Friday, May 31, 2019

Our Giving Lord

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work." Revelation 22:12

From Genesis 1:15 to our verse for today, one can find the word 'give' active in God's hands. The Sun and Moon He created give their light to the Earth and the Son He gave brings His reward to give to everyone according to his and her work. Our giving Lord can be read in hundreds of verses throughout His word, and those are only the explicit instances from a search on the word 'give'. Of course we who believe in His Son can give our testimony of our giving Lord too!

Giving is something our Lord shows to us in His word and in His deeds. George Washington reminded us of our Lord's giving in the name he used for God: Providence. The Apostle Paul reminded us to bring our requests to the Lord. Our Lord likes to give from the many examples we read in the word, but He also likes to be asked, for in the asking we acknowledge our Lord and believe in Him. Daily we find ourselves needy, and daily He gives.

Rejoice in the providence of our Lord Jesus!


Thursday, May 30, 2019

He Will Come

Behold, I send My messenger,
​​And he will prepare the way before Me.
​​And the Lord, whom you seek,
​​Will suddenly come to His temple,
​​Even the Messenger of the covenant,
​​In whom you delight.
​​Behold, He is coming,”
​​Says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1

The prophet Malachi is given last place in our Old Testament as he prophecies just before the drought of the word of God comes upon Israel. This drought of the spirit would go on for centuries before any divine revelation came again to the people of God. During all that time a remnant of the faithful waited for the Lord to come, and He did! Many were born, lived out their lives, and went back to the dust in this waiting time, much like we are doing today. They remained faithful.

We too remain faithful in a time of waiting. It is not easy and we can now feel the pain of waiting they felt back then as they watched the Temple for the Lord's coming. We watch and we wait, and we wonder at times if the Lord is delayed somehow. Of course He is not. Our word of encouragement for today is: He will come again. In the strength of our Lord Jesus, we get to remain faithful in a world that seems headed toward destruction. He is coming again!

Rejoice! He is coming again.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Long Time Gone

Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
​​And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
​​For the LORD is a God of justice;
​​Blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18

I had this dream... nah, unless it is of the Lord dreams are a form of guess-you-had-to-be-there torture for most people, so we won't go there today. Long weekend and a Bible study day and suddenly I haven't written to you since last Friday, almost a week ago. During that time we had our turn at the big storms rolling across the land. Lots of hail here and some wind too, but not nearly so bad as some have experienced. Streets became creeks for a time and the ground is well soaked. The sun will shine again though, we have only to wait.

It says here in our verse for today that the Lord will wait. If one of us were almighty for a day, would be wait? We are promised that the Lord will wait that He may be gracious. Now grace is definitely something to hope for and receive with gladness! If the Lord needs to wait for a time and then comes down on us with the graciousness, then... Go Lord! Mercy too is promised and an exaltation of the Lord. This verse is just overflowing with the goodness of the Lord! And how do we go about getting there? We wait on the Lord.

"Blessed are all those who wait for Him."


Friday, May 24, 2019

Renewal in Repentance

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
​​And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

A famous verse from a psalm of David when he was loaded with guilt from what today would be called something like 'Bathsheba-gate'. Good heavens that is weak, it must be before breakfast early in the morning toward the end of the week. Yes, the weakness in the week is me!

Like most of us, David had a weakness for sin. The man after God's own heart was king and such a scandal as can hardly be believed came from his actions toward Bathsheba and her husband Uriah the Hittite. It would have consequences throughout his life. Yet, when presented with the scarlet color of his sin by Nathan, David repented and asked for renewal. "Renew a steadfast spirit within me," David asked of the Lord, for there was no one else David could turn to in his guilt and shame.

We also have sins that are too great for us. Whether in thought or in deed, those sins seem almost incredible in their depravity as the waves of guilt wash over us. What was I thinking? How did I get there? we might ask as the prophet of the word points the finger right at the filthy heart from which the sin came. We too must come to the Lord and ask as David did for a clean heart and a steadfast spirit within.

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, rejoice in the Lord Jesus!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

We're Set In This Promised Land

They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God has given you. Deuteronomy 28:52

We might get stuck on finding out who 'they' is, but it doesn't matter so much. We believe in Jesus and in this world we are besieged. If we trust in our walls, our accomplishments, stuff we have, talents we think will last, and other worldly things, we are going to be facing a tough siege that can only end with our defeat. If we trust in the Lord our God though, He has already overcome this world.

There is here also a lesson in complacency. Once Israel was set and secure behind their walls in the land the Lord had given them, they might have fallen into that complacency trap regarding their thoughts and intentions, even their behavior. We too might think that salvation is the wall which removes all restraint for us to act and think in righteous ways. Imagine the distress of our Good Shepherd as he looks back at the 99 in His stable and finds them butting heads instead of loving one another. He has already overcome the world, hopefully He can also overcome us.

Once we were that lost lamb and Jesus saved us. We also know that as we await the arrival of each and every lost one before the Lord takes us all home, we have a distance to travel with Him along the road of sanctification. There is some head butting in the church; there are thoughts of the flesh that have not yet been cleansed away, and we fear when we ought to be secure in our Lord Jesus. Knowing that, we are not set in complacency in that promised land but must look to the Finisher of our faith to revive us again.

Love one another,

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Quenching the Darts

...above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16

Bolts go with the crossbow, arrows to the longbow, but Paul told us about darts, and fiery ones at that. So what weapon do darts belong with? The enemy of course, the wicked one. These burning and sharp attacks may come from the Devil and his minions or from our fellow humans who love the world and its present darkness. We are indeed beset from all sides. But that little word, all, is used somewhere by Paul too. His assurance states that by the shield of faith we can quench ALL the fiery darts.

The effectiveness of faith in Christ Jesus is shown in this picture of us taking up the shield of that faith. It is large, it is effective, it is a shield to be used, and it is faith in Him. The darts are hot and they hurt and they are many, but this shield of faith is totally effective in quenching them.

Praise God for the shield of faith!


Monday, May 20, 2019

The Disappointment at the Ending

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:5

The big series ended last night and the final season was not a smash hit with everyone. It seems that a million signatures have already been added to a petition to redo the final season of the show. Ow, that hurts. I didn't see the thing, as you know I have no TV service, and certainly not the premium stuff like HBO. However, I cannot escape the news of the thing going around this morning as such a big disappointment at the ending is going to be noticed. And therein lies one of our great fears of this life, that we will be disappointed, or be one ourselves, at the ending.

Paul writes to the Romans to set their minds at ease about this. It is not a hope leading to disappointment because God is in charge of the ending. We would have every reason to fear if any or all of us were in charge of the ending of this life and world. We have no reason to fear while God is in charge. And the motivator of God's great finale is His love. Rejoicing will come in the end, His love will see it through!

Have a great week in Christ Jesus!


Friday, May 17, 2019

The Partiality Reaction

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. James 2:1

It is almost too easy to find partiality or favoritism in the church life. We take to it like the proverbial fish to water. Have tasks needing done? It is easy to like the one who is always enthusiastic to take the next job and run with it. Need to expand the building or ministry? It is easy-peasy to like the one always ready with their checkbook. We find it is too much trouble to keep asking the one who never volunteers for the job. And we just know that family over there won't give more than the minimum anyway, so why ask them again to contribute to the building fund?

My church has no problem with those things or any other favoritism, we try to say with loyalty to our church family in mind. Oh really? Let a celebrity walk into your church next Sunday; hear the necks crack and pop as they strain to help the eyes catch a glimpse. See those eyeballs bug out over that designer outfit. Watch the anti-reactors as they swear to themselves they will not act in any of those ways to the point of being rude or even snobbish! Would the state senator have to sit near the back of the Bible study because he arrived last, or would that favored seat be quickly vacated? Who wouldn't think of answered prayers for the church gym fund when that well-known billionaire walked into the service? Are we so confident now that our church would pass the partiality test with flying colors?

Nope, favoritism is a hindrance of our faith and love, but raised in a celebrity culture we need the Lord's help to hold our faith without partiality. Part of the problem, pun intended, is that partiality is a reaction to someone we see. Those partial thoughts haven't formed into a reminder of not showing partiality before we find the reaction of the flesh has preceded our better intentions. That old flesh can't react faster than our Savior though, and He knows the future, and especially helpful in this case, He knows our future too. We need some proactive prayer before the test comes, that we might not fail yet again in favoring one over another.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Attention Grabbers?

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains. Philippians 1:15-16

The minister took to the stage and bounded toward the lectern, his excitement in the preaching of the word evident to all the congregation. Who was to know in that moment that his motivation toward the kingdom of God was envy and strife? When did selfish ambition become the primary driver behind the passion of his delivery?

Some of that seems at odds, and yet Paul assures us that there are those who minister the word of God from the wrong motivations. Paul even states that some would take up their cross with the hands of selfish ambition! How could these things be?

Of course we know from experience the lure and lust of grabbing some attention for ourselves. Many are the temptations facing a minister of the word to grow some pride from being the center of attention in a church. And it would be so easy to spot 'em, those attention grabbers of the flock, if it were simply a matter of numbers. However, it can be just as easy to steal some of God's glory as a minister to 3 or 30 as it can be for the evangelist to 300 or 3,000.

We know quite well the center of attention in the church must be her bridegroom, for He is the One who saved us all on the cross.

Rejoice in the Lord!


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How Wrong We Can Be

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

Wait, didn't we gain the knowledge of good and evil from that tree and inheritance as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve? Aren't we so smart now in our own knowledge and wisdom? A quick look around the world leads us to the knowledge that we are about as wrong as we can be. And just to show us how wrong we can be even about how wrong we think we are, the Revelation shows that the world will get a whole lot wronger before the end. Please don't make me write that sentence again!

In my life, I have found that when I am wise in my own estimation any excellence and sincerity are long gone and offense goes way up; my fruit bin of righteousness is then found to be quite empty. And that is because there is too much of me in that case and not enough of my Lord Jesus. Want a full to overflowing fruit bin of righteousness? Get with Jesus and abide in Him, then the fruits of the Spirit can grow and be good.

Have a great Wednesday in Christ the Lord!


Monday, May 13, 2019

They Told Him!

They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Matthew 21:41

Yes, they told our Lord what was what in the world, and He used it to show them how wrong they were. And of course they did not like it and in place of reforming their ways or asking of Him for salvation, they sought all the more to murder the Son of God.

Our sin monsters do not like to be shown in the light of the Lord. The light causes them to shrivel up and lose their hold on us. And it is also quite embarrassing to that part of us wanting to show the Lord a resume of our goodness when so many sin monsters are seen in the light of His Holy Spirit crawling back into their dens to snap and growl in the darkness. There would be no embarrassment if we believed the stone the builders rejected whose word states that there is none who does good, not one who is righteous, and all have sinned.

Where does this come from today? It seems that I held court with those monsters this weekend and had one of those "Am I saved?" times that I indulge in ever so often, wallowing in the slough of despond once more because I haven't yet saved myself. Tsk, tsk, Pride is the one who says that I can save myself. Despair is where Pride leads me. Jesus, my Lord, does not want me to entertain those foul fiends but only to believe that He has saved me and that one day the members of that foul gang of monsters will be banished forevermore!

Faith is a tough road, but daily our Lord places us back upon it.


Friday, May 10, 2019

Not Here Forever

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

​​“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
​​In toil you shall eat of it
​​All the days of your life. Genesis 3:17

Adam's first question probably went something like, "For my sake?" That's what God said though. And what a gift it is.

For many, old age is a curse. As we can see here in Genesis, it is likely related to the cursed ground. The toil wears us down and the cursed ground stabs us with thorns, and in time we return to the dust of which we are made. Since we are made of that ground which is cursed, then it likely follows that our 'soil' is cursed too and we age and grow old and die. I'm a real spark of happiness on this Friday morning, eh?

Yes, part of God's love is that we don't have to stay here in this condition forever. We get to die! After we make that brief transition from what we think is living to what our Lord has gone to prepare for us, then we will understand or as Paul said, we will see clearly, and God's mercy, goodness, and love throughout all of our sufferings will become known fully to us.

Yes, it is tough to see it from this side, and that is where faith comes in. Rejoice in Him!


Thursday, May 09, 2019

But, We Can't Hear Him!

Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard
Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools. Ecclesiastes 9:17

There is a family of my acquaintance wherein two of them together will raise the loudness level considerably until one's ears ring from the din of it. And three or more of them... But that isn't where we are going this morning.

Solomon wrote a proverb from our modern world. We are surrounded by loudness. It is the weapon of choice among certain groups who want their way. It is almost like they want to shout down and shout over the words of wisdom from the quietly speaking ones. Duh, well yeah! In fact the volume of a particular group is proportional to the foolishness of its cause quite often in this age. And if you think that pointing that out to them will make them pause for a moment to reflect, then you are even more naive than me, and that's saying something!

It is interesting to see the quietness of our Lord Jesus. Shouting was not His way, and people gathered to hear Him. Much of our Lord's wisdom was imparted to small groups or individuals. He did speak to crowds, such as the Sermon on the Mount, but He did not shout over anyone to do so. I see there is another lesson for this age, people listened quietly, and that is something we see less of these days too. One has to wonder, if today Jesus tried to speak His great sermon would He be able to speak it without a group of sign-waving people showing up to shout Him down with bullhorns?

Praise God for His Word!


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Not There Yet

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. Philippians 3:12 (NLT)

Do you sometimes doubt your salvation? In the test I think that every Christian, perhaps more than once, will find themselves enduring a dark night of the soul where salvation seems to have not taken root in them. Surely we must be a part of the garden choked off by the thorns of this life we tell ourselves as despair clutches hard at our faith. The circumstances we stare down in that dark night are not those of the blessed and joyous Christian we hear as though whispered to us somewhere in the depths of the heart, and we listen too easily to the temptation of doubt.

We know from the scriptures that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Yet, the heart seems to refuse the knowledge and we repent once more of every sin we can recall going back to the dawn of our time on this earth. A preacher from back in the days before cars and airplanes spoke to this in his particular way:

The Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before He makes them divines; and he who believes what he knows, shall soon know more clearly what he believes. Charles H. Spurgeon

What a lovely sentence! And of course the words of the preacher call upon us to remember faith. For it is the believing in Jesus that gave us salvation, not something we did or earned that can be lost, but something He did which can never be taken from us. How did the great preachers become as they were? By seeing the dawn come after that dark night of the soul, perhaps several times, and they through the Holy Spirit came to know more clearly what they believed.

Great and wonderful is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!


Monday, May 06, 2019

A Bit More Respect

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? Hebrews 12:9

God should have all the respect we can give and more, but this verse for today shows us what is so common among us, we need an earthly example in order to learn the spiritual lesson.

Some questions have no answers, but we try. How big is God? And then we bring up mountains or oceans, maybe a planet or a galaxy, and all those examples fall short, or maybe they don't, we cannot know unless God tells us just how big He is. What is love? We tend to think of that mating desire we had for that young man or woman, or we think of that possessiveness we feel for the spouse or children, but are those love? Jesus had an interesting answer for the greater love.

Throughout His ministry our Lord gave us wonderful earthly examples in parables for spiritual truths. The man I call, 'grain bin man' is one of my favorite parables in Luke 12:16-21, and one I struggle with still. You probably have your favorite too. Many of the examples, like ol' grain bin man are negative, as in don't be like him. Others show how one doing right, such as the Samaritan who did good, may be despised by the world, and he was! Still other parables are about the Lord Jesus Himself.

So, a bit more respect please for our God and Father who sent His Son to give the greater love for us on the cross, and who took the time to teach us so well.


Friday, May 03, 2019

Is It Delivering Time Yet?

That Your beloved may be delivered,
Save with Your right hand, and hear me. Psalm 60:5

Thank you for the kind and loving birthday wishes yesterday. I did get to celebrate with a tiny subset of my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. Like you, I look to that time of delivering from this world when we will no longer be separated from our Lord and each other by such distances and times as we have now.

When will that time arrive?

If I knew that I would be in violation of scripture, for as our Lord said, no man knows that time. Yet, we yearn for that time of delivery. We write of it, talk about it, and sing for the day, and like David we pray for the time when Christ our Lord will deliver us from this world and present us to God, not as a sacrifice (He took care of that!) but as His beloved bride adorned for the great wedding that is to come.

Rejoice in Christ!

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Too Many Expectations Of Me stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening; 1 Chronicles 23:30

Brrr, it's only 29° out there this morning. As I sit here contemplating the start of my 57th year and my 56th birthday, I realize that I quite failed to pop out into this world and declare that I was zero, even though that was the beginning of my first year on this earth. Shameful of me really, ought to have remembered to do that. Such an absurd expectation from myself was only the beginning of a long parade of expectations placed by me upon me to succeed in this world by worldly terms. Of course the most extreme and by far the craziest was that I would save myself by my good works and be allowed into God's heaven because I was somehow good enough.

      Alas, absurd expectations and too many!
      Cease ye disenchanted yappers and desist!
      Jesus loved me and cried out my sin upon His cross!
      I am saved by Christ alone, and in His love stand atoned! 

With that out of the way, happy birthday to me and all those who were born on this day in May! I share my famous birthday with some sort of wrestling rock, but I think I would rather spend it with those who love me. May the Lord Jesus Christ be celebrated in our celebration today!


Wednesday, May 01, 2019

You Mean, I Get To Decide?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

This verse has been used throughout the centuries of the Way, but not always in the right manner or method. A quick glance might give one the impression that I get to decide by experimentation what is the will of God, what is right or wrong. This is the opposite of Paul's point however; for read in its entirety the first part of the verse puts that aside, for what is the world but men and women deciding for themselves what is right and wrong?

You can bet that if I were the judge of what God's will is and what is declared right or wrong then asparagus would be an abomination while pizza would be what is good and acceptable and perfect. You may laugh, but every individual would decide in a similar manner and with similar results. Lawyers and politicians could make their will sound official, writers and advertisers could make their will sound more appealing, and country bumpkins would do the thing with asparagus and pizza, but the entire world would have billions of sets of laws about rights and wrongses.

What Paul has in mind for each of us though is quite different.

First we believe in Jesus so that the transforming of our mind begins with our rebirth in the Spirit. Then we learn as a newborn babe does what is the will of God as we study His word, pray, sit under the discipleship of elders and deacons and ministers of God, come back for more prayer, live with the Lord at hand, and the many other things we do to test and learn what is the will of God and what He has decided is good and acceptable and perfect. Discerning what is the will of God seems to begin with accepting first that I was born wrong and God is always right. Hence the need, as our Lord Jesus told Nicodemus, for that second birth in Christ by the Spirit.

So, I don't get to decide? No, I get to discover what He has decided for me. What a relief! So many people actually like asparagus, I would hate to declare it an abomination.

Love in Christ,


P.S. May Day Devotional? No, the world is going down; we need to send a mayday to God.