Sunday, December 22, 2013

Facebook Lamentation

This morning as I was perusing my facebook page I was struck by all the prayer requests from hurting people from my 1,500+ friends list. Reading all the sorrowful reports, I took them to the LORD in prayer with tears caused from the empathy they aroused in me.

There's so much hurt going around in this Valley of Tears. Social media has given us a glimpse of the many prayers God receives every day. We've all read them. People asking for prayer for various reasons:

* Painful cancer treatment;
* Loss of house trying to pay for wife's medical needs;
* Emotional struggles facing first Christmas after loss of loved one;
* Living in fear over rising crime rates in neighborhood;
* Pictures of decapitated children murdered in Islamic countries:
* Persecuted believers being imprisoned for their faith.

And on and on. Reading all of these can be overwhelming. We understand what the Bible means when it says, "When one member suffers, we all suffer; and when one member rejoices, we all rejoice." (loose paraphrase). Yet with all the information coming our way on facebook, the sounds of sorrow can drown out the sounds of joy.

A scene from the film 'Bruce Almighty' came to mind. In this farce the Jim Carrey character was granted the ability to be God for a day. He became inundated with voices of prayers coming at him. He started writing the requests down on post-it notes, and then filled file cabinets. Finally he sent out a huge group email saying 'Yes' to them all.

I wish I could do the same for all those suffering. But I'm not God and neither is Bruce. God does have His purposes for suffering. He can even turn "all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes." (Rom 8:28) And Jesus identifies with our infirmities. He was a 'man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.'

It is comforting to know that we can cast all our cares upon Jesus today, even as we bear one another's burdens. We do have the joy set before us of our redemption and can look beyond this life's troubles to our coming reward. On that note, I hope this song is an encouragement.

Merry Christmas!

"looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb 12:2

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Proclaim Him at the Party

With Christmas and New Year's coming up many of us will find ourselves at parties where baby Jesus is welcome but the risen, ruling Christ the King is not. Many a holiday party, especially on New Year's eve, will have alcohol and other temptations designed to inhibit self-control and stumble the believer.

How can we let our hair down while keeping our guard up? Some might be tempted to just stay home alone, but is that what Jesus would do? He ate and drank with sinners and gave them the good news of the gospel. We should follow His example and not hide our light at the same time.

It is difficult in these dark days to heed the Apostle Paul's example to become all things to all men that we might save some. That's a fine line we must walk, to fit in with unbelievers yet not indulge the flesh. Jude put it well - "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." (v. 23)

We are not Amish, separating ourselves from the world and living in our own little closed communities, fearing outsiders. We're to be in the world, but not of it -- another difficult thing to balance.

We can look at those invitations as opportunities to be used by the LORD to draw men to Him. Pray before you go asking the LORD to give you an open door in conversations to speak the truth in love to those who are open to the truth. Put a gospel tract or two in your purse or pocket. If anyone is flying on a plane to go home for the holidays, that is another place we can pray the LORD sit us next to one who is being drawn by God and is looking for answers.

Time is short for getting the gospel into the highways and biways. It's all up to us. God gives us divine appointments as His ambassadors to light the way for others. That is our assignment, the Great Commission; let's fulfill it until He comes for us.

"No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light." - Luke 8:16

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" - 1Pet 3:15

"Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." - 2 Tim 2:21-26  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Life Extension

My sister Karen and I were talking yesterday and both of us were marveling at how good the LORD has been to us. She said she knows that without the LORD she wouldn't be alive today and before I could get a word out of my mouth she said, 'you too.'

Yes, we each had a life-threatening condition from which the LORD miraculously rescued our lives. I was at death's door in 1983 and again in 1997. Without the LORD neither of us would be here today.

We agreed that that the time we have left on this planet is not our own. Time is a gift from God. Many of you reading this have also received an extension of your life. That extended time is not yours. My extended time is not mine. Karen's time extension is not hers either.

Those added years belong to the LORD. Although all born-again believers know from God's Word that they are new creatures in Christ and the old man is dead, those of us who have experienced divine intervention to extend life (and you all know who you are) have a more tangible revelation of that fact that is true for all God's children.

God has a reason for keeping us here. Let's pray that for all us He would direct and guide our steps to fulfill the work He wants us to do. We will only know His will in our lives when we put Him first and set aside any self-centered pursuits. We belong to Him. May He live in us and through us until He brings us home.


"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." 1 Peter 4:1-5

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Living Word of God

Our God IS an awesome God!! And His Word is awesome and powerful and alive! It lays out the beginning to the end - a very complete Word. There's no need to add to it, and God help anyone who tries to remove any part of it or distort it.

I've read thousands of books by the best authors this world has ever produced - and no human writings can hold a candle to the Bible. All other books are just dead words on paper - one-dimensional. But God's Word strikes at the heart and is as relevant today as it was when it was written thousands of years ago.

Yet who can read something by Shakespeare without struggling to understand the flowery dialogue and outmoded ideas. Even the 1611 King James Version reads smoother in its grammar and usage than Macbeth or Hamlet.

The Bible never gets outdated - the truths in it are eternal and prophetic. This little Psalm might be even more meaningful today than it was when King David wrote it under the anointing of the Holy Spirit four millennia ago. Ponder it for true meditation.

Psalm 12:

Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:

Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?

For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.