Saturday, July 4, 2015

Promises

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."" -- Matthew 1:22-23
Promises, Promises... how often are we given promises that never come to pass? Promises made by our parents, promises made by our friends, promises made by our employers and promises made at the wedding altar are often broken. Over time we become quite cynical about promises and we accept them with a grain of salt. Is there anyone who still fulfills their promises?
The birth of Jesus is the most amazing fulfilled promise in the world. The promise was made time and again, over thousands of years, with considerable detail. God never forgot, and as Paul put it in Galatians 4:4, "... when the time had fully come, God sent his Son". The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, among many other things, tell us that... the Lord always fulfills his promises.
Do you think the Lord has forgotten his promises lately? Have you become cynical and doubtful of his keeping his word? Just remember the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." The Lord is never late and he never fails to fulfill his promises.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A little Sin

"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" -- Psalm 66:18-20
A few years ago I installed a surround sound system in our living room. I must make it clear that I am not well experienced in wiring audio equipment and things just didn't go very well. I thought that using a staple gun would move things right along, but I failed to understand that the staples would short out the signal. After all the work was done there was the most beautiful silence you can imagine. A little staple in the wrong place can really block sweet music.
In the same way, small things can neutralize our spiritual lives in  many ways. We may spend days, months and years building a great spiritual surround sound system in ministry. Everything can be well placed and look just great, but when we seek the Lord's blessing, all we find is silence. What could be the problem you might ask? Well, a little sin can really block sweet music from the Lord.
David knew that, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened". Do we have the same conviction? May we be far more careful to maintain an unhindered communication with our Lord? David also prayed another prayer in Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Remember, a little sin can block the sweetest music of God's blessing.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Godly Counsel

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." -- Proverbs 15:22
One of the age old questions throughout life is: "How can I know the will of God?" From the earliest years, the child of God searches for the answer. Books have been written and workshops given beyond number. At times we would just like God to make it simple and write his will on a wall. The search continues for an easy way to discern his leading.
Over the years the insight has been given from every known source; search the Scriptures for principles of wisdom, pray for the Spirit of God to guide and evaluate the providential working of God. One last, but most important resource is to seek the counsel of many advisors. How quickly do we go astray when we fail to seek Godly counsel?
But be careful to seek counsel in the right way my friend. Choose those whose hearts are clearly in tune with God's heart. Find those who give evidence that they are led by the Word of God and his Holy Spirit. Be prepared to accept Godly counsel, even when it might disappoint your expectations. If you seriously desire to know and follow the will of God, he will never fail to "guide you in paths of righteousness for his names sake". (Psalm 23:3)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Satisfaction

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." -- Psalm 63:1 
While in high school I worked as a golf caddy every summer. After a long 18 hole trek, the only thought on my mind was a long cool drink of water to quench my thirst. After graduation I flew to San Antonio, Texas for Basic Training in the Air Force. The weather in July was unbearably hot and dry. After a day of training and marching, the only thought on my mind was a long cool drink of water. Nothing else would satisfy.
This is the point of David's thought in Psalm 63:1. He was far from home and found his soul to be dry and weary. The pressures of battle and fleeing from his enemies left him worn and empty. He missed the refreshing days spent in the sanctuary, worshiping and singing praise. The only thought he had day after day was a long cool time with God, his God. Nothing else would satisfy.
Are you empty today my friend? Do you feel like David; dry and thirsty in a land where there is no water? Why seek that which will never quench your thirst? Consider the invitation of Jesus in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." Take the time to spend a long cool season with God because... Nothing else will satisfy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Be Patient!

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!" -- James 5:7-9 
In a time of great impatience, farmers are a rare breed. When the internet and rapid transit has made everything lightening fast to the touch, these stalwart souls still have to be patient. Over two thousand years have passed since the above writing and little has changed for the farmer. Patience remains the great imperative.
The same remains true for the believer who awaits the return of Christ. His coming is nearer today than in James' day, but we still need to be patient and stand firm. Our conduct should be God honoring with brotherly love. Our faith in the Lord's timing must continue strong through the darkest days. As Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:8, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
All believers know the end of the story and we live in great expectation of the Lord's return. The question is; how then shall we live? Take a lesson from the farmer my friend, and patiently sow your seeds of Christ-like living. As the spring and autumn rains come, the Lord will also come... and He's never late!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Go to the Doctor!

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you..." -- James 4:7-8  
I have known too many people who have suffered physically rather than seeking the care of a doctor. I knew a man who came to a point that he daily swallowed a dose of Listerine for throat pain. One morning he just collapsed. He died of advanced cancer that was never diagnosed or treated. We can fight disease in our bodies all we want, but until we are willing to come under the care of a skilled physician, we will only get worse.
The soul is far more diseased than the body. We have a condition called sin and it will eat us up if we don't seek help. Choosing to deal with the habits of sin in our own strength is like taking aspirin for a tumor. We can determine to resist temptation, sin, and the devil all we want, but until we submit ourselves to the Great Physician of our souls, we will only get worse.
The simple prescription for spiritual health is found in the words, "Submit yourselves, then, to God". Place yourself under the care of the Great Physician. Allow him to heal your soul, knowing that if you "Come near to God and he will come near to you." Only then will sin, temptation and the devil flee, and you will get better.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Heavenly Wisdom

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." -- James 3:17-18
I have attended more board meetings than I can count. There have been church boards, association boards, library boards and consultation boards. Each board has had a different personality and focus. And, time and again there would be some dear soul that believed they were wiser than any other. Their wisdom was to be accepted or there would be tension and stress beyond belief. Wisdom it might have been, but it wasn't from heaven.
The beauty of God given wisdom is the way it is expressed. Godly wisdom is given in a merciful, considerate and submissive manner. There is no partiality and peaceful results are sincerely sought. Wisdom of the natural man seeks praise and honor for the great insight that has been offered. If their counsel is rejected or altered, trouble comes and peace goes out the window. Only heavenly wisdom can raise a harvest of righteousness.
Before you enter the next meeting my friend, seek the wisdom that comes from heaven. You will know it comes from God when you are more concerned about others and a peaceful conclusion than your own ideas. The difference between a peacemaker and a peace-breaker depends on the kind of wisdom you choose.