Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Promise of a Legacy

Our beloved pastor, Winston Gee, went to his reward seventeen years ago this past week. Though gone, he will never be forgotten by those who were privileged to know him.

Because of his love for--and trust in--the Lord, Winston exemplified what a walk of faith looks like. He was a straightforward, step up to the plate, can-do sort of guy. An encourager of the first order! Whenever his "sheep" suffered loss, we all knew Winston would pick us up, dust us off, and put us back in the game. Perhaps that's one reason so many of us, men and women alike, still tear up when we think of him. We miss him.

His family misses him most of all. But, as his children have grown and had children of their own, Winston continues to live on in their recollections of him. Testimony to the presence of a great man, they are his legacy.

Watching Winston's grandchildren mature and make their way in the world, I am reminded of many scriptures that speak of the blessings accruing to a man who fears the LORD. (Read Psalm 127 and 128, for example.)

And I wonder--can these things be said of me? Of you? Can we claim these blessings as our own?

Winston would say, "You bet. God is no respecter of persons. What He says in His word applies to everyone." Then he'd grin and say, "Just wait till you get here! You're not gonna believe how great Heaven is!"

Friday, March 12, 2010

The promise of the crown of life!

Only royalty wear crowns, right? Well, yes! And guess what--those who love the Lord are royalty!

In speaking to God's elect--scattered throughout the world--Peter calls them a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (I Peter 2:9 NIV).

Peter acknowledges they probably don't feel much like royalty because of the times in which they live. In fact, he says, that their joy in belonging to the Lord may be tested because:

" . . . for a little while you may have had to 
suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith--
of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire--
may be proved genuine and may result in 
praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed."
~I Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)

Even though the early Christians lived, as do we, in perilous times of temptation, Peter explains the purpose for that--"That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (verse 9).

So let's not complain because of the corruption in the world! Let's see that as our chance to shine!

And remember--we're royalty, right? The crown of life awaits us:

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:
for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life,
which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."
~James 1:12 (KJV)

The crown of life is waiting for those who love God.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Clear and Consistent Message

A very wise woman reminded me today that each of us has a certain number of days allotted to us and that the important thing we need to remember is to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

Helen is 91 years old and she is "ready to go." Trouble is the LORD doesn't seem to be ready to take her yet.

So . . . she busies herself at her retirement home, walking the halls each day for one mile, exercising in her mobility class, and spending time in the gym (on the exercise bike and lifting weights). Does she do all of this to extend her life?

"No way!" she'd say.

She does it so she'll have opportunities to tell other old people that:
  • there's a God who loves them and wants to get to know them,
  • that He will forgive anything they have to confess,
  • that each of us has a certain number of days allotted to us, and
  • that we need to be ready to go at a moment's notice.
Her message is clear and consistent. Is mine? Is yours?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Promise of a Full Soul

Today's reading in Proverbs was reassuring!

"The LORD will not allow the righteous soul to famish."
~Proverbs 10:3 (NKJV)

That immediately called to mind another encouraging verse, this one in the New Testament.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled."
~Matthew 5:6

Both the Old and New Testaments assure those who strive after righteousness that their souls will be filled. 

But wait--someone may ask--what constitutes righteousness? 

Is it all the nice things that we do hoping to curry favor? 
Is it the good works we do for personal recognition? 
Does righteousness follow grand and glorious accomplishments?

Righteousness has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Christ. "We are all like an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).

Since the beginning of human history, mankind has gone about trying to prove his own righteousness--his own worth.
  • After the Fall, Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves but God made tunics of skin and clothed them, for "Without shedding of blood, there is no remission [of sin]" (Hebrews 9:22).
  • Cain sacrificed the fruit of his own efforts to God rather than offering the firstborn sheep of his flock (a picture of the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed for our sins). "And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering" (Genesis 4:4-5).
And haven't we done the same? Before God opened our eyes to truth, didn't we feel that if we did enough good things to balance off the bad things we'd done, we would somehow have earned the right to go to heaven? Many people still feel that way. And their constant fear is that, maybe, they'll fall short.

Well good! It's good they fear that because:
  1. It's the first step toward gaining a proper relationship with God--recognizing that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
  2. The second step is realizing that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
  3. Step three is learning that "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
It's as easy as 1-2-3. To become righteous, I must recognize that I'm a sinner and fall short of God's glory. There's no way He can fellowship with me the way I am. I'm doomed. BUT, I can gain eternal life in Christ Jesus (if I accept His substitutionary death on the cross as payment for my sins).

Why? Because, in God's mercy, He loved mankind and paid for our sins--at His own terrible expense.

 "He [God] made Him [Jesus} 
who knew no sin 
to be sin for us, 
that we might become 
the righteousness of God 
in Him."
~2 Corinthians 5:21

That's how we become righteous--through Jesus Christ. And those who hunger and thirst for Jesus will be filled. God will not allow our souls to famish!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why We Owe God Our Devotion

Anyone ever done you a service or favor and then followed up with this statement, "You owe me big-time!"

Makes me think of Shylock, the money lender in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. He demanded re-payment even if the borrower had nothing to give but a pound of his own flesh.

How different God is! We owe Him so much that we could never repay Him, but what does He say to us?

"Let Me help you. Love my Son: accept His sacrifice as your own. Come to the Cross where your debt will be canceled."

What wondrous love is this!

We must never get so busy in our daily lives that we neglect expressing our devotion to the One who has given us the map to His own home, safe passage on our way, and the key that opens the front door.

"To God be the glory,
Great things He has done.
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life gate that all may go in."

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Award for Best Creator

Last night was Oscar night! People in movie land received accolades for best cinematography, costuming, special effects, performance, director, and countless other categories before culminating in the final award--best picture of the year. It seemed every base was covered--except for one.

There was no award, not even an honorable mention, for best Creator.

Despite prizes given to filmmakers who fabricate fanciful lands and characters, no one--neither host nor honoree--thanked God for enabling them to do the things they did. Neither did they mention how the worlds they created were a pale imitation in contrast to the glory that exists over our heads day and night.

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
~Psalm 19:1

Doubly tragic is the fact that God invested these talents in men and women when He conferred on us His own image, thereby enabling us to have creative powers.

"So God created man in his own image, 
in the image of God created he him,
male and female created he them."
~Genesis 1:27

Is God hurt by this? I don't know. I do know He's not surprised by it. 

So join me, won't you, in acknowledging right here and now that there is one, and only one, contender in the category of Best Creator, and that would be Elohim, the one true God in three divine persons. Rather than an award which perishes, let us give Him our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. For He alone is worthy.