January 2022

a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.
Psalm 39:12

Sometimes we need to lean back in our chairs, look off into the distance, and think about God, His Word, and His way in the world. We need to zoom out and see the bigger picture. Psalms 39:12 does that for us.

To sojourn means to “live short” to temporarily live in a foreign place. David explains the urgency of his prayer by saying that he recognizes his life is brief, he is but a guest in this world, just like his fathers. And like his fathers, his time will soon pass, so he pleads for God to answer his prayer based on his brief time in this world.

It’s good for us to audit ourselves to see if we are “living short” in this world, to see if we know we are guests in God’s creation; guests come, and then they leave.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

I was reminded again today of a marvelous benefit we receive when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That benefit is the ability to worship God. I think this privilege is often taken for granted. We forget that worshiping God is part of the “so great a salvation.” (Hebrews 2:3)”

Only people that are reborn in Jesus can worship God; worship is impossible for an unsaved person. We know this from: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses…Colossians 2:13

Spiritually dead people are unable to worship God. Only when we are spiritually alive do we have the right and ability to commune with God because “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.John 4:24

So, let’s rejoice in this blessing and let’s worship our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and let’s not forget that we can only worship God “in truth.” This means two things. We must have Truth (i.e., Jesus) alive in us, and we must worship God in ways that the Bible teaches us. We must be on guard and stand against any form of worship contrary to the Scriptures.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

Hands Hand Folds Woman Finger Work Together Pray

Pray in Faith

As Christians, we have faith for salvation, and we often pray in faith for the needs of others and for our welfare. Our prayers are sincere and grounded in our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Yet, it has been my observation that many use “according to God’s will” as an excuse for God not answering their prayers, instead of recognizing God’s will as a way of bolstering our faith in God for our request.

Jesus gave us His name to use when we bring our requests to the Father. “In that day you will ask nothing of me [Jesus]. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.John 16:23 This is not a “name it and claim it” promise. Jesus is giving His believers a new way to pray to deal with the new relationship believers now have with God and to deal with the new challenges that came with the birth and growth of the Church. Still, Jesus gave us a more intimate relationship with the Father.

God is Reliable

“God… calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17) When we pray, we should not confine our prayers within boxes of existing facts and conditions. No matter the size of our problem, God’s power to deal with it is greater. And God never forgets anything, including our prayers. We may forget that which we cried out to God, but He hasn’t.

Our God is reliable. Consider these two verses:

  • “…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8
  • And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. Mark 15:24

The word “slain” means “kill (a person or animal) in a violent way.” No matter what you believe about how long creation has existed before that Jesus was already the Lamb of God that was violently killed. Since God calls things that are not before were, Jesus was called “slain” eons (the longest portions of geologic time) before the physical act of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Good News

Just as God had said, so God’s declaration was fulfilled. My hope is that in this brief Bible study, we see that we are to pray, trusting in the reliability of God’s relationship with us. That God is not constrained and what God declares will be accomplished. Our Savior deeply desires for us to use our faith. When Jesus spoke about His return from heaven back to earth, He said, “…Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8

The good news that we see in these verses is that we need to pray in faith. God doesn’t need or want us to tell Him how to answer our request. We should not doubt when we use the name of Jesus in our requests to the Father. Jesus wants us to live by faith. And we shouldn’t use “God’s will” as an excuse for lack of faith. God answers in His time and in His way. We need not apologize for God or doubt God. We simply need to make our requests known to the Father, pray in faith by the Name of Jesus, and rest in God, who calls things that are not as though they were.

Image by Jenny Friedrichs from Pixabay

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a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

It Just Takes 3

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 4:19
  • It Just Takes 3
    1. A spiritually lost person
    2. A person that will tell the Good News of Jesus
    3. A church that is committed to correctly teaching the Whole Bible

That is how so many people in the world have been saved and have grown to be fruitful, loving Christians. It just takes 3. That is what we need to remember.

Jesus expects each of us to give all of our life to Him, but He has not made it complicated for us to be “fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).” Here’s how it works: A person in need hears the Gospel of Jesus and a local church comes alongside them. The result is growth. The lost are saved, the fishers of men become more effective, the local church becomes healthier. It is not difficult. It just takes 3.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

picture of a Bible

The All of God

Have you ever noticed how often the word ‘all’ is found in the Bible? I was reading Psalm 31 this morning and noticed the ‘alls.’ It made me curious, so I did a quick search. There are 4,638 Bible results for “all” from the English Standard Version of the Bible. That seems like a lot, so I began thinking of places in Scripture where my life depends on God’s all.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

Reliability From “All”

In the book of John, there are 49 “alls”. For example, concerning Jesus, “All things were made through him” (John 1:3)” and “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) If we jump over to the book of Romans we see, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) and “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) In 2 Corinthians 1:3, we see that God is the “God of all comfort.In 1 Peter 5:10 we learn that God is “the God of all grace.” 

From the ‘all’ of God, we find reliability. We rarely talk about God’s reliability, but it is the reason we can trust the Father, receive Jesus, and walk in the Spirit. God is not arbitrary. He doesn’t change. Neither time nor circumstances can change God, for He is sovereign. The “alls” of God is great news for us!

Good News

How could we have an intimate relationship with God if we couldn’t trust Him? That doesn’t work for people, and it doesn’t work for faith in Jesus Christ. God is “all in” for His creation. He is “all in” for you. So, because of the ‘all’ of God, we can trust Him, rest in Him, and be confident that He will resurrect us. For God is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:10) I would call all of that good news!

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downtown sign saying "expect delays"

Every Delay is a Good Delay

Can you call your mayor’s personal phone number? What about your governor’s private number? Can you give Vladimir Putin a call? My guess is that your answer is “no” to all three of these questions. How amazing is it that we can’t talk to children of Adam and subject to God’s will, but we can talk to God, Himself!

When my wife and I were missionaries in Eastern Europe, we quickly learned to live with delays. And, when anyone told us, “No problem!” we knew it would be a big problem, and that seemed to happen daily! Slowly, through these delays, we learned that delays were often very good. We learned that how we saw our problems and needs disagreed with God’s intent.

When we finally realized that delays were good, we began saying, “Every delay is a good delay.” This phrase has become part of our family’s lingo. At the heart of most delays, we can find God applying the brakes on our requests. Sometimes, God allows delays for reasons only He knows. We see this in the life of Daniel when he was visited by an angel:

12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia,

Daniel 10:12-13

There are some “I don’t know why” delays, but God is sovereign, so His will is never compromised. When we experience a delay, we can rest in our trust in God. God is not playing with us as we do with cats. I once had a cat named Max. I’d exercise him with a laser pointer. He never could catch the red spot on the floor because it wasn’t real. That’s not God’s relationship with any of His children. If God delays an answer, then that delay is good. We know this is good because Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) Therefore, whatever God does is good.

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”

Psalms 31:24

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Change Arrows Clouds Heaven Direction Begin

Changing Roles and Responsibilities

7 And he [John the Baptist] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7-8

Has there ever been a place in your life when it was time for you to leave so someone else could fill your role? I’ve been on both sides of this, and it can be challenging.

One thing that blessed me in my local church was this elderly gentleman named Fuzzy that played an upright, string bass. His talent was marvelous. One day, after I’d been a member of a local church for several years, the music director told me that Fuzzy was going to retire from playing bass, and he made the request that I fill his spot – I played electric bass.

When Fuzzy and I met to talk through “his” role, I was saddened. He loved the decades he’d spent playing bass, but he had been praying for someone to replace him; his age interfered with his talent. His prayer was answered, but the reality was brutal. I think John the Baptist may have felt some of this.

I’m not diminishing John’s joy. But there’s a message here for us:

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:

Matthew 11:2-4

When John the Baptist was in prison, he no longer preached to huge crowds, no longer baptized throngs of people. He was even isolated from his home and his way of life. Doubts were pummeling him. I don’t think he sinned, but he needed confirmation that he had been correct. Fuzzy kind of did that with me.

For several Sundays, he sat close to where I played. He wanted to know if I played the songs correctly and was doing the right things to fill his role. He wanted to know that he had chosen correctly.

We all have times when we surrender our role, our position, to someone else; it’s tough, and you want to know that it was the right decision. I’ve seen this at work, and I’m seeing it in the stages of our lives.

There was a time when I thought I was ready to conquer the world, then my first child was born. Then God gave me more children. The next thing I know, I’ve become a grandparent. What happened to conquer the world? What happened to my role in raising children? Now I am being silently asked to move to the role of an elderly person. This is how God works. John the Baptist experienced it, and every one of us will experience it if we haven’t already.

The good news is that God determines the times and circumstances when His preordained will touches our lives and moves us to a new place to share the gospel and glorify Jesus.

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a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

Dance for Job

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7

It is easy to run right by this verse when we read Psalms 28, but there is a gift for us in this verse. The Holy Spirit, through King David, is telling us that we can go ahead and let our hearts “dance for joy1” even before we have received God’s mercy.

The phrase “my heart exults” means “dance for joy.” So, if our hearts trust2 in God3, then we know we will receive God’s mercy. We are not being presumptuous. Instead, if we are in the right relationship with God, then His mercy is reliable. We can rest assured that His mercy will be given to us. So, go ahead, rejoice. Let your heart dance for joy!

1 – Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
2 – This is, our hearts trust in the Lord.
3 – That is, we have received God’s great salvation only available through Jesus Christ.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

Aloe Vera Hug Couple Plant Green Spikes

Aloe Vera

We have an aloe vera plant in our home. In fact, we’ve had aloe veras for most of our married life. It became a part of our family out of necessity. Both my wife and my daughter tend to burn themselves while cooking. The juice squeezed from an aloe vera stalk helps diminish the pain and reduce the damage from minor burns (this is not intended as medical advice).

Another fascinating characteristic of the plant is its ability to survive during prolonged dry spells, like when I forget to water it for a few weeks, I mean if that were to happen. 😉 When watered, the plant is efficient. It absorbs the water and stores it in its stalks like water tanks. But it doesn’t just ‘hold’ water. It transforms the water into a healing balm.

A Corollary

They are an amazing plant. When I looked at our plant today, I could see a corollary to the life of a Christian. The Holy Spirit lives in us, but He doesn’t just reside in us; He changes us, teaching us Truth and helping us to grow to be more like Jesus.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

God is in us, and He has prepared us as a balm to minister to the needs of others. Like the aloe vera plant, we are changed by the Holy Spirit within us and the Scriptures we study, the sermons we hear, and the worship in which we participate. Then, in an instant, when someone near us needs help, we have within us what is required. Praise God! How wonderful God is.

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