A lesson from a gun

“…he remembers that we are dust.”
Psalm 103:14 (NIV)

I well recall in the dining room of the farmhouse where my father grew up there was a gun rack with a number of rifles and shotguns neatly mounted in it. I was mesmerised by the weapons. I had been well taught that I was not allowed to touch them. They were unloaded in the house of course but the ammunition was safely stored nearby.

Occasionally the men would take one or another of the guns out, load it, and do target practice. I loved being with them as a boy to watch them hit the targets—usually an old tin can. The gun would roar, an orange flame would lick out the end of the barrel and often a smoke ring would be seen at the end of the barrel of the gun. Then the target would disintegrate as the bullet hit it.

One day I asked my father if I could fire his Piper 10 gauge double barrel shotgun. I loved it and wanted to try it out. I was about 10-11 years old at the time. Wisely my father denied me the pleasure. Had he let me try to fire that brute of a gun I would likely have dislocated or else broken my shoulder. It fired with a tremendous kick back at the hunter’s shoulder. As a boy, I was no match for that weapon and my Dad knew it.

It is a blessing to have a father who treats us with regard to our limitations and weakness. I had such an earthly father for over 40 years and still have a heavenly Father Who acts in consideration of my frailty. This is just what our verse today is getting at.

Perhaps today you have discovered that your pledge of allegiance to Jesus was broken when you did not speak for Him at an opportune time. Or else that habit you forsook to follow Jesus came back with a vengeance. You may have found yourself in a place you used to frequent before you met Jesus.

However you stumble in life, remember that this Jesus knows all about your limitations, and He takes them into account in dealing with you. No child of God needs to fear when they have need of returning to the Lord from whom they have wandered. Jesus makes the way back into the presence of our heavenly Father an easy road to travel.

I encourage anyone who reads this message to keep in mind that your Creator is very mindful of your limitations and will not put obstacles in the way to cause you to stumble as you return to Him.

If you are a follower of Jesus and you have wandered off somehow you will find that the good Shepherd comes after you to return you to the right way. You are never left to your own resources Christian—as you seek to return to your God. In Psalm 61:2 (NIV) we read,

“From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” 

Is it time for you to call out and ask for the certain mercies of your God?

“Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.”
Isaiah 55:3 (NIV)

Consider His gentle manner with the lowly and take heart. He is coming to you, run and meet Him. From the place of sorrow run and find joy in His presence today.

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For The Love Of Who?

“…Christ’s love compels us…”
2 Corinthians 5:14

Recently I was reading a wonderful devotional book early in the morning. The author had chosen our text for today as a starting point for his meditation. All that he wrote was wonderful and inspiring.

What I noticed was that he dwelt on the idea that the verse was referring to our love for Jesus instead of His for us. I disagreed with the writer at that point. So I checked out the verse in my Greek New Testament and sure enough what Paul is talking about is Jesus’ love for us and not ours for Him.

Is such a point relevant to our walk in this life? I believe it is profoundly significant.

Many people in life have been emotionally damaged on the basis that the one who should love them more than anyone else stops loving them. A husband who leaves his wife for another woman has hurt the abandoned wife more than he will ever know. His love for her was what gave her life joy and confidence.

On the other hand, when a man goes on loving his wife even when she has many illnesses and cannot live a normal life, that husband has caused the relationship to be something especially beautiful. In this case the wife may be very confident and content in spite of her difficulties. She will be motivated to do all she can to make the marriage good.

Our verse today causes us to reflect on just how amazing Jesus’ love is for His people.

I never tire of describing Jesus as He is seen in the Gospels and the rest of the Bible. His personality is remarkable. For example, He shows an enormous capacity to absorb rejection and failure by us. The night of the betrayal by Judas, for example, is a significant display of His tenacious love. The disciples pledged their loyalty to Him to the death. But when push came to shove in Gethsemane we read that all forsook Him and fled. So much for their pledge of loyalty to Him! Yet He loved them.

Then, when Jesus was so sorrowful and in an agony in Gethsemane just before His arrest, He asked the disciples to watch and pray. Three times they failed and slept instead. Jesus did not make many requests of the disciples so you would think they might be especially careful when He asked for prayer that night. They knew He was distressed and they did not come through for Him. Yet He loved them!

Do you not have an overwhelming sense of Christ’s love for you? It does not matter how you have fallen and failed Jesus. His love remains upon you if you are one of His children. Be confident that His love is ever with you if you have put your faith in Him. Then go and spend your life in devoted, faithful service to Him.

I change—He changes not;
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place;
His truth, not mine, the tie.
– Horatius Bonar

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Danger High Voltage

“He will call upon me,
and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.”
Psalm 91:15 (NIV)

I vividly recall attending the radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. It is a state of the art facility with an amazing array of transmitting antennas that seemed to occupy acres of land.

As an amateur radio operator I have transmitted signals that were about 500 watts strong. HCJB has a signal of a million watts power and more.

The voltage used to power their remarkable transmitter is lethal and great respect must be paid by the staff of the station as a mistake could cost someone their life. The advantage of mega watts of power is, of course, that the broadcast can be heard at phenomenal distances very clearly. The gigantic antennas add to the efficiency of transmission.

I smile at the paltry power I am licensed to transmit with in my hobby when I see the gigantic power of such a station. Yet, with the recent advances in technology, I can use a mere 10 watts of power with one of my radios and am able to get my signal around the world. I do not say that to be critical of those who use such great amplifiers to transmit their messages, it is just that technology helps the weak signal to get there as well as the signal with a “big foot.”

We live in an incredibly vast universe. Therefore it can be puzzling to many to think that the Creator could be interested in hearing the cry of a minutely small speck of humanity on the planet earth. Why would the Creator take the time to listen to us with our problems? Surely the God who put the whole show on the road is too busy running His creation to concern Himself with our paltry matters.

Are not our prayers too faint for the ear of God?

Our verse today is truly a fantastic promise for the one who thinks their prayers are too weak for God to hear. You do not need to be a great theologian who can shape the best prayers or a brilliant scientist with a gigantic transmitter to get God’s attention.

The Psalmist who penned these words from our Maker speaks of himself as a lowly person who has taken refuge in the presence of Almighty God. The writer is one who has sought after God and come to Him in faith. He insists that God has heard him and is with him in all times of trouble. His “signal” was not too weak for God to hear.

As you read the entire Psalm, the writer describes various dangers that threaten him and he fears none of them as his God is able to protect him in every situation. Just as the powerful transmitters in Quito had cabinets surrounding the high voltage transmitters, so God makes shields around His people so that the deadly threats of life will never come near His people.

Are you in the place of safety that God provides for all of His people? Are your prayers heard in heaven? Do you have confidence that God is with you to deliver you in times of trouble?

God is listening for the faintest prayer from the humble. If you call, He will answer. Call on Him and do it today.

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Clumsy help

“I will lay down my life for you!”
John 13:37  (NIV)

As a small boy I loved to help my Dad whenever he was fixing something around the house. Perhaps he was rewiring some electrical circuit, repairing something on the family car, or finishing off a room in the basement of our home.

I just enjoyed being with him and asking all sorts of questions about why he did this or that in order to finish the job. Dad never tired of my questions and explained everything in language that I could understand.

At times, when I was trying to be helpful, I would lose my concentration and the light I was shining on the focus of our work would wander off target. My Dad would have to ask me to pay attention. Or I might spill all his tools out of the box when searching for the one he asked me to fetch. I was a clumsy helper on various occasions, but always welcome to be his assistant.

The statement in our verse today is a comment of Peter’s to Jesus. He was seeking to help Jesus on His mission but messed up rather badly.

The situation occurred when Jesus explained to the apostles that He was leaving and they could not follow Him. Not knowing what lay ahead of Jesus they could not understand why they could not follow. Peter, in his great love for Jesus, blurted out the words of our text.

We admire the effort of Peter to express his loyalty to our Lord, but Peter was not yet at the stage of his life when he would “lay down” his life for Jesus. The irony of Peter’s statement on this occasion was that he would indeed lay down his life for his beloved Master. Peter just had the timing of the event wrong.

Sometimes we are so like Peter in our intended devotion to Jesus. We have a misguided sense that we are very strong spiritually and are able to withstand any temptation or tragedy that comes. We think ourselves invincible. Then a problem arises and we collapse or fold under the pressure of the situation.

Does the Lord Jesus quit? Does He walk away from us when we do not live up to the promises we have made to Him? What happens when we fall into some temptation or fail at some task for the Lord? Well, we have Jesus help us just as He helped His chosen disciple, Peter. First, Jesus warned Peter about his future fall and second—in the resurrection—Jesus had a private consultation with Peter to restore him.

Jesus never ever gives up on anyone who belongs to Him. He restores with help from many places. It may be a verse of Scripture, something said in a sermon, a phrase from a hymn, someone coming alongside us who has fallen in a similar manner, or some other means by which our Lord gives you encouragement.

For those who are followers of Jesus, He will never finally disappear from your radar. He has pledged Himself to complete the good work He has begun in you. Do not worry about being clumsy or inept in your walk with Jesus, He comes to lift  you up and get you restarted on the journey to His home.

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Thank God for Jupiter

“The heavens declare the glory of God…”
Psalm 19:1

I recall the first time I looked at the largest planet in our solar system through binoculars and witnessed some of its moons. Little did I know the significance of that gas giant planet back then. I have learned a lot in the years since.

You see, if Jupiter did not exist neither would we! For our planet to escape lethal bombardment by large objects in space we need the gravitational effect of a Jupiter to spin them away from us.

Jupiter needs to be 5U away from the sun (Earth is 1U away) to be in the correct position to allow life on earth. So Jupiter is properly spaced to help maintain life on Earth.

As astronomers explore other solar systems and look for possible planets that might sustain life they are finding giant planets such as Jupiter but they are all too close to their suns to allow for a planet such as ours to sustain life. In the exploration of other solar systems to date, only our solar system has a “good” Jupiter.

Our solar system is looking more and more unusual the more we explore space.

This bit of information about solar systems is given in the expectation that my readers might become more thankful for how remarkably well constructed our place in the universe happens to be. I have also learned much more about the many, many things that have to be in precise balance for life to exist on Earth. As one person put it—we live on a privileged planet.

The Psalmist—who thousands of years ago penned the words in our text—did not have the advantage of our scientific discoveries in the last hundred or so years. However, as he gazed at the stars he was overcome with awe at the beauty of what he beheld. God put into his mind the idea that the wonderful sight of a night sky spoke of how extraordinary the Person was who shaped and crafted all that he saw.

The world in which we live speaks with many voices of the Designer behind it.

It is amazing to hear the multitude of voices that testify to the genius of the Creator. Whether you look through a telescope at the vast worlds beyond our Earth, or look into a microscope at the tiny and yet remarkably complex worlds it reveals, you must be humbled at what is so intricately constructed for us to witness.

We may have issues in our lives that cause us sorrow and pain. We need not be thankful for them. But remember that God has put on a spectacular display in creation for us to marvel at and be assured that His wisdom that put it all together can be used in our lives to walk through the maze of suffering.

Have you looked at the glory of God in the night sky lately? Lift up your eyes this evening and consider that what you see is for your enjoyment, wonder, and encouragement. God has made a highly unusual solar system, maybe the only one out there, to keep us safe from cosmic tragedy. It all works to keep us alive.

Yes, we can thank God for Jupiter and hundreds of other things that are critically tuned in exactly the precise manner needed for us to live.

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