Friday, November 27, 2015

Hope


Hope is in our risen Lord.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you…” (1Peter 1:3).  He has given of a living hope through his living Word that stands forever. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not our hope. This is how we stand in times of trouble in our world. Go to scripture and be reminded and strengthened in this hope.

On Him we set our hope.”  (2 Cor. 1:10). Fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:1).  This is hard in a world that is increasingly becoming more secular and even intolerant of Christians. Persecution will increase; sadly Jesus foretold it.  So where do we go? We return to the promises of God, some 7,500 promises. In Zechariah 9:12 the prophet says, “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” He goes on to say that the Lord will appear and his covenant promises will be fulfilled.

So, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks for the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15). He goes on to say to do this with gentleness and respect for it is better to be in God’s will and suffer for doing good than evil. We are bearers of the Light, so let us let our lights shine always and especially when we don’t feel like it. Don’t separate yourself from other believers, for they are going through the same things and you must lift each other up and encourage one another.

Hope is not some wish or slogan. It is a covenant promise. He is our ever- present help and hope in times of trouble.  Therefore, let’s turn to Paul’s Romans to secure our hope. He tells us that our love must be always sincere as we cling to what is good, never lacking in zeal. In Romans 12:12 he says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”  Yes, patient, eagerly waiting by faith through the Spirit of righteousness for which we hope, Paul tells the Galatians.


Hope, like faith is not always visible, but is evidence of things hoped for.  So we keep on, keeping on. And it is my prayer through my favorite verse in the New Testament, “May the God of hope fill you with all peace and joy as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Give Thanks

I rode my bike this morning before sunrise. As the light began to rise in the east it was golden with flowing rubies and fresh squeezed orange juice lifting up to the stars ensconced in cobalt. I gave thanks and praised God for the gift of life and everything that is in it, because it is all from Him and He is in it all.

“God is in the praise of His people” (Psalm 22:3).  God tells us to give thanks in all things. That’s right in and for all things. Not because all things are good, but because He is in all things and with you through them. It is a state of body, mind and spirit. God wants us to act out our gratitude by serving others.

“Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song” (Psalm 95:2). That’s what I did as I watched the sunrise this morning, I sang songs of praise and thanksgiving as many of the psalms proclaim. Hebrews 12:2 tells us “Let us be thankful and so worship our God.” That’s what we do when we show thanks and gratitude in song and acts of service.

“Give thanks to our God for His indescribable gift” (2Corinthians 9:15). This gift is of His Son, who lived, suffered and died for us that we might have life. That is a good start to making a list of thanksgiving to our God. All is from Him and He directs and guides us in everything. John 15:5 tells us that apart from Him we can do or are nothing.

So start giving thanks.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Resurrection Life


                                                            Easter is over- or is it? Christ has been crucified on the cross taking our punishment for all sins of mankind, yours and mine.  I have chosen the photo in this meditation because it points me to the cross. I ask you to examine the photo. See the three trees? The one in the middle is Christ’s cross to me. The fourth tree, the small one represnets me or you on our knees looking up to the cross. We are in the desert or wilderness looking up to where our help comes from as Psalm 121 says. Our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Why the tree and the wilderness?

Man is not good, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind.” (Jeremiah 17:9).  God said in Genesis that all creation was good, but things changed through disobedience of the first couple. This sin separated us from God who is holy. We needed God to cure our dark hearts through sacrifice on our behalf on the cross. Through Good Friday God in Christ died that we might live a new life, holy and pleasing to him. This is a gift of God. We need to receive this gift to find peace with God and be healed of our sin.

David, the Psalmist and King, sinned and sought after God. Psalm 139 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  It is no light matter to be examined by God, for he is just and omnipotent. Yet, in Psalm 103 it says that we should praise him with all our souls because he has forgiven all our sins,  healed all our diseases, and lifted our lives from the pit. In other words, by his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave he has overcome sin and death. He has brought new life to those who would believe.

That is why we bow our heads and knee before the Lord, our God, our Maker. He is the Overcomer and has given us that right to be his sons and daughters too.  That is the meaning of Easter. It is not about bunnies and eggs and flowers, except that they represent new life.  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  At this Eastertide state the commitment as Paul does in his letter to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).  This is the Easter commitment and paradox, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). Dying to self is and living to Christ is the definition of living a Christians life.


May your Lenten and Easter pledge be one of complete submission to Christ, baptized into his death and raised up again in his resurrection. Hallelujah., AMEN.

                                                           

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad

My father would be 98 today. His image now brings a sense of joy and peace. It was not always so.  It brings a picture of honor and loyalty and caring in chaos. You did not know him, but he lost his father to suicide when he was nine. He fought in Africa and Europe along side Patton, being blown up in Italy by a German 88mm artillery shell. He survived, but only after six months in hospital and 18 surgeries. He was fully disabled, but you wouldn’t know it in his adapting.

He served many on boards in education, arts, symphony and social relationships, having been a founding member of several key non-profits. He pondered one day that it was all “meaningless” as Solomon once said of life. I tried to persuade him otherwise. He argued that his long-term friend who sent him into early retirement after 38 years of service to one company made a lot of money on Boards, why not me. Well, because you did it for the right reasons, Dad.

You wanted me to learn and serve and provided for education to the highest and best levels. Your uncle had paid for you and your brothers when there was no money at home. You were an example of service that caused me to serve.

You married a woman who was greatly talented as a writer and actress, but became an alcoholic, with undiagnosed bi-polar disease, and Alzheimer’s dementia. The difficulty of staying with her became overwhelming, so you had to leave to live. I respect that decision. You found friendship and compassion in your life again.


You suffered again with shoulder and hip surgery. During my last visit to your home in Florida, we spoke of your continued hatred of the Germans. We spoke of faith. You “dropped the rock” and forgave your injurers and received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your sins forgiven. You died shortly thereafter a new man, now in heaven, safe and sound. Praise the Lord. Thank you Dad.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Battle for Holiness

The Battle for Holiness
We are sinners saved by grace, yet our hearts continue to be deceitful- who can know them as Jeremiah 17 tells us. This is scary to me. Yet, in the book, The Pursuit if Holiness, Jerry Bridges instructs us with Scripture to be ever watchful and vigilant against temptation and sin.  There will always be challenges to overcome, which the Holy Spirit in us strengthens us to do. Call on the Spirit for power and perseverance to battle. Satan will bring doubt, but the Spirit will bring victory.  For me, there are several besetting sins that I am currently battling- But thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:14-24):
·      Speak well of all people- see the good in them- do not speak evil (Romans 12- abhor evil…do not repay evil for evil)
·      Encourage always, build each other up! (“Therefore encourage one another” 1 Thess. 4:11;Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and long-suffering, bear with each other, forgiving one another; if anyone has a complaint against another, just as Christ forgave you, you must do so also, but above all put on love (Colossians 3:12-15).
·      Look only upon images that are holy and pleasing to God (“You lust and do not have” James 4:2)
·      Be self-controlled (disciplined), holy and devoted to me. (“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering” (1 Peter 5:8).
·      You are the Potter, I am the clay, mold me and make me more like you (Isaiah 64:8)
·      Be Light and not dark (God is light and in him there is no darkness; for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord… walk as children of the Light.  And Christ will give you light. (Eph. 5:8, 14).

“You however are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:9).