CHECK THIS OUT!

Let me recommend that you check out the Gideon House Books website.  They have published books by Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon, DL Moody, A W Tozer and many others.  Guess who else?  This is the publishing house for ‘Reflections Out Of Time’ devotional book! Maybe you’d like to give one to a friend or family member for 2018?  Still available!  Pass the word along.  Thanks so much and Lord bless you, John

TWO TYPES ONLY?…I Corinthians 1:18-25

In our travels, we’ve met all kinds of people.  Some live enviably.  Others less so.  Reading 1 Corinthians, a phrase the Apostle Paul uses makes me wonder.  ‘For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’ (1Cor. 1:18).

Is he saying that ultimately there are only two types of people–those who are perishing and those being saved?  Sounds judgmental and offensive to modern ears.   Yet, that’s what the Bible says, like it or not.

Nevertheless, don’t give up on anyone you’ve been praying for.  Paul says that unbelievers ‘are perishing’.  On the wrong path.  A dead-end.  A cliff once fallen off of, never to be climbed back out of.  But they haven’t perished yet.  In the process.  But with hope.

Keep praying.  Keep sharing Jesus.  Don’t give up on anyone.

I remember an older man in one of my churches.  I really liked him, but he wanted nothing to do with spiritual things.  As a young boy, he was involved in church.  But something went wrong.  I never knew what.  But I did know that he always enjoyed my home visits, even when I got in his face about believing in Jesus…or else!  He brought out a hard-hitting side of me!

One morning I received a call from his wife that his time was short and he wanted to see me.  No time to waste.  Come now!  I did and he was eager to ask the Lord Jesus to be his Savior.  No more of his snide comments.  Now he reaches out his hand to the One who will save him from the brink of no return.  Later that day, he enters the presence of his loving and forgiving God!  Where there is breath, there is hope.  Never give up sharing and praying.

And for us?  Who are being saved?  We are on a journey of growth and maturity.  God’s not done with us.  Heaven will be expansive, extensive, and unlimited.  We don’t have a clue as to the pleasures of paradise!  Life, better and better, for all eternity!  Never arriving.  Never boring.  For this is God’s gift.  All of life’s fullness…forever!  All ‘being saved’ for us!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for life unending alongside Jesus.  Amen.

 

ONLY THE BEGINNING!…Mark 1

Mark’s Gospel begins at the beginning.  Good place to start!  Mark 1:1–‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’  Of the four Gospel writers, Mark has the most abrupt ending.  No dramatic conclusion involving resurrection appearances and the ascension of Jesus.

Could Mark be telling us that life with Jesus is always just the beginning?  The start of something amazing?  An inauguration without end?

When you truly receive Jesus into your life, you become a child of God.  Sins–forgiven and forgotten by the Lord.  A new person in so many ways.  Not completely.  The old sin nature dogs us.  Two steps forward, one back.  One forward, two back.  Maybe that’s only me.

We discover, as we travel life’s roads with Jesus, that wherever we are in discipleship, it’s only the beginning.  When I think I’ve conquered this sin or that, I fall flat on my face.  Grimy and disappointed.  Years later, I’m still at the starting gate.  In this life, we never arrive.  Always more hills to climb.

Life in Jesus grows at an uneven pace.  Some I know seem much farther along.  Others lag behind even me.  What are we to do then?

Here’s a few ideas.  Accept where you are.   Then pray to the Lord to press forward.  For Mark says that Jesus’ beginning was good news.  The Gospel.  Overcoming sin, even one-time, is very good news.  Keep at it.  Don’t give in or give up.  And keep praying.

Read your Bible, the only attack weapon allowed in God’s armor (Ephesians 6: 10ff).  Every other piece is for defense.  So, strike the first blow with your Bible firmly in your heart and mind.  Works every time.  Satan flees in the face of God’s truth.  Good riddance!

For us, we have Jesus at our side.  Mark calls Him the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.  With Jesus, that strong and that close, every day becomes a new beginning!  And that’s very Good News!

Prayer:  Thank you, Jesus, for new beginnings.   Amen.

WHY BOTHER?…Job 21: 14-15

What if nothing comes of it?  Nothing changes.  No gain at all.  Would you continue?  With what, you ask?  In a word, prayer.  Why bother?  That’s what I read in the book of Job.  I couldn’t believe it.

Job 21: 14-15–“Yet they say to God,  ‘Leave us alone!  We have no desire to know your ways.  Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?   What would we gain by praying to him?'”  See what I mean?

How self-centered can they be?  ‘Leave us alone’.  Just the ancients?  Hardly.  People today want nothing to do with God.  Forget the Bible and what it teaches.  Seems even believers know less and less of God’s Word every year.

How are you doing in that regard?  In many churches, only self-help seems emphasized, with a few scatterings of itsy-bitsy, non-offensive Bible verses tossed in for good measure.  Barely enough for any spiritual growth.  So, get in and dig deeper.  You know when you are.

Today most crave everything except the Lord.  Money, prestige, success, whatever.  Scant eagerness to follow Him.   If we gain nothing in prayer, count us out.  Job observes that that’s exactly what some people say.  But, what if I can get something for myself?  Then I’ll pray!  Such a self-aggrandizing attitude will probably receive no answer at best.  At worst…well, we won’t go there.

And anyway, who does He think He is?  This Almighty God!  We should serve Him?  Yeah, right!  Maybe He should be there for us, the almighty human in need of empowerment, a safe place, dignity and other current slogans,  ad nauseam.   Not smart to thumb their noses at God.  Their outcome?  Foolish… forever.

If no apparent answer comes to my prayers, I’ll still talk with my Lord.  Absolutely.  Why not?  He loves me and works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).  He’s all I need.  Anything else is added blessing from His kindness and goodness.  To love Him?  No bother at all!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for who you are.  In Jesus’ your Son.  Amen.

AS WE GET OLDER!…Psalm 92

Cornwall, England is such a lovely part of the country.  In one of its villages, called Tintagal, I noticed a shop selling T-shirts.  One said,  ‘The Older I Get, the Better I Was!’  If it wasn’t so true, I’d laugh.  Actually, I did!

As we get older, things change.  Our bodies, our country, the world.  Always that way.  If still alive, ask your parents.  Nothing new under the sun as wise, old Solomon aptly said.

But here’s good news!  From Psalm 92.  In particular, those last few verses (ESV), where the psalmist writes of ‘bearing fruit’  in old age.  Fresh, green and full of sap.  I’ve been called an ‘old sap’, but here’s biblical encouragement!

Our spiritual life can be vibrant and robust no matter our age.  We can get closer to God as we get closer to home, being with Him in heaven.  Here and now, we can dig deeper into our Bibles, pray as if God is right there with us (He is!), share Him with others, praise Him, inviting others to know Jesus.  Regardless of age.

I think of Cathy Brown.  Cathy lived well into her 90’s.  However, her mind had started to leave us a few years before.  A dear church member we miss to this day.  Cathy prayed to her Lord like a child to a loving parent; or, in her case, to her precious Auntie and Uncle, who raised her.  I loved to hear Cathy pray.  You would have also.  So tender, affectionate and trusting.  I can imagine Jesus holding her hands as she opened her heart to Him.

Life became more difficult for Cathy, but not in her times of prayer and worship.  That was a fruitful relationship even in old age, ‘green and full of sap’, sharing with Him who was her Rock and salvation.

As we advance in years, we have a choice to make.  Be careful for this creeps up on you without prior announcement.  We can become bitter, crotchety, dried up and mean-spirited.

Or we can get closer to Jesus, never really growing old and never really dying at all.  That’s for me!  You too?  Getting closer to Him as we get closer to home.  ‘The older I get…the better I become’!  Want to buy a T-shirt?!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for drawing us closer every day.  We love you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.