Are We Prepared?

Here I am, sitting in the computer room, thinking about the world’s current events and wondering how the Lord would respond if I ventured to express my opinion.  One horrible hurricane should be enough to draw our attention back to our Creator.  Do we really simply accept the happenings in today’s world, while tragic, as just normal events in a technical world?  It would seem so because here we are reading about another severe hurricane and then there is North Korea.  What should we be doing?  Maybe it is past time to simply say “thank you, Lord” which we rarely do and begin to plead for mercy; maybe it is time to reevaluate just where we place value and what we are willing to pay for mercy and actually how thankful can and should we be.

Many of us do realize that prayer can move mountains, but we often fail to utilize its benefits until we have a problem.  Could it be that God is trying His best to help us understand that we are simply frail, often not smart, individuals who need a Heavenly Father’s wisdom and heart?  What more could He have done than that which He has already done?

Every parent knows that a child can only learn through the events that happen in his life.  Reading and study help by showing us pictures, but until something actually confronts one these days it is all too easy to put off answering the question – what can or should we do now?  We do our best to prepare for a new job, but just how much time do we spend preparing for an eternal home?

I believe we are living in a time when more of us think about our eternal home, but time passes so quickly and we have a way of putting off until tomorrow.  Maybe we shouldn’t do that any more.  James told us in his book …you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away (4:14).  We often live with the thinking that we will have tomorrow, but that might not be the wise thing to do.  Lately we have been made aware of how time can instantly change things; the people in Houston, TX had a home yesterday, but today many of them are without.  Can we afford to put off decisions that will affect us for eternity? 

Jesus said Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him that overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne (Revelation 3:20-21).  I think all of us, deep down in our hearts, know that is what we want, but we also have a tendency to believe that we can start doing those things tomorrow; surely that will be soon enough.  True, it might work that way for some, but we have to know that we cannot be sure.

It is true, isn’t it, that most of us will take out insurance just in case our health fails, or we have a loss that we simply cannot afford to replace because the money is just not there.  I do not know of any insurance that we pay for that will be our assurance of entering into God’s kingdom, but I do know that there is One who has paid the price for my entry if I will just accept His payment and follow as He leads.

In the eye of the storm You remain in control
And in the middle of the war You guard my soul;
You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn;
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm. 

Thank you, precious Lord!

Are You Content?

In this busy, fast paced world we all long for a moment’s peace, a time to not think but just relax allowing the cares of the world to take their proper place at the bottom of our list.  Over the years we find it has become harder and harder to do, is there simply no respite (temporary intermission).  As the clock winds, each day down we wonder just where our time is going and what is our answer.  Life does seem to be more complicated than the days when a shepherd would sit under a tree and simply watch over his cattle or sheep to keep danger away.  Are we up to a more difficult challenge?

That really is a good question because most of us think our elected officials or those in command in our local community will see to it, one way or another, but is that the kind of contentment we desire – simply no one rocking the little boat we are spending our time in.  So many of us neglect to spend time in our Bibles and yet that is where we will find all the answers to the life we desire.  Solomon was a very wise king and is said to have written three thousand of the verses found in the book of Proverbs; one of which tells us that The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil (19:23).  Wisdom is often said to be simple and I wonder why we often refuse to accept the simple things in life.  Could it be the devil who keeps telling us that something so simple can’t really have any value?

We all know because we have experienced it that there will be times in life which cause us grief; mountains that we seem unequipped to climb; sorrows that we simple can’t forget and are not sure we really want to.  We seem to think that whatever is in front of us cannot possibly be as good as what is behind us and is now no more.  We all know that Paul’s life is probably not one we would enjoy copying because he obviously was a much stronger person than we could ever be.  Why would we think that; because of what he went through and how he died?  Those in the early church often suffered horrible deaths because they knew first-hand what they had found to be true.  Have we managed to bury truth because it is not always pretty?  Are we too absorbed with what is new and untried and therefore has to be more exciting?  The next mountain is even higher!

A truth we cannot deny is that a coin has two sides.  Maybe we should consider what Paul had to say in the book of Philippians - Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (4:11-12).

Can you take a moment and imagine what our world would be like if everyone could experience for himself what real contentment could be like?  It seems like we always want what the other fellow has.  Why could we not have listened the first time around; why did we have to experience the worst of life in order to appreciate the best?  There is only one really perfect solution and yet it can be had by each of us without division.  An unknown man gave us the correct and totally fulfilling answer to be had this side of heaven - Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Dutch Sheets once said – “For those people who are teaching you – the ones who are giving you all these testimonies of what worked for them – that truth is fruit in them now. But it isn't transferred to you as fruit. It comes to you as seed. Whether it bears the same fruit in you depends on what you do with it, because all truth comes in seed form. If you do what they did and abide in My Word, that seed will grow in you also, and the truth will make you free, just as it has for them.” 

What Is Our Best Choice For Today?

In today’s busy world we seldom have time to think about what our best choice for the day is.  We get up in the morning running because we have so much to do.  We will leave our thinking for later when things slow down.  You, as well as I, know that things will never really slow down, at least when it comes to thinking about what our Lord would say is next.  Is it possible for us to change our life’s programming at this point in time?  It seems almost impossible, but maybe we can find time next week to consider it.

We are all familiar with the story of Job, a patriarch distinguished for his integrity and blessed because of it.  Bildad, one of his close friends, noted that though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly (8:7).  You may have wondered why Job was so severely tested when he obviously was faithful to the Lord he loved, but the lesson for those who could see was proof of God’s confidence in His servant.  God’s ultimate purpose was to show His created man that He was and is a loving and merciful Father. 

Do you ever question the results of your own life and wonder why it often doesn’t seem to stack up with those of your seemingly over blessed friends?  Have you wondered what you could have done to disappoint Almighty God, feeling like you must have done something to warrant the troubles on your plate?  Just maybe our Creator feels sometimes like checking to see how very much we love and appreciate the suffering He went through to bless and save us from our sin.  You really don’t have to borrow a pair of glasses to remind yourself of man’s beginning and just where God placed him; in a lovely and sufficient place for all that was needed for both sustenance and the blessings of joy and peace.  Are we aware of His original gift today and are we thankful for it or do we conveniently choose to forget it and wonder why He doesn’t clean up our mess in this world?

We all have the tendency at times to wonder why our lives aren’t as blessed as the neighbor next door.  What did he do to warrant such a blessing and why not us?  We are not bad people and we do attend church regularly or at least most of the time; we haven’t committed the sins of many in today’s world.  Just maybe instead of looking at what we haven’t done we should look at what we have done.  Have we thanked the Lord often for His love; have we sought to help another child of His in trouble?  Maybe we will look for someone tomorrow when we have more time.

The Psalmist tells us that Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night (1:1-2) and I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth (34:1).  If we are truthful with ourselves just how much time during a day are we actually aware of God’s presence and how often do we quietly say “thank you”?  God knew and knows that we would not be perfect children and that we would often need reminding; His hope was that we would recognize the greatest gift He could give and be thankful for it because He truly does love us more than we will ever know.

I can’t know about you and your life, but I do know that I have been blessed more than I deserve.  I also know that more than anything in this world I want to live a life that is pleasing to the One who gave so very much for me. 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!  Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Do We Need A Crystal Ball?

There are so many things going on in our world today that you may find yourself wondering what could possibly happen next.  Unfortunately, most of us do not have a crystal ball to give us the answers we would so like to have.  However, there just might be some handwriting on the wall if we would just look.  One cannot deny that there are evidences of evil around every corner these days.  We often feel like our hands are tied; how can we possibly solve the problems that the world is continually throwing at us?  While that is basically true we have been given the solution to a glorious future destination if we want to accept it.  I can’t think of anything that would keep us from doing that except the desire that we want just one more day to do what we want to do.  It would seem God made a big mistake when He allowed us to make our own choices.

Both sides of a coin should reflect the same value, but in today’s world that is not the case.  We have white and black, Republican and Democrat, Christians and Atheists, Americans and foreigners.  We have somehow lost the oneness that our Creator intended.  While it is true that within that Oneness we would find different characteristics, it is also true that all were to love and serve the Creator; one big family with different personalities but with one heart belonging to our Lord.  How did we get so far off track?  It would seem the wily devil knew just which button to push to distract us from the ending we were designed to have.  Most of us know that life doesn’t offer us the opportunity to start over, but I don’t remember any regulation that shields us from being refurbished.  While it is true that there is a saying that tells us that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I don’t think that applies to a human being with both a mind and a heart.

The prophet Jeremiah would remind us of the Word of the Lord – “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord (9:23-24).

That does say it well while also being sufficient for the life God intended.  Is it too late for us to change our thinking and our way of living?  I realize that this message is going to people who are church attenders and lovers of the Lord, but to be fair, how many of us really carry the words we hear on Sunday home with us to be utilized during the week and the rest of our earthly lives?  Our days are so busy and I know myself that some things simply must be done like feeding the cat or changing the sheets, but I also know that I, too frequently, neglect to spend an adequate time with the Lord who loves me.  And then I wonder how the fuel in my tank disappeared so quickly. I simply can’t use the excuse that I am just getting older and run out of steam and interestingly enough it often seems like the Lord fills my tank with an extra dose when I end up giving him what I started with. 

We cannot purchase a reliable crystal ball even if we wanted to, but we can manage the time to study and learn how to be wise as serpents and harmlesss as doves (Matthew 10:16).  The wise men whose words are recorded in the book of Proverbs believed in the depths of their hearts that he who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he (16:20).

Whether he was familiar with the book of Proverbs I do not know, but an unknown author once wrote that faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

The Garden

A garden - a place of beauty, a place that takes a lot of work, a place that sometimes puts food on our table, a quiet place to ponder, a peaceful place.  How often do we take a moment to think about how nice it would be to simply have time to spend in a garden?  Why do you suppose that a garden was the first place God chose to put His created man?

You are right, we don’t usually give a garden credit for anything but hard work even though it is true that we do enjoy its occasional beauty.  What if we had never had to leave?  Would it have taught us the things we needed to know without having to face the turmoil we have created by ourselves?  Was it originally God’s plan until someone else decided to get in on the act?  Where did the devil come from in the first place?  Was he also created to test the depth of man’s loyalty?

Ezekiel recorded for us the very words of God – You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, the garden of God ….where everything was prepared for you on the day you were created  (28:12-13).  You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you (15).

Questions?  Yes, quite a few of them. Would it be any better the second time around, or is man patterned simply by the free will that God gave him?  Is he predestined to “do it myself”?  You’re right of course, life is full of ups and downs, of often wishing we could simply start over, but maybe that was also part of God’s plan.  Just maybe value cannot be seen unless the lack thereof is first experienced.  You’re right again, that is sad but that is where we are.  The question is where do we go from here.

For some reason or another we have always known that mankind is not perfect and we have let ourselves be limited by that assumption, not giving credit at all to the One who created us and His plan for our lives.  As we look at the days in which we currently live do you ever wish we could go back and start over.  Wouldn’t it be nicer to think we have pleased our Creator with our lives and we have managed it all on our own?  Gee! I wonder how pride managed to get in on the act.  I didn’t invite him, did you?  The one thing I do know is that God still loves His children and He is ever willing to give us another chance.

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.  So there they laid Jesus (John 19:31-32).  A garden was the place where God first placed man and in a garden where His Son, Jesus, was buried after dying for our sins.  Do you think we should be giving more significance to the gardens in our lives?

Friends, I can’t speak for you, but I know where I want to be.  I don’t know of what value I can be, but God knows and has always had a plan so I will leave it in His hands and thank Him every day for the joy and peace He has so generously given me.  My wish and hope for you is that the chore He has so generously given me will bring you a sense of purpose for your life.  Whether you have always known or whether He has just now given you the revelation of what you were designed for, may you have peace, joy and comfort from knowing what He has in store for our future in His Heaven.

Add to your blessings by going to You Tube and listening to Pure&Praise, Mt. Carmel sing “I Come to the Garden Alone”.

How Well Do We See?

That sounds like a strange title; surely we all see what is placed right in front of us even if we neglect to see things that are distant.  But then again, I think that might be a good question to ask.  Tonight my intelligent companion, Danny, alerted me to the fact that we had an intruder in our house.  Unfortunately, at least as far as I was concerned, it was a wasp.  So, without giving much thought to it I grabbed a can of wasp spray.  Those of you who are much smarter than I will realize instantly that wasp spray is not to be used inside the house.  Consequently, I spent time trying to carefully neutralize my efforts, after the wasp was dead of course and Danny was deposited in the bedroom with the door shut.  Why, O Lord, did you not stop me in my tracks?

You already know the answer, don’t you?  The Lord had a word to speak and what better way to accomplish it.  You will have to admit that our sight in today’s world is limited to what we want to see and seeing evil in our world is definitely not our choice.  We prefer to let someone else deal with that problem.  I think we better reevaluate our thinking especially if we are concerned with how our Heavenly Father sees us in light of tomorrow.

There are those of you who might be wondering if there is a message in the coming eclipse.  Some seem to think there is and maybe it is true that we should be more cognizant of the things that are happening in this world even if they are currently not at our door.  Matthew recorded the words of Jesus when He was speaking to the multitudes.  Jesus often spoke in parables for a good reason because seeing they do not see…nor do they understand (13:13).  Is it possible that we have missed seeing what might have been a better answer than what we could possibly be looking at in today’s world of dog eat dog?

While it is true that we have grown intellectually and know many things today that were simply unknown yesterday, it is also true that we are not often wise in our doings. It would seem we would rather enjoy life than spend time making it better, particularly when we often doubt our own judgment.  Do you ever wonder why things pop into your mind; would it be stretching too much to consider the fact that God might simply be talking to us and hoping we would listen, particularly when He adds sight to the equation.

It is interesting to look back and ponder how things might be different today if we had simply had a crystal ball.  I wonder what our world might be like if Eve had just been able to see how her actions would affect all of God’s creation for years to come.  But then, we all know that patterns were made to be broken.  That is right, isn’t it?  That seems to be our designated style of learning even though the end result is not always what we would have chosen.  Is it too late to change the patterns that we have caused to become habit?  I have the feeling that it would be very pleasing to our Lord to see that we are finally beginning to learn; that, just maybe, there might actually be hope for the world He created.

Paul tells us in the book of Romans that hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:5-6).  Just maybe I should have my eyes checked to see if I need new glasses. 

Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.

All Other Ground

During a rainy season like we have been having we are often looking for a solid piece of ground before we take our next step.  No one wants to sink in the mud and get our shoes all messy.  It is interesting however that we often neglect following the same procedure before we leap into something new and different.  I am not saying that we are a bored people, it’s just that something different can be refreshing and challenging and often more exciting.  We have all heard stories of people who have leaped before they looked and it usually doesn’t turn out good.  Yes, I know, wehave also heard stories of people who never made anything work because they were afraid to take a leap.  So, just how do we go about making good assessments before we leap?

We have all heard the phrase “it’s better to be safe than sorry”.  While that is usually the case. It is also true that we can study long and hard and still make the wrong decision.  What can we do to prevent a bad outcome?  Is there any way to be safe and not sorry?  Many of us would admit that there is no way to be absolutely sure, but then there is a way to greatly insure our choices.  Don’t tell me you didn’t realize that!  You may not be as old as I am, but I can’t remember how long it has been that I have known the answer.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand!

Before you start trying to tell me that that is simply an old hymn and is probably not even sung much in today’s world, you would have to admit that it is still packed with wisdom.  The problem is can we learn from another’s wisdom?  It is probably true that many of us will pray about our choices, but it is often true that we neglect to see the other side of the coin and more often than not there is one.

The theme of the book of Proverbs is wisdom, written in large part by Solomon, who even though he was wise often failed to live up to what he knew.  We aren’t much better, but that’s not to say we can’t be.  In the 4th chapter, verse 7, we read Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.  And in all your getting, get understanding.  However, in the New Testament we find Paul telling those who would listen that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1st Corinthians 3:19).  The key there is made plain early, the wisdom of our world is not always the same as the wisdom of our Creator.  Our problem is to discern the difference, but that can be done easily enough if we just pull the book off the shelf.  James tells us if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (1:5).  Gee! all we have to do is ask.  Is it really that simple?

We have often heard that the best things in life are free, but most of us have rarely tested that statement.  If you are one of those who learned it early in life you are most fortunate.  Most of us would say that we are happy if we are just content with the results of any one day or any one event.

Let’s not sink in other ground, let’s change our minds about what really provides happiness in our individual life and in the world – Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold (Proverbs 3:13-14).

The Ants Are Coming

Have you ever had a time in your life when you simply felt overwhelmed and it seemed that there was nothing you could do to change things?  I am sure there have been serious times when all of us have felt like there was nothing that we could possibly do, but what about the little things that frequently nag us to death, the things that don’t really seem serious enough to bother the Lord with?  Could it be that the ants that are driving me out of house and home might actually concern the One who created me and still watches over me?

Well, we are told in 1st Peter 5:7 that we should be submissive and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God….casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  It must really be true that He cares not just about the major calamities in our lives, but also for the simple little things that mess with our attitudes and interfere in our daily lives.  It appears that is the bottom line truth.  Our Creator really does care about all the ups and downs that end up shaping who we are and will become.  It does seem rather strange that we will often rise to the major events, both good and bad, that shape our days and yet fall apart over the simplest of things.  We get so busy living life that we often forget that our Heavenly Father is actually a father who loves and cares for His children and also has the ability to move mountains.

So if we believe this to be true, just what do we do about it?  Most of us hate to bother others when we have a problem largely, I suspect, because we don’t really want others to know that we are not always competent to deal with even some of the simplest things.  God could have made us perfect, you know, but logic tells me that He not only wanted us to come to Him for help, but that He also intended life to be that way.  He wanted not just to be a Father who handed down judgements, but one who could and would participate in our lives.  That’s not really so hard to understand, is it?

You may not have ever thought about it before, but David was first a shepherd boy before he became king of Israel.  Maybe he was chosen by God because he understood about shepherding the sheep.  You know as well as I that there are times in all of our lives when we wander from the straight and narrow and have need of a shepherd to bring us back into line.  Just maybe I needed a little bit of reminding that there are things much more important than the ants in my kitchen;  maybe God’s original plan for me was greater than the killing of ants and I just needed to be reminded of that.

When we were created by God we were not limited to just one aspect of life; God intended for us to be able to multi-task as some might call it.  There may be times when we will need guidance as an ant and times when we might be needed to actually tell the ants just where to go.  But the bottom line, the place where we all need to be is where we know when to take charge and when to simply allow God to take charge.

Peter tells us to Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, nor for dishonest gain but eagerly; not being as lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away (1:5:2-4).

Randy Alcorn once said – “(God) offers us profound, moving, and surprising insights that can feed our minds, warm our hearts, and give us the strength to face a world that is not what it once was, or what it one day will be.”