Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Friday, March 27, 2015

God Is Faithful



No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13


God is faithful.  Sometimes, I just need a reminder.


Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. (Psalm 31:5)
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy  (Psalm 111:7)
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
 [I]f we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.  (1 Peter 4:19)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. (Revelation 19:11)

That should cover about every situation.  If I had a 1911, I'd have that last one engraved on it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Time of Ends



The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. -- 1 Peter 4:7


The thing about the end is that it can be general or particular.  In Peter’s case, he was writing before the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of Titus.  There was coming a particular end to a way of life and a worldview.  Josephus’ claim of over a million slaughtered seems incredible, and one wonders at how he arrived at such a number, but there can be no doubt the death toll and the aftermath were horrific.  While nearness in time may be applicable in specific instances, in general we can always say that the end is “at hand” in that all things are before God and near to Him.  As individuals, as nations, as humanity, we move toward the end for which we have been created. 

I was thinking about this last night reading Origen.  How is it that my life can matter in the vast flow of existence and consciousness?  It would be as though some self-aware bit of algae on an old tire in the Mississippi thought it was keeping the river in its banks.  I look too far and not far enough. 

I look too far beyond my immediate circle of friends and family.  There I know my words and my example, my principles and prayers have made a difference.  The world has not been changed but a heart, here and there, is more open and responsive to the Spirit, perhaps.  I do not look far enough if I do not raise my eyes above the close horizons of my own intellect and ability to the infinite power and grace of God.  He changes hearts, and each heart is a world opening out. 

We take thought as to how we are to live, consider the stewardship of our possessions in light of the fact that there is an end, and it is near, in one sense or both.  I am sure this seems foreign, outmoded, and out of touch.  A little later in his Second Epistle, Peter spoke of the mockers in his day who asked, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  Yet there was a catastrophic and devastating reckoning at hand, and there have been a multitude in the centuries since that time.  Another end waits, if not for the whole world then for some state or some people or some city; if not for many for a few.  Always, the end is at hand for each of us individually.  The world ends for us, as the closing of a door behind. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Sidekick



But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. -- Galatians 5:16


The more we seek God and seek to have our minds renewed by the truth and our lives transformed in that renewal, the less power the old nature has over us. 

Sometimes I think my natural, conscious mind, the one I’ve used so much and, God forgive me, been proud of now and then, is like the comic-relief sidekick in an old Western serial.  He’s kind of along for the ride, more trouble than he’s worth, and is prone to take undue credit for his part in a happy ending.  We would wonder about a heroine who was more taken with the empty bluster and bravado of the side-kick than the hero’s selfless courage, honesty, humility, and competence. 

The soul is the heroine.  She can listen to the spirit and love him, or she can be enamored of the flesh and his banter.  The flesh has a lot on his side in that he and the whole world system are in agreement and alignment.  They share a lot of values.  The flesh’s views get reinforced by everything in popular culture.  We are inundated with news and information and politics and all the rest telling us that the flesh is right.  All that matters is what can be experienced by the five senses, and you had better get it while you can.  YOLO.  I have to look it up every time I see it. 

If we live to the flesh, we are dead while we live – dead now in our sins and trespasses.  But if our heroine binds herself instead to the spirit, we enter into life.  It’s a good thing to remember that the life we receive from Christ, the only kind of life He has, is eternal life, beginning not when we die physically but as we turn and begin walking with and according the Spirit. 

One more thing about not gratifying the desires of the flesh, most of us have had the unhappy occasion to stumble and go wrong.  Even when it works out, even when I’ve gotten “my way”, I get no satisfaction out of it anymore.  I remember when sin was fun.  If wickedness had been as empty and unfulfilling when I was seventeen or eighteen as it is now, I would have quit a lot sooner.  Once you start walking in the Spirit, the old thrills start fading.  Part of that might be a natural result of the passing of time, but I see men and women my chronological age and older that still haven’t gotten the message.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t be tempted or that we won’t fall; we’ll just feel worse afterward, every time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rooms



Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going. – John 14:1-4


In my Father’s house:  The English language changed a lot from 1611 -- even to 1811, but we kept reading the same Bible, and clergymen kept preaching reassuring messages and finding hope and encouragement in the Lord’s words from John 14.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Still I’m not looking for “a mansion just over the hilltop”.  I can’t figure any reason I would need a mansion in heaven.  If it turns out that I need to sleep when I get there, I would imagine the weather would be good for sleeping outside. 

Where I do need “stopping places” and shelters by the wayside are on this road I walk now.  Our lives are already and always “hidden with Christ in God”.  We have a place in the Father’s house.  You know, though, you don’t want your teenager sleeping in his old crib.  As we grow and in order that we may grow, we change rooms. 

We get the idea that we are going to reach some point of ease and comfort and just stay there.  I don’t think it works that way.  We are brought into new places for some good God sees that needs to be done, though we are not necessarily aware of all the repercussions and consequences.  The main thing is that we learn to trust Him in every room to which He leads us.  After all, we are always in His house. 

That can be hard to believe.  When He puts us in the library, that’s nice; we can believe in a cozy bedroom with a fireplace.  Sometimes we are in the coal cellar, or feeding fuel into the cooking stove in the summer heat, or freezing alone in a dusty garret where we bump our heads on the rafters.  I think there are even dungeons in the Father’s house.  That may be the only place some of us are fit for at times.  Yet it is still within His house, and no cry that goes up from the darkest and most secluded cell is unheard or unheeded.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Verse of the Day



I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, Seek me in vain.  I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right. -- Isaiah 45:19


With a little help from Benadryl, I finally got a decent night’s sleep last night, but I'm still a bubble or two off center, so it's just a VOTD to get back in the groove.

I spent a little time with the five-year-old grandson Sunday, and we played some hide-and-seek.  He hid in the same spot every time.  We probably need to work on that a little.

Despite what our verse says God does hide Himself.  He had chosen to make Himself known to and through the descendants of Abraham.  When we were given the revelation of God in Christ, the world was turned upside down – that is, right-side up:  I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.  I said, Here am I, here am I, to a nation that was not called by my name (Isaiah 65:1).  Paul quotes this verse from Isaiah when he speaks of the universal call to salvation in Romans 10. 

We seek the God who is seeking us.  The best we can do is put ourselves in a position to be found by Him.  Maybe that was my grandson’s idea.  He didn’t want to make it too hard.  His delight was less in evading my search than in being discovered.  Perhaps some of the wisdom of heaven  remains with him.