Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Final Smackdown

And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8

Paul's letters to the Thessalonians focus on Christ's second coming. He lived and encouraged his readers to live daily in anticipation of that event. He shared with them conditions that would be have to be met before this grand and glorious day happened.

My thoughts today aren't dealing with an end times time line. I'm not prepared to tackle such an expansive topic in this small space. I want to concentrate on the awesome power of God when directed against His enemies.

Revelation 19 introduced Jesus as the Rider on the White Horse. John's description is both jaw dropping amazing and terrifying. When the time comes to set the record straight, Jesus will be no nonsense to the max. There will be no doubt who's the boss! Verse eight gives a snapshot of how He'll neutralize and destroy the greatest con artist the world will ever meet – the anti-christ. When the two meet head on, good will triumph over evil forever. That will be a sight to see.

Jesus won't need to even lift his little finger to take out this impostor. The “breath of his mouth” and “the splendor of his glory” will destroy the world's biggest loser. No swipes of a sword, no shots fired, no missiles launched and no bombs dropped will be needed. How totally outside our capabilities of taking down an enemy. Our God is awesome! His breath and His glory will eradicate the most evil person who'll ever exist. That's effective pest control.

The devil would have us believe he's a worthy opponent for God. He has power, but only what we give him. He's seriously outclassed compared to the Almighty. Jesus doesn't even crack a sweat taking out the anti-christ. No contest there.

We should be encouraged. God is more powerful than anything the devil can dish out. John 17:20 records Christ's prayer before His arrest. He declared that believers would be IN Him just as He is IN the Father. Despite what we see, feel or experience this is our present day reality. We're actually in Christ right now. That said, in light of 2 Thessalonians 2:8, what do we really have to fear? Any attempts to dethrone God aren't a fair fight – ever. The devil always loses.

God is bigger and more powerful than we can imagine. Renewing our minds with God's Word reinforces the reality that truth always trumps fact. Picture the scene of verse eight in your mind's eye. Have you ever seen might and power displayed like that before by anyone? With minimal effort, His goal is achieved. That's the final smackdown!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Firm Foundation

Make level paths for your feet and take only the ways that are firm. Proverbs 4:26

There are several options for walking in my community. One of my favorites is Sam Smith Park. The terrain has some rolling hills, beautiful views and best of all – it's completely paved. No pot holes, tree roots or ruts, it's a smooth surface all the way.

The key to having a firm, level path lies unseen below the surface. When we lived in Florida the streets in our subdivision were unpaved. The rains made them smooth, but when the roads dried out they turned into washboards. One solution was to drive with the passenger side tires on the grassy shoulder. This technique softened the bone jarring ride and reduced the wear and tear on your car and spine. Eventually the city paved all the streets. It was heavenly.

Proverbs advises us to establish firm, level paths for traversing life's journey. To help insure we finish our race, a uniform, even track will make running easier.

God's Word provides great material for constructing a proper foundation. Jesus is The Word, John 1:1 and the Chief Cornerstone, Ephesians 2:20. With Him, the most important element in place, we can confidently establish a base for our lives. He provides stability and sure footing for the road ahead. Only we can do this for ourselves. Others can assist but the responsibility is ours alone.

Take time to read, meditate, memorize and study God's Word. When you do you're preparing a strong roadbed for your path through life. You may hit the occasional pot holes and bumps but what you've built on will remain intact – your foundation is firm. Whether flying along at break neck speed or sauntering at a leisurely pace your footing will be sure. Build wisely and finish the race.

How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word?
What more can He say than to you He has said-
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

How Firm a Foundation, John Keith 1787 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt!

We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt. Numbers 14:4

Sound familiar? You've been on a journey to possess God's promises. You’ve arrived at the brink of victory but you're ready to throw in the towel. The trip took longer and was much harder than anticipated. The Israelites experienced this. The Promised Land was right in front of them; however, there was still one obstacle – giants. The benefits the land offered were outweighed by the size of its inhabitants. The result – the Israelites wanted to go back home to Egypt. Was that really a viable option?

For starters, they were in the wilderness. They only knew where to go because the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night guided them. Had anyone, assuming someone had the skill and supplies, charted their course? Probably not. How can you return to where you came from when you don't really know where you are right now? Without maps or a GPS the means to navigate was the placement of the sun and the stars. Possible landmarks, a trail of trash and some luck – not really good alternatives.

Then there's the Red Sea. Divine intervention got them across the first time. Without any means of water transportation, how could they cross this barrier again?

Last, but certainly not least, were the Egyptians. Would their adversaries welcome them back? My guess, the word Hebrew was now a dirty word in Egypt. Thanks to their former slaves the country suffered repeated plagues that destroyed the economy and landscape. The army dispatched to bring them back took a bath in the Red Sea and was no more. Even if they could return, what made the Israelites think the Egyptians would let them in?

It is interesting that despite all their dissatisfaction with their present situation, no one was ready to jump out and lead the charge back to Egypt. This makes sense. It is safer to complain and wait for someone else to make that first step. If things work out, fine. If not, it’s better to have another to blame. After all we were just following orders. It is not our fault if things didn't go as planned.

Turning back to retreat is seldom the right move. To much has transpired between the time we left Point A and our arrival at the outskirts of Point B. We're not the same. If we could make it back to Point A we'd never be satisfied, haunted by the reality that success had been in our grasp. Cowardice makes a strange bedfellow.

Fortunately God prevented His people from making a very serious mistake. His solution wasn't pretty. They suffered the consequences of their unbelief but their descendents were spared a return to bondage.    We face giants in our lives and retreat is never an option. God directs us to our Promised Land that is only possessed via His supernatural power and strategies. Have some of you, like me, waited long enough? Now is the time to move forward and take the land.

Just a quick note. I have now been published in a third book. Below is a link to Amazon if you'd like to check it out. If you want an updated look at Oz or a Thanksgiving tale of murder and revenge from the viewpoint of the barnyard this may be the book for you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A K-Cup of Forgiveness

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:7

I don't have a K-cup machine but I do have a single cup coffee brewer. K-cups eliminate waste but cost more per serving. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has partnered with Coke Cola to produce a machine that will dispense hot and cold beverages on demand. With the press of a button, consumers will be able to choose between their favorite hot and cold drinks. Ain't technology grand?

Sometimes forgiveness is measured out in K-cup portions. Doled out through gritted teeth, just enough to meet minimal standards is acceptable. Don't want to go overboard you know, the offender may get the wrong impression. God says forgive so what's the least I have to do to comply? I'll make that my benchmark.

“Be imitators of God,” Ephesians 5:1. Act like God. Think like He thinks. Do what He does. That's exciting when it comes to participating in the miraculous, supernatural stuff. For forgiveness, that's a bit extreme.

Many believe forgiveness doesn’t needed to be bigger than a K-Cup portion but God sees it differently. He always thinks bigger. He “abundantly pardons.” He blots out the sins so there's no evidence of them to remind Him of our actions. He even refuses to remember them. He blesses those who offend Him. He lavishes love and kindness when He has the right to extract revenge and wrath. Even more so, He expects His kids to follow His lead.

I now see forgiveness in a whole new light. It's much bigger. Before I go to God and complain that it is just too hard and so unfair, I need to stop and re-evaluate the situation. It cost God the life of His Son Jesus in order to be able to abundantly pardon me. Is anything I do going to top that? I doubt it.

God is willing to help us through the process of forgiveness. He walks with us through the emotional uproar that accompanies hurt, offense, betrayal, injustice and so forth. He knows forgiveness is primarily for our benefit and not the other party. He recognizes that sitting around in a sulking funk is counter-productive. He doesn't act that way and doesn't want us to either.

Are you upset with someone(s)? Hope not. If so, ask God to expand that K-Cup portion of forgiveness mentality so that it aligns with His “abundantly pardon” model. Believe Him to show you how to accomplish this His way. You'll brew the perfect cup of forgiveness and then enjoy it more than anyone else. Try it.

Photo: Photomorgue-Hotblack