Monday, May 25, 2015

This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made

"Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Philippians 4:11)

One of the most humorous posters that I have ever seen, beloved, was of a toddler in a high chair who was quite literally "wearing" his supper!  His head was covered with spaghetti noodles and his face, arms, and chest with sauce.  And as cute and funny as that picture was, what really made it complete for me was the caption beneath it.  In large letters were these familiar words:


And judging by the virtual ear-to-ear grin on that little guy's face, he was certainly "glad" in all of that spaghetti mess!

I find a wonderfully appropriate lesson for us as adults today in the image that I have described for you here.  Do we really believe that in every circumstance of life that "this is the day that the Lord has made"?  When we are circumstantially splattered with the noodles and sauce of everyday living, can we actually "rejoice and be glad in it"?  The confident declaration of the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi lets us know clearly what his own personal reply to this question was:

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am"

If you know anything at all about Paul's life, beloved, you know that in many circumstances he found himself "splattered with spaghetti sauce"!  Life was tough for the apostle more times than it was not.  Yet he faced each day with the certain conviction that it was indeed the day that the Lord had made and he was determined to be content in it.  He was able to do that because he believed with all his heart that God is in complete control.  His circumstances were meant to glorify God and to strengthen Paul in his daily walk.  Can you and I have the same conviction today, beloved?  Can we take on life's splatter and declare with assurance that "this is the day that the Lord has made"?  We can if we know that God loves us and only desires His best for our lives!  So enjoy your spaghetti!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Living in a Disproportionate World

"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come" (2 Timothy 3:1)

One of the most popular D.C. Beltway "buzz-words" that we hear being bandied about in recent days is the word disproportionate, beloved!  More accurately, it is most often linked to another word forming the all too familiar claim of "disproportionate wealth" supposedly plaguing society today.  In fact, it seems that this present administration seems to be obsessed with the concept.  Very simply, too many people have too much money while too many have too little.  Ergo, disproportionate wealth!  

What fascinates me, however, is how so many can claim to be champions of solving the disproportionate wealth problem while at the same time apparently failing to realize that we all live in a "disproportionate world"!  Scripture makes it very clear that we are living in a world that is horribly gone wrong, a world that is out of balance and off-kilter in every way imaginable.  The Apostle Paul described this world-wide condition to the believers in the city of Rome in this way:

"For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now" (Romans 8:22)

This present world is suffering from being out of balance spiritually with our Creator, beloved.  We have fallen horribly short of the glory of God and are hopelessly ensconced in bondage to sin.  We are in an eternal slavery from which we cannot hope to extricate ourselves.  As Paul wrote to the believers in the city of Ephesus in his day:

"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1)

The good news is that, though man could not deliver himself from his disproportionate world, God in mercy did that for him.  In Jesus' laying down of His life on the cross for our sins the way was opened for us to know full and eternal restoration into a glorious relationship with God.  What we could not do, God has done and all because He loves us and is not willing that any should perish.  

Let man rail on and on, if he chooses to do so, about the ridiculous notion of disproportionate wealth.  We who are followers of Jesus Christ know that God will one day restore all balance and symmetry to this disproportionate world of ours and that every eye will behold it and every tongue will confess it.  It will be on that day, beloved, that God will set everything right.

"They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious" (Isaiah 11:9-10)

"The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea"!  Does not that statement describe beautifully God's healing of our disproportionate world?  In that day "the nations will resort to the root of Jesse," meaning that King Jesus will rule on the throne of David and the peace of God will cover the earth.  Everything "disproportionate" will be set right and all will exist in harmony for God's glory and for the good of His people.  To God be the glory!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Coming Alongside to Help

"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you" (John 14:16-17)

I experienced today one of the most tender and heart-touching moments that I have ever witnessed, beloved!  We were at the nursing home where Bev's mom resides and were about to leave.  In the hallway outside her room, an elderly Alzheimer's resident was trying with great difficulty to move her wheelchair down the hall to the front lobby where many love to sit.  Another resident, a man in a motorized wheelchair came up behind her and grabbed her chair, I thought to move it out of his way.  Instead he asked her, "Are you having difficulty, ma'am?"  Without waiting for a reply, he took a firm hold on the armrest of her manual wheelchair and "hit the gas" of his motorized wheelchair.  I watched in amazement as he literally "towed" her to her destination before continuing on his way.  He had actually come alongside her to help her and was able to see her through her dilemma.

"Not a big deal," some might say.  But it surely is if you are an Alzheimer's victim confined to a nursing home and you can't get your wheelchair to work for you!  What occurred to me instantly as I watched that special moment of ministry going on was that the Greek word Parakletos, recorded here in the words of the Apostle John to describe God's gift to us of the indwelling Holy Spirit, literally means "one coming alongside to help."  What I was seeing played out before my eyes was for me a reminder of the work of the Spirit of God daily in my own life and in the lives of those who have a true relationship by faith with Jesus Christ.

Just as that "good Samaritan" came alongside to help that sweet lady in her distress, so the Spirit of God is present within us to "come alongside" and help us through whatever it is that we are facing.  And in like manner, beloved, again beautifully exemplified by that unidentified helper today, we as believers have the responsibility to "come alongside" those into whose lives the Holy Spirit may send us.  No matter what the need may be, we should be doing all that we can to help others along the way, especially along the path to knowing Jesus Christ and living with Him eternally.

I am pretty sure that the aforementioned gentleman today does not know that I witnessed his gift of grace and mercy.  I am sure that he does not know what an impact his example made upon my life and what a reminder he was and is to me of what I need to be doing more of myself from day to day.  The formula is pretty simple, beloved:  

(1) Be on the lookout always for those who are stuck on the side of life's path, and 
(2) Do whatever is needed to meet their need and to set them moving again in the direction that God would have them to go. 

As you do that, you will be imitating the person and work of the Spirit of God in your own life.  You will also be advancing the kingdom of God and you will certainly be exalting the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and pointing others to Him!


Friday, September 26, 2014

Carnivorous Chickens?

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15)

"Stupid bird!"  Those were my wife's precise words recently as she read once again the words "Vegetarian Fed Hens" on the outside of the carton of fresh eggs she had just purchased.  You see, anyone who knows Bev knows that she and vegetables are not on the best speaking terms!  In fact, when I pointed out to her that all chickens are fed vegetable products, her response was "Not mine!"  Carnivorous chickens?  Really?  I suppose that in her world such critters might just exist!

We all love to play by our own rules, don't we, beloved?  It is a trait of human nature as long as there have been human beings that we insist on deciding what is best for us and by what standards we will live our lives.  Now in all fairness we have become civilized to the point that we do submit to some degree to people of authority over us.  After all, lots of folks have bosses, children have parents, and all of us as citizens live under the watchful eye of Big Brother!  But in our heart of hearts,we would rather have everything go our way, have everyone around us dance to our tune.

Jesus blew such a common trait of human nature to smithereens when He proclaimed to His disciples that if they truly loved Him, they would obey Him.  And I am pretty sure that it is safe for us to assume that by "My commandments" He really meant all His commandments.  No wiggle-room, no side doors, no back windows out of which to climb.  Just straight forward, dead-ahead obedience, walking moment by moment in the will of the Lord.  Jesus did not chew His cabbage twice on this point: the only real evidence that we even have a relationship with Him will be the degree to which we obey Him!

You see, beloved, being a Christian is not really a complicated issue at all.  It means simply that moment by moment and day by day, I discover what the Master's will is for my life and then I go out and do it.  Just do it.  Otherwise, you are going to find yourself lost in that nether-world inhabited by unicorns and carnivorous chickens.  You gotta love her!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Joy Unspeakable!

"Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you" (John 16:22)

The phrase "joy unspeakable and full of glory" is the title of a gospel song from 1900 written by Church of God minister Barney Elliott Warren.  His inspiration came from the words of the Apostle Peter about the joy that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8, KJV)

Peter wrote concerning how, though the believer cannot see Jesus right now visibly, still because of our faith in Him and His finished work on the cross, our hearts are filled with joy, a depth of joy that it is absolutely impossible to adequately put into words.  It is truly "joy unspeakable" and it ought to overflow our lives!  It ought to be so infectious that those who are exposed to it when they are in our presence cannot help but notice that something is very, very different about us.  We are not weird but we are joyful!  As Barney Warren put it so well:

"I have found the joy no tongue can tell,
How the waves of glory roll;
It is like a great o'erflowing well,
Springing up within my soul"

It you could have seen the faces and manner of the disciples that final night with Jesus, beloved, you would definitely not have seen "poster children" for the joy of the Lord!  They were anything but joyful, so great was their sorrow over His coming departure from them.  And though He sought to convince them that their hearts would be joyful after a little while of sorrow, they just could not and would not believe it.  It was not until after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that the true transformation of heart and life began.

How infectious is your joy right now, beloved?  If we are honest with ourselves, each one of us, we must confess that we are not always the most joyful people to be around.  What are we showing to our world that will catch their attention and cause them to want to know what (or who!) has gotten hold of us?  Let me encourage you to ask the Spirit of God to fill you to overflowing with the joy of Jesus Christ.  Ask Him to let your life so flow with the abundance of His joy that it cannot help but wash over those who know you.  It is truly "joy unspeakable" to have a living relationship with Jesus Christ and to be His ambassadors in this world so darkened by sin!  Come on!  Let the waves of glory roll!