Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Do I Have Your Permission?

And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.  Mark 5:13

Permission, we want it for those things we want to do. Not quite, the fallen human does not want to need permission from anyone to do those things he or she wants to do. It was the first sin Eve and then Adam fell into in Eden as they reached for the one thing that was denied to them. The wind is coming up right now, and I did not give it permission to do that. The wind does not care. The man, the 4,875th (or more) in the line of succession from Adam, does not have the slightest bit of dominion over the wind. In reaching past the Lord's permission, Adam lost all dominion for himself and his successors. Thus we have some small insight into the stunned questions of the disciples when this man, this Jesus, rebuked the wind and it stopped. Who is this? The disciples wondered one to another. And did you see the unclean spirits ask permission of Him? What authority does He have that these things need His permission? 

One of the great blessings of this life is in learning to ask permission of the Lord and to obey His commands. And one can hear the old, fallen human crying out against such restrictions. Foolish old fallen thing! It is the very door to freedom that our Lord opens to us. Let us live in our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Sent Out There Into The World

 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  John 9:5

God gave me this thing, and then it sat in my shed for the past 8 years because it didn't fit anything inside the house. Saturday, I sold this thing in a yard sale, and when the buyer did not pick it up, it sat outside. On Sunday, this thing suffered a couple of indignities from passing birds, and then a cat came by and marked its territory on it in the usual way. Later, the sun blazed down upon the thing all day, followed by not one but two rain showers and the usual drying out process both times. Sheltered no more, this thing has had a tough first couple of days out in the world. As each one comes to believe in Jesus, he or she will get the same treatment from the world. 

As long as we have the light of the world to look to, and His light in us to strengthen and restore us, we too can take what the world will throw at us. It might be messy, certainly uncomfortable, and often no fun at all, but we can keep going through our Lord Jesus Christ. And, when His time has come, we will be picked up and taken away to be home with our Lord forever! 

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Combed, Buffed, Polished, and Plumed!

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.   James 4:14

Oh, we would do so much better in that meeting tomorrow if we were combed, buffed, polished, and plumed. Okay, so the last one means decorated with feathers, so maybe not that one so much, but we have a desire to present our best outward appearance when called to the big show. And show it would be if that were not our normal mode of dress and finish. However, a show is not necessarily a bad thing when called for by the circumstances. What we are concerned over today is not the meeting tomorrow, but the meeting today and the little while in which we have to give our testimony to the world. Does this next presentation call for fancy dress and an improved finish? Then ask of the Lord without shame and He will provide. Is your normal mode so normal for you that no one would recognize your appearance if it were combed, buffed, polished, and plumed? Then don't worry over it, show up to the show just as you are now. Not that a few feather decorations wouldn't be interesting of course! 

James reminds us that we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Let us do our best in Christ today, and tomorrow we will be with our Lord again. Whatever our appearance today and tomorrow, our Lord is glad to delight in each of us! 

In the love of Christ, 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Propitiation Needed Here

And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.  Luke 9:10

It seems that public property was already a thing in Bethsaida. It does not say a city park, which would have been nice for them, but a deserted place owned by the city. We have some of those here in our little town, and the larger cities probably have more of 'em. Jesus took His little group and found one of those places for some private time after the apostles had checked in with their leader. Did our Lord have an ulterior motive in this private meeting place? Yes, maybe, and perhaps several, but one is going to stand out for us; Jesus performs one of His more famous miracles here in this place - the feeding of the 5,000. 

Our Lord Jesus took the apostles aside privately, but the multitudes soon followed and found them, or more accurately, Him. Here was a doctor whose healing worked, and He didn't send out huge bills. Here was a priest who had the words of life, and He did not make anyone go through a gauntlet of money-lenders and animal sellers. Here was the Son of God, and yet... the multitude probably didn't know or understand that in the way we have of knowing things. Self interest may have brought them, but the Son was about to give them (and us!) what was needed most - propitiation.  He would offer up Himself to pay the sin price God's justice demanded of all peoples, nations, tribes, and tongues. 

We are so grateful and glad that He did!


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Prayer Works Because God Is Good

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

There are those times when we may want to take credit for prayer unto ourselves. "I prayed over it night and day for weeks until the thing finally came." Who gave the strength to persevere in that effort? All around the world this morning prayers to deities are going up and out and around, but many of them are only useful as an exercise. Those prayers are spoken to deities which do not exist. The call is made but no one is on the other side. Our prayers to God may not be answered either, if we take the glory of the Lord and try to steal it. It has been said that prayer works because God is good. You know this because I said it in the title; it's right up there, go ahead and look. Now who gave to me the inspiration to say such a thing? Ah, yes. Now we come to seek the source of our prayer. 

"Teach me to do Your will..." the psalmist wrote so long ago. Indeed we do not know of ourselves how to do the will of God. His word tells us through the stories and prophecies of old, but if I were to take only myself and what I think I know and go into prayer, it would come out with only the usual list of gripes and wishes for what I want. Anyone can do that. A person does not even need a living deity to send up prayers of that nature. However, if one expects an answer to the wishes and strength to endure the gripes, it might help to pray to Someone who is listening, and cares about us, and loves us, and who is good!

And of course to be led to the land of uprightness is to make those prayers count by putting the needs of others on the altar before God, and praying for His good to do them good. Praise God! 


Monday, June 22, 2020

Lots Of Anger Out There

For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would fail before Me,
And the souls which I have made.  Isaiah 57:16

To state that there is much anger out there in the world right now does not make me especially observant. Stating the obvious is easy for any writer or talker. However, there is one anger that none can stand for long, the anger of our Lord God toward us. In Isaiah the prophet, the Lord pointed this out with a promise that He would call it off at some point. The anger before which every spirit would fail will be no more in that day.  What will turn aside this anger though? Who can turn away the destructive anger of the all-powerful God? 

"I will..." says the Lord our God, and He goes on to speak of restoration, healing, and leading. We know from the new covenant that our Lord Jesus is the answer to how God would come down and heal us and restore us and of course, that big one for all of us, satisfy God's anger by taking the punishment due our sin upon Himself. 

We are grateful to you, dear Lord God, for the grace we do not deserve! 


Friday, June 19, 2020

A Gift Of God

I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.  Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

To those in the world the fruits of labor are earned by them and it is theirs to enjoy. To them there is no supreme being involved in the earning or in the enjoying, and thus no one to thank but themselves. For those of us who believe in our Lord Jesus though, we are most cognizant of the gift of labor when it becomes more difficult or, worse, when we cannot do it at all. Increasing age being one condition in which we become quite well reminded that our labor comes by gift from Providence. Accidents, illness, and injury are other events in life that may remind us of our uselessness apart from that gift of God.  And what a great day to recall the gift of God but Friday, the day we often look forward to the different labors of the weekend. In youth we might expend a lot of energy goofing off on the weekend. Somehow that labor seems so much easier than the labor we expend later in life in yard work, or taking a trip, or getting up, and yet, all of that labor is a gift of God according to Solomon the Wise. 

Great news in Christ for the day!


Thursday, June 18, 2020

If God Will

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God."  Genesis 28:20-21

Ah, yes, that horse-trading prayer, 'if God will do this and that and this other thing for me, then I will let Him be my God. Jacob was known by this and other stories in his life as a man who did some bargaining, to put it in a nice way. You and I probably know someone who could have taken Jacob's place without a bit of further training or practice. We may have tried a bit of the ol' negotiating ourselves in some prayer not so very long ago. Just don't send me on that dreaded 'mission to the Congo,' Lord, and I'm all yours. We are afraid that the Lord our God will treat us like we have been treated in this world by others. We fear that the Lord will get out His whippin' whip and drive us to where we do not want to go. Which qualities of God do we forget in this fear? 

The Lord's enduring mercy, goodness, and love would seem to be three that come to mind quickly when the fear is set aside for a time and what we know by faith from the word of God returns to mind. A study assignment to that fearful self - look up stories from the Bible showing the goodness, mercy and love of our Lord God in action. 

God's love and goodness to you on this day in Christ,


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Blameless In The Day

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:4-8

Coming to you from the laptop this morning, as the rebuild of my PC is ongoing with 16 hours or so of file backup to get started. (Should have used a faster hard drive.) 

Blameless before the Law? Not me, but Paul was; he said it in Philippians 3. Both of us needed the salvation of Jesus Christ though. How does that work? Paul explains it in his letter to the Romans. However, we have this promise in the scripture passage for today: a gift of grace from our Lord Jesus and blamelessness in the day of our Lord.

There it is, nothing I can add to that! Have a wonderful day in Christ the Lord!


Monday, June 15, 2020

Prayer Spending

"Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” Acts 6:4

Along with a division of labor in the new church, the apostles wanted to do some more spending. We are more familiar with the spending our government does as it tries to start up our economy again and get us to spend more money. Spending time in prayer is of course much less expensive to the bank account than spending time in money. That is a reason to begin spending more time in prayer, though it likely is not the best reason. 

Easily do we calculate what we lose by spending time in prayer. Offer to spend an hour in prayer for the company one works for, and each of us can quickly state that we will lose x dollars per day and xx dollars per week and so on as our pay is docked for that hour. How much would the company gain though? What might our church gain if we spent a certain amount of time in prayer each day, praying in that time only for the church? Families, communities, states, and nations might gain greatly by one spending prayer for the good of that entity. Prayer spending, I might suggest, will benefit us much more than more government debt spending. 

There is talk in the news of revolution and epiphanies in thought and methods, but what sort of change could be wrought by a turning to God in prayer? How much further might we go with prayer spending? 

The Lord rejoices in you!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Work Before God?

But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Matthew 22:5

This verse comes from one of those shocking parables that Jesus spoke to the Jewish people. At that time, the opportunities to eat good were the three festivals in the Law, and those weddings. This parable is about a wedding feast where no one wanted to attend, which is quite unlikely and shocking as the people of the time did not get to eat good, for free, all that often. And of course it was a celebration, a chance to rest from work with good reason. Yet, the invited ones refused to come, and then the working folk would rather go about their business. In the New King James version, the word says that they made light of the invitation. It was also the worst of insults to the host to ignore the invitation and go about your daily business as though nothing important was going on. 

We know that work must not come before God in our life, but do we obey that work cannot come before God? The usage is so unusual that it may seem strange to us. Obey that work cannot come before God? Are you using the right words there, crazy one? Maybe we can use those words of that first greatest commandment, that we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Obeying those words will take care of that problem of having any work come before God in life. 

Living those two greatest love commandments will take care of the entire raft of rules we find in the Bible, and we get to live in love instead of under the burden of the Law! 

Love in Christ Jesus,

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Life Matters

In this new life, it doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.  Colossians 3:11 NIV

Some are tempted to respond with, 'all lives matter', but this verse from our brother Paul might be better for us to think on. I like very much the latter part, "Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us." We like to think that much of what we do matters. Work, family, friends, our church, that group we have membership in, and perhaps even that secret hobby we don't talk about, are all candidates to make 'me' matter over our fellows. 

Paul starts with our new life in Christ, and then puts down all that we want to matter in our old life. Paul is not saying that we should walk away from our spouse and children because they no longer matter. He is not encouraging us to give up that job we hold. What Paul is stating in different words is what Jesus said in His great sermon, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33. This is why Paul writes in the present tense that what race or job we were doing when the Lord saved us does not matter. 

And, yes, I do believe that barbarian is a job, but uncivilized is more of a pastime. Have a great day in Christ the Lord! 


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On The Hit List

But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,  because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.  John 12:10-11

For all the words Lazarus spoke in the Bible, he may have been a mute. And yet, it is recorded in the scripture that he held a powerful testimony. Lazarus knew what it was like to live under the condemnation of a powerful group of persons in the Jewish life and religion. Those same chief priests would succeed in bringing Jesus to trial before them and in setting Him up to be killed by the Roman authority. Lazarus, having spent four days in the grave, may have cared not a bit what the chief priests thought they could do. Jesus told Pilate that the governor's power over Him was given, and as we see from the resurrection - temporary. 

Therefore, we who believe in and belong to Christ, like our brother Lazarus, should have no concern for what the world thinks it can do to us. If persecution and death are allowed by the Lord, then praise and glory to Him. If we are to live for a while here on this earth testifying to the glory of God with or without words, then that will come to pass as the Lord our God wills. Because if the Imperial Roman authority only had power over our Lord Jesus briefly, and the chief religious authorities only had power in this life over Lazarus, and the grave only had power over Lazarus and our Lord for such a short time, then truly the One we want to know is the One who holds the authority to grant those moments of power. And now that all authority has been given to Jesus in Heaven and on Earth, then that man seems a great place to start! 

Have a powerful day in Christ our Lord!


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Way Bigger Sticks

But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.  Jonah 1:4

As the morning of the fourth windy day dawns, it is hard for us in these parts to talk about anything else. It has not gone on so long that we are resigned to it, we are still in that time when the urge to burrow deep into bed and sleep is strong for some of us, while others want to marvel at the destructive power of it with each new day. Sunday morning, I went out early and picked up the little twigs and sticks in my yard; on Monday a stranger would not have known I had done any such thing. On Tuesday morning, I can tell you the sticks got way bigger. Yup, bigger, that is the word I want, whether it exists in Webster's or not. I was the one awakened at zero dark thirty by the fall of them, I get to use the word. 

As calm finally came a bit later, I went back to bed and thanked God. At first it was not for any specific thing, just a gratitude that cannot be explained by myself alone. This morning I can see many specific reasons to be grateful to the Lord, but I do enjoy that knowledge of gratitude that comes even in the dark and windy night. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)


Monday, June 08, 2020

Personal Accountability

So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude. Luke 22:6

It is only fair, I suppose, after all I have been one among many who has on occasion suggested recalling or voting out an entire political body, that one of those groups would then decide to disband their police force in response to current events. That would be an interesting experiment in personal accountability in one part of one city. 

One thing I have found through experience is that I am not the best personal accountant of my ability to resist sin. Easily do I fall into it in some areas of temptation and somewhat thin is my ability to recall for accounting purposes every transgression. Should I count on this somewhat spotty record to justify myself before the great Judge at the end, I would of course fall to the evidence against me. This was shown to me by the Lord's Spirit back some years ago, and I came to know that only through a savior could I be justified. Just so happens, the Lord had provided a Savior long before I came to be born on this Earth. And there He was, evidence through faith of the Lord's goodness and love, a cure for my weak personal accountability. Hallelujah!

Rejoice, those events that concern us so in this day may well be the sea from which the Beast of the final tribulation stands forth revealed. Our redemption draws near!


Friday, June 05, 2020

Get Born Again

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3

The news, I must admit, has beaten on me rather well as of late, and so I'm doing my best to take a break from it and follow my own advice in doing so. I have been like that little kid who wants to prove his toughness by walking up to the local bully over and over again to receive yet another beating. Nicodemus, had quite a different hope when he went by night to meet with this new teacher, but he received a sort of spiritual whack upside the head.

Nicodemus answered with all the intellectual weight and talent of the world when he asked by way of reply, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter into a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Just the sort of waggish answer one might give, if he wanted to be a smart sort of intellectual. Also, the sort of confused answer an honest seeker might give, as Nicodemus did, when he thought he knew the way of things but met with an utterly insane answer. It is a bit fun for us to see the discomfiture of Nicodemus from the distance of scripture, but we face the same choice he did: this man is a loony, or he is lying to throw me down, or he is Lord and knows what I have not known apart from him. Nicodemus and all those who have believed in Jesus have chosen to follow our Lord Jesus Christ.

The current crisis continues in a different form, but as for me and my friends we will trust in the Lord Jesus!


Thursday, June 04, 2020

The World Practices...

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  Matthew 12:36

We may understand that the day of the Lord's judgment has not come just yet, but the world, and the powers and principalities therein, wants to take the place of our Lord and it practices judgment even now. One example of this in action concerns our idle words.

In the constitution of the United States, every citizen is guaranteed the right to freedom of speech. Um, not exactly. In the first amendment to the Constitution, Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech. As we gave authority to the congressional branch to make laws, how did this age we live in become so quick to judge our speech when no law abridging it is allowed? This process is more than can be laid down in a short devotional, but over the years since the Constitution become the law of the land, we have come to a time when we cannot speak anything we want in our words. Some restrictions have come from bitter experience, such as yelling 'fire' in a crowded place when there is none and causing a needless and deadly panic. Others have come from sincere efforts to remove inequalities to groups and persons.

Now, say certain words in an idle moment at work, and see how quickly a career can end. Still think everyone is free to speak when not at work? Numerous examples show how quickly the powers in this world will reach out and restrict the rights of a person from a social media post, an interview in the media, or an e-mail to a friend. The world practices as judge, even though the Judge has not yet arrived from His heavenly throne. A moment of idle speech may bring a ton of those proverbial bricks down upon the head of the speaker. Where's the freedom in that?

Watch out for one another in love and the grace of Jesus Christ,


Wednesday, June 03, 2020


Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.  Ecclesiastes 5:2 

Words are much in evidence every time we turn on the news in this age. Words are used for maximum effect on others as the politician speaks to NPR this morning. I know because I listened to the interview, and I heard words like choke hold used specifically in that way. We can learn from politicians as we spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We can learn that words are powerful, and they are not harmless as some have tried to lead us to believe. Words might even be found in some small Christian writing this morning; not that the writer himself can be considered small in the physical sense.

The Word of God is our stock in trade, and the words we use to carry out our mission must be chosen with all due care. Often we pray to the Lord for the right words, partly because of the wrong words we have used at times to our regret. However, the main reason or part is that we know the Lord always has the right words. We are even told of a time where we may be hauled before the courts and to not prepare words for such a case as they will be given to us in that hour when we need the right words.

To send a few good words: Love and grace in Christ Jesus to you this fine morning!


Monday, June 01, 2020

The Seas Rise Up Again

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 It wasn't a shooting this time, but something more intimate and personal. The incident seems almost too perfectly set up to be only the work of those persons on the scene. Are we seeing the work of the principalities and powers that Paul warned us were active in his time? And the response, though there have been incidents enough for practice and greater proficiency, so quickly did it escalate to what we see each night. Such organization and orchestration anyone can see, is that only from human will or is something darker at work?  The answers to these questions are complex and I believe only God can see those many personal decisions that led to that point in time, and only He knows what persons, powers, and principalities are involved and how much each of them can do in this. However, I have the privilege of prayer and the power to open the Bible and read it. The seas of outrage rise up again, will this time show us the powers we watch for at the end of this age?  Now, spin your head around and rejoice in the Lord today, because looking too much at the turmoil of the world is not good for any of us. There's a revival going on here! How's that for timing? Bucky