Showing posts from 2011

Party or Prayer

Reading: Revelation 15, 16
My touch causes sparks to fly. I touched my phone last night to answer a call and the spark was great enough to temporarily cut off the call and turn the display black.
I would like to be able to say that I have some special power in my touch. But alas, the sparks only fly from my fingertips because it is so dry in the apartment now that winter has set in.
But there is One whose touch carries with it the power of salvation, righteousness and judgment. Truth is, He only has to speak and the power of that Word is irresistible.
Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed” (Revelation 15:3, 4, NIV).
This section of Revelation describes the judgments of God, a solemn reminder to not ignore the voice of the Lord when He speaks and before H…


Reading: Revelation 8-11
The chief meteorologist for the Weather Channel was being interviewed this morning. He was asked about the most significant weather that happened during 2011. He mentioned several things, referring to these as being of “almost Biblical proportions.” I wondered if he really knew what “Biblical proportions” were? It’s an interesting phrase, considering that many in his audience would not know the meaning of the statement.
As I’m reading through Revelation, I am reminded of “Biblical proportions” as John describes some of the events of the times about which he prophesied. Whatever one believes about when all these terrible things are going to happen, the truth is that they are terrible and terrifying.
I wonder if somehow the end of a year triggers in people that fear of events to come. I noticed that a lot of the movies scheduled to be shown on television during this coming weekend have to do with terror. No one would admit that somewhere back in the recesses of t…


Reading: Revelation 6-8
The cradle is tightly bound to the cross. The first coming of Christ is connected unflinchingly to the second coming; once in humility and then again in glory.
For God, there is no counting of days as we know it. We count the days until the 2012 dawns and a new year begins, but time doesn’t have the same meaning for Him as it does for us, though He is perfectly aware of it. But He knew the hours, days, weeks, months and years that would pass from the time His Son left heaven to become a child in a manger to the time when His Son returned, resurrected, to Him. And though the centuries have passed, He has ordained the moment when that beloved Son will come again in glory.
It seems appropriate to finish the year reading about the stages and ages of the plan of God as it moves toward a completion and a new beginning.
This life is, at times, pitiless. Thankfully, this life is not permanent.
John records the create gathering of the saints from every tribe and n…

Have a Blessed Christmas

Reading: Jude
To those who have been called,             who are loved by God the Father                         and kept by Jesus Christ…
I desire for you a Christmas adorned by His presence, hovering, covering, and flooding your hearts during this special season of the year.
“…Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1, 2, NIV).

No Greater Gift

Reading: 3 JohnI have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4, NIV).We used to struggle with what to get mom and dad for Christmas. It’s not that they had everything. There was always one more gadget that we could have purchased, destined to gather dust on some shelf. After my mother’s death I got more use out of the blender my brother had bought her one Christmas than she ever did (it’s still going more than 25 years later). The truth is, my parents needed very little. And they wanted even less. My parents weren’t demonstrative types. In some ways that characteristic made it easier to identify those things that they really valued. I know they valued who I became much more than they valued any of the gifts I ever gave them.When I graduated from seminary my mother was recovering from a broken leg. There was no way she was going to be able to make the 500 mile trip to see me graduate. I was also the class valedictorian—a rare privilege since I w…

It's All About Motives

Reading: 2 John
I suppose I could be accused of seeing the Ten Commandments everywhere I look these days. That’s the natural outcome of preparations for the series that I am teaching beginning in January. But honest, I saw them again as I was reading 2 John this morning.Traditionally, we see our relationship to God in the first four commandments:·No other gods·No images·No misuse of God’s name

Give in to the Urge

Reading: 1 John 1-5
The introduction to this letter reminds me of a little kid with a secret that he just can’t wait to tell.The adults are busy doing whatever it is that adults do, and this little kid is tugging on the back of dad’s coat and clinging to mom’s leg to get their attention. He has something to say and if he doesn’t say it soon, he’s just gonna BURST!
He’s had an experience that he can’t wait to share, and everything else has faded into insignificance. FINALLY, his mother and father stop to listen—perhaps more in frustration at his insistence that anything, but at least they stop to hear what he has to say.
“Little” Johnny says: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared, we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to …

Between the Times

Reading: 2 Peter
I was researching the Celebration of Advent the other day and came across something that impressed me. Advent, according to its original purposes, is a celebration of the birth of Christ when He came as Saviour. But Advent is also celebrated in anticipation of that moment in the future when He will return as King and Judge. The author writes: “In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. This acknowledgement provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people” ( ).
That thought stayed with me as I read these verses from 2 Peter earlier this morning. In the last chapter of the letter, Peter refers to The …

Wisdom is a Lifestyle

Reading: James 1-5
My online dictionary defines wisdom as: ·the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. ·the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgment. ·the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period.
James gets even more specific, showing us that wisdom is as practical as a shopping cart in a grocery store. His definition of godly wisdom morphs into something perhaps quite different from what we might expect. He writes: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17, 18, NIV).
Godly wisdom is not based on human knowledge or experience. It is based on the character of God. It is pure, which explains James’s earlier statement that when we lack wisdom…

The God Who Speaks

Reading: Hebrews 9-13
The book of Hebrews is so rich. As I’ve read through it this week so many things jumped off the page. Since I have a series of studies on The Ten Commandments cooking away on the back burner of my mind, there was one verse in particular that struck me this morning as I read these wonderful chapters.
In Hebrews 12:18-29, the writer is describing in general terms the experience that Israel went through at the foot of Mount Sinai when God handed down The Ten Commandments to Moses. The Israelites had just come from a country of many gods. The Egyptians had a god for just about everything. But not a single one of those gods ever spoke to anyone about anything. At the foot of Sinai, God’s chosen instrument, Israel, watched as God descended on the mountaintop. Clouds, thunder, lightening, a display of power that had them shivering in their sandals, met them as they waited.
The silence of the false gods of Egypt sharply contrasted with the awe-inspiring voice of Jehovah wh…

I'm Sorry, But I'm Away From My Desk Right Now..."

Reading: Hebrews 5-8
No one is indispensable. We think we are. We act like we are. We’d like others to consider that we are—and appreciate us accordingly. I chuckle over the times I’ve announced that I was moving on and people have told me that they don’t know what they will do without me. Funny how life goes on so smoothly after I’ve left! I should either be insulted by their insincerity, or have my ego battered and bruised at the discovery that I really am NOT indispensable, or I should, as I do, laugh and say “You see—you got along just fine.”
But there is one Person who is indispensable and I’m so glad He’s on the job right this moment.
“…because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 8:25, NIV).
This verses refers specifically to salvation. Jesus never retires from the job of saving a repentant sinner. He never goes on holidays and tells a s…

Are You Resting?

Reading: Hebrews 1-4
It’s such a simple truth.
Then again God set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’ This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day, There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:7-10, NIV, emphasis mine).
It’s still God’s “Today,” the day of salvation.
That salvation, that “Today” of rest was proclaimed from the beginning of time. Creation tells the story. After God had finished His work of creation, He rested. It wasn’t because He was tired from all the activity because God never gets tired. He never sleeps. He never takes a day off or goes on vacation. God “rested” in order to give us an advance preview of what salvation was all about.
When we come to faith in Christ, we …

Read the BIG PRINT

Reading: 2 Timothy 1-4
Paul saw in Timothy a younger version of himself. Paul referred to himself as a “…herald and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Timothy 1:11, NIV) and told Timothy that because of the exercise of his gifts in the service of the Lord his mentor had suffered persecution. But Paul was not ashamed or deterred by the price he had paid in following the Lord and he didn’t want his young protégé to be either.
As he began this second letter to his beloved son in the faith, he encouraged Timothy to use his gifts to the best spiritual advantage possible. But he didn’t make light of what this boldness was going to cost the younger man. What he, Paul, had suffered, so Timothy would also suffer. “…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join me…

Those in Charge

Reading: 1 Timothy 1-6
Yesterday, I had slipped and fell on the street. This was the second time in three weeks and it happened in almost the same spot both times. This time I smashed my head against a chunk of ice/snow/sand/salt, melded together and lying at the edge of the sidewalk. No great damage done, thank the Lord. A few scratches on my face, more abuse to already abused knees, and the right lens of my glasses will have to be replaced. But that beats a broken leg or hip or whatever else could have happened.
I sent an email to the city Public Works department to advise them that this particular section was extremely dangerous and perhaps needed a little more attention that what it seems to be getting.
It never occurred to me to pray for the salvation of the city engineer to whom my email was addressed.
So when I read these verses from Timothy this morning I was reminded that my duty as a believer goes beyond being a good citizen—or reporting slippery sidewalks!
I urge, then, first …

Keeping Faith

Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1-3
Today, in Colombia, millions of lighted candles will line streets and window ledges. December 7th is celebrated as the day that Mary and Joseph pass through on their way to Bethlehem where Mary will give birth to Jesus, the Saviour of the world. The belief is that the candles indicate to Mary and Joseph the homes where they are welcome to rest during their journey. Those who live in those homes expect that God will reward their hospitality by blessing them during the coming year. This festival of lights always impressed me, even though the tradition is based on fiction and not fact. It impressed me because there was an anticipation, and expectation, a joy to it that so many traditions lack. People believe.
As Paul writes to the Thessalonian church, he compliments them on their faith and the perseverance that is the result of that genuine faith.
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and th…