Something Higher

“God’s purpose in all His dealings with us is to make us grow into something higher. The greatest calamity that can come to a soul is to be satisfied with its present condition. – A.B. Simpson –

Twice in 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul stresses the “more and more” to those he was writing to in the church at Thessalonica. The “more and more” had to do with living a life pleasing to God and of expressing brotherly love (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 9). They are both characteristic of Christians. Some in Paul’s day took his teaching on grace to mean something it didn’t. They took it to mean that sin offered an opportunity for God’s grace to be magnified. That is not what Paul taught (Romans 6).

The Christian life is a progressive process of being made more and more like Christ. It’s very easy to settle into the routine of our Christian lives in which we become satisfied with our present condition instead of seeking a deeper fellowship with the Lord. This is neither God’s intention nor desire. Continue reading

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Secure In His Arms

“Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4) 

God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Last year as a church family, we read through the Bible. During the month of August the schedule took us to the Psalms and on that particular morning it brought me to Psalm 121. At that time, prominent on my mind and a prominent topic in mine and Karen’s conversations was the fact that we now had two children in high school, even more; we had a senior, Kristin. That meant in a year, she would be heading off to college. Well, today, those thoughts and conversations become reality as today is the day we move Kristin to Auburn University to begin a new phase of her life, and a certain transition for our family. Today is also the day where God’s Word’s in this psalm becomes more real to me than ever. These years have flown by. I didn’t really believe it when people used to tell me that they would, but it’s true. I can still remember as if it was yesterday when we put her on the school bus for the first time as she started kindergarten. As the bus drove away, the tears flowed, not Kristin’s, but mine and Karen’s. When we leave her today, they’ll be no bus to bring her home when school’s out.

            “Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” My Bible titles Psalm 121 My Help Comes from the LORD. It is a fitting title because it is God’s supernatural strength that we must all rely on as we live out His will. The specific purpose of this psalm was to give confidence to those traveling to Jerusalem in order to attend the feasts and worship in the temple. It expresses the LORD’s tireless care and sovereign protection throughout all of one’s life. As His child, you can be assured He’s always there.

Encountering God’s Word is encountering God. It’s where He reveals Himself to us and challenges us to walk according to His statutes. But it is also where He assures and encourages us with His promises. God knew I needed the comfort of Psalm 121 last August, and He knows that from today forward, I’ll need it even more. In just a few years, Logan will follow Kristin and take the next step in his life’s journey. I know many parents who are in similar situations as Karen and I, at the point of having to let go as never before. It’s a great moment in many ways for our children, but at the same time, a frightening one for us as parents. Be comforted by the promise of this psalm. We have a God we can trust. So, all of our preparations are complete; we’ve purchased the necessities for her dorm room and the cars are packed. At the end of the day today we’ll leave, and as we have, we’ll continue to pray for Kristin. We will pray that in our absence God will continue to watch over her. I know He will. He always has. After all, it’s in His arms where she’s most secure. “From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD…” Thank you God!

 Prayer

Father, I trust you and thank you for watching over Kristin. I know that as she sleeps, you won’t; when she moves about, you’ll be there; and if she falls, you’ll catch her. It’s our tendency sometimes to hold tighter to the one’s we love the most. Father, as our children grow and as they go, help us as parents to know it is in your arms that we give them. Help us to be comforted by that. Be with those we love and keep them safe. Thank you for your ever watchful eye. Amen!

Originally posted August 2012

Grace In An Unlikely Place

“James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1)

            In order to appreciate God’s grace fully, we often need a lesson from the past. In James’ epistle, he encourages Jewish Christians to live out their faith in spite of difficult circumstances. He wrote to them saying, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). James never taught that people were saved by their works, but that true faith, faith that is “living” works itself out practically in a person’s life. There are many important lessons in the book of James, but I want us to see the lesson of the grace of God as displayed in the life of James. In the opening of his letter, James, the brother of Jesus describes himself as a servant. But James had a past. Having grown up alongside of Jesus, witnessing His childhood and His public ministry, James rejected Jesus as Messiah (John 7:5). It was only upon Jesus’ resurrection that James believed. So why would Jesus have any use for James after he had denied Him for all those years?       

            You and I have a past as well. The title of this devotion, Grace In An Unlikely Place is not meant to imply that God’s grace is in some way obscure in Scripture, but instead to show that it permeates all of Scripture, even where we may not readily see it. God’s grace is displayed not only in what the Holy Spirit inspired James to write in his epistle, but also, that after years of unbelief, he was allowed to write it. James becoming a leader in the church of Jerusalem and known as one of its “pillars” has wonderful implications for you and me. He is a testimony of God’s grace. No matter how long you have been in denial about Jesus Christ, when you believe, God can use you in a mighty way. God’s grace is free flowing and when it’s truly received, like it did with James, it will affect change in our lives. So, look for God’s grace in His Word; even in the places it may not seem obvious. Think about how God has shown His grace to you and respond to Him in a manner worthy of that grace.  

 Prayer

Father, what a gracious God you are. You displayed that grace prominently in how you used James although he didn’t believe Jesus to be Messiah until after the resurrection. But you revealed yourself to Him, changed him and used him for your glory. Thank you for that same grace you’ve shown me. Let it continue to change me that I may bring you glory as well.