Monday, November 30, 2009

Buried with Christ!

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:5-7

Very soon after someone dies we notify the funeral home so they can come and remove the body. In some cultures family members prepare the body for burial, but without professional embalming there is an urgent need to get the body into the grave. If you delay the burial in a warm climate the results will confirm the words of Lazarus’s sister who said that he will be stinking in just four days.

Christians who have died with Christ must be buried with Him! If you delay the burial the results are the same as with a natural death. After you die with Christ the world sees no life left in you. You are no longer of any use to the world. Dead bodies are only useful to bury. Some spend their time trying to convince the world that they are not really dead and are therefore not responsible for the odor. But refusing to be buried will cause you to sink!

You can’t have it both ways. There is no middle ground. Either you are dead to the world and alive to Christ or you are alive to the world and dead to Christ.

The charade is two sided. Many pretend to be dead to the world while they clearly are not and many pretend to be alive to the world after they have died with Christ. The smell is strong on both sides. Those who pretend to be dead to the world are offensive to those who have died with Christ. And those who have died with Christ are odious to the world.

If you have died with Christ quit pretending you are still part of the world and be about your burial!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Wedding Wonder!

"Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

Malachi 4:1-2

When wildfires sweep across Southern California the destruction is “no respecter of persons.” The Movie Star’s mansion burns just like the smallest house in the area. When the fire comes your resume makes no difference! The fires come every year but the people stay on with the hope that the fires will not take away their homes and prized possessions.

“Surely the day is coming,” when fire will sweep across the world and the destruction will be the same. No one will escape because of their position, wealth or power. All the “arrogant and every evildoer” will be lit like a pile of trash in a burning pit. There will be no survivors! This fire will not spare anyone in its path.

But for those who revere the Name of the Lord that day will be a glorious time of rejoicing. The hope that sustained them through the years will be transformed into the present glory of standing and “leaping” before the Lord Himself. It will be an explosion of the Wedding Day Wonder on an Eternal scale!

It will be like a man, blind from birth opening his eyes and seeing the light of day for the first time! You will not be able to contain the joy you will feel. Even the most unemotional among us will be overcome with the thrill!

The Bible talks about “the pleasures of sin for a season.” Satan offers to give us that short term gain for an eternal loss. It is a cosmic scam that will insure that everyone who accepts the deal with have buyer’s remorse forever.

When you hear the offer by Satan remember the fire and JUST SAY NO!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

White Knuckle Christian!

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, "Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are."
But Joab replied, "May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord's subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?"

1 Chronicles 21:1-3

I am a white knuckle flyer! Well not every time I fly, but when turbulence or some other anomaly during the flight becomes impossible to ignore I hold on tightly to the nearest solid object. You can try that right now and see that after even a minute or so the color in your knuckles begins to fade for lack of blood.

My most memorable “white knuckle” flight was in a Piper Cub which was older than I am. The pilot and I shared a half inch thick piece of plywood that served as a seat. There was at least one rip in the covering of the plane that had been repaired with grey duct tape. I’m not sure why I agreed to go on the flight. It was sort of like sin. For a fleeting moment it seemed like a good idea and before I could think about it long enough to realize the stupidity of the decision we were taking off! During the brief flight I held on to the plywood seat as tightly as I could. My knuckles were white and I was having a personal time of prayer and repentance as we flew over the city!

Why was it a sin for David to take a census of the people? I would think that he was just being responsible as the King. The reason it was a sin and the reason God punished the people severely for this sin is that David was taking a census so that he could go to war in his own strength while depending on the size of his army and not on the Lord!

White knuckle flyers are depending on the grip of their fist to keep them from falling from an airplane. How stupid is that? King David was preparing to depend on the size of his army rather than the Lord. That will not work as well.

Today I would urge you to stand in judgment of your every thought. “Am I thinking this because I want to depend on something other than God?” It could be the simplest thought about the most inconsequential thing, but if you are depending on something or someone other than God you are becoming a White Knuckle Christian. White knuckle flyers and White Knuckle Christians do not enjoy the ride. They are consumed with the prospect that something could and probably will go wrong and we will all be killed! If you are a White Knuckle Christian, let go of the seat, look out of the window at the glorious view and enjoy the ride!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The First Snowflake!

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.'

Genesis 14:22-23

Abraham saved Sodom before God destroyed the city! It was dramatic. Four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and all their food. They also carried off some of the people of Sodom along with Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living there.

Abraham got the news and with 318 men defeated the four kings and returned the people and their stuff to Sodom. Sodom had suffered a terrible trial and would never have been the same except for the quick work of Abraham and his men!

But was Abraham’s intervention in the tribulation of Sodom a good thing? There is no mention of Sodom’s repentance. Sodom was a wicked city and would soon see the fire fall making it an eternal example of God’s judgment on unrighteousness. If Abraham had not intervened would the suffering of Sodom have led them to repentance and revival? No one knows for sure, but it would have only taken ten righteous people to save them from their fiery fate.

Have we by our political intervention been trying to “SAVE SODOM” once again like Abraham did in Genesis 14? The world has been going through a severe economic crisis. There are many Abrahams among us today. They are working diligently to save the rebellious world from collapse. What we must see is that the collapse of an economy, even a worldwide collapse can be just the medicine needed to bring us to repentance!

Today’s world is like a terminally ill patient. First the doctor comes and delivers the good news that even though the patient is terminally ill we will be able to keep him “comfortable” until the end. There is no rejoicing over that assessment. Then the doctor delivers the message that a cure has been found and the patient will recover even though it will be a struggle and painful at times! Who would choose the “comfortable until the end” option?

Even though the medicine tastes terrible and the rehab is painful it is the only logical choice!

Wake up America, and the world! Anesthesia will not avert the judgment that is sure to come. Repentance will change the course of the world but repentance comes one person at a time! You can choose to be the first snowflake in the blizzard!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


"But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

Job 23:8-12

I was less than five years old and I had taken my attention off of my mother for only a few seconds. There I was, lost in a grocery store! Little children panic quickly and I did. I remember seeing a coat that looked just like my mother’s. I ran up and pulled on the coat to get my mother’s attention! The woman turned around and it was not my mother. It may sound like no big deal to you, but almost sixty years later the memory is vivid in my mind. Of course my mother found me soon and all was well once again, but being lost and knowing it is terrifying.

Before the days of GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) you could travel for hours on the wrong road and never know you were lost. But when you discover the fact that you are lost, every bit of your attention is focused on getting out of that desperate situation.

The Bible is God’s Positioning System. The Bible let’s you know where you are in life. If you want to know if you should be assured that all is well in life and you have nothing to fear, then read the Word of God. God’s GPS like a satellite hovering above the earth will let you know exactly where you are in life!

Confidence and self-assurance in life mean nothing unless they come from knowing God! David brought down Goliath not because of his confidence and self-assurance. Goliath fell because God was with the shepherd boy!

When you, like Job cannot see God in your life, closely follow His steps and treasure His Word more than your daily bread.

A little boy who knows he is lost is terrified. An old man who knows he is lost is also terrified. The little boy cries out for his mother. The old man must cry out for God. God’s Word promises that He will always answer that cry!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sleep in Your Clothes!

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Colossians 3:12-14

Ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden men and women have spent a significant part of their time paying attention to clothing! The decision of “what to wear” is often a big one in the day of many women. And well to do women are concerned that no one else wears the same dress they are wearing at a public event. Men also have been told that “clothes make the man.” They are told how to “dress for success” and how to impress other people by what they wear.

We teach our children to always wear clean clothes if possible and not to sleep in their clothes.

God tells His people what to wear. He tells us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

When you see another person the way to describe the sight is significant. “I see a man in a blue suit.” You don’t say, “I see a blue suit containing a man.” Even though you may see no skin at all you still say that you see a man wearing a blue suit.

As children of God we are seen as men and women displaying Godly characteristics. So we are seen as compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient. Without being draped around a child of God those things are impotent and irrelevant. President George Bush spoke about “compassionate conservatism.” Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience are not characteristics of a philosophy. They are relevant only in the lives and actions of people.

A man may have many clothes in his closet, but he can only wear one suit at a time. A man wearing two or more suits quickly becomes a spectacle. However, as followers of Jesus we can wear all of our clothes every day. Today put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

As a Christian you never have to change your clothes and sleeping in your clothes is not only acceptable, it is expected!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Row, Row, Row Your Boat!

For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:21

Rowing, even a small boat can be a very tiring experience. First you have to be totally coordinated. If you pull even a little harder with one arm or the other the little boat will simply go in circles. Then you can’t row a boat unless you are looking where you have been instead of where you are going. It is the way our bodies are constructed. To get a good pull on the oars you must be looking back not forward. It is very helpful when rowing a boat to have a passenger who can help you tweak the direction you are going.

But when you find the current in the river rowing gets easier and may become altogether unnecessary. If your little rowboat enters the rapids in the river rowing is not helpful at all. That’s when you hang on to the boat and see where the rapids will take you.

Life as a Christian can be like rowing a boat. Many believers row around in circles, never really getting anywhere and not even looking where they are going. They spend their days pulling hard on the oars just proud as can be to be in the boat. Then sometimes, even by accident we wander into the current of the Holy Spirit. It is a little scary at first. The boat is moving faster than we are rowing. What is happening? The Holy Spirit is obviously taking us places we never intended to go. But the most exciting part is when the current takes us into the rapids. As a believer all we can do is hang on to Jesus as our lives are tossed about from foaming current to rocks that threaten to sink our boat. Then, as there is sometimes in a river there is a beautiful placid calm just before we reach the precipice of a deep waterfall.

At this point we may be tempted to row against the current to see how long we can keep from going over the falls. But sooner or later our strength will run out and we will give in to the current and take the plunge. The giant waterfall of death waits for us all. If by faith you have learned to trust the current and even the rapids of the Holy Spirit’s leading then you can even embrace the waterfall as the next step on your journey through eternity. You still go over only by His power! Until the Holy Spirit takes you over the falls there is work for you to do here.

So there may be more than meets the eye to the 19th century nursery rhyme:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream!

Monday, November 23, 2009

His Hand is Lifted High!

My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.

Though grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and regard not the majesty of the LORD.

O LORD, your hand is lifted high,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.

Isaiah 26:9-11

Even if you are driving a little past the speed limit when you spot a policeman there is that “Oh I hope he didn’t see me” feeling. Then when you look in the rear-view mirror and he pulls out and turns on the lights, a deep, “pit of your stomach” heaviness engulfs you! As you pull over to the side of the road you hear the siren and the cop speeds past you on his way to a more serious emergency! What a relief! You were clearly guilty and you knew it, but somehow you escaped arrest and the judgment that would have followed.

Today the world and many Christians are driving much faster than the speed limit. Breaking laws has become a tradition which seems to be without consequence. As it says in Isaiah 26:10, “even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD.” When terror strikes and tragedy once again consumes us the people of the world learn righteousness, but the wicked ignore the hand of the Lord!

The hand of the Lord is lifted high! He is prepared to show mercy to those who turn to Him or bring judgment on those who refuse! We are like the woman who is in heavy labor deciding to wait another week to have the baby. There is no waiting. The world is being consumed with wickedness. Lord, show your zeal for your people!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

God Floats My Boat!

     In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
     We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.  And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

One of the practical struggles in the life of a Christian is the relationship between WORK and GRACE. We are told that our salvation comes by Grace and not by works so that we cannot boast. And yet we are given the monumental task of going into the entire world and preaching the Gospel to everyone.

Consider Noah. He was called by God to build an ark big enough to house every animal species on earth. If Noah had disobeyed God and refused to build the Ark you would not be reading these words. That would have been the end of mankind. So was it Noah’s work in building the Ark that saved us all from extinction, or was it God’s Grace that saved Noah and his family from the flood? Of course it was God’s Grace. If Noah had had a friend who decided he too would build an Ark like Noah’s so that he and his family could be saved what would have happened? By God’s Grace only Noah’s boat would float! Anything else that might have been used by other men in an attempt to ride out the flood failed. They all drowned. There must have been many who worked very hard at staying alive in the flood. None of their efforts worked.

Today we are all tempted to work to save ourselves from the destruction that is coming on the earth. Even as it was in the time of Noah the only salvation from the flood is found in the Ark of God! Anything you or I build in an attempt to save ourselves will not work. The only way to be saved is to be in the boat with Jesus.

So can I relax since my work will not save me? Oh my no! “Relax Noah; God is going to save you from the flood!” There are some today who say to me; “Relax; God is going to save you so there is nothing you can do about it.” I think not. Like Noah I must trust God’s leading to be the right way to go even if it means building an Ark far away from the water. But I must also work like Noah who spent years and years building the world’s greatest “Do it Yourself” project.

The truth in a nutshell is this: I BUILD MY BOAT AND GOD FLOATS MY BOAT!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Greatest Love Story!

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
John 4:7-10

Jesus was sitting by Jacob’s well and He was thirsty. Then Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to give Him a drink of water. The part of this story that is so often overlooked is that Jesus asked the woman to give Him something that He really needed. Jesus was thirsty. It is hard for us to imagine that Jesus needed anything.

Did Jesus ever ask you to give Him something? Does Jesus need anything today? He sits at the right hand of the Father. How could Jesus need something? And especially how could Jesus need something that I could give Him? Jesus, the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega needs something from me? What could I, the created give to the Creator that He needs?

Jesus said it plainly in Matthew 22:37 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' He said this was the greatest commandment. There is the secret of what He is asking. Love cannot be commanded. I cannot command my children to love me. God’s command brought worlds into existence, parted the waters of the Red Sea, raised the dead and healed the sick, but even God cannot command my love. It is not because God is powerless. It is because of what love is that it cannot be commanded. Love is always freely given. Love cannot be stolen. Stolen love is like a snow flake in your warm hand. It ceases to be.

The only thing that I have that Jesus needs is my heart! Why does Jesus need my heart? I don’t know. I can’t even answer that question when it comes to my wife and children. Why do I need their love? I don’t know, but I know that their love for me is more important than anything else in this life. With their love I have everything. Without it I have nothing.

So very humbly I would suggest that loving Jesus is what He needs from me and from you. If I were to obey every command and live a life that is as perfect as a human being could live, but did not love Him I would not satisfy what Jesus needs from me. Conversely, if I truly love Jesus then He will lead me, guide me, convict me and call me back to Him as often as it is necessary to insure that this love we share will last forever! It is the greatest Love Story ever told!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rest Not Wrestle!

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

1 Peter 3:18-22

When I lived in Indonesia and was studying Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language) it was frequently easier for me to pretend to understand what someone was saying than to question again and again until I got the full meaning. I might know most of the words that were said and so I would simply guess at the part I did not understand.

That’s the way I feel about these verses in 1 Peter 3. I think I grasp most of it except the part about Jesus preaching to the “spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” I can only guess about what this means. When did Jesus preach to these people? Better yet, what did He preach? What was His message to the people who died in the flood? Oh yes, where is the prison? Did Jesus do this for other generations of people? Did this mean that these folks had a “second chance” to accept Jesus? Does it mean that people today who never hear the message of Jesus will also get such an opportunity?

I don’t know the answer to those and many other questions these verses bring to the surface. But I do know one thing. The love that Jesus has for every man, woman and child ever conceived is deeper, wider, and more profound that I can ever grasp. Jesus never looks at a man as calls his case “hopeless.” Someone has said “as long as there is breath there is hope.” The deeper reality is that as long as there is Jesus there is hope!

I cannot go beyond the written Word in my understanding of Him. But He goes beyond my understanding. It is like trying to understand a soldier by looking at his sword. I can know some things about him, but much is left to be discovered.

When the trumpet sounds and the Day has finally arrived we will see Jesus in His Glory and know Him fully! All questions will have obvious answers and all mysteries will be as clear as crystal. So my job now is to trust Jesus enough that when it comes to the things I don’t understand I can rest in Him not wrestle with Him!




Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rebellion and Sin!

So, as the Holy Spirit says:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the desert,
where your fathers tested and tried me
and for forty years saw what I did.
That is why I was angry with that generation,
and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.'
So I declared on oath in my anger,
'They shall never enter my rest.' “

Hebrews 3:7-11

The “time of testing in the desert” was not a time when the Children of Israel were tested. It was a time when they “tested and tried” God!

It is a total misconception to believe that God tests you and me to see if we are good enough to meet His standards. We are not good enough. We never were good enough and we never will be. God knows your every thought, motive and action. No tests are needed to see what is in your heart.

When the refugees from Goshen were wandering in the desert for forty years they followed a common cycle of repentance and then a new commitment with loud proclamations that they will be faithful forever! But then when difficulty arose they would fall once again into disbelief!

If you would like to use the word “fickle” then construct a sentence about the Children of Israel. They not only wandered in the desert, but they also had wandering hearts!

The Prodigal Son wandered away once and returned but the Israelites wandered away from God over and over again! The enticement of sin can cause you to wander away like the Prodigal Son, but the Israelites wandered off because of their own rebellion against God and the hardness of their hearts.

There is an important difference. The Bible says all have sinned. Sin is going to happen in your life. You will be enticed by its deceitfulness and fall. Then you will be convicted by the Spirit and brought to repentance. But hardening your heart in rebellion against God is different. When you harden your heart against God and rebel against Him you do sin, but it is sin that comes from rebellion not temptation.

Of course, I will tell myself that I have simply given in to temptation and go through the motions of repentance. But my problem is much deeper. I sinned not because of weakness but because of strength. I sinned because I am strong in my rebellion against the “ways of God.”

The Bible says that His ways are not my ways! Look at your life. Is the way you are going your way or God’s Way? Are you forging ahead on your self appointed path and asking God to protect you on the journey? Or are you being guided by His Spirit as you take the next step in life?

Friday, November 13, 2009


I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Revelation 20:4-6

Some parts of the Bible frankly cause me to be very uncomfortable. The idea of having my head cut off because of my testimony for Jesus is not a pleasant thought. I’m told there are videos on the internet of beheadings. I have not even considered the idea of looking at one. So when I read that there will be Christians who will have their heads cut off for Jesus I have great difficulty embracing the concept.

Another uncomfortable idea is in the same verse as the beheadings. It says that these dead people will come back to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years. I have never met a person who died and came back to life. The headline might read “Beheaded Christians Alive again and Reigning with Jesus!” The world’s perspective on that might be called “Spooky!” When I try to imagine a context of a bunch of dead people coming to life and “reigning” for a thousand years, it just doesn’t compute.

So what is my problem? Am I not “spiritual” enough to grasp these truths or is there something else?

All parents take pride in how “smart” their child is. We brag about how early a child can talk. Being smart is something in which we all take pride. I remember as a child the sense of accomplishment when my score on an “achievement test” indicated that I was able to function at a level beyond my current grade and age. I still take pride in being able to analyze a situation and come to an understanding of what is the truth about a matter. But that is exactly what Adam and Eve did. Before their sin there was evil and there was good but Adam and Eve were oblivious to those facts. Then with the sin came their ability to know the difference between good and evil. Our First Parents had not been involved in the struggle between good and evil, but with one quick rebellious decision they jumped right in to the middle of the War!

Sadly, I still judge people by how smart they are. God has been trying to teach me not to do that. My oldest daughter’s first child was born with Down Syndrome. If I value my nineteen grandchildren base on how “smart” they are he will never be number one. But God does not place value on our lives according to our mental agility or I.Q. When I take pride in my own ability to understand, I consider myself better than others. I am simply ordering my steps according to the rules of the world.

Now, let’s go back to heads being chopped off and dead people coming back to life. I don’t have to understand it. All I must do is trust God to take me through whatever life may bring! Trusting God will not cause the world around me to declare how smart I am, but trusting God will give me peace to face whatever life may bring.

Love  (not intelligence) is the yardstick to judge others. I must judge and value you based on God’s love for you. Jesus died for and loves men and women across the entire I.Q. spectrum. Praise God that includes me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Actions Speak Louder!

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

John 17:3-5

For almost as long as I can remember Dolly Parton has been a public personality. She is a few months older than I am and was already making records when I was still in Junior High School. I heard her just the other day on the Fox and Friends morning show when she mentioned her husband of 43 years. She said that no one knows what he looks like because he never appears with her. She said there have been lots of pictures that were published in the grocery store check-out publications which weren’t really her husband. I have read that he very rarely goes to one of her performances. She is quoted as saying that although it appears they do not spend much time together, it is simply that nobody sees him.

What an interesting and unusual relationship. The husband of one of the most recognizable women in the United States is living life as an ordinary man with no public attention. Apparently for them, it has been good for their marriage given the more than forty years they have been together.

It is probably a poor illustration, but I am reminded of the relationship that Christians have with the Holy Spirit. Dolly and her husband are one but we only see Dolly. You may be filled with the Holy Spirit but most people only see you. The relationship a Christian has with Jesus Christ is the strength that keeps him going in good times and in bad. It is the reality of that relationship not the public perception of it that is important.

You can display all the outward signs of being a committed Christian along with lots of “testimony” to that fact while it is not true. And you can have a long term, committed relationship with Jesus Christ without making a public display of it. Doesn’t that mean that you would be denying the Lord by not telling everyone about Him?

I believe those around you judge you by the tests you endure rather than the testimony you give! The proof of your relationship with Jesus is seen clearly as you face trials and tribulations in your life. Your words about Jesus are good, but can be all wiped out by one act of disbelief.

We are not called to hide Jesus in our lives like Dolly Parton hides her husband, but we need to worry less about our testimony and more about our relationship to Jesus so we will have the strength to pass the daily tests of life!

Someone once said, “What you do is screaming so loudly, I can’t hear what you say!”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Perfect Peter Pan!

My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.
Though grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and regard not the majesty of the LORD.

Isaiah 26:9-10

This classic 18th century children’s prayer was printed in the New England Primer and was still well known and being quoted regularly as late as the 1950’s.

“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

To be perfectly honest as a child this prayer upset me. I was not excited about thinking about dying every time I went to bed for the night! So I was happy when I was old enough to compose my own prayer each night and could leave out the part about dying.

Now that I am an old man that is exactly what I think about every night when I go to bed. The thoughts are not about what I am going to miss here on earth after I die. The thoughts are about what am I going to see, hear, touch and experience in Heaven when I leave this earth! As I drift off to sleep I sometimes think about the crowd of worshippers gathered before the throne. On this earth I have seen the Glory of His creation and daily see His beautiful murals of nature. In Heaven I will bow before the artist Himself and see the Glory of God who is the source of all that is beautiful! I will stand beyond the sands of time itself and will know the answers to questions which have never even entered my mind here on the earth.

When I woke up as a small child I would often run and jump in bed with my parents. Wrestling with my father in the morning was the greatest game on earth and gave me a firm sense of “ALL IS WELL.”

When I wake up now the first thing I want to do is to hear from God. He has been awake and keeping watch over me in the night. I want to hear from Him how things are going before anything else. Sometimes I even wrestle with Him about something! It gives the same sense that “ALL IS WELL.”

As a child, if my father was angry at me all was not well. Nothing in life mattered until my father and I were back on good terms and there was peace between us. I feared nothing more than displeasing my father.

As an old man I fear nothing more than displeasing God. I am still a little boy when it comes to God. So I am reminded again today that no matter how long I live on this earth God is still my Father and I am His child! In a very good sense I am the perfect Peter Pan!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Harvests!

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." 16So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

17Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe." 19The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. 20They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
Revelation 14:14-20

Anyone can tell when harvest time is near. The once green corn and beans now have turned brown and stand waiting patiently for the reaping to begin. The warm days of Summer have run away and the cool days of Fall prepare us for the Winter to come.

It seems today that the time is almost here for the Harvest of the earth itself. The once throbbing beauty of the earth has turned brown and stands waiting for the reaping to begin. The leaders of this world thrash about looking for answers to issues for which there are no solutions. The earth has abandoned all hope because they have abandoned the only One who can give hope to a dying world.

Revelation 14 says that there will be two harvests of this earth.

The first harvester will be “one like a son of man who is sitting on a cloud.” This sounds very much like the first harvester is Jesus Himself! The first harvest will gather the crop from the whole earth.

The second harvester will be an angel who will swing his sickle on the earth, gathering its grapes and throwing them into the great winepress of God's wrath!

On that day everyone will know the Lord. The one’s who know Him now will be gathered to Glory! The one’s who reject Him now will be thrown into the winepress of God’s wrath!

The time has come for you to choose. Choose God’s Glory and you won’t feel God’s wrath!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beyond the Wedding!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:25-32

As a young man, after I met and fell in love with the girl that would become my wife, I looked forward to one thing. I looked forward to the day when we would declare to the entire world that we loved each other and were committing our lives to live together as one. That is the day Linda became my bride! But when I look back on more than forty years of marriage I see so much more than our wedding day. I see children and grandchildren. I see adventure and the many times we launched out in faith to go where we believed God was leading us. And yes, I see much sorrow and grief that we walked through together. The wedding day was just the beginning of an amazing life as husband and wife.

Today I stand and look forward to the return of Jesus Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. From this perspective it is all I can think about. The trumpet will sound and time will be no more! Eternity with Jesus will begin and there will be no more pain, suffering, crying and death! But what will happen then?

The Bible says that no one has seen or imagined what God has planned for us in Heaven. Suffice it to say that Eternity as the Bride of Christ is the foundational reality of an existence beyond comprehension. Will there be joy? Oh yes! Will there be constant fulfillment? Oh yes! Will there be a relationship with Jesus that goes beyond anything we have or could ever imagine? Most certainly!

The Bible calls the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be like an earnest payment. The Holy Spirit, dwelling in you, is a down payment on the riches of Heaven. The man who walks continually being led by the Holy Spirit who lives in him is only touching the hem of the garment of life in Heaven after the Wedding.

As my wedding day approached I let nothing and no one distract my thoughts from the one I would soon wed. It was for me the pinnacle of human experience.

As you see the day approaching for Jesus to come and claim His Bride let nothing and no one distract your thoughts from the One who is coming. It will be the pinnacle of all experience! After that comes Eternal Life together with Jesus! There are no human words capable of describing the ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE of Life Beyond the Wedding!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are You Drunk?

"Say to them: 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.' And if they say to you, 'Don't we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?'  then tell them, 'This is what the LORD says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem.  I will smash them one against the other, fathers and sons alike, declares the LORD. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.' "

Jeremiah 13:12-14

What is the difference between drinking alcohol and being drunk with the substance? When you are drunk you lose control over behavior, movement, and speech. You may also be unaware of what you are doing and later not remember it at all. Jokes about drunks may be funny to some, but for those who have had an alcoholic in their family it is nothing to joke about.

Jeremiah 13:13 makes a rather strange statement. God said he would make all the people living in Jerusalem drunk. Why would He do that and more importantly what impact would it have?

Imagine what it would be like if everyone in our country were drunk! What if all of our leaders from the President down to the local dog catcher were intoxicated? Drunken people no matter how powerful or important are unable to make rational decisions. The rest of the drunks in the country would see nothing wrong. But if there were some sober people left can you imagine the distress they would feel as they watched the drunken rulers lead the nation to the edge of the abyss and beyond?

One of the ways God judges a nation is by making the people drunk! They lose contact with reality and charge ahead to “fix” the problems as an intoxicated airplane mechanic might repair a broken airplane!

I may not drink any alcohol but as a follower of Jesus I can lose contact with reality when I become drunk on the pleasures of this world. When I am drunk I judge my own actions by the way I feel about them rather than by what God has said. When I am drunk I believe that I am free from the normal constraints of God’s Word.

So if you can see that the world around you is drunk, instead of condemning the world examine yourself to see if you too are intoxicated with the pleasures of this world. If you are then sober up and turn your heart and your will back to Jesus.

When the water is rising and a nation full of drunken people is about to sink there are no funny jokes that are appropriate.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

War and Peace!

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

Adam and Eve made the choice to invite sin and rebellion into the world. It was an awful choice that brought pain and suffering and death to every baby ever born. Interestingly, we know nothing of Adam and Eve’s “walk with the Lord” after the Fall of Man. We are only left to speculate, but I think that their lives were miserable. When they sinned Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve. I seriously doubt that the “blame game” stopped after that.

I think Adam and Eve became bitter and hardened old people who would not have been a pleasure to be around. They were the first to live lives that were given over to Satan. They were the first to sin and I think the first to display the ugly effects of sin in their lives.

All of the other Bible characters are depicted on the time line of struggling against sin and various attempts to return to God and live in His favor.

It is a painful struggle. Consider Joseph, Job, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Noah, Jonah and David. The struggle does not end with the coming of Jesus. The war continues to rage with John, Peter, Paul and a long list of men and women who engaged against the rage but suffered daily in their pursuit of righteousness.

If you are honest, you know that the struggle against sin and unrighteousness continues today in you and in me! I can truthfully say that in my heart I desire to stand sinless before the Lord. But my flesh desires to satisfy itself with many things. I daily stand before the tree in the Garden of Eden and rationalize that “just one bite” won’t hurt anything! Then of course like Adam and Eve I look for someone else to blame. But as a Christian I am awakened to the fact that my salvation is based on the fact that Jesus took the blame for my sin! Jesus broke the sin cycle as He not only took the blame, he also paid the penalty!

The Peace of God which goes beyond all understanding is not just a frame of mind. The Peace of God is the end of the War that has raged since the Garden of Eden. Let God’s Peace rule in your heart today so that you can walk away from the Tree and live victoriously!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Move Out of Your Cell!

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Ephesians 1:18-21

The historian and moralist, known as Lord Acton is quoted as coining this phrase in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Power and corruption go hand in hand with men who are not filled with the Holy Spirit. But when men and women become followers of Jesus Christ they experience the same supernatural power that raised Jesus from the grave and corruption has no place in their lives.

Today there are people who have been give great power in government because a close friend became the President of the United States. If their friend had not ascended to the throne of the Presidency they would have no power on a national scale. Knowing someone who becomes the President can bring great power.

Followers of Jesus Christ have been given great power because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God Himself!

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me as a Christian. His power is not only available to me as a believer, but it changes me so I can walk a new life!

If you were serving a life prison sentence and lived in an eight by eight cell for many years and then were pardoned and set free what would you do? Many Christians refuse to come out of their cells even though the door is open and they are free to leave. Other Christians after leaving the prison build a cell at home just like the one in which they had been confined. The power of God has set them free but they still live as if they are prisoners!

If you have been pardoned and set free by the power of God then move out of your cell so that you may know the hope to which He has called you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good Morning Lord!

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:11-12

If you are under forty you would consider me to be an old man. I am sixty-three years old but I still remember being young enough to be sitting in church listening to a sermon and not understanding most of what was said. I enjoyed the music and it was nice to be with my parents and brother, but the sermon mostly went right over my head.

The same thing was true when I would hear the news or look at a newspaper. There were things being talked about that literally meant nothing to me as a little boy!

In Romans 13 Paul encourages us to “understand the present time.” How do you do that?

In order to understand anything you must have a frame of reference and body of experience that enables you to identify and define whatever it is you are seeking to understand. If you want to understand another language you must have a vocabulary of individual words that you know before you can understand the meaning of a sentence using a number of those words together.

If you want to understand the present time you must have an understanding of previous times. As a follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, living in you, is your frame of reference. Also the Word of God is the “body of experience” that enables you to understand this present time.

As I write these words and look out of my window I can see the darkness of night, but I know that the night is almost over because the clock says it is 5:00 AM. Soon the sky will begin to lighten and the Sun will show itself on the horizon in the East.

If you understand the present time you know; “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.” Therefore we must put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Good morning Lord!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Pearl Gates!

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

Revelation 21:21

I have just finished reading again the last six chapters of the Book of Revelation. This time when I read it I was overwhelmed with the reality that these descriptions are not symbolic. They are literal! The symbolic stuff is here on this earth. God made a little creature we call an oyster to show us what His gate makers are like. Each gate in Heaven is made of a single pearl. When we normally think of the “Pearly Gates” we imagine gates covered with pearls. But the Bible says each gate is one pearl.

Young children are perfectly content to be children. They may like to play “grown up” games, but they can’t truly grasp that one day they will grow up themselves and become an adult. But then there comes the time when the child is changing into an adult. It is an awkward time but one of serious awakening. When you become a teenager, you may still think like and act like a child but you don’t feel like a child. You begin to understand the world differently as you see how you will soon be a part of the world of adults. Then like a butterfly you launch out in to the world as a beautifully changed creature!

When a man is born again into the family of God he begins his spiritual journey as a child. It is a time of spiritual contentment. It is safe and the love of God is wrapping you like a blanket. But then there comes an awkward time of spiritual awakening. You begin to see how one day soon you will be part of a “grown-up” Heavenly Life. When you read the mysteries of the Bible the Holy Spirit whispers “Soon you will understand!” You begin to see life not in terms of how old you are, but rather how soon it will be until you cross over.

So if the trouble in this world is burdening you down please read again the last few chapters of the Book of Revelation and ponder the fact that the descriptions you are reading are not symbolic but real!

The song made popular by Andre Crouch some years ago is a good one to sing throughout each day: “Soon, oh very soon we are going to see the King!”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I Have Done for You!

12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13:12-17

Some memories return without any pleasantries attached. The wash rag in the face memory is certainly one for me. My mother would decide that my face was dirty and that she had to attack the problem with a wet wash rag which she would rub mercilessly over my tender skin!

My mother was in this way like Jesus. When Jesus washes me He leaves no dirt behind. Jesus is not satisfied until the job is done and I am clean.

When Jesus washed the disciples feet on the night before He was crucified He asked them this question: “Do you understand what I have done for you?”

He still asks that question of His followers. Do you understand what Jesus has done for you? The answer to that question will never be complete until we stand before the throne in Heaven, but we can know some of it now.

The first thing Jesus did for you was to bring you into being. You didn’t arrive on the scene because of your own effort or wisdom. Your parents did play a role in your creation, but God did the creating. Jesus, the Great I Am is the reason why “I am” here.

Jesus also sustains your life every moment with another breath of fresh air. Without the next breath of air my time on this earth would come to an end in a very few minutes.

Jesus provides food and drink. A handful of seeds can make enough food to feed me for many days when it is committed to God and buried in the ground at the right time of year. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed the large crowd He was doing a quick version of what He does every day all over the world. He multiplies our food to keep us alive.

Jesus also lets me see what He is like. Jesus gives me the possibility of becoming like Him. What other god makes such an offer? That was the problem of Adam and Eve. They attempted to become like God by another means. Jesus is the only way to become like God.

So I will spend my life learning what Jesus has done for me and then I will spend eternity praising Him for it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Lion Will Roar!

He unleashed against them his hot anger,
his wrath, indignation and hostility—
a band of destroying angels.
He prepared a path for his anger;
he did not spare them from death
but gave them over to the plague.

Psalm 78:49-50

When God set His people free from the slavery of Egypt He unleashed His “hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility.” There is much to learn from how God dealt with His people throuhout history.

According to many scriptures in the Bible as God prepares to free His people from the slavery of this World, He will unleash His “hot anger, His wrath, indignation and hostility” once again.

Revelation 16 speaks of “seven bowls of God’s wrath.” In this “peace at any price” world we have been taught that the LION OF JUDAH will never roar again! God is Love, how could He display anything except sweet compassion to everyone? Attempting to answer that question is a total distraction from reality. God is God and He will pour out His wrath on all who oppose Him.

God will free His people from the slavery of this world and He will pour out His wrath as He prepares to call us out of Egypt! Reread the story of the Exodus from Egypt and ponder how that time foreshadows the day in which we live.

Remember just when it appears that all is lost the water will part and we can walk across on dry land!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jesus is the Life Boat!

1 Remember, O LORD, what has happened to us;
look, and see our disgrace.
2 Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens,
our homes to foreigners.
3 We have become orphans and fatherless,
our mothers like widows.
4 We must buy the water we drink;
our wood can be had only at a price.
5 Those who pursue us are at our heels;
we are weary and find no rest.
6 We submitted to Egypt and Assyria
to get enough bread.

Lamentations 5:1-6

Every farmer knows that you reap what you sow! You can’t plant beans and reap corn. No farmer ever planted corn and reaped potatoes. Sowing and reaping is a law instituted by God that cannot be changed. The law applies to people as well as groups of people who come together as nations.

Today it would be easy to write a Book of Lamentations about the United States. We were a nation that confessed the fear of God. Now we are a nation that fears to confess God. We were a nation which was the envy of the world. Now we are a nation that is scorned. We were a nation with strong family traditions. Now we are a nation without fathers. We were a nation where hard work was rewarded with material blessings. Now we are a nation where the work is hard, but the ability to receive the blessings is being cut off. We were a nation where men could live in peace and not worry about threats from our enemies. Now we are a nation on alert for terror. We were a great lender nation. Now we are a great debtor nation!

How did we get in such a condition? The book of Proverbs gives a clue. Proverbs 12:10-11 says:

A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
He who works his land will have abundant food,
but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

When we rejected the Righteousness of God and embraced wickedness and our own fantasies we set in motion the “Decline and Fall” of our once great nation.

There is Good News in the middle of all the trouble. The nation we live in may fall in the dust but we can stand strong as God’s people. Surely we must call the nation back to God and to repentance. But if our country continues in its rebellion against God we can still be His children and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth!

Remember when the ship is going down, Jesus is the Life Boat!