Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are You Sure?-1/31/2012 (rp)

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13

Even among the people of God, if asked about the certainty of our salvation, many are anything but. For those plagued by this doubt, the source almost certainly comes from our limited grasp of the concept of salvation, our intimate knowledge of our own shortcomings or our failure to understand the power of God.

The fact that salvation is a multifaceted gift causes us to struggle at times. For as long as we can remember, we were taught to work hard for what we want. Yes we know what a gift is, but the concept of the gift of eternal life tests the bounds of credibility and our own understanding. In fact, legalism sprang from this very idea. To this day there are many who, by virtue of the way they live their lives (and teach others) are trying to earn heaven. Eph 2:8,9 states that, "For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

The opposite side of the coin of earning your way is feeling the hopelessness of knowing that we are sinful creatures. How often have we heard or said that God can never forgive us for what we have done or that we are undeserving, leaving us too ashamed to lift our heads, let alone darken the door of a church building? Beloved, we must understand and believe that God knows each and every one of us even better than we know ourselves. This knowledge and His love caused him to perform an act greater than creation itself: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" Rom 5:8.

Finally, if we suffer from either of these thought processes, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the power of God. And because God exceeds us infinitely, this is understandable, however, He has given us His word that we might understand what He wants us to know. Those who feel they can earn salvation should know that it can only be supplied by Him. Those who feel that they can never be saved should know that the same God who spoke the universe into existence in all of its vastness can surely preserve you and I. The Spirit inspired John to "write these things that we may believe and that we might know." Rest assured brothers and sisters. God has seen to it.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, January 30, 2012

Help With Self Improvement-1/30/2012

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:3-5

Beloved, some of you may not know the origin or the thought process behind this daily devotional. Despite my privilege of serving as minister to the O’Fallon Church of Christ and all that it entails, I felt my personal walk with God was not close enough (can any ever be?). After long consideration and lots of prayer, I decided that producing a daily devotion would bend my head even more to His study, bend my will even more to His will and build my knowledge, understanding and wisdom that I might be better able to serve Him through serving His people. It occurred to me that others may benefit from this and the distribution was born.

I felt the need to reiterate this statement for two reasons. First, I’d like to remind all who read that most of what is written has to do, with me in on way or another. This is not a preaching forum, a commentary on anyone’s life or an attempt to judge. It is true that certain things are observed in life and human interactions that cry out to be spoken about from a scriptural perspective, but even then it is presented first as a reminder to self and then to those who have elected to receive these thoughts.

Secondly, I find myself humbled by and subject to God’s word just like everyone else. Yesterday, I lovingly approached a very dear friend about an issue I observed. The conversation was lovingly received and we talked for a while. During the course of this chat, it became obvious that my friend could have lovingly approached me about the very same thing. What a revelation that was! While I thought I was helping to remove a speck, I looked past my own log.

This is why my favorite verse in all of the Bible is, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Phil 3:13-14. This is why I stay in His word. I have to. I need to. I thank Him for his lessons from wherever they come. I thank Him for my dear friend and I thank Him for you.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, January 27, 2012

Taking Our Temperature-1/27/2012 (rp)

"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would that you were cold or hot."
Rev 3:15

In his letter to the church at Laodecia, the Lord was dealing with a problem of people being lukewarm. They were so prosperous that their relationship with the him had cooled to a nodding acknowledgement of his existence, but little more.

Beloved, sometimes we are too blessed. God has been so good to us that we have forgotten what it is like to truly need and depend upon him. When we are in "the valley of the shadow of death" we know exactly who He is and where to find Him. We cry out to Him. We beg Him. We plead to Him to deliver us from our circumstances. When He does, however, we forget the pain and the deliverance and busy ourselves enjoying the goodness of life He provides. Prayer, study, worship attendance and ministering to others all start to slip and the lessons are lost...until we find ourselves in another valley.

We must continue to stoke the fire the Lord within ourselves. The same God that made us and saved us is still with us and still loves us as much as He did when He did those things. We must remember our first love (for Him) and constantly live in it. Yes we get distracted from time to time, but we must always come back to what brought us to Him in the first place.

One last thought: in your mind, what does being "on fire" for the Lord look like? Do you have that picture in your mind? Now ask yourself what the difference is between that ideal and where you are in your walk right now. If there is any difference at all, add fuel, stoke the fire, fan the flames or do whatever it is necessary to do to heat up your love for the Lord, then "let your light so shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" Matt 5:16

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let the Redeemed Say So-1/26/2012

"And they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke." Acts 6:8

Stephen was a man full of the Holy Spirit. We are introduced him early in Acts 6 as one of the men chosen to see to the daily ministrations of the Hellenistic widows. They were not called deacons, but were considered the first. It happens that Stephen was also a powerful and passionate proclaimer of the word who also had spiritual gifts that allowed him to perform great wonders and signs among the people. Unfortunately, his message was not popular with everyone. He soon found himself with detractors and disputers who ultimately had him brought to the ruling counsel to give an account of himself and to answer the false charges of blasphemy levied against him.

Beloved, there is much we can learn from Stephen. He was absolutely fearless in speaking up for the cause of Christ. He was not ashamed of the gospel nor afraid to tell the truth to whomever would listen. God encourages us all to speak as His oracles or the very utterances of God (1 Pet 4:11). When we do this, there will be people who will disagree but the truth cannot be disputed. We must know that, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God.

Stephen so angered the establishment that they dragged him out of the assembly and stoned him. In the midst of this event, however, Stephen was given a wonderful gift: "But he being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God" Acts 7:55. Consider this the highest most divine support of the man, the message and the method.

Let us be not afraid to stand up for the Lord in whom we believe or better put, "let the redeemed of the Lord says so!"

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You Can Too-1/25/2012

"And he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what will you have me to do?" Acts 9:6

These are the words of Saul, later known as Paul, the moment he came into contact with the risen Lord the first time. It is important to know some things about this man. The scriptures tell us that he was a rising star in the Pharisaic movement. Self described as a "Hebrew of Hebrews" and a student of the famous Rabbi, Gamaliel, it was he who stood by and watched the outer garments of those who had removed them to stone Stephen for his truthful testimony of the Lord. It was he who viewed the followers of Christ as both such a threat and such a blasphemy that he took up arms against men and women of the faith, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter." Saul was a bad man and had become famous for being so.

Once he met Jesus, however, he changed his life completely. He immediately began working for the very Lord who he had vigorously persecuted. Not only did he preach the gospel, pen nearly half of the New Testament and play an instrumental role in carrying the good news to Gentiles, he willingly suffered tremendously in order to do it all:

  • Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 2 Cor 11:23-25

Beloved, we all struggle with being who God wants us to be. We struggle with being who we know we should be. We may all deal with different things that distract us and weigh us down, but we all have something(s). Paul's conversion is offered as inspiration. He could not have been further from the Lord. In nearly an instant he could not have been closer to the Lord. Make no mistake, he could easily have refused Jesus at any point. God does not make us choose Him or obey Him. Paul did. If he can, we can and we are much closer to the objective than he ever was.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Doing Your Part-1/24/2012

"So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.'" Acts 9:17

Most are familiar with the famous story of Paul's (then Saul's) conversion. He was, while on the road to Damascus, struck blind by a brilliant light in the sky accompanied by the voice of the Lord who identified himself and gave him instructions. It is important to note that the reason Paul was on this road was to arrest and bring bound to Jerusalem any men or women who were followers of Christ.

What is not as nearly as often discussed is the resistance one of God's own had regarding Paul's conversion. A man named Ananias (not to be confused with the Ananias who was deceitful in his giving) experienced a post ascension appearance from Jesus, at which time he was told to go and minister to the blind and fasting Paul. Ananias objected and reminded the Lord that he was persecuting the church.

Beloved, how often do we place ourselves in judgment of those fellow created of God and the mission which we each were given by our savior? Why do we think that the Originator of all things needs to be reminded or instructed by that which he brought into being? It is a terrible thing to think that we can out think God. Ours is simply to obey. Paul would later allude to this when he wrote, "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this,' will it?" Rom 9:20

Though we may not experience a vision of the Lord that instructs us regarding what we should do, we have his word that speaks loudly and clearly. And just like Ananias, we question the word, saying things like, "that may have been true back then but not now," or "man wrote the book and man is fallible so..." or "that person is a notorious _______ and will only tear up the church." This is as much of a mistake today as it was then. Jesus said, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;" Acts 9:15. We cannot know all of God's plan, particularly what he has planned for someone else. Suffice it to say that it is in his plan for you to carry his message to others that his plan for them and ultimately for all mankind may be brought to fruition. Let us leave the planning to him and focus on the doing assigned to us.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, January 23, 2012

Handling Adversity-1/23/2012

"And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks." Acts 16:23-24

Paul and Silas find themselves in one of the worst situations that we can imagine. Two questions that come to mind are, "How did this happen to them" and "How did they handle it?"

The answer to the first question, simply put, is that they were doing the work of the Lord. During Paul's second missionary journey, he freed a woman of the spirit that possessed her. In that she was a bit of a fortune teller and a source of income for her "handlers," they dragged Paul and Silas into the market place, reported them to the local authorities, libeled them and had them beaten and thrown into prison. Even in prison, they were put in the innermost cell and shackled.

How did they handle it? "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto god: and the prisoners heard them," Acts 16:25.

Beloved, in this life, we have many things about which we can complain if we so choose. They can range from the mundane inconveniences of having to cut grass to the concerns of serious health issues. The reality of living is that bad things happen, even to good people. The measure of a person, however, is how these things are handled. For the Christian, our faith is in the Lord through whom we can do all things (Phi 4:13). We are to "count it all joy when we enter in to various trials," (James 1:2). We remember that our salvation is tied to endurance (Matt 24:13). Lastly, we acknowledge that Christ suffered for our souls.

Knowing these things, it becomes clear that we should praise God in every circumstance imaginable! There is no place we can go that we are not in His sight. There is nothing that can happen that He does not know about. He alone has truthfully said that He would never leave us nor forsake us. For this reason, we can have confidence that everything is going to work out fine. God Himself caused Paul and Silas to be freed. Based on their faith and their public praise of God, the same jailer who was charged with locking them up obeyed the gospel and he and his family received salvation.

Sometimes, the way we handle adversity, particularly while actually doing the work of the Lord, can mean life to others.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Quiet Fight-1/20/2012 (rp)

"The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." Ex 14:14

From a very early age, we are taught by our parents to fight back. I remember my own mom telling me that "If someone hits you, you hit them back!" This was designed to build in us an ability to defend ourselves and not let others take advantage or abuse us.

This foundational learning runs like a thread through our lives and can be seen throughout. We can see this mentality manifested in politics, relationships, sports and even traffic. We develop a tendency to attempt control of our environment, impressions of ourselves in the minds of others and even the things that may happen to us in the future.

The interesting thing about this is that we really do not control anything, with the possible exception of our responses to the things that happen to us. The way we respond, however, is more often a demonstration of our lack of control than the other way around. You see beloved, fighting back is a response. It is a reaction to being attacked. We do not control the attack at all.

Despite our best efforts to plan, set goals and even build defenses, it is not the least bit unusual for us to face circumstances and situations that we hoped would never come. Our response is to not only defend, but to sometimes go on the offensive. I invite you to consider God's advice to the Hebrews. They were under attack from the rear and facing an insurmountable obstacle in front of them. How often we do find ourselves in this situation. God says to trust Him, be still and to leave it in His hands. As it was with Moses, He will tell you what to do and when to do it. In His good time, you will see the power of his might...and your salvation, in life as well as in your seemingly insurmountable situations.

Be encouraged.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Doing Right-1/19/2012

"For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men." 1 Peter 2:15

Since the advent of Christianity, adherents have had to endure a variety of treatments and persecutions because of the faith. While Christ was on earth, those he came to save persecuted him and ultimately participated in his death. His apostles were publicly humiliated, thrown into jail, beaten and killed. This fate was shared by many early Christians and can still be seen in various parts of the world today.

Though we today rarely if ever endure the same type and level of persecution as our ancestors in the faith, the cause of Christ still has enemies. More and more Christian liberties are being challenged and ultimately lost. Prayer in schools has already been lost. There is an effort to remove "In God We Trust" from currency and representations of the 10 commandments from public courthouses. More to the point, individuals are criticized and castigated for holding biblical views about creationism, sexual immorality and simply believing. Humanists are attempting to get rid of God all together by influencing the educational system which influences our children.

Beloved, between the fall in the Garden and the second coming of Christ, we have and will have to endure circumstances associated with a world influenced by the enemy. And though this is primarily a spiritual thing, it manifests itself in our day to day interactions. God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has provided a remedy: always do the right thing. Throughout history, Christians have been blamed for many things (like the burning of Rome for example). The strategy then, as now has always been to be godly. Godliness may be fought against, but it cannot be confounded and it will ultimately prevail. There will come a time where naysayers, persecutors and unbelievers alike will bow the knee and confess with their own mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord. Until such time, let us be what we have been called to be; we are children of the Almighty.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reaching People Where They Are-1/17/2012

"He said to her, 'Go, call your husband and come here.' The woman answered and said, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.'” John 4:16-18

It is important to understand the context of this passage. Jesus had arrived in a place called Samaria. As a Jew, this was not a place most would find themselves. The problem was that the occupants of the area were once Jews themselves. The Jewish point of view was that while much of Israel was taken captive by the Babylonians in 721 BC, those who remained in the homeland mixed with the Assyrians making them in the minds of many, unclean half-breeds.

Further, it was very much outside the norm if not considered downright wrong for a Jew of Jesus' rabbinical stature to interact one on one with any female, let alone a Samaritan. At Jesus' request that the woman give him a drink, even the woman asked in verse 9, "How is it that you being a Jew, asks drink of me, who am a Samaritan woman (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans)." So what was Jesus doing? What was he thinking?

Beloved, Jesus was thinking as we all should think. Far too many times, we miss the opportunity to share the gospel because of biases and prejudices. Somewhere within us, we just do not want to deal with "those" people, whoever they may be. Do not make the mistake of thinking this is just about race, ethnicity, color, etc. It also includes sexual preference, religious proclivity or socioeconomic standing, drug use, cohabitation, alcoholism, etc. The list is vast.

Jesus was willing to defy convention and go to a person who had needs. Not only were the circumstances not an issue, they may very well have been the reason for him doing what he did. He once said, "They that are whole have no need of a physician but they that are sick," Matt 9:12. In short, the Lord was willing to meet the Samaritan woman right where she was in the circumstances she was in and ministered to here there.

The epilogue is that she went and told her village who, based on what she told them, came to see and hear Jesus for themselves. After a time with Jesus, they told the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world," John 4:42.

Do you remember when Jesus met you where you were? Thank God for new life.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, January 16, 2012

Certainty in the Midst of Calamity-1/16/2012 (rp)

"Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, " You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Matt 14:31

The apostles, who found themselves on a ship (at Jesus' direction) in the middle of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, were terrified. Jesus came walking across the water in the midst of this storm and Peter caught sight of him. Seeing this and having enough faith to believe he could also walk on the water if Jesus would just call him to the task, did in fact step out of the boat and on to the waves. Famously, however, he took his eyes off of the Savior and began to sink.

Beloved, it is easy to have an intellectual faith in God. This is the type of faith that says, "I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept him as my Lord and Savior...but..." There are many things we can do with this kind of faith, but it is insufficient to carry us all the way. When the waves rise and the winds increase, we tend to take our eyes off of Jesus and begin contemplating either how we are going to handle the situation ourselves or how it is going to consume us. We forget all about the fact that Jesus is present with us in the midst of our storm and that he has given us power over it.

Let us not be limited to an intellectual "half faith." Let us, "Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not to our own understanding." Prov 3:5. As he did with Peter, he will lift us above our circumstances and then take care of the circumstances.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, January 13, 2012

What About Me?-1/13/2012

"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matt 7:12

When most people think about the "Golden Rule," they think more about how they want to be treated than how they treat others. In fact, treating others well can be a means to an end rather than a pursuit of virtue. The reason for pursuing this thought is that there are those who become disenfranchised with their local congregations, particularly around the time that they stop attending for one reason or the other. Members get upset if no one comes to check on them and see how they are doing.

Let it first be said that they have a point. Who among us does not want to feel cared for by our brothers and sisters in Christ? It is a fact that the congregation has a responsibility to its members. If we do not care for one another who will? We must love others as we love ourselves and as Christ loves us.

That said, it must also be considered why members forsake the fellowship. To be sure there are a variety of reasons and it exceeds the purpose of this writing to consider them per se. Instead, the question must be asked to some of those who feel wronged, "Do you visit the absent?"

Beloved it is easy to ask oneself, "What about me?" but not as easy to make the sacrifice and show the love for others by visiting them in their need, particularly when they may have, for one reason or the other, lost their way. Much is said about cliques in the church and how only certain people get the attention of the masses. While this can be seen in any organization (let us not forget that we are still humans and still short of perfection despite our calling) this can be defeated by being the friend we wish to have. If everyone focused on building relationships and reaching out to the person normally on the nearby pew that you have not seen in a while, the problem could be virtually eliminated. In so doing, we will likely find ourselves being treated the way we have treated others. Let us think on these things.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Can Come Home-1/11/2012

"Set up for yourself roadmarks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your mind to the highway, The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities." Jer 31:21

Despite being chosen of God, the children of Israel were a rebellious people. God rescued them from slavery but when things became uncomfortable, they wanted to go back. Through His commandments He gave them a perfect pattern for living, but they wanted to go back. He showed them the promised land, but they wanted to go back. Once in the promised land, he told them what to do to be prosperous but they wanted to go back.

Beloved, does that not sound like many of us today. We want all of God's blessings but few of His parameters. Though He has saved our souls, we spend considerable time looking longingly at the habits, activities, associations and yes, the sins, from which we came. Sadly, there are those who indeed go back.

God sent Jeremiah to His people to warn them of the consequences associated with their rebellious attitude. They would be overtaken by other nations, held captive, made slaves and lose their precious land, homes and possessions. It would be devastating but deserved punishment. But even before it all inevitably happened, God also instructed Jeremiah to inform them that it would not last always. In short, they would be lovingly welcomed back to all that God had supplied and more.

There is no encouragement to violate the commands of our Lord or to be rebellious against Him in any way. It is important to know, however, that He loves us more than we have the capacity to understand. He withholds due punishment through His grace and mercy for a time that vastly exceeds what we would supply to those who wrong us, yet His justice must prevail concerning the unrepentant. The consequences are more about getting our attention than punishing. God desires our love and obedience and sometimes finds it expedient to allow us to experience the alternative. He lovingly tells us, "Remember the journey you took away from me. Set up markers. For these will be your way back to me." It is said that you can never go home. With God you can.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rejoicing in God's Goodness-1/11/2012

"Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart." Eccl 5:18-20

As is often said, "God is good all the time and all the time, God is good." When we follow his plan for our lives, we can experience the maximum of that goodness. Though his goodness is not dependent on us, we can surely be happier people by attending to his ways.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. God did not create us for misery and pain. So much of what we suffer is because of our own wrong spirited decisions and the consequences that attend them. He loves us and wants us to be happy. He has given each of us the gifts of talent and ability. It is up to us to identify and employ these gifts. They are to be used for ourselves and for others. Used properly, the rewards of a life well lived are inevitable.

Further, when we focus on the work we do and the enjoyment it brings, we have so much less time to worry about things we cannot control. It is fascinating to hear negative attitudes about aging. Beloved, every day the Lord allows us to live brings additional blessings. If any of us were faced with immediate mortality, we would be very much like King Hezekiah who sobbed and begged to retain his life.

Let us dedicate ourselves to constantly seek the good in life and to enjoy both the blessings and the work of the Lord (which in itself is a blessing). Let us seek reasons to rejoice and be happy rather than be drawn into the depths of despair. Our God is still on the throne and he cares for us!

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Scale of God's Love-1/10/2012

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well."
Ps 139:13-14

Do you ever consider the path of atoms as they rush and around to make up the components of all there is? You probably do not think much about cells, their division or any of their inner workings. Why not? Too small right? Absolutely below your concern right?

Consider this. We inhabit the earth and it is a pretty big place. Just to give it scale, it took four years, 21 million steps and 22 pairs of leather shoes for Dave Kunst to complete his record-making 14,450 mile walk around the Earth in
1974. But when you consider the size of the earth, it does not even approach the largest planet traveling around the nearest star (the sun). 1,321.3 earths could fit inside Jupiter, the largest planet. 926 Jupiters (or 1.3 million earths) could fit inside the sun, the largest object in our solar system. As immense as our sun is, it is only mid-sized as stars go. One of the largest stars known is called Betelgeuse. 1 billion of our suns could fit inside that. Billions of Betelgeuses could fit into a galaxy and there are billions of galaxies in the known universe. Is your mind numb yet?

Beloved the one true and living God spoke all of this and more into existence. In this life, man will never know the vastness and complexity of his creation. That same God condescended to lovingly form in the womb ___________(insert your name here) and daily provides for all of ___________(insert your name here) needs. As we go about lives with less significance than that with which we would credit bacteria relative to the grand scheme, remember that God thought enough of you to create, love and care for you. And when you lost your way, he took on less than insignificant flesh to make a way for you to get back home. As you go about your days, think on these things.

Rejoicing in the Lord,

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Word-1/9/2012 (rp)

"like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation," 1 Peter 2:2

There have always been those who feel that the word of God needs supplementation. Everyone has their view, opinion and interpretation of the already inerrant scriptures and wants to share them with anyone who will listen. Books have been written, television shows produced and movies made that propagate these views and often draw us away from the original source.

Beloved, the word of God stands on its own. It is a good and perfect gift that could not possibly contain God but tells us all we need to know to have a relationship with Him. It is estimated that 100 million bibles are sold every year. This does not include those that are simply given away. Whatever anyone writes on, about or for the bible pales in comparison.

It is important that we approach the bible like the manual of the soul that it is. It contains the very words of life. We should be drawn to it like heat to flame, for all things were made by being spoken into existence. But the God of the bible took what he spoke, formed it by His hands and breathed life into it. As we are products of the word, let us always desire it. In it is found not only our origins but our eternity.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, January 6, 2012

Reputation vs. Reality-1/6/2012

"I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." Rev 3:1

It is popular these days to ensure that we manage our image and create the proper impression. It is not nearly as important to some that their be sincerity and truth underneath these images and impressions. It is not about what is real, but what is perceived. Because of this we are less and less shocked when the mask is removed from our heroes.

This is not a new problem. Thousands of years ago, Christ instructed the Apostle John to pen these words and send them to Sardis, one of the seven churches in Asia. They were known for being a church with all of the right appearances but incomplete works that were seemingly driven by an effort to maintain their reputation.

Beloved, let us not be guilty of this charge in either our personal or corporate lives. It would be better to be known as a scoundrel who is trying to improve than one who claims to be righteous who is really a scoundrel. Let us live up to our calling rather than down to the lowest common denominator. In truth, we are not nearly as successful at maintaining the mask as we delude ourselves into thinking. And even if we are successful in fooling the world, Jesus has said, "I know."

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Excuses, Excuses-1/5/2012

"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’" Luke 14:18-20

Beloved, God has prepared a banquet of life that defies description and exceeds imagination. He has made it available out of his great love for his children. It is not just a banquet of the most amazing food and drink imaginable, but of fellowship, peace, joy, serenity and the everlasting presence of himself! It is not possible to exceed what God has for us. He has prepared it and taken care of all of its cost through the sacrifice of his only begotten, Jesus.

Why then do we do all we can to avoid it? What possible excuses can we offer for refusing such an offer. One excuse is that we allow our possessions to hinder us. We become so involved in that which God has blessed us with, we lose sight of not only the source of those blessings but the fact that there is so much more available. Work and money are also on the list. We are so involved in the pursuit of wealth, material gain, position and power, we forget that we are the children of the Creator. There is no higher stature. Finally, relationships and sex improperly used can be lethal to our spiritual lives. God has given generous parameters for each, yet we find ways and reasons to go beyond what is sanctioned, thereby taking a rebellious stance before the Lord.

We must be aware of these pitfalls. Short sight can result in a long fall. God freely offers that which we are unable to obtain ourselves, however, an offer refused will ultimately be an offer withdrawn. There are too many that see the value of a relationship with God for his goodness to go squandered. The invitation has been extended. Accept it daily.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Taking God for Granted-1/4/2012

"And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phi 4:19

Even the thought of having every need met is mind blowing. In truth, many of us do not think in terms of God meeting our needs because he does it so abundantly. We actually take the things he does for us for granted. None of us ever goes over to the sink, turns the faucet and thinks, "Wow! Water!" The same thing is true of flipping on a light switch. We take it for granted because it is always there. We do not experience the "uh oh" moments until nothing comes out of the faucet or the lights do not come on. We then miss it immediately and it becomes a priority to restore things. That done, we just as immediately go back to our previous thinking.

Beloved, God supplies all of our needs and so many of our wants that we get the two confused. We so often think our wants as needs that we get upset with God if he does not supply them. Here is a challenge: sit down and make a list of all of the things you personally need to live. Be honest with yourself about your list. It should include things like food, air, water, shelter, etc., and should not even include a spouse or children. You will quickly realize that your ability to even make such a list means that those needs are being met. Thank God! Now do this: make a list of all of the things you have. This can now include your spouse, kids, particular house, car, job, education, bank balance, that second freezer in the garage or basement, the garage or basement itself, the Disney vacation, jewelry, flat screen, etc., etc., etc. If you found yourself without the things on the second list, would you consider them needs or wants? Truly mature Christian understanding would reveal that our most critical needs are spiritual...but that will be a topic for another day.

God not only supplies ALL of our needs but so many of our wants. Though scripture tells us to be content with whatever we have, there is nothing wrong with wanting things. We have just shown that God is generous in his provision of them. The message here is that we must be appreciative of all he does for us whether need or want. We should, every now and then, stop and say, "Thank you Lord for your goodness, grace and mercy." Let us never take him for granted.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rejoicing in the Lord-1/3/2012

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Phi 4:4

"Happy New Year" is on the lips of most everyone these days and will most likely continue to be for the next four to six weeks. Why is it that we exchange this greeting so readily as one year passes into the next? Perhaps it is about optimism. We measure many things by the year and we hopes that a new one will bring improvement in life, new opportunities, realization of goals and resolve to do and be better. Not only do we wish these things for ourselves but for everyone we know and meet. It is a time of great joy and celebration for many. We are all in this life together...right?

Paul, writing to the church at Philipi, encourages them and by extension us, to have this great joy. As Christians, we should be a people of joy because we know how blessed we are. It should come across in the way that we conduct ourselves and the ways we interact with fellow Christians and others. This joy is to be rooted in the Lord from whom those blessings flow. He is the source of all that is good, clean, holy and righteous and it is he that sustains us and saves our very souls. We are therefore encouraged to rejoice always in that we are blessed always. Otherwise put, God is good all the time and all the time, God is good!

Beloved, as we advance into every new moment, hour, day, week and month of this new year, let us remember who ordered it for us, who brought us to it and who, if it be in his divine will, will bring us through it. And in our remembering, let us rejoice in all of the goodness, grace and mercy he provides. Paul found it worth repeating, "...and again I say rejoice!"

Rejoicing in the Lord,