God loves you no less

man kneeling at a church pew

I had started a technology company and had a handful of employees. I had bootstrapped the company – no venture capital. At this point, the company was about four years old. I had expensive professional employees. Most held advanced degrees. 

We’d experienced steady growth. Never once during those four years had I missed a payroll. God always provided.

One day, close to a payroll, I went through the company’s financials. It looked grim. Even if I didn’t draw a paycheck, there just wasn’t nearly enough to do a partial payroll. All of my cash was tied up with “work-in-progress.” I was deeply concerned, but God had led me to start this business, and He’d never failed me.

On the morning of payday, my company’s cash flow was the worst I’d ever experienced. Realizing this was a watershed moment for the company, I rushed to my church’s office. I asked the pastor and everyone there to join me in prayer for God to overcome this moment that otherwise would harm my staff and crush the company. We prayed. God provided. The payroll was fully met that day.

God Loves You No Less

This crushing financial event in my life is why I relate so strongly to King Hezekiah’s actions when an invading force conspired to crush him and all of Judah. But God miraculously saved him and his people from destruction. 

Look at what King Hezekiah did when he heard the threat: Isaiah 37:1 (ESV), “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord

I didn’t tear my clothes or put on sackcloth, but I tore my heart and humbled myself before Father God, and I went to the house of the Lord. 

God loves you no less than me. When you are “hard pressed on every side (2 Cor. 4:8),” and all seems lost, tear your heart, run to your church, gather Godly people around you, and pray. God will hear, and you may see inexplicable events unfold, for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).

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Weak Hands and Feeble Knees

pic of horse with mountains in the background

Just in case you didn’t get the memo, growing old may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. I used to hold the hymn book for my wife, but no longer. I always knelt for morning prayer, but that’s no longer the norm. Aging brings on weak hands and feeble knees. Let me hasten to add that I have no complaints, and I am thankful for this season of my life.

100 Miles Away

Chapter 35 of Isaiah contains amazingly clear statements about the work of Jesus. There’s also compression of time in this chapter. Often what God’s prophets see is what is similar to what we see when we see the Rocky Mountains. They look close, yet they are 100 miles away. Still, we find great comfort in the passage of Scripture found in Isaiah 35:3-4. 

Isaiah 35:3-4 (ESV)

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”

Claim These Words

These words of the prophet may correctly be connected with Hezekiah’s speech in 2 Chronicles 32:7, and may also telescope to the earthly ministry of Jesus. Nevertheless, these words of God go beyond those two historical events; these words apply to all reconciled through the blood of Christ to God. You can claim these, quote these back to God, take refuge in their promise, and be at peace for surely Almighty God hears you.

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Reserved Seating

Stadium seats

If you popped out as a doer when you were born, then one of the most challenging things anyone can ask of you is to stop and sit down. 

Doers need to be busy; if we aren’t, then we get grumpy. As we age the need to “do” doesn’t change, but our bodies start letting us down. Our heart says “yes,” but our body can’t cash that check. It’s no wonder that many older adults are cantankerous.

Well, God loves everyone, including doers. But doers have to submit to the same process that God requires for all His children. Here’s what God expects: 

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV), But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

Our Seating

Hmm. It seems that God has handled all the details, hired the staff, and prepared a place for each believer. Paraphrasing Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: “As believers, we already have reserved seats with Jesus in heaven. In our spirits, we are already seated.”

To be seated is to be in a resting position. We know new Christians don’t start off standing because Paul writes of that at the end of Ephesians. Also, new believers don’t start off walking. Paul urges all of us in Ephesians, chapter four, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called.

Surprisingly, the first thing new believers do is sit down; to be at rest (Ephesians 2:6). To receive the peace that can only come from Jesus (John 14:27). Once we have Christ’s peace then we can walk in faith. And, with His peace in us, we can stand against the enemy of God when he comes against us.

Because of God’s rich mercy and great love, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior, every believer has a reserved seat in heaven. I must admit that I look forward to finding mine.

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Just One of Those Days

A cup of coffee falling

Have you ever had a day where it seemed that you and the universe were out of sync with each other? From the very moment you got out of bed you could tell that it was going to be one of those days.

Your best intentions were met with disaster, confusion or fruitlessness. You got dressed and on the way out of the door you saw a stain or a snag so you ran back and changed your clothes. As you tie your shoes a shoestring breaks. And that’s the way your whole day goes. Why? 

Well, I don’t know why. But I have lived it and it’s not fun. So the next time you and the universe aren’t getting along pray out loud 2 Corinthians 9:8 [1]. Even better, memorize this verse so you’ve got it with you when your phone’s battery is dead.

To get you started, let’s all say this together and replace the word “you” with the word “me” or “I”!

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV)

[1] This is only for people that have been reborn through Jesus Christ. 

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Rust

Rusted old car in the woods

My grandpa was a carpenter for the North East Oklahoma railroad. Their inside joke was that they worked for NEO (any old) railroad.

Since he was a carpenter he had carpenter stuff in his garage. I once found a bucket full of rusty old nails in there. They were probably new when he put them there. But when I found them he had been retired for quite awhile and any time he had he spent fishing so the nails no doubt stayed in that bucket until he passed and someone else cleaned out his garage.

Nails forged from iron will remain iron for as long as this world exists, if they are protected. But exposure to corrosive elements and iron transforms into rust which is corrupted iron; iron which has no strength and cannot be used for the nail’s intended purpose.  

Evil Can’t Exist Without Good

Evil can be compared to rust on an iron nail. Just as iron rust can’t exist without iron so the corruption of evil can’t exist without good. We find in Genesis 1:31 (ESV), “God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good….“. Only when God’s good came could evil come forth and cause corruption.

As I mentioned previously, a rusty iron has no strength. Similarly, evil in a person steals their moral strength, making them weak and unable to do what is right. Also, a rusty nail can’t be used for its designed purpose. So, too, a person corrupted by evil is unable to fulfill God’s purpose for them. 

No Fear of Rust

Yes, corruption is active all around us but as Christians we are as protected iron for we have this promise in Galatians 1:3-5 (ESV): “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Jesus has immersed us in grace and peace, sealing us with the Holy Spirit. While we live in this corrosive world we need not be afraid of its rust.

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Sudden Trouble

Trouble - City bus t-bones police car

“Why?” That is often the first question we ask when trouble invades our lives. Most of us feel that we have enough stress to deal with in our daily lives. There isn’t enough room in our day for a new problem. Even if that’s true, there will be times in our lives when we are blindsided by a problem so devastating that all our other problems seem trivial.

Some problem we can see off in the distance; so we have some warning. It might be an aging parent, the pending sale of the company you work for, a noise in your car that wasn’t there before. We all deal with similar problems, and some can be crushing. Still, we had time to pray and prepare.

The trouble that comes suddenly is nothing like what I just wrote. A sudden, heart-rending crisis is like being T-boned by another car in an intersection. That happened to me, and I see many similarities to a vehicular accident and other kinds of sudden troubles.

My Car was T-boned

While on my daily commute, I was less than a mile from work. The light changed to green; I started through the intersection, and with zero time to react, a car blew through their red light and hit me full speed. In an instant life went from “just another day” to sudden trouble.

Sudden trouble doesn’t limit itself to auto accidents. We can receive bad news from a doctor, the sudden loss of income, troubles that affect children or loved ones. We may be doing fine and then get a phone call telling us our identity was stolen.

The problem with sudden problems is that they can easily knock us off the path on which God has us. Internally, we feel like our feet have been kicked out from under us. We may be mad at God, questioning our past decisions, frozen by fear, tempted to run away or hunker down. All of these and more are common responses to sudden trouble, but none of these is a surprise to our Lord and Savior.

So, when sudden trouble knocks down your door, remember Psalm 94:18-19 (ESV):

18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
    your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
    your consolations cheer my soul.

Give sudden trouble to Jesus. Our victory can be found within the action of our faith in God.

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Just the way Jesus is

One of the many surprises I experienced when my family and I moved to Romania was that I had to register our work as a cult. We were in Romania to help a local pastor and work in orphanages but we were not Eastern Orthodox.

I don’t know if things have changed but when we were there any religious organization that wasn’t Eastern Orthodox was considered a cult. It kind of creeped me out to tell officials that my work was part of a cult!

Christianity is not a religion or cult or social movement. Yes, “The Church” is the Body of Christ. We are in The Church and The Church covers this world and therefore it carries a lot of responsibilities. Still, salvation is the most intimate relationship anyone can have with God. Out of this intimate relationship flows life to everyone in our world, if we allow it.

By grace, through faith, God saves us. Our flesh and bones are still under God’s curse so they will die. But you and I, by Christ’s work on the cross, can be reborn, and be a new person, a person not under the Curse.

Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer, King, Lord, Lion of Judah, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, Brother, and more. He is more than you or I have ever hoped for.

Jesus knows us; the “us” no one knows, not even our spouses, best friends, or parents. Nevertheless, we have this promise: “being confident of this, that he [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

I once was in a meeting with David Wilkerson when he made this statement regarding Philippians 1:6. He said, “Jesus always finishes whatever He starts.” The work Jesus has started in us will be completed because that’s just the way Jesus is.

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An orphan, and yet not

On my office wall, I have a picture of my dad. He passed away at the age of 94. In my whole life, I never met anyone that exceeded Dad’s commitment to Christ’s declaration “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…” (John 14:15). 

It was Dad’s commitment that led this WWII soldier to stop in a small town in Oklahoma to go to church while on leave. There he met his future wife, my mother.     

So, yes, I have Dad’s picture as well as many of his Sunday School lessons and margin notes in his study Bible, but I no longer have Dad with me. I have what I have but I long to once again spend time with him. That day will come, but for now, his voice is silent. That’s not the way Jesus left us.

Jesus is Emmanuel (Mt. 1:23), which means “God with us.” He gave us a wonderful promise which we find in one of the most profound passages in the whole Bible, John 14:15-18, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…”

I have a living relationship with Jesus. We talk. He with me and I with Him and through the Holy Spirit I learn to follow the commands of Jesus, many times too slowly. Obedience is the desire of Jesus. Obedience is the way I am supposed to show my love for Jesus, and that is what I saw in Dad. “Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.” (children’s’ song)

For now, I have Dad’s picture and notes. Within this material world, I am an orphan, but within the Spirit, I am not alone for Jesus didn’t leave me as an orphan. (John 14:18) And, the same is for you; if you’ve accepted Jesus, then you are not an orphan.

PrayerDear Heavenly Father, you are good to me. You know my needs and the desires of my heart. You know my mistakes, yet when I repent, you forgive. Thank you. My soul rejoices in You with “an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). Though Mom and Dad are gone, I have not been left an orphan because your Son, Emmanuel, arose from the dead and is alive! And in me, the Holy Spirit is with me and in me. Through Jesus, I have access to you, my Father. My joy is complete; I am content. Amen.

Effective and Productive

Man pulling his hair as he stares at his laptop, p

Many times I have sincerely prayed, “God, help me to be effective in my ministry. Help me, I pray, to be productive so that I won’t be like the servant that buried his one minas!” I hate to say it, but my prayer was incomplete and didn’t conform to God’s word. Yep, I needed to not just read the Bible, but I needed to integrate it into how I lived my life.

Of course, what I prayed was in the will of God; that was not the problem. The problem I had was that I didn’t pay attention to the promise God had already placed in His word. The issue was that, as with all of God’s promises, there are conditions, and I was ignoring those conditions. 

I found those conditions in 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV). For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What was the point of me asking God for something He had already promised to provide when I was ignoring His conditions? What I needed to do was to “possess these qualities in increasing measure…” If I would do what God said then I would be effective and productive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s promises are so simple. Simple always trips me up. 🙁

Prayer: Father God, I come to you in the Name. Jesus is that Name above all names so in Him I come. I ask that you would teach me and correct me as I strive to add to my “faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”  My heart’s desire, my Father, is to be effective and productive in the work Jesus assigns me. Help me to put action to your words, I pray. Amen.

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