Saturday, March 20, 2010

God Made This Very Day!

Unseasonally warm sunshine drew us outside for a walk around the neighborhood. We weren't alone. There were:
  • squirrels scolding,
  • birds chirping,
  • trees bursting forth with pink and white buds, 
  • daffodils in full bloom and 
  • Daphne (must be Daphne!) releasing heavenly scents into the air. 
It's easy to rejoice on a day like this--to proclaim, 
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

But what about days when drizzling rain drags you down, or snow piles stifle your plans, or hurricanes threaten your very existence? Is it easy to praise God then--to rejoice then?

And what about when you lose your job, your husband announces he wants a divorce, your child gets expelled from school, your dinner has burned for the third time this week, you are the subject of nasty rumors, your mother's health is rapidly deteriorating and you don't know what to do? You just don't know what to do!

Is praise your first response in hard times? If you're like me, probably not. Yet wouldn't it be great if, in the midst of everything, we could stop and thank God for giving us another day to hope and pray for His best?

Maybe on this very day, He will turn things around. For sure, on this very day, He is working for the good of those who love him. We can rejoice in that, can't we? We can be glad in that...right?

I'd like to make it my goal to rejoice in the Lord each and every day, no matter what my earthly circumstances look like. Will you join me?

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Lamp to Light the Way

Man, oh man! Doesn't it seem like the goalposts of life are always changing? That what was acceptable and right yesterday is unacceptable and politically incorrect today? That what was once considered good is now spoken of as evil? What's a Christian to do?

Take hold of the everlasting truths of God's Word. Though the world may be fickle and its standards ever-changing, God is the same yesterday, today and forever and His truth endures to all generations. His Word will light our paths.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path."
~ Psalm 119:105

We shouldn't be alarmed when everything seems out of whack. Doesn't God's Word warn us that these things will happen as end times approach? Here's what Paul said to Timothy:

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lover of money,
boastful, proud, abusive, 
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful,
unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, 
without self-control, brutal, 
not lovers of the good, 
treacherous, rash, conceited, 
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--
having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Have nothing to do with them."
~ II Timothy 3:1-5

Sound familiar?

With all that's going on in Washington, D.C. these days, one could get the impression that our country is ruled by a bunch of despots who have little or no regard for the will of the people. Yet, if the verses in II Timothy rightly describe people today, do we deserve anything better? 

Perhaps it's time we fell to our knees before God, even as Isaiah did when he saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, his robe filling the temple, angels praising His holiness. 

"Woe to me! I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD Almighty."
~ Isaiah 6:5 

Have we fallen before our God, humbled ourselves and prayed? Have we sought His face and turned from our wicked ways? Are we any different from non-believers in the way we live our lives?

Unlike non-believers, we have God's Word as a lamp to light our path, a path that will lead us Home. May we treasure Scripture more than gold or silver or any other thing that perishes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Growing More Like Christ

My eyes were opened to the truth of God's Word thirty five years ago this month. Life hasn't been the same since. More and more as the years go by, I cherish the Holy Scriptures. More and more they guide my decision making.

It's not that there's a verse for every situation but there are principles that help keep me walking on "paths of righteousness." It's been a learning process, line upon line, precept upon precept.

Scripture reading. Prayer. Bible studies. Scripture memorization. Silent retreats. Morning (or evening or anytime) devotions. Hymns. Journaling. Church attendance. Conferences. All of these and more have built my faith and molded my character, conforming it to the image of Christ.

I have a long way to go! But I'm on the right path. What has helped you to grow more like Christ?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

God's Goodness

Repeat after me, "God is good all the time--all the time God is good." This is more than a group chant--it's an eternal truth!

I love Psalm 31:19:

"How great is your goodness, 
which you have stored up for those who fear you, 
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you."

How significant that it doesn't say, "How good is your greatness which you have stored up for those who fear you." 

Imagine if it said that! Why, we'd all be striving for greatness instead of goodness. Isn't that what got Satan in trouble . . . striving for greatness?

God wants to shower us with goodness, and He has a storehouse of it to lavish on those who take refuge in him--those who, like children, flock to their beloved father.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Prince and the Pauper

For all his irreverent statements about religion--and God Himself--Mark Twain's Prince and the Pauper reflects the Old Old Story of Jesus and His love.

  1. A prince discovers a poor lad who looks very much like himself. They trade places: the pauper becoming the prince and the prince becoming the pauper (just as Christ came from the glories of heaven to identify with all mankind and invites us to partake of His glorious kingdom).
  2. While living among the poor, the prince is abused and treated with disdain (just as Christ certainly was treated with disrespect and hideous abuse).
  3. The pauper, a picture of the believer in Jesus Christ, freely confesses that he is only in the court because he looks like the prince who traded places with him (just as the believer confesses his identification with the One who took his place on the cross).
  4. Meanwhile, evil men in court as well as in the world try to derail the testimony of both the prince and the pauper (just as Satan and his minions attempt to achieve their ends through devious means).
I'm sure there are other pictures of Christ in this story. Did Mark Twain intend for them to be there? Do you know? Have you read anything about this?

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Promise of Undying Love

I've read Romans 8:38-39 dozens of times without having grasped the significance of the promise that nothing, NOTHING, NOT EVEN LIFE OR DEATH, can separate the believer from God's love in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let's unpack this truth.

Q. My life can sometimes be a mess. Will this separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?
A. No. In Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1).

Q. Christ lived a sinless life. Can the fact that he was so different from me separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord?
A. No. In fact, it was His sinless life that made Him the perfect sacrifice--the Lamb of God--offered for the sins of the whole world (II Corinthians 5:21).

Q. When I die, my body will be placed in a grave and buried six feet under, separated from all my family and friends. Will I also be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord?
A. No. My spirit, the part of me that was created to live forever, will be instantly with the Lord (II Corinthians 5:8).

Q. Christ died. He, was crucified, dead, and buried. Placed in a tomb. How could He love me then?
A. His spirit never died. He continued to love the world with an undying love. He, along with the Father and Holy Spirit, is committed to saving "to the uttermost" those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:25).

God has purposed to extend unmerited favor, undying love, to the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve (Romans 6:18). He promised them that in the Garden of Eden and the truth plays out through each generation. As recipients of that love, let us praise Him together for His amazing grace.