Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Provision of Great and Precious Promises

This is so neat! The apostle Peter, that great big fisherman with an equally-large heart and mouth, said this to fellow believers (That means us, you and me.):

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through 
the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness 
through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises,
so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and
escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
~II Peter 1:2-4 NIV

Through His own glory and goodness, God has given us a treasury of great and precious promises. Why? So that through them, we can participate in His divine nature AND escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires--our own and those of others.

We must never take His great and precious promises for granted or underestimate their power. Through them He takes brand new believers and begins the molding process, conforming us to the image of Christ, creating in us a desire to participate in His divine nature. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness and delivers us from evil.

What could be better than that? 
How great is our Father's love for us!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Promise of an Orderly Universe

Thanks for your words of encouragement about the disarray at our house while having some carpentry work done! Later, however, I began to wonder if my uneasiness around clutter indicated I'm a fuss budget. Who would want that? My good friend Jan Ripley came to the rescue with these words: 

"No, its a sign of liking things orderly cuz thats how God is, 
whats the verse that says do things decently and in order?" 
 ~I Corinthians 14:40 (I looked it up!)

That got me to thinking about the orderliness of God. Consider the heavens, for example!

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?"
~Psalm 8:3-4


"The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech,
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."
~Psalm 19:1-3


"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know.
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone--
while the morning stars sang together 
and all the angels shouted for joy?"
~Job 38:2-7

These are just three of many Bible verses (for example, Genesis 1 and Genesis 9) that point to God's purposefulness in laying out the heavens as a sign--a sign of His love for us.

I fear that city lights and a focus on ourselves have confused us and blinded our eyes to God's messages in the stars. The end result is that men are falling for Satan's tired old lies, the ones he has perpetuated since the Garden of Eden--that God is not good, He does not love us. And since He doesn't love us, we are each free to pursue our own paths to heaven. 

Sorry, folks, there is no other path to heaven. A lot of dead ends, yes, where the disillusioned will learn that they were taken in by the world, the flesh and the devil. All the while God's truth was proclaimed in the skies, day and night, leaving the ungodly with no excuse.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities
--his eternal power and divine nature--
have been clearly seen, 
being understood from what has been made,
so that men are without excuse."
~Romans 1:20

If you have not yet chosen to believe God, please do so today. We never know what a day may bring forth. This could be your last chance.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Promise of An End to Earthly Suffering. (And Then What?)

This morning, amid piles of furniture and clutter and dust, we cleared a spot in the living room and shared a bagel. Our house has been torn up for a week while installers finish the new floor. In the end, it will be worth it, but the days drag on.

Then I think of the Haitians who see no end to their displacement . . . or our neighbor who lies in bed waiting for an end to his suffering. What do you say to ease their pain? This, too, shall pass?

One way or the other, there will be an end to earthly suffering. And then what? 

For some, joy will come in the morning. But for those who haven't made peace with God, their future suffering will be far worse than anything they experienced on earth.

Brothers and sisters, forgive me for preaching . . . but we must not allow ourselves to become complacent where the souls of the lost are concerned. Like Noah, we must continue to tell an unbelieving world that judgment is coming . . . judgment that will make our earthly troubles seem as trivial as sharing a bagel in the living room. 
God's desire is that all should come to repentance. May we love the world even as He does!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Promise of Good Directions

Mapquest has its place! I love typing in a couple of addresses and getting step-by-step directions . . . and even the expected drive time to get to my destination. What could be better than that?

Nothing--as long as life doesn't get in the way. What if I run into roadblocks or traffic congestion or, worse, what if I run out of gas? Will Mapquest help me out of a jam?

But consider this. God will direct my path from start to finish allowing for any and all contingencies.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths."
~Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

No matter what roadblocks I encounter along the way, no matter what surprises lie ahead, the all-knowing LORD is not taken by surprise. 

He knows my name. 
He knows the path I take. 
He will be with me through wind and rain, 
fire and ice, 
flood and earthquake. 

He knows the circumstances I'll face 
and He can handle them. 
Not only that,
but He can direct my path 
around difficulty, 
through difficulty, 
or completely away from difficulty. 

Do I trust Him to choose the way? You bet I do. Do you?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Promise of Being Cared For

Not everyone has experienced the blessing of being cared for by their parents. Through divorce, abandonment, or death, many children have grown up without the security of family. Often these people have a hard time when it comes to relating to a loving heavenly Father.

God specifically admonishes the church to care for the orphans in His name. Yet He goes beyond that--taking personal guardianship over those whose parents, for one reason or another, have abdicated their responsibilities.

"When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me."
~ Psalm 27:10

My husband's parents were divorced when he was a little boy. Dick freely discusses the scrapes he got into throughout his young life. At one point, he stood on the threshold of evil; yet something drew him away . . . some force he later recognized as the hand of God, protecting and guarding this fatherless child.

May we be on the lookout for children who need extra love because of a tricky family situation. And may God guide us into being His hands and feet of blessing.

The Fellowship of His Sufferings

Seems we often equate fellowship with church potlucks. "Come for fun, food, and fellowship!" But there's another side of fellowship that isn't all fun and games. There's a side of fellowship that involves suffering.

The apostle Paul talks about this in Philippians when considering his prior life and values. Formerly a pharisee and now a follower of Jesus, his desire is to be found not in his own righteousness but rather in the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

He says that the things he once considered assets have become liabilities, or rubbish, compared to the "surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the fellowship of his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow,
to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
~Philippians 3:10-11

Do we want to know Jesus that badly? Do we want to take part in his sufferings, to identify with him in the valleys, or do we only want to participate in the mountaintop experiences? 

God has plans for our lives, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. One of those plans is to conform us to the image of His son . . . meaning He will shape us into the likeness of Christ. That, friends, involves suffering.

Ours would be a one-dimensional likeness if we only related to Christ on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and not His agony in the garden or His death on the cross. Don't you agree?

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Promise of Fellowship with One Another

What is fellowship anyway? 

Unger's Bible Dictionary defines Christian fellowship in its many facets, one of which is this: "As is the case between men, no one can be in fellowship with God unless he possess like purposes and feelings." 

Christian fellowship, therefore, involves the mutual sharing of God's "purposes and feelings." It occurs when we walk in the light of God's truth.

"If we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin."
~I John 1:7

Have you ever been in a strange city on a Sunday, visited a Christian church service, and experienced Christian fellowship among total strangers? What is the unmistakable bond that causes complete strangers to feel a kinship with one another? It is God's own Spirit.

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit
that we are God's children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--
heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."
~Romans 8:16-17

Now think about this! If we experience that bond here on earth, how much greater will our fellowship be in heaven, worshiping around the Throne of Grace.

Tomorrow we'll discuss another aspect of fellowship--the fellowship of Jesus' suffering.