Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Week Forty-Three - Revenge

Sometimes I read things that I feel I must share with you just as they come. Henry Blackaby's devotion on revenge is one of those things. 

He says,

"One of the hardest areas in which to trust God is in the matter of justice. When we perceive an injustice, we want to see the guilty party punished. We want justice to prevail, especially if we are the victim. We become impatient if we are not avenged quickly. Yet God warns us that vengeance is not our prerogative. We are to desire justice, but we are not to seek vengeance (Micah 6:8). When someone offends us, our responsibility is to respond to the offense with forgiveness (Matthew 5:44). God takes the responsibility to see that justice is done. God loves people too much to allow sin to go unchecked."

This sense of demanding justice when offended seems totally out of control today. People push and push using cancel culture and intimidation to get a sense of justice. But when we remember that this is God's call, His job, we must recognize that only He can get the right level and attitude toward justice. He is just. We are not. We are always influenced by our prejudices.

"Peter claimed that God is not slow about His promises to us, but He is patent and long-suffering before He brings about judgment (2 Peter 3:9). Yet ultimately, God has prepared for absolute justice. There will be no sin committed that He will leave unpunished. Either the punishment will fall on His Son, or it will be charged against the sinner, but everyone will ultimately give an account for everything they have done (2 Corinthians 5:10)."

When my husband and I read this devotion together, it prompted many conversations about one sentence in particular. "Either the punishment will fall on His Son, or it will be charged against the sinner, but everyone will ultimately give an account for everything they have done." How true and how beautiful!

Our sin demands an account. It must be taken care of. Either our sin will be forgiven by the death of Christ on the cross, or we will face God without the covering of Christ's forgiveness - we will answer for ourselves. Friend, you cannot answer for your sin except by death. You cannot pay for your sin though you spend an eternity in hell. But there is always the option of accepting the price already paid - the death of God's Son for your sin.

"God is absolutely just, and only He can ensure that justice is fully carried out. If we are impatient and seek revenge, we presume that we are wiser than God, and we reveal a blatant lack of trust that God will do the right thing. Only by trusting God's sovereign wisdom will we be free from our anger and preoccupation toward those who have committed evil. If we refuse to trust God's justice, we become enslaved to bitterness and anger. We must guard our hearts and trust God to exercise His judgment against those who oppose Him."

Dear friend, be careful how much you allow the injustices of life to push you deeper into bitterness or anger. Instead, guard your heart and trust Him. Vengeance is His, and He promises to make all things right in the end. There will be perfect justice for all.

So, let's follow Jesus' example. Forgive. Wait on God. Seek peace and pursue it. And commit the keeping of our souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19)

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Week Forty-Two - Are You Ready?

Are you ready? That's a good question.
Ready for what? That's another good question.

In my devotion today, Henry Blackaby stated, "There is no substitute for spiritual preparation." If we are going to be equipped for unforeseen crises or opportunities, we need to be prepared. We will be vulnerable to life's unexpected events if we are unprepared.

The parable of the Ten Virgins is a perfect example. All ten were waiting for the bridegroom's arrival, but only five came prepared for the wait to be longer than anticipated. They had extra oil. But the other five were ill-prepared. So when their oil ran out, they had to go get more. And while they were away, the bridegroom came, and they missed out on the celebration.

Blackaby writes, "If you are spiritually prepared when a crisis comes, you will not have to try to develop instantly the quality of relationship with Christ that can sustain you. If you suddenly have an opportunity to share your faith with an unbeliever, you will be equipped to do so. If you enter a time of worship spiritually prepared you will not miss an encounter with God. If you are spiritually filled when you meet a person in sorrow, you will have much to offer. If you have established safeguards in your life in advance, you will not give in to temptation. Christians lose many opportunities to experience God's activity because they have not devoted enough time to their relationship with God."

It has been my experience that God often prepares my heart and mind long before a crisis arrives, and when it comes, I already have the peace of God and the comfort of His Spirit assuring me of His hand. Some might call it intuition, but I know it is God's work preparing me for what I am about to face. 

But this preparation doesn't come by wishing or hoping, it is the fruit of time with God, time in His Word, and a heart yielded to His will in all things, come what may. So are you ready? I hope so.

But there is another event for which we need all be ready, and that is the imminent calling away of the saints of God - the rapture. Dear friend, the Bible teaches that the trumpet of God will sound, and those who know Christ will be called away from this earth in a split second and ushered into the celebrations at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Preparation for this event must be done today. After that, there will not be a second chance, no time to go get more oil or make an appeal. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," the Bible says, "at the last trump...we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:52). Changed into what? Into our immortal bodies, ready to live in heaven. Are you ready?

Spiritual preparation is imperative both for living on this earth and for living in heaven. So I hope you have your lamp all trimmed and bright. I’m ready. Are you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Week Forty-One - Do Something Good Today


I'm one of those people whose first thought each morning is what I need to accomplish. Those things form my prayers and plans even before I push back the covers.

Sometimes I wonder how it will all get done, and feel apprehensive about how things will work out, but I usually hear God say, "That's okay. That's not your job. Just get up and get started." 

There's an old song that goes,

Each day I'll do a golden deed,
By helping those who are in need.
My time on earth is but a span,
And so I'll do the best I can.

And Scripture is replete with similar admonitions.

Micah 6:8 tells me what to accomplish each day. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

Luke 10:27 points me to the main goal. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself."

Ephesians 4:1-3 tells me how to get there. "Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

As I look at my fellow travelers, it isn't hard to see many who are struggling with hurts and disappointments. Some face heavy heart-wrenching trials, while others feel lonely and isolated. God placed you and me as encouragers for them. We are to be salt and light. By the way we live and the words we say, we should be pointing them to hope in Christ.

Our time on this earth is but a span - a set and unknown time limit - so while we are here, we need to follow our Lord's example and go about doing good. Help others, pray, go to church, sing, praise, give, and show Christ in your everyday life by kind words and acts, speaking of Him, planting seed, and watering the tender vines. Let your faith and hope permeate those around you. Be influential by doing what the Lord called you to do - the good works for which you were designed. Ephesians 2:8-10

Let me leave you with the lyrics of another really old song by Carrie Breck.

Look all around you, find someone in need, Help somebody today!
Tho' it be little, a neighborly deed, Help somebody today!

Many are waiting a kind, loving word, Help somebody today!
You have a message, O let it be heard, Help somebody today!

Many have burdens too heavy to bear, Help somebody today!
Grief is the portion of some everywhere, Help somebody today!

Some are discouraged and weary in heart, Help somebody today!
Someone the journey to heaven should start, Help somebody today!

Help somebody today,
Somebody along life's way;
Let sorrow be ended, the friendless befriended,
Oh, help somebody today!

So, what will you do today?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Week Forty - Be a Gleaner

It is Saturday morning, and I've just returned from a four-day retreat in the Derbyshire Dales with a precious and hilarious group of missionary women. We had a great time chatting, eating, laughing, shopping, and gathering around the Word of God. 

As I took time this morning to reflect on those days and gather my thoughts, my mind went back to when I was a young missionary and the great times of fellowship I shared with my more mature colleagues. Unfortunately, all of them are gone now. They are either with the Lord or serving in other places, but I will never forget their significant influence and encouragement to me. I gleaned so much from them.

To be a gleaner means you purposefully pick things up along the way. A basic definition is a person who gathers small amounts of grain or other produce left behind by regular harvesters. And that's enough to get my thoughts going.

What am I picking up from those ahead of me? Am I purposefully picking up good things or thoughtlessly trampling over them? Do I have a place to store my little kernels, or do I fail to consider their value? Am I too proud to bend over and pick up the fruit? What am I leaving behind for others?

The book of Titus talks about the older teaching the younger holy behavior, proper speech, temperance, marriage, child-rearing, discretion, and obedience. As we talked at the retreat about these and other things concerning ministry, I pray the younger ones grabbed hold of the precious grains of promise. I hope they gleaned from the role models ahead of them who are trying to leave handfuls on purpose.

But I also got to thinking about the things I glean from the younger women. First, I love their zeal and enthusiasm. Second, I enjoy watching God working in their lives and ministries, and I listen intently as they share things they are learning and struggles they are facing. These things excite and challenge me, and I love rubbing shoulders with my sisters in service.

Here's another thing about gleaning. We can take the opportunity to learn and grow by purposefully picking up what God leaves for us, or we can stubbornly eat our own stale grain. We can humble ourselves to take instruction or foolishly cast it away. The choice is ours.

Friend, I'd much rather be out there in the harvest influencing lives than cooped up in the barn. I'd rather pick up good advice and sound instruction that will keep me from starving in the brutal winter of trials. How about you?

So, let's leave good stuff for others to pick up as we rub shoulders with the other gleaners. And let's be gleaners drawing strength from our fellow laborers as we allow the Lord to double our portion.