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.”

The Vulture's Eye

The book of Job is one that we usually avoid because we don’t like to know what mankind once had to go through before God sent His Son to be our sacrifice.  However, the book does give us a lot of insight into what we might have had to go through if it were not for God’s mercy.  It gives us a picture of what we should be aware of and look for to avoid those times when today’s evil crosses our path.  Whether you want to believe it or not Satan is currently doing all he can, knowing that his last days are soon to be over.

I know, you are beginning to wonder what in the world does the vulture have to do with anything and why did God create him in the first place.  Believe it, God always had and still has a plan for His creation, but any gift worthy to be desired comes with first learning how to find it and claim it before Satan can prevent your doing so.  The vulture is a disgustingly predatory bird that can easily distract one who is seeking life’s treasure.  God knew that if a treasure was too easy to find it would not have any value thus He created the vulture, a hurdle to prove real desire and earnest endeavor in order for mankind to understand and treasure the real value of his own creation.  The clue He left for us is found in Job 28:7 – There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen.

 You are probably saying to yourself that that is not much of a clue, but as you probably know whenever you read any mystery book on the shelves today you usually have to get to the end of the book before you will actually know what the clue was and how you missed it in the first place.  Are you beginning to feel like you know where I am going?  To make it more plain an unknown author once wrote – I had a little tea party this afternoon at three, ‘Twas very small – three guests in all, just I, myself and me.  Myself ate all the sandwiches, while I drank up the tea.  ‘Twas also I who ate the pie and passed the cake to Me.

You’re right!  We, like Job, have become much too satisfied with our own progress in today’s world.  We have worked hard to advance, to provide for our families and even give to those less fortunate than ourselves.  Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?  We can’t help it if there are those who are selfish and not at all interested in being “Christians”.

While it is true that we, as individuals, cannot affect the change that is needed in our world today, those of us who sincerely care and love our Creator can strive to live the life that our Lord created us for.  Unlike the vulture we have been given a book that gives us all the clues we need to live a life fitting for the children of God; one which includes an answer for all our hurdles – the Living Word of God.  Who could wish for anything more?

Most of us would agree that things that are too easily come by usually either don’t have any value or they are lost before we can say “scat”.  I guess that means that if we really, honestly, want to know the real value of what was offered and paid for by our Lord we must accept that there is a cost.  It is not costly as far as the monetary world is concerned, but rather as an item that is even more precious – time.  It would take us more than we will ever have to fully discover and understand the sacrifice God made for the children He loves, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start and the sooner, the better.  It may be hard to admit, but most of us do not spend enough time in The Bible, a book filled with everything we could possibly need to know and the very substance that would insure our entry into God’s kingdom.

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee (42:5).

What Is Enough?

Have you ever spent time contemplating when you will have finally reached the end of your road; when you will truthfully be able to say, “enough is enough”?  I imagine most of us will keep striving because our society is always dangling another tidbit in front of us; just one more thing that we need to have or to do.  We have that elusive carrot hanging in front of us, a time when we hope to retire, to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  I have news for you – most of it will never happen!

I know you are already disagreeing because you have a plan; you know just when it will happen and what you have waited all your life to do whether it is lounging on the beach wiggling your toes in the sand or traveling to foreign places that you have always wanted to see.  In these busy days of attempting to stretch ourselves for just one more thing we all long to rest and be at peace.  Did you ever consider that God’s plan might be different than yours; that maybe He meant your time on earth to be for gathering in the crops that He has watched over to keep the various bugs from destroying them.  We do seem to have an awful lot of bugs these days.  Are you a gambler and decide that you will simply take the chance, knowing that He is a loving Father and will simply forgive you?

It is absolutely true that the One who created us loves us fervently, but it is also true that there are limits to His plan.  When Jesus was here on earth He prayed – Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You.  Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are (John 17:11).  We read that with less than serious intent because our worldly opinion is that we will never be one; how can we with all the many years of going our own way - of having different languages, of worshiping different gods and living in different cultures.  It would seem impossible.

And yet, Paul himself tells us in the book of Ephesians – For He Himself…has made both one, …so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (2:15-16).  That does make it sound like He has different plans than we do.  Maybe it would behoove us to change our minds because the day is getting closer and closer.

Even as you recognize that evil is getting the best of us in many ways you are probably thinking that you wouldn’t even know where to start.  How can a difference in one life make a difference in many lives?  Do you think you should analyze that thought?  It is true that One Life actually has made a difference in many lives, as the Father planned that it should.

Think about something for a minute – if you are a chocolate lover is one bite ever enough?  I knew you would agree with me.  Maybe then you might get even a small grasp of how our Creator, God, thinks about the children that He created.  Even with foreknowledge He still carries the desire that one day each one of His created children will understand and make the effort to establish, once again, the relationship that was originally desired when He created man.  There may be, in our minds, little hope, but that doesn’t excuse us from the effort.  Just what is enough?

I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home;
I am redeemed!
                                                 
Big Daddy Weave

A Needed Tune-Up

Here I was, simply taking a little rest on the sofa after taking my car for a tune-up.  Seems there has been some question lately about whether I should have a new car.  The problem is that for us older folks habit becomes more important than younger ones will realize.  And sure enough it was a smart thing to do.  So far my radiator has a leak and my car is pulling to the right when driving.  Maybe that is all he will find.  However, it got me to thinking, and now I am in trouble and maybe you will be also.  What else might I have that needs a tune-up?

The Lord is patient with His children, but as you would expect I am no longer resting on the sofa; instead I am running a check on myself.  What are the things in my life that I need to get more serious about and might even need to change or get rid of?  Human beings are ceatures of habit, so it follows that if I can realize the value of change, maybe I can form some new habits that might be considered valuable in the Kingdom of Heaven and pleasing to the Lord I love and seek to follow.

Just where should I start?  Being a home owner I realize that everything can’t be accomplished in one day; we must schedule what needs to be fixed or changed and then begin.  Usually we would plan how we are going to accomplish the first thing on our list.  Do we need any new parts or is it just a matter of learning how to utilize what we have?  Can we accomplish this part of our project by ourselves or do we need help?  And then, if we do, where should we go for help?  That’s enough to think about to start except just when to start.  Can you think of a better time than right now; often when we put things off we never get them done.

How do you think our Lord would begin?  We are told in the book of Isaiah that those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength (40:31).  That sounds like a good place to start and if we are lucky maybe it won’t be tomorrow.  Oh dear, bad attitude!  We are serious about this tune-up, aren’t we?  The Psalmist knew just where to start to be effective and he shares that with us in the book of Psalms - He restores my soul; He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake (23:3).  That sounds like a good place; we all need to have a good attitude before we start any project, particularly if we want it to turn out well.  But then where should we go from there; we will need parts even if we have the know-how?  A list!  We should make a list, but then we can always stall on the basis of we might need to be sure our list has all the parts we need.  Whoops! there we go again, procrastinating, but surely we need time to think; we don’t want to miss anything.

Prayer, that’s it; we should pray about all our undertakings before we actually begin.  We all know that our success in any venture will only occur if we have the Lord’s wisdom and approval.  Isn’t that what we have been brought up to think?  The wise men who wrote Proverbs told us that Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding (3:13).  I, for one, like the idea of being happy! 

Well, I guess I have procrastinated long enough; I think it is time I should pray and ask the Lord to help me with whatever I am lacking and the courage to put my hand to the plow; and yes, I should also thank Him for all the blessings He has already given me along with the knowledge that He will never leave me, that He will always be available to meet any need I have.   I guess this little rest I was thinking about has truly paid off in unexpected ways.  Thank you, Father, for your love, your wisdom and your always and forever availability.

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5).

Not Orphans

Wait a moment - As you look at the title don’t move on too quickly.  While it is true that you may not technically be an orphan at this moment in time, things in this world can change even as you read.  However, it is also true that you will never be an orphan unless you choose to be, for the Father who created you will never die and loves you like no other possibly can.  You will always be a son or daughter; does that give you any obligation?  You may want to deny it, but yes that actually does give you an obligation.  Why can’t or don’t we just simply accept the fact and live as relatives should live, loving one another?

That’s a good question, but before you move on let’s think about it.  If it were true that you had no one to look over your shoulder or approve or disapprove of what you do, just what would you do?  Some of us might have just been waiting for the moment and will set out to do what we have always dreamed of; others may wisely give it another thought and realize that we actually were created for a purpose.  Can we actually know that purpose?

The Psalmist tells us - And all of you are children of the Most High (Psalm 82:6).  Before you feel like saying that was just a man that wrote those words you might want to remember that the Holy Spirit guided the hands and minds of those who wrote and He makes no mistakes.  Regardless ofwhat our earthly situation looks like we were created for a purpose.  Did you get that?  A purpose!

You might be saying that sounds great, but how do I know just exactly what that is; one of my friends might actually hear from God, but I am not sure.  That is one thing we don’t have to worry about because our Father will make sure that we know just exactly what His plan for us is, if not today, then tomorrow.  It just might be a good idea to keep our ears open.

Though it was long ago when things were different, Paul told us I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you (1st Corinthians 4:14).  And John told us that as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God ( 1:12-13).  It seems to me that even though these words are not current, they still are valid and maybe it is time that we simply accept the inevitable and go with it.  After all we do owe Him our very lives and our world does desperately need Him.

Things have greatly changed since the days Jesus walked this earth, but wisdom never grows old no matter where it comes from.  We are currently living in days when we cannot put off tomorrow; days when we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (Ephesians 4:14).

If you ever read the newspaper or listen to the news on TV, you cannot deny the fact that something needs to be done and quickly, before it is simply too late and it may already be.  If that is true then maybe we better polish up our armor and be sure our house is clean and ready. Jonathan Edwards once said that pure gold shows its' purity chiefly in the furnace.  Don’t forget – God gave up an awful lot for us – His own beloved Son to save us.  Can we, will we, honor His sacrifice and be the children He has always desired for us to be?

In the glad morning of my day,
My life to give, my vows to pay,
With no reserve and no delay,
With all my heart,
to Thee I come.

Broken Things

No one likes to let others know their failings and so we spend a good deal of unnecessary effort covering our problems, whatever they might be; after all tomorrow is another day and things surely will be better.  The big mistake we make in this line of thinking is that we forget we have a fixer for our problems or our heartaches.  We have been brought up thinking that we can “do all things”; we simply forget the last and most important part which tells us “through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

God fixes broken things in a way that we can’t possibly comprehend and He does it with the extra bells and whistles.  I am sure you have recognized at some time or another the marvelous way in which He provides for our health, security and happiness.  Yes, you are right, He is an awesome God.  Why then do we fret and worry for lengthy times over what we can and should do?  Are we so proud of our own capabilities that we hate to give up control for even a second?

God never intended that we would be our own gods.  He laid out a good plan for our lives and then paid the price for our failures.  It was His intention that we know and love Him, understanding that He had already given us all the answers and solutions that we would ever need.  Why then is it that we continually insist that we can do it ourselves.  I do seem to remember that that is a favorite expression of little children as they grow and strive to become independent of their parents.  How-ever physical and mental growth doesn’t mean that we will ever have all the answers.  There simply will be times when either our minds will not comprehend or our bodies will not be able to solve whatever problem that presents itself.  But we still have the envelope that contains all the answers we will ever need;  I think I do remember seeing that envelope;  I think it was left in the Bible that is somewhere in the bookcase.  Maybe I should just go and see for myself.

Maybe our problem is that we want our parents and friends to be proud of us for our own accomplishments, but isn’t that simply another label for pride.  Didn’t I read somewhere that “pride goeth before a fall”?  Well then the next question seems to be how can I value myself if the glory all goes to God?  Wait just a moment and seriously think about it.  I know I have heard really happy people say that their advancement in life came because they were raised in a good home with good parents who taught them well and took them to church.  Well, what has that to do with anything?  It has everything to do with it if we allowed it to.  God always intended that we be capable and happy children, those who loved Him and knew the ground rules.  As it does for our parents it also brings joy to the heart of God, our Heavenly Father, when we live the lives He created us for. 

Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 that I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  Just maybe this should be our guideline for the rest of the days that we spend upon this earth that our Heavenly Father created.

They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain,
Good thing, a little faith is all I have right now

but
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand,
But even if You don’t, my hope is You alone.
                                                            -
Mercy Me

A Bed of Roses

Now why would God bring that to my mind before it is time to get up?  He must be trying to tell me something,  It would seem to me that I already know that life is not a bed of roses, but I think He is trying to tell me that it is going to be unlike the easy road we have been traveling for so long.  It is time to get serious and begin to live life as He has always wanted us to live it.  Now what do you reckon He means by that.  Surely most of us don’t think we are living in a bed of roses; our days seem to be filled with all the problems we can handle and we think we have been handling things pretty well.  I think He is trying to tell us that we know very little of what we are going to face and He wants us to be prepared, not only prepared but able to fight the good fight of faith.  We are getting nearer the finish line and there is still much left to be done.

Is He saying - I want my people to see this world as I created it to be.  I want them to love one another for no reason other than because that is My will.  I am opening doors for my children to walk through and I am waiting, doors that no man will be able to close.  That is a very comforting thought because things are beginning to get a little scary.  We have always known that our God loves us, but we have become a people who take an awful lot for granted and it is time for us to get our ducks in a row.  Even before the days of Jesus, God was already telling His people – Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands (1:17:47).  If the people could have truly understood and continued to put their trust in His loving hands things might be very different in today’s world.

However, here we are and we will have to study hard and listen well to discern just what our next steps should be.  As far back as the days of David, we are told in the book of Psalms – I will love You, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies (18:1-3).  We can claim that things are much too advanced today to rely just on the words of King David, but even as we say that we know better.  A God who created this world can destroy it or He can save it.

Alright, we are not so blind and deaf that we don’t realize the severity of what is just around the corner, but what can you and I possibility do to stop it.  We don’t have the knowledge, the ability or the weaponry to defeat this world’s scientific advances and it’s a fact that some of today’s know-ledge might be more devastating than we can imagine.   Have you forgotten that we have access to our Creator and that He is more than willing to listen to His children.  He is waiting to see if we will rise to meet what is coming face to face or if we will hide in our closets and hope someone else will solve our problems. 

Part of our concern today is our individual lack of knowledge.  We are and cannot be aware of all the creations our evil world has come up with to destroy itself.  We can read about some of the things that are happening in foreign countries, but it is over there.  However, we also read and know that those over there hate what our country enjoys and since they see no way to have it for them-selves they are willing to destroy us.  Maybe it is time to stop being jealous of others and start working on a way to repair our own country and love our fellow man.    

A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction (Jeremiah 14:22).

Our God, ourHelp in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal Home.