Is It Time Or Past Time?

Friends, I hope you are not tired of me, but there are times when we have to do what we have to do and say what we have to say.  I guess this is one of those times.  Don’t clap your hands and agree until you know where I am going.  Frankly I am not quite sure myself.  What I am sure of is that I am really, really tired of hearing how our world is going to the dogs and how there is so much evil and so much hunger and suffering and it is getting worse every day, not better.  And here I am, sitting at my computer wondering how I can make a difference.  The money we give does help, but it doesn’t solve our real problem because it only makes a small, temporary difference.  What is it that can make the difference that most of us desire and cause it to be long lasting?  Yes, I know you know the answer as well as I, but it doesn’t absolve us from doing our part.  Some of that, it is true, is simply prayer to a God we know will answer us, but some of it is our part in helping others to see that prayer makes a difference and so does how we actually live each day.

The Word of God tells us to Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28 & 30).  Yes, you are right, that is not the way it reads in the newer versions; it is the King James Version which has been embedded in my mind since I was a youngster.  I wish I could say that it has always been in the forefront of my mind, but I find as many of you have that some things we learn never really leave us; a fact for which I am most grateful.  So, we know the problem and we are all tired of hearing about it and we are also tired of not knowing just how it will actually affect our personal lives and that of those we love.  So just what can we do?

I can’t give you your answer, but I will tell you what I am going to try to do.  I am going to take the good things I have learned back to the time when I comfortably could and would include the Lord and His love for me in my daily conversations.  I may have to tie a string around my finger, but I am going to verbally give Him the credit He is due.  It is because of His great love for me that I have been able to climb the mountains that I have climbed and been encouraged to go for yet the bigger ones.  I am going to include Him in my conversations because in all truth He is very present in our daily lives.  I want all those in my circle to know that I give Him exclusively the credit for where I am today.  He has never left me alone to fend for myself; He has always been available in both the good times and the bad and there is absolutely no way I can ever repay Him, but I want those who know me to recognize that the credit for my life belongs to Him. 

My Creator didn’t grace me with the ability to sing, but I still love to make a joyful noise even though it is true that I can’t truthfully say I know one note from another.  Moses and the children of Israel sang to the Lord (Exodus 15:1-18) having seen His wondrous love and protection for them.  It is still true today that His angels sing as they witness themselves His selfless love for His creation.  Why is it that we so conveniently put Him on hold for when we have more time and yet realize at times when it is convenient that only He can save us from error and place joy into our hearts?  Are we so spoiled that we forget that if it weren’t for Him our very lives wouldn’t be worth living?  All of us like to be praised when we do something special for someone we love; surely our God deserves a great deal of praise.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2); I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth (34:1); Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You (67:3); Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord (150:6).  And God’s people said - ?

AMEN!

Prayer - A Tool of Righteousness

My beloved state, the state of Texas, has just succumbed to the pressure of the day.  We have made allowances for a Christian enemy that our own children have previously been deprived of – the opportunity during a regular school day to pray to our Creator.  If you are a person who believes that all people should have the right to worship as they see fit than why have we allowed for discrimination in this particular realm of our lives?  Are we afraid of our enemy?  He is just another child of God,   Maybe his prayer will lead him to know the same God that we love and worship, particularly if we exhibit in our own lives the freedom that our Lord has so graciously given us.  Would the fair thing not be to allow those who believe in Jesus Christ the same privilege?  At least the footing would be equal.

There are many who might ask why we think our God is the only God.  While it is true that children who grow up in either home will normally learn from their parents, God has and still does speak to His children Himself.  Our God has never, absolutely never, attempted to confuse us.  He has His own way of speaking to every created’s heart.  You might be asking yourself then, why He has allowed such an erroneous conception of Himself to exist.  My own thinking is that one cannot truly appreciate the value of anything without coming to some conclusion about why our thinking is truth.

Maybe that is exactly why our children don’t know any better.  Our homes have become merely a place to lay your head when you are too exhausted to think anymore.  Thinking for children comes mostly, sad to say, from what they glean during their school day.  I don’t know if today’s adults realize it but I can remember discussions in the evening about what I had learned at school that day and then if necessary a discussion about the “real” truth backed up with a scripural reference from God’s Word.

I realize the enemy will quickly lay the blame on my parents for teaching me wrongly, but the point I am trying to make is that children should not be forced or even led into life alternating decisions from a source other than in the family where they grew up.  While it is true that truth can and will come from life experiences, it shouldn’t come without exposure to both sides.  Public schools should concentrate on life needs outside of a family responsibility and relating to the physical aspect of life rather than the spiritual.  Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians – “The first man Adam became a living being.”  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual (15:45-46).

Children should be taught in school things relative to a worldly and needed knowledge and allow parents to teach their children about what they personally believe, allowing and trusting in God to show them truth.  Again Paul tells us that those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit….because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be (Romans 8:6-7).

Titus was a trustedand reliable helper for Paul and became Paul’s emissary to the church at Corinth.  It is a short book consisting of only three chapters and you might want to check it out.  In the 2nd chapter we are told – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (2:11-13).

Martin Luther once said that It is no use to anybody for a tree to bud and blossom if the blossom does not develop into fruit.

Out Of The Ashes

Believe it!  If you read your newspaper or listen to your TV it doesn’t take you long to see or hear about the world’s latest atrocity.  In reality, we do not have the final answer, but there is One who does and He may just be getting fed up with our pitiful attempts to do nothing constructive to save the world He created.  It’s always easier to think about what we should do than actually getting down to brass tacks.  What is it that is stopping us?  I hate to mention this fact, but if we are realistic we will have to admit that there is another force in action upon our earth and he is doing his best to see to it that we neither hear nor act in any arena but his own.  You see, he also has a goal for this world we live in and he has no intention of losing this battle.  You’re right; we would rather not think about that, at least until tomorrow.   But then again – just maybe we can’t afford not to.

Before you get all upset and swallow the fact that you have no fight in you even if you knew where to start and how to go about things, let's remember that our Creator always knew where we would be and when we would need to finally realize just who we are and who He is.  He did make this old world and He never intended for His work to be nullified; He only hoped that we would rise to the task rather than leaving the cleanup work all for Him.  And you know what – we can do it, with His help of course.

The book of Job is one that is hardly ever looked to for value because it is a very depressing book.  It lays out all the problems we as mankind have to face and how poorly we accept and deal with them.  I would venture to say that very few of us actually learn from the lessons of Job’s life.  Avoidance would most likely be what we would choose and yet if Job were here today I think he would tell us to take another look.  In his words he recalls his despondency saying He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes (30:19).  It simply couldn’t be any worse and yet in the 42nd chapter his words were I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.  Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (6).  The Lord picked Job up out of the ashes and we find that After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.  So Job died, old and full of days (42:16).

Do we of this generation have to relive the sad days that Job went through or can we see ourselves as God sees us?  The Father created us for a purpose and He still loves us.  The question is do we love Him in return and can we live that out, not just with words which have little weight, but with actions designed to raise not only our lives, but those of our friends and neighbors?  Obviously most of us won’t suffer in the same way as did Job, but I doubt many of us have learned Job’s lesson.  Don’t you think it is time for us to look at our individual situation and how we treat and love those that God also created and loves.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done to restore God’s world to what He originally intended when He created us.  While we probably won’t be able to restore it completely, we can show our love to His other children and we can attempt to restore His world to the beauty He desired for us all to enjoy.  It won’t be easy, but we must make the effort.

What do you have on your calendar for tomorrow?  Might it just be the perfect day to make a new list and start a new and better life?  I would like to and Chris Tomlin gave us the answer to our problem, clearly and truly, when he wrote:

Into the darkness You shine, out of the ashes we rise;
There’s no one like You, none like You.
And if our God is for us then who could ever stop us;
And if our God is with us then who can stand against.

What Is Your Confidence Rating?

One of the main criticisms we have of each other in these days as we see things differently than in years past is “what happened to your confidence?”  What is it about today’s world that has you so beaten down?  The answer to that question is not hard to answer; we don’t have to research it or think long and hard about it.  The answer looms increasingly in front of us as we listen to the TV or read our newspapers or even just listen to people talk.  Fear and uncertainty, which have been put down for years have suddenly raised their ugly heads.  Our world is not as it used to be or as we want it to be, but we act like we don’t know how to fix it.  A good question might be – do you really not know or do you simply not want to bother being a part of the solution?

Well?  I do understand that our talents and capabilities cannot by themselves solve such a gigantic problem so what can and will we do?  The answer has always been right in front of us, but for some unknown reason we have chosen to ignore it.  Can we continue to do so?  Those of us who are older manage to think that time probably won’t allow us to do much so why bother.  Those of us who are younger lean to the excuse that we simply don’t know what to do and someone with more experience should take care of this problem.

Looks like we are at a standoff.  So, Lord, just what are You going to do?  Folks, I hate to burst your bubble, but our Lord has already given us the knowledge and the tools to fix our problems; it seems we are just a stubborn people.  Okay, where do we go from here or shall we just hope someone else is smarter and sees the problem in time to fix it without bothering us?

I know that confidence in a person develops through life experiences and unfortunately there are many of us who cannot claim the best experiences.  For some unknown reason there are often two camps in the life of a young person and most of us know that.  There are the popular kids and the leftovers.  We may wonder why this happens and often feel like it shouldn’t and yet I have come to believe that God has His reasons for allowing His children to be different.  Our world would probably be dull and not very effective if we all were the same plus there are different times in life when each group will have its day of glory.  Hopefully at the end of our journey each life will be blessed as we all find the true and awesome glory that God has planned for us.

In the meantime, what can we do to give us the confidence we need to fulfill our Creator’s mission for us?  The Word tells us plainly that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  That surely should be enough all by itself.  For those of us who need a little extra shove the Psalmist reminds us that It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man (118:8 ) and By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth (65:5).

 Confidence is not something we were born with; it comes from many different directions – from a family in which we feel secure and able to grow and from the quiet times we spend with our Lord, learning about why we were created in the first place.  Why would God bother with giving us such a huge responsibility when He could have simply retained all control instead of sharing it?  I can see you smiling because you already know the answer to my question – the confidence and joy we desire and long for comes not from the seed itself but from the resulting outcome of the planting. 

In Thee alone, dear Lord, we own sweet hope and consolation;
Our shield from foes, our balm for woes, our great and sure salvation.

The Lord That Healeth Thee

Before you decide that this is something only those in need of healing would want to read, slow down for a moment and ask yourself if you are sure there is nothing that you need.  We always think of sickness as being the thing that needs healing, but haven’t you ever felt like maybe your mind and thinking could stand a little reformatting?  I have.

Let’s face it; we are living in the worst of times.  While it is true that we have had many wars and times of heartbreak and turmoil; times when we didn’t know if we could get through the day or know if there would be a tomorrow, we are currently walking on the edge of extinction and that by our own doing.  Surely it is not our fault, or is it?  Have we fostered selfishness in our world as we have competed to get to the top of the pack?  Is it too late to correct, to banish evil and institute goodness like never before?  Before you automatically jump to the logical conclusion, remind yourself who created this world and who is still in charge regardless of what we think or feel.

While it is true that our Creator knew how it would end and just exactly what He would do, it is still true that He is a forgiving God and certainly would rather we learn the easy way rather than destroy the creation that was intended to be beautiful.  What would it take to make it so?  While that seems like an unlikely possibility and may be so since Satan has brought out all the big guns, don’t you feel that our effort would matter to our God?  I believe it would!

So where do we start?  I know it sounds impossible, but all the wonderful things we find in today’s world started with a simple idea; a light turned on inside of a head that wanted to make a difference.  Maybe you are one of the big dreamers or maybe not, but sometimes a simple question can find a simple solution – surely you are aware of the fact that one heart can change another and one prayer will always be answered even if the conclusion is further down the line than you would like.  Maybe we should start with prayer and then simply listen – Lord, what would you have me do?  Jesus, himself, told us in the book of Mark – Take heed what you hear.  With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given (14:24).  While it is true that this may not save our world, it may save our neighbor as well as ourselves.  And don’t forget the importance of one lost sheep.

It doesn’t take new glasses to see the many things wrong in our world today, but where should we start if we really want to make a difference.  Some things take a lot of planning, but there are many things that just pop out of a caring heart accompanied by a seeing eye.  Does your neighbor attend a local church?  Do you ever talk to him or her about the Lord you love; what He has accomplished and what He will still do if we allow Him to?  Sometimes conversation leads to action.  Maybe he does not have a church home and would like one; maybe she has never thought about what her Creator made her to do.  Maybe your neighbor will even come out with a suggestion for you, who knows? 

One thing we do know is that this world we love cannot continue to function unless some much needed changes occur.  We all, everyone of us, must accept the fact that this is not our world and never has been; it belongs to our Creator and we are His sheep, dependent upon His will and His loving kindness.  Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7).

I am the God that healeth thee,
I am the Lord, your healer.
I sent my Word and I healed your disease,
I am the Lord your healer.

A Forever Eternity

Eternity is a big word.  Do you ever consider what it means for you?  In the world, we know we may look forward to tomorrow, but we don’t expect eternity to come shortly.  We always have something to do when our tomorrow comes.  However, eternity is a little harder to comprehend than tomorrow.  Can you even begin to image what eternity might encompass?

As children, the word is a total unknown; as adults, we have heard of it, but rarely spend time trying to understand it.  As older citizens, we are more aware of it, but don’t really like to dwell on what it might mean for us individually.  If we do spend time on the subject it is in wondering what we might do or if we will even exist.  It probably helps a lot though to remind ourselves that God’s original plan took eternity into consideration.  He designed it to be a time when all His accomplishments would come together in a glory mankind could not comprehend, but only contemplate.  It holds a promise that we will one day understand the enormity of the love that the Father holds for His children; a time when we will understand that no price, known or unknown, would ever be too much to obtain His goal.  Does that realization not give you cold chills, to realize that you cannot possibly comprehend the enormity of His constant and abiding love?

As you think about it you might wonder if there was not a better way to achieve the same result, but you would have to admit that even with your complicated brain cells you cannot even begin to comprehend the possibility.  How can one explain something that has no beginning and will have no end?  One can’t, one just simply must accept that some things have no explanation.  Okay, then how does this knowledge or lack thereof affect how we think today and how we will live tomorrow?  There is one thing that we all have in common, we all want to make it to the very top of whatever existence there is.  Can we possibly understand enough to give us even a foothold?

Fortunately, Jesus told his disciples, Himself, before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:1-3).

Do you ever wonder just how many of your friends and neighbors you will see in eternity?  It is a subject that most people don’t discuss because it is not something that can be proven until life as we know it on this earth ceases.  So where do we turn to begin to understand?  The only place to be able to speak authoritatively on eternity is the Word of God.  Paul tells us in Romans that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord  (6:23) and Timothy admonishes us to fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called  (1:6:12).  John, who knew the Lord as well as anyone tells us that He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1:5:12) and again that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (3:15).

This is not a subject that we who are alive today talk about very much if at all, but it is a subject that needs to be considered seriously not just idly hoped for. Surely, we will see our friends and neighbors there, happy and smiling.  Will we?  Do you know that your neighbor and friend will be there with you to enjoy the glories God has contrived for those who love Him?  Can we afford to assume?  An expression we have heard all our lives is that it is better to be safe than sorry.  Is it so hard to simply ask the one you love if they already have their bags packed?  Their tickets have already been paid for by God’s own Son!

What If?

What if I had never had polio and almost died, what if I had married the right man the first time, what if I had never arrived on Waco’s doorstep and met a man who set my feet on the path to do what the Lord has always intended me to do?  What if?  Don’t tell me you have never wondered what things you could have changed and still be where the Lord designed you to be.  I have asked myself these questions many times as I have many things I would like to do over and yet I think I finally under-stand that the value of your life is affected by the things you go through and overcome.  As God gives you insight you are able, hopefully, to pass that on to others as He always intended you should do.  Plus, if you are like many in this world, you truly want to do what you were created to do and you want the Lord to be pleased with the fruits of your labor.

Okay, that’s a great statement and master plan, but how do we know when we are hearing from the Lord and when He has something special that only we can do?  That’s a much harder question to answer because I still, after all the many things that have happened to me, ask that question.  Well,, I will tell you one thing – it is very much past my bedtime and I am ready to go to sleep, but the Lord made me turn my computer back on (did you get that word – made).  While it is true that I will probably not finish this message tonight it will in all likelihood be that I will hear more as I sleep and the Lord will expect me to remember what He says.  That is when he talks the most to me – maybe because I am not trying to lay out my own pattern for my time when I have shut down for the day.  When is your special time, one in which you are still and listening?  It probably doesn’t happen every day, but what causes you to know that it is His voice you are hearing?

It will be different for each one of us depending on what type of thing He wants us to do and when.  You may be in the middle of a project when something momentarily stops you to make a note for yourself.  Matthew recorded the words of Jesus, himself – But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, who speaks in you (10:19-20).  I realize that was for a specific occasion that those words were spoken, but I believe that our Lord is always ready to speak when we will allow it.  John tells us that when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come (16:13).  You will have to admit that when you have those moments when things are not clear it would be nice to know that our Lord will speak for you.

It makes me sad to think that there are still people in this world who don’t know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us.  My small efforts cannot change our world, but I do know that our prayers can move mountains and our few words can bring joy to another heart.  My prayer, at this moment, is that the Lord I love will show me how to make a difference in someone’s life; that He will help me to see and recognize in my own busy life the times when someone who is near needs a word of comfort and hope.

Dear friends, we cannot know no matter what the newspapers and TV tell us, just when the final curtain will come down on our lives or that of those who desperately need to know our Lord and Savior.  Will we have done our job well or will we shed tears over what we did not do?

Just as I am! Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

What's In A Name?

I just finished reading some of today’s computer news and I have to admit to wondering just why I spent my time on so much garbage.  If I can, in my own illiteracy, sigh and wonder how we, as a people, ever managed to get ourselves in such a place, what must our Creator be thinking and why does He continue to put up with our futile efforts to make Him less of the God He is?  What brought all this on?  Well, I happen to think that we all have certain rights and often what others think about what we have done or are doing shouldn’t always affect our actions.  It seems that a Baptist Church decided to take the word “Baptist” out of their name because it no longer meets their needs and actually might keep someone who needs a church away from their facility.  I hate to ask, but does that offend you; that a group of Christians felt they had to rename their house of worship in order to reach their neighbors with the Word of our Lord?  It seems to me that there is something mighty wrong with this scenerio.

My dictionary says that a church is a building for Christian worship.  While it is true that different denominations became a practice over time due to a few differences in interpretation, such things as whether a person was not really baptized if he was only sprinkled; I happen to believe that our Lord and Savior knows our hearts.  There are different interpretations in our Bibles today and hopefully they serve only to help with understanding as many societies live in different situations in different parts of our world.  We, all of us, were created by a God who loves all His children and hopes that our lives will reflect the love that He gave for us.  He gave His only begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, to cover the many errors of our ways, and to show all His children His love for each of us.

In reality, a church is a church, just as a hospital is a hospital.  Hopefully, as non-perfect people we, each and every church no matter its denomination, teaches that Jesus Christ was born to draw us and died to save us.  It was and still is our Creator’s desire to enjoy His creation with His people, those who love Him and each other.  While it is true that we have often drifted away from truth and made choices which are not pleasing to our Creator, as did Eve in the garden, Christ died to pay the price for us to be included in His eternity where we would all love Him and each other and enjoy a paradise beyond our imagination.

Why then did He even create this earth where we live?  It is our learning and proving ground, a place where we learn to make choices and accept their results; a place where we learn through experience that there is a better way; a place where we learn of a Love that is greater than anything we can ever hope to fully understand.  Yes, we live in different countries, we have different habits and eat different foods and speak different languages, but we have one big similarity that we, as humans, cannot negate – we were created and loved by a God who has revealed Himself in three ways in order to have the children He has always desired – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Do we not owe Him something? 

Many of us have our own children that we love.  Don’t we want the very best for them and hopefully expect the same in return?  Don’t we want to live in a place that is beautiful, where we can enjoy the marvelous things to be found on this earth?  Don’t we want to live in peace and comfort, without the stress that comes with faulty things that always seem to need our attention and draw us away from what our Creator intended?  Of course, we do!  Then why don’t we just do it!

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in Heaven.