Credit where Credit is Due

www.bible.com/1713/psa.100.4.csb

Do you give God enough credit for the goings on in your life? Many years ago the movie Shenandoah put this into words. As Jimmy Stewart is gathered with his family around the table, he began his prayer for the blessing. His prayer, however, was more about his own work than God’s. ”Thank you for this food, though we are the ones who cultivated the ground, planted the seed, harvested the grain by the sweat of our brow,” and so on. By the end of his prayer, he was essentially telling God “Thanks for nothing.”

You may feel the same way today. You had to get up this morning, go to work, pay your bills, get your groceries, and prepare your own dinner. What did God do?

Working as I do with the sick and infirm, I learn a few things about thankfulness. Some people are in so much pain, they cannot work, let alone pay rent or buy food. Some have debilitating conditions where they ask God for a pain-free day. Some wish they could work, just to be normal again. I have discovered that I have much to be thankful for.

What Jimmy failed to acknowledge is that they were given strength of body every day, sunshine, good weather for their crops to grow, sufficient storage and ability to put up crops once they were harvested, the ability to sit with your family when the work was done. Some families can’t even speak to each other on the phone. While Jimmy could account for a he had done, he failed to thank God for all those things he could not control.

We ought to give credit where credit is due. And Thanksgiving is one day where we do exactly that. Are you thankful that you had a job to go to today? Thankful that you had money to pay bills? Are you thankful for the roof over to head, or shoes on your feet? A car that started today? There are so many ways in which life can go wrong, let us be thankful when it goes right.

Bless God today with your thankfulness!

God of Mysteries

www.bible.com/1713/jer.33.3.csb

The deep things of God remain are great mysteries. Even those who’ve spent their lives searching them out can only grasp the most basic concepts. There are depths of God that cannot be fathomed by mortal minds.

Even to begin such an undertaking requires the Holy Spirit, a gift Christians receive upon their baptism. For the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God (1 Cor 3). The Holy Spirit does better than Google when it comes to the deeps of the Almighty.

So why the invitation? If our minds can’t handle it and the Spirit is our only guide, why does God invite us to know Him?

Are you ever interested in how your dad met your mom? Or what your mom was like growing up? Have you ever talked with your parents about their dreams and desires, or things that they’ve learned? It is one of my privileges to talk to the old and hear these kinds of stories. The human experience is one of the more fascinating elements of history. What life was like. How did people of previous generations solve the same problems without electricity and google?

In the same way, I think we would like to know more about where we came from, and of the mind that brought us into being. What is life like for an eternal Being with an infinite imagination and creativity? What are the principles that govern His Being? What does He like? What are His dreams and desires? Thankfully He didn’t leave Himself without record, for all these answers can be found in His book. That’s right, for all those people who say of their life, “I could write a book!”, He did.

But He didn’t just write a book. That would be too simple. He employed a host of writers who in turn using their own life experiences wrote about God from their own unique perspectives. Yet the same God shines through every page, just to show you that He isn’t an iconoclast or a demagogue, but that expression of God can take on many different means. God expresses Himself directly at times, through voice and prophet, but also through signs and symbols, through Psalm and prose, through gospel letters, even in apocalypse. The same God, but revealed in a myriad of means to appeal to the widest possible audience, human beings. And all are invited to discover His secrets. Woah.

Take some time today and read. You might learn something.

Accomplished Wonders

www.bible.com/1713/isa.25.1.csb

What has the Lord done for you lately? When faced with the stress of in pending medical procedures, and the possibility of death, many of my Christian patients lose hope. Why? Because they are Christians. They aren’t supposed to suffer. God is supposed to bless them as His dear children. Isn’t that what the Scriptures teach? God won’t give you more than you can handle?

What I often find is that the opposite is true. God gives you more than you are accustomed to because in that you grow. You are given more than you can handle so you can rise to the challenge. When you run, you don’t run only what you’re accustomed to, but you challenge yourself, to improve your time and extend your distance. You take on more to get better. This too in regards to our faith. God challenges you to grow.

But God doesn’t send you through this trial unprepared. He reminds you of all the times He has helped you before when you thought you couldn’t take anymore. He reminds you of all the times you trusted and depended on Him and He proved Himself faithful in His promises. If there is anything that proves you will be blessed during this trial, is that God has been faithful in accomplishing His wonders in your life. He saved you from your sins He saved you from the worst consequences imaginable. He saved you from Hell. Do you think He can manage heart palpitations? Or cancer?

And as a wise man once told me, either way, we win. Whether we live or die. Don’t allow the fear of death to so consume you you are afraid to live. Jesus has already conquered death. Though it is still our enemy, we don’t have to be afraid it.

Yes. God will give you more than you can handle. He will do this to test your faith. He tests your faith to help you grow. But He will not do so without first blessing you and proving to you just how much He loves you already. And if you have been saved, you have received the greatest blessing of all.

God bless you today!

Faithful Promise

Heb 10_23.jpg
Hebrews 10:23
“He who promised is faithful.” What a contrast to the half-hearted promises we are used to receiving. I hate making promises myself because they become commitments I have to abide by. I try to be a man of my word, even if the consequences are inconsequential. If I say I am going to do something, I want to be known as one who will keep his word. It seems like a funny thing anymore. And becomes one of the more frustrating things when I hold that same standard to others.
This is especially important to my kids, who ask me to do or buy things for them all the time. Sometimes its little things like, “Look at this new video game I want to get” or “I really want to go to this birthday party.” If I say yes, I obligate myself to them to fulfill it because I want them to be able to trust me when I say I will. When my wife asks me to sweep the living room (because of excessive dog hair) then I agree to do it, I do it. And I don’t dare disagree with her. 🙂
But by the same token, I ask the kids to clean up their room or work on dishes or something else around the house. Sometimes they surprise me and actually do as they promised. Other times, even though they said they would get to it, it never gets done. That frustrates me because I end up having to it myself because its bedtime or the kids have another obligation they need to meet. A well-oiled machine we are not.
That’s why when God makes a promise, I believe He is faithful to keep it.
I am reminded of an individual last week I talked to said who said church attendance used to be a part of life, but have since ceased, because God doesn’t answer prayer. This individual had many reasons to be disappointed with God, including a family who had abandoned this person and a government assistance program that had cast this person aside. This person had said prayer had been faithful and often, but to no avail. This person felt God had abandoned them.
I speak with many people who suffer from a debilitating illness, but whose faith has not wavered. I speak with others whose faith is wavering now and need a reminder that God has helped them through many trials in the past. If God helped you through a terrible trial when you were 20 (like a car accident) and 29 (a family member’s suicide),  would God suddenly abandon you now at 45 with pancreatic cancer?
Something else we need to consider. God’s ways of help are not always what we expect. If you are thinking that God is going to give you exactly the kind of help you demand, you will be disappointed. We need to be reminded that we are not in charge. God does what He wants and God is supremely good. This life is only preparation for eternity, a proving ground if you will of who we are to be. Bad things do happen. But they only happen in this life. We have an eternity to enjoy the fruits of our labor. There will come a time when we are sitting by the Throne and we will reminisce about those days on earth when we thought all hope was lost. We will remind ourselves how foolish we were to ignore the ever-present God, how our sins dimmed our eyes. And then we will have a good laugh at our own expense because the pain of that day will vanish like a mist.
I wonder at that. We have so much more to live for than paychecks and fine homes, fancy cars and good jobs. All of this will be so dross when we find what has real value: faith, hope, and love. God has bigger goals for us than stock portfolios and advanced degrees. He calls us to higher things, a hopeful expectation of His presence. He is our greatest possession, for He is our God. There is nothing on this earth that has value compared to Him. And equal in value is our salvation, paid for by the very blood and body that God chose in His Son, who willingly endured the cross for our shame.
Christian friend, in this world you will have trouble. Don’t be surprised when suffering comes your way. But do not be deceived. This world is not all there is. There is still hope.
May God bless you today and all days as you walk with Him.

Never Too Late

www.bible.com/1713/deu.6.4.csb

Just a quick one today. Sorry for the late post. Never forget that our Lord is One. He is not many nor does He exist in all things. He is One, and He is transcendent. He exists above and independent from all things. He depends on nothing to exist or survive. He is One and uniquely One. Nothing is like Him, nothing approximates Him, nothing compares to Him. He is. And that is enough.

Perfection

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.48.csb

Do you know what perfection is? Can you define it? Would you be able to recognize it? Could you achieve it? Ugh.

When Jesus makes this statement in the Sermon on the Mount, it would have shaken and challenged them as it still does today. However, as I’ve studied this passage, the word translated ”perfection” might be better translated as ”maturity” or ”complete.” It might be more achievable to be mature or complete as God is because it would be impossible for us to achieve the perfection of God.

But again, this returns me to the initial question. Could you recognize perfection? Do you know what perfection looks like?

When I think of perfection, it is, everything is where it’s supposed to be. There is an order and design. There is beauty and awe in perfection. It is often something we recognize intuitively. We don’t have to be taught what it is because even small children can be in awe of perfection, and only more so as they understand the effort required to achieve it.

In the same way, we notice imperfections, flaws and details that don’t look right. So where does this come from? I put to you that this is part of our design. We were built to recognize such thing s because our Father and Designer is divinely perfect. We are built with His sensibility for perfection. So when Jesus challenges us to be “perfect” as God is perfect we are understandably overwhelmed. It is too much. It is beyond us. We are automatically inclined to disagree with Jesus on this point, or out this off to the super-Christians or the Saints. We can’t be perfect.

But we can. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, been baptized into water for the cleansing our souls by His blood, we are justified before God in our faith and receive the grace and forgiveness for our sins. We are perfect before Him. We are perfectly sinless. We are perfectly loved. We are perfectly justified. It’s an awesome moment. I say moment because we are still human. We will not receive a permanent sinlessness until the moment we die and our struggle with sin is over.

We have this hope in us, that each day we strive to obey this command from our Lord, He too is working in us to help us achieve it. Praised be the Name of the Lord.

Which One Are You?

www.bible.com/1713/rom.8.6.csb

Paul divides people into two broad categories with this text. On the one hand are those who are led by their flesh and its desires. They are motivated by the world and what pleases themselves. On the other hand are those motivated by what pleases God and they follow the desires of the Holy Spirit. These he says are fundamentally incompatible.

For the one led by the flesh will find himself on the path to death. I’ve seen this in heroin addicts. As an extreme example, the heroin addict is addict to a substance that gives them extreme pleasure, but consumes the rest of their lives. Everything else is forfeit, family, relationships, job, personal health, everything is sacrificed for the sake of heroin. It is that powerful a god. But the god being served is self, because self demands the pleasure that comes from the substance. And often these end in overdosed and death. To a greater or lesser degree, every addiction to self, whether it be substances, lifestyles, work, and even family and church, all of these are pale imitations of what we really need, and this fail to satisfy.

So what were we made for, if none of these other things bring us life? We were made for God, and only God can satisfy our deepest needs. We need belonging. We need relationship. We need satisfaction and contentment. We need trust. We need truth. It’s not your typical needs list, is it? But imagine your life without them.

Every one is offered to a greater or lesser extent by the world. And the world fails to deliver, always demanding more. Yet God delivers on these needs from day one. When you have faith in Jesus Christ, the path of life become clear, and Jesus fills your heart with what you really need, the satisfaction you’ve longed for from all of earth’s pale imitations. With God you belong. With God you have peace and contentment. With God you have genuine, honest, loyal love. God will never lie to you. You may not like what He has to say, but God will always tell you the truth. It’s a powerful thing.

The path of following your own desires leads to death. The other path, following what God wants, leads to real living. There really are only two paths. Which one are you?