

There are so many different situations in the Old Testament stories that it is foolish to test God by dropping what He has provided to us without His express command to do so, such as when Gideon was told to send all but a small amount of his forces home. The saying goes that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Yes, but our Lord also works with what He has already provided to us, including the faith we have in Him.

And what about that armor bearer? We should have that same trust and confidence in our Lord Jesus. Whatever you say or do, Lord, I'm with you!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

All Who Hate Me

All who hate me whisper together against me;
​​Against me they devise my hurt.
​​“An evil disease,” they say, “clings to him.
​​And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.” Psalm 41:7-8

David wrote this psalm from a position of paranoia maybe? No, David had enemies and lots of them. We do too, but we don't always think like this. We tend to think of those who love us, and let it be ever so! For God loves us, and our brothers and sisters in Christ do as well. However, if you think for just a moment of the enemy and his minions, we do have cause to speak as David does here in his psalm. There are those powers and principalities of this present darkness, as Paul pointed out, that mean our downfall, harm, and even death.

However, the best fix for this is not to think on those dark powers constantly, but to remember the sovereign almighty power of the Lord who loves us. In Job, the Devil had to get a pass from God to do what he would to poor Job and his family, and servants and livestock - let us not forget them. All who hate me do not get a free pass around God to do whatever they please either. God placed restrictions on what was done to Job. All who hate us would like to do whatever they please, but God's will is the stronger.

We need this fight, this present tribulation, to develop our faith, but always we are guided and protected by the One who loves us. We wear the full armor of God with good reason, but we do not stand alone in it.

Praise to our Lord Jesus who stands with us on this day!


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Raw Deal

Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you?”
And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.” 2 Kings 6:28-29

Sons didn't go very far between two hungry women back in those days. Forgive me; it is a weak attempt to deflect with humor that chilling sentence in the holy scriptures: "So we boiled my son, and ate him." This is not that ancient equivalent of the modern cannibal horror movie, and the chill in the heart tells it. An Israelite writing ancestor of Stephen King didn't come up with this line, it was spoken by a desperate woman to a different sort of king.

It is interesting to see the king in his ignorance asking, "What is troubling you?" But, it was the injustice of her neighbor that seemed to bother the woman more. It wasn't, "Sire, we had to boil my son and eat him; when are you going to get rid of those armies besieging the city?" She was upset that her neighbor had reneged on the deal and she felt the raw end of a bad bargain in her hands. At least there was the desperation of extreme hunger in that time. These days mere convenience is enough to end the life of children.

So, is a raw deal troubling you today? I know, we can scarcely admit any raw deals on our part in light of such suffering in the scriptures. We have it easy in this age having never suffered a siege in this land in our lifetime. God has been good and gracious to us, and we have food to eat with many other comforts. Better than that is the deal we got on the price of our sin: God's Son paid it all!

Let us rejoice in gratitude to our Lord today,

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jerusalem, Capital of Israel

David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 5:4-5

In Jerusalem, David reigned...3,000 years ago. The new king of Israel has not yet come, but today in Jerusalem, the United States moves its embassy back to the capital of Israel. And the angry seas of the end times have risen up in protest.

So what does that have to do with us way over here? A question that may arise today, but most of us do watch Israel in these times since so much of the end times prophecy concerns the Holy Land. This may be the start of the next stage. It may lead to that treaty which will kick off the final seven years. It may... not seem to do much. We have waited what seems a long time to us since we first learned of the Tribulation, the Antichrist, and of our Lord's return to claim us from the world's darkness. We may well wonder if this ceremony today will move it along.

Yes, there are days when the darkness presses on us that we long for the Rapture of the Church and the return of our Lord Jesus. We may run to the scriptures to see if we can mine a verse or sentence which definitively or vaguely or just might say that this event today means something that would allow us to determine the day and hour of our Lord's appearance in the clouds of His glory. But, it won't happen. Jesus said that no man knows that appointed time, only the Father in Heaven. Sorry, as auspicious as this day is, it isn't going to give away the answer.

Have a great day in Christ Jesus, and wait patiently for His time!


Friday, May 11, 2018

Right-seeming Lawlessness?

"Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23:28

When the snake fellows in that church out east get bitten and die, it is easy to understand the error. But when we go into that situation claiming the protection of God while practicing the foolishness of men we find it harder to understand why God would let us fall on our foolish backside. Of course Jesus gave us the answer as He answered the Devil during that great temptation in the wilderness when he quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God."

How do we recognize the times we are working a right-seeming lawlessness? As always, we need the discernment only our Lord can give. For man or woman has that human ability to convince the self of how right we are in almost any situation before the outcome is known. Sure, we can also recognize foolishness after the fact has lowered the boom on us. It is the discernment of the Lord we need when standing before the doorway of that thing we want to try: "Is it faith and trust in the Lord, or am I foolishly tempting Him?"

By way of example! Walking into a dark alley on the seedy side of town, you belt out your favorite tune, "I Just Got Paid and Have Lots of Cash Money, Honey!" Yes, a good example of stupid-seeming foolishness, the end result probably a robbery and maybe a good beating for your foolishness. On the other hand, you want to spread the Good News of Jesus into that same dark alley, so you walk boldly in trusting in God to save you from your foolishness. What? How is that right-seeming lawlessness? You might well ask. Take a flashlight, fool! Better yet, have a friend drive behind you with his car headlights on to light the way. What good is spreading the good news to an empty alley? (They left to spend that other fool's money.) What good is it to preach boldly while falling into that trench someone dug to repair their sewer line? And of course, make sure first that God says, "Go!" Without His blessing, even the right-seeming stuff can be lawlessness if we are in disobedience to our Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord on this Friday!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Bubba The Baseless Prophet

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:1-2

With the first words of this passage of scripture our Lord Jesus shows that He knows each of us. "Let not your heart be troubled," says the Lord. And then He gives us the good news of faith and by that faith swiftly separates His sheep from the world: you already believe in God, believe in Me too. There our Lord Jesus stands equal to God the Father. If we believe that, the world will reject us, the religious ones of God's own nation will reject us, and those who refuse to believe there is a deity will reject us. Do you feel rejected yet? However, for those of us who believe in Jesus, these are not the idle words of Bubba the baseless prophet but the very Word of God.

That really is the faith, isn't it?

We read the words of our Lord and believe in this new place; the place He has been preparing for almost 2,000 years. Then, there are others, they may or may not read the words of our Lord, but they put those words in the same category as Bubba shooting off his mouth after a few drinks at the local tavern. Bubba, of course, has no more knowledge of our future than a stump rotting quietly in the pasture. For those who believe in our Lord Jesus, His words are precious and true, speaking to a wonderful future that we cannot quite see from here, and He has gone to get this place ready for our arrival.

Faith in Him is such a comfort in this dark age,


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Good Spirit

Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10

Two things King David asks of the Lord in this verse: first, to be taught by the Lord to do His will, and second, to be lead by the Lord in the land of uprightness. Many years later in history, I and many like me ask those very same things. How does our spiritual ancestor, David, think to ask these things of the Lord?

David claimed the Lord as his God. This is serious business, for in order to claim God as his, he first had to acknowledge that God is. Many in this world refuse to do even that seemingly small step. Others will claim an easier way: that is, to manufacture a god or a bunch of them and live the way he imagines those deities would be pleased with were he in their place; which, he really is since they do not exist in the first place. To live with God, one must accept His word, and that word has much to say about our need for God and His salvation. It is in this word where we find David asking the Lord to teach His will. Therefore, David also acknowledges that God's will is better than his own will for living this life. There is a lot of serious business going on here!

Then, David makes a claim on God's Spirit: that it is good. I am glad for that because to submit to a god whose spirit is mean, or petty, or cruel, or worse, evil, would be the very worst thing imaginable and then some! Such important words to study and believe for us too: "For You are my God; Your Spirit is good." Our entire life to that moment of death hinges on this truth, and eternity is assured on it too. For if our God is not good, then we are doomed. Like David did thousands of years ago, we ask for these two things because of the other things in this verse. It would be perverse for us to ask this of a god who was anything less than good. It is from this verse that we say, "God is good." And may we always remember this verse in full and thank God for His eternal goodness.

God is good, and, He loves you!

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

A Treasured Possession Of Our Lord

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:20-21

Believe in Him, for all those who believe in our Lord Jesus are the treasured possession of our Lord. Here in the garden near the end of His earthly life, Jesus our Lord prayed earnestly for those to come who would believe in Him through the testimony of His disciples. And we do! But how our Lord prayed that we would become one, just as He and the Father were in each other in their great loving relationship which we scarcely understand now. From His prayer, we must believe that this can happen!

From all those denominations of Christian, from the east and from the west, from the past and present unto the future, let all those who believe in Christ become His treasured possessions through our faith in Him. Let us know that we are becoming one in Christ, so that the world will see our oneness in Him and believe. It does seem a far country to travel to right now, but our Lord will guide us safely to be one in Him.

May God our Lord guide us swiftly to be one in Christ His Son as the end grows so very near. Amen.


Monday, May 07, 2018

Have Faith In Me

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Are you afraid of some outcome that is not yet decided? Probably, for that is a state we tend to slip into in this life. So many trials have come our way that we expect others to help us into another one just any day now. Some might say that we are defensively preparing ourselves for the worst possible outcome, but we only find a lack of faith.

Yes, the Lord calls us to have faith in Him. When we are sore beset by imagined terrors of an imaginary future, it is the Lord who reminds us to, "have faith in Me." For we must remember in those difficult times brought on by experience and imagination working together in the worst way that it is God who is in charge. As Paul found, it is no longer you and me living this life but Christ in us. The trial is not the circumstance we see all around us, but the decision to live by faith in God or a sort of anti-faith built of what we think we know.

Except for the revelation by prophecy that God has given to us in His Word, we cannot know what tomorrow will bring; so why then do we imagine a tomorrow and beat ourselves bloody with it? Good question! As we look around at the circumstance today, let us remember God's call to us: "Have faith in Me!"


Friday, May 04, 2018

Last of the Exiles or First of the Remnant?

And it shall come to pass in that day
That the remnant of Israel,
And such as have escaped of the house of Jacob,
Will never again depend on him who defeated them,
But will depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. Isaiah 10:20

Years ago we began buying new houses, and I was one of them in this case, until the new neighborhood in the old hometown was completed around 2003. This week, the last of those new homeowners from back in the day put their house on the market. It brought home to me the ending of the great adventure I stepped into way back in 1989. It gave to me once more that urge to grab the one responsible and shake him well and good until he admitted what happened to cause the great fall of this enterprise. I know better.

If there is one person at fault, he or she might be too afraid of some vigilante justice to admit the fault. More likely is that it is no one person's fault. Perhaps it is the fault of all of us who worked to build up what turned out to be just another sand castle in this world; another House of Usher coming to a great fall. I begin to wax literary.

What causes mourning in me over this is the broken and strained relationships. A family who became a part of that enterprise moved away this week. A couple of friends from way back in the early days retired not long ago. Others are still hanging in there. Are they that remnant? The problem with waiting for the remnant is that each of us is not permitted to know whether we might be the first of the remnant or just another sad story among the last of the exiles. I was in the first group of exiles, but where may others fall as the last of the sand blocks tumbles and crumbles to the ground?

The good news is that in Isaiah's day there was a remnant. And in our day, there is a rapture and we may get to meet Jesus in the clouds of His glory all together as one! The promises of God contain our hope in this dark world. And our great hope has gone to prepare a place for us!

Have a great Friday in our wonderful Lord Jesus!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

A Little Present

And their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best fruits of the land in your vessels and carry down a present for the man—a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Genesis 43:11

A gift, the little comes from the balm and honey, but the gift itself was no small matter. Israel and his family were in trouble and they wanted some help from the man. So, Israel told his sons to take a gift to the man to open a second round of negotiations. They were hoping for much more in return, so they grabbed up some nice things from a land in famine. I wonder if salvation could work the same way?

Hardly. When we come to the Lord Jesus and offer up all that we have, we only offer the famine. No sweet honey, no soothing balm, just the contents of an empty cupboard do we offer our Lord in exchange for eternal life. We offer up no righteousness for Him to build on and no justice for Him to share. We might try to promise things that will be, such as what a great missionary we will be after He does the saving bit, but that is offering Him the future which only He can give. Pistachio nuts and almonds are quite tasty, what we offer our Lord to save is vile and repugnant. Yet, there is our Lord Jesus saving all who come to Him and call on His name. No best fruits do we have to offer, only the worst of sinners, and still the lovingkindness of the Lord saves all those who come to Him. What an amazing Lord we serve!

Thank you for all the kind birthday wishes yesterday!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Dare You Accuse The Elder?!!

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19

Fifty-five is an interesting number, perhaps one worthy of double honor. Today, I am elder with a foot in the door of elderly. Soon I will be able to see the start of the footpath to ancient! There are two fives in my age now; not the childish five plus five of ten or even the youthful five times five of twenty-five, but the slightly (in my case) more mature fifty and five years of fifty-five. I am as old as those folks I once thought were old folks, but with the realization that those old folks weren't all that old yet, and some were nowhere near as old as 55. Yet, there is also the knowledge that there may be many more of these birthdays to come, or, do we dare hope for that great snatching away of the church before this comes 'round again next year?

Paul helped in the beginnings of the new church with rules such as this one. And it brings to mind that this day, though special to me, is not all about me. Today, a man stands accused at trial and there is only one witness, the alleged victim. An elder is a position of responsibility and maturity, not just elder like me, and it was a position of responsibility held by this man. Paul told Timothy to refuse even to hear the accusation unless at least one other person could be found to bear witness. Since not every circumstance has two or three witnesses, crimes after all may be committed by one person against another in a lonely place, how does a judge or jury decide who is telling the truth?

We cannot help with that, none of us were there. Which brings us to our wisdom point for the day: be sure in our positions of responsibility to have witnesses. We might call them accountability partners, mentors, or even Bubba the church secretary, but we need to have that witness. And we need to love them as we love ourselves. Paul in his love for his disciple would not let Timothy decide the one-on-one cases, and that is a good thing for us to remember too. It may not be possible for me or you to look at one party or the other, both perhaps dear to us, and decide which is right or wrong, truthful or bearing falsehood. We also, like our brother Timothy, must remember to wait, the first one to accuse does not get the benefit of the doubt when the other party may be unaware that an accusation has been made. People, other than writers of course, do make up wild stories with some ulterior motive in mind. While we are waiting, there is always prayer: God does wonderful works in loving response to our prayers every day.

Love in Christ Jesus,