Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living the Abundant Life in the Lord

Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.  Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God…10 And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.  11 As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.  -Joshua 14: 7, 8, 10, 11 (KJV)

I was concerned after my last blog entry that some of you may have gotten the impression that my father had passed away.  I apologize if I conveyed this.  I did not mean to speak of dad in the past tense.  My father is alive, living with my mom in Ohio, and doing exceptionally well for 87 years old.  I can only hope that if I reach such advanced years that I too will enjoy such good health and quality of life.

When I think of people who have reached what we would refer to as elderly, I consider Caleb of the Old Testament.  Caleb was 40 when Moses selected him as one of the twelve spies to search out the Promised Land.  45 years later the people of Israel were ready to finish the task of taking and settling in the Promised Land, and Caleb, then 85, spoke of the vitality with which the Lord had blessed him.  What I sense Caleb was communicating was this; I am now 85 and I am just as fit as I was in my 40’s, so give me a sword and lets’ show these Canaanites a thing or two.  That is loosely translated, yet that is the gist of it.  He was willing to take on a challenge many younger men would have avoided.

I love this no quit, go forward, never stop growing, and never stop fighting attitude Caleb displayed.  To sit down and do nothing will result in a stagnant, dull, and hollow life.  To live the abundant life to which Jesus Christ has called us involves rising up and going forward over the long haul of life.  Like Caleb, do not fear taking on new challenges and new adventures.  Serving the Lord is a blessing in which we continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ.  God is calling His followers to rise up in faith and walk forward with a renewed sense of Christ’s power.  Regardless of whether you are 20 or 80, the Lord has a unique plan for your life.  Settle for nothing less than the fullness of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  Stop surviving and start living the abundant life in Christ today.

Now is the time and today is the day.  It is a big world out there with spiritual needs all around.  The Lord is calling us to shine His light in a world darkened by sin and evil.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get up and get going – in Jesus’ name.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Set Free by the Power of God

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  -Isaiah 55:8, 9 (KJV)

Something I have inherited from my father is a compassion for animals.  Had he not been a welder by trade I believe my dad would have made a fine veterinarian.  The house in which I grew up had a chimney that we never used, but birds would sometimes find their way down the chimney and become stuck.  We always knew when another bird was stranded in the chimney because we could hear it flapping its wings and thrashing around inside.  When this happened Dad would open the flu of the chimney which allowed the bird to fly into the house.  Dad would then calmly wait until the bird had landed somewhere, in a corner or on a chair, and he would then catch the bird with his bare hands.  Following this was their safe release outside.  Sparrows, pigeons, doves, and blue jays were the usual suspects.  Needless to say, the event always generated at least some excitement.

All of this came to mind a week or so ago when a small Carolina Wren became stuck in a light fixture on our carport.  The cover to the carport light is missing, and we have been using the new type of circular fluorescent light bulbs.  Somehow this little fellow managed to get his leg caught between the coils of the light bulb.  I found him thrashing around up there and he would have surely died.  Like my father had done countless times before, it was time to put my bird rescue skills into action.  I stood on a chair and using a small cloth I carefully enclosed the struggling bird in my hand.  With my other hand I was then able to gently free the bird’s leg, which I fear may have been broken by all his thrashing about.  The operation completed, I carried him into the yard and unfolded the cloth.  The wren needed about a second to realize he was free and he flew like a shot toward the nearest tree and out of sight.  If the bird could talk he might have been shouting, “I’m free, free, free!”  Dad would have been proud of my handling of the situation. 

As I reflected on this, I tried to place myself in the bird’s place.  What did he think of all this?  Here I am, stuck in a hopeless situation.  All of a sudden this being, larger and stronger than my mind can comprehend, approaches me.  I have no idea his intentions.  Suddenly, I am enclosed in his huge hand, yet he is not harming me.  My mind races as I try to understand what he is trying to do.  I feel his powerful, yet gentle touch.  I am engulfed in his presence.  Now the light shines and I am free – I can fly away!  I have been rescued!  Thank you for saving me from my desperate plight.

God Almighty, a being above and beyond our comprehension, has made Himself known to us in Jesus Christ.  Through faith in Him the Lord takes us into His hand, He engulfs us in His presence, and in so doing He sets us free from sin, death, sorrow, and hell.  In Christ we are now free to fly, yes, to soar with wings like eagles, for we are now free, free, free!