O Taste And See That The Lord Is Good!

August 17, 2019
Living a fully satisfying life without the presence God is impossible. For He provides His children an exquisite, unsurpassed quality of life along with the exceptional pleasure. As the Lord Jesus Christ says in John 10:10 (NLT): ”The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Unfortunately, far too many people try to obtain an abundant fully satisfying life through the pursuit of that newest, biggest, and best “toy.” Often at another person’s expense.

Those people who have futilely tried to find happiness thought worldly extravagance and pleasures (i.e., power, money, sex, drugs, social-political affiliations, etc.) invariably learn that although tantalizing, acquiring material things will leave us empty and unfulfilled; hungry for more material things.

Ultimately, things cannot satisfy the deep human longings as intimate relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ does. Our faith in Christ secures our eternal fellowship where He becomes more than just a historical figure—He becomes real and personal friend.

We who experience a personal relationship with God though Jesus Christ truly understand the sentiments expressed in Psalm 34:8: “O taste and see that the Lord is good!”

Peace and joy are two wonderful outcomes of the Lord’s goodness. Peace comes from our reconciliation to God afforded us by Christ, which enables us to extend peace towards others (to the same extent we experience peace with God). His perfect peace also comforts us as He loves us and satisfies our deepest needs.

The goodness of God also brings us great pleasure and joy that grows within us daily as we grow to understand that He with us always; working all things together for our good as Romans 8:28 tells us. In addition, our joy is not triggered by material things.

In other words, the joy we have in God through Christ is not based on our external circumstances or on the acquisition of things. Instead, our joy is spiritual, internal and eternal. It enlivens and strengthens us, even in adversity.

When faced with adversity, we can find true comfort in God’s Word (the Bible) as we reflect how He delivers us and continues to prove we are not forgotten. Truly the Lord loves us, cares for us, and will not forsake us. What a wonderful Savior!

O taste and see that the Lord is good.

Wearing Our Badge Of Honor

August 10, 2019
It is unfortunate how some people view physical aging as a curse and will make every attempt to recapture their youth by trying to out-do people half their age. To the casual observer, wearing younger fashions, buying sportier cars, and engaging in social activities targeted to younger audiences are expensive and futile attempts to prove something.

What can we say about these attempts to recapture the past and achieve an impossible dream? Are they coping mechanisms to address the guilt, shame or regret of past failures and missed opportunities? Or are they attempts to relive the nostalgia of our pleasant past? One can never be sure.

Aging is not a curse, and grey hair is a badge of honor worn by aged, experienced men and women who exhibit a stellar lifestyle that challenges and inspires us to excellence—long after they have passed away from the earth.

Without a faith-based, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we humans are certain to live defeated, sin-enslaved lives—whether young or old. This is as Proverbs 16:31 (NLT) teaches: Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.

Psalm 8:5 tells how God designed us a little lower than the angels; that we are crowned with His glory and honor with all things under our feet. Truly, God has given us an amazing pedigree that is up to us to accept and fulfill.

Unlike other created beings, we humans can choose to live noble lives that reflect our Creator’s dignity and to affect positive changes in others around us. Thus, we cannot be mistakes or afterthoughts because we are special and unique creations who fulfill the Lord’s perfect, eternal design.

God created us—complex creatures who function according to His purpose: to honor Him always!

Our minds control our cognitive and anatomical functions. We use them for proper thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and memories. Our bodies are His instruments that perform tangible and meaningful acts that reveal His love and goodness in the world.

The Lord did not create us to be the Enemy’s weapons of death and destruction. The Enemy’s mission is to confuse and distort the Lord’s perfect plan by convincing us that our internal and external differences “prove” we are flawed and worthless. Many of us believe we are ugly and that we won’t amount to anything. Too many of us have accepted this fallacy and believe we will do nothing but fail in this life.

Nevertheless, Psalm 139:14 reads: Thank you [Lord] for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. We are God’s crowning achievement of creation and salvation. As such, we are responsible for living out the noble plan He has designed specifically for each of us before we were born—to the best of our ability.

Much like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, God created us special and uniquely different so that when assembled, we reveal His beautiful portrait of love, redemption, and glory.

We Are Salt and Light

August 3, 2019
In Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV), the Lord Jesus Christ taught His followers:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.

Jesus establishes a new spiritual norm for appropriate earthly conduct that can change the world. This “Kingdom Living” occurs when normal, everyday human lives are dramatically changed as they encounter the Living Christ personally.

Such lives become Christ-centered and Spirit-controlled to the extent that we think, speak, and act in ways that honor the Lord Jesus Christ as His new creations. In other words, the Holy Spirit governs our thoughts, words, and actions, so that we grow morally and spiritually in our commitment to prayer, reading His Word (Bible), attending regular worship, and serving others.

We acquire this new life by placing our faith in the Lord’s death and resurrection to reconcile us to God instead of our futile self-righteousness. We submit to His will while clinging tenaciously to Him for our every need. Now, the power of Satan, the cares of this world, and our own inadequate strength no longer debilitate us as we operate under His unfaltering might.

Our desire is to know the Lord better and become more like him daily. The Lord helps us grow to be more like Him each day and gives us the ability to honor Him in everything we say, think, and do. In other words, we “grow up” morally and spiritually. Our new lives, like savory salt, will not lose its zest, and like bright lamps, we illuminate our surroundings magnificently.

We become active and willing participants who join him in this operation. Here, we are not working to achieve salvation. Instead, we deliberately make godly, moral choices, and we intentionally perform selfless, noble acts because we are saved already.

Kingdom Living is consistent with the Lord’s will that no one should perish but that we all become the benefactors of His grace and love as John 1:12–13 (KJV) reads:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [and daughters] of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man [or woman], but of God.

This New Life in Christ is something that all His followers share in common. This Christian Heritage allows us to live out the truths of Galatians 2:20 (KJV):

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Kingdom Living also moves beyond our interaction with God to include our interactions with others as we function in ways that are not detrimental to their health, welfare, or safety regardless of race, gender, culture, social status, or political affiliation.

We are the Lord’s “salt” and “light” uniquely suited to represent Him. Our life’s mission as His Ambassadors is always to model His righteousness and to transform this sin-contaminated, sin-darkened world one person at a time. Our eyes remain focused on Jesus Christ and Him crucified while our feet follow His “straight and narrow path” consistently.1 Should we try to be anything else, we become utterly and absolutely worthless.

We are not perfect, only Christ was. Yet we strive for perfection in Him daily so that we can show that it is possible to practice an authentic, Christ-entered, Spirit-controlled life.

Without hesitation, we love and serve the Lord and others in need and become compelling witnesses that render timely responses to a world seeking answers to many complex issues and questions.

The Lord wants us to experience His abundant and everlasting new life so that we can emulate His moral and spiritual excellence consistently.

Can normal everyday people change the world? Yes we can—as salt and light!

 

We Can Come Home Today

July 26, 2019
In Luke 15, the Lord Jesus Christ presents three parables about a lost item that was found. In the Lost Sheep Parable, the Lord describes how a concerned shepherd left ninety-nine sheep to search for one lost sheep. The Lost Coin Parable presents a woman who searches her house diligently to recover one lost silver coin. The Lord’s third parable is about a Lost (or Prodigal) Son.

These parables share a common theme: something lost is found resulting in celebration.

The Lost Son is especially endearing to those of us who can relate to being “lost” by making poor financial decisions, wrong career choices, keeping company with the “wrong” friends, engaging in antisocial behavior, In other words, doing things that caused harm to ourselves and/or others we later regretted.

From this perspective, it is easy to understand how the son could change his perspective as expressed in verses Luke 15:17-20 (NIV):

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’So he got up and went to his father.

Revelation 3:20 tells us that Jesus stands at the door of our hearts, knocking, and if we are willing to open the door—giving Him complete control of our hearts, minds and lives—He will provide us with a life of freedom that is completely fulfilling forever. We must “come home” as did the Lost Son!

Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior and Friend graciously bestows an unselfish love we cannot earn by human effort; a consuming and incomprehensible peace that cannot be taken from us; the necessary provisions that sustain our life and existence, and a deeply satisfying purpose for living that is uniquely suited for each of us individually. What a wonderful Savior!

While serving as pastor in Kelso, Scotland (circa 1846), Horatius Bonar wrote this popular hymn that inspires our Christian faith today:

I heard the Voice of Jesus Say1
Horatius Bonar

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest; Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.” I came to Jesus as I was, Weary and worn and sad; I found in Him a resting place, And He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold I freely give The living water thirsty one, Stoop down and drink and live.” I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life giving stream; My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, And now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light; Look unto Me thy morn shall rise, And all thy day be bright.” I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun; And in that Light of life I’ll walk, Till trav-‘ling days are done.

Oh how these precious words adequately express the sentiments of those of us who have “come home” to abide in Christ forever. For as Acts 17:28 (KJV) reads: “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”

Won’t you come home today?

We Are Small Yet Large

July 19, 2019
A prevalent misconception links size and scope with the Lord’s association. Perhaps this derives from our interpretation of Scriptures like Ephesians 3:20 (KJV): “Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” and Deuteronomy 28:13 (KJV): “The head and not the tail” depicting God’s bountiful grace and providence towards His people.

Linking material prosperity with God is problematic since His Word offers a very different view of His intervention that is independent of our feelings and circumstances. For example, the Lord Jesus taught the meek will inherit the earth. He also acknowledged and praised a poor widow for giving all she had, and He promised there will always be the poor.1

A similar theme can be found in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV):

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

During that morally and spiritually bankrupt time in ancient Israel’s history, near the end of Ahab and Jezebel’s evil reign, God’s prophet Elijah confronted Ahab and the 450 false prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. There, the Lord demonstrated His power to consume the water-soaked, evening sacrifice with fire from Heaven after the false prophets and their god failed to consume that same sacrifice.

Yet in 1 Kings 22, the Lord used a lesser-known prophet to declare the exact day of Ahab’s death.2

Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, formed an alliance with Ahab to defeat the Syrians at Ramoth Gilead. Before engaging in battle, Jehoshaphat asked King Ahab for the Lord’s counsel, so the prophet Micaiah was summoned.

Imagine the spectacle as this one man stood alone among the pomp and splendor of two great kings seated on thrones in their regal glory surrounded by hundreds of false prophets who were predicting a resounding victory at Ramoth Gilead.

It would have been easy for Micaiah to follow the crowd and repeat the same false assurance his contemporaries were declaring. He did not, however. Instead, he declared one simple message: King Ahab will die in battle! A few hours later, King Ahab died in battle just as the man of God predicted—even though Ahab changed clothes with Jehoshaphat in an attempt to disguise himself from the enemy.

As Christians, we should never consider ourselves to be mistakes or afterthoughts. We are special and unique persons designed to fulfill the Lord’s perfect, eternal purpose. He created us with all our complexity, to function according to His perfect will.

Our Lord can and will use anyone, even those considered “small or insignificant” to accomplish a great work that will honor Him and benefit others and ourselves. All He wants is our willing and obedient hearts.

We are small yet large!