There Will Be a Day

The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. – Joel 2:31

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The “Day of the LORD” will arrive sometime … or perhaps it already has, and we only await its culmination. Either way, the question is, “Are you ready?”

Sometimes I am asked, “Do you think it will be soon?” and I often answer, “Maybe … yes and no.” You see, Christ will return some day, but He also said that all the nations (people groups) of the world must first hear the Good News. As far as I can tell, this has not happened and until it does, I believe the Savior waits for us to obediently take His gospel to them.

On the other hand, if a person dies today, he or she will meet Jesus immediately and if he does not know the Savior, this day for him will certainly be “great and awe-inspiring.”

So, again, the question is not really, “When?”, but rather, “Are you ready?”

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

An Enduring Truth

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. – Zechariah 12:10

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Even though the people of Israel have historically denied Jesus Christ, their Messiah, God still loves them! Chesed, God’s “longsuffering, covenantal love” is not limited by man’s response, because it is secured by an eternal, all-powerful commitment. For this, all the redeemed should be extremely thankful.

You see, God also loves us in spite of our disobedience! We don’t deserve His love any more than Israel, but this is why God’s grace is so essential. We are only saved through His covenant of grace, sealed by the blood of His Son. A grace that is sufficient even in those times when we are not truly loving .the one who extends it.

By grace we are saved and by grace we are kept; all through faith (which is the gift of God) and not by works. An enduring truth that is very good for us all.

Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are. – Phillips Brooks

Impossible to Fail

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. – Psalms 1:3

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Although “success” often seems to be a distinctly “American” ideal, it is defined in many ways by many different cultures around the world. Perhaps, the most important question is now how our country defines it or even how we define it (personally), but rather how success is seen by our Creator.

Media consistently (and tirelessly) projects success in a manner that appeals to our temporal natures: possessions and fame. Yet, if we consider ourselves to be aligned with God’s purposes in Christ Jesus, a different standard applies. Scripture, as always, is our first source for all instruction and according to King David, if we desire to succeed, then we must be “delighting in the LORD’s instruction” and “meditating on it day and night.” In other words, the key to our ultimate success does not lie within “us,” but rather it is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ (the Lord of the Universe) – and even when it does not feel like we are succeeding, with Christ it is impossible to fail.

We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing. – Robert E. Lee

The Pilgrim’s Life

Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion. – Psalms 84:6-7

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Here we find a beautiful image of a faithful pilgrim’s life in Christ Jesus.

Many days we feel as if we are passing through Death Valley (a place of spiritual dryness), but by God’s grace, it often becomes an oasis. Instead of experiencing thirst, we are refreshed as we learn to lean upon our Lord and Savior. With each succeeding “valley,” we then become stronger and stronger until that moment when we are face-to-face with our Redeemer. The journey, at times, seems too long and too difficult, but we eventually arrive.

This life is certainly not without trouble, but each test that we face under His providence makes us more dependent upon His sustenance. We become less and He becomes more, until we ultimately look a lot like Jesus.

Never forget that God tests his real friends more severely than the lukewarm ones. – Kathryn Hulme

Devoted?

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. – Psalms 95:6-7

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When I look upon the faces of those who attend televised sporting events, I am at times both amused and horrified. The fervor (borderline hatred) that is expressed is, at times, unsettling.

Who do you follow? The American Football season is almost over, and I followed it with a lot of interest. Unfortunately, it was not a good season for “my” teams. Though we did not have losing campaigns, we didn’t have winning ones either. Maybe I should change my strategy and cheer for the teams that I want to LOSE instead. Of course, I also like to follow my favorite teams in other sports, like baseball, soccer, and, yes, even rugby. Watching sports is more fun when you have a favorite. I even try to follow my favorite players in golf. I “follow” them (pay attention to how they are doing), but I do not “worship” them!

Who or what is the object of your worship? To what or to whom do you “bow down” by giving the best of your time and resources, your life? God is our Creator. He is our only Lord and there should be no other. Why would we give our lives to anyone or anything else? If time and money were the only measurements of our devotion, would our allegiance to Christ even register?

The eyes of some of the fans at Davis Cup matches scare me. There’s no light in them. Fixed emotions. Blind worship. Horror. It makes me think of what happened to us long ago. – Boris Becker

No Vuvuzelas, Please

With trumpets and the sound of the horn, shout joyfully before the King, the Lord. – Psalms 98:6

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In the US, the most popular sporting event of each calendar year would have to be the NFL Super Bowl, but anywhere outside of our country, a different spectacle is king. Of course, I speak of the World Cup of Soccer (true football). In 2010, my wife and I lived in Africa and we were able to watch many of the matches being played in South Africa.

For most of this multi-day event (no matter the venue), there was a consistent, never-ending, irritating noise. I didn’t like it. It was annoying. For those who attended in-person, I understand that it was even deafening. It sounded like an enormous beehive … and it NEVER stopped! What am I talking about? If you watched, you will surely remember. Yes, the VUVUZELA! The evil “plastic horn of deafness.” I enjoyed the World Cup (and always look forward to the next one), but I was very happy to see the vuvuzelas eliminated.

One day, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth and the Bible tells us that a trumpet will sound at that exact moment. I pray with all my heart that it won’t be a vuvuzela! At the same time, I am certain that when Jesus comes, and we rise to our feet to meet Him, our zeal will surpass that of all those fans at every World Cup (or Super Bowl) combined!

When Christ returns, and only then, will the angel’s message to the shepherds be totally fulfilled: Peace on earth, goodwill toward men. – David Jeremiah

Satisfied?

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. – Psalms 105:1

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In Psalm 105, the writer notes all of God’s works on behalf of His chosen people, Israel. It seems that he didn’t want them to forget a single thing that the Lord had done for them over the centuries of their existence. Other than a heart of thankfulness, what might have prompted such an extensive reminder?

Across their extended history, the people of Israel (and her leaders) often thought or focused on what they had NOT received, rather than all the good things they HAD obtained from/by the hand of God. The psalmist, inspired by the Holy Spirit, chose this moment in time to remind them (once again) of God’s consistent faithfulness (in the face of their continued disobedience).

When was the last time you counted your own blessings? Do you spend more time thinking about what you don’t have, instead of thinking about all the good things that you do possess (by God’s grace and mercy)? Let us be equally satisfied in Christ and with God’s provision, yet wholly dissatisfied in our own progress toward His ultimate desire for our complete sanctification. That is what it means to be blessed!

A sense of blessedness comes from a change of heart, not from more blessings. – Mason Cooley