Monday, September 24, 2018



[Photo of a watch and a book]

“Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so
disturbed within me? Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
—Psalms 42:5

Don’t you just love procrastinators? They say they will send you something, or come to visit you, or do something for you or others, or take care of an issue, but you can’t depend on when or if they will actually do what they have promised. You watch and hope they will come through. You wait and you wait and you wait.

Many accounts in the Scriptures make God look like a giant procrastinator. We wait and wait and pray and pray and nothing happens like we think it should.

We have many examples in the Bible. Joseph, son of Jacob, stayed in prison for a crime he didn’t commit for two full years. (Genesis 41:1). Hannah wanted a baby, but the years went by and she remained childless. (1 Samuel 1:7). David was anointed king. But, before he was crowned king, he still spent years being chased by the murderous King Saul. (Books of 1 and 2 Samuel). Yet, in the study of all these stories, and many more, we see that God had a long-range plan and waited for the right time to bring that plan to pass. A pastor I once knew called it “the eventuality of God’s working.”

In the Book of Habakkuk, we hear the prophet’s cry in 1:2:

“How long, O Lord, must I call for help?”

God answers the prophet in 2:3:

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

In Habakkuk 3:17-18, we read that the prophet himself has taken up the word “Yet”:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

When we “hope” our procrastinator friend will come through, we “wish” more than actually having a godly hope. But, when we wait on God, the Bible encourages us to depend upon real hope. The Psalmist speaks of such hope in the verse at the top of this blog post. Jeremiah, in Lamentations 3, whose “splendor, and all he hoped for from the Lord was gone,” used the word “yet” and spoke of the “hope” he had.

What a God-given hope it takes for us to believe that, after months or years of praying and believing and waiting, God will eventually act according to His plan and His love for us.

Wait and pray and believe. Trust God to strengthen you for the waiting days ahead. Read Biblical accounts of faithful servants who hoped and waited and received what they prayed for from the Lord and be encouraged.



Monday, September 17, 2018

Fill ’er Up


[Photo of an old fashion service station attendant]

Fill ’er Up

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is
debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”
—Ephesians 5:18

Patrons at gas stations didn’t used to pump their own gas. Instead, they stayed in their cars and let the attendant on duty “fill ’er up.” Full service meant checking the oil level, cleaning the windshield, checking the air pressure in the tires, and filling the tires with additional air if necessary. Once you drove away, you felt that you could travel safely until your fuel level once again hovered near empty.

As Christians, God gives us the seal of His Holy Spirit when we turn to Him for justification from sin (Ephesians 1:13-14). And, as we live out the Christian life, the Holy Spirit continues to fill our spiritual “fuel tank.” We, like empty vehicle gas tanks, need that filling in order to travel through this life living for Christ. None of us has the ability to faithfully serve Him without the intervention and help from His Holy Spirit.

Have you ever noticed one of those yard inflatables that has lost air and droops over and looks half dead? Sometimes I feel that way when I come to God asking for a “fill-up.” None of us has the strength, the grace, the power, the energy, or the wisdom we need. In fact, God purposefully gives us tasks and circumstances for which we need Him. Without His divine aid, we are rendered useless.

How does God fill us? If we allow His written Word to soak into us, He gives us direction and faith in His ability to live through us. If we ask Him, He will govern and empower our way with the filling He wants to provide.

One of my favorite hymns puts it like this:1

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.


1 Bernard of Clairvaux. Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts. Public Domain.

—Posted: Monday, September 17, 2018



Monday, September 10, 2018

No Easy Game of Telephone


[Photo of children playing the Game of Telephone]

“Tell it to your children, and let your
children tell it to their children, and
their children to the next generation.”
—Joel 1:3

Nearly everyone has played the “Game of Telephone.” A simple phrase gets secretly passed from one person to another until the last person proclaims it aloud. To the enjoyment of everyone, the phrase has often drastically changed from the original whisperer. The game seems more fun, the more outrageous the change.

When the Gospel of our Lord passes from one generation to another, we should aim at accuracy above all else. We all know people who come from a long line of faithful Christians, but who may have heard a twist to the story that changes them into doubters or cynics of the faith—or even deserters from the faith. Other voices get into the game. In fact, one who sows lies joins the circle and, before long, the last hearer completely disavows what he heard at first.

How do we keep the children of this generation from those who would try to influence them away from the Gospel, the Truth of the Word of God? Parents can’t always prevent their children from hearing wrong voices. However, if they have carefully orchestrated whom their children hear the most, and find ways to introduce them to winsome Christians and friends, this generation can carry on the faithful truths of our great heritage.

When I taught elementary music, folk songs became the “fodder” of my curriculum. Not only did they supply the musical elements I taught, they also provided students with the “mother tongue” of their heritage as Americans. Scripture is the “mother tongue” of our Christian heritage. Our children need to hear faithful preaching and faithful teaching. They need to know faithful Christians in the church and observe their lives of service and devotion.

Children need to see and hear people who have made the Christian life a firm foundation for their lives and whose lives they can emulate. They need to learn the songs and hymns of their Christian heritage. At the end of Moses’ life, recorded in Deuteronomy 31, he wrote a song and instructed the Israelites to teach it and sing it as a testimony of God’s work.

Psalm 78:1-6 speaks of writing parables to teach the next generation. Excerpts of those verses say:

I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old… We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord… he commanded our forefathers to teach their children so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
Not only has God given us means to teach the next generation, He can give us the courage, wisdom, grace, and all that we need in order to do so. Let us pray for this generation of children and for those who not only begin with the message of Christ, but carry it on throughout their lifetimes.



Monday, September 3, 2018



[Photo of an antique clothes iron]

“Don’t burn out; keep yourselves
fueled and aflame. Be alert servants
of the Master, cheerfully expectant.”
—Romans 12:11 MSG

I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to iron clothes before electricity. Not only were there no “easy-care” fabrics, there wasn’t even a way to maintain a heated iron to use for the entire job. Most women used a series of irons, heated one at a time on the wood stove nearby. They had tricks to use for doing the job with a super-heated iron and other tricks to use as the temperature of the iron cooled.

This reminds me of something that the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Roman Christians in the early church. Romans 12:11 from the New International Version says it this way:

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, “fervor” amounts to “warm steady intensity of feeling or expression.”

I think the key word here is “steady.” Certainly the invention of electricity makes the steady heat of a clothes iron possible. Although we sometimes have an awareness of when the electric current reheats our iron, we do not have to make it happen.

Where does the fervor come from for a steady warmth of service to God? Like the old fashioned iron, we must go to the source of the “spiritual heat” and spend time with our Lord, whose Holy Spirit burns within us. To maintain that warmth of passion throughout the day, we must stay “plugged in” to Him and draw on His power, moment by moment.

It’s corny but true: “Seven days without prayer make one weak.” Even one day without an infusing of God’s miraculous power puts us in jeopardy of making crucial mistakes, of sinning against our Lord, or of losing our focus and our fervor.

Remember the symbolism of the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2? Tongues of fire landed on the heads of each of Jesus’ disciples. This symbol of the Holy Spirit reminds us of the fire that God wants to ignite in each of us: for power, for light, and for a passion to do His work in this world.

Let us pray daily for that fire to burn richly within us that we might become a steady usefulness for our Savior.