Thursday, 25 February 2021

Fast-Food Religion

Proverbs 23:32 In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper.

      The agitated man walked quickly into the lobby of the church. While gasping for air, he said to me, "I have been wrapped up in immoral sin for years now. I have done some terrible things, and I have been on every imaginable porn-site there is, plus my wife is fed up and is leaving me today. I want you to pray and ask God to take this mess away." I said, "Well, you have taken the first step by confessing your sin." He said, "I need this fixed today before my wife walks out!" Prov. 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
      I am rarely lost for words, but at that moment all I could think was, "Are you for real?" He was for real, as he kept expressing his need to have this done quick and fast because he did not know how to fix it himself. He wanted the Reader's Digest or the fast-food version of religious deliverance. Since I was slow in coming up with the answers he wanted to hear in this brief encounter, he left in a rush, exasperated at the little help I (we the church) could do for him at that moment. My concern was for his wife. If he was trying to manipulate God to do his bidding, then what were the empty promises going to be like when he caught up with her?  
      I'm not saying that in the twinkling of an eye, God cannot take this mess away from this man's life, or that God cannot change his heart. What I am saying is that true repentance and deliverance from the shackles of iniquity will take humble courage in handing the mess over to God. True humility will forgo the fast-food relief program and will let the Lord fix the mess the way He wants to proceed with the healing of a soul. Yes, there are instant miracles of deliverance recorded in the word. The madman of Gadara was miraculously healed and delivered on the spot. Mark 5:8 For He was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” Thank God this is possible, as it gives all mankind real hope.
      The tendency toward fast-food religion is nothing new. Jesus confronted this trait in the religious leaders when He rebuked the Pharisees for wanting a fast and flashy sign to determine the next step in their religious program. Matt. 12:38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” Watch what you ask for because the sign may reveal a gaping hole in your quick and fast system. Matt. 12:39 He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. They eventually got their sign when Jesus rose from the dead and changed the way God would be approached from that time on. The Pharisees' religion was now redundant. They too needed to be born again through Jesus, whom they crucified.
      Growth in the kingdom of God comes to us by going through the salvation method that God has laid out for all humanity. Our fast, and we want deliverance now, done our way, is at war with what the Lord says His delivering plan truly is. Most people want to be delivered from the mess in their life that took many years to become ingrained into their character. The tsunami-type waves that will eventually crash upon a person's life due to their repetitive sinning will cause everything to become unhinged, and there is nothing of substance to hang onto as a liferaft. Prov. 23:32 In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. 
      Similar to the man I met in the church lobby, Judas Iscariot was on the fast-food religion plan. He wanted deliverance from Rome and he wanted it now. God's plan was and still is to deliver man from eternal death and the power of sin. Judas Iscariot's sins were clouding his judgment and did not allow him to see what Jesus was doing on an eternal scale. True enough, we can pray and ask God to move faster on the events blowing up in our life, but that will still be God's call as to how and when it is dealt with. 
      God is preparing a banquet of glorious enjoyment for those who have received Jesus as Lord. Our Heavenly Father is not the creator of a religious fast-food substitute that will only result in carnal indigestion. Let us come to God's table and live the victorious life He has prepared for us. Trust the plan God has personally created for you and taste the goodness of His eternal love. Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Blessings and peace to us all.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

The Old Guard Is Going

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.

      Ecclesiastes 12:7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. My wife said, “One of my dad’s friends passed away last night, I really liked him.” I said, "The old guard is going home, and we are moving up to take their place in society." 
      As I get older, I have become aware of the fact that I have peace about going home to be with the Lord. I have already had a near-death experience when I had a stroke six years ago. During that experience, I had entered into the Lord's realm of purity and true peace. The following day, I became deeply aware that what was important to me the day before the stroke and the things that became truly important after the stroke were two different things entirely.
      My age group is becoming the generation that is supposed to have acquired wisdom by this time in our lives. We have come through a lot of life's experiences and have weathered many storms that life poured on us. We are on our way to becoming the old guard, so to speak. Hopefully, we are the gray-haired ones with the righteous answers that people are looking for in this precarious world. Prov. 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
      Like the Psalmist, I can see the hand of God has been with me my whole life. I know that a lot of people can look back and identify God's gracious hand at work in their lives. The Lord brought deliverance, restoration, and healing to many parts of our lives, and there was no doubt it was the hand of God at work. As the Psalmist got older and wiser, he saw that the children of the righteous did not need to beg for bread. Psalm 37:25 I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread. He also saw the hand of God at work within those who had chosen God as their refuge.
       I hear a lot of older people using the words senior moment when they mess up or forget something of importance. They laugh it off as cognitive dysfunction and confusion, just a part of getting old. I don't like that self-deprecating humour. To me, a real senior moment is the moment we hear God's voice in our hearts. It is when we get the instruction from God that clearly defines what to do to overcome, defeat, or find grace for a situation we were looking for an answer to. 
      A senior moment is that moment when through your spirit, you hear the word of God assure your heart that your prayer has been heard and answered. As I become a senior ministering in the kingdom of God, I hope that by this time in my life, I can hear God's voice clearly, in those moments when I call on His name. May we all live in these senior moments of cognitive clarity and Godly wisdom.
      I was young once, and then I looked in the mirror, and there was the reflection of an old guy. James 4:14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Where did the years go? What happened to that young man full of quests and ideas? What will I leave behind that will be counted as a blessing for my family, friends, and the body of Christ? As I become part of the old guard, may I serve the Lord with heart and dignity of character. May we all find the righteous answers this fractured world needs right now. Amen!

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Don’t You Remember?

Proverbs 3:24  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant.

      Don’t you remember? These words can bring fear to an elderly person's mind. My good friend and book-publisher Clay has expressed the pain of having to watch his mother navigate the confusing maze of trying to recall memories. She had dementia, but now, by God’s grace, she was released from her mental prison and went home to be with her Lord. What clarity must have entered her mind within milliseconds of seeing her Lord's redemptive eye expressing pure love into her eternal-soul. No longer having to worry about remembering anything because her perfect mind in Christ is now fully engaged with the glory of our God’s eternity. 
      As we watch our elderly generation deal with the numerous effects of old age, we can be assured that God will not forget His covenant with those who love Him. Different types of mental illnesses can affect our memory, which can cause us to forget our relationship with our God. However, we can count on the Lord to remember our covenant for us. We can lay down in peace and trust that Jesus has our eternal lives in His hands. Prov. 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant.
      The enemy of our soul would have us remember the terrible things that have happened to us and the terrible things we caused to happen. Don't you remember when you ripped the family apart with your selfish choices? Don't you remember how you cheated on your spouse? Don't you remember how you abandoned your children when they most needed you? Satan is the accuser of all people on this earth. That is what he viciously does all day long. Rev. 12:10b For the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
      What an opposite blessing for those who are in Christ. We have a solid Holy Spirit-filled assurance working within our hearts. Where the enemy of our soul accuses us day and night, the Lord continually prays for us day and night. Jesus reminds us that all our sins have been forgiven and are under His sanctified blood and redemptive work at the cross. Heb. 7:25 Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. Don't you remember how much God loves you? Don't you remember how much God has done to redeem your life from destruction?
      When God says to us, "Don't you remember?" It is not to bring judgment upon us, but rather to bring us into a place of peace, blessing, and opportunity to express gratitude to God for being so good. The Lord invites us to remember the things He has done for us, and if we cannot recall, then the Lord will fill us in. Isa. 1:18a Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD. Once we are in the Lord's presence and our hearts and minds are filled with the memory of all His goodness we have experienced, we can declare His wonderful deeds. Psalm 77:11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
      Don't you remember? We no longer have to fear that sentence as we age. God will keep us and bring us through to our place in His kingdom. He has always been in charge and will always be in charge of our salvation. It was His plan from the beginning and will be His plan to complete. All we have to do is to accept Jesus as Lord, and let Him write our story. Heb. 12:2a Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. There is so much amazing grace for us. Amen and amen!

Thursday, 4 February 2021

The Living Truth

 Proverbs 23:23 Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.

      Miyamoto Musashi said, "Truth is not what you want it to be: it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie."
      John 18:38 “What is truth? ” said Pilate. After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no grounds for charging him. Can you imagine standing in the very presence of truth Himself and not recognizing truth? We can all see this plainly when it comes to Pontius Pilate, but not when we are doing it ourselves. Within our own hearts, we can be tempted to change the truth for the lie we want to believe so that we can accommodate the desire of the moment. We should not replace the truth just because it is inconvenient at times.
      A well-meaning friend said that they were happy that I had found my truth in life and now things would align for me. What? I didn't find my truth or a truth. I found the truth. Jesus said, "He is the truth." He also said, "He is the life." So, if you are going to live in truth, you need Jesus because He is the way, the truth, and the life. John 10:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
      When you have the truth for a life situation, never sell it short for a lie. Prov. 23:23a Get the truth and never sell it. It does not matter if the lie seems to pay off big time in that moment. The lie will let you down and will eventually mock you. Someone said, "Truth is like a surgery. It hurts, but it cures. A lie is like a pain killer. It gives instant relief, but has side effects forever." Prov. 8:7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.
      During this past year, information overload and conspiracy theories galore have flooded our lives. The truth has never been more welcomed in our midst. A calming and honest answer has never been so desired. Many people prance around claiming to have a truth or a particular idea of truth to suit their chosen lifestyle. This cannot hold up, because there will be an eventual crash because of the massive lie they are living in. 
      Truth is truth. It is not, this is your truth, and this is my truth. The word truth is being misused and is misunderstood. These manipulators of so-called truth are saying, "This is what I want my truth to be, and therefore, it is my truth. This is what you want your truth to be, and nothing else matters." However, none of these false beliefs are actually true. There may be aspects of truth in their beliefs, but most often, it is only selfish wants for the momentary lifestyle. These people are setting themselves up for a heart-breaking letdown because of their delusion. 2Thes. 2:11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
      Jesus came to deliver us from our sins and help us live a life in the truth of God's word. John 10:10b I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. If we are going to live in truth, then we are going to have to accept the one who is truth. Jesus, our Lord, said, "He is the truth!" Who are you going to believe? Those who are throwing out philosophical ideas as to what truth might be, or Jesus, the Prince of peace and truth. Not a hard choice. Jesus, the living truth, is Lord of all. 
      Thank you, Lord, for helping us live in the truth of who you are. Thank you, Jesus, for showing us the way to our heavenly Father. Yes, Lord, truth is truth, and you are the living truth. Psalm 145:18 The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. Blessings.