Monday, January 16, 2017

Six Promises of Heaven

SIX PROMISES OF HEAVEN

Healing:  "Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the HEALING of the nations." --Revelation 22:1-2

Eternity:  "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." --John 17:3

Adoration:  " . . . and day and night they do not cease to say, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.'" --Revelation 4:8b

Victory:  "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." --1 Corinthians 15:57

Exuberant Existance:  "I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." --John 10:10

kNowing:  "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." --1 Corinthians 13:12

Monday, January 02, 2017

Growling the Word

"But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do." --Psalm 1:2-3 (NLT)

This is an amazing promise for those who will act on it. Delight in the law of the Lord, meditate on it day and night, and you will prosper in all that you do. Who wants to prosper in 2017? Who wants to be like a tree on a riverbank, always green and always bearing fruit? Well, count me in!

Let's focus on the two conditional elements in these verses: #1 delight on the law, and #2 meditate on the law. The law of the Lord, of course, is the entire Word of God. What does it mean to delight in it and to meditate on it?

#1 Delight: We either delight or we don't. For me, coming to the Word of God each day is like a treasure hunt. When God's Spirit reveals a truth to me, I get excited--not unlike finding hidden treasure. If I'm needing to make a decision, and I find the answer in my daily reading, I delight in it! I approach the Word that way every day. I'm looking for guidance, for wisdom, for encouragement, and for changes I need to make. As God reveals, I delight in His words of life.

#2 Meditate: This is an interesting Hebrew word--"hagah". In addition to meaning meditation or consideration, it can also mean to speak, to moan, or to growl. So to begin with, I would suggest that our time in the Word should be spent vocalizing it. You may pop into the church office one afternoon and catch me pacing the hallway, reading my scriptures out loud--even shouting on occasion. The Bible is meant to be spoken and I can tell you from experience that I get a lot more out of it when I speak it. The moaning has to do with expressions of pleasure. What I really find interesting is the idea of "growling" the Word. What is that all about? I have a dog named Gavin who can make this idea perfectly clear. When Gavin is enjoying a bone, he doesn't wish to be disturbed. He will growl if you make a move towards him because he doesn't want to lose his bone. We should take the attitude of Gavin when we are in the Word. Enjoy it and don't let anyone or anything take it away from you.


So today and throughout all of 2017, Delight in the Word, Meditate on it, and get ready to prosper.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Observations from the Storm

"The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger" (Luke 8:23b).  

My boat has been filling up with water for several months--seven to be exact. 

We were just about ready to leave for church on a  typical Sunday morning last August. Tina was finishing up in the bathroom, brushing hair one last time and considering which ear rings looked the best. She had already complained about not feeling well and I was doing my best to encourage her out the door, believing that she would feel better as the morning progressed.  As the story would develop, she didn't start feeling better, and we didn't make it to church. Instead, Tina spent the next ten days in excruciating pain, suffering a massive heart attack, that went misdiagnosed for a week and a half.

More than half a year later, having suffered devastating damage to her heart, Tina is on the verge of a heart transplant. We are hopeful--yet terrified. Our boat is full of water!

My One Year Bible reading today includes the portion of Luke 8 where Jesus calms the storm. Allow me to share a few observations.

#1--"The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, 'Master, Master, we're going to drown!'" (v24a)  Their fear was real. They believed death was almost certain. Notice they address Jesus as "Master". He is the boss, the leader, the one in charge, and the one with all of the answers. He is responsible! Like the disciples, my boat is full of water and there is nothing that I can do about it. Bailing water won't help! Swimming lessons won't help! Shouting at the wind won't help! However, shouting "Master, Master!" will always help! "Master" implies that I know who is in control. "Master" says that I know who is making the decisions.

#2--"When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves." (v24b)  I imagine that the disciples woke Jesus up with urgency. I doubt they whispered. They were shouting! Yelling! Screaming! That's how I need to learn to pray--loud and impolitely! Wake up! Help! Master!

#3--"Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm." (v24c)  I like this part. Their cry brought His calm. Their shout brought His stillness. As the song says, sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms me.  

#4--"Then He asked them, 'Where is your faith?'" (v25a)  This is the million-dollar question of the day. Where is my faith? What am I trusting?  There are those wonderful, if not brief, moments when I trust God in between my doubt and despair.  May those moments become minutes, and the minutes become mountain-moving measures of extraordinary faith!

"No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm."
 --Charles Kettering

Monday, September 14, 2015

Covenant

"But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds so they will understand them, and I will write them on their hearts so they will obey them. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Hebrews 8:10, NLT)

I heard a message regarding this passage in 1984. I was serving on a Baptist Student Union mission team in Detroit, Michigan. I can't tell you the name of the church, but I remember clearly my BSU Director, Scott Brewer, bringing this message.  I've preached it myself a few times over the years.  To have God's law in our minds means that we know what to do. To have God's law in our hearts means that we want to do it.  Scott called it, "The know-so and the want-to".  The Spirit of God will guide us to know what to do and better yet, will give us the desire to do it.  Over the years, I've found this to be true.  I've experienced it--though I've also, at times, rebelled against it.

Today, let's be open to the Spirit's directives.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Character

"Until the time came to fulfill his word, the Lord tested Joseph's character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king's possessions." --Psalm 105:19-21)

I love this description of Joseph that we find tucked away in Psalm 105.  Here we find a revealing of purpose--the reason for Joseph's dry season.  Joseph had languished in prison, serving time for a crime that he did not commit.  Why would God allow such a thing?  Where is justice? 

Don't we ask the same questions when we suffer?  Why wasn't the heart attack diagnosed earlier? Why would God allow ten days of suffering? Why?  Psalm 105 answers with one clear word--CHARACTER!  It's of note that Tina's heart attack went undiagnosed for ten days. Ten is the number of testing.  I shared with the men that I meet with on Tuesday night that this experience has redirected my focus.  I'm much more attentive to Tina than I was before.  I'm committed to making sure that every day is special, a day of love and laughter and not taken for granted.

What about you?  How will your times of suffering grow your character?  As Tina is fond of saying, "God never wastes a hurt!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Patience

"Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised." (Hebrews 6:15)

The New Testament uses the word "patient" to carry the meaning of, "persevering patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles".  Like Abraham, we are to persevere difficult circumstances while awaiting God's promise.  It's usually not easy to patiently wait on God's deliverance but it's the preferred way.  Instead of stepping forward to solve a problem in your own strength, find out what God intends to do and wait for Him to do it.  How do you get a promise from God?  Read the Bible, asking God for insight into your situation.  Look for corrections that you need to make.  Look for revelations of God's character.  Finally, look for promises.  What does God say He will do? 

"The anchor of hope (Heb. 6:19) actually keep us afloat; the anchor of self-pity, self-righteousness, or self-anything, will drown us." --Scotty Smith

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Warn

"You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called 'today,' so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God." (Hebrews 3:13, NLT)

Sin is deceptive. The scriptures speak of it as a trap, a lure, and an enticement.  That's why we need to "warn" each other.  Otherwise, we may fall prey to the addictive nature of the desires of our flesh.

The word, "warn", in the text is the Greek word paracaleo.  the King James Version translates it "exhort".  The New American Standard Version translates it as "encourage".  The literal translation of paracaleo is, "to call to one's side".  Included in the meaning is the purpose of admonishing, begging, consoling, strengthening, comforting, and teaching.  The way we warn each other every day is by coming alongside each other and speaking truth and love. 

Let's think about it this way:

Today I will . . .

Walk with you. I will come alongside.
Affirm you. I will remind you of how God sees you.
Rescue you. Your problems are my problems.
Nag you. I will speak the truth in love over and over again.