Friday, September 30, 2016

We Belong To Each Other

 

[Photo of a cross with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“For just as each of us has one body with
many members, and these members do
not all have the same function, so in
Christ we, though many, form one body,
and each member belongs to all the others.”
—Romans 12:4-5

One of the joys of being a “Christ’s-on” is that there is an enormous fellowship of believers. This fellowship exists within the local expression of the Body of Christ, the church. It also exists in a gigantic expanse of individuals within the Body of Christ, the Church—that is to say, the body of all Christian believers.

We sometimes focus on our particular denomination. Some even think that their particular denomination is the only valid expression of Christian theology. They may be right. Or, they may find out when they stand before Jesus that neither they, nor the countless other denominations, got it exactly right.

I prefer to think more globally about the Church and celebrate those beliefs that we have in common with each other. I was raised in a relatively narrow expression of Protestant fundamentalism. I am ever so grateful for that upbringing. But, along the way of my life, I have found sweet fellowship with believers from many, many other denominations.

I am grateful that God has brought into my life deeply committed believers who worship in a whole host of various denominational traditions: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and an extensive list of Protestant denominations. We all share a common faith in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and Lord. No matter what other differences our various denominations may have imposed on our beliefs, we have a strong foundation of common ground in the very person of God’s precious Son.

So, when I read what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:4-5, I cannot help but rejoice:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We belong to each other because of Jesus. We have one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God—in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Who loves us with His unfailing love. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I’m a part of the family of God.

 

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

 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Stumble Free

 

[Photo of a beautiful landscape with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“Great peace have those who love your
law, and nothing can make them stumble.”
—Psalm 119:165

One of the more famous loss-of-life fires in U.S. history occurred in Boston, MA, on November 28, 1942 at the premier nightclub known as the Cocoanut Grove. A total of 492 people perished in this horrible tragedy. As with most large loss-of-life fires, fire protection engineers recognize that the consequences of this fire were both predictable and totally preventable.

Among the many fire protection problems of this facility that impacted the fire related to the exit passageway. During the panic that occurred immediately upon people realizing a fire was in progress, individuals trying to escape stumbled, fell, and became tripping hazards for other people trying to leave the building. Soon the exit was plugged.

In designing modern buildings in compliance with the International Building Code, fire protection engineers make certain that the pathways throughout a building will remain stumble free. In an emergency, this will permit people to escape without the danger of tripping and blocking the exit passageway.

In our spiritual lives, we have to be alert for the enticements of sin that might cause us to stumble and fall in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. While He is always willing to reach down and help us back on our feet, it is far better if we don’t trip and fall in the first place.

The Psalmist recognized the importance of having a stumble-free passage to spiritual formation when he wrote these words in Psalm 119:165, speaking to God:

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

In our post-crucifixion, post-resurrection world, our obedience to God’s law involves us loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Frankly, we all stumble and fall from time to time. That’s why it is so important to understand that Jesus has already paid the penalty for our sin.

But, we can tune our minds and hearts to follow a pathway of obedience, as we receive the enablement of the Holy Spirit to do so. That will produce true joy.

No one likes to stumble and fall. Fortunately, God’s love can keep us walking the pathway He has laid out for us in a stumble-free manner. And that, dear ones, is good news to cling to as we begin another day.

 

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

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Your Consolation Brings Me Joy

 

[Photo of a field of flowers with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
—Psalm 94:19

What is the source of joy in our lives? I’m not asking about “happiness.” I’m asking about “joy.” These are two very different and certainly most distinct qualities.

I once heard a pastor tell his congregation that “happiness” is a quality of a child that emphasizes feelings of the moment, while “joy” is a quality of a more mature person who measures the qualities of life over a longer period of time. So, it seems that joy is a quality of life that is the result of a more extended period of time.

I ask again, “What is the source of joy in our lives?”

Is it a nice house, a particularly fine car or truck, a worthwhile job, a family of a lovely spouse and children or grandchildren, a position of responsibility? What brings us true and lasting joy?

The Psalmist seems to look at joy in a much more spiritual way when he wrote these words recorded in Psalm 94:18-19:

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

God longs to give each of us His long-lasting and soul-filling joy. It’s good for us to remember this when we move out into this new day. God is our source of joy. His love and caring truly helps us overcome those things that might rob us of our joy.

Let’s start this day with thankfulness to the God who loves us with His unfailing, undying love. He is the one who gives us joy overflowing.

 

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

 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

His Song Is With Me

 

[Photo of a peaceful river with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.”
—Psalm 42:8

Do you remember the scene from a movie where a small boy finishes playing baseball as darkness falls over his neighborhood and he has to walk home in the dark? He walks past a cemetery and starts to feel a little spooky. So, he begins to whistle and to walk a little faster. As he walks faster and faster, the tune he’s whistling becomes faster and faster, too. It’s quite comical to see him turn to music to bolster his courage and get him past that scary plot of land.

As we travel the road of life, God has given us a new song in our minds and hearts. Whenever we face the scary times in our lives, it is the song of Christ that arises within us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to give us courage to keep moving forward.

The Psalmist celebrated this wonderful gift from God when he wrote the words contained in 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.

Truly, the song of God in our hearts does strengthen us for whatever Satan may sling at us during the day. In those quiet hours, just before dawn, when we awake in the cool of the night and tremble a bit, God’s song of love will lift our spirits and enable us to face a new day.

Whenever we face difficult times, let’s remind ourselves of that wonderful new song of God’s love and grace. If we do, surely God will meet us at our point of need and give us all we need to move forward into a new day.

 

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

 

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Giver of All Things

 

[Photo of a sunset with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“He who did not spare his own Son, but
gave him up for us all—how will he not also,
along with him, graciously give us all things?”
—Romans 8:32

Are you fortunate to have a rich uncle who recently gave you a significant amount of money to enhance your way of life? No, me neither. But, it is interesting how many dramas and movies during really tough times had that event as a key element of the storyline. Everyone wishes that he or she had some rich relative who would give them an inheritance to make things in life a bit less stressed—at least from a financial standpoint.

Even at my advanced age, I still have a recurring dream that a rich uncle I never even heard of somehow has made a provision that when I reach a certain age I will receive the enormous sum of 856 million dollars. I have absolutely no idea where this dream comes from—no doubt extensive therapy might pry the source of such nonsense out of my feeble mind once and for all. Nevertheless, in my dream I go about secretly giving a large part of that money away to help people in need and assure that some institutions—such as my Alma Mater—have enough funds to carry on their mission. Yes, I know how silly that dream really is. But, nevertheless, it is the stuff that dreams are made of—wouldn’t you agree?

In the world that really matters, the Kingdom of God, we already have a loving Father who graciously gives us everything we need in order to love Him and serve Him will all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths. The Apostle Paul made this declaration in Romans 8:32:

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Yes! The God who loves us with His everlasting love will surely supply all that we need. And, what He supplies will be good beyond all measure.

As we start a new day, let’s remember to thank our loving God for His gracious provision for this day. The truth is that all that we are and all that we have comes to us as a precious gift from God. Every breath we take and every beat of our heart comes at His divine pleasure. We have so very much for which we should be thankful. Let’s remember to tell God how much we appreciate all that He continually does for us. Okay?

 

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

 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Unshakable

 

[Photo of a lush forest with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With
him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
—Psalm 16:8

Do you remember hearing the parable Jesus told about the two men who built houses? One man built his house on the sand. The other man built his house on solid rock. When the storm came and the waters raged, which house do you think stood firm? Why, of course, it was the house built on the rock. In fact, you may have learned the children’s song in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School about this very parable found in Matthew 7:21-28.

While Jesus told this story as a Parable of the Kingdom of God, urging those who followed Him to build their spiritual homes on the solid rock of faith in Him, there is more than a little truth about the need for a strong foundation when you are building a house. Have you seen any of the television programs about renovation or new construction where the builders faced a major problem with a poorly laid foundation? That’s right. In each case, without an unshakeable foundation, the building was doomed.

This leads me to ask myself—and you—on what kind of foundation have we built our lives? Have we built our lives on the solid foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Or, have we built our lives on some other foundation that may very well be all-too-easily shaken?

The Psalmist offers these words of advice in Psalm 16:8:

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus—that’s really good advice. In fact, that’s exactly what the writer to the Hebrews urged us to do in Hebrews 12:2. We need a solid foundation for our spiritual lives. We can pretend that we don’t. In fact, we can scorn the idea that we need any spiritual dimension to our lives at all. But the truth remains, when the world crashes around us, without a solid foundation we will collapse, too.

Let’s begin this new day by setting our minds and hearts to the task of learning how to trust God for every aspect of our lives. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus—follow His example by doing what He would do. If we do this, we will find we have a spiritual life that cannot be shaken. And that, dear ones, will make every other aspect of our lives unshakeable, as well.

 

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

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Let Us Purify

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“…let us purify ourselves from everything that
contaminates body and spirit, perfecting
holiness out of reverence for God.”
—2 Corinthians 7:1b

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers gathered in the church in Corinth, he was writing to people he had developed a very close relationship with over the time he had lived among them. He knew them by name. He had been in their homes. He knew what he had taught them. He knew what he expected of them.

When he wrote his first letter to them, he was writing out of both heartbreak and more than a little anger. They had seemed to forget what he had taught them and broken down into various cliques. They had allowed sin to creep into their fellowship—gross sexual sin. So, Paul chastised them, gave them some specific instructions regarding how to deal with a wide variety of issues that were dividing their church, and offered wise counsel bathed in much prayer.

As a result of repenting of their sin, acting in accordance with Paul’s instruction, and renewing their commitment to follow Jesus only, the church in Corinth experienced revival—a coming to life again. So, by the time Paul writes his second letter to them, he is able to commend them for what they have done.

But, Paul also urges them to move forward in their spiritual formation. After all, they—like all Christians—want to grow in their faith and become more and more like Jesus. In this quest for holiness, Paul offered some very encouraging words recorded in 2 Corinthians 7:1:

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

These are words that apply to us today. As we begin another day in our walk with God, let us take Paul’s advice and apply it to our own lives. Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit. Then, let us perfect our holiness out of reverence for the very God who loves us.

The Holy Spirit will nudge us always in the right direction. We need to tune our spiritual ears to receive that nudging and them obediently follow the Spirit’s direction. Then, and only then, will we experience the fullness of joy that is ours in Christ. Holiness is not something to be feared or avoided. Rather, holiness is a key to the greatest possible joy—joy that lasts for all eternity.

 

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

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We Belong

 

[Photo of a bird in flight with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
—Romans 14:8b

Belonging is an important goal for many people. That’s why they join various clubs and organizations. It’s even why some people join a particular political party or attend a particular church. It is within our human nature to want to be part of something much bigger than we are.

Some people, no matter how hard they may try, never seem to fit into a group. They never really feel as if they belong. Sometimes this is because of some physical difference they may have. It could also be because they are less intelligent or more intelligent than most people. It may be because they have never really learned how to become socialized. There are a host of reasons. But, some people just never seem to belong.

I imagine there were times in the life of the Apostle Paul when he felt he did not belong. He had once been a prominent Pharisee, very certain of his beliefs, very ardent in his defense of Judaism. He persecuted these new Christian believers because he felt they were committing heresy against the Jewish faith.

But then, on the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus—as he was then known—had an encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ. That encounter miraculously transformed Saul’s life. He got a new name and a new heart and a new purpose for his life.

For a while, Paul was no longer accepted by his Jewish friends and the Christians weren’t ready to receive him either. After all, not long ago he had been arresting them and supervising their stonings.

I’m quite certain Paul remembered those days when he wrote the words contained in Romans 14:8:

If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Imagine—this faithful disciple of the Jewish faith had now become a champion of new life in Christ. Even as Christ had redeemed Paul, so He had also given Paul a completely new life—a life of service and responsibility in Christ’s Kingdom here on earth.

It is good for us to remember, as we start another day, that God has chosen us to belong to Himself. He has redeemed us and given us a totally new life in Him. We belong to Him. Nothing can change that. And, we should be most grateful and most humbled by that knowledge as we go out into a needy world with a message of hope for all who cross our pathway.

 

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

 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

“Answer the Door!”

 

[Drawing of Jesus standing at a door]


“Here I am! I stand at the door and
knock. If anyone hears my voice
and opens the door, I will come in and
eat with that person, and they with me.”
—Revelation 3:14 and 20

The house is full of people busily engaged in their very own, personal activities. Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door. At first, no one responds. The person standing outside the door knocks again. From somewhere in the bowels of the residence a shrill voice rings out, “For goodness sake, will someone please answer the door?”

Has that ever happened at your house? It certainly has happened at mine. In fact, I can remember as a relatively small boy, it was my job to answer the door. That likely wouldn’t happen today. But, it was a different time and a different place, many, many years ago. And, we had a very secure outer storm door that was always locked, so I could see who was at the door and they could not enter if I didn’t unlock that outer door.

Now, what if the person responding to the shrill command went to the door and found Jesus waiting on the doorstep? That’s the word picture that the Apostle John creates in Revelation 3:14 and 20:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

In Chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation, John presents God special message, through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to the seven churches in Asia. Each of these churches represents the very nature of our churches today. If we want to read this special message and try to figure out which church represents the one we belong to today, all we have to do is read these two chapters.

What would you do if Jesus suddenly appeared on your doorstep? That’s a question that each of us needs to consider. In fact, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus lives in our hearts. Do we really live and act and speak as if He was present with us?

I don’t know about you. But, I can tell you that, sadly, I need a constant reminder that Jesus is with me. Sometimes I look back on something I did or something I said, or something I thought and shudder when I remember that Jesus was all too aware of my behavior. I think that’s a healthy motivator to learn—and it is a learning process—to live, act, speak, and think in a more God-pleasing way.

In fact, I’m going to redouble my efforts this day, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live, act, speak, and think in a more appropriate way. I know it will be hard. But, surely, such obedience will please our Savior and Lord.

 

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

 

Monday, September 19, 2016

God’s Handiwork

 

[Photo of a workman's hand with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“For we are God’s handiwork…”
—Ephesians 2:10a

God is certainly a master artist. In every aspect of the universe that He has created we can see His handiwork. The precise way in which He has crafted all things is utterly astounding.

This is all the more true when we examine the human beings that God has formed out of the dust of the earth. The amazing intricacies of the human body are completely mind boggling. Our bodily systems function with such care and accuracy that even with all the advances in medical science, doctors readily admit that they only know a minimal amount of how all the systems of the body function together with such captivating complexity.

We who believe in God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, should recognize how wonderful it truly is that God has chosen us to belong to Himself. He not only created us as astonishing works of art, He has loved us with His everlasting love and desires to have us as His companions for all eternity.

The Apostle Paul tried to capture the amazement he felt when he considered what God had done when he wrote these words in Ephesians 2:10:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Not only did God create us in such an amazing way and with such breathtaking qualities, He did so in order that we might represent Him to a desperately needy world. God has given us good works to do in His Name. He will open the door for us to perform those good works in such a way that our efforts will bring honor to Him.

That is a wonderful blessing in our lives and one for which we should daily praise this God who loves us so very much.

 

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

 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Honoring God

 

[Photo of a woman lifting weights with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
—1 Corinthians 6:20b

We who believe in Jesus and the life-transforming power that He lovingly supplies all those who believe on His Name, desire to honor Him with our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We consciously make an effort to study the Bible, pray, and become more and more aware of the nudging of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

But, in an age where body-consciousness has played such a devastating role in so many people’s lives, I wonder if we ever really grasp that we are to honor God with our bodies, as well as with our hearts and minds.

Notice what the Apostle Paul writes to the Church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

We have often heard people tell us that our bodies are temples. I don’t know that the people who often use such a phrase realize that the temple they refer to is a temple where God resides, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

There is a very good reason why we should honor God with our bodies: He dwells within us when we believe in Jesus. So, let’s examine our lives today and make certain that whatever we do with our bodies gives due recognition that God lives within us. Our bodies are indeed temples where the very God of the universe dwells. That is reason enough for us to honor God with our bodies, as well as with our hearts and minds.

 

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

 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rejoicing in Following the Rules

 

[Photo of a celtic cross with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.”
—Psalm 119:14

When we were very young children, we first began to learn about rules and regulations. Likely no one sat down with us, got out a book of rules, and tried to educate us as to which behaviors were acceptable and which were not. But, we did, in fact, very soon learn that some ways we behaved would reap punishment and other ways we behaved would reap praise. And, thus, learning began to take place.

Some people never like rules. They approach all rules as restrictive means to hold them back from experiencing the fullness of life. Other people see rules as boundaries that create a relatively safe environment in which to live. If a person decides to obey the rules, then he or she may live a relatively peaceful and safe life.

So, for some the rules are a barrier to freedom. To others the rules set them free to enjoy life within a protective boundary created by the rules.

Clearly the Psalmist was in this latter group of people when he wrote these words recorded in Psalm 119:14:

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

I wonder—as we go through each day—do we rejoice in following the rules God has laid out in His Word, the Bible. Or, do we see such rules as impediments to our freedom?

If we believe that God knows what’s best for us, then we can join with the Psalmist and rejoice at the freedom and protection the rules God has given us provide. I do believe I am going to stake my claim with those who follow the rules and “rejoice in those rules as one rejoices in great riches.” How about you?

 

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

 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Refuge and Strength

 

[Photo of a plain and clouds with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
—Psalm 46:1

Over the several years this blog has existed, I’ve made it quite clear how much I enjoy the music of the “modern harmony” groups Take 6 and also the Heritage Singers. Both groups have recorded one of my more favorite pieces, written by Ralph Carmichael, contains these lyrics:

There is a quiet place, far from the rapid pace
Where God can soothe my troubled mind

Sheltered by tree and flower
There in my quiet hour with Him, my cares are left behind

Whether a garden small, or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find

Then from this quiet place I go to prepare to face
A new day with love for all mankind

Whether a garden small, or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find

Then from this quiet place I go to prepare to face
A new day with love for all mankind.

Everyone needs some place where he or she can find refuge from the storms of life. We need a place where we can quiet our minds and hearts from the “noise” around us in our bustling culture. We need to find somewhere that provides solace and silence—a place where our souls can drink deeply from a pool of rich refreshment.

The Psalmist well understood this need when he wrote these words recorded in Psalm 46:1:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Yes! In God we find such a quiet place. We can draw strength from God’s everlasting love and we can draw encouragement, peace, solace, and comfort from the refuge He provides.

Let us, this day and every day, seek time alone with God. When we come into His Presence, let’s speak lovingly to Him, call Him “Father,” and rest in the shadow of His protective and loving arms.

Here’s a version of this song by Take 6:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

And, here’s another version of this song by Max Mace and the Heritage Singers:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

 

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

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Worth More Than Sparrows

 

[Photo of a sparrow with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not
one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very
hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be
afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
—Luke 12:6-7

Our current culture has a very interesting set of rules that people use to measure the value and worth of any particular individual. Physical beauty certainly ranks very high on the list. Possessing wealth also gives a person certain cultural credit. Providing entertainment in either a fairly serious or totally bizarre way also earns a person cultural points toward value and worth.

Intellect ranks quite a bit lower on the cultural scale of individual worth. So does qualities once greatly revered: honesty, faithfulness, truthfulness, dependability, helpfulness, kindness, graciousness, and—well I could go on and on.

Fortunately, we who belong to God through His precious Son, Jesus, do not have our value measured by the measuring stick of the current cultural. Our true value is determined by the God who loves us.

Jesus Himself made a critically important statement about our inherent value to His Father in the words recorded by Dr. Luke in Luke 12:6-7:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

God considers us to have inestimable value and worth. He never forgets us. He holds us closely to His mind and heart. He grants us the privilege of being His dearly loved children. We are heirs with Christ of the Kingdom of God.

Furthermore, God has chosen us to represent Him here on this earth. We are His royal ambassadors to this earthly kingdom of darkness and need. In other words, our value is so high that it cannot be measured.

No, we may not live up to the measuring stick of the culture. But in the heavenly and eternal culture no one possesses more favor with God than we do. And, that, dear ones, is reason enough to begin this day with praise on our lips and joy in our hearts.

 

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

 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Crowning the Humble

 

[Photo of a lush oasis with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“For the Lord takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.”
—Psalm 149:4

Occasionally, my very wise father would listen carefully to what someone would say to him and later declare to me, his young son, “That man is humbly proud.”

I admit that I puzzled over that statement once I became old enough to think about what the word “humble” meant. How in the world could someone actually be “humbly proud”?

At first, I attributed the irony of that statement to my father’s lack of formal education—he dropped out of school part way through the tenth grade. But, as I grew even older, I saw many signs that my dad was really a very smart, even brilliant, man. He had made it a point to become a voracious reader. He had a wide range of interests. Trained as a journeyman carpenter who later became a very successful salesman of hotel and restaurant supplies, he had great skill with both his hands and also with his ability to engage people in conversation.

So, what about this “humbly proud” idea?

The word “humble” is defined as “not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission. In contrast, the word “proud” is defined as “feeling or showing pride: as having or displaying excessive self-esteem, much pleased, exultant; having proper self-respect; marked by stateliness, magnificent; giving reason for pride, glorious; vigorous, spirited.”

Could someone have the qualities of both these words? If someone spoke in a non-arrogant, non-assertive way that gave deference or submission and, yet, spoke in a way that displayed pride in some event in a stately and self-respecting way, then it seems as if a person could indeed by “humbly proud.” In fact, “humble pride” is probably the very best way to be proud.

A parent could certain be “humbly proud” of the accomplishments of his or her child. A mentor could be “humbly proud” of the achievement of someone that he or she had helped along the way to greater maturity and greater encouragement in reaching a goal.

As Christians, we can, and must, be “humbly proud” that before the foundation of the earth God chose us to belong to Himself. We did not deserve His choosing us. There is nothing in us that would commend us to God, nor anything in us that makes us in any way worthy of His love. Yet, we can feel justifiable pride that God loves us enough to choose us. Thus, we can celebrate, with “humble pride” that we belong to the Creator of Universe, the God above all gods, the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Psalmist expressed this thought of “humble pride” in these words recorded in Psalm 149:4:

For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

Let us this new day seek to maintain a “humbly proud” attitude when we consider what God has done for us. Humble, in that nothing that He has done came about as a result of anything that we did, nor that we deserved. Proud, in that He did choose us to be recipients of His mercy, grace, and love—and that He has given us a charge to be His ambassadors to everyone who crosses the pathway of our lives.

 

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

 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Judge, Lawgiver, King, and Savior

 

[Graphic of a Scripture verse]


“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.”
—Isaiah 33:22

Do you play different roles in the different aspects of your life? You probably do. You may be daughter, wife, mother, business leader, Sunday School teacher, Girl Scout leader, and many, many other roles. You may be son, husband, father, auto mechanic, church Trustee Board member, Boy Scout leader, fantasy football league manager, and many other roles. Almost every person—man or woman, married or single, employed, looking for work, or retired—has numerous roles he or she must play in his or her life.

As we fulfill the responsibilities of each of our roles, we do so with as much competence as our talents and abilities and our level of commitment to the task at hand permits. Some of the roles we play we enjoy immensely and devote the appropriate amount of time to that role. Other roles may not provide as much enjoyment for us and we budget our time accordingly.

Fortunately, God, who loves us with His everlasting love, has an unlimited depth of commitment to us His dear children. In the many roles He plays in our lives He always gives His all. That secures for us the very best of His mercy, grace, and love.

The Prophet Isaiah declared the level of God’s devotion to us when he wrote these words in Isaiah 33:22:

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.

We should begin this day with great thanksgiving for the many roles that God plays in our lives. We live and move and have our being at His good pleasure. He has chosen us to belong to Himself. And, He continually works in our lives to sustain us—particularly as we go forth each day as His ambassadors into a troubled and needy world.

 

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

 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

True and Eternal

 

[Photo of a scroll with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“All your words are true;
all your righteous laws are eternal.”
—Psalm 119:160

For far too many months now, we’ve been smack in the middle of a political season as yet another Presidential election looms on the horizon. Naturally, these kinds of seasons bring the politicians out of the woodwork spewing their carefully crafted and poll-tested rhetoric.

I don’t mean to come across quite as cynical as these written words may strike you, but I find it very difficult to trust people of the political class. The truth often seems elusive. At least the whole truth seems elusive.

I don’t know about you, but I really value truth. In fact, when someone tells me something that I later learn was a partial truth or an outright lie, I often become very angry. Certainly within the household of faith there is absolutely no place whatsoever for partial truths. In fact, one of the most dangerous problems to assail church leaders occurs when they drop a veil of secrecy over their activities, bend the truth to fit some narrative they have agreed to in advance that does not represent the entire, transparent truth.

The God who has called us to Himself before the foundation of the earth is One who always tells the truth. He does not lie. He does not bend the truth to fit some false narrative. He is Truth!

The Psalmist confirms the truthfulness and power of God when he writes these words in Psalm 119:160:

All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

God is truth. And, we, His people, should always be people of truth. We should not lie. We should not bend the truth. We should not spin the facts to support a false or deceptive narrative. We should rest on the reality of full transparency in all our dealings with each other and with the people who cross our pathway in the world.

Let us decide this day to speak the truth without hesitation, without spin, without any shading of the meaning. And, let us do so in love, extending mercy and grace to all with whom we communicate.

 

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

 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Call to Me

 

[Photo of mountains with Scripture verse superimposed]


“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great
and unsearchable things you do not know.”
—Jeremiah 33:3

Have you ever spoken to someone in technical support or telephoned a friend to help you with a computer problem? At the end of the conversation, did that person say, “If you have any more questions, please call me?”

If he or she said those helpful words, a flood of relief may well have washed over you. You knew you could reconnect if you needed more help. It gave you a feeling of freedom that you could depend on someone who knew more than you did about how something worked.

In our lives as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have an eternal help line available to us. We first look for help in the “Manual”—the Bible, God’s written Word. Next, we can connect with other believers and ask them for what they may think about a particular situation. But, most importantly of all, we can ask God in prayer to give us the direction we need. We do not have to remain trapped in the darkness. We can seek God’s Light for every situation we may encounter.

The Prophet Jeremiah expressed this wonderful fact this way in Jeremiah 33:2-3:

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”

No matter what we do not know, we can connect with a source of knowledge that has limitless ability to shed Light on the confusion and darkness of any situation. And, as we begin another day, we should take comfort from knowing that the same God who loves us with His everlasting love, also stands ready to help us whenever we ask Him to do so.

 

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

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Light-giving Words

 

[Photo of a sunrise with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.”
—Psalm 119:130

As i began to think about this blog post and reviewed the Scripture verse for today, I had to stop and ask myself whether my words give light or darkness.

I have always had a far-too-quick temper. I get angry every time I hear certain political commentary on the television. One good friend has suggested that I simply stop watching the news and commentary programs. While I realize that offers a possible solution, I also know that I intend to remain informed about what’s going on in the world.

More than my occasional temper flares, I’m far more concerned about whether the words I say in my normal talking bring light or darkness into my conversations. Does my critical spirit harm others because I am not speaking words that would bring light?

I know one thing, the Psalmist, in speaking about God, made it very clear in Psalm 119:130:

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

If God’s words give light, shouldn’t our words give light, as well? I think they should. And, I think that is a good thing to focus on at the beginning of this new day: making certain our words bring light rather than darkness into every situation.

I feel that challenge very strongly and I hope you do, too.

 

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

 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Look at the Heart

 

[Photo of hands holding a heart with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“ The Lord does not look at the things people look at.”
—1 Samuel 16:7a

Were you a gorgeously beautiful child? Some children are breathtakingly beautiful. Sometimes, when these children grow older, some of that cherubic beauty begins to fade a bit. Others, who start out in this life very beautiful, retain that beauty all their lives.

My sister-in-law, who graduated to heaven at the age of 67 after an 18-month battle with multiple myeloma, was a very beautiful child. She was one who retained that beauty as she grew older. In fact, she remained a strikingly beautiful woman all the days of her earthly life. Unlike some beautiful women, she did not consider herself beautiful at all. And, that was part of the charm and grace that surrounded her being. Added to her physical beauty, she had a sweet and loving spirit and was a devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The world often fawns over beautiful people. In fact, I cannot imagine the pressure placed on young girls and young women by all the advertising that lifts physical beauty onto a pedestal. We men do not have quite so much pressure. In fact, men seem to have a built-in safety mechanism that prevents them from feeling bad about themselves.

Whenever I see some “hunk” on television, I remember a very brief conversation I once overheard at the firehouse where I was on duty one night. Some magnificent physical specimen of a man came on the TV screen and the sound track punctuated his appearance by oohs and ahs of women’s voices. One of the firefighters turned to another and declared, “Yeah, but can he take a hydrant?” (Referring to one of the many quite tricky tasks that firefighters have to perform within seconds of arriving at the scene of a working fire.)

In choosing the first king of Israel, Samuel had a daunting task. God had told him to go an examine the sons of the shepherd, Jesse. In so doing, each son appeared before Samuel and God told Samuel which son to choose. When one particularly handsome, tall, and strong son appeared, the conversation Samuel had with God is recorded in 1 Samuel 16:7:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I don’t know about you, but as someone who lacks virtually any physical attractiveness, I have always taken comfort in that declaration by God. But then, I remember how blackened my heart is by the sin I inherited from Adam and the sins I’ve committed on my own.

How grateful I am that my sins are covered by the blood of my Savior. When God looks at my heart, He sees the blood of His precious Son and knows that I am a child He has chosen to belong to him.

Most of us will never win a beauty contest—not there is anything at all wrong with those who do win such contests. But, when it comes to “belonging” we who follow Jesus have achieved the highest level of belonging possible: we belong to the Great King. And that, dear ones, should make us truly rejoice.

 

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

 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Do More Than Listen: Do!

 

[Graphic of a Scripture verse]


“Do not merely listen to the word, and
so deceive yourselves, Do what it says.”
—James 1:22

Whenever we receive an instruction from someone, we may intend to listen carefully, but at least once in a while our attention wanders and we miss some really important information. Research tells us that some individuals have a very hard time receiving instruction of any kind from someone they do not like. Research also has shown that some people become more easily distracted than others.

For example, a spot on the necktie of the instructor may cause some people to focus on that spot, wonder how it got there, and total miss what the instructor shares with the class. Similarly, a man with a very busy beard may distract some people who wonder if something lives inside. They focus all their attention on that beard because they don’t want to miss anything that might drop out of the beard.

Even more troubling to sincere instructors are those who seem to listen very carefully to the instruction. These attentive ones may even take extensive notes. But, when it comes to putting the instructions into practice, it’s as if they never heard a word the instructor told them. They simply ignore the very helpful and necessary details the instructor so painstakingly shared.

The Apostle James addresses his fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ about this very topic in James 1:22:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, Do what it says.

It’s not enough to focus our attention on what your pastor shares during his weekly message. Nor is it enough to simply read God’s Word, the Bible, every day. Unless we put into practice what God tells us to do, we miss the mark entirely.

Let’s make this day a day of action. Let’s determine to now only listen to what our loving God says to us through His Word and His servants, let’s do what He says. We will be far better off if we become doers of His Word and not mere listeners.

 

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

 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

God Is My Shield

 

[Photo of knight with a shield with a Scripture verse superimposed]


“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”
—Psalm 119:114

When someone attacks us physically, the very first, almost automatic, reaction is to raise our hands and arms and try to shield our head and face from injury. Even in a war zone, soldiers wear helmets and body armor. The body armor protects the major mass of their human form, while the helmet protects their head.

In battles of yesteryear, soldiers carried shields to be able to fed off the arrows flung at them by their enemies. The shield did require them to hold it with one of their hands, so they only had the other hand free to fight. Some higher ranking soldiers had young men who acted as shield-bearers to carry their heavy shields until they needed that protection in battle.

In our battle against our enemy, Satan, God has given us the most marvelous shield: Himself. As the Psalmist declares in Psalm 119:114:

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

God is the one who shields us from the deadly arrows that Satan flings at us. Yes, we do experience the trauma of life’s woes. But, we cannot be fatally wounded, as long as we trust God to protect us for the fiery darts.

Let us go out into this day with confidence knowing that God will shield us from the severe attacks of the enemy. We can trust Him to guard us and guide us all through the day.

 

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