Thursday, June 20, 2019

A New Command

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
—John 13:34

The word “love” has become one of the supercharged words in our culture. In the English language this word has so many shades of meaning. We may say to someone we admire and appreciate, “I love you.” But, the word doesn’t hold the same meaning that it does when we speak of loving our spouse. When we say we love our children, the word has an even different shade of meaning.

When we say we love our country, or we love the place where we live, or we love to eat a good steak, the word takes on even different shades of meaning. The problem comes from having a single word to express a whole list of various emotions.

Over the years, I shared many times that the New Testament Greek language has four distinct words for love: agape, storge, phileo, and eros. Each word has a very distinctly different meaning. All four words are translated “love” in the English language.

Speaking to His disciples, Jesus gave them this instruction, found in John 13:34:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

In this verse, our Lord uses the New Testament Greek word “agape”—God-breathed love. This is a love that arises within someone because God has chosen to breathe His love into that person. Agape is a totally selfless, totally committed, totally unending love. It survives no matter what may happen. It deepens as time passes. It creates an inseparable bond between the one who loves and the beloved.

As we begin a new day, let’s ask God to give us His God-breathed love for our fellow believers. If we do this, we surely will experience a great outpouring of God’s grace in our relationships with each other.

 

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

 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

No Greater Commandment

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“There is no commandment greater than these.”
—Mark 12:31

The most simply stated, yet hardest to follow, instructions from Jesus are summarized in Mark 12:30-31:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

It is hard for us to truly Love God with the totality of our beings. So many other distractions tend to pull us away from unswerving devotion to Him. It is equally hard for us to truly love our neighbors because we humans simply do not consistently get along with each other very well.

Recently, I received a phone call from a friend asking for my comments regarding a situation my friend described as follows:

I was thinking the other day about someone I have known for a long time. Over the years, I have come to care about this person very much. But lately, this person seems a little irritated with me and acts a bit cold toward me. Of course, it could be my too-active imagination. But, I don’t think it is. I have racked my brain trying to figure out what I may have done to offend this person. I cannot remember anything that I did or said that would have prompted this reaction toward me. I’m sure other people would respond to my observation and just say, “Aw, forget about it!” But, I can’t. If I wasn’t so “chicken,” I would go to this person and try to find out what’s going on in our relationship.

In contrast to my friend’s dilemma, in my own life there are people with whom I do not particularly get along. And, the amazing thing is I strongly suspect that they don’t even know how I feel about them, or care.

That’s the odd thing about human relationships: sometimes the people we care about get irritated with us and sometimes other people create irritation within us.

So, it is hard—very hard—to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

In yet another situation, I have some dear friends who lately seem to have a difficult time loving God with all four of their human modalities: heart, soul, mind, and strength—emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical. Things have not worked out in their lives as they expected. They believe they have been uniquely faithful to God. But, they now believe He has failed to hold up His end of the bargain.

These dear ones are, in fact—deep in the core of their beings—angry at God. So, they now live in a way that seems to have created a new god, one who appears quite different than the God they formerly worshipped.

It’s easy for me to think that they should reevaluate the expectations they had of God in the light of Scripture. Of course, it’s easy to criticize from the sidelines when I’m not “walking in their moccasins,” so to speak. I sense the depth of their pain. But, I can’t help but believe they need to reconnect with the true God who loves them.

It is probably a good thing for us to do a spiritual checkup from time to time. Do we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do we love our neighbors as ourselves? Then, we should ask God to help us make the corrections we need to make in our lives. Why? Because Jesus told us that it is very important for us to follow the two greatest commandments.

Perhaps, as we begin a new day, it would be helpful to make today a day for a spiritual checkup. How about it?

 

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

 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Wisdom Giver

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask
God, who gives generously to all without
finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
—James 1:5

Proper decision making requires four very distinct, but necessary, qualities: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, and Discernment. The only possible way to make the right decision, except by mere chance, is to employ all four of these qualities.

“Wisdom” takes into consideration the factual information that “Knowledge” provides and adds in one’s emotional connections, or feelings, about those facts. “Understanding” considers the effect that the decision will have on the broadest possible context of the situation, or circumstances, involved. And, “Discernment” adds a spiritual, or supernatural, dimension to the decision-making process—it sees beneath the surface and interprets the motives and true agendas of others involved in, or affected by, the potential decision.

If we fail to employ all four of these qualities, we can significantly diminish the “rightness” of the decision we make. That’s why we should always do our best to become as knowledgeable as possible, obtaining all the facts possible. We should not rely on what we are told second-hand. We should always seek out first sources and rely on multiple sources to validate the facts we collect.

We should study those facts until we see how they all fit together. That will give us understanding of the context in which we must make our decision. Then, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to give us discernment, so that we will know the motives and agendas of others—even more clearly know our own motive and agenda. Finally, we need to have wisdom to understand how the facts interconnect with our feelings about the facts. Sometimes, that’s the hardest part of the decision-making process: correlating the facts and our feelings about the facts.

That’s likely why the Apostle James wrote these words to the early Christians, as recorded in James 1:5:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

God is the “Wisdon Giver.” He is the one who can best correlate for us the facts and our feelings about the facts. In any, and every, situation, God’s guidance will help us make the best decision that we can make.

So, as we begin another new day, let’s do what James suggests. Let’s ask God for wisdom for this day and every day. Let’s ask the One who loves us the most to give us this important quality. He will gladly do so. And, as a result, we can move forward employing all four qualities necessary to make excellent decisions.

 

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

 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Harsh Words

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those
who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing
is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences
are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by
their actions they deny him. They are detestable,
disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
—Titus 1:15-16

No one likes to hear someone speak harshly against them. Over time, one of the biggest criticisms leveled against those of us who follow Jesus is that “Christian folks are just too judgmental.” In fact, that’s the way our culture encourages people to view “Christ’s-ones”—as judgmental, bigoted, and hateful.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Christians are not inherently judgmental. If we choose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we generally extend God’s mercy, grace, and love to all we meet. Why? Because that’s what Jesus would do.

But, what our critics fail to understand when they look at Christians is that the message of the Gospel balances two critically important elements. On the one hand, we are all sinners. We inherited the sin of Adam and compounded our inherited sinfulness by our own sinful actions. On the other hand, God has so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins. Those two elements are fundamentally necessary to an understanding of the Gospel.

Yes, when He was here on earth, Jesus extended great love to people who desperately needed it. But, He also spoke out against unrepentant sinful behavior and did not hesitate to point out the dangerous path on which those who chose to sin persisted to live their lives. So, part of the great love of our Savior is His willingness to speak out against sin.

Obviously, it seems far better if—in following this “love, but don’t fail to call sin, sin” posture of Jesus—we always speak with a gentle firmness, using words bathed in God-breathed love. And, frankly, that’s hard to do consistently. We walk a tightrope in this regard and always must seek to maintain a balance between mercy, grace, and love on the one side, and honesty about sin on the other side.

The Apostle Paul sent Titus to Crete so that Titus could “amend what is defective” in the struggling church on that island. To do so, Paul had to give Titus some clear marching orders and also make certain Titus knew what he was in for once he arrived at his destination. This prompted Paul to use words that many in our culture would label as harsh. Notice what Paul wrote to Titus, as recorded in Titus 1:15-16:

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Wow! Startling! But, was Paul wrong to call out the members of the church on Crete for their sinful behavior? No! In fact, Paul’s devotion to the Gospel required him to do so.

Of course, in directly addressing the sinners of whom he speaks, Paul would likely use more gentle words laced with kindness and love. But, when sin persisted, Paul would, no doubt, take the same kind of strong stand as the one he took in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.

So, what do we do about the charges laid against us by the culture in which we live? I’m not at all certain we can do anything. Jesus told us that the world would hate us, just like it hated Him (John 17:14). We cannot do anything that will appease the hatred of the world toward us. But, we can fairly and accurately represent Jesus by making certain we rely on the guidance from the Holy Spirit to assure that we always balance mercy, grace, and love against an honest declaration against sinful behavior.

Let’s begin this new day by determining to stop pretending sin no longer exists among those around us. No, I’m not urging us to get up on a soapbox in the marketplace and speak harsh words. That would only make us into clowns that the world would far too easily despise.

But, when faced with the opportunity to gently and tenderly speak words of love in a situation where sin is rampant, let’s choose to state the truth of God’s Word without fear. In so doing, we become instruments that the Holy Spirit can use to force sinful behavior to come into the light.

 

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

 

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Hand of Peace

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.”
—Psalm 37:37

Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ should serve as peacemakers whenever possible. As the Holy Spirit nudges us, we should willingly step in to promote peace. And, we must recognize that we promote peace in a variety of ways.

I am heartbroken over some of my fellow believers who have become so strident, even hateful, in their attacks against political forces that do not align with their preconceived ideas of how our nation should be governed. I can’t help thinking about the oppressive government of Rome at the time Jesus walked this earth. The Roman government was far more vile than we can even imagine, especially toward any person who was not a citizen of Rome. And, if you lived in a land that Rome had conquered, it was very difficult to become a citizen,.

At the same time, Jesus spoke of our need to recognize the value of making peace. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus told the crowd gathered around Him:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Some interpret this passage to mean that Christians should never go to war to protect their nation from threatening foreign powers. I personally believe that Jesus was talking about a much more intimate setting than a national threat. After all, He was speaking to people who were politically powerless and were living under the captive hand of Rome.

When Jesus urges peacemaking, I believe He is talking about a daily attitude of extending compassionate peace toward the people who cross our pathway in the normal course of daily life. It is so easy to turn our faces away from those in genuine need. Whenever we do so, we help rob these ones of peace in their lives.

Sometimes peace comes in a helping hand, a gift of a meal, the provision of a place to live, an assistance with a legal problem, a monetary gift to tide someone over, an advocacy for someone who cannot advocate for himself or herself, and a dozen other ways in which we can provoke peace to flood into someone’s life.

I once knew of a woman who had lived on the streets for three years. She had lost her home and her family because of her addiction to alcohol. She told how she had abstained from drinking for all of her early life. Then, in her mid-thirties, at a casual neighborhood party, she took her first drink of an alcoholic beverage. She took that drink mostly so that she wouldn’t stand out from the crowd, or become a target of mockery. That one single drink led her down the path to more and more drinking, until alcohol ruled her life and, subsequently ruined her life.

One day, a businesswoman passing by in a car on her way to work saw this down-and-out alcoholic woman in her peripheral vision. The woman was living in the corner of a vacant lot. Her only shelter was a stitched together series of corrugated boxes.

Suddenly, the businesswoman felt God nudge her to stop. She pulled her car to the curb, got out, and approached the homeless woman.

“Can I help you?” the businesswoman asked.

“Nobody can help me,” the woman replied. “I’m beyond help. Leave me alone.”

“I’d really like to help you. What can I do?”

“Go away! Leave me alone! There’s nothing you can do for me. Can’t you see that?”

Reluctantly, the businesswoman returned to her car. But, the image of that homeless woman would not leave her mind. Over the course of the next few hours that image moved from her mind to her heart. At lunch time, the businesswoman left work, went to a grocery store and bought some food. Then she stopped at a used clothing store and bought a warm coat.

She returned to find the homeless woman still sitting in the corner of the vacant lot. The businesswoman approached and said, “I’ve brought you some food and a warm coat.”

“I don’t want your charity!” the homeless woman shouted. “Leave me alone! Go back where you came from!”

The businesswoman set down her packages and went away. As she started her car, an enormous grief came over her. Tears streamed down her face. When she finally composed herself and started to drive away, she noticed that the homeless woman was putting on the warm coat. That small act made the businesswoman smile. A bit of hopefulness arose in her heart.

The next day, and the next day, and the next day, week after week, the businesswoman would stop on her way to work and give the homeless woman some food or clothing. The homeless woman stopped yelling at her and they began to have small conversations. Over time, the homeless woman started to tell a little of her story—how she had become enslaved by alcohol and lost everything.

After several months of building a relationship, the businesswoman finally convinced the homeless woman to seek help at a nearby parachurch-sponsored shelter for women. That began a long process of the homeless woman getting sober, and clean, and ready to get a job. The businesswoman acted as her sponsor, eventually helped her find a small apartment, and helped the formerly homeless woman settle into a new job.

After working for just over a year, the two women talked one day about the family the one woman had lost. The businesswoman found an attorney who would help make a reconnection with the lost family. A period of carefully supervised visitation began. A lot of healing of many hurts started to take place.

Today, the formerly homeless woman has a solid job, has developed a relationship with her children, found some equilibrium with her former husband, who had remarried, and has seen her life turn around. Why? Because that businesswoman, a follower of Jesus, extended peace into the life of someone who so desperately needed peace.

It is my sincere belief that, if each of us would set his or her heart toward becoming the kind of peacemaker that Jesus was talking about in His “Sermon on the Mount,” we could change our world—the world immediately around us. If every “Christ’s-one” did that, we could change all of the world.

King David wrote Psalm 37 in response to evildoers, political opponents and others, that he found inhabiting his world. He writes eloquently about all the various aspects of a righteous response to sin, corruption, and degradation. Among the stanzas of David’s song are these words found in Psalm 37:37:

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.

As we begin a new day, let’s seek peace in our own lives and in the lives of those whom God brings across our pathway. Let’s become peacemakers by putting away harsh, disruptive words, and by embracing an attitude of trust that God remains in control. He has given us specific work to do. And, we must begin to do it for the sake of His great Name.

 

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

 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Come to Me

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Come to me, all you who are weary and
burdened, and I will give you rest.”
—Matthew 11:28

Have you ever worked hard on a project for several hours when someone who cares about you comes to you and says, “Hey! Why don’t you take a few moments to rest? You’ve been working hard all day.”

Those are comforting words and wise ones, too. Sometime we get so involved in the tasks at hand that we forget our bodies, minds, and spirits need to pause and recharge. It’s good to have someone who cares about us enough to remind us that rest is a vital part of effective living.

In our spiritual lives, we are constantly battling the forces of the Enemy, Satan. He wants to destroy us, turn us against ourselves, bring us to our knees with weariness and despair. We need to be reminded that it is very appropriate to make certain we pause in our battle long enough to get the rest we need.

Someone who cares about us the most is our Lord and Savior Himself. Jesus extends this invitation to us, as recorded in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

As we launch out into another new day, let’s listen to Jesus and come to Him for the rest we need. Even on a day when we are working on behalf of His Kingdom, Jesus wants us to make certain that we make a determined effort to restore us to top condition. What a marvelous indication of how very much He loves us.

 

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

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Turn Around Time

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach
you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you
loves life and desires to see many good
days, keep your tongue from evil and your
lips from telling lies. Turn from evil
and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
—Psalm 34:11-14

If you’re traveling along in your car or truck and you miss a turn, how long do you continue to drive forward until you turn around and go back to the place where you got off course?

One day many years ago, I rode from Hartford, Connecticut, to Rochester, New York, with a business associate—a trip of about seven hours. He was, and is, a fine man. Trained as an engineer, he has a really sharp brain and is also a very kind and considerate man.

Along the way of our trip, he decided to get off the interstate highway and take some back roads. He stated that he wanted to have more pleasing scenery than the interstate afforded. We had plenty of time to get to our destination. As a passenger, I did not feel it was appropriate for me to object. So, we were soon cruising along at a much more relaxed pace looking at the central New York State countryside.

We didn’t have a map. But, we both knew the general direction to our destination and felt we would arrive without a problem. Then, suddenly, we encountered a detour. A flash flood the day before had caused the main road to cave in and a construction crew was in the midst of repairs. The detour took us out across the nearby rural landscape. We went over several different back roads.

At one point, I thought I spotted a detour sign that someone had knocked down. It was almost out of sight. It was only by chance that I saw it. As we cruised by, I told my colleague that I thought we had missed a turn. Instead of stopping immediately and driving back to the spot where I had seen the downed sign, he continued onward. I truly believe he thought we would find another road that would takes us back to the main road.

We drove for miles and miles. He made several turns onto various country roads. Finally, we realized we were desperately lost. He stopped, walked up to a nearby house, and asked for directions. After a long conversation, he returned to the car and we continued to drive, making numerous turns along the way.

An hour later, we were back on the main highway. But, in just a couple of miles, we once again came upon the road crew repairing the damaged pavement. We had gone backward in a huge circle and had burned 90 minutes in the process. Off on the same detour, we did so more carefully, came to the downed sign, made the turn, and in just a few minutes were back at the main road beyond the repair site. The detour had taken ten minutes this time.

I wonder, in our spiritual lives, how many times we keep going along a wrong pathway when, instead, we should stop, turn around, and go back to the place where we first lost our way and take the better pathway. King David understood the necessity of turning around when he had taken the wrong path. Notice what he wrote in Psalm 34:11-14:

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

As we begin another new day, let’s determine to seek peace and pursue it. If we find ourselves on the wrong pathway—one that leads us into sin—let’s stop, go back, and determine to stay on the pathway that God has opened up before us. Let’s not become tricked into taking a wrong turn that will lead us away from God’s best for us.

 

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

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Trust Begets Trust

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]



Some people are naturally trusting. They enter every relationship with a positive attitude and always look for the very best possible outcome. It doesn’t ever occur to them that the persons with whom they have developed relationships might, at some point, prove untrustworthy. Frankly, I envy these open, accepting, and positive-attitude people.

Then, there are people like me. Because of my personal history, dating way back to childhood experiences, and because I am inherently and extremely shy, for all of my adult life I have approached every relationship with suspicion. I expect any new person who crosses my pathway to eventually betray me. It is quite likely that my generally negative attitude toward trust has proven so off-putting to many people that it has created a self-fulfilling prophecy, time after time.

Nevertheless, I have decided to put aside my own predispositions and prejudices and see if I can share with you the importance of trust.

If we are going to faithfully and persistently share with other people what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives, we have to be viewed by those other people as individuals who are worthy of trust.

The Prophet Isaiah has made this statement in Isaiah 26:4:

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

In our relationship with God, we must learn to trust Him implicitly and continually. He will never betray our trust. He will never let us down. He will always surround us with His loving care. We can count on Him in every situation.

If we are to become trustworthy, with God’s trustworthiness as our example, where do we begin? By trusting in God we will find that, more and more, we will become worthy of trust. That’s because trust begets trust. Furthermore, we can and should follow the example of King Solomon, who wrote these words in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

We begin to learn trustworthiness by depending or leaning on God. He has given us His Holy Spirit to come along beside us and lead us along the pathway that God has opened up before us. If we set aside our own selfish wills and place the entirety of our beings into God’s loving and tender care, we will begin to experience the reality of trusting in Him.

Out of that experience, we can develop within us the kind of trust that will prompt those around us to begin to listen to what we have to say and perceive that our words come from hearts that are worthy of trust.

Let’s begin this new day by redoubling our efforts to trust in God and build within us a trust that has as its foundation His trustworthiness. If we do that, we will become more and more effective in our role as ambassadors of the Great King.

 

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

 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Foolish Anger

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]



Have you ever yelled at the television set in your living room or family room? Are you sure? I’m quite confident that you have. Okay. Maybe you didn’t yell out loud. But, in your spirit, you yelled at the TV.

Why do we do that? The people provoking us to anger on the TV can’t hear us. Right? And, by yelling at the TV we are disturbing the other people in our home—not to mention that we may well appear very foolish.

Anger is a powerful emotion. It is one of the emotions that our enemy, Satan, uses to try to knock us off the pathway that God has opened up for our lives. And, right now in our nation, there seems to be plenty to be angry about, especially if you find yourself at one extreme or the other on the political spectrum.

It is very easy for us to forget that we are, first and foremost, citizens of God’s Kingdom. Yes, I know that God is a God of justice. He does want His children to stand up for righteousness. But, I am not at all certain that He condones the use of harsh words in our Facebook posts or Twitter tweets, or Instagram photos, or Pinterest Pins, or Snapchat conversations. Even if you feel you are expressing “righteous indignation” on behalf of some group you believe has become disenfranchised, you dare not “fight fire with fire” because that’s not God’s way of mercy, grace, and love.

King Solomon, at the end of his life, penned these words of wisdom found in Ecclesiastes 7:9:

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

As we begin a new day, let’s determine to control our anger in a renewed way. Let’s not allow Satan to provoke us to anger about things over which we have no control. We can’t change the mind of some pundit on television. We can’t change the mind of most of the people who read our posts on Facebook or Twitter, either.

But, we can exhibit God’s abundant love when we carefully and reasonably share the concerns we have with whatever we observe in our culture or society. We can do so without harming others. Even when we feel that we have been attacked by those who categorize all “Christ’s-ones” as bigots, racists, homophobes, sexists, fascists, progressives, or whatever label is currently in use.

If we allow the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and minds, we will be able to extend every grace to those who think differently than we do about politics, culture, even church. We do not need to be at war with anyone. In a gentle and tender way, we can stand for righteousness without needing to resort to behaviors that mimic the way of the world.

As citizens of God’s Kingdom, our residency has been bought with a terrible price—the very blood of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s enough violence with which Christians should have to deal. Let’s become instruments of God’s peace, even in a world that is going off the rails. Let’s put aside anger and embrace holiness. That will make God, who loves us with His everlasting love, break out with a big smile.

 

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

 

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Shield Around Us

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”
—Psalm 3:3

In the most recent weeks, every day I think to myself, “Can this horrible division in our nation get any worse?” And, every day I find more and more hostile, divisive, and nasty rhetoric spewing forth from both sides of the political aisle. This rancor must stop!

As has often been the case in the last forty years, people are targeting Christians and blaming them for everything that is happening in our social, political, economic, cultural, and systemic worlds. The criticisms are not fair. But, they are very real, nonetheless.

And, sadly, some of the harshest criticisms are coming from the left and right extremes of Christianity itself. Some of the most stinging and hurtful accusations, words that feed the hostility and division, are coming from Christians fighting with each other.

As we believers in Jesus, and His resurrection power, become more and more marginalized, we can rightly feel we have nowhere to turn. But, that is a lie of Satan.

When King David found himself under attack from a particularly persistent enemy, David wrote these words of praise to God found in Psalm 3:2-6:

Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

In the midst of one of the most hurtful times most of us have ever experienced in our lives, God is able to deliver us. We must remain faithful to the message of Christ, as the embodiment of God’s mercy, grace, and unfailing love. If we do, we will find that God is, indeed, our shield and our deliverer. May we determine, as we begin a new day, to refrain from evil words and a condemning spirit. Instead, let’s make certain our words build others up, rather than tear others down.

 

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

 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Sure Response

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“What, then, shall we say
in response to these
things? If God is for us,
who can be against us?”
—Romans 8:31

In most of our lives, there is enough chaos that it is very easy to become distracted from the things that really matter. All it takes is for some unanticipated repair to our house, apartment, or vehicle, and we lose track of the things on which we should focus our attention.

Or, maybe one of our children or grandchildren has an accident or illness. Perhaps we receive a bill that is for an amount far greater than we had hoped. Or, we discover that our husband or wife has spent money—even on necessities—but those expenditures have pushed us into a debt too deep to climb out of easily, especially when we haven’t received a raise in the last five years, or, even worse, we lost our job many months ago and have no prospect for a new one.

In the midst of the uncomfortableness that can so very easily plague us, we need to remember that we have a sure response to whatever happens in our lives. The Apostle Paul states this certain response, when he writes to the Christians gathered at Rome, as recorded in Romans 8:31:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

No matter how difficult our circumstances may seem in the moment, God is for us. Even if we have fallen into a deep hole and have languished there for many years, God is for us. When trials and difficulties come, when disappointment and discouragement grips our lives, when things don’t seem to be going our way, God is for us.

Let’s cling to that truth, as we begin a new day. And, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to lift us upward in response to the sure knowledge that God has our back. He will provide what we need. He will see us through our darkest hour. He will bring us out of darkness and into the light of His great day.

 

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

 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

God Has Become My Salvation

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation. He is my
God, and I will praise him, my father’s
God, and I will exalt him.”
—Exodus 15:2

In the happiest times in our lives, we often express our joy by singing. Even if we don’t think we sing very well, in the privacy of our own home or our car, or truck, we burst into song when something brings us overwhelming joy. This is certainly not a new phenomenon.

The Patriarch Moses had just experienced one of the most mind blowing occurrences in his life. In obedience to God’s direction, Moses had marched the children of Israel to the edge of the Red Sea. The Egyptians were in hot pursuit. The only way of escape was to step off into the storm tossed waters.

God gave Moses specific instructions. As soon as Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, God sent a mighty wind that opened up a pathway on dry land while the waters stood high above on each side of the pathway. The children of Israel crossed over the Red Sea. As soon as the Egyptians pursued them, God instructed Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea once again. As soon as Moses did this in obedience to God, the water closed over the Egyptians and they drowned.

In response, Moses sang a song of joy and worship to the Lord. This song included the following, found in Exodus 15:2:

“The Lord is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”

Moses didn’t need any other defender—just the all-powerful hand of God—and neither do we. As we begin a new day, let’s learn to rely on the “Defender of our Souls.” God stands ready to protect us, to save us, from all who would harm us. He is the one who has become our salvation and our defense. Like Moses, the only logical thing for us to do is the praise Him and exalt His holy name.

 

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

 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Message to a Governor

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord
to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power,
but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
—Zechariah 4:6

As I write this blog post, I am utterly amazed at the turmoil that our most recent Presidential election has caused and that has persisted for over two years. Never in my life have I heard such strident and profane exclamations hurled at an elected President. As a follower of Jesus, and someone who is a political, social, intellectual, and spiritual Conservative, I am flabbergasted at the rhetoric I am hearing on a daily basis from both sides of the political spectrum.

This is not the first time in history that someone has ascended to a position of power and brought controversy with him to the seat of authority. In ancient Judah, a leader named Zerubbabel was appointed governor of a group of Israelites who returned to their own land from captivity in Babylon. Zerubbabel had the support of certain factions within the returning peoples. But, he also had an equal and more vocal opposition to the legitimacy of his authority.

The Prophet Zechariah found himself in the most uncomfortable position of having several messages directly from God that he was expected to deliver publicly to Zerubbabel. These messages were not going to make the new leader happy.

Zerubbabel considered himself a savior of the people. But, God had to remind him that—as a human being given a huge task to accomplish, namely the restoration of the Jews to their rightful land—Zerubbabel would be quite incapable of doing this in his own strength and power.

Here is part of the Prophet Zechariah’s words from God, as recorded in Zechariah 4:6:

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

In other words, “Zerubbabel, it doesn’t really matter that you consider yourself the savior of your people. The fact that you want to make Judah great again may be an honorable goal. But, you do not have the strength nor the power to do this by yourself. You are a mere, puny human being. And, you are a sinful one at that, since all humankind is stained by the sin of Adam and by the sins they commit on their own. Your only hope is to depend fully and completely on God. If you do that, God will be your strength and your power. With God’s divine help, you will than, and only then, be able to accomplish what you desire.”

I wish that more people, even those who claim membership in the Kingdom of God, would understand that without Him we can accomplish nothing of eternal value. Let’s not be numbered among the ignorant when it comes to understanding that: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

 

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

 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Resurrection Power

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I want to know Christ—yes, to know
the power of his resurrection and
participation in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow, attaining to
the resurrection from the dead.”
—Philippians 3:10-11

Observing our current political scene, or the activities in most places of work, or, sadly, sometimes even in our homes, it doesn’t take long before we can spot those individuals who have become addicted to power. Power has the ability to enslave someone in the same way that narcotics, or pornography, or a host of dozens of other elements of substance abuse can.

In fact, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902), an historian and moralist, known more commonly and more simply as Lord Acton, expressed the following oft-quoted opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.

But, of course, not all power is bad. As followers of Jesus, we desperately need the empowering of the Holy Spirit in order to live our lives in a manner that moves us ever-forward toward spiritual maturity and greater holiness. We rightfully strive to become more and more like our Savior. That takes a unique brand of God-given power.

The Apostle Paul expresses his desire for a continual influx of godly power in these words from Philippians 3:10-11:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

The greatest expression of power on this earth came when Jesus overcame death and Satan and rose from the grave. In an act impossible for a mere mortal man, the God-man Jesus overcame it all and, though once dead and in the grave from Friday afternoon until early Sunday morning, is now fully and completely alive.

Each new day, we need to ask God for that resurrection power in our own lives. We need to implore Him to grant us ever more of the Holy Spirit’s divine assistance in helping us become the true disciples we want to, and need to, become. So, let’s not hesitate to ask this day for a great outpouring of resurrection power in our lives.

 

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

 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Pep Talk Time

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged. Be strong and
courageous. This is what the Lord will do
to all the enemies you are going to fight.”
—Joshua 10:25

I’m no athlete. In fact, I’m the poster boy for non-athleticism. But, I know barely enough about sports to know that a key moment occurs just before the game begins when the coach offers the team words of encouragement. The coach will give specific instructions to the team. The coach hopes that these words of challenge and enthusiasm will ring in the ears of the athletes as they go out to “battle.”

This is what Joshua does when he prepares to lead the soldiers of Israel into battle for the Promised Land. Joshua knows that God has called His chosen ones to take the land as their own. So, Joshua shares these words of encouragement and instruction, as found in Joshua 10:25:

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

“No matter what happens in the days ahead,” Joshua intones, “do not let fear bind you, nor fear assail you. Instead, grab ahold of strength and courage. God will defeat our enemies and hand this land He has promised us into our control.”

Each new day presents those of us who follow Christ with a new challenge. Satan desires to fill us with fear and discouragement. Satan wants us to keep silent about what God means to us. But, God wants us to sense His support. He gives us His strength. He dispels our fear. He imbues us with courage. He will defeat our enemy and protect us, as we follow the path He has laid out for us.

God gives the very best pep talk. It’s just what we need to hear. It contains the words that need to ring in our spiritual ears, as we begin yet one more day of serving Him.

 

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

 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Tasty

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed
is the one who takes refuge in him.”
—Psalm 34:8

Of all the foods that you eat, which one creates on your palate, and within your mind, the most delicious taste? Is it some entrée? Some dessert? Some appetizer? Or maybe, it’s something you drink?

Just now, as you thought about how to answer my question, your mouth began to water a little bit, didn’t it? Just the imagining of that delightful taste sensation caused you to feel a positive and enjoyable reaction.

My father used to delight in telling other adults how he made the biggest mistake of his life as a dad when he allowed me, at age eleven, to order my first real steak in a restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. It was a T-bone steak that gave me the opportunity to taste both the tenderloin and strip steak all in one setting.

Based on my memory of the size of that steak, it likely was actually a Porterhouse cut. But, as with many steak restaurants—so as not to confuse their customers—this steakhouse called it a T-bone on the menu. Whatever it should have been called, it was absolutely delicious! From that time forward, I have always preferred steak and eventually gravitated to filet mignon as my preferred cut of beef.

There are people, of course, who care less about food. My wife is one of those people. She eats because she has to do so. She doesn’t really enjoy eating. In contrast, I do not eat to live, I live to eat!

In writing one of his more famous Psalms, King David expressed his love for God in a way that should relate well to anyone like me who has a favorite food. Notice his words, found in Psalm 34:8:

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

“Experience the fullness of God on the palate of your life,” declares this man whom God had called to His service. “He will fill you full of His mercy, grace, and overwhelming love. He will protect you and keep you. You will be blessed because you have crawled up into his lap and found refuge in His strong Presence.”

Today, we can experience this same delight that David declares. By tasting of the Lord, enjoying the flavor of our relationship with Him, we can truly find ourselves blessed beyond our ability to comprehend. We will surely find God “tasty”!

 

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

 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

From Out of His Glorious Riches

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I pray that out of his glorious riches
he may strengthen you with power
through his Spirit in your inner being…”
—Ephesians 3:16

Have you ever met someone who seemed so unbelievably generous that you could almost not process how generous this person was? In my life, I have met two men who were truly wealthy—what my dad would have called “filthy rich” although there was nothing “filthy” about these two men’s wealth.

In both cases, these business men extended great generosity in such a shy and unpretentious manner that I couldn’t help but watch them in amazement. Each man was a multi-millionaire. Each one had earned his riches through very hard work and clever investments. Each man lived in a way that many people would never have known the extent of his wealth.

On occasion after occasion, I observed each of these men reach out with kindness, empathy, compassion, and generosity. They did so without any fanfare. They never called attention to themselves. In fact, they both did everything possible to avoid others knowing what they had done. The only reason I knew was that I had become a close friend to each of them and had inside knowledge of their kindnesses.

The God we serve is One who has enormous wealth and power. Out of His storehouse He gives freely to those He loves. The Apostle Paul affirms this when he writes these words found in Ephesians 3:16:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being…

Paul’s prayer comes from his knowledge that God has unlimited resources that He will gladly make available to His dearly loved children. That’s why we can begin this new day in confidence knowing that God will provide the strength and resources we need to serve Him effectively and faithfully.

If we struggle with a lack of resources, let’s devote ourselves to prayer this day. God will hear and answer in ways we cannot comprehend.

 

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

 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Gift of Strength

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“He gives strength to the weary and
increases the power of the weak.”
—Isaiah 40:29

During my years in junior high school, I had many embarrassing experiences. One of the most troubling events occurred when the huge folding doorway that separated the gymnasium into two equal parts jammed and would not close. For one miserable day, the boy’s gym class had to share the entire open space with the girl’s gym class. While most of the boys absolutely loved the opportunity to show off for the girls, I was mortified.

I had already painfully learned how disliked I was by most girls. Now, I had to be even more exposed to their disdain and ridicule. You see, the boy’s gym class was doing basic calisthenics. In particular, we were doing pull ups on an elevated bar. While most boys could jump up, grab the bar, and proceed to effortlessly pull themselves up a dozen or more times, I was unable to pull myself up even once.

Not content to allow me to hide in the back of the line, the gym teacher, who had already made it very clear on several occasions that he had a strong distaste for anyone like me who was so grossly overweight, insisted that I try over and over and over again to complete a pull up. He punctuated my humiliation by a running commentary, holding me up as an example of what would become of anyone who was lazy, foolish, and addicted to food.

While I excelled in academic pursuits, gym class was my daily time of torture, made all the more so by President John F. Kennedy’s “National Council on Physical Fitness” and the host of initiatives that it had pushed onto the local school systems. The phrase, “God give me strength!” had special meaning for me in those days.

In fact, God is our source of strength—physical strength, emotional strength, intellectual strength, and spiritual strength. The Prophet Isaiah reminded the Southern Kingdom of Judah of this fact, as recorded in Isaiah 40:29:

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

As we launch off into another day, let’s remember that all the strength we need is readily available from the God who loves us. We can ask Him to increase our strength and empower us when we need to overcome our own weaknesses. He will gladly supply strength and power from His inexhaustible supply.

 

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

 

Monday, May 27, 2019

My Enabler

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I can do all this through
Christ who gives me strength.”
—Philippians 4:13

“I think I could really learn Microsoft Word® if someone would just show me some of the more useful tips and tricks.”

The person saying that could be almost anyone. To long-time users of personal computers, MS Word seems quite simple. But, to someone just getting his or her feet wet in the art of personal computing, there are so many features, so many tricks, so many undisclosed shortcuts that make working with this software easier, most people really could use someone to enable them to use Word more effectively.

For example, when trying to format text in a way that makes it easier to read, people will do all kinds of work-arounds rather than learn how to properly set tabs and indents. The result is a mashup of confusing formatting that will easily drive someone over the edge who later tries to edit that document.

I have been a willing enabler for a number of individuals seeking to learn more about MS Word over the years. And, I am all the happier for having done it, especially when the person I’m helping shares information with me that I must use for some other purpose. It’s easier to help someone learn how to properly format a document in MS Word than to try to decipher their typical work-around formatting at a later time.

We all need enablers in our lives to learn the things we need to learn, to accomplish the things we need to accomplish, and to reach the goals we need to reach. I particularly appreciate it when someone knowledgeable sets aside some time to help me.

One of my very dear friends makes explanatory videos for the company where he works. He is a master at creating very useful and educational videos. He freely shares these videos on YouTube, so people who might need help understanding some of the very technical topics for which he is responsible can easily find the information. He is a natural teacher, a natural enabler. Some of the very significant success he has achieved in his chosen field comes from this gift that God has given him to enable others to use the products his company makes in the most efficient and most effective way.

In our spiritual lives, we need an enabler. And, God stands ready to enable us to will and to do the things He wants us to do. In fact, one of the roles that Jesus fills in our lives—through the in-dwelling Holy Spirit—is an enabler of our spiritual formation and an enabler of our ever-more-effective understanding of how to become an ever-maturing disciple.

The Apostle Paul acknowledges this when he writes these words found in Philippians 4:13:

I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.

As we begin another new day, let’s recognize that we have no limits in the spiritual realm. God has given us all the strength we need to do what He asks us to do for Him and for His Kingdom. Let’s willingly allow Christ to enable us to activate the strength in and through us that He so lovingly supplies.

 

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

 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Oh! Those Itching Ears!

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For the time will come, when people will
not put up with sound doctrine. Instead,
to suit their own desires, they will gather
around them a great number of teachers to
say what their itching ears want to hear.”
—2 Timothy 4:3

Most people do not want to hear bad or unpleasant news. That’s why so many of our news outlets, particularly on network broadcast television, have shunned hard news stories in favor of fluffy, feel-good tales that will make the viewing audience smile in a self-satisfied way. “See,” the viewers say to themselves, “things aren’t so bad, after all. We’re really nice people doing good things to make everyone happy.”

Of late, of course, someone has come onto the political stage who so many people fear that they have steeped the news in hostile hyperbole. Please understand, I’m not a fan of politicians. I think it takes a particularly self-aggrandizing personality to seek political office. Oh, I’m sure there may be an occasional exception to the rule. Generally, politicians have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get elected and stay elected. That often does not put the interest of his or her constituents first. Nevertheless, I suspect that the current target of so much negative news is not nearly as bad as many believe, nor as good as others believe.

Even in the pulpit, many pastors today have turned their backs on a whole host of attributes that the Bible uses to help us understand who God is. Instead, they have emphasized God’s love to the near exclusion of all of His other many admirable qualities. While our understanding of God will always be like seeing through a dirt-darkened window, the Bible does give us the picture of Him that He wants us to have. As He has revealed Himself to us, sometimes who He is makes us feel the sheer terror at His holiness. And, at other times, we literally bask in the warmth of His amazingly deep love.

On those rare occasions when a particular pastor does preach a sermon that talks about God’s holiness, His hatred of sin, His willingness to punish those who will not repent, and other such less than happy subjects, congregation members grumble and complain. They did not get their “happy jolt” from the service that they expected. They did not feel better about themselves. They may have even sensed the Holy Spirit convicting them of something in their lives that needs correction. And, they don’t want to do what they know they must do.

So, woe to the pastor who presents the full counsel of God on the matter of who He is and how He wants us to live. There is increasingly little room for a broad spectrum of understanding that God is a perfect balance between holiness, judgment, and wrath on the one side, and His great mercy, grace, and love on the other side.

The Apostle Paul gave a warning to his “son in the faith” Timothy about this very matter, as recorded in 2 Timothy 4:3:

For the time will come, when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

As we begin a new day, we need to ask ourselves: “Do we have itching ears?” Yes, do we want to know God for who He is in all of His complexity? Or, do we want to fashion for ourselves an image of God based on our desire to shut out any of His scary qualities and focus only on those qualities that make us feel good? Those are questions worth asking. The answers give a good picture of where we are in our walk with the One who loves us the most.

God is to be both feared and loved. And, that takes a faith that surpasses a mere feel-good version. True faith recognizes that God is beyond our comprehension. True faith also embraces the reality that, in the Bible, we find plenty of evidence for who God is in all of His complexity. And that, dear ones, is a very good thing. As Richard of Chichester wrote:

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

 

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

 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Keep Yourselves in God's Love

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“…keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait
for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
to bring you to eternal life.”
—Jude 1:21

These are tough times. I doubt if anyone would disagree with that assessment of where things are in our nation right at the moment. We have divided into two very vicious and contentious political, social, economic, even spiritual camps.

On the one hand, we have the forces of evil trying to drag our once great nation into the sewer of debauchery, discontent, envy, and strife. On the other hand, we have the power of God through the Holy Spirit—expressed through the lives of those devoted to the life-transforming gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—holding back the total destruction of all that is holy and good.

In our state of battle weariness, we need to take heart from the words of the Apostle Jude, as found in Jude 1:17-21:

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

As we begin another new day, let’s take comfort and also meet this day with new determination. God has chosen us to belong to Him. He is using us to further the advancement of His Kingdom here on earth. He has enabled us by the power of the in-dwelling Holy Spirit. So, let us claim this day for Jesus and allow His love to flow through us into the desperately needy world around us.

 

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

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bring Your Offerings

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“My name will be great among the nations, from
where the sun rises to where it sets. In every
place incense and pure offerings will be brought
to me, because my name will be great among
the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.
—Malachi 1:11

No, I’m not making this blog post a plea for your money. Instead, I am contemplating this verse of Scripture that records God’s own words through the pen of the Prophet Malachi, as recorded in Malachi 1:11:

“My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

The offering I’m soliciting from you, dear reader, on this particular day, is an offering of praise and thanksgiving to the God who loved us and sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place on the cross of Calvary. Truly, His name—God’s name—has been, is now, and will forever be, great among the nations of the earth.

He has revealed Himself in His creation. He has revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus. And, He continues to reveal Himself through the precious Holy Spirit.

Can you think of someone who, when you hear his or her name, you find yourself responding with a sense of deep respect, amazing awe, and even a deep love?

Certain national leaders from the distant past come to my mind: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, and Jane Addams. I have similar feelings of respect for Marconi, Edison, Katharine Burr Blodgett, Stephanie Kwolek, and other inventors; for authors such as Louisa May Alcott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, C. S. Lewis, and other great writers; for certain spiritual leaders such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, John and Charles Wesley, Harriet Livermore, Phoebe Palmer, Charles G. Finney, Charles H. Spurgeon, Olive M. Winchester, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Billy Graham, James Montgomery Boice, and others. In each case, these ones I hold dear had flaws and foibles, but still each one contributed significantly in some way to the sphere in which he or she held influence.

Imagine now having respect for One who is perfect in every way. This One has, in fact, created all things and caused all things to hold together. He is the creator and true embodiment of love. He is the giver of mercy and grace. He is the judge and justifier of all.

Is it any wonder that God declares through the Prophet Malachi: “My name will be great among the nations.” How fortunate we are that He has loved us and chosen us to belong to Himself. He is our God and we are His people.

 

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

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Stay Close

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You
are my strength; come quickly to help me.”
—Psalm 22:19

Many times during a television police procedural drama, when the protagonist is attempting to protect someone under his or her care, the actor will say these words, “Stay close.” In other words, “If I’m going to protect you, I need you to stay close to me so I know where you are at all times.”

Just as easily, the person being protected could make the same request of his or her protector: “Stay close to me. I know you will protect me if you stay right by my side.”

King David understood this need for closeness in order to have the protection he needed to survive the attacks by his enemies. Notice what he wrote in Psalm 22:19:

But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

Each day, as we walk the pathway that God has laid out before us, we need to pray this prayer of David. It allows us to recognize anew our need for God to hold us safely in the hollow of His mighty hand. It gives ascent to the truth that if we try to walk alone, we will fall off the pathway. Our enemy, Satan, wants to do everything he can to poison our spiritual formation. But, with God alongside us, we will remain fully protected from whatever evil Satan sends our way.

 

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

 

Monday, May 20, 2019

You Can't Harm Me

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be
afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
—Psalm 118:5-6

I have a dear friend who works in a major metropolitan city. As his locale has become more and more violent, he has decided to step up the protection he provides for himself. He has obtained a concealed carry permit so that he can have a firearm available in case he is assaulted. He also has scheduled a regular time at the shooting range twice each week to assure that he is well-trained in the use of his Glock handgun.

He asked for a unique Christmas gift and his family obliged by purchasing a custom-fit bullet resistant Kevlar vest. He now wears this under his work clothes. He admits that it is a bit uncomfortable. But, he feels the added protection this vest gives his chest and back is worth it.

He has also taken, and continues to take, Krav Maga, the Israeli Defense Forces-created self-defense system. He chose this most-difficult-to-master martial art because his research disclosed that it is the most deadly and most effective self-defense technique.

I guess you might say that my friend is ready for anything. But, of course, in saying that, you would be wrong. He can still be hit by a vehicle while crossing the street. He can succumb to a heart attack, or cancer, or some other deadly disease. He can have some object fall out of the sky and kill him. But, in his mind, he has done everything he can to prevent harm from others causing his injury or death.

As those who believe in the life-transforming power of the living Lord Jesus Christ, we Christians—or “Christ’s-ones”—have a source of protection that exceeds anything humans can devise. Our source of protection comes from the God who created all things.

The Psalmist declares the following in Psalm 118:5-6:

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

If we find ourselves lost in the “forest” of gloom and despair, of sin and destruction, we, too, can call on the Lord and He will bring us into a spacious place—a clearing in that “forest.” He will be with us. He will take our fear away. We will recognize with the Psalmist, “What can mere mortals do to me?”

As we begin a new day, let’s truly trust God to protect us and keep us safe in the hollow of His mighty hand. We can move confidently into the world knowing that “God is our refuge, our strength, and our present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

 

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

 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Without God - Part 45:
The Conclusion of the Matter

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The words of the wise are like goads,
their collected sayings like firmly
embedded nails—given by one shepherd.”
—Ecclesiastes 12:11

In this last chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon has some final words of commentary to add to his analysis of life “under the sun”—that is, life without the Presence of God in a human’s life. Please note what Solomon wrote, as found in Ecclesiastes 12:9-14:

Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

When all is said and done, King Solomon brings us back to the realization that life “under the sun”—life without God—is meaningless, a casting after the wind. But, in contrast, life with a relationship with God has inestimable value. To which each of us as believers, at the start of this new day, can voice a hearty, “Amen!”

 

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