I know my Redeemer liveth!

It’s time again to focus on the most important event in human history- the Resurrection of Christ. All our hope is in vain if Christ’s story ends with a simple death and burial. Our faith and trust lies in a Savior who conquered death, and rose from the grave!

That blessed hope brings with it peace and power to the believer. You may not fully appreciate that power until you find yourself powerless. It is then when you find that your deposit of faith in Christ can actually pay dividends! Faith deposited over a lifetime can enable you to withdraw peace in a time of trouble. The larger your “faith account” becomes, the more peace will be available in an hour of need.

An example? How about Job? Job was an Old Testament saint who was able to withstand enormous persecution and pain. He was still standing after his life was torn apart and destroyed. Where did he get such strength? Perhaps it was his confession, found in Chapter 19:

“For I know that my redeemer liveth”

Faith in God bore fruit. This was the confession of a man who would not bow to people nor powers that would destroy him. His faith in God empowered him to stand when others would fall. I didn’t fully understand the power of faith until a trial of my own presented itself a few months ago. Without warning, during a routine yearly physical, I was diagnosed with a faulty aortic valve. Fast forward to today. As I sit writing this blog, I face open heart surgery in less than two days. My chest will be opened; my heart will be stopped. A heart/lung machine will keep me alive as my heart is repaired, and the valve replaced. Even more amazing than that- I have a peace about the whole thing!

There’s no logical explanation for the peace I now experience. Perhaps it comes from years of reading the Bible, learning to trust that God has everything under control. The faith that I first expressed at an old fashioned altar at a New Year’s Eve church service in 1974 has grown and now is paying dividends in my time of uncertainty. Obviously God has everything under control! He is the author and finisher of my faith. He is my rock, my fortress, my God, my strength in whom I can trust! He’s the buckler, the horn of my salvation, my high tower! He has promised that not only has he begun a good work in me, but he will see it through to completion! My future is only just beginning. To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord. God has every moment mapped out in advance.

That kind of hope, peace and trust can only come through a relationship with God. I know my redeemer liveth! That resurrection power still resonates in our lives today! It is never too late to begin to deposit your faith in God. Don’t wait until a time of trouble and find out that you are spiritually bankrupt. Make that life-changing decision today.

What’s in your Closet?

We place a great deal of importance on how we dress. We want to make a good first impression. We go to great lengths to coordinate our shoes with our shirt with our tie…..the struggle is real. Don’t you feel better when you dress up? It’s like the best version of you! Your choice of clothing does indeed send a message to others, whether you know it or not. Clothes were originally designed as a covering, to protect you from heat or cold. They can also serve to spark a conversation- an outward statement of your inward thoughts and dreams. You can appear primed for success, or as if you didn’t have a care in the world. The message is not lost on those around you.

I am assuming that you have the same goal in your Christian life- to be the best version of Him! It is no accident that God spends quite a bit of time in His Word using “clothing” or “garments” as metaphors to teach us spiritual truth. It’s God’s way of illustrating spiritual truth in a way we can relate to. Take Job as an example:

” I put on righteousness, and it clothed me. My justice was like a robe and a turban.” Job 29:14

Job was talking about being “clothed in righteousness”. People around you can tell if you are a sincere, active follower of Christ. It shows. A relationship with Christ sets you apart from others that don’t know Him. You embrace attributes and behaviors that others don’t feel are important. You embrace a higher calling, walking this earth clothed in a different wardrobe. Let’s take note of the kind of wardrobe that God provides for those that follow him. Designed by God Himself, it has two purposes: your perfection, and your protection.

Your Perfection

Who among us does not struggle with faults and flaws? God knows each of us, loving us in spite of our shortcomings. He has high hopes, however, that you will partner with him to do better; to be better. James noted that God’s goal for you is to be “perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4). He is willing to extend grace, unmerited divine assistance, to aid in your perfection. Obviously, the process will only be fully completed when we reach glory.

We weren’t saved to sit, We were saved to serve. As you venture out into this world, He wants to clothe you with humility. God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5). He wants to clothe you with compassion and kindness, as befitting God’s chosen people. (Colossians 3:12). God encourages us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14) and to make no provision for activities of the flesh. God is concerned with what is happening within you. Men look on the “outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7). A righteous heart sets the stage for righteous behavior.

What do people see when looking upon you? David said this: “He hath put a new song in my heart, even praise unto our God, and many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:3) . Notice that people can see what you thought you harbored secretly in your heart. You are an “open book” to those around you. What an opportunity! Your Christ-like behavior has the potential to lead them straight to the Savior. The wardrobe of the world- envy, lust, greed and hate, no longer belongs in our closet!!

Your Protection:

Christ is leading and guiding you towards a more perfect you. While he continually works to renovate and improve you from the inside out, he also wants to strengthen you from the dangers posed by an evil and out of control world. He wants to clothe you for your protection, as well.

Our walk with Christ is described repeatedly as a spiritual battle. Battlefield language is used repeatedly to describe the challenge that lies at the feet of a Christian soldier. I trust you share my goal and desire to live a victorious Christian life. To help us, I notice that God describes appropriate wardrobe choices to insure you walk safely wandering though this tortured earth. Paul’s words to the Church at Ephesus should sound familiar to you:

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)

Our battle is an ominous and serious one. We wrestle against “the rulers of darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). God would not have you walk onto the battlefield unprepared. Prepare yourself , having done all, TO STAND (Eph. 6:13).

  • Having you loins girt about with truth
  • wearing the breastplate of righteousness
  • your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
  • taking the shield of faith
  • the helmet of salvation
  • the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

Paul closes by stressing the importance of prayer in the eventual victory in any believer’s life. It’s God’s plan and process: to see you perfected, and protected. Come on board and step away from the world’s bright lights and glitter. God’s got something better for you! It’s time for a MAKEOVER!

When your world collapses around you.

     It’s going to happen. It is inevitable. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) It has many names: Calamity. Disaster. Chaos. Loss. Pain, Sickness and Death. Solomon promises our lives will include a “time to weep” as well as “a time to laugh”. Life provides us the opportunity to experience both pleasure and pain. God reigns in the midst of it all.
     Perhaps you are in the midst of a season of despair. Your life has been turned upside down in ways you could not have imagined. The life you had mapped out has been irrevocably changed without your permission. You feel helpless and alone. You want answers. Why? Why has this happened to me?
     Fortunately, God has provided help and hope in His word. He is there to provide divine assistance on our journey through life’s troubled waters. He provides grace to the impatient. He provides comfort to those that are hurting. He provides peace for those that fear what lies ahead. Let us take a few moments to remind ourselves of several of the most important truths found in the word of God that have special meaning when times get tough.

1. You are not alone. 

     Pain and grief can leave us feeling isolated and alone. I felt overwhelmed when I experienced trauma that no parent should ever have to deal with: the loss of a child. I felt isolated, and was certain that no one could understand the depth of my sorrow. That proved not to be true. God understood. Others understood.
“For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18)
“There is no temptation taken you but such is common to man.” (1 Cor. 10:13)
     My circumstances, as crushing as they seemed, were in reality “common to man”. Others around me understood, some silently  sharing the identical pain of losing a child. Regardless of your crisis, God and those around you walk these painful steps with you. They understand. They have walked in your shoes.

2. You might not see a purpose on this side of glory.

     Why? We want answers. An often asked question is “Why do bad things happen to good people?” There are some short answers that come to mind. We live on a fallen earth. This sin-scarred planet bears no resemblance to heaven. We should not be surprised by turmoil and uncertainty. The Bible also speaks of the positive power of adversity in our lives.
“Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (Romans 5:3-4)
     We also need to grasp the fact that we cannot see as God sees. He is God, all knowing and all powerful. We are not. We cannot always discern God’s plan and purpose on this side of glory. We have trouble with out eyesight. Paul said it best:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
There’s a day on the horizon when all my questions will be answered. When I change my address from terrestrial to celestial, from ground to glory- I will leave all worry and heartache behind for good. 

 3. You are far stronger than you think you are. 

     God has given you a precious promise! 
“God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able” (1 Cor. 10:13) 
We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Phil. 4:13) Whatever I am facing, I can rest assured that God in heaven thinks I am up to the challenge! I can overcome insecurity, doubt and sorrow. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)
Put you hands together in prayer. You have got this. You’re a child of the King. 

Children’s children.

There’s a wonderful verse in the Book of Proverbs, the 17th Chapter:

“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” (17:6)

This is a verse that jumps out to those of us in the latter portions of our journey on this earth. I look back upon so many priorities that once held my attention. They seem so trivial now. Here’s an important lesson I learned: when you peal back life to find it’s richest meaning, it is found in family. Everything else has purpose, but family has meaning. You may be surrounded by countless things you may have purchased over the years, but it is the smile of a child, freely given, that ultimately warms your heart. So I rest, just short of the promised land. These latter years provide plenty of time to reflect upon the future as well as the past. I have peace with God, and my future is secured in Him. I am not fixated on the future. I am drawn to the past. What a life it has been! Ups and downs, highs and lows. Joy and sadness each had their moment. All of that is overshadowed, however by another emotion- pride. I’m not speaking of pride in myself, or anything I might have done. This enormous pride comes from seeing the wonderful legacy that will carry on in my children, and my children’s children long after I am gone. What a thrill it is to watch a child, like a flower in the field, blossom into something unique and beautiful before your eyes. They eventually scatter all over the country, yet seem only a heartbeat away.

If that wasn’t enough, you receive a double blessing as grandchildren grace your life….yea, even great grandchildren! They all represent the best part of my life- each one given a chance to accomplish far greater things than I was able to. That is the essence of every father’s hope and dream.

Yes, life has it’s struggles and disappointments, but the rewards are rich and overwhelming. You can never say it enough: I love my family. Enjoy every moment, because the are precious.

“As Time Goes By” performed by Orville Wright

Attributes of Successful Christians

     Aggressive and patient? How can I be aggressive and patient at the same time? Don’t the “meek” inherit the earth? What steps can I take to succeed and grow in Christ?
You will notice that I illustrated our discussion with a drawing of a soccer player in action. We will talk about that in greater detail in a few minutes. First, let’s talk about balance. Balance is a key principle to a successful life. Solomon taught us in Ecclesiastes that there’s a “time for every purpose under heaven”. There’s a time to be happy; a time to mourn. I would suggest as well that there’s a time to be aggressive; and a time to be patient. How about a time to be aggressively patient? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Let’s consider aggressiveness. The word has a rather negative context to it. The dictionary isn’t kind to this word. I would submit that aggressiveness doesn’t always align itself with bullying and poor behavior. I believe that the Lord is looking for a certain amount of aggressiveness in His people. Do you remember John’s warning to the Church at Laodicea in the Book of Revelation?

     “I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou are  lukewarm…….”             (Revelation 3:15-16)

     God is looking for aggressiveness in His church. He’s looking for aggressiveness in His people. The Bible uses battlefield language in verse after verse for a reason. We are in a spiritual battle, and we’ll have to put up a fight to win it!
Let”s move on to the subject of patience. The Bible is full of references to the importance of patience in the life of a believer. We must constantly remind ourselves of the importance of “waiting!

     “They that wait upon the lord, shall renew their strength.”   (Isaiah 40:31)

     These two attributes can and should coexist. Let’s go back and look at the example of the soccer player. He aggressively runs down the field only to have to wait for his teammate’s pass to reach him. It may require several attempts to be successful. Both aggressiveness and patience are necessary to be able to receive the ball and shoot a shot on goal.
We as Christians have to aggressively move forward in Christ. We will accomplish nothing by standing still. We must reach the place were we are in position to be blessed by God. We have to reach that place, and wait upon Him. You may have to outrun trial and tribulation, and a host of obstacles in your life that are keeping you from being in position to be blessed. Leave it behind! What a thrill when your determination and patience pays off, and God blesses your life. Maybe its peace you need. Perhaps its wisdom, or joy. Remember, you must be in position to receive what God has for you. Too many of us find ourselves on the bench instead of the field of play. Get in the game!