Friday, February 27, 2015

How Are You Regarded?


[Graphic of a sign]

“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as
servants of Christ and as those entrusted
with the mysteries God has revealed.”
—1 Corinthians 4:1

How are you regarded? Said another way, what do people think about you? What description pops into their thinking when you come to mind?

The Apostle Paul had no patience with hero worship. Even though Paul certainly had achieved the status of a spiritual super hero, he wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2:

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Early Christians in Corinth had begun to identify with their favorite preacher or teacher. In the verses immediately preceding the ones quoted above, Paul challenges them to put away such foolish thinking.

Instead Paul urges them to recognize that the one sharing the good news of the gospel with them is nothing more than a “bond slave of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God.”

A bond slave is a now-freed slave who willingly attaches himself or herself forever to his or her master, as described in Deuteronomy 15:12-18:

If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.

But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.

Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

So, a steward is a slave elevated to a position of responsibility in his or her Master’s Kingdom. A steward has no interest other than doing what is best for the Master.

How do people regard you as a Christian? Are you a bond slave of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God? I am and I hope you are, too.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Few Kind Words


[Photo of the sun rising over a lake with words superimposed]

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
—Proverbs 12:25

The effect a few kind words can have a startlingly positive effect.

Deep inside, my dad always thought of himself as less than worthy because he never finished high school. Truthfully, he was a very wise man who had more common sense and practical life experience than most.

He taught me to treat everyone the same. He especially told me to make friends with what he called “the little people—people like you and me.” My dad was referring to the people who do ehat he called “the real work”: the maintenance and cleaning crew, the security guards, the technicians who keep the machinery running, all the support people who work almost silently behind the scenes. And, he also taught me to treat everyone with kindness.

Once I was at the insurance company where I was employed, working late at night, when one of the cleaning crew came around the corner and startled me. He quickly apologized. Just as quickly, I assured him I was the one at fault. After all, at this time in the middle of the night, I was the one intruding into his work space.

Then, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit. “I hope you know how much we all appreciate what you do every night,” I told him. “It is really helpful to work in a clean workspace. Thank you for your hard work.” Then, I asked him what his name was.

He told me his name and said, “Thank you.” Then, he went on his way. In a moment I heard him begin to whistle a little tune.

Soon, whenever I encountered a member of the maintenance or cleaning crew, I would be greeted with a smile and a cheerful, “Hello, Mr. Wilson.” I would ask the person's name and also ask him or her to please address me by my first name. “Please call me ‘Dean’,” I would say.

It wasn’t long before I knew the names of every member of the maintenance and cleaning crew. When we would encounter each other, we would exchange a few words of conversation. I began to learn about their families and what they were interested in doing when they weren’t at work.

One day, several years later, one of the cleaning crew appeared at the door of my cubicle. I invited him to sit down. With tears he told me his wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and asked me to please pray for her. I bowed my head, laid my hands over his, and prayed.

As the weeks passed, I would seek him out for a report on his wife. I kept praying as she had surgery, chemo, and radiation.

Then came the day when he joyfully reported that his wife had been declared cancer free. A few months later, right around Christmas time, he appeared at the door to my cubicle with a sweet-looking woman at his side. “I wanted you to meet my wife,” he said with pride in his eyes.

Remember how this story began? All I did was heed my earthly father’s instruction to treat everyone the same and with kindness. And, when my loving heavenly Father nudged me, I obediently responded.

You see, there is nothing special about me—nothing whatsoever. I was just acting as an emissary of our Great King, Jesus.

Notice what King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 12:25:

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

As we begin a new day, let’s determine to speak many more kind words in order to build each other up and to build up everyone around us. Doing this will surely make our Father smile.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

“What are we going to do?”


[Photo of a path in the woods with words superimposed]

“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly.”
—Joel 1:14a

“What are we going to do? Our nation, even our whole world, seems doomed. What are we going to do?”

The hue and cry grows louder. More and more people have opened their eyes and realized that, as a nation, we are in very serious trouble.

What should we do? We can start by taking a cue from the Prophet Joel. Notice what he says in Joel 1:14:

Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.

As a people who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, isn’t it time we get serious?


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On Their Journey


[Photo of stone bridge with words superimposed]

“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord…”
—Psalm 130:1a

In ancient times, Jews traveled to Jerusalem three times each year to observe special feast days. Walking in family groups, these pilgrims eased their long journey by singing psalms. These special psalms, known as the “Psalms of Ascent,” include Psalms 120 through 134.

These psalms helped the pilgrims on their journey. But, these psalms also taught valuable lessons to the children, reinforced those lessons for the adults, and celebrated the goodness of God to His people.

Here’s one example from Psalm 130:1-8:

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

You can imagine how the Jewish pilgrims walking to Jerusalem were buoyed by this psalm. To sing this song and celebrate their salvation must have lightened their steps and brought joy to their hearts.

Today, whenever we sing about the goodness of the Lord, we, too, will feel the load that weighs on our hearts lighten. Music is yet one more wonderful gift we have so graciously received from the God who loves us.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Worthy of Worship


[Photo of a church congregation gathered for worship]

“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra
the priest brought the Law before the assembly.”
—Nehemiah 8:2

Whenever a Sunday rolls around, we pause on this first day of each week to worship God because He deserves our worship—not because of what He has done for us, but because of who He is: He is the God of All Creation, the God of the Universe, the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift, and many, many more wonderful attributes.

Our worship follows a pattern that reaches back into the depths of history. Note this story from Nehemiah 8:1-6:

All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.

He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand.

And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion…

Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up.

Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!”

Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

When you join with other believers to attribute worth to our God—who created all things, who exists as one God, yet in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who has chosen us before the foundation of the earth to belong to Him—remember that you are joining countless millions who have gone before you.

God is worthy of our worship. In fact, He alone is worthy!


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Speaking Truth to Power - Part 3


[Painting of Paul on Mars Hill]

“For he has set a day when he will judge the
world with justice by the man he has
appointed. He has given proof of this to
everyone by raising him from the dead.”
—Acts 17:31a

In the last two blog posts, I’ve given examples of what some today would call “speaking truth to power.” I’ve done this because part of a believer’s joyful service to the Lord Jesus Christ is to share, with loving boldness, the miracle He has performed in our lives.

As one final example, let me to urge you to read the following account of the Apostle Paul in Athens. That great city was the cultural center of the then known world.

Here Paul found himself surrounded by the philosophical and cultural icons of the day. These were the “movers and shakers.”

As you read, notice how Paul, enabled by the Holy Spirit, crafted his message in a way that made it absolutely relevant to his listeners. Here’s Acts 17:16-34:

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Talk about speaking truth to power! I wonder, dear ones, would we dare be so honest?


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Speaking Truth to Power - Part 2


[Painting of Peter meeting with Cornelius]

“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
—Acts 10:15b

In my last blog post I quoted a very lengthy testimony from Stephen. He spoke “truth to power” and paid for his bold witness with his life. In so doing he removed any excuse from those powerful Jewish leaders. For once they had heard the truth, they could never again claim ignorance.

Another example of speaking truth to power resides in Acts 10. Here a Gentile, a powerful Roman centurion, asks for Peter to meet with him and his friends. Peter recounts the history of God's gracious and loving salvation for mankind.

This was an extraordinary event and encourages us to speak without fear when we lovingly share what God has done in our own lives.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”

The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Talk about speaking truth to power! I wonder, dear ones, would we dare be so compassionate?


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Speaking Truth to Power - Part 1


[Graphic of a sign]

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts
and ears are still uncircumcised. You
are just like your ancestors:
You always resist the Holy Spirit!”
—Acts 7:51

A very popular phrase that many pundits banter about goes like this: “speaking truth to power.”

When Stephen was hauled before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, he gave them a critically important history lesson, as recorded in Acts 7:1-54:

Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?”

To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran.

“‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’

“So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on.

“But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.

“God spoke to him in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’

“Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth.

“Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.

“Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food. When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers on their first visit. On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.

“Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

“As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased.

“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.

“At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.

“Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

“When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.

“The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

“But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’

“When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight.

“As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’

“This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.

“This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’

“He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.

“But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’

“That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made.

“But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:

“‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel? You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

“Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.

“After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him.

“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:

“‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me?’ says the Lord. ‘Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?’

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

“Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.

“And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

Talk about speaking truth to power! I wonder, dear ones, would we dare be so bold?


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chosen By God


[Photo of a mountain lake with words superimposed]

“For the Lord takes delight in his people…”
—Psalm 149:4a

How fortunate are those believers in the life-transforming power of God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. To be chosen by God to belong to Him is a truly wonderful reality.

We have nothing in and of ourselves to commend us to God. While it remains a profound mystery why He has chosen us, nevertheless our choosing by Him should create great joy within us.

Such joy springs forth from grateful hearts—hearts full of gratitude that we belong to God through the sacrifice of His Son on the cruel Roman cross at Calvary.

We stand as ones chosen by God, loved by Him, protected and guided by His Holy Spirit. We must join with the Psalmist and daily experience the reality of Psalm 149:4-5:

For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy...

Let us begin this new day with grateful rejoicing that before the foundation of the earth God chose us to belong to Him.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Leading By Serving


[Photo of a steep wooden staircase with words superimposed]

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”
—Mark 10:45a

If you’ve lived in the Christian subculture long enough, you've likely heard the term “servant leadership.” But, do you know the origin of this term comes from our Lord Jesus?

Here’s Mark 10:35-45:

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

So, “servant leadership” is another characteristic of those who closely follow Jesus. If God leads you into a position of leadership, please be certain you follow Jesus’ example.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, February 13, 2015

God Is For Us!


[Graphic of a sign]

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
—Romans 8:31b

As children of God, through the life-transforming power of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we definitely have certain benefits.

In writing to the Christians at Rome, the Apostle Paul reminded them of some of those key benefits in Romans 8:28-32:

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?

As we begin this new day, let’s keep in the forefront of our minds that God is for us. He always has our best interests in mind.

We can go out into the needy world today knowing that God has our back—and our sides and front, too!


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Kindness Rendered


[Photo of a man sitting on a bench with words superimposed]

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”
—Hebrews 13:1a

Humorist Garrison Keillor has occasionally talked about what he calls “The Minnesota Long Good-bye.” It comes at the end of a social gathering where words of parting are first very reluctantly shared within the home.

Then, the guests and hosts move to the outside of the home and continue their conversation on the front step. Here, even a more protracted parting takes place.

Finally, the group moves to the vicinity of the guest’s vehicle. The guests reluctantly enter their vehicle and start the engine, while the hosts lean on the car door and say lengthy parting words through the open window of the car or truck.

In many cases, “The Minnesota Long Good-bye” can take 45 minutes or even longer before the guests put the vehicle into reverse and back out of the driveway. As they do, the hosts linger on the driveway, waving good-bye.

It seems to me that the writer of Hebrews employed a similar method. Though not from Minnesota, the writer very reluctantly takes his leave with very warm and carefully chosen words.

Here’s a sample of what I’m suggesting from Hebrews 13:1-3, 5-6, 9, 15-16, 20-21:

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

As you read these words, doesn’t this seem very much like “The Minnesota Long Good-bye”? But, what can we learn from these words?

We get to decide how we will treat others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can decide to carefully make every interaction an opportunity to share the love that God has placed in our hearts.

Or, we can decide to live as we may always have lived: carelessly lashing out, justifying our behavior, even attacking those who are members of our community of faith.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will prompt us to let the love of Christ shine brightly through our lives.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lead Us to Someone Who Needs Love


[Graphic of a sign]

“By day the Lord directs his love…”
—Psalm 42:8a

As we walk the pathway of life, God has imbued us with His power through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We are to serve God as instruments of His mercy, grace, and love.

Each day people cross our path who need God’s love. Made in the image of God, they do not yet know Him personally. We become conduits of the vital, intimate presence of God.

The Holy Spirit uses us to demonstrate the depth of God's love to those He is irresistibly drawing to Himself.

If we remain sensitive to God's leading, we will sense when He is directing us to represent Him to those around us.

The Psalmist expresses this reality in Psalm 42:8:

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.

My prayer for each of us today: May the Holy Spirit lead us to someone who needs to experience the love of God flowing through us as instruments of His grace.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What Holds Us Together?


[Graphic of a sign]

“Make every effort to keep the unity of
the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
—Ephesians 4:3

Some days, when I look across the landscape of Christian believers, I wonder how bonded in love to one another we really are. It often seems we are at war with one another more than we are willing to join forces to defeat the enemy of our souls.

What a contrast to these words of the Apostle Paul from Ephesians 4:1-7:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

The bond of love that holds believers together was a constant theme of the Apostle Paul.

Notice these words Paul wrote to the church at Rome—a church he had not yet been able to visit in person—as recorded in Romans 1:8-12:

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

God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

Let us follow Paul's example. Let us cling tightly to one another in faith. Let us rejoice with one another. Let us encourage one another in order to bring honor to our King.

And, most of all, let us strive—as enabled by the Holy Spirit—to love one another with holy, God-breathed love.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Security Rests with God


[Photo of masked radical riflemen]

“ Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup”
—Psalm 16:5

In these days of strife where we receive daily threats from people who want to utterly destroy us, it is easy to become fearful and to desire greater security.

A polling organization, Rasmussen Reports, indicates that a new high of 43% of Americans think we do not spend enough on security.

For believers in the life-transforming power of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, our security rests in God’s hands. As the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 16:5-8:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Our true security rests firmly with God who loves us with His inexhaustible love and who holds us safely in the hollow of His mighty hand.

Let us put all worry aside and move forward into this new day surrounded with God's mercy, love, and grace.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Helping the Truly Needy


[Photo of rag-covered feet]

“Who is like you, Lord?”
—Psalm 35:10a

One of the characteristics of God is that He is no respecter of persons. Someone’s status in this life matters little to Him.

In fact, He seems very interested in reaching out to those who are utterly unable to help themselves.

One of the problems I have always had throughout my life is that I have seldom been able to tell the difference between the truly helpless and the clueless. The real problem for me is that, because I couldn’t tell the difference, I have tended to do very little. Of this inaction, I humbly repent.

I can no longer withhold God’s love from the poor simply because I can’t tell who is truly needy. Instead, I must now try harder to celebrate the same attribute of God that the Psalmist celebrated in Psalm 35:10:

My whole being will exclaim,“Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

We need to be instruments of God’s love and grace by showing compassion to those who genuinely need our help. That obedience on our part will surely please our King.

In Jesus’ own words from Matthew 25:34-40:

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

And, how shall we respond to Jesus’ words? Let me suggest that you join with me in this prayer:

Precious Father,

In deep humility, we bow before you to ask You to please enable us to heed Your words. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to obediently follow Your leading in reaching out to those in need. Help us that in so doing we may honor the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Holding on to Each Other


[Photo of many hands together]

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.”
—1 John 5:3

Seeing all of the turmoil here at home in the United States and around the world has created a sense of disappointment and despair within many believer'’s minds and hearts.

Yesterday, I read comments, from various points on the spectrum of Christianity, criticizing each other for a variety of attitudes and actions with which they disagreed.

At one point I said out loud, “Hey! We’re all in the same camp! We all belong to Jesus! Let’s stop fighting each other and join hands to do what God has called us to do—namely, overcome the sinful world through the power of God’s love.”

Isn’t it rather silly to waste our energy criticizing fellow believers when our real enemy watches us and laughs at our self-imposed disarray?

We need to cling to the Apostle John's words from 1 John 5:1-5:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

I sincerely invite you to join with me, as we begin this new day, and together let’s develop the mindset of an overcomer. Just as our Savior, Jesus, has overcome sin and death, so we may overcome whatever may try to drag us down.

The Holy Spirit waits to aid us in our quest for obedience. Let us allow Him to wrap His arms of love around us and guide us along the pathway of our lives.

Let us obediently grab hold of each other, so together we can lift up the name of Jesus and become powerful instruments of His love and grace in this very needy world.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reacting Rightly


[Photo of a tapestry with words superimposed]

“The important thing is that in every
way, whether from false motives
or true, Christ is preached.”
—Philippians 1:18a

“I don’t care what good you might be doing. I don’t like the way you’re doing it!”

Does that statement sound as silly to you as it sounds to me?

I most often hear criticism because I choose to worship at a church that values the historical connection provided by liturgical worship. All around my area, virtually every other evangelical church has adopted a contemporary worship style. Because the church I attend hasn’t jumped on the contemporary bandwagon, we’re sometimes derided.

I also hear criticism from some Christian leaders who believe that it’s okay to rail against other Christian groups that don’t act and react the way those leaders feel they should.

There certainly are plenty of reasons to examine whether or not Christians are obediently following in the footsteps of Jesus. It seems to me, for example, that the evangelical arm of Christianity—of which I am a life-long member—is largely backslidden. But, I’m not certain that harsh words of criticism are the best way to win hearts and minds and encourage positive changes.

I think we need to wrap our analysis in God’s love and speak tender words in order to encourage our brothers and sisters to reconsider their actions—even their devotion to Christ.

Notice how the Apostle Paul handled such a matter in Philippians 1:15-18:

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

But what does it matter?

The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.Yes, and I will continue to rejoice...

Paul seemed willing to rejoice that Christ was being preached, even by those with whom he had great disagreement.

I wonder if we need to reexamine how we react to the way other believers choose to preach the gospel, or do any other Kingdom work?


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Who’s in charge of our lives?


[Photo of a hummingbird with words superimposed]

“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver…”
—Isaiah 33:22

So often, even though we may give ascent to the fact that God is our Savior, Lord, and King, we act as if we are still in charge of our own lives.

I commented recently on another individual’s blog post thusly:

If we totally surrender to God’s will and let go of everything we previously relied on to prop us up, God will open up a new way for us.

The problem I have had in doing that over the last nearly 17 years of poor health is that I want to be just like I was before I got sick. It has taken me a very long time to realize that God was all along opening up a new paradigm of life for me.

Once I let go of everything from my past only then did I begin to see the new thing God had wanted me to do all along.

I cannot presume to tell anyone else what to do. I can only share what I’ve learned along a painful pathway.

Much earlier, along the pathway of this new journey, I would have been much better off to say to God, “Okay! The old is gone. What have you placed me here to do?”

When a totally new thing appeared, I should have joyfully embraced it instead of grudgingly compared the new with my old and seemingly “better” life.

Because I fought against the “new,” always comparing it with what I thought my gifts and talents had prepared me to do, I slowed down the process of entering gratefully into the “new.”

I spent far too much time arguing with God about what I wanted Him to provide for me to do instead of accepting what He had provided.

In fact, I was so convinced that I knew exactly what I was supposed to do that I nearly missed opportunity after opportunity that He was bringing my way. I was blinded by my own sense that I knew what was best for me.

In order to again hear God's voice and gratefully receive the new pathway He had for me, I had to acknowledge Him in a way similar to the acknowledgment in Isaiah 33:22:

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

Once I stopped demanding a return to the former glories of my old pathway and embraced the new pathway God was eager to give me, He responded by taking me to places I would never have imagined.

As we begin another new day, we must understand that God will never abandon us. Even during a period when He seems silent, He is always working in our behalf.

When God seems quiet, perhaps He is waiting for us to surrender to His will. Once we accept His new plan, then He can lead us forward into something that will glorify Him and bring us true joy.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Stop! Don’t Rip Your Clothes!


[Photo of a railroad track with words superimposed]

“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart…’”
—Joel 2:12b

“I was so upset I could tear my hair out!”

When I was a small boy, I often heard my Uncle Ed make this statement. For quite a long time, whenever I saw a man with thinning hair, I thought the man was probably upset a lot.

In ancient Israel, it was common to signal remorse by tearing ones clothing. Some even put on coarse cloth—the kind used to make sacks for grain—and sit in the cold ashes from yesterday’s cooking fire. Thus the phrase: “He put on sackcloth and ashes.”

But when the Holy Spirit convicts us of behavior that needs to change, we should take the advice from the Prophet Joel who recorded God’s words in Joel 2:12-13:

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

God always welcomes our repentance with open arms of love. Let us be quick to respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. When we need to repent, let’s quickly repent. Instead of tearing our clothes, let’s go to God in prayer.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.