Sunday, May 31, 2009

Say Yes to God!

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20

When I was a much younger man I prayed, “Lord I will serve you anywhere in the United States. It doesn't matter where as long as it is not overseas.”

The Lord's response to that prayer was to send me as far away from the U.S as I could go on this earth. Linda and I spent two years in Indonesia serving as missionaries from 1973-75.

The lesson I learned was simple, “Don't put limits on your willingness to serve God.”

When I was even younger I made a bold statement that I have never forgotten. While in college a friend suggested I might want to persue romantically a certain young lady. I declared “I'll never date her.” I think it was only a few weeks until my heart was turned on it's head and I was running after Linda. We are in our forty-second year of marriage and I know for certain that it was God Himself that turned my heart toward her.

As I approach my sixty-third birthday I know for certain that my ways are not His ways and my thoughts are not His thoughts. I am a foolish and rebellious human being who only by His grace and mercy have survived long enough to write these words.

I praise His name because I am part of the “all things” that Jesus reconciled to Himself when He died on the cross.

There is however the battle that continues. I declare my generous willingness to serve Him and He says “that is not enough.” I speak aloud of something that I will never do and He says “that is exactly the thing that I want you to do.”Of course, these are simply two examples of what in truth is my daily struggle to submit to God's will. His Spirit says “Go there, say this, give that or do this” and I rebell and try to pretend I didn't hear. It is a quiet rebellion because it goes on in my heart.

The bottom line is this. You can significantly shorten your Spiritual learning curve by saying yes to God the first time you hear His Voice!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Vaccinated by the Blood!

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

2 Peter 2:4-9

When a child first learns about Hell it can be pretty scary. Punishment can be frightening enough, but punishment usually ends. And of course in a loving home, a reassuring hug usually follows the spanking. But where is the “reassuring hug” as a follow up to Hell? The suffering in Hell goes on forever. The Bible does not talk about a rehab program for those who have served their sentence in Hell.

Hell is like death itself. Hell will be separation from all that is good and righteous and holy. Hell is permanent. Like death you don’t spend a few days or years in Hell and then when that is done you graduate to Heaven. To be perfectly honest it makes me very uncomfortable to write this.

Going to Hell is not like taking a wrong turn on a trip and ending up in the wrong town. From Hell there is no return. In Hell there is no relief. In Hell there is no kind deed, word or thought.

So in the English language we have developed a vocabulary of phrases using the word “Hell” to express displeasure, assign condemnation, and generally be negative towards others.

As a follower of Jesus it is easy to be critical of others who turned to Jesus simply because they are afraid of Hell. What about the Love of God? Isn’t that why we should follow Him? Of course we love Him because He first loved us, but He is the same God who will without mercy send those whose sin is not covered by the Blood of Jesus to ETERNAL PUNISHMENT.

When I was a child Polio ravaged the world. There was great fear of the disease which would turn a healthy child into a permanent cripple. Then came Dr. Jonas Salk and a vaccine that would protect me from Polio. It was amazing and a wonderful relief that there was a way to avoid the prison of polio.

Sin has ravaged the world, and there should be great fear of the prison of Hell that awaits those who have not been vaccinated by the Blood of Jesus.

The Blood of Jesus provides an escape from Hell for every man, woman, boy or girl who has ever lived. Jesus death not only provides a way for me to go to Heaven, but Jesus death rescues me from the Fires of Hell!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are You His Brother?

"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."

Romans 4:7-8

In the old gangster movies we learned how to provide an alibi. “Joe was with me all evening from seven to midnight. So how could Joe have been the one who committed the crime?” Of course, usually Joe was the one who did the deed and his friend was simply “covering” for him. In old gangster movies the bad guy always got caught and “truth and justice prevailed.

In our culture individual responsibility has ranked very high on our list of priorities. “You do the crime, you serve the time,” was our motto. The other side of that coin was the “Self made man” and all the glory that went along with that. Somehow in our “Christian” nation we have yet to realize that both of those concepts stand at odds with the life and message of Jesus.

Jesus came to “serve the time” for the crimes that I have committed. I was as “guilty as sin,” but the blood of Jesus covered me. There is a song which I haven’t heard for years which says:

“He paid a debt He did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay.
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song,
Amazing Grace!
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”

Also, being a “self made man” is not part of what Jesus was all about. Christianity is not a “self improvement” course. The illustration is poor at best, but some think that Christianity is like a body builder who works hard every day to impress everyone with his “tight abs.” In reality followers of Jesus come under the knife of the great plastic surgeon. It is not by my power, dedication, persistence or discipline that I am changed into the image of Jesus. It is because of His amazing grace as He empowers me to be like my Master!

So Jesus stands before the Father and pleads my case. The truth is all He presents and the truth is that as guilty as I am and as worthy of death as I may be Jesus lets the record show that my death has already been accomplished when He went to the cross. So I will not have to die for my sins!

The rest of the story is glorious. Someone will look at me and say “You look just like Jesus. Are you His brother?” And the answer of course is a miraculous YES!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The End of the Book!

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”

2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

Hurricane Katrina was a disaster not only because of the wind and floods, but also because of the slow response to the tragedy. We all watched on television while hundreds of thousands of people waited for the help that never seemed to come. Katrina re-wrote the book on how our government should respond to a natural disaster.

It is difficult to be patient while waiting for relief if we are wet, or cold and hungry. It is even harder if we are sick or injured. I know that my fuse becomes very short when my comfort level is seriously eroded. That is why we have rescue squads on call 24-7 and why we all get out of the way when we see the lights and hear the siren.

But what about the relief that comes from God Himself? Of course God has the supply of everything we could ever need. There is not a tragedy that God can’t fix! But the Bible says that the relief that comes from Him will happen “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”

Pardon me if I don’t sound very spiritual when I say that that makes the Katrina response sound wonderful. God will bring relief when Jesus returns, but what about now? Of course God does bring relief every day, but sometimes the relief that comes from Him will only come with the return of Jesus.

Here is how I make sense of it. When the Katrina victims waited for relief, often sitting on the roofs of their houses, they did not know whether or not they would really be rescued. As I wait for relief from God I have His promise and know for certain that I will be rescued. His relief will come and I will receive it! As I wait for the rescue, the knowledge that the end of my story will not be tragic is a comfort that keeps me going every day.

A dear friend told me years ago, “I have read the end of the Book and we win!”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Everything is Finished!

Everything is finished! I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give water from the life-giving fountain to everyone who is thirsty. All who win the victory will be given these blessings. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Revelation 21:6-7

I am a man of unfinished projects. I am an excellent starter. I can begin a project with great ease and most projects I can bring almost to completion. But the list of my finished works is much shorter. I would like to blame this characteristic of my life on some learning or attention deficit, but truthfully it is because in that way I am not like God.

God finishes everything He starts. God has no unfinished projects. There are no half completed sunsets in God’s art gallery. There were no partially created animals littering the Garden of Eden. The mountains are not half as high as God planned and the fish in the sea are exactly what God had in mind.

If you are a Christian, the Creator of the universe has started a work in your heart and life! If you are old enough in the Faith then you have probably recognized some of what He is doing in you. Like the potter and the clay He has been pounding you into shape. Like the potter and the pot He may have put you in the fire to make you hard and able to stand up against every foe. Like the shepherd with his sheep He may be teaching you to recognize His voice even when the noise around you is deafening. Like the commander with his troops God may be asking you to be ready to do battle with little or no sleep.

Whatever God is or has been doing in your life you can be sure that He will finish what He started doing in you. As a project of God, He will not leave you incomplete.

Before I leave on a trip I hurry to finish projects that are not yet complete and are ones that really do need to be done.

When Jesus returns for us we will all be “finished works.”

If it seems like His work on your life is picking up its pace, you can trust that it is because when Jesus returns He will utter the precious words, “EVERYTHING IS FINISHED.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

Destroy the Devil’s Work!

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17:20-23

Military discipline is essential when it comes to winning wars. A large army of highly qualified soldiers fighting without a leader and a unified approach to the enemy can be defeated by a much smaller army if the smaller army is fighting as one man with a plan. When soldiers are in battle their allegiance is to their commander and to each other. There might be a friendly rivalry between the army and the navy on the football field, but when they go to war they fight and die together! To win a war a country must do more than just have a good defensive force. To hold off the attacks of the enemy is good, but victory only comes with a counterattack.

Christians are part of the military of God. There is an old Christian hymn which begins with the words “Onward Christian soldiers, going as to war.” There is also a children’s song which echoes the idea, “I’m in the Lord’s army.”

Spiritual warfare is more than simply a good defense. How impressive would be the general who bragged, “The enemy attacked us forty times today and we held them off each time with no loss of life.” Of course the word would come back to the general, “Mount an attack on the enemy!”

As Christians we often take great pride in being able with the help of the Holy Spirit to defend ourselves against Satan’s offensive. And of course that is good. But what blows did you land on Satan today? Did you help to qualify Satan for a Purple Heart among the hosts of hell?

I’m afraid that often I have been a “conscientious objector” in the Lord’s army. Oh, I’m in the war zone, but only to bring comfort to wounded soldiers.

If you want to “see action” and be more than an observer here is your plan for the day. When you first arise in the morning check with the Commander and check your equipment, especially your Sword. In spiritual warfare your Sword is the Word of God. With instructions from the Commander, venture forth to seek and destroy the “works of the Devil.”

One reason Christians have trouble living together and getting along is that they are not fighting together. When soldiers go in to battle together there is a bond that lasts a lifetime. Old soldiers never forget those who stood and fought with them. So if you are having trouble getting along in your Church try a little offensive Spiritual Warfare.

Remember 1 John 3:8b says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.”

Sunday, May 24, 2009

God’s Feelings!

The father of a righteous man has great joy;
he who has a wise son delights in him.

Proverbs 23:24

There are many attributes of God. Perhaps it would be truthful to say that the attributes of God are infinite. If we had access to every shred of truth that exists how could we ever pen the last word of even the definition of God, much less a description of Him? God is all powerful, all knowing, and full of grace and truth and the list goes on forever!

One characteristic that is usually overlooked, and if not it is downplayed is that God is “all emotional.” Even using that term sounds strange, but let me explain. The emotions that we feel and exhibit everyday are part of the “image of God.”

God has feelings too! “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” “Jesus wept.” Numbers 22:22 speaks of God being “very angry.”

One of the ways that the world tries to keep me from being like God is by telling me that it is a sign of weakness if I have and express emotions. There are those who would say being angry is a sin. Of course the Bible says “Be angry and sin not.” So I can be angry and sin or I can be angry and not sin. That is when I am like God. He never sins in His anger.

How did God feel about His Son while Jesus was here on the earth? When Jesus was a boy the Bible says He grew in favor with God and man. When He was a man the voice of God boomed out to Peter, James and John and said that God loved Jesus and was “well pleased” with Him.

How does a father feel about his child when the child is wise? Proverbs 23:15 says that the heart of such a father will be glad. It is the opposite of what a father feels when his child is not wise.

So, Jesus made God “feel good” all the time.

I cannot give God anything that He needs and cannot get anywhere else with one exception. As a child of God I can give Him joy! As I live today one right choice brings joy to the heart of God. When I obey a command of God, when I listen to His voice and step in the direction He chooses then I bring joy to God’s heart.

As a father myself I know a little of how God feels when I obey Him. It is just another look at the heart of God!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Have You Left in the River!

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Philippians 3:7-8

When a flock of birds aborted a take off in New York, the plane went down in the Hudson River. Everyone was amazed at the cool headed actions of the pilot and crew. There was no loss of life and the landing and rescue were all caught on tape via security cameras in the area.

Several months later the passengers received, from the airline, the belongings that had been left on the plane and went to the bottom of the river. All of the passengers abandoned personal possessions in favor of saving their lives.

Chickens have “pecking orders” and we prioritize everything in our lives. All day long we sort through thoughts and activities by saying “this is more important than that.” Like the passengers on the plane that went down in the Hudson we abandon some things in order to save other things in our lives. We give up weight loss and preserve the joy of overeating. We abandon exercise for the comfort of being a couch potato.

The importance of one thing is often revealed by the things we give up to keep it.

What have you given up to maintain your relationship with Jesus Christ? The question is not “what would you give up.” The question is “what have you given up?” There is a vast difference in the two questions. Peter declared that he would die for and with Jesus, but did not give up the safety of anonymity on the night that Jesus was arrested.

I suppose you think that I am pompously preaching at you when I ask the question “What have you given up to know Jesus?” Frankly, the question stops me short. In a country where, at least up to now, I am free to believe in Jesus and free to assemble with other believers to worship Him and encourage each other, giving up something to know Jesus has not been part of the equation. Or has it?

When I was first “in love” with Linda my mother challenged me for spending too much time with her. It seems, without realizing it I preferred being with Linda over everything else in my life. We were in college at the time and I did go to class, work my part time job and sleep, but the hours that were left were mostly, if not all, devoted to her.

Have I set aside time for Jesus and faithfully meet with Him each day, or do I look for every spare moment during the day when I can have some more time with Him? You see, I can’t say “I love you Lord” and I’ll see you tomorrow at the same time for my fifteen minutes of devotions. If I love Him I will run after Him all day long. I will seek His face. I will want to hear from Him all the time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Speaking Truth!

1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

Revelation 20:1-3

When is it acceptable to lie? If you want to be more like Satan than God then lying is the best way to do it. The Bible even says that Satan is the father of lies. If Satan is the father of lies, then he has many, many children. Lying has become a fundamental part of our world today.

I stand ready to criticize and condemn lying unless I am the one doing the lying and I do it because it is social acceptable. I don’t tell lies in an attempt to deceive, but frankly I do tell lies to be polite. “How are you today?” “Oh, I’m just fine.” Even if I have a splitting headache and find it difficult to stand up I claim to be “fine.” There are of course lots of other lies that are not just acceptable in our world, but are expected.

Now I’m not saying that God expects us to offend each other, but why does our polite conversation have to be built on “white lies?” It is because our world is ruled by Satan. I know this may sound like a meaningless exercise, but try to live one day without speaking one of the “white lies” of everyday conversation. Please don’t spend the day saying things that upset everyone, but simply filter your words and refrain from the untruths.

When Satan is bound as mentioned in Revelation 20, he will not be able to deceive the nations anymore. There is one thing you can trust. Satan is not bound today and he is deceiving the nations right now. If you made a list of the worldwide deceptions that you read about every day in the newspaper how long would that list be?

Now imagine that those deceptions are all exposed and banished. Imagine truth being the standard in all conversation, even in polite daily speech. Imagine no one speaking a word that is not true. When Satan is removed and bound what a different world this will be.

When truth reigns supreme in my life, my speech and my thoughts then I will find it much easier to pray. If I pray using the normal polite speech of this world I am hindered at every turn by speaking words to God that are not true!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

God Instructs Sinners!

7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Psalm 25:7-9

For the first time in my life I have purchased a “vanity license plate” for my car. Actually, it is for my wife’s car. She is a grandmother and in a few weeks we will see the arrival of grandchild number 19 so I chose the number GRAN19. The plate itself also says CHOOSE LIFE and ADOPTION BUILDS FAMILIES. So now everyone blessed enough to sit behind her at a stop light will have to think about God’s position on life! It is a bold thing I suppose, but as long as the State of Ohio makes such a plate available I think the is money well spent.

An adopted child comes into his new family with all the “baggage” from his previous home. You can’t say to an adopted child, “Just leave all your previous experience at the door because we do things differently here.” As glorious as adoption sounds, truthfully it can be a difficult struggle as the child learns the ways of his father, mother and new family. There must be lots of love and forgiveness along with lots of discipline and training. Then as the days turn into weeks and months and years the new child is not new, but is as much a part of the family as the rest.

When I am adopted into the family of God it is much the same. God does not ask me to learn His ways and change myself before I am adopted into His family. God will adopt into His family anyone who comes to Him in faith. When I believe on Jesus Christ, He takes me in. When I knock on His door, actually He is knocking on mine, He invites me to come in and be a part of the family. There are no requirements that I change first.

Two of our four adopted children were not infants when we adopted them, but we literally gave no thought to how they behaved before deciding to adopt them. Of course, we noticed how they behaved, but that played no role. How badly you have or are behaving before the Lord will not stop Him from receiving you into His family when you come to Him in faith.

But once men put their faith in Jesus, He will “instruct sinners in His ways.” Then comes the change. He lovingly corrects my behavior every day and teaches me how His children act. Then days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, and months turn into years as I learn His ways! He changes me because He lives with me and His Holy Spirit is in me. I am a part of His family.

Perhaps the best news of all is this: Even after I have become a part of His family, if I walk away and become a prodigal, Jesus is ready to receive me once again!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Listen for the Trumpet!

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

When I was less than half my current age I rushed my wife to the hospital for the birth of our first child. I was a confident twenty-six year old and believed I could face anything life dished out and stand strong. Then came the birth pains!

When we arrived at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee on August 19, 1972 it was very early in the morning. A nurse brought a wheel chair and took Linda to a room while I signed in. It only took a few minutes to complete the registration and then I was told where to find her. As I walked down the hall toward the room I heard a woman screaming. I immediately thought, “Poor woman, someone should help her.” Then I got to the door where they said Linda was waiting and I stopped as I realized that the screaming was coming out of the room where they had taken my wife! Labor had set in with the pain for which it is famous.

Over the past thirty seven years since that day I have not talked about my feelings about her pain very much because who was I to feel bad, my wife was the one in pain! But I did feel bad, very bad. I believe I would have done almost anything to stop her pain. I had been full of anticipation for a new baby, but the pain caused me to focus on the labor and how to stop the pain. I frankly, didn’t think much about the baby at that point.

Before the Lord returns there will be a time which He compared to labor pains. Jesus described that time in Matthew 24. The Bible says it will be a terrible time. No matter how confident you are as a believer when the “birth pains” set in it will be very hard on you and everyone else. You will be tempted to forget about the joy that is coming and focus on how to relieve the pain of the moment.

If I had known nothing about a baby being on the way then birth pains would certainly have convinced me that my wife was dying. For those who know nothing about the coming of Jesus Christ and the Glories that will follow His return the birth pains will seem like the END OF ALL THINGS!

Now, more than ever look at what His promises say. Now, more than ever think about the Glories that will follow His return.

When you hear the baby’s first cry the birth pains begin to fade into a distant memory. When you hear the trumpet sound the birth pains will fade into a distant memory.

As the pain increases listen for the trumpet!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Because I Was Sick!

As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.

Galatians 4:13

If you were taught about Jesus when you were a child somewhere along the way you were instructed to ask the question: “How does God want to use the gifts He has given me?”

Even as men during the time of the Old Testament would bring the best they had to sacrifice to God we must give Him the very best that we have. And what is better than sacrificing to God the very gifts that He has given us? So if I can run, I run for the Lord. If I can speak, I speak for the Lord. If I can serve, I serve for the Lord. Whatever I do, I do it in the Name of the Lord and to His glory.

Then comes the troubling verse in Galatians, “It was because of an illness that I preached the gospel to you.” Paul didn’t preach to the Galatians because they were the focus of his high calling. He preached to them because he was sick! How unflattering is that? And how easy it would have been for Paul to say: “I can’t preach today because I’m sick.”

Have you ever thought that God was missing an opportunity when a great man or woman of God spends years in prison?

If I could be in charge of planning the evangelizing of the world for the next fifty years I don’t think I would include the “persecution and suffering” part for believers. I would simply orchestrate opportunities for the unbelieving world to be confronted with the claims of Jesus. I would let unbelievers suffer so they would be more open to the message. As far as believers being sick or in prison or even ridiculed, I would leave that part out.

So here I am once again confessing to God that His ways are beyond my understanding. My role is not to understand. My role is to embrace the day as He plans it. One thing I have learned is that when I question God I refrain from the “Why did this happen to me?” question. Rather I ask “Since You allowed this to happen to me, what do You want me to do today?”

Let’s be practical. Paul got sick and because of His sickness we will share eternity with many people who lived in Galatia. So when I get sick I must stand up, if I can, and seize the opportunity for God!

Remember the work you do for God must be directed by and empowered by the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit can work well even in a body that is sick!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Perfect Solution!

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Galatians 5:4

One of the most heart rending tragedies on earth is the alienation of brothers and sisters. If you are a parent of more than one child you know that one of your great joys in life is to see your children relating, helping and loving each other. And of course one of your great sorrows would be seeing your children separated by whatever would break the bond of brothers.

A much more serious tragedy would be alienation from Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul says that trying to be justified by the law will alienate you from Christ! At this point theologians would like to discuss, at an indefinite length, what that would mean and how it would or would not affect my eternal status as a believer. Without going there, I would simply say that alienation from Christ is a desperate state of the believer and one that you should avoid at all costs.

How can a guilty person stand before a court and go free without punishment? I suppose there are several ways. He could successfully cover his crime so that there is no evidence that he is guilty. He could stand before a corrupt judge who could be bribed. His lawyer could play on the emotions of the jury who would declare him not guilty because they felt sorry for him. I’m sure there are other ways of the guilty going free.

The Bible clearly says that all men have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God। So I will stand before Him as a guilty man. There is no way I can cover my sin, so that there is no evidence that I did it. There is no possibility that the Judge of all men is corrupt and can be bribed. There will be no jury of peers for me to appeal to their emotions. I will stand with only one hope of avoiding the penalty of eternal death for my transgressions. That hope is the blood of Jesus. When I base my defense on anything other than the blood of Jesus Christ I am doomed!

That is the problem with trying to be justified by the law, by my good works or anything else। The problem of my sin has only one solution. It is a perfect solution and it will work for any man or woman who calls out to Jesus. When I turn anywhere else for my defense it will fail.

All of us are guilty of crimes worthy of eternal death! Jesus has provided the only way for you to avoid the penalty. Don’t try to be justified by anyone else!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

God’s Dress Code!

"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

Revelation 16:15

I have mixed emotions about dress codes. Some exclusive restaurants had them, I don’t know if they still do. Dress codes are still in place in many workplaces. Some businesses relax their dress codes on Fridays. Twenty or thirty years ago I would never go to worship on Sunday morning without at least a coat and tie. It didn’t have to be a suit, but a coat and tie was expected and I never thought about it, I just wore the appropriate clothing.

Then it all began to change. One Sunday morning the preacher came to church and was wearing a coat and a turtleneck sweater. It wasn’t that shocking, but I do remember it. When changes are gradual they are never really shocking. Now, I wear my suit and tie once or twice a year and feel perfectly comfortable. The Sunday morning dress code now is limited to “don’t wear dirty work clothes to church.”

Frankly, the dress codes that we impose on each other, especially in places of worship can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit among us. Why should we not welcome anyone into our assembly no matter how they are dressed? I do not need to be offended by what you wear.

Did you know however that God has a dress code for every Christian? When it comes time for you to leave this earth, if you are not wearing the right clothes you will not be welcome in Heaven!

Of course you are two steps ahead of my thinking. If you are not clothed in the righteousness of Christ when you die you will not be acceptable to God. That is what the mission of Jesus was all about. He died to pay the penalty for our sins and for His righteousness to become our clothing!

If you are trying to change God’s dress code and wear something other than the righteousness of Christ you will be eternally sorry. That is the whole fall of man rebellion. We say to God “I will do it my way and wear what I want.” Check out today what you are wearing before God. If you are still trying to wear some of your own spiritual clothing take it off and cover yourself completely with His righteousness.

When you are dressed in the righteousness of Christ, God Himself will look at you and say, “You look really good in that!”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Watch for Jesus!

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

Luke 12:40

Inside of every man there is often a distinct difference in what his mouth proclaims and what his heart embraces. That difference is the substance of the war that rages in men’s hearts. I proclaim that I believe that Jesus may return at any moment, but in my heart I hold on to “I can live like I please” at least for a while longer. Then when things begin to really look like His coming is imminent I will live only for Him and be ready.

On the day that Jesus returns how many followers of Jesus will be thinking “this may be the day of the Lord’s return?”

Jesus Himself recognized that when He comes it will be “at an hour you do not expect.”

Here is a worthy goal. Expect the return of Jesus every day until He returns. Then if He comes before you leave this earth you will be one of the few who are expecting Jesus when He does come back.

A small child waits eagerly for his father to come home from work. I still remember standing at the window watching the road in front of our house waiting to see my father’s car turn in the driveway. What a blessing to a father who comes home to find his child eagerly expecting his return and waiting to embrace him when he comes through the door.

Do you want to be a blessing to Jesus? Then set your heart to be one of those who will be standing at the widow watching for His return. It will surely change the way you live!

Friday, May 15, 2009

ET is You!

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

John 17:14-16

Jesus said twice in two verses, “They are not of this world, even as I am not of it.” When Jesus repeats Himself it is not because His memory is slipping. It is certainly because He wants to underline and put an exclamation mark on the statement.

It has been thirty four years since my wife and I came back from living in Indonesia. During those two years we learned the true meaning of being a “foreigner.” We were not mistreated by any means, but it was clear that we did not fit in to the culture and life of the people.

Jesus said that His followers are not of this world. He also said that He is not of this world. Before you came to know Jesus and commit your life to Him you were of this world and you fit in quite well. You knew how to relate to the rest of the world around you. You thought like, talked like and acted like the world around you. Then you encountered Jesus Christ. Jesus did not force you to follow Him, but confronted with who He is you made the commitment to follow Him above all others!

When you decided to follow Jesus you gained many things, but you lost your citizenship in this world. You are no longer of this world. You are indeed an “extra-terrestrial.” “ET is you” if you are a follower of Jesus.

Many followers of Jesus spend lots of time trying to fit back in to the world from which they came. It is foolish to do that. Instead of focusing of the world you will soon be leaving, spend your time and effort getting ready for the trip!

As vacation day approaches the wise man prepares to leave. It is foolish to wait until the last minute to get ready to go.

Do at least one thing today that needs to be done before you leave this earth to live forever with Jesus!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

God in Person!

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Luke 10:22

One of the difficulties of being a “radio personality” is that the people who listen to you on the radio come to believe that they really know what you are like. Even if the impression you give on the radio is totally real it is only a small segment of who you are. Over the years I spent on the radio I never met a “listener” in person who was not disappointed when they got to know the “rest of my story.”

I continually reminded myself of the “Wizard of Oz.” I was the “regular guy” sitting behind the big wall projecting a big voice to the world which had them in awe but it was not truly who I am.

Knowing another person is not simply knowing about that person or even knowing what that person says. If George Washington and Abraham Lincoln had lived at the same time and George read everything that ever was or even would be written about Abraham could he say I know him? If Abraham Lincoln read everything that had been or would be written about George Washington could he say I know him?

If you memorized the entire Bible and meditated on it day and night for the rest of your life could you say “I know God?” If I read everything ever written about a President of the United States and even memorized his speeches I still could not say “I know him.” But if I spent one hour sitting down with him and talking with the President about anything at all I could leave that conversation and say “I know the President.”

Relationships are not built on knowledge. Relationships are built on two way personal communication. Do you see why prayerlessness is a key element in ruining your relationship with God?

When a man turns to Jesus and commits his life to the Savior, Jesus reveals the Father to that man. It is the only way you can get to know God. If your relationship with God is like a radio listener who hears the words but doesn’t know the person behind the microphone then it is time to start spending some “one on one” time with the Creator of the universe.

Frankly, it is pretty intimidating at first, but it is the only way you can come to truthfully say “I know God.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jesus has You Covered!

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:7-8

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit and took the first step in the fall of man they immediately became self conscious. After the fall the word “Self” became the operative word for all men. Men became self conscious, self absorbed, selfish, and the center of their own world. “What about me?” became the cry of every heart.

The second reaction to their new “self oriented” world was to hide from God. Before this happened Adam and Eve would surely run to meet the Lord when He came walking in the garden, like a little child running to meet his or her father when he comes home at the end of the day.

On the first day of the “Fall of Man” Adam and Eve revealed the state of man ever since. Men are totally consumed with themselves and their own needs and they run, not toward God, but away from Him.

Somewhere in Scripture it says that Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil. The Devil works to make all men self centered as they run away from God. So when Jesus destroys the work of the Devil in my life what will I notice first of all? The first evidence that the Fall of Man is being reversed in my life is that I will begin to forget about myself and then start running, not away from God but toward Him!

I have heard many discussions on the evidences of a man’s salvation. Perhaps the easiest evidence to identify is this: Has the Fall of Man been reversed in my life? Am I still totally concerned about covering my own nakedness and when God shows up do I run and hide?

When a man or woman comes to Jesus the game of hide and seek makes no sense anymore and there is no more need to cover your own sins because Jesus Himself has you covered!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Keep Looking!

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

I was 10 years old and on my way to California with my parents and brother the first time I saw a mirage. It looked like a lake in the desert, but as real as it looked it was not there. That was the first time I remember becoming aware of the untrustworthiness of the “seeing is believing” saying. Just because my eyes can see a thing does not mean that it is real.

It is also true that not being able to see something does not mean that it is not really there. Who can see a radio wave or even the wind? You can see the dirt or leaves that the wind is carrying along with it, but the wind itself cannot be seen.

My physical eyes cannot see those things that are eternal. Trying to see the eternal with my physical eyes is like a man sitting and staring at a radio tower hoping to catch a glimpse of the radio program as it leaves the tower. It simply is not going to happen.

But when I fix the eyes of my heart on Jesus I can see wonderful things. Instead of a wicked and evil world which is hell bent on self destruction I see a world full of people who are the focus of God’s heart and love. Instead of despair I see hope. Instead of death I see life. When I look at that which is eternal I see the top of the woven rug instead of the bottom which makes no sense.

The “sleight of hand” artist becomes expert in getting you to focus on one hand while he does something with the other one, which he doesn’t want you to see. When you focus on the temporary things of this world you cannot see the eternal. When you focus on the eternal then you are not threatened and confused by the temporary.

Lord, show me today the mirages in my life. Help me to know the difference between the truth and those things that simply claim to be true but are not.

My mother always taught me that it is not polite to stare at someone. When I stare at someone I look, keep looking and never turn my eyes away. It may not be polite to stare at anyone else, but with the eyes of my heart I must stare at Jesus and the things that are eternal.

Look, keep looking and never turn the eyes of your heart away from Jesus!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Can’t Imagine!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

There is a television commercial in which an obviously affluent couple asks a world class architect to design a house around a water faucet. The commercial is memorable enough to serve the purpose of the company that makes the faucets, but the concept is ludicrous. Who would design a multi-million dollar mansion around a one hundred dollar bathroom water faucet?

These verses in Ephesians state with certainty that we cannot ask God for something beyond His ability to accomplish. Believing that is fundamental to a life of peace as a follower of Jesus.

When I believe that Jesus is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within me then there is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Discouragement and depression depend on the removal of hope from my life. But I can hope in Jesus until I take my last breath!

Does that mean life will not be hard? Of course not! I may be troubled and in pain, but with Jesus I will not despair.

Just for the sake of argument try to think of something that God cannot do. Imagine a situation that is beyond His ability to address. List the greatest possible life crises. Sickness or death, financial crisis, political crises, loss or freedom, war and pestilence, and of course don’t forget persecution. Are any of these too big for God to touch with His hand?

The Bible says in John 14 that Jesus is going to prepare a place for me! Isn’t that like designing a multi-million dollar home around a water faucet? Jesus is designing and building a place in heaven especially for me! I will like everything about it.

When I feel troubled and down in these tough times, I can try to imagine that place He is preparing for me.

A novel with great characters and a great story line will be a complete failure if the ending does not satisfy the reader. As a follower of Jesus Christ your story may be difficult, and indeed will be, but the end of the story will be totally satisfying and a victory even beyond your own imagination!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Experiment of Life!

Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."

Isaiah 29:14

When scientists are searching for truth they perform experiments. Usually an experiment has only one variable so the conclusion of the test can establish the impact of that one element on the whole. It is a tried and true way to determine fact and to distinguish that fact from the fiction of opinion.

A man who is said to be intelligent is one who has registered many facts in his brain and has the capacity to recall those facts at an appropriate time. I am still amazed at the mental capacity and agility of a few of my friends. Intelligence is a very useful tool.

A man who is said to be wise is one who is able to apply the facts that he knows in a way that is to his or other’s best advantage in any given situation. So, you can have intelligence without wisdom. My grandmother said it best when she used the phrase “Educated fool!”

Now comes a problem for even the most intelligent and wise. God Himself is the foundational element in every experiment we process. As long as He doesn’t move we can trust the results to be accurate. But God can and does interfere with our intelligence and wisdom.

That’s how we can identify a miracle. A miracle happens when God puts his finger on the scale and the reading does not make sense. A miracle happens when God heals a disease that is always fatal. A miracle happens when God tells you “a great and unsearchable thing you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

When a man is in an airplane which is doing 500 miles an hour he can drop a ball to the floor and measure its rate of descent and do all kinds of experiments and the results will be consistent. But when the plane climbs or dives or goes into a steep turn all of the measurements change.

Remember we are in God’s private jet. As long as He flies straight and level our experiments in life have consistent results, but when He changes the direction of the plane everything changes. The moral to this story is simple. Don’t put your trust in what you can see, hear, feel, or measure. Put your trust in the Pilot and stay in the plane!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hide with Jesus!

18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely,
20 how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

Isaiah 32:18-20

When the tornado comes a simple root cellar can save your life and the lives of your family. Everything can blow away in less than a minute but the people and things that are hidden under the ground will survive untouched by the terror. Usually there is enough warning that most people in the path of a tornado reach shelter and survive. It is wise however to retreat to the shelter when the storm begins to rage even if there is no tornado warning.

In the storms of life there is only one safe place to find shelter. It is not in your 401k, as everyone is beginning to discover. It is not in the security of your job. It is not in your own cunning and wisdom. The only place to find shelter in the storms of life is in Jesus!

If you are not now a believer in Jesus this may sound too simple। You see many people who say they believe in Jesus and yet are just as racked by the storms of life as everyone else। Finding shelter in Jesus is not the same as “becoming religious” with a Christian perspective. When you find shelter in Jesus you literally begin to depend on Him for everything. It is as if everyone else in the world has gone away and there is no one left except you and Jesus. When you speak you are speaking to Jesus. When you listen to someone else speak it is always Jesus. You become like a small child with an imaginary friend। The child tells his or her friend about everything that is going on। The child will stop and pretend to listen to the friend who is not there. Frankly, it is quite cute to see a child having a conversation with an imaginary friend.

That is precisely what you will look like to unbelievers. They will think that Jesus is just a figment of your imagination. They will eventually come to think that you are insane. That is perhaps the greatest pressure the world puts on followers of Jesus.

Are you willing to be seen by the world as a person who has lost his mind? Ridicule and persecution are really the normal response of those in the world. How would you come to treat a forty year old man who goes around all day talking to his imaginary friend?

But when you take shelter in Jesus “though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be.”

Remember, when you run to the root cellar to hide from the storms of life it can be a really special time because in that tiny hide-out Jesus will be right there with you!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spiritual Nausea!

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood; you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"

John 6:53-60

Cannibalism is truly disgusting to everyone except the cannibal himself. Eating your enemy is not a nice thought even if you are very hungry. There is something about being a cannibal that makes the rest of the world want to throw you to the dogs! So why on earth would Jesus say that what cannibals do with their enemy is what we as followers of Jesus must do with Him?

Frankly, I’m with the disciples when they said, “This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?” But, since Jesus Himself said it, let’s look at the teaching and see what it might mean for me.

When my mother would try and get me to “eat better” sometimes she would say, “You are what you eat.” I didn’t understand it as a small child, but truthfully the food that I put in my body does eventually become my body itself. It not only gives me energy, but it builds my bones and muscles and the cells in my brain. If I do not eat, my body will shrivel up and I will die. So the food that I eat becomes part of me.

So when Jesus said that we should eat His flesh and drink His blood was He telling us to cannibalize Him? Of course not! Jesus was saying that He must be the source of our strength and that every part of our lives must come from Him.
When a young man is in love his every thought has a footnote referencing the “love of his life.” She is truly his obsession. God has created man with the ability to focus his life on another person.

It is just what Jesus wants us to do with Him. Let Jesus be your breath, your food, your water, your waking, your sleeping, your resting, your working and your time at play. Let Jesus so consume your life that it is just as if you have consumed Him as food and drink.

That’s what the bread and wine in the “communion” is telling us. It is a hard teaching because we want to partake of Jesus and keep on eating the food provided by the world. You can be sure that mixing that diet will give you “Spiritual Nausea.”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Never Give Up!

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Revelation 12:17

Those who have been to war tell the rest of us that “War is Hell.” And there is no disputing the ugly reality of war, but the first recorded instance of war was not in Hell, but rather in Heaven when Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.

War is not something that we dreamed up here on the earth. It is awful, but there are great eternal lessons we can learn from war.

When two countries are at war the decision to be at war was made by both parties. Both countries must decide to fight. If one refuses to fight then the other country takes over and rules them both. If they both fight then the outcome of that fighting will determine who will rule. When they both go their separate ways after the fighting is over then the conflict was an armed “spat” not a war.

Contrary to popular opinion when two countries are at war the “Geneva convention” is irrelevant. The winner will not be determined by a referee declaring to the world which one played by the rules and scored the most points. The winner will be declared by the winner after the loser is no longer able to make a declaration.

Satan is at war with the followers of Jesus. If you do not believe that then you have not stood in plain view of the enemy and declared the Lordship of Jesus. When you do you will be attacked.

There is a war game that my youngest son really enjoys. Paint ball guns give the sensation of really being in battle, but no one gets killed. And if proper protection is worn, then no one gets hurt beyond a few slight bruises. Paint balling is good practice for real combat but it is not war.

Christians today love spiritual paint balling. We love to talk about and pretend that we are in battle for Jesus. We pretend that Satan is hurling fiery darts in our direction and that we are dodging them all.

Real spiritual warfare is not a game. It is not fun and frankly, sometimes it is awful. There are war wounds in the battle with Satan. The Word of God is your offensive weapon and your salvation is your helmet.

If today you discover that the struggle with Satan is not a game then take heart. Take the Sword and let it do its work. Stand firm even if blows are landed on you. The words of Winston Churchill are great advice when it comes to being at war with Satan. He said, (and this may be a shorter version of his quote) “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Jesus Name!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:16-17

When my car was totaled in a wreck I had to send the insurance company a paper giving them the right to sign my name on the title of the old car so they could sell it and recover a few hundred dollars against the almost four thousand dollars they were sending me. The paper I signed was very specific. It only gave them the right to use my name for that one transaction.

When my life was totaled and wrecked God himself gave me the right to use the name of Jesus for everything I do! It is a stunning reality and one that is ignored most of the time. As a Christian I have the right to do everything I do “in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

When I have the right to sign your name to a document it is said that I have the “power of attorney.” When I have the right to sign the name of Jesus to everything I do the power that is available is mind boggling.

If the richest man in the world sent you a document that gave you the power of attorney to sign his name on any document, what could you do with that? It might take you a while to get used to the idea, but soon you would be signing his name on every transaction. Eventually you would use your own name for nothing.

What will you do today in the name of the Lord Jesus? Are those words just something to say at the end of a short prayer or are they the foundation for you every action? Remember, as a Christian you can say “in Jesus name” after every word you speak and everything you do!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

2 Thessalonians 1:3

I am always amazed to see the earth “spring to life” after winter has run its course. It is nature’s version of the Resurrection. Everything appears to be dead and has been dead for the entire winter. Then a few days of extra sunlight and some warmth and the explosion of life begins. Everywhere you look there are screams of “I am alive.”

Once the world is resurrected in the spring, the growing season begins. Some plants grow very quickly and some grow very slowly, but they all grow. We marvel at the ones that show daily growth, the flower that was only six inches tall yesterday is now eight inches tall and growing. But we don’t notice the growth of the ones that grow very slowly, like an oak tree. In nature, the slower a plant grows the longer it lasts.

What about your faith and love? Is your faith growing and is your love increasing?

More than forty years ago I picked up an acorn while on a trip to Beersheba Springs, Tennessee. I put the acorn in a pot and it sprouted. Then I took the little twig to Ohio and planted it in the backyard of my soon to be father-in-law and mother-in-law. Now, six children and nineteen grandchildren later there is an oak tree standing there not a quarter mile from where I am sitting. When that acorn sprouted I was amazed at the new life, but I never noticed the growth after that until I would visit the farm, usually once a year and see how big my oak tree had grown.

Faith and love are like that oak. It is amazing when they begin and it is amazing when the new growth appears in the spring. But it takes time to see the acorn of faith and love grow into an oak.

In order to grow you must be like that oak and let your roots grow deep to drink in the water that God has provided. You must stand strong when the storms of life come and try to blow you away. You must also stretch high to get your share of the sunlight God sends on your spot of earth.

One day the oak tree that I planted will come down. Its life on this earth will be done. But on the very last day of its life my oak tree will still be growing.

Your life as a follower of Jesus is like that oak. Your job today is simply this: GROW IN FAITH AND LOVE!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lay Hold of Him!

5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways। But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.

Isaiah 64:5-7

When I was a boy the highest compliment I could receive was for someone to tell me that I reminded them of my father. I remember once when I was with a group of students in a meeting with the president of the college where I was a student and my father had been a student before me. The president called me “Collins” instead of Bill. Collins was my father’s name. I have no recollection of the substance of that meeting, but I will never forget that someone called me by my father’s name!

I know that my father was just a man like anyone else, and that I cannot put him in a lofty position above God, but God Himself designed the father-son relationship to reveal to us our relationship with Him. My father died more than twenty years ago now, but I remember him every day and I remember his ways. The things that he taught me still burn brightly in my mind. God gave him wisdom which he lovingly passed on to me.

Have we forgotten the ways of God? God does not change. His standards and His ways are perfect and need no adjustment. We do not need to keep an open mind about the things that God has spoken. When He comments on a situation there is no need for further discussion.

When I act like and think like my earthly father those who knew him can see him living in me after all these years. When I act like and think like my heavenly Father other people can see Him living in me.

My goal here on this earth is to live so that my Father will be seen living in me. Then I will be truly “striving to lay hold of Him.”

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Too Wonderful!

You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

Job 42:3

“He knows just enough to be dangerous.”

Frankly, I can’t remember where or when I first heard the remark, but it is certainly true. A little knowledge can puff you up and make you confident way beyond all bounds of sanity or safety. I have heard that the most dangerous time for a new airplane pilot is after his first one hundred hours at the controls. Before that time he is quite cautious about everything. Then a little self confidence slips into the mix and he becomes an accident waiting to happen.

Job was no exception to the rule when he said, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

When Job was pummeled with adversity he spoke up confidently to the Lord and defended himself before the Almighty. Job did not speak falsehood to God, but Job did not understand God. Finally, Job came to recognize that the things of God were too wonderful for him to know.

I am reminded of a group of theologians sitting around a table discussing the depths of God, each one trying to impress the others with a greater understanding of God. If God himself were to sit at the table with them, and I’m not sure He would, one word from God would send them all into a state of utter confusion.

Then why is it important for me to engage in Bible study? If I were to gain all the knowledge that is humanly possible about the Bible and memorize the entire Bible as well, what advantage would that give me when dealing with the daily struggles in my life? Of course there is an advantage in having God’s Word planted in my heart. Then it is available for the Holy Spirit to bring it to my remembrance when I am confronted with a situation or temptation that needs input from God. But knowledge by itself is not enough. In fact, knowledge without relationship by faith can puff me up and cause me to stumble.

The knowledge of God and His ways may be compared to looking out at a clear star filled sky. There are things in that sky that are near and can be known with some certainly. We know many things about the moon. In fact, God permitted arrogant man to walk on the moon only a few years ago. But the farther away the heavenly bodies are from the earth the less we know and the less we can know. The expanse of the cosmos is a mystery and will remain a mystery until God chooses to reveal it to us.

The spiritual among us are like children who look up and discover that there are stars in the sky. The most spiritual can tell us something about the moon and planets. But the rest is too wonderful for me to know as I live here on this earth.

Trusting Him in everything is essential; understanding everything is optional. If I don’t trust God, understanding will do me no good. If I do trust Him understanding can be a blessing along the way.

Just imagine what it will be like to be enrolled in the orientation class in Heaven! There will be nothing too wonderful for me to know.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Savior of the World?

"We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

John 4:42b

The world is in big trouble. Financial trouble, climate change, and now disease spreading around the world all have the potential to bring the world to its knees.

If the financial difficulty spirals out of control it will be every man for himself. If climate change is real and accelerates large portions of the earth may become uninhabitable. If diseases continue to mutate because of the overuse of drugs we may be overtaken by a killer disease which leaves almost no one alive.

The world is waiting for the “other shoe to drop.” We are waiting for the weapon of mass destruction to be launched against millions of people. We are certain it will happen, but we don’t want to panic anyone. We are standing at the door of hell waiting to be ushered in while trying to encourage everyone to be nice to each other as we stand in line. The world as we know it is doomed and most folks recognize that fact.

Our reaction to that grim reality is to apply the age old way of dealing with situations like this. We “eat, drink and are merry, for tomorrow we die!” If we ignore it, maybe it will go away.

This world needs a Savior! Now more than ever someone needs to say to the world "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Of course you know that someone has already uttered those words. Does Jesus’ offer of rest apply to people in the world today? Is Jesus powerful enough to be the Savior of the world today? Without a doubt, Jesus is the solution to all of our problems.

Here is the final dilemma. A false Christ will present himself to be the Savior of the world and for a while the world will believe him.

Don’t be fooled, there is only one Savior of the world and His name is Jesus. Let Jesus be the one to bring you to your knees!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Out of this World!

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:16

Did you ever “long for a better country?” When you come to know the Lord Jesus Christ you become totally satisfied with Him and totally dissatisfied with this earth. The more you become comfortable with Jesus, the more you will become uncomfortable with the world around you.

Almost every person who is old looks back at the days of youth as a better time. I am coming to believe that I see the days of youth as better not because the times have changed, but because I have changed. The world is, has been, and will be corrupt until Jesus returns. It was not better then and is now getting worse or the opposite. The world is not changing, but I am changing. I am being changed into the image of Jesus and that makes me see the world differently.

I was born in and grew up in Tennessee. I did not know that people in Tennessee had an accent when they spoke until I heard other people speaking differently. Now I can clearly hear the “Tennessee accent” because I speak differently as well.

When I look back at the world of fifty years ago and think to myself, “It was better then,” I am really saying that fifty years ago I didn’t see how bad it was. But as I changed, or really as Jesus changed me I could clearly see how corrupt the world is and how far away it is from the standard of God’s righteousness.

The closer you move toward God, the farther away from God the world will appear.

Some Christians spend much time and energy trying to make the world righteous. It will not happen. The very nature of the world stands in opposition to righteousness. Instead we must call men and women to confess the Name of Jesus and step out of the world in search of a new country. It is truly an OUT OF THIS WORLD experience!