Friday, October 13
I guess we all remember bits and pieces of our early years. Another old hymn stayed with me all these years—“At the Cross.” Evidently I was too young to understand the message. “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light.” I had a lot to learn about analogies. I identified the light as a bare bulb on the porch of Grandpa’s house. We were meeting there for church services and I sang the songs, but didn’t really grasp the meanings. Later on, when I was ten years old, I understood my lost condition by listening to my Dad preach. I was really convicted and went to the altar to receive Christ. I still didn’t understand a lot of things, but I had no question of my sinful condition and where I was heading. I again am indebted to my Dad for proclaiming the truth. We kids did not get personal attention on this at home, but I couldn’t avoid it when Dad preached. Anyway, this old hymn is a marvelous presentation of the gospel.
Thursday, October 12
Yesterday an old gospel hymn all of a sudden popped into my mind. I hadn’t thought of that hymn for sixty or more years. I don’t know how much I understood the message of it, but the melody was “catchy. I really liked the song, which may partly account for it being stored away in the back of my mind all those years. I even remember some of the words. “Brighten the corner where you are. Someone far from harbor . . .” The rest was lost, so I checked with Google. The end of that line is “you may guide across the bar.” I have no explanation for why this hymn appeared from the long ago past, but the message remains. My life can brighten up my corner of the world if I’m busy “rescuing the perishing.” There are other ways of brightening my corner, too. My fellow believers need my prayer, encouragement, and support. Missionaries need financial support as well. That’s a part of my world, too. I wonder if I could put in a bid to sing this old hymn in our church some Sunday morning. And here’s a point to remember. Planting the seed may bear fruit years later. I’m indebted to my parents—and others—who invested in my life years ago. Ecc. 11:1 comes to mind. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.”
Wednesday, October 11
Present peace comes from knowing the future. The Bible calls that hope. Biblical use of this word “hope” is far different than how its used in our day. We hope something will happen. There is no assurance of it happening. In fact, we often don’t really think it will happen, but we hope it will. Not so when God speaks. When he says that certain things will take place in the future, it’s as good as done. God can’t lie, he is sovereign and omniscient. There is no default button that will change the outcome. When Jesus told his disciples that they would be with him forever, it will happen. So when God declares us to be justified, our sins are gone forever; there is no possibility of it ever changing. And that’s where peace comes in. Our future with Christ in heaven is certain, and makes the present endurable, no matter how grievous it might be. Peter speaks of this in 1 Peter 1:6. After referring to Christ’s second coming, he says “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” Later, in verse 8, he re-emphasizes this with “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” So if you happen to be “down” about something today, think of the future.
Tuesday, October 10
Art has been a part of human culture throughout history. Some people seem to be gifted in that genre more than others. Masterpieces sell for millions of dollars. Art galleries are popular. People like to admire (or criticize) works of art. Our Polk County Fair displays hundreds if not thousands of pieces of art every year. Artists are praised. Have you ever thought of God as an artist? Everything in this universe is a work of art. Humans take a picture of a gorgeous sunset and are lauded for the product. But God made the sunset. Millions of pictures are taken of snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, rolling ocean waves, and all kinds of wild life. And the photographer gets praised. Much of the time the real artist, God, is not even given a passing thought. But God had a greater purpose than being renowned as an artist. His display of beauty also revealed his power and order, all of which should draw men to worship him. It is not enough to honor him as an artist. We humans are the most important creation of all. All the rest of creation was designed to bless people—us. He has made us as images of himself. Morality, conscience, the capacity to know God, and the desire to worship a higher being was built into us. And when Adam messed things up, we all followed suit, refusing to acknowledge His authority over us and determined to be our own boss. We became rebels, enemies of God, and subject to judgment. God’s impeccable moral nature demanded it. So keep on taking pictures of sunsets and cats, but remember who the artist is. And, most importantly, recognize why God created our beautiful universe. Your eternity is at stake.
Monday, October 9
Robert Murray McCheyne was converted at the age of 14, mainly through the example of his older brother. He eventually became a renowned preacher. He fully realized the importance of being a role model for his congregation. He said “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” While many of us are not behind a pulpit speaking to hundreds of people, as Christians we are ministering to people, both fellow believers and unbelievers. I fully agree with Robert Murray McCheyne; there is nothing more important than my personal holiness. It’s not that I am without sin, but I need to be radically different than the world. One way of being different is how I deal with sin in my life. When I fail in some way, I need to acknowledge it, confess it, and abandon it. That process of restoration is also part of being a role model. In my early teaching career, it took me awhile to discover that. When I made a mistake in the classroom, my instinctive reaction was to make an excuse for it. There is always a reason for mistakes, whether deliberate or inadvertent, but excuses are inexcusable. I needed to tell it like it was, which meant to acknowledge that I should have done something differently. Eventually I caught on that kids were not that dumb. They saw through the duplicity quite well. That was not being a good role model. But when I learned to quickly acknowledge the mistake and apologize for it (when appropriate), they were “with me.” It made a huge difference in my success as a teacher. All kids (and adults) make mistakes and they need to know how to deal with them. I think Robert Murray McCheyne would agree with my analysis. Just like Robert’s older brother, we can be good role models and influence people in the right direction.
Sunday, October 8
Maybe more than rejoicing that God loves us, we should rejoice that we love Him. I mentioned back on September 9 that human marriage is an analogy of the spiritual marriage between us and Christ. In my marriage, I’m blessed by being loved, but I also realize that my greatest joy is loving my wife. It is immensely satisfying when I know I’m pleasing her. [And I’m still amazed that she loves me.] In terms of my relationship to Christ, my love for him is based on his love for me. Every thing that is good in my life is due to him. Apart from him, I’m worthless and bound for eternal damnation. Because of him I am happy and content in this life and look forward to eternal bliss in the heavenly realm. So his love for me is a gift, and my love for him is also a gift. I earn no “brownie points” for loving him. I owe him everything. So I thank him for the gift of loving him. Just as with my human marriage, it is a joy to please God by loving him. I expect my love for him to be magnified as I get to know him better. Eternity with him should be an exciting adventure. But get this! Just as I am pleased when I show love for my wife, so does God get pleasure in loving us. Love is a two-way street. It brings joy to both the lover and the one loved. No one loses. “Awesome” is too weak a word to describe God.
Saturday, October 7
Recently, several hundred thousand people were hacked, their credit cards, bank accounts, social security numbers compromised. The only thing that was unusual about that was the numbers of people affected. Just as no one is safe from natural calamities such as hurricanes and earth quakes, no one is beyond the reach of hackers. While our world is making more sophisticated products that we all enjoy, the depravity of man is eating away at our lives of ease and comfort. It reminds me that we live in an evil world. The “silver lining” is that God is still in control, nothing will happen to us that is not designed for our good. In terms of the hacking problem, there are some spiritual realities that no one can take away from us. I noted a line to that effect in a recent issue of Our Daily Bread. Marvin Williams contributed this. “No one can steal your identity in Christ.” Right on! Security measures may not always work in our world today, but there is not a shred of doubt about God’s ability to take care of us. No one, not even Satan, can hack into our eternal relationship with God. God will be glorified, we will be free to carry on his business, and we will continue to store up treasure in heaven. No hackers allowed.