Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims

Oh, how many times can we feel like we don’t belong. This feeling can hit us both often and surprisingly deeply because we have within us a profoundly spiritual longing for a better elsewhere. We can feel it even in our own hometowns, in the communities where we’ve lived in for years, sometimes even in our own homes while surrounded by our family. 

Artists: the poets, authors, movie makers and especially songwriters, so effectively call this to mind that it can become like an aching in our bones. Their mastery of emotion didn’t create this longing in us. They just skillfully remind us of it, tapping into something already deep within us. 

Yes, we deeply yearn for the comforts that home is supposed to provide: peace, security, provision, belonging, acceptance. But even if we had stable and loving childhoods, secure and prosperous upbringings—or if we’re now the ones striving to give that to others—we know deep within us, that this can’t it. This can't be all. And yet how many of us are successful at even providing that? There must be more. We want, we need, more. There must be more. 

We’ve been wanderers since God drove Adam and Eve out of His presence and from His garden due to their sins, and we’ve been sinfully and selfishly ruining every place we’ve been since. 

Only in God, through Christ, can we find that which we truly lack. Jesus invites us saying, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” Yes, “YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS” (Matt. 11:28,29). So in Christ, we can sing both “This World Is Not My Home” and “Anywhere Is Home” and be correct in each.

Enough Crowns For All

There are shortages in every earthly thing. Economic reality places limits on all resources. Even time, attention and concern are limited. Solomon lamented, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.” (Eccl 1:14,15)

But in the realm of heaven and its economy, there will be no shortages of any kind—not even of precious things like crowns. While few on earth get to wear a crown, the apostle Paul, though he was nearing death, looked forward to brighter days, saying, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). 

In a similar way, the book of James (1:12) tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

For those who love the Lord, heaven has crowns for all: a crown of righteousness, a crown of life. And for this victory crown, my getting one, or your getting one, will not crowd anyone else out or take their crown away. These awards are not presented on a medal stand for only a few who have beaten out and conquered their rivals, or who have bested their friends, so they can get a reward that few are able to obtain. 

Indeed, there’s no need of, nor any place for, rivalry and competition—rather think of these as being given at a family gathering where our loving Father has made room and reward for all.

Yes, For Our Sake It Was Written

“You shall not muzzle the ox when he is threshing.” God taught that the working animal gets to eat while it’s working to bring in your harvest. Does that sound like such an important thing that it should be in both the Old and New Testaments? Well, it is. 

In the Old Testament, this teaching is right after the instruction to not degrade or humiliate a guilty brother in his punishment (Deut. 25:1-4). 

In the New Testament, it's quoted in a lesson about paying those who do spiritual work:  

“For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops” (1 Cor. 9:9,10).

We know that how you treat animals is a good indicator of how you’ll treat people. God is somewhat concerned for the animals—after all, not one falls to the ground without His knowledge (Matt. 10:20)—but what He really cares about is people. 

He wants you to learn to share the same concern. In this case, the lesson is everyone gets to eat, the plowman, the thresher and the oxen too. The apostle then applied it to teachers as well. But, beyond that, apply the lesson of universal concern universally—love your neighbor. 

All of them. 


Lest Your Brother Be Degraded In Your Eyes

Because of the Law of Moses, the Jews had a number of peculiar customs. One such custom dealt with criminal punishment: the guilty couldn’t be lashed more than forty times. To make sure they didn’t go over this, ancient Jews would always do one less, no matter how guilty the offender. The apostle Paul referred to this in 2 Cor. 11:24, saying, “I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes,” also translated as “forty stripes save one.”

Humane treatment of the guilty was directly from the law of God. In Deuteronomy 25:3, after the judge finds a man guilty, “He may beat him forty times but no more, lest he beat him with many more stripes than these, and your brother be degraded in your eyes.”

All believers should give serious thought to whether our society properly considers this principle today regarding the guilty. But even if the worldly treat others oppressively and with contempt, those instructed by the law of God must not. 

Since the Law of Moses protected even the guilty from degradation and humiliation in their brethren’s eyes, how much more should the gracious law of Christ teach us to generously treat each another? D

Does this only apply to those guilty of breaking laws? Does it not also apply to those who have crossed us, disappointed us, or that we might for some reason view as beneath us? There is no place in the gospel system for humiliating and degrading treatment of anyone, guilty or not.

“They All Began To Make Excuses”

Jesus told of people who received an invitation to a great feast—but no one came. Instead, they “all began to make excuses” saying, “I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it,” or “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out.” Or even, “I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come” (Luke 14:18-20).

Those all seem like decent enough reasons to me. But whom am I to judge? As the apostle Paul taught, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls” (Rom. 14:4). The excuse makers all fell even if I might have thought myself generous by not condemning them. 

The Lord alone can condemn or justify while we cannot because “the Lord weighs the hearts” (Prov. 21:2 and 24:12). Only He is able to “judge the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12) 

There is only one heart that I can fully judge: my own. I often don't like what I find when I look at it fully and truly. It is really easy to then project and figure that other folks must be in the same sorry shape is me—and uncharitably, I decide that most of them must be even worse. But that is conjecture, not knowledge, and certainly not righteous judgment. 

So on that day when all around “begin to make excuse,” I must make sure that I'm not doing it too. This alone is what I can control. And may I repent and ask the Lord to forgive me for when I have made excuses and may He keep me from doing it again.

Two Funerals

For me, each of the last two weeks has begun with a funeral. Both were for people at the younger end of middle age. Often, the younger the deceased, the larger the funeral. Yet these funerals had quite different turnouts. One was sparsely attended, the other, standing room only. 

Both funerals show the truth of scripture, “Not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself” (Rom. 14:7). Everyone’s life and death touches others. One funeral commemorated a life of service and continual and tireless work for others. The other marked the end of a life much more solitary, diminished by alcohol and a spotty work ethic.

Surely you already know which of these funerals had a packed house with numerous eulogies and tributes. We would all do well to live doing the things of faith, family, and service. These are the things that make for fond remembrance when we’re gone. 

For Christians though, life if not just about our connections with others—it’s that, but it’s so very much more. The apostle Paul’s instruction in Romans continued, “for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). We must always make “for the Lord” the foremost connection.

So let us live for the Lord, die for the Lord, and die in the Lord. This life of faith will produce in us a life of service for others. The funeral, the eulogies, the memorials, and the hope will take care of themselves.



In his 1952 book, Mere Christianity, Oxford scholar and theologian C. S. Lewis forcefully argued that you can not simply dismiss Jesus as a great teacher of morality without dealing with Jesus’ claims to be divine. 

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic…or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

In the 1970s, Josh McDowell, a preacher with Campus Crusade For Christ, gave evangelizing sermons which summarized this reasoning as Jesus being: “Lunatic, Liar or Lord.” McDowell preached this alliterative challenge to millions in person and in print.

Believers have long sought to get people to examine what the gospels really say about Jesus and what they record Jesus as saying about Himself. Taking the gospel accounts seriously makes us seriously consider Jesus.

But recent presentations of this line of reasoning have needed to add a new element. Now the reasoning is “Liar, Lunatic, Legend or Lord.” “Legend” has been added to answer the arguments of unbelievers who do not accept the scriptural evidence that Jesus said and did such things. Skeptics cast doubt on the gospel record by a rough treatment of it that no other ancient records are subjected to. The trustworthiness of scripture used to be assumed, and then we could debate its meaning. Now many, even if they agree about what the text says, will argue that the record doesn’t mean much.

If people meant “legendary” to be “famous, remarkable and illustrious” then Jesus is more of it than any other. But skeptics use it to mean “fables, myths or stories” and dismiss Jesus' importance as presented in the gospels. 

C. S. Lewis was a great literary scholar, well trained in myths and fables, stories and legends. He was even a notable author of them. When he turned his scholarly expertise to the scriptures, he concluded: 

As a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing…  (“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, 1972)

As much as the skeptics like to say otherwise, it is not the search for truth, scholarship or reason driving them to reject Jesus. Rather, it is the usual suspects of selfish desire, pride and deception. The devil doesn’t care so much how or why you dismiss Jesus—only that you do.

The Eyes Of The Lord

All things are known and open to the eyes of the Lord. This can be either a chilling realization or the greatest comfort. Amos (9:8) said “the eyes of the Lord GOD [are] on the sinful kingdom” while Moses recorded, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8).

God’s thorough knowledge of us finds all things, good and bad. The Proverbs say, “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths” (5:21) and “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good” (15:3).

God’s full knowledge is often unnerving for the sinful and gives them lots of motivation to deny it. Eliphaz, one of Job’s companions, spoke of those who said: “What does God know? Can He judge through the thick darkness? Clouds are a hiding place for Him, so that He cannot see” (Job. 22:13,14). This is folly. The gospels repeatedly affirm, “For nothing is hidden that shall not become evident, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light” (See Matt. 10:26; Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17 and 12:2). 

While many think that God’s knowledge is for just for catching out and condemning, there is another greater aspect to this all-seeing vision. But Peter said, quoting the 34th Psalm: “THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE UPON THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER” (1 Pet. 3:12).

As the little know prophet Hanani told king Asa of Judah so long ago, recorded in 2 Chron. 16:9, “The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Live so that the eyes of the Lord may find and strongly support you.

Dilly Dilly?

If you watched much tv lately, you’ve surely heard the commercial catch-phrase, “Dilly Dilly.” Its gained enough cultural currency that serious pieces have been written to explain its origin and meaning. 

The best explanation I’ve heard is from the actor who portrays the commercials’ lead character, who said, “I don’t know what it means, but I do know it’s one letter away from being ‘silly silly.” That is undeniably true. Who knows whether this will endure like other commercial catchphrases like, “Just Do It,” “Wasssup,” “They’re Great” and “Where’s The Beef?” 

Meanwhile, the beer company sponsoring the ad campaign is soaking up the all the attention—and no, the irony of that observation is not at all lost on me. “Dilly Dilly” is, by itself, harmless playfulness, but the product promoted by it, with its inherent harms, is not. The scripture says: 

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.” (Prov. 23:29-32)

Likely, as the old Persian proverb says, “This too shall pass.” In the future who will much remember or care if we “Dilly-ed” or not? But what God warned about drinking, and other things in His word, these will remain throughout the generations. “BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (1 Pet. 1:25) Let His words be the words of our lips and the meditation of our hearts.

Known For What You Do — And What You Don’t

The apostle Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian church fully showed this truth. He began by telling the Christians there not be divided, but united in the mind of Christ, saying “…Agree, and [let] there be no divisions among you, but [be of] the same mind and in the same judgment” (1:10).

Christians agreement and faithfulness can only be maintained when we aren’t deceived into thinking that sin, or the influence of sinful people, doesn’t affect us. So Paul warned, “Do not be deceived…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God,” and he listed a number of sexual sins and other destructive behaviors that these Christians used to do, but they’d been cleansed of in Christ (1 Cor. 6:9-11). It was imperative that they no longer do these things. They also needed to know that hanging around the people who still did them was destructive as well. So he said, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33).

The apostle was obviously worried some Christians were too close to worldly-mind and poor behaving people. So he reminded them “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23) and “Do not be bound together —unequally yoked - KJV— for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness?” (2 Cor. 6:14).

How could Christians get so wrapped up in so many sinful things and become entangled with such sinful people? Selfishness and ignorance are usually culprits, so he instructed them about priorities and maturity, saying, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor” (1 Cor. 10:24), and “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; [but] mature” (1 Cor. 14:20)

His Kingdom Is Righteousness, Peace And Joy

Far too often this is a world of unholiness, conflicts, and sorrow. But in this vale of tears, bitterness and despair do not have to be our only lot. In Christ, we can come to a wonderful kingdom that is not “eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:7).

This is not the short-lived worldly joy of fortunate circumstance, the fleeting pleasures of controlling possessions or triumphing over others. Rather here we find the deeper satisfaction for the soul, and we find a place of love and seeking the best for others and “offering prayer with joy…for all” (Phil. 1:4). 

It is a joy “made full” (Jn. 16:24) in Christ and “made complete” (1 Jn. 1:4) in the words and hope of the gospel. 

It is the sublime “joy and peace of believing” that causes us to “abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13). It is the “joy of salvation” (Ps. 51:12) when we turn from sin and back to God.

It is the “joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6) that we have in spite of every difficulty, even an “overflowing of joy in all our affliction.” (2 Cor. 7:4)

It is the fruit of the Spirit that is accompanied by “love, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23).

Our joy here, great and enduring as it is—as Jesus promised “your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you” (Jn. 16:22)—is only a  foretaste of what is to come when we are called forward to “enter into the joy of our master,” (Matt. 25:23) when we can, as Jude (vs. 24) promised, “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”


The government’s alert system message to Hawaiians was stark:  


The message had only one fact correct. It wasn’t a drill. It was a mistake. Thirty-eight minutes later, longer than the time it would have taken missiles to arrive from North Korea, a correction was sent. Between those times there were reports of panic and confusion and prayer, with people taking cover in bathrooms and storm drains—and modern folks make fun of the “duck and cover” drills of previous generations. Since the correction, the most common reaction has been anger. 

It usually takes a near-death experience or terminal illness diagnosis to get people to consider their own mortality seriously. We know we will die, but we like to live in denial as long as possible. Yet death is an unyielding reality. The scriptures inform us of this and ask us to prepare for it.As it says in Heb. 9:27: “…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…”

Unlike the Hawaiian message, the Bible message is not in error and is one of hope—as it also contains the message of salvation unto eternal life. In 2 Tim. 2:9,10, the apostle Paul speaks of the “…grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus…who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 

True consideration our own mortality is never pleasant, but it so much more bearable, and even fulfilling, when we can look at it through to eye of faith and see at our side Jesus, who conquers death and promises life to us.

Don’t Be Like Israel In The Wilderness

The apostle Paul was trying to call the Corinthians to a holy life in Christ and get them to realize that even though they'd been baptized and had spiritual food and drink (1 Cor. 10:1-4), the sacramental parts of Christianity, by themselves, are not enough to save. They had to really take the holy life and dedication part of Christianity to heart, or else they would be just like the wilderness generation of Israel that was delivered from bondage in Egypt, but the scripture says, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.” (1 Cor. 10:5).

The Apostle Paul explained that the reason for that disaster was because of the same type of things that the Corinthian were doing. So he told them, “Don’t crave evil things” (vs. 6), “Don’t be an idolater” (vs. 7), “Don’t be immoral” (vs. 8), “Don’t test and try the Lord’s patience” (vs. 9), and “Don’t grumble” (vs. 10). 

The wilderness generation did every one of those things and suffered the ultimate penalty for it—and too many of the Corinthian Christians were doing the very same thing. (We wouldn’t do those things too, would we?)

So if they thought they could stand before God while living like that, they needed to, “take heed lest they fall” (vs 12). But if they were willing to resist temptation, God would help them greatly, and gave them this promise:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” (vs. 13)

Yes, thanks be to God!—Who gives us such help when we seek it.

The Last, And Far Superior, Adam

The father of us all, according to the creation account in Genesis, is Adam. The apostle Paul said he was a “type of him to come” (Rom. 5:14), and that Jesus is the “last Adam” and the giver of true life (1 Cor. 15:45). The parallels and contrasts between Christ, “the last Adam,” and the first Adam are almost endless. 

  • Seeking to be like God, the first Adam gave into temptation in a garden. The last Adam, who is God who became man, beat temptation in a garden. 
  • The first gave up a part of himself to receive his bride. The last gave His life for His.
  • The first followed his deceived wife into sin. The last asked His bride to follow His voice to know the truth. 
  • The first found out he was naked, hid from God and was given clothes. The last had His clothes taken away publicly and was shamed for our sake so that we could all approach God. 
  • The first Adam blamed his bride, while the last took the blame for His bride. 
  • The first multiplied thorns for all us by receiving a curse for his sins. The last wore thorns while taking the curse for us all. 
  • The first fell by listening to the serpent say, “take and eat,” while the last listened fully to God and told His disciples, “take and eat, this is My body.”
  • The first worked a garden that had the tree of life in it—but lost access to it. The last was actually mistaken for a gardener after His resurrection (Mary Magdalene in Jn. 20:15), and invites all to a garden-like city where the tree of life is restored and its fruit free for the taking in the presence of God.  

Don’t Be That Guy—Book Of Romans Edition

Six times in the book of Romans the apostle Paul tells us what not to be, mostly in the 12th chapter. Consider these things we aren’t to be or to do: 

11:20  “Do not be conceited, but fear…”
12:2  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
12:11  “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”
12:16  “do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
12:21  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Don’t be arrogant in spiritual things. Don’t be conformed to this world. Don’t lag in devotion to God. Then there is another warning not to be arrogant, but this time not towards others. And don’t let evil rule you.

In these things we see a very heavy concentration on full devotion to God and treating others well. Just like Jesus said when addressing the greatest commandment: “Love God will all your heart, soul, mind and strengthen. and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:26-40). 

No, don’t be that guy who puts himself first and is arrogant to God and man and tries to use both to his own selfish advantage. In this you will also fulfill Paul’s final instruction of what not to do:

13:8  “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

With What Shall We Come To The Lord?

How do we approach God? Do we bring gifts or sacrifices or votive offerings? Do I need to have some else do it for me? Should I find a priest or intercessor who can prepare the way for me?  

We are not alone in wondering about this. In the Old Testament, the prophet Micah asked exactly this same question, saying:

Micah 6:6-8  “With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my first-born for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

What was the answer that came from God’s spokesman? Not expensive gifts, or numerous sacrifices, and certainly not anything like the abominable offerings that the pagans gave to show their devotion. No, nothing external at all. Just practice justice to people, love kindness and show it and be humble. 

In one way, these things are simple and every last person, regardless of resources or standing, can do them. But to really, truly, in the sight of God—who knows all things and the thoughts and motives of our hearts—be just, kind and humble—that makes buying gifts and sacrifices seem simple and easy, doesn’t it? But what does God really want? We know, don’t we? Be just, kind and humble.

Let Us Choose To Hear And Speak By Faith

We are currently a nervous and tense society. The level of civil discourse that we are presented and participate in via media and social media is increasingly strident and less civil. A selfish and secular mindset has shaken the pillars of stability that traditional faith and values helped secure. We are left with a world of increasing chaos and uncertainty. Fear and anxiety abound and little of what we hear is shaped by faith. 

Add personal struggles with health, grief, guilt, and disappointment within—the result is that often little of what we say is shaped and directed by faith either. 

As the people of God, we need to be nourished, and to nourish others, by words of faith. This does not mean that we can explain, fix, or even understand all the things wrong in a world were “What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.” (Eccl. 1:15). 

Rather than becoming anxious, fearful, bitter, and lashing out like the world, let us turn to God, take refuge in Him and receive and embrace the peace He offers.

We can choose to not feed the fear that Satan is spreading.

We can choose to not speak and act from anxiety. 

We can choose to trust in God and live the way He calls us to live.  

We can choose to love as He calls us to love.

We can choose to serve the way He calls us to serve.

We can choose to hear words of faith and grace and speak them, and spread His peace.

Batman Expresses Our Deepest Desire

Ok, maybe not Batman, but Ben Affleck, the actor currently playing Batman on the big screen. Speaking of the appeal of superhero movies he said in an interview published in US Today:

We certainly are in need of heroes in 2017. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, from natural to man-made disasters, and it’s really scary. Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?

Someone to save us from this world of troubles, to save us from ourselves, to save us from evil and the consequences of our own actions — the actor is right, this really is one of humanity’s deepest wishes. And we have within us a great moral intuition and longing that there really should be a savior out there for us all. The good news of the gospel is that there is such a Savior.  The gospel cry of hope to a lost and dark world is that He has come and that He has risen, and that He is calling. As the apostle Paul said:

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all…I found mercy…as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Tim. 1:15,16)

This is not the imaginary hope of escapist novels, movies and comic books, but the real and living hope of all who know Christ. So we say: 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

We Don’t Have Answers, But We Do Have God

This broken world has caused us to mourn yet again. Senseless murders are occurring with increasing frequency and hitting ever closer to home. Country music fans (I’m one of those) were gunned down in Las Vegas. Worshippers in a small church in small-town Texas were gunned down during services. I worship in a small church in a small town, even though I no longer live in Texas. 

Our heartfelt anguish is amplified because it is so easy to identify with the victims making it easy to follow the scripture that says, “weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15). But what escapes me are answers, even though I’d dearly love to know and share them. Why’d they do it? Why’d God allow it? What meaning do we look for so many senseless deaths? 

Yet even in times when we have no answers we still have a hope in Christ to share. When we don’t have any idea of what to do, we still have Him and we still have each other. 

The way of God—loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves—will give us a purpose, a reason and a destiny when every illusion of safety is shattered and folks are laid as bare as Job. 

In such times we think not just of today, but to eternity and rely fully on God. As the scripture says:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5,6)

God’s Books Of Wisdom

There is a set of five books in the middle of the Old Testament that together are known as the “Books of Poetry” or the “Wisdom Literature.” These are books of Hebrew poetry, poetry at an exquisite level, but even more importantly, they are the wisdom of God for us in some of the most important areas of life. 

These five books are
    the book of Job - how to suffer
    the collection of Psalms - how to pray
    the book of Proverbs - how to act properly and wisely
    the book of Ecclesiastes - how to enjoy life
    and the Song of Solomon - how to love

The New Testament tells us to take this wisdom from God seriously and to learn from it, giving us this inspired summary: “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (Jas 5:11)

Let us look again to the wisdom that our maker gave us to endure, to succeed and even to prosper in difficult and practical areas of life and of the heart. How successful or not we deal with these parts of life will largely determine for us if our life is one of fullness and blessing or of want and misery. Turn again to the book of God and see how the outcome for the God’s faithful will show His grace and compassion.