Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dew of Hermon!

How good and pleasant it is
    when brothers can live together!

    It is like fine oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
    running down Aaron's beard,
    on his robes.

    It is like the dew of Hermon
    falling on the mountains of Zion.
    For there the LORD has appointed the blessing—
    life forevermore.

Psalm 133

When the early settlers in America were looking for places to settle down and live, an issue of prime importance was the water supply. The place may have been pristine and beautiful, but if there was no supply of fresh, clean water it would be rejected. Water is the second essential for life. The first is air to breath, then water to drink and finally food to eat.

When God was preparing the land that would belong to the Children of Israel He put in an amazing water supply called the “dew of Hermon.” Mount Hermon was and is known for its snow covered peaks. When the snows melted in the spring and summer the water came down into Lake Galilee which fed the Jordan River. The water system for Israel literally was water from above!

When the house in which I live was built in 1928 my wife’s grandfather installed a cistern. A cistern is an underground tank for storing rain water. The water that fell on our roof during a storm or even a gentle rain was channeled into the tank. By the time we moved in to the house in 1984 the cistern was no longer used and we depended on a well behind the house. Well water can be clean and safe to drink, but it can also be polluted. We filter out lots of iron from our well water before we drink it or use it even for washing our clothes. Rain water, water from above is always pure and clean and safe to drink! The only way rain water can be polluted is by smoke or dirt in the air. Even so, the rain will quickly clean the air and then provide the pure water needed for life!

The Dew of Mount Hermon is an important lesson for life itself. Where do you get the spiritual water needed to sustain your life? Does it come from a well dug deep into the world system? Or does it come from Mount Hermon where God Himself deposits pure water for you to drink? Most of us drink some of both.

When it comes to the spiritual water needed to sustain your life determine to drink only from the cistern and not from the well!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Power of Bowing!

“‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,'

says the LORD Almighty."

Zechariah 7:13

The rain falls on the just and the unjust! God blesses the worst offenders with water to drink and air to breath! His mercy extends to his enemies. Evil men are still granted food to eat and clothes to wear. Most of them have a place to sleep at night. God could instantly remove life support from everyone who opposes Him! It is His sovereign choice that those who oppose God continue to be able to rebel against Him.

So what is the advantage of the righteous? If God sustains all life then what is the blessing of following Him? The core of your amazement should center on the fact that if you listen to God, He will listen to you! We spend lots of our focus in life encouraging each other to listen to God. This is by all measurements the right thing to do. But never forget that if you listen to God, God will listen to you! That changes everything!

There are millions of people who listen to Glenn Beck on the radio and watch him on television every day. But Glenn Beck does not and cannot listen to all of them. It is impossible. There are many millions of people who listen to God everyday and the miracle of miracles is this: God listens to each and every one of them! When you listen to God, He will listen to you!

If you were an advisor to a great king how seriously would you take your position? There would be a sober reality in knowing that your thoughts might influence the actions of the king. The sovereignty of the king would not be threatened by listening to an advisor.

The sovereignty of God is not in jeopardy because He is willing to listen to you! When you pray consider this: The world and everything in it may be changed today because of something you say to God!

If I listen to God, then I am forever and always changed! If God listens to me I can have a word to say about everything that exists! That is the amazing power of bowing your head!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ultimate Secret to Happiness!

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Have you ever tried to make a deal with God? The movies are salted and peppered with people who make promises to God. “If you will save me from this storm, get me home safely from this war, or keep my child from dying, then I will serve You and do the thing that I know You want me to do anyway.” It reminds me of the Don Knotts character, Barney Fife. Barney was the sheriff’s deputy who was always making bold statements and demands while everyone knew that Barney was too weak to back up his words. Attempting to negotiate with God is like trying to talk the sun into coming up this morning. We are like a flea trying to reason with the dog!

Remember the story about Abraham negotiating with God about the fate of Sodom. The amount of righteous people necessary to save Sodom dropped all the way to ten when the negotiations ended. Why did Abraham not seal the deal by trusting in the righteousness of Lot and ask God to save the city for the sake of one righteous man? If the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, then so was the heart of Abraham. In spite of the circumstances Abraham ultimately desired God’s will.

Truthfully, I can’t ever remember consciously trying to bargain with God. But I think we all do it every day. When I am tempted to do something contrary to God’s will then I enter in to a moment of negotiation with God. Questions flood my mind and heart.

“Do you really want me to do this thing?”

“Is this essential for my walk with You?”

“What will happen to me if I don’t obey?”

Before you start feeling really guilty about asking such questions don’t forget that Jesus asked God to remove the cup that God wanted Him to drink. It is not sin to ask God. The sin comes when I want my will to rule over God’s will. That was the original position of Satan and of Adam and Eve.

These verses in Habakkuk give us the ultimate secret to happiness. It is this: When everything around you fails you can still, and you must rejoice in the LORD, and be joyful in God!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What You Will Be!

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

I once worked for a man who had the considerable ability to elicit excellence from his employees. His method was simple. He ignored your past, tweaked your present and praised your future. His concern was how to help you do a better job in what you were currently doing and perhaps most importantly he praised you for your potential and the possibilities! “Do you know that you could be the very best at what you do?” When he told me that, I was encouraged and determined to work as hard as I could to make it a reality.

There has never been an Olympic Gold Medalist who did not believe it could happen! Faith is a part of every human achievement.

Of course the negative of faith is true as well. The man who believes he will never succeed, almost never does. The man who believes that he will never get well rarely does. The bottom line is that if you believe you will fail, you usually do.

Do you believe that the promises God made in the Bible will come true? Do you believe that one day you will be “blameless and holy in the presence of God” when Jesus returns with His holy ones? The reason Satan tries to keep you from listening to the Word of God is that God wants to tell you about your potential in Him and the possibilities of your life with Him forever!

Because of Jesus and His sacrifice, God ignores your past, tweaks your present and praises your future! The glory of what God has created you to become and what He is willing to strengthen you to become is literally beyond your mind’s ability to grasp!

When you listen to God and accept what He says then the door to your amazing future swings wide open as He bids you step through. The most blessed among us may touch the hem of that garment here on earth, but when we exit this life, all who follow Jesus will explode into the Son shine of Heaven!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Like It Will Be!

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
       after that time," declares the LORD.
       "I will put my law in their minds
       and write it on their hearts.
       I will be their God,
       and they will be my people.

No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
       or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
       because they will all know me,
       from the least of them to the greatest,"
       declares the LORD.
       "For I will forgive their wickedness
       and will remember their sins no more.”

Jeremiah 31:33-34

What do you know that no one has to teach you? There are certain things that God has put in the hearts of men and women for which they need no education. A baby is taught how to talk, but no baby is ever taught how to cry. Crying is a built-in function of an infant. Toddlers are not taught how to eliminate waste from their bodies. They are taught where and when, but not how. That ability comes without any teaching or even training. Before the days of “sex education” there were no long lines of confused newlyweds needing a class!

According to Jeremiah 31:33-34 there will come a time when the knowledge of God will be written on minds and hearts and they will “all know Me!”

Just imagine a time when everyone you meet and know is sincerely pursuing God with an honest heart, a time when every word you hear is foundationally true and no lie vibrates the air! It will be a time when there are no ulterior motives and everyone’s heart is pure. Love will be the final arbiter of all disputes and the peace of Christ will reign like the sun on a warm summer day!

But that day is not yet here. It will come like the line of the song, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!”

Until it does, there is a way we can practice and touch a little of the reality of heaven. When the Church assembles, you find yourself in a microcosm of heaven. The next time you are with other true believers ponder the moment. You are experiencing a tiny sample of the time that is to come when all men will know God “from the least of them to the greatest.” You can lay bare your heart because you know that no one will violate your confidence. You can forget about protecting your things because no one would steal. You are relieved of the need to judge each other’s motives.

Frankly, that is why I find it hard to rush home after church. I crave one more conversation with a man whose heart is running hard after God! It is a little like it will be forever!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Let Jesus Pinch Hit!

Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live."  The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, "The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour."

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he and all his household believed.

John 4:50-53

The difference between the best baseball batter who has ever swung the lumber and the worst strong young man who couldn’t hit the ball if it was as big as a basketball is timing. Those who can swing the bat at the precise instant the ball enters the strike zone make baseball look like simple child’s play. Anyone can have “beginner’s luck” and swing the bat at a home run ball once. It is only if you can “put the bat on the ball” over and over again you will begin to hear the cheer of the crowds!

The man who came to Jesus in John 4 and asked Jesus to heal his son still speaks to us today. Jesus told the man that his son would live and the man “took Jesus at His word.” That means he accepted what Jesus told him and acted on it. This was the desert time! He had heard the Word and yet nothing around him had changed. There was nothing to tell him that when he returned home he would not be attending his son’s funeral, nothing except the Word of Jesus. Then came the moment of revelation that forever sealed his future and the future of his household. His servants were coming to meet him with the news that his son would live! When he asked them when the boy got better he realized that when Jesus spoke the words his son was healed!

The timing of God is perfect. He created the world at just the right moment. Jesus was born, and finished His work at precisely the right time. And you and I were born according to the perfect timing of God. The plans for your life and mine were complete before we ever took our first breath. Occasionally we, like the father of the boy who was healed, see how perfect God’s timing is and our faith is strengthened. But know this: The timing of God is perfect in every second of your life. There is never a time when Jesus leaves us to fend for ourselves to return later and clean up the mess. Jesus did say, “I will be with you always.”

I might as well end with the baseball analogy. Many believers study the Bible and pray that Jesus will be their batting coach in the game of life. And certainly it is a good idea to learn from Jesus as we stand at the plate and face  fastballs from Satan! But, the best idea is to step aside and let Jesus be the pinch hitter!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Only Hope!

When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 7:25-27

An accused murderer may stand before a judge and jury and detail all the wonderful things he has done over many years. He may remind those who stand to condemn him that this was his first and only murder and he should be given a second chance. He can show them all his meritorious awards for outstanding public service. But all those things are irrelevant when it comes to whether or not, if guilty of murder the man should receive the penalty for his sin!

Even a casual reading of the Old Testament will convince you that nations also are judged for the evil they have done. There were many good people in Hitler’s Germany. There were many wonderful deeds of kindness performed every day, but the nation was judged because of its evil not because of its righteousness.

As Christians it is easy to become confused about nations. Jesus died for people not nations. The blood of Jesus covers your sin when you come to Him. The Bible never says that His blood covers the sin of an entire nation. Nations are not saved, people are! When a man or woman turns to Jesus in faith and repents of sin the union with Jesus is complete. When a nation turns to Jesus it is simply called a revival. If you live in a nation where everyone but you turns to Jesus and is saved, you can still persist in your rebellion and go to Hell!

The Bible clearly states that a nation can be healed because of God’s people turning to Him and prayerfully repenting. But national sin will come face to face with the justice of God Almighty.

For almost forty years the people of the United States of America have been given opportunity after opportunity to stop the killing of innocent children before they are born. We have not stopped it! Will God bless America and never hold us accountable for the lives that have been lost? For an almost equal amount of time we have told God that He is not welcome in our governmental affairs. Will God continue to bless a country above all others when He is ushered out of every matter of state?

Don’t be deceived. The faith of our Founding Fathers is of no consequence as we stand before God today. It matters not what they intended. What matters is what we have done. For that we will be held accountable. Pray for revival! Revival is the only hope for America!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In His Steps!

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:21

In one of the Indiana Jones movies, Indy’s young friend had to avoid the booby traps by carefully putting his feet in the exact spot where Indiana had stepped. If he stepped even once outside of those places he would have been killed.

It is notable that he had to follow in Indiana’s steps, not walk in his shoes. The adventurer did not take off his shoes and throw them back to the young man. It would have done no good. The shoes did not protect. It was walking in his steps that kept him safe!

When Michael Jordan was becoming a basketball superstar every would-be basketball player wanted to wear Michael Jordan shoes. There must have been millions of young men who looked exactly like Michael Jordan from the ankles down! The shoes don’t make a basketball player. The basketball player makes the shoes!

As a follower of Jesus Christ you may have “your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), but if you don’t walk in His steps you will only look like Jesus from the ankles down!

When a little boy puts on his father’s shoes he may imagine that he is like his father. But, it is when the boy begins to walk in his father’s steps that everyone sees the likeness.

Are you wearing Jesus shoes or are you walking in His steps? If you are only wearing His shoes, the game of life will reveal that you are not Jesus, just like a basketball game reveals that the proud young man wearing the expensive shoes is not Michael Jordan. But, if you are walking in His steps, everyone will begin to see that there is someone else like Jesus in the world!

Remember it is not the shoes you wear, but the steps you take that make all the difference!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Perfect Focus!

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

Human beings have the God given ability to focus on one thing and allow everything else in their lives to blur. It is just the right characteristic you want in your brain surgeon. If his focus is distracted even for one second from the task at hand, your very life can be compromised. It is the same for an airplane pilot. Total concentration and focus are essential when it comes to landing a 747 with several hundred passengers on board.

Distraction from the task at hand is often the cause of car crashes and even fatal mountain climbing accidents.

The man who is so focused on one thing that he ignores everything else is the ultimate non-multi-tasker! Husbands and fathers have the serious temptation of being totally focused on “bringing home the bacon” to the exclusion of relating to those who eat the bacon! It is when a man’s work is the laser point of his life and nothing else matters.

So how does a follower of Jesus Christ order his life to avoid the focus problem that has plagued mankind from the beginning? The answer is simple and yet totally profound. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ go ahead and focus your life on Him. Let your mind be consumed with Jesus. Let your actions be prompted by Jesus and every one of them intended to bring Him glory! Pay attention to Jesus like you pay attention to nothing else in your life.

You may ask: “Won’t I then become irresponsible concerning my other duties in life?” The truth is that when you focus your life and mind on Jesus, He will direct and guide you to fulfill the other responsibilities of life. Let your heart to consumed with the love of Jesus and have no fear that He will allow you to be guilty of ignoring the rest of your life!

When you focus your life on something in this world, everything else including Jesus is only a blur. But when you focus your life on Jesus all of life itself becomes crystal clear and in perfect focus!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fellowship of Suffering!

For it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear about me.

Philippians 1:29-30

Former President Bill Clinton became the brunt of jokes because of his use of the phrase, “I feel your pain.” How on earth could a sitting President of the United States “feel the pain” of an unemployed steel worker in Pittsburgh? Perhaps he could have said that he felt the pain of a little boy with a troubled home life in a small Arkansas town in the 1950’s.

The only way I can feel your pain is to suffer like you have suffered. That is why support groups develop with people who have walked the same difficult roads in life. Because they share the same suffering they can share many other things.

After the death of our daughter we were able to reach out to those who had lost children, in a way we never could have before. It is something no seminar or even graduate degree can give you. When we were able to rush to the place where newly grieved parents were thrashing in their sorrow often all that was needed was our presence. The unspoken message was this: “It happened to us. We were hurting like Hell too. But we are still alive and you will make it too!”

That message is precisely the message that Jesus conveys to His children who are suffering. Jesus says, “It happened to Me. I was hurting like Hell even as you are. But I am still alive and you will make it too!”

Psychology has identified the bond that is developed between those who spend time suffering together. A random tragedy can produce a lifelong bond between people who go down in the same airplane and yet survive.

Jesus has a support group and invites all of His children to participate. The group might be called the Fellowship of Suffering. As we suffer like Jesus did we come to know Him better, but because He suffered He knows us like no one else possibly can.

As you enter the next door of pain in your life look for Jesus and listen for Him to say, “I am still alive, and you will make it too!”

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Ultimate Trip!

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Revelation 2:17

During the days before the advent of cell phones a CB radio was the best way to insure contact with the Highway Patrol if you had an emergency. It was also a great way to stay awake on long trips. The way to contact another vehicle was to describe the car or truck and ask, “Do you have your ears on?” Everyone chose a “handle” by which you would be known for the brief duration of the contact. I chose “White Rock” which I got from Revelation 2:17. I thought it was cool because sometimes I would be asked where I got the name and that gave me opportunity to bring up the Bible. If the other driver was also a believer we could discuss our faith in public. If not they usually just ignored it and we would go on talking about the weather.

Do you have your “ears on” to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches or are you driving full speed down the highway of life only listening to your own heart beat and the sound of the tires on the road?

When we listened to CB radios on trips we would hear about problems on the road miles before we came upon them. That made constructive detours a part of many long trips. When you listen to the Spirit you are able to hear not only warnings about problems ahead, but also course corrections to make the journey through life the most God glorifying that it can be!

Remember, the Israelites were listening to the Spirit when they marched right up to the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit! Sometimes listening to the Spirit will not make a lot of sense, but listen anyway!

No long road trip is complete without snacks! I try to choose something healthy, but something to munch on during the long drive is very helpful. On your trip from here to eternity, as you listen to the Spirit to show the way God gives you “hidden manna” to eat!

Turn your ears on, take a bite of “hidden manna” and hold tight to the White Rock! It is the ultimate trip and Jesus Himself is the road!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Don’t Throw Away the Raisins!

My brothers, hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ without showing favoritism. For suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring, dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes so that you say, "Sit here in a good place," and yet you say to the poor man, "Stand over there," or, "Sit here on the floor by my footstool," haven't you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James 2:1-4

It was Easter Sunday more than 20 years ago. A man and his wife and young daughter visited our church. It was memorable not for who they were since we never saw them again. But it was memorable because of the way the man dressed. He was wearing a T-shirt which did not cover his stomach. In talking with the man after the service I do remember that he told me he felt comfortable in coming to our church because he saw my van in the parking lot. My van was a converted telephone utility truck painted purple with cheap spray cans of paint from our local Odd Lots. Now you must remember that 20 years ago most men were still wearing coats, if not coats and ties to Sunday morning assemblies. The drift toward totally casual dress codes at church had begun, but had not progressed to the point of T-shirts that did not cover your belly.

James 2:1-4 is a poignant reminder that judging a man or woman by clothes or even hygiene is not the way of God. To decide what is in a man’s heart based on his outward appearance makes you a judge with evil thoughts!

I know a man, who ever since he was a boy would pick the raisins out of his sweet rolls. He did not like raisins and would take the time to eliminate them from his diet. I’m sure the nutritional value he missed by throwing the raisins away was made up in some other way in his diet, but there is an important lesson for all of us.

Are there people that you pick out of life’s “sweet rolls” and cast them aside without listening to anything they might have to say? Is it people who have the wrong hair style, or a strange accent, or a different skin color? Perhaps it is people who’s cleanliness is not the “godliest.”

One lesson that I am still learning is that when I meet a man or woman who repulses me by outward appearance I pause and ask a simple question. “Could this be a ploy of Satan to keep me from God’s ordained purpose in knowing this person?” I must confess that some of the most important people in my life would never have been there if I had heeded my first impression.

Remember man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spiritual Chicken Soup!

They all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:3-4

When my oldest daughter Lori was in Junior High she came home with a joke that began, “My Pa’s chubby, my Ma’s chubby and I’m chubby too!” The joke wasn’t very memorable but I can never forget Lori pushing on her cheeks so her lips would pucker as she told the joke! Truthfully, we do learn to eat from our parents. The kind and amount of food we eat largely determines whether or not we carry extra weight. If you eat with and eat like a “fat” person it is almost certain that you too will become “fat.”

Many years ago I lived in Indonesia. One day when I was talking with my landlord he declared without any embarrassment or hesitation, “My you are getting fat!” It was a compliment. In a country where it was an accomplishment to get enough food to stay alive, getting fat was a good thing!

Are you a spiritual anorexic? Do you eat just enough spiritual food to stay alive and keep you going from one week to the next? Do you nibble on God’s Word or do you ever go to God’s “all you can eat” buffet?

Right now I am getting over a virus that has completely taken away my appetite. For that past two days I have eaten almost nothing and the thought of food is not appealing. All it took was a fairly significant bout of nausea and my brain says “No more food for me!” Satan wants to give you spiritual nausea and take away your appetite for the things of God! When he does you easily say “No more food for me!”

If your spiritual appetite is gone ask Jesus to restore it. It is just one part of the struggle that goes on with appetites. In the spiritual war, our Godly appetites are stolen and we develop ungodly appetites. Restoring your physical appetite after a bout of virus takes a while. You don’t start out with a steak dinner. If you have lost your spiritual appetite, start on the road to recovery with a bowl of Spiritual chicken soup.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Every Man a Pilgrim!

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
       who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
       they make it a place of springs;
       the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,
       till each appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84:5-7

The journey from where you are today to the throne room of God is the ultimate pilgrimage. The trip may seem like a long one or it may take only a few more days! As we live our lives here, we are like men standing in a long line waiting for our turn to enter into God’s presence. Every day there are pilgrims from all around the world who appear “before God in Zion” as they complete their time here on planet earth.

As we wait for that moment our “strength” is in God! He is the only One who can enable us to hold on to Him because He is holding on to us! Like a small child clinging to his father in a terrible storm, we hold on to God as the storms of life rage. But I am not safe because I hold on to God. I am safe because God holds on to me! No one can snatch me out of His arms. My strength to hold on to God is by all considerations very weak. If my power was all there was holding me in God’s arms then Satan could snatch me away at will. It is not my choice that holds me safe in God’s arms. It is God’s choice and God’s power that keeps me from all harm!

Life itself is a journey from here to eternity. It is a bumpy ride that will end either as you stand before the throne of God or sit in the pit of Hell! Those are the only two destinations and God gave you the free will to choose.

The movie actor John Wayne spoke a great truth when he would refer to someone as “Pilgrim.” Every man is a pilgrim and has been given the power to choose where that pilgrimage will end. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Ninth Month!

For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

It was a beautiful late spring day. Summer was just around the corner and it promised to be a wonderful, warm Ohio season. I was walking through the kitchen when the phone rang and in an instant, without warning our world changed forever! There had been a wreck and our daughter was in the hospital. Less than six hours later she would leave this world while on the operating table and our lives would never be the same.

That was June 15, 1992 but I remember the details of that day better than any day last week!

The Bible says that the return of Jesus will come suddenly and without warning. Actually, it says His return will be like a pregnant woman going into labor. Everyone knows that a pregnant woman will go into labor, but no one knows exactly when. If you know anything about the Bible you know that it seems the world itself is pregnant for the return of Jesus! The signs of His coming are all around and grow stronger every day. But there has yet been no trumpet sounding and no shout of His return.

In the ninth month of a pregnancy you still may not be able to predict the day or hour of the birth, but you can be sure that it will be soon! Even so the return of Jesus may be in the “Ninth Month,” but no one can know exactly when He will come with all His holy ones!

The ninth month of a pregnancy may indeed be the hardest. The longing for the child to be born grows daily, if not moment by moment. The anticipation increases as you see the joy that will come. All that is left is the brief time of suffering before the glorious moment when the new baby bursts on the scene.

The “Ninth Month” in waiting for Jesus may also be the hardest. The longing for His return grows daily as the world around you spirals into meaningless futility. But the anticipation increases moment by moment as you see the joy that is to come. All that is left is the brief time of suffering before the Glorious instant when Jesus Christ bursts on the scene!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feeling Not Fact!

As a deer longs for streams of water,
    so I long for You, God.

I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
    while all day long people say to me,
    "Where is your God?"

I remember this as I pour out my heart:
    how I walked with many,
    leading the festive procession to the house of God,
    with joyful and thankful shouts.

Why am I so depressed?
    Why this turmoil within me?
    Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
    my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:1-5

This Psalm was written by the Son’s of Korah. The specifics of life that are referenced in Psalm 42 are not revealed. But the Psalm is a vivid revelation of the roller coaster of emotions for those who “long for” God!

Longing for God as a deer pants for water is a picture that has been beautifully depicted in songs and paintings as well as sermons over many years.

How can the one who longs for God also experience depression? The answer to that question is quite simple and yet truly profound. When you seek and pant for God, Satan will seek and pursue you! When you see Jesus through the cross-hairs of your life, Satan will aim his best resources at you as you become a primary target in the war.

Don’t become discouraged when you become depressed! Put your hope in God and praise Him! The fact that you come under attack is absolute confirmation that Christ in you is a threat to Satan.

If you are in Christ and Christ is in you, then Satan may be able to take your life, but he cannot take your hope! Don’t forget that depression is a feeling, not a fact!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Mark of Jesus!

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.

Revelation 19:11-12

Ever since I discovered the ball point pen I have found writing on my hand to be useful. Ball point pens have ink that needs almost no time to dry and lasts through at least a couple of hand washings. Now, I have never drawn pictures on my hand. I simply use my hand for writing a phone number, web site address or some other tidbit I find essential to my overall well being when I have no paper to make a note.

I recently had a very insightful conversation with a man who has many tattoos on his body. He pointed to each one and told a poignant story which was memorialized by the tattoo. My temptation to feel disdain for someone with many tattoos went away.

If Jesus is the Faithful and True rider on the white horse in Revelation 19:11, then there is a name written on Jesus. It is a name that no one knows but Jesus. What could this mystery be? Why would Jesus have a name written on Him? And what name would it be? In this same chapter it says that Jesus has the name KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS written on His robe and on His thigh. But that must not be the name that no one knows except Jesus Himself.

Revelation 14:1 speaks of some believers who have the names of Jesus and God written on their foreheads. And Revelation 2:17 says: “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

No one can explain this mystery until we stand before the Throne of Heaven, but there is a simple truth for all of us. As you go through life you will receive a mark!

You will be marked by Jesus or you will be marked by the Beast! Submitting to that mark is our only exercise of free will!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Days Before the Wedding!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Revelation 21:3-4

The days before the wedding are always stressful. There is so much to do and so little time to do it. The plans have been completed in every detail, but there are always the little, last minute details that demand attention just before the big day! Every mature advisor tells the couple that the perfect wedding is the one that happens when they marry. The unexpected is always an element of a wedding and that is what you must expect!

The Wedding of the Lamb and His bride is at hand. The flurry of activity before the Heavenly Eternal Union is building in Heaven and on Earth! The plans were completed from the beginning of time, but the last minute details are now in full swing. It will be the perfect wedding which brings together Christ and His Bride forever!

When a young couple embarks on the great adventure of matrimony they have no idea what their life together will truly be like. Each day brings a new and different dynamic that gives them opportunity to embrace the joys and ride the storms together as one. Being united to Christ as His Bride is the greatest mystery in eternity. What will it mean? How will that be played out throughout the expanse of forever?

When pen pals become lovers before they ever meet the wholesome purity of their love cannot be questioned. If she loves me for who I am inside then I will never question her motives. But if she loves me for what I look like or for what I have then her love may not last forever. It is very hard for a very rich man to find a bride. He may always wonder if she he is marrying him for his money.

Jesus woos His Bride to be, not with His Eternal Glorious wisdom, strength and power. Jesus draws me to Himself with His humanity. Jesus is the perfect friend. Even when I deny Him, He prays for me and sees me for what I will be rather than what I am.

But the humanity of Jesus takes nothing away from His eternal glory! Like the rich man looking for a bride, Jesus hides from me the unfathomable truth of who He is and will be forever!

But as we approach the Wedding I am seeing more of what is to come! Frankly, I am startled by what I am seeing! Jesus is a million times more than I ever imagined Him to be and He is coming soon!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Price is Not the Issue!

The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled.

Revelation 17:16-17

The Bible does not specifically identify the “prostitute” in Revelation 17. The prostitute is apparently a nation or at least a culture. As the final events of history play out in the world, the exact identity of the prostitute may become very apparent.

Prostitution is bad because it is the other side of a very beautiful coin! A prostitute sells something of great value not just for a cheap price; rather it is something that should never be sold at all! A woman who sells herself for five dollars is a prostitute as is the woman who sells herself for five million dollars! The price is not the issue.

The man who tells nothing but untruths is a liar, as is the man who tells one “little” lie! The man who murders six million people is a murderer, the same as the man who murders one person!

It is the “I’m not as bad as other people” mentality. When you judge yourself by the standard of other sinners it is easy to feel good about your life. When you judge yourself by the standard of Jesus Christ there is only one way to be at peace.

Every man and woman who has ever lived will either be judge by their own righteousness or by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That is the simple choice we make when we believe in Jesus!

Those who chose not to believe will be judged by their own deeds. The truth is depressingly simple. The most moral person who has ever lived deserves to go to Hell if they are judged by their own righteousness.

The prostitute who dresses like a nun is still a prostitute. But the prostitute who puts on and covers herself with Jesus is permanently changed and is forever credited with the righteousness of Jesus!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Does Jesus Like?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

I prefer chocolate ice cream. Of course, I can eat other flavors, but if I have a choice I go for chocolate! You don’t have to be around me very long to learn that I like chocolate ice cream.

Have you been with Jesus long enough to know what flavor ice cream He likes? That is a silly question. Jesus probably never had ice cream at all, and as far as chocolate is concerned there is no mention of it in the Bible. But do you know what Jesus desires for your life?

The more time you spend with another person, the better you know what that person desires. It is not rocket science! The more time you spend with Jesus, the better you know His will in everything.

When you give your body to Him and let your mind be renewed and thus fundamentally transformed, you will begin to clearly see the will of God in everything around you.

The opposite is also true. When I do not give my body to Jesus and let my mind focus on fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, then I am blind to God’s will.

“Lord, today I offer again my body to be sacrificed for your purposes. I also choose to renew my mind and be transformed by thinking on the things that are pure and holy. Let me today see and prove Your Will!”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cool Breeze for God!

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
      How unsearchable his judgments,
      and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
      Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God,
      that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

Cultural Anthropology is a scientific discipline that studies the ways of men. It is an attempt to search out and understand why different peoples address similar human needs in very different ways. It is a fascinating and intriguing pursuit of knowledge not unlike a giant jigsaw puzzle cut out of humanity itself.

When a man comes to know Jesus he is tempted to become a spiritual cultural anthropologist and study the ways of God. And of course, there is nothing wrong with focusing on the acts of God and Jesus. Asking the question “What would Jesus do?” is never inappropriate. The problem arises when I study God as a cultural anthropologist rather than as a disciple. When I determine to judge God rather than letting God judge me, it is then that I cross the line.

I must realize that the well of God’s wisdom has no bottom! The volume of information on which God’s judgments are based is too large for any man to read in a thousand lifetimes. The path on which God is walking makes the most complicated human maze a simple endeavor.

When I give everything I have and am to God I may think that I have done a great and wonderful thing, but truthfully after I give everything to God, He is no more obligated to me than I am to a cool breeze that blows across my face for a moment.

So I stand in awe, sit in humility and fall down in worship and praise of the Creator of everything. I am indeed part of the “everything” that He Created!

My goal for this day and for life itself is to be a cool breeze on the Face of God. If I can bring even a moment’s pleasure to God then my life is a complete success. What I receive makes no difference. How well I understand Him is of no importance.

“Lord, even as Your Holy Spirit is like the wind, may I bring You pleasure as a cool breeze on Your Face!”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stumbling Stone!

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." As it is written:
   "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
      and a rock that makes them fall,
   and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

Romans 9:30-33

Those of us who are not Jews by birth have an ancestry that is not to be commended for their pursuit of God. It was only after Jesus opened the floodgates of Heaven, as He died on the Cross that Gentiles were enabled to share in His righteousness.

If you run after God, to obtain by your own merit the rewards of relationship you will soon run in to the “Stumbling Stone.” Jesus Christ is God’s “Stumbling Stone.” When personal pride and self-worth meet Jesus, they cannot continue on the path toward the Father. If you hold on to one or both you will stumble and then you will fall!

When you cross a border from one country to another there are often things that cannot be taken with you. The border guards check to see what you have and if you have the banned items you must leave them or not cross over!

When you come to God there are things that you cannot bring with you. You can bring all of the fruit of the Spirit but you can bring not even the smallest sin! If you are carrying a heavy load as you walk along in life and then stumble you usually drop the load. If you don’t drop the load when you stumble you will certainly drop the load when you fall!

As we come to God and stumble over Jesus Christ we drop the load of sin and grab on to Jesus who will keep us from falling! And if we fall, Jesus is there to pick us up and put us back on the road to God without our load of sin!

So today, if you find yourself confronting the “Stumbling Stone” in the path of your life, let go of your sin and take hold of Jesus! When you are holding the hand of Jesus you will never stumble and fall!