Monday, August 31, 2015

"The Inverse Proportion"

     One definition of the Gospel simply declares that God gave to the Lord Jesus Christ everything we deserve in order that He might give to believers everything that Christ deserves.

    "He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).
    "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He because poor, that ye though His poverty might be made rich" (II Corinthians 8:9).

    This is the inverse proportion of grace, and the very hope of both today and eternity.  God the Father enrobed His Son with our sins and poured out His wrath upon the innocent Lamb of God.  To the degree that such Divine justice exacted the price of redemption from the Lord Jesus, the free gift of gracious mercy flows to the hearts of all who by faith receive the wonder of Christ's justification.  We awaken to this new day as those adorned by our Savior's righteousness, and thus viewed by God as worthy of His richest blessing.  We may shake our heads in wonder as we ponder the thought (I shake mine as I write the thought!), but this is the Gospel.  Moreover, to the degree we understand this blessed "inverse proportion" will be the degree to which its sanctifying effect transforms our hearts and lives into spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus - "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).  Love begets love, and the ongoing discovery of the alliterative nature of G.R.A.C.E. - God's Riches At Christ's Expense - enhances our devotion to so wondrous a Lord.  "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).

    Little wonder that those who do not know such grace often mock it.  Let us be honest: God's unmerited favor upon the undeserving seems preposterous even to ourselves.  Especially to ourselves!  The Father gives to me the merits of Christ because He gave to Christ my just deserts?!  How can this be?!  Preposterous!  But true, praise the blessed name of the Lord Jesus!  Yes, in this day and forevermore, God will relate in loving acceptance and favor toward His trusting children in Christ because on the cross of Calvary, He related to the Lord Jesus in furious wrath and abandoned forsakenness.  This is the Gospel, and to the degree we embrace and grow in our understanding of its inverse proportion will be the degree to which we fall before the Lamb in worship and wonder, and then arise by Him to walk in His presence and power.  As the chorus sings, "He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away.  And now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace the whole day long, Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay."  Yes, in this day and in this moment, God offers to us all that Christ deserves because at Calvary, Christ willingly received everything we deserve.

"He hath made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."
(Ephesians 1:6-7)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I cried unto Thee, o Lord, I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
(Psalm 142:5)


(For the brokenhearted)


Sometimes, tears are prayers,
voicing the yearnings of our heart
far more than words could ever
tell our cares.
Sometimes, tears are prayers.

Sometimes, sighs are cries
unto our Father above,
seeking the grace that dwells
in His heart of wondrous love.
Sometimes, sighs are cries unto our Father above.

Sometimes, silence sings
hymns of thankful offerings
  graced with melodies
no ear can divine, but the Divine.
Sometimes… sometimes, silence sings.

Sometimes tears are prayers,
sometimes sighs are cries,
sometimes, silence sings.
Great is the mystery, but the trusting heart
hidden in the Christ of God knows such things...

Sometimes, tears are prayers.

"The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
(Romans 8:26)
"I am so troubled that I cannot speak…I call to remembrance my song in the night, I commune with mine own heart and my spirit made dlilgent search."
(Psalm 77:4; 6)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I cried unto Thee, o Lord, I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
(Psalm 142:5)

Saturday, August 29, 2015


(Friends: For the remainder of the year, I will send out on Saturdays repeats from years gone by.  There may be some Saturdays that I write an original piece, but look for reruns like this one, from 2012.  Thanks, Glen).


    We are all Mephibosheth.

     "And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake? And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar. Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!  And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am? Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.  Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table" (II Samuel 9:1-10).

    Because of the length of this blessed passage, I will keep my comments brief.  Mephibosheth had no inherent claim on King David's beneficence.  He was blessed for his father Jonathan's sake, because Jonathan had been such a dear friend of David during his earthly lifetime (II Samuel 1:26).  Lame, and in his own mind cursed by God, Mephibosheth found the grace that transformed a "dead dog" into an adopted family member at the king's table.

     You see the analogy.  We are "accepted in the Beloved."  God blesses us "with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ."  He grants unto us "the unsearchable riches of Christ" because our blessed Lord "became poor" for us.  We are heirs of God because we are related to "the Heir of all things."  The wondrous chronicle of grace could go on and on.  We are Mephibosheth.  The Lord Jesus is our Jonathan.  God the Father is the David who brought the lame man unto his table for a lifetime because he was related to Jonathan (Ephesians 1:3; 6; 3:8; II Corinthians 3:21; Hebrews 1:2; Romans 8:17). 

     A final thought, in the form of a question: can you imagine how much Mephibosheth loved both Jonathan and David?  Yes, you can.  Yes, we can.  Because we are all Mephibosheth.

"The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
(I Timothy 1:14-15)

"Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Show Up"

    I was once asked by a gentleman, "What is your philosophy of life?"  I needed no time to consider a response, having determined many years ago that two words express what I believe to be the best way to think about life and the living thereof.  "Show up," I said.  "Whatever our calling and responsibility to God and man may be, everything begins by our showing up."

    "Present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).

    For the born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, showing up begins at the throne of God.  We consistently acknowledge His rightful possession and determination of our selves and our lives.  As the prophet affirmed, "Here am I.  Send me" (Isaiah 6:8).  Day by day, we prayerfully submit ourselves to the glory, will, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.  This leads to a life of meaning and significance, whether in matters that seem to obviously correspond with spiritual realities, or in the mundane, apparently earthly matters that no less involve our relationship with the Lord.  "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord" (Colossians 3:23).  We show up at the throne, as it were, in order that we may show up along the pathways of privileged responsibilities that proceed from the throne.

    In those matters that we know to be God's will, showing up comprises a major portion of fulfilling our responsibilities.  We seek to be ready and prepared, of course, but most of all, we recognize and expect that to a large extent, our Lord takes over when His willing vessel arrives at the scene of duty.  "Here am I, Lord.  Send me."  The Spirit of God works in every believer to form this philosophy of life that must translate into the practicality of life.  As one sage of old declared, "our greatest ability is availability."  Indeed, we present ourselves to God for the sublime purpose of honoring Him and representing Him to others in a manner that inspires, informs, and influences.  "Show up."  I can think of no better philosophy of life and no better way to live our lives through the Lord Jesus.

"Be ready to every good work."
(Titus 3:1)

"Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

“Under the Radar”

    The longer we walk with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and the better we know Him, the more His character of humility manifests itself in our hearts and lives.

    "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who… made Himself of no reputation" (Philippians 2:5-6; 7).

     Consider that the Lord Jesus lived most of His life in such a manner that when His ministry began at the age of 30, His own brothers did not know who He was (John 7:5).  One episode, at the age of 12, depicts the Savior in full awareness of His Person and purpose, and in readiness to affirm His identity (Luke 2:46-49).  Joseph and Mary's concern, however, caused the young Jesus to sense the Holy Spirit's restraint.  Thus, He subjected Himself to a continued and faithful life under the radar, as it were, for another 18 years (Luke 2:51-52).

    Even during His three years of ministry, the Lord Jesus constantly deferred to the glory and reputation of His Father.  "My Father is greater than I… The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works… I honor My Father" (John 14:28; 14:10; 8:49).  Note the wondrous truth that the only human being who ever genuinely had something of which to be proud, wasn't.  Our Lord, the second Person of the triune God, is worthy of all affirmation, adoration, and accolade - "All men should honor the Son" (John 5:23).  He lived His earthly life, however, in complete dependence on His Father, as empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The Lord Jesus therefore directed all credit for His sublime character and life away from Himself, again, making Himself of "no reputation."  

    I find this aspect of the Lord Jesus to be the most sanctifying reality of His character and life.  It says infinitely much about who He was, who He is, and who He would have us to be - "Let this mind be in you…"  Indeed, the Spirit of Christ dwells within born again believers to deliver us from the reputation seeking ugliness of our flesh, as influenced by devilish and worldly entities.   Knowing our Lord better thus reveals to us "the new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" that consitutes our born again spiritual selfhood in Christ (Ephesians 4:24).  Created in righteousness, this new person affirms the Lord Jesus alone as our Justifier and justifcation.  Created in true holiness, this new person recognizes that he belongs to the purposes, will, and honor of Another.  "He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again" (II Corinthians 5:15).  Remembering the character of Christ, and affirming that such character dwells within us by His Spirit, leads to a corresponding under the radar life of growing likeness to His humble heart and image…

"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)
"Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory for Thy mercy and for Thy truth's sake."
(Psalm 115:1)

"Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

“A God-Quality Love”

    To love God in a manner that pleases Him and fulfills our hearts requires more than we can in and of ourselves give.  "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:5).  Israel failed miserably to keep the great command, serving as the prime example that even the most favored earthly people had no capacity in themselves to love as they are loved.

    "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).

    Only a God-quality love empowers human hearts to "love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  Thus, the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ provides the gift of the Holy Spirit to trusting hearts, making possible the reciprocal devotion to God of which He is so worthy.  Through Christ, we can love our Heavenly Father with all.  In our present lifetime, of course, we will not perfectly experience or express such ardor and consecration.  The potential is always there, however, because the Presence is always there.  The God who "is love" dwells within us by His Spirit, thus establishing the relationship that leads to mutuality of loving fellowship in the moments of our earthly sojourn (I John 4:8).  We freely choose to love our Lord, but we do so in full recognition that, again, a God-quality love makes possible both the relationship and the fellowship.

    King David perfectly expressed this reception and response dynamic of God's grace received by faith.  "I will love Thee, o Lord my strength!" (Psalm 18:1).  David freely chose to love, as love must if it is to have any meaning and reality.  He did so, however, in the recognition and affirmation that he required the Lord's strength to love Him as He loves us.  Just as we are dependent on God for our existence, we are dependent on Him for the main reason for our existence, namely, to be loved and to love.  Do we love God by His design or by our determination?  Yes.  Through Christ, the mystery of the Divine/human synthesis that began in Him imparts to us the seemingly enigmatic reality of freely loving our Lord while completely aware of our dependence on Him.  Thus, our devotion means something to Him because He does not merely program our love (a logical impossibilty, in Biblical terms).   However, it glorifies Him because it would not and could not exist in us apart from Him.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing… I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13).

    God originally made humanity in His image for the purpose of a loving relationship and fellowship no other created being can experience.  Let the thought of that sink deeply into our hearts.  We exist to honor our Lord by being loved, and then to love Him in trusting and holy response.  If this be true, and it is, this day and this moment offer to us a gift unimaginable in its wonder.  Through Christ, we can know the love of God.  And through the presence of His indwelling Spirit, we can respond to Him in love, a God-quality love.

"I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."
(John 17:26)

"Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

“Confidence… Comprehension”

    "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3).

   "Through faith we understand."  God created our mental faculties for the primary purpose of knowing Him and His Truth.  "This is life eternal, that we might know Thee, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  Thus, we never really understand anything in our lives until by faith, we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    "In Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).

    Ignorance regarding the Lord Jesus does not mean that we cannot function in the world.  Many do, and very successfully (if by success, we mean temporary achievements that will merely impact a relatively brief earthly lifetime, and perhaps a generation or two thereafter).  However, lasting and eternal worth begins only when God's illumination shines into our hearts and minds through the Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world.  The scientist who avails himself of Divinely-created laws in order to perform his theoretical, experimental, and analytical research misses much if he fails to see Christ the Creator as the originator and sustainer of every physical reality in the universe.  "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made… By Him all things consist" (John 1:3; Colossians 1:17).  The scientist fails to comprehend reality, regardless of how much he discovers and harnesses natural facts.  Again, through faith we understand

    This principle of confidence leading to comprehension concerns everything in our lives.  The One who framed the worlds also fills the same with His loving involvement.  "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:2; 11).  Understanding the realities of our personal existence originates and perpetuates as we trust in our Lord's presence and working along the pathways of our earthly walk.  We often do not see His doings, and sometimes His determinations and allowances may puzzle us greatly.  We presently "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  However, the believer who affirms the fact and working of God in all things actually sees more of reality's substance than those who daily delve into the wonders of the world, but miss the wonder of the Worldmaker.  As the poet intoned, "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

     Many responsibilities and opportunities await us in this day that require the use of our minds.  None compare with the importance of engaging our thoughts for the purpose of pondering and trusting the Creator of our brains.  Indeed, a holy mind is a happy mind because it functions according to its intended purpose…

"To be spiritually minded is life and peace."
(Romans 8:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Our Chosen Preference"

"Our Chosen Preference"      

       The following is an excerpt from a note I just sent to a dear friend regarding the reading of Scripture by believers.    

       "I know what you mean about people reading the Bible.  It's a great spiritual feast that awaits, but we must choose to partake.  I pray for my brothers and sisters and for myself every day that we will read, love, trust, obey, exemplify, and communicate the Scriptures.  Satan does all he can to lead us away from doing so, whether by discouragement, distraction, deception, or many other ploys.  Especially in this generation, so many voices beckon to us.  This presents great challenge, but it also provides us a wonderful choice to greatly please our Heavenly Father when we look to Him rather than other things.  And that's the main point for believers, I think, regarding the reading of Scripture.  Why do we do it?  It's easy to think first about about our needs, which are certainly profound, and which comprise valid motivations for seeking God in His Word.  However, that emphasis is human-centered.  The most important thing is that seeking God's light in the Bible pleases and honors Him.  That's the one truth I most try to remember (I know you do the same), and the one I most share with believers because if someone is truly born again, this truth will strike the most beautiful and motivating chord in their heart.  It's not a bad question to frequently ask each other: why do we believe it's important to read the Bible?   I find it rare that believers immediately reference the pleasure God finds when we seek to commune with Him in the Scriptures (I also find it far too rare that I remember this truth!).  However, this is the most personal motivation imaginable, and since the heart of salvation involves living, loving, and personal relationship with God, nothing more calls us away from distraction unto devotion.  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people… The prayer of the upright is His delight...This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (Psalm 149:4; Proverbs 15:8; John 17:3)."

    Along these lines, I'm taking the liberty below to send a repeat devotional from 2011 that addresses the subject of pleasing our Father's heart, one aspect of which involves seeking Him in His Word.

"I Prefer You"
   Some dear friends recently informed me they watched a favorite movie of mine, "Harvey," starring the late James Stewart.  The story depicts a pleasant gentleman, Elwood P. Dowd (portrayed by Stewart), whose best friend is an invisible, six foot rabbit named Harvey.  The movie does not actually show the rabbit (known as a pooka in Celtic mythology), but rather depicts Elwood relating to Harvey in a manner that implies the rabbit's presence and words.  If you have not seen the movie, this may all sound rather strange.  The production, storyline, directing, and acting are all top-notch, however, and many consider the movie to be a classic.

    Elwood ultimately finds himself committed to an institution because of his relationship with Harvey (who, of course, accompanies his friend there).  Ultimately, Harvey becomes visible and audible to the director of the facility, and seems to enter into a friendship with the man that may supplant his bond with Elwood.  As the story concludes, Elwood is released from the institution, thinking he will depart without his pooka friend.  At the gate, however,  Harvey joins Elwood to leave with him.  He indicates his preference to Elwood, who responds in kind, "Thank you, Harvey.  I prefer you too."

    "I prefer you."  Elwood's declaration of his preference brings tears to my eyes upon every remembrance.  Not because of the affection expressed between Harvey and Elwood, but rather because of how beautifully it reminds me of the ongoing possibility of love between God and His trusting children in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Clearly, He "prefers" us, that is, He gave His beloved Son to the cross of Calvary in order to secure eternally living relationship and fellowship with us.  He dwells with and within us always.  Upon this basis, we may prefer Him also - "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  Such response involves frequent opportunity to forego other things, interests, and sometimes people in order to bless Him with our conscious attention and devotion.  Amid the necessary busyness of fulfilling our responsibilities and enjoying our privileges, many moments present themselves wherein we may express to our Heavenly Father, "I prefer You, Lord."   The may involve time spent in the Scriptures and prayer, or doing something we know to be God's will for the present moment that will involve the sacrifice of something or someone else.  Indeed, so many moments, so many opportunities offer to believers the possibility of blessing our Father's heart with "I prefer You."  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).

   I am so glad my friends reminded me of the movie, and of the truth it exemplifies.  I must be honest, however, that I am saddened also as I write these words, realizing how often I choose to prefer something other than the One who so lovingly prefers us.  Certainly I do not mean that we must forego other things, interests, and people.  God Himself "giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (I Timothy 6:17).  Our experience of His blessings often provides to us the experience of Himself.  There are times, however, when we are privileged to decide that rapt and undivided attention directed upon our Lord and His Word offers to us the most sublime opportunity of our lives.  "Lord, I prefer You."  This is love, the love of God for us that through Christ became the love of God in us, and by the determination of our chosen preference becomes our love for Him…

"When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek."
(Psalm 27:8)
"I will love Thee, o Lord my strength!"
(Psalm 18:1)
"But as for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy."
(Psalm 5:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

Friday, August 21, 2015

"The Matter At Hand"

    Innumerable choices of faith and devotion to God and people present themselves to us throughout our earthly lifetime.  One, however, stands before us in the greatest significance and importance.

   "And now, Lord, what wait I for?  My hope is in Thee" (Psalm 39:7).  

    The matter at hand is the matter of heart that must be addressed.  Will we love, trust, and submit unto the Lord Jesus Christ in this present moment, regardless of it's conditions, circumstances, and situations?  This comprises the most important choice of our lives because the past is gone, and we have no guarantee of any future opportunity.  If I wait until the next decision of faith presents itself, I miss the matter at hand the opportunity of this moment.  Thankfully, through the Lord Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father promises forgiveness and cleansing for past avoidance of the opportunity, and if He grants to us another earthly moment, a new calling yet again presents us with the most important choice of our lives, namely, this choice.  
    We cannot change the past, nor do we have certain assurance and knowledge of the future.  The decision of the present thus beckons us.  We cannot venture over the hill up ahead if we do not take the step that lies just before us.  The nature of the choice may be obvious as illuminated by Scripture, or this moment may simply call us to the heart's determination of "Thy will be done, o Lord."  We have but one opportunity to love, trust, and obey the Lord.  We're living in it, in this present moment of the everpresent God who will lead and enable us as we realize that the matter at hand is the matter of the heart.  Yes, the most important choice of our lives is this choice.

"Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety. 
(Psalm 4:8)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"The Substance of Faith"

     "Faith is the substance of things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1).

  God's promises are so certain to be fulfilled that trusting Him initiates our possession of "things hoped for."  We may not yet physically see or hold that for which we wait.  However, if we pray and wait according to our Lord's will, faith serves as the firstfruits of experiencing the reality of God's promises.  Thus, trusting God serves as substance in the spiritual sense.  This does not preclude the necessity of the Lord's promises being manifested outwardly in the ultimate sense.  "The Lord will do this thing that He hath spoken" (Isaiah 38:7).  It does mean, however, that we possess tangible spiritual reality when we genuinely trust our Heavenly Father in accordance with His Word.

    What do we possess?  The first answer rather involves "Who?".   We experience the living Person of the Lord Jesus Christ when we exercise faith in God.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).  The presence of Christ in us constitutes the believer's "hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).  Dwelling within us is the Spirit of a Son who perfectly trusts His Father.  We will not perfectly respond to the power of such indwelling, but a completely faithful Christ nevertheless motivates and empowers our confidence.  Thus, we "look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" as the dynamic source of trusting God when we do not yet see the complete fruition of His promises (Hebrews 12:2).  No greater experience of the Lord Jesus is presently possible than knowing Him as the power whereby we "endure, as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27).

    We also possess the opportunity to honor our Lord in a manner that full reception of God's promises does not provide.  Of the many trusting saints mentioned in the epistle to the Hebrews, the writer declared, "By it (faith), the elders obtained a good report" (Hebrews 11:2).  That is, the Old Testament elders fostered a good reputation by their trusting the Lord for promises that they never fully received during their earthly lifetime.  For whom did they obtain this "good report" or reputation?  Not for themselves!  "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord… If any minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified by Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 1:31; I Peter 4:11).  Our brothers and sisters in Hebrews certainly provide good examples of faith.  We don't for a moment, however, extol their virtue, but rather the glory and reputation of the One whose Spirit and revelation of Himself makes our choices of faith possible.  "Now faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).  When we trust God for promises yet to be fulfilled, we provide "evidence of things not seen," evidence of the Lord's faithfulness known in darkness no less than in light.

    Finally, walking by faith opens a door into the most beautiful potential imaginable for the trusting child of God in Christ, namely, to bless the heart of our Heavenly Father.  "By faith Enoch… had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5).    A dear friend of mine recently preached a message in which he recounted his days playing high school football.  During practice one afternoon, John collided with a juggernaut running back, tackling the star, but being knocked silly in the process.  "I couldn't see", John recalled.  "Everything was black, and I barely knew where I was.  But I heard a coach yelling at me, "Good lick!"  Instantly, I didn't care about how I felt, or my jarred brain.  I pleased my coach, and all that mattered was his affirmation.  "Good lick!"  In his sermon, John went on to add, "Can you imagine how we will all feel if one day we hear our Heavenly Father say to us after a lifetime of often not being able to see the fulfillment of His promises, but trusting Him nevertheless, Well done, thou good and faithful servant?  What will it be like to know that we have pleased God?!"  Indeed.  What will it be like?  It will be like everything that matters!  And in this hour, we can know that we please our blessed Lord as we believe His Word.  Nothing matters more or even as much, and regardless of promises we may not yet fully have in hand, the joy of pleasing God means that we have in heart that which most fill and fulfills us in the very depths of our being.  Yes, faith is substance.

"We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
(Romans 5:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety. 
(Psalm 4:8)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

“Quarters of the Heart”

     What do you give to someone -Someone - who has everything?

     "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).

     Several years ago, my grandson Jackson answered this question for me.  After spending the weekend with us, Jackson, then 5 years old, walked up to me as he left to go home.  He stuck out his hand, in which he held a quarter.  "Grandaddy," he said, "I want you to have this."  Jackson uttered the words with such sincerity and feeling that the moment remains one of most blessed experiences of my life.  "Why thank you, Jackson!" I responded, taking the coin that in monetary terms these days can't buy much.  The quarter gave more than much, however, and I realized that my grandson had illustrated one of life's most important truths in the most emotionally vivid terms.

     "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).

    We cannot give things to God.  They belong to Him already.  Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ do, however, possess the capacity to give quarters of the heart, as it were, to the One whose heart is so worthy of reception and pleasure.  When we respond to our Heavenly Father by faith, loving Him in response to His love for us, and loving people as the fruit of God's presence in our hearts, we give gifts to the One who has everything. We express "I want You to have this, Lord" as we trust and obey His Word in the power of the Holy Spirit, or as we offer praise and thanksgiving for the wonders of God's love, or as we sacrifice ourselves by that love for the benefit of others, or as we simply realize and appreciate the goodness of our blessed Lord.  Our spirits are full of quarters.  The joy I felt in receiving my grandson's offering pales in response to the pleasure known by the Lord when we place in His hand a gift so simple, yet so consequential and profound.

   Interestingly, Jackson handed me a quarter minted in the year of his birth.  He didn't know this, but the fact made his gift all the more personal and meaningful.  In similar manner, you and I have personalized quarters to offer the Lord, gifts of the heart that no one else can bestow.  We each have different personalities, histories, and experiences that constitute our hearts in a unique spiritual composition and quality.  Thus, I cannot offer your quarters.  You cannot offer mine.  "I want You to have this, Lord."  We can give something to the One who has everything, something infinitely more real and glorious than things.  We can give quarters of the heart, personally minted expressions of grateful love that no one else can offer.  We can do so in this moment, in fact…

"Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name.  Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
(Psalm 29:2)
"I will freely sacrifice unto Thee, I will praise Thy name, o Lord, for it is good."
(Psalm 54:6)
"O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever!"
(Psalm 30:12)
"The prayer of the upright is His delight."
(Proverbs 15:8)
"I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth."
(Psalm 34:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety. 
(Psalm 4:8)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

“Safe In the Haven”

     In our present existence, safety does not preclude the absence of danger or trouble, but rather the presence of God in the midst of our challenges -  "Safety is of the Lord" (Proverbs 21:31).

    Our Heavenly Father will one day deliver His trusting sons and daughters in Christ to an environment wherein no jeopardy exists.  "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4).  This is not that day.  This is rather the day of "safety" often being defined by our Lord'"very present help in trouble" rather than the absence of difficulty (Psalm 46:1).  We live our lives as soldiers on an active battlefield whereupon enemies are allowed to threaten and attack.  "There are many adversaries" declared the Apostle Paul of his life and ministry lived amidst continual challenge (I Corinthians 16:9).  Moreover, those challenges led to mockings, rejections, woundings, batterings, imprisonments, and ultimately, Paul's martyrdom.  Let us, however,  consider the question - was Paul safe?   The resounding answer, from his own words, proclaims that our brother of old was "hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3)  That, my brothers and sisters, is safe.  Storms raged all around the Apostle.  He felt them all in his earthly frame, mind, and emotions.  However, nothing confronted Paul that did not find his heart safe in the Haven of hiddenness, safe in the Lord Jesus.  

    Presently, safety sometimes means that God delivers us from danger.  And sometimes it means He delivers us in danger.  While the former rescue is certainly more appealing to our senses, the latter may be more affirming to our spirits.  Indeed, which actuality requires the greatest measure of our Lord's glory and working on our behalf?  The keeping of our hearts in danger surely displays more of the risen Christ than mere extrication from threat and trouble.  The path is much more difficult, of course, but it is also more graced with the possibility of discovering "the deep things of God" (I Corinthians 2:10).  We learn the power of God's hand when He rescues us from hardship.  We discover the goodness of His heart when He reveals Himself in hardship.  Amid great challenges similar to those experienced by Paul, the Psalmist realized the truth of such security.  We close with his joyous proclamation of the Presence he discovered in and because of danger

"Thou art my hiding place."
(Psalm 32:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety. 
(Psalm 4:8)

Monday, August 17, 2015


     God created a universe characterized by immeasurable motion.  From the atomic and sub-atomic particles that race in their infinitessimal world to the frenetic pace of revolving planets and galaxies scurrying through the vastness of space, physical things exist because they move.  Stillness is illusion in the physical realm, but in spiritual reality, our Creator calls us to rest.

    "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

    Relationship with our Lord begins when we cease our attempts to move toward Him, realizing that salvation involves His movement toward us.  "I will come to you" declared the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples, alluding to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that would redeem their hearts after the Savior's atoning work on the cross and His triumphant resurrection from the dead (John 14:18).  "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).  Ongoing fellowship with God also continues as we realize and affirm that our Heavenly Father motivates and empowers all true communion with Himself.  We play an active role in the relationship, but ours is a response from rest, that is, the stillness of heart that exalts the grace of God even as we receive His beneficience by faith.  "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (II Corinthians 10:17).

    Much spiritual movement characterizes the Christian life.  A resting heart in Christ leads to active minds, working hands, walking feet, and self sacrificial actions for the glory of God and the benefit of others.  Stillness of spirit fosters and perpetuates much motion of soul and body.  We rest within by knowing God as the originator and power of beneficial movement, and then walk in the ensuing motion of His leading and enabling.  Or, as the Lord Jesus declared of His life of rest and response, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17)

"Be still," He said.
"I will," I said.
And there was peace.

But then He moved.
And then I moved.
There was peace.

"Be still again," He said.
"I will again," I said.
We move,
and peace remains.

"Be still I will."

"He that is entered into His rest hath ceased from His own works, as God did from His."
(Hebrews 4:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety. 
(Psalm 4:8)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"The Path of Love"

    Trouble tempts us to self-centeredness.  "Job answered and said, Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity weighed in the balances together!" (Job 6:1-2).  

    Contrast this with the Lord Jesus Christ, who upon the cross of His sorrow and forsakeness prayed, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).  Or consider the Apostle Paul's response to difficult challenge - "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation" (II Corinthians 1:5-6) . Clearly the Lord and His servant saw an opportunity in trouble, namely, the means of ministry whereby God redeems our pains into the power to venture forth from ourselves unto blessing others.

    When born again believers face pain and difficulty, of whatever mode and measure, our initial response will involve the normal human tendencies - "I hurt!"  "I'm sad!"  "I'm scared!"  "I'm confused!"  "I've been treated unjustly!"  "I'm angry!"  What if, however, we do not have to remain in the grips of our reaction?  What if we might open the eyes of our hearts to see a path of love lying before us?  It does.  Our faith began with the sufferings of One becoming the redemption of many.  It continues as we realize this same One now dwells in us by His Spirit, purposing to live the same quality of character and life in us.  "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body… for all things are for your sakes" (II Corinthians 4:10; 15). 

    No measure exists whereby the power of this truth can be calculated.  Recognizing trouble as the opportunity to trust God and to remember the difficulties of others empowers us to a transcendant Life far beyond the human.  When the initial question, "Why is this happening to me?" becomes "Who is this for?", the Lord Jesus walks the troubled paths of this world again.  In us.  Moreover, He walks them in the triumph of love whereby self-centerness dissolves in the glory of God's sublime character of devotion to others.  Our particular path begins with prayers for others experiencing trouble - "And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends" (Job 42:10).  It continues by innumerable possibilities of ministry to others, based upon our own difficulties and challenges.  "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).  Only eternity will reveal the wonders of Christ's goodness known thereby, but this moment offers a path to the troubled and hurting, the path of our Lord's love that leads us upward, outward, and away from ourselves unto His glory and the benefit of others

"So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
(II Corinthians 4:12)

Weekly Memory Verse
    I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)

Friday, August 14, 2015

“This Moment”

    As opposed to mere ritual, Biblical Christianity involves the reality of the present and living God.

    "God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9).

    The New Testament teaches that the rituals of the Old Testament served as shadows pointing to the advent, life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Such outward forms passed away in His light and life as the Object that cast the shadow provides anywhere, all the time, 24/7 presence and availability of God (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1-22).  Indeed, the glory of authentic, Christ-infused spiritual reality involves seeing the possibility for worship at all times.

    "He giveth to all life and breath and all things… Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (Acts 17:25; I Corinthians 10:31).

    Note the Apostle's suggestion of Divine involvement (provision) "in all things", leading to the opportunity of an ongoing response to God.  Indeed, if our Heavenly Father grants to us every breath, we could if we so desired find 12-16 opportunities per minute to give thanks.  The Lord's gifts of "life" and "all things" provide altars of gratitude for gifts received everywhere, at all times.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).  Moreover, the born again believer possesses the potential to "do all to the glory of God" (emphasis added)  All.  We need not consider places, postures, or overtly spiritual practices as our only opportunities for active devotion to God.  The first mention of worship in the Bible involved a man escorting his son into a mountain of bloody sacrifice, and then binding his beloved to an altar before raising a knife to pierce the precious heart (Genesis 22).  The Lord stayed Abraham's hand, whose actions constituted worship for the man declared by Paul to be "the father of all them that believe" (Romans 4:11).  Thus, anywhere and anything wherein we trust and obey God transforms into an altar for the sons and daughters of God in Christ.  Indeed, in real spiritual terms, believers don't merely"go to church."   We live in church!  And we take the church wherever we go in the determination to trust and obey God.

    This is reality, the only reality.  Any other notion of life, whether of rejecting the fact of God, or of seeking Him by ritual rather than the reality known by faith, leaves us in either abject darkness or the gloom of shadowed spiritual twilight.  The Lord Jesus suffered and died to deliver us from both options that fail to glorify our Heavenly Father and do not fulfill our hearts.  Indeed, worship that cannot be known and experienced anywhere and everywhere, in any and all circumstances, cannot be considered "the faith once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).  Where you are and where I am affords such opportunity, so allow me to make a quick exit so that we may avail ourselves of the great gift of salvation in the Lord Jesus, namely, the gift of God Himself as known in the reality of this moment

"The Lord is at hand."
(Philippians 4:5)
"Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy."
(Psalm 43:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
    I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)