Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Never Changing

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

We live in an ever changing world. That’s why people are looking for security. Unfortunately, many seek refuge in the wrong places, like relationships, governments, bank accounts, et al. What foolishness it is to put hope in something that is not able to bear it. Relationships crumble, governments rise and fall, and a single financial crisis can wipe out all our savings. None of these, nor any created thing can provide the security we long for. There is only One who doesn’t change, who is able to provide the security we want and need.

The Psalmist often compared God to things that we think of as permanent, the heavens and the foundation of the earth, for example. But even those will pass away. God alone remains ever the same. It should be crystal clear — only the Creator can make us secure. As John Calvin wrote, we should seek stability “no where else but in God.”

God is our Rock, Scripture says, and for good reason. Rocks are strong and stable as is our God. But that is where the similarity ends. Even rocks are subject to deterioration. They can change by erosion or other natural phenomena. But God does not change. He is the only One we can trust without reservation. He is completely dependable. 

How blessed we are to know that God never changes!

Long ago You established the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; all of them will wear out like clothing. You will change them like a garment, and they will pass away. But You are the same, and Your years will never end. Psalm 102:25-27

Friday, May 27, 2016

Too Busy for A Sabbath?

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I woke up early this morning (which is my usual habit) and for some reason, I started thinking about my Jewish friends who would begin their Shabbat celebration this evening. Ah, a day of rest! Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? I thought for a moment that I should join in the celebration, but that nasty, 4-letter “B” word reared its ugly head. You know the word, don’t you? BUSY! I’m just too busy to observe the Sabbath.

I think we often wear our busyness as a badge of honor. Ours is a 24/7—multi-tasking—always on culture. Living like that causes us to forget the clear words from God through Moses to, “Remember the Sabbath.”

Christ followers seem to have more of a problem with that than our Jewish friends. Maybe it’s because the Church has never had a uniform view of the Sabbath. With the vast number of churches today comes a vast variety of views about how we should or should not observe the Sabbath.

Since we are on the go 24/7, we have become a Sabbath-less culture and it seems to me that it has taken a huge toll. We are so active, so busy, we don’t have enough time for relationships with family and friends, let alone God. 

Here are a few things I have done, and encourage you to do, to insure a labor-less day:

  • Block off Sabbath time on your calendar. I have found that if I don’t schedule for a Sabbath, it doesn’t happen. 
  • Prepare joyfully. Use the six days prior to your Sabbath to clean out your eMail box, finish chores, and run errands. By the seventh day, you are ready for holy fun.
  • Figure out what work is for you, then don’t do it on your Sabbath.
  • Pray and play. I owe it to Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, for this one. He explained pray and play this way, “No homework, no chores, no shopping—just time with family, friends, and God.”

In his book, An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest, Alan Fadling wrote, “It takes trust in God’s faithfulness to choose to stop our work. When we choose soul rest, we are putting our trust in God’s work, not our own, and we then experience the gift of Sabbath.”

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8 [New Living Translation]

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Very Words of God

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

God is the ultimate source of the Bible even though He employed human language through human beings. That’s why we can have complete confidence that divine revelation never contradicts itself. When we speak of Scripture, we can confidently say that it came from God Himself. 

Paul’s statement to Timothy is arguably the most important text concerning this. He wrote, “All Scripture is given by the inspiration [breathed-out] of God” [2 Timothy 3:16]. Breathed-out is the best way to render the Greek word theopneustos. It is the most literal way to convey its meaning in English. Think about it for just a moment. Human speech requires us to exhale, to breathe out. As we breathe out, air from our lungs vibrates the vocal chords. The different frequencies produce sounds that our mouth forms into words. Since God breathed out the words of the Bible, they are His words, even though they were written down by human authors. In that sense, it’s as if God had taken a pen and written the words Himself.

Our culture considers us foolish for living by the teaching of Scripture. That’s because it sees science as rational thinking, and anyone believing in the Bible as irrational, unthinking bigots. Unfortunately, many Christ followers cave in from the cultural pressure and adopt a low view of Scripture’s divine origin. A Christ follower’s confidence in Scripture is not based on a fearful rejection of what science can legitimately prove. Rather, we conform our lives to Scripture because they are the very words of God. In other words, a Christ follower has no option but to believe and live by what “thus sayeth the Lord!”

Firm confidence in the Word of God will enable you to stand firm through all the difficulties of life. What the Bible says, the Lord says. That’s why Christ followers love, and obey the Scriptures.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God… 2 Timothy 3:16a

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Cross

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Jesus died for our sins — He was crucified. It is our full confidence [faith] in what Jesus accomplished on the cross, the gracious act of God, that we become Christ followers: “For by grace you are saved through faith…” [Ephesians 2:8].

The necessity of the cross can be inferred from its meaning. It comes from the Latin word crux, from which we get our English words crux and crucial, both meaning, that which is essential

Despite that, the cross is neglected in many churches today. Generally speaking, people today do not believe in justification by faith, but rather, justification by death (the idea  that everyone goes to heaven unless they are extremely bad like Adolf Hitler) — the only requirement to get into heaven is to die. 

That idea has a low view of God’s holiness. God does not simply wave sin away. He has always required a payment for sin and trespasses in order to forgive. No, God does not wink at sin or accept imperfection at His judgment seat. He is perfectly holy and demands from us what only He can graciously provide.

Jesus bore our sins when He died on the cross. The Apostle Peter said it this way, “He [Jesus] personally bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” [1Peter 2:24]. 

Whatever you do in life, do not stray from the cross. The great songwriter, Fanny Crosby, said it well:

Jesus keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain-
Free to all a healing stream-
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever; 
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Unqualified, Yet Qualified

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

We live in a “You-Must-Be-Qualified” world. You have to qualify to attend a university, to get a credit card, to buy a car, to purchase a home. Employers hire people with the highest possible qualifications. 

Ironically, and thankfully, God is not like that! God uses unqualified people for the purpose of advancing His kingdom. It has always been that way. From conniving Abraham, to incestuous Lot, to deceptive Jacob, to murdering Moses, to unfaithful David, to fearful Elijah, to doubting Thomas, to hard-headed Paul, and to you and me, God keeps on using unqualified people to accomplish the most important task: making disciples in all the nations.

The truth is that no one is fully qualified to do God’s work. That is clearly seen in the disciples Jesus chose to be with Him. Those twelve guys were anything but qualified. Collectively and individually, they exhibited numerous frailties, different temperaments, different skills, and yet Jesus used them to change the world. He qualified the unqualified.

I’m challenged and encouraged that God would use them despite their faults, foibles, and failures. God will use the likes of you and me as we continue to yield our lives to Him. 

God uses unqualified people to accomplish His purposes.

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.  Luke 6:40

Friday, May 20, 2016

Peace with God — Perpetual Joy

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I’ve heard Christ followers say that the sacrificial system didn’t allow for spontaneous praise to God. Granted, the Mosaic Law was complex and ritualistic, but it did not exclude an eruption of praise. In fact, there was a sacrifice for that very purpose. In the sacrificial system all but one of the sacrifices were for propitiation, dedication, or expiation. The one offering brought to the Wilderness Tabernacle or Jerusalem Temple out of the overflow of the worshipper’s heart was the Peace Offering. 

The Peace Offering was given when a worshipper wanted to celebrate the peace they enjoyed with God. It was offered under three circumstances: for thanksgiving, for the payment of a vow, or as an expression of the worshipper’s goodwill [see Leviticus 7:11-18]. 

The Peace Offering was also know as the...

Free Will Offering - given freely in response to God’s unsought generosity. 

Vow Offering - given to celebrate an answer to prayer after a person vowed to praise the Lord.

Confession or Praise Offering - given when someone was in dire need of deliverance.

All of these are seen in Scripture. Hannah is a great example of the Vow Offering. She dedicated Samuel to the Lord to commemorate the payment of a vow [see 1 Samuel 1:21-28. Another example is Psalm 22:22-31.]

By the way, the Peace Offering was the only sacrifice that the worshippers could eat. Only part of the animal, and a little grain, was offered, and the remaining meat was enjoyed by the worshipper and anyone else in the vicinity of the sanctuary [Leviticus 7:11-18]. Being at peace with God was worthy of celebrating with a great feast.

Israel’s Peace Offering is a reminder that we should never forget or take lightly the peace we have with the Lord. Because of Christ atoning work on Calvary’s cross, we have peace with God. Paul declared, “For He Himself [Jesus] is our peace [Ephesians 2:14]. That is a reason to erupt in praise and to proclaim the good things He has done for us. Peace with God is a cause for perpetual joy!

This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord. Leviticus 7:11 [through 21]

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

In both the Old and New Testaments we are told to be holy [Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16]. “You shall be holy, for I am holy” is an overwhelming command, isn’t it? But that is the Lord’s ultimate goal for each of us — to make us holy. His plan can be summed up in one word: sanctification. Our sanctification is not a one-step, instant process. It takes place throughout our lives. It starts at the time of our spiritual birth and ends when we meet the Lord face to face.

Sanctification begins the moment we are saved. That’s when God declares us to be righteous; positionally holy. After that, we progressively grow and become more and more in our walk like we are in our position. That process continues as long as we remain on this earth. Paul called that conforming “to the image of His [God’s] Son” [Romans 8:29]. That’s the process of cooperating with God so that we aren’t squeezed into the world’s mold [Romans 12:2].

The final step in our sanctification occurs at our death or the Lord’s coming. Then we will be absolutely holy because our soul will be freed from our fallen bodies, perfect — faultless and spotless — before Christ. 

If we could get just a glimpse of that, it would silence the moaning and groaning about the difficult process of sanctification that we endure now. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He is preparing an eternal home for each of us. That is a great motivation to glorify God as we submit to Him in the sanctification process.

I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Leviticus 11:44

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Instantly. Immediately. These two words describe how we want things. If truth be told, we sometimes don’t think that is fast enough! Be honest, do you tap your fingers, grit your teeth, and break out in a cold sweat waiting for a file to download to your computer?

A fast pace isn’t necessarily bad, but we must guard our hearts from wanting instant fulfillment while we are waiting on God. It’s not new, by the way. The problem existed long before the nano-second was exploited. Take Abraham, for example [Genesis 15:4-5]. At a very old age, he was told that he and his wife were going to have a child, and that a great nation would come from him. Sure, Abraham believed God, but it wasn’t too long before he decided to handle the matter his way. Rather than waiting patiently for Sarah to become pregnant, he took a servant, Hagar, as his wife so that she could bear the promised child [Genesis 16]. 

Scripture doesn’t reveal what motivated Abraham to do that. Most likely, he rationalized his decision based on the fact that Sarah didn’t get pregnant immediately, so there had to be another way. Hagar did bear a son, but he was not the promised one. Abraham had to deal with the consequences of his actions in the short term, and the nations have had to deal with the consequences throughout history. Regardless, God was faithful — not instantly as Abraham seemed to want. It was 14 years later that Sarah gave birth to Isaac. 

I think we are more like Abraham than we care to admit. We believe in God’s promises, but we prefer immediate results. Or worse, we prefer things to be done our way. Instead, we should follow the advice of the Psalmist to wait patiently on the Lord. His ways and His time may not align with our ways and time, but they certainly are best!

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our Adversary

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

The study of angels and demons (the occult) is once again peaking the interest of our culture. Christ followers have a pretty good grasp of angels and what they do, but when it comes to Satan and demons, well, not so much. That’s because Satan is deceitful — having the ability to mislead others. Yes, he is highly skilled in deceitfulness. So much so that he disguises himself as an “angel of light” [2 Corinthians 11:14].

Christian tradition teaches that Satan’s fundamental sin, which led to his fall from heaven, was pride. That’s what prompted his attempt to usurp God’s rightful place as Sovereign over all. Thus, it came about that one could attack Satan by assaulting his pride. How so? With mocking depictions of him with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork. Whatever you think of him, never forget that he and his minions seek “to steal, to kill, and to destroy” [John 10:10], and that he prowls around like a lion, “seeking someone to devour” [1 Peter 5:8].

He is the leading foe of God’s people, our “adversary” [1 Peter 5:8], and the “father of lies” whose most common weapon is deceit [John 8:44].

So how can we have confidence to stand against such an enemy? Since his favorite weapon is deceit, he can be defeated by the truth. That’s why I urge you to be armed with a sound knowledge of Scripture, the very truth from God. Keep your mind renewed through daily, vigorous study of God’s Word, the Bible. In doing so, we are prepared to succeed in our confrontations with evil.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, being firm in the faith. 1 Peter 5:8-9a

Monday, May 16, 2016


Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

One of the most important things a Christ follower can do is trust in the providence of God. It is the best way to be prepared for, and cope with the adversities of life. What is the providence of God? One commentator said it this way: Providence is how God orchestrates, through natural means and processes, all that is necessary to accomplish His purposes in the world. 

Providence is the most frequent way God interacts in the course of human events. There is another way, of course, and that is through direct miracles. But miracles are very rare. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen anyone walk on water lately! But throughout the course of history, God has consistently used His providence to orchestrate the infinite variety of factors to accomplish His perfect will. 

Think about it for just a moment. God draws together billions and billions of details to achieve His purposes each and every day. Quite frankly, I think that is a greater miracle than a one-time supernatural occurrence. Let me say it this way: Belief in the providence of God is one of the greatest exercises of faith a Christ follower can have. And as an added bonus, it is a major factor in our preparedness and peace of mind as we encounter the hardships of life. 

Paul declared his trust in the providence of God when he wrote to the Philippian Christ followers, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” [Philippians 4:11].

Joseph also stated his confidence in the providence of God when he said, “You [my brothers] intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” [Genesis 50:20].

If we trust God’s providential control of everything, we will be better prepared for what He teaches us through the highs and lows of life.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28