Monday, February 27, 2017

Our Inheritance


[Photo of a pocket watch]

“Now there is in store for me the
crown of righteousness, which the
Lord, the righteous Judge, will
award to me on that day—and
not only to me, but also to all
who have longed for his appearing.”
—2 Timothy 4:8

My mother wrote my name on a label attached to a baby blanket that she had kept for me from my Grandmother’s items. My other Grandmother put my name on a pendant watch that came from my Great Grandmother’s estate. Although I never bought them, I claimed them as my own because my name appeared on them.

If we call ourselves Christians because of the work of Jesus on the cross, we all can lay claim to an inheritance of salvation from our sins and the blessing of eternal life because the blood of Jesus has placed our names on these great gifts. Although we did not sacrifice to buy these precious items, they have become ours through the gift of God through His Son, Jesus.

As Charles Haddon Spurgeon explains:

There is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear; it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it.1

The Psalmist David assures us, too, of our inheritance— some of which we may even enjoy in this life. Read this in Psalm 31:19:

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

Whenever we travel, it reassures us when we hear that someone has reserved a room for us, or has put our name on a rental car reservation, or even has bought us a ticket to an event. We will have every right to claim those items when we arrive.

In just the same way, God is storing up for us a place (John 14: 1-3), and along with that place, He has reserved special items that will surprise us. He has reserved these special gifts out of the inheritance planned before the foundation of the world.

Truly, when we see our names written down by our Savior, we will rejoice in the goodness and amazing love our Lord has shown toward us. Praise His name!


1 Spurgeon, Charles Haddon, Morning and Evening. McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Company, Public Domain. p. 20.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Too Much Strength


[Photo of a Music Classroom]

But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are
still too many men. Take them down to the
water, and I will sift them for you there.”
—Judges 7:4

On several occasions, Joanne and I had talked since she left my school system for another in a neighboring suburb. Things in her new school seemed so ideal.

She reported that she had practically no discipline problems. When she wanted a piece of expensive percussion equipment, the principal went to the administration for her. With very little deliberation, they approved her request. Obviously, they thought nothing of spending thousands of dollars on her program.

Frankly, it was enough to make me a little bit jealous! Why, in my school system, we lived with discipline problems as the “stuff of life.” Money stayed tight all around—so much so, that we wondered from year to year if we would even still keep a music program.

Why does God often call Christians to difficult places? I imagine He has a myriad of reasons. But, for one thing, He wants to show His power in the face of incredible odds.

Some of us can greatly benefit from His daily reminder that we need Him or we won’t make it through. Like He did to Gideon, God sometimes decreases the things that we lean on, so that we will instead lean on Him alone.

God had already taken down the size of Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 10,000. But, God planned to take the army to an even smaller size, leaving Gideon with only 300 men! But, God said, “With the 300 men… I will save you.”

Later in the story, we read that these 300 men pursued the enemy kings and captured them, routing their entire army. God had a plan to show His ability in the face of impossibilities.

If you despair because it appears you can’t possible succeed in the place God has placed you, remember Gideon. Trust God that, in your situation—though it may continue in a way far from ideal—He will show you His wonderful ability to step in and take control on your behalf.



Monday, February 13, 2017

The Antiseptic


[Photo of a doctor examining a foot]

“For the word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it
penetrates even to dividing soul and
spirit, joints and marrow; it judges
the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
—Hebrews 4:12

Having lived with a diabetic husband with numerous foot wounds over the years, I know something about how a sharp scalpel can cut keenly, and how a good surgeon can separate bad skin from good. God’s written Word does this for us and enables us to separate even thoughts and intents that displease Him.

In an ordinary wound, just the antiseptic alone begins the process of exposing the germs and cleansing the skin. All of this brings great pain to the healthy foot and has a way of warning against doing anything that would require such pain again.

Now often, we think we can stick our fingers in our ears and sing “La La La! I can’t hear you!” to deafen ourselves to the relentless voice of the Holy Spirit when He uses the Word of God to reveal our sin. By doing this, we can avoid the pain for a little while.

However, without the stinging anguish of the antiseptic and the cutting of the surgeon’s scalpel, the wound will not heal. The infection will rage and spread in the body. We will experience the greater pain of loss of limb, or life itself. So it is in our spiritual lives where God’s Word is the antiseptic and the Holy Spirit is the compassionate surgeon.

King David knew how it felt to have an aching wound of sin and a need for the deep cleansing that only God could give. After fighting the pain for a season, on hearing God’s Word through a godly man, the Prophet Nathan, David spoke these words, recorded in various verses of Psalm 51:

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Sometimes, God requires us to take drastic action against a sin. Sometimes, long-standing sin, which has caused an infection deep within us, needs a radical remedy. God requires an application of the stinging antiseptic and the agony of the surgical cutting, in order to set us free of the disease of sin.

As we come face to face with our loving Savior each day—during our quiet time with Him—let’s allow His Word to do its work in our hearts. And, let’s listen to what He would have us do to open and cleanse us so that we can be healed. Praise be to God that He has given us His mercy through Jesus Christ!



Monday, February 6, 2017

Unequal Blessing


[Photo of the scales of justice]

“Make us glad for as many days as
you have afflicted us, for as
many years as we have seen trouble.”
—Psalm 90:15

Sometimes it seems that troubles come one on top of another in waves too big to handle. In our agony, we cry for a break and long for days of quiet and peace again. On these kind of days, we pray the prayer that Moses wrote in Psalm 90.

God often answers this kind of prayer, although usually not in the ways we expect. Whether we have gone through persecution by the enemy, sickness, financial ruin, or loss, God has His marvelous ways of tipping the scales of blessing to overcome, or at least diminish, the pain we experience.

However, even if we never see relief from that which we suffer, we can be assured that, in the life to come, we shall rejoice in His goodness to us. Romans 8:18 tells us:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

I like to look through the stories of the Judges of the Old Testament. This book tells how the Israelite nation would turn from God and go their own way. God would allow this disobedient behavior to continue until His chosen people would cry out to Him for relief.

Often, we read of how they suffered oppression for a few years, but when God sent a judge to govern them, the land had peace for a much longer time. This happened over and over again, and represents to us the great mercy and grace of our God, who doesn’t extract the just penalty that our sins deserve. As David wrote in Psalm 103:10:

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

What a glorious God we serve. He knows our weaknesses. He allows us to suffer loss and pain. But, He also blesses us with His grace and favor—not in meager supply, but in abundance. Praise Him for His lavish love on us, and take heart from the words of Psalm 30:5:

His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.