Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For I Am Not Ashamed

When an elementary school classmate of mine was caught doing something wrong, he would always respond, "I am so ashamed." The first time teachers or other parents would hear his lament, they would have to turn away and suppress a laugh. As a result of his "cuteness," he successfully got away with a lot of havoc without paying the appropriate penalty.

Shame can play a big role in controlling behavior. In fact, one of the characteristics that marks sociopathic personalities derives from the fact that such individuals feel no shame concerning their behaviors. No question, shame motivates behavior for most sane individuals.

Shame teaches us when to talk and when to remain silent. It trains us how to behave in a mannerly way. Shame helps us understand what kind of words will sound appropriate and which words will offend. In so many ways, shame guides the paths we choose to take in life,

However, when it comes to our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we have no reason for shame. God sent His Precious Son to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins. God raised His Son, Jesus, from the dead so that, by the resurrection, we might also gain entrance to heaven when this life on earth ends. Quite frankly, having received so great a salvation, we need have no shame about Jesus.

The apostle Paul wrote—in the opening chapter of his letter to the church at Rome—these words, found in Romans 1:16:

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

As we make our way through our daily lives, do we withhold our identification with the Living Christ? Do we shudder in shame when someone mocks Christians, or says something inflammatory about people of faith? Do we maintain two sets of friends: those who believe as we do about Jesus and those who deride Jesus and those who follow Him?

We have no reason to be ashamed of Jesus. In fact, we have every reason to celebrate the reality that He has claimed us as His own.

Many hymns and gospel songs celebrate the delight that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ brings into a believer's life. Those hymns and songs remind us of the peace, joy, mercy, grace, and a host of other daily blessings that Jesus gladly gives to those who follow Him.

The next time you bridle at acknowledging the One who loves you most, remember that every moment He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty making intercession for you. Enthusiastically, and without even a whisper of shame, acknowledge that Jesus is your Savior. He is your King! He is your Redeemer! He is the Lord of your life!

Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Keeping A Straight Path

Do you have a life's verse? What I mean by that question: Have you chosen a particular verse of scripture to use as a sign post in your life?

Growing up in fundamentalist Christianity in the 1950's and 1960's, it was very common for church youth group leaders to encourage the young people to find a verse in the Bible that would keep them pointed in the right direction. I remember treating this request rather cavalierly. I even remember a period of time in my college years when I rather arrogantly quoted
1 Chronicles 26:18 from the King James version of the Bible as my life's verse.

18 At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.

Then something quite dramatic happened. During a prayer time with some close friends in the sound and lighting control room of the John and Charles Wesley Memorial Chapel/Auditorium, as we waited in silence before beginning to pray, I had a strong sense of God speaking to the deep recesses of my heart. Through my inner spiritual ears, I felt Him ask me if I was willing to give Him honor in every aspect of my life. Without hesitation I answered, "Yes!"

In thinking about that experience over the next few days, I felt drawn to a very familiar passage of scripture in Proverbs 3:5-6.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Now you may think that a commitment to follow that verse might prove difficult. I would have to respond, however, that through the passage of time, God has always made it easy for me to acknowledge Him as the source of everything good or worthy in me. At the same time, by way of contrast, I have had an equally easy time acknowledging that everything bad or unworthy in me is a product of my own sin, my own disobedience.

Time after time, God has opened up amazing doors of opportunity to me. Every time I have stepped through one of those open doors, I have done so keenly aware that the opportunity had come to me as a gift from God. In every case, when the time came to name the source of my good fortune, I have quickly, and without any hesitation, acknowledged that God is the One who has provided the blessing.

I so very much wish I could tell you that I have always been perfectly obedient to God's leading. Sadly, I have, far too often, failed to bend my will to His. Nevertheless, whenever I have stayed on the straight pathway He has laid out before me, I have always found Him a ready companion. Even in times of significant trials, He has always supported my passage, through the Presence of the blessed Holy Spirit.

So, dear ones, I encourage you to stay on the straight pathway that God stretches out before you. Trust in God with all your heart. Accept the covering of the precious blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In all your ways acknowledge God as the source of all things good. Do so, and you will surely find that God will, indeed, make your pathway straight. He will certainly direct your path. Not just today or tomorrow, but for all the days of your life.

Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Time Alone With Thee

In our quest to follow the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, we strive to know Him. We do this, principally, by spending time each day reading the Bible, God's Word. By reading and meditating on scripture, we give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to lead us into a deeper knowledge, a more intimate relationship, with the Savior.

If you look in a concordance, or use an on-line Bible search tool, to find the instances of the word "know," you will find many references. To know, to gain knowledge of, has significance all throughout the scriptures.

The Apostle John in his first letter to the early church offered these concluding words in 1 John 5:13-15, 18-20. These verses read as follows:

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him... 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

In writing to the believers in the early church, John emphasizes that "the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him..." Jesus, himself, has given us understanding, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, that we may know Him.

I encourage you today to take the time to get to know the Savior. Nothing has greater importance to the person desiring to follow Jesus than to take the opportunity to know Him better.

I'm reminded of a gospel chorus that my youth group used to sing way back in the mid-1960's. Written by Wendell P. Loveless, this simple song had a haunting melody that made it a joy to sing. As a result, the words to the song were very easy to remember. Even all these years later, I still hear those words of prayer:

More time alone with Thee, Lord Jesus.
More time alone with Thee.
More time to know Thyself, Lord Jesus.
Thou hast done all for me.

Deep is Thy love.
Sweet is Thy Peace.
Wondrous Thy grace,
Sufficient for every need.

More time alone with Thee, Lord Jesus.
More time alone with Thee.
Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Is Your Faith Being Reported?

Do you ever wonder what people really say about you? I'm not talking about an unhealthy concern for what people say about the way you look or the way you act or the friends you choose or any of a hundred other qualities that mark your life. I'm asking if you ever stop to consider how people view you through the lens of what's really important?

In measuring who you are, I believe it is important to consider your spiritual reputation in the world you inhabit. Do people think of you as a person of faith? Or, do they hold some contrary opinion?

"He talks a good fight," some may say about you. "But when it comes right down to it, I don't see any evidence that he particularly relies on God." Or, "She always talks about God, but I don't see her trusting God to meet her needs." Is that how people view you? What's your spiritual reputation?

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Christians in Rome, gave testimony that their spiritual reputation had certainly preceded them. In Romans 1:8, Paul writes these words:

8 I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.

Here, Paul was expressing gratitude that the spiritual reputation of the Christians gathered at Rome had spread throughout the world. Imagine that. At the dawn of Christianity, just a relatively few years after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Christians in Rome had already become well known as people of faith.

As we walk the pathway of life, we need to examine our own faith reputation. Does our behavior as believers in the Lord Jesus speak well of us? Do we exhibit qualities that come from the leading of the Holy Spirit within us? Have we allowed God to deepen our faith to the point that it becomes evident to the people around us?

Think about your "world," the one in which you spend your time each day. Do people know you as a person of faith? In the deep recesses of your heart and mind, can you hear the Apostle say of you, "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world?"

Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

To Know Him

One of the great joys of my life is getting to know the people I really care about. When I meet individuals who become my friends, I want to learn everything I can about them. I want to know what experiences they had growing up. I want to know what their family life was like. I want to know what trials or difficulties they may have faced in life. I want to know what joys overtook them as they journeyed along the way.

There is virtually no end to my curiousity about the people I consider my friends. But, it's really not curiousity simply because I am nosy guy. Rather, I want to know about the ones I care about because who they are today is a reflection of every experience they have had throughout the course of their lives. The more I know about them, the better able I will be to relate to the real people that they are.

The Apostle Paul seems to have had a similar drive insofar as his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ was concerned. In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul writes these words:

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

These are truly powerful words: "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings..." Paul was driven to know the Lord Jesus Christ in as intimate a way possible. He wanted to fill his mind and heart with the knowledge of Jesus. What did Jesus think? What did Jesus teach? What did Jesus require of those who followed Him? Paul wanted to know all these things, and more.

The pattern of devotion that the Apostle Paul has set calls out to us today. We need to approach our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in a way that mirrors the passion that Paul expresses.

One thing we can do to get to know our Savior: spend time each day reading the Bible, the Word of God. By reading the Bible, we have the opportunity to learn about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We can read and learn about His faithfulness, His patience, His commands, His grace, His mercy, and His peace.

In Psalm 16:8-11, King David writes these words:

8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

God willingly waits to answer the questions we have. He wants us to know Him. He gave us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that we might be able to know Him. He gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us in order to lead us and guide us into the full knowledge of who He is. He desires to set us on the most profitable pathway of life. Then, He will keep us on that pathway.

I urge you to begin this day to seek to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Read the Bible. Find out about your Savior, so you can follow Him more closely.

Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Childhood memories have such an amazing impact on our lives. The things we were taught as children, coupled with the things we experienced as children, set a lifelong pathway before us.

In my own life, hymns and songs of the church have always played an enormously important part. That, of course, means that those hymns and songs did exactly what they were intended to do. They helped me remember key biblical truths.

Every human has the opportunity to choose whether or not he or she will live a life selflessly or selfishly. Said another way, "Who do you put first in your life?"

As a believer in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, I am drawn irresistably into God's grace. As such, I have a desire, deep within my heart, to put Jesus first in my life. So, He has the first place.

But, who comes next in line? Jesus gave instruction when asked the question, "What is the greatest comandment?" We find His answer in Mark 12:28-34, as follows:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." 32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor with the same passion, same attention, same deliberation that we love ourselves. Quite a tall order, isn't it?

As a youngster, my mother had a record of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing the song, Others. The lyrics of this song paint a picture that explains exactly what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

After a great deal of research, I have not been able to locate the person who penned the words or wrote the music to this song. But, here are the lyrics as posted on one website:

Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for—Others.

Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I’d do for You
Must needs be done for—Others.

Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

Let “Self” be crucified and slain
And buried deep: and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again,
Unless to live for—Others.

Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

And when my work on earth is done,
And my new work in Heav’n’s begun,
May I forget the crown I’ve won,
While thinking still of—Others.

Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

Thanks, Mom. You played that album often. The sound of Ernie Ford's voice singing this song is stamped on the deep recesses of my mind. I only pray that by the power God's unfailing grace, and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I may continually remember to put others ahead of myself.

Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Prayer for a Friend

Has God laid the name of a friend or acquaintance on your heart? A friend or acquaintance who has not yet received the gift of eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ?

May I suggest that you write that person's name down on a piece of paper and place it inside your wallet. Put it in the same compartment where you keep your paper money.

Everytime you open your wallet to pay with paper money, say a quick, simple prayer for that friend or acquaintance. Ask God to send the Holy Spirit to draw that one irresistably into God's grace.

"But," you respond, "I pay for most bills by credit card."

Okay. Then write the name of your friend or acquaintenance on a credit-card-size piece of paper and place it in your wallet so that when you reach for your credit card you will see the name. Again, every time you see the name, say the quick and simple prayer I suggested above.

God longs to hear such prayers. He longs to work in agreement with His dearly loved children. God cares about the very same people you care about. Just as much as you may want your friend or acquaintance to experience the joy of belonging to God through the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, God wants that, too.

If the wallet idea doesn't work for you, then write the name of your friend or acquaintance and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Every time you look in the mirror, say a prayer for that person.

The greatest blessing of heaven will be the fact that we will live for all eternity in God's Presence. But, another really important joy will come from sharing that time with those we love and care about. If you have a friend or acquaintance that you really care about, and that you would enjoy spending eternity sharing the blessings of life everlasting, why not take a very easy step and deliberately and intentionally pray for that one's salvation?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, as follows:

1 As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2 For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

God will truly respond to your continuing, effectual, fervent prayers for those you love.

Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

From Creature to Child

I listen to a lot of people discuss serious topics every day. No, I don’t live or work in a place filled with serious discussions. Rather, I listen to at least one most excellent talk radio program faithfully every day. And, I watch at least a couple of hours of Fox News on television every day. Now you understand. Right? I listen to a lot of people have serious discussions every day.

Almost once each week, I hear someone trying to close out a discussion, sometimes with resignation, make the remark, “Well, after all, we’re all God’s children.”

I always respond, “No. We’re not.”

Following the Lord Jesus Christ often forces one to face certain very inconvenient truths. One of those truths: “We are all creatures created by God. But, we are not all children of God.”

”What?” you say. “You’re nuts! Of course we are all God’s children!”

It’s easy to understand why most people would like to wish this were true. Most of our lives we’ve been conditioned to think the best of people, see the “good” in them, treat them equally and with fairness, allow them to be whoever they choose to be. I’m not certain that’s how God looks at humankind.

Oh, yes. God wants every person to come into a relationship with Him. As the Apostle Peter has written:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

However, the status of moving from creature to child has a very serious and very important condition. As the Apostle John explains in John 1:12-13:

12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

”Let me see if I get your point,” you may inquire. “To move from ‘creature’ to ‘child,’ a person has to receive ‘Him.’ Is that right?”

You’ve got it. The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s great gift to humankind. God sent His precious Son to die on Calvary’s cruel cross that the shedding of His blood would, once and for all time, pay the penalty for our sin. God raised His Son, Jesus, from the dead to give us the assurance that in death, we, too, will be resurrected to everlasting life.

And, not only that, God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the heart of every person who will receive God’s gift of eternal life through His Son. In that “receiving” we acknowledge what God has done for us and, with gratitude, move from a creature to a child.

Once we acknowledge God’s gift, He sets us on a pathway that will lead us to ever-greater obedience to His will and His Word. But, we’re not on that quest alone. Remember? God gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, to lead us, to guide us, to help us along our pathway.

So, when I say, “No.” to the idea that we are all God’s children, I am not being some silly, nasty old man who doesn’t like people very much. Quite to the contrary. I believe we must determine to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And, even more, I want to do everything I can to prayerfully, carefully, and respectfully introduce people to the one person who loved them enough to die for them, the Lord Jesus Christ.

No matter what other paths I may temporarily pursue in the course of my life, in the final analysis, nothing else really matters.

Copyright © 2010 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.