Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Practice Wisdom.

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion;
they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.
Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.
Proverbs 3:21-26

Divine wisdom is both a gift and a product of learning and prayer. There are people who believe that if something is a gift, there's no work involved. It's just "there." However, that is not true in life. Athletic skills, a gift of God, must be developed and honed to be fully useful.  A surgeon's hands must have practice, his eye and brain experience, in order to develop his talents completely. God gives us the native ability, but we must learn to use it through practice, and strengthen it through exercise, until it is strong and efficient.  Once we do, amazing things happen. Our lives are beautified by His wisdom. We know how and where to walk through life.  We find safety, freedom, rest, and the presence of the Lord for protection.  This is a wonderful gift in itself, since all of us need this kind of protection from time to time, and when we are surrounded by a minefield of troubles and foes, the LORD will guide us through them without us getting trapped and destroyed, since He walks with us.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Exchange.

One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.
Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you. — The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls. — It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Jesus said to them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. — By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. — Peace through the blood of his cross.
You know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.

One of the strangest things about Christianity, if you are outside looking in, is the idea of the communion service.  Jesus said to His disciples, "Take, eat, this is my body (the bread)"...and, "All of you drink of it (the wine), for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many." If you look at this as a rational person outside of Christianity, there is no way that you can logically understand why this works.  The reason is that it is the God-appointed way of dealing with our sins.  We cannot receive forgiveness for them, the Scriptures tell us, by doing good works.  No payment is ever enough.  So God devised a plan by which we can receive complete exoneration from all our sins, and be declared innocent--He sent His Son.  Why this works is a divine mystery, but how it works is laid out in the Scriptures from cover to cover.  God allowed His Son to accept the penalty for our sins by dying on our behalf.  
The Son of God replaced us, as it were, at the point of execution, and took the punishment we deserve.  This is good news for those of us who've sinned, and hard to take for those of us who think we are righteous, because we always are attempting to offer up our works in exchange for everlasting life.  God doesn't accept them. He accepts one thing--His own Son's (Jesus') righteousness, brought down into our lives by the simple act of believing that it is true, and that it is true for us.  "He who hears My (Jesus') word, and believes in Him who sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."
Explain it? Nobody can. Enjoy it and experience it? Anyone is welcome.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Peace of heart.

Isaiah 26:3: You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.

Peace of heart is an elusive thing. We talk about it in religious terms, and for the most part we believe that it's attainable--but quite often, we feel the stresses of life, the sorrows of life, the pressures that modern living brings. This verse, however, reveals that there is a discipline to living that does truly help, and that is to focus on God.  There are many times in the Psalms where David is terribly distressed, and he brings his troubles to the LORD.  After that, he finds rest in his soul, and his spirit is calmed.
For example:
David cries out in trouble (Psalm 3)
1 LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. 
2 Many are they who say of me, " There is no help for him in God."
and then
4 I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill.
5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.
The first verse describes how things are, and they are not very good. Even his acquaintances said, "He's finished." but David was not finished. The LORD strengthened him, and helped him.
There are numerous examples of this throughout the Psalms, and the process goes something like this:
TROUBLE...sometimes years of it.
PRAYER FOR HELP...and often real agony in life and prayer.
PEACE...
DELIVERANCE (but not always.  Sometimes the situations stay the same, and God's peace is His answer.
Phil. 4:6-7: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 73 is about a man of God who came to a crisis of faith because wicked wealthy men seemed never to experience the judgments of God in this life. They were always "fat and happy."  When he was done crying out to God, nothing had changed in the outside world, but his relationship to God had, because he saw that God was with him, and would be with him forever, and would guide him into heaven.  
It is sometimes like this. Things don't change, but we do, because He fills us with His peace and power, and sustains us in our way, even though times are very difficult for us. 
He offers you His peace.  Take it. Let your mind stop at God, and you will find His peace and sustaining strength, even when the times are hard.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Determination.

Fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with [all] your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you are [eventually] going. — Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as to the Lord, and not to man; knowing that from the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you are serving the Lord Christ. — Whatever good thing anyone does, he shall receive the same from the Lord.

I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when nobody can work. 

Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall. Don't be lazy; instead be followers of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, since as you know your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

It's a marvelous thing about the Christian's life that nothing is ever wasted. Not one good thing you do, not one prayer you offer, not one effort to be a better man or woman.  It takes determination to "stay the course" as a Christian, but you have the promise of God that He will honor your efforts.  He never fails to notice. The corollary is that you must supply effort and determination as a servant of the Lord, and you must always do your best.  A fervent, passionate spirit is a wonderful thing if it's directed in the right way, as is the determination to serve God with all your might whatever you are doing--if you are a teacher, then teach, knowing that HE is in the classroom.  If you are a mechanic, then let Him guide your daily work.  If you are a businessman or woman, you are in business with Him, and He is the senior partner.  It's common to distinguish between "ministry" and "work," and call "work" what we do "in the world," and designate it as unimportant or somehow "less." Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our lives are a whole, not parts, and the part that is work or family can be just as distinctively Christian as a the part that is "ministry." In fact, your life is ONE. There is no real distinction between one part and another. Your children are your ministry. Your work is your ministry. You can earn a fortune and be God's man, or live in poverty and be the devil's.  It's all got to do with who your partner is. Make God your partner in all you do, and then do everything with all your heart.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Protector

God is my defence.
The LORD is my rock, and My fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. We may boldly say, The LORD is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. I am continually with thee: thou hast held me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory...God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Martin Luther, facing almost certain death, once said he would go to the town of Worms to meet the representatives of the church "although the devils outnumbered the tiles on the rooftops." He did this because he knew God was with him.  Courage comes from knowing who stands with you, and you do have the Mighty Protector standing by you at all times. You can run to Him (though He's not far off); you can count on Him to stand by you, even if you don't see or feel Him near. He really IS right by you, and he really does stand with you at all times. He will never leave you or forsake you, and you cannot find a friend who will stay closer than He will.  In every circumstance, and in every way, He is your Protector, who stands with you until life ends, and when it does, He is the One who leads you to heaven, in His presence forever.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Silent Prayers

We do not know what to pray for...
The Spirit helps us...
The Spirit prays for us with groanings which cannot be spoken...
My mind is unfruitful, but my spirit prays
He shall give thee the desires of thine heart...
Call to me, and I will answer you...

Many times our prayers and desires simply cannot be articulated.  God has an answer for that--His Spirit searches the minds and hearts, and interprets the unutterable for us.  These are the cries of our hearts, the pain we feel, the groanings, the joys, the sorrows.  He is not restricted to our verbal abilities. It doesn't really matter to God what the format of our prayers is--words, tears, a handclasp, an ache in the heart, a huge laugh or smile; He understands literally everything.  And He answers, even when we think we didn't ask about that. Sure, we should pray without ceasing, but God is not out to penalize us for not knowing how to put our longings into words--in fact, He loves to answer the heart as well as the voice.  Many times in the Old Testament, the Scriptures tell us, "God heard their groanings..." the sufferings of His people are all prayers.  The joys of His children are praises.  No, we ought not to neglect giving thanks, and we ought never to stop asking for the things we need--but face it.  He knows already.  He's already figured out your needs, approximately 1 billion years ago (or eternity past), and every single thing about you is in His mind.  The Psalmist wrote, "How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! If I were to number them, they would be more than the sand of the sea." I take that to mean that God's thoughts about us literally have no end; they are unbounded, and because He is an infinite being, He can give full attention to an infinite number of things at once, and He does.  We are part of that thought process.  He never forgets, He never loses track, He never fails to respond in His time and His way. If you are weary and discouraged...if you have no energy left...HE will strengthen you, and uphold you, and help you...not because you know how to "ask aright," but because he hears the heart and not just the words.  
God loves simplicity, and eloquence is unnecessary with Him--sincerity is the eloquence He seeks.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Unknown

[Abraham] went out, not knowing where he went...
until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD.
...Neither do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You [the Lord].
Who is among you who walks in darkness, and has no light. Let him trust in the Lord, and rely upon his God.
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

The "unknown" is a part of life. However, sometimes things take place that force us to live completely by faith.  The verses above speak to this.  It's a time when we "have no clue" about our future, our lives, our direction, anything.  Sometimes it's tragedy that forces us into the unknown.  Other times, it's opportunity; other times, it's "just life."  Here are the things that we CAN know when the UNknown is our destiny:
1. Wherever we go, God has gone there first, and we will find Him there when we get there.
2. What's happening IS part of His plan. 
3. The outcomes are all in His hands--and as James says, "The Lord is full of tenderness and mercy."
4. Miracles are NOT impossible. What is a miracle to you, God simply speaks into existence.
5. He's God, and you're not.  Each day of your life is in His hands.
6. You are not a Pawn in some game He is playing.  "all things do work together for good to those who love God..." and, "nothing shall separate us from the love of God."
7. When it's a decision we must make to "step into the unknown," we can trust Him.  He knows the end from the beginning, and our lives are in His hands.
8. Everything ends at the throne of God, with Him filling your life with heavenly joy.  Today may be a  great day or a terrible day, but the path you take--the one that he lays out for you--will end at Him, and at heaven.  No exceptions, unless you reject Him and His love.