All Things? Really?

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8.28

These words are filled with a promise from God. Paul declares that we can KNOW this one thing: “all things work together for good to them that love God … ” Have you ever struggled with this verse? I must confess that I have. But I think that my question has been this: “How is God going to make this _____________ work together for me in my lifetime?” And then the thought comes to mind, “Why does it MATTER HOW God is going to do it? If He said it, it will happen.”

Let’s loo for moment at the phrase “all things … ” Does that mean the death of a spouse? Yes! Does that mean the death of a child? Yes. Does that mean the premature death of a parent? Yes. Does that mean the loss of a good paying job? Yes. Does that mean a grandchild who is born with birth defects? Yes. Does that mean a marriage that goes wrong and ends in divorce? This is only a small portion of things that we could include in God’s “all things.” But if the verse is going to mean anything at all to us, we must literally believe “that all things work together for good to them that love God … ”.

Some manuscripts read, “God works in all things for the good.” But what is the context of meaning for this last phrase: “, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”? Let’s consider this translation: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” What is God’s purpose for me? For you? I believe His purpose for us is to be His hands and feet, mouth and ears to a lost world. How are they going to know The Christ we know if He is not reflected in our lives? Perhaps today we should consider BEING His hands and feet, mouth and ears to the lost world around us and to the believing world of which we are all a part! Just my thoughts …

When Waiting Pays Off!

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait and in his word do I hope.” Psalm 130.5

Waiting is one of the most difficult things that any of us do. We wait on our spouse, or our children, or the order at the fast food restaurant, etc. I find one of my most difficult waiting times is when I am stopped at a traffic light and it seems like I need to shave when it turns green – I have been there so long.

But what we are looking at here is a totally different “wait”. Sometimes in our haste to “do what’s right” we get ahead of God. We may forget that God does not work on the clock the way we do. His view of things is from eternity past, to the present, and into the future with no end in sight. So waiting for the Lord to give us the next step must be more than an exercise in patience. It must be our daily routine.

As if the phrase “I wait for the LORD” wasn’t enough, the psalmist adds: “my soul doth wait … ” indicating that in his inner most being he has made the conscious decision to wait on the Lord. That may not seem like a big deal, but I can’t remember the number of times I have heard someone say, “the Lord told me to do it,” and whatever “it” was turned out to be the total opposite of what God had already told us in His Word.

Finally, the reason for waiting on the Lord is given in this last phrase: “in his word do I hope.” Remember that the word hope here does not mean that there is a possibility that something WON’T happen. Quite the opposite – it means that whatever God says WILL happen is as good as already done. That, my friends, is genuine hope. Let’s bank on that today. Just my thoughts …

The Riches of His Grace!

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1.7

The beginning words “In whom” refer to Christ. We have redemption through His blood. It is relatively easy to find someone who believes that all they need to do to get to heaven is have enough good works to offset their bad works. The only problem with that belief is that it is contrary to what this verse says. Redemption is ours BECAUSE of the shed blood of Christ. We read in Hebrews 9.22: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without shedding of blood is no remission.” The ONLY reason Christ came to die was to pay the necessary price demanded by His Father for our sins to be covered. I can’t thank Him enough every day for paying this price for my sin.

There is a distinct biblical truth here. Christ’s blood paid for our sin so His Father could forgive us, and that forgiveness is based on the shedding of the blood of Christ. Make no mistake about it; He does not forgive us because we deserve it. On the contrary, if God should give us what we deserve, we would all spend eternity in hell. Our acceptance to God is made possible by the sacrifice made by His Son.

In this final phrase we find the words that make all of this possible: “ … according to the riches of his grace.” GRACE – just the sound of the word speaks volumes. Someone has suggested this acrostic: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. We can NEVER measure the bountifulness of God’s grace. When we have drawn heavily upon God’s grace we leave Him with no less grace than He had before we asked. Think of the repeated times in your life when God has extended grace to you – times when you did not deserve it, times when you had to strain to recognize it – and yet God was faithful. Thank Him today for His boundless grace and rejoice in the life he has given you “according to the riches of his grace.” Just my thoughts …

A Life Like No Other!

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10.10 – 11

Abundant life – what is that? What does it look like? I can tell you what it is NOT? It is not a life of continual complaining, continual blaming someone else for my problems, continual whining because life has dealt me a terrible blow. It is not living life like I am a victim instead of an overcomer. If that sounds a little strong, then lets think for a bit about what Jesus said.

The abundant life is a life that looks at the beginning of each day and says to God, “Lord, today you and I make a majority. I can handle it because you have prepared it.” Sound too simple? Not at all. It is a matter of knowing who is in control. When I am willing to release my day, my hour, my minute to God for Him to control, then I can embrace and enjoy the abundant life. The abundant life does not mean that I am happy all the time, because happiness depends on what happens. But I can still have a joy-filled life in the midst of my greatest storm – because I have transferred control of my life to God.

Transfer of control is not a one-time deal. It is something that I need to do every day. Perhaps more than once a day, depending on whether or not I insist on taking back control because I think I can handle it better than God can.

When we look at verse 11, we quickly discover a valid reason for embracing this abundant life. In stark contrast to the thief who comes (1) to steal, (2) to kill, and (3) to destroy, our Shepherd sealed everything for me when he gave His life for me. As one of His sheep, I know His purpose for me, and that is for me to embrace the abundant life, and when I do that, my life will bring honor and glory to God. Just my thoughts …

Why Am I Stuck Where I Am?

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119.165

I think you have to read that verse a few times before its truth sinks in. We are living in a time where many people – even Christians – are offended so easily. And the result of that offense is the reason so many “professing Christians” don’t go to church. We get offended is someone doesn’t shake our hand. We get offended if we are overlooked after we have done something “for the church”. The list could be extensive but there is no need.

Let’s look carefully at the two phrases in this verse: “Great peace have they which love thy law … ” What does it mean to “love” the law of God? Would that include the Bible – God’s written word? I surely think so. One of the problems with a careless or spasmodic reading of God’s Word is that we know just enough to be dangerous. I can’t love something deeply until I have examined it enough to have more than a superficial knowledge of it. When I am willing to love God’s law, then I am willing to allow His Word to correct me when I am wrong. I am willing to live my life in accordance with God’s Word rather than contrary to it.

Now this last phrase: “nothing shall offend them.” Our purpose in going to the house of God is not to get someone to shake our hand. Nor is it to allow us to find something that we don’t like and let that offend us. Our purpose – our only purpose – is to worship with the people of God. So what if I don’t like the color of paint on the walls. So what if I don’t like the new carpet. So what if they don’t sing my favorite songs all the time. If I am OFFENDED by these things, then I have allowed “my stuff” to get in the way of worshiping my Heavenly Father. And believe it or not, He does care if I worship Him. Just my thoughts …

Glorify God HOW?

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.15-16

Peter has two thoughts running side by side here and we need to hearken to both of them. His first concept here is that our suffering ought not be because we have done something we should not have done, such as murder, stealing, evil doing, or sticking our nose into someone else’s business. We may need to read that last one again and ask God to deliver us from being too noisy.

Then he tackles the concept of a Christian suffering. Looking back at the book of Job, we see Job’s friends ASSUMING that Job is suffering because he has done something wrong. Not just one of them makes that claim, but all four of them. So when you and I see another brother or sister in Christ suffering, let’s not assume they have done something wrong and God is punishing.

If you are the one who is suffering, there is no shame in suffering. And God alone may be the only one who knows WHY you are suffering, and He may choose not to reveal that to you. So what is the attitude that we should take if we are suffering? Peter tells us: “let him glorify God on this behalf.” You may ask, “How can God be glorified in my suffering?” Is it possible that God is allowing you or me to suffer to show those who are watching us that God is enough – even in our suffering? I think there are times when we neglect to think that our suffering may not be about us at all. It may be about those around us who are waiting to see how we respond to our suffering.

It is also possible that God allows us to suffer so that we can do as Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” While these are just my thoughts, they are worthy of our consideration …

This Is REAL Trust

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56.4

When you read the phrase, “I will not fear what flesh can do unto me”, what comes to your mind? David certainly had occasion to fear flesh – especially when Saul wanted to kill him. So, what can we draw from this verse that will help US? David’s opening words give us the secret to not fearing what flesh can do to us.

In God I will praise his word … ” You may ask what does praising God have to do with overcoming fear of the flesh? We cannot, we will not, give praise to a powerless God. On the contrary, when we realize not just who our God is, but also come to understand His immensity and His power, praising Him is the natural by-product of KNOWING God in an intimate way. When Paul said in Philippians 3.10: “That I may know Him … ”, this word know is the same one used to describe a man knowing a woman in an intimate way. That is how we want to know God.

Now, David says: “ … in God I have put my trust … ” We exercise trust everyday in so many different ways. We walk into a room and sit on a chair that we trust. We flip a light switch because we trust the power company to supply the power. We get in our cars and start them, trusting it will take use where we want to go. So when it comes to trusting God, we need to use our trust in a greater degree because our ability to trust God more and more enables us to “not fear what flesh can do unto (us).” This is such a liberating place to be – knowing that God is worthy of our praise, is worthy of our trust, and is able to deliver us from whatever “flesh” may want to do to us. Just my thoughts …

Thanksgiving Leads to Thankful Living!

O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. ” Psalm 105.1

Each day, as the Lord gives me a verse for my blog, I am amazed at how much I need that verse, even if no one else is blessed. Today is no different. The psalmist reminds you and me to “give thanks unto the Lord … ” You and I both know that a thankful person is someone we enjoy being around. Their whole outlook on life is different and it rubs off on us. The truth of the matter is, no one should ever have to remind us to be thankful. So often I have been reminded that God’s goodness is only exceeded by His grace.

Let’s see if this phrase can be incorporated into our conversations for today. When we are talking with others, it is ok to say that God has been good to us and we are THANKFUL. It is ok to say that God has blessed us in some particular way and we are THANKFUL. We need to respond to the Spirit’s prompting to give God credit for His blessings and to let others know about them.

Look at these phrases together: “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. ” I see a progression of thought here in all three phrases: (1) give thanks, (2) call upon his name, and (3) make known his deeds. When we call upon God’s name, we are coming to OUR God who knows all about us and who is waiting to hear us call so He can answer. Are there times when God doesn’t answer? Indeed there are. But His knowledge, His timing, and His answer will come in the way and at the right time and we may be surprised at what He does – but His way is perfect (Psalm 18.30).

Finally, we can and must make known His deeds among the people. It is not only our RESPONSIBILITY to make His deeds known. It is our PRIVILEGE to make His deeds known. It looks to me like we both have a great day before us – so let’s give thanks, call upon His name, and make His deeds known. Just my thoughts …

When Was the Last Time You Were Alone with God?

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46.10

Remember hen you were a kid and your mom used to say, “Would you just be still?” That was especially effective if she used my full name. Well, in this verse God is saying to us, “Be still, and know that I am God:” The fast pace of our culture seems to make it difficult for us to just be still for anything. But if we are going to LISTEN to God when He whispers, we really need to “be still.” Do you have a time anywhere during the day when you are alone with God – just God and you? Before someone has a heart attack and wants to tell me how busy they are, I get it. But you CARVE OUT time to do anything else you want to do.

If God is nothing more than a divine errand boy, you don’t have a God at all, you have a servant. That brings us to the next phrase: “I will be exalted among the heathen.” You ask, “How is God going to pull that off?” and my answer is that I don’t know, but He says, “I will …” and I know He will. But WHY can’t He be exalted in our lives? Are we so preoccupied or unwilling to grant God permission to be glorified in us? IF I am God’s child (and I am), then any changes that need to be made in order for God to be exalted in me must be changes that I am willing to make. God is just waiting … and waiting … and waiting for us to get things together.

Finally, this final phrase: “I will be exalted in the earth.” WOW, I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of what God is doing on this earth to glorify Himself. I want to be a vessel that He is willing to use to execute His plan. You and I know that God will not use a dirty vessel, so it is OUR responsibility to keep our vessel clean and available to God. Once again, these are just my thoughts …

God Loves ALL the World!

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3.9

If there was ever any question about God’s heart when He sacrificed His Son on the cross, it is surely answered here. How can anyone reach the conclusion that Christ died for a select few when Peter states so clearly that God is “not willing that any should perish … ”? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if WE really believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2: “And he (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”).

Peter reminds us that God “is longsuffering to usward … ” If any one of the apostles understood the longsuffering heart of God, it was Peter. When we consider the various events in Peter’s life that Christ went through with him and saw him recover, we can grasp something of Peter’s heart. I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21 when He asked Peter, “do you love me?” and Peter said, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.

The last phrase in the verse above is worth considering: “all should come to repentance.” Who is the “all” here? It is the world for whom Christ died. The tragic thing today is that there are so many in our world that have never heard the name of Christ. They don’t even know that God has a Son and that He died for their sins. Let me ask a question that I have asked before in previous blogs. Is it God’s fault that so many in the world have never the message or is it the fault of the local New Testament church who has failed to send missionaries to remote villages and lands where no white man has ever been seen? I realize the church cannot send someone until they have SURRENDERED all to Christ and have been trained to go. But, an honest question here, are our churches asking for people to surrender – teens, college students, young couples, you name it. Could it be that WE need to pray for God to call some and if He calls US, will we go? Just my thoughts …