Friday, December 14, 2018

A Cherished Greeting

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Grace and peace to you from God our
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…”
—Galatians 1:4

Do you enjoy receiving Christmas cards and letters? I greatly enjoy reading the greetings from friends and family. And, while I understand some people don’t like Christmas letters that tell of a family’s events over the past year, I enjoy reading these missives very much. In fact, I look forward with great anticipation to see what arrives in each day’s mail delivery.

Imagine if you were a Christian in one of the early churches and you suddenly found a letter waiting for you from the man who had so significantly contributed to your personal spiritual formation and to the growth and vitality of your local church. That’s how the Galatians felt when they received a letter from the Apostle Paul.

A significant part of their excitement was elevated when they read the very first words of greeting that Paul wrote to them, as recorded in Galatians 1:4-5:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

My! What a cherished greeting this was. Paul gave them a blessing, as well as stating a reason for them to praise God. And, he did this all in a few short words. Nothing could encourage these new Christians more than to have their spiritual mentor offer a blessing of God’s grace and peace.

You must remember that these believers lived in very troubled times. Rome had conquered most of the then-know world. The Roman rule was harsh and relentless in taking money from their captives in order to continue the many construction projects in Rome. To think that, in the midst of such chaos, someone would offer them words of comfort and encouragement was a blessing beyond belief.

We live in a world that has its own unique kind of harshness. And, that harshness has certainly increased over the course my life. So, words of comfort, encouragement, and peace mean all the more in these troubled days.

Wait! I have an idea!

Why don’t you and I, as followers of Jesus, make it a point to spread words of encouragement, comfort, joy, and peace to everyone who crosses our pathway this Christmas season? I think we could actually make a difference in someone’s life. While many people are feeling heartbroken and discouraged, we could bring a moment or two of genuine joy into their otherwise darkened existence.

I’m up for this. How about you?

 

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

 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Nothing is Hidden from God

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“You know my folly, O God; my
guilt is not hidden from you.”
—Psalm 69:5

One of the classic ways that moms and dads try to corral their children’s behavior is to admonish them, “Remember: God is watching what you do!”

While that statement is true, for God is everywhere present and knows and sees all things, He is not a hall monitor or cafeteria guardian. He is not sitting on His throne in heaven watching to see what bad things we will do next. Quite to the contrary, when He looks on the lives of those He has called to Himself—“Christ’s-ones” or Christians—He sees us as redeemed by the shed blood of His one and only Son, Jesus. The Presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit gives us a “marking” that God sees as a symbol of His mercy, grace, and abiding love.

King David understood this. David was not a perfect man. Though called by God and marked by God’s hand on David’s life, there were a number of significant occasions when David was not the obedient servant God may have desired. Nevertheless, David knew that he belonged to God. That’s what prompted David to write these words found in Psalm 69:5-6:

You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you. May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel.

Here David sings a song that we could very easily sing ourselves. He acknowledges God’s “knowing”—God’s knowing all about David’s actions. Yet, David’s concern is that his behavior will not lead anyone astray. He does not want the shame that he feels for his sins to become a barrier to others.

In this world of darkness, and in a society where evil is often cloaked as “normal” and “cool,” we must long, as David did, to live in such a way that the shame we feel for what we do wrong will not impede anyone who might be drawn to God. That’s quite a challenge in this day and age. But, it’s one that we must embrace. After all, as Christ’s ambassadors, we need to set aside our own selfish desires and seek only to live in such a way that will bring glory to Him.

 

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

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

He Shares in Our Humanity

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Since the children have flesh and blood,
he too shared in their humanity…”
—Hebrews 2:5-18

The miracle of the Incarnation causes such wonder and amazement among those who believe in the life-transforming power of the living Lord Jesus Christ. The miracle of the Incarnation causes such skepticism, rejection, scorn, and mockery on the part of those who do not believe.

The very idea that one of the three persons of the Trinity, God the Son, would come to earth, be born as a baby, and live here in subjection to all of the temptation and troubles of this world simply boggles the mind. Yet, the Incarnation is a foundational truth throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament of Holy Scripture.

The writer to the Jewish people across the then-known world who had accepted the fact that Jesus was, indeed, their Messiah, explained the miracle of the Incarnation in the most vivid imagery possible when he wrote these words found in Hebrews 2:5-18:

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.”

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

As we begin a new day, let’s ponder the reality that “God with Us”—Emmanuel—shares our humanity. Yet, He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). May God fill our hearts with joy as we consider the miracle of the Incarnation that leads to our salvation and to our eternal glory.

 

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

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

He is Like Us

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“He had to be made like his brothers
in every way, in order that he
might become a merciful and faithful
high priest in service to God,
and that he might make atonement
for the sins of the people.”
—Hebrews 2:17

The birth of Jesus, the Son of God, marks the end of the year with a celebration of glad tidings and great joy. More and more this event has become so secularized that it is very possible to move through this season and never think, even once, about the miracle of “God with us.”

For many people, the story of Jesus is viewed as a fable. Sadly, they don’t think of Him as a real person—someone who needed to eat and drink and function in every way as you and I do each day. But, Jesus was fully human, while, at the same time, He was fully God. That is the miracle of the Incarnation.

The writer to Jews who had embraced the gospel, in the years immediately following Jesus’ death, expressed it this way in Hebrews 2:17:

He had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

“The Son of God became a human so that humans could become Sons of God.” Thus writes C. S. Lewis in his marvelous little book, Mere Christianity. Jesus could not have been the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty, make atonement, provide the propitiation for our sins had He not been fully human.

As we begin a new day during this Season of Advent, let’s ponder the wonder of this great miracle. We celebrate the birth of our Savior and we celebrate our expectant hope of His soon return. This God-man Jesus is our Savior, Lord, and King. But, He is also our brother, our companion, and our friend.

 

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

 

Monday, December 10, 2018

May Your Hearts Live

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify
him with thanksgiving. This will please the
Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with
its horns and hoofs. The poor will see and
be glad—you who seek God, may your hearts live!”
—Psalm 69:30-32

One of the reasons why we go out into the world as ambassadors of the Great King Jesus is to share with those who do not know Him the glories of our relationship with Him.

In so doing, we recognize that we do not deserve this relationship with God. We had no choice in the matter. Rather, before the foundation of the earth, He chose us to belong to Himself. In due season, He sent the Holy Spirit to speak to our needy hearts and draw us irresistibly into His mercy, grace, and unfathomable love.

The songwriter, Eugene Bartlett, penned these words in 1939, which I’ve shared before on this blog, that captures the truth of this great mystery:

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

The words “He loved me ere I knew Him” talk about the uniqueness of a relationship where our Lover (Jesus) loves us before we even knew about Him. The Apostle Paul, writing in Romans 5:8, explains it this way:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So, we have every reason to share joyfully with others what God means to us and what He has done for us. In this way, we give glory to Him and also represent Him well to others. King David expressed it this way in Psalm 69:30-32:

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. The poor will see and be glad—you who seek God, may your hearts live!

When God sends the Holy Spirit to one He loves in order to reveal what He has done for them, a longing is placed in that one’s heart. That longing causes the one God has sought to, in return, seek God. We know that God is “seek-able” or, as Isaiah puts it in Isaiah 55:6-7:

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

So, as we begin this new day, let’s not hesitate to glorify God, knowing that such glory will be used by God to make the hearts of those He seeks, and who seek Him in return, to live.

 

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

 

Friday, December 7, 2018

No Longer Mastered by Sin

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“In the same way, count yourselves dead
to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
—Romans 6:11

As believers in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, what is our relationship to sin? We know that we were cursed by the sin of our parents, which they inherited from their parents all the way back to Adam. Therefore, we were born already sinful.

We also know that as we have progressed through our lives, because the enticement to sin is built-in to our human nature, we have sinned over and over and over again. We are twice guilty: first because of our inherited sin and, secondly, because of the sin we have willfully committed on our own.

God has redeemed us—paid the penalty for our sin—through the death of His precious Son, Jesus. And, through the power of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we have been given a guaranteed place in heaven for all eternity.

This prompts me to ask again, as believers in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, what is our relationship to sin

To answer this, we can turn to a very instructive passage of Scripture from the pen of the Apostle Paul. In writing to the Christians gathered in the newly formed church in Rome, Paul writes these words, found in Romans 6:1-14:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Sin is no longer our master. As long as we live on earth in these frail and sin-scarred human bodies, we will sin. But, we can make a determined effort to choose to set aside as many besetting sins as possible. We can choose to not sin.

Will we still sin? Of course! We simply can’t help ourselves. But, we can sin less and less the more we give our selfish human will over to God through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

At the beginning of this new day, let’s determine to follow Paul’s instruction. Let’s choose to set aside those sins that we can conquer through the power of the Holy Spirit and through God’s love and grace. Let’s also recognize what a tight grip many of these sins have on us.

Once we begin to devote ourselves to following Jesus with sincerity and determination, we will find that we can overcome a long list of besetting sins. Effort to do so will bring us a great sense of peace and joy. And, most importantly of all, it will please God that we love Him enough to make this effort.

 

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

 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Know that I Am the Lord"

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I will show my greatness and my holiness, and
I will make myself known in the sight of many
nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
—Ezekiel 38:23

God shows Himself to us in many ways each day. Most of the time, because the focus of our attention is elsewhere, we hardly notice His divine Presence.

My dear friends, Dr. David and Karen Mains at Mainstay Ministries, have long ago developed a very well-thought-through reminder of God’s daily interaction with His children. They call it the “God Hunt.”

I’ve written about the “God Hunt” in this blog several times in the past. But, in looking at the Scripture for today, I am reminded of how powerful a tool the daily “God Hunt” can become in the lives of believers.

Basically, the “God Hunt” prompts us to look for God’s hand on our lives in the following specific ways:

  1. Any obvious answer to prayer, or...

  2. Any special evidence of God’s care, or...

  3. Any help to do God’s work in the world, or...

  4. Any unusual linkage or timing

In each of these four elements, if we watch the circumstances of our lives unfold each day, we will become aware of those times when God answered our prayers, showed He cares for us in some special way, gives us help to do His work in the world, or provides some unusual linkage or timing that obviously comes from Him.

We can’t really consider what happens to us in the course of our daily lives as mere coincidence. No, the evidence of His hand is there for us to see, if we simply sharpen our eyes and look for it.

The Prophet Ezekiel records a direct instruction from God in the 38th chapter of the Bible book that bears the Prophet’s name. This is one of the end-times passages that ties in so very well with the Book of Revelation at the end of the New Testament.

Basically, God is speaking through the pen of Ezekiel to remind His people that at the end of the age He will conquer all evil and will rule over the nations. The particular passage for today is found in Ezekiel 38:23:

I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

God will reveal His Presence to all people in all nations when this age comes to an end. No one will be able to doubt that God is the Lord. He alone will be worshipped. He alone will be praised. His children, Israel, and all those of us whom He has grafted in to the line of His chosen people, will receive vindication for our faithful devotion to Him.

But, as we continue in the here and now to walk daily in the Presence of the Great King, Jesus, through the in-dwelling power of the Holy Spirit, it’s important for us to sharpen our eyes, tune our ears, and focus our minds on becoming more and more aware of His daily Presence with us. Therefore, let’s determine to go on that daily “God Hunt” and look for those times when we can clearly see God at work in our lives.

If we do this simple task, we will be rewarded with a strong sense of His Presence and a great joy will overtake us when we realize that we truly belong to Him and live under His watchful and loving care.

 

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

 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tremble Before Him

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his
holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.”
—Psalm 96:9

The magnificence of God’s holiness is so overwhelming that all who enter His Presence must bow before Him and even hide their faces from Him. Yet, part of the wonder of belonging to Jesus is that, as God’s one and only Son, we can stand in His Presence and experience the reality of God.

The songwriter, N. B. Herrell—in a piece entitled “The Unveiled Christ”—has penned these powerful words:

Once our blessed Christ of beauty
Was veiled off from human view;
But thro’ suffering, death and sorrow
He has rent the veil in two.

Chorus: O behold the Man of Sorrows,
O behold Him in plain view;
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.

Now He is with God the Father,
Interceding there for you;
For He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.

Chorus: O behold the Man of Sorrows,
O behold Him in plain view;
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.

Holy angels bow before Him,
Men of earth give praises due;
For He is the well-belovèd
Since He rent the veil in two.

Chorus: O behold the Man of Sorrows,
O behold Him in plain view;
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.

Thro’out time and endless ages,
Heights and depths of love so true;
He alone can be the giver
Since He rent the veil in two.

Chorus: O behold the Man of Sorrows,
O behold Him in plain view;
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.
Lo! He is the mighty conqu’ror,
Since He rent the veil in two.

This song so wonderfully depicts the fact that in Christ we meet God face to face. Our only reasonable response, is to worship Him. The Psalmist writes these words in Psalm 96:9:

Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

At the beginning of this new day, let’s remain conscious of the fact that, in all that we say and all that we do, we worship the God who loves us and gave His Son as the sacrifice for our sins.

Let’s revere His Name, serve Him with devoted hearts, and lovingly and tenderly share what He has done in our behalf to a world who needs to hear this critically important message.

Here is a lovely version of the song I mentioned in this blog post.


[Graphic of a play video icon]


 

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

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Consuming Fire

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom
that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and
so worship God acceptably with reverence
and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
—Hebrews 12:28-29

Have you ever felt jealous? Or, has anyone ever felt jealous about you

Human jealousy is an interesting emotion. It derives from the sin of covetousness. One person wants something or someone that another person possess, or that they fear another person might take away from them.

In a modern junior high school, now known generally as middle school, some of the most violent fights occur between two females who want to be the girlfriend of the same guy. Of course, the guys love this. Most teenage males revel in the attention, strutting around school like peacocks. The very idea that two females might want them creates nearly a hormone overload. And, it should be noted that the jealous war between two teenage females has a gut-wrenching violence to it that stuns we older folks.

We think of jealousy as a generally bad emotion. Yet, there is something to be said for the positive side of jealousy. A husband may feel justifiably jealous if his wife seems to dote on some other male. Likewise, a wife may feel justifiably jealous if her husband seems to have an “office wife” with whom he communicates far too often—even when he’s not at work.

This positive kind of jealousy should promote a time for the bonded parties to sit down and have a calm, rational discussion about their marriage vows and responsibility to each other.

One of the beautiful passages in the traditional marriage vows is the phrase: “Will you love her (him), comfort her (him), honor, and keep her (him) in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her (him), so long as you both shall live?” The whole idea in marriage of keeping yourself only unto your spouse is of paramount importance in this mysterious love bond that the Apostle Paul indicates mirrors the relationship between Christ and His Church.

The Ten Commandments given to the children of Israel in Exodus 20, clearly state that God expects His children to have no other god in front of Him, or in place of Him. That’s the kind of covenantal responsibility that we have toward this God who loves us.

The writer to the Hebrews emphasizes this covenant in the words found in Hebrews 12:28-29:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

In verse 29, the last phrase in the Scripture passage above, the writer of Hebrews quotes Deuteronomy 4:24. In fact, Moses, speaking to the children of Israel that he has led out of captivity in Egypt, declares in Deuteronomy 4:21-24:

The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance. I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

The holiness of God does not tolerate the worship of any other substitute god. For whether that substitute god consists of one’s reputation, one’s work, one’s leisure activities, one’s house, car, or boat, or even one’s family or friends, nothing must substitute for the worship of the one and only true God.

As we begin a new day, let’s make certain that we only worship the God who loves us with His eternal love; the God who forgave our sins, because of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. That God, and He alone, is worthy of our worship. Let us not put anyone or anything in front of Him.

 

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

 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Cheerful Admonitions

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give
thanks in all circumstances; for this
is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Quite frequently, in these unusual days, when I hear one person make a suggestion to another person, I also hear the second person respond, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Sometimes that phrase is said in jest. More often than not, it is said with a tinge of anger and rejection. People just don’t like to be told what to do.

Many years ago, I read a study published in the Journal of Psychological Research on why people in the United States, second-generation or greater, seem to so strongly resist the wisdom of others. The researcher posited that this somewhat rebellious spirit stems from the origin of our great nation. Because we rebelled against the authority of England, that sense of rejecting the guidance of others has become deeply rooted in our culture and in our society.

I encountered this societal enigma years ago when I served on an international code-making panel regarding fire alarm systems. The subject of installing a lock on the door of a fire alarm control unit came up in the discussion of possible regulations. The representatives from Japan were puzzled as to why it would be necessary to lock the door of the fire alarm control unit. They explained that, in Japan, no one would dare touch something for which they were not directly responsible. Thus, the fire alarm control units in Japan did not have locks on the doors.

We Americans were aghast at such an idea. We explained to our Japanese counterparts that here in the U.S., without a lock on the door, people would constantly mess with the fire alarm control panel rendering it inoperative.

How many people in the U.S. strictly obey the speed limit? How many people obey almost any of the rules and regulations without at least grumbling a bit? We just don’t want anyone to tell us what to do.

Sometimes, admonitions are very good for us. We need to heed such words. An example comes from the writings of the Apostle Paul. In sharing admonitions with the Christians in Thessalonica, Paul wrote these words found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

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

We should hope that when we read Paul’s words we respond much more positively than, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Rather, we should take to heart these encouraging words and apply them to our lives as we begin another new day.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” Certainly, if we do these three things, we will reap a significant benefit.

 

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

 

Friday, November 30, 2018

How Do We Say, "Good-bye"?

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Now to him who is able to establish you in
accordance with my gospel, the message
I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping
with the revelation of the mystery hidden
for long ages past, but now revealed and
made known through the prophetic writings
by the command of the eternal God, so that
all the Gentiles might come to the obedience
that comes from faith—to the only wise God
be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
—Romans 16:25-27

Sometimes, saying “good-bye” is very difficult. If we love someone very much and he or she is going away for even just a relatively short period of time, it is hard to say good-bye. Part of loving someone and part of caring for that one deeply, creates a longing to remain present with them.

Even when we communicate with someone by letter, or more currently, by text message or by a telephone call, it is sometimes very difficult to end that conversation. I remember as a teenager listening to an acquaintance talk with his girlfriend. Neither one wanted to be the one who ended the call first. Their good-bye lasted at least twenty minutes after they had finished the substance of their conversation.

In one of his A Prairie Home Companion sketches, humorist Garrison Keillor talks about what he calls “The Minnesota Long Good-bye.” Here’s a version from a different comedian of “The Minnesota Long Good-bye”:

 

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The thrust of “The Minnesota Long Good-bye” is that it shows the reluctance of friends parting at the end of some time together. It really is hard to say good-bye.

Imagine now, if you will, the Apostle Paul. He has dictated a letter to the Christians gathered at the seat of the Roman government. He has never had the privilege of meeting with them in person. So, he spends much of his letter outlining the critical points of theology that underpin this new relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of these Roman Christians are former Jews who have believed because of the testimony of those returning from Jerusalem at Pentecost. Others are Gentiles who have been drawn by the Holy Spirit to a belief in the power of the resurrected Christ.

This letter, which has become the Book of Romans in the New Testament, is one of the longer of Paul’s writings. It is a powerful letter. If ever an unbeliever wanted to know what Christianity is all about, this letter certainly spells it out in detail. I particularly like the fact that Paul writes directly to his Jewish brothers in Chapters 9, 10, and 11.

After pouring himself into this epistle, Paul comes to the last chapter and finds himself very reluctant to say good-bye. In response to his deep love for these believers whom he has never met, Paul pens these words, as recorded in Romans 16:25-27:

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

The pronouncement of peace, or benediction, is not only for the Christians gathered in Rome. It also is a gift to us today from this stalwart Apostle. Most of us are some of the very Gentiles whom Paul addresses. And, we can take great comfort from these words of blessing at the end of a critically important letter.

As we move out into this new day, let’s not be ashamed of how difficult it is to say good-bye to those we love and care about. And, let’s remember that our final words of blessing can mean a great deal to those who cross our pathway each day. We can please God and honor Him by sharing words of His peace with those to whom we must say good-bye.

 

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

 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

All We Need is Love

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Satisfy us in the morning with your
unfailing love, that we may sing for
joy and be glad all our days.”
—Psalm 90:14

There’s a famous “Beatles” song… What’s that? Oh! You’re a Millennial. I understand. The “Beatles” was a goup that Paul McCartney was a member of before he formed the band “Wings.” What’s “Wings” you say? “Wings” was the group that Paul McCartney… Oh, never mind.

As I was saying, there’s a famous “Beatles” song entitled “All You Need is Love.” The lyrics include these words:

Love, love, love, love, love,
love, love, love, love.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn
How to play the game
It's easy.

Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn
How to be you in time
It’s easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where
You're meant to be
It’s easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
All you need is love. (All together now).
All you need is love. (Everybody).
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Love is all you need.
Love is all you need.

Not only in this song from July of 1967, but in countless songs before and since, love plays a critically important role in the message. Some say that “love” is the most important of all our emotions.

The Greek culture from more than 2,000 years ago actually had four distinct words that became translated into the word “love” in the English language: agape, storge, phileo, and eros.

When we consider the relationship with the Trinitarian God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—love plays such a critical role that we can hardly find adequate words to express its importance. The word “love” appears 686 times in the New International Version of the Bible. God’s entire relationship with humans derives from His amazing love.

In his prayer, recorded in Psalm 90, Moses expresses the importance of love in the lives of the children of Israel. Love was a compelling force to bring them out of Egypt and into a forty-year-long journey through the desert until God brought them to the Promised Land. Note what Moses wrote, as recorded in Psalm 90:14:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

The only element of our lives that will truly satisfy is God-breathed love (agape). The power of this love is indescribable. It has no boundaries. It cannot be contained. It has a life-force of enormous proportions.

That’s why, at the beginning of this new day, we should take a moment to ask God to fill us full-to-overflowing with His abiding and unfailing love. He longs to do this, if we would only ask. And, the result is beyond our imagination.

 

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

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

In Our Place

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“God made him who had no sin to be
sin for us, so that in him we might
become the righteousness of God.”
—2 Corinthians 5:21

Have you ever watched someone you love dearly suffer, perhaps from a terrible debilitating disease, and silently wished you could take that one’s place so he or she would be freed from his or her suffering? That kind of response happens often when parents observe the suffering of their children. It also happens when a spouse watches his or her mate go through intense pain.

Imagine now a God who loves the people He has created so much that, even though they have continually sinned against His divine and perfect will, He purposes to substitute Himself to pay the penalty for their sin. This seeming absurdity is the entire basis of the salvation story.

The Apostle Paul so very aptly describes this mystery in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: three unique essences, yet one divine being—is simply beyond our comprehension. Yet the very God whose holiness condemns our sin is the same God whose compassion, love, mercy, and grace compelled Him to send Jesus to die in our place. This miracle should knock us right to our knees.

As we move out into this new day, let’s never forget that we are loved so much that we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Through the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, we have been made righteous. That, dear ones, is a reason to celebrate this day and every day.

 

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

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

No More "Gloomy Guses"

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“May the righteous be glad and rejoice
before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
—Psalm 68:3

At summer camp when I was 13 years old, we had a very dynamic leader for our chapel services. He was a leader with Youth for Christ International, responsible for the Greater Washington, DC, area. He was what some might call a “firebrand.” He had unbounded enthusiasm and a boyish charm. He could say three words and have the entire congregation of young people feeling excited and filled with anticipation.

A popular chorus in those days included these words:

I’m so happy and here’s the reason why:
Jesus took my burdens all away.
Now I’m singing as the days go by:
Jesus took my burdens all away.

Once my heart was burdened
with a heavy load of sin.
Jesus took that load and
gave me peace within.

Now I’m singing as the days go by:
Jesus took my burdens all away.

On one particular evening, this dynamic leader stopped the singing in the middle of the second line. “What’s wrong with you people?” he asked. “Are you all a bunch of ‘Gloomy Guses’? You sing this song like you’re going to a funeral.” He proceeded to demonstrate what he was hearing by singing the first couple of lines of the song with the most gloomy, dirge-like voice.

“We’re singing about the wonder, amazement, joy, and happiness that comes to us because God loves us and sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins. So, let’s start again and this time make your voice and your faces match the words. When we sing that we’re happy, let’s show that happiness with the sound of our voices and the smiles on our faces. Okay?”

Of course, we teens responded with great enthusiasm to this admonition. The energy we poured into the singing of this song nearly knocked the walls of the Tabernacle down.

King David would agree very much with that Youth for Christ leader. Notice what David writes in Psalm 68:3:

May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.

This day, and with the dawning of each new day, let’s begin with joy in our hearts and gladness in the very core of our beings. God loves us with His eternal love. He has saved us by the shedding of Christ’s blood. He has vouchsafed a place for us in heaven. We belong to Him. We have each other as fellow travelers along the pathway He has opened up before us.

In short, we have every reason to knock down the walls around us with the joy we display and the happiness we feel. And, that’s something everyone around us needs to experience in and through us.

 

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

 

Monday, November 26, 2018

What Must We Do?

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Rejoice in the Lord, you who are
righteous, and praise his holy name.”
—Psalm 97:12

When given a new task, do you often sit for a moment and wonder how to begin? Or, are you one who jumps right in and begins some activity in the hope that you have chosen the right one to complete the given task?

In either case—whether relying on someone to tell you what to do, or having an innate sense of just starting somewhere—every task has a beginning.

This is true of our walk with God. We can study God’s written Word, the Bible, and find some “first steps” that we can confidently take. We can also just start moving forward, knowing that the Holy Spirit will nudge us to keep us on the right pathway until we complete our assigned task.

The Psalms repeatedly offer the following words of advice to those who would follow the pathway God has laid out before them. One example is found in Psalm 97:12:

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.

This is most excellent advice. As we approach this new day, let’s begin with praise to God. Let’s rejoice that we belong to Him. Let’s determine, throughout the day, to continually offer praise to God’s holy and precious name.

 

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

 

Friday, November 23, 2018

I Know Him

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald
and an apostle and a teacher. That is why
I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause
for shame, because I know whom I have believed,
and am convinced that he is able to guard what
I have entrusted to him until that day.”
—2 Timothy 1:11-12

Do you know anyone who has poured himself or herself into some cause without knowing what that cause is all about?

Someone who vocally and passionately supports the Penn State University Nittany Lions football team—or any other competitive team—does so because that one has taken the time and invested the effort into knowing as much about the chosen team as possible.

Similarly, if someone has given up time in order to volunteer at the local hospital, that person has done so because he or she believes that helping people in need who seek treatment at that hospital is a worthy endeavor. Over time, the volunteer learns the ins and outs of the processes and procedures at that hospital. This knowledge fuels that one’s devotion to his or her volunteer duties.

In the Christian life, the more we know about Jesus, the more devoted we become to Him. That’s why we study God’s written Word to learn more and more about the Living Word. Jesus is our King. We love Him and enthusiastically serve Him because we have learned more and more about him.

This is exactly what the Apostle Paul intended to convey to the young man he called his “son in the faith.” In writing a second letter to Timothy, Paul wanted to illustrate the source of his personal passion for God through Christ, as enabled by the Holy Spirit. Note these words found in 2 Timothy 1:11-12:

And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

Even while he was paying a significant personal price for his devotion to his Savior, Paul insists that such suffering pales in comparison to the joy that has come to him by his abiding in Christ.

In the New Testament Greek text of these verses, this last phrase—“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day”—appears as an emphatic statement marked by intense passion. This is not some mere hope on Paul’s part. This is something he knows with certainty.

As we begin another day, let’s seek to find a way in our own lives to passionately and emphatically represent the God who loves us. While doing so in a loving, kind, and respectful way, let’s not shrink back from the certainty we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why? Because we do, indeed, know Whom we have believed and are convinced that He is able to guard what we have entrusted to Him until that day when He returns to earth once more.

 

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

 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Day of Thanksgiving

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will
praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you and extol
your name for ever and ever.”
—Psalm 145:1-2

Today, throughout the United States of America, we celebrate a day of thanksgiving. But truthfully, every day should be a day of thanksgiving. We have so very much for which to thank the God who loves us with His everlasting love.

In the words of Nederlandtsche Gedenckclanck, from 1626, translated by Theodore Baker in 1894:

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing:
sing praises to His Name, He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
so from the beginning the fight we were winning:
thou, Lord, wast at our side: all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou leader triumphant,
and pray that Thou still our defender wilt be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation:
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

King David echoes these very thoughts in his words from Psalm 145:1-2:

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.

May the blessings of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—fill our hearts with thanksgiving this day. May we recognize that all that we are and all that we have come to us as a precious gift from Him. And, may the joy of His eternal Presence keep us safely in the hollow of His mighty hand, this day, and every day, until Jesus comes again. Amen.

 

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

 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Whether by Life or by Death

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I eagerly expect and hope that I
will in no way be ashamed, but
will have sufficient courage so
that now as always Christ will be
exalted in my body, whether by
life or by death. For to me, to
live is Christ and to die is gain.”
—Philippians 1:20-21

Almost everyone does not expect to die in the next moment of time. We all anticipate taking our next breath, having our heart continuing to beat, and living on into the next minute, hour, day, month, and year.

Yes, some dear folks have received the horrible news that the disease that ravages their bodies will terminate their life. In fact, in this very moment in time, all across the world, people are dying. Sometimes that death is somewhat anticipated. But often, it comes unexpectedly.

When I was very young, my somewhat older parents—mom was 42 and dad was 40 when they adopted me at my birth—began to experience the deaths of people they knew quite well. I went to many funerals even at quite a young age.

I remember my mother reading the obituaries from the newspaper to my father at the breakfast table. Sometimes those death notices would include the phrase “so and so died unexpectedly.” I’m certain the obituary writer intended to convey the fact that this particular person had not previously been ill and that his or her death was not something that the family expected to happen.

In reality, we all stand at the precipice between life and death. We do not know, from one moment to the next, if we will live or die. That’s a very sobering thought. And, it’s one that we frankly don’t like to think about.

There are so many ways in which we could pass from this life to the next. And, while we should not become morbid, nor spend our time brooding about this fact, we should think about the way the moments of our lives represent the God who loves us, especially during whatever time we have left on this earth.

The Apostle Paul addressed this very subject when he wrote to the Christians gathered at Philippi, as recorded in Philippians 1:20-21:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Paul tells the Philippians (and us) in this passage that, whether he lives or dies, his single-minded purpose is to bring glory to his Savior. And, that is a good goal for us to aspire to, as we begin a new day.

Let’s determine that, for whatever time we may remain on this earth, we will devote ourselves to bringing glory to God through His Son, Jesus. Then, whether we live another 100 years, or die in the next moment, we will have done the very best we can to honor the love that God has poured into our lives through our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Help Support the Weak

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


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

Once we begin to follow Christ, we will find ourselves proceeding along a pathway that He lays out before us. That pathway will take us through a process where we will become more and more like Him.

Bible scholars call that process “sanctification.” It means “to become holy.” Because Jesus, the Son of God, is holy, He wants us to be like Him. So, we are in a process of becoming holy, and thus, more like He is.

This includes the way we treat other people. Not every person has the same gifts, abilities, talents, and determination we do. Some people struggle with things that come quite easy to us. Some people need help, just to get through the day. We may be quite self-sufficient. But others may need lots more help than we ever do.

In our process of becoming like Jesus, we must determine to support those who are weaker than we are. That’s the thrust of these words from the Apostle Paul, as found in Romans 15:1:

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

Let’s determine this day to put others first, ahead of ourselves. Let’s determine to support the weak and help those in need. And, why should we do that? Because that’s exactly what Jesus would do.

 

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

 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ever Growing

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers
and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith
is growing more and more, and the love every
one of you has for each other is increasing.”
—2 Thessalonians 1:3

In small group Bible studies within larger church gatherings, we often talk a great deal about spiritual growth. We commend a daily period of Bible reading and prayer to every believer. We assert that spending time listening to God through His written Word and talking to Him in prayer will result in a steady movement forward of spiritual formation and growth. And, that assertion is absolutely true.

The whole idea of walking along the pathway of life with Jesus means that we will more and more become like Him. We will think like Him. We will act like Him. We will recognize the things He recognizes. We will applaud the things He applauds. We will gently and tenderly condemn the things that He condemns.

Spiritual growth that lasts is always a steady forward motion. A field of verdant grass, when viewed each day, does not appear to grow. Yet that same field, when looked at with some time between viewings, startles us with how much taller the grass has become. Similarly, in our lives as believers, our faith walk will display almost-too-hard-to-see daily growth. But, when viewed over time, people will see us becoming more and more like the One who has saved us by the shedding of His precious blood.

The Apostle Paul characterized such growth this way, as recorded in 2 Thessalonians 1:3:

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

Paul acknowledges that when he looks at the lives of these new believers, he sees definite spiritual growth. And, Paul thanks God for that revelation. For to see such growth in our fellow believers truly produces joy.

This new day, let’s remember to spend time in God’s written Word and in prayer. Let’s encourage each other that we might grow together in our faith. And, let’s remain grateful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who helps us in promoting our steady, forward spiritual growth.

 

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

 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Praying for Those We Love

 

[Photo of the Apostle Paul in prayer]


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

Prayer is a fundamental, cohesive, and powerful component of our relationship with God. Almost anything we intend to do for the Kingdom of God must begin with sincere, earnest, and fervent prayer.

In our relationships with the people in our lives whom we love, nothing is as important as our taking time to pray for these dear ones. We show the sincerity and depth of our love for them when we purposefully pray for these special people in our lives.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the young man he called his “son in the faith.” Timothy was someone very special to Paul. Notice what Paul declares, as found in 2 Timothy 1:3:

I [Paul] thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you [Timothy] in my prayers.

This is a prayer that we all can pray each day for those who matter greatly in our lives. We can pray for our spouses, our children, our extended family members, our close friends, our fellow believers in our churches, and anyone else whom God graciously brings to our minds. Prayer represents the most powerful force we have at our disposal. It truly is a fundamental, cohesive, and powerful component of our relationship with God.

This day, let’s commit ourselves to become people of prayer. Let’s begin, right now, by praying for someone for whom we feel moved by God to pray. And, let’s not stop there. Let’s keep on praying for each one God brings to our minds.

 

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

 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

We Are More Than Conquerors

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For those who are led by the Spirit
of God are the children of God.”
—Romans 8:14

When the world around us seems in chaos, where do we go? When our fondest wishes, hopes, and dreams disappear in a puff of smoke, what do we do next? When those we counted on the most seem to have vanished, to whom do we turn?

From time to time, these kinds of questions seem to plague those who follow Christ. Nothing I could possibly write would have more impact than these words from the Apostle Paul found in Romans 8:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the midst of the chaos and confusion that sometimes envelopes our lives, may God, through His Holy Spirit, give us hearts filled with His love, joy, and peace this very day. May we come to understand and fully accept that in and through the Lord Jesus Christ we are, indeed, more than conquerors. No matter what may assail us in our lives, God will always give us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Triumphal Procession

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Thanks be to God, who always leads
us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
—2 Corinthians 2:14

As a small boy, I would eagerly look forward to the Memorial Day Parade in my hometown—except for the clowns. I didn’t like the clowns. They seemed quite scary to me: their painted faces, their quick movements, their bobbing and weaving in and out of the crowd gathered to watch the parade. Scary! Really Scary!

In contrast with the clowns, I did very much like the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who marched through the street. My dad, a former Marine, always pointed out to me how the Marines looked the best in their crisp uniforms, straight lines, and precisely marching steps. He also opined that, quite understandably, the sailors didn’t march very well because they were used to walking on the ever-rolling deck of a ship.

I also very much enjoyed seeing the fire apparatus, especially the aerial ladder truck. And, I enjoyed the marching bands, even when the thudding drums caused my chest to compress with the concussive force of their rhythmic beating.

Whether we realize it or not, we Christians are “parade people.” We are part of a great triumphal procession that rivals any Memorial Day or other celebratory parade. Notice what the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14:

Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

Today, as we “march” out into the world, let’s spread the sweet fragrance of Christ everywhere we go. Let’s allow our humble, careful, and loving witness to God’s love and grace become a perfume that draws a needy world irresistibly into His grace. And, let’s march onward triumphantly.

 

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

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Thirsty for the Spirit

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground; I will
pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.”
—Isaiah 44:3

When you’re thirsty, really thirsty, nothing quenches that thirst quite like a drink of cool, clear spring water. As a small boy growing up in the inland valleys of central northwestern Pennsylvania, we were blessed to have a number of natural springs available to us. One of those springs existed on the outskirts of the city, coming off a hill that led onto a road named “Interstate Parkway.”

In the summertime, my dad would take several clear gallon glass jugs, load them into the trunk of our car, and with me in the shotgun seat, drive out to that spring and fill those bottles with the clearest, coldest, most refreshing water that I had ever tasted. The bottled water that we have in such abundance today was nearly unheard of in those days. So, it was a real treat to be able to open the refrigerator and fill a glass or cup from one of those gallon jugs of natural spring water.

The Holy Spirit is like that refreshing spring water. He comes into our lives when we acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Thereafter, the Spirit provides us with a constant flow of fresh, clear, cool spiritual water that revives our spirits and lifts our souls.

The Prophet Isaiah had lived long enough on the edge of the desert to know how important a spring of living water was to a land that was parched by the heat of the sun. That’s why Isaiah, speaking the words of God, recorded these statements found in Isaiah 44:3:

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

God refreshes the spirits of His dearly loved children by pouring the Holy Spirit into their lives. That’s the lesson for today. We need to recognize how fortunate we are to have such a refreshment made available to us by the God who loves us with His everlasting love.

 

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