Monday, January 27, 2014

Satan's Weak Attempts

This morning the lady in front of me in the drive-thru at Starbucks was not paying attention. I couldn't get up to the speaker to order because she was digging around in her purse. She didn't understand how dire the situation was. I needed my venti no-water chai and I needed it NOW! All the way up to the window she stayed about a half a car's length behind the car in front of her. By the time I received my drink, I was fit to be tied. Then I got on the street driving south to work when I came up behind a car driving well below the speed limit. HURRY!! Then, the light turned red. But while I waited, my mind started to wander. In this wandering, I realized why these people were slowing me down. Heavenly blockages....keeping me from getting there too fast.

I started to think of what has been happening in the last month. At the first of January, a friend of mine and former colleague, Chris Dell was having some acid reflux. He died last week of esophageal cancer. It had spread to his lungs, liver, and bones. His wife had died of breast cancer fifteen to twenty years ago leaving Chris to raise three young children. I learned yesterday of the death of Lisa Carr, the wife of Tom Carr. I went to high school with Tom....he was a couple of classes behind me. Lisa had fought an eight year battle with cancer. Just several weeks ago I learned of the death of Dotty Wright, wife of Winfred Wright. Both of them had taught at Harding University for many years. She contracted pneumonia and died. During Christmas break, a young Harding student had gone home for the holidays. While at home she went out to exercise and never returned. She was murdered in a park in her hometown. Another Harding student returning from the Christmas holidays had a car accident and died. A young mother in my congregation recently found out she was pregnant. Excitement abounded as she and her husband were expecting their first child together. But when they went to the doctor to hear the baby's heartbeat, there was nothing.

Whom do I blame for such things? A fallen world? Satan? All of the above? After reading the first few chapters of the book of Job, I tend to see Satan's tentacles in a lot of these situations. And it seems that he just hasn't learned his lesson. Is he trying to discourage us? Is he trying to break our will? Is he trying to get us to denounce our faith in the Almighty God? Is he wanting us to forget about heaven? Well it hasn't worked. Instead of defeat I see victory after victory after victory after victory. His schemes are not working and our faith is still strong. A mighty fortress is our God! He has promised He will never leave us. He is still in control, even when we see death and destruction. God still holds us in His hands.

And what a place heaven must be. I rejoice with those who have died, in most cases way too young. They are with God rejoicing. You may know the joy I feel when I hear my grandson yell, "Papa!" when he sees me. I can't describe the feeling and wonder I get from just hearing him call my name. Chris and Lisa will never hear their grandchildren say such things. For they've gone one before knowing what that feels like. I can guarantee you, however, that they are experiencing joy far greater than mine as they bask in God's glory, as they sit with the Lamb of God, as they hear God call their name. That must be something. To those who have gone on before. We'll be there. Some sooner than others. But we'll be there. And every one of us will proclaim victory over Satan's weak attempts to destroy us.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014--Part Two

I know I've already written about 2014, but I just couldn't resist writing more concerning this topic. The scary thing is, it's already January 15th. The month is nearly half over and here I am still writing about the new year. I've never been much into resolutions, but I do use the time to contemplate what's coming up. Two Bible verses came to my attention.

Genesis 28--Remember the dream Jacob had where he saw a stairway reaching into heaven? Angels were ascending and descending on this celestial ladder. Choruses often sing the song, "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder." God stands at the top of the ladder and recommits to Jacob the same promise He made to Abraham. "Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring." After Jacob wakes up, he makes an interesting statement. He says, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it." Isn't that us? Something phenomenal happens and we credit luck or good fortune or being at the right place at the right time. In 2014, I want us to make sure that we are aware of His presence. Let's quit missing the fact that God is working in His people. Keep your eyes wide open and see what He is doing in this new year.

Joshua 3--I've written about this passage before. Joshua has taken over the mantle of Moses and is challenged to lead God's children into the land that had been promised. It's the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. He's pumped Joshua up. He's told him not to be afraid. To me, it's kind of like the athlete who listens to the music before the game. He's getting psyched and ready to go do his job. After all this, Joshua is finally ready to move and to lead. Now is the time to march. The officers are going through the camp telling the people to get ready. Here's what they say. "When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before." I don't care how old you are, I don't care how much experience you have, you have never been this way before. This year brings new challenges and trials. You've never been this way before....but God knows the way. He will lead us. He will take us through. It is our time to follow and trust. For He can do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine. That's the kind of year it will be. Let's go! JW