Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Clear Decision or Unwinnable Debate?

Would you indeed annul my justice? Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right? Job 40:8

Well, it is both. The final word in the book of Job belongs to God, and He uses it to ask Job a series of questions. This one from chapter 40 and verse 8 is one that knocks anyone off their imaginary fence: God is just and right, or the one who believes in his own rightness and justice. There is no middle ground presented here, no way out through debate. Either God is right or God is guilty. Job is right or Job is guilty. Both cannot be right when Job would accuse God. We face the same choice: enter into that unwinnable debate with God or believe Him and stand in the clear choice that God is right and just. They cannot both be right when some would depend on their own righteousness and God's word states that there is none righteous, no not one.

The good news is that not only is God right and just, but loving and good too! When the Lord returns at the end, He states that His reward is with Him. Our Lord's justice is not only about locking away the Accuser, but also sharing His reward with those who believe in Him. Let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; after all we agreed with Him long ago that there is none to be found in us.

May your Halloween be blessed,

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Lovely Names

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 1 Samuel 17:45

The boss walked in and called me by a new name Friday. "Screwgun," he stated as he walked into the office. I'm going to put it on my business card. It is also my recent promotion up the ladder from "Boy". These names are not so lovely as our Lord's names, but so much better than what my drill instructors used to call me back in the day.

Our Lord's names come from throughout His word, but a few are: Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Ancient of Days, and Immanuel. Lovely names! Immanuel is the one I like to recall often in this life. When times are difficult, Immanuel. When it is time to celebrate, Immanuel. Every time for prayer, Immanuel - translated, God with us. But it is more personal than that too, for each of us must say, "God with me!" as we know His lovely names more and more.

Praise the name of Jesus, Immanuel!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Why Write To Each Other?

For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 1 Thessalonians 1:8

A quick perusal of the news this morning is a sure way to run to the word of God. I'm sure by now that many days have come where the news from the world has made you feel soiled. The word of the Lord is a sure antidote to what is going on right now all around us. Yet, much of the Bible is made up of people sinning, much like the news of today. So, what is the difference?

Words of faith! From, God to us, a king to God, Jesus to the disciples, an apostle to believers, and finally from God to us once more! The Bible is rich in the words of comfort we need in the trials, the words of encouragement to face the day, and the word of love from God our Father. As such a big part of the Bible is made up of messages from our Lord and letters from our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are glad to write, speak, and sing one to another in the body of Christ. As many have said, all of the Bible is His story and His message of love to us.

But why write it to each other? Paul comforted and encouraged the Thessalonians by assuring them that the word of the Lord was going forth from them to every place. Keep on communicating that word of the Lord, it is going forth from you too.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Neither Stingy in Accepting nor Giving

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. Mark 9:41

The words of our Lord Jesus make me glad this morning. In the past many years since I have come to know Christ more, I have not always been in a position to command my destiny with the massive wealth of my bank accounts or been able to call in offshore holdings to supplement a shortfall. If you have noticed the biblical mastery of understatement, what I'm trying to do is the opposite - absurd exaggeration. Like most of us, those offshore banks don't want to deal with people of my financial standing. And like some of you, if my accounts are above zero then I'm doing well today. As such, I have accepted charity these past few years and I have known the feeling of not being able to pay back or pay forward these gifts. My Lord Jesus with His words sets my mind at ease with that great promise, "I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."

But, but, learning from the Lord to accept charity and gifts goes against my pride. Why, yes, it does! And what could be better for us in Christ than less pride in ourselves while allowing others to show their love for us? Great is the Lord in that all things do indeed work toward our improvement in Him and through Him.

And then, be ready, for your or my time of giving may soon come 'round again. Trust in the Lord and don't be stingy, dear believer, when it is our turn to give.

Love in Christ to you on this day,

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Oh That They Would Continue

Then the LORD heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me: "I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken." Deuteronomy 5:28

My heavens! The Israelites said something right in God's hearing? The wonder of it all! What was this they said? They were afraid to go up on the mountain with a holy God because they would be consumed by the great fire. That was only part of it, but it shows they knew their condition would not allow them to approach any closer or even to stay longer in His presence. They also said that Moses should go and get the word of God, and that they would hear and obey! Wow, wonder how long that worked out? We don't have to wonder of course, the story of the Israelites and their disobedience continues through many books of bible history and prophecy, plus a bunch of songs about it.

The Lord laments immediately after our verse for today that they might continue in this way. A right heart within us is all the Lord wants of us. Yet, neither we nor those ancient Israelites could do it on our own. The Law was perfect and they were not; God's standard is perfect and we are not. Both the old time folks and the people of today could not continue without something more, a big change to how we are born. Of course nothing is a bigger change to a birth than a rebirth!

You know the answer: Jesus has given a great grace to us by way of His salvation. Blessed and Wonderful is the name of our Lord!


Monday, October 22, 2018

Shame and Fear: Monstrous Monkey Motivators

​“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
​​Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
​​For you will forget the shame of your youth,
​​And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. Isaiah 54:4

In the fallen world many claim that we are descended from monkeys, or lacking evidence of our perfection in evolution, that we are yet simply walking, talking monstrous monkeys even now. 'But we share almost the same DNA,' they claim. We did come from the same Creator and are a part of that same Creation, so we should not be surprised that our bodies share much in common with this fallen world. However, while an instinct to avoid danger might motivate a monkey, it is the province of those monstrous monkeys in this world to be motivated by shame and fear, plus lust, greed, envy, strife, and a whole crate of equally awful motivators.

So, how do we get from sin-motivated monstrous monkey to the great promises that the Lord has given to us in His word? Nicodemus was given the answer, and we have it through John's gospel: you must be born again. As we have heard before, the 'you' of our Lord's time meant not only Nicodemus, but all y'all. All those who would rejoice in the love of God so great that He gave His only begotten Son, must be reborn. Our rebirth in Christ is the path for all those great promises of no fear or shame, no disgrace and relief from the shame of our youths. In other words, what is impossible for any of us to accomplish is possible for God to accomplish in us.

Praise the Lord for His holy work!


Friday, October 19, 2018

Broken In Pieces

Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. Daniel 7:23 KJV

Are we there yet? is the question heard on many a family drive. And, it would seem the question of many a brother or sister in Christ as we walk with our Lord Jesus toward that day no man can know. Earthquakes and wars have indeed come and gone in diverse places across the world. Lawlessness has increased throughout the earth and love has grown cold. But we are still here and love runs hot among those who believe in Jesus, I have seen and bear witness of it. Lawfulness lives in the hearts of those who believe. So something must have to happen in between the arrival on the world stage of the man of lawlessness and now, and we must be on the very edge of that event.

We may not know the day and hour when Christ shall call His church home, but we cannot be far from that trumpet call ringing out and bringing the saints of God to meet their bridegroom in the clouds of God's glory. Conditions are ripe for the final harvesting of the Earth. Are we there yet? must be our question no longer. The Earth is broken in pieces by the fourth beast and ready. The time of the snatching away must be just so close that if we could only see it we could finish the race strong.

Alas, I cannot see the hour and day either, so I guess we'll just finish faithfully in Christ, weak in ourselves but strong in Him.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Already Decided

"Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Matthew 22:17

The Pharisees had already decided a question, yet they sent their disciples to test Jesus. Which means they didn't already believe that He was Messiah. The had an answer they thought right and true, but they wanted to hear this man agree with them, or refute their right with His wrong. They were of course certain that they did not have a wrong. This was a problem.

Jesus, as you can read in the remainder of the story, was not fooled by the junior Pharisees in the least. He gave them an answer that left them marveling. No doubt the professors back at Pharisee U. gave them a failing grade upon their return. The possibility that Jesus could be Messiah just did not seem to occur to the Pharisees at any point in the Gospels.

Therefore, if the world continues to test your witness and steadfastly refuses to believe your account of our Lord's salvation, then you walk in good company, for the Pharisees refused to believe in Jesus even after He died and rose again. Peter's ministry did not shake their unbelief after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Paul's dramatic conversion did not shock their rock-solid hearts after their star met the Christ on the road to Damascus. The Pharisees back in their day were as firm in their unbelief as we would like to be in our faith!

God's grace to you,

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Devotional To Remember Today

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. Rev 1:5

Jesus loves us.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Just Not The Right Time

​Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
​​And like vinegar on soda,
​​Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.  Proverbs 25:20

Cold, do we have to talk about it? According to my usual weather site, the record cold for this morning is 28°. As I look outside, the thermometer says that record no longer stands, and by a long ways too! Yes it is cold outside and probably not an appropriate time for surfing songs or some other cheerful sunny beach tune. Have you ever wanted to cheer up someone who has suffered a loss with a happy song? Proverbs tells us to think again.

It would be a cruelty to strip away a coat from someone this morning. In the same way our Lord says in the Proverbs, it is cruel to hit someone with happy songs when their heart is heavy. It is just not the right time. This proverb points to compassion, but also to us being aware of the other person, our neighbor; the one we are to love as we love ourselves. It can be tough to come upon a mourning person when enjoying a happy mood, but in such a case we must think of the neighbor first. As our Lord said in His great sermon, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matt 5:4) Rejoice in the Lord gently when comforting the mourner.

God's peace and grace to you,

Friday, October 12, 2018

Slick Picklins, Attorney at Law

I said, “I will guard my ways,
​​Lest I sin with my tongue;
​​I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
​​While the wicked are before me.” Psalm 39:1

In his youth, Jim "Slick" Picklins employed the athletic skills of the truly inept and clumsy. It did not require a mind of surpassing analytical skill to sense that a career as a professional athlete would be forever beyond his grasping fingers as the ball once again failed to rise up to meet them as he passed by headlong and headed for another collision with the innocent earth. The other team's runners lit out for extra bases, and Picklins once again managed to make a perfectly normal outfield appear greased. " 'Slick' Picklins does it again," his coach muttered with a disbelieving shake of his head, and the name stuck to Jim with all the tenacity of any youthful derogatory appellation.

As an attorney, Jim found the opportunity to be the champion that he could never be on the ball field. Defender of the oppressed, hero to the innocent, and other such titles danced in his mind upon his graduation from law school even through his early days serving as a new defense attorney. It would be a few years before Jim's analysis caught up with his idealism. When on a cloudy and dreary day in the office with no cases in the works, Jim came to understand that most of his clients were neither innocent nor oppressed. Some were so obviously headed to the big house that they filled out a resume of crime in a similar manner to an actor taking the tough bit parts and ad gigs on the way to the leading roles. Shoplifting as a youth, burglary and theft in their teen years, and finally armed robbery and grand theft auto to round out the criminal CV before Jim saw them off to spend years locked away from society was an all too common theme in his office. Add in a few illegal drugs and Jim might not see them incarcerated before the truly serious crimes landed them a life sentence.

It was on this day that Jim discovered our verse for today. For the wicked, he came to know, had a ready answer to every suggestion or admonition Jim tried to lay on them by way of restraining their evil ways. For payment, Jim had been offered drugs, weapons, and sexual favors; the favors offered by either sex and from such diverse ages as to make a complete rotation of his head a distinct possibility. The pull of the dark side was strong in this office, Jim realized, to borrow phrase from an old movie. And on this day, Jim "Slick" Picklins began to pray more earnestly and more often for strength to follow the Way of Christ in a world of sin.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Lord's Place

For the LORD’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the place of His inheritance. Deut. 32:9

Slow Florence dropped rain for days on end, fast Michael roared through quickly but hit hard. You want to rescue all those people, every one. Yet, neither you nor I have the resources or ability to help so many over such a wide area. So, we turn to those few we can help nearby. But even one family destitute and without means can drain more than even we can bear. Maybe just one family member, but we find that helping one causes us to short another in time, attention, or effort. We simply do not have that ability to be in two places at once. And always back there in the mind is that desire to rescue all the human race, all at once and forever.

Would not God cheer us on in such an endeavor? Uh, might be He would protest with something like, "Hey, that's my place!" Truly I am not the savior of the world and I suspect that neither are you. Even together we cannot make a pair that could save the world, for it has already been done by God through His Son, Jesus. Strangely perhaps to our earthly eyes, He did not save us by granting any of us unlimited provisions. We might enjoy providing for all the earth, but there again He would claim His place from us. Salvation by the power to do anything we want? Nope, His place. Savior, Providence, Almighty, these are but three of the descriptive names of our Lord, and His place is in them. Our place is in His love, and with just a little mustard seed's worth of faith we can rejoice in His almighty saving providence in this life and all that is to come.

Have a great Friday in the love of Jesus!


Michael, Prince of Israel

At that time Michael shall stand up, 
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book. Daniel 12:1

Guardian angel is a term we hear at times, might even use it ourselves now and then. This verse may be the source of that term, a prince who stands watch over the sons of Daniel's people, Israel. Michael is one of but a very few names of angels we get to read in all of scripture. However, the times where Michael does appear are ones of victory over evil. It would appear from this verse that Michael is such an overwhelming power among God's angels that he is not allowed to 'stand up' all of the time. That his strength is so mighty seems good to me, because Israel and all of God's people certainly need a strong guardian angel.

"Careful there!" Michael might say to us as we praise his strength. For we always have the Lord God, who is called the Almighty One, with us, and God's angels will not accept praise or worship that belong to God Himself. John was met with a quick, "You must not do that!" when he tried to worship an angel during that great revelation of Jesus our Lord. Indeed we do not need to wish for a guardian angel as though God is not watching over us at all times. If we feel unguarded it is either a temptation from the devil or a lack of attention to God on our part. A little prayer and time in the Word can certainly get us back into the well-guarded fold of our Lord, the Good Shepherd.

Immanuel, which is to say, "God with us",


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rebuilding the Ruins

​And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
​​They shall raise up the former desolations,
​​And they shall repair the ruined cities,
​​The desolations of many generations. Isaiah 61:4

By the time we are done with this life our bodies are pretty much in ruins. If not before we die then certainly afterward, our bodies will decay down to a few old bones or be preserved through the embalmer's art in a strange simulation of life. At some age we may look back on our younger years and declare our bodies ruins even now.

Ruins are on the table this morning because that is what I dreamt last night. For ruins is the best description of what I purchased by way of entering the rental business in my dream. Yet, inside of those ruins were 3 apartments in beautiful condition and tenants who did not want to leave their homes. Such is the strangeness of dreams and yet, it applied to our condition.

First before we are complete ruins in the grave we are reborn in Christ, then renewed to mount up with wings like eagles, and in the life to come we are restored and even rebuilt. There are many 're' words to look forward to, but all of them are dependent upon that first one and the One who does the salvation thing for us: reborn in Christ. We may be ruins in this life, but we have the hope of Him who renews all things. Inside the ruins of this life is that great treasure, the rooms renewed and rebuilt by the Spirit of the Living God. One day the ruins will be rebuilt!

Love in Christ Jesus,

Monday, October 08, 2018

Risen But Not Seen

Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. Luke 24:22

Aha, it is because you were slacking in bed! The women got up early and saw astonishing things, but you slackers failed!

We find it easy to blame and shame. Failure must come from us therefore we can save ourselves. It is that sneaky humanism that tempts us. It is quicker and easier for us to judge the men guilty of sleeping in before we even check into how late they stayed up. We leap to heap blame and shame on them and miss the astonishing news, He is risen! The astonishment came from the news the women had to tell of our risen Lord Jesus. The humor in the tale is that it was the risen Lord Jesus who brought out the details of the story as He walked with these men, who, the Bible states, were restrained from seeing Him.

The men received their own heap of astonishment when later the Lord serves up some communion bread and then vanishes!

The stories from the gospels of our risen Lord Jesus are many, and impossible to ignore. We are left to decide once again whether to believe the eye witnesses and thus in our Lord, or to discount those people as crackpots or liars and thus do the same to Jesus, for they are His witnesses. We are His witnesses in this age, and the same will be done to us. Always remember that when they decide you are a crackpot or a liar, they are doing the same to our Lord Jesus. And on those perhaps rare occasions when we are believed, it is the Lord they believe in and the glory belongs to Him.

And always be watchful, for He is walking with you, risen but not seen.

In Christ, Bucky

Friday, October 05, 2018

Sent To Watch

Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice. 2 Kings 6:10

It is some day in this week close to the weekend, I think. It was cold in the house yesterday. That is all I know about current events. If I am the watchman sent to stand watch in this week, you are all in grave danger. The verse for today really sticks it to those who let the week's events overwhelm their watchfulness. "Not just once or twice..." Ow! Yes, if we are to stand watch for humanity over those events that signal the end of time, we had better have a more thorough report than not knowing what day it is. Steadfast watchfulness!

We need each other in this guard duty, for each of us has those days when we awaken not entirely awake. What day is it? Do I need to go to work today? What is my name? These are the questions that may greet us on any new morning. I am being a little silly in the name thing. I haven't really woken up not knowing what my name is. There have been days where I struggled with the day or date though.

Good morning in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Read The Word

And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” Acts 22:22

What word was this that brought such a strong reaction from the people of the earth? 'Not fit to live'? That is some tough talk. Yes, Paul, that former champion of persecution of the followers of the Way, had admitted that the Word spoke to him. Not only had Paul stopped his persecution, he had turned all the way to Jesus and was now sent to the Gentiles. Good news for us, Paul's ministry brought us his letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, and several others that we read often in the Bible.

From this man who if his earlier career had happened in our time would have walked into every church he could find and dragged every believer in Christ out to be beaten and jailed, not necessarily in that order, we have much of the New Testament. Paul could read the Jewish scriptures and he did, but he could not read the word of God as we know it today, so God had him write part of it! And for His great epistler, God chose the worst of the worst, that persecutor extraordinaire, Paul.

Read the word, there are more great stories of impossible turnarounds that God effected for our good. One day, your story and mine will be read as a part of His word too!

God's blessings to you on this fine day in the Lord Jesus Christ!


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The Greatness of His Love

For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.  Lamentations 3:31-33

At one time in his life, poor Job would have argued against this passage claiming that God had indeed abandoned him forever. Job was of course simply us throwing around that hyperbole. We know in our heart though His Spirit that we are never abandoned by God, but sometimes the trial is such that we cry out that surely our Lord is absent and we are alone in this terrible world.

It is easy to get down. Wake up hurting, go to bed in pain, jam a finger, stub a toe, we will always have a host of reasons to get down physically, and each one provides a good excuse for an emotional downer. If that were not enough, every emotional let down affects the body for the worse. And then we get older. Above all of this fallen pain, there is the Lord our God, promising to dry every tear and that one great day pain and sorrow will be no more.

Yes, some days we look forward to that time more than others, but God is faithful to give us strength to carry on. Rejoice in Him!


Monday, October 01, 2018

Something Other Than

(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) Acts 17:21 NASB

Have you watched the news and at times longed for something, anything, other than the story that has been running for many days? Yes, you might even be doing that this morning. There is some good news for you today, and His name is Jesus.

When we first came to our Lord for His salvation, we were looking, seeking, and hoping for something other than the news of this world. Some good news that is new would be just the thing. And thus were some Athenians and strangers made ready back in the day to hear something new when Paul arrived. If bad news can prepare a people for the good news of Jesus, then it has served a purpose. However, that is not exactly what the verse in parentheses says, and may I say, "What a bunch of worthless layabouts!"

That good old news of Jesus Christ is such a refreshing spring of new good news that it bears repeating, and never more so than in a world of nearly constant bad news. I wonder how many first hear the good news of Jesus simply by looking for something so different from what they are constantly fed in the news media of today? If there is even one, then maybe all that bad news has served a purpose. Funny that even all that bad news can serve our Lord's purpose.

Oh, the joy of hearing the good news of Jesus Christ!