One Of These Days

How many times in your life have you heard that expression?  I think many of us have just labeled this expression as a temporary “put off” so that we can refocus and forget and strangely we often do just exactly that.  We may sometimes remind ourselves that there is something that was important, but has it lost its value as it did not get accomplished?

Many of us have found our lives changed by a particular experience and yet there are still many who have not been exposed to something that would cause them to pause and remind themselves that there is still much for us to learn.  So, if we do admit it, how do we put everything together into one piece that is simple enough to relate to?  We can go to the library and pull books off the shelf hoping that one of them will give us the answer, but after we think about it a few minutes they usually end back up on the shelf and forgotten.

In today’s world there have been so many developments that there is very little time to simply sit down and think.  Is there a solution to this problem and is it really important?  I also wonder if you have to get old before you realize that you simply can’t put everything off until tomorrow.  Have we let the mediocrity of this life cause us to forget that we still have a present under a friend’s tree?  Aren’t you at least a little bit curious?

All of us have a longing to know what tomorrow will bring.  Maybe God put that in us for a good reason.  Maybe there is a time limit after which the gift cannot be returned. You know, now that I think about it, life itself is probably the greatest gift we have ever or will ever receive.  Did it come with an obligation or an expiration date?  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).  I can’t remember when I last witnessed a baptism.  They used to happen frequently.  Have we decided it is unnecessary or do we just not want to be set apart as an example?

In the world in which we live we often find that there is an expiration date on many of the items that we choose to purchase.  Just how important is that date and what happens if we let it get past us?   If you were to take a moment and do some serious thinking you might realize that our very lives fall into the category of things which have an expiration date.  Do you ever take the time to think about what you want to do and what you should do before your date runs out?  I believe most of us never think about it, at least not until something comes along that stops us in our tracks.  Should we change that, can we change that?

I believe that we were created in the first place with a specific job to accomplish.  I imagine that some will never see their purpose, but some will paste a big smile on their faces and rejoice when they hear the Lord say – Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord  (Matthew 25:21).

The awards aren’t what’s most important though; it’s what you can accomplish in your span of allowed time.  James tells us that life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (4:14 & 17).

An unknown author once said - Freedom is not the right to do as you please; it is the liberty to do as you ought.  Hmm!

Today's Mail

I don’t know about you, but I am always eager to see what the postman is going to bring me today and disappointed if I don’t find something of joy in my mailbox.  Today as I was venturing out into the cold to see what this day would bring I couldn’t help but wonder if the Father looks forward to seeing how His children will perform on this day that He has given us.  Will He have a smile on His face when the day ends or will He be thinking as we often do when each day has not fulfilled our expectations, that tomorrow is another day?  I don’t believe we should spend each day worrying or even wondering how tomorrow will turn out, but I do believe that it is important to know where we want to end up and in what condition.  I want to see a smile on my Father’s face and  hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant”.  Is it possible that I will see a smile on my Father’s face when I finally come before His throne?

We, as a people, have found that it is often much easier to live life if we don’t concentrate on tomorrow, but simply attempt to meet today’s problems.  However, we must know, even as we do so, that tomorrow will come.  I just finished reading a devotional on spending four minutes a day in prayer and thought to myself that would be a great habit to establish, especially if we also realize that it is only the beginning of the day not the period that closes it.  Our Father wants us to love Him, but He also wants us to share our thoughts and our day with Him.  I have quite a list, Lord, but what have You added to my list for the day and do You think we can accomplish it together?

If you are a parent you realize that a day can only contain so much, but you can’t help hoping that your child or children will be in touch with you at some point.  After all that is partly what makes for a good day for you, isn’t it?  I wonder why that is.  Is it simply because your child is a part, an extension of yourself; one you hope is making better choices than you did.  If you ever stop to think about it you must realize that we are a part of the life of our Creator.  He didn’t just create us and then drop us on this earth to fend for ourselves.  He expected to continue to be a part of our lives, our everyday lives.  That’s not really too much to ask, is it?  As a parent, you can relate to that, can’t you?

Paul, claiming fathership through the gospel he was revealing, wrote I do not write these words to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you (1st Corinthians 4:14). 

John, who suffered mightily for the cause of what he believed wrote - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God  (John 1:12); Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know what when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1st John 3:2) and finally in the last words we have of  his he reminded us that I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3rd John 1:4).

Most of the people in this world will admit to going to bed, tired and worn out, thinking about what they couldn’t get to today and what they will have to do tomorrow.  It seems to be the way our whole world is turning these days.  Can we, as individuals, change that; if not for the world at least for ourselves.  What will our Father find in His mailbox today – will it bring joy or ?

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.

The Mountain

You may have never thought about it but life is like a mountain.  There is a time to climb, a time to sit down and rest and a time to acknowledge that you will never reach the top here in this life.  You could almost wonder if our Creator put them here in our world to teach us something of value.  There are several things you could recognize as you think about it. 

When you climb you always need to be looking up eager for what you might see next.  We are often told to forget looking behind - to forget what we might have done if we had thought about it and look upwards expecting to see great things ahead.  It would seem that is a wise plan as we can’t change what is behind, but we can change how we look at the future and the limitless possibilities we can look forward to.  The problem is we as human beings have forgotten what it is like to assume tomorrow because there is currently so much evil in our world.  We can’t imagine how we could correct it, but still maybe we could manage to plant a seed for someone else’s journey up the mountain.

The dictionary defines a mountain as a natural elevation of the earth’s surface, typically rising  higher than a hill.  We have used the term often today to describe any problem that we have that is not easily conquered or removed.  They are often stressful and sometimes never conquered and yet God’s word tells us that If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20).

Life at its best will always be a challenge, but clearing out some of the debris might enable us to leave something of value behind, something that people could use as a challenge for their own lives as they struggle through the mud and mire of our times.  Many of you might admit that you never expected life to be easy, but you did think it would be worth it.  What gives something worth?

It is always satisfying to us if we decide to tackle something and things go according to what we desire.  Often these days it is hard to decide just how to handle a specific problem and sometimes we even decide to give it up because it doesn’t seem to be worth it.  But you will have to admit that it gives you great satisfaction when you find yourself able to solve a problem with your own wits and your own strength.  Do you ever wonder what our Creator thinks about our struggles which seem to be sometimes like mountains?  I know, in our difficult times, that He would like to remind us - For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed (Isaiah 54:10).  That does have a way of putting a different perspective on these earthly lives of ours and it also gives us a great and much needed peace.

One of the biggest problems we have though is that our struggle so often affects the lives of those around us.  They may feel that we should just give it up and regroup because it is making their lives uncomfortable as well as ours.  An unfulfilled struggle doesn’t have to mean that we are failures; it could simply mean that we are smart enough not to be ridiculous.  We can always ask for help; something that allows us to share our humanity with one another.  On the other hand, it also gives us the opportunity to convict someone who doesn’t know our Lord by giving Him the credit for what we alone could not accomplish.  Maybe we should give that option more credit as we try to be a witness for our Creator and also because we want very much to please Him.

Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths (Isaiah 2:3).

Ducks In A Row?

You’re right, I am obviously getting old and losing my mind.  Where in the world did that title come from?  Out of the blue or is the Lord just trying to get us to understand by talking our today language?  When I was growing up the King James Version worked just fine; we simply had to learn how to interpret what we read.  Today it is like we are trying to tell our Creator that He needs to update His language if He wants to meet our needs.

Before you decide to throw this one in the trash join me in giving it a few moments of thought.  We are living in a time when things are more complicated than ever before and many of us are wishing that someone would come along and solve these problems for us.  Have we forgotten that there actually is someone who could do just that?  Our Creator knew beforehand that there would come such a time and He has done His best to prepare us.  He has provided the tools which we need and are obviously not outdated if we want the best life has to offer.  Is it too late to change?  Change, rapid at that, seems to be the order of the day and many of us jump on the bandwagon without giving it the proper and much needed thought before we do.  Ask yourself – what is it you really, honestly, want for yourself and your family?

A beautiful garden is probably not our first choice if offered a brand new Nissan, but then the upkeep is probably vastly different if we follow the instructions.  They are both printed out for us.  However, functionality could be left to someone else while we might feel like the way we wanted either to look should be left primarily up to us.  I wonder where that would get us.  And we can  always change things if we don’t like them, can’t we?  Do we have that possibility?

I know most of you are familiar with John and his words – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (1:1&3).  It is true that He gave us the right and ability to make choices for ourselves, but our choices do not ever give us the right to override His plans.  There will always come a time in life when we must choose “His way or the highway”.  Maybe we should not leave that decision to the last moment when it may be too late.

How do we weigh these decisions?  We can find our answer in the book of Matthew – Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and My burden is light (11:29-30).  Many of us have been familiar with these words since childhood, but there has never been a time when they are more relevant than the time in which we now live.  Is it too late to be effective? 

There will come a time when we will finally meet the One who loves us, but there is still much work to be done in this world that He created and had such hopes for.  I know that there are not many things that we, as individuals, can do, but we can begin to more earnestly pray for those who can make a difference and we can try to find the time to listen to His instructions for our daily lives.  Jesus died to save the Father’s creation; surely we can live to further His desire.

John was commanded to write the book of Revelation to prepare God’s children for the setting of this world’s end.  It is true that a lot of it is hard for us to comprehend, but that doesn’t stop the clock from ticking. 

Rise up, O men of God!  Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings.

The Sonshine of Life!

Even as I typed that I wondered if I could get away with it.  While many will check the bottom line first to see if they want to read something I didn’t want to be dishonest.  However I also didn’t want to give away the bottom line too quickly.  I am still wondering how I could achieve that.  Oh well! let’s just get honest.  If you were asked what would give you the most possible satisfaction of life just what would your answer be?  After all that’s what most people are looking for these days – the best part of life, all the joy possible rolled up into one ball just the right size to hold in one hand.

Unfortunately life was not created to begin with all the answers; it was to be a learning cycle beginning with birth and ending with one’s last breath.  Hopefully it can be said as one is laid to rest that he had a good life and that he accomplished all that he was created for.  Many of you know that I love jigsaw puzzles.  They are always a challenge that gives me the opportunity to sharpen my mind, see with my eyes and feel the satisfaction of finishing something well.  Do you ever wish that all of life could be that way?  Maybe you should spend just a little time chewing on that – I have.

If you are at a point where you can look back on your life you won’t have any trouble seeing how things could have been so much different if we had stayed on the path we were created for.  Life began just as a jigsaw puzzle and unfortunately for all of us the pieces were scattered rather than coming together as they should.  That’s not to say that life would have ever been easy as there is unending wisdom to be gained, but maybe we would have had a better chance of getting there if we had taken the right path.

However, God is always good and because of His great love for us He also gave us our answer.  It is found in the book of Genesis – Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.  And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever - (3:22).  As we look backward over the ups and downs of life we can see that more often than not we have taken detours, just to see what things are over the next hill.  Can you truthfully say that these peeks have given you the satisfaction that you desire?

We all think we should have second chances and so our God gave us one – His only begotten Son.  Has it made any noticeable difference in our lives or have we still ended up in a pit that is too hard for us to get out of without help?  The book of Proverbs written by Solomon and other wise men of the day tells us for whoever finds me finds life (8:35).  If you notice that “me” is not capitalized and choose to question it J. Vernon McGee tells us in his commentaries that “wisdom is Christ”.  Luke reminds us that life is more than food (12:23) and John tells us It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing (6:63).

As hard as life today is you would think that we would all recognize that we need help and it is not something you can go to the local market and buy.  Why do you think it is so hard for us to accept the help that we will always need?  I’m sure you remember the days when your parents reminded you that your favorite expression was – I can do it myself.  Well, friends, those days are long behind us and most of us have learned that we simply cannot do it ourselves.  Let’s drop pride as a foolish issue and be grateful that we have an option, one granted to us by the Creator who loves us more than we can possibly fathom.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine;
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know, Lord, how much I love you;
Please don’t take my sunshine away.

More Than I Can Ever Be

There are days when the sun shines and days when the clouds seem to blanket the sky and you wonder what is going to happen next.  There are days when your tomorrows are so full you wonder how you will be able to stand up to it all and times when you go back to yesterday remembering the joy you had when….  Life is such a complex thing to ever figure out; we endure the hard times and sing with joy over the good ones.  Why does it have to be such a mixture?

You know the answer to that without much thinking.  Our Creator wanted us to know what it was to suffer in order that we could fully appreciate the glorious days of our lives.  Life was never intended to be just a bed of roses.  If it were I doubt that we would fully appreciate what we have been given.  There are comparisons in all of life that we might become thoughtful and driven people, always moving higher and higher toward the finish line that God established.  He didn’t create us to exist, but to live.  What does it mean to you to live?  I believe this is where we have lost our intended  understanding of life and most of the time it is because we have lost sight of our Creator.  Have we abused and misused the talents and gifts we were given that were supposed to give us a joy beyond understanding?  Have we forgotten that someone desires to see His creation fulfill the dream He had for creating it?

You do remember the story of Eve being tempted with the apple, don’t you?  Even though the devil didn’t win that battle it doesn’t mean that he has quit trying to get the best of his favorite enemy.  Mankind, all by himself, has often chosen to test these things out just to see what he might be missing. Why do you think we might be missing anything?  The real question is can and will you get the true picture while you live on this earth; will you give yourself the opportunity to test out whether you can be more than you think you can? 

I can hear you saying “Why should I try; God loves me like I am”.  There are probably many people in our fallen world that choose to take the simple path, but I don’t believe that makes our Creator very happy anymore than our teachers who often watch us settle for a decent grade rather than trying for the best grade.  I don’t believe we were created just to be acceptable.  While He didn’t give us detailed assignments I believe He hoped we would see the right direction in whatever we would undertake.  Doesn’t it give you a “high” when you succeed in doing something you weren’t at all sure you could do?  It does me; I never dreamed writing could be such fun as well as a learning tool. 

There will be many hurdles as we go through this life.  Some we can ignore, but some will give us an opportunity to shine, in our own eyes as well as others.  Surely you can remember how it feels when you do something really good and someone else notices and appreciates it.  You might have even thought – life can’t be any better than this.  We have let mere existence take over more of our lives than absolutely necessary.  Why don’t we give it a try and see if we can add some icing to the cake of our lives.

When I am down, and, oh my soul so weary,
When troubles come and my heart burdened be –
Then, I am still, and wait here in the silence
Until You come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up to more than I can be!

The Day

Increasingly in these days in which we live we may find ourselves asking, while not really expecting an answer – Is this the day?  Are we actually living in a time when we will see all things come to an end and what will that end be like?  Many will assume they will end up where they want as they take the stand that they are really not bad people.  Others may be absolutely sure where they will be and find that God has a different opinion than they do.  Are our egos so big that most of us really don’t concern ourselves because we feel certain that we will meet all of the requirements? 

Jonathan Cahn makes a statement in his newest book “The Paradigm” that should make us stop and do some serious thinking.  He said “In the days of increasing apostasy those who compromise with evil will fall.  But the one who will most commit to living undivided, uncompromised, and whole-heartedly for God will also be the one most powerfully used by God for His purposes”.  Are we ready and willing to be used by God?  Our nation in particular has always felt as if we have done more than our share, why shouldn’t someone else take care of this problem.  Even as we think that though we know that most of the world’s someone else's have not the experience, the know how, or the funds and opportunity.  We may not like to always be picked, but you will have to admit that God uses those He has equipped and those of us who are so fortunate can testify that we wouldn’t change places with anyone even if we could.

So how do we approach times that may shortly be coming to an end – with excitement and joy or with fear and trembling?  Can we, of ourselves, determine our outcome?  That’s a good question and one we all should contemplate.  God’s Word tells us to Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).  That doesn’t mean that we are going to enjoy vegetating, living passion-less lives because we deserve it.  It means that the One who created us will give us a peace unlike anything we can imagine in this stressful world.  It means, though, that He expects us to take on His yoke, one of being gentle and lowly in heart.  Do you think it might be advisable to practice now while we still live on this earth in training.  Training?  Yes, God didn’t simply create us to enjoy life; He created us to live life according to His training manual.

What?  You didn‘t know He had a training manual.  You thought it was just another book to read when we had time and wanted to be reminded that someone did love us.  No, it was written to show us how much He loved us and to prepare us to love one another as He loves.  While it is true that we are basically an emotional people do we really know what is meant by love and how it is to be utilized in human life.  It would appear not as we look at the stress and strain of everyday life.  What we have managed so far is how to destroy those we consider as enemies and then to go forward living life as we choose. 

It is true that in today’s world any job or position you undertake usually has a boss, one who lays down the rules and regulations you are to follow and if you don’t you get fired.  Our Creator has gone the step further: He has expectations, but His grace allows us a second chance.  Unfortunately there are still many who will never learn, but for those of us who desire to spend eternity with Him in a beautiful place there has always been that promise.

Let us be thankful, look forward to the day and serve Him while we can.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices.

Purpose

This morning as I was stirring and thinking to myself, just a few more minutes, Lord, I heard a word which I tried hard not to hear.  Why is it I thought to myself, does He always pick the times when I am most vulnerable; I just want to rest for a few more minutes.  You don’t have to think any harder than I did.  You might remember when we were kids and our teacher, whoever that might be, would tell us to do something and we really didn’t want to do it, but had to anyway.  This is one of those times.

Life is so busy these days that we never finish our lists even though we are always trying to get to the “ice cream” part where we can cease to think about tomorrow and just relax.  It seems to me that there used to be those times.  I wonder if I am getting old.  Oh well, it’s Your turn, Lord, what would you have me do?  First of all You want me to know that I am greatly loved.  Gee! that’s like starting out with the ice cream cone first.  Then You want me to get busy because our time on this earth is getting shorter and shorter.  I have been feeling that way as I am surrounded by the latest devastating news which has the potential of more suffering than I can comprehend.  Okay, what can I do?

Child, there is one easy answer which I have given to every child of mine who will hear.  First you can fill up your tank with prayer, thanking me for your very life and then listening to My plan for your day.  You can’t see it at the time, but as your prayer reaches My ears and as you seek to hear My voice I will tell you exactly what I have in mind for your day.  It might be hard today and easy tomorrow, but I do have a plan and you are the tool that I need.

Love one another!  Don’t I already do that?  What? I can’t love someone I don’t know, can I?  So I am supposed to diligently watch for those who seem to need a kind word or maybe even a loaf of bread and begin to think differently of how I structure my day.  The things I think I need are not what You have in mind for this day?  Yes, I do remember the story of the good Samaritan.  He was the one who stopped his plan to help someone whose need he saw.  That’s the biggest part of the problem, isn’t it?  We don’t see with the eyes You gave us.  Okay, Lord, I will try to do better.

When this day is finally over I imagine that I will be exhausted but I should have more peace for the day’s end than normal.  Will I get a good grade if I do it Your way, Lord?  What?  I won’t get any grade until my time on this earth is accomplished and I had better be cognizant of that fact if I really want to please the One who put me here.  So what You are saying is that You have shown me the pattern and now it is up to me to fill in the blanks.

Our Father, who art in heaven – you know it is nice to have a Father we can depend on to steer us in the right direction.  I feel really good right now.

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.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper…for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish  (Psalm 1:1-3, 6).

Thank you, Father! 
Can I have some breakfast now?