Monday, March 31, 2014

The Inheritance is Mine!

Here are a few scriptures for you to read, think about, and measure alongside your life as a child of God.  As a hint for this brief reading, I will let you know how Jesus Christ, present as one of the members of the Trinity before the beginning of time,  was determined to be the heir of everything that exists in eternity. 

Now the them slowly, maybe a couple of times, and watch them form a progression of thought.

1.  Galatians 3:26  "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith."

2.  John 1:12 "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—"

The next verse does not apply to you unless you are one who has received him, and have become a child of God. 

3.  Romans 8:17 "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."

4.  1 Peter 1:4-5 "into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

God has proven himself to be faithful in honoring his promises.  The glorious promise of us becoming children of God and joint-heirs with Jesus, is a promise every Christian can believe and trust.  You can be a heir of God, to receive an incorruptible inheritance which is being kept for you in heaven. 

Hallelujah! We are kids of the King!  What is his, is and will be ours. Inheriting along with Jesus, what a great thought!  We have small glimpses in scripture of what that inheritance will include, but I am guessing the it will be beyond our wildest imagination.

But......before anything is inherited, there must be a death.  In our case, the inheritance is ours because of the death of Jesus on the cross.  That brings more to the truth of how much God loves us when we read again about his love in John 3:16.  It's a love so great that he gave his Son to die in our place. 

All this is also related to the death we must die.  It's the death of the old man of sin where we are led to become an entirely new person in Jesus Christ.  Christians can live in anticipation of the return of Jesus to take them to be with him.  We can be rich!  Rich in the blessings of the abundant life here, and the eternal life that is to come.  Rich in loving God because of his sacrifice, and rich in loving others who share the journey with us. 

I am going to receive the inheritance God promised.  He's keeping that inheritance safe for me in heaven.  I want my life to be one of ceaseless praise and honor and glory to God, always thanking him for his gift of love. 


Friday, March 28, 2014

The Holy One

Isaiah 43:1-3
 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

At the time these words were given through Isaiah, the children of Israel were in Babylonian captivity. We probably could not understand all the difficulties associated with being held captive, as individuals and as a nation of people.  Even though these people had a history of unfaithfulness to God, always leading them to troublesome times, the verses above are words of assurance from God who continues to love them. 

Comforting words are always appreciated when we are in trouble. None could be more comforting than words like, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you: I have summoned you by name; you are mine."  While I can only speak for myself, I hope you can sense during difficult times in your life, you also would welcome the message from God that he knows your trouble, he cares, and he claims you as belonging to him.  That is the message God longs for us to grasp in faith, no matter how dismal our situation. It doesn't even matter to him that most of our problems are the result of our own doing. 

While those words from Isaiah 43:1 bring assurance from a God who loves us, verse 2 gives us a glimpse of the great degree of that love.  Spoken in a way that there will be no doubt, God wanted them to know his presence is with them when they pass through the waters.  Further, when they pass through the rivers, they will not be overtaken, and when they walk through the fire, they will not be burned. The flames will not set them on fire. 

Perhaps we can visualize our difficult times, like Israel's, as devastating as passing through rushing water, forging the force of a river swollen out of its banks, or even walking through fire, surrounded by flames that could bring our demise.  God says, these things shall not overtake you. 

The first part of verse 3 was the promise to Israel, and now to us. "For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."  Trust in his promises through all your times of trouble. 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is God Hard to Know?

I was reading an article today by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, and he makes the statement, "The God who created the universe did not make it difficult to know Him.”   I hope you ponder on that for a bit and come away with the simple acceptance of that truth. 

My first analysis of what he said led me to ask, "If God has gone through so much, including creation, the destruction of mankind, leading his people to escape bondage, the teachings of the prophets, the gospels, the establishment of the church, and numerous etc's......why would he make himself like some super powerful leader of the universe that would never be approachable?"

The truth of the Bible is that our God is approachable.  In fact, the Scripture assures us that "he is not far from any of us."  That being said, even we who have been Christians for years often struggle with doubt when we feel distant from God. 

First of all, we get that feeling when we read and study some segment of Scripture that is difficult for us to understand.  If it can't be understood, then we think it's obvious God is making spiritual things difficult for us.  While I do not claim to understand everything in the Bible, I still respect it as the Word of God which leads me into relationship with him.  Further, it continues to reveal its truths to me as I read and study and open my heart and life to learn and accept the "deeper" things of God.  Even Scripture which I may understand and know its truth, perhaps I read it again several months or years later and there is some new truth that is revealed to me. 

Simple faith, trust and obedience to the truth of God, revealed in his word, is our aim.  I use that word, "simple," even in the hard to understand segments of Scripture.  True seekers of God will find him because in reality he finds us!  We should never make difficult something as simple as knowing God loves us and longs for us to know him eternally. 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Unfailing Love

Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,

    for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, Lord;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
    or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you. 
Psalm 143:1-8

David was feeling the burdens of his life.  He sought relief from all his troubles.  He turned to God in prayer, beginning with a plea for God to hear him and listen to his cry for mercy.  We, too, in our deepest hour of realizing we cannot go it alone, cry out to God. 

Early in David's prayer he is an example for us. Yes, he complained to God about his problems, but before all that, he confessed God's faithfulness and righteousness.  He further stated that none of us  are righteous before God.  

Recognizing our dependence on God is the key here.  Not only in the times of distress, but even in the times of joy and praise, we must learn of our nothingness without the Father.  Look at all the problems of David and his plea for God to intervene.  Are any of his problems your problems?  Can you relate by remembering the times in your life when there seemed to be no answers?  Is all your life filled with negatives?

I have pointed you to David's problems and perhaps to yours.  But all this is to lead you to one verse, where David actually prays specifically for God's remedy for David and for us.  That is verse 8.  Read it again and put your trust in God.  "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,  for I have put my trust in you."


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The skunk and me

We had been working out of town for several days and the hour was late, but I had to find a convenience store to get a bag of ice for our ice chest.  It couldn't wait until morning.  Our food would spoil.  So I was in search of the closest store that could sell a bag of ice. 

I spotted the well lit store and pulled my truck alongside several other cars already parked.  I made sure I had my keys, opened my door and turned in the seat to exit the truck.  I found myself looking face to face with the dirtiest, scariest, and perhaps one of the most outcast people I had ever seen. He saw the fright in my face, and quickly apologized for scaring me.  He said, "Sorry sir, I didn't mean to frighten you, I just wanted to warn you about that skunk right in front of your truck." 

Somehow, I gathered the words to thank him for the warning, and got back in my truck.  That man which scared me out of several years growth, had saved me from walking innocently around the front of my truck while on the way to the door of the store. 

I sat there a while, only able to occasionally see the tail of the skunk.  He wasn't moving around much and I sure didn't want him coming toward me.  Then I started the truck and slowly backed away.  To my surprise, the young skunk was calmly eating dried dog food from a cardboard box.  He was not  concerned about me being there, he was just having his dinner.

I finally exited the truck again, walking around the back of the truck and further away from the skunk, and made it inside the store.  There were several people laughing, and it became apparent they had been watching my reaction.  The store clerk explained he saw the young skunk searching for food a couple of weeks ago, and started leaving the dog food out on the sidewalk every evening.  The skunk had been the guest of the storekeeper nightly, showing up about the same time to feast on the food left for him.  I have no idea how friendly that skunk would have been if I had innocently walked up on him. I imagine he would have done what skunks do, and I would still be trying to rid myself of the smell. 

But now, several days later, I am still thinking about that dirty, ugly-looking man who was kind enough to warn me about the skunk.  I forgot about him when I focused on avoiding the skunk, and the man had disappeared in the darkness. 

Maybe I should have gone looking to thank him again, or offer to buy him a Coke and a sandwich.  I do know the drive from the convenience was only a few blocks, but that man was on my mind as I drove.  He had saved me from calamity.  Maybe he couldn't help his appearance, but I wanted to do something nice for him.  The opportunity was there for a moment, but then it was gone forever.  I just kept thinking about Jesus' words in Matthew 25.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’  Matthew 25:35-36; 40.