After a good night’s rest, I awoke to 43 degrees and rain. Made the bed and took care of Liza Jane. Then it was time for the morning meeting at the coffee pot. Love the anticipation of that first cup each morning! Glad I was sober and didn’t need it to deal with a hangover due to senseless, undisciplined revelry that included alcohol.
From there, it was time for the best part of the morning . . . the blessing of meeting with the Lord in His Word. Add to that the beginning of a new, yearly journal.
As I read the Word in the silence, Psalm 99 awakened the stillness in my heart with an absolute truth, The LORD reigns (99:1). I paused and let the Holy Spirit speak to me.
That’s it! If I am to have a sane response to all that 2021 will afford, I must live in the truth that The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble! For all of us who are born again believers in Christ, we do not tremble. We dwell securely in the secret place, in the presence of the LORD Almighty (Psalm 91:1).
How did 2021 begin for me? Sober, silent, sane and secure.
Confession #1: I love the smell of a new book! Every coffee shop should have the aroma of Barnes & Noble!
Confession #2: I wish we could read by osmosis because there are so many books I want to read!
So, having said that, here are my top 3 reads for 2020!
#1 The Bible
Now, don’t moan and groan on this one and say, “Well, I figured you’d say that!” Seriously, let me share with you a few reasons why it is number one.
The Author is transcendently holy (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3; 57:15), righteous, (Psalm 11:7), good (Psalm 34:8), eternal (Isaiah 40:28), immutable (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), omniscient (Psalm 147:5; Proverbs 15:3; 1 John 3:20) and true (Revelation 19:11-16).
The Author is omnipresent with me and in me speaking directly to my heart and life. (Psalm 139:7-8; Acts 17:24-28;
The Author’s words are absolute truth and always relevant to all of my life al the time. (Psalm 19; Proverbs 30:5; John 8:32; 14:6; 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16)
The Author is reveals Himself to me for His glory and my good. (Psalm 46:1; John 16:13-15; Romans 16:25-26)
If these few are not sufficient, then read and reread Psalm 119. Meditate on it. Read it out loud. The Word changes lives!
May I challenge you to choose a Bible reading plan for 2021? May I also challenge you to read it to know God, to listen to Him speak through His words, and to see your daily life affected by the Author of Life! The best moments of your life for all time on this earth will be spent in His Word and in prayer. If you do not have a personal relationship with God the Father through Christ alone, then lovingly I ask, would you read the Gospel of John (4th book of the New Testament) and then the Epistle of 1 John located near the book of Revelation. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103).
#2 The Saving Life of Christ, Major Ian Thomas
To be in Christ–that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you–that is sanctification! To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ—that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you—that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home—the other makes this world His workshop. (Thomas, p. 20)
The very essence of this book and the reason for reading it is wrapped up in the words of Evangelist Ron Lynch: In order for you to live the Christian life, you must understand that it is the Savior’s life. Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you. You die to live. It’s Christ who manifests Himself through you that makes the difference. He does not do away with your individuality nor your personality, but when people meet you they need to meet Him. (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27).
How often believers are tempted to think in these terms . . .”I just can’t live the Christian life.” Friend, we are not called to life the Christian life. The truth is, Jesus Christ did not live the Christian life. He is the Christian life. Understanding your position in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14), coming to know Christ (Philippians 3:10) and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-11), is the life to live.
#3 Rejoicing in the Christ, Michael Reeves
With so much of our attention in 2020 upon COVID, these two reads have reminded me of the Greater Subject, the Theme of themes, the Person of Christ. Also, in the midst of such sorrow, grieve, pain, loss, misunderstanding, cynicism, and human viewpoint, this book is about much-needed joy in the Christian life, about rejoicing in the Person of Jesus Christ as we share in the life of Christ!
What a far cry this is from the exhausting idea that Christ has done his bit and now it’s time to do ours! We are not chained to the task of trying to pay back the huge debt we owe him. We are united to the Son so we can enter into his life. Our joy, our prayers, our mission, our holiness, our suffering, our hope: all are a participation in the life of the Son. We are not simply given some thing called “eternal life” and then sent out to get on with it. We are not forerunners with final responsibility. He is the firstborn; we live in His slipstream. (p. 93)
What a truth!! We all participate in the life of Christ!! It’s not my life, but His life (Galatians 2:20).
Most of my reading this year was spurred on by attending the Men’s Prayer Advance and hearing Ron Lynch preach about the Christ Life. I would highly recommend you attending this year! Three days of meeting with God in prayer, worship, singing, preaching, praise, and fellowship!!! You will be changed for His glory!! Check it out by visiting christlifemin.org.
What books will you visit in 2021? Will you live in the Bible?
One of the many blessings of vacationing at the beach is the rising and setting of the sun. There is something special about standing on the 20th floor balcony with a fresh cup of coffee in hand and your camera ready to take shots of God’s moment-by-moment creation!
Albeit the month of December does not draw a huge crowd to North Myrtle Beach, there were a few folks gathered Saturday morning on the beach waiting on the same spectacular event! One family in particular had staked their claim to front-row seats with their towels and blankets.
As a ribbon of the sun stretched across the horizon, anticipation began to build. Indeed, it was awesome (Psalm 19:1-2)!! The hues of orange, blue, purple and yellow were all mixed together to present a first-morning vacation sunset that would cause a veteran rooster to be overwhelmed!!
Eventually, the sun rose above the few clouds and was in full sight!
With that, the aforementioned family gathered up their belongings and headed back to their room. For them, it was on to the next thing in their day.
Later on I was reminded, this is how we should be with the promised soon return of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)! Everyday I have a front-row seat for His appearing. When the Lord descends from heaven in the clouds with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, I won’t miss it!! No matter where I am on this planet, I will hear it! Beyond His call to me for salvation, this will be the sweetest, most exciting voice I will have ever heard and the greatest event of my life up to this very moment!!
Am I sitting on the edge of my seat this morning looking and listening for His return?
Does the imminent return of Christ have immediate effects upon my life right now?
Does a sermon on the return of Christ stir me and fill my heart with anticipation and as soon as the gathering is done, I pick up my belongings and head on out for the next thing in my day?
Let’s ask the Lord to renew our anticipation of His return rather than being so consumed with COVID, our fears, anxieties, stresses and what we don’t have right now.
Let’s ask the Lord to nudge us when we get so caught up with this world that we forget about being caught up into the eternal world of His presence! (John 14:1-6)
And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16b-17)
That’s good counsel for our weary souls!
(If you are interesting about a personal relationship with Christ and an eternal home in Heaven, please watch the following video.)
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7).
The most grateful people on the planet should be everyone who has received Christ Jesus the Lord for salvation! Through His work on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-11), His bodily resurrection from the tomb (1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-20), and the gift of saving grace and faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we have been made eternally secure in Christ (Romans 5:1-11; Ephesians 1:13-14), rooted in Him and established in the faith (Colossians 2:6) and delivered from the wrath of God and hell (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). The abundant gift of salvation in Christ alone is the ground for abounding thankfulness.
As you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), your eyes are opened more and more to all of who Christ is and to all we have in Christ! At each discovery, your heart overflows with abundant thanksgiving and your lips speak forth His praise!!
As we try to move our thoughts away from a very different and difficult year to this week of thanksgiving, may your heart be turned to the One Who is totally worthy of our praise and gratitude! May your heart abound with thanksgiving!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 3-5)
Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! (Psalm 103:1)
A few weeks ago, I was driving down Route 75 near my home in Johnson City, TN, and I heard the following lyrics on the radio sung by Karen Peck and New River.
FINISH WELL There will come a day I know without a doubt Around the throne the saints will bow And lay down every crown How glorious that moment To see Him face to face To hear Him say “well done my child” You’ve finished your race But for now the sun’s still rising There’s work to still be done While we’re waiting for the promise Of what is yet to come.
Finish well Every day that we are given Finish well For the glory of His name Finish strong Until the Savior finally calls us home Give it everything we have Finish well.
There’s no truth in saying We’ve seen our better days These are the days to be courageous Bold and full of faith So wherever He may lead us Whatever it may cost Let the Church arise and lift The banner of the cross.
Finish well Every day that we are given Finish well For the glory of His name Finish strong Until the Savior finally calls us home Give it everything we have Finish well every day that We are given Finish well For the glory of His name Finish well
It wasn’t long until I had tears streaming down my face as the Holy Spirit took those lyrics and reminded me that as a man, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a pastor, a mentor, and a friend, I needed to be reminded, encouraged and exhorted to Finish Well. Since then, every time I hear this song, I am taken back to that location along Route 75 that God spoke to my heart.
Men, those of us who are considered senior citizens, we are in the last years of our lives on earth. We arrived here so quick it seems. There are many blessings to being a senior citizen, but there are things that can cause us heartache, disappointment, grief, frustration, disqualification as well as loss of testimony (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12) and reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3).
In this post, I want to encourage us in the first of three areas to Finish Well.
Christ Your Life
At this age, we can be prone to think that our best days are behind us. That old age is our cross to bear. We can’t work like we used to. Our vision, hearing, and minds are failing us. We just can’t keep up with the youngsters. Bottom line, we are not the men we used to be. For many, we feel like we have basically lost our identity.
Well, I have good news for us. If you are truly a born again man, you have not lost your identity. Your identity is not in you and your old age condition, your identity is in Christ and it is as fresh as the day you were born again (John 3:1-16).
Men, the Christian life is . . . Christ (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:5-7; 5:17; Col. 1:27-29) In order for you to live the Christian life, you must understand that it is the Savior’s life. Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you. You die to live. It’s Christ who manifests Himself through you that makes the difference. He does not do away with your individuality nor your personality, but when people meet you they need to meet Him. (The well-said bullet points are from Evangelist Ron Lynch.)
Truth is, Christ lives His life through us so much so that you do not live the Christian life. Christ did not live the Christian life. He IS the Christian life. Therefore, come to know Him, fellowship with Him, store up His thoughts in your mind, and share Him with others (Philippians 3:10; 2 Peter 3:18). As you come to learn of Christ and walk with Him, you will think His thoughts and your responses will not be you but the Christ in you.
No matter your age, the issue is Christ . . . your life (Galatians 2:20)!! So, enjoy the journey, men, and FINISH WELL!!
Last night’s presidential debate, . . . well, what a fiasco! What an eye-opening view once again into the heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9).
How difficult it is to listen to three men argue, interrupt, accuse, disparage, and fuss! Proverbs 18:13 reminds us, If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
This past Sunday, I had the joy of listening to Carl Butler, the new pastor of Thompson Baptist Church, Thompson, PA, preach from Hebrews. The major portion of his message was seven reasons why we should listen to the Lord Jesus Christ.
As God’s final Spokesman, Jesus Christ deserves to be heard because . . .
He was appointed heir of all things (1:2).
He was God’s Active Agent in creation (1:2).
He revealed the Divine Glory (1:3).
He represented God’s character in the flesh (1:3)
He upholds all things right now by the word of His power (1:3).
He has totally purged our sins (1:3)
He finished the job and is seated at God the Father’s right hand (1:3)
Against the backdrop of last night’s disappointment and debacle, may I say to you today, because of Who Christ is, listen to Him. Men will fail you. Men are not omniscient. Men are fallible. Men are self-serving. Men need Jesus.
Open your Bible. Sit at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42). Listen to Him (Romans 10:17; James 1:19-21; Revelation 2:7).
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)