Saturday, November 29, 2014



But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.  (Proverbs 4:18)

God gives us light for our next step.  If we take it in faith and obedience, He gives more light.  As we mature spiritually, by walking in His light with Him, the path becomes brighter and the way clearer.  We come to recognize God’s leading—the path clearly distinguishable by our familiarity with it.  Best of all, we know that it ends in eternal Day—the brightness of God’s radiant glory, enveloping us in Heaven!

Today is the dawn of a new day of opportunity.  Did I take a detour into darkness yesterday and stumble in unbelief and rebellion?  God will forgive—if I repent—and set me on the right path today.  In a time of such darkness that befell a nation in rebellion against God, the Lord gave His prophet this shaft of light breaking through the clouds:

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not. 
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Even if I have been unfaithful, I find God is faithful still.  His mercies are as a dam restraining the flood of His wrath that I merit.  This new day I am awake and alive with opportunity for a fresh start.  God is great and nowhere is this more evident than in the infinite glory of His grace toward me!

I can join with the Psalmist in affirming, “This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Ps.118:24)  Here I have a gift unwrapped—this special day, uniquely designed by God.  It is a day unlike any other day and will never be exactly replicated again.  I choose to begin this day with God!  In this day, I rejoice and am glad!

The hymn has been sung countless times, but let its message stir your soul again:

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.  (Charles A. Miles)


Thursday, November 27, 2014


“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy(2 Timothy 3:1-2, emphasis added)
Of the many marks of the last days, two jump out at me at this season—being ungrateful and ungodly.  They go together.  If someone is unthankful, it follows that he or she is unholy.  That these follow in sequence in the text above is intended.
Have we come to the “perilous times” we call “the last days”?  If the pervasive spirit of ingratitude is any indication, we are far along on that deadly course toward God’s judgment.  I have never seen a generation that feels as entitled as this one.  They may not express gratitude, but are eager to exclaim gripes—if they are not pampered and indulged.  Every whim is to be fulfilled—and quickly—or extreme displeasure is expressed.  Even when their needs are met, have you noticed how few will do more than a grunt, and often not that—no acknowledgement of the deed or utterance of thankfulness.  Many people working in “customer service” act like they have done you a favor to take your money.  It is a generalization, but not an overreach, to say that many of a younger generation are particularly possessed by a lack of gratitude.  Of course, we are to be blamed for failing to teach them to be thankful.
If it bothers me, I know it angers a Holy and Benevolent God, who lavishes us with love that is undeserved and pours out blessing upon blessing.  Yet, we scarcely look up—too busy consuming what we have and complaining about what we do not have.  It is time to repent—I mean NOW!  In this Thanksgiving season, take time from food and football to lift up your voice and rejoice in God’s goodness.  He is good—all the time!  He gives and gives and not just on the fourth Thursday in November.  But, it is a day to remind us to rejoice in Him and His abundant grace—and I pray that we will!
What do you have to be thankful for?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014



My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 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.  (James 1:2-5)

We are to rejoice in all seasons of life—even the difficult ones may be counted as delight.  We can do so, because God is good.  That is an immutable reality no matters the changes in our circumstances.  We may walk with a warm summer breeze at our backs or a cold winter blast in our face—yet God is good and His will is perfect and precious.

As we consider our challenges, we not only choose to rejoice despite them, but to calculate pure joy from them, and what those trials sent by a sovereign God are accomplishing in us.  No matter the nature of the trials—and they come in many shapes and sizes—each one is formative to faith.  An untested faith is an unproven faith.  Physical muscle is only developed by resistance, and so spiritual strength only comes by exercising our faith.

The race of life is a grueling marathon.  We run on a rough track, and it trains us to endure.  The ongoing discipline of it builds spiritual stamina so we may finish the race strong and triumphant.  None become chiseled champions for Christ without the varied rigors we encounter.  Here is how a robust faith is produced.

Whether we like it or not—the truth is—we live in a fallen world, where there will be little advancement in godliness without adversity.  Spiritual maturity is rooted in rocky soil, on a cliff-side that at times is scorched by the heat of the sun of trials, or drenched by the storms of hardship, but always nourished by grace.

Seeing life this way does not come from a worldly perspective.  The natural man scrupulously avoids anything seeming to be painful.  It is an instinctive reaction.  But God offers His wisdom on the matter.  This view from heaven is ours for the asking.  We may receive the insight to see how God is at work.  Seek His way on how to properly respond to the trial rather than praying for Him to remove the trial.  There is an ample supply of understanding that God is willing to give.  Do you recall how God taught Joseph, in the saga recorded in Genesis—that He had sent him into his trials to prepare him for a glorious purpose?

May God give us wisdom in His ways—that we may not waste our sorrows.  The trials are unavoidable, but can become usable to mature us and mold us into the likeness of Christ.  As we see this development, we learn to delight in difficulties.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

Today, we may gather a harvest of hope—and a bumper crop at that!  This hope is rooted in the God of hope.”  He offers the certitude of His promise because of the character of His person.  Only God can bring such unfailing assurance because He has unlimited abundance—having both the means in His infinite might and the motive in His immeasurable love to bring to pass this hope.  Accompanying that hope is “all joy and peace,” which are also given in abundance.  This joy and peace are cultivated “in believing.”  This is how we, as God’s children, should all live at all times.  So, why don’t we?  Why does my life seem more like a crop failure when it comes to having hope, when it ought to be a rich harvest?  The soil of my soul, in its natural state, is under the curse of sin.  It grows weeds easily—complaining instead of joy, anxiety rather than peace, doubt where there should be faith, and despair in the place of hope.  All those weeds may be uprooted and my soul made fertile to receive the seed of God’s promises, however, because there is a new normal I can now know: “that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  He will generate this bumper crop of hope in my heart by giving me a new perspective and power to see and seize hope where the natural man does not!  Reach out now, and lay hold of the hope God has for you!

Friday, November 21, 2014



Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

Fear is the antithesis to faith.  One excludes the other.  If we filter our circumstances through the lens of our inadequacy, then fear arises.  If we view our circumstances through the perspective of God’s ability, then faith emerges.  Fear and faith are not primarily feelings we have, but choices we make—or we would not be commanded to exclude fear and exercise faith. 

To face the problems of life in reliance on God means infinite resources are available—and the best thing is that God does not give these apart from Himself, but this is what He is in Himself—the God who is ever-present with us.  So, He says, “Fear not, for I am with you.”  I am never alone, but the great I AM is with me!

He may not keep me from the waters, but as He did with Noah, He will put me in the ark, and shut me inside, safe and dry.  God may send me to the brink of the flooding river of Jordan, but He will open it up and take me through to the other side as He did with Joshua and the Jews.  If He allows me to go into the fire—as He did with the three Hebrew lads—He will go into the flames with me, and rather than harm me, it will be the opportunity for a miraculous testimony of His faithfulness that brings Him glory!  Here is the promise:

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.  (Isaiah 43:1-2)

Life will have its difficulties—floods and fires—and we cannot deny reality.  We can choose not to respond with dismay.  “Be not dismayed, for I am your God.”  Instead of throwing up our hands in despair, we may raise our hands in prayer—childlike in reaching up to our Heavenly Father.  If in His infinite wisdom and absolute love, He chooses to allow the burden, then He will impart strength to bear it—“I will strengthen you”; should He permit obstacles, He will afford help to overcome them—“Yes, I will help you.”  We may even wobble, but He will support us.  “I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Trust Him, for He is trustworthy!

Thursday, November 20, 2014



There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.  (Proverbs 11:24)

There are many paradoxes in Scripture.  In the precepts of God’s Kingdom, the way to live is to die; if we want to rise up to lead, we must stoop down to serve; if we want to have all things secure in Heaven, we must give up all things to God on earth.  We give to gain!

Such principles are contrary to the natural man’s thinking.  “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  (1 Cor.2:14)  It requires spiritual perception to comprehend these truths.  The world has turned God’s ways upside down, while the Word will turn our thinking right-side up!

This world system has the idea that satisfaction is found in stuff—and the more stuff you can stuff in and stuff away, the more stuffed you will be—and content.  But, that is never the case.  The more you have the more you worry about keeping and no matter how much you have you want more.  The source of true contentment is to place what rightfully belongs to God in His omnipotent hands to be cared for and disbursed according to His omniscient mind—and all guided by His righteous and loving heart!

“And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  (Acts 20:35b)  The greatest gain is not getting, but giving.  That which we selfishly clutch is wasted and gone, but that which we selflessly release is invested and preserved.  In giving, the coin of this temporal realm is exchanged for the currency of the eternal Kingdom.

There is nothing that we have that we have not received from the gracious hand of God through Christ.  “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”  (John 1:16)  We need to acknowledge with Job, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”  (Job 1:21b)  The blessings of the Lord are many, and we deserve none of them.  Should He reach out His hand and say, “Give me that,” it is His right to claim.  Christ commanded, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  (Matt.10:8b)

May God take the gift of life and all it encompasses—that which He has given me—and now may I yield it all back to Him.  I have been given these blessings in order to be a blessing—my time, my talent, my treasure, my testimony, the truth—really all His to share with others.  Thank you, Lord, for the privilege. “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014



The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.  (Psalm 37:23)

Our business is to seek by the grace of God to show the goodness of God in our walk, and the business of God is to provide His guidance in our way.  The good man or woman is godly—and the Lord finds pleasure in establishing our path.  This road is ever a good road, but is not always an easy road.  The beloved old hymn puts it like this:

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.
Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.
Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.
Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.
Refrain  (George A. Young)
Joseph is a classic case.  His serene stroll through flowering fields on mission for his father, in search of his brothers, suddenly turned to trouble.  It took him into a pit, sold as a property, facing a sinful peril, forgotten in a prison—but, then elevated to a palace!  God was ordering that good man’s steps, but, surely, he must have wondered at times.  I know I do.
God knows what we do not.  We live life forward, but understand it backward—how the way of difficulties faced is the way of dreams fulfilled.  This is the providence of God, that calls for patience that we might ultimately see the promises realized.  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”  (Romans 8:25)  By patience we possess the promises.  Disappointments are His appointments, if we are His.  Never forget that delays are not denials—journey on in faith.  Spurgeon said it well, “By patience the snail reached the ark!”  The way of the good man is the way of the cross—but, the way of the cross leads home!
It is an old cliché: “Haste makes waste.”  Most often it is true.  “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise”  (Hebrews 10:35-36).  We are too quick to discard our confidence as being worthless, when had we persevered we would have been richly rewarded.
I can be so impatient!  That is sin.  I am sorry that I have sometimes been so quick to quit when the path became dark, steep, just creeping along, and even brought to a standstill.  Had I continued on, what blessing I might have known!  You know I chafe at the unexpected traffic jam on the highway of life, or the detour that I think diverts me from my destination, when it is directed by You to take me to my goal.  I do not know what this day will bring.  Remind me that its events are in Your sovereign hands.  What is in my hands is to pursue being a good man, and then I will be a guided man and a graced man.  You have promised to direct and delight in one who desires the Highway of Holiness.  Best of all, You will walk with me!  What more could I want?
In the Name of the Good Shepherd, Jesus,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014



How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?  
A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.  (Proverbs 6:9-11)

TODAY—that is all we have.  Yesterday has passed and so we call it the past, and there is no replay button.  Tomorrow has not arrived, and may never come, for there are no guarantees of tomorrow.  All I can assure you about tomorrow is that if it is to be a fruitful time to enjoy then it requires faithful toil be exerted today.  Today wears the overalls of opportunity.

We cannot keep hitting the snooze button in life, trying to stay in the warm covers of a dream world—fantasizing about what might be—later.  The only way to make dreams come true is to get up, get out, and get with it!  Laziness is a recipe for poverty.  While the sloth is sleeping, the thief of procrastination slips in and steals the precious commodity of time—never to be reclaimed.  We only have a certain amount, and when it is gone, it is gone forever.

A car can’t go anywhere until the engine is fired up and the transmission engaged.  It is meant for the highway as transportation, not sitting in the garage as decoration.  Now, the child of God knows that the Roadmap—the Bible— must be read before he or she can reach the right destination.  There must be fuel in the tank—and that comes through prayer—before we can go anywhere.  But, then we must go!  We are to be driven!  My life needs to be washed from sin, and polished to reflect the image of the Owner, but I dare not think of myself as just something to admire sitting in the driveway.  My life is to be a vehicle for God to move out into the world to get His work done—driven for His glory!

There will be some days when we go slow and don’t travel far—the road is rocky, there is an unexpected detour, we encounter sharp turns and steep inclines—yet, this is the road God has chosen for that part of our journey and so we don’t complain.  We just go as far as we can, as quickly as we can.  There will be days of speeding down the interstate of life—pedal to the metal—fast and far.  Always stay alert.  The rules of the road must be obeyed, we must keep an eye out for potholes, and know there are unexpected dangers lurking around the next bend of the road—that can be disastrous.  The Holy Spirit will guide us—He is our Divine GPS system—and will bring us safely to our destination if we heed him.

We have to go to get anywhere.  God has a purpose for you today—the only day you have.  Be driven!

Monday, November 17, 2014



Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:13-14)

A passion for the prize—that is how we could sum up Paul’s motivation in ministry.  That prize was Christ-likeness—to be ultimately attained in glory, and relentlessly pursued on earth.  Such a life focuses on becoming all that God has designed us to be in Christ.  Our position in Him gives us the solid ground to passionately pursue our call. 

We cannot look back, lest we trip.  Yesterday is past—for good or bad.  Regret over past stumbles will only hinder us today if we wallow in self-pity.  Reliance on past successes will only hobble us today if we swell in self-promotion.  Regret the past to the point of repentance and then move ahead.  Reflect on the past to the point of rejoicing and then go forward.  There is not enough energy for such fruitless retracing our steps, but all our strength must be expended in the race ahead of us.

Friend, we are headed down the homestretch!  The finish line is in sight!  It is time to pour it on—the final kick to propel us onward!  Did you know that today might be the last day of this earthly race?

Beyond the finish line, there stands the Judge on the dais in Heaven.  He holds in His nail-scarred hands the victor’s crown, ready to place on the head of all who finish as champions.  There will be no greater joy than for Him to place it upon our head and hear Him say, “Well done!”  What a victory celebration awaits!  Glory to His name forever!  In running for Christ, we have given ourselves to Him who gave Himself for us!  How much did He give?  He gave His all, and let us respond in turn.  Our ultimate delight is to be abide in Him and live for Him.  If that is true, we will not be disappointed.  We will attain our prize and be finally with Him and become fully like Him!

Friday, November 14, 2014



Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.  (Psalm 37:5-6)

It was the summer of 1976.  My wife and I had been seeking God for His direction in our lives.  He was stirring us—but to what end?  There was much we were doing in church, but always a nagging thought that there was something more He wanted.  In the old open-air auditorium at Ben Lippen Conference Center, we went to hear the late Stephen Olford preach.  That night he took his text from Psalm 37:5-6 and issued an invitation to commitment to God’s call.  My wife and I signed a card, “Lord Jesus, anything, anywhere, anytime—I am ready!”  Although I have fallen short at times of this, it has been my consistent goal.  What does this text say about our commitment to the call of God—whether that is to be a missionary, a pastor, a secretary, a salesman, or a factory worker—whatever?

We fail when we make our plans, pray for God to bless them, and then wonder why things don’t pan out.  What we must do is commit ourselves to God’s plans and then we will have His blessing.  It comes down to faith.  Do I trust Him?  God has not promised to do what I want, but that He wants me to do what He wills.  Wisdom is to bring myself into alignment with His purposes and not to try to persuade God that my agenda is worth His favor.  God’s train is moving down the tracks.  He invites me to get on board.  I could decide to get in front of that train and seek to derail it—and that is madness!

This could be the dawn of a new day.  The righteousness of God could radiate from us as we walk with the Lord in the light of His way.  The justice of our cause will be established in the submission of our course to His roadmap.  It will be as clear as the sun at high noon can reveal it.  What brought me clarity in my calling?  It was commitment first!  I had wrestled with the specific assignment He had for me, but couldn’t gain confidence in any particular area.  I didn’t grasp that what God wanted was not my ability, but my availability!  When I made the commitment, He filled in the details.  When I yielded to anything He wanted, within a week I knew the one thing—I was called to preach the Gospel.  Commitment to that call has sustained me through some dark valleys of discouragement and carried me through many deep waters of difficulty.

We all can think of many opinions.  Others feel free to give many opinions. “There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.”  (Prov.19:21)  What we must do is find that singular focus—an understanding of God’s call for us.  Any other path we chart turns to quicksand.  There is solid ground on God’s straight and narrow road.  Commit to His call today, or renew your commitment made long ago.  You’ll be glad you did!

Thursday, November 13, 2014



Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:34)

The TV series and the movies that followed were entitled, “Mission Impossible.”  The assignment given to the heroes in the plot line was not to be taken lightly, for it was a mission seemingly impossible.  What happens as the story unfolds?  It becomes mission accomplished!

None has ever been given a greater assignment than the mission Jesus was given “to seek and to save that which was lost.”  (Luke 19:10)   The mission that brought Him into this world dominated His thinking, so much so that as He infiltrated Samaria, and was hungry, Christ was more consumed by doing His Father’s will than with consuming food!  He knew His time of ministry opportunity was short and that filling His moments with meaning was more important than filling His mouth with meat.  He would eat again later.  But, for now—and for numerous times, such as fasting forty days in the desert—the appetites of the flesh were subservient to the hunger for fulfilling God’s will. 

Someone will argue, “But we have to live!”  Do we?  Jesus said that following Him means self-denial and a sacrificial decision each day in taking up our cross.  He set the pattern and we are to follow that path.  No, we don’t have to live—we do have to die.  We die to our will that we might do His will.

This demands real faith.  We must be convinced that God’s will is always best no matter the cost.  God does not command us to do the impossible unless He will enable us in His might to accomplish the mission.  Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:26)  He told a man with a withered hand to do the impossible and stretch out his hand—and he did by faith.  Jesus told a crippled man to take up his bed and walk—and he did by faith.  He even spoke to the dead and said told them to rise—and they did!  Impossible to do?  Not with God!  By His grace, the will of God is achievable.

How could a Holy God and His sinful creation be reconciled without compromising God’s justice?  It was an apparently impossible gulf to span.  But, the bridge would be the old rugged cross.  With hands outstretched and pinned by nails, Christ would extend a hand both to the Holy God and to sinful man and bring them together in Himself.  He would be suspended between heaven and earth as though neither would receive Him, and yet in becoming accursed by God and man, He became a curse for us—bringing heaven’s righteousness down to us and bearing heaven’s wrath for us.  Jesus would cry out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)  “Mission Impossible” was declared to be “Mission accomplished!”

Contrast that with the “impossible” assignment given to the children of Israel, and their response.  The will of God for them was clearly stated—they were to go into Canaan and conquer it.  But, their focus was on the size of the giants instead of the size of their God, and so they responded with fear.  Caleb, along with Joshua, tried to get them to focus on the strength of their God instead of the stature of the giants and to respond with faith.  Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)  The people would not listen and rebelled against the will of God.  That didn’t turn out very well did it?

God’s finger never points where His hand will not provide.  If we are called to an assignment, He will enable us to discharge our duty.  Can we avoid pain?  Is there a price to pay?  Most certainly there will be—but God will even transform that into something redemptive.  Our response is not to debate the will of God, but to do it.  Listening to Caleb’s exhortation, and, preeminently, looking to Christ’s example calls us to do the will of God and to finish His work.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014



He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread,
But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.  (Proverbs 12:11)

In all labor there is profit,
But idle chatter leads only to poverty.  (Proverbs 14:23)

We are saved by grace, apart from works, but the grace that saves us works in us to produce work through us.  Grace is the fruit of my life, but works are the fruit of that grace.  We work out what God works in.  If we are not diligent, disciplined and determined in our efforts, we will not be successful in our service.  You will never be productive in any realm of life by merely day-dreaming—you must flesh out dreams with deeds!  We may wish for better days, but will never see them until we work in better ways.  Big talk breeds poverty, while a better walk brings prosperity.  The wisdom of God found in the words of Solomon makes this plain.  The afore-mentioned verses are only a sample of much Scripture found in Proverbs on the subject of industry. 

Two old sayings are, “You get what you pay for” and “talk is cheap.”  Someone has said, “When all is said and done, there is more said than done!”  Dreams and schemes accompanied by hesitation and procrastination are inexpensive at first, but will be costly in the extreme down the road.  It is like neglecting maintenance on your car or house and ultimately receiving a bill for a major repair later that was avoidable by vigilance and diligence in the smaller things today.  Doing the right thing will cost you in the present, but it is not to be seen as a loss, but an investment that pays rich dividends in the future. 

No man was more committed to grace than the Apostle Paul, yet no one was more constant in good works than he was!  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”  (1 Corinthians 15:10)  He would go on to issue this challenge to us, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  (v.58)  Paul defended the Gospel wholeheartedly, but was devoted to good works continually.  He would uncompromising toward any who would subvert the truth that faith in Christ alone saves us, but was unrelenting in calling for an enthusiastic effort in response to that doctrine.  In his own life, he was unwavering in his passion and unstoppable in his pursuit of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The sacrifice of Jesus calls us to give our all on the altar in response.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”  (Romans 12:1).  In the words of the old hymn, “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe.”  Now, GET BUSY!


Monday, November 10, 2014



“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘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.’  “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’  “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.  ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  (Matthew 25:14-30)

God expects a return on His investment.  He has invested much in us—at the price of the blood of His Son.  He has given us the opportunity to live in this life in such a way that it pays dividends in eternity.  In His sovereignty, He has distributed spiritual gifts to each of His people to be employed in His service.  All God’s children are gifted children.  We are not to be in the comparison business—either envious of the gifts of others, or egotistical about our own.  The measurement of success is how we do in proportion to our capacity not how we do relative to others.  Should we seek to hoard the blessings of God and waste them in carnal passions and temporal pursuits, we squander the privilege that has been given to us.  You can spend a life on your own desires—but you will have everlasting regret.  On the other hand, if we take what God has given us here and invest it in the hereafter, we will be thankful to hear God’s commendation.  The life that glorifies God by bearing much fruit will be met with the most precious words, “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.”  What has God given you?  What will you do with it?

Sunday, November 09, 2014


But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road.  And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.  And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”  And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  (Luke 10:29-37)

People don’t just need to hear about Jesus from us, they need to see Jesus in us!  God is good, and when I do good, then I am being like Him.  We call the Samaritan in Christ’s parable, “The Good Samaritan,” because of his generous actions toward someone who could not help himself.  I am showing the resemblance to my Heavenly Father when I give, since He is the great Giver.  Others ought to see the favor.  God brings us into contact with those He intends for us to serve through His providence.  We do not run into need by accident, but by appointment from God.  How are we to respond?

The Good Samaritan saw the need.  Our eyes may be blinded by greed rather than seeing the need.  We may be aware, but quickly direct our gaze elsewhere, because it makes us feel uncomfortable—and the self-centered soul wants comfort more than anything.

The Good Samaritan felt the pain.  He took pity on him by having empathy for the fallen man.  Those who help are those who feel the hurt—who are able to interject themselves into the suffering of others and think, “If it were me, how would I feel?”

The Good Samaritan took some action.  He went to the poor fellow and gave him first aid.  While he wasn’t a doctor, he did what he could.  Just because I don’t have the money to help everyone, doesn’t mean I can’t help someone.  Although I can’t have enough time to serve everyone, doesn’t mean I don’t have the time to serve someone.  God doesn’t want our excuses; He wants our effort!

The Good Samaritan did follow-up.  It wasn’t a few dollars tossed in that would solve the long-term needs of the wounded fellow, although it would perhaps have salved the short-term conscience of the Samaritan.  There needed to be an extended investment to do whatever it took to help the fellow.

It is fascinating that the two “spiritual” men in the story were too holy to get their hands dirty and too busy with their religion to display the fruit of faith.  The priest and the Levite got as far away from the need as they could and hastened on to their religious event as fast as they could.  No wonder Jesus branded such as, “Hypocrites.”  They resembled their father—the Devil—and the Lord pointed out that fact.  Satan is a thief—supremely self-centered—and so are his offspring.

Since God is the great Giver, His grace should move me to go and do likewise.  Through my sacrifice of time and treasure today, by whatever means and in whatever measure God provides, I want others to see the Savior as I show the favor!

Friday, November 07, 2014



Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable. 
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength. 
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

There is a truth God wants us to know.  There is a message He wants us to hear.  God is in control—for He is “the LORD.”  He is always there, for He is “The everlasting God,” and He is ever near, since He is “The Creator of the ends of the earth.”  Yahweh is omnipotent and thus, “Neither faints nor is weary,” and He is omniscient and therefore, “His understanding is unsearchable.”  God has boundless power and limitless perception—and because we belong to Him, He makes these resources available to those created in His image! 

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.

Nothing comes my way except by His permission and for His purposes, and that for my good and His glory.  No matter the season of my life, He is watching over me as the everlasting God.  No matter the sphere of my location, He is standing with me as the Creator of the ends of the earth.  From the womb to the tomb, and from the east to the west, He is working and watching.  In my insufficiency, I can know His strength.  In my ignorance, I can receive His wisdom.

The strongest of men will face situations that sap them.  The smartest of men will find questions that stump them.  If dependent on the arm of flesh and the wisdom of man we have no hope.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,

It is those who acknowledge they are at the end of their ability and ingenuity, in desperate need of God’s sufficiency who receive supernatural aid! 

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength.

Like the molting process of the eagle, shedding its old feathers, and being renewed as new ones come in, so we are renewed in order to soar!  “They shall mount up with wings like eagles,” God promises!  Is there a bird more majestic than the eagle?  His flight is so high, his sight is so keen, and his might is so great—no other fowl may compare to him! Child of God, you were born to soar! 

In our youth we can race to victory, They shall run and not be weary,” and in our old age we can walk with vitality, “They shall walk and not faint.”  This is our potential, and yet we must admit that many are not experiencing a life that soars.  Born to be an eagle winging into the sky, we are waddling in a swamp as though we are a duck.  What makes the difference?  Here is the pivotal phrase, “those who wait on the LORD.”  With a patient faith and a persistent hope, we humbly come to the end of ourselves that we may come to the experience of His omnipotence.

Should I ask you today, “How are you?”  I may  hear the response often repeated to me, “Okay, under the circumstances.”  Dear brother or sister—why are you UNDER the circumstances?  You can rise ABOVE them!  You were born to soar on wings of faith and hope!


Thursday, November 06, 2014



The LORD upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.  (Psalm 145:14)

Surely, most of us have seen the TV commercials of an elderly person sprawled on the floor, crying, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”  What they need is a button they can push on the device around their neck, so someone can come to their rescue. 

Spiritually, we may feel that way.  We often are afflicted by sin, but there are times when we can fall in an extreme manner—to the point of despairing as to whether God could ever forgive us, and stand us up again.  So, when we stumble into sin, and take a fall, we need to push the button of repentance and in our broken state, feeling as abject failures, the Lord will hear our cry and come to our aid.  Have you fallen, and you can’t get up?

Make no mistake, you didn’t have to fall.  You can’t blame God.  Jude rejoices, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (v.24).  He has promised that no temptation is greater than the grace He gives to overcome, and that a way of escape is always provided (see 1 Cor.10:13).  But, what if we ran into the arms of the seductive sin, rather than away from it as David did?    Have you fallen, and think you can’t get up?

Our fall will be painful, but it will not be fatal, if we are children of God.  It would have been better to have never fallen, of course.  It is worse to wallow in self-pity and despair of life because we have stumbled into sin.  I do not minimize the pain.  The fact is that the bruises and brokenness were avoidable.  We could have walked straight and steady in God’s ways.  Instead, we are in the Devil’s ditch, off the road of righteousness—we have fallen and feel as though we cannot get up and get going again.  The wreckage of our wickedness seems total.  Do we not know that the pain serves a purpose, and a permanent scar and persistent limp can be perpetual reminders of the high cost of low-living, and that the amazing grace of God saves wretches? 

Lessons carved so deeply into our soul are not forgotten, and serve as a warning to others as well.  Do you remember that Jacob spent most of a lifetime seeking to scheme his way to the top—a self-willed man who sought to make it without God?  He was at last broken by God as he fought against the Lord’s will.  The Lord put his hip out of joint and Jacob would never be the same.  Until his dying day, he would walk with a limp.  But, he was crippled to be crowned, and broken to be blessed.  That was a horrible night of despair that brought the dawn of a new day of hope.  He had fallen and confessed he couldn’t get up—and then God raised him up.  Read about it in Genesis 32:22-32.

God will respond to your 911 call to Heaven.  He hears and comes to heal.  We may wander outside of His will, but we never outside of His watch.  We can be bent low, burdened with sorrow over our sin, and the Savior comes and stoops down to raise us.  He consoles us as He says, “This is why I came to earth and died the death I suffered, so you can be forgiven and restored.”  I think of the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told as a portrait of the kind of love we should have for the fallen.  Jesus always practiced what He preached—and that perfectly so.  In fact, the religious leaders scornfully called Him, “a Samaritan” and yes—a Good Samaritan He was!  I have experienced Him coming to me while I was bleeding on the side of the road.  Do you need Him today?  Cry out, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  At least, you can’t on your own—and that is a humbling thing to admit.  God promises grace to the humble!

The demonic vultures of despair are circling over you, waiting to pick your bones clean.  “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”  (Ps.3:3)  The Savior shield us and shoos them away.  He has another purpose—and that is to exchange our groans for glory!  Jesus cradles our head in His strong arm, bathes away the dirt and blood of our fall, pours in the wine of His grace to cleanse the wound, and adds the oil of His Spirit to soothe the pain.  He intends for that head to someday wear a crown!  With His support we can get up and get on down the road of recovery.

I wish we would never fall.  It always brings some measure of pain.  Peter denied the Lord.  What a deep gash that put in his soul, wringing out an ocean of bitter tears!  But, later Jesus would come to him and lift him up.  He would be restored to usefulness.  You can be too!