Friday, December 31, 2010

Worth a Second Look

Reviewing this year's thoughts I, personally, find some worth a second look:

God's Powerful Pinkie - Wed, Dec. 15th
At Some Point Trust Must Begin - Tue, Nov. 23rd
Giving and Receiving Advice - Sat, Oct. 23rd
The Right Course of Action - Fri, Sept. 3rd
Example of Hope - Tue, Aug. 26th
The Church Clock - Fri, July 30th
What's My Calling - Sun, June 27th
Why Men Don't Talk - Wed, May 5th
The "Aroma" of His Name - Wed, Apr. 7th
Taking Divine Opportunities - Tue, March 9th
Lesson from a Plasterer's Patch... - Thu, Feb. 4th
The Winston Churchill Philosophy... - Tue, Jan. 26th

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Great Equalizer

People in suits and others in blue jeans, black people, white people, some rich, some poor, some well groomed and others not - all moving forward in line, together, kneeling at the altar, taking communion, arising to sing, pray, praise, and receive the benediction.

The formal service over, it's out to the foyer to visit, have a hug, enjoy over a cup of coffee (maybe a donut), but eye-to-eye contact, interaction, caring.

Jesus is the great equalizer.

This must have been part of what the apostle, Paul, meant when he pinned the words,
"Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ ... " - Colossians 3:9-11 (MESSAGE)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sound bite - For Christ

Anything for Christ;
Anywhere for Christ;
Anytime for Christ!
- fritz

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Forever is a Really Long Time!

"The Lord is my shepherd ... and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." - Psalm 23:1a, 6b
I want to link this to a dreary little Psalm, 88. That psalm has nothing positive to say and ends on the sad note of rejection and darkness.

Why link these psalms? Because there are times where there, simply, is nothing positive to say; and pretending there is doesn't help.

So, again, why link these psalms? Because, regardless of what we have or don't have in this life, how we feel or are treated, those in Christ's flock have a good home and a great future. "Forever" is a really long time.
Romans 8:18
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
- fritz

Monday, December 27, 2010

No Luck At All!

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" - Psalm 23:6a
Some have said "If I didn't have bad luck I would have no luck at all!" but in Christ we are delivered from Luck.

The Bible says
The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. - Proverbs 3:33
Christ payed for our sins and makes us right with God.

God's goodness and mercy chase after me, what would I ever again need luck for?!

- fritz

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Imagery Shift.

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." - Psalm 23:5
The imagry shifts in Psalm 23 from a Shepherd and sheep to a banquet, with God as Host.

Life in Jesus is a banquet! He's not talking about heaven where there will be no enemies, he means here and now!

Sure there are enemies, and difficulties, tragedies, and hurts but there is God's grace and abundance also available to more than make up for it!

It's like a bumper sticker I saw,
"The worse day fishing is better than the best day working".
I like work, but the worst day in Christ is better than the best days without him.

- fritz

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Paradigm Shift

"Thou preparest a table before me" - Psalm 23:5a
The focus of Psalm 23 shifted, becoming no longer "He", but "Thou". It happened when speaking of God's protection - "Thy rod, Thy staff..." No longer is the speaker telling someone about God but is speaking directly to God.

Life in Christ is one-on-one, a "Thou and Me", which can't be explained to others.

As the refrain of C. Austin Miles' 1913 hymn, In the Garden,1 says
And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own;
and the joy we share as we tary there,
none other has ever known.
- fritz

1 -

Friday, December 24, 2010

Protection From 2 Kinds of Evil

"The LORD is my shepherd ... I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." - Psalm 23:1a, 4b
We need protection from two (2) kinds of evil - the evil done to us by others, and the evil done to us by ourselves.

Evil we do to ourselves is, really, our biggest problem. If God gave us everything we asked for in prayer we would be in a terrible fix.

We take comfort knowing our shepherd is protecting us from others and ourselves - he is our defender, he has the way out when there is no other (and when there is).


Thursday, December 23, 2010

What do I do?

"The LORD is my shepherd ... Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;" - Psalm 23:1a, 4
So what's my part in this sheep to shepherd relationship with God? I walk - choosing not to fear even if/when I am in dreadful times and places.

This is, really, the ONLY thing he expects - to follow him in my daily life trusting even in tough times he will keep me safe and lead me through; it's just that simple.

I can't always see the big picture or understand the "why", but by God's grace I can put one foot in front of the other, choose to be brave, and trust God will make things right.

The senior pastor where I once served took me aside one day and said, "Your faith is just too simple for real life". The only response I could give - "I guess the only way I'll survive is by the grace of God!" He agreed, but not in the positive way I intended. That was almost 30 years ago.

God's grace has always been sufficient for my need. I walk and choose not to fear, God handles the rest.

- fritz

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Righteousness After Restoration

"The LORD is my shepherd...He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake" - Psalm 23:1a, 3
It is only after his restoration of our soul that we can be lead in paths of righteousness.

His restoration makes us want to do the right thing and he, then, enables us to do so with his Holy Spirit - not as a precondition to be his but as the result of being his. This is his work, and he gets the glory for it.

Charles Wesley, Anglican Priest and brother to John Wesley who founded the Methodist Church, wrote in his hymn "O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing"
He breaks the power of cancelled sin
He sets the prisoner free
His blood can make the foulest clean
His blood availed for me
- fritz

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Restoration of Soul

"The LORD is my shepherd ... He restoreth my soul" - Psalm 23:1a, 3a
Those who have made a study of such things tell us the soul is where our Mind, Will, and Emotions reside.

There are experiences in life that mar the soul. Dysfunctional people never intended to become that way; life squeezes the stuffing out - but Jesus, our shepherd, restores.

We don't get our act together first then come to him, we come as we are, submit to his Lordship, he restores as we follow.

Take a moment (Hey, you have time) to read the lyrics of the old hymn, Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy (Joseph Hart, pub. 1759)1

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
- fritz

1 -

Monday, December 20, 2010

Still Waters

"The LORD is my shepherd ... he leadeth me beside the still waters." - Psalm 23:1a, 2b
It is noted by actual shepherds that sheep require still water to drink from, and a good shepherd accommodates them.

Fact is, we are so very needy; but God understands.
"For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. - Psalm 103:14
Far from being disappointed, he not only accommodates but demonstrates his greatness through those weaknesses and necessities - so much so the apostle, Paul, wrote
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me - 2nd Corinthians 12:9
- fritz

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Made to Lie Down in Green Pastures

"The LORD is my shepherd ... He maketh me to lie down in green pastures" - Psalm 23:1a, 2a
Many of us don't know when it's time to rest. We rush through our lists, one thing to another, without recognizing the "green pastures" all around us. Then we wonder why we are tired and burnt out. Sometimes we spiritualize it, priding ourselves in being burnt out for God. Good luck with that!

With Jesus as our shepherd there are times of resting without condemnation, a refusal to do so results in "spinning our wheels" getting little accomplished.

Think of Mary and Martha.1

- fritz

1 - Luke 10:40-41

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Everything I Need!

Psalm 23 describes God's blessing and care for those who are his.
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want" - Psalm 23:1
Want doesn't mean desire as we think of the term, today. This tells us that with God as our shepherd we will not lack.

Instead of being worried about going broke we need to turn our finances over to God and trust he will guide and provide.

A hardware store, where my wife worked when we were first married, put up a sign, "If we don't have it, you don't need it!"

That should be our attitude in Christ!

- fritz

Friday, December 17, 2010

We have a Shepherd (Not Everyone Does)

Psalm 23 must be the most quoted of all the Psalms and for good reason. In six (6) short verses it describes God's blessing and care for those who are his.
"The LORD is my shepherd" - Psalm 23:1a
While people are often referred to as sheep not all have shepherds. They are described as having no one to give them purpose, no one to defend them from preditors, no one to bind up their wounds or give them peace.
But when [Jesus] saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. - Matthew 9:36
Jesus has compassion and takes those who see their need and call to him to be their shepherd.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me" - Jesus (John 10:14)
- fritz

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Choosing to Eat

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" - John 6:53
In Church during the Eucharist (Communion), watching members move orderly forward, kneel, and partake of the bread and wine, a thought again comes to mind.

Being in Christ is more than listening to a sermon and pondering truth, there comes a time for commitment - a choice to eat and make it mine.

- fritz

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

God's Powerful Pinkie

[T]he magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not ... The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” Exodus 8:18-19a
God and Pharaoh were locked in battle over freedom for the Hebrews; the magicians, the really smart ones, finally realized it was a one sided fight.

They admitted what even God's people sometimes forget - its not God's power they were no match for, it was just his finger.

- fritz

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Greatest Adversary of Love to God

The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable."
- John Piper, A Hunger for GOD (1997), pg 24

Monday, December 13, 2010

Watch, but for What?

Put on the whole armour of God ... Praying always ... and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me" - Ephesians 6:13,18-19a
Standing strong in Christ means being alert and watching - but watching for what?

1) First, we watch for Christ. Jesus said he would return at an unknown hour to take his followers home and judge the ungodly. There won't be time to say, "Wait, give me a moment!" He warns not to procrastinate.
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." - Matthew 24:42
2) We need to be alert for those trying to lead us astray. Sadly, some have not followed that admonition.
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, ... ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. - Jude 1:4
3) And we are to watch for opportunities to serve Christ. Jesus said, "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing (Matthew 24:46). That means doing as much good as we can while we can, to whom ever we can.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. - Galatians 6:10
- fritz

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not all Prep Work - Actually Do Something

Put on the whole armour of God ... Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ... for all saints; And for me" - Ephesians 6:18-19a
Preparation accomplishes little unless something is actually done. Our defence against wickedness is not all about us or about us getting ready, it involves actually doing something.

Our task? Prayer; being alert and praying.

Prayer is not a once a day, week, month thing, it is to be our primary activity - as we drive, work, play, whatever - always being alert to a need to take to our heavenly Father
Be ... fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; ... continuing instant in prayer - Romans 10a, 11b, 12d
- fritz

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Spiritual Sword

[T]ake the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God - Ephesians 6:17
It is said that the best defence is a strong offence. Describing God's protective armor for us the Bible says we are to use the word of God like a sword. He, of course, is referring to the Scriptures.

Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness,1 struck back each time with the scriptures - responding, "It is written ..., it is written..., it is written...1 quoting a passage that directly addresses the problem. Can we expect to succeed differently?

This means we must pick up our Bible and get to know it - better a little each day than a lot at one time. Take the lunch hour to feed your body and your spirit or listen to it in the car on the way home. Take it with you to read when waiting for the kids at soccer.

Get to know your Bible, it will keep you strong.

- fritz

1 - Matthew Chapter 4

Friday, December 10, 2010

Know-So Salvation

And take the helmet of salvation - Ephesians 6:17a
Our salvation is not just something for the heart, it's for the head, too. Jesus chided the woman at the well just little by saying, "You worship what you do not know".1

Salvation is knowable - we can know that we are saved, we can know how we are saved, we can know how salvation "works", and we are to do so.

- fritz

1 - John 4:22a (NASB)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Shield of Faith

[T]ake up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. - Ephesians 6:16
God uses our everyday objects to teach us about unseen things.

Paul, imprisoned for his faith,1 saw soldiers quite often. He advised Christians that they, too, have armour for their spiritual battle. We use our faith like a soldier uses his shield.

This scripture tells us two things:

1) The evil one uses "flaming arrows"; his weaponry pierces and burns - a past or present regret, a perceived fault or character flaw, rejection, isolation, gossip.

2) The burn can be extinguished by faith - faith that Jesus is not just the savior but my savior, faith that all my guilt and flaws as real as they may be or have been are covered by his sacrifice, faith that since he did this when I was his enemy how can he do less now that I am his friend.
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." - Romans 5:10

1 - Ephesians 6:19

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Covered Feet

[T]ake ... the whole armour of God, ... your loins girt about with truth ... the breastplate of righteousness ... your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" - Ephesians 6:13-15

A person doesn't need to recognize a battle to be in one. Society may call it an emotional problem, an addiction, a family issue, a legal battle, but unless we recognize the spiritual aspect of our struggles we can't endure.

The Bible says we have the armor - we just need to put it on and use it!

Third listed is the preparation of the gospel of peace; literally, preparing the good message of God's peace and prosperity. The focus is not survival but thriving and taking that peace and prosperity of victory to others.
"Praise be to the God ... who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." - 2nd Corinthians 1:3
- fritz

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Righteousness like a Breastplate

[T]ake ... the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, ... having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;" - Ephesians 6:13-14a
The Bible lists eight essentials for withstanding evil days, warning us to take time now to prepare.

It takes boldness and confidence to withstand any adversity; any display of weakness or fear is an invitation for disaster. Spiritual adversity requires the boldness of being right with God - the Bible says "the righteous are bold as a lion."1

We can't be bold by our own rightness for our best efforts are woefully inadequate but, thankfully, Jesus did the heavy lifting. He lived a righteous, sinless, life and offers himself to be our covering.
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." - Galatians 3:37
It is the breastplate, strong, fit, and unwavering, that the enemy sees not how well or inadequately we are behind it.

- fritz

1 - Proverbs 28:1b

Monday, December 6, 2010

Truth Like a Belt

[T]ake ... the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, ... having your loins girt about with truth ..." - Ephesians 6:13-14a
We judge our needs by our best days but God warns us to prepare for our worst, when peace is not found, escape is not possible, and God seems distant.

Eight things are listed as essential armoury for evil days and first on the list is truth.

"Girding the loins" was putting on a waist belt,1 it holds everything in place. "Truth", here, means, "not concealing". We can't stand in an evil day if we are a deceptive person. More than just confessing our sins before God, we need to be honest in our daily living.

If we are committed to honesty when no one is looking we will have nothing to fear from even the most intense scrutiny.

- fritz

1 - Mark 1:6

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christian Armoury

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle ... against spiritual wickedness - Ephesians 6:11a,12b
It doesn't take a genius to recognize there is a battle going on; not just on the battle field but at work, in our own government, sometimes even in our own homes. And while there is a physical component in much of the struggle, it is a "spiritual" battle with unseen forces and our task is to stand for what is right.

A Roman guard must have walked passed Paul one day when the Holy Spirit said, "That man didn't leave his home naked, he prepared for whatever would come against him. My people need preparation too!"

Eight things are listed as essential armoury and they don't happen by accident but by purposeful intent: 1) Truth; 2) Righteousness; 3) Preparation; 4) Faith; 5) Know-So Salvation; 6) God's Word; 7) Prayer; and 8) Watchful eyes.

- fritz

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unique Resources

Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! ... with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee. - Psalm 81:13,16b
Honey doesn't come from rocks, but when we follow in God's ways he provides good things from unique and often impossible sources.

Friday, December 3, 2010

No immigrant!

"The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. - Psalm 87:6
I am no immigrant in the Kingdom of God; I am born there!
[T]o all ... who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ... born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. - John 1:12-13

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trouble Every Day - Grace, Too

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee ... In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me." - Psalm 86:5,7
Realistically speaking, every day has trouble; some days it is more obvious than others.
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" - 1st Peter 4:12
Likewise, every day is a day to call on God, rest in his protection, act with his guidance, and live in his grace and mercy.
"[R]ejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." - 1st Peter 4:13
- fritz

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No Fair-Weather Friend

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee ... In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. - Psalm 86:5,7
God is no fair-weather friend. In Christ he is not easily offended and holds no grudges.

I expect he would like a little confidence from us that he would act according to the way he requests we act toward one another.

A radio preacher told the story of a father who threw his son's old dilapidated bicycle into the dumpster when asked by his son to fix it. His son was hurt and could not understand why his dad would do such a thing. He could not understand, that is, until his dad took him to buy a brand new bicycle.
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Jesus (Matthew 7:11)