Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hanging-in There...or Just Hanging?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
I pray to you, O Lord, my rock.  Do not turn a deaf ear to me.  For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.  Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to you for help, as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary.
Praise the Lord!  For he has heard my cry for mercy.  The Lord is my strength and shield.  I trust him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. 
Psalm 28:1-2, 6-7(NLT)
David went through rough waters in his lifetime, some of his own making, and some just because…well, you know, stuff happens!  Either way, when the stuff you’re going through gets deep enough, if you haven’t been praying, you will start! 
David was a praying man, so I rather believe he was like my sister in Christ, Donna, who once told me she never had to say “Amen” because she had so much to pray about, the conversation between her and Jesus never closed down.  God takes note of that!
The disciples waited until the storm got really scary:
Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples.  Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid?  You have so little faith!”  Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.  The disciples were amazed.  “Who is this man?” they asked.  “Even the winds and waves obey him!” 
Matthew 8:23-27(NLT)
The difference between hanging-in there and just hanging, is the difference between David’s calm trust, and the disciples’ frantic, panicky yelps!  David states his fate is in God’s hands, and he would trust the LORD completely.  The disciples were incredulously shouting their disbelief over the noise of the waves.
I try to remember that.
I’m in a bit of deep water at the moment, so the difference between hanging and hanging-in there, is a matter I cannot ignore.  When I saw the picture my friend Anne posted of her Grandson David posed in one of his balancing feats, it immediately struck me that he was really chilling-out, and that, mostly, because he was only 3” off the floor.  There’s a difference when you can’t fall far.
But that’s the whole issue about hanging-in; even when you can fall as far as the grave, if you’re willing to trust like David, the outcome is not an issue; the issue is just WHO is the one doing the balancing act. 
As many have found out, it makes little difference how deep or rough the waters may get when you’re in the boat with Jesus (or even walking ON the water with Him).

For You Today

Hanging-in, or Hung-out to dry…just make sure to breathe…Jesus has this!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!



[1] Title Image:  Courtesy Anne Mehrling and Grandson David

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Remnant

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people.  And I will love those whom I did not love before.”  And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”  And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.  For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality.”  And Isaiah said the same thing in another place:  “If the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of our children, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.”  Romans 9:25-29(NLT)
In teaching the Roman believers (who were non-Jewish) about God’s choice to include them in His Kingdom, Paul quoted Hosea, who went so far as to name one of his kids Not My People.  (Wouldn’t that be a hard answer when your name is called at school?)  This was God’s way of showing everybody that man’s opinions only go so far. 
Israel had a conventional set of nationalistic wisdom which included an arrogant view that JHWH’s plans only included Jews.  Gentiles might become Jews by ritual and obedience…but unless you did it their way your soul was only more fuel for the fires of Hell.  To that God said (to put it theologically) fooey!
And, to boot, God then instructed everyone to look at the vastness of the Jewish population; there were as many Jews as the grains of sand on a beach, but only a remnant…just a small percentage would be saved.

So what’s the point?

I’m glad you asked.  The point is for we, who are not of the chosen nation Israel, late-arrivers in God’s plan, Gentiles, grafted-into God’s vineyard, to not get uppity!   For the last two thousand years the church has proclaimed the Kingdom of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ; we preach His death and resurrection and coming again as God’s truth and way for all to be saved. 
The church began as a Jewish sect (remember Peter, James and John were not born in Indiana), and over time the rift between Synagogue and Sanctuary grew wider, each clinging to the belief that they held the only way to God.
The reminder here against uppity-ness is that exclusivism is dangerous.  Man may propose, but it is God who disposes[2]!  We may think we have it all right, but the final disposition of what is actually right rests in the hands of Almighty God.
The Jews imagined it was God and them against the world.
The church can fall into that same trap, thinking it is the elect, the sanctified ones of God against all those evil people.
In reality God is for the world!  Hear it from the words of Peter the fisherman, one who knew Christ on a closer personal level than most:
He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  2 Peter 3:9b(NLT)
While most of the world scurries around figuring out their theology and their place in the kingdom, on the left or right of God’s throne, and how many others besides them might be in the remnant, God is probably shaking his head at why we can’t love each other enough to concentrate on sharing the Father’s desire for everyone to come home.

For You Today

It would be a good thing to spend this day ignoring the differences between us and the people we meet today…and concentrate on the eternal soul of each person you encounter.  See that person as one for whom Christ died!
Speak accordingly, love unselfishly, and hear God call that person, my people!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!



[1] Title Image:  Courtesy Pixabay.com
[2] The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis

Monday, August 14, 2017

Burning the Bridge of Integrity

Monday, August 14, 2017
Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern.  When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief.  Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone!  What will I do now?”  Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood.  They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message:  “Look at what we found.  Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”  Their father recognized it immediately.  “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe.  A wild animal must have eaten him.  Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!”  Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap.  He mourned deeply for his son for a long time.  His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.  “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep.  Genesis 37:29-35(NLT)
The father in this story is Jacob, a man whose ambition got the best of him on more than one occasion.  He deceived his twin brother Esau, and his father Isaac, to take what didn’t belong to him.  His life’s practice was to appear righteous, but deep down, whenever his character was put to the test Jacob’s default was to manipulate the truth to fit his plans and what he wanted most.
And in his twelve sons, with the exception of Joseph, that character trait of deception, and shifty untrustworthiness ran strong!  Joseph’s brothers sold their little brother to a band of slave traders, and then staged it to look like a wild animal had eaten him.  Their evil deception brought deep grief to their father Jacob’s elder years.
If you take apart the whole issue of deceptiveness in relationships you find a slithering snake’s nest of words which describe a dark character:  lies, malice, envy, bitterness, ambition…the list is a veritable stockpile of human character and integrity unravelling! 
Integrity is tied to the old saying about character:  say what you mean, and mean what you say!  To be a person of integrity means much more than doing the right thing no matter who’s looking; being a person of integrity means not resting unless the truth is held sacred, no matter the personal consequences.
Joseph’s brothers burned the bridge of integrity when they withheld their guilt from Jacob.  If they hired a skilled attorney the brothers could have gotten a hung jury on out-and-out lying, because they never actually said a false word.  But they withheld the truth from the old man, and truth obscured by silence supports the growth of evil! 

For You Today

You will say thousands of words today; a champion of human integrity will make sure each one of those words supports truth!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

 
Go to VIDEO

https://www.facebook.com/Rocky-Road-Devotions-206121999581511/?ref=bookmarks




[1] Title Image:  Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Grace & Glory

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.  He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.  Psalm 84:11(NLT)
Have you ever felt like things were just a little too out of control?  I’m sure anyone who has lived with a two year-old in the house can identify with that feeling.
The past several weeks have been particularly that way for me; no control!
·       Doctors – I love the people who keep me put together and see to my needs when I’ve got misery…but lately it seems every time I hiccup they order a heart transplant. 
·       Paperwork – the people I’ve met while applying for a Veteran’s Administration service-connected disability are qualified and compassionate, but the forms required are measured by the ton.
·       Waiting Rooms – are related to doctor’s offices and government offices like itch is related to a rash.
·       Fatigue – is related to all of the aforementioned, and is tied to the radiation treatments I’m undergoing…every…single...day!
When life’s events get out of control you feel somewhat helpless/powerless to make choices; you find yourself going with the flow and just hoping the fallout won’t be your brain falling-out and hitting the floor.  The past couple of months I’ve had a front row seat to the meaning of the sarcastic saying: 
God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things before I die.
At the rate I’m going I will probably live to the age of 191!
Now, when life gets like all that…when you’re so overwhelmed by your circumstances, and you feel like you just can’t take another step, and you find yourself asking God, friends, family, and neighbors for help over and over again…you have entered the grace & glory zone!
Let me tell you what I mean:
Grace is the stuff God hands out when you’ve nowhere to turn; when life starts to unravel.  Scripture declares none of us can do anywhere near good enough to merit God’s favor; we’re all sinners, and that means separation from God.  But, in His grace, his lovingkindness, God sent Jesus to be our salvation.  His blood cleanses us from all sin. 
Grace, and…glory!
Glory is what God shares with no one – ever!  The exception is His family.  God’s plan for all who love Christ, and accept by faith His grace-filled invitation to be drawn close to the throne as God’s family will one day share in the glory of our God.  The Psalmist said:  No good thing will He withhold!
Grace and glory zone!

Here is the only requirement:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.  Luke 9:23b(NLT)

There is no such thing as serving two masters.  If you will be a follower of Jesus, even you can’t be the Master in your own life.
The disciples knew what Jesus was saying about crosses.  Twenty years before there was a rebellion against Roman authority in a little town called Sephoris. 
A man named Varus, a Galilean farmer, organized the farmers of the area into a rebellion army.  They attacked and killed all the Roman soldiers of the garrison at Sephoris. 
Rome sent in the armies, and scattered the armies of Varus, about 10,000 men.  Most of them went back to farming.  But the Romans captured about 2,000 of them. 
The historian, Josephus, records that they were going to teach the rebels of Galilee a lesson not to be rebels.  They took them, one by one, along the road out of Sephoris, and crucified them.  They would put one on a cross, and then walk down the road until almost out of sight, and then crucify another. 
They went in every direction, North, East, South and West; they went on every road out of Sephoris, all over Galilee, until they had 2,000 rebels on 2,000 crosses. 
As you walked the roads of Galilee you were never out of sight of a crucified rebel.  None were allowed to be taken down; they were to rot there on the crosses.  If anyone took one down, another Galilean citizen would take his place. 
Jesus was a pre-teen when this happened.  He lived less than a dozen miles from Sephoris.  He knew what he was saying about taking up a cross. 
Jesus is not interested in leaders and kings, or people of great talent and abilities; He wants disciples who will give up their lives. 

Are you willing? 

Are you really willing to step up and offer your life in exchange for His? 
That's what it means to have a God who isn’t small and in a box; following a God like that is a big decision!
And that decision is what this table is about. 
When you realize that life in this world is always heading in the direction of doctor’s waiting rooms, requirements you can’t meet, and frustration with being let down, left behind, pushed out, or crushed, you are in a perfect position to enter the grace & glory zone. 
And the key to the door of that zone is to give up your life, and find His!
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!


Go to VIDEO


[1] Title Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com