I just returned home from playing racquetball. It is such a great game! I love the guys I play with and I love the exercise it provides for my aging body. I have played faithfully 3 times/week for the last 20 years. I have noticed that I can’t reach as many balls as I used to and that my legs are much stiffer the day after playing. I’m not sure why that would be 😎. I have tried many other forms of exercise and the one thing I have learned from all of those attempts is that if I hope to be faithful at exercise, I must be chasing a ball! I am convinced that if I quit playing that my muscles would atrophy at a much quicker rate than if I keep playing, keep moving, keep trying to win racquetball games. It is much the same with the spiritual discipline of Bible Reading. If I am not faithful to read my Bible regularly, my spiritual life will atrophy and I will become stiff and unproductive in my walk with Jesus. I do not want to go backwards in my Christian life. One time, I asked a man why he didn’t bring his bible to church (this was long before cell phones and iPads) and his reply to me was that he had “already read it once”. The Bible is a living letter from God to us. It is always revealing more and more to us every time we read it. The Bible is not stagnant nor is it boring. It is inexhaustible and for us to say we have read it once and do not need to do so again is nothing short of arrogance. I doubt there will be racquetball in heaven, but I do know there will be the Bible in heaven. Isa. 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” I think it would be wise for me to be more diligent to read the Bible everyday than to play racquetball everyday.
Rain, Rain, Rain
For the past 3 years, we have been living in our 40’ fifth wheel. I love it when I am curled up in a warm bed listening to the rain on the roof. Last night, the rain was incessant and the wind was really howling. It seemed somewhat unnerving. But Jesus reminded us in the Sermon on the Mount that, “God sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Have you noticed how much worse the weather seems in the dark of night? I found myself longing for daylight this morning. There is something about the light that makes the storm more bearable and less frightening. The same is true of our spiritual life. We are living in unnerving days. There are things going on that are precursors to the return of Jesus Christ. Those things; crazy weather patterns, natural disasters, government overreach, clandestine meetings by world leaders, threats and saber-rattling among the nations of the world, can seem overwhelming. My answer to all of those things is to focus on the Light of the World—the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone can cause the darkness to flee.
Your Name Written in Stone
I have been camping in and foraging through the Book of Revelation for the past 3 weeks. I am not sure why my spirit is so drawn to that particular book these days, but I must wonder if the Lord’s return could be soon?
Revelation 2:1-17 was written to the church at Pergamum which was the victim of a particular heresy marked by 3 things–idolatry, immorality, and infidelity. The overcomer in the church kept himself from all three, and his reward is proportionate with his conduct and purity in the face of this heresy.
One of the rewards for faithfulness until Jesus comes is “…I will give each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Rev. 2:17) I believe this name will reflect the way we have been in secret, when no one is watching. It will reflect the intimacy (or the lack of it) with Jesus in our thought life and in our alone moments. This name will be indicative of what only Jesus could know about us.
What will the Lover of our Souls’ pet name be for you on that day? What will His secret name for you reveal about you? What will be written on the white stone engraved specifically for you?
We should carefully guard our heart and our thought life as the day of the Lord’s return hastens.
2 Cor. 10:5–casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
1 Peter 3:15–But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts...
2 Tim. 2:22–but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart
I don’t want my name to be one that might indicate the Lord Jesus saw more hypocrisy than truth living and dwelling in me when no one else was able to observe me.
I am looking forward to receiving my new name–how about you?
And I Think I am Overworked!
The Elders at our Church are reading through David Jeremiah’s newest devotional, Destinations, together this year. Each daily reading is short and often pithy in content. Today’s spoke to me. I have been feeling very tired and worn out. I even voice that very fact way more than I should.
Dr. Jeremiah shares a description of the workload of Charles Spurgeon as he described it. ” ‘No one living knows the toil and care I have to bear. I have to look after the orphanage, have charge of a church with 4000 members, sometimes there are marriages and burials to be undertaken, there is the weekly sermon to be revised, (a magazine) to be edited, and besides all that, a weekly average of 500 letters to be answered.’ Spurgeon also founded and oversaw the work of more than 60 organizations, read a book every day, and produced 140 books of his own.”
I don’t know about you but that seems impossible. I have had people try to console me when I mention things like this or tell of the accomplishments of men like this and the common attempt to console goes something like this: “Yes, but you must remember that we are living in different times than they lived in.” I appreciate the effort by people to ease my angst over my paltry duties, but the answer that keeps running through my mind when told that “those were different times”, is “Those were not so much different times as those were different men”!
Oh, God. Don’t let the times shape us as men. Let us as men shape the times!
The Myth of Greener Pastures or Better Ministry
Are we immobilized or stifled where we are because we think we could be somewhere better? Do you feel like God has you on the shelf or you are not involved in a significant ministry? May I encourage you to realize that you are precisely where God wants you to be? If God did not want you to be here, right now, you wouldn’t be where you are. God sovereignly appoints location and ministry as He sees fit. Psalm 16::6 says, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” There is much freedom and joy in recognizing that where you are right now is where God wants you to be. We are oft so troubled by thoughts like, “if I were just in a different place of employment”, “If I just could attend a different church”, “If I only lived in my favorite place”, “If I only lived in a different country”, and the list never ends!
I have been reminded that God has me in “a pleasant place”. If He says so, it must be so. He is always right and my feelings and emotions are often contrary to what He says is right. He has us in “green pastures” as David so clearly reminds us in Psalm 23. If we would simply lie down in the green pasture that God has provided for us, instead of standing up (knee deep in clover) in order that we can see over the fence and long for the pasture we are not in, we would find provision, peace, and abundant ministry all around us.
May God richly bless you where you are for His glory.
Content With Where God Has Placed Us
In these days I have noticed many Christians fall into at many different categories when it comes to contentment. Of those many categories, there are two I have been thinking about lately. First of all are those who never feel discontent because they have no desire to press on and reach out and be used of the Lord. Their worlds are small and their desires are even smaller. This group is a topic for a later day. I would like to try and encourage a second category; That being, those who long to be used of the Lord, those who have dreams of doing something bigger and better than they are doing right now. Your dreams are great providing they do not hinder you from filling your place well right now. There is always the danger of being so in love with “something bigger” than you are doing now that you may miss the importance of where God has placed you for the moment. A.B. Simpson has a great paragraph on this very thought in his devotional Days of Heaven on Earth, March 9:
“How many dear Christians are in the place that the Lord has appointed them, and yet the devil is harassing their lives with a vague sense of not quite pleasing the Lord. Could they just settle down in the place that God has assigned them and fill it sweetly and lovingly for Him there would be more joy in their hearts and more power in their lives. God wants us all in various places, and the secret of accomplishing the most for Him is to recognize our places from Him and our service in it as pleasing Him. In the great factory and machine there is a place for the smallest screw and rivet as well as the great driving wheel and piston, and so God has His little screws whose business is simply to stay where He puts them and to believe that He wants them there and is making the most of their lives in the little spaces that they fill for Him.”
Excerpt From: A. B. Simpson. “Days of Heaven Upon Earth.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/GaUOP.l
Wars and Rumors of Wars
With all of the international turmoil and intrigue, these are days that could tend to be unnerving even for Christians. Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 24:6 with regard to the proliferation of world conflict and threatening scenarios is “Don’t Be Dismayed”! Literally it reads, “see that you are not alarmed.” Those are encouraging words even if they are hard to put into practice. When Jesus tells His followers to stand firm in troubling times, it provides assurance that He is in control. It is not as though these events have taken Him by surprise. It is not like He is wringing His hands and saying, “O Man! What shall I do now? This is a mess!” His words in verse 6 conclude with the thought that it is all going according to the pre-determined plan of the Creator of the universe. Check out what Jesus says: “for this must take place”. Those words are chock full of confidence for us. Everything is unfolding just as Jesus planned. We are right on schedule!