Finishing Well

Finishing Well

legacy-enterlinedesign-gen-48aGenesis 48 “Consider the Legacy You Leave Behind”

Jacob has not always been faithful to God throughout his life. He has schemed and lived a life that was less than honorable but in the end, he realizes this truth: even “If we are unfaithful, he (God) remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.” And so Jacob rehearses before Joseph, and perhaps his other sons, the faithfulness of God. In essence, he has taken the time to reveal his life to them and show them how the hand of God has been upon him. He now wants to share that with those he leaves behind. Jacob is a man who wants to finish well and that should be our goal as well.

What do you do when you realize you are about to die?  You get right with God, you spend time with loved ones and you share your faith with others. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16 reveals this in spades. Lazarus apparently lived a righteous life and dying he was found to be in paradise with Abraham. In contrast, the rich man did not and found himself in torments. He called to Abraham to send him help and barring that to send someone back to tell his brothers what he wished he had told them when he was alive. May we learn from him to not waste the moments we have today.

Keith Krell notes “Begin to pass on your faith to those you love most.”

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Are You Satisfied with Your Life?


absent-from-body-quote-b-grahamGenesis 25
“Are You Satisfied with Your Life?”

“Abraham breathed his last and he died at a good old age, an old man who had lived a full life.” How is it that Moses could say this about the patriarch? He could because Abraham “believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” He had obeyed God and “went out without understanding and by faith, he lived as he looked forward to the city with firm foundations whose architect and builder is God.” [Heb 11] By faith, when tested, he offered up Isaac as his one and only son. And so when the end came Abraham knew that he had done as God had said and God now would let him join his ancestors. And centuries later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer would say “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.” We who believe God know that our preference is to “be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” for this is just a step on our journey into life with our Lord forever.

When your end comes will you be satisfied that you have been faithful to God? Today you are one step closer to eternity. Are you ready?

Forgive Me but Really????

hands-words2q

Do not be rash with your mouth or hasty in your heart… for God is in heaven and you are on earth! Therefore, let your words be few.”[Ecc 5:2] God often brings this verse to my mind as a gentle reminder of who I am and who God is. Who we are is often revealed by the voluminous words we speak versus the few words God speaks. Elihu, in Job 32-34 would have been wise to have taken this advice but he is really a pompous windbag in many ways.These chapters on Elihu are so like Meryl Streep’s rant at the Golden Globe awards to which I say “Forgive me but really??” And here’s why:

Elihu begins with his diatribe saying he is angry. When we are angry we often say things we later regret. He is not just angry with Job but the other three friends as well. He has, as we often say, “had enough.” He is controlled by his anger which is a danger signal. Secondly, he does not attribute wisdom to the fear of God but to age. Granted with age we do become wiser but the source of godly wisdom is from God, not from man. Thirdly, he admits he is full of words! Over and over through the book of Proverbs, it is the fool with the busy tongue. James reminds us that we cannot subdue the tongue and it is full of deadly poison. Fourthly, Elihu says Job is not listening to God for God reveals his plan and purpose and Job, you don’t a clue!

God exalts the humble, not the proud. Forgive me but I think Elihu is a proud “windbag.” Instead,  we should heed this verse:  “Like apples of gold in settings of silver, so is a word skillfully spoken.” [Pro 25:11]

Mo Matter What, Who, When, Why, How or Where…God Can Be Trusted!

bible2a“No Matter What, Who, When, Why, Where, How…”

Are you are a believer in Christ? Then you need to read and reread the book of Job because you need to know the God you serve and His and your adversary. This is not just a well I will but it is a book that YOU MUST devour until you understand each and every character’s profile but mostly your own and God’s!

Beloved, when you are faced with afflictions and situations that seem ‘out of character’ you will be like Job asking the proverbial question: WHY?  As you wander the book of Job you will unearth this question more than once. Job’s friends have been saying he has sin in his life.  Yet Job has been saying to his friends God Knows All. Job 31: 4 “Does he not see my ways and count all my steps?” God cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

Job knows this about God: He cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

If we fail here, Satan wins.  

God has, as one author noted, “locked himself in” to consistently adhere to the laws He has established and that is why we can trust Him. He cannot lie, change, break a promise or allow his power to be stopped. His word cannot be broken, annulled, and he cannot sin. All of these are true about God and that is what Job is clinging to even as he wonders what all of this is about. We too face these same dilemmas.

James reminds us that when we are in a trial to ask for wisdom and that is what Job is doing. This is where the rubber meets the road and we must decide: will I trust God or not. Ask yourself: Has God been faithful in the past? Then you can trust that he be faithful now and as well in the future.  If we can say yea and amen to this we can know for certain that at some point in time God will end our suffering, our pain or our dilemma. And if perhaps we need to know, He will also reveal its purpose. May you be encouraged to know that as Job wondered you may as well. But, even in his wondering, he still trusted God. You can as well.

 

 

Tick Tock….

clock-christmas-mug2Revelation 16 “Tick Tock….”

‘You are just—the one who is and who was, the Holy One—because you have passed these judgments, they got what they deserved.’ Does God take pleasure in this? NO! The answer is found from the pen of Ezekiel: “Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live?” [Ezek 18] and from the pen of Peter: God ‘is being patient toward you because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.’ [2Peter 3]

The truth is this: what you sow you reap. Satan has sown his seeds of the “deadly d’s” and now God has set his sickle to him and his tares and with righteous judgment they will be reaped to destruction. Satan’s heart was defiant from the beginning and now God’s patience has run its course. God’s sacred history and His plan are unveiled that we might know and be challenged to repent and live righteously. He has immersed us into the lives of the 7 churches that we might know God’s standards of righteousness and be warned of the consequences if we do not. God has opened his book that we might see how much He hates unrighteousness as we should as well.

It is darkest before the dawn but Christmas is coming and the Holy One, the Ancient of Days’ clock will have sounded its last tock forever and we hear the bells resound: “It is finished!” and so it will be.

All Scripture is taken from the FREE online Bible Study tool of Bible.org ministries.

The Singing Saints Pt 1

harp-rev-14-2aThe heavenly choir “were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.” [Revelation 14]

Julie Andrews’ song echoes in our heads: “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” One day it will not the hills but Mount Zion of God will be alive with the sound of music. The choir of the 144,000 sealed by God will be heard singing a new song before the throne. They will be accompanied by the harpists playing their harps reminiscent of the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. That choir celebrated joyfully with songs of thanksgiving and songs accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres. [Neh 12] The difference being that this song is sung by those purchased and preserved. They are the professing choir of virgins redeemed from the earth and are now rewarded for their faithfulness and purity. They had heard the Lamb say “follow Me” and they did.
The Shepherds of old heard the choir of heavenly angels as they sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased” as they proclaimed the Messiah’s birth. What song will you sing for the Messiah king?

 

Box Cake or Step by Step?

vintage-cake-making2a2Peter 3 “Box Cake or Step by Step?”

The world is in love with box cakes because of their ease of making a finished product. But, God’s plan is not like a box cake. He is a step by step God with each of us that we may “be conformed to the image of his Son.” [Rom 8:9] Buying those snowy white cookies is easier and often cheaper but when we take the time to add one ingredient after another we also have the time to pray for those who will receive these goodies. So too, God is patiently taking the ingredients that Peter listed in chapter one and adding them to our lives so that we might be more like His Son each day.

Peter warns us that just as in his day, there will be those who scoff at biblical truths. There are scoffers who say our time in the kitchen baking is also a waste of time. Yet, just as God is intentional and patient, “because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”[2Peter 3:9] what is our excuse for not being as well? Also, we scoff at the scoffers but how often do we fall victim to that mindset when we live as if we have tomorrow rather than living as if He might return any minute?

God has chosen to work intentionally step by step, will we do the same with those who need Christ? We never know what our touch of love may do to break the hardest of hearts.

Be sociable, share this devotional with another.

“Bait and Switch”

2cor-4-bait-and-switch2

We have all been approached by salesmen who say you have to take advantage of this deal today because tomorrow it will be gone. Beware, these are very persuasive people!  These were and are today the enemies we face. In Corinth there were those who sought to use these tactics to show Paul in the worst light possible. But God’s ways are not men’s. Truth will shine above the lies even though temporarily it may seem the other way around. As then it is true today, our true enemy is Satan and his goal is to dupe the unsuspecting, to deceive through any means possible. He targets those along the path of life who are seeking truth but often when the gospel is presented he comes and snatches it away lest they see the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as Paul, we too might be the target of the unscrupulous who seek to paint us in unflattering colors. This is not new for even the religious leaders tried this tactic with Christ. The truth of the matter is this: their temporal gain is their eternal loss.

So what do we do in situations like this? Take a lesson from Christ and Paul. Let your light shine through your earthen vessel for it is the light that dispels the darkness. If you are persecuted or knocked down remember this, Jesus will use this to present the gospel so that some will see and be converted while others will hear “you are without excuse.”

Precious One, do not despair, for your suffering is producing an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. This is temporary but what cannot be seen is eternal.

The Permanence of the Eternal God

unspashRosesHandss2Life seems so short. This week seeing the children I taught now with their own children growing up so fast was a wake – up call as to the fleeting life I now live in contrast to the permanence of God. I am just like a rose in God’s garden, I need tending but eventually the rose will fade and so will I. That is why I must redeem each day for Him as I was reminded recently when a young family’s life was cut short and all 5 entered eternity from the 2 mos. old infant to the 5 yr old child, the 3 yr old child along with their parents. We never know when God will call us home. Do I want to hear well done thou good and faithful servant? My answer is yes. .

Before God created the world as we know it, God was eternal and He still is so. A 24 hr day to us is like a thousand years in God’s sight. This is the true meaning of God being omniscient, omnipotent.

As God created me he placed eternity in my heart [Eccl 3] that I might know and seek the eternal significance of what I do. And like a beautifully crafted tapestry, each thread I weave creates a picture of my life from birth to death.

And so with these thoughts I turned to Psalm 90 where these thoughts were ever before me: Life is fleeting;  enjoy now but invest wisely in that which will count for eternity. Vs 3 reminds us that God makes mankind return to dust. Only our tombstone will recall the life we have lived. James says we  are frail and  like grass, we grow and we wither with the heat of the sun. The woman who came to King David spoke of life and death in 2Sam 14. She gave King David a visual illustration of life: we shall surely die and be like water spilled out on the ground. But too she saw beyond the grave to see that God does not take away life as our eternal end but rather has made plans so that we may not be cast from Him. It is called salvation and the price has been paid by His Beloved Son so that we might live eternally with Him.

Have you prepared for your eternal destiny?

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 119: 1-8 “The Deadly D of Distraction; The Cure: Focus”

psalm 119 blesseda

Dead men do not sin; Living Men Embrace Grace. [Romans 6 and 7]. As parents, we know the joy of our children’s obedience and the sadness when they step across the line into disobedience. It is not just our children but we too struggle. The psalmist reminds us that we are only truly happy when we obey and follow. Perhaps that is why he prayed “if only” I was focused on the eternal perspective. The psalmist said these are the ones who are blameless choosing to die to the Law and be alive “in” Christ.

That choice begins when we hunger and thirst for God and in return God blesses us with his marvelous gift of salvation and justification. And why does God choose to do this? It is so that He may get the glory. It is all about Him and not about us.  The blessed observe His rules, and like a child wanting to mirror their father, step into his footsteps and follow Him. God has one demand: obey and keep my precepts; my mandates ordained in eternity past as my standard that I may bless you.

All of this comes with a price! The price was paid on Calvary while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. But, the psalmist reflected that he faced this dragon called the deadly d of distraction. As he did, so we lament “if I were only focused.” It is a choice to focus on His commands, statutes, precepts so that one day we will hear well done, thou good and faithful servant.