Month: October 2019

Many Words

a puzzle that says "choose your words"

My wife and I watch way too many British reality police shows. We’re fascinated by how polite the arrested suspects are. Police will walk ahead of the perpetrator, and the accused dutifully follows along behind. And while the offender is being booked, the officer will offer the detainee a cup of hot tea or hot coffee.

Mind you, this politeness only applies to people that have committed serious crimes. If the person is drunk, then they’re handled just like here in the States. Still, the politeness of the alleged offender as well as the police is just so different from the scenes we are shown here in America.

However, it seems that all criminals think they can talk their way out of their crimes. This mindset of thinking you can talk your way out of a misdeed appears to be part of humanity’s fallen condition. 

Be Wary of Many Words

So, a word to the wise, be wary when someone gives you a long-winded explanation when a simple answer would make more sense.

With local, state, and Federal elections ramping up in America, the possibility of an early election in the UK, oh, and the failure to form a government in Israel, my guess is that we will hear a lot of long-winded explanations. Remember what God’s Word states:

When words are many, sin is not lacking;
so he who controls his speech is wise.

Proverbs 10:19 (Complete Jewish Bible) 

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. 
(Matthew 5:37. ESV)

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Draw Near

person holding a puppy

I want to follow up on yesterday’s post. 

Can you imagine holding a painting by Monet, Van Gogh, or Raphael? As a card-carrying member of the unwashed masses, I don’t think that holding a masterpiece painting is in my future.

Artwork by the great masters is always kept at arm’s length away from me so I can never get close enough to them to see the details, smell the paint, or touch the texture of a masterpiece.

Throne of Grace

Unlike priceless works of art, you and I are given an opposite imperative when it comes to Almighty God. We read in Hebrews 4:16: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We can’t get near the Mona Lisa, but we can get near the Master Creator. Not only can we, but we are also told to do so, especially in our times of need. This truth is utterly astonishing.

God’s word says that Jesus, who is now our High Priest, is seated at God’s right hand (Heb 8:1; 12:2, Ephesians 1:20). To those that reject Jesus, God’s throne is a throne of judgment. But for those of us that receive Jesus, we are saved by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) That grace is grace that is of the throne of grace. That saving grace comes from the authority (i.e., throne) of God.

Draw Near

Are you reborn? Are you in need? If so, you can and should draw near to God. If you do come near, you will receive grace, which is unmerited favor, and you will receive mercy, which is forgiveness for the times you have surrendered to the weaknesses of your flesh.

We find so much to be thankful for in the Scriptures. So many promises from God. So much encouragement, so much love, so much intent and purpose for each of us. How wonderful it is to belong to God. How indescribable is the salvation Jesus has accomplished, and “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3 ESV)

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Grace Not Place

compass

A few months ago, my wife and I watched a British TV series, “Fake or Fortune.” We were sucked in because art experts were analyzing paintings that had insufficient documentation, commonly known as provenance, that could confirm the authenticity of the artwork. Was it real, or was it a fake?

It was a fun show because each owner of a painting was sure it was worth a fortune, but they couldn’t prove it. And many times, the experts couldn’t establish the painting’s provenance, so the artwork was deemed worthless.

There were a few times the TV team made astonishing discoveries. When that happened, everyone’s faces burst into smiles, and there was a joy that swept through the group.

I am so easily deceived by a person’s “provenance.” I know the history of their dad or mother or relatives. I know the place where they were born, the place where they grew up, so I make a mental note, categorizing them. Shame on me! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)”

A person’s worldly history is expunged when they are reborn. Each one of God’s children is born the same way – by grace, through faith, as a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) It matters not who someone was. What matters to God, is that person His child.

In closing, I encourage you to take 3 minutes and listen to this old hymn, Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin.

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Would You Get Me My Sweater?

woman carrying a stack of sweaters

When it comes to serving one another, a friend of mine used the following example: Brother, I’m willing to die for you, but don’t ask me to get your sweater!

It seems easy for us to make grand sacrifices, like “I’ll sell all I have and move to Outer Mongolia.” Apostle John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16 NIV

It’s the laying down of our lives for small things that so easily trips us up, like fetching someone’s sweater or emptying the church’s dishwasher. 


By the way, – Did you know that our English word mogul, meaning an important or influential person, comes from the mispronunciation of Mongol, as in a person from Mongolia?

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Our Heavenly How

a welder

Thankfully, my dad grew up on a farm, so, along with agriculture, he learned carpentry, plumbing, mechanical design, engine repair, and all kinds of skills. It wasn’t just my dad but all of his brothers (and I think my aunt) learned these skills. So even though most of them had other careers they all possessed and used these skills throughout their lives.

I, as well as all of my paternal cousins, learned these same skills. Why? Because our fathers showed us how. They mentored us (in a 1960s sort of way). They showed us how and required us to use these skills as we grew up.

Our Heavenly How

Our heavenly Father also shows us how. We learn “how” by observing. We see Father God at work in the Scriptures, at work in the lives of fellow believers, at work in divine interventions, and at work through people that have no idea that God is using them. Father God doesn’t just tell us to do His work. He shows us how.

As Christians we are reconciled to the Father. Jesus accomplished this on the cross. We are not fatherless; we are not orphans; we are not without hope. Through Jesus, the Father has shown us how to pray, how to deal with rejection, and how to walk by faith.

Our heavenly Father shows us how to recover when our lives crash, how to choose what is right over what is expedient, and how to please Him, just to name a few more examples. He is always near, always showing us how, ever catching us when we fall.

Use the How

Do you remember how the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to his “son,” Timothy? He wrote, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, (2 Timothy 1:6 ESV)…Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV).”

Paul reminded his “son” that he had been shown how to use the tools and skills that had been given to him; so he needed to use them. Knowing “how” is wonderful but our Father’s expectation is that, by faith, we use our “how”.

Benediction

As I conclude, I would like to reference this Scripture as a closing benediction:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13 ESV)

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The Era of Argument

younger sister pulling hair of older brother

When I think of the 1960s, I remember the hippies’ response to nearly everyone was “peace & love, man!” Sadly, I was a hippie during those years. The peace & love phrase was just a way to say, “I don’t want to argue. You stay in your own way, but leave us alone.” 

When the time comes when I can look back on the era in which we currently live, I am sure that one of the hallmarks will be arguing. Is anyone else tired of this? Our society is so fractured that I am expecting any day now for someone to find social ills with Neapolitan ice cream! 

Argument Absorbers

Back in the day, if your car didn’t have shock absorbers, you’d be beaten and rattled to the bone while driving. But thanks to French cyclist J.M.M. Truffault, who invented shock absorbers in 1898, we can now drive in comfort. 

Thankfully, as Christians, we’ve been taught to be argument absorbers. One of our jobs as representative of Jesus in this world is to absorb the social bumps and jolts and thuds that happen around us. We absorb by demonstrating peace in a checkout line that is slow or responding positively instead of getting angry when someone wants us to get worked up over something that has ticked them off, or speaking love into disagreements or hatred.

I find encouragement in what the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write in 2 Timothy 2:8-10, 14 (NLT):

“Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.”

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Three Keys to our Daily Life in Christ

neon sign that says keys and has an outline of a key

It’s odd, the things that we remember from when we were young. But first, this memory that lazily wandered through my skull.

I remembered a thought that I had after I started my first full-time job. For several months I was underwater and didn’t have time to think, but then this thought hit me: I no longer have my summertimes off as I had in school. I have to work like this for the rest of my life! (Remember, I was young)

I wasn’t sure I could work forever. I felt a sense of helplessness combined with dread wash over me. I had a good relationship with Jesus, but I still had much to learn; always do. However, you see, I hadn’t discovered three keys to living my life for Jesus.

Three Keys

1. I was trying to picture the whole rest of my life. That doesn’t work. If I try to live in the future, then I will be confused, disappointed, and out of God’s will. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV) How can I even guess my future when daily I lay down my life and pick up my cross and follow Jesus. I rarely know where Jesus is going today until today, so I have no idea what I’ll be doing.

2. I was envisioning my future upon what my life had been like in the past. That’s just silly. Past failures or successes do not determine my future. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) That old person that I was, has no authority over me and the new person that I am serves the God whose name is “I Am,” so what do I have to dread about the future?

3. I was thinking within the knowledge, wisdom, and faith that I had at the time when that thought went through my mind. But as we follow Jesus, our knowledge increases, our understanding becomes deeper, and our faith grows stronger. I am not the same as I was. I think differently. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17 ESV) Sure, my flesh rises from time to time, and I have to beat it into submission, but that’s part of my cross. 

Pleasing Jesus

Now, many decades later, it seems odd to me that such a thought loomed so large before me. By the grace of Father God, the Shepherding of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit within me, I now see that I just walked right through that fear and dread and didn’t even notice when I did.

These three keys are how you and I successfully live daily in Christ Jesus. We are living through such an incredible adventure!

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Who is God?

Open Bible on pik-nik table

The Bible assumes that God exists, so it starts with “In the beginning, God…” (Ge. 1:1) That’s a reasonable assumption since the Scriptures state in Psalms 14:1 (ESV), “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’…” But who is God?

When thinking about God, it’s helpful to remember that God is spirit (John 4:24). Also, we should not believe that God will reach the same conclusions that we reach. God is not like us. Isaiah 55:8 (ESV) tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

There’s Only One God

God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV), but He exists as three Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17). Each person has specific roles. In a very simplistic example, I am a son, a dad, and a grandfather. I have to fill different roles for each “person” that I am.

God is infinite (1 Timothy 1:17), is without a peer (2 Samuel 7:22), and unchanging (Malachi 3:6). God exists everywhere (Psalm 139:7-12), knows everything (Psalm 147:5Isaiah 40:28), and has all power and authority (Ephesians 1Revelation 19:6).

God is Always Morally Right

God is always morally right (Acts 17:31), loving (Ephesians 2:4-5), truthful (John 14:6), and holy (1 John 1:5). God shows compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3), mercy (Romans 9:15), and grace (Romans 5:17). God judges sin (Psalm 5:5) but also offers forgiveness (Psalm 130:4).

As the Son of God, God became a person (John 1:14). The Son of God became the Son of Man and is the mediator between God and man (John 14:61 Timothy 2:5). 

Jesus is the Answer

It is only through the Son that we can have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7), reconciliation with God (John 15:15Romans 5:10), and eternal salvation (2 Timothy 2:10). In Jesus Christ, “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). So, to know who God is, all we need to do is look at Jesus.

This devotional contains excerpts from:
Got Questions?: Bible Questions Answered—Answers to the Questions People …
By S. Michael Houdmann
WestBow Press, Apr 24, 2014 – Religion – 716 pages
www.gotquestions.org

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God Loves

drawing of the stick man hanging from a heart

God is love. (1 John 4:8)
God is good. (Luke 18:19)
God loves peace. (John 14:27)
God loves peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9)
God loves justice. (Isaiah 61:8)
God loves righteousness. (Psalms 33:5)
God loves humility. (James 4:10)
God loves meekness. (2 Corinthians 10:1)
God loves gentleness. (2 Corinthians 10:1)
God loves repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
God loves faithfulness. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. (John 3:16)

There are many more verses that speak to the love of God, but I hope you are encouraged today. The one true God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Ancient of Days. The triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – loves you. He loves you deeply, individually, and uniquely.

If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then, through Christ Jesus, you have the ear of God, and He will grow in you all those characteristics list above, and more besides, for God is love.

If you have not yet received Jesus then you can learn how, here: https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/salvation/

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By testing you may discern

driving in the rain

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m driving that I need quiet. Somehow the shouts, and laughing and commotion from my passengers become too distracting when I’m dealing with poor driving conditions. 

I don’t fully know why my hearing overwhelms my driving skills, but it does. The same can be true in our walk with our Lord. The noise of the world around us can become so distracting that we have difficulting knowing what God would have us do with problems we come upon as we journey with Him.

When we come upon poor driving conditions, we test the road and test our car. We’ll tap the brakes to see if it’s slippery, we’ll look for the painted lines on the road to see if we are straying out of our lane, and so on. In our verse today, we find, “that by testing you may discern.” 

Every moment of every day, we must test so we may discern the behavior that is God’s will, “what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

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