Thursday, April 30, 2015

Step Out in Confidence

 

[Photo of a field by the water with words superimposed]


“Teach me to do your will…”
—Psalm 143:10a

Do you remember the song from the musical or movie, “The Sound of Music,” with the words: “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every highway, ’til you find your dream”?

This song paints a musical picture of how difficult life can sometimes be. And, that picture is true for many of us.

The Psalmist also understood the trials and tribulations of life when he wrote these hopeful and encouraging words of prayer in Psalm 143:10:

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

As a new day begins, we may trust the Holy Spirit to make our pathway level and to lead us along in a trustworthy manner.

Let us make every effort to seek to know and to do the will of God by studying His Word and obediently following His direction.

Then, let us step out with confidence and share God's love with those we encounter along the way.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“O What A Day!”

 

[Photo of the bright sun in the sky]


“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’…”
—Revelation 21:1a

As believers in the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ, we “Christ’s-ones,” or Christians, too seldom think about our ultimate destiny. I wonder, if we thought more about heaven, would we live with more determined urgency here on earth—urgency to more and more become vessels of God’s mercy, grace, and unfailing love?

The Apostle John recorded these powerful words in Revelation 21:1-7:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

“To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”

Many, many gospel songs have been written to remind us of what our eternity will be like. Based on Scripture, these gospel songs intend to provide encouragement, comfort, hope, but also intend to motivate believers to diligently serve Christ and His Kingdom.

In 1933, George S. Schuler wrote these words for just such a gospel song. In turn, Gertrude S. Dugan wrote an appropriate, yet haunting, melody:

When we reach the land of light
Where shadows are no more
O what a day!
When we meet our blessed Savior
On that peaceful shore
O what a day!

O what a day that will be
When my dear Savior I’ll see
In those mansions of love
Now awaiting above
O what a day, O glorious day.

When we see the Holy City
With its mansions fair
O what a day!
When we look upon the glories
That await us there
O what a day!

O what a day that will be
When my dear Savior I’ll see
In those mansions of love
Now awaiting above
O what a day, O glorious day.

To behold the faces of our
Loved ones gone before
O what a day!
From the Savior's Presence
To be severed nevermore
O what a day!

O what a day that will be
When my dear Savior I’ll see
In those mansions of love
Now awaiting above
O what a day, O glorious day.

During my high school days in the early and middle 1960s, I had the privilege of singing the high tenor part in a gospel quintet. “O What a Day” was one of our most requested songs.

As I already mentioned, it had a haunting melody that made George Schuler’s words fairly vibrate with emotion.

Let's break away from time to time during the weeks and months ahead and occasionally think about heaven.

As another gospel song writer has written: “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!”

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

“Remain in Me…”

 

[Photo of a family standing at the foot of the cross]


“Remain in me, as I also remain in you.”
—John 15:4a

“Wherever you go, travel in a group: at least three people, but more is better.”

No, I was not in a foreign country when I received that admonition from the concierge at the hotel where I was staying. I was in a major American city. I won’t name that city because the event occurred many years ago and safety issues may have improved there in the intervening years.

Traveling with others seems like a good idea. As believers in the life-changing power of the Lord Jesus Christ, we do well to understand the role of close fellowship with other believers.

Even more important, as we walk the road of life, we need to maintain close fellowship with our Savior.

Please take note of Jesus’ words as recorded in John 15:1-4:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Here Jesus urges His disciples to remain in Him. We need to heed these words of our Lord, as well. We must remain in Him.

I have written in other blog posts about the Greek word “meno,” which is translated “remain.” Other translations render this word “abide” or “stick with” or “stay close to.”

The message is clear: to make our way safely through this life, we need to stay as close as possible to “the One who knows us the best and also loves us the most”—Jesus, our Savior, Lord, and King.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

We Are Not Alone!

 

[Drawing of Jesus hugging a male child]


“If you love me, keep my commands.”
—John 14:15a

Have you ever been homesick? Maybe you went off to summer camp for the first time with great excitement. But once you settled in, and your parents drove away, you suddenly realized you were alone. You were outside that protective circle of your family.

You tried to hide your feelings of dread. But, eventually that aching in your stomach grew to the place where your tears began to flow.

Finally, a wise counselor let you make a phone call. As soon as you heard your father’s or mother’s voice, you poured out your heart and begged to come home.

After you talked a while you felt better. Just hearing your parent’s voice brought comfort. You were able to steel yourself, settle down, and even begin to enjoy the experience.

In contrast, maybe you were someone for whom your parents had anticipated your panic and sense of aloneness and did their best to prepare you for those moments of clarity that would come when you realized your parents were gone and you were stuck in an alien environment.

Their words of preparation helped you recognize and deal with your feelings of fear and dread. You took their words to heart and received comfort that allowed you to tolerate and even enjoy the experience.

When the Lord Jesus knew He was about to die, He did His best to try to prepare His disciples. Notice what He said to them, as recorded in John 14:15-27:

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.

“The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.

“The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Then Judas not Judas Iscariot said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

“Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

We followers of Jesus live in a most hostile and alien environment. A spiritual warfare rages both within us and around us.

We can take great comfort in the words of our Savior. The heartache and frustration of this world can melt away, as we rest in the truth of His words.

We are not alone! God has sent the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to be our Comforter and Guide.

Today, let us receive this great outpouring of God's love with great joy and be thankful.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Those Who Bring Joy

 

[Drawing of a pirced hand with words superimposed]


“ I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers…”
—Philemon 1:4a:

“You bring me great joy!”

Imagine what a thrill it is to hear someone say that to you. You may not think you’re very important or that what you do has any great significance.

But every once in a while, someone gets enough courage to tell you how much you mean to them. Normally, they may hesitate to tell you, lest you misunderstand what they’re saying.

The Apostle Paul had no hesitation in declaring how much Philemon meant to him when he wrote these words in Philemon 1:4-7:

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus.

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Nothing is quite as encouraging as being on the receiving end of a great outpouring of love from God’s people.

Let’s determine to live in such a way that we do not withhold God’s love from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Going in the Right Direction

 

[Photo of a lake at dusk with words superimposed]


“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”
—Matthew 28:19

In our current age, many people seem to lack direction in their lives.

But for followers of the Lord Jesus Christ this is never the case. Note these words of our Lord recorded in Matthew 28:16-20:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We have our marching orders for this day and every day. And, just as importantly, we have the promise of Christ’s Presence.

Let us go out with joy to serve the Great King knowing that He is always with us everywhere we go.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Servant of the Most High God

 

[Photo of a man holding an open Bible]


“Preach the word; be prepared in
season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—with great
patience and careful instruction.”
—2 Timothy 4:2

“What does it really mean to be a called servant of the Most High God?”

As I attempt to answer that question, I must confess to you that, apart from a relatively small specific number of ministers, over the last five years I have become very suspicious of, very distrustful of, and generally annoyed with most pastors.

Across the course of my career, I have had the privilege of working with a very large number of different ministers—in fact, over 350 pastors. Many of them were sincerely trying to serve God. In contrast, a few others had significant personality anomalies. And one, in particular, was a vicious sociopath.

The sociopath was the most dangerous. He had a unique gift from the evil one that enabled him to endear himself to those he wanted to control and an uncanny ability to detect those he could not fool. Thus, he surrounded himself with either “buddies” or “"targets.” He lavished his favor on the “buddies” in order to control them. And, he systematically destroyed the “targets.”

Please take note of these words of admonition from the Apostle Paul to a fellow minister, his “son in the faith” Timothy, as recorded in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.

Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

So how do genuine servants of the risen Christ answer the question: “What does it really mean to be a called servant of the Most High God?”

Here is one observation recently posted by my dear friend, Rev. Eric A. Kouns:

In the course of a 40-year ministry, I have preached thousands of sermons. I’ve preached very few in the last six years, however, and none at all in the last 16 months, so I’ve had ample opportunity to ponder the preacher’s role without being under pressure to prepare sermons.

One conclusion: I need to repent and to confess that most of the times I preached, my spirit was consumed with my skill as a public speaker, my authority as a ‘minister,’ and pride. The larger the crowd, the more those elements consumed me.

I am only beginning to see the degree to which I reflected attitudes and influences that are exactly the opposite of those appropriate for a preacher, i.e. humility, gratitude, and an overwhelming sense of how great a privilege it is to stand before a group of God’s people as a channel for a word from God.

If someone were to ask me today how to evaluate a preacher and a sermon, I would say:

“Look for clear and obvious signs that the preacher is aware of his or her own humanity and recognizes how great a privilege it is to be a preacher among the people of God.

“Look for humility and a sense of almost debilitating awareness of the reality and presence of God.”

Those characteristics won’t build a megachurch, but they will more faithfully reflect the character of Jesus.

Amen!

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We Do Not Walk Alone

 

[Drawing of Paul and Timothy]


“I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors
did, with a clear conscience, as night and day
I constantly remember you in my prayers.”
—2 Timothy 1:3

We all need someone to mentor us in our walk with Christ. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. We also have God’s Word to instruct us in right living.

And we can learn from the example of the Apostle Paul who mentored his son in the faith, Timothy. Two of Paul’s letter—his epistles—bear Timothy’s name. Paul wrote words of admonition and encouragement to Timothy, as Timothy went out to serve as a spiritual leader.

Notice the inherent power and also the inherent humility and openness in these words of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:3-14:

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.

Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am.

Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

How fortunate we are that God has preserved Paul’s words of counsel. We are all “Timothys” in need of this instruction. Thus, Paul can mentor us. His words give us a reality check against which we can measure the words of any other current mentor.

Let us go out into this day with the same surety that God has chosen us to be objects of His unfailing love. And let us boldly, but humbly, share what God has done for us with those who cross our path this day.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Antidote for a “Gloomy Gus”

 

[Photo of pierced hands with words superimposed]


“Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth”
—Isaiah 49:13a

I don’t always feel joyful. In fact, most of the time I’m a “Gloomy Gus.” I walk around feeling sorry for myself, angry at the world, grumpy, miserable, and depressed. At least that seems to be my most natural disposition.

Yet, I can’t help having to stifle a chuckle when I hear a particular children’s rhyme in my head:

Nobody loves me!
Everybody hates me!
Guess I'll go eat worms!

Of course the rhyme is not true. While many people don’t seem to like me very much, others seem blissfully unaware of what a wretch I am and even seem to enjoy my company. Some even seem to feel that time spent with me is worthwhile.

The best news of all is that God loves me! And, do you know what? God loves you, too.

As the Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 49:13, 16:

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains!

For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Imagine that! God has engraved our names on the palms of His hands! He obviously loves us!

So, I will put away my gloom. I will stop being a grump. I will lift my eyes to the Lord. And, I will invite you to join me.

This day, let’s rejoice in Him!

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Moving in the Right Direction

 

[Photo of girl walking a path with words superimposed]


“I am the Lord your God, who teaches
you what is best for you…”
—Isaiah 48:17b

Many people wander through life being pulled this way or that by the ever-changing wind of the culture. It’s a full-time job keeping up with all the trends. Even staying up-to-date with the latest insider language can take a significant amount of time.

As Christians, we have a distinct advantage. God is the one who lovingly opens up the pathway He has for us each day.

The Prophet Isaiah reminds us of this fact in Isaiah 48:17:

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

Let us gratefully follow God’s leading in our life today. Let us be aware of those moments when the Holy Spirit nudges us to change direction. Let’s rejoice that the God who loves us gladly points us toward the right path.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Seed of Generosity

 

[Photo of food boxes ready for delivery]


“These women were helping to support
them out of their own means.”
—Luke 8:3

“Come with me, Dean.”

Paul Colburn was an amazing man. Quiet, humble, extremely careful and precise, Paul had pulled himself up from humble beginnings. He used the GI Bill after World War II to put himself through a jewelers’ school and opened a very tiny watch repair business in a remodeled front porch of his house.

By the late 1950s, Paul had done well enough that he could build a modern two-story building in a shopping district a few blocks from his original location. Paul and his wife lived on the second floor and operated an expanded full-service jewelry store on the first floor.

In early 1960, Paul asked me if I wanted a job. I had been working at a boat store, two doors down the block, wiring boats. But, the end of summer put an end to my job.

So, I began to work for Paul: engraving trophies, bracelets, and watches; doing some simple repairs on Westclock Big Ben and Little Ben clocks; shoveling snow; washing windows; sweeping floors; and doing inventory.

On this day, a few days before Thanksgiving, Paul led me into the garage behind the store. Twelve big boxes of groceries were lined up along one wall. We loaded the groceries into Paul’s car and pulled into the alley.

The first house we stopped at was barely more than a shack. The minute we stepped through the door, the stench of poverty assailed my nostrils. We carefully set two boxes of groceries down on the dirty linoleum flooring. Paul said a few words to the woman who stood there surrounded by four small children.

We repeated this at several houses until we had delivered all the boxes of groceries.

I sat beside Paul in stunned silence as we drove back to the store. I lived in very modest circumstances, but compared to the families we visited that day, I lived in unimaginable luxury.

“Thanks!” Paul said simply. “To whom much has been given, much is required…” he concluded, quoting Luke 12:48.

I have never forgotten that day. It motivated me to hold all that I have in an open hand. (It also got me in trouble when my generosity exceeded my means—but that’s a story I've narrated in another blog post.)

God wants those whom He has called to Himself to be His dearly loved children to be quick to help others who are truly in need. Notice what Dr. Luke wrote in Luke 8:1-3:

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary called Magdalene from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.

These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Here we see that these women, who became devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, graciously provided financial support from their own resources.

Scripture teaches us “Christ-ones” (Christians) many lessons. Among those lessons is to quickly move to help those who genuinely need help.

What a blessing it is for us to cheerfully and joyfully comply with these wishes of our Great King.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Preparing for Sleep

 

[Photo of Bill Pearce]


“By day the Lord directs his love”
—Psalm 42:8a

After you pray, how do you end your day?

You’ve spent some time talking to God and reviewing your day. You’ve settled in, adjusted your pillow, snuggled into the covers, now what’s next?

Let me make a suggestion. But first, consider these words from Psalm 42:8:

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.

God wants our nighttime sleep to be peaceful, restful, and restorative. So, here’s my suggestion.

One of the best things you can do as you prepare to drift off to sleep is to use your SmartPhone or laptop computer to listen to the late Bill Pearce and his wonderful program “Nightsounds.”

This is surely one of the very best nighttime radio programs ever produced by one of the most amazing musicians and Christian radio personalities—that’s “Nightsounds.” From the opening strains of Claude Debussy’s “Beau Soir” to the closing notes 30 minutes later, you will find this program relaxing, peaceful, and enjoyable.

Try it for just one night. You’ll see. Just click the link below.

http://www.nightsoundsradio.org/

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trustworthy Rules

 

[Graphic of tagged sign]


“Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.”
—Psalm 119:65

A popular commentary on our culture was spray-painted in an elaborate font on the building’s wall by a talented graffiti artist. It read: “No Rules!”

We live at a time when lawlessness is celebrated by Millennials, probably because our democratic society has become overrun with oppressive regulations. At every turn, the government imposes boundaries intended to shape us into compliant, non-thinking sheep. And, frankly, most of us don't like it!

In the Kingdom of God, His rules are viewed as just and fair and righteous. God has given us direction in His Word that will result in lives well-lived.

The Psalmist spends a good deal of his poetry in Psalm 119—the longest Psalm in the Bible—praising God for His guidance. Notice these words from Psalm 119:65-66:

Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.

Let us join the Psalmist in celebrating God's instruction this new day.

Let us express gratitude for the Holy Spirit, who comes along side us to guide us along the pathway that God has laid out before us.

Let us rejoice that, while we sinners are simply not capable of perfect obedience, our Savior lived a life of total obedience, even when it led to His death in our place on the cross.

Let us rise up this day, with great joy, to obediently follow the pathway God has laid out before us.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sharing Generously

 

[Graphic of a sign]


“The rich rule over the poor, and
the borrower is slave to the lender.”
—Proverbs 22:7

One day, more than a decade ago, I arrived home with a heavy heart. My desk was littered with bills that I could not pay. With God’s help, I had spent the previous decade digging myself out of an enormous credit card debt—well over $100,000.

Most of that horrible debt came not from riotous living on my part, but rather from time after time when I stepped forward to help someone in need, offering money I did not really have.

A dear friend wanted to start a radio ministry? I bought all of the equipment he needed with one of my fourteen credit cards.

Another friend had a death in her family and needed to fly to California to attend the funeral? I quickly bought a ticket.

The church needed to remodel the sound system? Of course I will buy and donate the equipment.

A friend’s son could not afford to purchase his college textbooks? Let me call the college bookstore and give them one of my credit cards.

Over and over again, for what seemed at the time as the most honorable of reasons, I dug myself deeper in debt.

After ten long years of fighting my way out from under the weight of that debt, I had finally reached the point where I had one last card to pay off.

But, my health had begun to fail. I had more bills than I had money. I did not want to go backwards into debt. I arrived home that night so discouraged.

As I looked through the mail that night, fearing that it might contain yet another bill, I came across a letter with an unfamiliar return address. I opened it to find a handwritten note and a check for $5,000.

“Dear Dean,” the note began. “My wife is writing this note for me, as I now suffer from Parkinson's disease. I was thinking just the other day of that wonderful seminar you gave my employees several years ago. I feel as if I never had the chance to express the depth of my gratitude for the excellent and professional way you covered such complex subjects and made them so understandable for my valuable employees. I hope you will accept this check as my ‘Thank You.'’”

To say the least, I was stunned. That gracious gift enabled me to pay my bills and stay on track reducing my credit card debt.

The sender knew nothing of my circumstances. The seminar he spoke of had taken place more than five years before. Since that time, I'd had no contact with this individual.

Nevertheless, God knew my genuine need and used this generous man as an instrument of His grace.

King Solomon has offered these relevant words in Proverbs 22:7-9:

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

As a new day begins and we start our day in prayer, let’s ask God if He will open ways for us to share generously with those who genuinely need help.

Even if our current circumstances limit our ability to give generously of our material possessions, let’s give those in genuine need a friendly smile, a warm embrace, a kind word, a loving encouragement, and our sincere and fervent prayers.

Let us remember the God who, in our deep need, sought us and bought us with the redeeming blood of His precious Son. And, let us determine to show that same love to others.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Praying for Children

 

[Photo of a mother praying with her daughter]


“Start children off on the way they
should go, and even when they
are old they will not turn from it.”
—Proverbs 22:6

Each generation has a responsibility to pray for and care for the generation that comes behind it. While God did not choose to bless me with children, all through my life I have consistently prayed for my nieces and nephews.

How very, very proud I am of each one of these eleven young people. Their parents have done such a good job raising them to love God. Eight of them attended Christian colleges: two went to Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, and six of them attended my alma mater, Houghton College in Houghton, New York.

Seven of them are now married with children of their own, whom they are raising to love God. The three youngest will no doubt marry in due season. One dear little niece has been at the feet of Jesus for many years, having died in an automobile accident at age three.

I mention these dear ones to illustrate the power of prayer and also to illustrate the reality that no matter what life may bring, if we remain faithful in love and prayer, God will direct the steps of the children He brings into our lives.

King Solomon understood the importance of children when he wrote these words in Proverbs 22:5-6:

In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Please take a moment today and let’s pray for the children we know and for their parents. Ask God to hold each one in His protective arms. Pray that these dear ones will stay on the right pathway throughout their lives.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Deeply Rooted

 

[Photo of a tree with big roots and with words superimposed]


“I pray that out of his glorious riches he
may strengthen you with power through
his Spirit in your inner being…”
—Ephesians 3:16

I woke this day,
the sun shines bright.

I pray for God
to hold me tight.

As I go forth
to do His will,

I pray that He

will guard me still.

Many of you may know the nighttime child's prayer that begins: “Now I lay me down to sleep...” But, how many of you know the child’s morning prayer that I quoted above?

A prayer in the morning and one at night. Starting our day with God and ending it with Him, as well. This is, indeed, a most excellent discipline.

Prayer plays such an important role in the life of a believer. The Apostle Paul clearly recognized the importance of prayer when he wrote these words in Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

As we begin this new day, let’s begin our day in quiet at the throne of God’s grace. As we start the day with prayer, let us pray for each other.

Let us mention each other by name and pray as Paul did, “that out of His glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.”

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Someone Truly Important

 

[Photo of lightning with words superimposed]


“In him and through faith in him we may
approach God with freedom and confidence.”
—Ephesians 3:12

Have you ever been in the presence of someone you felt was really important? As a small child, did you get sent to see the Principal of your school?

Maybe you went to a book signing of a favorite author? Or, perhaps you had a backstage pass to meet your favorite musician, or actor, or dancer?

When individuals are really important to us they tend to inspire awe. That awesomeness affects the way we approach such a person.

No one in heaven or on earth is more awesome than God. Even if you set aside for a moment the great mystery that He is One God existing at the same time in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—God’s awesomeness is unparalleled.

Notice the conclusion the Apostle Paul reaches, as you carefully read what he wrote in Ephesians 3:1-12:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

So you see, dear ones, while God certainly blows the top off the chart that measures awesomeness, through faith in His Son, we may approach God with the confidence that He eagerly waits to welcome us into His divine presence.

Why? Because He loves us with His everlasting love. He has chosen us to belong to Himself, now and forever.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kingdom Citizens

 

[Graphic of a sign]


“But now in Christ Jesus you who
once were far away have been
brought near by the blood of Christ.”
—Ephesians 2:13

I have not traveled extensively outside the United States. I made one very quick three-day trip to Germany and a few trips into Canada. Frankly, I never enjoyed leaving the security of the United States.

However, I remember the feeling I had when I crossed the international border back into my homeland and had my citizenship confirmed by the immigration authorities.

As those who belong to God through the life-transforming power of the living Lord Jesus Christ, we have our citizenship confirmed by Christ Himself. And, we have verification that we are citizens of God'’s Kingdom through the in-dwelling Holy Spirit.

Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus in Ephesians 2:11-22:

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” which is done in the body by human hands—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.

His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Rest assured this day that, as a believer in God’s precious Son, we belong to His Kingdom. Our citizenship and all the privileges that entails are ours, now and forever.

This day, let us go forth and let the Light of Christ within us shine brightly into this dark and needy world.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, April 6, 2015

We Christians are All “Sons” of God

 

[Graphic of people standing on a globe with words superimposed]


“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…”
—Galatians 3:26

The English language is one of the most inelegant and irritating of all the languages. I first realized this when I studied Classical Greek, and later, New Testament Greek, in college. The expressions of common phraseology create so much confusion in the English language.

For example: in English there is one word “love.” In Classical/New Testament Greek there are four words for “love.”

Another example: the word “man” in English denotes gender and age. Thus, in English, the word “man” excludes females.

Not so in Classical/New Testament Greek. Certain Greek words translated “man” in English do not denote exclusive gender, but very much include females. Thus, even the most ardent defender of gender equality and respect must understand that when the Bible translators render a Greek word as “man” in English, such a rendering does not exclude women.

Likewise, when the Bible talks about inheritance and uses the word “sons,” in our culture where females may inherit an estate equally with males, the word “sons” means male sons and (here we go again ladies) female sons.

Thus, when the Apostle Paul writes these words in Galatians 3:26-29; 4:1-7, the wonderful news applies to men and women equally. Let me emphasize that point as strongly as I can: in the Kingdom of God, every person regardless of gender , or status, or any other cultural qualifier, has an equal responsibility and receives an equal inheritance!

Paul writes:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

(And, by the way, lest your well-meaning ethnic sensitivity raises your hackles at the use of the word “slave,” please carefully read Deuteronomy 15:12-18 to learn about “bond slaves” and 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 to understand that we are all “bond slaves of Christ.”)

We are heirs of the Kingdom of God. He has chosen us and adopted us as sons (male sons and, yes it’s true ladies, female sons!). He has given us the amazing inheritance of joining His mission here on earth that we might someday celebrate our sonship at His feet in heaven.

What wonderful, exciting, and heart-warming good news!

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Kinship with Israel

 

[Graphic of a sign]


“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…”
—Galatians 3:26a

One of the reasons why many Christians feel a kinship with the people of Israel is that they are God’s chosen people. More so, we Christians have been grafted into the same birth line as the people of Israel when we acknowledged God’s Son as our Savior and Lord.

Some will argue that my view on this matter is too simplistic. I readily admit that I am just a simple man. However, the Apostle Paul wrote these words in Galatians 3:26-29:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I realize that Paul was speaking of the oneness of Christians no matter what their ethnic background. But notice his last paragraph. This is consistent with what he wrote in Romans 11:17-18:

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

Another reason to support Israel is that Jews do not wish to kill Christians. In this current age, Jews and Christians live harmoniously. No matter what anyone may tell you, the holy book of Islam demands the slaughter of all infidels. While both Judaism and Christianity are religions of peace—peace with God and peace with our fellow humans—Islam is a religion of war and destruction. No one who has read the Quran from cover to cover can doubt this.

While it is true that in the Old Testament, God directed the children of Israel to conquer the land he had given them, He always put very severe constraits on their fighting. Once the purpose of that fighting had been achieved, the fighting ceased. And, there can be no question that the New Testament teaches the peace of Christ our Savior.

Whether you agree with me or not, let’s at least agree to pray earnestly for peace in the Middle East and do all we can to protect the lives of young children on either side of this terrible conflict.

And, since Christ instructed us to pray for our enemies, let’s pray for those who want to kill us, that God’s love will conquer their hearts and reveal to them that “Allah” is not Yahweh, the One True God that we know through Christ as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Jehovah, God the Creator, the One who loves us with His everlasting love.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Friend Came to Help Me!

 

[Graphic of a sign]


“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy
and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with
compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience.”
—Colossians 3:12a

I have now been disabled, with significant mobility issues, since the summer of 2000. In the last nearly fifteen years I have had to discard most of my pride and learn to gratefully depend on the kindness of others.

This past fall, a very dear friend appeared at my door. “I’ve come to help,"” he said.

A few hours earlier we had talked by phone, just to catch up with each other. When he asked what I was up to, I told him about a humidifier issue I had struggled with for several weeks.

One of my two basement humidifiers had been recalled. I ordered a new one, but it had quit after a couple of weeks. I then ordered yet another unit, which had arrived, but I had no way to get it down to the basement. I ended this part of the conversation by explaining that I had guests coming to dinner on the following Monday, six days away, and likely they would help get the new unit down to the basement.

In just a couple of hours, my doorbell rang. Here was my friend who had driven across town. In no time at all he had the new humidifier into the basement, out of its box, hooked up, and running.

I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for this singular act of kindness. He responded with such grace and compassion because he knows how frustrated I am that my disability prevents me from doing things that used to be so easy.

But, in this case as in so many others, I have learned that the kindness of friends, and sometimes strangers, can make a huge difference in my life.

This is exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Colossians 3:12-17:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Let’s all press on today and keep a sharp eye that we may look out for each other. And, whenever possible, let’s do acts of kindness to one another and thus proclaim the love of Christ our Savior.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Run! Run! Run! Run!

 

[Graphic of flowers with words superimposed]


“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
—John 6:29

Busy, busy, busy! We live in a busy world.

One time, nearly 30 years ago, a colleague at the insurance company where I worked told me he was so busy he had lost track of exactly what work he was supposed to do.

Keeping the task at hand fully in our minds is, obviously, very important. But exactly what is the work that God wants us to do in this world?

Jesus answered just such a question from His disciples in John 6:28-29:

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

As we begin another day, let’s fix our minds and hearts on God’s mission to our corner of the world: to share what God has done in our lives so that the Holy Spirit may draw those whom God has chosen to belong to Himself.

We need to share our belief in the One that God has sent to be our Savior and Lord, His Son Jesus.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.