There He Goes

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us Psalms 103:12

KIMG0914

Have you ever struggled to forgive someone? I did! First I complained about the offense till God reminded me of my own sins. Ashamed of myself I I did truly forgive. But then came those pesky times when I would see him and then I would turn my head or force a smile. But then one day it struck me that God’s forgiveness worked in quite a different way. He saw my sin, freely forgave and then was delighted every time we met. He has not yet looked away nor forced a smile. Instead He has not only forgotten my offense He has loved me ever since as His dearest friend!

Follow Me!

Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”        John 21:21

As Jesus and Peter walked along the beach in conversation about God’s will, Peter turned around and saw his friend John following close behind. Maybe John just wanted to see if Jesus would talk with him also or maybe like a younger sibling he was simply eavesdropping!

img_5152

When Peter saw John suddenly the question came to him that often comes to us all: “What about him? Why won’t he have to experience the same things I do? ” Lovingly Jesus turned Peter’s focus back to where it needed to be: “Follow Me!

As Americans we are raised on fairness. We grow up with it in the home, we hear and see it in the media and it is almost written into our DNA! But our God in his grace does much better than being fair with us: He gives us His grace. What a wonderful rest will enter into the DNA of our soul once we settle the matter of His grace and His will. What others will or won’t have to do will fade away and the eyes of our heart will begin to see Jesus clearly as we hear His plain message; “Follow Me!”

Selah!

P1010537

Many are they who say of me,
There is no help for him in God.” Selah

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah    Psalm 3:2-4

Selah: From calah; suspension (of music), i.e. Pause  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

Though the exact meaning of the Hebrew word from which we derive “Selah” is cloudy, it is generally accepted as a word used to indicate a musical pause in a song. In sheet music is it a mark called a rest.  We pause or rest because it gives greater meaning to what has gone before. Just as in a garden, the spaces between the flowers help define their beauty so also in the word of God. We pause, think about what has been said, then launch out into the next verse.

If today you are under attack follow David’s example. Pause, remember the promises of God, and trust that He has hears your cry! Then, pause again and be grateful that we belong to such a faithful Savior and God! He is our shield, our glory and the lifter of our heads!

From the Rising of the Sun

That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other Isaiah 45:6

P1010575

In the moment of deepest worship when no words can express the glory of God’s presence we come to the truth at the sun’s rising that there is no one else besides Him!

Our Morning Star

 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

Howard Beach August 2015

Having the Bible sitting on our shelf, or even dutifully reading it as a mere religious exercise is not what Peter had in mind when he said “Pay attention like you would to a light in a darkened room.” In that dark place there is no other source of light. The only things that we can see are what that light shines on.

Rick Warren once said, “God loves you and everyone else has a wonderful plan for your life!” We live in a world filled with hyped up advertising claims, political promises of utopia and even pulpit promotions that don’t truly match up with God’s word.Peter’s advice is to zero in on what God is saying, as though no one else was speaking. He tells us that it is our own choice, who to listen to. If your world seems so filled with the busy noises of life that you feel lost and confused, then this morning might be a good time to turn off everything else and focus on the word of God. God’s word has the power to amaze us when it shines on everything around us like the dawning of a new day in our hearts.

A Way of Escape

 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

KIMG0357

What does a way of escape look like? This is obviously the question we are asking when we find ourselves on the wrong end of a pursuit. Something or someone is breathing down our necks and we look in every possible direction for a way out. But God’s definition of escape is usually entirely different from ours. I would prefer escaping from the lions’ den, not from the lions’ mouth. I would not consider being hurled into a fiery furnace an escape, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did. I would not have considered being arrested and thrown into prison for a crime I didn’t commit acceptable, but Joseph accepted it as God’s course.

Our flight from trouble is somewhat like speeding down a highway in heavy traffic and missing our exit. We get so focused on the traffic around us that we have forgotten where we are. God has promised us an escape and He places the exit signs of that path clearly but we are missing them.

    In the book of Acts we see that Paul had many travel plans on the day that he was attacked by a mob in Jerusalem, but God’s travel plan was to a room in the Roman jail. While in captivity over the following years Paul wrote several of the books of the New Testament,one of which is Paul’s letter to his friend Philemon.

While in prison Paul had met an escaped slave named Onesimus. Onesimus was a lot like you and me. He didn’t like the position that he had in life. He was enslaved to another man and had very few choices which he could make for himself. His frustration grew over time till he devised his plan of escape. One morning, Onesimus packed his belongings and ran away from his position and his obligations. Then Onesimus was arrested and he found himself as a cellmate of the apostle Paul. Paul befriended Onesimus and showed him that the true freedom in life was not in running away but in finding Christ.Humbly Onesimus received the message and became a Christian.

How amazing that of all the millions of people in the Roman empire, Onesimus had been a slave of a wealthy Christian who was also a friend of the apostle Paul.  Even more incredibly, Philemon, Onemsimus’ master had also been led to salvation by  Paul. So, when Onesimus was being readied to be shipped back to his master, Paul sat down to write what we would call a letter of recommendation. That letter, which we read today as the New Testament book of Philemon was also the key to Onesimus finally realizing his dream of freedom. Listen to the words of Paul,

For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bond-servant but more than a bond-servant, as a beloved brother—  Philemon 6-7

This ancient story is absolutely current and in touch with our 21st century world. We are slaves of so many things- slaves to our jobs, slaves to the approval of others, slaves to our past, and like Onesimus, slaves to sin. Only when we humbly accept the place where God has put us in can we finally and truly be free. God does have the best plan for our freedom. There is an exit sign for us to escape from our temptations.

In the concluding lines of his poem “The Collar” George Herbert echoes the same cry.

But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
          At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, Child!
          And I replied My Lord.
So if in the this moment you are sitting in a jail cell far from your hopes and dreams, don’t give up.  God is standing by our side and and is waiting for us to discover that He has the best plan for our freedom but we will only discover it when we bow in loving submission to His will.

Singing Time

I wake in the morning early
And always, the very first thing,
I poke out my head and I sit up in bed
And I sing and I sing and I sing    Rose Fyleman
IMG_5160
It is not so much what might happen today; but rather if my faith will dare to spread its wings and soar with the gift of this day that God has given!