Thursday, September 7, 2017

Buried in a Storm

Our daughter Allison is today leaving her residence in Ft. Lauderdale to head inland since she only lives 1 mile from the ocean. The past few days Hurricane Irma has left a destructive path.  One such story had people buried under heavy debris not know when others could actually save them. We are praying for all the victims of these horrible disasters and for the responders that assist.

This also made me think of our faith and trust in Jesus and before we met Jesus Christ, our situation was just like those people on the island—buried under a load of sin, with no way to get out by my own power. David paints a vivid picture of this in Psalm 40. "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord" (vv. 1-3).

Those verses describe what God will do in the life of every individual who comes to Him.

"...He inclined to me, and heard my cry..." God leaned toward you to hear. He listened.

"...brought me up out of a horrible pit..." The New International Version calls it a "slimy pit," and I like that. That's your past. When you look back, all you have to glory in is a slimy pit. Paul said, "I know that in me, that is in my flesh, there dwells no good thing" (Romans 7:18). You were without hope, but He lifted you up.

"...set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps..." After God delivered you out of the miry clay of sin, He set you upon a solid foundation. He gave you stability. He gave you direction and a goal for your life.

"...put a new song in my mouth..." And you that have a relationship with the Lord know what that's like, that new song of worship and praise because God delivered you. It's something you're eternally grateful for.

"...many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord..." That's what the Lord does when he changes a life. He makes it so obvious to the world that they see and they marvel. And many of them will trust in the Lord because they see the changed life. They think, "He was so messed up, but now he's got a song. He's got direction and purpose. I want to know the kind of God that can change lives like that."

So, all of us who have been saved out of that slimy pit, let's make this our new song: "Let such as love Your salvation say continually, 'The Lord be magnified!'" (v. 16).  No matter what storm comes our way.

Love God – Love People

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tweet Tweet Tweet

Birds were suppose to be confused yesterday and start tweeting in the dark of the eclipse morning.  I did not notice that happening, but it did make me stumble across an article about "tweeting."  Market researchers recently studied Twitter, to check out what kind of information is being posted on its service. If you're not familiar with Twitter, it is a social networking site where people can pass along short messages, called "tweets.” Here's what they found. Over 40 percent of the "tweets" were "Pointless Babble," stuff like "I'm having a sandwich." Another 37 percent were listed as "Conversational," basically instant messages sent from one individual to another. Less than nine percent had any Pass-Along Value, and Self-Promotion, Spam, and News items were even smaller than that. So, by far, the majority of the communication is trivial.

The subscribers to the "tweets" are called "followers." It's interesting that those they're following are telling them things that are unimportant. Now, don't get the idea that I'm criticizing Twitter or similar web-based communication sites. I'm not. I use them myself.  But here's what I'm getting at. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are a follower of the Savior of the world. You know the one who gave His life as a ransom for yours, and for anyone who believes. You have information that has pass-along value. You know how people can be saved from the power of sin in their lives, and from the punishment for those sins.

So your communication should be more than just "pointless babble." It should be about the hope that you have in Jesus Christ. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). Note that--your salvation is a gift from God! Isn't that wonderful news?

But look at Romans 10:14-15. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'"

Verse 12 reminds us that God "is rich to all who call upon him," and verse 13 says, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." But first they have to get that message. Your job, and the job of every believer in Jesus Christ, is to make sure you pass it along to them.

Love God – Love People

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Lord is my Strength

Franklin Graham tells the story about a little girl he saw in Rwanda, after that country's civil war a few years ago. She was a refugee who had just witnessed the murder of her entire family, and she was sitting in the back of a truck, clutching a blanket and singing. He asked one of the soldiers what she was saying, and the soldier translated it: "Jesus loves me, this I know..." She had just lost everyone and everything that she knew, and she was singing praise to God!

Not many of us face such horrific circumstances in our lives, and that's by the mercy of God. But we all face battles where we are tempted to doubt the goodness or the power of God. This is part of spiritual warfare. Paul puts it this way: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

The faithful Christian understands that there is an intense battle going on at all times. There are enemies all around, and hell doesn't give you a standing ovation when you commit your life to Christ. Jesus Himself knew warfare—His earthly ministry began with forty days of warfare with Satan in the wilderness, and it ended in Gethsemane, with Jesus sweating great drops of blood, before the last great battle on the cross.

As Christians, we are not exempt from suffering. It may come in the form of sickness or loss of a job, or through the terrible events like the little Rwandan girl experienced. Suffering intensifies spiritual warfare and the fear that may make us doubt the grace and the mercy of God.

Yet, we should not fear. Psalm 27 is a song of confidence in the Lord. It was written during the time when David was on the run from Saul, who was trying to kill him. Listen to what David says: "Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident... For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock" (v. 3, 5).

I encourage you to spend some time with this Psalm. Read it. Meditate on the truths it expresses. God knows and understands the battles you face. He knows, and He cares. Even if you are forsaken by everyone and everything else, the Lord will take care of you (see v. 10).

Whatever the challenges, whatever the battles, we can all say, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (v. 1).

Love God – Love People