Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Refurbished People!
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Revelation 21:5

In the cell phone industry it is quite common for replacement phones to be “refurbished.” These phones came back because of an internal defect. In ordinary language the phone “bit the dust.” These failed phones are inspected to see if there is any hope and if so they are refurbished. They look like new and supposedly they work like new. And in the world of solid state electronics they may be absolutely as good as new.

But what about refurbished people? Does God take defective people and if there is any hope refurbish them to look like new and act like new? Not at all, refurbished people is what all the “self help” programs produce. They clean you up, cover up your blemishes and make everyone think that are somehow different. But you are not different because of any do-it-yourself program. You are still the same and in the end everyone will know it.

God does not refurbish people. God melts us down and makes us new again! Revelation 21:5 does not say “I am making everything like new.” It says “I am making everything new.”

Refurbished phones may work fine, but refurbished people will soon fall apart once again. Let God make you NEW not Like New!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Friendly Fire of God!
With a mighty voice he (the angel) shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.

Revelation 18:2-5

When a nation comes under the judgment of God what should God’s people do? The admonition in Revelation 18 is for His people to “come out of her.”

The problem is the spiritual equivalent of “Friendly Fire.” If God is now pouring out His judgment on the United States of America how do His people avoid the friendly fire of God? The answer seems to be clearly to “come out of her.”

The next question is this: Where do we go? If you had the means to move yourself and your family to any country on earth right now, where would be the one which is not under the judgment of God? Where the righteous country living in harmony with the will of God?

The solution is simple. If you want to avoid friendly fire stand close beside the One who is doing the firing. The key is in the phrase “not share in her sins.” Followers of Jesus find themselves sharing in the sins of their nation. It is easy to point the finger at others about this, but examine your own life first. How am I a part of the sin that our culture endorses? Bring your own life before the Lord and let Him speak to your motives, thoughts and actions. If there is any way that I am participating in the sins of my nation, then I am going to receive the plagues that are sent from God.

So the two things I must do are: Repent and draw close to God!

Perhaps we need to sit down together and discuss our own culture and look at how we might be joining in with sins against God. We need to take this matter very seriously, because God does!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Can’t I Go Now!
Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “You can't go with me now, but later on you will.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can't I go with you now? I would die for you!” “Would you really die for me?” Jesus asked. “I tell you for certain that before a cock crows, you will say three times that you don't even know me.”

John 13:36-38

Children are good at asking questions. An early favorite is the one word “Why?” Why can’t I stay, why can’t I go, why can’t I do this or that? The list is almost infinite. Most parents have ultimately resorted to the “because I said so” answer. Children sometimes wear us out with questions.

“Why can’t I go with you now?” Simon Peter spoke those words with great sincerity. Peter believed that he was willing to die for Jesus. Of course before the sun came up the next morning Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus three times.

What if Peter had died with Jesus that day? How would things be different today and what would have not happened because of his premature martyrdom? The list would be long. Someone else would have preached the recorded message on the day of Pentecost. Many people would not have been healed unless God used someone else to be the instrument of His healing. The legacy of Peter’s long walk with Jesus would have been cut short leaving a huge gap in Christian history.

For Peter dying with Jesus instead of denying Him would have been a far easier path to walk.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say. But becoming a martyr can happen in a few seconds with one right choice that forever puts your name in the list of those who gave their lives for Jesus. Living for fifty years as an adult believer in Jesus is the result of thousands of right choices in spite of a daily battle by Satan to win you back from the Lord.

If God has in mind that you become a martyr, then pray that His Spirit will give you strength to make that right choice when the time comes. But, if you want to be a martyr in your own mind when Jesus wants you to remain here and follow Him through dozens of years, thousands of days and thousands and thousands of hours of choices then you are taking the easy path.

God’s timing for your life is perfect. He will orchestrate and order the events to fulfill His plan for you. He does the same for the whole world and He will do it for your life.

If you live your life for Jesus every day and every hour of every day, then when the time is right you will be prepared to give your life for Jesus!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Get In The Boat!

“The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

Isaiah 24:5-6

There are three fundamental perspectives when anyone reads the Bible.

The first is “How does this apply to you?” This perspective helps me see what you are doing wrong so I can either correct or criticize. Sometimes it is a combination of both. There are some who apparently think that God has gifted them to point out the faults of others. And so, when they read the Bible they look for the things that speak to the sins of others.

The second perspective, of course, is “How does this apply to me?” This is the hardest way to read God’s Word, because it puts my life on the examination table and forces me to look at the ways that I might be out of step with the Lord. This of course is the most personally productive way to look at scripture. What is in it for me?

The third perspective when reading the Bible is “How does this apply to us?” When the Bible is read with this perspective the application of scripture can change a household, a community, a nation, and even the world! It is usually the perspective of the martyrs just before they go to Glory!

So what about Isaiah 24:5-6? Is this talking about our time or some distance past or distance future residents of planet earth? We certainly have defiled the physical earth. Just ask any environmentalist. And we certainly have defiled the earth spiritually. Just ask your grandmother!

Now, of course we are not unique in living in a world that has turned aside from fundamental morality and rule of law. It has happened before. For instance, it happen during the time when a man named Noah built a boat for his family. And then, in the form of 40 days of rain, the judgment of God fell from heaven.

Look again at Isaiah 24:6a:

“Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.”

Is it possible that the turmoil we are seeing and feeling in the world today is a curse because of how we have been living? Could God once again be judging the world for its unrighteousness? He did promise that He would never again do it with a flood. The rainbow itself seals that promise at the end of almost every storm. His promise concerned the means of judgement not judgment itself.

Here is where I want to just hit the delete button and write something about Psalm 23 or some other passage that speaks of love and peace. These verses in Isaiah 24 speak of how the judgment will come. It will come in the form of fire. Fire on the earth will leave very few people alive!

I don’t know of a time in history when this prediction was fulfilled. But I do know that the Bible does not predict events that do not happen. So there are two options. The first option is that these verses are talking about some time in the distant future and have nothing to do with today’s world. That would be comforting if we could prove that and just rest in the seat of “We don’t have to worry about that now.”

The second option is that these verses do apply to our current world situation and we are living in the time just before the fire falls! Either way, we can have only one response to the situation. Live like Noah did. He listened to God and did what God told him to do even if it made him look like an idiot to the world around him.

After the fire falls the Bible does say that a few will be left. In Noah’s day the ones who survived were with him in the Ark. If we stand like Noah did on the brink of disaster then don’t forget to GET IN THE BOAT!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Off With Your Head!
“I also saw the souls of the people who had their heads cut off because they had told about Jesus and preached God's message.”

Revelation 20:4b

The first time I remember reading the Book of Revelation was more than fifty years ago. I would ponder the puzzle and think, “This has to mean something, but it is quite a mystery.” There were lamp stands and bowls of wrath, and scrolls. I especially liked the part about eating the scroll which tasted like honey, but it would make you sick to your stomach.

Revelation has vivid and specific descriptions of heaven. It even describes what is going on around the throne of God Himself. But the mystery remains.

As time has gone on pieces of the puzzle fit together. One piece that always seemed like it could never have a place in the contemporary world was Revelation 20:4b. People who had their heads cut off because they were telling about Jesus lived during times of barbarism in the dark ages. How could that verse refer to our modern world?

Of course, it is now clear to everyone that there are those quite willing to cut off your head for telling about Jesus. The question is not: “Will they cut off your head?” The question is: “Will you tell about Jesus anyway?”

I think, when it comes to Spiritual warfare, many Christians have the “run away and live to fight another day” philosophy. We are willing to “fight to the death” as long as it is not our own.

Our approach to the Enemy is to send a YouTube video with the “Can’t we just all get along?” message. We want to negotiate peace with Satan. It has never worked and it will not work now.

We will either defeat Satan by the power of the Blood of Jesus or we will not defeat him. We will either win on God’s terms or we will lose. There is no other way. If we refuse to follow Jesus even to death, then we will reap eternal death.

Those who are beheaded for Jesus have a great promise in the same verse: They will come to life and rule with Christ for a thousand years.

Believe this: Because of Jesus, no one can harm you even if they cut off your head!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Angry God!
From the temple I heard a voice shout to the seven angels, “Go and empty the seven bowls of God's anger on the earth.”

Revelation 16:1

The Bible tells those who would follow Jesus not to sin when they are angry. I think the exact wording is “Be angry and sin not!” That is because when you are angry it is very easy to step over the line into sin. When someone calls a customer service representative because they believe they have been “ripped off” by the company they are usually angry. It is rare, but it happens that someone calls clear minded, logical, and in control of the facts and themselves while expressing the fact that they are angry.

The Bible does not tell us to avoid anger. It tells us not to sin when we are angry. Many believers, especially in our “peace at any cost” world have come to believe that anger itself is sin. It is not. There are many things about which it is perfectly acceptable to be angry. Make your own list and pray about how God would have you respond.

Revelation 16:1 talks about God pouring out bowls of his anger on the earth! Anger is not one of the frequently contemplated characteristics of God. God’s wisdom is unimaginable, His love cannot be matched, and His power is complete in every way and His anger is frightening “to the max.”

When God is angry He is never tempted to sin. When God is angry He is always totally in control and is simply expressing His justice as his “bowls of anger” are poured out on the earth.

So, do I need to fear God’s anger since I am His child?

When I was a boy I feared my father. I feared him because when he was displeased with me I suffered great pain. I even remember suffering physical pain, on the backside of my body because he was displeased with me. I did not fear that he would harm me.

As a follower of Jesus, I fear God! I fear Him because His displeasure with me will cause me great pain. Can God be angry with me as His child? The answer is of course “YES!”

God will correct His children by whatever means is necessary. A loving God who is angry at His child will involve Himself in the correction process.

But when God pours out bowls of His anger on the earth the purpose is not the same. When God’s wrath is felt by men, they are doomed. No one will be able to stand.

If you don’t believe that God is now angry with the world, then look at His written Word and His standards and compare them with the way men and women are living. We are like a wooden shack in a storm inviting a tornado to come and test its strength.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Completely Confused!
“Saul preached with such power that he completely confused the Jewish people in Damascus, as he tried to show them that Jesus is the Messiah.”

Acts 9:22

This is one of those “wait a minute, what does that mean?” Bible verses. Can you imagine saying to your wife or husband on the way home from the Sunday morning church meeting, “That was a powerful sermon, it confused everybody.”

Successful communication happens when someone is able to speak and someone else is able to hear. If there is no speaker, there is no communication. If there is no hearer, there is no communication.

If I were to wander in to a convention of brain surgeons and sit through one of the sessions I’m quite sure that I would go away with very little if any useful information. To say the least I would be greatly confused. There is more to hearing than simply hearing the words. I must be ready and able to process the words and apply them to my own understanding of truth.

When Saul, who was later called Paul, preached to the Jews in Damascus, he had only been a follower of Jesus for a few days. He must have been bubbling over with enthusiasm after his “Damascus Road Experience.” Paul preached with power, but the hearers were confused. I can’t recall this description of Paul’s preaching later in his life.

The Bible does not say that Paul did something he should not have done, but when I mix my own enthusiasm with the leading of the Holy Spirit I can cause more confusion than communication.

What I must do is pay close attention to the Holy Spirit not only for the initial direction, but also for every step and turn along the way. The leading of the Holy Spirit is not a list of basic guidelines that I apply to my life; it is rather a moment by moment speaking to my every word, thought and step.

Human enthusiasm can easily take me away from the Holy Spirit’s path for my life!

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Pride in Conversion!
“I have chosen him to tell foreigners, kings, and the people of Israel about me.”

Acts 9:15

When Saul was “blindsided” on the road to Damascus and was converted into the Apostle Paul, did he make a “decision for Christ?”

There is no record of Saul saying “yes” to Jesus. He saw and heard Jesus on the road, was blinded and then saw a vision of Ananias coming to him and laying hands on him so he could see again. There was little if any room for Saul to say “yes” or “no” to the invitation. It seems the rest of the army was staffed by volunteers, but Saul was drafted.

Could Saul have rejected Jesus on the road to Damascus? Of course he could have dismissed the vision as a bad dream. But when Jesus came into his life Saul didn’t say “no.”

Truthfully, every follower of Jesus Christ comes to faith the same way Paul did. We are living our lives self assured that we are “doing God’s will” when our Damascus Road Experience comes. No one else may see it or even know that it has happened, but Jesus stops us in our tracks and confronts us with the reality of Himself. It happened to me almost forty years ago, and I still remember that night with great clarity.

Following Jesus is not an intellectual decision made based on a set of facts from the Bible. Following Jesus is a response to a confrontation with the living Lord.

Preaching the Gospel and evangelism simply prepare the ground and sow the seed so that hearts may be changed when confronted with Jesus Christ. Otherwise the disciple is only committed to a story book character. It is no surprise that prayer is not part of the lives of many Christians. Why would I pray to a story book character?

So what do I do if I cannot remember my Damascus Road experience?

Look back and ask yourself one simple question. “When did I lose my sight?” Perhaps you are still sitting in the house waiting for Ananias to come and restore your sight.

If Paul had totally rejected Jesus on the road to Damascus he still would have been blinded and Ananias would never have come to restore his sight.

The conversion of Paul was not special and different from the rest of us. Followers are first of all blinded by Jesus and only have their sight restored when they say “yes” to Him as the Lord of their lives!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

“If you are guided by the Spirit, you won't obey your selfish desires. The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should.”

Galatians 5:16-17

I don’t remember ever telling anyone this, but during the summer of my 21st birthday I did something very foolish.

Now I know what you are probably thinking. “It must be something stupid, morally corrupt and shameful.” Well for me it was. I was self assured and thought I was ready to take on and change the world for God. I was traveling back home after a short “missions trip” to Ohio. I lived in Tennessee and all other states were mission fields.

OK, here it is! I got on the road to go back home to Tennessee and went fifty miles north before I realized I was going the wrong way. Then I turned around and went south. So one hundred miles later I was back where I started. “Egg on my face.” Thankfully, I was driving a very small high mileage car and gasoline was about 45 cents a gallon at the time.

I didn’t make mistakes like that. People who did were the brunt of jokes. But there I was a couple of hours later with no progress toward home.

Today I have a GPS to take with me on trips. So, for the most part, I don’t get lost anymore. My wife says I am good at getting lost even while using the GPS. With the GPS I at least know which way is north and which way is south.

Galatians 5:16-17 talks about God’s GPS system. The Spirit is there to guide me. If I listen to and obey the Spirit I will make no wrong turns and will daily make progress toward the goal that He has set for my life. There will be moments every day when it seems right to go another way. The way He is leading is uncomfortable and wars against my own desires. Those are watershed moments. That choice will determine the path for a long time to come, whether you choose to follow the Spirit or choose to go your own way.

The GPS which I currently use is very sophisticated. If I make one wrong turn a woman boldly speaks up and says “YOU ARE NOW OFFTRACK.” She then tells me to turn around and go back to where I made the wrong turn.

God’s GPS system works the same. When I make a wrong turn the Holy Spirit boldly speaks up and says “YOU ARE NOW OFF TRACK.”

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ask the Author!
“Do you understand what you are reading?”

Acts 8:30

An official from Ethiopia was reading from the book of Isaiah when Philip ran up next to his chariot and asked “Do you understand what you are reading?” It is one of those seven word sentences that are usually passed over as a set up for the meat of the story. The official admitted that he did not understand so Philip told him about Jesus and the man became a follower of Jesus himself. He was filled with joy.

I spent two years in Asia. Even though I studied the language of the country in which I resided I saw many written words for which I had no understanding at all. And then of course there were the idioms, a bunch of simple words, all of which I understood, but the combination was a mystery. We do it all the time in English. “He’s the bee’s knees” is a very old phrase. I may clearly know what bees are and of course I know what knees are, but what does it mean that a person is “the bee’s knees?”

There are literally thousands of such phrases: “Top of the morning,” “under the weather,” “crack of dawn,” “off his rocker,” and the list goes on and on.

The official from Ethiopia told Philip that the only way he could understand what he was reading from Isaiah was for someone to explain it to him. So Philip explained how Isaiah was talking about Jesus.

Today it is the same. The only way we can understand what we read from God’s Word is for someone to explain it to us. That someone is not a well known preacher. That someone is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired every word written in the Bible and the Holy Spirit in you will explain what He meant by those words.

If the author of a book were sitting with you at dinner you would not go around the table asking everyone else what the writing really means. You would ask the author. That is simple enough.

When you go to the Word of God which is authored by His Spirit ask Him to explain His Word. The process is simple, but the implications are profound.

Friday, March 20, 2009

God’s Appointment Book!
The Lord's followers who had been scattered went from place to place, telling the good news.

Acts 8:4

When I was a boy my parents had a rather strange tradition. Frequently, when it was time for our summer vacation, we would get up early on the appointed morning and literally decided which way to go as we pulled out of our driveway. All I knew for sure is that we would be gone for a week. On our vacations we made no reservations at motels. We had no tickets for special sight-seeing tours. We had no schedule to meet along the way. We were in my mind a lot like the early pioneers who headed west and took each day as it came. We made no plans for the day. In a clock oriented, organized world that tradition does seem strange today, but frankly, I still have wonderful memories of the adventure.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have learned from “organized religion” that everything must be planned. I need to do an assessment of my spiritual gifts and make intelligent choices about how and where I will exercise them. I must have a plan about where and how I will tell other people about Jesus. Frankly, having a plan for my spiritual life makes it much easier to relax. When I come home from work I don’t do my work anymore that day. For the hours that I am at the office, I work and when I come home I stop. It is simple and I know when the phone rings it is not someone wanting me to help them with what I do at work.

If I plan my spiritual life the same, then I can come home, take the phone off the hook, kick back and not have to worry about ministering to anyone.

I once applied for a job in which I would have been “on call” 24-7. I pondered the pressure of that kind of a position. I did not get the job and frankly, I haven’t felt bad about it. Even fire-fighters are on 24 and off 48 hours. The pressure of being on call 24-7 would be really great.

As a follower of Jesus, however that is exactly what He expects. I cannot say to Jesus, “Lord today I am going to take the day off. Don’t bother me with anything spiritual, and certainly don’t bother me with any ministry.”

So the disciples were scattered shortly after it all began. And as they went they told the good news!

As a follower of Jesus I can capture again the adventure I had as a child when we would go on vacation. “Lord, which way should I go today? What stops do you want me to make along the way?”

When I follow Jesus, He keeps the map and the appointment book. My job is to keep step with Him!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No to Sin!
“Lord, don't blame them for what they have done.”

Acts 7:60

I think I have written about her before but another word about her would be appropriate because “Big Bertha” was an important part of our family when my kids were small. I have no recollection of how she got the name, but “Big Bertha” took the blame for every mess for which no one else would accept responsibility. It was a running “half-serious” joke for years as our children slowly learned to accept responsibility for their own mistakes.

It certainly is good that “Big Bertha” was an imaginary person. If she was not she would have spent most of her life locked up somewhere for all the trouble she caused. She never committed a felony, but almost everything she did was at least a misdemeanor. Now that all of my children are responsible adults Bertha has gone into retirement and doesn’t get blamed for anything.

As Stephen was being stoned to death after telling the Jewish leaders about Jesus he prayed. Stephen prayed that God would forgive the men who were throwing the stones which took his life. Stephen said, “Lord, don’t blame them for what they have done.” He mirrored the words of Jesus as He hung on the cross.

The prayer of Jesus and of Stephen as they were dying is clearly outside the arena of a normal human response. To pray for the forgiveness of those who are taking your life is completely outside of the box.

Please don’t take this wrong, but in a very real sense Jesus Himself is “Big Bertha.” Jesus takes the blame for everything that we have ever done wrong. Every sin is put squarely on His shoulders. It is the heart and center of the Gospel. I do not have to accept the blame and punishment for my sins!

So then, can I just go on sinning and not worry about it? Oh no! Romans chapter 6 says that we are dead to sin. Jesus died because of our sin, and we die to our sins.

Perhaps the picture lacks some theological soundness, but imagine that every time you sin you are beamed back to Calvary and Jesus is put back on the cross to suffer for that one. You stand and watch until His suffering for that sin is done. How many times would you put Him back on the cross until you would say to Sin, “ENOUGH?” I have had enough of Sin.

But it is true that every sin I do not commit is one for which Jesus did not have to suffer and die.

“Big Bertha” was an imaginary person, but Jesus is real. He really went to the cross and suffered and died for your sins and mine. He took the blame so that I don’t have to stand condemned. My job today is simply to say “Yes” to Jesus and “No” to sin.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

“God's name will be written on the foreheads of the people.”

Revelation 22:4b

I don’t like tattoos. I try to be gentle in my assessment of the practice of putting bad doodles permanently on your skin. But, if I ran the world I would make the practice illegal. It seems to me to be a way of memorializing for the rest of your life a passing moment of stupidity. Now that I’ve vented and should feel better for it, I must confess that the fourth verse of Revelation 22 that talks about a tattoo on the forehead of God’s people takes me back.

If I will have a tattoo in heaven, then maybe I had better look at the whole issue even closer. Tattoos remind me of the practice of “branding” cattle to show ownership. The cattle all ran free on the range and were identified by the burned in brand. In heaven I will have God’s name written on my forehead. You would think that in heaven I wouldn’t need something written on my forehead to identify me. But clearly the Bible says I will have God’s name written on my forehead.

Maybe tattoos are not just bad doodles. Maybe they are an attempt to say something about allegiance. The tattoos in heaven will be the name of the one who controls our lives. Perhaps tattoos here reveal the same thing.

Here on earth we all run like cattle on the range. The cattle are not all owned by the same rancher. And we give allegiance here to many gods. The only way you can tell who owns the cattle is by looking at the brand. Then you will know.

In the world of spiritual reality, those who are controlled by Satan are usually quite willing to be identified with the hordes of Hell. The brands are usually easy to see. But what about followers of Jesus, we often refuse to have any kind of tattoo to identify us with the Lord. We want to be free of marks that might show we are not like the world around us.

Does this mean that I am going to run out and have a big cross tattoo put somewhere on my body? Not at all! The mark of a Christian is not what is written on my skin, but rather what is written on my heart. A tattoo on your skin can be hidden easily by simply covering up that part of your body, but a tattoo on your heart is seen by everyone you encounter.

“OK, Lord I give up. Write something today on my heart. Let it be a permanent mark that everyone will see. Oh, and Lord, just one question. Is it going to hurt?”

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

There Yet?

“Finally, the time came for God to do what he had promised Abraham.”

Acts 7:17a

My oldest son, who has five children, has a license plate on his van that says “ThereYet?” Any parent in the car behind his fully understands the meaning of those two words. We all know that he and his wife were not the first parents to hear that simple question over and over again while traveling with the kids.

“When are we going to get there?” is a universal question rooted deeply in the human heart. When we hear a promise we begin to long for the fulfillment. We desire the things that we do not yet have and we yearn for that which we believe is to come.

When I was a child I remember learning about what it would be like when I became an adult. It was hard for me to imagine that it would really come to pass some day. But I did spend lots of time thinking about what it would be like when I was an adult. The answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is simply the overflow of those thoughts.

And then, “the time came.” I was no longer a child and I was living and functioning as an adult. It happened so fast, I can’t really say when I made the transition from boy to man. But it happened and for more than forty years I have been a “grown-up.”

As a Christian I find myself asking the Lord, almost daily, “Are we there yet?” I have read and heard the promises of His coming and the descriptions of heaven. I have come to trust Him more through suffering and pain, grief and sorrow, struggle and even through joy and peace. I have seen His hand move around me and even on me for more than sixty years. And yet, like a child on a trip with his parents I ask over and over again, “Are we there yet?”

The ride is bumpy. I am tired of the trip. In spite of what the song says, everything is not beautiful. I have lived long enough to see some pretty ugly things. The longer I live the more uncomfortable I become with this world. I have come to believe that this world indeed is not my home.

I can identify with Peter as he was walking on the water and then he looked at the wind and waves and began to sink. Today there is lots of wind and there are many large waves.

“Lord, I see the wind and the waves. Help me to trust instead of fear so that I will not begin to sink. Lord, help me to trust calmly in You in a world that has gone crazy.

Lord, I know that the time will come for You to do what You said You will do. Jesus will return. We will be with Him forever and my longings for the promise to be fulfilled will be a memory. So I stand and wait, sit and wait, walk and wait. Mostly, I just wait.

As I write these words, I know we are not there yet, but as I wait I pray once again “COME QUICKLY, LORD JESUS!”

Monday, March 16, 2009

God’s Clock!
“God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles.”

Acts 7:9b-10a

I have often thought it would be very “cool” to be a member of a “rescue squad.” On call, at a moment’s notice prepared to run to the rescue of people in peril, I’m sure that service is personally fulfilling and extremely gratifying.

Needing the rescue squad is not so “cool.” I have been on that end of the equation a few times and it is not “personally fulfilling or gratifying.” When you call 911 you do not know if the next few minutes will bring a happy resolution to your problem or will be forever remembered because the rescue attempt failed.

The Bible clearly says that God was with Joseph and that God rescued Joseph from all his troubles. That sounds like an easy road doesn’t it? God was with Joseph so what could go wrong? God rescued Joseph so how could Joseph suffer? The thing that we miss is the clock of God. When God’s clock ticks off one day our clocks count one thousand years. In more practical terms for us, when God’s clock ticks off one second our clocks run for more than four days!

So if a day to God is as a thousand years to us, then most men live less than two hours by God’s time.

When God recues me from my troubles if He comes right now, I am grateful. If He waits for one second then I wait for four days. If He waits ten seconds then I wait for forty days. If He waits a minute and a half, then I wait a year!

Children have the same problem with us. When a child has to stand in the corner for ninety seconds it can certainly seem like a year!

My job is to rest in the fact that God will rescue me. It doesn’t matter when or how long I must wait for Him. Unlike the rescue squad, God never arrives too late and He never comes upon a problem too big for Him to solve!

Remember God rescued Joseph, but God let him stay in prison for a few minutes before he became a ruler in Egypt. God often says to His people, “Stay right where you are for a few minutes more!”

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fight Against God!
“But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.”

Acts 5:39

Back before the days of internet journalism there was an old saying which was applicable in numerous arenas of life. It was “Don’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” The written word has always been a mighty weapon in this world. If you can win the war of words you can topple a much stronger enemy without firing a shot.

This is true on a global scale. This war of words is fought in the publishing of material printed on paper, but it is fought even more effectively through the electronic media and the internet. The last U.S. presidential campaign was won by the candidate who had the best grasp of using the electronic media and the internet. With these tools of war the minds of men can be changed for good or evil.

The war of words is also fought on a personal scale. The words that go into your ears and come out of your mouth play a major role in who you are. If you listen to words that are lovely, pleasant, uplifting and helpful and if you speak the same you will be transformed into a man or woman of grace. But if you listen to and speak words that are discouraging, hurtful, negative and destructive you will become a man or woman known for being like your words.

Spiritually, the war of words concept is simply overwhelming. The Bible says that the Word became flesh and lived among us. Jesus not only spoke words, He was and is the Word. This is the real war of words. Even as our humanly written and spoken words have power, the Word of God is powerful beyond anyone’s imagination. The world itself came to be when God spoke the Word. All of the acts of creation are described as simply the result of God speaking the command.

I have been guilty at times of thinking that some people put too much importance on the Bible which is the written Word of God. But when I ponder what the “Word of God” is and what it has done, is doing and will do cosmically and in the lives of all men I stand amazed, or rather I bow down in amazement.

Some old sayings are good and some are quite wrong. Remember the one that says, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Oh how wrong that is. Truthfully, “Sticks and stones can only break my bones, but words can destroy me both here in this life and eternally.”

So the lesson for me today is simply this: “Don’t fight against God.” When I do I always lose.

But when God fights for me I always win!

Friday, March 13, 2009

An Angel to the Rescue!
“But that night an angel from the Lord opened the doors of the jail and led the apostles out!”

Acts 5:19

When a rescue team goes out to find someone lost in the woods it is usually because the person who is lost disobeyed at least one of the rules. If you are going to be alone in a wilderness area there are a number of common sense guidelines you must not ignore.

Before you go it alone in any wilderness prepare yourself with the “things to remember” to keep yourself from being lost.

But many times each year people are lost in wilderness areas and rescue teams are dispatched to bring them back. The fortunate are found, but some of course are not.

But what about needing to be rescued when you have done everything right? That is what happened to the apostles of Jesus in Jerusalem. They were telling everybody about Jesus just as He had told them to do and for that they were thrown in jail.

So God dispatched a rescue team, in the form of an angel who opened the doors of the jail and led them out. The angel told them to go back to the temple and start once again telling everyone about Jesus, which they did even before the sun came up.

Everyone will need to be rescued. But we have the choice to be rescued for doing the right thing or rescued from the consequences of doing the wrong thing. God rescues people who turn their hearts to Him.

Almost forty years ago I heard a man say: God rescues some believers from the mouths of lions, and God rescues other believers by the mouths of lions, but they all are rescued!