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Monday, May 6, 2019

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2nd Timothy 4:7

Looking Down the Road

When the Apostle Paul knew his life was coming to a close he wrote a touching letter to Timothy, his son in the faith. He had likened his life and service for his LORD to a race that was well run. He was finished, from his first encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus to his death under the Roman tyrant Nero. He had positively kept faith with his calling to the very end.

This will be my final devotional thoughts blog post. I sense the LORD is leading me to a different stage of life. I'm not sure what that looks like but God is good and faithful and I rest in that. In having written devotional thoughts for more than 20 years, beginning in 1995 via email, I have labored to share sound biblical doctrine and preach Christ and Him crucified (1st Corinthians 2:2). I am sure I have kept the faith and run my race with true belief and purpose in Christ. It is time to move down the road with the LORD and experience all the goodness He has waiting for me there. My blog site will remain available to any persons who wish to access it.

My hope is in sharing my thoughts and experiences in my walk with the LORD folks have been encouraged and edified. That was my goal in Jesus Christ. As I finish this phase of my life I encourage you with Paul's words to the Christians at Ephesus; “I keep asking that the God of our LORD Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better” (Ephesians 1:17).

Finally I say farewell until we meet again for I want you to be sure it is not the end. I shall meet and greet many of you for the first time in the coming Kingdom which our blessed LORD and Messiah will establish at His return. It has been the highest honor to have been used to build up and edify the Saints of God in Christ Jesus. Blessings and love to you all. Keep fighting the good fight O ye good and faithful servants!


Monday, April 22, 2019

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of the and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2 (ESV)

No Crisis of Conscience

I recently watched a video of the Gospel of Matthew. Having read this gospel hundreds of times in my lifetime it should have come as no surprise at how many times Jesus drew children to Himself to demonstrate the humility and simple faith one must have to enter the kingdom of God, but surprise me it did. In the process of His ministry Jesus continually demonstrated little children do not suffer from a crisis of conscience.

It has always amazed me that the gospel message has caused Christian scholars at times to scratch their heads in mystification yet remain simple enough for a child to understand. I recently watched a video on social media of a little girl, perhaps 4 years old at the most, explain the gospel message in amazing detail. I was reminded of children in the temple shouting to Christ “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:15).

The chief priests and scribes were outraged at this and chastised Jesus asking Him “Don't you hear what these are saying?” In other words silence them. Jesus, acknowledging the children's recognition and devotion, did not rebuke them but replied “Yes; have you never read, “'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?'” 

Living out our thoughts in the simplicity of child-like faith produces godly actions bearing spiritual fruit. Our Heavenly Father sees us as His children so why should we not let down our walls and sit on His lap? He is Abba, Daddy, so let us rest our heads against His breast and relax in His care. Laying our heads on Him means laying our burdens on Him. This is what He asks us to do (Matthew 11:28-30).

As that sweet old children's song goes, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Becoming as a little child in His sight is easy. As easy as laying our head on His breast and whispering “Daddy.”


Monday, April 15, 2019

He [Jesus] presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 (English Standard Version)

With Great Boldness

Easter and Passover are upon us and we speak much of the resurrection of our LORD and the silence of an empty tomb. And we should. It was the pivotal point of history and the completion of God's redemptive plan. But what followed is the continuing evidence of the eye witnessed historical event. The proof in the pudding, so to speak. 

In the past I have written much of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I will not go into an apology (defense) of it here. There is enough eye witness accounts by hundreds to suffice. Instead of the how let's look at the change and power it achieved. What transformed cowed and frightened disciples into Gospel dynamos? Their disbelief of Christ's resurrection turned to awe and then worship after His crucifixion and death when Jesus presented Himself to them alive bodily asking for and eating some broiled fish before them (Luke 24:41-43). He showed Himself to them; the crucifixion wounds, and told them to feel His fleshly body for they thought they were seeing a ghost (Vs 36).

This was the first testimony. Peter speaking for the disciples (we) of being on-the-scene eye witnesses of Christ's majesty (2nd Peter 1:16). The second testimony came on the Day of Pentecost when Christ poured out upon 120 disciples the power of His Holy Spirit. It has continued among believers to this day.

Peter and John were arrested by the high priests for preaching Christ with boldness and skill. It even baffled and astonished them (Acts 4:13). How could common and uneducated men preach with such knowledge and expertise? The high priests charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter boldly stood up to their threats saying “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20). Even for that the writer of Acts tells us in chapter 6 (vs 7) that many of the priests too became 'obedient to the faith.' Wonder of wonders. What did they hear and see that brought them to faith? Surely it was not timid disciples faintly talking about their dead Lord but men filled with the promised power of the Holy Spirit and their Living LORD.

How does this ring true for us today? The Holy Spirit and the resurrection come hand-in-hand. Without the resurrection of Christ our faith and preaching is useless (1st Corinthians 15:14). Without the Holy Spirit we have none of the active affects of God. But because Christ was resurrected and we have the Holy Spirit we have access to salvation, peace, boldness and power to share the Gospel, renewal and regeneration, joy, and wisdom by which we can understand God to name a few.

Easter is a marvelous season of renewal and reminder that those in Christ have eternal life right now. But it means more than just an empty tomb. It means a satisfying and personal relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One we can share with gladness. This Easter when someone says to you “He is risen!” you can respond in complete confidence and boldness “He is risen indeed. And so much more.”


Monday, April 8, 2019

And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was of small stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. Luke 19:3-4 (ESV)

The Little Man That Did

The story of Zacchaeus has always been a favorite of mine. He was a Chief Tax Collector for Rome and had made himself very rich by taking from the populace more than Rome demanded. Not only were tax collectors loathed because of their extortion of their countrymen but also because they had betrayed Israel by collaborating with the Roman oppressors. They were alienated by the people, living what must have been lives of scorn and lonliness.

On this day Jesus was passing through Jericho. The fame of this itinerant rabbi had apparently reached Zacchaeus. Out of curiosity he went out to see him but he was small in height and couldn't see over the crowd. Not to be defeated in purpose he ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree putting him above the throngs of people along the road.

One of the reasons this account resonates with me is the response of Jesus when He saw Zacchaeus. Looking up He called him by name saying “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (vs 5). One can almost see the smile on Jesus' face and hear the mirth and merriment in His voice. Zacchaeus climbed down and joyfully received Jesus.

The story of Zacchaeus ends gloriously. This very rich man said he would give half of his goods to the poor and restore fourfold to anyone he had defrauded, which had probably been many. He climbed up into a tree to see Jesus and found the Kingdom of God even prompting the LORD Jesus to joyfully exclaim “Today salvation has come to this house.”

There is so much that can be spiritually gleaned from these verses. As you meditate on them I'm sure many will come to mind. You never know the impact your words, life, and love, can have on others. Some plant seeds, others water and God makes it grow (1st Corinthians 3:8). Perhaps many people had done just that for Zacchaeus, planting seeds that resulted in salvation for him and his house.  

Your testimony may be seeds planted in a heart that causes a searcher to climb into their own tree of investigation of the Gospel and finding the Kingdom Of God. It happened to a despised tax collector and it can happen to that particular person you have been praying for for such a long time. Zacchaeus was a man that had been written off by society but by climbing a tree to see Jesus found redemption. By doing so he could be called the little man that did.


Monday, April 1, 2019

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22 (ESV)

A Man Most Favored

I am greatly favored of the Lord. He has granted me a wonderful spouse in my wife Tommie. She has fulfilled her vows to me and as King Lemuel writes of a wife, “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12). She has certainly proved herself in that.

Tommie has faithfully fulfilled Proverbs 31 in our 47 years together. She has been wife, mother, and grandmother, and at times of some illnesses had to become breadwinner and provider, yet she has remained a woman who loves Christ with her whole heart. She is a steadying and pious influence in our family.

In our years together the LORD has seen fit to allow me to be troubled with some serious medical afflictions. She has faithfully stood by me, nursed me, helped me regain wellness, and at times gave me a much needed boot when I have come close to giving up.

I can take all the time here to give her the praise and honor she is due. But that praise and honor is so vast in its scope that it cannot be done in this writing. But the full honor and glory goes to God who in His perfect wisdom and knowledge called her to know Him through His Son Jesus Christ. He prepared her to be a part of my life and our family. She is a precious treasure and I praise Him daily for such a wonderful wife.

The Bible calls Christian men to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). Wives are to be respected and cherished. See in her the treasure she is. She is a gift from heaven. Joy in her, love her, protect her. A wife brings favor by the LORD. I have found this to be so. I have found myself a man most favored.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:2-3 (ESV)

Fathers Are Still in Fashion

I have been thinking of my Dad lately and the legacy he left me and I'm thanking God for him. If he were still living he would turn 100 this year. It's come so quickly and it's hard to believe.

Born in 1919, Dad's family relocated from Oklahoma to northern Texas when he was 7. He remembered the move being made in a covered wagon. He mentioned once, “I've lived in the time of covered wagons and into the age of seeing man standing on the moon.”

He was the product of a broken home. My grandfather abandoned the family, taking all the savings, leaving the family destitute at the height of the Great Depression. Dad and his brothers were left with the responsibilities of running the family farm. He was just 13. He became a self-taught mechanic and all-around handyman adept at fixing anything. In 1939 during a severe drought the family pulled up stakes, moving from Texas to Central California and making their living working at farming.

After serving four years in the Army Air Corp during World War II he returned to civilian life in 1945. He came to know Christ during a revival near the Azusa Street Mission in downtown Los Angeles in 1947. The positive change in his life was instantaneous and permanent. He was by no means a perfected saint but remained a committed Christian throughout the rest of his life. In today's vernacular he brought a lot of “baggage” into the family that was still stirred by animosity for his father's betrayal.
Dad and myself at the San Diego Zoo, May 1983, one month before his death.

Even with his issues he remained a positive role model of integrity and uprightness that I have striven to imitate. Looking back on it all he did the best he knew how with the tools he had, even to the forgiving of his father for the harm he did to his family.

Maybe some of you had a father that was verbally or physically abusive or perhaps did not have a father in the family at all and it's difficult to even visualize a father who was a positive role model.

For those of you who may have been abused, I'm sorry that happened to you. Any abuse, physical or verbal, is never right. But let me say right here the abuse you may have suffered was not your fault. It was the work of physical strength beyond yours given over to evil. Even if you had no father in your life you now have a faithful Father in Heaven. His love for you is personal and without condition.

It is a shame radical feminism has so poisoned our culture against men and especially the positive effect fathers have on the nuclear family. Dad's are a needed part of the family both for the growth and maturity of daughters but especially sons.

Yes, it is true that sometimes dads don't act perfectly but their presence and input into a family is essential. God made it that way. I am so thankful to Him for giving me my dad. I pray the legacy he left in my family of years past can be the same for mine when the LORD calls me home.

Thank you Dad. I am truly blessed to have had you in my life. He was taken into the arms of Christ in 1983. I still miss him. But because of Christ's work I know we will be together again in a future day. It will be a great reunion and this time it will be perfect, right-down to hugs and tears of joy. Fathers are indeed still in fashion.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” (Luke 16:24 ESV)

What Would You Say?

It used to be when someone asked me if I believed God would send them to hell I really did not know what to say outside of “Yes, that's what the Bible says.” It was a weak response in the fact it did not open a dialogue to discuss the question and share the gospel.

Today my response is, “I believe because you even asked that question that you must have at some point really thought about this. I'll be glad to answer you, but first let me ask you a question for clarification's sake. 'If you had the opportunity to stand before a holy and perfectly pure God knowing the things you've done in your life, would you take it?'” If the person is honest they would say “No.” I then ask “Why wouldn't you take the opportunity?” It usually comes down to admitting they are too impure in their thinking or lifestyle.

I will add, “You see, if a person dies in their sin then they have to be permanently separated from a perfect and holy God for He would never allow sin to live in His presence. And wouldn't permanent separation from God be a kind of hell in itself? A person would be left in eternal darkness and despair with no hope of escape.”

Jesus gives us a glimpse of the horror of hell in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 16, that speaks of great heat and torment. Some say this is just another one of Jesus' parables (stories that illustrate a truth) and really isn't an actual occurrence. But it is something to reckon with that Jesus as Eternal Deity (John 17:5) would have known such things. He never said or even hinted His account was just an illustration.

At this point some have said “You're just trying to scare me into believing in Christ.” My response is “You should be scared. If a holy and perfect God exists then because of sin and rebellion there would have to be a hell. To answer your question, yes, if you reject Christ and die in your sins, God, according to His word, would have no other choice but to put your soul into separation in hell. But no matter where you find yourself right now you can achieve pardon, love, and acceptance by believing in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Luke 23:40-43). Will you trust Jesus? What have you got to lose?”

At this point whether they chose to believe in Christ or not I joyfully share the elation, astonishment, and awe of heaven and knowing God and His life-changing Christ for all eternity. That's the message of the gospels and one I love to tell. No matter what a person has done there is complete forgiveness and relief from guilt and shame through believing in Christ. And I might add, hell will be a place never to be experienced.