Monday, November 18, 2019

I See Your Sins!

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s
eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
—Matthew 7:3

We seem to have a quick trigger when it comes to recognizing other people’s sins. Why we jump right up onto our soapbox and begin to decry all manner of evil in others. But, we seem all too slow to recognize our own sins.

Notice the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in Matthew 7:3-5:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In this statement, Jesus is not minimizing the sins of others. In fact, His whole point is that we have enough sin in our own lives that we should focus first on dealing with our own sins before we start attacking the sins of others.

Yes, we do have a responsibility to the world to offer commentary based on the righteousness of God. We know what He has required by reading His written Word. We also know that Jesus most often approached sinners with patience, kindness, and love. We would do well to follow His example.

As this new day begins, let’s start our day by examining our own lives and confessing our sins. We need to pay particular attention to those sins that we repeat over and over again. If we have difficulty trusting God for this new day, let’s confess our lack of faith and ask for His help in believing He will guide and protect us. If we have some other sins that trip us up continuously, let’s confess those sins and ask the Holy Spirit to help us steer clear of them.

By focusing on cleaning up our own lives first, we will do much better at following in the footsteps of Jesus than if we spent all of our time calling out the sins of others. And, after all, we need clean minds and hearts if we are to properly represent our Lord in this troubled and needy world.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Our Security Blanket: God's Protective Hand

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…”
—Isaiah 43:2

Most of us like to know that somewhere, somehow, we have a “security blanket” we can grab onto when things get rough.

Two years ago, over a period of seven days, my brand new wheel-chair-accessible van failed to start, twice! It only had a little more than 400 miles on it. It cost an enormous amount of money. I bought it specifically because I felt my eight-year old van was no longer reliable. Surely a new van would be a good investment.

Everything on this van depended on a computer. You can’t even manually shift the transmission. It’s all done by computer. So, when the tow truck came to tow my van to the dealership, the driver couldn’t shift the transmission into neutral because the problem was related to the computer. Did I mention that the computer runs everything on this van?

Both times I became stranded, I reached out to my very own “security blanket” in the form of lifelong friends who were eager to help me. On the first occasion, they came and helped us get the van to the dealership. On the second occasion, I had put my friends on stand-by pending the arrival of the tow truck. And, before the tow truck arrived, another lovely couple from our church showed up, stayed with us until the tow truck came, drove us to the dealership so we could fill out paperwork, and then very graciously took us home. They became our “security blanket.” As you might imagine, our gratitude towards these two couples knows no bounds.

As Christians, our real “security blanket” is God Himself. I have no doubt that He placed these dear folks in a place to give us aid when we needed it. I also know that in countless ways each day, God looks out for those He loves.

Notice the words of God that the Prophet Isaiah wrote down, as recorded in Isaiah 43:2-3:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

No matter what trials may come into our lives, God waits for the opportunity to show His love for us by His abiding Presence. He rallies to our aid whenever we need His help. He brings people into our lives to extend His love and care to us when we have times of need.

Let’s go out into this new day with a spirit of willingness to be used by God in people’s lives. Perhaps we can become someone’s “security blanket” in their time of need this day.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Entertaining Angels

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have
entertained angels without knowing it.”
—Hebrews 13:2

Hospitality, that is to say Christian hospitality, is both a spiritual gift that God bestows on certain individuals and also a duty that all Christians are called to provide. Followers of Christ should be the most welcoming individuals, always ready to lend a helping hand to make others feel valued and appreciated.

That’s why the writer of the Book of Hebrews writes this statement, found in Hebrews 13:2:

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

We practice hospitality, not only by opening our homes to others for a meal or a time of refreshment, but we practice hospitality in the attitude with which we greet others along the pathway of life. A ready smile, a kind word of encouragement, a helping hand, a generous heart are all ways we extend the hospitality of Jesus to others.

This new day should be one wherein we extend Christ-like hospitality wherever we may go along the road of life. Let’s make certain we take every opportunity to live in this world the way Jesus would live. After all, we are, indeed, his representatives.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Essence of Faith

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see.”
—Hebrews 11:1

The word “faith” gets tossed around quite a bit in our current culture.

“I have faith that every time I turn the key in my vehicle it will start—particularly because I always take good care of it.”

“I have faith in taking this test because I have studied very diligently.”

“I have faith that when I reach into my wallet I will have enough money to pay for lunch.”

“I have faith that next time my political party will win the election.”

“Or, I have faith that in the next election my political party will retain control of the government.”

But, for followers of Jesus, the word “faith” has a very special significance. The writer of the Book of Hebrews well understood the importance of this key word. Notice what he writes in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

As we begin a new day, let’s remember that our faith is based on the reality of Christ’s presence within us by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit gives testimony that we are the children of God, just as the Apostle Paul stated in Romans 8:16. God has chosen us to belong to Him. Our faith has that solid foundation.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Much More Than Simply Listening

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


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

I once worked with a man who would often ask for help in completing a task. He seemed to have particular difficulty when the task involved the use of a personal computer. Many of you may relate to his dilemma.

He was a relatively smart man. He had served as a career sailor in the U. S. Navy. In fact, he worked on submarines. He had good mechanical ability, was articulate, and contributed significantly to the success of his department. But, when it came to using a personal computer, he seemed lost.

Whenever he would come to me with a question, I would suggest that he take some notes while I carefully explained what he should do. As his supervisor, I felt it was important that I take the time to help him develop the skills he needed in order to progress in his job responsibilities. Dutifully, he would take notes, thank me, and proceed to return to his workstation. Sadly, quite often he would return fairly soon and still not be able to complete the task.

One day, I asked to see his notes, hoping that I could tweak them a little and set him on the right pathway. To my amazement, I found that his notes were nearly incomprehensible. He was writing words down on paper. But, those words appeared to have no relationship to what I had tried to explain. You see, he was listening to me without really doing what I said.

The Apostle James expresses this same advice to his fellow Christians, as recorded in James 1:22:

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

As we begin another new day, it’s important that we not only listen to what God’s written Word says to us as we read it, we must do what it says. God has given us a great gift by inspiring authors to write down exactly what He wants us to know and do. If we merely read God’s written Word without putting what it says into practice, what good does it do for us and others?

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, November 11, 2019

True Faithfulness

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been
faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge
of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness”
—Matthew 25:21

When I was a teenager and was working at Radio Station WESB in my hometown, I had the great privilege of engineering an early Sunday morning radio broadcast created by a local pastor, Rev. John F. Olexa. He billed himself on his program as “a prophet of doom with a message of hope.” He was one of the finest men in ministry that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

His tag line may sound a bit corny. But, John Olexa was anything but corny. He was a loving, caring, devoted servant of God who overcame a debilitating illness, polio, that had left him with a very awkward gait. He was quite short in stature. However, God had given him a booming voice and a very articulate way of opening God’s written Word and unpacking the truth of Scripture.

I greatly enjoyed working with “Pastor Johnny,” as many people called him. He taught me a great deal about preaching effective sermons. And, he taught me even more about humility in service to Christ and His Kingdom.

In addition to pastoring two of the local Evangelical United Brethren Churches, John served as the head of the Bradford District Youth Fellowship, as well as overseeing the Youth Fellowship for the entire Erie Conference of the EUB Church. He asked me to serve as treasurer of the District Youth Fellowship—partly, I’m fairly certain, because he knew that my dad served as treasurer of our local church, which was the largest EUB Church in the District. No doubt Pastor Johnny felt that my dad would help me keep the books straight, and he was right.

“Use the talent God has given you to the best of your ability,” Pastor Johnny would often say. “Then, rely on the Holy Spirit to multiply the effectiveness of your God-given talent.” I have felt those words set a definite course for my life. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Rev. John F. Olexa. And, I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

Jesus would certainly agree with Pastor Johnny’s statement regarding the use of one’s talents and abilities. Notice these words of Jesus, as He tells His followers the “Parable of the Talents (or Bags of Gold),” as found in Matthew 25:20-21:

“The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

In the “sweet by and by,” we all long to hear Jesus say those precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Our devotion to serving our Great King begins today, at the start of this new day. We can, and should, determine to use whatever gifts God has given us to the best of our ability and then rely on the Holy Spirit to multiply the effectiveness of those God-given talents.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, November 8, 2019

You Are Mine

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


But now, this is what the Lord says—he who
created you, O Jacob, he who formed you,
O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
—Isaiah 43:1

God’s dealing with His chosen people, the children of Israel, is a foretaste of His dealings with those of us Gentiles who have been grafted in to the line of David. As the Apostle Paul explains in Romans 11:17:

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root…

So, we can learn great lessons from observing God’s relationship with and His actions towards His chosen people. For just as God chose Abraham’s offspring to belong to Himself, so He has chosen us, as well.

That makes the words of God recorded by the Prophet Isaiah particularly important to us. Notice these words of God, as found in Isaiah 43:1:

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

God says to those of us He has called to Himself that we belong to Him. “You are mine,” He says. And, based on this declaration, we have confidence to use this day, and every day, to honor and serve Him.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.