Frenetic

www.bible.com/1713/isa.26.3.csb

That word describes the pace of life these days. No, it’s not because life is moving so fast. In fast, life is much slower now than it used to be. No, rather this word describes the state of living today. Every day we are given new rules, new rules for COVID, new rules for work, play, even worship. Unless your eyes are glued to the news, you will something, usually something important. It is to keep one’s ear to rail, knowing the train is coming, and waiting until the last second to move, because they don’t want to miss it. It is that tense.

But it doesn’t have to be. Regardless of how deadly you think this virus is, or how important it is to social distance or wear a mask, there’s really nothing in this world that can save you. I mean, according to some, this virus escaped from a lab. It brings to mind the idea of a prison break or something, but a lab like the one this virus was in is designed to keep the little beasts inside. Yet this virus escaped containment from the most secure place viruses like this are kept. I don’t live in a virus lab. I doubt you do either. Is there anything you can do better than a lab to protect yourself?

Do we have reason to be afraid? Probably. Should we take precautions? What could we do better than a lab to protect ourselves? So, ought we to worry? Why?

There are thousand things that could kill me every time I go out my door. And yet I have a God that protects me from all of them. I don’t worry about it. He gives me peace and shelter under His wings. Trust in the Lord isn’t for the fearful or the worriers. You can’t save yourself by worrying. You can call upon the One who can save you and protect you. With God, the only thing to fear is Him.

If you are a lion tamer, the only thing you worry about it the lion. You don’t worry about your blood pressure or your heart rate. Your mind is focused on the one thing that could kill you at any moment, the imminent threat. All your other worries fade into the background.

If you are a God-feared, all of your other worries ought to fade, because you have only one concern, to please the King of the Universe who watches your every move.

Heavenly Father, though perfect love casts out all fear, I pray my fear of You eclipse any other fears I have. I pray that my chief goal be to please You, and that all other concerns and worries of life will fade away. I know You control the future. You control the tiniest of particles to the largest stars. No virus escapes Your attention. I pray for You protection today as I work and serve to please you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thank the Maker!

www.bible.com/1713/psa.121.2.csb

When Star Wars came out in 1977, I was  a little young, only five years old. I can’t remember going and seeing the movie in the theater, but I know I was in love with the toys, because I remember getting many of them for Christmas. I know the toys were not available right away, so it may have been Christmas of ’78 or ’79 when I finally got my hands on them. I remember taking my C3PO to the sandbox at school and pretending that we were on the desert planet. I still have that toy, somewhere.

C3PO is also the character in the movie taht reminded us of the “Maker”. When he emerges from his oil bath, he exclaims, “thank the Maker!” Coming from the mouth of a droid, its doesn’t sound all that odd, since droids (robots) are artificial and must have a maker or manufacturer of some kind. But back then, we all thought C3PO was referring to a robot making company or some such. Fast forward to 1999’s The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode 1, and suddenly we discover that the maker was personal, a brilliant little boy named Anakin Skywalker. Suddenly the phrase, “thank the Maker!” means more than coming off of an assembly line, but something that was carefully crafted and molded by the hands of a person. Our perspective of C3PO of maybe ourselves changes.

It is one thing to thing you are product of natural processes over millions of years, that you are nothing special but a happy accident in the course of eons. It is quite another to realize that you were specially and wonderfully made by a person, an Intelligence that intended to make you, especially you, to fulfill His great purpose. For Anakin, that purpose was to be a droid to “help mom.” For us, what might that purpose be? For the very fact we are created means that we were made for a purpose, to help one another, to worship the Maker of heaven and earth, to give, to love, to defend the truth and so on. Because we are made, we have purpose. You were made, and you have a purpose. Thank the Maker!

Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing me into the world, especially and wonderfully made for a reason. I know that today, I am not the result of an eons-long experiment by nature to “see what happens” but a special product, and special person with a special purpose. Help me realize that purpose in my own life, that I may fulfill the purpose given to me by my Maker. Thank You Lord for giving me life. I love and worship You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Do Not Love

www.bible.com/1713/1jn.2.15.csb

Of all the people in the world, we ought to be the most loving, most caring people on the planet, right? But here comes 1 John, who instead of encouraging us to love everyone and everything, actually cautions us against it. There are some things we ought not to love, namely the world and everything in it. That sounds like it excludes a lot, doesn’t it?

The world here is shorthand for the worldly system. Something that is worldly is typically not from God but from man and his sinful desires. So to love not the world is to not love sin and its effects. That’s a good thing. But that excludes an awful lot from our purview. We are not to love murder, sexual deviance, sinful pleasures, a whole host of things that derive their nature from the Enemy and his minions. We are to resist carnal lusts. We are to resist the pleasures of the flesh if they are delivered through sin. Sex outside of marriage, any sexual act or appearance of sex is to be avoided. We are not to love that.

You see as Christians we have been led into a trap by the world. We have been told since we are all about love, then we should be accepting of two people who love each other. We should be encouraging love of self. And we certainly can’t tell anyone what true love is, because love is love, no matter who experiences it. But it is. Lie, because that is ”love” without truth. We are not afforded the luxury of defining love for ourselves. We are not love. God is love. God sets the standard and definition. We do not have that authority. This when it comes to love, God is the authority on what it means. God set this standard by sending His own Son to be crucified for our sins. True, selfless, self-sacrifice is God’s standard of love. He tells us what relationships have His approval: heterosexual monogamy in marriage, friendship, family, and worship. All are experiences of love. He did not approve others.

God has the right to tell what to love and what not to love. As His creation, we have the right to obey or disobey. But there are always consequences. I hope you make fbe right choices.

Help me God to make good choices today in how and to whom I express love. Help me to enjoy your Creation without loving the world, because I know that sometimes it’s hard to know the difference. I love You Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

More Important

www.bible.com/1713/php.2.3.csb

Who is most important in your life? Of all the people in your life, who is has the most significant impact over your daily affairs? Some might say my employer really has the most to say about how I live and work. He governs my time, tells me when I am scheduled for work, and how I ought to dress and act while I am there. Granted, that person does have a lot of power over your life. But that person cannot tell you how to think, or what to think about.

Well, what about your spouse? Doesn’t she have a lot of say about who you are and what you’re about? Certainly. I share my life with her. She and I are very close, and she has much to say about how I live my life and what I occupy my time with, as she should.

What about your God? Doesn’t God have a lot to say about how to live your life and what to think about? Absolutely. And of all who have something to say about me, it is God’s opinion I value the most. So with certainty, God is the most important person in my life. So why doesn’t God say that here?

Here, it is others who are the most important. Others? What others? Just anybody? It reminds me of something Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” and “however you treat the least of these, you have done it unto Me.” The least of all humanity is just as important as the greatest. All are made in the image of God. All.

So how we treat others reflects on our treatment of God. For how can we say we love God and yet hate our brother? Is not our brother made in the image of God? For all of this talk about welcoming our neighbors (as a feint for accepting illegal aliens) are we really addressing the underlying Christian principle? Inviting the world to our doorstep sounds like a good idea, even a Christian one, but do we also couple that with our Christian missionary work? We may well want to accept the illegal in the name of Jesus, but don’t we also proselytize him? The name of Jesus demands it! If they are to come under our roof, they must also give respect to our God. If they accept our hospitality, then they must also be respectful of our religion. If we are going to bring the world to our doorstep in the name of Christian hospitality, then we must also demand that the world give respect to our Christian faith. You would never allow a houseguest to disrespect your family’s faith, would you? That’s not how hospitality works.

Sorry, that got off into rant territory. Many in our community are fond of posting signs that welcome “neighbors” regardless of where they are from, without realizing how the underlying Christian principles they pretend to espouse actually work. Hospitality does not also mean tolerance of all and every idea. It means we welcome you as a child of God made in His image. When you come under my protection, there are certain rules while under my roof you must follow. You don’t pee on the floor. You don’t have sex in front of my children. You eat with your mouth closed. You don’t curse my God or threaten my life. Just some basic rules of hospitality in my opinion.

Lord Jesus, help me continue to see others as You do. Sometimes, I get all jumbled up with my worldview and how I see others, especially when I see the worst in others on a daily basis. Father, you didn’t call me to judge other people. You called me loved and spread Your love to them in the gospel message. Remind me today to bless these souls with your loving Presence. Help me to remember my role as an ambassador for Your Kingdom, not mine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A God-Shaped Hole

www.bible.com/1713/ecc.3.11.csb

There it is. This is why we are never content. This is why we keep looking for the next thing. This is why without God we are never happy. Paul once said “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Why? Because few there are that find it. Without God Life is just a great black hole sucking joy out of all things. God designed with an eternity-shaped hope, a hole only He can fill of we will let Him.

Solomon in his vast wisdom knew this. But this book of his isn’t finished until the end of his life, after he’s made his mistakes. He realizes now towards the end of his life that he really has nothing without God. The world itself cannot fill the vacuum of our heart. And Solomon could certainly have explored every avenue and venture there was in His time. Every pleasure and lust he could invent were his to explore. He did everything there was to do. And he still recognized that none of it was enough. He still felt the god-shaped hole in all of us.

As we come to the close of another year, perhaps you are feeling the same thing. You’ve done everything you can do to fill that hole. You’ve dumped everything you can think of into it and you still feel empty. You’ve tried everything to be happy, and you come to this time of self-reflection and see nothing but dread for the new year.

You have a god-shaped hole in you. You can’t fill it. Nothing you do or experience will ever satisfy that deep hunger for something more until you accept Jesus as your Savior. It may sound like cliche, but Jesus is the only One that can fill your heart because your were designed for Him. That hole is there because He built you that way.

There are places in your life that only your parents can fill, good or bad. The same goes for children. We know how these feel when suddenly these holes are empty. We know the grief and the loss after losing a loved one. We are familiar with these kinds of holes. So it is with this God-shaped void in us.

I urge you today. Don’t turn to a bottle or a syringe to fill that hole. Don’t rely on friends or even family to fill it, because they are not enough. Decide today that you will accept Jesus as your Savior, and be filled.

May God bless you as you go into your new year!

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.