Friday, March 29, 2019

No Shopping Here!

Then I commanded that the gates of Jerusalem should be shut as darkness fell every Friday evening, not to be opened until the Sabbath ended. I sent some of my own servants to guard the gates so that no merchandise could be brought in on the Sabbath day. Nehemiah 13:19 NLT

It's Friday, and I tried to look up 'Friday' in the New King James Bible but it was a no-go. However, the newer translation had replaced 'the day before the Sabbath' with the simpler 'Friday', only to find that Nehemiah had shut the gates and guarded them to prevent shopping and freight hauling. Friday evening certainly was different in Nehemiah's day! Imagine for a moment the hollerin' and screamin' that would take place if President Trump tried to shut down all commerce on Friday evening and sent in the Marines to guard the gates to the shopping place. Yes, the noise in the streets and the media. The shouting of slogans and the roar from the angry mob. Actually, you would think he had tried it already!

Yes, today is the day of outrage and sometimes the reason for it seems to not matter very much. Any reason will do, just let us go outrage some more.

Nehemiah had good reason to prevent this thing though. He was trying to lead the nation of Israel back into obedience to the Law and there was resistance. Six days they could shop and work, but one day was for rest. And there were a great many other laws the fallen flesh did not want to obey. The desires of the fallen haven't changed, but praise to God we have a satisfaction for the Law! We certainly needed Him too. As we look at old Israel, we can but say, "Yes, and such am I in my flesh, wayward and disobedient just like them."

Praise God for His Son, our Lord Jesus,


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Little Ol' Me

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

I have taken stock of my condition and found nothing in my body that would impress the world and its principalities, much less the powers and rulers and spiritual hosts of wickedness. My feet are slow, my knees are weak, my joints are stiff, and the rest of me doesn't even impress the people of this world; how could all of that impress a ruler of the darkness? Little ol' me just doesn't even register as a worthy foe to those powers and rulers. Like the little kid with that proverbial big brother, I always want to ask them, "Have you met my good friend, Jesus?"

Even the name of my Lord and good friend will send them running. His presence in the clouds of glory spells their doom. Just one of my Lord's angel servants can demolish an army or kill every firstborn son of a mighty nation. And He can call on 12 legions of them! With His death on the cross He redeemed all of the saints of the Most High God. A word from His lips stopped the storm on the Sea of Galilee in a moment. Yes, little ol' me is no threat at all to the world and its powers, but have you known my friend Jesus? He is mighty to save!

Have a happy Thursday in Christ the Lord!


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Isolation Walk

As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp. Leviticus 13:46

Outside the camp... Imagine being exiled outside your town or city right now. Hungry? No going to the grocery store; you must place your hope in those who might leave a box of food for you nearby and then run away to avoid that which you carry. Lonesome, your only hope would be for another to contract the same disease afflicting yourself. Do you have another hope? The verse speaks of as long as the disease lasts. At the point of your isolation walk from your home to the outskirts (Good luck finding some public lands to squat on today!) of town, as your head hangs down wondering what awaits you in this new life, you would not know the length of your sentence. Life, is it worth it in these conditions? Well, there is that hope that the disease will run its course, perhaps in just a short time if you even dare to hope for that, and restoration to cleanliness will allow your return to home.

Of course each spring would bring some renewed hope as well. The cold and long darkness of winter has passed and the warmth of spring thaws the heart and bones...ah, what am I saying? In these parts an isolation walk into winter would almost surely mean a walk to a person's final resting place. However, spiritually speaking, maybe even socially speaking, each of us has taken an isolation walk from the world we knew as sinners. Led forth by our Lord Jesus, we said goodbye for good to the world of sin. But not quite! Now and then we return as missionaries and ambassadors to the world, not to participate, but to share the good news we have found in Christ. And lonesome? Not with Jesus with us always even to the end of this age.

Have a loving day in Christ Jesus!


Monday, March 25, 2019

Why Weren't You There?

And Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were in a great struggle with the people of Ammon; and when I called you, you did not deliver me out of their hands. Judges 12:2

We have likely seen the day after a colleague or friend did not show up for the struggle at hand. Without asking what may have happened in their life, we might jump right to the accusing phase of breaking a relationship. 'Why weren't you there?' May not come up as we jump on the former friend with both verbal feet, "You failed to show up and I suffered this, that, and the other thing! We're done!" And thus does a valuable and loving relationship end on the burning fires of our tongues. And to think that the friend might very much have wanted to share what happened to him or her, and why the space at your side was empty that terrible day. But no chance was given, and the Devil marked another notch on the stock of his deception gun.

The Lord describes our relationship with Him in this way, "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." (Matt 28:20) While we have turned away from Him many times and failed to fill that spot at His side, He is always with us. Wait, how can that work? What is impossible for me and you, is always possible with God. We might try to ask that awful question of the Lord in our title for today, but He is always there and the question is but the worst sort of unbelief.

Thank You, Lord, that You are always here with me, Your beloved.


Friday, March 22, 2019

Does The Lord Love?

The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 10:15

It seems like an obvious answer and indeed it is, but should someone ask of us we must be ready with a scriptural answer. Searching the Law of Moses, there are many verses about laws so that the children of Israel might love the Lord, as if that were the problem. Well, yes, fallen man must return to loving the Lord and as Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) As we have not throughout the centuries shown a perfect record of keeping those commandments, it would seem that our love of the Lord is questionable as well. So, Israelite or Gentile, we do indeed need to return to or learn to love the Lord our God.

John 3:16 of course shows God's love without exception or qualification. Does the Lord love? Yes, He does and He did before we asked. The most prominent expression of the Lord's love has a name, and His name is Jesus.

Wait, how did Jesus get involved? You just kind of threw Him in there!

Not quite, Jesus was the one who spoke the great words of John 3:16 and He is the Son that was given in the verse and as promised by the prophet of old. (Isaiah 9:6) To know if God loves we need only look to Jesus who came to save us by laying down His life for us.

We need to love; He already does!


Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Ancient Asking of Intercession

So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.” Exodus 8:28

Gee, Pharaoh almost sounds contrite here, perhaps even a little repentant, but is that the case? The heart hardening of Pharaoh by the Lord had already been promised and was likely working in him or even completed by the Lord. This intercession seems a bit suspect then, kind of a get-something-for-me request; though Pharaoh probably didn't see it as a request.

Pharaoh and Egypt had a big problem: God had said to let His people go and those people were a source of cheap labor for Egypt. Four centuries had passed since the time an Israelite had saved and even prospered Egypt by way of the Lord. Joseph was a distant memory and his God was perhaps even unknown to many Egyptians. So much for gratitude. This Pharaoh reluctantly let the Israelites go just a little ways, commanded an intercession and quite likely expected their quick return to the slave quarters. In short, he wanted to maintain control. But God was exerting His control and Egypt was only in the fourth plague. Bargaining for control with Moses, God's messenger, Pharaoh had no idea what was yet to come.

So, bargain for control with God if you will, but like Pharaoh, we will fall under the Lord's command sooner or later. As for those who believe in Jesus, we have already surrendered to the Lord, and each day we get a little better at following Him more closely.

Great is the name of the Lord our God!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Gone To The Father

You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. John 14:28

When we read the scriptures of the life of Jesus our Lord and read that His Father is greater, we must stand back with a bit of awe. His authority over the Sea of Galilee, the healing of so many, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, all come from the greatness of God as He worked through His Son. Could Jesus have disobeyed His Father then, with the Father being God and all? Yes, I suppose He could have, but He never did. To worry over what He could have or might have done but didn't is a waste of time and energy. Jesus could go to the Father because He never disobeyed Him. Of course one of the reasons we can rejoice in Jesus going to the Father is that He has gone to plead the case of the disobedient ones; some of them being you and me.

Like the disciples we have trouble even rejoicing at the right time. Instead of jumping about with joy over Jesus being with the Father, we are wondering when He is coming back. Maybe we can start with praising God that He is coming back and learn to rejoice better from there.

Love in Christ Jesus,

Monday, March 18, 2019

What About Eternity?

For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15

It seems about that time in life when many who lived the rock n' roll lifestyle of the 70's and 80's are giving up the goods in memoirs and autobiographies. Although I can see the worldly success written down in their prose, there is a question I want to ask them: What about eternity?

We are told not to envy the one who prospers in his way, and one way of doing that is to keep my mind on my Lord and Savior. With that in mind, that remains the question I want to ask those who have enjoyed a double (or triple or quadruple...) helping of earthly rewards. As God inhabits eternity and our Lord Jesus died to get us there, how will the earthly rewards prepare anyone for our far longer time spent in eternity? Are those worldly ones even considering the length or breadth of eternity as they enjoy their life here in this brief now?

Tough questions to be sure, and I would not make myself popular among the upper crust of this world by asking them. However, we have a duty to our neighbors to ask questions along those same lines of them too. Today is tough for you with all of the aches and pains we suffer in this life, but what about eternity? Tomorrow brings a new set of bills which you may not be able to pay, but what about what comes after? Is there a bill there that you could never pay when the judgment comes? Our answer is the Savior, what is yours?

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being the answer to a tough question,


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Happy John 3:16 Day!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

There was such a celebration, at least in geek circles, over Pi day (3/14) that I thought we should celebrate John 3:16 day. If a bunch of math and computer types can get silly over an infinite decimal, then we should be able to celebrate eternal life with our Lord! Okay, that is a play on 'if' as we do not need a worldly celebration to rejoice in our Lord.

Universalism came up again in a Christian magazine article recently. And what is that you might ask? That is of course the belief that Christ died for all, all are thus saved, and anything goes. It comes up in church history from time to time and it has some popularity. However, John 3:16 has a bit of a qualifier for that eternal life: whoever believes in Him.

There are some who refuse to admit that God even exists. How can they believe in the Son if they refuse to confess there is God the Father? "Believes in Him" is such a big little set of words in just one little verse of but one book in the Bible, yet what a profound effect rings forth across the judgment of the world! And still there is no exclusion in it, for whoever...anyone, everyone who believes in Him has eternal life.

Praise God for His Son and everlasting life!


Friday, March 15, 2019

The Lawless Age

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Romans 13:1

Have you ever met a people more against government obedience than us? We whine when government interferes in our business and we whine when government does not interfere. Don't think so? Watch every winter season as a high-speed interstate somewhere in the Midwest becomes a no-speed, snow-bound parking lot. Why didn't the governing authorities shut that road down before people got stuck? A question that will be asked many a time today as the Denver news is broadcast. Up in Nebraska the roads were clear in many places and no parking lot was seen after government interfered in goodly time and shut the roads down. Yet, somewhere along the interstate was whining that, "I could have got through, if they hadn't closed the road so soon." The governing authorities seldom win in the court of public opinion.

Yet, here we are living in a nation born by disobedience to the governing authority. It seems that we had the wrong George in 1776, so a revolution was fought to get rid of King George and elect President George. Go figure. Anyway, once the rejection of Romans 13:1 was concluded and we had a new George in charge, we congratulated ourselves that God had raised up a new nation of rugged individuals fresh from a startling victory over that governing authority and godless tyrant from over there across the sea. Ever since that day, we have grumbled in turn by parties over the current governing authority. I say 'we' because God judges the nations and we are a part of a nation whether we participate in the grumbling or not.

However, you are the one who obeys and submits to the governing authority, how can I call you lawless? There are so many laws in this age that you have likely violated more than one by now through ignorance that such a law even exists! And has our love grown cold also as our Lord said back on the Mount of Olives? There is news of so many tragedies throughout the world today that our capacity for loving is quite overwhelmed. Only our Lord can mourn all the dead as each day on the calendar draws to a close.

As we are caught up in these lawless and cold end times, who is our hope? Who indeed but the One who has always been our hope, Jesus the Christ! He can warm our love and encourage our obedience in these dark times.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Blizzard Day

When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.” 1 Samuel 9:5

In a snow and blow such as we have going on here, it is obvious that we must care about and for the people. However, at some point yesterday there might have come that time when a father changed from being concerned about his car and began being concerned over his child driving home from school. Conditions changed slowly yesterday and with plenty of warning time to get into trouble, the unwise may have waited too long or tried just one more stop along the way. We can tell that conditions are not terrible when Dad is just worried about the car. Everyone joins in the worry when Dad looks out and worries about the kid and is no longer concerned with the car. Dad's have not changed since Saul's day a thousand years before our Lord Jesus came.

Does that apply to our Heavenly Father?

No it does not, for the Dad we have here has no control over the conditions and so as they deteriorate in the storm he may become worried over his youthfully reckless progeny. God is in complete control, even if we may doubt sometimes while watching the news, and is never worried over His sheep. Our Lord knows exactly where we are, exactly what will happen to us, and when we will be reunited with Him. We become less worried when we learn to trust in Him more; when the knowledge of Him becomes enough to overcome our doubts while staring into the storm conditions and we know, just know, fully and completely, that He is in control... always.

Always and forever, He has me!


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Watch Yourselves Carefully

And command the people, saying, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. Deuteronomy 2:4

The people of Israel would not get one footstep of Esau's territory as it had already been promised by the Lord. It would seem that as they passed through this area, they might see something they wanted. The old lusts of the flesh would need to be watched carefully lest they sin against their brethren. In the next verses the children of Israel were commanded to purchase food and water if they needed anything. Territory and who lives in it is quite important to the Lord.

Having someone fear you can lead to temptation. That powerful feeling we might get from seeing such an attitude displayed toward us is also a danger to us. Just as the children of Israel might be tempted to lord it over the children of Esau, so that flesh of ours might also try to take advantage of someone in a fearful state. It is even the thoughts we might well watch carefully as we are to love one another and look down on no one.

Well, I'm not going to pass through a territory, we might say by way of denial. Oh, wait a minute, remember that house that was not up to our standard of cleanliness? How we looked down on that person in her territory. The shop with a few broken tools laying about in the filth, they were gone from the place but how we judged them unworthy. Yes, watch yourselves carefully!

Love and grace to you from Jesus Christ our Lord,

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Hit Temptation

And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:18-19

Simon, not Peter, saw something he wanted and he offered up some loot to get it. The Devil showed Jesus something any of us would want - all the kingdoms of the Earth - and our Lord resisted the temptation. In our social media age we have something called the hit temptation, that is the more hits one gets on a social media page the more money, popularity, etc. one has in this life.

Imagine just for demonstration purposes that I get paid for my blog posts, and there are many bloggers who have this going, but it isn't enough because money has that effect on us. One temptation that could increase my hits for a time would be to tell of my experience with meeting Jesus out in the desert. You will quickly recognize what our Lord said in His Olivet Discourse about someone saying that very thing (Matt 24:26 if you need a refresher). By coming up with a good story, I could certainly increase the attention paid to my writing for a time. That time being until someone goes out there and says, "No, He ain't!" That part of Matthew would have saved them the trip, but the temptation goes on.

Call it the hit temptation or the 'going viral' temptation or whatever, the lust to have lots of attention, and gain a pile of loot from it, are prevalent in our social media culture. Everything that our Lord saw and resisted in His temptations is laid out in ways without number for us to look at on the Internet. And among all of that, in order to get noticed there will be some who fall to the temptation to fake a story. The one about Messiah in the desert is coming around again; let us not run out there, we know better.

Grace to you in Christ Jesus!


Friday, March 08, 2019

Mr. Glasshouse

The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
​​But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. Proverbs 11:9

Two big forces at work in this verse, the one who enjoys scoffing at neighbors and the one who feels that compulsion but seeks to do what is right. A latter day proverb we use is: Don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house. This is not meant to criticize construction materials but to remind us not to destroy the neighbor with words of the mouth, very much along the same lines as the ancient proverb Solomon collected. That this problem still exists confirms another of bit of Solomon's wisdom: all things come around again. Mr. Glasshouse still chucks those rocks around and as he plays the hypocrite, he likes it.

Criticism, scoffing, and angry denunciations can make a person feel superior to his neighbor. Mr. Glasshouse looks down on his neighbors because he imagines that smashing sound is the effect of his stone throwing on them. One day, he thinks, they will have suffered enough to 'straighten out' and see the errors of their ways as he does. The bitterness of his loneliness will soon cause more rocks to fly. Why is he lonely? It seems that his rocks retain enough velocity to sting and hurt the neighbors even after smashing through his glass walls. And they do, and well we know it.

All of us have come under fire from Mr. Glasshouse and we have been hurt. There are many in the Glasshouse clan, and they throw those rocks with pepper on 'em.

Now comes the tough part. What are we in Christ to do with Mr. Glasshouse? Jesus already prepared us for this: "Do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (Matt 5:44) No returning that criticism stone for stone and no hateful defensiveness, just prayer and doing good to old Mr. Glasshouse. Whoa! We wanted a tough road to climb to prove our love for the Lord and there it is.

But, I'm not up to climbing this steep road! True, but our Lord Jesus will get us up there. Follow Him!

Love in Christ Jesus,

Thursday, March 07, 2019

They Are At Work

Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.” 1 Kings 22:23

This was about Ahab, but could just as easily describe the climate of the end times as many will fall for what the lying prophets will say. Note that the prophets belong to the king and not to God. Only one prophet speaks the words of the Lord, and he (Micaiah) brings a message of disaster. Another thing that may fit the end times, there were a lot more of them. The king had about 400 men in his prophet gang, the Lord sent one.

In this age we may see many of the false prophets, so many that without the Holy Spirit in us we might well fall under the sheer volume raised against the word of the Lord. Of course, we know the voices of the many false prophets are at work already in the world. So where should we look for them? It would make it easier if they gathered in one political party, maybe even too easy. One nation would also make it easy to spot them. One religion? Yes, but the most effective place, one which they would strive to get into if allowed, would be speaking from the pulpits of churches throughout the land. Too scary. How about the places of the powers that be, financial and government? They are probably there. The centers of communication: radio, television, movies, web sites and social media? Sure, probably there too. With odds of 400 to 1 against, the enemy has plenty of false prophets to put in all of those places and more. If I know of just 29 other people who love God and spread the good news of Jesus, we might be up against 12,000 false prophets already!

It isn't the numbers though, it is the One and His name is Jesus!


Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Never Give Them Up

Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. Revelation 6:11

One way to get back at someone who killed you would be to come back as a ghost to haunt them. Perhaps asking "why?" endless times, making suggestions regarding their personal hygiene, hiding their car keys, or just showing up bloodied with wide staring eyes while pointing spectrally at them during their finer moments. That is how the story or joke usually goes anyway. Whether that can happen or not, I do not know.

As I look into the issue in the Revelation, one place to look is the tribulation saints whose souls are under the altar when the fifth seal is broken by the Lamb. They do not get to go back and haunt their killers but are told to rest for a little while longer. Another group would be those who have gone to sleep in Christ before the great tribulation, but it seems that they too, raised up in the Rapture, only follow Christ the Lord on white horses as He returns to deal with those armies arrayed against His city.

Therefore, one might conclude that once our Lord Jesus has us in Heaven with Him, that He will never give up His own. No ghostly missions to dispense a little justice to the killers? Nope, only a good Shepherd who will never give up His sheep. Amen! Once we are with the Lord Jesus, I don't think we will want to go anywhere else.

In Christ,

Monday, March 04, 2019

John's Warning

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

That thermometer outside shows -12° on it this morning. Is it possible to have such cold and not talk (or write) about it? Divorcing ourselves from the circumstance is often difficult, but in this case being inside the house with the furnace going and hot oatmeal nearby certainly helps.

John the senior disciple writes to tell us of spirits that should not be believed. Swell, now it isn't only people we need to sift the words of but spirits too? Yes of course, Paul had already warned the Ephesians of powers and principalities in the present darkness. We too know that sometimes advice seems to come from a place that caters to the lusts and desires of the flesh. Whether it is another person speaking or a thought that seems to come out of nowhere, we must take care with what we hear. God sends dreams and visions in these end times and it would seem that the enemy does also. It is likely that both will increase as the end draws near. Do not forget, beloved, that the Spirit of God dwells within us and we have good warning of these messages which ought not to be believed.

God's warm blessings to you on this morning!


Friday, March 01, 2019

The Question May Be

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

The question of what we will do when meeting Jesus is often asked. From Bart Millard's song, I Can Only Imagine, to the wonderings of believers in a moment of rest, we ponder that question. However, perhaps the question may be: What will Jesus do?

We tend to have this picture of the stern and silent God sitting on His mighty throne as we creep forward tentatively hoping to not be struck down. Then we turn to the Lord Jesus who is just waiting for us to do something. There is so much evidence in the Bible for an active, caring, and loving God that one must wonder where we get these impressions. So the question I want to ask this morning is that other one. When we meet Jesus for that first time, what will HE do?

Indeed the meeting Saul of Tarsus had on the road to Damascus should show us right away that there is not some restriction on our Lord Jesus that prevents Him from meeting us right here and now. There is no law set down in the Bible that states: The Son shall not return until that thing you call the Second Coming. Sorry, not there. In fact that whole 'Second Coming' thing is a misnomer, for the second time Jesus came was when He met Saul on that dusty road. We do not even await that Glorious Appearing, for at that time all of God's saints want to be with the Lord Jesus having gone to meet Him in the event we call the Rapture. So, don't sleep, let's go meet Jesus!

Love in Christ Jesus,


P.S. March, coming in like a polar bear today.