Friday, June 28, 2019

Living By Faith

​“Behold the proud,
​​His soul is not upright in him;
​​But the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4

Was Strong Faith the mighty man of superhero legend? No, faith is strong when it rests in strength, and no one is stronger than the one we know as the Almighty. If we depend upon our faith to be strong, it will rest in us and by now we have come to know our weakness all too well and often. The faith we are given by the Lord must rest in Him. We may even say that any faith we have was given for the express purpose of resting that faith in the Lord.

Weak Christian, strong Christian, fast, slow, busy, lazy... these are worldly terms we might use to compare ourselves one with another. What we have is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If one of us could measure with a cup your faith or my faith, he would be looking in the wrong direction. Point the one who would measure to the One who is faithful beyond measure, our Lord Jesus. In this life I could be a busy Christian one season, enjoy the praise of men, and suffer health blows and be thought a slow or lazy Christian the next. But to borrow from Joshua, as for me and my house, we will place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

My faith is in Jesus. If the world can overthrow my Lord Jesus then I will be overthrown. As I read the Revelation, I see that the world will try a couple of times.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Wicked Prosper

​You have planted them, yes, they have taken root;
​​They grow, yes, they bear fruit.
​​You are near in their mouth
​​But far from their mind. Jeremiah 12:2

We might see this verse going somewhere were it not for that last line. Far from their mind? Uh oh, this is not going to end well! Jeremiah takes up a complaint against the wicked ones who prosper in this world in verse 1 of the chapter. The prophet asks of the Lord why those who give no mind to God are made to do so well in the world. What is worse is that while Jeremiah suffers for the word given to him, the prosperous ones speak similar words.

It is a sad fact that in this world that someone without a thought for God can speak and write words much like ours, even just like ours in speaking of our Lord Jesus. Their ministry might accumulate vast wealth and large numbers of church members, while we minister to few and struggle to pay the bills. It won't do to fret over them!

All one of us can do is come to the Lord in prayer that we remain faithful to God in our ministry. You and I cannot answer for that other fellow and what is in his heart. If his ministry is false, it will become known.

I pray that the grace of God will overflow from the heart of all those who believe in His precious Son, Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

That's A Mean One

And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. Deuteronomy 28:63

This is one of those verses from the Old Testament that to the unbeliever proves God's meanness. This is of course to ignore the first part about rejoicing in doing good and multiplying, but also ignores the text that goes on all around it. But we who believe in the Christ might also have a little question arise from this verse: How could the Lord rejoice over destroying those He loves?!!

Here is where you and I can have faith and separate ourselves, quite rapidly really, from the world and what it thinks it knows. We can believe God rejoices because there is good in the destruction of Israel in this case, but perhaps of us too in another case.

It is clear that the destruction is of Israel as a nation in this case. In later verses, Israel is promised a scattering and no rest among the nations to which it is plucked off to.. We too may be plucked off to somewhere else to remove something or someone from our lives by way of the Lord, to meet new people (especially those who do not yet believe in Him), and/or to be discipled by another teacher. There may be other reasons, but the old normal of life is lost and a new life begins in another place. Much like salvation this is! (Do I hear a Yoda-like voice somewhere?)

Now, let us ask the question again. Is God being mean or is God being loving and good by making sure that any destruction is carefully meted out to any and all He loves, so that evil influences are removed from us (or we from them), and all will work out for our good as our Lord rejoices over what will come from His firm steps?

Tough times in life are not a sign of God being mean to us, but of His love!


Monday, June 24, 2019

A Cage Made Of Rules

But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13:14

The Sabbath was a great day for healing by our Lord, but some clung to their book of rules. They clung so tightly to them that they could not see what (or who!) was before them.

Like money, rules can be useful to us. When listed in a checklist, a set of rules can help us to see an operation through to a successful conclusion. When followed in training, rules can keep us safe and ease the learning process. Experiencing a catastrophic failure in a system, as some of us have found out, is a tough way to learn a 'don't do that'. However, also like money, rules can be a way to build a cage around ourselves such that we cannot see the Savior.

The ruler growled a rule at the poor woman healed of an infirmity she bore for eighteen years. Six days you can come get healing, leave my Sabbath alone! Dude! Did you just see the Savior heal that woman bound for eighteen years by the Devil? Do you understand at all the pain she endured? This one was still bound by the Devil it would seem, bound up in his cage of good-sounding rules. Read the story in Luke 13 and see how our Savior put his adversaries to shame. It will be the same in the final judgment. Those who love Him will be glorified with Him; those who deny Him will be put to shame.

Trust in Him!


Friday, June 21, 2019

And Another Thing About Service

So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Luke 1:23

Service may be tough, but it also means that I may not get to do what I wanted to do! Wah, wah! Yes, after all these years the crying of the selfish child is all too easily brought forth from memory.

Patience is called for as we see the days of service for Zacharias coming to a close in our verse for today. His term of service had an end and he could go home to do what he wanted to do for a time. After the child came he could learn about another form of service, but that is a story for another day. In serving another we may have to set aside a thing we want to do for a time. That may not be easy in this age where we expect things to arrive so quickly.

We can also note from the verse today that service is often away from the home. That isn't always a comfortable situation either, especially for those of us who like the place called home. Ah, but this place is not our permanent home, and service away from His home is what our Savior did to save us.

Praise God for His service!


Thursday, June 20, 2019

It's Too Much, Ask For Help

Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Exodus 18:18

Much good advice comes from people who don't know much. In-laws, parents, teachers, ministers, and other people such as these offer advice to us because they were once as we are, and they hope that by some good advice we will not plow ahead foolishly as they once did. That it takes a few tries for us to learn to listen to that good advice only stores up another generation of good advisers for the foolish plowers. It's a rite of passage sort of thing.

One of those areas of good advice is often in the asking for help when we reach a point that a duty, task or project is too much for us alone and we need to ask for help. The problem usually is that we are in a stubborn plow-ahead mode and it takes someone we respect such as a, well, see the list above.

Now, of course we are to go to God first in prayer. But sometimes there is so much griping going on in our heads that He cannot get a word of advice in Himself, and so He sends in some advice from some of those folks we didn't always think knew very much. And we're back to the elders thing. Yes, because if one finds the mind too busy griping to listen to the Lord, then an interruption by one with good advice might just be the next best ticket to the wisdom train. And as our Lord Jesus said, if you have left the plow to follow Him, don't look back at it.

Have a great Thursday in Christ our Lord!


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

An Understanding Heart

"Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1 Kings 3:9

Oh, it is fun to imagine being king at times! We can see the advantage in the power, and in being the first one to know everything. Uh, no, as experience has shown, the person in charge is often not the first to know everything or even anything for that matter. The monarch must fight the urge to believe the first one and condemn the second automatically. Um, what?

If you have been on the hot seat because you were the second party, you know well what I am talking about this morning. The first one gets the sympathetic ear, the chance to tell the story from their perspective in a calm sea. The second one faces the pointed sword of justice, the arresting officers, the angry sea as the authority falls for that age old myth that the first one to run to the chief is the one who is telling the truth. Solomon wanted an understanding heart to be able to judge God's people when faced with the one said this-the other said that cases that would come before him.

Solomon in his position was both president and supreme court, and he was responsible to God for all of Israel. In any case where it was he said-she said, or they said this happened but the other folks say that happened, and in many things where the king on his throne far away would be among the last to know something happened out on the frontier, Solomon wanted discernment through an understanding heart. This was something wonderful in a ruler! I'm with you in asking in prayer for some more of that in our leaders, please.

The good news is that our Lord Jesus is more of that and He will rule one day.

Have a great day in the Lord Jesus!


Monday, June 17, 2019

Service Is Tough

“I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Revelation 2:19

I sought out the Lord to teach me patience, and I'm still waiting for that to happen. I sought from the Lord the meaning of steadfast endurance, and I just wish that would end sometime. And then came the subject of service. Service is tough.

Serving is seldom convenient. It is easy when on your way to the second town over to stop and drop something off in the first town as you are going through on your way. But, no the request for service goes something like, "On your way to Florida, can you stop in Juneau and wrestle a grizzly bear for me?" I'm like: Florida? I'm not going anywhere this weekend, and have you never looked at a map or globe or a GPS in your life? No, service is almost never convenient. Its timing seems to be off a little too.

Service is that phone call to do some work on a Friday evening just after (or before) you are going home from the work of a difficult week at the regular job. The call to serve does not come when boredom has begun to lay its heavy hand on your brain and a change would be welcome. Nope, that would be too easy. So, with timing and geography at issue, what else might serving call us for?

For Jesus, serving us in our greatest need called for His life... and a lot of suffering as well. When I read our Lord's words in our verse for today, I hope that my last works will be more than my first, because when service has called, I have not always been ready and willing. Service is tough!

Love in Christ,

Friday, June 14, 2019

Trusting In Him

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11

It is a song of praise. It is a prayer that these things will be done. "Let them..." David wrote, probably because it was not always that way even in his heart. As king, David wanted a peaceful land, and to gain that peace he wrote that all should be joyful in the Lord. Note how much the Lord must do for this:

1. He must be trustworthy.
2. The Lord must be defender of the people.
3. His name must be lovable. 
4. When trust is placed in Him, He must enable joy in Himself
   from those who likely have much to not be joyful about. 

Age can make us to not wake up feeling joyful. The Spirit rejoices in God within us, but the old body just does not feel that joy right away anymore. If that is not enough, feed yourself a little news today from the world... and joy might easily be driven out right there unless it is in and from One who provides a continuous supply. We do not live in a joyful world and our fallen bodies do not provide joy and the feelings of the day likely are not joyful. As David wrote those many years ago, we must trust in God and find our joy in Him.

So graciously does He provide!


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Turning From Idols

For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. 1 Thessalonians 1:9

Turning from idols to serve the living and true God, now there is cause for celebration.

Idols are common throughout the known world, and we're not talking natives in the jungle bowing down before a carved wooden thing. Nope, we have an entire host of potential idols in this modern world, and any of them might ensnare us if we are not watchful. Today we even have the option of virtual idols on our computer monitors, if something that a person can touch and bump into is no longer enough for you. Want your idol to talk and move around? No problem, television already did that, but we can go even further and program a virtual world that... You know the story, and a false reality impossible to tell from virtual reality becomes more of an idol with each passing day.

But wait! Given a bit more time, we might bump into robots and androids inhabiting our own 'real' world that are impossible to tell from humans. And of course some will want to have sex with them. Sodom and Gomorrah anyone? Yes, all things come 'round again, as Solomon observed way back in the day.

Turning from idols to the living and true God is a cause for celebration, and the angels in Heaven celebrate each time a lost sheep is brought into the fold by our dear Savior Jesus!

Rejoice in Him!


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Comfy and Secure Yet?

One person dies in prosperity,
completely comfortable and secure,
the picture of good health,
vigorous and fit. Job 21:23-24

From Job's seventh speech, we have a truth or at least a true observation; it does happen. We are jealous and wish we could be that one person. Of course this could also be the picture of a wealthy young person dying in a sudden car crash, and then we think, "Oh, what a tragedy!" But we still wish we could try out their riches for a bit. Yes, prosperity by way of great wealth is a temptation to the mind.

Job in his lamentation phase, which is most of the book of Job, was not a fun person to be around. You and me may not be comfy and secure yet in our own strength, be it wealth, health, or otherwise, but we are not supposed to be secure in what we are in the world. Our comfort and security come from God. We may not see prosperity, health, wealth, comfort and security until we are in Heaven with our Lord. And vigor and fitness too! God does give us just enough of these things to get through the tribulation of this life. Oh, and that fellow who died with all those things Job said? He most likely died thinking that he didn't have enough of any of them.

Have a great and enjoyable day in Christ Jesus!


Monday, June 10, 2019

Be Fully Alert!

He should look for chariots
drawn by pairs of horses,
and for riders on donkeys and camels.
Let the watchman be fully alert. Isaiah 21:7

A semi tractor with a 53 foot long trailer is parked across the street from my house this morning, and I don't remember one arriving last night. I can estimate the trailer length fairly accurately as the thing has "53' " printed right on the side of it. Now, as for keeping fully alert for horses, a chariot, and riders on donkeys and camels, I'm not sure that I am qualified. It may be an age thing.

No doubt about it, my senses are not quite as sharp as they used to be. Not that they were ever quite up to Call of the Wild standards to begin with but now that middle age is slipping out from under me I am not likely to be anyones watchman in the physical realm. Spiritually speaking however and in keeping an eye on world events, I am doing much better than in years past. Again though, I cannot take credit to myself for that, it is the Lord who has brought His word and the news to me through ministers and messengers.

Yes, at my age the watchman stays fully alert for only as long as he can stay awake, and that isn't always very long. Praise God that our salvation is of Him and not of me.

Love in Christ,


Friday, June 07, 2019

No Sleep 'Til

When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it. Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

No sleep until I find out what God is up to! Solomon apparently tried to catalog or discover all the work being done on the earth by man, even the busyness of the night time, and saw some insight into the work of God. His insight was that man cannot know all the work of God that goes on day and night. Work at it though he might, the man could not see all of God's work and there was work of God that he could not comprehend.

So, if the wisest of men could not even hope to comprehend all that humans were up to and discerned that he could not know what God was doing under the Sun, what hope have I then of knowing God's work? All that God does is His business, I have only to trust in His steadfast love and goodness.


Thursday, June 06, 2019

Do You Want To Live Forever?

Gather My saints together to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice. Psalm 50:5

75 years ago this day men from several nations gathered to do battle. What words of encouragement might a chaplain find for these men, many of whom were about to die? It would be a heavy burden to stand there in that moment and seek a word from the Lord, only to hear silence.

In the steel landing craft, as fear cloaked the soldiers waiting there, many a covenant would have been offered up to the Lord. Would any be accepted and to the frightened one come words of assurance, "I accept; you will live to see another day"? Perhaps God kept His silence on these offerings and requests too.

Or, did all of them hear only the words of a few officers telling them this or that, all knowing that none of it might matter when the ramps fell and the battle for survival began in earnest? Did one of those officers ask that question, hoping to encourage the men by his wit; "Do you want to live forever?"

The flesh of course would be quick to answer that one, but sacrifice is never easy else it would be no sacrifice at all. And silent or not, the Lord God was there with each and every one, and some sacrifices He did take that day.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the sacrifice of Your Son. Amen.


Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Just Love Him or Her, and Me Too!

‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18

The command to love your neighbor as yourself was spoken by our Lord first in the Law as we see in our verse for today. Jesus then spoke it twice in Matthew to make that three times from the Lord. Paul gave it to us again in his letter to the Romans and once more writing to the Galatians, and James gave it to us one more time to make three times for the apostles.

This command from the Lord just might have some bearing on how we are to live, he said with almost biblical understatement.

What about my wife, does she not come first? (I didn't get married last night, bear with me by way of example.)

I know the husbands want to ask that question. As we have said before, the wife is simply your closest neighbor. The children are your next closest and so on until you come to that person who is most distant from you on the earth, and he or she also we are to love as ourselves. Some of us need to work on the first part more - loving those neighbors - and others the second part should be recalled more often. For all of the uses, all six of them, end with 'as yourself'. Yes, we were born sinful creatures, but loving ourselves is part of the divine command too. If you doubt it, remember that the first one is signed: "I am the LORD".

Love to you in Christ our Lord!


Monday, June 03, 2019

Mr. Mighty Wealth

"...then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ " Deuteronomy 8:17

The context of this verse for today begins with a warning from the Lord to His people, and it begins with: "Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God..." There are many promises given by way of this warning about increasing flocks, gold and silver multiplied, beautiful houses, and other things the flesh desires in this world. The promised land beckoned to the comforts of the flesh as Israel took up living in their new home. The temptation warned about sounds remarkably like the temptations faced by our Lord Jesus in the wilderness. Actually, it is also like the temptations to get rich and comfy we face today. I guess the testing remains the same because it works so well.

In my flesh, I want to be Mr. Mighty Wealth swooping in like a different sort of superhero to help those in need and thus be looked up to and offered the best place at the banquet. This does not make me unique by any means. There are even many who play the lotteries who have a list of things they will do to help others when their ship of wealth arrives at the port. Wealth and the desire for wealth are tough tests that each of us will face. Most will face the desire test, some few will also face the actual having wealth test. God will send to us the best test to make us into what he would have us to become.

Alas, we know from the histories in the Bible that Israel did not fare well in the wealth testing and did in fact come to forget their God. May God give me and you the strength to remember Him in poverty and in wealth.

Love in Christ to you,