Wednesday, November 30, 2016



    Whenever our eldest daughter Marie travels with us, she serves as the family navigator.  She possesses a good sense of direction, skillfully uses her GPS, reads maps well, and doesn't mind asking for help from others when all else fails.  I'm grateful for each of these qualities in Marie, particularly the latter point of willingness to humbly seek aid as necessary.

    "Our soul waiteth for the Lord; He is our help" (Psalm 33:20).

   Marie finds that most people are more than willing to be of service to others in helping to find destinations.  Certainly this reflects the heart of the true Source of all help.  Our Heavenly Father loves to come to the aid of His trusting children in Christ.  He frequently does so without our asking.  Indeed, we may one day look back on this lifetime in the awareness of innumerable provisions for needs we never even knew existed, or protections from dangers we never saw because the Lord delivered us so quickly.  However, God withholds some aspects of His good grace until we make request of His help.  "Ye have not because ye ask not" (James 4:2).  This constitutes real relationship and fellowship between Benefactor and beneficiary.  We must be aware enough, knowledgable enough, humble enough, and expectant enough to seek our Lord's help.  Thus, we must keep prayerfully near to the heart of God as revealed in His Word in order to remember that help from Above always exists.  Our Father desires to answer our requests far more than we desire to ask them.  "Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice" (Psalm 63:7).

   The more the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit illuminate us regarding the Lord's willingness and ability to help, the more likely we are to seek His grace not merely in a general sense, but rather in specific aspects of our life and being.  Are there matters of need, difficulty, perplexity, or problem for which we have not consciously and decisively sought the help of God?  Trials may continue because of our failure to ask for His aid.  Of course, some challenges seem to linger even if we do seek the Lord because His provision for need sometimes graces us in a different manner than we expect.  Of this we can be sure: God helps all who seek Him with a humble, trusting heart in the Lord Jesus.  He does so in accordance with His wisdom and definition of our need.  This may challenge our understanding and ability to see His aid.  But He always helps those who ask in accordance with the parameters of grace and faith He sets forth in His Word.  Always…

"For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed."
(Isaiah 50:7)
"He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded." 
(I Peter 2:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
(Titus 3:1-2)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“Answered Prayers, Floating From the Sky”

(A repeat, from 2011, and one of my all time favorites to have written)

"Answered Prayers, Floating From the Sky"   

"He saith to the snow, Be thou upon the earth."
(Job 37:6)  

   I'll never forget the day we saw millions of answered prayers, floating from the sky.

   Many years ago in our Sunday evening fellowship, my daughter Emmie and her friend Lila began to regularly request prayer that it would snow. We prayed accordingly, telling the girls that if God deemed it to be in accordance with His glory and our best interests, He would gladly answer.

   Several years passed with no snow.  This led one of the girls to decide we needed to be more specific in our praying. "I want to pray that it will snow in Mobile, Alabama." Once again, we asked the Lord for snow, this time more pointedly and directed toward a place He rarely sees fit to whiten in the winter.

   Still no snow, but Lila and Emmie doggedly followed the Biblical principle of perseverance and importunity in prayer.  Per their ongoing request, we prayed weekly for snow in Mobile, Alabama.  Finally, on a Sunday evening I'll never forget, one of the young ladies upped the ante, as it were, and in a major way.  I think it was Lila.  "I want to pray," she said, "that it will snow in Mobile, Alabama - on Christmas Day."

   I recall my response. Shifting a bit uncomfortably in my chair, I cleared my throat, pausing to find the right words to say regarding so tall an order of prayer.  "Uh... uh yes, Lila.  We can certainly pray that it will snow in Mobile, Alabama on Christmas Day, if it be the Lord's will."

   Now you have to understand the meteorological context of this matter to realize the magnitude of Lila's request.  Mobilians rarely see snow during any winter. Maybe once every 5-6 years, the weatherman will tell us that we have a chance, a small chance, for snowfall, usually in January or February.  Most of us get pretty excited when that happens, and then feel pretty disappointed when snow almost invariably fails to materialize.  The thought of snow in Mobile, Alabama on Christmas Day?  Well, I'll just echo  Bing Crosby: we dream of a white Christmas.

    I explained to the girls, as I had in the past, that we would surely honor their request, but with the caveat of all prayer. "We all understand that God's glory and will must be our first reason for praying about anything," I said.   "He always looks to our best interests in answering our prayers.  So, we will indeed pray that it will snow in Mobile, Alabama on Christmas Day, as the Lord sees fit."

   Every Sunday thereafter, for a number of years, we prayed accordingly. In those days, Lila's family and ours gathered together on Christmas Day for dinner and the sharing of the holiday together.  On one of those occasions, the day dawned very cold (always a nice Christmas blessing in Mobile, where it can be 70 degrees on December 25).  As the day progressed, the skies became overcast, and weather reports indicated a chance of rain late in the afternoon. We had our dinner together, opened some presents, and played a game our families traditionally enjoyed each year.

   Not too long before nightfall, several of the young people stepped outside. They're weren't out there long, however, because the door flew open as one of them burst into the house. "Hey, you won't believe this!  Come outside!  It's snowing!"

   Yes, it was snowing.  In Mobile, Alabama.  On Christmas Day. I never think, speak or write those words without tears welling up in my eyes.  Let me write the words again.  It was snowing.  In Mobile, Alabama.  On Christmas Day.  Or perhaps more to the point, it was snowing millions of answers to prayer in Mobile, Alabama on Christmas Day.  We all ran outside and let the unfamiliar feeling of snowflakes bless us with the wonder of frozen white wonder, but even more, of the Psalmist's supplication, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us" (Psalm 90:17).

   The snow didn't accumulate that day.  Emmie and Lila forgot to pray about that matter.  I've always been glad about that because I suspect that had they done so, Mobile might still be digging out from the blizzard that would have descended upon us!  But what they asked for, they received because in our wonderful Heavenly Father's purposes, it did honor the Lord Jesus Christ, and it was in our best interests.

   Sometimes I wonder what the effect of this will be in Lila and Emmie's hearts.  They have already grown into two sweet, wonderful, beautiful and fine young ladies.  They bear a legacy of requesting and seeing God's loving faithfulness in a particularly special way.  I have to believe the wonder of it all will with them for a lifetime and an eternity, as it will for all of us who heard the prayers and saw the snow.  Yes, it snowed in Mobile, Alabama on Christmas Day, in response to the prayers of two children who exemplified the faith to which we are called, and even more, the faithfulness of the God who calls us.

   It's not often you get to see millions of answers to prayer, floating from the sky.  I wish you could have been there, both for the hearing of hundreds of Sunday evening requests, and then for that day, that blessed day, when Lila and Emmie's Heavenly Father doubtless took great pleasure in blessing their hearts, and ours. And hopefully now, yours.

"Thy mercy, o Lord, is in the heavens, faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds."
(Psalm 36:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
(Titus 3:1-2)

Monday, November 28, 2016

“The Sound, the Abundance, the Rain”

"The Sound, the Abundance, the Rain"     

   Like much of the southern portion of the United States, drought presently plagues our area.  Forecasters predict precipitation in the next few days, and we will gladly look toward the heavens with hope for "sound of abundance of rain" (I Kings 18:41).

   "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is" (Psalm 63:1).

   In times of spiritual drought, the great Forecaster calls us to look Heavenward no less for the the sound, the abundance, and the rain.  "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:2-3).  Unlike earthly prognosticators, our Heavenly Father guarantees the certainty of His prediction of spiritual precipitation.  If we look in accordance with the upward gaze of faith as defined by Scripture, we will experience the refreshing of the Lord Jesus Christ that has never once failed to fall upon those who look to Him.  The challenge involves our gaze.  Will we fix and focus our attention on the Savior who serves as the very Life of our lives and the ongoing refreshing of our hearts?  An open Bible, prayerful communion with our Father through the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of faithful brothers and sisters determines the answer to this question.  Genuine faith does not just happen.  God made and spiritually birthed us in Christ with the capacity to avail ourselves of His drought preventing and drought ending grace.  The Apostle Paul commanded, "Exercise thyself rather unto godliness" (I Timothy 4:7).  Thus, if we find ourselves to be "wearied and faint", we can be sure of one thing: we are not "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" according to the parameters set by Scripture.

   I seek to often remember that God comforts, but He does not coddle.  He rather calls us to do something when we feel or act as if we are spiritually parched.  We are to look.  Or more literally, our Father commands that we gaze upon His Son and our Lord.  This involves the remembrance of His promised aid, and the chosen confidence that "sound of abundance of rain" assures us of the certainty of His forecast.  No one has ever trusted in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus and been disappointed for doing so.  No one ever will.  "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" declared the Psalmist, clouds that are full of life-giving and drought-ending waters (Psalm 36:5).  We cannot know with certainty that rain will fall on our area in the next few days.  However, we can be sure of the sound, the abundance, and the rain for our hearts.  The Forecaster promised such grace, and He also determines the climate of our spirits, administering His refreshing in accordance with our looking…

"He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
(John 7:38)
"Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby Thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary."
(Psalm 68:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
(Titus 3:1-2)

Friday, November 25, 2016

"A Gift We Can Give"

"A Gift We Can Give"     

    What do you give to the One who has everything?  "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).  All things and people already belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He made all things, and He sustains all "by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3).  Thus, we cannot give ourselves or any tangible possession to the One who already exists as "the Possessor of Heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:19).  Regarding people, this does not mean that everybody knows the Lord in a saving relationship of grace received through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, all belong to God in the sense that no created being can usurp or thwart the reality that "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).  

    Interestingly, the Bible teaches that there is something we can give to our Lord despite the aforementioned truth of His place as "the Possessor".

    "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name" (I Chronicles 16:29).
    "I will sing and give praise" (Psalm 108:1).
    "O give thanks unto the Lord" (Psalm 108:9).

    When we seek to honor, praise, and thank our Heavenly Father in response to the Holy Spirit's moving within our hearts, we "give" unto Him a particular offering that did not exist until we exercised our capacity to adore, affirm, and appreciate Him.  Be it glory, praise, or thanksgiving, our offerings constitute a gift we can give to the One who has everything.  Of course, in the strictest sense, we depend upon Him for the capacity to make our offering.  Nevertheless, something of our own freely chosen determination to lovingly acknowledge our Lord allows us to "give glory… praise… thanksgiving".  This motivates us to seriously ponder our Christ-enabled capacity to engage our hearts and minds in our offerings of love.  

   In the light of this truth, we seek to avoid rote or mindless praises and thanksgivings.  Just as we put time and thought into tangible gifts we give to people, we far more consider our intangible gifts of the heart given to our Lord.  Quality always transcends quantity in our walk with Him.  Why and how we do what we do must accompany what we do.  Thus, we rejoice in the only gifts we can literally give to the Giver of "life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).  Moreover, we seek to be sure that we offer with the heart, from the heart, and by the heart.  Our Lord is worthy of such seriously considered appreciation and the gift we can thereby give to Him.

"I will freely sacrifice unto Thee.  I will praise Thy name, o Lord, for it is good." 
(Psalm 54:6)

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

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Orange Moonrise" Thanksgiving Day, 2016

"Orange Moonrise"     

Thanksgiving Day, 2016

    Earlier this month, we began our nineteenth year of writing and sending out these devotionals.  For those new to us, I thought I'd share the story of how this all began in November, 1998.  For those with us awhile, you've likely read this before, although it's been awhile since we told the story.

     Back in those days, Frances received as a gift a devotional book she enjoyed.  She decided to send excerpts to a few family and friends, and did so for several weeks.  During a Bible study, however, I shared a message about the role of believers concerning our responsibility to obey not only God's authority, but also human government and laws.

    "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (I Peter 2:13-17).

    The message gave Frances pause about sending the excerpts, not being sure about copyright laws.  Again, she only sent the messages to a few people, but the Apostle Peter's mandate regarding our God-ordained respect for authority concerned her.  She shared her thoughts with me, and I agreed with her hesitation.  Then a thought occurred to me.  "Hey, why don't we write and send our own messages?"  The more I thought about the matter, the more it seemed like the thing to do.  Moreover, we had a ready made name for the devotionals, or so it seemed to me.  "We'll call it The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe!"  Seems obvious, doesn't it?  Well, it did to us because a year or two before, Frances and I had a notion to open a Christian coffeeshop called the Orange Moon Cafe.  We prayed about this, which led a friend to invite me to breakfast one morning.  "Glen", he said, "this is not a good idea.  You and Frances have no business experience, your lives are already full, and operating a coffeeshop would detract from the ministries God has called you to perform."  Our friend was right, of course, and we shelved the notion of an Orange Moon Cafe until the idea of sending out devotionals occurred to us.  So, the Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe came to fruition, albeit electronically rather than in brick and mortar.  Oh yes, the Orange Moon part originates in a song I wrote for Frances many years ago on her birthday as I witnessed a beautiful moonrise.  We've done a lot of things under that moon as sort of a theme of our life and ministry, which reminds me to thank all of you who through the years have called or written to let me know you've seen an orange moon rising.

   So, here we are after eighteen years, and I have to say that I would never have expected to still be writing and sending the messages after such a time.  I don't know what I expected, actually.  But here's what's happened, in Biblical terms:

    "Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

    I literally cannot imagine the years gone by without the Orange Moon.  Writing the messages has been and remains one of the most sanctifying experiences of my life.  I hope that you and others benefit from them, of course.  But I know that I do.  In fact, I consider that your reading the devotionals involves your peeking over my shoulder to look at the product of my own devotional time with our Lord each day.  Most of the messages are written very early in the morning, and sent out on the same day I compose them (this is my excuse for typos, and for those days when you doubtless wish I had written the words in English! :):)  ).  I look forward to writing the messages each day, and rarely know the theme I'll consider until sitting down with my laptop computer.  The devotionals originate in three main sources, namely, the Bible, thoughts that occur to me in prayer, and the fellowship and prayers of like-hearted believers like yourself.  Regarding that last point, your example, encouragement, and insight have inspired so many of the words I have written over the years.  Indeed, I feel like a lot of folks actually write the messages.   I just have the pleasure and privilege of being the one who sits down to tap out the words on the keyboard.  For that, I cannot begin to adequately thank the Lord or you.  I will be grateful forever.

   Finally, when thinking of the Orange Moon devotionals, I constantly ponder the people I would never have known if this endeavor had not existed.  I cannot imagine that, and don't want to!  I have no words to thank our Lord on this day in the United States devoted to offering gratitude.  Simply know this: as soon as I send this message, I will descend to my knees to give thanks for all of you.  I would not have wanted to have lived without knowing you, whether face to face, or heart to heart.  You have been bright lights of the Lord Jesus Christ to me, and again, I will have no words as I pray to express my gratitude for the gift of your fellowship and friendship.  Yes, "exceeding abundantly above…"

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now."
(Philippians 1:3-5)

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

“Project, Process, Perfection”

"Project, Process, Perfection"     

    Born again believers are projects involved in a process that will ultimately end in perfection.

    "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works… 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" (Ephesians 2:10; I John 3:2).

   God does not save us for mere rescue, but rather for redemption and renewal.  He purposes to make us like the Lord Jesus in terms of nature, character, and way.  He works all things together for the good of this holy intention (Romans 8:28-29).  This includes today, "the day which the Lord hath made" wherein He will execute the process in our lives that furthers His purpose of spiritual and moral transformation from Christ-notlikeless to Christlikeness.  This explains at least in terms of general principle the reason for many mysterious things that happen in our lives.  Our Heavenly Father works to make us like the Son of His eternal love through the involved and dynamic presence of His Spirit.  "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).  We may not understand exactly how some experiences further the project, but we can be sure they do.  Our Father works toward perfection, to be realized later, but to be engineered today.

   He also works in us for the benefit of others as they journey with the Lord toward Christlikeness.  Hopefully, we serve as a positive example and expression of the Savior's character - "walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).  Our demeanor, attitude, words, and deeds can illuminate our brothers and sisters in Christ as they reflect the Holy Spirit's working in us to reveal God's project, process, and quest for perfection.  We may simply exemplify the Lord Jesus, or we may encourage others with the remembrance of God's working in us, or we may serve as evidence of His faithfulness in executing the process.  "Remember that bad attitude Joe used to have?  The Lord seems to have knocked that chip off his shoulder and replaced it with the love of Christ in his heart."  Conversely, it is also possible that our Father might have to use us as a negative expression of what a believer should not exemplify.  "It's hard to understand how old Joe still acts that way after so many years as a believer.  Lord, search me for anything in my life that also may not reflect the character and nature of the Lord Jesus."  Surely we hope to avoid this type of God's working in all His children to bring the body of Christ into conformity with His Son.

   "We shall be like Him."  Our Father works incessantly to birth and then mature a spiritual race of many sons and daughters who think, speak, act, and relate like the Lord Jesus.  We sometimes ask, "What is the Lord doing?"  Many answers serve to inform us regarding this question, some beyond our understanding.  Of this, however, we can be certain: God purposes to glorify every person who receives His saving grace in the Lord Jesus.  Such glory means conformity to Him.  This is the project and process that presently and inexorably moves toward the perfection of the most loving gift our Father could give to us.  To be like the Beloved, that is, to be like the One who perfectly receives and responds in kind to His Father's holy devotion - this is quest that will be perfectly fulfilled, and that cost our Lord so very much to ensure that we shall be like Him... 

"It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
(Hebrews 2:10)

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

“Thanksgiving Forever”

"Thanksgiving Forever"     

    As Thanksgiving Day in the United States approaches, a thought occurs to me.  What if this were the only time in the year that we gave thanks to God?  How would this affect our lives, and the lives of those around us?

    Several possibilities come to mind.  First, gratitude would exist only as a ceremonial observance that had little effect in our hearts.  We do not give thanks merely to give thanks, but rather as a response to reality.  The Bible declares God to be the Giver of "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17).  Failure to frequently acknowledge such gracious generosity bestowed by the Maker and Sustainer of our being can only mean that we walk in a darkness that mere ceremonial observance could never overcome.  "In everything give thanks, for the is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).

   Once a year thanksgiving would also reveal a great emptiness of heart and soul in us.  God made us to be thankful beings, not because He needs our gratitude to fulfill His heart.  Surely we please Him by offering thanks, but our Heavenly Father does not require our response to Him for personal contentment.  He dwells as a being without any need whatsoever (Acts 17:25).  We, however, dwell as beings completely in need of the good grace our Lord continually supplies.  As the old hymn declares, "out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again".  We continually receive, and thus to experience truth and reality, we must consistently offer our thanksgiving to God.  Failure to do so reveals a void that accounts for numerous spiritual and moral (and perhaps even physical) pathologies that plague so many.  We were made to receive and to respond to our Father as He gives to us "life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).  Ceremonial thanksgiving cannot fill the void in our hearts caused by lack of gratitude.

    We would also fail to bless others if our only expression of thanksgiving occurred on the fourth Thursday of the year.  Just as a bitter well poisons, so a fount of sweet water offers refreshing sustenance.  The thankful heart does not experience grace merely for itself.  Living waters flow to others by the demeanor, attitude, words, and actions of the grateful (John 7:38).  A.W. Tozer wrote that "thanksgiving is the sweetener of the soul".  This includes the one who offers gratitude, and those around the thankful one who realizes and acknowledges the goodness of God's indescribably generous heart.

   Finally, once a year thanksgiving would limit opportunity to glorify the Lord Jesus and His redeeming work on our behalf.  Every free gift provided by our Heavenly Father comes to us as purchased by the price of our Savior's lifeblood.  This includes our next breath, which graces us as the gift of God.  This also includes every good gift.  Whether we consciously remember or express it on each occasion, each offering of genuine thanksgiving to God involves the affirmation that Christ died in an agony that secures not only our salvation, but rather all Divine supply and provision.  Had the Lord Jesus not received the sorrows of Calvary, we could not receive the freely given gifts of grace that eternally flow from His wounds and His broken heart.  Once a year?  Oh no, we could never truly honor our Lord by a mere annual ceremonial observance.  We rather seek to thank Him now, to thank Him often, and to join the Psalmist in his devotion to eternal expression of the most heartfelt gratitude…

"I will give thanks unto Thee forever!"
(Psalm 30:12)

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

“We Ain’t Him!”

"We Ain't Him!"     

    Each Friday morning, Frances and I enjoy the fellowship of our dear friends Wayne and Dusty.  We have breakfast with our brothers in Christ at a restaurant owned by believers who also bless us with their love for the Lord and for people (thanks, Bennie, Kathy, and staff!).  The food is great, and the occasion has become one of our favorite times of the week.

    This past Friday, Wayne made a statement in response to a comment by Dusty.  I don't recall exactly what Dusty said, but Wayne responded, "Well, we have to remember one thing: God is God, and we are not!" (actually, I think Wayne may expressed himself in his native Southern dialect, "God is God, and we ain't Him!)

   "Thou art God alone… Put them in fear, o Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men" (Psalm 86:10; 9:20).

   I would suggest that no statement more accurately and succinctly expresses the fundamental truth of Scripture than Wayne's comment: "God is God and we ain't Him!"  Long ago in Eden, Satan infected the human race with his deception that we can "be as gods" (Genesis 3:5).  No, we cannot.  God - the triune God of Scripture who dwells eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - is God.  There is no other, and there never will be.  Many created beings exist, including conscious angels and people possessed of great gifts and capacities.  "Angels are greater in power and might… I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (I Peter 2:11; Psalm 139:13).  Moreover, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are spiritually united to God in such a bond that the Apostle Paul declared, "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Corinthians 6:17).  However, God forever abides as"God alone" and we forever remain creatures dependent on Him for "life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).

   The truth we consider is not difficult to remember in principle.  In practice, however, the devil, the world, and the flesh often tempt us to take over the reins of Divinity.  Every time we give in to fear about the present or the future, for example, we unwittingly seek to be our own god.  Indeed, by definition, believers have committed the care of both now and forever to our Heavenly Father.  We have wisely turned the reins over to Him in the confidence of His perfect - perfect! - ability to safely and effectively lead us through our lives.  "Thou art my hope, o Lord God, Thou art my trust from my youth" (Psalm 71:5).  Remembrance of such truth constitutes not only confidence in the Lord's promised leadership and enabling, but also remembrance of Wayne's wise counsel: "God is God and we ain't Him!"  Nagging insecurity and fear always involves forgetfulness of this foundational truth.  Thus, we overcome temptations to fear by the affirmation of one God.  Or, we return in repentance by the same truth if we have given in to the devil's deception.

    "God is God, and we ain't Him!"  That's fine Southern American vernacular.  It's even better Biblical truth.  Thanks, Wayne and Dusty, and thank You, Lord for the light of Your Word that graces us when we remember and affirm Your singular place as "God alone".  No other truth more graces us with the peace of the Lord Jesus.  Nor does any other truth more honor Him as we "give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name" (I Chronicles 16:29).  This day and this moment offers such opportunity to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness".  Thereby we experience the tranquility of ensuring that the reins of our lives rest safely in the only One who can successfully bear them for His glory and our benefit (Psalm 29:2).  

"I am the Lord, and there is none else.  There is no God beside Me."
(Isaiah 45:5)

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

“Wisdom Promised and Expected”

"Wisdom Promised and Expected"     

    God promises wisdom to His trusting children in Christ.  He also commands us to believe He will keep His promise regarding His leadership and guidance.

   "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord" (James 1:5-6).

   Solomon echoes this promise and command in Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."  No greater peace blesses us in Christ than the promise of a life directed by One whose "understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).  We know so very little; He knows all.  Wisdom thus decrees that we trust in a guidance beyond ourselves as we acknowledge our great need for the Light that "shineth in darkness" (John 1:5).

   Of course, we use our minds as we seek the mind of God.  Solomon did not suggest that we completely ignore "thine own understanding".  He rather called us to not "lean" on it.  We trust the Lord to inform and illuminate our minds as we look to Him.  This involves better thinking and better decision making in the use of our mental faculties.  The Spirit and Scripture-led believer does not wait for voices or impulses as he seeks the guidance of the Lord.  We rather expect the Lord's working in our minds to guide us in knowledge, understanding, and analysis regarding the matters of life.  Thereby we make better decisions as our Lord fulfills His promise to provide wisdom, and as we fulfill our calling to expect His faithful provision of wisdom.  This is peace, the peace of Divine trustworthiness, and the peace of engaging our God-given mental faculties by the power of God-given grace.

   Most of us ask the Lord to lead us as we begin our days.  Let us be sure to include the determined choice to believe that He will do so.  Our Heavenly Father cannot lie, and He cannot fail to be faithful in fulfilling His promises.  He will not disappoint us as His Spirit enables better thinking, better analysis, and better decision making in the hearts and minds of those who "ask of God", and who "ask in faith".

"He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded."
(I Peter 2:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.
(I John 5:21)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"No Fear In Love" Part 2

"No Fear In Love"

Part 2

    Walking with God in His peace does not presently involve the absence of fearful thoughts and emotions, but rather the overcoming of them.

    "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4).

    Regardless of how well born again believers know the Lord Jesus Christ and understand His truth, temptations to fearfulness confront us in the fallen world in which we  live.  We can view this reality in two different ways, that is, in terms of liability or of opportunity.  The former perspective ignores the Bible's declarations of God's promised presence, involvement, and enabling.  The Psalmist faced such challenge.  "I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop" (Psalm 102:7).  Countless spiritual and moral pathologies ensue when we respond to the deception that we face life alone.  Indeed, the heart of every temptation to fear actually involves the temptation to disbelieve the security and peace of our Lord's assurance: "I am with you always… I will go with thee… I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Isaiah 43:2; Hebrews 13:5).  

   The Biblical perspective regarding temptation to fear calls us to realize the opportunity provided in such challenge.  Again, overcoming characterizes true spirituality in our present life, in this case, the overcoming of the deception that we must face life alone.  Thus, we expect to be tempted to fearfulness by the world, the devil, and the flesh.  We expect even more that the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts to remind us that we actually face life in the light and countenance of God's face.  "As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness" (Psalm 17:15).  Every temptation to be controlled by fearful insecurity provides the privileged responsibility for beholding God's face, that is, of believing and affirming the truth of His Person and His Word.  This is love, the love of God for us that became the love of God in us when we believed, and now becomes the love of God leading us in the righteousness and peace of overcoming fear by faith.  

   Are there matters of fearfulness that we have seen as liability rather than opportunity?  Do we view certain aspects of our life apart from the remembrance of "I am with you always… I will go with thee… I will never leave thee nor forsake thee"?  If so, it is not to late to join the Psalmist in beholding the Lord's face in righteousness.  We repent of our unbelief, and we realize by faith the possibility that lies before us.  Our enemies who tempt us unwittingly make possible our doing the very thing that constitutes true life and living - "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).  The opportunity of overcoming thus presents itself whenever we face temptations to fear and insecurity.  Even more, our Lord presents Himself as the very Life of our lives, and the peace of our hearts…

"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)
"Do not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
(Romans 12:21)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.
(I John 5:21)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

“No Fear In Love"

"No Fear In Love"

    "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:18).

    In a world that constantly beckons us to be afraid, our Heavenly Father would have His trusting children in Christ to live with a heart of peace.  Thus, He bestowed His love upon and within us when we trusted in the Lord Jesus.

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

   Worldly fearfulness and Divine love bear an inverse relationship to one another.  They cannot coexist.  Boil fear down to it essence and self centeredness is exposed.  Boil love down to its essence and we discover unselfish devotion to God and others.  Nothing more drives us into the black hole of "I, me, and my" than giving into the temptation to distrust our Lord and allow insecurity to control our attitudes, words, and actions.  Conversely, nothing more causes the light of Christ to shine through us for the glory of God and the blessing of others than overcoming devilish challenges of fearfulness.  The love of God and the peace of our hearts go hand in hand, while fleshly self centeredness and fear slither together in the darkness of unbelief.

   We must connect the dots of peace and love, and of fear and self centeredness.  Our spiritual enemies tempt us with fearfulness in order to cause far more serious consequences than simply making us afraid.  They rather seek to enshroud us with selfishness.  We therefore overcome the temptation by the love of God, especially the love that indwells us to enable our devotion to our Lord and to people.  We cannot long live in fear as we remember and affirm that through Christ, we exist for God and others.  Thoughts and feelings of insecurity thus provide opportunity for overcoming fear by the "faith, which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6).  This includes, by the way, the temptation to be fearful about the well being of others.  We do people no favors by being afraid for them.  Moreover, if we boil such fearfulness down to its essence, we find fleshly self centeredness skulking in the darkness.  The love of Christ rather leads us to proper concern for others, but a concern that leads us to trust God rather than surrender to fear.  Peace and love go hand in hand, heart in heart.  Fear and self centeredness also dwell together in the unholy union of devil, world, and flesh.

   "No fear in love."  We do well to remember this truth often, and to avail ourselves of the bond of peace and unselfish devotion to others.  A needy world awaits our walk in such tranquility, and its companion of Christ's love.

"Peace be with the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 6:23)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.
(I John 5:21)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"God's Acceptance"

"God's Acceptance"

    God's acceptance of His trusting children in Christ involves two aspects of truth.

    "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).
    "We labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:9-10).

    God freely accepts the person of all who trust in the Lord Jesus because our salvation spiritually unites us with the Lord Jesus.  Nothing changes or can change this grace-given favor and relationship with God through Christ.  Conversely, our Heavenly Father may or may not accept our doings as believers, based upon whether they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts.  Thus, we can rest in His love regarding who we are as sons and daughters in Christ.  Regarding our works, however, we realize that God in His holiness can only accept the doings that accord with His character, nature, and way.  We are "justified… by Him" regarding our person and saving relationship with our Lord.  Conversely, our works are acceptable only if they flow from the spiritual and moral fount of the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts (Acts 13:39).

    The truth we consider provides one of the most foundational elements of New Testament teaching.  The Apostle Paul clearly taught both aspects of this doctrine of God's acceptance in Christ.  Born again believers can be certain of our Christ-secured acceptance with God.  We should be supremely confident of such grace if we have believed.  Our Father would have us rest in the joyous peace of our inviolable bond with Him.  However, regarding "the things done in our body", we recognize that presently and at the Judgment Seat to come, God puts our works to the test.  This creates in us the proper determination to join Paul in his commitment - "I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily" (Colossians 1:29). 

   A final thought: this consideration always reminds me of something my mother said to me.  "Glen, I always love you.  But I don't always like you!" By this, she actually meant that nothing could ever change the fact that I was her beloved son.  However, my doings, including attitudes as well as actions, did not always please her.  She loved me, but didn't always like how I acted.  I think this illustrates how our Heavenly Father views us.  United to His Son, He loves us boundlessly, endlessly, and with unfettered acceptance.  How we think, speak, act, and relate, however, may or may not meet the test of His favor.  We wouldn't want it any other way.  Our Father is faithful to His own nature, character, and way by accepting us "in the Beloved", and also by putting our works to the test of whether they proceed from the Spirit or the flesh.  In her own way, my mother taught me this.  Even more, the Word of God plainly reveals both aspects of God's acceptance, as administered through our Savior and the Holy Spirit.

"Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.  For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."
(Ephesians 5:8-10)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.
(I John 5:21)

Monday, November 14, 2016

“The Reality of Love"

"The Reality of Love"

    The word "love" freely flows from human tongues and pens, but often unaccompanied by any understanding of what the term actually means.

   "The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).

   Only God's definition of love matters, as provided by the illumination of Scripture.  To know love, we must know Him.  To understand the meaning of love, we must be illuminated by His Word.  All other sources deceive us, painting a portrait of love that distorts our reception and experience of this most vital reality of our being.  Indeed, consider the Bible's declaration, "God is love" (I John 4:8).  Moreover, the two great commands call us to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mark 12:30-31).  Thus, it behooves us to find out what love actually is, as revealed by the only One who can tell us because He alone exists as the very essence of love.

    Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of God's love - again, the only love that actually exists - involves the truth of His wrath and chastening.  Our Heavenly Father could not be love, nor could He act in love, apart from the execution of judgment upon the wicked, and discipline upon His children.  Those who will not receive or regard Him must ultimately be removed as a threat to the sanctity of God's creation, and particularly, of God's children.  Allowed to forever remain in proximity to His realm and His people, the unrighteous would eventually destroy all things.  Love therefore must act on behalf of its recipients in order to remain faithful to them, and to itself.  Presently, God must also act in the discipline of love toward His trusting children in Christ.  "Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6).  No genuinely caring father withholds the rod when only the rod can guide the child in the way of truth and peace.  Love, God's love, therefore hurts us when necessary as no less an expression of compassion than the tender caress.

   Our spiritual enemies fight against our understanding of genuine love more forcefully than another other aspect of God's truth.  We must rightly know our Lord's definition if we are to rightly respond in our calling to love Him and others.  Only the Word of God and the Spirit of God can teach us regarding this most vital aspect of our existence.  Let us therefore make the matter an ongoing inquiry in our personal walk with the Lord, and in our consideration together.  What is love?  Who is love?  What does love do?  How does love act?  Only in the light of God's countenance can we find the answers, as revealed by the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.  

"And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God."
(II Thessalonians 3:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.
(I John 5:21)

Friday, November 11, 2016

"More By Midnight"

"More By Midnight"

    Many years ago, I discussed a particular matter about which I know very little with a person who might be considered an expert in the field we considered together.  I suppose I sounded as if I thought myself knowledgeable about the issue despite my lack of direct information and experience.  The person with whom I spoke responded graciously, but with much candor.  "I don't mean to be respectful", he said, "but you really don't know very much about what you're talking about."

   I cherish that moment.  The person who made the comment meant well, and fulfilled his intention.  I didn't know very much about the matter we addressed.  More importantly, I needed to be reminded of my ignorance.

    "If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (I Corinthians 8:2).

   In spiritual matters, we must maintain the attitude of "nothing yet as we ought to know".  We can possess knowledge of God and His truth, of course, and should grow into maturity in our relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, the Subject remains infinitely vast.  Regardless of  how far we venture into the realm of our Lord and His truth, eternity stretches before us with glories yet to be viewed, wonders yet to be experienced, and truth yet to be understood.  No "experts" exist regarding any aspect of God and His truth.  Some may know more than others, and may be equipped and gifted by the Lord to communicate those glories, wonders, and truth.  However, all genuine Christian communicators believe themselves to have dipped merely a toe into the infinity of God's shoreless ocean.  True knowledge of the Lord Jesus and His truth humbles rather than exalts.  His light illuminates with increasing knowledge, including the realization that regardless of how much we know, God's truth reminds us - "nothing yet as we ought to know".

   Such truth should thrill us, even as it keeps us in the proper frame of mind.  Again, God's infinite nature, being, and way comprise the primary reason that we require growth in knowledge and experience.  We will never reach a final destination of our journey into the glory of the Lord Jesus.  This day includes a leg of that eternal adventure.  We can know more by midnight than we did at dawn.  None of us will achieve expert status, but we can in this day "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  I think about this often when remembering that somebody once cared enough to inform me that I possessed far less knowledge about a subject than I realized.  In a far more important matter, the truth is even more vital and necessary to be kept near in heart and mind.  No less than the Apostle Paul realized the glory of the Infinite and his continual need for progress in the eternal process...

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:13-14)

Weekly Memory Verse
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"The Provision of Grace

"The Provision of Grace"

    "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Corinthians 2:12).
    The Holy Spirit bears witness to the bountiful provision of grace provided to believers through the Lord Jesus Christ.  By His Word, His working in our lives, and the revelation of creation, God's Spirit declares to us that "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).  Conversely, the world, the flesh, and the devil seek to discourage our confidence in the supply our Heavenly Father administers according to His love, wisdom, and purposes.  We live in a world of need that affects believers no less than others, and we often feel and experience the challenges that may seem to belie God's promise of provision.

    "Seem" is the operative word in the last statement.  "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).  The Christian life involves a walk in Truth amid countless appearances that God and His supply are not at hand.  David faced the challenge, to the degree that in one circumstance he cried out in anguish, "Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" (Psalm 77:9).  The Psalmist knew better, of course, but the earthly realities with which we all must contend challenged his heart and mind.  Sometimes it looks and feels as if God has forgotten to supply His grace.  He never does, of course.  Never.  However, He administers His provision in a manner that coincides with the glory of the Lord Jesus and our best interests.  This often involves a walk of faith wherein we must see that which cannot be seen, even as the writer of Hebrews declared, "Moses… endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:24; 27).  We require the walk of faith that characterizes our present experience.  Such experience itself constitutes God's supply as He emphasizes the needs of our hearts first and foremost.  Indeed, in times when we wonder about seemingly missing  "things" of God's provision, He may well be administering His provision to our deepest and truest need, namely, the knowledge of Himself.  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

    Only the Spirit of God can assure our hearts of provision when provision seems lacking.  He leads us to His Word and to the testimony of fellow believers in such times.  These voices bear witness to those freely given bestowals of grace that often shine forth in obvious display, but sometimes do not.  God has not forgotten to be gracious, nor can He ever omit the administration of His faithfulness.  This is truth.  This is reality.  This is provision, for this moment and forevermore.  The Holy Spirit bears witness, as does the Bible, the body of Christ, and God's creation.  May we respond in faith, heeding our Lord's command to "judge not according to the appearance".  We rather judge according to our Father's perfect faithfulness in providing according to His loving wisdom and our truest need.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:19)

Weekly Memory Verse
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

“According To Your Faith"

"According To Your Faith"

    Our experience of life hinges on our response to God and His truth rather than happenings.

   "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life… My expectation is from Him" (Psalm 23:6; 62:5).

   Do we look behind to see "goodness and mercy" following hard on our heels?  Do we look ahead in anticipation that our Lord awaits us at every destination?   How we consistently answer these questions determines a heart kept in the peace and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ, or a heart tossed to and fro by circumstances, conditions, and situations.  The issue does not primarily concern happenings.  Pleasant and unpleasant things occur in everyone's lives.  What matters is how we respond to the events of life, or more importantly, how we respond to God in them.  Some of the most miserable people in the world live amid riches, ease, health, and the freedom to do what what they want, go where they please, and live like kings and queens.  Conversely, some of the most joyous people in the world live in difficulty, possess little, and are seemingly bound by poverty, weakness, illness, and need.  Indeed, if joy could be measured, I suspect we might find that in every moment, the most genuinely content human being on the planet may seem to possess nothing in earthly terms, but has everything in the Lord Jesus.  "As having nothing, and yet possessing all things…" (II Corinthians 6:10).

   Some people, including even believers, look behind and see trouble and danger.  Some look ahead not with expectations "from Him", but rather from the vagaries of chance, or the prospects of calamity, or even the designs of devilish influences.  Again, how we view our wake behind and our path ahead determines how we experience life.  We can choose to exclude God  from our consideration.  If so, He will allow us to wallow in our self-imposed discontent.  Conversely, we can choose through Christ to look behind and look ahead with eyes of the heart that see the living God as the very Life of our lives.  If so, we will still experience the human realities of the pleasant, the unpleasant, and the mundane.  However, we will do so with a spirit maintained in peace, joy, and the promise of "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).  The choice is ours, the choice of faith or unbelief.  God paves the path of our lives, both behind and ahead.  However, we determine whether we will see Him along that path, and thus experience the journey in the light of His glory, or the darkness of disbelief...

"According to your faith, be it unto you."
(Matthew 9:29)

Weekly Memory Verse
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016



    We represent our Lord Jesus Christ in everything we do.  In our private lives, we seek to live in such a manner that when we go public, as it were, we will be ready to express attitudes, demeanor, words, and actions that reflect the true Light of our Savior.  In the presence of others, we seek to realize that we either accurately the character and nature of Christ, or we give forth a distorted image of who He is and what He does.

   "We are ambassadors for Christ" (II Corinthians 5:20).

   The Apostle Paul wrote these words in reference to himself and Timothy (the co-author of II Corinthians, and five other of Paul's epistles).  However, the truth of ambassadorship involves every born again believer in the Lord Jesus.  We take His name when we believe, identity ourselves with Him in baptism, and thereafter live every moment of our lives as His representatives on the earth.  This constitutes both a blessed privilege, and a solemn responsibility.  The glorious and completely undeserved calling provides meaning, purpose, and mission in all things.  For this, we bow in amazed wonder and joyous anticipation.  However, we also bow in the solemn awareness that we can bear a false image of the Lord Jesus if we succumb to the temptation to act in a manner that belies His character and nature.  People will either see Christ as He is in us, or they will see a false representation of Him.  

   This blessed truth sends us forth in joy, but also in seriousness.  God privileges us to represent the Lord Jesus as His ambassadors.  We must represent Him well.  The glory of God and the needs of people await our service as the lamps of Christ's light.  Will they see Him as He is, and thus be drawn to Him? (John 12:32).  Or will we reflect poorly on our Lord? (Proverbs 30:9).  No middle ground exists.  Having taken His name and identified ourselves with Him, we either serve as faithful or unfaithful ambassadors.  Glorious privilege.  Solemn responsibility.  Holy calling.

"Now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light."
(Ephesians 5:8)
"Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(II Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Weekly Memory Verse
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10)

Monday, November 7, 2016

"At... Up... At"

"At… Up… At"

    I'm prone to oversimplification, and the following may fall into that category.  But, from the Biblical perceptive, I don't think so.  So here goes.  We look at.  We look Up.  We then again look at, but in the light of having looked Up.

   "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

   The Christian life involves the most intensely practical life we can experience.  It actually offers the only real way of looking at the matters of our existence.  God is, He exists.  He is dynamically involved in all things.  He loves us, and seeks our best interest in the things He determines and allows in our lives.  Thus, we only walk in reality as we walk in the light of Christ, the living Word, and the Bible, God's written Word.  As life occurs, therefore, we see it first from the human perspective of circumstances, conditions, and situations.  We cannot help this because our Heavenly Father hardwired us as earthly beings to experience and process earthly realities.  As spiritual beings in Christ, however, our Father directs our attention Heavenward to discover the Biblical, spiritual view of reality.  As blessings come our way, we realize their Source and give thanks.  Needs also direct our attention upward for remembrance of God's promised presence and provision.  In the light of this view, we then look again at life as it comes to us, but now in the illumination of our Lord and His truth.  At… Up… At again, but with a different perspective.

    The Apostle Paul illustrated this process for us in his testimony recorded in the second epistle to the Corinthians.  "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (II Corinthians 4:8-9).  Like all believers, trouble, perplexity, persecution, and attack came to Paul.  He experienced it, felt it, and processed it in the earthly terms that cannot be avoided.  However, our brother of old also consistently looked to Heaven.  He then looked again at the earthly realities that confronted him.  They appeared very different in the light of Heaven.  They will also look different to us as we view our issues accordingly.  Problems seen in the light of God and Scripture become possibilities.  Indeed, the cross that appeared to be utter disaster for both God and man actually glimmers before the eyes of believers as the hope of the ages.  All other challenges pale in comparison to Calvary.  What might the Lord do because He allowed or perhaps even determined this difficulty to come our way?  The Bible loses all meaning if we do not interpret its message in this illumination of problems actually being possibilities.  One thing we know for sure: without the challenges He allows or determines, many of God's greatest works in this present world cannot occur.  This was true of Calvary: no cross, no resurrection.  It is also true of our lives.  We therefore look at earthly realities that come our way.  Then, we look Up to see our Lord upon His throne.  Finally, we look at our challenge again, but this time, we see a fourth Form in our furnace, the One who joined the three young men of Daniel in the flames of their trial (Daniel 3:25).  We see Christ.  We see Him because we looked up through prayer and also by looking into the pages of Scripture wherein a different perspective presents its hope to our hearts.  At… Up… At, but in the light of Heaven, and Heaven's Christ...    

"In Thy light shall we see light."
(Psalm 36:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10)


Friday, November 4, 2016

"Wondrous, Overwhelming"

"Wondrous, Overwhelming"

    The following thoughts refer to a sublime Biblical truth.  I find the consideration overwhelming, and hope I can express it in words that approach the wonder.

    "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9).

    Did God answer this prayer of the Apostle Paul for the Colossian believers?  He did.  The epistle of Colossians itself became the answer.  The glorious light of the Lord Jesus Christ illuminates any Christian who reads the epistle to the Colossians.  Thus, Paul prayed for his brothers and sisters in Christ.  God answered his prayer.  The Colossians (and millions of other believers) were blessed by the Lord because a Christian prayed.

    This truth, considered carefully, will fill and overwhelm our hearts with wonder.   How many blessings come our way because a fellow believer prays for us?  How many rays of light shine upon our hearts because one of God's trusting children in Christ asked Him to illuminate us?  How many provisions grace us with supply for the same reason?  How many protections?  How many comforts?  How many enablings?  How many moments of glory, when the invisible God so graces us with His goodness that it almost seems we look into His face?  Again, how many things happen in our lives because a fellow believer mentions our name before the Throne of grace?  

   We live our lives as not only the beneficiaries of our Heavenly Father, but also of believers who seek His grace for their brothers and sisters in Christ.  Moreover, when God answers a prayer prayed for one, many others inevitably benefit.  His supply for me in response to your prayers does not simply remain in my hands.  It also prepares and enables me to share that supply with others.  Take comfort, for example.  As the Lord encourages my heart through your intercession, the balm flows not only to me, but through me.  "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Corinthians 1:3-4).  Thus, a prayer prayed for one leads to answers bestowed upon many.

   Again, I find few Biblical considerations more wondrous and overwhelming.  Innumerable moments of blessing come to us because somebody, somewhere loves us enough to seek God's involvement in our hearts and lives.  Some of those prayers may have been prayed before we were born.  The 17th chapter of John records the Lord Jesus Himself praying not only for the disciples with Him at the time, but "for them also who shall believe on Me through their word" (John 17:20).  In one sense, every blessing of life flows to us through that prayer offered two thousand years before our parents conceived us.   However, the prayers of fellow believers also grace us with glories we experience because they approach the Throne with our heart in their hands, as it were, seeking God's care of it.  Such truth elicits gratitude to God, and also to each other.  The Lord Jesus prayed for us before we were born, as doubtless did parents, grandparents, and who knows who else?  Others have interceded throughout our lifetime.  Some pray even now, again, presenting our hearts to the Lord as they seek His good grace for us.  Wondrous, overwhelming, and as I close, I know that many of you regularly bring my heart and the hearts of my family unto the Lord.  I cannot begin to thank you enough, and I am completely aware that countless moments of blessing come to us through your prayers.  The realization is sublime.  Again, how many moments of blessing come our way because somebody, somewhere seeks for us God's good grace?  We will never know in this lifetime, but we can be sure that the answer is wondrous, overwhelming.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20)

Weekly Memory Verse
    The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:2)