Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Thought on Peter

I don’t know about any of you, but I have a habit of looking at my past, and when I do, I admit that I often see my failures far more often than I see my successes.  Ask me how I’ve failed, about my short comings, my temptations, my lack of confidence, and I can tell you all of them.  Seeing myself and all the bad things about me has never been my problem, but seeing the good things about myself has been, and quite truthfully still is.

I don’t like admitting this, but it is what it is.  Tonight I was reading about the apostle Peter.  There are times when I see a lot of myself in Peter.  I can look at his life with Christ, and I can see many of his failures in myself.  Peter denied Christ three times.  He told Christ Jesus he would never deny Him.  He did.  I have too.

I don’t like admitting this either, but it’s true.  Like Peter, I didn’t and don’t intend to, but it’s happened, and happens.  Do I go around telling people I don’t believe in Jesus.  No.  Maybe not with my voice, but in so many ways.  There are as many ways to deny love as to accept it, and there are as many ways to express hate, prejudice, bigotry, selfishness, and disdain and intolerance as there are ways to express the opposite.

Peter knew these things, felt these things, showed them in his life-even as He walked with Jesus.  Peter knew his failures.  Jesus knew them, too, and forgave them.  Peter was transformed by the love of Jesus.  Peter in the beginning was as we all are…an enemy…and yet through the love of Jesus became a pillar of the early church, and was so steady and brave in his devotion and love of Christ that he helped to change the world he lived in for Christ.  He lived and died loving Christ Jesus because He had experienced grace in His presence.

In the beginning Peter knew failure…In the end He knew success…in the middle grace had its affect, and it’s effect, and it still does…

 

 

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

PURPOSE

There’s an old saying: “If you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life.”  That’s not quite true.  Most people work hard.  But even when they love their job they still have to do things they don’t like to do.  They give effort above and beyond what’s comfortable.  It’s probably more accurate to say that if you’re doing something you believe in, the hard work you do will bring you deep satisfaction.  Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin stated, “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”  Some folks suffer from “destination disease.”  They think that arriving at a certain place in the life will bring them happiness.  What a shame.  Because the reality is that many times when we arrive, we discover that it wasn’t what we expected.  If you become fixated on a destination you can miss the great things that happen along the way.  You miss the joy of today.  If you’re convinced that “someday” is going to be your best day, you won’t put enough into today-or get enough out of it.  If you’re not doing something significant with your life, it doesn’t mater how long it is.  It’s not enough just to survive you need a reason to live.  This is where Christ comes in: He will give you new life, and add purpose to your life-plus the power to fulfill that purpose.  D.L. Moody once said, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.

A Small Thought on Grace by Wayne Augden

Sometimes we forget what’s important, and sometimes we fail to realize the importance of what we know.  Sometimes, we know and yet we fail to live out what we know, and there are times when we fail to understand things we experience every day.  Such is the case with grace.  Grace is simply this, undeserved merit, being loved and forgiven when we aren’t deserving or worthy of either one.

Grace cannot be earned!  Being good, following rules, doesn’t get it.  The only thing that gets grace is the willingness to receive it.  For so many including myself that’s the hard part.  That’s the struggle.

I struggle with a lot of things, and I’ve often felt guilty over the fact that I struggle, and yet it’s often in the act of struggling that we learn the value of what it is we want and what we have.

It’s also how we learn to recognize what it is, and what it isn’t.

Grace is free for the taking, but it isn’t cheap…and when you have it, you have no choice but to give it away.

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

WHEN YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND, TRUST GOD

The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths” (Pro 3:5-6 NKJV).  But what if your path leads through pain, pressure, and problems?  John the Baptist’s did.  He didn’t deserve imprisonment.  After all, he was the forerunner of Christ and the voice of God in the community.  Plus, he was Jesus’ cousin.  So he sent Jesus a message asking, “Are you really the Messiah, or should we keep looking?”  Paraphrased: “Lord, if I’m in your will, how come I’m in this situation?”  It’s a question motivated by unfulfilled expectations.  We think, “Lord, I’ve obeyed you, how come things aren’t working out for me?”  And it feels worse when you’ve faithfully served Him.  Writing about her daughter’s death, Meg Woodson says, “I’ll never forget those shrill, piercing screams, that the God who could have helped, looked down on this young woman who was devoted to Him…and decided to sit on His hands and let her death top the horror charts.”  Talk about unmet expectations!  Jesus could have saved John, but He didn’t.  Instead He sent back word: “Don’t worry, everything’s on target, the kingdom is being built.  You did your job well” (See Mt 11:4-5).  It probably wasn’t the answer John hoped for.  He was looking for solutions to temporal problems while Jesus was busy establishing an eternal kingdom.  So next time God doesn’t seem to meet your expectations, it’s not that He doesn’t care; it’s that He sees the big picture and He’s handling issues you can’t even begin to comprehend.  So trust Him!

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

BE HAPPY FOR OTHERS

William Barclay said: “It’s more difficult to congratulate another on his success if it involves disappointment to us, than to sympathize with his sorrow… Only when self is dead can we take as much joy in the success of others as in our own.”  Karen Ehman’s home had been for sale twenty months when a friend called to say hers sold in twenty days.  Ehman says: “Although I was thrilled…I was a tad jealous…that ‘poor me’ mentality when God answers someone else’s prayer and my answer seems to be ‘no,’ or ‘not right now.’  As a child I envied kids from two-parent homes…in high school it was other girls’ looks and cute clothes…I was average looking, and although I was every guy’s pal, I was nobody’s gal.  In college I envied girls whose prayers for a knight in shining armor were answered…Once married, I struggled with miscarriage and dashed dreams of motherhood…I slapped a smile on my face and attended yet another baby shower.  The cure for envy isn’t easy…but when you call on God He will ‘tell you…things…you could [never figure out on your own]’ (Jer 33:3 NIV).  Instead of begging Him to sell my house, take away my pain, and fix my kids, I need to ask what He’s trying to teach me that I won’t learn if He rescues me; and what qualities He’s trying to grow in me.  God’s willing and able to answer our prayers as He sees fit…[His goal is] growing us to be more like His Son.”  Paul writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  To be Christlike, you gotta be able to do both.

From “Morning Thoughts” by Winslow

“Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29

THE circumstances of the Savior’s resurrection were in harmony with its lonely and solemn grandeur. No human witness was privileged to behold it. The mysterious reunion of the human soul with the body of Christ was an illustrious event, upon which no mortal eye was permitted to gaze. There is a moral grandeur of surpassing character in the resurrection of Christ unseen. The fact is not an object with which sense has so much to do, as faith. And that no human eye was permitted to witness the stupendous event, doubtless, was designed to teach man that it was with the spiritual, and not with the fleshly, apprehension of this truth that He had especially to do. What eye but that of faith could see the illustrious Conqueror come forth, binding with adamantine chains hell, death, and the grave? What principle but the spiritual and mighty principle of faith could enter into the revealed mind of God, sympathize with the design of the Savior, and interpret the sublime mystery of this stupendous event? It was proper, therefore, no it was worthy of God, and in harmony with the character and the design of the resurrection of our Lord, that a veil should conceal its actual accomplishment from the eye of His Church; and that the great evidence they should have of the truth of the fact should be the power of His resurrection felt and experienced in their souls. Oh yes! the only power of the Savior’s resurrection which we desire to know is that which comes to us through the energy of an all-seeing, all-conquering, all-believing faith. Oh, give me this, rather than to have witnessed with these eyes the celestial attendants clustering around the tomb-the rolling away of the stone that was upon the sepulcher-the breaking of the seal-and the emerging form of the Son of God, bearing in His hands the emblems and the tokens of His victory. The spiritual so infinitely transcends the carnal-the eye of faith is so much more glorious than the eye of sense, that our Lord Himself has sanctified and sealed it with His own precious blessing-“Jesus says unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.” Blessed Jesus! in faith would I then follow You each step of Your journey through this valley of tears; in faith would I visit the manger, the cross, and the tomb; for You have pronounced him blessed above all, who, though he sees not, yet believes in You. “Lord, I believe: help You mine unbelief.”

 

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

THE SECRET OF FULFILLMENT

Optimists tend to believe that life is mostly good; pessimists, that it’s mostly bad.  Life is both.  And only those who embrace that truth are able to find fulfillment.  Why?  Because those who accept it but don’t embrace it become apathetic, meeting every difficulty with a shrug and a sigh.  They may survive, but they won’t be successful.  To succeed you must be proactive, in bad times as well as good.  If you examine the lives of successful people you’ll discover they always do what’s right no matter how they feel, and by doing right-they end up feeling good.  On the other hand, unsuccessful people wait to feel good before they do what’s right.  As a result, they neither do what’s right nor feel good.  Often you won’t feel like doing the right thing, but you need to do it anyway.  Nelson Mandala said: “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one finds many more hills to climb.  I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come.  But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”   If you always do the right thing-despite how you feel, despite what others might say or do in response-you will be satisfied with yourself.  And that, at the end of the day, will do a lot to determine whether you feel fulfilled.

From “Rylisms” by James Ryle

Glory Just Around the Corner

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (1 Peter 4:12-13. The Message).

Sometimes things can get so difficult that even the most ardent believers look heavenward with serious questions about whether or not God is involved in our affairs anymore. Even Jesus Himself cried out on the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Sometimes God pulls just far enough away to awaken and alarm us by His absence. Perhaps we may have grown so accustomed to His blessings and benefits, that we inadvertently began taking them for granted; failing to humbly acknowledge His presence and His provisions in our daily lives. Living presumptuously, without showing our gratitude to God for who He is and what He does.

Nothing snaps us out of that indifferent daze more quickly that a good dose of real difficulty, with a side order of God’s perceived absence. When all hell breaks loose, and heaven is no where to be found — that will get your attention!

But, God is not absent, nor is He distant. He’s just silent; watching and waiting for how we handle the situation. Will be bellow in unbelief like those who know not God at all? Or will we, like Job of old, trust Him though He slay us.

The truth is that the difficulty you are facing is a spiritual refining process; God is separating the gold from the dross in your life. And if you will quietly trust Him through the ordeal you will soon discover it was worth it all — for glory is just around the corner.

From “Morning and Evening” by C. H. Spurgeon

“I will meditate in thy precepts.”   Psa_119:15

There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on his Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning, “I will meditate in thy precepts.”

 

Thought for Friday Oct 12, 2012

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post.  I know it’s been awhile because I can’t remember the last one I wrote, so I know it’s been too long.  As for those of you who follow me, I want to say thank you for your patience, and I’m glad that you find something of value when you come here to read whatever it is I’ve published.  I know that there are a number of you who have expressed a desire to see me write more of my own things, and to publish the writings of others less, no matter how great or worthwhile their writings may be or have been in the past.

Those of you who have been with me for a long time know that I’m not that forth coming when it comes to talking or writing about myself.  There are a number of reasons for this, and while they’re all true, I don’t like any of them.  The first is because I don’t like myself very much, and find it very difficult to see much in myself that is very likable or worthwhile.  It’s not easy to write that, but to say anything less would be a lie, and as anyone who knows me knows I’m a terrible liar.  I suppose one has to like something or at least see the advantage in doing something before one can be very good at it, and since I absolutely hate being lied to, and lying in general, it stands to reason I can’t pull it off with any degree of skill.  For me lying is the equivalent to my being almost bald.  You can see it for what it is, so it’s just easier to admit and live with the fact than to try and deny it.

Some people would probably say I suffer from low self-esteem.  That’s what the world calls it, and that’s what I’ve had a number of people tell me is my problem.  To be honest, low self-esteem is a label just like “Hines Ketchup” and “Budweiser” are labels.  It’s descriptive of an attitude and a behavior, a thing, but labels  only describe what can be seen; they’re not really indicative of what’s within.  For that someone has to go further than just looking at the label.  You really want to know what “Hines Ketchup” or “Budweiser” tastes like you have to open them up and taste them to know for sure what they are.

I know what the world calls it when someone has a low opinion of oneself.  I have a hard time with seeing myself that way.  I don’t think I suffer so much from low self-esteem as I suffer from a lack of understanding of what it is to know grace.  For me, the way I feel about myself is a product of knowing who I am better than anyone else, except for God, and I can tell you from having lived with myself and having experienced the consequences of living with the things I’ve done that I have no right to feel good about myself.

In truth, all labels are misleading to a degree, and most of them are distortions, and are overly simplified explanations of things far more complicated than what they appear to be.  People are labeled all the time, if not by others, by themselves, and very, very seldom does justice, honesty, or truth enter very far into any of the labels we use to describe others or ourselves.  None of us have a truly accurate view of ourselves or others, and if there’s one great deception in this world, it’s in the fact that so many of us think that we do…