Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saturday Songs - 13 - "Goin' Home"

(This one is special to us for several reasons.  First, I love trains and the imagery of a homegoing on the rails.  Also, we feature a ukulele in the rhythm section.  I was given a uke several years ago as a gift for conducting a wedding, and have enjoyed playing the instrument immensely.  This is the first time we've used it to record a song.  I hope you'll find it encouraging.  Glen).

Friday, March 30, 2018

"Who? What?"

"Who?  What?"

    Not surprisingly, the Apostle Paul asked perhaps the two most important questions of human existence.

    "Who art Thou, Lord?" (Acts 9:5).
    "What saith the Scripture?" (Romans 4:3).

    The first inquiry occurred when the Lord revealed Himself to Paul on the road to Damascus.  The second involved the Apostle's dissertation regarding Abraham's justification by faith.  The questions are corollaries of each other.  We find the answer to "Who?" in the Bible: "the Scriptures testify of Me" (John 7:38).  This enables our understanding of "What?"  as God personally illuminates our Biblical understanding: "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 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 2:11-12).  Most importantly, we ask both questions throughout our earthly sojourn and walk with God, seeking to increasingly know Him and understand His truth.  Or, as the Apostle Peter commanded, "Grow in grace (personal reception of God's freely given favor in Christ) and the knowledge (understanding of Biblical truth about God) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).

     Who is God?  The Bible tells us.  What does the Bible mean?  God teaches us by His Spirit as we seek Him in His Word.  Thereby we "worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).  We must keep both questions at the forefront of our walk with the Lord, seeking Him in both personal and principled terms.  We must know Him and understand His truth in order for the train of our hearts, as it were, to travel on both rails of genuine worship.  Who?  What?  Paul asked the two great questions, exemplifying  our calling to spiritually journey with God on reality's dual rails.  Thereby we love the Lord in heart and mind, and thereby He prepares us to influence others by that same love as we bear witness to Someone we know, whose truth we understand.  

"This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
(John 17:3)
"Lead me in Thy truth and teach me.  For Thou art the God of my salvation, on Thee do I wait all the day."
(Psalm 25:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
(I John 3:16)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Righteousness - By Faith" Part 2

"Righteousness - By Faith"

Part 2

    Nothing more characterizes personal relationship than faith.  We must know someone well to consistently trust them, believing in their integrity and reliability as based upon communication and experience.  Thus, from our conception and forever thereafter, God works by creation, His Spirit, His Word, His church, and His personal involvement in our existence to reveal the trustworthiness of His character, nature, and way.  This constitutes righteousness as defined by the being of God, and His accounting of believers as righteous through the Lord Jesus Christ because we relate to Him by faith.

    "But without faith it is impossible to please Him.  For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

    When we trust the Lord Jesus as Savior, and thereafter as our very life itself, we relate to God in the most personal terms.  He works in our hearts, our hearts respond, and deeply within, spiritual fellowship takes place in a manner far more profoundly personal than we may realize.  He knows us, we know Him, and while we presently "see through a glass darkly," we do in fact see with the eyes of our hearts eternally ancient glories of the Person and being of God (I Corinthians 13:12).  As Job professed after his trial, "I have heard of Thee with the hearing of mine ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee" (Job 42:5).  Job did not reference his physical vision, but rather the sight of the spirit whereby a man who once knew about God now knew God.  Job discovered the trustworthiness of the Lord through the sufferings he endured, and through the Lord's gracious and faithful deliverance from trial to triumph.  Where once Job knew the Lord's hand, he came to know His heart.  God became vitally personal to Job, as He does to all who find His faithfulness in a manner that leads to trust.  
    In human relations, we do nothing more personal than trusting one another.  Every good relationship in our lives depends upon such confidence given and received.  This proceeds from relationship with God.  He commits himself to us, we respond in faith, and a fellowship of grace and trust begins and proceeds forevermore.  This is righteousness, the righteousness of relationship that leads to a corresponding life of faithfulness and "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11).

"Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
(Romans 4:3-5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
(I John 3:16)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

“Righteousness - By Faith”

                              "Righteousness - By Faith"

    "What saith the Scripture?  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:3-5).
    Why belief?  Why is faith so central in God's purposes and the human heart that He accounts us as righteous when we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ?  The answer involves the primary reason God made us, namely, for personal relationship whereby He knows us, we know Him, and we glorify the Lord Jesus by the Heart to heart bond of His grace and our trust.  "Faith worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6).  Righteousness involves being that which our Heavenly Father designed us to be.  This involves relationship, and as His dependent creatures, faith necessarily constitutes our primary role in walking with God.  How could it be otherwise?  He made us, gives to us "life and breath and all things," and declares to us in His Word that "Christ… is our life" (Acts 17:25; Colossians 3:4).  Only the belief, trust, and confidence that constitutes faith could originate and sustain genuine rightness in our hearts and the subsequent life that leads to "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Phillipians 1:11).  

    We entered into the righteousness of relationship with God by trusting the Lord Jesus. "With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness" (Romans 10:10).  We experience and practice our righteousness of relationship by the same trust: "as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith" (Colossians 2:6-7).  Thus, our Heavenly Father works in us by the Holy Spirit to strengthen our confidence in Himself and His Word.  The blessings, challenges, and everyday moments of life all come to us as His means of revealing His faithfulness and bolstering our faith.  Thereby we relate to Him rightly - or righteously - and thereby the Lord Jesus is honored by both His Father and His faithful. "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill 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).

     We can be sure that this day involves the holy process of God working in us to strengthen our faith in Him, and thus to lead us in the living personal relationship for which He made us.  Indeed, the more we trust Him, the more we will seek Him in His Word.  The more we trust Him, the better we will pray.  The more we trust Him, the more consistently we will obey His commands.  The more we trust Him, the more faithfully we will love people, be they friend or foe.  And the more we  trust Him, the more we will glorify the Lord Jesus, as empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Little wonder that the Bible declares in both Old Testament and New, "the just shall live by faith" (Habakuk 2:4; Romans 1:17).   Why belief?  Why faith?  How could it be otherwise?

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." 
(Philippians 3:8-9)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
(I John 3:16)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018



    Several years ago, I heard a Christian communicator say that born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must live "intentional lives," meaning that we must realize the necessity of making conscious choices regarding our thoughts, attitudes, plans, actions, and relatings to God and people.  This is certainly true, but the gentleman neglected to mention the basis upon which we live intentionally.

    "God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (II Corinthians 6:16).

    No amount of determination to live purposeful lives can successfully begin apart from God's eternal determination to be the light and life of our being.  This we must know if we are to avoid seeking to make bricks without straw.  The quality of intentionality to which our Heavenly Father calls us transcends our capacity to consistently make the choices of spiritual and moral Christlikeness that comprises His holy standard.  "Walk even as He walked" commanded the Apostle John (I John 2:6).  Yes, John, but how?  Thankfully, the same Apostle provides the answer: "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4).  The consistent intentionality of the human flows from the consistent intentionality of the Divine.  "I will dwell and walk in them" empowers "Walk even as He walked."  This we must know and believe with our hearts in order to make consistently intentional choices to act with our minds, tongues, hands, and feet.  "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).  

   The Christian life involves keen and conscious exercise of the heart and mind - as based on the keen and conscious exercise of the Heart and Mind.  Our calling to "think on these things" begins and continues with "the Lord thinketh upon me" (Philippians 4:8; Psalm 40:17).  The concept of intentionality offers a bright path of necessary consideration so long as we walk thereupon in the illumination of God's purposeful planning and working on our behalf.  "I am... the beginning" declared the Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:13).  The writer of Hebrews echoes, commanding that we live our lives "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  Thus, we set forth intentionally in the recognition of our privileged responsibility to make the countless conscious choices of faith and faithfulness that characterizes our intentionality, but which far more reveals God's intentionality.

"I am thy God… Thou art my God."
(Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 63:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
(I John 3:16)

Monday, March 26, 2018

"The Reason"

"The Reason"

    God made the human race to serve as the representation or reflection of Himself.

    "God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him" (Genesis 1:27).

    The entrance of sin distorted this purpose in our original forbears, deluding humanity into believing we exist to be something in and of ourselves rather than absorb and reflect the light of Another.  Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ begins the process of redeeming us to being that which we are, namely, dependent creatures who serve as the lamp that shines forth with God's holy character, nature, and way.  "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" declared the Lord Jesus who devoted Himself to the proper role of humanity serving to display Divinity (John 14:9).

    We may have much to do today as we live busy lives in an often hectic world.  First and foremost, however, purpose No. 1 involves representing and reflecting our Lord amid the responsibilities, privileges, and everyday occurrences that comprise our human existence.  "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).  No division between the sacred and the secular exists in the mind of our Heavenly Father regarding the living of our lives.  "Unto the pure, all things are pure" declared the Apostle Paul.  Thus, God calls believers to view life itself as the holy altar where we bow, stand, and walk.  "The whole earth is full of His glory!" cry the seraphim of Isaiah who see more clearly than do we the pervasive presence of God in all things (Isaiah 6:3).  Again, "whatsoever ye do" offers to us the joyous privilege and responsibility to be that which we are: "the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord" (Proverbs 20:27).

   What a reason for being in this day!  THE reason for being.  We bow to acknowledge and affirm our calling.  We stand in confidence of the guidance and enabling of the Holy Spirit to fulfill our calling.  We walk the steps of our journey with the determined purpose to well represent the Light who illuminates our spirit and seeks to enlighten others by us.  God made and redeemed us for such a glorious eternal purpose, which includes the purpose of this day.  "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" - may the same be said of us as empowered by the One who first uttered the blessed words, and who now dwells in us to enable our capacity to shine by the same Light.

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
(II Corinthians 4:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
(I John 3:16)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Saturday Songs -12 - "When All Is Said and Done"

(This one was written about 25 years ago, while waiting one evening for my family to get ready to go out to eat.  The music and simple lyrics came to me pretty much all at once, and it has been a favorite of ours ever since.  We recorded this version about ten years ago.  I hope you'll find it encouraging.  Glen).

When All Is Said and Done
Words and Music by Glen Davis

When all is said and done only One will be left standing.
When all is said and done only One will be left standing.
When all is said and done only One will be left standing
on nail scarred feet,
on nail scarred feet.

Every knee shall bow and every tongue will be confessing.
Every knee shall bow and every tongue will be confessing.
Every knee shall bow and every tongue will be confessing
Jesus is Lord

In this very hour we worship you Lord Jesus.
In this very hour we adore you Lord Jesus.
In this very hour we love you Lord Jesus,
with all of our hearts,
with all or our hearts,
with all of our hearts,
with all of our hearts.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Thou Art the Man!"

"Thou Art the Man!"

    "And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man!" (II Samuel 12:1-7).      

    How did David not realize he was the object of the prophet Nathan's indictment?  The answer is easy, but uncomfortable.  How many times have we ourselves been oblivious to our own sin and wrong which should have been obvious?  Of course, we may perceive David's sin with Bathsheba and against her husband Uriah to have been particularly egregious.  Adultery, obfuscation, and murder comprised a horrible triumvirate of wickedness.  Nevertheless, the default position of humanity involves both willful and blind ignorance to our own waywardness (while, ironically, possessing a keen eye regarding the sins of others).  We all sometimes turn a blind eye toward our missteps, only to wonder how we could have missed that which should have been patently conspicuous.

    "Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse Thou me from secret faults" (Psalm 19:12).

    We require the light of God to reveal the darkness of sin.  We might think it should be otherwise, but our native tendency to justify ourselves runs deep within the humanity of even the most devout among us.  Thus, we must join David in seeking our Lord's exposure and cleansing of "secret faults."  Acknowledging our weakness and remembering that "in Thy light shall we see light" prepares us to respond quickly to the Word of God and the Spirit of God in times of unbelief and disobedience (Psalm 36:9).  Hopefully, no Nathan will have to visit us.  Moreover, let us solemnly remember that we possess that which David did not, namely, the Scriptures and the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit.  Thereby we should be far more prepared for awareness of our failures.  And thereby we can quickly be restored to vital fellowship and faithfulness in our walk with the Lord who exposes our sins in order to quickly return us to the path of righteousness.

"Search me, o God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my thoughts.  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
(Psalm 139:23-24)

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


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Wonders Remembered, Wonders To Come”

"Wonders Remembered, Wonders To Come"

      Much of the trusting expectation to which God calls us proceeds from thankful remembrance of His past working on our behalf, and the behalf of others.

     "My expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5).
     "I will remember the works of the Lord.  Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee" (Psalm 77:11; Deuteronomy 32:7).

    Hope and faith are inextricably bound.  Both involve choices based upon Truth, first, upon the doctrinal and historical veracity of the Scriptures.  We open God's Word to discover His promises delivered to saints of old and to ourselves.  "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).  We see how He worked in "wonders of old" and "days of old" in order to build confidence regarding His involved presence in this day of now, and all days to come.  We then recall our Lord's working in our own lives for further edification of expectation.  Indeed, if God was faithful yesterday, will He also be faithful today and tomorrow?  Of course, but we must have a basis upon which to fortify our anticipation.  The Word and work of the Lord provide such a solid foundation of faith for standing to walk in the confidence of hope.  

   The expectation of faith does not just happen.  God must work in us to originate and perpetuate such anticipation.  This He does, perfectly.  However, we must respond with chosen determination based upon Truth and experience.  Will He be today and tomorrow who He was yesterday?  We know the answer: "I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6).  Thus, if we previously found Him on the pages of Scripture and the pathways of experience to have been completely trustworthy, we will find Him to be the same in wonders and days to come.  He cannot be other than who He is.  He cannot do other than what He does in accordance with His inviolable character and nature.  This is the Light that illuminates our pathway of walking in confident anticipation of God's involved presence and working on our behalf.  Days and wonders remembered prepare us for days and wonders to come as God faithfully works and we faithfully expect.

"I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice, and gave ear unto me."
(Psalm 77:1)
"I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me." 
(Micah 7:7)

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"The Things of Others"

"The Things of Others"

      In those times when we feel overlooked, unappreciated, or neglected, a blessed opportunity lies before us.  Namely, who can we notice, appreciate, and be sure to acknowledge?

    "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:4).

   The Christian life works by God's determining or allowing our own challenges to become the basis of ministry to others.  Our salvation began as the Lord Jesus Christ experienced an earthly lifetime of difficulty not for Himself, but for us.  His challenges served as the means whereby He ministered to others, including and especially the cross of Calvary whereupon the Savior fulfilled Gabriel's prophecy of old: "after three score and two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself" (Daniel 9:26).  The same Christ now lives in us to fulfill the same quality of life, including seeing our sufferings as opportunity to bless others.  Thus, the aforementioned oversights that tempt us to sadness or even bitterness serve as reminders that others in our lives may require our attention, as directed and enabled by the Holy Spirit to "look… on the things of others."

    No good ever comes when we sink into black holes of self absorption regarding our own challenges.  Conversely, much benefit results when by faith we "shine as lights in the world" by looking upward, outward, and away to the glory of God and the blessing of others.  Thus, if we seem to be "cut off" from the hearts and minds of those who seemingly should take notice, our best response involves the inquiry of love: "Father, who would You have me to acknowledge, appreciate, and affirm?"  We offer ourselves to the Lord for ministry to someone else who also feels slighted, resulting in our own hearts being far more filled as we rejoice in the truth of how much more blessed it is to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  Looking on the things of others flows from "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  This is love, the love of Christ that "seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5).  And this is life, the life of Christ that fills and fulfills all in whom His light delivers from black holes to serving as bright and shining suns for the glory of God.
"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, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
 (II Corinthians 4:8-12)

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

"The Greater Law"

"The Greater Law"

      No less than the Apostle Paul realized that during his earthly lifetime, he would be susceptible to fleshly desires that lead to sin if not overcome.

      "I know that in my, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18).
      "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (I Corinthians 9:27).

     Regardless of how well we know and devote ourselves the Lord Jesus Christ, flesh will be flesh in our current existence.  Paul taught that a "law of sin" exists in our earthly faculties and members inherited from Adam (Romans 7:23; 25).  Salvation does not yet eradicate this disposition to distrust and disobey our Heavenly Father.  Thus, no amount of prayer, Bible reading, faith, consecration, and even love eliminates the challenge we face with contrary inclinations and impulses that tempt us.  The law of sin is much like the law of gravity.  It pulls us downward and away from walking with God and His Truth.  "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  

    Thankfully, Paul also taught that another and greater law exists in believers.  "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from sin and death" (Romans 8:2).  This law is actually the personal character and nature of God Himself dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit.  Through Him, we can overcome the law of sin as we trust and submit to His working in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  Like the laws of aerodynamics temporarily overcome the law of gravity to enable flight, so the Holy Spirit empowers our ability to transcend fleshly desires and inclinations.  Through Him, we "mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13).  A greater law overcomes the lesser law, again, as we believe the Word of God and submit to its promises and commands.  We "live through Him," as opposed to embracing the death offered to us by lusts of the fleshly law of sin.  Or, as a dear friend recently proposed, "we follow the Good Shepherd to His green pastures rather than responding to the the beautiful but poisoned fields of the world, the devil, and the flesh."

   A day will come when our glorification in Christ will completely deliver us from the law of sin in our body. Until then, we carry on in our overcoming through Christ.  Flesh will be flesh today in every believer.  More importantly, however, Christ will be Christ today, in every believer.  Thereby God calls us to both the blessing and challenge of walking in the Spirit and thereby putting to death fleshly desires that can lead to sin.  "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).  The confrontation is great.  The capacity to overcome is far greater.  The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is always present and available for the triumph of the Spirit, and of our spirit as we respond to the greater law.

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place."
 (II Corinthians 2:14)

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

"Saturday Songs -11- "The Darkling Thrush"

(Another "Saturday Song" a bit late, on Sunday.  This week's edition is a bit unusual.  It includes a new piece of music accompanied by old words, namely, a reading of my favorite poem, The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy, narrated over a musical composition I wrote for the poem.  I love Hardy's imagery of a barren winter landscape, and a solitary figure who finds "some blessed hope" whereof "to fling his soul."  I hope you'll find it encouraging.  Glen).

The Darkling Thrush

By Thomas Hardy
I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
      The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Rise and Shine"

(Thanks to Alexa for inspiration on this one)

"Rise and Shine"

     "Rise and shine" is a favorite saying around our house as the day begins.  The sun does so.  THE Son did so.  Thus, we can do so as we begin our days in remembrance of our privileged and Christ-enabled responsibility to illuminate our particular spheres of influence.

    "Do all things without murmurings and disputing, that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life" (Philippians 2:14-16).

    Note the particular rays of light mentioned by the Apostle Paul that cause us to "shine as lights in the world."  We seek to avoid complaining and unnecessary conflict.  The former results from trusting the Prince of Peace as the Governor of our lives.  The latter proceeds from the same Prince revealing His gracious and merciful love in us for others.  One relates to God, that is, we seek to avoid the complaining that reveals our failure to see His determinations and allowances of everything in our lives.  "All things work together to them that love God" (Romans 8:28).  The other involves our relationship to people as we realize our calling to reflect the light of Christ to everyone in our lives.  "If it be possible, as much lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).  In essence, we fulfill the two great commands of Scripture in order to shine as lights.  We love God by trusting Him and not complaining.  We love people by seeking to establish and maintain good relations and fellowship (Mark 12:30).

    Rise and shine.  The risen Son dwells within born again believers by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Thereby He enables us to love God and others in the spiritual illumination that holds forth the Word of life in our countenance, demeanor, attitude, words, and deeds.   The sun will rise and shine in this day to serve as a tangible reminder of Christ's empty tomb and our full hearts.  As we trust and submit to God's purposes for this day, we will bear witness to the risen Son, serving as even greater tangible reminders of His light and salvation.  No higher calling can be imagined.  No holier consecration can be performed.  Rise indeed, and shine.

"I am the Light of the world… ye are the light of the world."
(John 8:12; Matthew 5:14)

Weekly Memory Verse
    If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
(Galatians 5:25)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

“Prospects, Plenty, and Power”

"Prospects, Plenty, and Power"

     Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ always possess spiritual prospects, plenty, and power.  The Apostle Paul prayed that we might realize such Christ-supplied grace "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead" (Ephesians 1:17-20).

    Through the Lord Jesus, we always have hope, provision, and enabling of the heart.  However, such abundance often does not appear to be available in our present earthly existence.  Outward supplies and actions on our behalf ebb and flow according to God's wisdom and purposes.  Inward bestowals of grace, conversely, present themselves continually to those who will see by faith the Lord's presence, involvement, and working.  Thus, we must pray for others and for ourselves that we will realize and affirm the "all spiritual blessings" bestowed upon us (Ephesians 1:3).  "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).  Our Lord's present focus involves our heart.  Therein we can always have hope.  Therein the peace of God abides in Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  And therein the same power that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead teems with the life that enables us to trust and walk with God regardless of circumstance, situation, or condition.  We must know the reality of such ever-present grace, even as Paul prayed for the Ephesians that the Lord would enlighten the eyes of their understanding.

    For more than three decades, the incarnate God walked the dusty and blood-stained paths of a fallen world.  "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).  However, even those closest to Him failed to realize the glory of such abundant grace.  "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (John 1:11).  The Lord Jesus still walks on those paths, albeit through the spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit and His spiritual presence in the hearts of those who believe.  May God grant much grace that we receive Him in terms of realizing and affirming His walking and working among us.  These are our prospects, our hope.  This is our plenty, God's promise of abundant spiritual riches for a full heart.  Present is the power for enabling to live in the faith and faithfulness that sees the Light shining in the darkness.  Let us open our eyes, the eyes of our hearts, to see in this moment the Christ who is everything we need Him to be…

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

Weekly Memory Verse
    If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
(Galatians 5:25)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Beloved Son, Beloved Savior"

"Beloved Son, Beloved Savior"

     God's intentions - His "eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" - forever flow with the current of His beloved Son and our beloved Savior (Ephesians 3:11).  He works to "gather together in One all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are in earth, even in Him" (Ephesians 1:10).

    What this means and how this will work out in eternal history remains to be fully unveiled.  What it means and how it works in our hearts is clear, at least in the most basic sense.  We must join our Heavenly Father in His Christ-centered and circumferenced emphasis.

    "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:6-9).

    If anything other than the person and work of the Lord Jesus forms our primary focus of life, doctrine, and practice, we can be sure that distraction rather than devotion leads us astray.  This does not mean that we always think, speak, or act accordingly.  It does mean that as a matter of principle, we have realized and established that through Christ, God created all things, by Christ all things consist, and to Christ, all preeminence must be directed (Colossians 1:16-18).   Again, any other or lesser focus means that we swim against the current of God's reality and eternal purpose.  Our own purpose of life will thus be askew, and no possibility of genuine peace in our hearts and minds will ensue.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

   As Paul wrote, God "rooted" us in the Lord Jesus.  We are also to be "built up in Him."  Our Heavenly Father works all things to fulfill this purpose in our lives.  To the degree we realize and devote ourselves to His emphasis will be the degree to which we walk in "the light of life" that illuminates God's working and must also enlighten our response (John 8:12).  Christ only.  Christ always.  Christ forever.  This forms the reality of our Father's intentions.  It must form our response also as a matter of principle that will more and more empower our practice of devotion to the glory of the Beloved Son and our Beloved Savior.

"The gospel of God, which He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
 (Romans 1:1-3)

Weekly Memory Verse
    If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit"(Galatians 5:25).


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

“The Mighty Current”

(Friends: we are currently in the midst of having significant electrical work at our house.  I know nothing about the matter, other than the simple principle of physics that illustrates the far greater spiritual reality referenced in this essay.  Glen)

"The Mighty Current"

     Human beings are hardwired for relationship.  Surely this constitutes a primary meaning of what Scripture teaches regarding our original creation in the image of that most relational of beings, God Himself.  Or, as He is otherwise known, "the Word" (Genesis 1:27; John 1:1).  

    The problem is that hardwiring does not accomplish anything in and of itself.  Current must flow through the conduits in order to supply energy to whatever device we seek to empower.  In precisely the same manner, our human members and faculties, made for the love of God and people, do not possess inherent power for such relationship.  This is one reason the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden was so disastrous.  Rather than trusting the Lord, Adam chose to believe Satan's lie that he could provide for his own being and existence: "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5).  In other words, "You not only possess the wires.  You must also provide the current."  This devil's deception led to death rather than life because God only is love in the inherent sense (I John 4:8).  Created beings who love must rely upon His presence, motivation, guidance, and enabling to relate to others in love.

    "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
    "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
    "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment" (Philippians 1:9).
    "And the Lord make you to increase and to abound in love one toward another, and toward all men" (I Thessalonians 3:12).

    Left to ourselves, no possibility exists of our loving in accordance with the only standard of love that matters, namely, God's benchmark of self-sacrificial devotion.  Our wires must be full of current, and the switch must be on.  God is the current.  Faith is the switch.  He made us to live thereby, and thus most importantly, to love thereby.  As we trust God in devotion to His glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ, the very life of the Lord Jesus flows through us by the working of the Holy Spirit.  "The just shall live by faith... "to live is Christ" (Romans 1:17; Philippians 1:21).  Thus, "Christ, the power of God" serves as the Divine amperes flowing through our minds, emotions, wills, tongues, and bodies whereby we rightly relate to God and people (I Corinthians 1:24).  We live by Him.  We love by Him.

   The "wires" of believers are full of current described by the Apostle Paul to be "exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).  Moreover, our Heavenly Father works in us to motivate, lead, and enable us to experience such dynamic enabling.  We, however, turn on the switch.  We believe the Word of God and thus become power-enabled conduits of the strength of God, or as Paul referenced, "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward that believe" (Ephesians 1:19).  Or we leave the switch off through negligence or even refusal to believe: "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matthew 13:58).  The choices are ours, and there will be many of them in a lifetime lived in a fallen world.  What a glory to turn the switch on, to believe the Word of God.  What a shame if we fail to do so by ignoring or disbelieving the Word of God.  May He grant much grace in our relationship with Him and others to experience the mighty Current of love that resides in our wires.

"Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
(Ephesians 6:10)   
"We also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God."
(II Corinthians 13:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
    If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit"(Galatians 5:25).