Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Thoroughly Cleansed

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“If we confess our sins, he is faithful
and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
—1 John 1:9

Have you ever driven your car or truck into an automated car wash and sat there while the machinery washed your vehicle? Once the wash, rinse, and dry cycles are complete, have you then driven your vehicle out of the car wash, stopped, and carefully examined the results?

Sometimes, upon close inspection, you will discover that the automated system did not get every last bit of dirt and grime off your car or truck. Why? Because the system is only designed to do a “good enough” job. But, it is not necessarily designed to do a completely thorough job of washing your vehicle. As is often the case, “good” is the enemy of “great.”

When it comes to cleansing our hearts and minds from the ravages of sin, the blood of Jesus always does a perfect job of removing the sin stain. His washing is thorough. He leaves no part of us unwashed.

The Apostle John put it this way in 1 John 1:9:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The word “purify” means thoroughly clean, all the way through. That is very good news for us, as we begin a new day.

Through the sacrifice of His one and only Son, God has provided a means of thoroughly cleansing us from sin. Because of His mercy, grace, and love, we are clean clear through.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

No Other Gods

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I am the Lord your God, who brought you
out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.”
—Exodus 20:2-3

Today’s verse comes from the portion of the Old Testament Scriptures that we frequently refer to as “The Ten Commandments.” These ten principles came as a gift from God to His chosen people, Israel, through God’s servant Moses. They were so important that God engraved them on two stone tablets. These ten absolute rules were to guard and guide His people along the pathway of their lives.

Of primary importance was the commandment to have no other gods in one’s life. And, while we often think about the secular gods of other religions, this commandment indicates that, in our lives as followers of God, we should have nothing that gets in between us and God. That means no human being, no possession, no desire, no achievement, nothing—absolutely nothing—must come between us and the God who loves us and sacrificed His Son, Jesus, in our behalf.

Here’s the verse from Exodus 20:2-3:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.

God declares that He is the “I am.” He is the One who has accomplished anything and everything in our lives that merits any attention. He has brought us out of the slavery to sin and death and placed us before His throne as redeemed, covered with the cleansing blood of His Son. Surely, He merits our undivided hearts and undistracted minds.

As we begin a new day, let’s determine to remember that we can allow nothing to come between us and God. He will not permit any other “god” in our life, but Himself. And, that, my dear ones, is a marvelous truth.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Everything is Possible

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Everything is possible for him who believes.”
—Mark 9:23b

Have you ever faced something in your life that you felt you could not possibly achieve or accomplish? Maybe it was an assignment at work. Or, perhaps you had a family situation that you could not possibly see how you would handle it.

Most of us have situations that arise in our lives that cause us to doubt if we have what it takes to move forward. That’s part of Satan’s attempts to discourage us and turn us away from God.

Fortunately, we have the perfect antidote in these trying situations. It comes to us in the very words of Jesus, spoken to the father who had brought his son to Jesus. The boy was afflicted with an impure spirit. This child had suffered much throughout his life because of the torment this evil spirit caused. The father tentatively approached Jesus and asked Him to heal the son. In response, Jesus offered these encouraging words, found in Mark 9:23b:

“Everything is possible for him who believes.”

That is as true for us today as it was for that long-ago dad. If we believe wholeheartedly, we will find that God responds to our belief. When our faith wavers, God will bolster our faith to enable us to believe in an otherwise impossible situation.

Evangelist and Pastor, Daniel Paul Rader, former pastor of Moody Memorial Church in downtown Chicago, wrote a very sweet little gospel hymn back in 1921 that captures the essence of Jesus’ words to the despairing father:

Fear not, little flock, from the cross to the throne,
From death into life He went for His own;
All power in earth, all power above,
Is given to Him for the flock of His love.

Refrain: Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe,
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe.

Fear not, little flock, He goes on ahead,
Your Shepherd selects the path you must tread;
The waters of Marah He’ll sweeten for thee,
He drank all the bitter in Gethsemane.

Refrain: Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe,
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe.

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot,
He enters all rooms, “the doors being shut,”
He never forsakes; He never is gone,
So count on His presence in darkness and dawn.

Refrain: Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe,
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe.

As we begin a new day, let’s cling to the reality that our faith in God through His Son, Jesus, will enable us to receive a great bounty of God’s richest blessings. In the most difficult of circumstances, the Holy Spirit will increase our faith and enable us to move forward with peace in our hearts and joy at what God will accomplish through our faith.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The First Step
A Tribute to Fathers on “Father’s Day”

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the
church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.”
—Ephesians 5:25-26

Today we give special recognition to fathers. While some will say this is only a holiday to promote greeting cards and telephone calls, the fact remains that we owe a great deal to our fathers. This is particularly true if our dads were godly men who raised us to love and follow Jesus.

Of course, not all fathers were honorable. Some of you reading this may well have had a dad that was the exception to the rule. Instead of a loving, caring self-sacrificing individual, your dad was harsh, cruel, or even abusive. My heart aches for you. I hope you will remember on this Father’s Day that you have a heavenly Father who loves you with His immense, unfailing, unconditional love. He is your true Father.

For the rest of us who did have decent dads, I want to assert that the first step in becoming a proper father is for that man to love his wife. In fact, the Apostle Paul, who, like me, had never had the privilege of being a dad, gave some very profound and wise advice to the early Christians. Notice what Paul wrote, as recorded in Ephesians 5:25-26:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.

Paul strongly urges fathers to love their wives with the same kind of devotion that the Lord Jesus Christ showed to His Body, the Church. This is literally a self-sacrificing, compassionate love that always has the best interests of the beloved at the forefront of one’s thinking.

This new day, even as we say a well-deserved “Thank You!” to our dads, let’s remember to follow Paul’s advice.

As husbands, and particularly as fathers, let’s determine to love our wives with the same commitment that our Savior showed to those who belonged to Him. This is the first step toward becoming a proper father.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, June 15, 2018

He Gives Strength and Protection

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen
and protect you from the evil one.”
—2 Thessalonians 3:3

More than forty years ago, I sat in the studios of Radio Station WIHS in Middletown, Connecticut, near the end of my Saturday morning shift, which had begun at 5:30 in the morning. Soon after I finished delivering the Noon newscast, I had the privilege of pushing a button that started the 15-minute broadcast of “The Chapel of the Air.”

On this particular Saturday, a man who would soon after become my lifelong spiritual mentor, Rev. David R. Mains, began talking about a passage of Scripture found in 1 Peter 5:8-11:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Rev. Mains illustrated his point, in this first of what would become three messages, by insisting that Satan’s desire is to destroy. The enemy of our soul wants to see Christians crushed under a weight of sin and faithlessness.

I remember sitting in the control room, staring at the audio console, and thinking about how profoundly true this particular point was in my own life and in the lives of countless believers that I knew. As the 15-minute broadcast came to an end with the lovely bass tones of announcer Tedd Seelye, I made a note that I would have to be certain to listen to the next two broadcasts in order to hear the rest of the story.

I did just that. And, in those two follow-ups I learned that while Satan’s desire is to destroy, our opportunity is to resist and overcome, and God’s endeavor is to equip (us to do so). Those three broadcasts gave me the clearest insight I had ever had into the struggle that constantly goes on in the Christian life: We have a real enemy and he is definitely out to get us!

Interestingly, the Apostle Paul shared much this same truth with the Christians gathered at the church in Thessalonica, as written in 2 Thessalonians 3:3:

The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

As we begin a new day, let’s cling to the reality that God waits to protect us from the one who would damage our souls. Satan was defeated by Christ on the cross. It’s as if Satan doesn’t yet realize this truth and continues to wreak havoc among Christians.

Prayerfully, let’s ask God to protect us this day, and every day. We do well to remember that God is faithful. He will give us His strength. He will protect us from the evil one.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Through Many Hardships

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


They (Paul and Barnabas) preached the
gospel in that city
(Derbe) and won a
large number of disciples. Then they returned
to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening
the disciples and encouraging them to remain
true to the faith. “We must go through many
hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
—Acts 14:21-22

If you are looking for a true adventure story, let me urge you to read the entirety of the Book of Acts. Written by Dr. Luke as a sequel to his gospel, this Book contains the exciting stories that tell of the birth of the Church during the first century A.D.

You will find intrigue, as well as the story of how the gospel begins to penetrate the then-known-world, changing lives, pushing against the culture of the day, and exposing a secular society to the claims of the Son of God.

As just one example, here’s Dr. Luke’s account of part of the work of the Apostle Paul and his sidekick, Barnabas, as found in Acts 14:21-22:

They (Paul and Barnabas) preached the gospel in that city (Derbe) and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Imagine the information packed into this verse. Paul and Barnabas preach in the city of Derbe, where a large number of people are welcomed into God’s Kingdom. Then they return to three key cities in what was then called “Asia Minor” and we now know as the country of Turkey.

A major responsibility that Paul and Barnabas had was to strengthen those followers of Jesus who had already responded to the gospel by encouraging them to remain true to their new-found faith. This was very important because the culture of the society of that day was always trying to lure them back into former evil behaviors.

Even today, as we begin a new day, it is important for us to interact with our fellow believers in a manner that will encourage them to remain true to their faith in Christ. By strengthening each other, we can fulfill a significant responsibility we have toward our fellow believers.

When we go through the hardships that will inevitably come, we can rest assured that, by giving and receiving support to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can all continue to move forward along the pathway that God has laid out before us.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

We Will Sing

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength;
we will sing and praise your might.”
—Psalm 21:13

Whenever we read from the Psalms, we can take delight—great delight—from the fact that whatever we’re reading was intended as a song. Those of us who really enjoy singing, can recognize the privilege we have to sing along with the saints from the ages, including the millions of God’s chosen people.

Even if we only sing privately, perhaps while beginning our day in the shower, we can recognize that God delights in the songs of His people. That’s right. God delights in the songs of His people.

As we begin this new day, let’s look at just one verse from Psalm 21:13:

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.

It’s as if King David, the author of this song, wanted to tell the people, “Now, listen up! This is what we’re going to be singing about today!” Then, he proceeds to tell them, and God as well, that today’s song will focus on exalting God because of His incredible strength and praising His unimaginable might. God is so very strong and so very powerful that we do well to praise Him for His strength and might.

Let’s not lose sight of the great joy that is ours in singing praises to this powerful and mighty God who loves us with His everlasting, unfailing, unending love. And, let’s keep fully in our minds and hearts at all times that God delights in the songs of His people.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Guard Your Behavior

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Live such good lives among the pagans
that, though they accuse you of doing
wrong, they may see your good deeds and
glorify God on the day he visits us.”
—1 Peter 2:12

More and more, in the days ahead, Christians will come under criticism and false accusations. Because of Christians taking a biblical stand against evil, those who perpetrate evil will do all in their power to vilify those who follow Christ. This is not a new phenomenon. It has happened over and over down through the pages of history.

What should a Christian’s response be to such a hostile environment? The Apostle Peter offers these words in 1 Peter 2:12:

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

We believers must focus on doing good and being good. We must live our lives above reproach.

Even when we are accused of hatred, we need to keep loving those who accuse us. Even when some people make physical attacks against us and try to destroy us, we must show the gracious love of Jesus, as we respond to their attacks.

While some may think things are getting better and better, this defies what is actually happening in our world. Values held dear by followers of Jesus are under a severe attack.

If we are to remain faithful at the beginning of this new day, and every subsequent day, we must determine to follow Peter’s advice. We must focus on living lives that will honor Christ and show His faithful love in all that we do and say.

Even when we speak against evil—or, perhaps, especially when we speak against evil—we must do so with humility, tenderness, and kindness. It is possible to take a strong stand on behalf of righteousness, but to do so in as loving a way possible.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Doing God’s Will

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The world and its desires pass away, but the
one who does the will of God lives forever.”
—1 John 2:17

As a young teenager involved in the ministry of Youth for Christ, the number one question that always came up in discussion sessions regarding our Christian faith was: “How can I know the will of God?” That was a legitimate question and one that seemingly troubled many teens.

We understood that the God who loved us expected us to obediently follow His will for our lives. But, we weren’t at all certain how we were to know the will of God. Our leaders secretly wondered this same question themselves.

If I were able to go back more than 50 years and talk to my young teenaged self, I would offer these suggestions as answers to this puzzling question:

  1. Make certain that you spend time reading, studying, and meditating on God’s written Word, the Bible.

    And, in that regard, become as familiar as you can with the actual words of the text. Study the Old Testament for the context it gives on how God relates to His chosen people, Israel. Learn from these ancient texts the foundational truths about who God is and what He expects of those He has chosen to belong to Himself.

    Concurrently, study the New Testament to see the God-with-us Jesus. Study how He relates to His Father. Examine carefully how He relates to His friends, enemies, and every other person with whom He comes into contact. Pay very careful attention to the words of Jesus, for He is, after all, God the Son.

    Read carefully the instruction given by the Apostle Paul and the other New Testament writers. Learn how they put their faith into practice and take note of the besetting sins about which they warned their fellow believers.

  2. Before and after you spend time studying God’s written Word, pray. As you begin, ask God to illuminate the truth of His Word. And, as you finish, ask Him to seal His truth in your heart and mind.

If you have taken the time to invest in these two rather simple steps, in every situation you encounter in this life, you will know more surely what God wants you to do. By making God’s written Word a deeply woven part of the fabric of your life, and by bathing your study of God’s Word in prayer, you will have such a strong sense of the way God normally leads those He chooses to follow Him that you will make the right choice in your own life.

Why is it important that we follow God’s will for our lives? The Apostle John put it this way in 1 John 2:17:

The world and its desires pass away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

As we begin another new day, let’s make this a day of seeking to know God more through His written Word and following God more completely by allowing His truth to fill our hearts and minds.

As Richard of Chichester wrote:

Day by day, day by day,
O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
to see Thee more clearly,
love Thee more dearly,
follow Thee more nearly,
day by day.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Solid and Unmovable

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns
your house for endless days, O Lord.”
—Psalm 93:5

Do you like things to mostly stay the same? Said another way, do you prefer things that do not change?

The Gregorc Mind Styles™ Model defines four distinct ways in which people are pre-wired to take in information, process that information, and then order that information out. One of those Mind Styles is called the “Concrete Sequential” or “CS” Mind Style.

The dominant CS individual does not like change. Rather, the more steady, more solid, more unmovable something or someone is, the better. The dominant CS individual likes rules and regulations very much.

In contrast, the “Concrete Random” or “CR” Mind Style is always looking for something new. This quest for newness drives the dominant CR individual to look for ways that change can provide him or her with new energy and excitement. The dominant CR individual believes that rules do not apply to him or her.

While Dr. Anthony Gregorc asserts that every human possesses all four Mind Styles, each individual has a dominant Mind Style from which the person normally interacts with himself or herself and the world around him or her. When circumstances require, each person can pull a non-dominant Mind Style up onto the stage and operate within that Mind Style, at least for a time.

As a dominant CS, I can attest that the more solid and unmovable someone or something is, the more comfortable I am, the more at ease, the more at peace. I really don’t like change.

One of the huge contrasts between Christianity and many of the other world religions is that our God is solid and unmovable. He doesn’t change. He stays steadfast. We don’t have to wonder in any given moment what mood He will be in or what feelings He may have toward us when we approach Him.

The Psalmist puts it this way in Psalm 93:5:

Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord.

A significant part of God’s holiness is His unchanging nature. He is always the same. His holiness is often expressed in His rules or statutes. Those rules do not change because God does not change.

As we begin a new day, we can do so with the sure knowledge that God loves us and that He will always love us. He has a plan for us and He will always have a plan for us. He has desires for us to become holy and He will always desire this.

Knowing that God doesn’t change should help us more easily fall into His arms of love and grace. And that, dear ones, is so very, very good.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Defeating the Original Sinner

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“He who does what is sinful is of the devil,
because the devil has been sinning from
the beginning. The reason the Son of God
appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
—1 John 3:8

When we talk about “original sin,” we always think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and their disobedience against God’s one and only command. I’ve written about that encounter frequently on this blog because it is often greatly misunderstood. Nevertheless, the first **human** sinners were Adam and Eve. And, their sin has passed down to each of us upon our birth.

But the real “first sinner,” the one who set disobedience into motion by rebelling against God, was not a human. No, it was an angel named Lucifer—the one we know today as Satan or the Devil. He was the real first sinner.

The Apostle John gives this report in 1 John 3:8:

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

From this passage of Scripture we learn that the work of the devil is to destroy humankind through sin. In fact, it’s to destroy humankind through their own sin—the sin they inherited from Adam and Eve, and the sin they have committed all on their own.

But, the work of Jesus is to destroy the devil’s work. He does this by bearing the price of our sins on the cross. In unwavering obedience to His Father, Jesus pays the penalty for our sins. Then, He rises from the dead to conquer the eternally sealing power of death.

When we sin, we act as if Christ’s work was in vain. We temporarily take the devil’s side in this great spiritual battle. Even though we will be stained by sin until we die and pass on to our eternal life, at which point we will become glorified (Romans 8:29-30), we can obediently work at putting away the besetting sins that plague our lives.

When tempted to lie, we can tell the truth. When tempted to covet, we can rejoice that others have something we do not have. When tempted to gossip, we can hold our tongues. When tempted to react in anger, we can react with kindness. When tempted to lust, we can mentally turn our backs on that lust. When tempted to… Well, we can insert our particular sin here and we can also insert the opposite of that sin because we know what that is, as well.

Struggling against sin takes discipline. It’s hard work. But, it’s good work. It’s worthwhile work. It’s challenging work. It’s work that pleases the God who loves us. It’s work we can determine to tackle, as this new day begins.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

You Can’t Hide Your Sins

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their
plans from the Lord, who do their work in
darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”
—Isaiah 29:15

Have you ever watched a young child who did not like peas carefully place them under the far lip of the plate to make it look as if he or she had obediently eaten this dreaded vegetable? Because the child can’t see the hidden peas, he or she firmly believes that no one else can see them either.

That’s how some people view the things they do, in the course of their lives, that they know are questionable, even sinful. They believe that if they hide what they do, if they sneak around and perform their deeds in secret, or in the cover of darkness, no one will know what they have done. But, it just doesn’t work that way.

The Prophet Isaiah conveyed these words, as found in Isaiah 29:15:

Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”

It doesn’t matter what lengths to which we may go to keep our sins secret. God always knows what we have done. And, in many cases, our sins will be revealed for everyone to see.

Reportedly, my birth mother—a thirty-year-old single woman left, like so many young women of that time period, without any prospects of a husband with so many young men off fighting World War II—became involved with an older married man. He was the pastor of her church. She was the church organist.

Naturally, he took great steps to hide their affair. They met in secret, all the while believing that no one would ever know. Perhaps he told her that he was in an unhappy marriage, that he loved her, and that he would divorce his wife and marry her. But, their secret was taken out of their control. You see, my birth mother became pregnant with me.

For nine long months she hid her pregnancy from everyone. She was a large woman and was able to totally conceal the additional weight of her pregnancy by wearing bulky clothing.

But, on one fateful day in early August of 1947, she called out in pain from her bedroom. Her mother went to check on her and, upon seeing her condition for the first time, quickly summoned the doctor. He arrived promptly, as doctors did in that time period, and delivered me.

Without any time to plan, I was whisked away to a nearby nurse who sheltered babies being placed for adoption. I joined ten other newborns in her home and stayed there for the state-mandated six weeks until the lovely, older couple who adopted me came to pick me up.

How do I know this story? The nurse in whose house I stayed for the first six weeks of my life became a dear friend of my adoptive mother. When the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania made a mistake and sent my adoptive mother my real birth certificate with my birth mother’s name on it (but with the birth father’s name blank), my mother showed it to the nurse.

Several years later, the nurse felt moved to supply the details to my adoptive mother who shared them with me when I turned 18 years old. (I should hasten to add that I always knew I was adopted. In fact, my parents made a really big deal about the fact that they “chose” me out of many other babies they could have chosen.)

I share this personal story as just one example of the reality: we cannot hide our sin from God and others. Sin will always become revealed. That’s why we who follow Christ should guard ourselves against besetting sins. No matter how hard we try to hide them, they will always step into the light.

Think of all the corruption that our current political climate has revealed. Do you think any of those involved would have ever thought what they had done or said would come to light? In fact, some of them are so cleverly habitual in their bad behavior that they have spent a lifetime honing the skill of concealment. Yet what they have done has stepped out into the light. That’s a lesson for all of us.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Return to Me

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Ever since the time of your forefathers
you have turned away from my decrees and have
not kept them. Return to me, and I will return
to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
—Malachi 3:7

I have shared on this blog before that, to me, one of the most telling stories in all of Scripture is found in Luke 15:11-32. Editors of the New International Version have titled this “The Parable of the Lost Son.” Most of you probably know this story of Jesus quite well.

A younger brother chaffs at having to stay at home and help his father and older brother. He asks his father for his inheritance—a great insult in a Jewish household, since all of the inheritance would typically go to the oldest son. The father grants this request. The son promptly goes away to a far country and squanders the money. Ending up feeding pigs, the runaway son realizes he has sinned. He repents, determines to return to his father, and plans to offer to live as a servant.

Meanwhile, every day since the son left home, the father has gone to a lookout point that faces the road on which his son left home. There, he scans the horizon, looking for a sight of his returning son.

After months and months, one day the father sees his son in the far distance. While the son was still a long way off, the father rushes to greet the son and welcomes him home. The son acknowledges his sin and asks for forgiveness. The father responds by forgiving his son, treats him like royalty, and hosts a banquet to honor his son.

That story, told by Jesus to his followers, is exactly how God relates to you and me. He lovingly stands on a hilltop, watching to see if we will return to Him. He calls us to repent of our sin and come back into His protective fold.

The Prophet Malachi put it this way in Malachi 3:7:

“Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

This is a call for revival. It’s a call to come to life again. It’s a call of returning. It’s a call for you, and for me, to daily repent of our sins and return to God with hearts cleansed by the blood of Christ our Savior.

If you have someone in your life who has strayed far from God, why not spend some time today praying for that one. Ask God to speak into the depths of that one’s heart and mind and call that one to come home.

No greater joy exists for God, and for us, when one of His own returns to Him. May this be a day of that happening for someone we know and love.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Disarming Triumph

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“And having disarmed the powers
and authorities, he made a public
spectacle of them, triumphing
over them by the cross.”
—Colossians 2:15

The significance of the cross on which Jesus died holds so much rich detail that it has prompted thousands of writers to pen volumes about this most significant event in human history. Jesus’ death in our place gave us victory over sin. His resurrection gave us victory over death. His ascension to heaven gave us an advocate who sits at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for us.

One of the most daring aspects of the cross is described by the Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:15:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Jesus was a man of victory. He defeated every attempt that Satan made to trick Him. Unlike Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden where Satan seemingly easily convinced the first humans to disobey God, Jesus held firm to His place of preeminence.

As we begin a new day, we can take comfort in the fact that we belong to a victorious King. He has never lost a battle. He has defeated the most terrible of foes. And, He has done this in our behalf.

So, let’s press onward along the pathway that God has laid out for us. And, let’s more and more become people of victory—victorious over sin in our lives and victorious in representing our Savior well to a world that needs His healing touch.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Neither Mocked, Nor Led Astray

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever
is led astray by them is not wise.”
—Proverbs 20:1

Whenever a verse like today’s verse appears in the list I use as source material, I always have to smile, because I know how unpopular such a verse is in today’s Christian culture, not to mention the culture of the secular world.

As I have shared on this blog previously, my dear grandma, who went home to be with her Lord nearly 40 years ago at the ripe old age of 92, was a long-time leader in an organization that many of you reading this have never heard of, I’m sure: The Women’s Christian Temperance Union or WCTU. She came by that role quite naturally.

You see her husband—a man who was plagued by alcoholism at a time, back in the early part of the twentieth century, when people just called this disease “perpetual drunkenness”—in a fit of remorse over once again having squandered his meager paycheck on booze, committed suicide.

As a result of this incident that took place more than 25 years before I was born, I grew up in a home where alcoholic beverages were absolutely not tolerated. I was taught that the best way to avoid falling into the trap of alcoholism was to never take a single drink. To further reinforce this position, I grew up in a fundamentalist church where we had a long list of forbidden behaviors. Then, I attended and graduated from a Christian college where, at that time, a similar long list of forbidden activities were rigorously enforced.

Then, I entered the business world where drinking alcoholic beverages was not only tolerated, it was strongly, even vehemently, promoted. Still, I quietly, without any fanfare, held my ground. When pressed, I would simply say that my religious beliefs forbade my use of alcohol.

Imagine my chagrin today, in our current Christian culture, where even the most ardent Evangelical Christian will have an occasional glass of wine. Getting a “little buzzed” at the end of a long, hard day, is seen as “wise” and “with it.” I am even more of an “odd man out” than I was fifty years ago.

Let me hasten to add that I do not judge my fellow believers for their use of alcohol, as long as they don’t become drunk, or fall into the pit of alcoholism. They must answer to God for their behaviors, just as I must answer to God for mine. And, I am well aware that I have my own significant list of besetting sins that mark my life and for which I am constantly trying to overcome. I have neither the time nor the inclination to condemn my fellow believers in the matter of what they choose to drink, as long as they do so in moderation.

I do find it rather interesting that King Solomon apparently had observed the effects of indulgence to the point where he was prompted to write the following, as found in Proverbs 20:1:

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

The lesson for all of us from this verse is to make certain we are aware of the effect that our behaviors have on our lives. Have any of the things we do in our lives become a “must do, or else” If so, perhaps we should examine the grip that a particular behavior has on us. Such obsessions are rarely healthy and often are very destructive over the long haul.

Instead, we should choose to promote habits that will feed our spiritual needs. For once our spiritual needs are met, our other needs seem to fall into proper perspective. At least, it’s worth considering. Okay

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Obedience Brings Completeness

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“But if anyone obeys his word, love for
God is truly made complete in them.”
—1 John 2:5

Have you ever worked in a situation where your instant and unquestioning response to a direct order spared your life? Some of those situations involve safety on a hazardous job site. We find others in the military, or various para-military organizations, like the fire service or law enforcement.

In 1967, the fire department where I served received a call just past midnight to respond to a fully involved barn fire about three miles from our fire house. Our department required the firefighters to first report to the fire house, don their protective equipment, mount the apparatus, and then respond to the location of the fire. This meant that once reaching the scene of the fire, our crews were always ready to go into immediate action with their full protective gear already in place.

On this particular night, we arrived at the farm and found that the barn was, indeed, fully involved in fire. The three-story tall structure had fire showing from every opening. As one of our engine company crews advanced a 2-1/2-inch line to begin an exterior fire attack, suddenly the chief radioed for the crew leader to stop the advance. Responding to his years of training, the crew leader immediately halted the forward movement of his crew.

Almost instantaneously, the main side wall of the barn came crashing to the ground, landing just a few feet in front of where the crew stood. Had the crew leader not immediately obeyed the order from the chief, several firefighters would have been seriously injured, or even killed.

Obedience brings completion—that’s the topic for today. Said in more detail: “Obedience to the instructions of our Savior, brings completeness to the life of a believer.”

When we read some instruction in God’s written Word, the Bible, in the context of the New Testament life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is important that we obey what God commands. Every single instruction is for our benefit. Failure to do what God instructs will place us in danger. We will not experience completeness until we first learn obedience.

Sadly, too many religious leaders of our day have followed a pattern of explaining away some of the clearest teachings of our God. They don’t like what they perceive to be the directness, even harshness, of certain commands. So, they attempt to teach that we really don’t understand what the Scripture means.

For example, some place an emphasis only on the loving and accepting nature of Jesus. In so doing, they seem to want to put aside, or deny, that God is holy.

It would be far better if those individuals who are uncomfortable with teachings they don’t like would simply accept the fact that God expects us to live lives that are in tension. Just as a tightrope walker depends on the tension of the tightrope, so we Christians must live in a healthy tension regarding the nature of God. Yes, God is loving, caring, merciful, and gracious. But, He is also a holy God and demands holiness from those who follow Him. Those two qualities, or attributes, of God are often in tension.

Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle John makes this claim, as found in 1 John 2:1-6:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

During the course of this new day, let’s work toward living in the tension of obedience to all the teachings of our God. When He demands holiness, let’s obediently work toward holiness. When He demands love, acceptance, mercy, and grace, let’s obediently work toward all of those sterling qualities, as well.

If we do this, we will become complete in Him. And that, dear ones, is exactly the place where we should reside.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

True Justice

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Administer true justice; show mercy
and compassion to one another. Do
not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
the alien or the poor. In your hearts
do not think evil of each other.”
—Zechariah 7:9-10

When two people commit the same crime and one gets away with it while the other is sent to prison, there is something fundamentally wrong with the administration of justice. How we mete out punishment for wrongdoing must be fair, uniform, and done without taking into account the differences in status, wealth, or power of the various perpetrators.

It seems every day we get a new “wake up call” regarding how corrupt politics has made our system of justice, not only in our own country, but around the world. Nevertheless, we expect more of our own nation than we do of other nations. The very foundation of our country rests on the concept of equal justice for all.

In the church, justice must also be delivered in a fair and impartial way. When I use the word “justice” in the context of the church, I’m talking about the fair treatment of all individuals who may gather in a particular church for worship and fellowship.

Church leaders dare not tolerate sinful behavior on the part of some people because of their status, wealth, or power, while swiftly administering discipline to other people who do not have the same status, wealth, or power. Yet almost every day, I hear of some action by a church board in some church that has treated people unfairly because the process of church discipline was not handled impartially.

I’ve written several times on this blog about Matthew 18:15-17. These words represent instruction from none other than Jesus Himself. In these few verses, our Lord explains how we are to handle sin in the church. This is the only—absolutely the only—acceptable way for a church board or any other group of believers to handle sin. And, it’s also the way that individual believers are to handle sin, as well.

The impartial administration of justice is a concept that goes as far back in the history of Judeo-Christian philosophy as possible. Please take note of these words of instruction from God, found in Zechariah 7:9-10:

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.”

As we begin another day, and insofar as we have the opportunity to do so, let’s make certain that we handle sin in our midst properly. We must follow Matthew 18:15-17. And, we should pay attention to Zechariah 7:9-10, as well. If we do this, we will contribute to a major “sea change” in the life of the churches where we attend.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

In Spite of What We Once Were

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has
given me strength, that he considered
me faithful, appointing me to his service.”
—1 Timothy 1:12

In the course of your life, have you ever encountered someone who listened to what you had to say about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He means to you, but responded by saying, “I’ve done too many bad things in my life. I’ve made too many mistakes. God could never love me.”

Such a one misses the point entirely. God does not call to Himself people that He deems are perfect. To the contrary, God calls those to belong to Him who often need Him the most.

We are, after all, every one of us, sinners. We inherited the sin stain of Adam. We continued a pattern of sin from the earliest days of our lives.

Therefore, when the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to learn of the love God has shown us, we come to Him as sinners. And, we remain sinners as long as we live on this earth—sinners who have been saved by God’s mercy, grace, and love.

Even the Apostle Paul—or perhaps I should say, particularly the Apostle Paul—claimed that he was the worst of sinners. Notice how Paul explains this in his letter to Timothy, found in 1 Timothy 1:12-16:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

Whenever God prompts you to share what He has done for you, remember that the one to whom you are talking may feel that he or she is unworthy of God’s love. In that gentle, humble, and tender way, as God enables you by the Holy Spirit, be quick to remind that one that God saves sinners. And, sinners are the only ones who can come to God because they know how much they need Him.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, May 28, 2018

In God We Trust

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and
am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
—Psalm 56:4

On this Memorial Day, a day that we remember those who died in military service in order to preserve our freedom, I will strive in this blog post to honor their supreme sacrifice by shining a spotlight on certain changes that have taken place in our society. May God bless those who died and may He bless their families.

 


 

We live in a very odd time. Over the course of my lifetime I have observed so many changes in people’s attitudes in the United States of America that I can hardly process them.

As a child in elementary school, we began each day by standing next to our desks, placing our right hands over our hearts, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I was in school at the point that two new words were added to the Pledge under President Dwight David Eisenhower’s administration. Those words were inserted between the words “nation” and “indivisible” so the Pledge would now read: “…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I now read that some teachers—many teachers—and many school administrators, will no longer permit the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. “It forces children to agree to something they may not actually agree.”

Whaaaaat? Are you kidding me? If you are a citizen of the United States of America, then this pledge is a sacred oath of allegiance to the country that protects and defends the freedom under which you live your life. How could you possibly want to be a citizen if you didn’t pledge your allegiance?

And, besides, notice how absolutely “terrible” the Pledge is:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Now, don’t those words just strike terror in your heart? Ridiculous!

We also began each day with someone reading a portion of a Psalm from the Old Testament of the Bible. And, we even recited the Lord’s Prayer—the Roman Catholic children stopped short of the very end, as the Protestant children pushed on through the final words, “…for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.”

If we had a Jehovah’s Witness student in our class, that child simply did not participate. He or she stood silently while all the other children recited the opening exercises. No one picked on the J-W child.

Likewise, if you were Jewish, while you may have participated in the reading of the Psalm—after all the Psalms came from the Jewish Scriptures—you refrained from reciting the Lord’s Prayer. As far as I know, none of the Jewish children were harmed, their parents weren’t offended, and the other kids simply accepted with understanding that while most children believed that the Messiah had come, their Jewish classmates were still waiting for that glorious day to arrive.

In addition, we studied our currency, noted the words “In God We Trust” and talked about the symbolism of each element of the one dollar bill.

As I tell this story from 64 years ago, I feel I must append this disclaimer: “No children were harmed in the carrying out of these daily beginnings to the school day.”

I make this point to illustrate for those who may be much younger how far along a downward spiral we have come. Was it a perfect time back then? Of course not. Was it a much simpler time? Apparently so. Have the changes in our national demeanor been positive? In only one way that I can identify: racial diversity.

There were so few people of African descent in my hometown that race was never an issue. I never heard derogatory statements about people with different skin color. The only “black” man that I knew personally growing up was one of the most educated men in the entire community.

The Reverend Dr. Thomas James Sadler, Sr. was the pastor of the Copeland African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a gentle man, large in stature, powerful in the pulpit, and an absolute joy to meet with to pray. He and his church supported our Youth for Christ activities. I can still remember kneeling at the altar of one of the participating churches for prayer, asking God to intercede in the lives of the youth in our city and feeling the loving touch of Dr. Sadler’s strong arm around my shoulders.

I grew up neither fearing people whose skin color was different than mine, nor hating them. I grew up accepting the reality that some had a religion that was different than mine. I had classmates who did not attend any church and classmates who attended a wide range of churches and synagogues. But, I knew no one who did not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I was taught to revere the heroes of the faith from the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament. I remember thinking about how wonderful it would be to one day meet King David in heaven. This man who the Scripture tells us was a man after God’s own heart. There was no question in what David believed.

When David was pursued by the Philistines, he wrote these words found in Psalm 56:4:

In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Yes, our national culture has changed dramatically over the years of my life. But, we who belong to God have every reason to hold fast to King David’s words. Without shame we can say, “In God we trust! We are not afraid! What can mere mortals do to us?”

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Reliable Friend

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“One who has unreliable friends soon
comes to ruin, but there is a friend
who sticks closer than a brother.”
—Proverbs 18:24

Have you ever had someone in your life that you thought was your friend, but then you discovered that he or she was not really at all reliable? Most of us have had this experience.

King Solomon had a bit of advice to give regarding friendship. That advice is found in Proverbs 18:24:

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ have found such a close-sticking friend in Him. He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 13:6).

This is such an important concept that numerous authors have penned most excellent prose regarding it. Among those authors is Oswald Chambers, a great leader in the Christian faith at the turn of the 20th century. Since his death in 1917 from complications due to an appendectomy, Chambers’ writings have become classics among devoted Christians.

In what is perhaps his most famous book, My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers writes about this concept of friendship with Christ in a devotional entitled “The Never-Forsaking God”.

As we begin a new day, we should recognize that God has provided a friend that sticks closer than a brother in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He also promotes this kind of enduring friendship among believers. We should strive to be that kind of friend to those God has brought into our circle of fellow believers. If we do so, we will reap a very significant reward. For such friendship is priceless.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Getting in Shape

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what
God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
—Romans 12:2

Does society shape us? Or, do we shape society? Those two questions offer a clear distinction. Either we are molded into the image created by our society. Or, we persist in attempting to influence the molding of our society into an image of holiness because of what Christ has done for us and because the Holy Spirit dwells within us.

Some Christians believe they should do their best to live their lives without ever trying to have an influence on society as a whole. Yet Christ told us in Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

This means that, as followers of Jesus, our very presence in this world is intended to have a definite and profound effect on our society. To deny this responsibility doesn’t make it go away. Rather, to deny the responsibility that Jesus has given us takes us to a place of disobedience.

We cannot “go along to get along” in this world. The Presence of Christ within us, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, makes us different than those around us who have not yet come to understand the gift of mercy, love, and grace that God has given to those He has called to Himself.

The Apostle Paul offered these words of instruction, as recorded in Romans 12:2:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

As we begin a new day, we do well if we keep in mind that what we wear, where we go, what we say, where we spend our time, the way we act, the way we think, the way we live should not be influenced by the societal norms around us. Rather, we should be the ones setting the trends. That’s right. For the sake of the gospel, we are trendsetters. Or, at the very least, we should be.

It’s really hard not to try to fit into this world. If we want to disappear into the fabric of society around us, we have to be like the people who populate that society. But, if we want to truly influence the world for God, we will necessarily be different, if for no other reason that we do not fit into the pattern of the world.

It’s a sobering reality. But, it is also the reality of having our sights set on pleasing the One who loves us with His everlasting love. We can either be loved by the world or loved by God. But, we will never fit into the fabric of both this world and the world to come. We have to choose to which one we belong.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Update on Friday, May 18, 2018

 

[Photo of Dean taking his first steps][Photo space][Photo of Dean taking more steps]


“Those who walk uprightly enter into peace…”
—Isaiah 57:2a

Thank you for your kind thoughts and especially for your continued prayers. Under the diligent guidance of my excellent Physical Therapist, Deb Smith, I am slowly—very slowly—learning how to walk again.

 

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Update on Wednesday, May 2, 2018

 

[Photo of Dean at the second fitting of the temporary prosthesis]


“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved
children and walk in the way of love, just as
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
—Ephesians 5:1-2

I continue to feel deep gratitude for all of the well-wishes and especially for all of the prayers that you have sent heavenward in my behalf. God certainly has been at work during this long recovery process. Your support, your friendship, and your caring mean a very great deal to me.

Today, as you can see in the photo above, I had the second fitting of my temporary prosthesis. I learned how to don the device and how to take it off. I stood and even took a few steps. My most excellent Prosthetist, Joseph H. Carter, Jr. of Union Orthotics and Prosthetics Co., has many years of experience. He is a true professional and knows exactly what to tell someone like me. I still have much to learn and many, many weeks of physical therapy ahead, as I learn how to walk again.

Again, thank you for your continued prayers.

(By the way, I do actually own more than one sport shirt. I find it quite humorous that every time I have had my photo taken during this recovery process, I just happen to have on the same shirt. Oh well… Someone once told me I was a really excellent dresser. But, that individual opined that I had only one problem: my “middle drawer” stuck out too far.)

 

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Update on Friday, April 20, 2018

 

[Cartoon of surgery on big toe]


“As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this
kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.”
—Daniel 2:42

Thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts. I am happy to report that the surgery today to straighten a hammertoe on my left foot went better than expected. My Podiatric Surgeon, Dr. Jay C. Moritz, seemed very pleased at how well the surgery progressed.

We had to arise at 3:00 a.m. in order to arrive at UPMC Hamot Hospital and Medical Center by 5:15 a.m. After the registration procedure, we went up to the second floor surgery area and were soon taken back to prepare for the surgery.

Dr. Moritz had telephoned me on Thursday to say that the X-ray seemed to indicate that both joints of the big toe were significantly distorted. This would make the surgery more complicated.

Surgery began shortly after 7:15 a.m. and finished in about an hour. Dr. Moritz reported that the surgery proved much simpler than he had thought. Once he cut the tendon, the big toe straightened right out. So, the joints were not distorted as the X-rays had seemed to indicate.

I am now back in my old friend the surgical boot for the next six to eight weeks as the bones of the big toe fuse in their new straightened position. I hope to have another fitting of the temporary prosthesis for my right leg in the days ahead.

Again, thank you for your continued prayers.

 

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.