Friday, 24 June 2016

Made It Home Safe

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runs into it, and is safe.

      My son was visiting and enjoying family time over the last long weekend holiday. Since he lives in another province there is an eight hour drive for him to return to his home. The text came through with the words, "Made it home safe." What comforting words for parents to read in a text or hear a phone call declaring loved ones have returned to their home and arrived safe. 
      This may be a similar feeling God has when all of our loved ones and friends who have gone on to heaven and are at this moment praising God in His very presence. They have made it home safe in God's love. Psalm 121:8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. 
      Sometimes, the body of Christ forgets the fact that we are in an eternal walk with the Lord. We are seated with Christ now in heavenly places. Eph. 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Our citizenship is in heaven even though we live here on this earth. Phil. 3:20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 
      We can live assured in the fact that God, through the Holy Spirit, is making sure we make it to our eternal home safe. What a comforting thought to know God is looking forward to us accomplishing that which He has purposed in our lives, here, and then be eternally blessed in glory. His plan for our lives is a good plan and should not be feared. Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  
      A spiritual insight was given to me years ago when I was teaching a course in a bible college. There were two students, a young woman and an older man who were constantly in an argument over issues of faith and doctrine. Their blow-ups got heated and sometimes very loud. They were in the same year of studies and were taking the same classes. 
      When they disagreed with each other they seemed to be like gasoline and fire, extremely volatile. Where was the Christian love? There was fighting over the smallest things that often had no real affect on whether a person was saved or not. They seemed to be constantly straining at gnats and swallowing camels to the point of harmful words said. Matt. 23:24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 
      One night I had a strong, vivid and distinctively clear dream of these two saints and myself. I was in heaven and in my peripheral vision there was a huge shimmering pearl to my right. This young lady came through the gate of pearl toward me and when we saw each other there was so much joy for each other because the presence of the Lord was the only thing that could be felt and it was glorious. 
      We were jumping like children in a playground because of the palpable peace and joy shimmering around us. Then the same man she had argued with continually came through the same area of the pearl and when they saw each other the reunion was incredibly delightful and ecstatic. Their shouts of praise and genuine love for God and each other could be felt. 
      What I then noticed was there was absolutely no memory of any bad feelings or animosity whatsoever between these two. There was only pure joy and love for each other. The fact that we had made it home safe was absolutely wonderful. They did not seem to be or have an ability to recall anything of pain, strife or sadness. There was only an overwhelming love of being with the Lord and His saints. Rom. 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
      My heart and prayer for each one of us is that we all make it home safe within the glory and power of our God. May we put away our differences and give to each other an overabundant amount of grace because the strife and wranglings we often participate in will not come with us into the eternal presence of God. Only things of God will come with us and grace is from God. Phil. 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God's heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

Dumpster Diving

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

       In the late 1970's I was a complete and utter mess. My soul was void of natural affection and full of bitterness. I was an alcoholic living with a young lady in an unfaithful common-law relationship. During the time I lived with this woman I had agreed to two abortions that she wanted to have, and I did not protest our actions or take proper responsibility. 
      My ethics in business were questionable at best and my illiterate blaspheming mouth often spoke of nonsensical humanistic values that clearly demonstrated my heart was a dumpster full of shameful rubbish. Like many carnal so-called free thinkers in that day, my ignorance had gone to seed and was producing a foul stench in the presence of God and mankind. 
      We pathetic sinners thought we knew best what was good for our lives, but proved over and over again to be fools. Rom.1:22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. We had become a generation of sloths in mind, heart, and soul. We were producing a standard in life that caused people to believe in nothing of virtue. Prov. 30:11 There is a generation that curses their father, and doth not bless their mother.
      There I was at the bottom of the human dumpster trying to live a life of sorts and Jesus came along and found me full of my own wretchedness and yet, He loved me. Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His love to us, that of us being still sinners, Christ died for us. 
      Jesus has been dumpster diving before there were dumpsters. He knows where the potential good stuff is so to speak. Even though we see what we see in ourselves, our shortcomings - our character flaws plus all of our evil intent - He sees what is possible in the light of his glory and grace. He sees a person who is washed and renewed in the cleansing power of His blood if we receive it by faith. 
      He sees a person who is cleansed of their sins and able to live a righteous life with each other and for Jesus Christ. Isa. 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. 
      I saw in myself a covenant breaker and habitual sinner of the worst kind. Jesus saw a faithful husband, father, citizen, friend and worshiper of God for His glory and kingdom. What amazing grace and power of substitutional love. Jesus took my sins and in turn, gave me His righteousness. 2 Cor. 5:21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
      The Lord God saw our day of redemption from the beginning. His plan of restoration and eternal life for our souls has always been in his heart. Eze. 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 
      How can this be possible, except the Lord Himself redeem us from ourselves and save us according to His merciful sanctification and holy standard. If it was not for the mercy and love of God for each one of us, the world would have imploded centuries ago.
      Years ago, Jesus went dumpster diving. He found me and I venture to say, "Many of you as well." There we lay, in abject poverty of soul. In myself, I saw a mess of shame, guilt, and fear. Jesus saw a Christ-like man who would be a blessing in this lost world and a holy citizen of heaven. 
      Only the blood of Jesus and love of our heavenly Father can change a life from garbage to godliness, darkness to light, and eternal loss to eternal life. Isa. 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 
      Today I live in the joy of the Lord. Yes, I have my struggles, but what a different life I have because Jesus found me and I was so happy to be found. Jesus is sufficient to meet all our needs. Our sinful nature could not stop the love of God toward us. Therefore, look up and see Jesus. He is stretching his arms toward you. Let Him lift you out of your mess and He will clean you up. May God's mercy and love be upon you. May you have the wisdom to accept it. In Jesus name.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Things Want To Grow

Proverbs 12:14  A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the hard work of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him.

       I was talking with my good friend, Tim, who is a horticulturist and landscape architect extraordinaire. I showed him a grafting project I was working on; an old grape vine in my yard. I had cut down the four-inch thick vine to about a foot and a half off the ground and established some notch grafts that I grafted into the old vine. 
      There were problems with the old variety and the choice was to take it right out and plant a new kind of vine or try this notch graft method. I am grafting three different varieties of grapes into this one old established grapevine.
      One of the graft buds had opened and looked good and healthy. With an emphasis and a knowing look on his face, Tim said, "Things want to grow." The truth of that statement hit my heart with profound clarity. Everything God makes wants to grow. The entire earth system is designed to want to grow. 
      As we looked at the new graft that had strongly taken, we could see the workings of the word of God in the healthy graft. Jesus said in John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. What is so heartwarming to me is that I am grafting a white table grape called a Himrod and a dark purple called a Concord, plus a burnish red called Valiant into this old vine. Think about it. Three different varieties living from one main vine. 
      The parallels are so wonderful as each one of us who are in Christ has been grafted into Jesus the true vine. We who are in Christ are individual branches bringing forth fruit that is characteristic to our individuality that God created within each one of us. However, even though we are individuals we are one in Christ because we are grafted and fed by Christ's love, truth, and power making us who we are in the body of the Lord. 
      Jesus really is the vine and we are the branches that bear fruit for His glory and kingdom. It just makes me want to smile and say, "I love you Lord God. You are so good and you absolutely know what you are doing in this world and in our lives." 
      Things want to grow. God has put a desire and a purpose within each one of us, as we grow, to produce Godly fruit in life. God, the vine-keeper, comes along and prunes what does not produce fruit. John 15:2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. God's purpose for us is that we produce more and more of what is Godly. 
      We are pruned in order to keep producing much more fruit as we grow, plus we are to become a healthy branch that can be counted on to nourish the week and grow into what God has created us to be. John 15:8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 
      It is the will of God that we grow up, grow outward and grow strong in the richness of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 
      Within each one of us is the God-given ability to be grafted into Christ and become one with the Father as Jesus is one with the Father. John 17:21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
      As I have been working in the garden and cultivating around the vines, fruit trees and berry bushes this year, I have often stated out loud what my friend Tim said, "Things want to grow." It feels like I am making a declaration of faith when I speak it out. 
      I become aware that Christ is working a work within me that spurs me onward to the heavenly calling God has put within me. Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. May we all come to the place where we welcome the pruning the Father does in our lives so that we can grow mightily in Christ. Blessings on us all.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Are You In Trouble?

Proverbs 11:8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked comes in his stead.
      
      Someone said, "If your memories are bigger than your dreams then you are in trouble."
      Are you in trouble? Have you stopped dreaming? Are you sitting around remembering the old days because you are stuck in neutral? If so, then maybe you have given up on the promises of God that encourage us to dream for better lives in Him. Psalm 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. 

      There are so many voices out there calling people away to exotic tantalizing alternatives that our God-given dreams can get clogged up with static interruption causing us to falter in bewilderment.
      Take heart saints. Some of us might have fallen but we can get up and move forward because the word of the Lord says that our steps are ordered by the Lord. Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholds him with his hand. 
      That's right, we don't have to stay down and become a casualty or a statistic of failure within the world's system. Maybe some of your dreams and goals have been set on hold because of all the unseen events taking place in your life right now. Perhaps you have fallen down and feel like you cannot get up. Be assured the Lord is holding you up from falling into a mess, even though you might have caused the mess. Prov. 24:16 For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. 
      The fact that you have fallen does not mean you have to stay in that place of despair and loss. We can say like the apostle Paul in Phil. 3:13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. If you find yourself in trouble that was inflicted by others or self-made, then make a conscious effort to leave the troubles behind and do like Paul says, "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead." 
      What dreams are in your heart that might be alive but dormant? God created us with the ability to create, design, invent and go forward in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit bringing life and wonder to this fallen world. Even though we stumble and sometimes utterly fall does not mean we have lost our gifting or calling. God forbid we think that way. 
      God encourages us to get up, repent, restore and move forward toward the blessed hope that lies before us in Christ. Psalm 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
      The prodigal son was in trouble made up of his own choices. Sitting by the pigsty discouraged, depressed and dreamless, he decides to return to his father's home hoping for mercy. Luke 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 
      When the son returns he finds out that it is not just his father's home but still his own home and he is welcome. His son-ship is restored with a feast of grandeur and delight. Isn't it interesting that the son's steps that were ordered by the Lord led him back to his father who loved him? 
      Our heavenly Father is looking for us on the horizon of His love, wanting us to come home so to speak and get back to dreaming God's dreams for our lives with his calling and gifting fully restored within us in order to bring about the kingdom of God and all the blessings that operate out of His kingdom. 
      Are you in trouble? Come home to the Father who has set a plate at the dinner table for you. There are delightful and tasty blessings awaiting you that can help you turn your life into a miracle you never thought possible. Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 
      Come and dream a dream again. Don't believe things are impossible, because with God all things are possible. You might say to me, "You don't understand. My sins are so many. I am beyond redemption." Not so! All sins have been paid for in full by the blood of Jesus. 
      Just start heading home to the Father and He will meet you with love and open arms full of the help you need. 1 Cor. 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. Are you in trouble? Ask God for a dream and a vision for your life. Blessings.