Published: Monday, 25 June 2018 16:02
Written by Don Goulding
But now, ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky and they will tell you. Or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea declare to you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this … Job 12:7-9 (NETFull)
Clouds heaped themselves into billows, round on top, flat and gray on the bottom, and a tasteful hint of orange worn low on their hips. Standing apart from one another, they populated the sky, large overhead and small in the horizon. Besides their aesthetic appeal, each cloud was a scientific marvel of liquid particle suspension and solar light refraction. Whether any human took notice or not, they broadcast the glory of their Creator God.
Snow-white seagulls rode the breeze above a scalloped ocean. They wheeled about stabbing yellow beaks into the wind. Their wingtips banked left then corrected right. Each gull followed its whims but stayed inside the boundaries of the gathered flock.
Clouds, gulls, stars, dolphins—everything in our universe declares the majesty of Jehovah God because that’s the purpose of its existence.
Mankind is different. Created in God’s image, we are bequeathed with the freedom of choice. We can choose to glorify God with our lives or not. If I want to disregard the biblical standards of living and hurt others when it pleases me, I can. The primary consequences of my actions are deferred until the next era.
The game is on and the clock is ticking. I’m given a limited number of years to see what I’ll do with the divine gift of choice. One day, the tally will be totaled and recompense will arrive. For now, there is a great opportunity to stand with the rest of creation and glorify God.
Prayer: My blessed Creator, I join the animals, birds, and fish to praise you.
Published: Monday, 18 June 2018 17:15
Written by Don Goulding
When they placed their threshold by my threshold and their doorpost by my doorpost, with only the wall between me and them, they profaned my holy name by the abominable deeds they committed. (Ezekiel 43:8 NET_FL)
Dani and I once lived next-door to furloughed missionaries from Mozambique with a connecting doorway between our apartments. Residing adjacent to them made us self-conscious of playing loud music, of the clutter we left out, and of our conversations near the door.
The Bible says we are the new temple of God. That means his Most Holy Place is inside me, just over the threshold from the Holy Place of my mind. It makes me think twice about the garbage I permit into my thoughts.
In the days of the physical temple, the Holy Place was where incense was continually offered by consecrated priests. Today, it’s the place in my mind from which prayers float upward offered by a purified conscience. This is meant to be a quiet, reverent space in my being. I fear it is otherwise.
Oh, what sacrilege and idolatry I permit in my thoughts, right next to God’s abode. Instead of a sanctuary, my mind is a brothel with every kind of impurity running in and out. I may not act on the demonic banter in my head but I often entertain temptation before giving it an eviction notice. By then it has grown into a muscular adolescent that ignores my refutations and must be forced out by the Deliverer.
For the sake of my incredible neighbor, I really want to clean up my Holy Place. It’s time to refuse visitors of fantasy, envy, or worry. I must point to the narrow threshold that separates my mind from the home of the Most High God and send those thoughts scurrying.
Prayer: Holy Father, forgive my trash and help me clean up.
Published: Saturday, 09 June 2018 05:04
Written by Don Goulding
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:26 NET_FL)
The few Christians surviving in Pakistan are salt-of-the-earth people. Beige and brown clothes, mud colored houses, food cooked over a dried cow dung fire—it was the simplest and most beautiful life I’d encountered. These humble children of God gave me a sublime lesson about a complex doctrine.
A brother sat in a chair in front of everyone posing as one of the many donkey-cart drivers of the village. Another brother played the part of the donkey but he pushed the cart with his head. Rolling laughter told us the Pakistanis immediately saw the problem and understood the analogy to a Biblical truth.
The Apostle Paul speaks definitively on faith when he says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Likewise, James is accurate in claiming faith without works is dead. Paul is speaking of the donkey, James talks about the cart. Both parts working together carry me to salvation and they must come in the correct order. Good deeds cannot push faith, faith must pull good deeds.
Out of his own resources God paid the full price on the cross for grace and now he only requires that we not treat his astronomical gift cheaply. Only a donkey of faith pulling a cart of works demonstrates our grasp of how much God spent. Good works by themselves accomplish nothing because our charitable deeds will never remove the sin that holds us apart from God. Likewise, an unburdened donkey of belief frolicking about is so insincere as to be pointless. I need a donkey pulling a cart—faith in the blood of Jesus that is reflected in my works.
Prayer: God my Savior, may my life demonstrate my faith in your provision.