April 2022

Sheep Shepherd Young Man Portrait Human Animal

Check Boxes

Are you a list person? My experience has taught me that everyone can be categorized in one of three “list” categories. 1) People that live by “to do” lists. They make them and use them. 2) People that, with good intentions, make lists but never use them. 3) People that don’t make lists. I think Jesus likes lists. Not to help Him remember, but just for tidiness. Jesus had at least the following checkboxes on His list for His earthly ministry.

  • To proclaim His gospel. Gospel means “a good or joyful message – glad tidings.” Jesus declared that He was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord, anointed like that of a king, such as King David, to usher in the kingdom of God. And it was first, for the poor, remission of sins, comfort for the mourner. Luke 4:17–19
  • To fulfill the will of His Father. John 5:30
  • To fulfill all that was prophesied about Him. Luke 24:43–45
  • To pay the cost of our sin, provide our hope for resurrection, and become our righteousness and mediator. 1 Peter 3:18
  • To choose, train, and prepare the men He would use to lay the foundation of His Church. Mark 3:13–19, Ephesians 2:19–20
  • To preach and demonstrate His authority, validated by miracles from God, to the Jews, God’s chosen people. John 14:10–12
  • To expand His gospel beyond Israel and make His provision available to anyone that requests His salvation. Romans 9:25–26
  • To teach us about the kingdom of God and how we are to live as God’s children. John 18:36, Matthew 4:23
  • To send the Holy Spirit to be on the people of His Church. John 14:16–17

Parable of the Sower

 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.

Mark 4:13–14 NLT

Evangelism was always one of those checkboxes. In Christ’s parable of the sower, we see this found in Mark 4:13–14 NLT and Jesus’ Great Commission, located in Matthew 28:18–20. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 22:1–14 of the king’s banquet tells us, “And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

It’s evident in the parable of the king’s banquet that we are the servants. The King commands us to go and gather. He doesn’t tell us to go and test and choose. No! We are told to go out and bring in people. The Holy Spirit will call and bring into the kingdom those that hear and heed. Our job is to take God’s word to others. Jesus does the saving. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and save the lost.Luke 19:10

Image by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz from Pixabay

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

Between My Ears

As I was praying this morning, I thought, “What should I do when I want more of God in my life?” As this rolled around inside me, I realized it was easier than I thought.

If I eat an apple, I bring it into me, and its substance feeds my body, contributing to my health. If I read the Bible, I am bringing Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:14), into me. God’s Word brings spiritual health to me, giving me more of Him in my life.

“Consuming” God’s Word renews my mind which then transforms me. Or, to quote God’s Word, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ” (Romans 12:2)

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

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

Between My Ears

33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him [Jesus] and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.

 Mark 5:33–34 NLT

Do you have a need so great that your knees buckle from their weight? As I read Mark 5:33–34 today, I was reminded of imperatives. We pray about many things, and these are sincere prayers, but there are also imperative prayers, urgent and crucial prayers. This woman prayed an imperative prayer.

This woman had a crushing weight from her condition, and it compelled her to bow before Jesus and tell Him about her act of faith – prayers come in many ways.

Do you have a need that buckles your knees and compels you to bow before Jesus and ask Him to do the impossible? If so, then I have good news. When we ask Jesus to do what no one can, He often declares, “Your suffering is over.” He does this because He loves us and honors our faith. I find great comfort in Jesus; I pray that you also do.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

athletic track with the number 2022

Are You On Track in 2022?

We’ve been on a wild and challenging adventure for the last couple of years. Finally, we have faced something more difficult than what our parents faced. That and $4.00 will buy you a cup of coffee. 😀

Are You OK?

With the myriad problems we muscled through during the past 24+ months, I thought it might be good to check in on you. Are you doing okay? Spiritually, are you on track in 2022? Can you still say with confidence in your heart, “God is good!” That’s my prayer for you – yes, I pray for all who read these posts. Today that includes you!

God’s Word is full of running and racing metaphors1, but my question today is, are you undeterred from the life with Jesus? Notice that I didn’t ask about what you are “doing.”

Where’s the Track?

From “THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM,” question one is: “What is the chief end of man?” It’s probably good that I didn’t study this as a teenager. My answer would have gotten me tossed out of the class, which is sad because this is a tremendous question.

What is our purpose, our destiny? I’m just finishing up Hillsdale College’s lecture series, Introduction to Western Philosophy. It is excellent and free. I’ve learned that this question of the total and eternal purpose of man/woman is one that philosophers from 300 BC until today have struggled to know. But you and I know. The correct (Westminster) answer is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Every Christian knows this truth, even if we don’t know the right words. In our spirit, we know that we live and always shall live to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Notice that the primary (i.e., chief) purpose is not to build a church or lead 100 people to Jesus or give $1,000 to missions. Those are joyous ways to worship Jesus, but those aren’t our primary purpose.

What’s the Answer?

If we are Christian, then our primary purpose, which we were born for and will be doing forever, is to glorify (i.e., to honor and praise God as divine, as the one true God) God and enjoy God forever. That’s is why God created you and me, and it is how we should live our lives, and it will be fully realized when we arrive in heaven.

So, are you on track in 2022? Have you crossed into someone else’s lane? Are you running out of energy while running in your lane? Are you still on the track? Be encouraged:

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

It’s Okay to Wait

If you’re not on track, then wait for the Lord. He hasn’t forgotten you or your eternal purpose – Glorify God and enjoy God. Take some time to enjoy Him. After all, that’s your purpose in life.

Image by Tumisu, please consider ☕ Thank you! 🤗 from Pixabay

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[1]: Hebrews 12:1, 2 Timothy 4:7

"Morning, Interior," oil on canvas, by Maximilien Luce

The Pointillism of God

Today’s featured picture is titled “Morning, Interior”, oil on canvas, by Maximilien Luce. Luce used the pointillism technique for this painting. Pointillism is a technique in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. If we closely examine an artist’s technique, we find that most magnificent paintings are comprised of thick layers of paint, applied in various widths, and depths, and mingled colors. That’s not how God paints. He uses the pointillism technique.

God paints His stories with people. Each person is a point of life, of color, of intensity. If we look too closely, we just see dots on God’s canvas; we see imperfect people. Some dots a closer to others, and some are more distant. God’s palette has distinct colors and hues through His fascinating process of genetics.

Through God’s perfect artistry, history is created as He paints. A dot here, a group of dots there. Dot by dot, person by person, epoch by epoch, more of God’s image of the story of His Son and Son’s Bride are depicted. You and I will someday see God’s finished work. Someday, when the story of redemption is complete.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

Revelation 21:1-3 NIV

Image by Maximilien Luce, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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

Between My Ears

As we head into warmer temperatures, I’m reminded of the value of shade. On a hot summer day, we seek out a shadow. It may be found under a tree or a beach umbrella or even on the shaded side of a building. When we find it, we know it. We are instantly refreshed.

One of the things about shadows on a hot day is that we have to be in them to be refreshed, it’s not enough to just be near them. God created shade, and He makes His shadow available to His children. Just as a shadow from the sun, we must be in God’s shadow to be refreshed.

The thing about a shadow is that we need to be close to its source to receive the most refreshment. The Holy Spirit inspired the Psalmist to use the characteristic of a shadow as a way to open our hearts and see that in this hot desert of a world, God offers us refreshment, safety, and peace, if we come close to Him. If we live close to Jesus, our Savior, our lives will be in His shadow, in His protection.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalms 91:1

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

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

Between My Ears

For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Notice in this verse that, by placing our faith in Jesus we receive perfect righteousness. Jesus is the actual, perfect righteousness of God. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, it’s like He pulls off a piece of Himself and puts it in you and me. Now, when God the Father looks at us, He truly sees the righteousness of His beloved Son instead of our “Swiss Cheese” righteousness.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

vintage photograph, vintage photography, black and white, vintage

Where Are You From?

A question that often comes up the first time we meet someone is, “Where are you from?” It’s a good question because it may provide context about the person. I have a brother-in-law that grew up in south Georgia. His conversations are filled with “yes, sir, and yes, ma’am.” It’s a courtesy spoken by people from the South, and it is like comfort food to me.

If you’ve read my posts for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve lived in many places. Each time I got a new driver’s license, it showed my permanent address. Well, that state thought it was permanent 😉 , but I knew better. Still, my birth certificate never changed for my many permanent addresses.

A Prophetic Message

When we turn to Psalms 87, we find the Psalmist drawing on the culture of the Israelites and writing about the registration of people. It would be easy to miss God’s prophetic message in this brief Psalm. In verse three, we find the Psalmist praising God’s city, Zion (Jerusalem): “Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God.” Then, in verse four, we learn that a time will come when some people who are citizens of nations other than Israel will be counted as having been born in Jerusalem. This is precisely how Christians live in the world today.

Every Nation

There are currently 195 nations in the world. There are at least a few Christians in every country. Even Somalia’s population has 0.01% Christians. So, there are people that were born outside of Jerusalem but are now born, by faith in Jesus, in God’s city. Wow!

Now we come to verse six of Psalms 87 and find a promise from God for every Christian.

The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.”

Psalms 87:6

Birth Certificate

O, how my soul leaped with joy when I read verse six. My heavenly Father looked at me and saw Jesus in me, so He wrote of me, “This one was born in Zion..”

Almighty God wrote on my birth certificate, “born in Zion,” does yours? I pray that it does!

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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Father dressing his son.

Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go

I happened to read a story written by a senior citizen in which she reminisced about her childhood. She was quite adept at painting a picture of her youth with words. It was fun to read her accounts of playing hide-and-seek with her siblings and cousins and the joy she experienced playing on her front porch. She wrote of a church that was across the street from her home. Then, suddenly, I read something that she intended as joyful, but it caused me sadness.

Their Sunday Best

This author had included a picture of her mom, dad, herself, and her siblings, all dressed up and standing outside in “their Sunday best.” She wrote that her parents had a photographer come around the same time to their home to take a picture of them each year. From her picture, it was exactly how my parents made us “dress up” on Easter Sunday.

Each year Mom would tell my sister and me that Jesus gave His very best for us, so we should meet Him in our very best. This made sense, but I hated wearing a tie as a boy full of energy. Anyway, when Mom corralled us, we’d pour into our red 1956 Chevy and drive into town to our church to celebrate the Good News of Christ’s resurrection with our congregation. At some point during our pastor’s Easter sermon, he would quote the verse that has been my joy and strength for half a century:

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:6–7

Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go

As a boy, I didn’t fully grasp the Good News, but I could tell it held a power that knit our small congregation together. My Mom and Dad hung on to those words – I didn’t understand the depth of the pain each had experienced from the death of their mothers and life as children during the Great Depression. Still, each adult was filled by the Holy Spirit with strength and renewal of commitment to Christ Jesus, their Savior. But this wasn’t true for the author of the story I was reading.

Paraphrasing her account, “We’d get dressed up in our Sunday best. The photographer would take our picture, and then we’d get back in our play clothes and enjoy the spring day.” Her family did not go to church, not even on Easter Sunday. Across her street were people that knew the power of “He is risen” but she and her family were just dressed up with nowhere to go. I don’t think I’ve ever read a sadder story.

How many do we know that are like the five virgins that had dressed in their finest but found themselves dressed up with nowhere to go? (Matthew 25:1-13)

Good News

Whether your local church performs a cantata or your pastor preaches his Easter sermon, let’s all remember that if we have placed our faith in Jesus, we are brothers and sisters with hope and a future because Jesus Christ has risen, just as He said.

When my wife and I were first dating, we went to a concert by “The 2nd Chapter of Acts.” I hope you enjoy their “Easter Song.”

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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Jail Criminal Police Officer Handcuffs Prison Cell

Prisoner of Hope

Have you ever had such a need to feel the hand of God that, like a puppy, you became so frantic that you couldn’t receive the very thing you wanted? I think I’ve been in one of those times. You see, I’ve been asking God to directly intervene for the health of several people and a church. But when I pray, I get so wound up in the needs that I feel like I’m chasing my tail.

Called to Serve

I’ve never been a puppy, but my observation is that an excited puppy will spin and tumble and nuzzle in attempts at feeling his master’s hand. But only when the puppy quiets, panting from exhaustion, can his master rest his hand on him, and only then does the puppy feel what he craves. I think I’ve been caught in “puppy syndrome” and am still in the frenetic phase. But I am changing my ways.

Jesus didn’t call me to chase my tail; He didn’t call me to chase the devil; He called me to serve Him, and may God have mercy on the soul of anyone that attempts to mess with His will. So, as I was reading my Bible, the Holy Spirit gave me a verse to grasp hold of that has settled me down. This verse is a promise, and the good news is that it is as much for you as me. Here is God’s promise:

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Zechariah 9:12

Prisoner of Hope

Did you catch God’s promise in this verse? It is the “prisoners of hope.” That’s what I am; I am a prisoner of hope. I cannot deny so great a salvation. I am not ashamed of the Gospel. Because of what Jesus has done in me, through me, and for me, how can I not be wrapped in chains of love and lashed to the Rock of my salvation? I am a prisoner of hope.

I no longer need to cast my soul into a frenzy when my Master stretches His hand towards me. There is no need because I am already bound to Him, fed by Him, and continually communicating with Him. Do I still need the touch of His hand? Absolutely. Do I still have petitions for Him? Yes, indeed. Should I be concerned that He may not hear my prayer? Not at all, for I am a prisoner of hope.

Image by Dessie_Designs from Pixabay

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