Friday, January 31, 2014



     Trouble tempts us to feel alone.  "Lord, why standeth Thou afar off, o Lord?  Why hidest Thyself in times of trouble?" (Psalm  10:1).

     The truth of the matter for born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ promises that we are never more accompanied than in times of difficulty and challenge. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

    If we succumb to the temptation of perceiving God as distant and uninvolved in times of challenge, several spiritual pathologies ensue.  First, we enter into the dark realm of unbelief, wherein lie crippling distortions of unreality.  Indeed, if "the just shall live by faith," we most certainly "die" when we distrust our Lord, that is, we fail to experience the abiding life of Christ until we respond to the Holy Spirit's conviction and reproof of our unbelief (Romans 1:17).  It is difficult to imagine a more tragic occurrence than a believer inhabited by the risen life of the Lord Jesus, but living as if he were no more alive than before conversion. 

    We also attempt to face challenges according to our own faculties and abilities.  This leads to either pride or despair, both of which portend of spiritual calamity.  Scripture calls us to "lean not unto thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).  We use our understanding, of course, as led and enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  However, we do not proudly believe ourselves to be capable in and of ourselves to navigate the roiled seas of life.  "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26).  Conversely, we do not give in to hopelessness regarding our capacity - through Christ - to face and overcome tribulation.  Of such, the Apostle Paul exulted, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).  We must believe that the presence of Spirit of the Lord Jesus energizes our faculties and capacities in such abundance of power that no obstacle can thwart our peace and joy so long as we trust and submit ourselves unto Him.  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).

    Finally, the temptation to self pity looms near to any heart that fails to believe in the "very present" proximity of God.   No more dangerous sensibility can invade our hearts and minds than the devilish notion that "no one knows the trouble I've seen."  Self pity blinds the soul by turning our gaze inwardly and thus away from "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  We also fail to live the life of devotion to others whereby we find the personal love of God for ourselves even as it flows from us unto others.  Indeed, there is no time to feel sorry for ourselves in a life filled with such opportunity to "glorify ye the Lord in the fires," and thus enlighten our particular sphere of influence with the Light that "shineth in darkness" (Isaiah 24:15; John 1:5). 

   Our Lord is always with us.  He is "very" with us in trouble.  It will often not seem this way.  But it will always be this way.  This we must establish deeply within our hearts as a vital and foremost conviction of faith.  Only thereby can we walk in the light of Christ's reality, and only thereby does trouble become an open portal into the heart of God...

"In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me."
(Psalm 120:1)

Weekly Memory Verse           
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

Thursday, January 30, 2014


(For Ryan)


     A young man whom I greatly love and respect just called, asking for prayer regarding the passing of his beloved grandfather.  You may recall this song from last year, written when another friend's loved one went to be the with the Lord. 

Homeward, My child, it is time to go.
I am with you just as promised, you'll journey not alone.
I have been this way we travel, oh see the path I've traced.
Those sparkles all along the way are glimmers of My grace...
Homeward, My child.

Angels travel with us, they marvel at the scene
of yet another spirit My mercy has redeemed.
And Someone waits to greet you, a Father all sublime,
Oh I have not words to tell you of the wonder you'll soon find...
Homeward, My child.

So homeward, child, we venture, united in My love.
I have waited for this moment, when yonder up above,
you'll see things unimagined, you'll look upon your God,
we'll forever be together because this path we've trod...
Homeward, My child,
Homeward, My child,

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear not evil.  For Thou art with me."
(Psalm 23:4)

Weekly Memory Verse           
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Flakeless (The Little Foxes)"

(A bit longer than usual.  Thanks for your  patience.  Glen).

"Flakeless (The Little Foxes)"

     To paraphrase the poet, ice, ice everywhere, nor any flake of snow!

     We like snow down here in the subtropics, largely because we very rarely see it in any significant accumulation.  When we do, it quickly melts into oblivion.  So, after three or four days of predictions that we might have 1-3 inches, a lot of us have been looking forward to it.

    Alas, ice, ice everywhere, nor... well, you know.  In our neighborhood, we never saw a flake.  We did see, however, tons of frozen rain and sleet, which have turned sidewalks, streets, and even lawns into skating rinks.  Walking is treacherous, especially for ice novices such as we happen to be.  We're a bit disappointed, but are nevertheless safe and warm.  Moreover, the weatherman is predicting 72 degrees by Monday!  So long ice!

    This causes me to ponder the minor disappointments of life, which for all of us are many.  Conversely, major letdowns are relatively few, thus making our handling of the small issues a matter of paramount spiritual importance.

     "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines" (Song of Solomon 2:15).

    The rubber, or shall we today say, the ice, meets the road when we consider "the little foxes."  Again, not that many big bears, as it were, confront us along the pathways of life.  The foxes, however, greet us daily and in countless forms of disappointment, irritation, and dissatisfaction.  The bears, because of their dimension and intensity, tend to drive believers to the Lord in full awareness of our need for grace, strength, and the comforting presence of God.  However, we may not respond so consistently to the foxes.  There's so many of them, and their presence in our lives demands frequent remembrance and affirmation of our calling to trust the Lord with a grateful and submissive heart.  Herein lies the challenge.  Minor disappointments and irritations demand daily offerings of the faith that do not allow our fleshly impulses to control us.  Thus, our walk with the Lord largely ebbs and flows in direct proportion to our response to the little foxes.

    Our primary weapon for the frequent challenge involves a matter of doctrine and corresponding conviction.  Namely, how involved do we believe our Heavenly Father to be in our everyday lives?  The Bible plainly teaches a very pointed participation of the heart and hand of God.

    "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13).

    Note the universal nature of temptation.  Note even more the Divine promise of universal provision concerning every challenge.  This requires His pointed presence and involvement in our lives.  Thus, when foxes or bears confront us, we must have established within our hearts the doctrinal conviction of God's purposed determination or allowance of the matter at hand.  We must build an altar of heart whereupon we sacrifice the deception of a Godless life, lived with no confidence in Divine involvement.  In the place of such unbelief, we erect a spiritual monument of faith whereby we determine to see approaching or arriving foxes and bears in the light of Christ.  "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).  Such confidence equips us to far more consistently face and overcome the challenges we face, regardless of dimension, intensity, or frequency.

   Lack of snow is, of course, a very minor disappointment.  It nevertheless required the remembrance of God's involvement in our particular environment, but even more, in our hearts.  No fox is so tiny that he cannot spoil the vine of our joy, peace, and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thus, we seek and take the opportunities provided by spiritual varmints both small and large to trust in our Lord's purposes and provisions, and to submit ourselves to His glory and will.  Remembrance and affirmation of this Biblical truth goes far in maintaining a walk with God that keeps our hearts in the "good cheer" of His promise, "I have overcome the world."

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)  

Weekly Memory Verse           
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"The Lord Is There"

       I've just finished a reading of the book of Ezekiel.  Few portions of Scripture more challenge our hearts and minds as the prophet warned of impending chastening and judgment upon Israel and the nations, and as he provides a pointed description of earthly and heavenly things to come.  The book closes, however, with a simple promise of redemption concerning Israel, and the city of God Ezekiel foretells.

    "The name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there" (Ezekiel 48:35).

    No title or assurance could equal this, the assurance of God's presence.  Nor can He make any greater promise to us concerning the living of our lives, and the living of this moment.  "I am with thee" (Isaiah 41:10).  Presence transcends power.  Our Lord's doings, vital as they are, pale in comparison to His immediate proximity in the hearts of His trusting children.  He frequently acts in ways beyond our comprehension.  His presence, however, graces us as a simple affirmation of promise and assurance - "I am with thee."  We don't see Him, of course, nor do we continually sense or feel His nearness.  "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).   Never, however, are we called to answer the question, "How is He here?"  The Word of God and the Spirit of God rather grace us with the plainest of statements, thus beckoning us to the simplest recognition of faith: "The Lord of hosts is with us" (Psalm 46:7).

   The longer we walk with our Lord, the more He leads us along pathways where we must know His heart because we cannot see or understand His hand.  The way is often hard, accompanied by perplexities and tears.  It is, nevertheless, the gift of our Heavenly Father to those who choose to recognize His most loving bestowal of grace.  He would have us know Himself rather than merely His doings.  This sometimes requires the appearance of a stilled Hand in order to reveal a sublime Heart.  Indeed, there are things we cannot know of God until the fact of His presence with us seems to be all we have.  The Lord is there.  The Lord is here.  Sometimes such simplicity is all He seems to provide.  In such times, this will be enough.  Or rather, He will be enough.

"I am with you always."
(Matthew 28:20)

Weekly Memory Verse           
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

Monday, January 27, 2014


    We cannot know grace apart from truth, nor can we rightly respond to truth without grace.  They bear, as it were, a spiritually symbiotic relationship to one another.

    "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.  And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth... The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:14; 17).

    We receive God's grace by believing truth.
  "Ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you, as it is in all the world, and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:3-6).  We do not believe in a vague or nebulous "Jesus" in order to begin or experience relationship with the true and living Christ.  "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).  "As the Scripture hath said" - our Lord provides the basis for a genuine reception of God's grace according to the parameters of His Word.  Do we believe in the Christ of the Bible?  Or it is "another Jesus," of which the Apostle Paul warned? (II Corinthians 11:4).  The genuine Lord Jesus provides grace only in accordance with His truth, that is, according to His character, nature, and way revealed "as the Scripture hath said."

    Such proper response to truth in order to receive grace also requires grace.  God must reveal His grace to us in order initiate and maintain interest and recognition of His supply and our need.  "There is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11).  The Shepherd seeks His lost sheep, who do not even know they've wandered from the fold apart from the call of His voice.  Moreover, He must work in our hearts even after our return in order to maintain and enable faithful abiding.   This He does by His Spirit, and while we freely respond, we also freely give all glory to the Shepherd for His loving and empowering involvement.  King David beautifully illustrated this truth in his affirmation of devotion: "I will love Thee, o Lord, my strength!" (Psalm 18:1).  David determines to love - "I will" - but he does so in full recognition of the Power necessary to fulfill his holy decision - "O Lord, my strength!" 

    Thus, grace and truth unite in the spiritual symbiosis incomprehensible and inexplicable save in the person of the Lord Jesus.  He is "full of grace and truth," and in Him we discover the access of grace by truth, and the apprehension of truth by grace.  How both streams unite and flow in human hearts we cannot fully comprehend or explain.  Who provides the flowing fount of grace and truth we can, however, declare with full assurance.  Indeed, we look to the Christ of the Bible in order to access the grace of truth.  And we look to the Same in order to believe the truth of grace.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
(Colossians 2:6-8)

Weekly Memory Verse           
     The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

Friday, January 24, 2014

"As He Walked"

    His divinity notwithstanding - "God was manifest in the flesh" - the Lord Jesus Christ lived His earthly life as a man completely dependent on His Father's leadership and enabling.

    "I can of Mine own self do nothing... the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" (John 5:30; 14:10).

    Our Lord serves as the model of faith and submission to God.  We look to Him first and foremost as we seek to discover the path of life whereby the presence and power of Another serves as the dynamic means of faith and faithfulness.  "Walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  Such a gaze in the direction of Perfection living not by His own devices challenges us to better realize our own native dependence.  Indeed, if God Himself, living as a man, required His Father's power to accomplish all things, how much more do we need help from above?  We can do nothing of lasting value that does not originate and proceed from grace, as appropriated by faith.  "The just shall live by faith" declare both the prophet and the apostle" (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17).  The Just One showed us such a life, declared to be so glorious "that even the world itself could not contain the books which should be written" (Acts 7:52; John 21:25).

    The Savior who lived such a life now dwells in those who believe.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).   What is He doing in us presently and forevermore?  Many things, of course, including works so many and so glorious that "the world itself could contain the books that should be written."  Purpose number one, however, and the means through which all grace flows, involves motivating and empowering us to trust our Father as the Lord Jesus trusted His Father.  Again, "the just shall live by faith."  The presence of the Spirit of Christ in us makes possible such a life of the presence and power of God revealed through the faith and submission of humanity.  He works in us presently - in this moment - to make such a life actual.  Let us respond by "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  In such beautiful light, we shall find the enabling whereby the life He lived more and more becomes the life we live.  Or perhaps more literally, we become the scene wherein our Savior once again walks the earth - in us - revealing the trusting devotion of His heart to the Father yet again...

"I will dwell in them and walk in them."
(II Corinthians 6:16)
"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.  Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
(Galatians 2:20)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
(Psalm 46:4)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"The Power of Promise"

    The Farmer's Almanac forecasts weather by observation of sunspots, prevailing weather patterns, and the atmosphere.   The Almanac claims an 80% accuracy rate, which many affirm and many dispute.  I haven't followed the journal long enough to join either camp.  I will say, however, that the Almanac's prediction of a very cold winter for much of the U.S. this year seems to have proven quite accurate. 

    This reminds me of the Bible's "predictions," or as we usually term them, "prophecies."  We can take the rhetoric even a step further, referring to Scripture's forecasting in term of promises made, promises kept, and promises that will be kept.

    "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises" (II Peter 1:3-4).

    Making promises, believing promises, keeping promises, and being the beneficiary of fulfilled promises provides a blessed portion of the most winsome aspects of personal relationship.  Nothing draws parties closer than faithfulness and faith united.  The saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ serves as the best illustration of the holy bond that results through fulfilled promises.  "The gospel of God, which He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:1-3).  The Gospel is a promise made and kept, which believed results in the establishment of living relationship between God and the trusting heart.  The same process continues and enhances the relationship - "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6).  Thus, we do well to emphasize the power of promise whereby the Lord Jesus is glorified as the seal of God's faithfulness, and by faith we walk with Him thereby.  "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).

   The more we know, believe, affirm, and affix ourselves to God's promises, the more we grow in our own faith and faithfulness.  "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).  Our Lord's 100% accuracy rate - "God... cannot lie" - beckons us to sail our hearts into the only perfectly safe harbor of truth and reality (Titus 1:2).  This involves our discovery of His "exceeding great and precious promises," our believing of them, and the enhancement of the bond that results when promises are made, believed, kept, and enjoyed.  The forecast is glorious for those who will devote themselves to this bond of Faithfulness and faith made possible by the One who Himself serves as the assurance and executor thereof...

" For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea. For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
(II Corinthians 1:19-20)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
(Psalm 46:4)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Unwilling Affliction"

    "But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men" (Lamentations 3:32-33).

    The prophet assures us that God takes no pleasure in the chastening and judgments He must enact upon human beings.  He works according to truth, justice, and the purpose that His perfect character and nature require, both for the maintenance of His integrity, and the well being of His creation.  "His work is honorable and glorious... The works of His hands are verity and judgment; all His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness" (Psalm 111:3; 8).  This requires affliction and grief as well as blessing and kindness.  The latter reflects God's loving inclination and the natural current of His loving heart; the former, Jeremiah informs, flows contrary to the Lord's primary disposition and sensibility.  Again, "He doth not afflict willingly."

     This Biblical illumination shines blessed and beautiful light upon the heart of God with which every parent can identify.  I've shared with you the story of our eldest daughter Marie's injury as a small child that required my holding her head in place while doctors sewed a cut just above her eye.  My actions terrified and bewildered Marie as the one she believed to love her the most nevertheless subjected her to pain.  Those same actions tore my heart out of my chest as I did that which was necessary.  I did not "afflict willingly."  I knew my daughter did not understand, and I knew the procedure brought much fear and discomfort to her.  I nevertheless had to do what I did in order to help my daughter, and to maintain my loving integrity as her father.  In the midst of so heart wrenching an experience, the thought came to me that this is how the Lord feels when He must afflict and grieve human beings for the sake of His character and the sanctity of His creation.  I've never forgotten that illumination, which serves as a bright light in my heart concerning the nature and character of God.  "He doth not afflict willingly."

    How worthy is our Heavenly Father of our utmost confidence, trust, and submission to the love of His heart, the integrity of His character, and the perfection of His way. Jeremiah's illumination shines a bright spotlight upon such goodness, revealing One upon whom we can cast ourselves with complete abandon.  We must, because no one else is perfectly devoted to our well being in administrations of both blessing and buffeting...

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you."
(Jeremiah 29:11-12)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
(Psalm 46:4)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"The Major"

       Proper interpretation and understanding of Scripture involves emphasis as well as text.  Do we major on the Bible's majors, and minor on its minors?  We do well to keep the question ever in mind as we seek to rightly know God by rightly knowing His Word.

    "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life.  And they are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39).

    The Lord Jesus Christ declared Himself to be the primary theme of the Old Testament Scriptures.  Certainly, He serves as the same central figure and subject of the New Testament.  Thus, the Bible's primary "major" proclaims the person and work of the Lord Jesus.  Keeping close in heart and mind the truth that in all things He is to "have the preeminence" goes far in establishing and maintaining proper emphasis in our consideration of Scripture (Colossians 1:18).

    I am currently reading the Old Testament prophetic books, including the so-called major and minor prophets.  You're likely familiar with the numerous head-scratchers contained in this portion of God's Word.  What do the countless details, many of them strange behind imagining, mean? (I just read Ezekiel 4, for example, wherein the Lord commands a most, shall we say, interesting recipe for his prophet's bread).  I don't begin to comprehend them all.  I do know this, however.  Every book, chapter, paragraph, sentence, word, letter, jot and tittle serves to glorify and reveal the Lord Jesus.  How they all do so, I don't know.  That they all do so, I am sure.

    Scripture comprises a Divine document - written through human agencies - composed of truth, promise, command, history, poetry, correspondence, and prayer.  Discovering the majors and minors of Scripture enables our interpretation and understanding of its primary purpose.  Christ is that purpose.  He is the Major of both Old Testament and New.  Or, as a teacher of old suggested, "Until we have discovered the person and work of Christ in any portion of the Bible's revelation, we have not fully and accurately interpreted the passage."  I've sought to embrace this adage throughout my Christian life, and have found it to be the best and most effectual aid to Biblical interpretation.  It has not, however, kept me from frequently scratching my head.  Yes, Christ the living Word awaits us in the Bible, God's written Word.  Determination to discover the Lord Jesus as the theme of Scripture will illuminate our hearts with much that can be known, and thrill our hearts with the prospect of some day receiving light regarding that which we cannot presently know.

"This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him."
(Mark 9:7)
"In Thy light shall we see light."
(Psalm 36:9)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
(Psalm 46:4)

Monday, January 20, 2014

"To Bethlehem"

(In reading the book of Ruth the other day, I was struck more than ever that her sublime entreaty to her mother in law Naomi led them together to, of all places, Bethlehem.  Ruth would become the great grandmother of King David, and thus, a grace-included ancestor of Another who would venture to Bethlehem, albeit from Heavenly origins.)

"To Bethlehem"

(Ruth 1)

"Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee.
For whither thou goest, I will go;
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
 thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

Yes, I will go to Bethlehem,
to Bethlehem will I go.
To be with thee forever,
Thy God to love and know.

I'll not return to the days of old
without you ever near,
or to that life so bleak and cold,
so filled with lonely fear.

For in your eyes, your life, your heart,
I've seen a holy Light
that drew me from so very far,
and guides me in this night.

Yes, I will go to Bethlehem,
to Bethlehem will I go.
To be with thee forever,
Thy God to love and know.

As you say farewell to this sad place,
I also bid goodbye.
I go with thee to the land of grace,
to your God, who now is mine.

Entreat me not to leave thee!
Our lives are bound as one.
I will always be with thee,
and with thy Holy One.

Yes, I will go to Bethlehem,
to Bethlehem will I go.
To be with thee forever,
Thy God to love and know.

"For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me."
(Hebrews 2:11-13)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:15-16)

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Sparrow's Project - God's Project"

       Our beagle Sparrow initiated a training regimen for our family when she came to live with us seven years ago.  She's been pretty successful in molding our habits to her needs and desires, the examples of which are many.  The one that seems to most vividly confirm Sparrow's effectiveness involves her water dish.  If she happens to find it empty, rather than wasting her breath to verbally communicate our omission - "Hey humans, it's empty again!" - Sparrow rather nudges her dish around the floor, creating enough noise to let us know our services are required.  We hop to it, of course, expressing regrets for failing to live up to a primary tenet of the protocol Sparrow long ago established regarding our daily responsibilities for her care.  She's quite patient with us, thankfully, and she seems to be pleased with our progress (we hope!).

    "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10).
    "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

    God's good work in us elicits good works by us as we trust and submit ourselves to Him.  This begins by the recognition that we are His project rather than our own.  He began the spiritual process of conforming us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29).  Moreover, He continues it "until the day of Jesus Christ."  His regimen, as it were, requires many different applications of Divine wisdom, including both blessing and challenge.  Our Heavenly Father graces us with innumerable expressions of kindness as He molds and transforms us by revealing His boundless lovingkindness.  "Great are Thy tendermercies, o Lord!" (Psalm 119:156).  He also providentially orchestrates and allows hardship to come our way as a necessary means of spiritual change.  "Before I was afflicted, I went astray.  But now have I kept Thy Word" (Psalm 119:67).  We require both expressions of God's continuance and ultimate completion of His good work in us, whereby He so changes our heart, mind, and entire being that good works proceed forth from us.

    Remembrance that we are works in progress, as it were, helps to remind us of our need for both blessing and challenge.  It doesn't explain everything that God determines or allows in our lives.  His ways are far beyond our capacity for complete understanding (Isaiah 55:9).  However, keeping in mind the overarching purpose of our Father in conforming us to the image of Christ helps us to trust His heart when we cannot comprehend His hand.  Sparrow's project - our family - often reminds me of God's project - His trusting sons and daughters in Christ.  As I often suggest, you can learn a lot from a beagle.  And, as Sparrow often suggests, you can get a lot out of humans if you establish and effect a proper protocol.  She's done so, to pretty good effect, I think.  Far more, our Heavenly Father has done so, to perfect effect in the ultimate sense of making us like His Son...

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."
(I John 3:2)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
(Psalm 46:4)