Showing posts from November, 2021

Verified by Grace

Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives. (I Corinthians 1:4-5) Free and open access - wouldn't it be nice to have that type of access to everything we need in life? We could just walk into the bank and the manager would be right there to welcome us in, taking care of each of our needs. We could call the city buildings and there would be no phone trees to navigate through, or automated systems to push our buttons! I am so grateful for the free and open access I have to God - through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus! No 'phone trees' or 'buttons to push' - no sense that anyone else matters more than me. How about you? Do you sense this free and open access you have with him? If you have said a grateful 'yes' to Jes

Bountifully Blessed

But all who are hunting for you—oh, let them sing and be happy. Let those who know what you’re all about tell the world you’re great and not quitting. And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—but God, don’t put it off. (Psalm 40:16-17) I love this psalm of David because of the sincerity of heart I see expressed in each word he speaks. He reminds us God lifts us out of the deep ditches, the sticky places, then helps us see what it is like when we come to see the world as a huge stockpile of God-wonders. Eyes open, heart eager to respond, thoughts turned to God - standing ready for God's intervention. The most truthful words of this psalm are about in the middle - where David calls out to God to deal with his amassed guilt - the very guilt he had accumulated through many wrong choices. He describes his condition of spirit and soul: "I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my

Cogitate on This

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper. But for sinners, what a different story! They blow away like chaff before the wind. They are not safe on Judgment Day; they shall not stand among the godly. For the Lord watches over all the plans and paths of godly men, but the paths of the godless lead to doom. (Psalm 1) God charts the road we take - are we staying on course with that charted path? Don't really know how to answer that question? Those who aren't quick to just accept whatever 'plan' or 'scheme' a man might set out before them - these are the ones who are staying the

Fact Check, Please

 Franz Kafka reminds us to "start with what is right rather than what is acceptable". These are indeed wise words as so many today just 'accept' things along the way in life and don't really 'fact check' them to see if they are 'right' or just 'acceptable'. To follow blindly is indeed dangerous territory - we may just find ourselves doing things we might not really want to do, repeating things best not repeated, and believing things not really all that trustworthy. We have an obligation to each other as members of God's family to 'fact check' the things we believe, act upon, and repeat to others. If we don't, we can lead others into some pretty confusing places in their lives! So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. When we worship the right way, God doesn

A small connection

I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever— what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what you say— I always have and always will. (Psalm 119:105) What have you inherited in your lifetime? As a small child, my paternal grandmother passed and she left me her silverware, complete with a beautiful wood chest to store it in. It is that kind that you wouldn't use everyday, but it has such meaning because it was from someone I got to know only slightly. When my dad passed, some of his tools were incorporated into my tool-shop, but do you know what I treasure the most? His lapel pins! He had some that he had 'earned' as a certified life underwriter for a large insurance company and others he had 'earned' as a member of the military armed forces in Canada. Those are also in a special wood box - memories I will always cherish because they are a small connection with my dad. When mom passed, my home was filled with all kinds of treasures s

Don't get too comfortable

Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road. Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders. I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear directions. My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!— insatiable for your nourishing commands. (Psalm 119:18) If you have ever been in a situation where you kind of feel like it is 'foreign' to you, you probably felt a little like a fish out of water. You flopped around, struggling to find a way back to where you felt comfort and ease. I know moments like these cause most of us some angst, increasing our anxiety level more and more as we wander around a little lost and insecure. Being a 'stranger' isn't easy to deal with, probably because as 'sojourners' in this place of discomfort we find it hard for us to  move from stranger or foreigner to being at ease dwelling where we are placed. God isn't immune to our discomfort - he has a plan for it!

He IS and he DOES

You are right and you do right, God; your decisions are right on target. You rightly instruct us in how to live ever faithful to you. My rivals nearly did me in, they persistently ignored your commandments. Your promise has been tested through and through, and I, your servant, love it dearly. I’m too young to be important, but I don’t forget what you tell me. Your righteousness is eternally right, your revelation is the only truth. Even though troubles came down on me hard, your commands always gave me delight. The way you tell me to live is always right; help me understand it so I can live to the fullest . (Psalm 119:143) One of the toughest thing we can do in life is pray this prayer. To trust him is to actually ask God to help us understand that he IS right and that he always DOES what is right - even when we don't understand fully what he is doing. As you can imagine, I am one of those individuals who wants to know what God is doing - I don't really like to be in the dar

Be unstoppable

If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God. (I Peter 3:18) I am gonna meddle a bit this morning, so get ready. I have to ask you how your 'conscience' is fairing these days - is it clear some of t

Anyone facing adversity?

A healthy spirit conquers adversity , but what can you do when the spirit is crushed? (Proverbs 18:14) To be pressed or squeezed with such a force so as to destroy or deform - anyone know what that feels like? It feels like you are being forced out by pressing, so that you will eventually break. Sometimes people don't see my fascination in the study of words, but when we take a little time to explore the various meanings of a word, we often begin to ponder things we might have missed before. This is especially true when it comes to understanding the Word of God. The "words" God chose to share with us in the pages of our Bible are not by chance - they are selected for their meaning. Therefore, getting the most out of the Word of God often requires us to be open to considering the meaning of the words chosen to express a certain matter of thought or instruction. I have some friends who have been through tremendous pressures this past year, and others who are beginning t

Putt-Putt or Vrrrmmmm-Vrrrrmmmm?

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. (Colossians 1:9) Be honest here - do you ever feel like the 'power' you are operating under is really not 'power', but more like a 'putt-putt' kind of existence? If you are there, don't fret because we all find ourselves there

Emoji not

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim. (Proverbs 15:4) Since I spend a great deal of time sharing my 'words' with you, I oftentimes find myself reflecting on the words I have shared. Why? The things we say are quite important - if not today, they may be at some point in the life of someone who hears or reads them down the road. Our words are to reflect the love and grace of God - they are to reveal truth, bind up wounds, and create a culture in which people can find hope. Words can be quite damaging when spoken without thought. They can indeed 'maim' - even without us consciously knowing they have. Do you know what the term 'maim' really means? It is more than doing bodily harm. When we 'maim' with our words it is kind of like us 'disabling' another individual. We 'incapacitate' and in turn, we hinder their progress forward. I think this is why God repeats himself about our 'words' so many times in scripture - he

A love note from God

If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast. (Psalm 94:17-18)  Stop for a moment today to consider what God 'journals' about you and I in his book of remembrances.  You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book. (Psalm 56:8) These might actually be love notes because each event or memory of his grace is really an acknowledgement of just how much he loves us. Any time we need to recount his love for us - we can just go to his Word - asking for him to open those journals of love notes. I wonder how many times God is right beside us and we don't even recognize him there? Yet, when we begin to stumble, we become so totally aware of his presence - by the strength of the arm that somehow catches hold of us and pulls us to safety once again. I love you, God— you make me strong. God

A grateful servant

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. (Melody Beattie) A synonym for gratitude is contentment. Ever try feeling thankful for something when all you want is something else? It is hard to be grateful when you are discontent with what you have already. It is much easier to be grateful when you have found great contentment in the much you already have received! What can I give back to God for the blessings he’s poured out on me? I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God! I’ll pray in the name of God; I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do, and I’ll do it together with his people. When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him. Oh, God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service! I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice an

Yesterday versus Today

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?” But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further. (Mark 6:1-6) To form a perception beforehand as a result of previously held or known information is not always the smartest thing we can do in life. Some of us have a tendency to gravitate toward what we "know" about a person, forming an opinion of that person based on the small number of facts we have already ascertained, but neglecting to dig any deeper or try any harder to get to know much

Put down to pick up

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 2:5-6) Are you someone who is always musing over this plan or the next, not really able to let go of the reins? I think there are more of us out there than we'd like to admit! We spend our energies ruminating on the stuff we'd do well to let go of while we don't quite spend enough time or energies on getting the clarity of heart, emotions, and mind we so desperately need. When we are constantly trying to "work the plan", we don't take time to actually find out of the plan needs any "alteration" as God sees it! In scripture we find all kinds of people who have tried to figure out the plan for their "needed fix" all on their own. The same result is apparent - they fail miserably! Look at Adam and Eve. Plan A was to listen to God's p

Time to Listen

I am God, the one and only. I don’t just talk to myself or mumble under my breath . I never told Jacob, ‘Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.’ I am God. I work out in the open, saying what’s right, setting things right. So gather around, come on in, all you refugees and castoffs. They don’t seem to know much, do they—those who carry around their no-god blocks of wood, praying for help to a dead stick? So tell me what you think. Look at the evidence. Put your heads together. Make your case. Who told you, and a long time ago, what’s going on here? Who made sense of things for you? Wasn’t I the one? God? It had to be me. I’m the only God there is—the only God who does things right and knows how to help. So turn to me and be helped—saved!—everyone, whoever and wherever you are . (Isaiah 45:18-22) In these words, God opens dialogue with his people - God, Creator of the heavens—he is, we need to remember, first and foremost God. Maker of earth—he put it on its foundations, built it f

Decluttering time

Day to Day obligations can be many and they can be very distracting when they are given the chance to disturb our peace, interrupt our focus, or bring havoc in their disordered presence. It is easy to be absorbed in all the stuff that comes at us in rapid fire succession. It is harder to stay on track with the things we know God is asking us to do, but whenever we let the day-to-day stuff distract us, we might just miss what God is doing for us. But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! (Romans 13:11-12) Preoccupation is another word for absorbed. It is easy to understand how our preoccupations can actually tire us. We can become consumed by the things that fascinate us and easily engage our attention. In short order, our energies have been put into the things that distra

So, that's why

Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there.  Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. (2 Corinthians 3:15-18) Back in the day, I used to be quite a 'rule-follower'. As a matter of fact, my friends used to make a bit of fun with me because they knew I would not do some things they might feel

Squander less....embrace more

What difference does a day make? To some, a day is an eternity because they are never really confident they will see another. To others, a day seems like an eternity because they are waiting with a degree of impatience for something big to happen they have been dreaming about for quite some time. To God, a day is something like a fraction of a second to us - hard for us to imagine, beyond our comprehending. Every moment matters. Today's seconds may slip away from us unnoticed if we are not careful, but with God, not one of those miliseconds are ever missed. “So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don’t squander your precious life. Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God’s good pleasure. But if you wrong me, you damage your very

The image you see

Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.  (Matthew 23:11-12 ) If I use  BOLD  or red font in my post, I am doing so because I want those particular words to "stand out".  If I were to parade down the sidewalk wearing all black, emblazoned with all kinds of chains and tattoos would you think I might be trying to "stand out" a little from the gal or guy next to me?  When a company wants to gain the market share of business, they spend a whole lot of money on trying to find the "brand" which will make them "stand out" as the one to trust.  The purpose of "standing out" is usually to call attention to, think of first and foremost, be the "go to" in your life.  Jesus tells his disciples something entirely different about being the "go to" in life - "standing out

Are you asking for the right stuff?

That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Ephesians 1:18) I ask... These are powerful words. Ask God for something and you are sure to see some form of action on his part. It may be to open a door, while closing another. Asking is done with the intention of receiving something, right? there are three things we can ask for and actually should continually ask for in our lives. To be made discernin

A pressure cooker of emotions

  Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.  (I Peter 5:8-9) How hard is it to keep a cool head? At times, there are words shared that make it a little more than difficult to keep your cool. Attitudes begin to grate on each other and the emotions we muster are more likely to build up pressures that will eventually need a release. I think this is the most dangerous time in a person's life because we don't always do a great job releasing the pressure in a positive manner. We want to respond well, but we let word

The means and location matter

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all . The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! (Romans 8:12-14) Burial is the act of placing something dead into the ground. The remains have no further use - so we bury them. We need to seriously consider some of the "stuff" we actually might do well burying! There are customs of burial dating back something like 130,000 years ago, so this idea of "burying" the dead has quite a long history. One of the reasons some think burial came about was to attempt to bring "closure". It was a way of bringing an end to something. There is more to this burial thing than just the placing of someone's physical remains into a tomb or a grave. In fact, we might just find something of value in considering just what gets buried and why! We bury a

It is an intersection

Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers wilt, God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you. (1 Peter 1:24-25) For the past few days we have been looking intently at God's Word - how it impacts our lives, changing us from the inside out. Today's passage contains another important aspect of God's Word that we don't want to overlook - the ability for God's Word to 'conceive' new life in us. Think for a moment about how 'conception' happens in the natural sense. Two completely separate objects intersect and within that intersection the two become one. T

Doubts and Defense Stand No Chance

  God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one can resist God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what. (Hebrews 4:12) Doubt or defense - God's Word cuts through it like a hot knife on cool butter! Think about doubt for a moment - it 'creeps in', doesn't it? Doubt may be instantaneous, but the really nagging and crippling kind of doubt may be the kind that 'creeps in', unnoticed at first, but settling into our minds and hearts like a wicked virus. We don't usually wake up one day and determine to doubt everything we are thinking - doubt comes bit by bit, failure by failure, mistake by mistake. I remember trying to learn to make cookies like my mom made. I would put in all the ingredients, but they didn't turn out quite the same. My impatience, lack of desire to spend hour upon hour in the kit

A little truth goes a long way

There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Useful things are seldom discarded - we use them time and time again. If we begin to view scripture as something we can 'discard' or 'disengage from' in our daily lives, we are in danger of losing one of the most secure and trustworthy things that can 'sculpt' our lives. I have mentioned in other posts that scripture is to be taken in its entirety - not weeding out some truths and latching onto others. All scripture was 'hand-prepared' by God himself - taking special note of what we'd need to hear in order to understand his love, grace, and peace. We cannot leave parts out an

Kneel to Rise

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. (James 4:7-10) There is something quite amazing about the "knees-feet" connection. When you and I get down on our KNEES - humbly submitting ourselves to God - we find we are able to stand on our FEET much better than we ever could without this "connection". I don't spend a lot of times physically on my knees in prayer because of a knee injury I sustained at the age of 19 and a two knee replacement surgeries, but I do spend a fair amount of time in the place of prayer in my spirit. There is just something about getting "face-time" with God that makes our ability to stand mu