What Time Is It?

Do you pay attention to what is happening in Israel – do you understand its significance?  What choices if any do they have – does it matter?  What difference can it make for you and your life?  The answer quite naturally is yes it does matter and you cannot make a difference if you don’t know why you were created.  Maybe it is time to answer for yourself the question; maybe it is time to show our Lord that you do desire to be the best at the position you were desired to fill.  What thoughts do you have about your life after your earthly death?  While it is true that we cannot honestly answer things that are only allowed by God, Himself, we can know that He did have a purpose and that it was particular and it was also important.  Maybe it is time to figure out just what we need to do and when we need to do it.

We can read in our Bibles about the beginning and events that happened many years ago, but now is a very long time since then.  What about now?  Many things have happened, many mistakes have been made and some things will never be corrected. So where do we go from here?  There is however one thing that has always been and ever will be.  Our Bible tells us the most important thing we need to know – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2).  Yes, that is a familiar scripture, but we have still failed to understand its significance even after many years of struggle and lessons.  Is it possible for mankind to turn around and really try once again to be the children that our God loves in spite of ourselves?

It doesn’t take much for us to realize that we have made a colossal mess of things and that we really don’t know how to correct things, but there is One who does and has always been ready to help if we would simply ask.  I think we have just become a little lazy and too wrapped up in what is going on today; we will think about tomorrow another day.  And yet you don’t have to look hard to realize that time is continuing to march on while we piddle and put off.  If only that stupid Eve had not chosen to pick that apple in the first place, but then again, knowing mankind, would it have made any difference?  God’s desire for His children was that they would live a good life, enjoying the wonderful things He offered while learning, growing and enjoying fellowship with Him.  Who set up the pattern of thinking we could outgrow our need and think for ourselves without any interference?  You’re right, it was the Devil himself, but who told you you had to listen to him in the first place.  Those of us living today know the scenario and how time after time our Father tried even to allowing His son, Jesus, to suffer and die to give us another chance.  It would seem at this point that it is entirely up to us now to choose – will we finally learn?  I want to, do you?

In the days of wisdom the Psalmist wrote, Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him (91:14) and Solomon tells us that Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it (8:7).  Micah reminds us that He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God  (6:8).  And John, much beloved by Jesus, was told to tend My sheep…feed My sheep (21:16 & 17).  It would seem to me that we haven’t done such a good job.  Do you think we can, at this late date, turn over a new leaf?

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend:
I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.

The Will of God

Down through the ages there has been only one thing that has truly remained the same, never being affected by the trials and tribulations of mankind and that has been God’s will for His children.  Society has evolved in many other areas of life.  There have been changes that are serious and those that seem never to have a lasting effect, but the one constant, the one thing you can really count on has been the will of our living Lord.  God created this world and mankind to live in it knowing that He would one day bring perfection to it, yet giving his created beings the gift of allowing them to see what they could do on their own before reminding them that He has always been in charge.

Has that been a good thing?  As we go back and study the many ways in which life has changed and the many battles that have been fought there is only one thing that has remained constant – HIS WILL IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL STAND.  Is that a good thing, are we better because of His wisdom and love for His created beings?  I, for one, believe so.  As one studies and relives events of the past, hoping for a better future we find many times when man has succumbed to the evil desires of God’s arch enemy, the Devil.  However, one thing has always remained constant and clear – the Devil will never ultimately win the battle.  Mankind, in his failings, is and always has been much loved by his Creator, who in His vast love for His children also created a path for us to find, a path which would lead back to the way He desired for things to be.  After all the time that has passed it is still there waiting patiently for us to discover.

As human beings we have often learned what our eternal foe can accomplish in his freedom and often we have succumbed to the things that seemed to lead us down a more interesting and profitable path.  Did anyone leave a pile of bread crumbs so we could find our way back?  It is a given that we will find the devil’s path is not one we really want for ourselves or our children?

The early followers of our Lord learned, some the hard way.  Noah battled a world with only one boat and way too much water.  Jonah is the only man who has ever seen, first hand, the belly of a whale.  Moses found his way to life floating down a river.  Lazarus walked out of a tomb after four days that others might believe in the power of Jesus over life and death.  One fish and one loaf managed to feed many.  The sinner nailed to a cross was shown the way to heaven.  On and on we can find stories of God’s mercies and power.  Even today we celebrate the life of Billy Graham, a man God honored even unto death.  If it is proof we desire we can find it.  Why then is it we continue to believe we have a better plan? 

We will find that often there are times in life when we would simply like to have a do-over.  We may not have an iron clad solution or we may not really want to try, but God says it is time to straighten out some things.  Many of us would like to respond with any logical excuse we can come up with, but the question will continue to play in our minds.  Is it really necessary, Lord?  It has been such a long time and it may not even be possible even if I wish it were.  Also, if the truth were honestly faced I am not really sure I want any of my life today to change.  Can you just speak a little louder so I can plainly hear?

Have you ever been through such a time?  Were you lucky enough to actually hear the Lord tell you what to do?  What did you do?

O the pure delight of a single hour that before Thy throne I spend;
When I kneel in pray’r, and with thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend.

Master, Savior, Jesus

Friends of my heart, life is and has always been a battle although I think we very rarely think of it that way.  I woke up this morning in a struggle and wondering if I could or even if I should share this with others.  Human nature has always wanted to cover itself with the best it can offer, but many of us will realize that there are times when we simply don’t have the strength.  Maybe this is one of those times.  I have been battling for awhile and praying for strength while at the same time wondering why I am so weak.  Surely my Lord would not be proud of me because I am not being what He created me to be.  And yet on the other hand just maybe He loves me more than I know and is desirous of giving me real peace, never again to be misplaced or lost.  Maybe it is time to simply give the reins to Him and let Him choose the destination.  I have known many brave people in my time, those who have been able to cover in their own way their fear and simply choose to be with the One who truly loves them.  What is wrong with me?

Life events do come into play when attempting to understand the complexities of our earthly existence, but they don’t always make it easier.  Yes, Lord, we really do love Thee and we want more than anything for You to be proud of us and yet can’t our last curtain call wait a little longer, maybe next week, or next year?  What am I saying – that who I want to be is simply a false front, covering the weakness of my humanity?  Surely not!  You have been more than gracious to me and You know I would not choose to offer You any less than my best.  And yet ----?

Friends, even as I write this I know this is not what my Lord wants, but I also know that there are many like me who wonder if we have the strength to give our Lord all He expects and desires for the life He created.  Maybe there is still time for me to change, time for me to understand why He created me and time for me to finish my task.  Oh, how I hope so!  I really do love You, Lord!

Okay, let’s get real!  We do have the strength and we do serve a purpose and the Lord will always be our backup for His glory.  He alone knows just what He has in hand for each of us as we finally come before His throne.  He created us, He loves us and He will continue to believe that His people will come to understand this great and mighty love He has – we are His children and He is our Father.  We are so very blessed.

Okay, now that we have that straight, what is it, Father, that You would have me do this day?  We know there are many in this world who do not know You, but how can we reach those as we are limited by time and space?  We know that prayer is one very good way, but is there more?  Do our eyes sparkle, does our very presence cause those around us to feel there is more to this life than the things we desire?  Can and will we finally admit to ourselves as well as others that we have a choice to live the lives we were created to live?  It has been made very plain to me this morning so I guess I will put aside my fears and weakness and gather myself together to confront my day with the joy of the Lord; the joy which passes understanding.  I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help?  My  help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber….The Lord shall preserve your soul.  The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore (Psalm 121:1-3; 7-8).

I take, O cross Thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss
My sinful self, my only shame, my glory all, the cross.

Eternity

We live in a time when most of us plan for today and even tomorrow out of habit because if we don’t put things on our calendar we just might forget.  And there are times when we would just as soon forget tomorrow because there is no guarantee in this life.  Most of you will remember Annie; she had a good way of looking at tomorrow that would cover the todays that weren’t up to par.  She sang, believing – When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely I just stick up my chin and grin and say: oh the sun will come out tomorrow.  Would that it were so, but all too frequently it is not.

You might also be thinking that this devotional will not be what you want to read because you just really don’t have time to think about tomorrow at the moment – maybe later on when you have more time.  Admit it, it is probably 99% true!  Besides doesn’t God’s Word tell us – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).  The key word here is worry; it’s true we shouldn’t worry, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider what we are going to need to meet whatever is thrown our way tomorrow.  After all, we must consider what training we need to secure the particular plan we have in mind for ourselves and our future.  That’s surely true!  We want to be successful!

It would seem to me that considering eternity could be put off, at least for awhile.  The problem here, friends, is that none of us have a crystal ball in which we can see our future.  My eternity might come much sooner than yours, but one never knows, does one?  Our current world situation is not one in which we can truly relax.  Or can we?  God’s Word, not to be taken lightly, tells us - Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)Now that does give one great comfort!

However, I have a feeling that God has placed within the heart of man a desire for eternity.  We  know certain things about Heaven because the Word gives us a basic picture of what to expect.  We know that there is a mansion especially prepared for each one of us and that there will be joy unspeakable with a permanent absence of pain and suffering.  The cost of our ticket is not exorbitant; it is simply a matter of asking.  When one of the criminals who was crucified with our Lord asked to be remembered when Jesus entered His kingdom Jesus replied – Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43).    

Now that doesn’t mean we should be careless about our future, it simply means that our Lord is ever forgiving and ever ready to accept our plea for forgiveness when we are sincerely contrite.   When our Creator chose to make man He made him in His own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them (Genesis 1:27-28).  God’s intention was that He would have many sons and daughters.  Somewhere along the line we have forgotten His plan and substituted our own, but it is not too late to change.  In the book of Isaiah we find the prophet speaking of many future things as having already taken place as he says – Arise, shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you (60:1-2). The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with plans for today and tomorrow as long as they are part of our master plan for eternity.   Ella W. Wilcox tells us -

Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate,
As we voyage along through life,
‘Tis the set of the soul that decides the goal
And not the calm or the strife.

Mountains

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.  Another volcanic eruption should be enough to draw our attention back to our Creator, but then I wonder if it will draw anyone’s attention to the desires of 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 Israel and more of the same, how God’s people in God’s country are being persecuted and the world is so busy that we often do not even pray.  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 we can and should 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.  He is probably saying to Himself that He left us a book of instructions, the ability to read and understand and a Savior to rescue us when we failed.  What else could He have done?

I believe that our God loves His children, but every parent knows that eventually 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 tomorrow’s 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 postponing things that are not current.  Just 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).  Most of us live with the thinking that even though time is passing 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.  There are; people in this world that 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 to do for eternity, 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 and we might not end up a part of the some.

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.  May we face reality and find comfort in the words of the Psalmist – Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me (130:10).

Your God

God has never been limited to choosing who will be His.  When He created each of us we became His.  Isn’t that a wonderful realization?  We have a Father who not only brought us into being, but one who continues to be by our side, who continues to love us no matter how often we turn from Him to do our own thing.  Unlike our earthly fathers He never turns away when we choose the wrong path to follow.  He is always in control and yet He allows us to make our mistakes in order that we might learn for ourselves the things He has always known – that we will only survive and flourish as we become more like the One who brought us into His world.  As you ponder that thought you will realize that there is far more to life than you ever could imagine.  You can make it to the stars when you finally accept the fact that your life is not your own – it belongs to Him.

He did His best when He allowed us to call Him Father because the family was organized to rely on one entity as its Head, the leader who would call the shots so to speak; the One who would determine the direction the family would take and don’t fool yourself into thinking you are in charge of your life because He has allowed you to take temporary responsibilities for the reins.  The bottom line has always and ever will be that those who are obedient children will always be able to count on His final gifting – eternal life with Him in His heavenly home.  You only have to read through history books to see what can go wrong with a life that goes astray.  Are you willing to take that risk? 

We were given our example in the very beginning when Adam and Eve made the first mistake and chose to eat fruit from the forbidden tree.  A fulfilled life was theirs for the taking, but they got greedy.  We seem to have inherited that trait even though we have been thoroughly warned.  Is it too late to change our ways; have we not been given enough examples of what sin can do to a life that was intended to be glorious?

God has made concessions for His wayward children because of His great love, but He has told us in many ways as He corrects us that His will will be done.  As His earthly children should know there will come a time when enough is enough.  As our world continues down hill we should be able to see that we are fast approaching that time. What have we learned; which way shall we turn?  Do you remember some of the first words He spoke to His troubled children – God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). What more could He have done?  You may recall saying to your children that “enough is enough” and you weren’t kidding.  Neither is He!

There are some things we are all afraid of and often they are stupid things but God doesn’t waste time with unnecessary things.  He told us plainly from the beginning – And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29).

What is eternal life?  Jesus, Himself, tells us in the book of John as He interceded for the Father’s children – And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (17:3).

I am thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith and be closer drawn to Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord to the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord, to Thy precious, bleeding side.

Yesterday's Songs

I don’t know if you are familiar with many of yesterday’s songs, but they were a part of my youthful years.  I sung them and loved them, but I don’t know if I ever truly understood them in their proper perspective.  How many of us understand suffering and shame.  Either one of those by themselves would be something we never hope to participate in and yet we probably need to spend time thinking about what Jesus Christ went through because He simply loved God’s children and wanted more than anything else to please His Father.  We can talk about and participate in the causes and results of a love that to us is outstanding, but I doubt we can ever truly understand the depths attached to God’s love.  However, we can honor it and that is something we all should not only consider but do.

In this busy world in which we live we rarely have time for anything that we consider extra, but maybe it is time to change not only the way we think but the way we live.  We often talk these days about how the world is going to blow itself to smithereens, but we also believe it won’t be in our lifetime.  Maybe as we look at today’s world we should rethink that.  Whether we can see it or believe it things are becoming more evil that we can imagine.  You might also want to accept the fact that there will be no winner other than our Creator and only He knows precisely what we will endure and how we will end up.  I can already hear myself thinking “not now, Lord, not yet”.  I still have things to do.

Normally we would think problems are or would be solved when they first occur.  That is the profitable solution, to fix something before it does great damage.  However, in today’s world if you think about it we are accustomed to taking chances.  If something happens we can always fix it tomorrow.  I wonder when our attitude became so relaxed.  When and if we do a lot of reading we know that the pioneers of our country made plans, focused on tomorrow rather than an individual day.  They were looking long range for a land with a future.  What has happened to change our thinking?  Well, if you think about it we have pretty much reached the pinnacle of advancement; we have most everything we desire and if we don’t it can be purchased somewhere usually close by.  Really?  Just how happy are you with your plans and how have they turned out?  Do you find yourselves restless because somewhere deep inside yourself you know that something is missing?

We can read our newspapers and listen to our radios and most of you will admit to getting tired of reading or listening to this junk.  Why can’t life be the way we want it to be?  Most of us do have our own expectations about how we think things should be run.  We do know that many times we will miss the mark, but we tried, didn’t we?  Unfortunately, that is a question we are not always able to answer.  Maybe we might ought to try a little harder.  It would really be nice if the Lord who created us would simply give us a master plan for our lives; then we would, at least, know what is expected of us and maybe how to accomplish it.

In the third book of the Bible we are told you should love your neighbor as yourself  (Leviticus 19:18).  This gets repeated many times in God’s Word so it must be important.  It is found both in Matthew (5:43) and in Romans (13:9) and Luke even goes so far as to describe who your neighbor is (10:29).  Do you think we might ever be able to understand?  If we had then maybe Jesus wouldn’t have had to give up His life for us to finally get the picture.  Can we try to do better today and then tomorrow?

The clock is ticking!

Blessed Assurance!

In our small world we have come to the point of assuming that tomorrow is adequate for all the things we can put off.  However God’s Word tells us Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own troubles (Matthew 6:34).

We just might find our lives could and would become more simple and that is not a bad thing.  With the spread of knowledge and evil our days often become too involved with wondering if we even have tomorrow and spending time trying to figure out how we are going to plan each day.  You would have to admit that it takes the time when we should be thinking about what God has planned for our day.  I am going to try to change my ways and see for myself what my Creator has to say.

It is true that we are beginning to see things happen in this world that have been predicted in the past, but we neither have the power to accurately see tomorrow or change God’s plan for it.  Maybe the best suggestion is to simply begin each day asking our Father what His plans for us are for today.  It would also ease stress as we sometimes spend too much time pondering just what we should do.  As we were growing up we would have our parents tell us what to do, but as grownups we are not relieved from having the responsibility of listening to a higher authority.  You will  have to admit that it would be a lot easier just to let the stress roll off our shoulders and we would most likely stay out of some of the trouble we cause ourselves.

If you are thinking at this point that it is your life and therefore should be your decision remind yourself that our Lord has already paid the price for your life which should give Him all the rights He needs to arrange your days.  The truth of the matter is also that our days will be easier and more enjoyable because He loves us dearly.  You may have already experienced this for yourself and I hope you have.  God didn’t create us to be satisfied servants; He created us to be happy, carefree children with the best life has to offer.

If and as you do so, you will find throughout the Bible that lives were always changed for the better from knowing and obeying the Father and the Son.  Yes, there were some bad things going on from the sacrificing of many babies to prevent the life of Jesus to dying in the arena and being eaten by the lions, but you will also know that many died with smiles on their faces because they already knew their Savior and desired to spend eternity with Him.  It is something that is hard for us to comprehend because time has passed and life today is so different, but the truth is still the truth.

Eternity is still hard to comprehend and we still wonder exactly how things will be and what we will be doing, but we can be sure of one major thing – we will joyfully spend eternity with our Creator, the one who loved us enough to die for us, in a place so beautiful we can hardly imagine with things we have never seen or known.  If that doesn’t excite you it should.  However, we still have to have a ticket and that ticket is purchased not with today’s money, but with the fulfilling of God’s plan for each of our lives.  Yes, it may not be what you thought, but if you give it to Him it will be more beautiful than anything you can currently imagine.

We can’t and won’t get a sample, we have to take it on faith.  I am going to give it my best shot and I hope to see you there one day.

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.