Featured post

He Shakes The Foundations

He shakes the foundations.

“He makes the mountains of Lebanon jump like calves and makes Mount Hermon leap like a young bull”.

Ps 29:6 GNB

A few hundred years ago a man called Copernicus came out with the strange idea that the earth went round the sun. His thoughts shook the world of human ideas and challenged many previously-held beliefs. It had always been assumed that the earth was flat like a table and that it rested on foundations.
Mount Hermon is a high mountain which can be seen from most parts of northern Israel since it dominates the skyline. Mount Lebanon is close by. Before the Israelites came to the land the locals had regarded it as the abode of their gods. So violent was the storm that it seemed that God was even shaking it to its foundation as he played with it, making it jump and run like frisky young calves. The poet rejoices at God’s might in thus expressing his total superiority over other lesser gods. Whilst marvelling at what we would call the strength of nature, he revels in the thought of God’s all-dominant supremacy.
We understand much more about the working of the universe now. But the occurrence of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and droughts brings home to us the unpredictable character of some aspects of nature, and our dependence on God. We do not worship nature but we do worship the God who created it and recognize our frailty when the earth is shaken to its foundations by some terrifying upheaval. Such an event also reminds us how normally dependable this world is that God has created. Storms come and go but God maintains a reliable system so that we can plan, use and manage it for our benefit and to his glory.

Featured post

Made To Soar

Made To Soar

When I visit the zoo, I skip the eagles’ cage. I can’t stand the pain of seeing those majestic birds sit there on their perches day after day, their burnished brown wings draped over them like an ill-fitting old coat. They were created for the heights, to dance among the clouds, not to be prisoners in a cage. Those birds were made to fly.
Many people who profess that they are Christ’s men and women are like those caged eagles. They are made to live as free citizens of heaven, but they are imprisoned by their own sin. Their condition must break God’s heart. He knows what they could become, but they have put themselves in a cage. And the irony is that it is a cage with open doors.
The apostle Paul said that we who have put our trust in Christ have died with Him to the sin that confined us in our old life. And we are now alive in Him. We are not the person we used to be. Therefore, we must stop facing life as we used to face it.
Think long about those truths. Remind yourself of them often. Through Christ, you have been set free! You were never meant to be imprisoned in a cage. Confess your sin and trust God anew. You were made to soar.
Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner, Elizabeth
Christ is the open door out of the cage of sin.

Featured post

Never Too Old

Never Too Old

Look at what some people have accomplished despite advancing age. When Grandma Moses was 100, she was still painting. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play at 94. Arthur Rubinstein gave a great recital at Carnegie Hall when he was 89. And at 82, Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
The Bible tells of many godly people who didn’t let the advancing years stop them—Caleb and Moses, for instance. At 85, Caleb (one of the men who had spied out the land of Canaan) entered the Promised Land and drove out the Anakites (Josh. 14:6-15). And Moses continued to lead the people of Israel faithfully until he was 120 (Deut. 34:5-7). The secret of their success was faith in God and an attitude of steadfastness until God called them home.
There are many people who have lived far beyond the 70 years mentioned in Psalm 90:10. They are still bearing “fruit in old age” (Ps. 92:14) by encouraging others and using their energy in God’s service. Others, however, far younger, have decided to coast home.
As long as we have strength, we need to dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service. Then, no matter what our age, we can “rejoice and be glad.”
Growing old but not retiring,
Lord, the battle still is on;
I’ll go on without relenting
Till the final victory’s won. —Anon.
To stay youthful, stay useful.

The Shepherds

Luke 2:8-20 And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 15 And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. (NAS)
This is a very familiar set of verses to most Americans. Anyone with a television has heard Charles Schutz’ Linus answer Charlie Brown’s question “What is Christmas all about?” with the first portion of this text. Even so, I think these simple shepherds bear a closer look. Familiarity breeds contempt has a sting of truth. The more familiar we are with something, the more casually we often treat it.
This group of men had basically gotten together to share their evenings as the sheep which were their livelihood quietly grazed and slept. Together they could talk, catchup on local gossip and have a quiet meal. One of them, at least, would have to keep watch for predators. But regardless of what had happened, how hectic the evening might have been, in a minute they would all dismiss it all as trivia.
The Archangel Gabriel appears in a blaze of glory to the stunned shepherds. Gabriel seems to be in charge of special birth announcements of late. These would surely have been duties that had long been planned by the Father, and Gabriel may have waited ages to fulfill. The first thing he has to tell the shepherds was the same for several of his previous recipients, “Do not be afraid…” I assure you, if an angel appeared to me, he would probably had to say the same thing.
And now “… for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people”. The announcement of the ages. No event in all of human history compares as a watershed in time. It divides our calendar, it divides the city of Jerusalem and the world, it divides the hearts of mankind to this very day. “…for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…” The Christ, the anointed one, the Savior long awaited had arrived and who was told of this event? King Herod and the Roman Emperor are passed over for this joyous news.
The shepherds are told in what kind of place the child would be found, how the child would be dressed, but not exactly where. The search would be restricted to the town of Bethlehem that lay at the foot of the hills where their sheep were resting. Interesting that with all the heavenly host filling the sky and singing (oh what singing that must have been and how I long to hear it someday), the sheep are not recorded as running away. The shepherds are not told which stable, so they may have had to search for a while before finding Joseph, Mary and Jesus huddled in a crowned stone cave. These fellows left their flocks unattended, which is unheard of, and may have searched for some length of time to find the family, and then spent at least a little time in worship and talking with parents. Their diligent search was rewarded.
Theses shepherds were also a milepost for Mary and Joseph. Joseph had his faith to believe Mary and the dream he had of the angel telling him that Mary had not been unfaithful and instructing him to marry the girl. Mary had her knowledge that she was indeed a virgin and yet she had just delivered a Son, also foretold by an angel. Now, I know that I have experienced some pretty intense spiritual events, and the next morning I had struggled with the reality of what was certain the night before. Mary and Joseph are nine months into their adventure. There was nothing glorious about their trip to Bethlehem, no private room and doctor waiting. There had been nothing special at all about the pregnancy and birth they had just experienced. Mary must have been resting, and Joseph too both bone weary from the trip and the delivery of the Christ child. They may have moved the manger into one warmer corner of the stable. They may have been resting on piled up hay next to the small stone trough to keep the animals away. Amid all this, they have guests. It must have been an affirmation to both parents that their lives would hardly be normal ever again.
And yet, the visit may have indeed been welcome reaffirmation. Their guests told of angels and promised signs that lead them to the newborn baby. The shepherds searched for a Messiah and King. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Mary, and probably Joseph too, took these things to their faith as fuel. Their hearts would have been rejuvinated at the verification of their visions of angels, and of the promises surrounding their Son.
The shepherds left the stable praising God and singing praises. The occupation they all had, prohibited them from Temple worship, and yet they knew the songs of praise. I can well imagine as they walked out of town past the full inns and homes that many mistook them for drunks. It seems fitting, since a group of fishermen all speaking in miraculous tongues would one day be accused of the same thing. They returned to their flocks that night, changed forever.

Dear Lord, the shepherds who visited You that first night of your earthly life are storehouses of lessons to each of us. We see their faith, and the urgency with this they sought You and Your family out. The Father send them as reaffirmation to Mary and Joseph, and to us today. Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to all the things you have to share with us in the events that surround your birth, life, death and resurrection. Amen.



Lord of majesty and might I worship you this day. So much

of my life is a grubby mess amongst the dust and dirt of the

earth. But when I turn to you I look at splendour, grandeur,

and greatness and then it lifts me up and fills me with wonder,

admiration and praise. All around me, O Lord, I see people

worshipping things and people that are small, time-bound

and shallow. They ogle over movie stars, pop-singers, sports

heroes and politicians and even envy the super-rich. But they

are all so weak, so human and so many falter and fail and let

their followers down. You don’t. You gain in glory, you grow

in grace, your majesty magnifies with the ages. I am reduced

to silence in your presence because words fail to describe

your awesomeness and power.

Now forgive me. In the holiness of your presence my own

shallowness shows up. If I have brushed aside my own

wrongdoings but “made a meal” of those of others; if I have

ignored your inner pleadings to obey your commands and

have instead pushed ahead with mine; if I have left others

wounded by the wayside without a thought for their help or

healing; if I have been made aware of my faults and failings

and have done nothing to correct them; if I have taken

blessings galore from your hands without returning thanks;

if I have sulked when things have not gone my way; if I have

blamed others for causing problems when I myself have been

at fault; if I have been slow to forgive or reluctant to ask for

forgiveness, then Lord in your great compassion have mercy

on me. Teach me just how difficult I am to live with and how

much I need your grace. As Jesus drove the demons out of

sufferers in Galilee, so cast the demons out of me. Put your

Holy Spirit within me and make me more like Jesus.

Lord, I come to you now to plead for other people. I pray for

those who are so poor that they cannot even afford a meal a

day. Stoop down and meet them in their wretchedness and

bring about a world order in which every man, woman and

child is fed. I ask that you will guide the leaders of nations to

curb their own greed and to make workable plans to provide

a living for all their citizens. Stop those leaders from shrugging

their shoulders and blaming other people.

I pray for those who are poor in spirit, those who have

been so crushed by adversity, illness, failure or defeat that

they have given up hope, and have stopped trying to accept

responsibility for themselves. Shine into their gloom and

despair and bring a spark of determination and the will

to win. Let them know of the love of Jesus and of the rich

possibilities that lie in their own hands. Cause them to want

to rise from their defeat and to look forward in expectation

of better things ahead. Above all, Lord, prompt them to take

some action that will spur them to seek a new way of looking

at things and move them away from the depths into which

they have sunk.

I pray for those who are poor in relationships. Fill them with

love. Show them attitudes they can adopt that will enable

them to relate more creatively to other people. Help them to

know that they themselves are loved with the greatest love in

the world, that you are close to them and will never let them

  1. Move them to do and say things that will express love for

other people. Show them how to be happy and positive so

that others want to be with them and warm to them when

they are.

Lord, make me more loving, not just when I am feeling on

top, but all the time. I ask these things in the name of Jesus

Christ. AMEN



“So all your loyal people should pray to you in times of

need; when a great flood of trouble comes rushing in,

it will not reach them”.

Ps 32:6 GNB

Some people would argue that a great flood of trouble is

sweeping the world at the present time. Once-powerful

nations appear to be crumbling. Revolts are threatening

in others. The world’s population is outstripping its

resources. Ecological problems are endangering the

continued exploitation of natural resources. Poverty defies

those who want to eliminate it. No great leaders seem to

know what to do. And there is terrorism.

In the world-view of the Old Testament God had at

creation subdued the great flood of chaos but it lurked

beneath the surface of the earth, always waiting and

threatening to break out again at any moment. Whenever

any kind of trouble arose they feared the whole world

was about to erupt in turmoil and disorder. According to

the psalm-writer the best thing to do was to pray to God.

Trouble was so imminent and so powerful that human

ingenuity was quite unable to do much about it. But God

could. Faith told him that there was a God more powerful

than the flood, more capable than human ability.

The repeated earthquakes and tsunamis of our day

bring home to us the insecurity of human existence. And

we all know that it would only need one moment of folly

to unleash nuclear warfare that would cause destruction

on a frightening scale. In this situation pray to God. Pray

to him on your own, and in your Christian community. Use

every human skill available to minimize dangers. And trust

in the Christ of resurrection glory to preserve and renew

the whole creation.

Not a Typical Call

On December 11, 1995, I asked God “What is my call?”. I heard back, “Be a good father and do the best you can for him.”
Not a typical call. More like a general expectation He would place on any parent. Jacob, however, was not a typical child. Moments before I heard this call the doctor had told me my two year old son was autistic. Despite my immediate grief and confusion, a part of me felt immense peace and clarity. I cannot explain the contradiction, except to say God was there telling me here was His purpose for me.
Time has tested this calling. I believe I have grown spiritually, learning to rely on God’s guidance in helping my son. When government autism programs were unavailable, it led me to find private therapies that turned out to be more effective. Experienced people started approaching us first when we needed volunteers to work with Jacob. Parents and professionals now come to me to ask about the therapy we do with Jacob. Instead of sorrow and despair, I now have joy and hope in God.
Not a typical call. But a call nonetheless.
Jacob is learning steadily, but has a long way to go.
Judges 13:3-5 – The angel of the Lord appeared to [the wife of Manoah] and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son [Samson]. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
Prayer: When I see You working around me it is a mystery too deep for my mind to understand, a revelation too wonderful for my heart to hold. Who am I that You reveal Your will before me? Who am I that Your will includes me? Where shall Your will lead me, Oh my Lord? Only You know, and in You will I trust. Amen.
The Straight Gate
Matthew 7:13, “enter in at the straight gate”
We are all on a journey, on our way to a destination. There are two places where we will arrive, one of two gates we will use to enter our destination. One is a gate of abiding life, one is a gate of destruction.
This verse removes many of the stumbling blocks to serious religion that the world greets us with. There are difficulties on our journey. The vast majority take the easy way out and head towards the wide gate. This verse comes in the midst of Christ’s sermon on the mount and follows the trend of the sermon that, “it is a hard business to follow Christ”. The way to life is a narrow road, hard to find, and hard to walk in. However, cost what it will, Christ exhorts us to enter by the straight gate.
The course pointed out to us is a safe one. A Gate in Scripture is, Acts 12:10, the entrance to a city and, Acts 3:10, the entrance to the Temple. So here is the metaphor, heaven is compared to a holy city. So the godly are, as it were, in the outer court of heaven and the ungodly are in the outer court of hell, both making progress on their journey to their place.
The reasons Christ gives us this warning:
1. The alternative to the straight gate is easy and it is a gate used often. However it is very dangerous. We must not divide the gate and the way to the gate. They are the same. They may be distinguished in some respects, but they are undivided in reality.
2. Though the gate we are called to enter by is difficult, it is a safe and happy way. The reason the gate is narrow is because the duty of serious religion is difficult. The Jewish Rabbis speak of the gate of repentance, the gate of prayer, and the gate of tears. These gates are much like our gate that we must enter through.
3. The use of this gate is infrequent, few find it. There is no difficulty in finding the wide gate. In fact, few seek the narrow gate. Most are blind and corrupted by lusts and the narrow way is burdensome to them. However, for those that find the narrow gate it is a happy journey that they begin towards it. Our journey is a steady course that leads away from the devil, the world and the flesh. So the hardness of the journey is balanced with the joy of moving away from that which plagues us the most.

Being Pure In Heart

A preface to this devotional. I ask these questions, at the end, to myself first and foremost. This devotional is aimed at no one, but it ends with questions, I am convinced, we must all ask ourselves. I hope you take this personally, deeply personally, but I premise it all by saying I am addressing nothing I have noticed or witnessed, I would simply address your hearts.

“A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things.” Matthew 12:35
The divine Teacher, Christ, in this text, takes an occasion of speaking precious truths, from the poisonous blasphemies of the Scribes and Pharisees. He had just cast out a blind and dumb devil. This glorious miracle produced very different effects on different individuals. On the person possessed, it brought soundness; on the people, amazement; on the Pharisees, madness and blasphemy, in so much that they charge God himself, Christ, with being an imposture. To these last our Lord directs the discourse in which this text occurs. Christ exposes the heinous criminality of the slander; and exhorts them to repentance, urging them to conceive more correctly of divine works, and to speak of them more reverently; since for every idle word, they must give account in the day of judgment.
The treasure that is spoken of is described as the property of a good man. In an absolute sense, “there is none good but God”. He alone possesses original, essential, independent, perfect goodness. But in a lower use of the term, the Scriptures call men good, who, through the application of atoning blood, and by the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit, have become imbued with the principles of vital godliness. Thus it is said of Barnabas, that “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and faith”. It is in this latter sense that the expression is used in the text.
It is a treasure of the heart. The heart is the mainspring of human conduct. As the sun moves and guides all the spheres of heaven; so does this little thing in the little world of man animate all his operations. By heart we mean the rational soul, with all its faculties of understanding, memory, will, and affection, which constitute the chief and noblest part of man. The heart is the seat of love and hatred, of joy and sorrow, of all that is excellent and of all that is corrupt in human character; and the heart of a Christian, purified and furnished from above, is rendered a depository of the choicest treasures; a cabinet of jewels most rare and precious.
So, when we say the good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things, we are saying that the character and conduct of every one of us will be in strict accordance with the state of our hearts. We can only judge the heart by the outward actions, but God judges the outward acts by the inward temper. Therefore there is a great truth in the saying of Luther, that, “good works do not make good men, but they must first be made good men, before they can do good works; so, on the other hand, evil works do not properly make evil men, but evil men are themselves the authors of evil works.” No one can do good, except he first be good; there must be a laying in before there can be a laying out.
So how is your heart? How is it with you? Is there a good treasure in your heart? Scripture says of the unrenewed heart, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12) How is your heart? Is your heart a rich depository of the choicest treasures, a cabinet of Jewels most rare and precious? Only you know.



“I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’

and you forgave the guilt of my sin”.

Ps 32:5 NIV

A former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey,

said, “Experience shows that we need to confess not

only the grievous lapses which worry our conscience but

our whole condition of failure in all its symptoms so that

all may be disclosed and cleansed in the divine light. The

light of absolution (= forgiveness) will then penetrate the

entire self ” (The Christian Priest Today, p47).

For the poet who wrote Psalm 32 sin was more than

an occasional naughty deed. It was more than the odd

moral lapse. Sin meant the whole condition in which his

inner soul was mired, his mind was blighted and his body

diseased. His whole personality was affected, tainted

and polluted. For him to confess to God was more than

just saying, “Lord, I had a slip-up last Wednesday. Please

forgive me”. It involved facing up to the miserable fact of

his rebellion against God, his self-centredness and his pre-

occupation with evil. The acts that we call sins are the fruit

of the condition of sinfulness. Confession meant admitting

the exceeding sinfulness of sin. But like the surgeon’s knife,

it cut to the root of the diseased soul and led to healing.

If the Bible shows us the depth of our problem it also

shows us the marvel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His word to Paul was, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II

Cor 12:9 NIV). And it is for you too.

The Providence Of God

Prov 15:3 “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.”
A Gallup poll reports the following. 77% of professing born-again Christians say that man is basically good, 87% say that God will save us if we do our best, 35% say that Jesus is not necessary for salvation, but rather God will find a way to save everyone. I read in a copy of Moody Magazine that 95% of those who say they are born again are not able to quote five Bible verses. At a recent Christian booksellers convention, someone got the idea to ask the book dealers to name the Ten Commandments, in order. This person went to 256 individuals and only one, may I say that again, only one, could do it. One even went as far as to say, “I don’t know what they are, but I know I keep them”. Incredible, what more can be said…
So what is going on in the Church? Has God lost control? Or is His precious Church still within His providence? No, He has not lost control; God is still reigning in Heaven. And His providence is that which preserves and promises to preserve His Church. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward him.” (2 Chron. 16:9) God has the interests of His people ever in view; He knows what is most conducive to their happiness, and He will make all things, whether prosperous or adverse to cooperate in promoting their good, Romans 8:28. While this is true in His Church, it is no less true in the lives of the people that make up His Church. He has our interests at heart as well.
In all past ages, God has watched over His Church with personal and unremitting care; He has sometimes permitted her to be reduced to a very low condition, but He has also brought about surprising deliverance in her behalf. Even in the present condition of the Church we must not lose hope, but we must pray. We serve a mighty God who is able to deliver.
The very means which her enemies intended for her destruction and ruin have, by an overruling Providence, often been rendered subservient to her edification and enlargement, Acts 8:4. The preservation of the Church, in spite of the craft and malice of hell, and of all the pernicious errors and bloody persecutions which have threatened her ruin, is no less wonderful than the spectacle which Moses beheld, a bush burning but not consumed.
The Westminster Confession of Faith says, “As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it takes care of his Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof.”
Let us still take heart and rejoice in the promise of Christ, that the gates of hell shallnever prevail against the Church or against those who make up the Church.