Thursday, August 27, 2015

GOD IS STILL ON HIS THRONE


 
A friend, Larry, and I were talking the other day and he shared a thought about our human condition and God. The bottom line is that no matter what happens in our world and our life, God is still on his throne. Another friend and I have often commented to one another that God still rules in this world. It really doesn't matter if the world denies that fact, it is still true.

All through the scripture it gives us insight into that concept. When Abraham left his home and faced challenges, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When Joseph was sold in to slavery, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When the Children of Israel were fleeing from the Egyptians and backed up to the sea, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When the Children of Israel were carried off into Babylonian Captivity, God was still on his throne. When three young men were thrown into a "Fiery Furnace," God was still on his throne. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

We forget far too often that God IS the most powerful being in all creation. We forget far too often that he doesn't have to consult us before he makes his plans. We forget that God doesn't have to let us know how he plans to use us in this life. We forget that God's ways (thoughts) are far beyond our understanding. And mostly we forget far too often that God is on his throne. He always has been; he always will be!

One of the most important things we forget is that when Jesus was hanging on a cross, God was still on his throne and good things happened. We would not have understood that if we had been there and many still don't, but nevertheless, it is true.

In Revelation 15:3-4 we see people in heaven who had won their fight against Satan singing the following song. (The words are important, they speak of our God.)
"Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear You, Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous deeds have been revealed."

In Revelation 19:4 we read: "Then the twenty four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, 'Amen! Praise the LORD!'"


No matter what happens in our world or in your life, God is sitting on his throne! Amen! Praise the Lord!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jiving in your car


I was driving to work about 7 in the morning the other day and stopped at a traffic light. In front of me was a young woman who was obviously enjoying her morning more that I was. By observation I would say she was listening to her radio and "jiving" to the music. She was twisting and turning, bobbing her head and moving back and forth.

I thought about that and wondered why she should be having a better morning than I was.  Was it just that I was having an off day? Perhaps it was, but I know I don't rejoice as much as I should. It's not that I dislike mornings, in fact I love to see the sunrise. The Psalmist said of God in Psalm 65:8 "Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy."

Of course you're familiar with Paul's encouragement to "rejoice in the Lord always," (Philippians 4:4), so the idea is not new. However, we, being human, we need to be reminded and reminded often. You see I do rejoice, but not enough and possibly not exuberantly enough. In fact it seems that lately I have been too busy dealing with the everyday concerns of life to remember to rejoice.

Satan does a really good job of distracting me. He works his way into my world and my life, not necessarily to drag me into some terrible or sinful behavior, but to distract me from what is really important. It's who he is, the father of lies. Revelation 12:9 describes him this way: "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world."

How can we overcome Satan's power? First, if you haven't already done so, become a Christian or if you have left your first love, return to God. Second, spend time in God's Word; it reminds you of what is really important. Third, spend time talking to God about those things that trouble you; it helps to unload your problems on someone who truly cares. Fourth, spend time with God's people in worship and if fellowship. You can't be part of the army fighting to protect one another and fight Satan if you don't show up at boot camp or for training. You can't fight and protect yourself and others if you aren’t watching out for others and participating in the battles.


I may not "jive in my car," but I can still rejoice in my Lord and all he does for me and gives to me. I don't know that I will try a little "seat dancing" this morning on my way to work, but what I do know is that "I can do all things through him that gives me strength," (Romans 8:28). I know I need to count my blessings and rejoice more. Maybe you should try it!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How are you doing?


The other morning at my workplace someone asked one of the men, "How are you doing?" He responded: "I'm alive, awake and God loves me, you can't do better than that!" I loved how he responded! I just wish I could claim to have said it first. What a positive attitude that man had. Does that mean he doesn't have any problem? No, of course not, but he is keeping them in perspective.
Right this minute how would you respond to a question like that? Be honest, can you be as positive and upbeat as that all of the time; honestly, not many of us can be. Don't you wish you could be like the apostle Paul and say, "I've learned to be content what ever situation I get into." Again, honestly, I have had limited success in doing that. Limited how? Limited in my mind because I always expect more of myself, I am my own worst critic. Limited sometimes, because I just flat mess up even when I'm trying to do my best.

Do you know what that makes me? Human! You may not appreciate that fact and others may not appreciate that fact, but the best we can be is flawed human beings. We mess up! We sin! And if you don't think so, then you don't understand who we are.
I met a man one time that told me, "I never sin." "Since I became a Christian it's not possible for me to sin." I asked him to turn in his bible to 1 John1:8-10 and read it with me. It reads, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

I asked him what those verses meant, he responded: "I don't know, but they don't mean what they say." He didn't have much to say about Romans 3:23 either, which read, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

So, knowing that we all sin and struggle with problem of this world, how can we possibly remain upbeat and positive? We do it because we know, as the man said, "I'm alive, awake and God loves me." Paul also said in " Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."


So how are you doing? Could it be time to put a little more trust, a little more faith in what our God can do for you, in you and through you? Think about it, you will never find perfection in yourself, but only through your relationship to God.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Shaving the Cat


A friend, Daryl, shared this story with me and it got me to thinking about other applications.

Daryl has a real problem with allergies, especially to hair cat. When he was a youngster he often visited his best friend who had a cat. Daryl was hesitant to visit, because of the cat. One day his friend told him he had solved the problem and Daryl should come on over for a visit. He didn't know what to expect, but when he got there he was confronted by a extremly bald and unhappy cat. His friend had shaved the cat for Daryl. Of course the young man then had to deal with the consequences with his parents, but can you imagine what he had to go through to shave a cat? Would you have been committed enough to a friend to do that?

In our world we are constantly challenged to step up and come to the aid of others. Every day we are bombarded with advertisments about donating to organizations that help others. Those are great and needful, but the majority of the time it requires only the gift of money, not a presonal commitment. We don't put ourselves at risk, we are not required to become personally involved.

The question we need to ask ourselves is who we would be willing to shave the cat for? Do you have friends and family that are struggling in some way? Maybe someone that you have just heard of that could use some help that you could supply. Could it be that your church needs something that only you can supply.

So the question is, what cat are you going to have to shave for the benefit of someone else? I would imagine that shaving a cat has its draw back, cats have claws and teeth. There is pain involved and it takes more than just a casual commitment to get the job done. You can't just throw money at the cat and hope it goes bald. You have to grab hold of it and perhaps suffer someone else's benefit.

The thing I want you to remember is that the young man in the story was willing to suffer for the benefit of his friend. Could it be that you have a friend that needs the peace and security that only comes from having a relationship with Christ? Are you willing to shave the cat (so to speak), to give them what they really need. To face the pain and possible rejection just because you care for them?

The scripture tells us that: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son”, (John 3:16). He is not asking us to do that, but it is our example of what real love is like. What are you willing to do?


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Silence is Golden


If you are a "Baby boomer," or just like music from the 60's (like me), you might remember Frankie Valli belting out in mournful tones the words to the song by the name, "Silence is Golden". In the song he proclaimed the sorrow in the heart of a young man who saw the girl he loved mistreated by another.

My wife was commenting last night on the changes we go though in our lives. When we are young, there is rarely a time when we think that silence (quiet time) is something to be desired, much less valued as much as gold. As we get older though, we learn to appreciate more and more the times of quiet in our lives. We have discovered the most important button on the Television remote control is the "mute" button, followed closely by the "off" button. Why those buttons? We like those buttons, because we have learned to appreciate silence more at this time in our lives.

It's was interesting to me to learn that the first recorded use of the phrase was in 1848. Actually the entire phrase was, "Speech is silver, Silence is golden". We might say, "just stop speaking and listen".

I would suggest that in this day and age that we need to think about those words. Our world is filled with chaos, the daily news reports seem to carry nothing but reports of unrest, danger and tragedy. When do you find time to escape the turmoil and pressure of this world?

The writer of Psalm 46 had this to say about our world and the need for silence.

"The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The LORD of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude
Come, see the glorious works of the LORD: See how He brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; He burns the shields with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world."
The LORD of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress." (Psalms 46:6-11)

Yes, sometimes silence truly is golden (of great value), be cause unless we can shut out the world we can never hear the voice of God. The storms of life rage, the mountains shift and crumble, fires burn, houses fall, accidents come, death takes loved ones, but God's voice is a constant source of strength and promise for us.


Can you stand a little silence in your life? Maybe it's time to spend time listening to God!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Reunions



I just noticed on my calendar that we have a family reunion coming up very soon. It will be the first one we will be able to attend in about 10 years, so I'm looking forward to being reunited with many of my (extended) family. Yes, we exchange the occasional email and share pictures and family events on Facebook, but there is nothing that is better than being face to face with folks.

That's not something new! We still have around us something which has picked up the name "Snail Mail" or actually writing a letter with pen and paper and mailing it to someone. But again that's not the way that touches us in our hearts the most. The apostle John wrote about doing this. In 2 John_1:12 he wrote: "I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

I believe that contained within those sentences is the key to what reunions give us. John wrote: "I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete". Our joy is made complete, we share our love of one another and our spirits are renewed and refreshed, in the presence of those we love, our joy is made complete.

We have many family members in our lives who are not blood relatives, but who are made brothers and sisters through the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Many of those we have not seen for many years and may never see in this life, but they are no less missed and loved.

Of course there is the great reunion yet to come for Christ and His children. Several hymns come to mind with phrases such as: "Face to face with Christ my Savior," or "What a happy day it will be when my Savior's face I see." I'm sure you could list many, many more, but these express the basis of our faith don’t they? It's all about reunions. Reunions with loved ones, reunions with other Saints we have never met, and the great reunion with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Father.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to that reunion. 1 Thessalonians 4:13f gives us some insight into the reunion with those who have gone on before us. But we will only attend the reunion if we first accept the invitation to come. Jesus said in Revelation 22:17, "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life." And in verse 14 Jesus said, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."

Do you want to attend the reunion? It's all about being a blood relative in Christ. Another old hymn reminds us, "There is power in the blood," and asks, have you been cleansed by the life giving blood, washed and made part of a new eternal family? I'm planning on going to my family reunion, the one at the local pizza parlor and the one in heaven that provides for all of my needs for eternity. What about you?


Monday, July 13, 2015

IF THE CREEK DON'T RISE


I had a conversation with my oldest son this past week about the meaning of the phrase, "The good Lord willing and if the creek don't rise." I've heard that phrase all of my life and never really thought about it. For us it always meant that if the water in the creek (crick or stream) got high it would prevent you from traveling.

I did quite a bit of searching and found there is no agreement as to the source of the phrase, nor what is the true meaning of the phrase. One of the more colorful claims is that Colonel Benjamin Hawkins (1754-1816) first penned these words. It is said that he wrote in response to a request from President Washington to travel to the capital. It is supposed to have been written in reference to The Creek Indian Nation; so if The Creek rose up, he would be unable to leave his post. I like this explanation, but there doesn't seem to be enough evidence to prove it conclusively.

To tell you the truth I think I still prefer the local concept of the saying referring to the local streams (creeks) raising and preventing travel, especially in the times of storms. Living in the Mid-West we have seen many of those this year and many, many creeks overflowing their banks.  

Of course it is the first part of the saying which is really important isn't it. It follows the concept found in James 4:13-15 of God being in control of our world. Notice what James writes:
"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"

There is no questioning of the fact that storms often come into our lives. The thing about storms is that you can never completely plan for them in advance. Their intensity varies greatly with each occurrence; they are simply never the same. The truth of the matter is that the only way you can survive is truly trusting in The Lord. We live in an uncertain world and as James says, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"

I don't know about you, but I still have a problem in putting that into practice. So often I plan my plans in infinite detail and then pray that The Lord will allow things to work out as I have planned. We (and I) need to learn to involve God in our plans from the very start, before we put the first line on our to do list or our itinerary.

I pray that things go as you plan in your life, "The Good Lord willing and if the creek don't rise!"