Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Felicidades Y Prospero Nuevo Ano!

Happiness and a Prosperous New Year!

Ride Prosperously in '09

In thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness. Ps 45:4

Here is a wonderful wish for those in authority whom we love and respect; parents, teachers, supervisors, foremen, pastors, etc. That they may prosper in their work of leadership, not because of position, but because they employ the time-honored traits of truth, meekness and righteousness.

Here are three virtues that leaders in the world often fail to exhibit, yet in Christendom, leadership devoid of these distinctives is sub-standard.

The world has come to expect a certain amount of arrogance, deceit and even debauchery from its leadership, but Christianity can abide none of that. Only when the righteous rule can the people rejoice.

Christianity employs the paradoxical. Jesus taught that those who demote themselves will find a promotion. Service equals greatness, finding a place in the end of the line may result in a promotion to the front. (Do you remember "Chinese cuts"?). Starting out in coach just might land you in first class.

This is the example that Jesus, the King of Kings, set for those who would be in leadership. ...who being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but took upon Him the form of a servant and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Truly, One day we shall behold the spectacle of our King riding prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness.

May God allow you to ride prosperously in 2009 because, like Him, you employ truth and meekness and righteousness as markers of your leadership.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grace Lips or Potty Mouth?

Ps 45:2 ...Grace is poured into thy lips.

This reminds me of Col 4:6 which says, Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Are you like me in that it is my mouth that gets, and keeps, me in trouble? We know that it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks, but we really ought to put a bridle on our tongues and only speak that which is edifying to others.

If we could provide more props and less barbs, more building up and less tearing down, more blessing and less dissing, we would live more easily with ourselves and for sure, others would like us a lot more.

Today, swallow the venom and spew out the honey and see if it doesn't make your life a whole lot sweeter all the way around.

May grace be poured into your lips!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Gushing Heart and A Proseful Tongue

My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Psalm 45:1

The 45th Psalm is a love song written for the trumpet.
Imagine Kenny G.
How poetic is the first verse! "My heart is indicting a good matter..." literally, my heart is gushing! And then, "my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."
Man, those are words that will melt your loved one's heart!
May our hearts gush today about the goodness of our great God. The more we think of all He does for us and all He is to us, the more we realize we can't even begin to know how vast is His love and watchcare to us.
Our tongues need to be the pen of a ready writer. May we be like a typewriter ready for Heaven to stroke our keys. What God wants us to say, that's what we should desire to say. May His wish be our command.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Health of my Countenance - A Spiritual Facial

Ps 42:11b …hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

There is nothing like meeting a positive person who shines with joy, confidence and hope. You know the kind of person, the moment you meet them you know that they run on a different power source. We call them the “beautiful people,” not because of their position, power of money, not even their physical attractiveness, but because their soul radiates God.

I have knocked on the door of a total stranger and before the first words were exchanged, I knew that God was in their life in a powerful way. “You are a Christian?” I would ask them, and they always shined a little brighter and answered in the affirmative.

Talk about a facial that not even Mary Kay could match! If you want a good look, a shining countenance - do like Moses, spend some face time with God.

The one who has been with God in private will radiate Him in public.

We are to be lesser lights. He is the light of the world, and we reflect His light. When people come in contact with us, they should sense, just by our countenance, that we have been with God.

Spend some time with God today so you can radiate Him to others.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nearest and Dearest Fellowship by Charles H. Spurgeon

Today we will enjoy a guest blogger from the past, over a century ago, in fact. Charles H. Spurgeon, known as the prince of preachers, weighs in on being with the Lord. Enjoy...

So shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

While we are here the Lord is with us, and when we are called away we are with Him. There is no dividing the saint from His Savior. They are one, and they always must be one: Jesus cannot be without His own people, for He would be a Head without a body. Whether caught up into the air, or resting in paradise, or sojourning here, we are with Jesus; and who shall separate us from Him?
What a joy is this! Our supreme honor, rest, comfort, delight, is to be with the Lord. We cannot conceive of anything which can surpass or even equal this divine society. By holy fellowship we must be with Him in His humiliation, rejection, and travail, and then we shall be with Him in His glory. Before long we shall be with Him in His rest and in His royalty, in His expectation and in His manifestation. We shall fare as He fares and triumph as He triumphs.
O my Lord, if I am to be forever with Thee, I have a destiny incomparable. I will not envy an archangel. To be forever with the Lord is my idea of heaven at its best. Not the harps of gold, nor the crowns unfading, nor the light unclouded is glory to me; but Jesus, Jesus Himself, and myself forever with Him in nearest and dearest fellowship.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Blessed Christmas to You!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Considering the Poor

Ps 41:1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

Here, to 'consider the poor' means to understand their plight and to act on their behalf.

I suppose poverty is relative. Having travelled extensively in third world nations, I can tell you that poverty in America is different than poverty abroad. Here, poverty can mean doing without many of the 'luxuries' that others enjoy. i.e. a car, cable TV, a computer. However, it can mean meals are missed, utility bills are unpaid and service is interrupted, new clothing is out of the question. Some may have to sleep on the floor. In extreme cases, families may find themselves homeless.

In poverty stricken nations, poverty includes zero health care, unsanitary living conditions, famine, no food, distended stomachs, no protection from the elements or those wishing to harm the poor and needy.

Though poverty is relative in regard to location, it is still prevalent in every society.

God has given us the opportunity to consider the poor around us. We go to school with them, we work with them, attend the same church, drive by them on our way to WalMart.

When we understand their plight and do something about it, the Lord takes notice and delivers us in our time of trouble.

Paul tells us, in Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Let's not be blind to the opportunities God gives to us to help the poor around us, spiritually and otherwise.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy in the Service of the King

Ps 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Way back in 1912, the following song was sritten by Alfred Ackley.
I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
I have peace and joy that nothing else can bring,
In the service of the King.

In the service of the King,
Every talent I will bring.
I have peace and joy and blessing
In the service of the King.
I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
Through the sunshine and the shadow I can sing,
In the service of the King.
I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
To His guiding hand forever I will cling,
In the service of the King.
I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
All that I possess to Him I gladly bring,
In the service of the King.
Could you sing this from your heart?
Christianity is a real drag to a lot of Christians. Some of them look as if they were baptized in persimmon juice. This is a terrible reflection of the faith. It has been said that the best advertisement for God is a smile. I wonder what my billboard is saying.
The Psalmist's heart is filled with God's law, he preaches righteousness, vs 9, he has kept his tongue, he has witnessed to others, vs 10, and has had a blast doing so!
We should ask ourselves today if we still get a kick out of serving the Lord. It really is fun walking with Him and in His light, doing His bidding.
*Have you ever led another soul to Christ? There is nothing on earth that matches the euphoria that comes with birthing another person into the kingdom of Christ.
*Have you ever given to the need of another? Great satisfaction is the result of such selflessness. *Have you truly worshiped God, giving Him the glory He deserves? He inhabits the praises of His people. It is a powerful satisfaction you experience when you pour yourself out to Him in worship.
Truly, it is a wonderful delight to serve the Lord.
If you are not currently experiencing the delight of service, perhaps it is time to examine how and why you are toiling for Him.
1. Are you in it for yourself or is it all about Him?
2. Do you have unreasonable expectations for results in service or do you leave all that up to Him?
3. Are you serving in the Spirit's power or in your own?
4. Does His agenda trump yours?
Friend, God wants you to enjoy your Christian life and delight in Christian service is really possible.
Have a blast serving the King today!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just love me! (Cat’s in the Cradle)

Psa 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

Do you remember the 1974 song "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin? this folksy song is summed up well by Wikipedia...The song is told in first-person by a father who is too busy to spend time with his son. Though the son repeatedly asks him to join in childhood activities, the father always responds with little more than vague promises of spending time together in the future, which is peppered with images from nursery rhymes. While the son longs to spend time with his father, he continues to admire his father as a role model and tells him that he will be just like him when he is an adult. The third verse shows the son now having his own life in college and the father now wants to spend time with him. However, like his father, it is the son who now ironically does not have time for his father, pursuing his own life.
Years pass and the lonely, aging father, who is now retired and free from the constraints of work, desires yet again to spend time with his son, who by this time is a family man himself. Hoping to make up for lost time, the father reaches out to him again. The son however has his own life and family to worry about; he warmly responds that he is now too busy with his own work and family to spend time with (or even see) his father. Like his father once had, the son promises that someday in the future they will spend time together. The last verses end with the lines "I'd love to dad if I could find the time/You see my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu/But it's sure nice talking to you, dad … And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me/He'd grown up just like me/My boy was just like me …".

So many times we get so caught up in trying to do something for God when He just wants us to be close to Him. Here, the Psalmist acknowledges God's desire for him to just open his ears and listen. He feels that, in this case, he ought to cease our activities, there will be plenty of opportunities for that later. Instead, he feels God wants to be loved and listened to. Honestly, parent, you may be pleased at all the work that your children accomplish at your behest. The chores need to be done. But, isn't it special when they just curl up next to you for some relationship time?

May God grant you that time or those times daily. May you take that time away from the din of the work-a-day to get close to the Lord and just love Him!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The House of Bread

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. Luke 2:15

School was called off Friday after we received a nice three-ply blanket of ice, sleet and snow. So Lynn made bread, homemade, warm, buttery, with strawberry jam on top. Wow, taste bud heaven! I love bread, how about you?

It is said that bread is the staff of life. As rice is to the Orient, beans and rice to Mexico, so bread is to us. And so it was the staple to Israel so long ago. Bread was considered a necessity, a “gotta have it.” Not only that, but it tastes good!

In His ministry, Jesus let it be known that, among other things, He is the Bread of life. He was saying that He is a need, yea, the greatest need in all our lives. How fitting then that this Bread of life was born in Bethlehem, of all cities, the “house of bread”?

O taste and see that the Lord is good.

Monday, December 15, 2008

God has Never Lost His Keys – Nor His Kids!

Ps 40:5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

We have a couple of girls in our church whose worship experience with us would not be complete if they haven't left something they desperately need at the church, a notebook, homework, backpack, Bible, some article of jewelry or clothing. Invariably, I’ll be heading to their house during the week to deliver the needed item.

Can you relate? Ever misplaced your keys, your wallet. I freak when I can find my chapstick or my comb!

It strikes me in our verse that God has never misplaced anything, or anyone!

God is ever mindful of us. As a doting mother constantly considers her young ones, so God has you and me in His thoughts. With all He has to do, we, His kids, are always first and foremost in His consideration.

When Moses spent 40 years on the backside of the desert tending his father-in-law's sheep, God know where He was and was working in him in ways he couldn't even comprehend at the time.

I am sure the children of Israel felt forgotten as they were carried away captive into Babylon. Yet God was with them in His very person. Hananiah, Azariah and Meshael were chunked into the furnace of fire heated 7 times over and suddenly God showed up for some fellowship time. Think about it, this was the worst thing that could ever happen in their lives - death by fire, yet it ended up being the greatest thing that could ever occur, God personally visited them.

What are you facing that's got you thinking God has forgotten where He left you?

He knows exactly where you are, what you are going through, what you need and how you are going to come through. So, as they say down under, no worries mate!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Power of the New Song.

Ps. 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

Doesn't it just irk you when you hear some song that you can't get out of your head? A song you don't even like! For me, ‘Hey Jude’, or maybe ‘Hotel California’. Argh, now I just did it to myself.

Music is powerful. God designed it that way. The poet said, "Music hath (the) power to soothe the savage breast. (later, someone changed it to 'beast').

Music can inspire, encourage, teach, express, even depress, among many other things.

I am a music guy. I can at least make a tune on maybe 9 instruments. Though not accomplished, I love to sing as much as possible. I got my start in the ministry in music. (In prison, by the way. By the end of the day though, when they locked the doors, I was on the outside). So I love to sing this new song that God put in my mouth.

About the new song, this is the one God put in our mouth. It is a song of praise and worship to our God, a song expressing our love and gratefulness to our wonderful Lord. This is a song that the world didn't give, so it is a song that the world can't take away.

The verse goes on to tell us that “when others shall see it.” Did you catch that, “see it?” Not “hear it” but “see it.” It is more important that people see you sing than hear you sing. (That could be a real blessing the way some sing). Your song of praise is a testimony to the lost. So don't stop and don't be afraid to let them hear you. The result of that is that others will fear and trust the Lord.

So, get with it saint, rare back and sing that new song for God and those around you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Pit and the Pendulum

Ps 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Published by Edgar Allan Poe in 1842, The short story, the Pit and the Pendulum tells of a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition. According to one source, the man passes out while trying to determine the size of his prison room. When he wakes up, he realizes there is a large, deep pit in the middle of the room. He loses consciousness again and awakens strapped on his back, unable to move more than his head. He soon realizes there is a large blade-like pendulum hanging above him, slowly getting closer to cutting through his chest. He finds a way to escape but the burning iron walls of his prison start to move and close in on him, pushing him closer and closer to falling into the pit.

Just in reading the summary of this story, a person is terrified. Imagine the horror of the man who finds a crack, but is frustrated by an even greater malady.

And so it is with this world's system powered by lust, greed and avarice and added to that, the tempter and tormentor, Satan.

But God provides a way out of that spector, His hand reaches far down into that horrible pit, and if we will, by faith, grasp onto that saving hand, He will deliver us from the slicing pendulum and will set our feet on something secure, a rock and will establish our goings.
Are you in the pit today? Do you feel penned in, as if the walls are closing in on you? Do you feel lost and hopeless, trading one sorrow for a worse one? Look to Jesus. He is the only answer. Neither drink nor drug, porn or party, pride or passion can deliver from the prison of our problem, in fact, they only push us closer to the center of the room where the pit is. But He will bring you up.

One more thing, When the Psalmist speaks of God establishing our goings, that consistancy and purpose keeps the Christian away from the dangers of the pendulum. So many times we swing too far on the issues. Then we over correct and go too far the other way. Oh blessed thought that God can place us right where we need to be.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Waiting Patiently on the Lord

Ps 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

We should be willing to wait patiently on the Lord, for He doeth all things well and His timing is impeccable. Besides, He waited patiently for us for much lesser reasons; our hold ups were sin, stubbornness, rebellion and ignorance. And yet He waited.

The result of waiting on the Lord... He inclines Himself to us. That is, the God of heaven bows Himself our direction, He comes to us to see to our needs. I picture a parent ministering to a helpless child. As that parent feeds, changes, and gives love to that little one, all that she is able to return is dependence and a growing appreciation for the one who has the wherewithal to minister to the needy.

God is so good to His children, fulfilling His promise to meet every one of our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. While we can't ascend to where He is, He comes down to where we are. How true also of the cross. Jesus, divested of heaven's glory, wrapped Himself in a robe of human flesh, then lived and died for those He loves. He has done for us what we were incapable of doing ourselves. Yes, He inclined unto me.

"And He heard my cry." I am intrigued by the ability of a nurturing parent, deep in slumber, to hear the middle-of-the-night whimpers of a small child a room away. Her small cry is able to invade that parent's dreamland and alert them to their offspring's need. So God, in the din of the prayers of millions of saints, is able to distinguish the small cry of one of His own in need. And then, to meet that need, every time! Thank God for His watch care, His timing and His provision.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What is my Purpose?

Ps 39:4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

Do you have those days when you wonder why you are even on the earth? Sometimes we feel that our parents sure made a mistake in conceiving us. Yet, with God, we are anything but an accident. God made us for a clear purpose. He knows our life before it is even lived and He has great plans for us. Much will unfold before us as we trod the pathway in which He directs us, and much more will be veiled until we reach heaven’s shore. Then we shall know, even as we are known.
My little girl, 6, failed her vision test at school the other day. She was informed that she would need to see an eye doctor. She may have to wear glasses. Her response to this, “I wish I was never born!” In her little world, this was the worst thing that could ever happen. That is, until her fashionable aunt told her how cool glasses are and that she wants to shop with her for them. Now she is gung ho about corrective lenses.
Funny how we adults are like that, every little eventuality that doesn’t match exactly with our agenda throws us into a tizzy, but in the end, we find that God’s plan wasn’t so bad after all.
God’s plan and purpose for us is much better than the one we could ever arrange.
David realizes a few things about life:

1. Our days are relatively short
"my days are as an handbreadth, mine age is nothing before thee."
2. So much of what we do is empty and worthless
"every man at his best state is altogether vanity."
3. Much of what we work for ends up in somebody else's bank account.
"he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them."

Then, he asks, “So, what am I here for?” "And now, Lord, what wait I for?"
He then answers his own question:

1. I am here to hope in God. "my hope is in thee." God never disappoints. Putting all our eggs in the "God basket" is a safe investment of our hopes and dreams.
2. I am living a life of forgiven sins. "Deliver me from all my transgressions"
That is, living a clean, rather, a cleansed life. No guilt, no shame, no regret. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Now that's living!
3. I am here to have a good testimony, thereby glorifying God, the chief end of man. "make me not the reproach of the foolish."

Friend, put your hope in the Lord today, rather than in things, people and events. Ask God to wash away your sins in the blood of Jesus and praise Him for His forgiveness. Finally, live for God and glorify Him. How simple, yet how fulfilling!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Hopes and Our Problems

Ps 38:9 "Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee."

We know that two contrasting things are ever before the Lord, Our Hopes and our problems.

This verse assures us that the Lord in heaven misses nothing that is inside of us. The most lofty desires and expectations that we have are on the Lord's 'to do' list.

We find in the previous chapter that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He shall give us the desires of our heart. Now, don't get this backwards, The Lord in not a cosmic Genie bent on making our every wish His command, rather, He is constantly working within us to mould us into the image of His dear Son. When sufficient headway is made in that matter, our delight and desire become one with His. the New Testament tells us that if we pray according to His will, He hears us. So be assured, your desires and hopes are sure-fired important to the throne in heaven.
Not only are our desires laid out before the Lord, our groanings are also constantly manifest before Him.
Romans 8:26 informs us; "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Imagine that, the Trinity works in tandem to ascertain the deepest problems we experience. Jesus told us that not a sparrow falls from its roost without His notice, yet the very hairs of our heads are numbered. Further, more important to God than our head hair is our heart hurt.
Know, child of God, that God knows all about you. He is our Heavenly Father who loves and cares for each child of His as if we individually were His only concern. In that we can take hope and comfort.

Take time now to talk with Him about these matters. Yes, He already knows and answers are already on the way, but He wants your fellowship.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Steps of a Good Man (or woman, boy or girl)

Ps 37:23 The Steps of a good man...
Decisions, decisions!
1. They are Ordered by the Lord - set up, laid out. This is the way, now go in it. Prov 3:5-6 God doesn't want us to stumble in the darkness. Tho we may be confused as to which path to take, He wishes to give us clear direction in both big and small things.
We should consider:
a. Biblical principle. We cannot know God's will without having our noses in the Book for clear direction. His Word lives and is quick and powerful for you today.
b. Earnest prayer. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. Jms 1:5 "upbraideth not" means that He will not chide us, not be upset that we ask.
c. Seek guidance from mature, Christian sources. Your spouse, a parent, a good brother or sister in the Lord whose wisdom the church values, and especially, your shepherd, the pastor.
d. The Holy Spirit's leading.
DO NOT "follow your heart" The Word is explicit that the heart is desperately wicked and unknowable. Go rather with god's Spirit as He guides into all truth. And please don't kid yourself with the line, "I have peace about this" using it as an excuse to do the wrong thing.
e. Finally (and least), look for Open and Closed doors. I say least, because sometimes we tend to kick down doors which have been shut, or just go in a window. And we hesitate at doors which are wide open. However, if we walk with God and delight ourselves in Him, we will be able to recognize “shoulds” and “shouldn'ts.”
"he delighteth in his way." I am not convinced whether the pronouns "he" and "his" refer to the Lord or the good man, or if they are split, but no matter which interpretation, it is a good thing. If God is happy, I am happy. If I am happy in doing right, He is pleased.
Whether the person is happy doing God's will, or God is pleased seeing the individual walk in God's path, or if the person is thrilled doing what he knows he should do, any combination is a winner.
Vs 24 - "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand."
Mind you, following in the Lord's way does not guarantee it is always a primrose path. That road can be rough and rocky, steep and treacherous, straight and narrow, in fact, it usually is all of the above. Even Dorothy's yellow brick road to Oz was fraught with peril, yet along the way she met life-long friends, learned tremendous life lessons and eventually clicked those ruby reds to get back to Kansas. So it is with us, our steps will take us through valleys deep, forests frightening and waters treacherous, yet, hand in hand with God, we will make the promised land (which, by the way, is far superior to Kansas), all the while gathering great relationships and learning by leaps and bounds.
Decision making is not an easy task, but God never said we'd have to go it alone, He will never leave us nor forsake us while we choose in both big and small matters.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ps 37:21 - The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

Never has this been truer than the days in which we live. II Ti 3:3 warns of "Truce breakers" in the end times. That is, people will not keep the word. It used to be that a man's word was his bond. A handshake was enough to seal a deal. Now, even when a contract is signed in blood, it seems that one party will always wiggle out, no matter the consequences for the other party.
This holds true in every area of life. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the empty promise, "See you Sunday."
Covenants and contracts mean little anymore. A person's good name should be backed by his or her word. We are to be debtors to no man. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't borrow, as in a mortgage, or a car purchase, but it means that we are to pay what we owe, when we owe it. Especially, we should do no harm to others by backing out of or being dilatory in our payments.

It would seem then, that the Christian might be loathe to help someone in need. While it is true that we should not co-sign on loans as clearly taught in the Bible, nor would we extract usury from loans, that is, exorbitant interest, see that the true Christian heart will show mercy and give - 21b.

Better than loaning is giving. The Word says that when the poor ask of us, we should give to them considering it a loan to the Lord, Who will be a debtor to no man. He always keeps current.

As Christians, we must guard our testimony in paying our debts, keeping current on payments and not being contract breakers.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why So Many Enemies?

Psalm 35:1 Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

David spoke so often about his enemies and those who tried to destroy them. Why did such a good man have such adamant foes? Why do we read over and over about David’s bouts with his adversaries? Among other reasons…
1. Jealousy - King Saul was threatened by David's favor with God and others and his promotion by God to future king.
Saul’s jealousy reached a boiling point when the girls sang of David; "Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands"
The king who had achieved the highest position in the land was bested in the hearts of his own people by this upstart.
2. Vengefulness
right or wrong, what David did as a dowry for Michael, his first wife, was never forgotten. 200 Philistine foreskins was cause for them to be foes for life.
3. Envy - His own son, Absalom thought he was all that, got pretty full of himself, thought his head of hair made him the man (ha!) so he plotted for the throne.
4. Spite - People hated David because he loved God first and foremost. Sure, he was a mess at times, but God called him the man after His own heart. Darkness hates light, so the wicked hated him for his stand for God.
5. Cause and effect, sowing and reaping. David numbered the people against God's will, he committed adultery and murder - sin has consequences. Enemies were raised up against David because of his own sins.
6. God's enemies are our enemies. The world hates God. They want to live autonomously. Anyone who is on God's side or speaks on God’s behalf will draw their angst.
7. Sin nature - there are wars, battles, enemies, fights simply because men's hearts are evil. They want what isn't theirs, so they take it, if you are in the way, you are an enemy. People have pent up rage and anger. Life has dealt them blows which they feel they don't deserve. If you get in their way, you just may receive the whole load of their trash.

And so it is with us. No matter how nice you are, how good of a life you live, what stand you take, you will have enemies. They may be jealous of you, envious, they may want to get even, spite you for being a Christian, or you may have people rise up against you as a consequence for poor choices you have made.

Know these things:
1. If you are tight with the Lord, He is on your side and will win the battle for you
2. You are in good company. You have an affinity with people like David, Daniel, Paul and Jesus.
3. Keep on doing right. Remember these timeless truths. Right is greater than might, eternity is greater than time, and good is better than evil.

To the victor goes the spoils so keep fighting the battle in the strength of the Lord.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

Psalm 33:5

Mountain majesty, river royalty, field fruitfulness, ocean openness, sky serenity, rain richness, animal attractiveness, flower fragrance, woodland wonder, marine mystery, earth embellishment.

Everywhere we look, in the natural world, that which is uncontaminated by the depravity of man, the goodness of the Lord is clearly evident.

Spurgeon had this to say: Come hither, astronomers, geologists, naturalists, botanists, chemists, miners, yea, all of you who study the works of God, for all your truthful stories confirm this declaration. From the midge in the sunbeam to leviathan in the ocean all creatures own the bounty of the Creator. Even the pathless desert blazes with some undiscovered mercy, and the caverns of ocean conceal the treasures of love. Earth might have been as full of terror as of grace, but instead thereof it teems and overflows with kindness. He who cannot see it, and yet lives in it as the fish lives in the water, deserves to die. If earth be full of mercy, what must heaven be where goodness concentrates its beams?

Truly, the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Praise is comely for the upright

Psa 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
(The word comely means beautiful, attractive.)

A good look for the Christian is a glad heart which continuously rejoices in the Lord, and praiseful lips which extol the Lord.

Too many Christians are far too glum. They pour forth the faith from dour vessels. Unsmiling expressions do not adorn the gospel of God, but disgrace the faith.
As oraments on a holiday tree, so does a positive, praiseful believer make for an attractive religion.

We ought to ask today, are we the honey that attracts or the vinigar that repels? The faith is best showcased by the beautiful believers whose faith gives them joy rather than those whose religion seems to have given them indigestion.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are You Happy Today?

Psalm 32:1&2 Blessed is he whose sin is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

I am not asking if you feel good, or if more things are going right than are going south. I just wondered if the joy of the Lord pervades your soul today?

Do you remember that snappy little hymn which states:

You ask me why I’m happy, so I’ll just tell you why…
Because, my sins are gone.
And when I meet the scoffers, who ask me where they are…
I say, my sins are gone.
They’re underneath the blood on the cross of Calvary,
As far removed from darkness is from dawn.
In the sea of God’s forgetfulness, that’s good enough for me.
Praise God! My sins are gone.

Such a great little chorus to singthroughout the day to keep us reminded that the best reason for any of us blood-bought children of the King to be happy is that our transgressions are forgiven, our sins covered, and once we’ve been washed, the Lord does not regard our iniquities, our spirits are clean before Him.

I ask you again, are you happy today?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Much to be Thankful For

Family, a home, a car that runs, church, health, the Holy Spirit, a bank balance, Midwestern values, my Bible, forgiveness, church family, air conditioning, rewards in heaven, shoes, truth, Christian friends, my pastor, the Resurrection, food on the table, paved roads, a job, a democratic republic, our deacons and trustees, trash collection, honesty, a Christian nation, Jesus Christ, good Christian music, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, sewage system, good books to read, missionaries, traditions, carpet, Paul Harvey, the grocery store with fully stocked shelves, Sunday school teachers, decent medical care, running hot and cold water, my country, grace, ability to smile, heaven, a good cup of coffee, the wheel, emotions, Junior church teachers, the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, ability to cry, Sunday, the Huskers, Bible colleges, a closet full of shrinking clothes, preaching, mercy, available meds, exercise, plastic, Wal-Mart, hundreds of restaurants, hope, radio, 4 seasons, technology, toilet tissue, Fox news, the telephone, a bed with pillows and blankets, an orderly society, refrigeration, hunting and fishing, heritage, wisdom, comfort, fire, belonging, Christmas, green grass, prayer, justice, vitamins, success, padded pews, our church’s singers, the internet, the pastor’s wife, love, Heaven, Louis L’Amor, holiness, God’s promises, a garden, neighbors, Kleenex, the US military, the Apostle Paul, electricity, children, Thanksgiving, memories, education, buttons and zippers, pets, spouse, the right to bear arms, tooth paste, salvation, gasoline, toys, cheese, people who care, church nursery, joy, Old Glory, assurance, Calvary, the sun, moon and stars, good news, faith, cotton, roses, the Book of Revelation, angels, rain, amazement, innocence, loyalty, revival, travel, Friday, 5 senses and 3 dimensions, sunrise and sunset, Creation, my mansion in heaven, the ability to sing, love, worship and shout!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Ps 22:1

This is a prominent prophetic crucifixion chapter. Part of the trilogy of Christ's ministry 22-24. Where He is presented respectively as Saviour, Sufficient and Sovereign.

Intro - "upon Aijeleth Shahar"

"Deer dawn." That is, when the deer feed at the dawning of the day. This is an early morning Psalm. When many are still asleep, while many others rush to their daily tasks, work, school.
Upon this day, an early morning song requires our heart-felt attendence.

1. The prophetic words of Jesus on the cross. "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me"

Perhaps the saddest words ever muttered from earth toward heaven. Impossible words, made possible for the 1st and only time in the history of the world. made possible because of the awful implication... our sins have separated God and His Son. Isa 59:2, II Cor 5:21.

Notice the double cry, the emphatic plea to heaven as Jesus calls upon His God and Father 2 times as if repetition might somehow garner heaven's pity and attention. But it would not be so, it could not. Our sins have deafened heaven to His plight. How unfair! How incongruous! Alas and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die, would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?

The blackened skies on that fateful noonday, the Savior having hung in writhing pain for 3 hours, not only portended nature's remorse, Calvary's wrath and man's wretchedness, but it also reflected the mood of Heaven's sorrow mingled with wrath. Payment must be made for inequity and only God's beloved Son could meet the demand. Hence, on this sole occasion, the Throne of glory had to ignore the passionate plea from heaven's Hero, the adored of the angels, Jesus. The innocent Lamb of God, Who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might have a shot at righteousness, which would forever elude us had God not turned His back for 6 hours on crucifiction day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The LORD sitteth King for ever - Psalm 29:10

Ps 29:10 The LORD sitteth King for ever.

Economy - headed into the tank
Government - lowest approval in history
Relationships - stressed
Job - dissatisfaction
Health - overweight, unexercised, diseased
Possessions - taxed, falling into disrepair
Happiness - stolen by the enemy

Is there anything we can count on?

The LORD sitteth King for ever!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Power, Familiar Verse Psalm 23:6

Ps 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

What ever I come up against today, or any day, God's goodness and mercy are coming along for deliverence.
Here the word "follow" means to run after with hostile intent. To chase, put to flight, hunt, persecute.
God's goodness and mercy are bent on the destruction of any enemy which oppose us. As an added blessing, this is every day of our lives!
And if all that weren't enough, the icing on the cake...heaven too!

Thought: a verse that speaks to you can save your day, your mindset, you health, even your life! Here in vs 6, if you know God's mercy and goodness are there to crush your opposition, you won't fret, worry or do something rash or foolish.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Degrees of sins

I cringe everytime I hear the phrase, "to God, all sins are equal." To that, I have to say, "yes and no."

I accept that sin is what nailed our precious Lord to the cross, yet, you cannot convince me that an illicit thought is on par with incest, nor a lie the same as sodomy.

Jesus, as He raised the bar under grace told us that even a lustful thought is the commission of adultery and a harboring of hatred is the same as murder. Yet, we find that society, church governance, natural consequence and even the frown of heaven differ from one sin to another.

A convicted rapist, terrorist, embezzler, murderer or child abuser has reservations for a stay in the graybar motel. Depending on the sleaze of his/her laywer and the fatness of their bank account, they will do the time for the crime.

However, providing a wolf-whistle or a cat-call to a passing female will usually get you only a dirty look. Celebrating Miller Time will set nobody in Ol Sparky. The sin of missing church may get you the cold shoulder from your clergy, but little more.

Let's look at the Bible's clear teaching on the degrees of sin:
Psa 19:12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Psa 19:13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

The progression from bad (all sin is bad!) to worse is clear!

1. Errors (shegîy'âh) moral mistakes (common sins of passion that crop up in the course of living - anger, jealousy, gluttony, etc.)
2. Secret Faults - hidden failings (the human weaknesses which vary from one to another. Those sins which do so easily beset us)
3. Presumptous sins - Arrogant sins ("I'll do this and I know I can get away with it")
4. The Great Transgression (the egregious sin which causes irreparable damage)

It is obvious that the motives and penalties for these 4 different types of sin are progressive. One seems to lead to another if not dealt with. Additionally there are crimes of passion and then there are premeditated offenses, for which human government and the Lord have varying punishment.

In conclusion, God is grieved by any and all sin. Christ Died to provide pardon for sins, big and little. All sin is hurtful - some are more destructive than others. When we trangress God's law, in any sense, we are guilty of breaking His standard - the perfection of His Son, Jesus. It is because of origional sin (our sin nature) that we all stand guilty before a thrice holy God. Therefore God offers forgiveness for any and all sin through the sacrifice of the innocent Son of God on the cross.

Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit so we will not bow to the will of the flesh. By God's strength, may we all forsake and avoid all sin.
"Father, forgive us our sins and we forgive others their sins against us, and lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil, Amen!"