Wednesday May 27, 2020 – Jesus will make a way for you

John 16:33  I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world.  (Amplified)

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way.  He works in ways I cannot see.  He will make a way for me.”  These are the words of a wonderful song that speak to the heart of the issue for us.  We are surrounded by tribulation, trials, distress and frustration – just like Jesus said.  But in the midst of it all, we have reason for good cheer.  Jesus has overcome the world.

The ‘world’ would have us believe that our only reality is to be dominated by anxiety and fear.  Since so much of the negative stuff going on is beyond our control, we are tempted to succumb to the world’s view that we are – or about to be – victims.  The question, “What if…?” becomes a dominant theme in our thinking.  The anxiety and fear provide a fertile ground for anger and resentment that will have a profound negative impact in our lives
and relationships.  We struggle with feeling trapped with no way out.  If life was a Monopoly game, we feel like we’re stuck in Jail.

Fortunately, Jesus has “Get out of Jail” cards for us!  We don’t have to remain mired in the world’s emotional/mental responses to tribulation, trials, distress and frustration.  Better still, the Lord let’s us know that it’s not just having those negative feeling go away, He
enables us to have good cheer in the midst of it all.

We, as Jesus followers, are equipped to walk through everything with courage and confidence!  We are not victims!  Think of the ‘refreshing breeze’ we can be to those around us.  Think of being asked, “How can you be so calm and cheerful with all this junk going on?”  No matter what happens to us – the courage, confidence and joy are to be constant.  We are not victims.  Jesus has overcome the world and we are in Him.

Here is a link to the wonderful song by Don Moen:

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesday May 26, 2020 – You’ve got a friend…

2 Corinthians 5:7  We live by faith, not by sight.

Do you remember a song by James Taylor titled ‘You’ve Got A Friend’?  The words fit the times many of us are going through and I’ve got some of the words below.  Who is the friend you think of when you read them?

When you’re down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, whoa nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name,
And you know where ever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby
To see you again.  Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You’ve got a friend.

If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
And soon I will be knocking upon your door.

When I think of this song I think of Jesus.  When I’m down and troubled, I think of Jesus.  When nothing is going right or if the sky above turns dark and full of clouds, I think of Jesus.  The friend who is there when I call out His name is Jesus.

The eyes of faith see Him because He is with us.  The eyes of sight won’t because they’re focused on other things.  I think of Lucy in the Narnia tales.  She was able to see Aslan at times when the others couldn’t because of her faith.  Walking by faith is a skill to be learned and life is filled with so many things to distract us from it.

The reality of His presence with us is a whole lot more than just a warm feeling or a sense we’re not alone.  He changes us!  He changes how we relate and respond to everything going on around us.  He speaks, ‘Peace’ to the storm raging within us just as He did with the disciples in the boat.  And we find ourselves filled with awe at His power just as they did.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday May 25, 2020 – Lucy and the Magician’s book

Matthew 7:1  Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Judging others can be a bit like having termites in the house – the problem can be there for a lengthy time before we become aware of it.  Then we have to discover how extensive the problem is and deal with it.  A powerful example of judging wrongly comes from CS Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

In a house on an island, Lucy discovers a Magician’s book that offers her all kinds of opportunities – not all of which are appropriate.  She speaks the words of a spell that will enable her to know what her friends thought of her.  As she’s looking at the pictures in the book, she is aware that she is seeing and hearing two classmates, Anne and Marjorie,
speaking about her on a train back in England.  The conversation does not go as she expects.

Anne asks Marjorie if she is going to continue spending so much time with Lucy; she asserts that the last term (at school) Marjorie was crazy about Lucy.  Marjorie replies that
she wasn’t crazy about Lucy, saying, “I’ve got more sense than that.  Not a bad little kid in her way.  But I was getting pretty tired of her before the end of the term.”

Lucy explodes with indignation calling Marjorie a “Two-faced little beast.”  She then realizes that she’s talking to a picture in the Magician’s book, but still is distressed by
this perceived betrayal by her friends, particularly Marjorie.  Lucy had really befriended Marjorie, but she now wonders if her other friends are the same.

A few minutes later, Lucy sees Aslan in the room with her – He had been there all the time.  He speaks to her about eavesdropping on her two friends and how she had misjudged Marjorie.  Aslan tells her, “(Marjorie) is weak, but she loves you.  She was afraid of the older girl and said what she does not mean.”

We are too prone to snap-judgments, and thinking we know why someone did something.  Doing so is sin and has such significant consequences – spiritual and otherwise.  Instead of judging, we must release things to the Lord and look to Him. I thank God for how He has used this scene to warn and keep me from making the mistake of judging others.  Pray that He will do likewise for you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday May 24, 2020 – The problem with ‘Why?’

Psalm 139:23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Scripture plays a critical role in our lives in helping us respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  It forms the framework upon which we can evaluate whether something within us is right or wrong – whether a behavior is offensive or wicked (KJV).

A major problem that we have with the more subtle sins is that we don’t see or recognize them.  We can be blind to them and their deadly work.  It’s like our grasp of the obvious has been turned off.  We’re clueless to the red warning light flashing on the dashboard before us.

We might be blind due to the hardness of our hearts, or the blindness may stem from certain behaviors being well established habits.  Praise God when He opens our eyes to see
behaviors and attitudes in our lives that are negative and hurtful, both to us and to others.

There is a 3 letter word that can be a source of much pain and even sin.  It is the source of a most negative life habit that afflicts us all.  It is the word ‘why’.  Our response to this word profoundly affects our communications, thoughts, attitudes, behavior and relationships.  Unfortunately, once we start contemplating it, our response almost
always leads us to sin and we’re not even aware of it.

Consider the following situations:

  • A friend walks by you and doesn’t speak to you.
  • Your spouse forgets something important.
  • Someone doesn’t return your smile.
  • Someone is curt with you.

In each of these and a myriad of other circumstances our natural (fleshly) tendency is to immediately think of the question, “Why did they do/say that?”  “Why” wants to know
the motivation that precipitated the action we question.  “Why” wants to know what the reason is so we can judge whether or not we think it’s valid.  Should we be offended or hurt?  Maybe they aren’t a true friend after all, and so on…

The problem is that judging motives is forbidden by scripture.  It is something we are to
avoid like the plague.  Romans 14:10a raises the question, “You, then, why do you judge your brother?”  Instead of looking to judge, a more redemptive practice would be to use such behaviors as triggers for prayer.  Instead of indulging our own insecurities, we
need to focus our trust upon the Lord.  Allow perceived negative behaviors to roll off us like water off a duck’s back.

Instead of “Why did they do that to me?” perhaps our response could be, “O Lord Jesus, they must be struggling today.  Please show them your grace and mercy.”  Instead of taking affront, we should respond with grace.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saturday May 23, 2020 – A memory of theMill and Krispy Kreme

Psalm 34:8a  Taste and see that the LORD is good;

We lived in Colorado Springs from 2005 – 2009.  During that time it was our privilege to be a part of a marvelous Friday night gathering there called “theMill”.  About 1,000 college age and 20-somethings gathered each Friday night for over two hours of worship and teaching.

The pastor of theMill at that time was Aaron Stern.  The Lord so gifted him in communicating to this age group.  One of the more memorable times was when Aaron spoke on this verse.  After some preliminary comments, he brought out a box of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.

Aaron proceeded to talk about the company that made these donuts.  He went on for some time talking about how successful they were; how they were growing; how many stores they had;  just on and on.  He then opened the box of donuts and began describing what they looked like.  How many there were in the box; what the smell was like.  Then he lifted a donut out to examine it and for everyone to see it.

He finally looked at everyone, grinned and said how it wasn’t enough to know about Krispy Kreme and the donuts they made.  He had to sample one – so he did.  Aaron proceeded to slowly take one bite after another – oohing and ahhing as he savored each bite.  He just ate the donut and said it was so good he had to eat another.  So he ate another continuing the sound effects of just super-enjoying what he tasted.  As you can imagine, the crowd was going nuts while he was doing this.

This all led him to the point that it wasn’t enough to know about God – we have to experience Him.  We have to taste him and see just how good He is.  In 1 Peter 2:1-3 Peter is giving them instructions in light of the fact that, “…now that you have tasted that the
Lord is good.”   When we walk in His ways our daily lives will be filled with ‘tasting’ Him and being consumed with His goodness.

PS – At the end of Aaron’s message he announced that out in the foyer there were Krispy Kreme donuts for everyone to taste and enjoy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friday May 22, 2020 – Make trusting God our ‘normal’

1 Chronicles 5:20 They were helped in fighting them, and God handed the Hagrites and all
their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.

Today’s verse presents trusting in the Lord in a way that is probably more common to most Christians.  In the midst of a crisis, we call on the Lord.  The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh were in a battle and in the midst of it they cried out to the Lord.  God answered their prayers, because they trusted in Him.  The Amplified Bible describes this trust as ‘they relied on, clung to, and trusted in Him’.

This event is such a wonderful example of God’s ‘normality’ – His people are in situation; they pray and trust Him and He answers their prayers.  The goal is to make this ‘our
normality’ – but with the recognition that it applies to every area of our lives.  We must avoid at all cost life-habits that in reality say, ‘When all else fails, trust God.’  Or, a more positive way of saying this negative is, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’

Here is where our relationship with the Lord becomes so vital.  Walking in His ways is a primary way of learning to trust Him.  His ways bring blessing and when we walk in them we experience Him more and more.  We learn that God can’t be unfaithful or unloving or uncaring.  He is always there.  It becomes a given in our hearts and minds that God is intimately involved in our situations because that is the way He is.  No matter what happens, He is there with us and for us.

We can experientially learn the reality that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego expressed to the king when confronted with being thrown into a blazing furnace.  They declared to him that their God was able to rescue them and they believed He would …but even if He didn’t….  Their trust and confidence was in Him!

Our confidence and trust in Jesus is not predicated on the outcome – it becomes experientially a given in our lives.  No matter what – He is true and we stand securely in that knowledge and relationship.  It is not just a theological truth we affirm – it is the reality that we experience with Him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday May 21, 2020 – The wonderful blessing of kindness

Ephesians 4:32a  Be kind and compassionate to one another,…

A special memory from several years ago:  “I am sitting in my leather recliner typing with Pappy, a small Poodle, squeezed in next to me on the seat. My left arm is resting on his back as I type. It’s funny, when I went to sit down, he was off to the side but when I sat down, he was already in the chair next to me. Pappy is Tom & Karen’s dog.  They are good friends of ours and Pappy is a good friend of Snuggles, our Pekingese.”

While living in Tennessee, Donna and I so appreciated the fact that when we went out of town, Tom & Karen watched Snuggles, and when they went out of town, we got to watch Pappy.  It was a twofold blessing.  The blessing to us wasn’t just when our pet was being watched by them.  There was an equal blessing to us when we watched their pet.  We know how we feel when we’re the ones traveling.  We didn’t worry about Snuggles because she was with them.  Likewise, they didn’t worry about Pappy, because Pappy was with us.  While it’s wonderful to save the cost of a kennel, the blessing is far more than monetary.  It was a very special kindness that both couples were able to experience – and one that any owner of a pet can appreciate.

Stop and think about the wonderful blessing of ‘kindnesses’.  Can you think of incidents in your life where similar types of kindnesses occur?  I’m talking about where we experience an awareness of being blessed; where we want to say thank you to the one(s) extending the kindnesses to us.  Kindnesses can be big or small.  Sometimes the smallest things done at the right time can bring extraordinary blessing.  They are like seasonings in our lives –
making things ‘taste’ better.

How about where we are the ones seeing the needs of others and helping them?  Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We don’t ‘do’ to ‘get’ – but He was describing something that is to become a way of life for us.  It’s the wonder of being other-oriented.  Today’s verse can be viewed as a command that we have to do (which it really is) or we can view it as one of God’s keys to great blessing: we get to be kind and compassionate!

An important thought to remember:  kindnesses are actions – not just feelings of good will.  They are things we do.  It is seeing opportunities around us and responding where we are able.  Remember how blessed we are when others see our need and are kind to us.  Let us do likewise.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment