Hope Hasn’t Changed

Jesus, my guide, was a young man of prayer. He knew the issues–the importance of His life. He read what the Psalmist said, “I have put my hope in your word,” and that word was to be kept.

As I spend time with God in prayer my hope is heightened; my hope becomes real.

“I will come again.” He said.

“I believe it.” I say.

 

 

To All Christians In Gaza

I would like to help you, but I am unable. I would like to provide you with electricity, running water, food and medicine, but am not allowed.

But I can give you prayer, and as the Psalmist looked to God and said, “may your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant,” may this by your prayer also today as this is my prayer for you.

Be not discouraged when surrounded by hate.

Be not unfaithful when scorned and betrayed.

Know that you are loved; know that others are praying on your behalf, that you may have peace. That the Holy Spirit will comfort you today.

 

Should I Be Afflicted Today?

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” Psalm 119:67

We’re all familiar with the spiritual cycle. One day we have a spiritual mountain-top experience, and the next we’re in the valley of despair. One day we are close to God, and the next we barely consider His name.

The psalmist explains how he went astray and when affliction arrived he realized how much he needed God, so he changed his ways and returned to the “fold of safety.”

My prayer today is that we are close to God without the need of affliction. Let’s bask in the light of His glory. Let’s enjoy the peace that only comes through Bible study, prayer and meditation.

God is good!

I Love Your Name

“Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.” Psalm 119:13

Today my thoughts are drawn to God as my “Savior.”

He gives me hope for eternal life as I submit and repent. He gives me hope for eternal life because He paid the price for me; He suffered for my sake.

Grace is free!

I Love Your Name.

What Self Control?

“Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” Psalm 19:13

There are two people living in my body. I like one of them, but the other guy is difficult to get along with. He seems to have a mind of his own. Most of the time I don’t know he’s there; it’s like he’s sleeping; but when he rears his ugly head, look out because there’s trouble ahead.

When he awakens he is very hungry for things. It might be a very, very large meal, or a risky dash through a yellow traffic signal on a busy street. It might even be a cavalier attitude about a serious subject.

A colleague of mine attended a convention in Las vegas and saved money by staying at a hotel across the street from where the meetings were held. He passed through the casino one morning and noticed an older man playing a slot machine–pulling the handle over and over. He recognized the man and his wife from the previous evening and knew they had been there all night  because there was a half-eaten plate of food in front of the woman. Well, it wasn’t just in front of her. She had fallen asleep on the stool in front of her slot machine and fell forward face-first onto the left-over plate of food.

“Is your wife okay?” my friend asked.

“Oh, she’s just fallen asleep.” Replied the man as he grabbed her hair and lifted her head.

My friend was afraid of what would happen next, so he said no more and kept walking.

This bizarre experience demonstrates how difficult self-control can be for all of us. Their appearance indicated that they weren’t wealthy people, but were wasting money on slot machines.

I would mock those people, except that only by the grace of God, there go I.

Only as I spend time with God do my appetites and passions lesson, and that other guy in my body remains asleep.

Maybe some day soon he will die.

Hidden Faults?

Spending time with God does strange things.

As a child I was concerned with my bad behavior. Things that I did or didn’t do. I would confess my sins to God and move on. It was a simple process and my life was pleasant. I remember, for instance, a time when I decided to see if I could make an adult nervous, so on an impulse I began staring at a man who was sitting on the rostrum in church facing the congregation. During the sermon I stared, and stared and stared. After a few minutes he noticed me staring at him. I didn’t know him very well, but continued with my eyes locked on his face. Minute after minute went by and the stare continued. He was clearly uncomfortable as his eyes began to dart to mine and then back to other places. This went on for maybe ten of fifteen minutes before I tired of the exercise and decided it would be more fun to read my little church paper for kids.

He and I never did discuss what happened that day, but I did confess my bad behavior to God, and then promptly forgot about it. Now that I’m older these things come to mind, and I’m not pleased.

As I mature my concerns have moved to the point where I’m more interested in faults than actions. If the faults can be corrected; you know those faults that are central to who you are; those faults that are part of the fabric of the persona.

I now confess the faults. Some have been removed. I no longer stare. Others remain and are diminishing, while yet others are stubborn.

My prayer today is for my faults, and for yours also. With God’s help things can change.

“Forgive my hidden faults.” Psalm 19:12

 

More Than Laws

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:7, 8.

Today as I meditate on God I am comforted by the fact that His laws aren’t arbitrary. They define the structure of the society He has formed.

When everyone is “loving” and looking for ways to help others; when everyone is “trustworthy” like God, then society can be eternal–can be peaceful.

I no longer view them as ‘laws’ but more than that….I view them as ‘how things should be done for the benefit of all, that emanates from Love.’

Yes, the laws of God define Him. They reflect His character and His personality & I praise Him for that.

 

 

The Glory of God

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” Psalm 19:1

As I look at the picture below a steady stream of information of God’s glory is forthcoming.

After a restless night I feel better already. Thank you Lord.

Hubble Picture
Hubble Picture

Things Too Wonderful to Know

“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” say the words of Job, the one who suffered more than I can imagine.

Imagine “things too wonderful for me to know,” things beyond my understanding, but waiting to be enjoyed.

Our Savior is coming soon, and like the man of old called Job, I want all who are able to be ready for that glorious day and share in those wonderful things.

Work for God Today

Yesterday I cut down a dead tree. It’s a sad business—cutting down trees.

I’ve enjoyed that tree for the 14 years I’ve lived in this place. It’s been faithful; its beauty has been appreciated. The copse of 5 trees is dying one by one, and this is the latest.

I like trees, and will plant two more this year, but the sudden death of this one was unexpected. Suddenly there were no leaves this spring, and no leaves means certain death.

It reminds me of the Christian experience that doesn’t work without producing something; without service.

Today I’m scheduled to help someone move from one apartment to another. They’re going to a new place to pay a much lower monthly rent. They’ve been in this country for just a few months, and as a refugee there are many challenges. So volunteering for this job helps them and it provides me with fulfillment. It’s a service to them and to God.

I’ll pray over their new apartment. . . make it a spiritual event for them as it will be for me.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

 

Life is Uncertain

Yesterday my wife and I pedaled our way through 12 miles of countryside along the banks of a river on a bike path.

It was a beautiful afternoon and the farmland we passed was healthy. The buildings were well maintained, and were either very white or very red, which made a colorful contrast with the brilliant green of the fields.

Our riparian trip was interrupted at one point by the BLAST of an air horn. The horrendous noise brought us off our seats, as Sharon veered to the left and I to the right. She managed to regain control after a moment of doubt, while I skidded into a briar patch.
The bike trail is, like so many others, laid out on an old railroad bed, and for a moment we thought an old locomotive had risen from its grave yard and was enjoying one last trip down memory lane at our expense.

But when we turned to look, we realized it was a large dump truck cruising along at twice our speed delivering a load of dirt to a construction site some ways ahead.

All was well, but it served as a reminder of how fragile our life is in today’s world.

This past week hundreds, yes thousands of people lost their lives in accidents, war and other mayhem. A week ago, none of these precious people knew that tragedy that was about to interrupt.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 says “time and chance happeneth to them all.” Jesus even said in Luke 13:4 “Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no.”

So, life is uncertain, and our duty is to suffer with dignity, and grace. Let divinity use us in times of peril. Let others be blessed and challenged by our connection to God.

We know for a certainty that eternity is the future for the believer, and that gives us hope for today.

The Peace of Jesus

Today I read a brief account of the life of Socrates–the man who invented the “Socratic” method of teaching. You know, where the teacher asks a question to the student, and when the student answers, the teacher asks a new question raised by the answer, and the process continues with many questions and answers that delve deeper and deeper into the subject.

It’s recorded in the New Testament that Jesus taught with authority. Yes, He did ask an occasional question, but He frequently expounded on Scripture, and then said, “But, I say…”, as He peeled back the onion of truth to reveal a new understanding of God’s law, and of God the Father.

What a difference! And that’s not all.

Both Socrates and Jesus were sentenced to death by the legal system;

Socrates accepted death, but with the greatest struggle and verbal combat.
Jesus accepted death, but with the greatest peace, love and assurance.

What a difference!

I feel good about that, and pray that as we contemplate the life and death of Jesus we will be drawn to Him.

God Cares

I’m praying today for vulnerable people who love God, but who are helplessly caught in a hostile situation. People who are peaceful; who care not for war, while those around them are seething with anger. I’m sure God has His people on the West Bank and Gaza. I don’t know who they are, and yes, there are a lot of people who are angry and who want war, but you can be sure there are those who get no attention, who are peaceful and loving.

What would I do if I lived there? If I was as poor as the typical Palestinian; I pray for God’s people. May their suffering affect not their faith in God. May their faith strengthen under pressure. May they find peace as the Holy Spirit ministers to them today. May they be an influence to those who hate.

May I learn from them; may I be an influence for love as I observe this turmoil. May I be an Ambassador for Christ, is my prayer this morning.

The Lord Is My Light

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

I read yesterday that the Christians in the city of Mosul, Iraq were told a couple of days ago to leave or be killed. They have less than a week to get out with all of their possessions.

I imagine this Psalm is on their minds today and they wind up their affairs. Their future is uncertain; they have no physical security; their is no one to protect them–but they have peace in their hearts as they flee from persecution.

Today I’ll pray for them.

Their dignity and calm under such pressure will be a witness to unbelievers.

Praise the Lord who will have the last word, and who provides hope.

Praise the Lord Today

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

Salvation feels good this morning. It makes me want to do something for Him today.

Mercy and Presumption

The Lord is merciful; that’s a fact; undeniable.

That fact brings peace to the heart as millions of Christians rely on the faithfulness of God. We know of God’s willingness to forgive. We count on His generosity. We know His love can be relied upon.

But, Can I trust my own motivations? Am I presumptuous?

My prayer today asks the Holy Spirit to deal harshly with me to show me my needs–let me see my faults. Help me to be genuine with God as He is with us.

When I realize my true condition, then it’s easier for me to find true contrition, and that’s what’s needed.

Then humility will ensue and today will be fine.

What Does God Look LIke?

Yesterday Victor Brown asked our class at church to imagine what God looks like, so today I read the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel to refresh my memory of that description.

Imagine these four creatures. I’m not sure if I should refer to them as angels or just creatures. They’re certainly not consistent with the traditional description of angels found elsewhere. They have two distinct components–bodies and wheels. The bodies are not fully described excepting four faces, one set of arms, and two sets of wings. There are no legs in his description, but he does say that one set of wings were covering their bodies. the wheels provide locomotion; wheels with many eyes that imply intelligence.

Brilliant and glorious apply as I read his words. Powerful also seems appropriate as he describes what he heard when these creatures moved.

He then continues to point out that this is the base of the throne of God; a movable throne. No king on earth ever had a movable throne like this!

The appearance of brilliant, molten metal and brightness are the two things emerging most prominently in his description.

When he saw it he fell face down.

This makes me wonder if I am, maybe, a little flippant when I worship. Do I bow enough? Am I sufficiently reverent when I pray?

I try to not talk in the sanctuary; but most of my friends treat it like an auditorium as if God isn’t present.

I think I’ll chew on this issue for a few days, and meditate further on the experience of Ezekiel.

 

Real Freedom

July is a month where freedom is brought to our attention as we celebrate on the 4th.

Today is my Sabbath where freedom from work is a weekly event that brings joy to my heart.

Celebrate it, I will!

Not with dangerous explosions, but with gratitude and peace. Not with parties and alcohol, but with reflection and worship.

A day with God is a weekly event most joyous to the soul. special.

My meditations today are on the freedom Christ has given us by His sacrifice to free me from the slavery of sin.

Real freedom it is.

 

Let Freedom Ring

I went to an outdoor concert last evening, and the local band played some good and inspiring music. “God bless America,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and others were played. As we listened I thought how honored we are to be members of God’s kingdom. A kingdom that is incorruptible and compassionate; a kingdom with no taxes and no conflict.

The best thing about God’s kingdom is that it is a loving one–The leader knows each and every citizen–intimately.

Ephesians 2:6 says that we are already in heaven; Jesus “hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”

This verse changes the way I look at things–even politics.

I hope it improves your day also.

Great Day Yesterday

What a blessing yesterday as I met J and G who are 2 men totally dedicated to the Lord. Faith cometh by hearing, and their personal testimony would encourage the weakest of the weak, and it blessed me.

J is lead by the Holy Spirit to warn others of the soon coming of our Lord in that Cloud of Glory, while G wants to encourage those who are discouraged.

They’re the kind of friends I like to spend time with.

Yes, it was a good day!

Did you exercise today with Bible Study, Prayer and Meditation? Share your comments and Praise God.