THOSE GOOD OLD DAYS!…Ecclesiastes 7

We’re experiencing some weird weather.  Excessive cold, abnormally warm, blinding snow, scorching drought, overflowing flooding…you name it, it’s been happening!  What about ‘Polar Vortex’?  Back home in New Jersey, we simply called it a ‘cold snap’!  Big deal…had a couple every winter. ‘Catastrophic weather events’, they’re called now.  The likes of which we’ve never seen before.  Really?  We’re glued to the tube.  Not me.  Drought in California?  Rain here in the Pacific Northwest?  Have seen it all before.  I predict more for the future!  Ain’t I smart?  As my Grandfather Fischer used to say, ‘You’re smart like your father, you dope you’!–and he was the father telling this to his son!!  I do think genius runs in my family!

Weren’t the good old days better?  Foul language and ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ not allowed.  Black-and-white movies and television, radio programs that stretched our imaginations, slide-rulers, diagramming sentences, baseball players who had to work a second job in the winter to make ends meet.

Good old days?  Look at Ecclesiastes 7:10–Solomon warns against such thinking.  He says it’s not even wise to ask about those days.  Why not?  Because it’s more like ‘chasing the wind’.  Living in the past wastes the precious time God gives us right now.  This very moment.  Fresh like ‘daily bread’.  ‘This is the day the Lord has made'(Psalm 118:24).  Like driving a car with that big windshield in front of us as we look forward.  Exactly where we should be looking MOST of the time.  Small rearview and side-view mirrors to glance back infrequently.  Look forward, press ahead, leave behind whatever holds us back.  That’s what the Apostle Paul said(Philippians 3:13-14).

Good old days?  Spending too much time looking back in the rear view mirror of your life?  How about all the time I take thinking about the past?  Like relatives…most long gone.  I miss them.  We had some real characters in our family.   How about Cousin Jane, who was poorly nicknamed ‘Stale Garbage’?  Don’t ask why.  I have no idea.  Marrying someone totally unacceptable to her parents, she escaped from one coast to the other, splitting that little family apart, never to be put back together again.   Aunt Betty and Uncle Herman?  They had the best parties every New Year’s Eve, even though she was terrified that one of her own grandchildren would leave a speck of dust on their plastic-covered living room furniture.  Maybe those weren’t the ‘good old days”!

Press forward…look ahead…to all that God has for us!  Family and friends He has blessed us with NOW!  The work to do for Jesus NOW!  The life He has given us NOW!  The prayers we offer NOW!  Reading our Bibles TODAY!   That’s a life worth living…from NOW on!  Amen?

Prayer:  Lord, we do look forward to all the blessings you have in store for us.  In Jesus’  name.  Amen.

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NEED MORE RENEWAL?… Matthew 19: 28-30

Last time we were reflecting on Jesus words: ‘…at the renewal of all things…’ found in Matthew 19.  Won’t that be amazing when Jesus straightens out all the messes made by all of us?  ‘…the renewal of ALL things…’!  Can hardly wait.  Times have been tough for people throughout history.  Satan relishes death, decay and destruction.  He gets his ‘jollies’ from the worst things thrown our way.

But here in the Bible, God’s Word,  I notice three wonderful blessings promised to those of us who have repented of our sins and welcomed Jesus into our hearts by faith alone.  Is that you?  If not, then pray to Jesus right now accepting Him into your life.

Matthew 19–  three verses containing three incredible blessings.  The first is that we’ll have the responsibility of meaningful work.  The first of the three ‘R’s!  Jesus talks about our judging the world, turning right-side-up what has become topsy-turvy.  What could be better than performing work that we love?  What a blessing– looking forward to that day’s work.  What the one who hates his work can never understand.  Jesus promises His followers that we’ll have productive work to do in His coming Kingdom.  Responsibility is the first ‘R’.

Then comes rewards.  Yes, He promises that any sacrifice made for Him will be nothing compared to all that He has for us.  The second ‘R’!  His reward…a fascinating life with absolutely no end in sight.  I remember a friend of mine, who should have known better, telling me that if she was only going to float around in heaven, flapping her wings like angels do, playing a harp up on some cloud for all eternity, then she’d rather take a pass.  ‘Not for me’, she said.  Where does it say any of that in the Bible?  We’ll have wings?  Play harps for eternity?  Bored forever?  Not anywhere… from Genesis to Revelation.  Quite the contrary.  I told her so, but she remained stubbornly unconvinced.  She’s in heaven now.  She loved Jesus.  Had some rather strange ideas.   Right now she’s having the most surprising time she could never, ever imagine!

There’s more.  The third ‘R’–surprising rearrangements are ‘a-comin’!  Jesus says that ‘…many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first’.  Don’t worry about your place in heaven, or getting all the recognition you deserved in this life.  Let it go!  To be there, in heaven, with Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit and angels and all those who have gone before us and those who will join us later… to be with all of them, with no end in sight, no more good-byes, no more painful separations, none of that…ever again!  If I’m the last one in the door, standing up behind the back row,  I’ll not complain.   I’m there!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings you have in store for us in Jesus Christ.  Amen.

RENEWAL IS ON THE HORIZON… Matthew 19: 28-30

For the past few years, my wife Sue and I have been watching friends remodel their 1930’s home.  We watch with absolutely no envy.  Two years and counting.  No, now three years…still not done.  Not by a long shot.  Years and years.  Much the poorer!  Will it be worth it?  We hope so for their sake, and for all that the neighbors have put up with!  As we all know,  any house project will take a lot longer and cost much more than ever thought of or budgeted for.

While reading this brief portion from Matthew 19, I was astonished by what Jesus said in verse 28–‘…at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man…’  I don’t know about you, but to me the world seems like an old house, falling apart, messing up the neighborhood, in need of major remodeling.  That phrase of Jesus?  ‘…at the renewal…’  It’s coming!

The newness is on its way!   The New Jerusalem, new heavens and new earth, new wineskins.  Not a qualified ‘if’, but with surety in His words.  ‘…at the renewal of all things…’  The cold, snowy, rainy winter will finally end!  The drought, forgotten as rain returns.  Blizzard-covered streets, cleared.   Bad times won’t last forever.

I’ve been in situations that seemed to spell the very end of anything good for me.  With anxiety feeling like a permanent, searing pain in my gut, forgetting forever what laughter was like, and what good things the Lord of life could hold in store for me.  But those bad weather days finally lifted.  None too soon!

‘…at the renewal…’–when the downward spiral becomes the upward fix.  Not a few things but ‘…at the renewal of ALL things…’  Not a rearrangement of the living room furniture to cover grease stains or accumulated dust.  No, this will be renewal… of ALL things.  Nothing left out, forgotten or rotten.  Decay will have decomposed    Rubbish will vanish.

May I ask a personal question?  Well, I will anyway!  How about you?  What needs renewal?  Some things left to gather dust and grime for way too long?  I have the feeling that at the judgement of believers, what we have neglected to take care of in this life, God will deal with them, in His own way.  Do you think that we ought to deal with those neglectful things in our lives right now, rather than wait?  I think so.  Probably will take some extra time and cost us more than we imagined.  So be it.  It will be worth it.

‘…the renewal of all things…’  Whatever the price.  However long it takes.  Renewal!  Of ALL things!

Prayer:  Lord, how we need change in our lives.  Please help us.  In Jesus’ name and for His sake.  Amen.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE MUSTARD SEEDS?…Matthew 17: 14-21

Last time I wanted to focus in on the ‘mustard seed’ of faith mentioned in Matthew 17: 20.  Guess what?  Not one word,  jot or tittle.  Did I forget?  Am I losing it?   Be nice!

Remember where we left off yesterday?  We’ve been to the top of the mountain with Jesus, witnessing His amazing transfiguration!  Elijah and Moses, talking with Jesus, in the sight of  Peter, James and John, His inner circle.

Beginning at Matthew 17:14,  Jesus and these three approach a crowd.  A man comes right up to Jesus, kneeling before Him, stopping Him in His tracks, begging for mercy for his son, who has some kind of devilish condition that causes him great bodily harm, along with utter heartache and worry for all who love this troubled youth.  The distraught father says that he has asked for the disciples’ help…but to no avail.  They were ineffectual and useless!  How Jesus’ words must have stung their ears and scorched their souls–‘O unbelieving and perverse generation…’

Who… us?  Painful words to hear.  Especially in light of what they saw up on that mountain.  The Father’s affirmation of Jesus, the Son.  Being with Moses and Elijah.  All of this should have led to MORE faith.  What they had seen with their eyes and heard with their ears.

Jesus then says that if they only had a tiny bit of faith, like the size of an itsy-bitsy mustard seed, they could pray, seeing God work miracles.  Like moving mountains, in a manner of speaking.  Jesus wants us to witness His work in this world…and in our lives.  It doesn’t mean we must be a Billy Graham or a famous writer of a ‘Reflections’ devotional!   But who knows?

A small mustard seed.   Nothing pretentious.  No putting on airs or wearing masks.  Simply trusting Him.  Refusing to be defeated by all the demonic and demoralizing forces around us.  Mountains of bitterness and revenge–move aside!  Mountains of unforgiveness– get lost!  Asking God to pick up our emotional rubbish for His disposal–good-riddance!

Got any mountains to move?  To talk with God about?  To see what God does best? Moving mounds of bad memories, laced with various shades of shame.  Piles of dirt shoveled on top by others.  Things left behind as the Lord lifts them from our shoulders.

Would be quite a silly scene, with me all hunched over, trying to carry around the heavy weight of what no longer exists.  Ridiculous.  What ludicrous waste.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who does exactly that.  Right?  You know who I’m talking about!  Spend time with your Lord.  He loves you.  Trust Him.  He will forgive.  And here’s the best part–He will forget!   Mountains will begin to move aside.  Doesn’t take mounds of faith to move those mountains.  Only a tiny mustard seed.  That’s Jesus’ promise.  That’s good enough for me!  And you?

Prayer:  Lord, we do trust you.  Increase our faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED!… Matthew 17: 1-23

Can you imagine?  Chosen by Jesus.  Not all.  A few.  Three to be exact.  Selected to go up that mountain.  Peter, James and John.  They can’t say ‘no’ to Him.  How could they?  Not to Jesus.  If He says ‘follow’…they follow!  No questions asked.  Off they go.  Then strange things begin to happen.  Jesus’ face shines as bright as the sun.  His clothes become brilliant white.  They must cover their eyes.

Now what?  They think they’re seeing things.  Not things…people.  Not anyone–  Moses, the great law-giver and Elijah, the great prophet!  Talking with Jesus?  The three of them?   Is this some weird dream?  What did those three apostles eat for dinner?  No, this is for real.  Should they build a shelter with a plaque on it commemorating this great religious event?  When they think the confusion is lifting, a thick fog rolls in, and they hear a voice.  Not any voice.  I  mean… THE VOICE!  Get it?  The Father announcing that Jesus is His Son and that He loves Him.  Besides that He tells them that they should listen to Jesus.  That’s enough.  Down they go on hands and knees in utter fear and trembling.

What’s happening?  What’s next?  They finally garner a bit of courage to look up.  There’s Jesus alone.  They’re all ears, as God the Father has told them.  Listening.

How about that healing of the young boy, casting out the demon?  Pretty good!  This is turning out much better than they thought…until He tells them what they don’t want to hear.  No, Jesus.  Not that.  To die?  What?   Can’t be right.  But then…

Back to today.  I love this story–the Transfiguration of Jesus.  It tells me that those closest to the Master faltered in their faith.   They should have known better, didn’t quite get it, but still beheld all His glory and none of His condemnation.

Looking back on my life, there were many times when God was close to me.  I knew His hand was on me.  Still I cowered in fear, wondering where God was or if He cared.  How sad.  My two-faced faith.  Trusting God yet dogged by worries, all at the same time.  Like those three disciples in Matthew 17.  Not much different from us.  They saw.  They heard.  And yet…

What should WE do?  Actually nothing special.  It’s more like waking up and paying attention–‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  LISTEN TO HIM.’  There it is.  Getting into our Bibles.  With Him in His Word.  Listening and waiting for what He has to say to us.  And when we mess up, as we all do, get right back to Jesus.  Talk with Him, love Him…listen to Him.  Two ears, one mouth–take the hint!

Prayer:  Lord,  we want to see more of Jesus and to listen to Him.  Amen.

NEED MORE RENEWAL?……. Read Matthew 19:28-30

Last time we were reflecting on those words of Jesus:  ‘…at the renewal of all things’  as recorded in Matthew 19.  Won’t that be amazing when Jesus straightens out all those messes made by all of us from the very beginning of time, from Adam and Eve onward.   Yes, ‘…the renewal of ALL things’!  Can hardly wait, especially after reading the morning news or watching depressing television.  Times have been tough for people throughout history.  Satan relishes death, decay and destruction.  He gets his ‘jollies’ from the worst things thrown our way.   But here in the Bible, God’s Word, our eternal refuge in any storm,  I notice three wonderful blessings promised to those of us who are believers, who have repented of their sins and welcomed Jesus into their hearts by faith alone.  Is that you?  If not, pray to Jesus right now accepting Him into your life repenting of all sins that He will gladly forgive and then forget.  Wow!  Who in their right mind would want to miss out on all that?  Now read those verses from Matthew 19 once again.  Three verses containing three marvelous blessings.  The first is that we’ll have the responsibilities of meaningful work.  The first of the three R’s!  Jesus talks about our judging the world, the righting of wrongs, turning right-side-up what was topsy-turvy messed-up at best.  We’ll be part of that with the responsibilities of meaningful work.  What could be better than having work we love to do.  Something meaningful and interesting.  Something that pays well and worth giving a big chunk of our life for.   What a blessing– to get up each day looking forward to that day’s work.  Something that the one who hates his work can never understand.  And Jesus promises to His followers that we’ll have meaningful,  productive, interesting and rewarding work in His kingdom. Responsibility is the first ‘R’!  Then comes rewards.  Yes, He promises that any sacrifice made for Him will be nothing compared to what He has in store for us.  Rewards await us. The second ‘R’!   He promises.  And Jesus is the ultimate promise-keeper!  It will be out of this world!  His inheritance for us is fascinating life that has absolutely no end at all.  I remember a friend of mine, who should have known better, telling me that if she was only going to float around in heaven, flapping her wings,  playing a harp sitting up on some cloud, that she’d rather pass on all that.  What?  Where does it say that in the Bible?  We’ll have wings?  Playing harps?  Being bored for all eternity?  Nowhere.  I told her so, but she still seemed unconvinced.   She’s in heaven now.  She loved  Jesus.  And I know that she’s enjoying all kinds of the best creative work she couldn’t even imagine.  Think of the best time you’ve ever had, the best work you’ve ever done, and ramp that up to eternity… and beyond!   Multiple rewards have been placed on order for you….and me!  Thank you, Lord!  But there’s more.  The third ‘R’–rearrangement surprises– are ‘a-comin’!   Jesus says that ‘many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”  Surprising rearrangements await.  Don’t worry about your position in heaven, or getting all the recognition you deserved in this life.  Let it go!   Just to be there, in heaven, with Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit and angels and all those who have gone before us and those who will join us later…just to be with all of them with no end in sight, no good-byes, no painful separations, none ever again.  Now, that will heaven for me.  Are you with me?

Prayer:  Thank you Lord for all the blessings you have for us in Jesus Christ.  You love to give…to us.  And we are so grateful.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

RENEWAL IS ON THE HORIZON! Read Matthew 19:28-30

For the past few years my wife Sue and I have been watching friends, who live nearby, remodel their 1930’s home.  We’ve watched with absolutely no envy.  None at all.  Two years and counting.  No, now three years… still not done.  Multiple years with stuff still all over the place.  Years and years… and a lot poorer.  Will it be worth it for them?   We certainly hope so for their sake, and also for all that the neighbors have put up with!  As we know, any major  (and sometimes minor) house project takes a lot longer and costs much more than ever thought of or budgeted for.  I was reading this brief portion from Matthew 19  and was grabbed by what Jesus said in verse 28.   ‘…at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man…’  Read those 11 words again.  I don’t know about you, but to me the world seems like an old house, falling apart, messing up the neighborhood, in need of major overhaul and remodeling.  That phrase of Jesus?  It’s powerful and should leave us with a feeling of anticipation and trust for the Lord’s timing.  ‘At the renewal…’ it’s coming, the newness is coming, the New Jerusalem, the new heavens and earth, new wineskins.  Not ‘if’ it comes.  There’s surety in His Words.   Conditions will be improving.  The cold, snowy, rainy winter will lift!  The drought will be forgotten as the rains come.  Bad times don’t last forever.  I’ve been in situations in my life that seemed to spell the end of everything good for me.  Like anxiety would be a permanent pain in my gut and I would forget forever what laughing was all about and what beauty life could hold out for me.  “At the renewal…’.  Bad weather finally lifted and none to soon for me!  Always with Jesus–the best is yet to come.  ‘At the renewal…’  He promises that the downward spiral will be turned to an upward fix.   ‘At the renewal…’  Not just a few things like getting the living room straightened up for company–but by all means don’t look behind the sofa!  Not just surfacey-stuff.  Jesus says ‘…at the renewal of all things…’  ALL things…my wife said,  ‘that will be nice’.  Yes, sure will!  Everything renewed.  Nothing left out, forgotten or rotten.  Decay will decompose!  Rubbish will vanish.  May I ask you a personal question?  I will anyway!  What needs renewal in your life ?  Some things that have been left to gather way too much dust?  I have a feeling that at the final judgement of believers, what we refused to take care of in this life, God will deal with in His own way.  Maybe we ought to deal with those sinful things now, rather that wait?  Think so?  May take extra time and cost lots more that we think.  So be it.   ‘ It Will Be Worth It All.’  That’s a great hymn to sing.  The renewal of ALL things in your life and in my life. Can you imagine?  Whatever the price.  However long it takes.   ‘It Will Be Worth It All’.  Look up to Jesus. Keep looking up to Him!  He’s worth it all!

Prayer:  Lord, how we need change in our lives.  To move away from any sins that drag us down and bring grief to others, especially those we love.  Please help us.  In Jesus’ name and for His sake.  Amen.

I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT QUITE THAT WAY BEFORE… 1 Peter 5: 6-11

I never thought of it quite that way before.  Have you?  Now you’re wondering what I’m talking about!  I’m looking at 1 Peter 5.   Humble yourselves, Peter says, for God will lift you up.  That’s verse 6.  The next verse challenges me.  I read that I can cast all my worries on the Lord, because He cares for me.  This applies to you, too!  Get your heart and mind around that thought.  Cast your cares on Jesus!

I’ve got a New Testament Greek language lesson for you.  Hope you don’t mind.  You do?  Too bad!  Here it is, anyway!   Verse 7–‘casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you'(ESV).   ‘All your anxieties’–each and everyone of them.  None left out.  No exceptions.  No exemptions.

The word ‘cast’ means to toss aside, with a subtle meaning here.  ‘Casting’ would be like tossing a blanket on a donkey and letting the animal carry it for you.  Throw all of our worries… onto the Lord’s back.  Why?  Because He cares so much.  You can trust someone who really cares for you.  Can’t you?

But here’s what I never thought about before.  The word ‘casting’ in the original Greek is a participle, which modifies what Peter tells us in verse 6–about being humble before the Lord.  A participle tells us more about the verb that it refers back to.  Gives extra meaning and color to the original thought.  In this case, to be humble before the Lord is to cast all our worries onto His sturdy shoulders.  But what gets me is the thought that my worry and fears are really pride.  Thinking that I can take care of things myself.  Pride– relying on my own strength and ability.  Pride that I can do whatever, all by myself.   Calling on the Lord… only as a last resort, when all else has failed.  Never thought of my worrying, my sleepless nights, as having anything to do with pride.

I’m thinking about it now.  Shouldn’t you?  Being more consistent,  believing in the One who cares so much for us.  Whom we can trust more than anyone else.  To nestle close by Him, feeling His warmth and love.  I’m going to have to think about this.  Still quite foreign to totally trust in Jesus.   And I’ve been a believer for over 50 years.

And you?  We need to start casting our cares on Him without reeling the fishing line right back into our own grubby paws.  Start throwing our worries His way not using a boomerang!  Knowing whose we are and that He can be trusted…to care for us!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that we can trust you.  For loving us, Your children.  All because of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

THOSE GOOD OLD DAYS!……Read Ecclesiastes Chapter 7

Well, the good old USA is certainly experiencing some weird weather.  Cold, heat, snow, drought, flooding…you name it, it’s happened.  I can’t believe it– they’re naming winter storms like they do hurricanes.  ‘Winter Storm Alex’ or ‘Jose’.   And “Polar Vortex”!  Back home in New Jersey, when I was growing up, we called it a ‘cold snap’!  Big deal…had a couple every winter.  Not anymore.  These are catastrophic weather events!  The likes of which we’ve never seen before!  We’re glued to the tube!  Not me.  Drought in California?  Hurricanes off the Florida coast and up into my old home state?  Rain and more rain here in the Pacific Northwest?  Have seen all of this many times… and I predict more for the future!  Ain’t I just so smart?!  My Grandfather Fischer used to say, ‘You’re smart like your father, you dope you’!  I do think genius runs in my family!  How about politics?  Well, how about it?  Two parties with absolutely no one getting along(why do they call them ‘parties’–who’s having fun anyway?!).  Nothing new about that.  Right?   Just read US history (or that of any country for that matter) and it’s the same old, same old.  Names change, yes.  Technology advances, sure.  But weren’t the good old days better? Isn’t that why they’re called ‘the good old days’?  Civility, black-and-white television, slide rulers, diagramming sentences,  baseball players who had to work a 2nd job in the winter just to make ends meet.  How about those crew cuts!  Good old days?  Look at Ecclesiastes 7:10–Solomon warns against such thinking.  He says it’s not even wise to ask about those days.  Why not?  Maybe it’s because it’s more like ‘chasing the wind’ again.  Looking back too much can waste the time God gives us right now.  It’s today… and this moment that He is giving us.  Fresh like “daily bread”.  “This is the day the Lord has made”– I would quote that verse at the beginning of every worship service at our lovely church in Aberdeen, Washington, meaning that last week has led us to today, to worship Him in the here and now.  ‘This IS the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it'(Psalm 118: 24).  Like driving a car with that big windshield in front of us to look outward and forward.  Exactly where we should be looking MOST of the time.   Small rearview and side-view mirrors to glance back.  To drive safely, we must look back just briefly but keep our steady gaze on what’s ahead.  Doing the opposite is to invite trouble.  Of course,  glance back.  We don’t want to repeat the same old sins,  taking those wrong turns over and over again.  Look forward, press ahead, leaving those things behind that hold us back.  That’s what the Apostle Paul said (read Philippians 3:13 and 14).  Good old days?  I still think that people were better when we weren’t obsessed with material things and the almighty dollar.  We have too much.  Little things mean almost nothing anymore.  Spending too much time looking back in the rear view mirror of your life?  How about all the time I spend thinking about the past?  Like my relatives…most long gone.  We had some real characters in our family.  My Mother’s cousin, Grace.  She and her husband, Tom, were strong Christians, and funny as funny can be.  I miss them.  Or Aunt Bertha and Uncle Bill.  His laugh and her gently slapping him on his bald head!  How about Cousin Jane, who was poorly nicknamed ‘Stale Garbage’.  Don’t ask why.  I have no idea; but her running away, marrying someone not acceptable to her parents, split that little family apart, never to be put back together again.  Or Aunt Betty and Uncle Herman, who had the best basement parties on New Year’s Eve, even though she was terrified that one of their own grandchildren would leave a speck of dust on the living room sofa.   Maybe those ‘good old days’ weren’t…well, you know!  Press forward…look forward… to all that God has for us in the days to come!  Think about what’s next?  Not the undertaker, but the uppertaker!  Maybe that’s why they call it heaven?  Because it’s so out of this world!  Onward…and forward with Him!   Amen to that?

Prayer:  Lord, we do look forward to all the blessings you have in store for us.  Just the very best from you to us.  Thank you so much.  We love you for being our Lord and Savior.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

WHAT THOSE CLUB MEMBERS DO!…Isaiah 56: 1-8

Many years ago I was a member of the Men’s Club.  Remember?  If you do, tell me about it for I have almost no recollection of it at all!  Went to the Men’s Club a couple of times, only for dinner.  Never talked with any other member.  Not involved in any activities.  Can’t even think of anything they ever did other than eat, talk and drink.  So, what’s the big deal?

What I do know is what it’s like to be a member of the body of Christ, His church.  I’ve found a vein of gold, rich verses indeed, in the book of Isaiah, chapter 56.  I’m focusing in on verses 6-8.  What is His ‘club’  like?  What do ‘club’ members do?  Verse 6 is amazing–‘…foreigners who join themselves to the Lord…’  Join the ‘club’!

In Isaiah 56 these people were ‘foreigners’, people not originally from Israel.  Outcasts.  Outsiders.  Aliens and strangers.  What do they do?  Throw a ‘pity-party’?  Feel sorry for themselves?   No, they ‘join themselves to the Lord’.  Accepting His invitation.  Coming right in, experiencing the mercy and grace of our Lord.

He’s THEIR Lord as well.  The welcome mat was out!  The backporch light left on!  By the way, this was Israel’s mission and calling from the very beginning.  To be a light to the world.  Pointing the way, diminishing the darkness, illuminating the path to Yahweh God.  This was what they were to do.  This is still what members do today.  When I first heard the Good News about Jesus and His offer of salvation, I was eager to embrace Him.  Didn’t know much about God or Jesus.  Almost nothing, to be frank.  But I knew that I wanted to ‘join myself to Him’… and I did!

Life has never been the same!  What does it look like to be in His ‘club’?   Isaiah 56, verse 6 says that those who ‘join themselves to the Lord will minister to Him’.  Requiring no graduate theological training or even ordination.  Any one of us can- and will– ‘minister’ to the Lord.  Truthfully, we’ll want to… from the bottom of our hearts.  Like an engine, no longer content to remain in neutral, eagerly moving the spiritual gears into forward motion.  Driving ahead…for Him!

Then Isaiah writes that those in this ‘club’ will ‘love the name of the Lord’.  Love Him.  In Bible times, your name revealed your character.  To love God’s name is to love all that He is.  Joined with Jesus– no longer a ‘have to’.  Now a ‘want to’.

Isaiah 56: 6 says that we will ‘be His servants’.  His wish, our command–what we love to do.  What pleases the Lord will be what we eagerly choose.   His mission…our passion!  That’s what we do in the Body of Christ…join ourselves to Him, serve Him and love Him.  That’s what we want to do…for Jesus!

Prayer:  Lord,  we want what you want through the power of your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.