Happily Ever-After

2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

I read this quote somewhere the other day, “Don’t bother me; I’m living happily ever after”; it might have been a FaceBook status. But it brought to mind how we often think that is the way life ought to be, just happy always. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, if you’ve yet to realize it, life doesn’t work that way.

People get the impression that Christians don’t have and won’t have problems, trials, or tragedies in their lives, usually from false teaching or innocent misunderstanding. Either way, the Bible clearly teaches that the children of God aren’t immune to bad things happening to them: take a look at Job or the lives (and deaths) of the apostles and I think you’ll agree. Though we are blessed enough that we, in this country, at this time, don’t have a great worry of being killed or assaulted physically because of our faith, we do face verbal abuse, ridicule, discrimination, and other forms or persecution. While maybe not life threatening, these assaults can be very hurtful at the least. So, how do we handle them? Jesus said to count it a blessing! And to pray for those that are performing these acts. Too often we remember the former and not the latter. Let us pray first and count the blessing afterward.

Heard at Wal Mart

Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind.

Today I had a few errands to run, including a trip to Wal Mart. To my pleasant surprise, shortly after entering the store I ran into three members of my church family. We had a very pleasant little conversation that included each of us making mention of our choir leader. For you that don’t know him, Bro. Buddy Merritt is one of the kindest, humblest folks I know and his love for our Lord just, well, radiates about him.

Anyway, the four of us agreed that more than once Buddy has stood and spoken almost verbatim what was on our own heart during his testamony. One of us even joked that it was kind of amazing how that could be; and that we ought to be more apt to get up and say what God has put on our heart as soon as He does so!

After leaving the store, on my way home in my truck I was thinking about our conversation and those thoughts led me to this conclusion: We are all different in how we express our love and our praise for God. But for four different people, five including Bro. Buddy, to get the same praise-filled thoughts, at times simultaneously, demonstrates that, even in our different ways and with our different “styles” of expression, we are truly in one mind and of one accord. Yes, I may say it differently than you, you may have more emotion than I, but we are still worshipping Him Who is worthy in “Spirit and truth”, just as He desires us to.

Abundance

John 10:10 … I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

Sunday evening I was honored and privileged to preach at one of our sister churches, Madison UBC. After studying and meditating over the last few days I had a good idea of what the message was to be. About an hour before it was time to get ready to leave I was greatly troubled, out of the blue, as they say, by today’s verse; the word “abundantly” and how Jesus meant it specifically troubled my mind. I did a quick study on the word and the verse and thought I was done, as my mind was at ease now. Boy, was I wrong! God’s message (notice how I phrased it this time) was to be centered around this thought and idea I soon learned. I feel led to share some of that message and thought with you here, too.

Jesus used the word abundantly here to refer to love and zeal for God: our lives should abound with love for Him, His people and His Word. Yes, some will have an abundance of “things” here in this life but we all can have the greatest abundance after while if we will have the abundant love for God now, serving Him with zeal from the heart. How to we get the abundant life? By living a surrendered life: totally yielded and surrendered to God.

A Gift

Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

The other day I received an email about the healthcare debate. The writer obviously disagrees with the whole idea saying:

“Let me get this straight: We’re going to be “gifted” with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t?”

While healthcare or politics are not the subject of this email the author quoted above brings up one good point: If you have go pay for something it isn’t a gift.

In today’s verse Paul tells us that our salvation is a free gift. The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by God’s grace, nothing of ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We cannot earn salvation; we don’t deserve it to begin with. We cannot pay for it; Christ Jesus has already done that. It is open to all who will receive it through and by Jesus. But we have to be open to the Gospel and receive the gift; there’s no other way (John 10:9; Acts 4:12).]

A Pun-ny Thing

James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

Earlier today I defrosted some chicken in the microwave to make for dinner tonight. Our microwave has a defrost setting which sounds an alert about 1/2 way through the defrost cycle so you can turn or flip your food for better results. When the timer sounded I looked into the microwave and saw the plate turning on the rotisserie. Immediately the this thought popped into my head “now THAT’S poultry in motion!”. Are you laughing? Probably not. But it sure seemed funny to me at the time.

Have you ever said something to someone and accidentally hurt their feelings or made them angry? Probably; I sure have. Just like that “poultry pun” above was funny to me but probably not you, what we say isn’t always received as we intend for it to be. It’s important to remember this as both the speaker and the listener. If you find yourself in this situation, on either end of the spoken-stick, humbly seek to rectify the situation as soon as you can (in a rational fashion). Any wound unattended will only fester into some thing much, much worse the longer it is let go.

You’re Not “All That”

Psalm 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

You’re Not “All That”

There are certain “givens” in God’s universe, and one of them is this: Humility is always a good thing. No matter what the situation or circumstance; no matter who, what, where, when, or how; God desires for us to be humble people. And God gives those who have this quality the guarantee that He will guide and teach them.

It’s worth mentioning that being humble doesn’t mean being down on one’s self. Oh, I’m no good at that. I could never accomplish something like that. Humility isn’t a matter of being defeated or depressed. In fact, depression and defeatism are actually subtle forms of pride, because they’re essentially self-centered when you get right down to it.

Genuine humility, the kind of humility God desires, isn’t self-centered but simply self-aware. It has an accurate understanding of one’s place in this world. It understands its limitations apart from God-and at the same time its ability in God.

Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word here for humble carries the connotation of “learning through suffering.” The idea is that a person goes through a painful process of realizing their weaknesses and limitations as they navigate this world. Just as they start to think they’ve got it all together, God allows something to happen to prove just how undone they are without Him.

That’s the kind of humility we all need to possess. We need to be self-aware and in tune with how un-together we are. And as we are, we’ll have the kind of hearts God can guide and teach.

Lord, help us to have the sort of self-awareness about our limitations that produces humility. Protect us from any attitude that would prevent us from being led and taught by You.

What does this passage reveal to me about God? What does this passage reveal to me about myself? Based on this, what changes do I need to make? What is my prayer for today? -Bob Coy (www.youversion.com)

Revival Stew

Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Revival Stew
– Author: John Gillmartin

Revival is like putting last night’s stew on the stove. Your leftover stew was real tasty yesterday but has been in the refrigerator since. Now it’s cold, thick, and chunky and feels too heavy to eat.

But the flame from the burner begins to chase away the chill. Then the stew begins to lose its lethargy and starts to warm and thin. Soon, with some stirring, it becomes a warm, fluid, consistent source of nourishment and strength, as it was intended to be.

Churches are like that. Our faith is like that. Once in awhile God needs to put us on the stove of chastisement and stir us up, so we will be as we are intended to be.

Stephen Olford defines revival as “the sovereign act of God, in which He restores His own backsliding people to repentance, faith, and obedience.” Revival is restoration!

 

A Cup of Cold Water

This is a true story I came across in my reading, penned by William H. Hassler in “The Christmas Spirit,”

Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

It was 11 days before Christmas. Peace and good will were far from the thoughts of 200,000 Union and Confederate soldiers facing each other across the broad, blood-spattered arena of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 14, 1862. The past few days had been gruesome with more than 12,000 soldiers killed. Nineteen-year-old Sergeant Richard Kirkland, Company E of Kershaw’s Second South Carolina Brigade, had seen enough. Kirkland went to see Confederate General Joseph Kershaw. “General,” he said, “I can’t stand this!” He startled his commanding officer. “All night and all day I hear those poor Federal people calling for water,” he said, “and I can’t stand it any longer. I ask permission to go and give them water.”

Kershaw shook his head sympathetically. “Sergeant,” he replied, “you’d get a bullet through your head the moment you stepped over the stone wall onto the plain.” “Yes, sir,” answered Kirkland, “I know that, but if you let me, I’m willing to try it.” The General responded, “The sentiment which prompts you is so noble that I will not refuse your request. God protect you. You may go.”

Quickly the South Carolinian hurdled the wall and immediately exposed himself to the fire of every Yankee sharpshooter in that sector. Kirkland walked calmly toward the Union lines until he reached the nearest wounded soldier. Kneeling, he took off his canteen and gently lifted the enemy soldier’s head to give him a long, deep drink of refreshing cold water. Then he placed a knapsack under the head of his enemy and moved on to the next. Racing against the lengthening shadows of a short, somber December afternoon, he returned again and again to the lines where comrades handed him full canteens. “Troops on both sides who had watched this unselfish act paid young Kirkland the supreme tribute — not a standing ovation, but respectful awed silence.”

To repent means to change our attitudes toward other people from one of suspicion or hatred to one of love.

Splitting the Darkness

Splitting the Darkness

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3, 4).

Scripture: Acts 9:3-6, 10-18

Our daughter Aimee recently moved to New York City to serve with a Christian organization. She mentors young college women and does administrative work for the organization. For a country girl who grew up in the Rocky Mountains, it’s a culture shock. We’ve tried to help her with homesickness by keeping in touch via e-mail.

As I watched the sunset last night, I wanted to describe for Aimee its incredible colors, the reds, oranges, purples, and blues-and how every minute these colors changed. The old day sky gave way to the new night sky.

Then suddenly I saw the first star shining, which I realized had been shining all the time, but I couldn’t see it until the sky darkened. I was wishing that, with all of today’s technology, I could e-mail Aimee what my eyes were seeing.

What did Saul feel the moment he observed the brightness of the Lord’s presence? What did he sense when he realized that Jesus had been shining all the time, but he couldn’t see Him until sin’s darkness was removed?

Lord, remove the obstacles in my life that prevent me from seeing You. Help me see Your beauty with fresh eyes today. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Author Unattributed

(This devotion is from the book, 365 Devotions, brought to you by Standard Publishing.)