September 17, 2021
I was on the way home after delivering meals to some of our homebound and got to thinking about some of Jesus’ last words from the cross, which included these words: “Forgive them, Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
It occurred to me that Jesus wasn’t just talking about the people at the foot of the cross who were very much misguided; He was talking about me and you, and the world we live in as well. As I go about my daily activities, I often see people who never give even a passing thought to much of anything religious, let alone anything Christian. Sometimes it feels like we’re living in Sodom or Gomorrah with all the sexual promiscuity that is evident in our fallen world.
But scripture is equally clear that there will come a day when they will be called into accountability. Scripture plainly says: “…..at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…..every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Phil 2:10-11). This is also found in Isa 45:23.
As Christians, this doesn’t give us license to point our finger at non-believers and somehow feel that we are superior. It should be a wakeup call for non-believers who live their lives without a relationship with Christ. God has been patient with us as believers; let’s pray He will continue to be patient with non-believers in our world.
August 26, 2021
I’m reading in the ONE YEAR BIBLE, specifically in Psalm 34:19. The Psalmist writes: “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”
Over the years that I’ve been in full-time Christian service, I’ve encountered a number of folks who had the idea that if they became Christian, all of their troubles would disappear. Those of us who have been Christian for any period of time will know that is not true. We are not protected by some invisible shield that is put in place by God, and it’s somewhat foolish to think that way. We are subject to all the troubles and ills that might befall anyone. The difference is we have a different sort of mechanism to handle these troubles and that is the presence of the Holy Spirit of God.
One of the great witnessing tools that we possess is how we, as Christians, handle the hard times of life. Do we doubt God and throw a tantrum because He has allowed adversity into our lives, or do we draw on His power to sustain us in the midst of the problems? Look at Job who lost virtually everything of any value to him, and the counsel of his wife was to curse God and die. But Job remained steadfast in his belief and God restored all Job had lost and then some. Job never knew he was a proving ground for God’s abiding love.
You will have trouble in this life. But, don’t despair, because Jesus says in John 16:33, “…..In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world”. (NASB)
August 19, 2021
I’m reading this morning in the ONE YEAR BOOK OF CHRISTIAN HISTORY about a man named Augustus Toplady, author of the hymn ROCK OF AGES. He was born in Surrey, England in 1740 and was the only child of a major in the English army. He never saw his Dad, who was killed in battle.
When he was 16, he and his Mom moved to Ireland where he went to hear a Methodist layman preach to a small crowd in a barn. While Augustus was an educated young man, the preacher could hardy write his own name. Yet God used this unlearned person to preach the gospel and open the doors of heaven to Augustus.
Augustus graduated from Trinity College and was ordained into the ministry of the Church of England just 2 years after graduating. He pastored two churches, but contracted tuberculosis, and as he fought the ravages of the disease, he wrote ROCK OF AGES, considered one of the most popular hymns in the English language. Augustus died at the age of 38.
I’ve heard so many people over the years complain of not being “prepared” or knowledgeable enough to be of service to God, but as we read scripture we find that God uses the simple to confound the wise. Our place is to allow God to use our availability and let Him take care of the results.
August 12, 2021
I’m reading Dr. Blackaby’s EXPERIENCING GOD DAY BY DAY. He’s dealing with God never failing to fulfill a promise and takes his text from Joshua 23:14. Joshua is about to “…..go the way of all the earth…..”
The Old Testament is about three times as voluminous as the New Testament. It covers a much longer period of time of course, and parts of it is repetitive. One of the reasons for the repetitiveness is the writers of the Old Testament continuously recount the miracles of God and the promises that He has continually fulfilled. The Israelites were freed from one of the most powerful countries on the earth, wandered in the desert for 40 years, had to conquer armies much larger and more powerful than their own. And, yet, all of this came to pass just as God had promised.
I fear that too often we focus on our problems rather than on the power of the God we claim to worship and depend on. We too need to spend time looking back over our own lives to see how faithful and powerful our God has been, and how often He has provided for us in ways that never seemed possible.
The future is the great unknown, but the God we serve knows the future and He has promised to be with us in that time as well. He has also promised to never leave us or forsake us. God’s faithfulness in your past should give all of us great comfort for the future.
August 5, 2021
I’m reading this morning in II Chronicle 34:21c. This period of history covers the kings of Judah and Israel. Josiah has come to the throne of Judah, and was one of the kings who was faithful to the Lord. He entered into a project to rebuild and restore the temple in Jerusalem to it’s original state, and in the process the Book of the Law was discovered.
King Josiah had the book read in his presence, and when he heard the words of the Law, he “…..tore his robes,” a sign of great distress. He instructed his leaders to inquire of the Lord what they should do. In verse 21, at the end of the verse, Josiah says “…..the people have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”
This verse brought to mind how few people really know the word of God, and how few I know that actually read the word on a regular basis. How can we be expected to keep the word of God if we don’t know the word of God? When I first became a Christian and began reading the Bible on a regular basis, I often wondered to myself ‘why didn’t someone tell me about this?’ I was discovering new truths and direction and purpose on a daily basis. It has been one of the great rewards and treasures of my Christian life.
If you do not, or have not, read the Bible with some type of a consistent plan, I would urge you to begin that today. You’ll find treasures that will give you great comfort as well as challenge. The Bible is the very word of God, given to you for “…..teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (NASB)
July 29, 2021
Over the course of more than 25 years in full-time Christian ministry, I’ve officiated at more than 70 funerals, and I’ve attended at least as many more. One of the funerals I conducted was for a baby only 7 days old, some of the others were for elderly people who had lived what we refer to as a “full and meaningful life.” In the final analysis all of them brought feelings of sadness and grief, and the inevitable “Why?”
It’s easy for us to question an event in our lives, especially the death of a family member or a very close friend. But, it’s really bordering on selfishness when we react this way. God, who is creator of all that is, sees the future and He acts and makes adjustments in our lives to create what will be the best outcome for us. We live in and can see only the present and can never know on this earth how our lives are being used of God to impact someone else in a way that benefits both of us.
Paul says in Romans 12:1 that we should make our lives a living sacrifice to God. That means that we are to give ourselves whole heartedly to God’s use and control. How many years we live on this earth is less important than how we invest those years in His service. Funerals remind us of our mortality which is why many people stay away from them. But, these bodies were never meant to be eternal. The next one will.
July 25, 2021
In my devotional reading, I came across Ps 12:7-8 again. I’ve looked closely at this passage before, but it struck me afresh how accurate it is in today’s society as it smacks of Sodom and Gomorrah in our world today. Here it is:
“You, Lord, will keep the needy safe, and will protect us forever from the wicked, who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.”
Could this possibly be any more relevant? As a society we seem to be more concerned with political correctness than with God-centered lives. What not many years ago was prohibited, from the radio and TV airways, is so commonplace today it no longer has any shock value and the perverted is accepted as the norm. Any attempt at rejecting what is clearly in direct contrast with God’s will marks one as being narrow minded and judgmental.
Well, I think maybe we ought to be judgmental. We are slowly being so anesthetized to the depravity and sinfulness of our world that even as professing Christians we seem to be getting to the point to where we are unable or unwilling to stand up to what is acceptable and what is not. Have we become so programmed that we’re afraid of being ridiculed if we stand up for what we believe as Christians? If so, we’ve lost our right to be called the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
July 2, 2021
Reading in Henry Blackaby’s EXPERIENCING GOD DAY BY DAY, as he’s dealing with the situation when God says NO. And, I just finished reading Philip Yancey’s book “PRAYER: Does it make any difference?”
In reading these two items, one thing is abundantly clear: prayer is not an easy thing to understand. Sometimes God says YES, sometimes He says NO, and at other times He doesn’t seem to say anything at all. How do we as Christians understand this or use this to undergird our faith? Paul tells us to pray about everything (Phil 4:6), Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock. So, how do we handle prayers that are not answered in the way we want or in the timeframe we want to dictate?
First, the purpose of prayer is to conform our life to God’s will and not to bend God to our desires. We cannot see the future, but God can and how He chooses to work in our lives today is to help conform us to what He has planned for our lives and how He wants to use our lives to impact others for His kingdom.
Secondly, if God were to answer our prayers as we pray, then He becomes a magic genie who answers all our short-sighted and, at times, requests with very selfish motives. Can we be mature enough to ask God to use our lives in a way that serves His purposes and, in the end, is best for us as well?
June 25, 2021
I’m Dr. Blackaby’s devotional EXPERIENCING GOD DAY BY DAY. He uses as his starting point Joshua 4:8, when the Israelites were told to bring a stone out of the Jordan River, one for each of the 12 tribes, and leave it as a marker, or reminder, of all God had done for them in the Exodus. We also find throughout the Old Testament, and into the New Testament, a re-telling or remembering of the acts of God in the lives of the Israelites. This is a critically important aspect remembering who God is and how He acts.
It’s very important in the life of the Christian as well. As we look back over our walk with God, there should be some very vivid episodes where we knew God was speaking to us, speaking through us, moving in our lives in a variety of ways. These events should not be taken lightly or discarded as we tend to become mundane in our worship experience. The glory of the Lord should always be before us, the majesty of God should always be in our thoughts and never fade.
Rehearse today and every day how God has taken you through the trials of life, has blessed your life with an abundance and gives you hope for the future. Don’t let the fire of your experience with the living God go out or become only lukewarm. We should set our markers and visit them often.
June 18, 2021
Very good and timely devotional by Dr. Blackaby in his devotional book EXPERIENCING GOD DAY BY DAY. He’s dealing with a very familiar passage of scripture, and yet one that is often misunderstood.
In Gal 5:22-23 we read, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (NASB)
Note that “fruit” is a singular noun, and “is” is a singular verb. The “fruit of the Spirit” is all nine of these attributes. We don’t get to pick and choose which ones we are going to display or make a part of our Christian walk. We are under the demands of Scripture to develop and nourish all nine. When we look closely at these traits, it’s going to be a struggle in a world that glorifies self-promotion, but as promised by Jesus, the Spirit of God lives within us to help us attain and display each of them in our daily lives. I can’t think of a better way to promote Christianity than to have these character traits as part of our daily lives.
June 11, 2021
I’m reading Dr. Blackaby’s EXPERIENCING GOD DAY BY DAY, and he’s dealing with the condition of the heart. The gist of his devotional is that our heart needs to be right with God for us to be right with the world.
He makes this statement late in the devotional: “See that you don’t devote all of your energy to worldly concerns, rather than to pursuing your relationship with God.” It struck me that it is so easy to do that without really being aware that it is happening. We all lead lives that are busy and that have a myriad of things that want, and need, to claim our attention. But, in the final analysis, what we give our time to really becomes a type of god to us.
In the years I’ve been in Christian ministry, I’ve heard every excuse you can think of as to why people don’t attend worship services. It reminds me of the people who made excuses to Jesus as to why they couldn’t follow Him at that specific moment (Luke 14:18-20).
Grady Nutt, a Christian humorist who died in 1983, had a saying that he used, and I think it’s true of all of us: “You’re going to do what you want to do when you want to do it badly enough.”
June 4, 2021
Many of you are aware that I work at the church where I am a member as the Parish Associate. This means that I’m responsible for visiting our homebound and the hospitals. In finding many of the residences of our homebound, I use the GPS on my iPhone. What a GREAT invention that is.
In using the GPS, I’ve learned a couple of things. First, you have to learn to trust it. When it looks like you’re not going where you want to, trust it to get you there. Secondly, it only tells you how to proceed until you get to the next intersection.
I got to thinking how similar that is to how God leads us to be in His perfect will. He only tells us how to get to the next intersection in our lives before He leads us to the next intersection. As we grow and mature in our Christian walk, have you learned to trust Him to lead you safely to the next intersection in your life? Will you trust Him to lead you to the final destination?