Good Grief

www.bible.com/72/jol.2.12.hcsb

Loss is usually the signal for grief. What Joel describes this morning are three common symptoms of grief, fasting, weeping and mourning. We fast because we don’t feel like eating. We weep because stress often finds its way out through our eyes. Mourning is about meditating on the loss itself, looking at the open wound in our lives. And this kind of grief isn’t just about losing a person. It can be about losing a job, a spouse (through divorce), a pet, possessions, or even hope for the future. Grief is a natural human reaction to loss of any kind. The degree of grief is according to the perception of the loss.

Now Joel sets his focus on national sin. The Lord is calling to the people of Israel to come back to Him, leave off worshipping false gods, and come back in grief to the Lord. If grief is a response to loss, then what are they grieving? Maybe loss of innocence? Loss of relationship to God? Loss of God’s blessing on their nation and His Divine protection?

May I submit that this text is entirely appropriate for our nation today, though few are aware of what we have lost. We have lost moral authority. We have murdered the innocent, allowed it over and over again. We have protected the guilty. We have promoted immorality and abomination in the form of gay marriage, an absolute mockery of God’s original institution. We have those that fight for the right to be immoral, and I wonder how soon until the Lord vomits us out of his mouth.

We ought to grieve, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. For we know God is gracious. He welcomes back the repentant. May your prayers today be for the repentance of God’s people.

God bless you today.

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Not Right in the Head

www.bible.com/72/pro.21.2.hcsb

First of all, I love this picture. Wow! God’s Love is at the heart of our mission and witness, “For God so loved the world”. So this image is a perfect opener for what needs to be said today.

I will be honest. I think I’m right a lot. I don’t intentionally set out to do the wrong thing, unless it’s avoiding writing this blog. Because sometimes you just don’t feel it. This isn’t one of those days because this is the Lord’s Day, and I am finally back in the house of my spiritual family after having to take a break last week. I love being in Church. I feel at home here. And I know I am in the right place.

But the rest of the week, I feel like I’m on my own, and like you, have to make a number of decisions day to day. I like to think I make those decisions based on Scripture, but honestly, I don’t. Not every life issue has a “thus saith the Lord.” I don’t believe the Lord intended it that way. There are major course corrections we learn to make, moral decisions about life’s direction that He gives us wise counsel, but there are countless minor decisions we make everyday that don’t have a moral component, or do they?

Take for example, brushing your teeth. Seems like a minor thing, right? You squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush and brush vigorously. Rinse and spit. Where was God in this decision? Why did you brush your teeth? To have clean teeth, right? Why is that? So that I don’t offend people when I talk to them. So that my appearance is unmarred at least for a while. Keeping teeth in our culture is often paired with affluence, lack of drug use, and a standard for wholesome living. Having a full set of clean white teeth offers strangers a quick insight into the kind of person you are. And then you pair that with Christian witness, and you have a positive effect upon others. Was brushing your teeth a Holy work? Maybe today it is.

All of the billions of tiny decisions we make have. Cumulative effect on the kind of person we are. If we think that we can skip a day, we have declared something about our character. We may think we are “ok”, but God knows the motives of the heart.

How is your heart today? God Bless!

Even a Little Matters

www.bible.com/72/luk.16.10.hcsb

I’ve read this verse dozens of times, usually with Ephesus on the righteous side of it. Being faithful in a few things will lead to God giving you more things to be responsible for. It’s a sign of wisdom. If you are faithful to produce in a job of $10, you can be trusted with. Job of $20, $100, and so on. When little things matter, you can be trusted with bigger things.

But the back half of this verse hit me this morning. Being unrighteous in little things means that bigger things will be a problem. Sin always starts small. Sin makes the initial investment so tiny that you might not give a second thought to compromising your integrity. While being faithful in a small thing is a big deal, being unfaithful, like telling a lie when it really doesn’t matter, can lead to big trouble. If you see the dog’s feed bowl empty, do you stop and fill it up, or wait and let someone else do it? If you see a picture with a bit of skin, you go back and look at it, or do you let it scroll on by? Do these little hits to your integrity matter? Yes. Any small opening you allow for sin, even to be tempted, is like the camel’s nose in a tent. Before long the camel is moving in.

Small things matter. Never forget that. Be mindful today of the small things, things that only you know about. God is watching.

God bless you today.

Good Advice

www.bible.com/72/jas.1.19.hcsb

You want to get along in life? Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Good advice. Listen first, but then take your time in your response. And even longer in your emotional response. Make sure you are angry about the right things.

This has been proven true again in the Jussie Smollett case, a man who paid others to perpetrate a “hate” crime ion him so that he can call attention to the plight of gay black men, a plight that in his case was self-inflicted. Many rushed to speak and defend him, only to have egg on their face when the truth came out. Others expressed great anger at He MAGA-hat wearing Trump crowd for fomenting this kind of hate, only to discover that the only hate involved was Smollett himself against whites and straight people. Those who took their time, waited for all the facts to come out before speaking, were proven wise. Wow. God’s word is good advice.

So today another woman has come out saying that Trump kissed her against her will. Hmmm. Maybe I will wait on that until more facts come out.

God bless you today, and take God’s advice. You won’t regret it.

Ready for Some Peace?

www.bible.com/72/col.3.15.hcsb

Having just finished my second unit of CPE, I am ready for some normal. I’ve been traveling every week for class about an hour from my home to get this unit. I had attended my first unit there too, but this time I was a little older, and also required to fill 8 overnight call shifts. This took me away from family and from church (as they were on Sunday, which I volunteered for) and I hated every shift. But that’s ok. It’s over now and I am finished with all of those things required from me. I am ready for some peace, a bit more of normal life now for a change.

But real peace can be had in the midst of any crisis, especially if you have the Lord. The verse today speaks of the peace of the Lord. The verse connects peace and thankfulness. I think that it intentional. Pail writes elsewhere that “I have learned to be content ” and this in every circumstance. Paul knew the secret of peace and thankfulness. This is something you an can develop when we consider that there is nothing in this earth that can overtake heaven, nothing which can eclipse that heavenly perspective.

I want you to have this peace as well. It is only found in the presence of Jesus. Seek it. Find it. Receive it.

God bless you today!

Depends on the Shadow

www.bible.com/72/psa.91.1.hcsb

In my translation, “shelter” is “shadow”, hence the title. Seems to me that shadow is the harder word to use, since we usually associate shadow with darkness and evil. But remember when these psalms were written. A shadow is a great deal different in a hot Mediterranean culture like Israel than it is in a cold Northern American culture in winter. To be in the shadow was a relief and a comfort from the noonday sun. To be in the Almighty’s shadow was both comfort and protection, a perfect place to be.

In whose shadow are you standing today? Are you standing in the shadow of a parent? A mentor? A teacher? A best friend? There’s no shame here. Each of these can be a good place to be. But if they are not standing in the Lord’s shadow, you may need to move.

Something to think about on this Monday.

Everyone

www.bible.com/72/act.2.21.hcsb

Is there any reason you cannot be one of these? The verse calls for two important conditions. First, you have to be a person. If you are reading this, I can guarantee that you qualify. The invitation is open to every person. Jesus’ blood qualifies every human being. There is no one, and I mean no one, who is excepted from this qualification. God doesn’t care how much you have sinned. He has loved you so much that no amount of sin you could possibly commit can compare to the amount of grace has already given you. That’s a hard truth for someone who has been through a rough time and feels God could never forgive.

Second, though, may be the tougher of the two. This is to call on the name of the Lord. This calls for humility. This is a knowledge that despite all our best efforts, we cannot be rid of the guilt of sin. We try to cleanse ourselves with good deeds, kindness and generosity. But it doesn’t work. You see we have offended an Almighty Deity, and our limited ability to make up for it doesn’t cut it. We are not capable of offering an infinite gesture of sacrifice. We cannot give an eternal offering. So we are forced to turn to an infinite God who offered an eternal sacrifice, the Lord. This, if we are too receive this powerful gift of atonement, we must ask for it. It is freely given, but it must be freely received.

Everyone can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. Are you one of them?

God bless.