Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Delight in the Lord

"Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps 27:4). So, if I go to church, I'll get that new house?  If I read my Bible, I'll get that new IPad?  I give money to a homeless person and I get that raise?  To hear some tell it, yes.  But to listen to the Word, no.  

To delight in the Lord is desire His will and to seek after His ways. When our heart is reconditioned by the Spirit, we begin to want what God wants and to seek after His will. When we are in tune with God, then, like Paul, we will be "content in all circumstances" (Phil 4:12). 

Our hearts will be full as we help someone in need, they will swell as we wipe away the tears of someone hurting, we will take delight when good prevails over evil. As a side effect, when we "Seek first the kingdom of righteousness" (Matt 6:33), our personal needs are met as well, but getting what we want becomes secondary in our hearts to seeing God's will carried out. The desire of our heart becomes experiencing God and His rule in our lives. Jus' Sayn.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

God's Tattoo

While traveling Portugal, Spain and Italy for the next three weeks, I won't be posting much. But I may on occasion. Today is one occasion. Enjoy!

In Isaiah 49:15-16; the Lord rhetorically asks: Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?  The answer is, of course, no.  But even if she did, the Lord says that He will not. In fact, He cannot for He has engraved our name in the palm of His hand. 

That's something to consider: God has your name tattooed in His palm. This fact gives new meaning to Jesus' promise in John 10:29, "No one can snatch you out of my Father's hand."  Just how would you grab a tattoo out of anyone's hand, let alone God's?  

No one and nothing can separate you (Rom 8:35-39), that is, except you by your own choice (cf. 2 Pet 2:20-22).  No matter how much you struggle, as long as you keep your eyes on Jesus and strive to follow Him, you cannot fall from His grasp.  

So, despite the fact that, you have not developed as much spiritually as you think you should have or you're not as good as you think you should be; don't give up on you - God hasn't.  Jus' Sayn.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Victorious Life

Listening to some televangelists talk about the victorious Christian life, one gets the clear picture that faithful Christians will be healthy, wealthy and wise. Some teach that if you lack anything or want something, all you've got to do is "name it and claim it" and it's yours. 

Why then did the prophets have such difficult lives?  Why did the apostles become identified as "fools for Christ" (1 Cor 4:10)?  Why did Jesus suffer?  When the Psalmist wrote, "The Lord is my stronghold of whom shall I be afraid" (Ps 27:1), why was he needing a stronghold?  James even suggests that difficulties serve to mature our faith (cf. Jas  1:2-4).  

We will be victorious in heaven and God will see us through difficult times in the meanwhile, but the Lord doesn't promise a carefree life to the faithful - quite the opposite, disciples are called to a life that includes sacrifice (cf Lk 14:33).  

Paul said that he learned "the secret of being content in all circumstances..." (Phil 4:12).  The victory was that he had Christ (Phil 4:13), not that he had it made. Jus' Sayn.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Your Kingdom Come

In the prayer model Jesus provided for his disciples begin with praise to God and a request, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt 6:10).  It's a request most Christians have prayed with a genuine desire for God's reign and his will to be exercised on planet earth, but I wonder if we have directed that prayer in a personal way.

What I mean is to pray specifically that His kingdom peace come into your life, his kingdom strength, his kingdom power, his kingdom agenda, his kingdom forgiveness...  Do you see the point?  While we ought to pray that God's kingdom will is embraced by the world, even more we ought to seek that kingdom will into our own.

This kingdom seeking is the key to a holy and contented life on earth while awaiting the day when God's kingdom will be realized fully.  Perhaps you'll remember Jesus' words in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you as well."

The world definitely needs the kingdom of God rule in order to escape the downward pull of sin and depravity we see all about us.  But more important than a general prayer that God's will be embraced by the world around us, we need to be praying that His will is accepted and exercised in our lives, in the lives of our families, in the lives of the people with whom we come in contact.

We need to be focused on making the kingdom will of God a reality in our lives and modeling it before others, prepared to share it's truth when given the opportunity.  As Peter instructs, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Pet 3:15).  Always live out and be willing to share the kingdom hope you have.  Jus' Say'n.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Don't Worry

I visited an elderly couple today; she was sick but he was bedridden. Their yard hadn't been tended to in weeks and their house was in worse shape than all. If it had been an animal, a vet would have put it down. If it had been a person, the doctor would have disconnected life support.

They had kids but they were too busy to help and didn't feel comfortable facing the fact that their dad was getting close to death. They belonged to a church but, as the wife explained, our pastor is very busy with the church and his other job. I don't know the excuses others had, I just know the wife said, "I'm so glad you came, I don't get to talk to anyone much these days.

After our prayer at he husband's bedside, she looked down in his weary eyes and said to him in an encouraging tone, "Don't you be worrying about me.  I'll be OK. God will provide for me."

She took Jesus at his word, where he said, "Do not worry about what you will eat or drink or what you will wear...your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things" (Matt 6:31-32).

Living under conditions that many of us worry could happen to us,  worse come to worse, she refused to worry that things might go bad. She wanted for so little, thankful for what she has,  while looking to God for provision in the days ahead.  I wonder just how rich in heavenly treasures she might actually be?  Jus' Think'n.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Moment

In a visit with a new hospice patient yesterday, I asked if would like me to sing her an old hymn.  She responded, "I heard you could sing."  I responded by saying, "Well, I do like to sing.  Is there a particular hymn you'd like to hear or would you like me to choose?"  She said that she couldn't think of one right then.

So, I paused for a moment while a few songs began to come to mind and then "In The Garden" came to the forefront.  As I began to sing, I could see her eyes soften and begin to tear.  A gentle smile made its way to her lips and her head began to nod as I continued singing.

When I came to the last note, she looked up at me and said, "That was the first song I ever learned to play on the piano, and the only one I can play by heart.  We both felt a little awed by the choice made, sensing the Spirit of God in the choice.

Who can say for sure if the Spirit planted that song in my heart at that moment?  It may have been just a lucky guess, though I doubt it.  But one thing I know is that the Spirit was among us in that moment as we connected in spirit with this hymn that brought two strangers together for "Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them" (Matt 18:20).

As we concluded the visit in prayer, holding hands and praising God, there was no doubt that that elderly widow and this aging chaplain were together, bound by the one and same Spirit of God.  It is amazing the good that God can do through such little things as opening your heart and sharing a hymn.  We were both blessed in that moment.

Say, do you suppose you might have a moment today to connect with someone in spirit making use of the binding power of God's Holy Spirit?  A song, a prayer, a kind word...?   Jus' Ask'n.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Heaven's Fireworks

As I sat in my hot tub late evening on the 4th, I could hear the fireworks going off around the neighborhood and I could see some in the distance.  But, what got my attention was one little light flickering in my backyard - a single firefly was flitting about and I watched it for several minutes until it flew over the fence and into the night.

All the big noise and the bright lights of the fireworks faded into the background as one little heavenly light carried me back to my childhood and reminded me the God who created fireflies and me.  I was captured by the majesty of a little bug with a tail that lights up like a beacon.

My point?  "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands" (Ps 19:1).  In this case, it was just a little part of the heavens, a tiny creature floating about in the lowest part of the heavens but still proclaiming the lofty majesty of the Almighty God.

The hand of the Creator can be seen in all of creation.  When you are wondering where God is, just look about you and he can be found in the laugh of a baby, in the smile of a friend, in a gentle breeze or even in a tiny little bug with a flickering tail.  Jus' Say'n.