2022 Archives

Look Up!

  Which direction (up, down, left or right) would you say best represents help in time of need?  Which direction would you say best defines the position of authority?  In which direction would you most often flee for safety?  Though there are obvious exceptions, “Up” seems to be the most common answer to these questions.  e.g. Babies look up to their mother; children to their parents; management generally occupies the upper floors of corporate headquarters; we flee upward to avoid many natural and catastrophic events …and then there is God.  If asked to point in the direction of God, most people would lift their index finger upward, toward heaven.

  Often, among those who know God personally, you will hear the admonition to “Look Up!” or “Keep Looking Up!”  These simple phrases serve as reminders that God is sovereign, that He is in control, that He has a plan that cannot be thwarted, that He loves His own.  He is the only one who can “do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think… (Ephesians 3:20)  He is the sustainer of the universe, “upholding all things by the word of His power… (Hebrews 1:3)”  

  But the God of the Bible would also remind us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8–9)”  This reminder is necessary for those who might deem themselves God’s prize, who have embraced the twisted notion that He is the Bible version of a genie in a bottle, and believe that their desire should be His beckoning call.

  But God, who is sovereign, created man with a free will.  A vital part of His plan is to allow man to live with many of the consequences of his choices.  Sin and death were the result—and separation from God.  But God devised a way whereby sinful man could be reconciled to Himself by faith in the advocacy of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Those who believe are privileged to see things from God’s perspective, …if they will simply Look Up!

What Will You Do With Jesus?

 The Bible tells the story of Jesus: who He is, what He did on earth, and what He is doing now.  Not so many years ago, most people could talk about Jesus with some degree of accuracy, but today many, and perhaps most, don’t have a clue.  It took generations to spread the good news about Jesus; it has taken only one generation for most families to forget who He is, and what He has done.  Jesus is God in the flesh. He came to earth to be a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.  He was executed outside of Jerusalem.  He was buried, and rose from the dead in three days.  He gave His live to pay the penalty for our sin.  Forty days later He ascended back to heaven where He lives to make His promises good to those who place their trust in Him.  All who accept His forgiveness are adopted into the family of God.  

  Perhaps you believe that this story sounds unbelievable, but you would be wise to consider the fact that Jesus is God and all things are possible with Him.  What you do with Jesus determines your relationship with God both now and forever!  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)”

  The Christmas story contains a number of examples of how people reacted to the the news of Jesus birth:  In Luke 2:8-20, the shepherds sought Jesus because they believed Him to be the promised Savior, Messiah and Lord.  In Matthew 2:1-12, the wise men sought Jesus because they knew that He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, and they wanted to Worship Him.  In Matthew 2:3-13, King Herod the Great sought Jesus to kill Him to preserve his own wicked reign and protect his dynasty.

  Today, reactions are quite similar:  Many would eliminate the name of Jesus from society because they stand for everything that He stood against.  Relatively few seek Jesus because they believe Him to be the Savior of the world—the only hope for mankind to be reconciled to God.  Among believers, there are fewer still who worship Him in the beauty of holiness, because He alone is worthy.  But the question of the day is, What will you do with Jesus?

Who Cares?

  Do you sometimes feel that the pace of life is racing out of control, that people just don’t have time for one another any more?  Me too.  While everything is going our way, the pace is not so threatening; but when we fall into one of life’s pitfalls, it is like sitting in the middle of a crowded highway in a stalled car.  No one seems willing to busy themselves with the rescue of the distressed.  A Who cares? attitude seems to prevail.

  Thankfully, according to the scriptures, we can rest assured that God Cares! Though the world is rapidly changing, He is “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17b)”   The Bible says that He sees us in the hopelessness of our most serious predicament and comes to our rescue.  What predicament would that be? …the Sin Predicament. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)”  And, “…the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)”  “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10)”

  Because of our sin, you and I have made ourselves the enemies of God, and because He is a just and holy God, our sinfulness has earned us eternal death and separation from Him.

  Now the good news: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).”  Yes, God loves sinners!  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to purchase our forgiveness through His death on the cross.  Jesus rose from the dead proving that He had paid our sin debt in full, and, according to Hebrews 7:25, He  ascended back to Heaven to intercede for us as Savior and Lord.

  His deliverance requires, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)”  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved… (Acts 16:31)”  We must place our confidence in His promise to save.  No, this will not supernaturally take all of the bumps out of the road of life, but as a child of God you can always be assured that He is with you, that He has time to help, and that HE CARES.

The Tale Of A Tree

  We recently had to take down a few trees because they were starting to die or were leaning dangerously in the direction of our home.  Like most experiences of life, our unanticipated lumbering provided valuable lessons.

  First, one of the trees, perhaps over one hundred years old, appeared to be dying from the top down.  Of course the problem with the tree did not originate in the top—its issues of life were apparent down closer to its roots.  A few years ago, an ice storm had overwhelmed a large lower branch which in turn had broken off damaging the bark around a significant part of the tree’s circumference.  This injury affected the uptake of water and nourishment to the limbs above, and in time they were starved to death.

  Another tree seemed perfectly healthy, but was precariously leaning toward our house.  When the tree was sawn down, its heart, revealed by the dissecting of the chainsaw, had become possessed by a colony of ants who had made their home in its now pulpy center.  In a relatively short period of time, the tree would have fallen and greatly affected the lives of those of us who live so near.

  Similarly, our own lives can be grossly affected and visibly scarred by the unexpected and sometimes tragic happenings of yesteryear.  Truly, a part of us started to die when we were overwhelmed by a memorable storm.  And then there are those of us whose hearts have been invaded and are being consumed by unseen, parasitic pests that threaten the foundations and core of our very being.  They spawn an unmanageable, emotional terror.

  If you, like our trees, are threatened from within or without, you will be encouraged to know:  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalms 46:1)”  He says to those who love Him, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10).  Perhaps you would like to get to know Him.  Just remember,  Jesus saith…, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6).”

Our Only Hope

  …all seemed lost.  Many were already dead.  Dave was not expected to live more than a couple of hours. Angie had just taken a turn for the worse, and Kevin was even now descending the stairs to help them, sliding his hands over the handrail that was contaminated with the noxious compound that would soon be coursing through his veins, ebbing out the substance of life. There was only one hope, but would they discover it in time?

  This little paragraph describes a very serious event in sketchy terms that raise an abundance of questions:  Who are these people?  Where are they?  What is this horrid substance?  Where did it come from?  What is their only hope?  How much time do they have?  We need more information to process this situation and determine what can be done.

  Perhaps we Christians are guilty of drawing just such a sketchy picture of the plight of man with regard to God, sin, and eternity.  Everyone needs to know: God, the Creator of the universe, created man in His own image for His eternal fellowship, but man broke God’s law and severed the relationship.  Because of his sinful nature, there is nothing man can do to diminish his plight, even if he wanted to.

  But God, seeing the hopelessness of His fallen creatures, committed His own Son to pay the penalty accrued by sin.  Jesus came to earth and took on Himself the form of a man.  He lived a perfect life and died as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  After three days, having paid in full the sin debt of every man, He rose victorious from the grave.  God ordained that “…repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations. Luke 25:47”  He said,  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)”

  Salvation requires believing in things that you cannot see nor touch.  Satan would have you believe that faith is a gamble, but God says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)”   Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior; He is your only HOPE!