Thursday, July 31, 2014

God's Unchanging Hand

It's been a lot of years but I still remember how excited we were that mom and dad were going to a school reunion over the weekend, and we, my older brother and I, didn't have to go.  We had been in previous years when we were younger, and it was always a good time to get up a basketball game or a baseball game if there were enough kids there.   This time, we got to stay home and be the men of the house. 

We hooked up with a couple of the other guys from church and did some cruising, looking for others we knew, and sometimes even talking about girls.  We found ourselves at the A & W Root Beer stand and decided we would pool our money and buy a gallon of root beer.  Then we all headed to our house to watch the late show on TV and drink all the root beer we could drink.   I thought about that night while surfing through a facebook page about our home town, an there were pictures of the A & W.  About all I remember about the late show on TV that night is, I had made myself sick on root beer and didn't feel like being sociable or watching movies. 

While all that was going on, mom and dad were visiting with old friends and family at the school reunion.  I wondered if they were having a good time, talking about all their new ailments, and especially their next doctor appointments.  No doubt some were showing pictures of their kids while telling stories about their school days. 

Times have changed.  Most kids don't have to be teen-agers to be home alone these days.  I haven't checked this, but I doubt if A & W sells root beer in a brown glass gallon jug anymore.  Even the late shows aren't worth watching.  Ok, I'll continue to let you know I have had my share of doctor appointments.  The refrigerator in my kitchen used to be covered with pictures colored by the grandkids.  Now it's covered with those doctor appointment cards. 

All those changes, and I haven't even mentioned I used to like the color of green, but now my favorite color is blue.  At some point during my lifetime, my preference in favorite colors changed and I can't tell you when or why it happened. 

My space is limited here, but I am going to ask, how do you handle change?  Sometimes I wish for the good  'ole days and sometimes I welcome change.   How about you?  Are there any noteworthy changes that have happened to you?   Let me list a few and you can see if there are any which apply.  Weight change, hair color change, job change, address change, school change, church change, etc.   Wouldn't it be nice if there were things in life we could count on being the same, never changing?

As long as we are alive, we will face changes.  That is part of life itself.  But hang your hat on this truth from the book of James in the New Testament,  " Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  God doesn't change.  He is seeking you with his love, his grace, and his forgiveness.  Hang on to your unchanging God.  He will be hanging on to you.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Prayer and YOU!

The very mention of the subject of prayer sends the minds of Christians in numerous directions. I remember as a kid in worship services in a small wood framed building with theater seats, how the men would slide out of their seats and kneel down on one knee during the congregational prayer. I longed for the day when I would be old enough to do that, too.  Now that I am here, the practice is no longer observed and we men pray while standing with the congregation or while everyone is seated. 

You can probably relate "prayer stories" in your experiences.  I remember one little girl reported to her mother, the names of all the people she saw during prayer that didn't have their eyes closed. And when a teenager, I got tickled every time one particular prayer leader in our church used the line, "Lord we pray for those who are sick of this congregation."  In another instance, a visitor to our worship on Sunday morning said, "I have visited other churches in town and you people are the 'prayingest' church in town!

Here are some things the Bible says about prayer, and I encourage you to read the referenced scriptures and always lead a prayerful life. 

1. God promises to give you wisdom, if you ask for it.  James 1:5
2. God promises to honor persistent prayers.  Matthew 7:7
3. God promises our prayers are never ignored.  Psalm 9:12
4. God promises results from our prayers.   James 5:16
5. God promises our prayers usher us into His presence.  Psalm 145:18
6. God promises to hear those prayers that are in accordance with his will.  1 John 5:14

I don't know about you, but after seeing God's promises associated with our prayers, I am going to stick with every day being a day of prayer.  I challenge you to do likewise and see the impact which the application of prayer will have on humanity, your home life, your work life, your relationships, your worship......everything that brings God's blessings and grace your way.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How's Your Love Life?

Which of these areas of LOVE speak directly to you and your need?  Are there any of them which bring to your attention the need for improvement?  Which one is your favorite to dwell on?

The final verse of 1 Corinthians 13 says it in words we can all understand.  "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."


Monday, July 28, 2014

I'd rather be here.....

It's summer vacation time.  People are on the move.  Summer in Texas can be pretty hot, so water sports are common.  With swimming and boating on area lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico being just a few hours away, it isn't uncommon to find a large portion of the population traveling to the beach. 

Having made many of these trips over the years, I am always interested in staying in hotels we have never stayed in, mainly to see the decor and enjoy the amenities of a new place.  I have even been overheard saying things like, "I could live in a place like this."

To switch gears a bit, one of the things we have been involved in over the years is the estate sale business.  We actually contract with families to liquidate the entire contents of a house, usually after the death of the occupant.  Needless to say, we have seen some places that were fancy and elaborate, and some places that were just the opposite.  But I find myself, after working in a home that has all the "nicer" things, and located in perfect surroundings, saying again, "I could live in a place like this."

David, in Psalm  84, was feeling the same thing.  He was so excited about where he was because he says, "I'd rather be right here for one day, than anywhere else for a thousand days."

David had started in the early verses of Psalm 84 with a phrase which used some terminology we may not have heard from other biblical writers.  Look at verses 1 and 2:

"How lovely is your dwelling place,  Lord Almighty!   My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. "

David was so pleased to be in the dwelling place of God that he says that is the source of blessing for his life.  He even attributes his strength as a blessing because he knows it is from God.  This, then, is the reason David makes his proclamation:

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God  than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.   (verses 10-12)

For David, and for us, we should see the desire of God to have us in his presence.  David recognized that and the importance of confidently trusting God.  He is the example for those who become so wrapped up in this world, they have no time for God.  He is also the example for those who are not totally and completely devoted to living for God.

David knew one day dwelling with God was better than a thousand days elsewhere.  The real message for us is how much God is longing to dwell inside us, living in the hearts of those who trust in Him. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

Your daily faith

If you are like most, Sunday is the day to feel spiritual.  Having been raised in the church, there has never been a question about where we'd be on Sunday morning.  The New Testament examples of worship, and especially participating by partaking of communion with the church family, just makes Sunday feel more spiritual than the other days of the week. 

With that in mind, also remember it is the New Testament teaching that belonging to the Lord is a full-time commitment and that includes Monday through Saturday, in addition to Sunday, the day we assemble for worship.  So if we get too deep into thinking Sunday is the day for us to feel spiritual, does that mean Sunday is reserved for spiritual things, and the other days of the week we are to be less spiritual?

Don't get me wrong, Sunday is a special day.  We know it as "The Lord's Day." Our belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, naturally brings special meaning to His day.   But what do you suppose should happen to bring the common, ordinary days to become "special" days, too?  Perhaps we should examine our Sunday faith as compared to our Monday faith.  

Not long ago, while thumbing through the pages of a study Bible, I was shown the importance of Daily Faith.  In fact, those who published that Bible with its study helps, made a list to help people like you and me to learn the importance of daily faith.   Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves."   Check out the list today, and throughout the weekend.

Daily faith tests your commitment to Bible study.
Daily faith expects absolute commitment to Christ.
Daily faith exemplifies the highest definitions of faith and love.
Daily faith asks you to confess half-hearted faith as a sin.
Daily faith makes you test your faithfulness by Christ's.
Daily faith shows the weakness of all your excuses. 

Enjoy your study and prayer time, and expect growth in your life of faith.  God bless.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Your Shepherd

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Most of us have known this Psalm as far back as we can remember.  The text from the NIV may read a little more differently than the version we memorized as kids, but the thoughts are the same. 

The popularity of this psalm comes from various events and happenings in our journey as God's children.  Perhaps you remember it as a source of strength, a place to find words of encouragement during one of life's rough moments.  The verses have also been read or recited in countless funeral sermons.

For just a moment today, think with me of what is actually being said in this psalm.  Speaking of  the Lord being our shepherd, we have confidence we will be cared for like helpless sheep are tended by their shepherds.  Therefore, we will experience the provision of the Lord, and lack nothing. 

Read through the interior verses of the psalm and learn of God's guidance, his abiding presence, and even his comfort for all the rough times we experience.  All of these things point to the truth of God's mission for being in a loving relationship with his people. 

The ultimate blessing of the psalm is pronounced in the closing lines, as we have the assurance we will dwell in God's house eternally.  Praise be to God. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

God is....

Search your life.  If there is a need for hope, realize you are God's child.  Know even at your lowest, it is God that supplies the hope to get you through.  1 John 3:2-3  "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,  we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure."

Have you ever had a day that could only be described as being "dark?"   A lot of times, these days are caused by our disobedience.  There are, however, times when the circumstances of life seem to work against us, and that makes for a dark day.   Remember one of the verses we looked at in yesterday's blog, again from the pen of John.   1 John 1:7  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

All of us feel weak sometimes.  We give in to temptation, followed by sin.  Then follows the guilt.  We even describe ourselves as weak.  What do you suppose would have happened if we had claimed and depended on God's strength?   Psalm 28:7  "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me."

One of the strongest attacks Satan brings upon the child of God is sadness.  When we are genuinely sad, we cannot function as God ordained.  Sadness comes in the form of grief, sorrow, hurt and disappointment.   Isaiah 49:13  "Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth;  burst into song, you mountains!  For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones."

Our God is an AWESOME God!