Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the Midst of God’s Holiness


[Photo of a universe with words superimposed]

“For God did not send his Son into
the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.”
—John 3:17a

Many people have an image of God in their minds where they see Him looking down from heaven glaring at us because of our sin. Conversely, they try, at least sometimes, to behave themselves in the hope that God won’t glare at them quite as much.

But that’s not the way God is. The Apostle John captures one of the most prominent essences of God in John 3:17:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

God is love. He loves those He has chosen to belong to Himself and has made provision for their salvation from the penalty for their sins through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus.

God is love. And yes, He is also holy. God holds Himself in tension between His holiness and His love.

His holiness makes Him hate sin. His love makes Him reach out to those He has chosen by forgiving their sins through the shed blood of Jesus.

Some of my more liberal Christian friends emphasize God’s love. Some of my more conservative Christian friends emphasize God’s holiness. Each group see themselves as arbiters of either who God loves or whose behavior He cannot tolerate because of His holiness. They are both very wrong.

We cannot arbitrate on God’s behalf. We do not possess God’s enormous capacity for love. Nor do we possess even a modicum of His capacity for holiness.

So, we are left to look on in great wonder at the God who loves us with His eternal love, yet whose holiness condemns sin and requires that a penalty must be paid for that sin.

As we begin a new day, let us humbly accept the fact that there is much about our loving, holy God that we cannot understand. And, let us rejoice that He is our God—the God who loves us and, in the midst of His holiness and through His Son, demands that we live holy lives.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 30, 2016

The Song of the Released Prisoners


[Photo of a woman with hands lifted in praise]

“Let this be written for a future generation, that
a people not yet created may praise the Lord…”

In an amazing act of God’s unfailing love, He has released us from the prison of sin that has bound us and kept us from experiencing the fullness of His mercy and grace. In freeing us, God has given us an overwhelming reason to worship Him and to praise Him with the fullness of our beings.

In Psalm 103:18-22, a Psalm of Lamentation, the writer brings the center portion of this Psalm to a resounding crescendo with these powerful words:

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:

“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”

So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.

Dear ones, we are that “people not yet created.” This very day, God gives us the opportunity to break forth in praise to His precious and holy Name because of the goodness of God in the land of the living.

We are the released prisoners. God has set us free. We are the ones who benefit for His every good and perfect gift, especially the gift of full reconciliation to God through His one and only Son, Jesus. Therefore, we have much for which to praise God.

As we worship the Lord this day, let us resolve to fully give our attention to that effort. Let us determine to bless Him above all others. Let us praise so flow from our minds, hearts, and lives that all who cross our pathway may see that God is our strength and our shield.

Come, dear ones, let us worship God!


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Not Self-pleasers


[Photo of an open Bible with words superimposed]

“We who are strong ought to
bear with the failings of the
weak and not to please ourselves.”
—Romans 15:1

We who follow Christ have a unique perspective on life. While all around us our culture has become more and more self-centered, we “Christ’s-ones” must focus our attention on others instead of ourselves.

Our culture has created generation after generation of self-pleasers. But, we who strive to walk in the footsteps of our Savior must learn to constantly deny our own selfish needs and wants and, instead, put others first.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this very topic in Romans 15:1-3:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

If our Lord and King was willing to bear the insults hurled at us, His followers, can we not learn to set aside our own selfish desires and focus on extending His love to those in need around us?

I believe we can and we must. We must allow the Holy Spirit to transform the focus of our lives, turning the spotlight from ourselves and shining the Light of Christ’s Presence within us on others.

Let us submit our selfish wills to God this day and turn our hearts, filled with our Savior’s love, toward those in need around us.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Freedom to Serve


[Photo of a flower with words superimposed]

“You, my brothers and sisters,
were called to be free.”
—Galatians 5:13a

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been set free from the power of sin and death. But this freedom has been given to us by our loving God for a purpose.

Our freedom in Christ is not an indulgent freedom that allows us to behave in whatever way we may choose. This freedom was given to us to enable us to serve others without the shackles of sin and death weighing us down.

Notice these words of the Apostle Paul found in Galatians 5:13:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Our freedom has a noble purpose. It enables is to freely serve others with humility and in the power of Christ’s love.

We have shared on this blog many times about our identity in Christ as His bondslaves and stewards of God’s great mysteries (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). The Holy Spirit enables us to share humbly what God has done to transform our lives.

Let’s allow this to become a day where our freedom empowers us to serve: a kind word, a thoughtful deed, a tender smile, or a heart open to listen to someone who needs to share the burden that weighs him or her down.

How pleased God will be when we use the freedom He has given us to humbly serve others.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Perfectly United


[Graphic of a sign]

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of
you agree with one another in what you say…”
—1 Corinthians 1:10a

The Body of Christ, the Church, has fractured along many lines over the years. Whether these divisions came about as a result of disagreements over genuine doctrinal issues or whether they resulted from un-Christian actions of one group of believers against another group of believers, these divisions have weakened the effectiveness of our testimony of God’s mercy, grace, and love to the world.

In my own personal Christian life, I have observed first hand the destruction that takes place when a church fracture drives a wedge between believers. The harm done to innocent families who were not directly a part of the split is unconscionable.

The Apostle Paul addressed this very issue in 1 Corinthians 1:10:

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Imagine if we could live with one another within the Body of Christ perfectly united.

At the beginning of this new day, let us each one determine to work toward full reconciliation between our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us determine to actively promote unity within our churches to keep Satan from tempting us to argue with one another and, thus, cause divisions in the church.

We will do well if we concentrate on living and working together perfectly united in Christ our Lord.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One Mind and One Voice


[Photo of rowers with words superimposed]

“…so that with one mind and one voice you may
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
—Romans 15:6b

Unity among believers in the Lord Jesus Christ comes as a special gift from God. He does not want the Church filled with disagreeable people.

Please take note of these words from the Apostle Paul found in Romans 15:5-6:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As you can see, Paul prayed these words of Benediction for us, asking God to bring unity out of diversity.

Yes, the Church—the body of Christ—is made up of a wide variety of people with varying backgrounds and personalities. This diversity is critically important if the members of the Church are to act effectively as God’s ambassadors here on earth.

But encircling that diversity is a God-given unity that allows God’s people to have precious unity—one mind and one voice.

Let us open ourselves this day to the unity of mind and voice that God wants to give us with our fellow believers. Together we can move out into a needy world extending the love of Christ to everyone we meet along the pathway of life. We can speak one message of God’s mercy and grace.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 23, 2016

A Harvest of Righteousness


[Photo of pumpkins with words superimposed]

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-loving…”
—James 3:17a

Our society today in the United States thrives on conflict. In virtually every sphere of our daily life, conflict rises to the surface. It dominates our conversation. The media, of course, fuels this conflict.

Many years ago, a dear friend of mine hosted a national radio program on the then only major Christian radio network. Not only did my friend possess what radio people call a “thunder throat,” he was highly intelligent, extremely well-educated, and had an innate curiosity that made him an excellent interviewer.

He treated me very kindly and on several occasions had me as a guest on his nightly program to talk about various issues regarding fire safety.

One day, he telephoned me to tell me he had lost his job. The reason: he wasn’t controversial enough. He didn’t press his guests hard enough. When they stumbled, he didn’t “go in for the kill.”

I was astonished. I couldn’t believe that a Christian radio network would not appreciate my friend’s very gentle, yet probing approach. But, no, they wanted the host to engage in conflict with the guests.

God does not want us to seek conflict. While there may be times when we have to take a stand against evil, there are many more times when we should promote an environment of peace.

Please note these words from the apostle James, as recorded in James 3:17-18:

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

God’s wisdom is peace-loving. As we begin a new day, let’s determine to put conflict aside and promote peace. Let’s determine to not let the media stir up foolish anger within us.

Instead, let’s become gentle ambassadors of God’s love and grace to a troubled and conflict-filled world. Let’s show the kind of peace that reaps a harvest of righteousness.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 20, 2016

God Remembers


[Photo of a flower with words superimposed]

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work…”
—Hebrews 6:10a

Sometimes we wonder if anyone ever notices those times when we reach out to others with acts of kindness or generosity or God-breathed love. If you’re a “giving” person, you may sometimes wonder if anyone even noticed your many self-sacrificing acts of kindness.

Let me assure you this day that whether or not anyone else noticed what you have done, God did!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews put it this way in Hebrews 6:10:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Every act of kindness, every act of generosity you have done in Christ’s name has been fully observed by God. Not only has God noticed what you have done, He has committed it to His memory.

God takes note of your sacrifice of love and He will mot forget what you have done.

So, dear ones, take heart at the beginning of this new day. Whether or not anyone else realized what you have done in reaching out to meet the genuine needs of others, God knows and He will always remember.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Return to Greatness


[Photo of a couple praying]

“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land…”
—Zephaniah 2:2a

There is no question that God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies have paved to way to American exceptionalism. So very many unusual and critically important events have fallen into place at just the right time throughout our history.

But, as a nation we are slipping further and further away from the God who has been so very gracious to us.

To whom much has been given, much is required. We owe God everything, but seldom acknowledge Him as the source of our greatness.

This phenomenon is not new. Time and time again, God’s chosen people, Israel, received a great outpouring of God’s richest blessings. But, all too soon, they would fall into sin and deny God’s faithfulness to them.

Please take note of what the Prophet wrote in Zephaniah 2:1-3:

Gather together, gather yourselves together, you shameful nation, before the decree takes effect and that day passes like windblown chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you.

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands.

Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Let us hear God’s call to repentance today. Instead of continuing to turn our back on God, as a nation made exceptional among all the nations of the world by God’s mercy and grace, let us return to the One who made our nation great.

As more and more evil consumes us, let us fall to our knees and ask for forgiveness for our unfaithfulness. It is not yet too late to become revived.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Heavenly Love Song


[Photo of mountains with words superimposed]

“The Lord your God is with you…”
—Zephaniah 3:17a

Has anyone ever sung a love song meant especially for you? I’m talking about those times in your life when the excitement of new love so overwhelmed the one who loved you that he or she began to sing a love song to you?

Ever after, whenever you hear that particular song, you immediately remember that first time your lover sang it to you. Hearing that song still makes you smile and reminds you of how much your dear one loves you.

“No. I’m sorry,” you say. “No one’s ever sung a love song to me.”

But, my friend, someone has sung a love song for you! And, that someone is the best Singer you’ve ever heard.

Please carefully read these words from the Prophet, as recorded in Zephaniah 3:17:

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

The God of the universe who, before the foundation of the earth, has chosen you to belong to Himself loves you so much that He has burst into song. And, that song is the most glorious and most wonderful love song you can ever imagine.

We “Christ’s-ones” simply cannot conceive how gloriously wonderful it is to be loved by a God who would send His one and only Son to die in our place. Every action He takes in our behalf is wrapped in the soft, protective blanket of His unfailing, undying love.

No matter what difficulty, trial, or sorrow you may face today, please take heart. If you close your eyes and listen with your spirit, you will hear the most beautiful love song you can possibly imagine.

That song, dear ones, that amazingly beautiful love song, comes from the very lips of the God who loves us with His everlasting love.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

We Simply Cannot Understand


[Photo of a baby with words superimposed]

“As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s
womb, so you cannot understand the
work of God, the Maker of all things.”
—Ecclesiastes 11:5

As we have gained more and more knowledge, we have become more and more arrogant. The more we think we understand how things work, the more we inject ourselves into the equation.

One of my favorite illustrations of this is anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. The very idea that puny humankind could actually do something to alter the complexity of the climate, which God designed and maintains, is laughable.

This is particularly true when at the heart of this assertion is an attempt to socially engineer the distribution of wealth and affect the geopolitics in such a way that capitalism is replaced by socialism.

On a more personal level, how often do people wail against God when some tragedy happens. “How could God allow this earthquake, or this train wreck, or this event, or that one.

Only arrogant humans would presume to understand God.

Even faithful believers in God through the power of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, need reminding that, while God loves us with His everlasting love, we can never presume to fully understand Him.

This verse, found in Ecclesiastes 11:5, puts it well:

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

We simply do not possess the mental and spiritual capacities to fully understand God. That’s why we must respond in faith to His calling us to Himself.

This day, let us set aside our arrogance and place our trust in the God whom we cannot fully comprehend. His love and sacrifice for us should be and must be enough. The fact that He has revealed Himself to us through His Son must be sufficient for us until we enter heaven.

Once we rest for eternity at Jesus’ feet, then, and only then, “we will know even as we are known.” And that, dear ones, must be sufficient enough for now.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Celebrate the Power of the Creator


[Photo of baby's feet with words superimposed]

“For you created my inmost being; you
knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
—Psalm 139:13

We joyfully celebrate the works of everyone who creates something wonderful.

If I mention the name Alexander Graham Bell, or Thomas Edison, or Dr. Jonas Salk, you can immediately identify them as the much celebrated creators of the telephone, the electric light bulb, and the polio vaccine.

Is it any wonder that the Psalmist, King David, considered his own being and wrote these words in Psalm 139:13-14:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

David recognized the power of God and celebrated God’s creative genius.

As we begin this new day, we, too, should celebrate the creative power of God. He has given us both life and new life through His Son, Jesus. That surely is creative power worthy of our highest praise.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Building Each Other Up


[Graphic of Ephesians 4:29]

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out
of your mouths, but only what is helpful or
building others up according to their needs…”
—Ephesians 4:29a

As we move along the pathway that God has opened before us, one of the joys in relating to our brothers and sisters in Christ comes from the opportunities we have to build each other up. In a culture where many people spend an inordinate amount of time tearing each other down, we can set a totally opposite example.

As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:29-32:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Behaving in a God-honoring way toward our fellow believers should really be a “no-brainer.” After all, we’re going to spend eternity with each other. We might as well learn how to encourage each other and generally get along. Shouldn’t we?

Seriously, we really should do our best to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christianity is not a way of life for lone wolves. It’s clearly a faith that depends on community in order to fulfill our Lord’s commands.

Let’s remember to encourage each other today. We will all benefit from such behavior.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Handling Conflict Among Believers


[Cartoon of a distruptive pastor]

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out
their fault, just between the two of you.”
—Matthew 18:15

As “Christ’s-ones” we do many things well and, to the extent that we bend our selfish human will to God’s will, we are ever learning to do things better. As the Holy Spirit opens up a straight path before us, we have the opportunity to obediently follow that pathway.

Sadly, one gigantic area of consistent failure is the way we handle conflict between believers and, especially, within the church.

Here’s a truly heartbreaking personal example:

In 2003, after I had become significantly disabled by profound progressive osteo-arthritis of the knees, hips, and back and could no longer travel to perform my work as a fire protection engineer, I began to volunteer at a large downtown church of which I was a member.

The pastor at that time specifically recruited me to help him improve staff morale—using some of my business process management and staff assessment/motivational skills—and to implement improved internal and external communications strategies throughout all the ministries of the church.

God richly blessed our efforts and we achieved many important goals. All too soon, this pastor moved on to another church. During a two-year time of transition, the remaining staff pulled together and the church continued to move forward.

When a new pastor arrived, in collusion with some individuals in leadership who had lamented their loss of power during the preceding six years, he immediately began to dismantle much of the positive processes and procedures we had so thoughtfully implemented. He quickly destroyed many things we had accomplished.

Within a few months he forced me out of my volunteer position. A month later, he forced out a highly skilled and profoundly qualified business administrator.

The pastor then began an absolutely horrible two-year assault on the minister of music and worship. Eventually the pastor manipulated the leaders and succeeded in firing this exceptionally talented, seminary-trained musician.

The music ministry had long been a hallmark of this church. Much of the public persona of the church involved the multi-generational and highly effective music program.

During this time, not one leader in the church recognized the inappropriate—even seemingly sociopathic—behavior of the pastor. Nor did they seek to resolve the conflict by following the teachings of Jesus.

Eventually, even the local denominational leadership capitulated and acted precipitously to validate the improper behavior of the pastor and church leaders. Surprisingly, in so doing, the denominational leaders also failed to act in accordance with Scripture.

So, where is this church today?

Following a heart-rending church split, the church is reported to be a shadow of its former greatness. The pastor who initiated the conflict has fled the scene. Attendance is significantly reduced, it wallows in financial trouble. And, none of the leaders have acknowledged their sin, repented, made restitution, and become reconciled—at least none of them have come to me to try to resolve matters with me. And, I’m quite certain they never will.

But far worse, and far more importantly, dozens of families who left the church at the time of the firing of the minister of music and worship, in the ensuing five years, have not reconnected with any church on a regular basis.

I relate this story solely because this experience has made me zealous about properly resolving conflict between believers and within in the church.

I do not hold a grudge. With extraordinary help from God, I have come to peace, within my own heart and mind, regarding the way I was treated.

However, I do feel deeply sorry for the minister of music and worship who lost his job at an age where he has been unable to find suitable full-time employment. Effectively, the sinful actions of this pastor and church leaders have destroyed this good man’s life.

While I have written about certain aspects of this subject several times over the years, I believe that from time to time we all need to review Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:15-17:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

To many, these words at the end seem particularly harsh. But, I know for a certainty that when this process is followed, to the letter, harmony is restored.

So, let’s be certain we do our part to follow Jesus’ instructions for resolving conflict with our brothers and sisters in Christ—and especially within the church. It’s what Jesus expects us to do.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Startling Vision


[Photo of Raphael's painting of Ezekiel]

“This was the appearance of the
likeness of the glory of the Lord.”
—Ezekiel 1:28b

One of the most studied, parsed, dissected, and argued passages of Scripture appears at the beginning of the Book of Ezekiel.

God gives the Prophet a glimpse into the future that many Bible scholars believe portrays the end of the age. However, whether that assertion is true is not within the scope of this blog post.

I am interested in the latter part of this vision and particularly the words spoken by God to Ezekiel. Nevertheless, I encourage you to read the entire first and second chapters of the Book of Ezekiel.

Here’s the portion of Scripture that I would like us to consider. Ezekiel 1:26 - 2:5:

Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.

I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.

This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.”

As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn.

“Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Confronted by this incredible vision, Ezekiel responds in the only conceivable way: he falls face down before the glory of the Lord.

I wonder what God might say to a prophet He intended to send to the United States of America. Watching the decline of morality and the abandonment of civility in our society, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if God said of us, “The United States is a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me.”

And, that, dear ones, brings me to us. We “Christ’s-ones” are God’s ambassadors here on the earth. We have a great responsibility to let the Presence of Christ within us flow out and touch those around us. And, therein lies the dilemma.

Somehow, in obedience to Christ, we have to show His love at the same time we do not walk away from voicing a call to repent of sin. I have no idea how to do this—how to keep that critical balance.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:16 to be as “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” So, we must be clever but in a gentle and tender way. So, what do we do?

I do know we need to prayerfully support each other as we go out into a needy world each day. We need to ask God to give us a balance in our own lives and in the message of the gospel we share.

I will pray for you, dear ones, and I will hope that you will pray for me, as well. Okay?


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dueling Laws


[Photo of the side view of a woman with her arms outstretched]

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
—Romans 8:1

Very few people like to have their behavior constrained by rules and regulations. That’s why the children of Israel got into trouble so many times.

If we read through the Old Testament, time and again we find God’s chosen people turning their backs on God’s law and rebelling against Him.

We’re just like them. Our natural bent toward sin always urges us to resist any constraints by rules and regulations and to do exactly what we want to do.

This is true in the most simplistic of rules. For example, the speed limit is clearly posted Yet, we travel at whatever speed we choose and get angry if a police officer pulls us over and gives us a ticket. If I created a list of common sins and posted them here, each of us could find one or more sins that we have willfully committed without shame.

But, in His mercy, grace, and love, God has given us a powerful alternative to a list of rules and regulations.

Whereas the Old Testament Law did not lead people toward righteousness, because of their natural, sinful rebellion, the Holy Spirit who dwells within everyone who believes nudges us to stay on the pathway of obedience to God’s will and His Word.

The Apostle Paul clearly explains these dueling laws in Romans 8:1-2:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

The law of the Spirit of life—that is, the Presence of the all-powerful Holy Spirit who dwells within us—has, indeed, set us free from the law of sin and death.

Let us begin this new day by sharpening our listening skills that we may ever more clearly sense those holy nudgings of the Spirit. And, let us purpose in our minds and hearts to follow the pathway of life that the Holy Spirit opens up before us.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Be Wise


[Graphic of a Scripture verse]

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders…”
—Colossians 4:5a

There is a definite difference between being wise and being a “wise guy.”

I don’t hear that latter term much any more. Instead, due to the coarsening of our language, most people use a more profane term to describe someone who is acting like a jerk.

Wisdom is clearly a gift from God. Displaying wisdom is definitely a worthy quality that benefits the wise person, as well as the people around him or her.

In writing to the “Christ’s-ones” gathered at Colosse, the Apostle Paul offered these potent words of advice, as recorded in Colossians 4:5-6:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Now Paul is not urging the use of “salty” language in the sense that we use that term today. Rather, he is making an allusion to the use of salt as a preservative. In other words, choose words that will stand the test of time.

As we welcome people to our fellowships (churches) who are not yet believers, we must extend God’s love to them. We must not set aside our convictions, nor pretend that biblical standards don’t matter. But, in showing the love of Christ, we must choose our words carefully, always remembering that we, too, are nothing more than sinners saved by God’s mercy and grace.

When we meet new people, we never know but that God is already at work in their hearts drawing them irresistibly into His grace. That’s why we must be wise toward them.

We must choose our words carefully. We must make the most of every opportunity to model the love of Christ.

In so doing, we will act just like Jesus. He welcomed sinners because He knew He would die for them.

We welcome sinners because we remember that we are sinners to whom God has shown His mercy, love, and grace.

Just as God is continually making us into the people He wants us to be, so He will perform a holy makeover on all those He draws into His love and grace.

Let us determine this day to be wise in the way we act toward everyone we meet. This surely will please God.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 6, 2016

What is God’s Will for Us?


[Photo of a dock with words superimposed]

“ Rejoice always, pray continually…”
—1 Thessalonians 5:16a

Growing up in a very Fundamentalist church, I was often challenged to seek God’s will for my life. I would study Scripture and listen carefully to the sermons and Bible lessons.

Then one day, I came across these words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Could it be that simple? Yes! Yes it could.

God desires for us to receive His gift of salvation with great joy. He wants us to keep in touch with Him through prayer. He wants us to thankfully receive whatever trials may come our way in life.

We act in this way because we know He loves us, wants the best for us, and will stand with us every moment of every day.

And that, dear ones, is God’s will for us.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Accountability Relationships


[Photo of three men holding hands in prayer]

“Therefore confess your sins to each
other and pray for each other”
—James 5:16

One of those most helpful disciplines in spiritual formation is an accountability relationship with two or three close Christian friends.

In this relationship we share each other's struggles with besetting sins, confess our failures, celebrate our successes, and pray earnestly and fervently for each other.

Such an accountability relationship is based on these words from the Apostle James found in James 5:16:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

An accountability relationship truly helps strengthen our walk with Jesus. It heightens our awareness of how clever Satan is in his attempts to thwart our spiritual growth. And, it heightens our awareness of how powerful the Holy Spirit is in enabling us to overcome our bent toward sin.

As we begin this new day, each of us should seriously consider forming an accountability relationship with two or three trusted Christian friends.

Doing so will help accelerate our spiritual formation and gives us a wonderful opportunity for blessed fellowship in our lives.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Faithful in Prayer


[Graphic of a sign]

“ Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
—Romans 12:1

Every day it's important that we start our day by spending time talking with God. We need to come into God’s Presence and sit with Him in quiet. After all, He is our Father and He takes delight whenever His dearly loved children spend time with Him in prayer.

We should begin by thanking Him and praising Him for who He is—not for what He has done for us, but for who He is—the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of life.

Next, we should confess our sins and ask Him to forgive us. We need to keep our slates clean.

Then, we should thank Him for His mercy, grace, and love that has given us our salvation. Next, we should ask Him to make a clear pathway for us through the day ahead. And, lastly, we should present the needs on our hearts to Him.

The Apostle Paul offered these words in Romans 12:12:

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Our daily walk with God is the most precious and important part of our existence. We need to devote ourselves to spending time each day with God.

In a sentence, what I’ve tried to share in these brief words might go something like this: “Dearly loved children bring delight to their Father by spending time with Him.”

Why not take some time right now to sit with God and fellowship with Him?


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Seeking and Saving


[Photo of a waterfall with words superimposed]

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
—Luke 19:10

Once many years ago, I wandered outside at night in rural Florida. It was a very warm and humid September evening. Clouds had rolled in from the ocean. There were no street lights or other manmade illumination.

As I walked along a rural dirt road, suddenly my flashlight died. I have never experienced such complete darkness. I literally could see nothing. There was no light of any kind. I was on a stretch of road where there were no houses. A swamp stretched for many thousands of yards on each side of the road.

For many minutes I stood frozen in place. I was completely lost in the blackness of night. I began to feel panic rising within me.

I tried my flashlight again. It wouldn't turn on. I was afraid to take a step in any direction. Many minutes passed.

After what seemed like an eternity, but what was more likely only twenty minutes or so, I heard a vehicle coming in the distance. Soon I saw headlights and then the familiar face of my host.

“We were worried about you,” my host explained.

“I’m glad you were,” I replied. “My flashlight died and I was lost in the darkness.”

Everyone of us was once lost in the blackest darkness of sin. Then, the Holy Spirit came to our rescue and revealed God’s loving plan of salvation.

Dr. Luke records Jesus’ own words in Luke 19:10:

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

What wonderfully reassuring words. Jesus came to our rescue. He brought the saving light of His love into the darkness of our sin-stained world.

An old gospel hymn, “Victory in Jesus,” includes these words: “He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.”

As we begin a new day, let us rejoice that Jesus went looking for us when we were lost in sin and paid the price for our redemption.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Saved to the Uttermost


[Photo of clouds with words superimposed]

“ Therefore he is able to save completely
those who come to God through him…”
—Hebrews 7:25a

Let’s say we’re falling off a cliff and someone reaches out to stop our fall and saves us partially.

Or, more germane to my previous profession, let’s say we’re in a smoke-filled room and a firefighter in self-contained breathing apparatus just pulls us part of the way out of the room.

You see, no one wants to be partially saved. When we are in mortal danger, we want to be fully, completely, and totally saved.

The writer to the Hebrew Christians wanted to make certain they and we understood the scope of our salvation when he wrote these words in Hebrews 7:25, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

The King James Version uses the more colorful phrase: “saved to the uttermost.” I really like that phrase.

In our sin—the sin we inherited from Adam and the sin we have committed throughout our lives—we are utterly lost. How wonderful that Jesus completely reverses our condition. Through His death and resurrection, we are now “saved to the uttermost.”

Whereas we were utterly lost, now we are utterly saved. In this truth resides the source of our greatest joy.

As John Newton wrote in his famous hymn:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

As we begin a new day, let’s rejoice that though mired in the depths of sin, through the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, we have now been “saved to the uttermost.”


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.