Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Devotional Thought From Deuteronomy

Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. Deuteronomy 5:33

                Modern Western societies seem to have forgotten how some things work. When God gave life directions to his ancient people he indicated that following his commands (his Word, his instructions, his life-coaching) and, following it means living it out, walking in it, making it a lifestyle, would make things well with you. Society will be safe because all people would be following the same rules; prosperity would be abundant because all folks would be acquiescing to a godly standard of behavior; lives would be lengthy because following God’s rules would eliminate many of the dangers that put human life at risk.

                I think there is a legitimate correlation between right living, as God declares it in the revelation of his word, and the greatness, and peace, and blessing that a society enjoys. Not everyone may follow God’s guidance (they should, I hope they will, they owe it to the rest of us), but if the people of a nation as a whole follow God’s commandments that nation will be blessed, and, of course, all the individuals who are part of it will be blessed as well.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Devotional Thought From Numbers

Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldst say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the suckling child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?     Numbers 11:12

                As a pastor I view Moses’  question as indicating a significant portion of the pastor’s ministry to the people of his congregation and fellowship. Look at the picture of a father with a newborn child. Pastor, view yourself as the father, and carry your parishioners as though they were the new borns. Bear them in your arms, put up with their needs, supply what they cry for, get them to where they are supposed to be.

                Paul says a similar thing: But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth  her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us (1 Thessalonians 2:7,8). We cherish you the nurse (pastor) says to the children. We poured our affection upon you. You know we cared, we loved, we shared the gospel of God.

                My thinking is that the pastor like the loving parent meets the need of the child (parishioner) lovingly; washing, feeding, caring, putting up with, sharing real truth in love.
How great it would be if those putting reviews on the Internet about your church would say, “The people at that church love you, whoever you are, because that’s what their pastor is like.”

                It’s an old saying, I think, sometimes for good, sometimes not, “Like pastor like people.” Pastors with the callings of Moses and Paul will do the church real good.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Resurrection Sunday

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.      Matthew 28:5,6a

                The truth of Christianity stands or falls on Easter day. No one argues that Jesus could not have been born, lots of people are born. No one argues that he has been reported as doing miracles from healing the sick to raising the dead, the reports are a part of history. No one argues against his so presenting himself that many who were waiting for the  Messiah believed he was Messiah. Nobody argues that he died, all people die; nor even that he died with a sign nailed above his head that said the King of the Jews.  Nobody argues that he did not claim to give life. That, too, is in the historical record.
                Some of those who consider these things may not believe them, but they cannot argue the claims did not happen. So, they must say, if he is dead what difference does it make? Death puts an end to even the most remarkable life.
                But, on the other hand, if that man rises from the dead, it is proof that all the rest said about him is true. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
                It is either or! The law of contradiction tells us two opposite and conflicting things cannot be true. If one is right, the other of necessity must be wrong. So, was the life of Jesus just a wonderful interlude in the record of mankind’s wickedness that ended when he died, or is he alive and the human experience changed forever when he resurrected? How can we know?
                Find the answer in God’s revelation, the Bible. At the grave one of God’s messengers, an angel, gave this decisive message when he said, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen (Luke 24:5a,6b).”

                Hallelujah, the grave has no victory. Jesus is alive forevermore.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Devotional Though From Genesis

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.     Genesis 50:20

                Certainly when the brothers of Joseph hated him as a young man, and planned his murder, and relented to sell them in the slavery, because they hated their own brother, no thinking person could see how that would be good, or considered good for Joseph, or the perpetrators. Without doubt these jealous and hateful brothers meant what they did to be an evil thing for their brother, a hurtful thing, something that brought him low and made his life miserable. Had you interviewed them at the time and had they been honest, they never would have thought that Joseph would overcome, that good would come despite the evil that he was facing. Evaluating Joseph’s circumstances most people would have probably thought “ How would that even be possible?” We learn the answer to that question here in the last chapter of Genesis were Joseph said “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.” The Lord God of heaven and earth is sovereign. He uses situations, and circumstances, whether good or bad to bring about his purposes in this world.

                Looking ahead this month to the celebration of Easter, the same thought can be applied to the passion. How could anyone viewing the hatred of religious leaders toward Jesus, the fickleness of the people who cried to crucify him, the bloody nails driven by the Roman soldiers through his hands and his feet, and the terrible, torturous, ignominious death upon the cross be seen as anything good. Wouldn’t those who do not know God consider the term Good Friday a misnomer? How could good come out of the evil of the cross? Because the sovereign Lord God meant it unto good.

 His enemies meant the cross to destroy Him, God meant the cross to destroy sin and death. As the risen Christ stood before the world in His living glory He could have used Joseph’s words “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Devotional Thought From Revelation

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.    
Revelation 20:15

The book of life or the lake of fire, if you are not in one you are in the other.

Being listed in the book of life comes from being rightly related to the Savior, Jesus, who saves those who cast themselves upon Him by faith. It means, of course, that all who trust Jesus for salvation are given eternal life to be with Jesus eternally. This is the good half of this verse, especially if you realize we all live with eternity and view.

The negative side of the verse is that through lack of faith those not listed in the book of life are consigned to the lake of fire, or hell. Yes, according to the Bible’s teaching, hell is real. It was prepared as a terrifying, painful, punishment for the devil (Rev. 20:10) and the wicked angels that followed him in rebelling against the God of the Bible, Who is the one and only living God of the universe. Sadly, for those who will not believe the gospel of salvation, thus rejecting God, because unbelief is rejecting, the lake of fire also will receive them.

The lake of fire is real. Eternal separation from God is real. The torment of hell is real. No human mind is big enough in intellect to imagine how beyond awful this is.

Not everybody is in the book of life, and not everybody goes to hell. Your destination is determined about your faith.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Devotional Thought From Revelation

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.     Rev. 10:11

          Fantastic things are happening in the book of Revelation. No matter what theological point of view and interpretation a reader is coming from the pictures given in John's vision are earth shaking, mind blowing, and heart rending. Here in one of the great periods described by the book, John is told that despite all that has happened he must prophesy, or preach again, and that his message is for every people group, every nation even those where Christian faith is a minority faith, a message that should be shared in every language, and ought to be shared before kings and governments. In other words, it is a message that should go into all the world, still a great commission. John, I think, can be thought to represent the church, the witness(es) to the truth of Christ's gospel, and as such this statement in Rev. 10:11 is a clear indication that the church, the believers who make up the church, are called upon to the setting forth of the message of the cross and resurrection, which is God's message of salvation, before the world.

          All people groups no matter ethnicity, or skin color, location in the world, or any other qualifying characteristics need to know that God sent His Son into the world to save them, and there is no other name under heaven by which they must be saved. "Must" because there is no other way but through receiving Jesus into one's heart as savior. That is true for every nation no matter it's religious background, and for their governments as well, which God declares are to be executors of judgement on behalf of God and His righteousness (cf. Rom. 13:1-5). It is a message that should be spoken to all people no matter the language those people may speak.

          Summing up: the truth of the One God of the Universe, the God of the Bible, is for all persons everywhere. There are not many ways to God, there is Jesus. There are not many doors to heaven, there is Jesus. There are not many saviors, so take your pick, there is Jesus. That's the Bible's message. That's John's message. That's the Christian church's message, in all the church's various forms and styles of worship and evangelism. That's my message as a Christian believer, and witness, and preacher.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Greater Than The Storm

And when he was entered into a ship , his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. and his disciples came to him, and woke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.     Matthew 8:23-26

Prayer: O Lord, when the storms of life are blowing, give us increasing faith so we can be calm, while You calm the storm. In Jesus' name, Amen.

The title, scripture reading and prayer above are from a daily devotional in Rev. Kisenwether's book, A Year In The Life: Ministry and Memories now available on Amazon.com. Each daily devotional includes a theological reflection sandwiched between the scripture and prayer.