Psalm 85:15--But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth
They said they would do it, the task well defined
But then they turned left, then right, then behind.
They scorned those in power subverting their will
When sudden calamity finished their thrills.
So don’t hitch your wagon with those who rebel
Unless you would like your pain to excel.
Proverbs 24:21,22—My son, fear the LORD, as well as the king, and don’t associate with rebels, for destruction from them will come suddenly; who knows what distress these two can bring?
Jesus in the final hours before getting arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane asked eight of the disciples to sit while he prayed. Then He took Peter, James and John with him further into the garden. Disclosing His anguish to His three closest friends, He asked them to stay awake with Him. Then He went a little further and fell face down on the ground to pray. When He returned to the three he found them sleeping. He confronted Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake one hour?” (vs. 37)
Revelation 3:2—Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God.
3 John 5-8—Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love in front of the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth.
Karl and Joe* accompanied me on a missions trip. We had a great time together sharing Jesus with people who had never heard of Him. We laughed at ourselves as we struggled to speak the language of our hosts. We enjoyed the adventure of braving rush hour on motorcycles and eating strange but delicious foods. We bonded as a team as we shared in hardships and victories in the journey of serving God.
Decades later, Karl is still serving the Lord and making a difference in the lives of people. Joe got wrapped around the pursuit of making money and climbing the corporate ladder. His liked to be seen in church on Sunday while the rest of the week he saw to his career and pursuing the good life.
There is an insightful television program called Undercover Boss. Each episode, the owner or CEO of a company is disguised and then works for several days with different employees with differing responsibilities. Often the boss is inept at the tasks the employee is to teach him which puts pressure on him to do better. As he works with each selected person he also finds out what life is like in their shoes. Some are struggling financially or dealing with challenges that make life difficult.
I apologize in advance for this illustration but I am not trying to be crude in making a crucial point. Each night I walk our two dogs, Hero the Labrador retriever and Saber the Sheltie. When the three of us walk, Saber has a habit that is extremely annoying. If he comes across what I suspect is dung from another animal (I’m guessing raccoon), before I can stop him, he literally does an in-the-air rollover dive into the mess and slides his chest and back all over it! Now I’m mad because I have to clean him (a difficult task with his thick and long hair) and he stinks. Furthermore, can you imagine what people would think of me as an owner if they came upon Saber in such a disgusting condition?
The nation of Israel pretty much did everything possible to anger and alienate God. They exceeded the sins of the evil nations He commanded them to destroy. Repeatedly they quit following Him. They broke His heart and deserved annihilation which really makes His statement below more than amazing.
Luke 16:10-12—Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own?
The certainty of knowing is a medicine of incalculable worth. I breathe knowing unseen air is present in this room. I know (brake inspections help), my Subaru will slow down when I push my foot against the pedal. If I miss eating several meals I am aware that I will easily get cold outside. After 23 years of marriage I have a good sense of what my wife will or will not do. What I know shapes my behavior, reflects my beliefs and gives me a confidence that ignorance could not manufacture.
The angel, Gabriel, clearly told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would have a child and they were to call him “John” (Luke 1:13). Nine months later, elderly Elizabeth miraculously conceived this special baby and the neighbors and relatives gathered to celebrate his circumcision and to give him his name. According to well-established custom they assumed he would take the name of his priestly father.
Most American Christians are familiar with the term “rapture.” The belief that Christians will avoid living through the tribulation is largely attributed to 1 Thessalonians 4:17—“Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.” The fictional series Left Behindglamorizes this view and reinforces the notion that the church will escape the tribulation.
Our neighbors have a new puppy, Sadie. She is a lovable Pit Bull full of energy and eager for attention. To keep her from getting lost or running away, it was necessary to finish fencing in their yard. So, with help from family members, holes were dug, cement was poured, and metal posts for a chain-link fence were sealed into the ground. That fence is not going anywhere; Sadie is quite secure.
In 1725, Franciscan monks established the Convent of Ocopa to evangelize and civilize the tribes of the Peruvian jungle. Located about 45 minutes from the city of Huancayo in the central Andes, this monastery contains a library with over 25,000 volumes of antique literature. Adorning many of the walls of the splendid building are paintings that date 200-300 years in age. It is a most impressive place where the walls literally seem to breathe with stories.
Friday evening I watered the young trees and shrubbery in my front yard. I noticed a plastic soft drink container wrapped in gray tape. It looked suspicious enough, so that not wanting my children to pick it up, I chucked it across our road.* The next morning while Bryan and Stephen and I shot hoops in our driveway, a police car pulled alongside the curb across the street. Someone evidently reported the object and a bomb squad was dispatched. Sure enough, it was a poorly-made bomb that failed to explode. Perhaps you can imagine some of the thoughts that ran through my families’ heads as we pondered the incident.
Johann* works for Bernard Haldane Associates. As I sat down in his office he said to me, “During the five years I have worked with this company I have interviewed thirty-four pastors. Thirty-three of them missed appointments, were late, or lied when giving information. Only one was a man of integrity.” He looked me over as if to say, are you any different. If he meant to get my attention, he succeeded. For the rest of the day I pondered his opening statement and grieved.
In 1903 the Russian czar noticed a sentry posted for no apparent reason on the Kremlin grounds. Upon inquiry, he discovered that in 1776 Catherine the Great found there the first flower of spring. “Post a sentry here,” she commanded, “so that no one tramples that flower under foot!”—William Poteet in The Pentecostal Minister
The story is told of a conversation between a teenager and his grandfather. The young man said, “Gee Grampa, your generation didn’t have all these social diseases. What did you wear to have safe sex?” The wise old gentleman replied, “A wedding ring.”
Jeff plays the game of soccer. He is not an impact player who by great talent can take over a game. In fact in many ways he is limited. But he gives all he has. At a fifty-plus age in a league where most players are in their late 30’s and early forties, he is quite amazing. You see he never stops looking for an opportunity to score. By sheer persistence he manages occasionally to do what better players fail to accomplish—put the ball in the net! In my book his play is the stuff of the heroic.