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Friday, July 31, 2020

First John on Marks of a Christian

Proofs of Being “Born Again”- A Study in First John

Hope Ellen Rapson

Many people profess (claim) to be Christians. The question is, “Do they confess to be born again Christians?” The difference between a professing faith and a confessing faith in Christ is significant. A profession is a verbalized intellectual assent to the teachings of Christianity. A confession is a full surrender of oneself and one’s life to a personal relationship with God through Christ.  Knowing the difference is vital for the following reasons:
It determines a person’s eternal destiny.
It confirms person’s sense of assurance of that eternal destiny.
In his gospel, the Apostle John reiterates the teaching of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3:16 that “You must be born again” when he writes, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not or blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”(John 1:12-13) Those who confess are given a new life and relationship with God that continues into eternity because the Holy Spirit has come to dwell with them.

In his first epistle, John unpacks this truth by explaining three indicators of being “born again.”  First, a developing lifestyle that embraces and demonstrates trust and obedience to God’s Word; second, a special growing love for others, especially other Christians; and third, standing solidly on the incarnation, that Jesus was and is indeed “God in the flesh” (John 1: 14).

In this time of political, physical, and cultural relativism and unrest, it is important to stay awake intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually to the pressures that surround us. The Bible calls this “discernment.”  Follow us as we examine these proofs in the epistle of First John learning what it means to confidently confess our faith in Christ.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Alice W. Linsley: An Extraordinary Witness

The Rev and Mrs. Williams at home in Redlands, California in 1915 
with their children, shown from left to right: 
Robert (chemist), Henry, Paul, Alice (professor) and Roger (chemist)

Alice Williams Linsley was born in India in 1883, the daughter of pioneer missionaries. She was the only daughter and had 4 brilliant brothers. One was a Philosophy professor in New York City. Another was a successful businessman and finance consultant. Another was Dr. Roger J. Williams, the biochemist who discovered pantothenic acid and concentrated and named folic acid. The fourth brother, Robert R. Williams, published the chemical formula of vitamin B1 (thiamin) in the 1930s and set out to eradicate Beriberi in the Philippines.

Alice met her future husband at Redlands University. She married Paul Judson Linsley, a published poet and horticulturalist who cultivated hybrid roses for Luther Burbank of Santa Rosa, California. Paul also developed several strains of disease resistant avocado trees. His twin brother was Earle Garfield Linsley, an astronomer and former Director of the Chabot Observatory in Oakland.

Alice may have felt overshadowed by all this brilliance and productivity, but I doubt it. She was exceptional in her own right. She was ordained to the “Defense of the Gospel” in 1925. She read the Bible in four languages, one of which was Telegu, the language she spoke as a child in India. The Telegu translation of the New Testament was largely the product of her father’s labors there.

What follows is her son's account of his mother's faith and fortitude, taken from his book: Kenneth Williams Linsley, Advocate for God, Judson Press, 1977, pp. 27-29

By Kenneth W. Linsley

My sheep hear my voice, and I knew them, and they follow me: And I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. --John 10:27,28

By anybody’s standards my mother was an extraordinary person. She was born in Ramapatnam, India, in 1883 the eldest child and only daughter of Baptist missionary parents. Until she came to the United States at age twelve, she had no experience in going to school in the customary sense and spoke only Telegu, a Hindu dialect. Even so, she did well in school and ultimately graduated from Ottawa University in Kansas and later went on to obtain a master’s degree and to become a teacher at the University of Redlands.

She was a master of the English language and read her Old Testament in Hebrew and her New Testament in Greek; and- what is perhaps more unusual – she was a minister, ordained by a church which was then part of the Northern Baptist Convention.

As a small boy, I probably heard my mother speak more times than did any other person, but you will have to excuse my fogginess with respect to sermon content. I just didn’t get it. I do remember that her approach was always positive, that she had a kind of Churchillian eloquence, and that she spoke easily and with great personal conviction.

For the first thirty-seven years of my life I did not know what it meant to be a Christian. But I could not have been an atheist, for in all of my years of floundering in darkness I never once doubted that my brilliant, praying mother knew what she was doing.

Near the end of her life she literally became as a little child. Her magnificent mind was damaged by a massive paralytic stroke that deprived her of her remarkable abilities to write and to speak. She required constant care and was unable to acknowledge that she understood anything that I said. She knew me, her only son, and at our last reunion she seemed to enjoy listening to my voice as I stood by her bed and read to her about the good shepherd from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. When I finished, she took the Bible in her one usable hand, raised it to her lips and kissed it, and smiled radiantly; and then suddenly, as if very tired, she dropped off to sleep. I never saw her again. Several months later she was liberated by death.

To have a funeral for Mother would have been a kind of blasphemy. So we simply had a reunion in the church to which she had given so much of her life. We asked her favorite young pastor to come and conduct a service of worship and praise. Long before that service started, my mother’s earthly remains had been buried in an unmarked grave in a public cemetery. There was no graveside ceremony. Her mortal clay was attended by a solitary grave digger. Mother simply was not there. She was “present with the lord.”

We began the service by singing one of Mother’s favorite hymns. Because it had been her father’s favorite, she especially liked “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” We also sang George Matheson’s great hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.” Then Dr. Ivan Bell, my mother’s pastor, explained to the crowd what my mother believed. There was not a tear from any member of the family – husband, children, or grandchildren – just a kind of joyful sadness, as in our minds we placed her great faith alongside of the promises of God.

When Dr. Bell finished, a prominent judge, who, at sixteen, had accepted my mother’s invitation to give his life to Christ came to the platform; with marvelous love and a lawyer’s consummate skill, he pretended to talk to members of the church who had long since been in glory, calling each one by name and reminding us that my mother had brought them to Jesus. There is no possible doubt in my mind that seeing this parade of people in heaven would have been the grandest reward my mother could ever have contemplated.

Flowers were deliberately limited to one great bouquet sent by mother’s four distinguished brothers. But because Mother had been a Sunday school teacher for more than sixty years, members of her Sunday school class collected several hundred dollars to be used in Mother’s memory. This money was sent to the Christian in Ramapatnam, India, who read the New Testament in Telegu and worship in a beautiful sanctuary which I was able to visit in the 1950s. Both the Telegu New Testament and the church are products of my grandfather’s loving concern and personal efforts.

The persistent claim of Christians like my mother is that the man Jesus was God; He was not merely “divine” but God, declared to be God by His resurrection from the dead.

Those who accept Him have eternal life and those who reject Him are condemned already, He says, and will never see life. When one believes this, as I now do, it becomes clear that the ultimate tragedy of life is not death but rejection of Jesus, the Christ. The only real failure is not to give you r life to Him. Death simply marks the end of the time of testing and opportunity. For those who die having rejected Jesus the tragedy is irrevocable and complete.

But the Bible says that Jesus came to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetimes subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15). For the “Christ-one,” death means eternal glory. In the words of our Savior, “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he love: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25,26)

My mother surely bore glorious witness to this truth, both in life and in death. And a few short years before her death, I too, had begun to bear witness to this truth.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Bible Blurb: Are you Anxious?

You say: "I can't manage."

God says: "I will supply all your needs." (Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I am afraid."

God says: "I have not given you a spirit of fear." (II Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated."

God says: "Cast all your cares on me because I care for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

How is Your Vision?

Christians are a people with vision. Our vision conforms to the biblical worldview and is the vision of Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and coming again. He is our Righteous Ruler who has overcome death. He is leading his people to immortality or eternal life.

We prove that we are His disciples by remaining steadfast in his Word. Disciples seek knowledge and understanding of Scripture to edify the Church (2 Tim 2:2), to protect it from error (Acts 20:26–30), and to receive God's approval (2 Tim 2:15). "Where there is no vision, the people perish. . .” (Proverbs 29:18)

God's vision of wholeness and holiness should be evident in our daily lives. We are to exercise faith, even in small things, and thus prove that we are his disciples. Jesus said to those Jews who believed on him, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

The Pharisees called themselves disciples of Moses (John 9:28; Matt 23:15). Their vision was of the Law which cannot make a man righteous. The dangers of this vision are evident in the story of the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like other people; robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even the tax collector who prayed humbly nearby (Luke 18:11) The Pharisee's vision was of his own false righteousness and it came by comparing himself to others.

Another Pharisee named Paul had a different vision. It involved the Blood of Jesus, the cost of discipleship, and the glory yet to be revealed. He wrote, "If we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God.…" (Romans 8:16-19a)

The vision that directs the lives of true Christians is focused on Jesus Messiah and all he has done and is doing for his people. His vision becomes our vision when we keep our eyes on Jesus.

Related reading:  Formed and Informed by the Bible; Confirm His Calling

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

You Must Be Born Again

Kenneth Williams Linsley

A Certain Lawyer

Kenneth W. Linsley

"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)

It was a beautiful January day. The bright morning sun gave an aura of exotic elegance to the lowly castor bean trees near the window. The apartment was quiet. Betty Ruth had gone shopping, taking our three daughters with her. I was at home alone, intent on fixing the family washing machine that had long since failed to function.

Across the cluttered courtyard a huge, one-eyed Alaskan Malamute lay motionless in the mud, as above him a kindly faucet dripped incessantly. The world as then seen from my kitchen window gave no cause to suspect that this was to be a very special day for me. If I had any needs greater than a way to wash dirty clothes, I was unaware of them. I commenced dismantling the washing machine.

Lying on the kitchen floor amidst faint odors of rust, grease, stale detergents, and a growing accumulation of washing machine parts, I began to hum the tune of a hymn I had heard a few nights before on a telecast from Billy Graham's San Francisco Crusade. And then, unable to remember the words, I did what was, for me, a very odd thing.

I got up, went to the piano in the living room, found the words in a hymnbook, and then went back to my place on the kitchen floor, wondering why I had done such a foolish thing, but nonetheless singing.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

I kept singing this over and over for no other reason, I suppose, than that my quite awful singing voice seemed to sound a little better coming off the floor.

A few moments later, I had a strange feeling that someone was praying for me; and immediately I suspected a slightly nutty Pentecostal woman named Joy, who had been coming to me for legal counsel.

I began to sing the hymn again, but something had changed. This time it was different. This time, I meant the words I was singing.

Suddenly, the room was flooded with a warmth and a great light. Overwhelmed, I stopped singing, knowing absolutely that I was in the presence of the Almighty.

This was my introduction to the love of God. It occurred to me that the only reason that God would ever come to my house was because He cared about me. I simply could not be in his presence and begin to see something of his love for me without also experiencing a staggering conviction of my unworthiness of such love. Some people have called this "conviction of sin." I never knew what they were talking about before, but suddenly I did.

I pushed my face against the cold asphalt tiles of the kitchen floor and, in a torrent of tears of joy and shame intermixed, said over and over words somehow dredged up from my subconscious memory, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner."

That was all I could think of to say - not witty, not original - but I did mean it.

Then the Lord spoke to me. He said, "Come and put your fingers in the nail holes in my hands, and place your hand in the hole in my side."

As a young boy, I had read the Gospel of John, but with this absolutely astounding invitation came a wholly new consciousness of what our Lord had meant when he said to Thomas, "Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed."

Revealed to me for the first time was the terrible sense of rebuke that is in those words, and now that sense of rebuke was mine. I did not want to be a Thomas; so I kept my face hard against the floor and exclaimed in a halting voice, "Lord, that won't be necessary."

There are no words to describe what happened next. Gertrude Behanna says of her conversion that it was more like a spiritual shower bath than anything else. Someone else has described it as feeling as if somebody pulled out a plug and drained away the sin. I suppose it may depend upon how one is accustomed to being cleansed.

The room was shiny with love. I knew that I had been permanently forgiven, and along with this came a wonderful sense of peace; and I said to myself, “This is the peace that passes understanding.”

Incredible as it now seems to me, for the first sixteen years of our marriage my wife, Betty Ruth, and I never talked much about God. I was not sure how to tell her what had happened. I began saving up courage, and that night when we were in bed, I said, “Dear, a very strange and wonderful thing happened to me today.”

“That’s nice,” she replied disgustedly as she settled into her pillows. “When are you going to get my washing machine fixed?”

With that I abandoned any attempt to tell her in so many words; but in the weeks that followed, she began to get the message. Playfully Beth Ruth now says, “I knew something had happened to you when you suddenly began to insist that we give a tenth of our income to the Lord.”

Several days later, in a conversation with my slightly nutty client, I guardedly made some vague references to having had a spiritual experience on Saturday morning. Joy volunteered that on that same morning she had walked out on an ocean pier to pray. High on her prayer list was the concern that I, Ken Linsley, be born again. She also mentioned that she had at the same time received some kind of miraculous assurance. I never pressed her for details.

Two months earlier, on a Sunday afternoon, Joy and her husband, an air force captain, and their two young children had been enjoying a drive on a back country road when, with awful suddenness, a speeding oncoming car had veered wildly across the center line, causing a terrible head-on collision and bringing instant death to the captain and their eight-year-old daughter. Somehow Joy and their ten-year-old son had escaped serious injury.

The driver of the other car had been a drunken woman returning from a weekend party. Her companion had survived the crash but had been injured to the extent that he would never regain his senses.

Tried for manslaughter, the woman had been acquitted when she testified, contrary to the state’s evidence, that the now senseless companion had been the driver of the car.

A few days following the terrible bereavement, Joy, numb with grief, came to me for help. For several weeks I worked to try to bring order out of the sudden chaos of her affairs. I was touched by her grief and apparent helplessness and resolved to be of all possible assistance. It never entered my mind that it was I to whom she was about to minister.

When by appointment she came to my office, she was trim, smartly dressed, and seemed terribly alone. She wanted to talk and proceeded to tell me virtually her entire life history. She had been raised in poverty and had no education beyond high school. Her life had been marked over and over again by tragedy, and yet there were no signs of self-pity. Even now, her greatest sorrow seemed to be the bereavement of her son.

She prays a lot, I thought, as she went on to tell me how she thanked God that her husband and the daughter whom she had loved so dearly had “gone together to be with Jesus.” She also seemed to take great comfort in the fact that her husband and daughter were, as she said, “born again Christians.”

The phrase "born again Christians" disturbed me. It purported to make distinctions which seemed judgmental. A Christian is a Christian, I thought, so what is a born again Christian? It was obvious, however, that the term meant a great deal to Joy; and even more annoying, there was no mistaking the fact that she considered herself to be one.

In the several meetings that followed, she further embarrassed me by insisting that God had sent me to help her in this time of need. Not once did she try to instruct me. She simply talked naturally and unashamedly about her living Lord Jesus.

Perhaps the thing that impressed me the most, however, was the fact that she had completely forgiven the wretched woman whom she knew had killed her jet pilot husband and beautiful young daughter. She not only had forgiven her, but, what is far more, she also prayed for her salvation.

I suppose that all of these things were part of the reason I suspected Joy might be praying for me that glorious day when, at age thirty-seven, I first came to know what it means to be a “born again Christian.”

A few months after my conversion, I was transferred to duty in the Philippines. It was several years before it occurred to me that I should write Joy and thank her for what she had done for me. When I did, I received a reply which read, in part, as follows:

It was thrilling to receive your letter. It gave me insight into things I had not known before. It also made me feel very humble that the Lord used me as a vessel for his work in such a way.

That day out on the ocean, as I watched the water swirl and tumble, I thought about how constant is our eternal God. I was praying for the Lord to shower you abundantly with his love and blessings.

At the same time, I was surrounded by a tremendous warmth and love and glow beyond all human comprehension. Although I came to the Lord when I was eighteen, this was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. It is really beyond description, isn’t it?


Sunday, July 12, 2020

By Grace, Through Faith

By Hope Ellen Rapson

By grace, through Faith
Your Spirit lives within
Not outside, but inside
Freeing me from sin.
I need not be shackled
By the sins of my past,
With confidence and joy
I can look at last---

To becoming all
You’ve designed for me,
To become like Christ,
To reflect Your glory.
I can do Your will;
I can cope with life.
I can grow in love;
I can conquer self.

I can choose as Christ
To serve the lost
Sharing the good news
Whatever the cost.
By grace, through faith,
Your Spirit lives within
Not outside, but inside
To free me from sin.

(Try singing this to the tune of Amazing Grace!)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Praying Psalm 50 - Go Deep!

“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright,
I shall show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)

Lord, you want your people to be focused deeply on our relationship with you, thankful for the redemption you brought through Jesus Christ. Simply attending a worship service, reading scripture, reciting prayers, and giving to others, are evident in many religions. These are practices (7-15) that everyone recognizes as "religious." They can be superficial practices that do not show the world our deep desire to know, love and serve you.

When our religious practices come with disrespect of you and others, moral compromises, and secretive bad habits, they are hypocritical practices (16-23).

Forgive us, Lord, for “playing the game” of religion instead of being truly grateful disciples. Forgive us when we fail inwardly and outwardly to make you the focus of all we think, say, and do. Help us to become people of deep and distinctive faith!

Related reading: Praying the Psalms

Praying Psalm 1: The Way of the Righteous
Praying Psalm 2: Kiss the Son
Praying Psalm 3: God is My Shield
Praying Psalm 4: Let Me be Approved of Thee, O God
Praying Psalm 5: Renew a Right Spirit Within Me
Praying Psalm 6: When Weeping Leads to Victory
Praying Psalm 7: The Basis of Boldness
Praying Psalm 8: Worship in Admiration and Humility
Praying Psalm 9: Hope for the Oppressed
Praying Psalm 10: Deliverance from the Wicked
Praying Psalm 11: The Foundation of Life
Praying Psalm 12: Lamenting the Lack of Godliness
Praying Psalm 13: Faith's Triumph
Praying Psalm 14: Remembering We Are Sinners
Praying Psalm 15: Fellowship With God
Praying Psalm 16: God-Pleasing Godliness
Praying Psalm 17: Progression Sanctification
Praying Psalm 18: God's Power to Deliver
Praying Psalm 19: Witness for Worship
Praying Psalm 20: Personal and National Revival
Praying Psalm 21: Worship and Thanksgiving
Praying Psalm 22: The Hope of Christ - The Prophetic Vision
Praying Psalm 23: Daily Living with the Good Shepherd
Praying Psalm 24: Inspired by Creation, We worship the Creator
Praying Psalm 25: Lifting up one’s soul while waiting upon God
Praying Psalm 26: God's affirmation of the Accused
Praying Psalm 27: Waiting on the Lord
Praying Psalm 28: Desperately Seeking the Lord
Praying Psalm 29: God's Glory and Power Seen in Nature
Praying Psalm 30: A Disciple's Heart Desire
Praying Psalm 31: Humbling Waiting on God
Praying Psalm 32: The Beatitude of the Redeemed
Praying Psalm 33: Prayer for National Revival
Praying Psalm 34: God Redeems
Praying Psalm 35: Friends and Foes
Praying Psalm 36: Finding Holiness in God's Presence
Praying Psalm 37: Trust in the Lord
Praying Psalm 38: The Suffering Servant
Praying Psalm 39: The Discouraged Disciple
Praying Psalm 40: The Sustained Servant
Praying Psalm 41: The Sick Servant
Praying Psalm 42: The Dry Disciple
Praying Psalm 43: The Questioning Disciple
Praying Psalm 44: A Dependent Disciple
Praying Psalm 45: A Disciple in Love
Praying Psalm 46: The Disciple's Refuge
Praying Psalm 47: The King's Disciple
Psalm 48: The Disciple's Stronghold
Psalm 49: My God, My Redeemer

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Launching a Blog About Discipleship

Every four years when the Presidential elections are held, the American people are asked to believe that “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” Capitalism and mega-corporations, and many small businesses would testify that leadership plays a major part in the success or failure of their enterprises.

Likewise, the continuity and health of the Church depends on leadership.The Lord Jesus Christ recognized this when He commanded the expansion of leadership by disciples making disciples. (Matt 28:20)

When the Lord Jesus observed the Jewish multitudes as sheep without a shepherd, without a spiritual leader to personally care for them, He was deeply touched, and said:
"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:37, 38)

This blog is dedicated to helping Christians become mature, fruit-bearing disciples. 

About the contributors

The Rev. Edward F. Lundwall, Jr. is a former Army Chaplain. He and his late wife, Marionette, were missionaries for nine years. He holds a B.S., a M.RE, and a M.Div degree and is a freelance writer specializing in discipleship.

This blog is the cooperative effort of Ed Lundwall, Hope Ellen Rapson, and Alice C. Linsley. The three met in the summer 2013 in Rossville, Georgia for brunch, and after the meal, Ed invited us to his home where we saw the extent of his writings on discipleship. There was an entire wall with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with notebooks. As we chatted and perused the volumes, Hope and Alice realized that this dear disciple of Jesus Christ deserved a wider readership. Hope was an English teacher and Alice had experience with blogs. The plan was to make Ed's writings accessible to a wider audience.

This blog isn't sexy. It isn't provocative. There is nothing here to thrill those energized by polemic and politics. The posts are about being a disciple of the Righteous King. They are somewhat old-fashioned, with the flavor of good ol' time religion. The material is practical. It can be used for daily devotions, for Bible study, and to teach Sunday School classes.

The posts do not reflect a specific denomination. Ed is a Baptist, Hope is a non-denominational Evangelical, and Alice is an Anglican traditionalist. It is our intention that every article be biblical, honest, and helpful.

May God bless you as you read the weekly posts.

Related reading: INDEX of Topics at this Blog; The Goal of Discipleship

Friday, July 3, 2020

Prayers of Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall (1902 – 1949) was Chaplain of the United States Senate after World War II. He was considered “a calming, healing voice to the Nation.” Marshall's life and ministry is recounted in a biography A Man Called Peter (1951), written by his widow, Catherine Marshall, and the book's 1955 film adaptation, which was nominated for an Academy Award for its cinematography.

Peter Marshall's prayers are especially appropriate in this time of civil unrest, economic hardship, and pandemic.

On May 22, 1947, during the 80th Congress, U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall offered this prayer:

God of our fathers, give unto us, thy servants, a true appreciation of our heritage, of great men and great deeds in the past, but let us not be intimidated by feelings of our own inadequacies for this troubled hour. 
Remind us that the God they worshiped, and by whose help they laid the foundations of our Nation, is still able to help us uphold what they bequeathed and give it meaning.

Peace without Pain
God, have pity upon us.
We want peace without pain and security without sacrifice.
We want peace but not the perils of peacemaking.
O God, may we learn what love is.

God, give us the grace to take things as they are and to make them what they ought to be.

For World Neighborliness
O God, we pray for a broader vision of the needs of humanity, and a deeper compassion to fill those needs; for a planting of the seeds of concern for all humanity in our hearts; for a tapping of the wells of generosity. 
May we live together as people who have been forgiven a great debt. 
May we be gentle, walking softly with one another. 
May we be understanding, lest we shall add to the world’s sorrow or cause to flow needless tears. 
May we be as anxious for the rights of others as we are for our own. 
May we be as eager to forgive as we are to seek forgiveness. 
May we know no barriers of creed or race or sex, that our love may be like Yours---a love that sees all people as Your children and our kin. 
May we be ministers of humanity.

Personal Prayer of Humility
Lord, forgive me that when life’s circumstances lift me to the crest of the wave, I tend to ignore Thee. Yet, like an errant child I have blamed Thee with my every failure, even as I credit myself with every success.
When my fears evaporate like the morning mist, then vainly I imagine that I am sufficient unto myself, that material resources and human resources are enough.
I need Thee when the sun shines, lest I forget the storm and the dark. I need Thee when I am popular, when my friends and those who work beside me approve and compliment me.  I need Thee more then, lest my head begin to swell.
 O, God, forgive me for my stupidity, my blindness in success, my lack of trust in Thee.  Be Thou now my Savior in success. 
 Save me from conceit.  Save me from pettiness. Save me from myself! And take this success, I pray, and use it for Thy glory.  In Thy strength, I pray.  Amen.

Missed Opportunities
O Lord our God, even at this moment as we come blundering into Thy presence in prayer, we are haunted by memories of duties unperformed, promptings disobeyed, and beckonings ignored.

Opportunities to be kind knocked on the door of our hearts and went weeping away.

Related reading: A Man Called Peter

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

But God!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Consider the significance of these two words: “But God!”

Recognition of God makes the person. The Atheist and the Christian are different. They do not stand at the same starting line in the race of life. They do not run in the same direction.

Ephesians 2 makes it clear that they do not come to the same end. The Christian's destiny is to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Until that day, the Christian walks in the richness of God's mercy and great love, being saved by grace.

Regardless of life's hardships, toils and troubles, the Christian is always able to say, "But God!" It is amazing how those two small words change everything.