Monday, February 27, 2012

Delighting in the Lord

 

1 Blessed is the man
   who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
   or stand in the way of sinners
   or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
   and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
   which yields its fruit in season
   and whose leaf does not wither.
   Whatever he does prospers.

—The words of the Psalmist from Psalm 1:1-3

 

The Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post describes a man—a male man or a female man—who has staked his or her claim on a pattern of life that offers indisputable stability, comfort, peace, security, and overwhelming joy. This individual has determined to delight in the law of the Lord. Said another way, this person has chosen to follow the pathway that God lays out in His precious Word.

To activate the reality of this life-choice, this blessed person—or so the Psalmist describes him or her—chooses to meditate day and night on God’s Word. Can you imagine such an investment of time and energy? This person has made the Word of God the principal focus of his or her life. This person has discovered the source of all truth and makes the decision to wholeheartedly embrace that truth by immersing himself or herself in the Word.

As the busy-ness of our lives engulfs us, we find it hard to imagine giving this kind of time commitment. Even more, we cannot imagine giving our attention and the focus of our mental faculties in such a singular direction. Obviously, because none of us has done this, we cannot reasonably conceive the bountiful benefit that ascibes to the person who has done so.

What kind of life do you live? Do you look around you and see trouble mounting on every front? Do you feel hemmed in by constant claims for your time and energy so that at the end of the day you find you have little to account for your efforts? Instead of feeling truly rooted and grounded in a stable environment do you feel like the ground on which you stand may give way at any moment? Do you long for a place of comfort, rest, peace, security, stablility, and joy?

Then I urge you to follow the pathway outlined by the Psalmist. Delight yourself in the Word of God. Spend time each day reading God’s Word. Don’t allow yourself to settle for a cursory glance at a few verses during some rushed part of your day. Really invest some time to not only read your Bible, but meditate on it.

The Dictionary describes “meditate” as “...to focus one’s thoughts on; to refelct on or ponder over.” In order to meditate on God’s Word it will take effort on your part to focus your thoughts on what God says through His Word and to ponder what He says—to turn it over and over in your mind. If you think about it carefully you can certainly imagine how taking the time to meditate on God’s Word “day and night” would reap a rich benefit for the one investing the time to do so.

The world in which we live seems caught up in great turmoil. The enemy has directed every bit of his attention toward destroying our sense of well-being. But God has an answer for us. He wants to overcome the enemy’s attacks. He wants to return our lives to a place of stability and security and peace and joy. He gladly gives us His Word to instruct us in the pathway that leads to salvation in this world and in the world to come.

I invite you today to take your Bible in hand, open it, and begin to immerse yourself in real truth. Then delight in what God reveals to you in His Word. If you do so, you will find that you will yield fruit in its season, your leaf will not wither, and whatever you do will prosper. That’s not my promise. It’s God’s promise.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Thank you for Your willingness to teach us from Your Word. Thank You for allowing Your Holy Spirit to make Your Word come alive in our hearts and in our minds.

Give us wisdom and determination to set aside the time we need in order to spend it with You in Your Word. Honor our desire to serve You faithfully in this matter. Help us to draw the stability, security, peace, and joy from what we read in Your Word.

Thank You for the overwhelmingly generous way in which You give us strength and purpose for each day. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Desire-Giving God

 

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
   dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.

—The words Of King David from Psalm 37:3-4

 

“Do you really believe that God wants to bring our dreams to past?”

The person asking me this question had recently heard of a pattern I developed over the most recent three years. Once I was forced out of the volunteer job I had held for five-and-a-half years at the church I attended, I began to increasingly despair for words of encouragement. Although I continued to attend that church, only the music ministered to me. The preaching left me flat and yearning for a genuine word from the Lord.

So, I began to record various television pastors and watch them on Sunday afternoons. Soon, one pastor in particular began to speak to my very specific point of need: Joel Osteen. Now, I know the mere mention of his name will drive some of my fellow evangelical believers crazy. These dear ones think of Joel Osteen as a representative of modern pentecostalism at best and the prosperity gospel at worst.

Nevertheless, as I came home from church each Sunday with a spirit in turmoil and filled with heartache, I found the words Joel Osteen spoke in his 26-minute sermon to touch a deeply wounded place in my soul.

I have spent hours analyzing Joel Osteen’s sermons. After all, that’s what I spend a lot of my time doing these days: analyzing sermons. I must share with you that Joel Osteen’s sermons perfectly fit the Sermon-Coach.com model of sermon preparation, though I doubt he has ever heard of S-C.

Within moments after Joel begins to preach, a viewer immediately knows what “Subject” he has chosen for that particular sermon. Before he concludes, the viewer also knows the “Response” Joel seeks from the listeners. And he has given some very useful and practical “How-Tos.”

I will grant my fellow evangelicals, whom I mentioned above, that Joel’s sermons have a decidedly positive tone. He talks a lot about God lifting His people up. Unless one spends enough time to listen to a number of sermons to get a broader sampling, one could easily label Joel as a frontrunner in the prosperity gospel camp. I believe that label is imprecise.

Instead, I would state that Joel holds to a strong belief that God expects His people to approach life with a positive attitude born out of confidence in the goodness and faithfulness of God. No matter what circumstances may surround a person, by trusting in God, the person will always discover that God will bring about what’s best.

So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this blog post, I would have to respond by quoting the two verses from Psalm 37 that appear at the top of this post.

I firmly believe that if I trust in the Lord, if I follow the leading of His Holy Spirit to do the good that He leads me to do, and if I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart. I believe this because, if I faithfully follow His leading in those three steps, my desires will become His desires. I will bend my will to His will. My plans will become His plans. My dreams will become His dreams. And then, my outcomes for me will become His outcomes for me. Said another way, God will transform me in response to my obedience to Him.

“Wait!” you say. “That sounds like some kind of trick.”

No. It’s not a trick. It’s a way of life. What to many sounds like a regurgitation of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, sounds to me more like the attitude of a heart that has become in-tune with God.

“But, your prayer for restoration and reconciliation at your church has not yet been answered,” you may remind me. “If anything, there seems to exist more and more hostility and rejection.” And, you would be correct. But, I haven’t lost confidence in God. In fact, I have more confidence in God today than I did three years ago.

The more I have lost confidence in “men,” the more my confidence in God has grown. If I depended on placing my trust and confidence in the ability of humans to sort out the mess they have made of any situation, I would find myself in complete and utter despair. Instead, I choose—consciously choose—to trust in God to deal with every defect in me and in others. If reconciliation will come about, it will be solely God’s doing. I firmly believe that He will gladly work with all those who choose to humble themselves and put their trust in Him.

In the meantime, I will continue to set my DVR to record Joel Osteen’s sermon each week. And, if the three-year-pattern continues true to form, each week I will find God encouraging my hurting heart through Joel’s sermon.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Thank you for speaking words of assurance, hope, and joy into my life through the ministry of Joel Osteen. I acknowledge that you brought him into my life at the very moment I needed to hear a positive and encouraging word from You. No matter what faults he may have—and like all of us they are legion—I thank you that he faithfully proclaims Your power and grace.

Even more than thanking you for men like Joel Osteen, men whom You may use to minister to each of us in our own particular circumstances, I praise and thank You for Your Holy Spirit. I acknowledge with great joy that the gentle touch of Your Spirit brings sustenance to me each day. Many who have chosen to pray with me in this moment can also clearly acknowledge that they receive daily mercies from Your Spirit.

Thank You for the kind way in which You breathe new life into us each day. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, February 20, 2012

God-pleasing Words

 

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

—The words Of King David from Psalm 19:14

 

In the fall of 1964, I had the privilege of attending a conference for young men considering full-time ministry. The leadership of a particular denomination had arranged for a number of well-known, and presumably powerful, pastors to speak to this group of fledgling potential ministers. I remember one speaker in particular.

“You not only have to smile like a pastor and look like a pastor and think like a pastor and dress like a pastor and walk like a pastor, you also have to speak like a pastor and pray like a pastor.”

I remember thinking that this sounded a lot more like advice a director might give an actor playing the part of pastor rather than the kind of instruction that a seasoned warrior of the faith might give a bunch of new recruits about to enter the field of battle.

“Your people, your congregation, will expect a great deal of you. You will find it will greatly enhance your ministry if you do not disappoint their expectations of you—at least not too much, anyway.”

Several years before, when I had first considered the possibility that God might be calling me into the ministry, I began to notice how pastors acted around other people, how they dressed, how they talked, and especially how they prayed. Sometimes, pastors used what I came to call “prayer tone.” They would pray with a deeply sonorous-sounding voice and use particularly flowery language. I have to admit it sounded a bit phony to me. But I remember some of the adults in the congregation remarking how they loved to hear Pastor So-and-so pray.

Well, it’s no secret that I did not become a pastor. (Perhaps I’ll address the reasons why in some future blog post.) Even though I never sought ordination, I have never stopped observing how various pastors present themselves to the world. Quite often I have a strong sense that somewhere along the way, they listened carefully to the kind of lecture I heard so many years ago.

A frequent artifact of following such advice becomes evident in the pattern that some pastors have established and executed faithfully each week as they begin their sermons. They typcially start with a reading of the text they have chosen for that day. They follow the reading with a prayer. Very often their prayer includes the Scripture passage quoted at the beginning of this blog post from Psalm 19.

Now I grant you that King David’s words have great power. In fact, the whole of Psalm 19 just smacks of enormous truth. It gives praise to God and talks about the rightness and righteousness of all that we can know about Him. Without a doubt, David’s words have an inherent worthiness about them.

Many of the pastors who have adopted the pastorly manner of praying David’s words before they preach no doubt sincerely mean what they’re praying. Preaching, after all, has a sacredness about it that should take those in ministry and shake them to the very core of their beings.

The preacher stands before the congregation as a representative of the God of the Universe and has a sacred trust to faithfully proclaim God’s truth. So, it’s no wonder that conscientious servants of the Most High would pray, asking God to enable their words to please Him.

I think that each one of us would do well, however, to take this concluding declaration of David to heart and apply it to every word that comes out of our mouths. Rather than limiting this verse to those who preach the Word of God, we should embrace the sentiment it represents and determine that every word that we speak in every situation represent the kind of words that would please God. And, necessarily, if the words we might intend to speak do not have qualities that would please God, we should remain silent.

We are all representatives of the God who loves us. When we acknowledged the gift of eternal life He has given us through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, God moved us from being creatures to children. (If you doubt this assertion, please carefully read John 1:12.) As God’s children, we should have an overwhelming desire to speak words that always please Him.

I confess to you that I need to personally redouble the efforts in my own life to make certain that what I say in every situation pleases God. It provides no comfort to me to know that I am not alone. I find that it seems far too easy to slip into a pattern of speaking words that dishonor the God who loves me.

As you begin to deal with this issue in your own life, I would suggest that you also pay particular attention to any pastor you may hear using these words repeatedly as an introduction to his or her sermons. Ask youself if that pastor consistently guards his or her speech. Does he or she speak harshly to staff members or congregants? Does anger flash from his or her lips? Does he or she speak unfavorably about others? Does he or she often seem to bend, or even break, the truth?

Of course, you should ask these same questions about yourself and you should ask these questions about any of your fellow believers. We all need to do a much better job of guarding what we say. After all, Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 15:18:

18 “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’”

Words have the power to hurt or heal. Let us determine to speak only those words that will be pleasing to God.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Help us, O Lord, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to guard what we say. Help us to edit our words before we speak them. Help us to withhold words that will hurt and only speak words that will heal. Help us to put aside unkind speech. Help us to stop lies from coming out of our mouths. Nudge us to say kind words that will help breathe life into those we come in contact with throughout the days ahead.

Thank You, Loving Father, for Your unfailing, undying love and care. Thank You for every provision of Your grace that You freely give to us to help us along our way.

Thank You for having preserved Your truth down through the ages, so we can learn from it today. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

If with all your heart...

 

6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

—The words from Isaiah 55:6-7

 

Circle Church, started in the late 1960s in the part of downtown Chicago known as “The Loop,” became famous for innovation in planning highly coordinated worship services. On one occasion the worship service began in silence as a hush fell over the congregation. In the distance, the congregation could hear the sound of softly tinkling bells. The tinkling bells grew louder as a costumed woman entered the meeting room. She walked slowly around the room. The little bells on her costume announced each footstep. After circling the room she walked toward the front where someone had placed a lone chair on the platform. Using a feather duster that she pulled from a pocket in her costume, she began to dust the chair as if preparing it for use. Satisfied with her work, she gave a nod of her head and stood aside, making a gesture of welcome with her outstretched arms. At this moment, the choir began to solftly sing:

The Lord is in His holy temple
The Lord is in His holy temple
Let all the earth keep silence.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Keep silence. Keep silence before Him.

As you might imagine, this very dramatic beginning to the worship service directed the congregation’s attention to the fact that every time God’s people gather for worship, He is present with them. As the Scripture reports Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20:

20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

The truth is that God longs to respond to us when we seek Him. That’s what makes the Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post so very special. Part of the reason for the Incarnation—the coming of God’s Son, Jesus, to earth to die on the cruel cross of Calvary and to rise from the dead—was to give us even greater access to God. The Holy Spirit draws men and women and boys and girls to the foot of the cross where they can receive God’s gift of salvation from their sins, a new life here on earth, and an eternal life with Jesus in heaven.

In my last blog post, I shared a video from Felix Mendelssohn’s magnificent work “Elijah.” That work also contains a most wonderful tenor recitative and aria that expresses what it means to seek the Lord. I invite you to listen very carefully to the words of this piece all the way through to the end.

 

 

I urge you to determine today to seek God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Give God the opportunity to dwell within you by the power of the Holy Spirit. Accept His gift of salvation. If you already belong to Him, greet each new day as yet another opportunity to serve Him with the totality of your being.

God waits for your call. He waits to hear your voice. He listens undistracted for the cry from your heart as you seek Him.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Dearest Father, unto Whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid, be pleased to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy Name. Hear our heart’s cry as we seek You, O God. Enable us to receive the grace and mercy that you freely give us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thank You, Loving Father, for Your constancy and for Your ever-listening ear that allows us to come to You, at any time and as often as we choose, knowing that You long to respond to the cries of Your dearly loved children. We thank You and praise You for answering our prayers. We stand before You as ones who bask in the glory of Your Holy Presence.

Thank You for the preciousness of Your Word and our ability to learn from You. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hitch Up Your Chariot...
The Rain’s Coming!

 

44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

    So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”

—The words from 1 Kings 18:44

 

The Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post comes from a most fascinating story concerning Elijah the prophet of God. To say that Elijah lived in troubling times would not be an overstatement. Elijah lived in very, very troubling times. In verse 22 of this chapter, Elijah declares, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left...”

In each scene throughout this passage, Elijah consistently obeys God. This determined obedience marks Elijah. Even when he faces 450 prophets of Baal, he remains obedient.

In obedience to God, Elijah sets up a test. He tells the prophets of Baal to select a bull and he selects a bull. He tells them to build an altar and he builds an altar. He tells them to call on their god, Baal, and he will call on his God. The one who answers with fire will be the true and only God.

You may know this story well from your days in Sunday School. The prophets of Baal call out to him, but he does not answer. Elijah suggests that perhaps Baal is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling, or sleeping. So the prophets of Baal cry out until evening. Still no response.

So, Elijah builds his altar and has them douse his altar with water three times. Then Elijah prays.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

After having established his credentials as a prophet of God in a most dramatic manner, Elijah now turns his attention to the draught that has plagued the land for three-and-a-half years. After telling Ahab to “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain,” Elijah goes up to the top of Mt. Carmel. He sends his servant to look toward the sea. The seventh time the servant looks, he gives the report contained in the verse at the beginning of this blog post. The servant reports to Elijah that he sees a cloud the size of a man’s hand. This is the sign that Elijah has waited to see. Rain’s coming.

Elijah tells the servant to go to Ahab and tell him to “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”

After three-and-a-half years of draught, the rain’s coming. The rain’s coming. THE RAIN’S COMING!

How long have you waited for a sign from God that things are about to change for the better? Have you waited three weeks, three months, three-and-a-half years, or even longer?

I once prayed for three years that God would bring a truly godly man into my life. Day after day, week after week, I prayed and prayed and prayed. Finally, in October of 1978, God answered my prayer. He brought a genuinely godly man into my life in a way so unexpected that it caught me completely by surprise. That godly man became my spiritual mentor. Our relationship has continued over the course of the intervening years. And his prayerful teaching and guidance have changed my life profoundly for the better.

At this present time, I have been waiting for God to answer my prayer for justice in the cause of Christ for a bit over three years. I know God will answer my prayer.

God always answers the prayers of those He loves. And, He loves you. He loves me. Because He loves us, He will always answer our prayers. All we have to do is wait on Him.

Felix Mendelssohn composed a magnificent work, “Elijah.” That work contains an equisite soprano/mezzo-soprano duet that expresses what it means to wait on the Lord. I invite you to listen very carefully to the words of this piece all the way through to the end.

 

 

So, dear friends, hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you. Because as surely as I sit typing on this keyboard, the rain’s coming!

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Precious Father, we acknowledge that it is not always easy to wait for You. Sometimes, in the midst of our trials, we become so discouraged that we begin to doubt whether or not You hear our persistent prayers. That’s why we thank You for the example of Elijah. Even though he felt all alone, he remained obedient to You. He waited on You and You answered him with great power and an overwhelming display of Your glory.

Thank You, dear Father, for Your faithfulness and steadfastness that gives us confidence to put all our faith and trust in You. Thank You for the prayers You have already answered. Thank You for the prayers You are going to answer. Thank You for the cup You have given us that overflows with Your mercy and grace. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just Love Them

 

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

—The words of Jesus from Matthew 5:11-12

 

I am always amazed when I observe someone responding to hatred with love. You would think that would stand as a common occurrence in the lives of those who remain committed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, in my experience, some of the most ardent “haters” seem to reside among the ranks of those who claim to belong to the Savior.

In contrast, I recently observed a very practical example of a particular believer extending God-breathed love toward someone who obviously despises him. I was deeply touched, and equally deeply convicted. For I am not at all certain I would have responded with the same loving grace that the person I observed used in dealing with someone who seems overwhelmed by hatred.

The exchange took place on Twitter, that bastion of social discourse. As he does several times each day, Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, California, sent out a Tweet. It read as follows:

@RickWarren I'd go to jail rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29

Pastor Rick sent this Tweet in response to the reports that the government intends to force all institutions—including church-based institutions—to provide birth control and sterilization as part of their healthcare coverage. This, of course, violates the tenets of several Christian groups, most notably the Roman Catholic Church.

In response, Jon Ward (@jonward11), a Senior Political Reporter for the Huffington Post re-Tweeted Pastor Rick’s Tweet verbatim.

In response to this re-Tweet, an invidual who hides her real name behind the appellation “Equality is a right” and uses the Twitter name @proudliberalmom responded with this Tweet:

@proudliberalmom @RickWarren @jonward11 k. I'll lock u up and throw away the key. Bye bye

In case you don’t speak Tweet-ese, this translates: “Okay. I’ll lock you up and throw away the key. Bye bye.”

Here’s Pastor Rick’s response:

@RickWarren May God bless you richly. He loves you deeply.

I am quite certain that faced with someone who has political views I find loathsome and tops those views off with a snarky attitude that cloaks her identity so she can fill Twitter with barbed, insulting Tweets, my first reaction would not be to respond as Pastor Rick did.

You see, Pastor Rick allowed the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to flow through him and into the life of someone who quite likely hates him. That’s the behavior Christ expects of all those who follow Him. Pastor Rick knows that Jesus’ teaching in His “Sermon on the Mount”—part of which includes the Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post—provides the enabling within Pastor Rick’s life that allows the love of Christ to override every obstacle erected by our natural human tendencies.

I am convicted and humbled by this godly example. Now, it’s up to me to do something about it in my own life. How about you in yours?

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Father, I confess that I would not have responded to the hateful comments that Pastor Rick received with the love and grace of Your Precious Son, as Pastor Rick did. I ask forgiveness for those times I have allowed my anger to rule my response. I need the help of Your Holy Spirit to direct me so that when I am attacked I will respond with Your love. Where I do not possess the ability to do this on my own, please move me toward obedience.

Thank You, dear Father, for Your kindness and gentleness that leads us along the pathway of righteousness. There is not one moment in every day but that we need a full measure of Your grace, peace, and love. So, thank You for providing all we need to become Your obedient and loving children. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Come Unto Me

 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

—The words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-29

 

“I’m just so tired of fighting.”

My mid-western friend on the other end of the telephone line expressed his weariness with a deep sigh. For the last nineteen months he has fought within the state legislature to make the installation of residential automatic fire sprinklers a requirement for all new one- and two-family residences.

All of the research points to the value of this important fire protection at relatively low cost per square foot for new construction. The residential fire sprinklers not only help protect the occupants of the dwelling, they also afford protection for the responding fire fighters. Sadly, the state builders’ association has joined forces with the state realtors’ organization to pour a substantial sum of money into lobbying against this legislation.

As a result of extreme opposition and a public relations campaign of false information concerning the cost of the residential sprinklers, my friend has found himself in a constant battle where the opposition consistently ignores proven facts. To add further stress to my friend, the representatives of the builders’ association and realtors’ association have resorted to personal attacks against my friend’s competency and character.

What about you? Do you have some issue in your life where you’ve fought long and hard to bring about change, or where you have determined to cling tenaciously to the truth, only to experience such opposition, even attack, that it has caused an overwhelming weariness in the depths of your being? If so, then I commend to you the Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post. Jesus specifically tells His followers that He invites all who are weary and burdened to come to Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ offers the most genuine help for those standing with the truth who have become weary in their efforts. He truly knows what it feels like to hold strongly to what one believes is a position of truth and to come to a place of bone-crunching weariness in body and spirit. Out of His own experience, Jesus welcomes His sons and daughters to come and rest in Him.

Not only does Jesus invite the weary to come to Him, He indicates His open desire to teach those willing to receive His instruction. “Learn of me,” He invites. What better a teacher of patience and perseverance than Jesus. He who has held steady to the very end, even unto death in our behalf, certainly knows how to teach His children the way to handle the adversity that comes with standing firm on the truth.

So, in handling whatever trials you face, if you’ve already hit the wall, turn to Jesus. If you feel you might soon hit the wall, turn to Jesus. He waits to welcome you. He waits to welcome me. He calls us to Himself. He urges us to come and receive rest for our souls.

As you ponder Christ’s invitation, please allow me to suggest that you point your web browser to this link where you may scroll down to Item No. 20 and listen to alto and soprano solos from Handel’s Messiah. The text of the soprano solo uses the words from today’s Scripture passage.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Precious Savior, how we long to rest in You. We rejoice that You have invited us to come to You and find rest for our souls

Thank You, dear Father, for Your great love that You have demonstrated to us in the provision of Your Son. How we thank You for leading us by Your Holy Spirit along the pathway You have laid out before us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Truth Just Doesn’t Matter!
Or, Does It?

 

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
    they value a man who speaks the truth.

—The words of King Solomon from Proverbs 16:13

 

In the fall of 1968 through the early summer of 1969, I had the privilege of making several day-long inspections with Robert W. Gilmore. Bob was an electrical inspector with the New York Board of Fire Underwriters Burerau of Electricity. He was also the fire chief in Houghton, NY. I owe much of my interest in the inspection aspect of fire protection to Bob. In any case, I would take a day off from my job at the Houghton College Press and ride with Bob throughout Allegany County, New York, while he inspected new electrical installations.

A recent change to NFPA 70-1968, National Electrical Code®, affected the installation of the service entrance bonding bushing. Virtually every inspection we made, Bob discovered that the electrician had not installed the service entrance bonding bushing correctly. Even as he wrote up the official paperwork explaining the reason that he could not approve the electrical work and permit the utility company to turn on the power to the building, he would include a note that he had painstakingly typed. The note gave the specific reference from the NEC and a very practical explanation of how to comply with this new requirement. This special effort to expound the truth on Bob’s part would help most electricans understand the mistake they had made and what to do to correct it.

The fifth or sixth time I traveled with Bob, I would imagine about May of 1969, I noted with surprise that two particular electricians still insisted on installing the service entrance bonding bushing incorrectly on every job of theirs we looked at. I mentioned this to Bob. He explained that he had offered to spend time with each of these two electrician to go over the changes to the NEC and help them learn how to comply. Each of them refused.

After explaining all the other steps Bob had taken to try, unsuccessfully, to help these electricans do the right thing, he concluded his recitation by saying, “This is one of those cases where the truth just doesn’t matter.”

Recently, while mulling another fire protection problem over in my mind in the wee hours of the morning, Bob Gilmore’s statement came tumbling forth from the deep recesses of my mind. I thought to myself, “I wonder if this is one of those cases where the truth just doesn’t matter?”

Thinking about a whole host of unrelated situations in the days since my middle-of-the-night revelation, I have concluded that, from a purely human standpoint, there may well exist situations where the truth just doesn’t matter. Sometimes the people on one side or another in an argument have so hardened their hearts that even if they had irrefutable evidence laid in front of them, they would not honor the truth. Uttering a host of side-stepping excuses, they would hold on tightly to what they have come to believe. Even in the face of absolute, unquestioned truth, they would stick to the lies out of which they have woven their beliefs.

I must admit that for a while, after considering all this, I became withdrawn into that inward place where we all go when we feel defeated. But then I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to remember the words of King Solomon that appear at the beginning of this blog post. Some people may dig in deeply and hold to the lies that surround them, but “kings take pleasure in honest lips.”

I am encouraged that to kings—and most importantly to the King of Kings—the truth does matter. That’s good enough for me. I intend to hold to the truth. Whether or not anyone else will surrender to that truth becomes their problem. Not mine.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We praise You that You take pleasure in honest lips. You honor the truth. You hold to the truth. You love the truth. You are the truth. You long to imbue Your truth into us.

Thank You, dear Father, for Your wisdom and understanding as you so patiently teach us through Your Word. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.