Saturday, January 30, 2016

Of fences and tables

Are we more interested in protecting the things we have amassed, or sharing from the abundance with which God has blessed us?  The more I let that thought occupy my thinking time, the more I am convicted my table needs to be longer, and my fence much shorter.

This weekend, think about Bible references which support the truth in the photo above, searching your heart to find out where you are in the scenario. Are your fences taller or your tables longer?

I hope you will join me rounding up the tools to bring down the walls which confine and separate, giving us the opportunity to serve God and others while we share from our longer tables.  That is the example of the church being the church, with every member utilizing their gifts of service, all for the benefit of the whole body.

God bless!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Panting for Water

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

                                                            --Psalm 42:1-2

The Psalm is familiar, the song taken from the Psalm is familiar, yet we continue to encounter people whose soul pants for God, like a deer panting for streams of water.

The wire fence at the back of my property has seen better days.  It has been repaired several times, but numerous deer crossing that fence daily make it impossible to make my back yard secure.  Beyond the fence is pasture land and the deer enjoy spending daytime hours in the shaded grass of the pasture.  Every evening about sundown the deer come across the fence into my back yard, walking down one side of the house, headed for the creek a block away.  It's their daily trek for water.

How important is water to you?  Depending on where you live, water supplies may be plentiful while other locations may find inadequate water supplies and water usage has to be regulated by  municipalities. Regardless, man and beast continues to have a need for water.

Even Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about water.  He told her he could give living water, and those who drink it, would never thirst again.  That's quite a promise, especially when given to humans like us, who recognize the need for water daily. The picture becomes much brighter when we realize Jesus was inviting people to himself. 

Here are a few lines for you to sing to yourself this weekend......

"There is a river, and it flows from deep within
There is a fountain, that frees the soul from sin
Come to this water; there is a vast supply
There is a river, that never shall run dry."


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Formula of Surrender

 Psalm 77

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

Sound familiar?  One of those long nights when sleep just would not come, the problems of life seemed to be closing in on you, and worse than that, it appeared God was not listening.  Notice a progression of  despair for the psalmist, then the change in his attitude of meditation. 

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Again, sound familiar?  When the answers appear to be delayed we are quick to accuse God.  Is he rejecting us?  Has he held back his favor?  Maybe he doesn't love me anymore.  Or could this be a failure of him to keep his promises?  We run the list of reasons, and notice how we blame God. 

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;

    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Finally, the one praying remembers how powerful, how faithful, and how wonderful God has been since the beginning.  His attitude switches from one of accusation to one of surrender and see the mighty results in the next verse:

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?

Our God is an awesome God!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I'm A "Whoever"

It was a 2 point sermon and I had heard both points before, but not necessarily in the same sermon.  This time they were put in a sermon together and the preacher tied both points with a familiar verse from the Bible.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

1.  You are a "whoever" and so is everyone else.  The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is universal in its reach.  It's a message to you and to me as individuals, and a message that applies to all mankind.  As much as we may wish to be selective by wanting to turn away the drug addict or the thief, Jesus' death on the cross is the invitation for each one of us to become believers.  The people who were raised in a Christian home and always attending church do not have a monopoly on the gospel.  It is for everyone.  A person with a history of walking outside God's will has just as much access to the forgiving Savior as the person who has only committed what we classify as the "little sins."  I am so thankful that Jesus considers me a "whoever!"

2.  I need to start seeing all people the way God sees them.  I must confess I have given in to thinking "in the flesh" when thinking about people. I hear their speech, I see their actions, and I mentally mark them off my list of those who are candidates for eternity.  God, however, sees each one as a precious life of his own creation, and one that he longs to be with forever.  When God made each of us, his intent was to be in relationship with each one, loving them, caring for them, providing for them.  And that was supposed to last throughout this life and into eternity. Sin changed all that.  As hard as we may try, we cannot escape the penalty of death for our sins by our merits, our social standing, or the size of our checkbook. The Bible says, "we all sin and fall short of the glory of God."  So I say again, I need to start seeing all people the way God sees them.

Here are some verses that have helped me and I pray will help you, too. 

1 John 4:11  "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

Colossians 1:21-22  "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation."

Welcome to the family of  "whoever."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Rest

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."  Genesis 2:2

We were blessed to attend the Gaither Vocal Band concert last Saturday.  Of course, we are fans of just about all Southern Gospel Music.  Bill Gaither took the time to remind us of numerous artist which sang in their Homecoming concerts, that have passed on.  Those "pioneers" of Southern Gospel music are still remembered at every concert. 

One that I seem to miss the most is George Younce, the bass singer for the Cathedral's Quartet, and the song most requested, "This 'Ole House."  In the Gaither's magazine which was handed to us at the door, I noticed there was a remembrance of  George and the times he taught the lesson of rest. George would tell all musicians how important the rest sign was for those who read and perform music, and also how important rest can be for those in the work of the Lord.  The magazine had a copy of a poem entitled "Rest" that had been written in George's honor, and I want to share it with you today.

A rest is part of the music, the Lord ordained for you;
Its beats are perfectly measured-- how many or how few.
The silent pause may alarm you, but God know what is best.
Have faith in the great Composer, when he inserts a rest.
All things are working together; although your faith is tried.
Don't think the tune is finished, because you're set aside.
It's not that you've been forsaken; you did not fail a test,
But God, to sweeten the love song, enhanced it with a rest!
The steps and stops must be blended; the short ones with the long;
The Lord is adding uniqueness and beauty to His song.
Let God take care of the music; just trust Him and be blessed.
Your life is his composition, so thank Him for the rest!
It's only a break in the music;
It's only a pause of peace.
God knew that the rest was needed!
The symphony did not cease!
                                                                                                            by Ed Miller
Read and be blessed.  Share the story of the rest.  Your symphony does not cease, either.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A New Commandment

John 13:34-35
 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The concept is an easy one to know and understand. Christians, those who are disciples of Jesus Christ, are to love each other.  It isn't news to you that this easy concept to understand, isn't always that easy to put into practice. It must have been important to Jesus that we do everything possible to practice our love for each other and develop it into a lifestyle common to Christians.  He repeated the commandment in John 15:12, and reflects on it again in John 14:21 when he says, "He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me. "

Some scholars go as far to say that Jesus' command of love is the only law of their conduct and interaction with each other. I find it strange that even his closest followers had a difficult time practicing this commandment of Jesus. Squabbling and bickering could be heard in their ranks concerning which of them would have the seat closest to Jesus in the kingdom. While we might consider the subject matter of their arguments as petty, look at some of the things that divide us, even to the point of treating each other as enemies. 

I confess I have a ways to go in practicing the kind of love Jesus expects, but there is something I have learned from the scripture. Of all the things that are associated with following him and calling myself a disciple of the Risen Lord, the only thing he called an identifying mark of discipleship is our love for each other.  It's time we all read again 1 Corinthians 13.


Saturday, January 23, 2016



Accept the invitation to meet God in his house this Sunday.  You will be blessed.

Psalms 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
Psalms 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
Psalms 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
Psalms 99:5 Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Friday, January 22, 2016

Amazing Things

My friends Wes and Brenda Wessels are people of God who always bring smiles and blessings to those around them.  Recently, Brenda wrote and short article for her facebook page which I wish to share with you.

"God the Father gave us the most beautiful gift of all, his Son. Jesus gave us the gift of life and said that if we believe in him we shall be blessed with many other gifts! Mark 16:15 says: 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel, whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not will be condemned.'    ''These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name will cast out demons; they will speak new languages; they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will get well.' 

These are the words of Jesus and he always speaks the TRUTH!

"The mighty power of Jesus is yours for the taking; all you have to do is believe and be baptized into the Holy Spirit. The symbol of the water of baptism is to purify and make whole the new you in Christ. Come and be purified in his Spirit. Walk upon his path; he has nothing but amazing things in store for you! Be blessed in his love today."

Thanks Brenda, and God Bless

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Truth Lives

Josh McDowell tells the story about one of his daughters when she was in the fourth grade.  She and some other students took an object off the teacher's desk one day.  The teacher was out of the room at the time and the students took the object off the desk just to play with it and have a little fun while they were unsupervised.  Soon, the property which belonged to the teacher was broken by the students. They quickly replaced it on the teacher's desk, in its broken condition, sort of hoping the breakage wouldn't be noticed. 

When the teacher returned to the room, she noticed it immediately.  She called out to one girl, asking if she knew anything about this broken object.  The girl, which had been involved in the incident, lied, saying she knew nothing about it.  The teacher called out another name, this time it was McDowell's daughter on the hot seat. 

Kelly McDowell answered the teacher's questions immediately and honestly and owned up to her part in taking and breaking the teacher's property.  All the time she was talking, Kelly could feel the pressure from her peers, hoping she would protect the rest of them in her answers. 

So here is the picture of a man who may be disappointed at the mistake his daughter had made, but proud of her for standing up to her wrongdoing, and maintaining her honesty and integrity throughout the incident. 

How does this little story measure up to the way you accept responsibility when you are confronted with something you have done wrong?   Do we pass the suspicion onto someone else by denying our involvement?  Are we tempted to tell a "little white lie" to avoid punishment?  

Consider this section of scripture:  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Deuteronomy 6:4-8

God's people have been the target of his love from the very beginning.  His commandments, given for our own good and well being, are not given so God can have a reason to zap us when we cross the line, violating some command.  He wants our love in return and desires his ways and his commands are rooted deeply in our hearts, taught and impressed on the hearts of our children.  Not only this, God's commandments are to be talked about when you are at home, or in casual visits when walking down the street, even when we retire at night and awaken in the morning.

To better understand how the verses tie in with the story, we must bring it inside us and see why God's way is a better way than the way of ourselves.  I am glad Kelly spoke the truth in the interrogation by her teacher.  She shows, even in her young age, she represents God and God is a God of truth.  He is incapable of untruth, just as we, his people should strive to be incapable of untruth.

I challenge you to talk it over with your kids, and in conversations with others you meet.  God wants his words to reside in your heart. 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Earnestly Seeking God

It was Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, that taught us the importance of learning and opening our lives more to the presence of God when he said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  Matthew 5:6

We do know when it's lunchtime or dinner time.  We are programmed to feel hunger then to satisfy that hunger through eating.  The same is true with the sense of thirst, which we meet with a drink of water.  Jesus is saying our spiritual desires toward righteousness are fulfilled when we actually hunger and thirst for righteousness. 

To actually see this happening, look to Psalm 63 (from ESV)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,

    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;

    they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

David knows what it is to sincerely be seeking God, when he says his soul thirsts, and his flesh faints for God.  He looks upon God and beholds his power and glory , and the result is endless praise from David's lips.  He now has a satisfied soul, one that clings to God.  He has experienced God's help and sings for joy.  We can agree.  When we seek and experience God like David, we will know God's love really is "better than life."


Tuesday, January 19, 2016


When Jesus uttered from the cross, "It is finished," he was not announcing the end of himself.  His followers would soon learn the complete truth in the proclamation, "He is risen!"  The story of his earthly life, his ministry, his miracles and teaching, all comprised God's plan of redemption.  Now, Jesus announces God's plan is complete.  His blood shed, his final breath, with the cry of victory in finishing the work he came to accomplish. 

His resurrection gives power to the offer of salvation to every sinner.  Since "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"  we can see how personal it is for us that Jesus finished his work to redeem each of us. 

God desires us to be in relationship with him.  His love and grace are extended to us in that he gave his Son to die in our place, paying the price for our sins. That message is paramount in scripture, and illustrates the extent to which God will go to bring us to himself in eternity.

Will we, as our life is ending, be saying "It is finished?"  Will we accomplish God's purpose for our lives to be loving, trusting and obedient to him?  Every moment we continue live, may we be aware of our purpose in knowing such a relationship with him, and sharing his message of Good News with others. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Winter Blues

I know it's "that" time of year, but I do not like cold weather. Yes, I will complain again in August, about the heat, but for some reason, I really prefer the heat over the cold.  I am blessed to live in a part of the state where it rarely snows, but frosty mornings are too cold for me.

Add another bit of reality to the cold temperatures, this time admitting I am a senior citizen and our joints and muscles are more likely to hurt and have their snaps, crackles and pops.  Winter weather aggravates the places on the body which are already sensitive.

I do respect the changing of seasons but if I had my way, the winters would be milder and the summers would be cooler.  My mind is made up to allow God to be in control of those things.  After all, my complaining about the weather has never changed the temperature or halted a rain storm.

Winter months can be depressing.  Some are confined to the indoors and develop cabin fever, longing for brighter skies and warmer breezes.  Even with the coming of a new year, which should cause me to think of new beginnings and greater accomplishments, I'm still going to cast my vote against cold weather.

It was while trying to get warm near the heater this morning, I was reminded of something much more important. In spite of my feelings about the cold, God still supplies me with the blessing of new mercies every morning.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)  I need the daily renewal of God's mercies for me.  It's as if we have a booster shot of God's love and mercy for us at the beginning of each new day.

There is another verse which gets me over the depressing days of winter.  Psalm 25:10 says, "The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands."  Following the one who leads with unfailing love and faithfulness can lift us beyond the depression of dreary days and the long nights of worry.  Our difficulties and even our failures find answers only in him.  I will toss another log on the fire and stay warm, thanking him for today's new mercies, and following his unfailing love and faithfulness.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Some Truths


Spend some time this weekend considering, studying, and praying about each of the six statements from Max Lucado's  Eye of the Storm.  If you are like me, there is not only the element of truth in these points, but the encouragement for each of us to make some important applications.
Enjoy your weekend.  Know that God walks with you in every step you take.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

From the riches of God

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul's letter to the Ephesians contains great insight into God's love for believers.  Chapter 1 contains a prayer where Paul is praying on behalf of the Ephesian Christians.  That is prayer number one.  It's a powerful prayer and one that you should read.  Ephesians 1:15-23

The prayer in the text above is a second prayer Paul is praying on behalf of the Ephesians and that is the one I point you toward today.  Before getting into the prayer in which he asks for specific things for these people, Paul acknowledges God as the one from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name.  The greatness of God is seen in these words, and profoundly expressed by Paul as an example to all of us who wish to recognize God's power.   Now note in the prayer:

1.  Paul prays that from all the glorious riches of God, he will give us strength by the power of the Holy Spirit which lives inside us. That is the power that puts Jesus in our hearts through faith. 

2.  Paul further prays that Christians, being rooted and established in love, will powerfully, along with all God's people, to take hold of the truth concerning the width, height, and depth of the love of Jesus.  Paul continues to pray that we can know that love as a love that surpasses knowledge, and that we can be totally filled us with all the fullness of God. 

Now I am going to say a prayer for you and for me, and it is a prayer seeking forgiveness.  We need to seek God's forgiveness for our lack of faith.   When problems surround us, we complain, we moan and groan, we give up, we throw in the towel.  We might even walk away from God because we view life's difficulties as a form of his punishment.  
Our view of the problem shouldn't lead us to complaining to God for something he has done.  It should be a renewed view of who we really are because of God's magnificent love for us.  Remember, it all comes from the storehouse of the riches of God.  

Doesn't it stand to reason that we can handle any problem, tackle any adversity, and defeat any foe by the power of Jesus who lives in us?   In Paul's prayer, he is praying for us to have the faith to accept that Jesus powerfully inhabits his followers.  Part two of that prayer is that we come to experience the fullness of his love for us.   I'm saying that's the faith and love we need to learn and live. 

The prayer ends with these words.  20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Thanks, I needed that....

I have been busy for several days going through boxes of "stuff" for a customer.  His instructions were for me to dig through the boxes and pull out the items I could sell, then clean them and price them and sell them for him.  I rarely let myself get talked into things like this.  Being in the business of buying and reselling, I am accustomed to earning 100% of the profit on such items, rather than a much smaller percentage if the merchandise is owned by someone else.  But this time I am doing it for a customer that has been good to me over the years.  

In the boxes were various old tools, used by someone that had a workshop and knew what each tool was designed to do.  I'm fairly "savvy" when it comes to tools so I thought this job wouldn't take very long.  That was, until I started going through some of the additional boxes and found tools and parts for repairing and modifying firearms.  I wish I knew more about that sort of thing but I found myself having to research lots of items to determine their value. 

One small box contained such repair parts which were from a company in Arizona.  One by one I tossed them in the growing pile of things I needed to research.  Then I noticed one of the small boxes was open and a card was sticking out of the box.  Thinking it might be some information that would help me determine its value, I pulled out the card and started reading.  To my surprise, the card said:

As children bring their broken toys,
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
Because He is my friend.
But then, instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help,
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How can you be so slow?"
"My child," He said, "What could I do?
You never did let go."

I cannot begin to tell you how much I needed the message on that card.  Coming from a box most people would call junk, I found a treasure from God with a powerful message for me.  Maybe you can also see yourself in the message of that card, just like I did. 

We hear sermons, have Bible studies, and even sing hymns that give us the encouragement to turn our problems, concerns, difficult times, and our sins over to God.  And sometimes we are quick with the effort of talking to God about everything that is out of kilter with us.  I must confess, like the person that wrote the words on that card, I am guilty of taking things to God that need fixed, and then hanging around to help him fix them.  The message is simple.....Take it to God and let him do his work.  We have already proven we are helpless when it comes to fixing everything. 

Now you can say with renewed meaning"  "Let go and let God!"