Thursday, April 30, 2015

"A Gift of Love"

(Or, Edgar and the Birthday Cake)

     We only saw him once, for a brief moment.  We will likely never see him again in this world, and if we did, we wouldn't know.  However, Edgar benefits from our encounter through Frances's prayers for him.

    "I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:10).

    We met the gentleman several years ago while standing in line at a local bakery.  Frances enjoys Pollman's brownies, and I like their cakes, particularly, their birthday cakes.   To be honest, we actually like everything Pollman's bakes and sells, so much so that we only stop by the store occasionally.  On the day we met Edgar, I selected a piece of birthday cake the bakery sells in slices when a customer orders a cake, but does not pick it up.  Edgar did the same, only he held in his arms 6-7 slices of the delicacy.  This led to my commenting on his treasure trove of the birthday cake we both agreed to be the best in the world.  "I'm visiting from California" said Edgar with a smile.  "Every time I'm here in Mobile, I take as much of this cake home as I can, and freeze it to enjoy over the course of several weeks."  This led to a pleasant, but brief back and forth between Edgar, Frances, and I as we stood in line.  We left the store determined to remember the man in our prayers.

     We stopped by Pollman's today.  I hoped to see slices of the birthday cake, a fairly common occurrence at the store, but no customer had failed to pick up their order recently.  Of course, I could have purchased an entire cake, come to think of it!  Now there's an idea for next time! (a temptation I hope to overcome!).  We purchased a sweet roll, brownie, and cookie, all quite delicious in their own right.  I commented to Frances about the cake, and the encounter from several years ago came to mind.  I asked her, "Do you remember that guy we saw a long time ago, the one who bought 6-7 pieces of the cake?"  Frances responded without hesitation, "Oh, do you mean Edgar?"  I knew immediately she had faithfully added Edgar to her prayer list on the day we met him, and had been praying for him ever since.  I've remembered him a few times myself, but had forgotten his name and thus prayed for him anonymously.  "Uh, Lord, remember that guy at Pollmans…."?  Frances, however, dutifully recorded his name in her journal after meeting Edgar.  More importantly, she regularly lifts his name and heart to God, the results of which we will only know when we get to Heaven.

    I share all this to simply rejoice in the wonder of the gift our Heavenly Father gives to us in the privileged responsibility to heed the Apostle Paul's command to supplicate, pray, intercede, and give thanks for all.  Once in a lifetime "chance encounters" provide altars of communion with God for the benefit of people He ushers onto the pathways of our lives.  We may or may not remember their names, or we may never even know their names.  It doesn't matter, of course, because we pray to the One who knows and sees all.  As with Frances, it is a good practice when possible to record the names of people for whom we can seek God's involvement and working to establish or further a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Think of it: Frances mentions Edgar to the Lord, a man we encountered for the briefest moment, but who may experience eternal benefits through her intercessions.  A wonder indeed, and a gift of love from God's heart to both pray-er and prayee.

"Watch unto prayer."
(I Peter 4:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
(II Peter 1:2)





Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Safety, Presently Defined"

     God's Word promises protection for His trusting children in Christ, we pray for it, and the Lord often acts in accordance with the normal expectations of the assurance and the request.

    "Whoso hearkeneth unto Me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil… Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Proverbs 1:33: 29:25).

     Seemingly unsafe things nevertheless happen to believers.  "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).  How do we reconcile this reality with the aforementioned promises and requests?  The answer lies in God's perspective and purposes.  He acts with an eye and a heart toward our eternal benefit and well being.  He determines to conform us to the spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ, a goal that requires not only the pleasant, but also the painful (Romans 8:29).  Moreover, He also purposes to bless us with the privilege of leading others to the same holy end.  Of his sufferings, the Apostle Paul declared, "I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which have happened to me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel" (Philippians 1:12).  Finally, our Lord is greatly honored and revealed when His children pass through the flames, but come forth undestroyed and without the smell of smoke upon us as we "glorify the Lord in the fires" (Isaiah 24:15).  In our present life, God's promises of protection primarily involve our heart as He works to reveal His peace and joy therein, regardless of the storms that may rage in circumstance, condition, and situation.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

    "Your life is hid with Christ in God… He is thy life" (Colossians 3:3; Deuteronomy 30:20).  The day will come when our Heavenly Father's promise of protection will involve every aspect of our being, including spirit, soul, body, and environment.  This is not that day.  Presently, our spirits dwell in the inviolable inner sanctum of Christ Himself.  All other components of our being are subject to whatever storm God determines or allows to pass our way for "His eternal purpose in Christ" (Ephesians 3:11).  We are safe in Him, as God presently defines safety in the spiritual and eternal terms that glorify His Son, and work toward the best interest of both ourselves and others.

"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.  To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen."
(I Peter 5:10-11)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
(II Peter 1:2)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Beyond the Earth"

     The human heart does not and cannot exist as a vacuum.  Something will and must fill our innermost being, to either blessed or disastrous results. 

    "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness… They worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Psalm 29:2; Romans 1:22; 25).

    I thought of this truth yesterday when reading a brilliant essay about the search for extraterrestrial life (a link to the essay is provided below).  Many scientists and others interested in the subject believe that life, including intelligent beings such as or greater than ourselves, exists in the universe.  Nothing or no one has ever been detected to confirm the premise, but the devotees believe that it is just a matter of time before their expectation is confirmed.  My primary interest in the matter concerns the reason for such devotion to a hope that even if confirmed, would almost surely have no bearing on the practical realities of the lives of people who, generally speaking, do not hold traditional religious beliefs regarding a transcendent God.  Why do they care so much about the premise of life beyond the earth?

    The answer is worship.  The human heart was made to look "beyond the earth" for life, particularly, for a life greater than its own.  "God… made the world and all things therein, seeing He is Lord of Heaven and earth" (Acts 17:24).  We seek transcendence because whether we admit it or not, our own limitation and frailty ever looms before us.  We must worship something of heavenly substance, and we will.  For many, science precludes the notion of supernatural beings, or "the host of heaven" loved by pagan religions and even by Israel during her times of idolatry (II Kings 17:16).  Thus, they seek natural "gods" who they wrongly believe will fill the void of their innate need for religious devotion and practice.  Since they cannot find such beings, they worship the hope that extraterrestrial life exists and will be found.  Or, in Biblical terms, they "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 7:5).  The devotion is delusional, of course, but nevertheless constitutes the religious components of that which can only be defined as worship.  The void, the void of the human heart, must be filled with something beyond ourselves.

    Bible-believing Christians worship "alien" life.  We devote ourselves and our hearts to "the Lord from Heaven" (I Corinthians 15:47).  Our God visited this planet long ago, and spiritually seeded the earth with a new race of beings, born again of His transcendent life.  The Lord Jesus Christ birthed an alien race, of which you and I are members, or as Scripture declares, we are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).  We not only hope that life exists beyond our present realm.  We know and are living members of it, or rather, of Him.  Moreover, we gladly worship the living and true God "while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18).  Yes, everybody worships something or someone beyond themselves, even as the Apostle Paul declared to the unbelieving Athenians…

"For as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God.  Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.  God, that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life and breath and all things.
(Acts 17:23-25)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
(II Peter 1:2)

Monday, April 27, 2015

“Not Unto Us!”

"Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).     

     While constituting a great challenge, the determination to represent and honor the Lord Jesus Christ provides blessed relief from one of the most crippling spiritual pathologies of the human heart.  

     Much strength sapping energy dissipates when our concern lies in promoting our own person, name, and achievements.  Nothing of lasting value or benefit ever comes from the "Think well of  me!" sensibility that governs us in our natural state.  Humanity rather exists to serve as the moon that knowingly reflects the light of the sun, deferring all credit for illumination to the true Source.  Such determination begins in our hearts, wherein we build an altar of sacrificing our own reputation in order to devote ourselves fully to the glory of God - "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory!" (Psalm 115:1).

    This is peace, again, because God made us to honor and reveal the wonders of His Son.  We swim against the current of reality if our destination involves any other determination.  Conversely, we find ourselves carried along in the power of our Lord's mighty flow as we realize and devote ourselves to the ambassadorship that involves the representation of Another.  When led by the Holy Spirit, believers act in attitude, demeanor, word, action, and relationship for the holy purpose of "Not unto us… but unto Thy name give glory!"  This relieves us from the unholy struggle of self promotion that drowns us in pride if we perceive ourselves as successful in the effort, or cripples us with despair if our quest for glory ends in obscurity or shame.  Moreover, devotion to the glory of the Lord Jesus establishes our hearts in truth and reality, ultimately leading to the affirmation and praise of the only One whose approval we must have.  "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

    The challenge of honoring our Lord requires much diligence and watchfulness, as enabled by Holy Spirit who Himself purposes to direct all honor to the Lord Jesus (John 16:13-14).  We will be tempted often to further our own person and name, usually in ways known only to ourselves.  Remembering the altar upon which we sacrificed such deadly self promotion - "Not unto us! - and affirming the rightful glory of our Savior - "Unto Thy name give glory!" - will lead us in peace, His peace as known when we serve as the moons that reflect the light of the sun (Son).

"Be Thou exalted, o God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth."
(Psalm 108:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
(II Peter 1:2)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Waiting On God" Part 2

(Thanks again to our dear friend Alison for the inspiration)

       From yesterday's message:

       "Finally, does the peace of God keep our hearts as we wait no less than His fulfillment will thrill our hearts when it occurs?  "Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).  God Himself serves as the fulfillment of our hearts, as opposed to His doings on our behalf.  Indeed, we may find that the journey of faith necessitated by waiting on the Lord provides no less glory than His promises fulfilled.  "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" commanded the Psalmist (Psalm 37:7).  David could not mandate such peace if it were not possible.  Certainly it is, and again, we may find the journey no less glorious through Christ than its destination."

      A few more thoughts about this particular point regarding waiting on God.  We've all taken trips to cherished destinations that also included beautiful scenery and experiences along the way.  The journey sometimes blesses us no less than the arrival.  This can be the case in our spiritual pilgrimages to God's promised provisions and blessings.  Waiting on God rightly requires walking with God faithfully, trusting and submitting ourselves to His glory and will as we make our way.  This requires the communication with Him that results from regularly reading the Scriptures, prayer, and availing ourselves of the encouragement and challenge of fellowship with other believers.  Indeed, how could our Lord more honor us than inviting us to journey with Him to promised destinations? "I will be with thee" He said to Israel long ago (Isaiah 43:2).  Born again believers in the Lord Jesus can be sure of even greater Presence as our Lord journeys both with and within us as we go.  "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).

    Let us not miss the sights and scenes of the journey as we make our way to the fulfillment of God's promises.  Wonders of His heart and His working await us along the path that we can discover in no other way.   The opportunity of a lifetime awaits us whenever we must wait on God as we walk with God.

"As You Go"


I wait for you, My child, wherever you may go.
I'll be there when you arrive,
I'll be with you as you go.

For we live our life together,
 you venture not alone.
Our hearts made one forever,
united in My Son.

I wait for you, My child, 
I'll be with you as you go.

I made you for such grace, 
to be My Spirit's home.
Oh, look into My face,
and with assurance know

that we'll always be together,  
you'll never be alone.
We'll be as one forever,
each other's love to know.

I wait for you, My child, 
I'll be with you as you go.

Forever beckons to us, 
as does this day, this hour.
My Spirit's peace imparts
the presence and the power

for you to journey with Me, 
in darkness or in light.
I am in your heart forever,
and in this day, this night.

I wait for you, My child,  
I'll be with you as you ago…
I'll be with you as you go.

"The Lord thy God, He it is that shall go with thee."
(Deuteronomy 31:6)

"My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him."
(Psalm 62:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
(Psalm 29:2)

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Wait On the Lord"

 (A friend recently asked for our thoughts about waiting on the Lord.  I thought I'd send them along as today's message.)

     "Wait on the Lord.  Be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).

    By definition, waiting on the Lord involves our seeking His provision for that which we cannot readily obtain by our own labors and application (which themselves are enabled by Him).  This involves several factors of faith.

1.  First, are we waiting on that which we can confidently believe to be His will?  Does our understanding of the grace we expect coincide with the Bible, rightly understood and interpreted?  "Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17).  Many years ago, I knew a poor misguided lady who spent months every year in expectation that she would win the Reader's Digest sweepstakes as God's provision for her family.  She's still waiting until this day, and likely still expecting a bounty that will never come (she currently lives in poverty).  She had no Biblical basis for believing that the Lord would make her rich through a worldly gimmick that in so many cases, destroys rather than benefits.

2.  Are we willing to be corrected regarding our expectation?  "Search me, o God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my thoughts.  See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).  We must never preclude the possibility that we can be wrong in our understanding of God and His purposes in our lives.  That which may have seemed so obvious and blessed yesterday may look very different in today's light.  There is no shame in realizing and confessing to being misguided in our walk with the Lord, including our expectations of His working in our lives.  

3.  Does our understanding of waiting on the Lord activate or paralyze us spiritually?  A true patience, based upon a genuine expectation, always energizes us spiritually to do the will of God readily at hand.  "Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36).  Any correct response to the work of the Lord in our lives, including expectation of future blessing, leads to faithfulness in the present moment, regarding the next step of faith and faithfulness.  Waiting on God to do something tomorrow fosters walking with Him today.

4.  Do we realize that God may fulfill His promises by leading us to be the means whereby His promises manifest themselves?  As in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, our Heavenly Father often accomplishes Heavenly glories by earthly means.  "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).  God's working on our behalf may involve His enabling a thousand steps of faithfulness on our part rather than some miraculous and instantaneous display of Divine power and provision.  We will know that He provided and fulfilled His promises no less by the thousand steps than by the one time display.  Maybe more.  Our Heavenly Father often answers prayer by whoever is doing the praying, or in the current consideration, He fulfills expectation by whoever is doing the expecting.  "Here am I.  Send me" (Isaiah 6:8).

5.  Do we recognize that God's promises are often fulfilled in different ways than we may expect?   Israel missed her Messiah in His first coming because they anticipating a conquering King rather than a suffering Redeemer.  "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (John 1:11).  As we trust the Lord for His promises to be fulfilled, we do well to keep an eye open to the possibility that God's faithful provision stands directly before us, but in a different form than we anticipated.  Pilate said to the Jews, "Behold your king!" (John 19:14).  He was absolutely correct in his announcement that God's Messiah had come.  But Israel could not and would not see because in His first coming, their King manifested Himself so differently than they desired or expected.  

6.  Why are we waiting?  "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).  True expectation and waiting on the Lord is God-centered.  We determine within our hearts that the glory, will, and eternal purposes of God are paramount in our desire to see His promises fulfilled.  Indeed, if we cannot maintain this purity of hope and conviction regarding that for which we wait, we must question our expectation.

7.  Finally, does the peace of God keep our hearts as we wait no less than His fulfillment will thrill our hearts when it occurs?  "Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).  God Himself serves as the fulfillment of our hearts, as opposed to His doings on our behalf.  Indeed, we may find that the journey of faith necessitated by waiting on the Lord provides no less glory than His promises fulfilled.  "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" commanded the Psalmist (Psalm 37:7).  David could not mandate such peace if it were not possible.  Certainly it is, and again, we may find the journey no less glorious through Christ than its destination.

"My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him."
(Psalm 62:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
(Psalm 29:2)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Stewards of Grace"

(A companion piece to yesterday's essay, with thanks to Peggy for the inspiration)

    God's free gift of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation does not preclude the rewards for service often referenced in the New Testament.  Such recompense, however, results from different responses on our part than the concept of "reward" usually implies.

    Our Heavenly Father calls His trusting children in Christ to be "good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (I Peter 4:10).  We apprehend, appreciate, and avail ourselves of our Lord's freely given favor and empowering presence for the purpose of fulfilling His will.  He will reward our labors upon the basis of our response to His working in us.  As the Lord Jesus declared of His perfectly faithful earthly lifetime, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). 

    1.  Apprehend - First, we receive God's good grace by faith, believing that the One who birthed us as His born again children possesses no less capacity to enable the life to which He calls and commands us.  The Apostle Paul confessed of such enabling, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly that they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (I Corinthians 15:10).  Indeed, for the next step of faith and faithfulness, whatever it may involve in measure or mode, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus lives in us to empower obedience to our Heavenly Father.  This we must believe, regardless of past experience, present feeling or perception, and uncertainty about the future.  Thereby the grace that eternally inhabits our spirits becomes the grace that energizes our mind, hands, and feet to take the next step, and the next, and the next…

    2.  Appreciate - Gratitude for gifts given plays a major role in our experience of God's abundant generosity in Christ.  Particularly regarding enabling for doing the will of God, we do better to thank the Lord for the already provided "power that worketh in us" than to beg our Heavenly Father for the strength that presently exists within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:20).  Again, our fleshly feelings, sensibilities, and reasoning may contradict the Truth declared by the Word of God.  What will we believe?  Who will we believe?  Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know "the exceeding greatness of His power to upward who believe" (Ephesians 1:19).  We do well to pray for each other and for ourselves that we will gratefully know the same, and thus live according to the Gift already given - "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).

   3.  Avail - Stewards use the means provided by their master to do his will.  Believers are actually steward sons and daughters who possess our Heavenly Father's infinite bounty whereby we can do all things that honor Him and fulfill His purposes.  When living in accordance with God's will, we will find no shortage for the step or task at hand.  We rather discover a Divine creativity and energizing that can only be explained by the wisdom, presence, and enabling of Someone far greater than ourselves.  Every martyr who ever gave his or her life for the Lord Jesus would tell is that their "last full measure of devotion" resulted not from their own devices or dedication, but rather from the most holy means provided by God that empowered their sacrifice as they trusted and submitted to Him.  Obedience to God proceeds from this freely given grace made available through Christ, and then availed of by believing and devoted hearts.

    Those who steward God's good gifts by faith will be rewarded for their apprehending, appreciation, and availing.  Such recompense will not ensue because of their own means and efforts, but rather because they became the willing vessels of their Lord's means and efforts.  Remember Paul's confession: "I labored... yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."  In a life wherein we "live by faith," only the products of the power of God as received and applied by faith can and will be rewarded (Romans 1:17).  In actuality, God will recompense us for apprehending, appreciating, and availing ourselves of His works, as revealed in and through us.

 "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither is he that planteth anything, or he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one, and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." 
(I Corinthians 3:8).

Weekly Memory Verse
   Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
(Psalm 29:2)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Working Out"

    God grants to us the privilege and responsibility of having a role in our relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.

    "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).

    We "work out" that which God "worketh in."  This constitutes real and personal relationship with God, as opposed to the mere programming that would ensue if we simply waited for our Lord to activate and engage us as mere inanimate objects.  We might say that a lamp on a table "waits" for its owner to flip the switch that enables it to fulfill its illuminating function.  It does nothing, however, to accomplish the task for which it was made and exists.  Through Christ, conversely, trusting human beings actively devote themselves to being in expression who they are in essence.  "Now are ye light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8; emphasis added).  Completely dependent on the power of God, we nevertheless view ourselves as enabled and able to bring to the table real response in our relationship with Him.  "I will love thee" declared King David, but he also affirms the holy means by which he devotes himself - "o Lord, my strength!" (Psalm 18:1).

    As they so often do, the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostle Paul unite to shine brilliant light on this blessed subject.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" said the Savior.  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" exulted Paul (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13).  Apart from the presence of Christ, nothing of eternal value can proceed from the human heart.  God made us to be His home.  "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).  The Spirit of our Lord must take His rightful place within us if our "do nothing" is to become our "do all things."  When He does, the faculties and members of our humanity spring to life, becoming activated to the degree Paul commands believers to "exercise thyself… unto godliness" (I Timothy 4:7).  We view ourselves as able, through Christ, to "do the will of God from the heart" (Ephesians 6:6).  We do not wait for God to turn on our switch, as it were.  We rather choose to believe that the switch is on, and that the next step of faith and faithfulness beckons us to act according to the power of the Light that shines within us.

    Such grace and response leads to a life of reality in our walk with God.  We are more than machines.  We are persons, the special creations of a Father who desires loving fellowship with beings He made for such glory of authentic relationship.  We never move beyond our dependency.  But in dependency, we determine to actually and factually love the One who so loves us.  Again, as real persons enlivened and actualized by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, we work out that which God works in.  This is life, the life of Christ, and our life as gloriously known in and through Him.

"I am crucified with Christ.  Nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
(Galatians 2:20)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
(Psalm 29:2)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Forever Upon Us"

    Life involves emphasis.  "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" commanded the Lord Jesus Christ, who proceeded to promise that as we emphasize that which most matters, "all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

    Sounds simple.  Isn't.  Indeed, apart from the presence and dynamic working of the Holy Spirit within our hearts and minds, we will invariably maximize the minimum, and minimize the maximum.  The flesh of even the godliest believer lusts against the installation and maintenance of the Lord Jesus as the Life of our lives.  Walking with God involves countless reminders and readjustments concerning the matter of, as a good friend often suggests, "keeping the first thing the first thing, and the main thing the main thing."  Our focus tends to blur, and the honest Christian will confess that maintaining the clear vision of "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" comprises the great challenge of our present spiritual and earthly journey (Hebrews 12:2).

    There is one - One - whose emphasis and focus never wavers or clouds.  "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous" (Psalm 34:15).  Our Heavenly Father's unwavering determination and  gaze upon His trusting children in Christ never falters or clouds.  Such truth and our growing knowledge thereof provides the motivation for our own devotion to the purity of purpose whereby we emphasize that which most matters.  As we open the Word of God, we look upon the Eyes that look upon us, as it were, and the Heart devoted to our well being.  Regardless of how distracted we may be, the Scriptures assure us of God's "lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night" (Psalm 92:2).  Yes, life involves emphasis, our Lord's emphasis that leads to our own as we more and more discover His eyes and His heart to be ever and forever upon us.

"He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
(Philippians 1:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
(Psalm 29:2)

Monday, April 20, 2015

“The Laborer In the Trenches”

    Most of that which is done in society and in the church results from the labors of average people whose names are not known, and whose efforts go largely unnoticed and unrewarded.  

    I thought of this the other day when listening to an address by a well known and highly placed political figure.  A speechwriter friend of mind wrote the words, which were well delivered.  However, in my opinion, the speaker's elocution did not begin to match the quality of the beautiful prose and rhetoric of the writer's essay.  More to the point, the speechmaker accomplished the fairly simply task of delivering a message in several minutes that my friend doubtless took many hours to research, write, and rewrite.  In this case, I was well aware of the laborer in the trenches who did most of the work, the fact of which greatly enhanced my experience of listening to the address.

   This "laborer in the trenches" reality particularly applies to the body of Christ.  

    "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the thing which are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (I Corinthians 1:26-29).  

     Most of the Lord's work results from the faithfulness of believers exemplified in the everyday arenas where the sons and daughters of humanity actually live.  The Christian communicator whose words may lead people to Christ, or strengthen those already converted, merely reaps a harvest made possible by the lives, testimonies, and sacrifices of believers who bear witness of the Lord Jesus in the aforementioned trenches.  The preacher or writer has his role, of course, but any farmer will attest that the labors of harvest time pale in comparison to the preparatory work and time spent in plowing, cultivating, planting, and protecting the crop.  God, of course, supplies the leading and enabling of both sowing and reaping, but more Divine involvement and labor goes into the former than the latter.

   In the light of the "laborer", every believer takes his or her necessary place in God's redemptive purposes.  How we sow the seed of Christ by our attitudes, demeanor, words, actions, and reactions plays a pivotal role in the harvest of souls.  Someone else may reap by preaching a sermon or writing a tract, or bearing witness in the vital moment of a conversion.  If so, the far more involved preparatory work of tilling, planting, and cultivating was likely accomplished by faithful believers whose lives reflected the saving life of the Lord Jesus.  All glory proceeds to Him, but in that day when hidden things come to light, such glory will be known as it was revealed by the hidden ones who actually shined more brightly because their names were not known, and their labors went unnoticed.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
(Matthew 5:16)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
(Psalm 29:2)