Tuesday, July 31, 2018

TOO MUCH BUSY-- NESS CAN HARM OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD


God would have us remain in a tight relationship with Him, not one that meanders back and forth without purpose and discipline. He loves us far more than an earthly father loves his own children. How can we—why do we—resist Him?

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES              by Sally Bair

Busy-ness

I don’t garden anymore except for a couple patio tomato plants. I don’t entertain company as much as I used to either, and I quit watching TV a couple years ago. With less to do, you’d think I led a boring, sedate life, the kind expected from most octogenarians. Not so. I’m busier than ever and seem to live up to the title of my new memoir, “Run Sally Run.”

The trouble is, some days I keep so busy that I seem to hear only the sounds of my frantic activity. Not that there’s anything wrong in working hard and keeping busy. But some days I find myself too busy for God. When I go too long without even thinking about Him, it ends up being a spiritual loss for me. A casual “thank You, Lord,” or a ten-word “arrow prayer” sent to God for a quick blessing or a need fulfilled are not enough to sustain my Christian spirit. I regret my lack of attention to God’s Word and His presence.

From past experience, however, I know that nothing compares with getting to know Christ better and hearing His voice while in a quiet, private place. Christ commands His followers to have an intentional relationship with Him. Sort of like a married couple making time together without distractions so they can share their most intimate thoughts and concerns.

If we were to say to a friend, “Let’s get together sometime,” it wouldn’t happen unless a specific time were set. Psalm 1 speaks about the man who is blessed because “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” Good, two-way communication includes both prayer and listening. We can thank Him, praise Him, confess our sins and pray for our needs and the needs of others. We can even grouse and complain to God, as David did in the psalms. But we also need to listen—meditate—chew on His Word—hear His still, quiet voice.

The Bible urges us to “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3:16) When we truly desire to hear from God, we will be drawn to his Word and presence every day, no matter how busy we are.

Lord, thank You for promising to never leave us or forsake us. Forgive us the times we let ourselves get too busy for Your Word and presence. Make us so hungry for You that we will be compelled to spend time with You alone each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.    


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

THE LOWLY ANT CAN TEACH US LESSONS ABOUT OUR PURPOSE


Isn’t it amazing how God sends us living creatures from His creation to teach us how to be better followers of Him? And nature gives us many insights into His character. Hallelujah!

Eternal perspectives              by Sally Bair

The ant

Most of nature intrigues me, including the lowly ant. I enjoy watching ants carry sticks and other items along the ground to their nests. Many of the items are larger than they are. Like bees, they seem to be hard-working and busy all the time.

We humans, however, sometimes see them as pests. Sugar ants leave trails in our kitchens. Carpenter ants chew the wood in and around our houses. The red fire ants of the south are known to kill weak, newborn calves. This must be true, since one ant colony can house up to twenty million individual ants. And when we consider the world is populated with over 12,000 species of ants, no wonder we take notice of them.

God has given the ant a purpose on earth. Actually, ants serve four purposes. They aerate the soil and improve its drainage, improve the chemistry of the soil, disperse seeds—usually to their nests where the seeds take root in more fertile soil—and prey on pests such as ticks and termites.

If we accidentally step on their ant hill, they scurry to attack our feet. They rush to rebuild their home. They remain constantly on the go.

It’s no wonder King Solomon chose to use the lowly ant as a life lesson. “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6)

As I grow older, I consider more than ever how to use my own time wisely. I like to think that God would have us all be a little like the busy ant. We can work for Him through the gifts He has given us, whether they include helping others, teaching His Word, praying for those in need or befriending someone who needs encouragement and a listening ear.

 Though we all need down-time to restore our energy, God would have us use the time He’s given us wisely. Every kingdom has its workers. Unlike ants, which “have no captain, overseer or ruler,” we can rely on and work for our heavenly King, Jesus Christ. We can allow Him to guide us in His purposes which include loving Him above all others and loving our fellow man. Like ants, we can be diligent workers who aerate the soil of human hearts and disperse the seeds of God’s love and salvation.

Lord, thank You for the gift of time. Help us control our use of it and forgive us when we fritter away our time on things that have no eternal value. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

THE NAME OF JESUS HAS GREAT AUTHORITY AND POWER


Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

The name of Jesus

In my childhood whenever I disobeyed, I knew the exact time my mom had had enough of my wrong behavior or sass. Her name alone, “Mom,” had enough authority and power to make me obey, but also to bring me happiness and fulfillment.

The words of Jesus have even greater power. Of all the stories and words contained in the Bible, I know none would have any meaning without the words He spoke. If I had to choose among the 66 books of Scripture, the Gospels would be my first choice because they contain all the words I need for my salvation and growth in the Christian faith.

The other books also hold great meaning. I especially enjoy the Psalms and love the Old Testament stories about the patriarchs. But nothing compares to Jesus’ words. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)

Throughout history, people have avoided the name of Jesus. Many even today deny that He rose bodily from the dead, that He is God’s only Son, that He has power to forgive sins and heal diseases and cast out demons and raise the dead. But the Gospels authenticate Jesus’ supernatural power. They contain irrefutable truths about Him.

When Peter used Jesus’ name to bring healing to a crippled man, it happened. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. …And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong …” (Acts 3:16)

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

We’re all reminded to use the name of Jesus in all instances. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Thank You, Lord God, for Your Son, Jesus, and the power of His name. Remind us daily to use that power for our healing and help and for that of those around us. Because we believe in that power, we ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.           

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

OUR WORDS HAVE POWER


The words we speak have the power to lift up or to tear down. Which shall your words be today?

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Our words

Ever since I learned how to read the Dick and Jane books as a child, words have captivated me. I determined to learn their correct spelling and usage, and how to string them into sentences that made sense. In so doing, I became an editor of sorts. Early on, however, I learned that it’s okay to correct youngsters for their incorrect spelling and grammar, but not for all adults. That’s why today I try to be a closet editor—correcting others’ errors in my mind only.

Because of my internal editing, I cringe at every error I see on Facebook. It’s not the spelling errors but the content of Facebook posts that disturb me the most. I read words that are vulgar, negative and hurtful, sometimes by nice, good, church-going folks. And because God is who He says He is, I’m sure He also is saddened by their written content.

God, in fact, has much to say about our spoken—and written—words. Jesus once took to task some Pharisees for following their strict traditions but disobeying the pivotal commandment of loving God above all else and their neighbor as themselves. He said, “Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matthew 15:10)

Jesus also taught that we are known by the fruit we bear. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” He said. “For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-36) Our words contain the power to either tear down or lift up.

Scary words, to be sure. Scary enough that we should all heed them by searching our hearts and our habits. Our thoughts usually determine the words we speak or write. If our thoughts center on positive, encouraging and life-giving ways to communicate with others, not only will they be blessed, but we will too. And our hearts will rejoice.

One of the best ways to keep our thoughts and words, whether spoken or written, on the right track—God’s track—is to learn from His Word. Jesus is all about the good, the positive, and the life-giving way. In fact, Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is … sharper than any two-edged sword …”

Lord, thank You for Your powerful words of life. Fill our hearts, minds and lips with only the words that bring joy, peace, love and life to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

HEARING GOD OVER THE NOISY STORMS OF LIFE


The recent storms we’ve encountered may have been noisy, but God can quiet the storms of our lives through our abiding faith in His promises and power.

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Noisy storms

In light of the severe storms we’ve experienced recently, I was reminded of a column I wrote several years ago, one I included in my book, The Nature of God: Daily Devotionals Celebrating Summer. I include it here, hoping you too are reminded to remain faithful to God’s promises in the midst of the severest of life’s storms.

Nature can be noisy. During a heavy rainstorm, we must shout to be heard. In the 1800s when grasshoppers invaded the prairies, the noise of their wings and chirring made it impossible for homesteaders to hear anything else. Tornadoes are as noisy as freight trains.

But some outwardly quiet things such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, disease, or other losses, can be just as noisy to our internal ear as a loud storm.

The Old Testament prophet Job faced a life-changing storm when God allowed Satan to take everything away from him. Although he never cursed God, his inner voice screamed doubt and anguish. “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him,” Job said. “I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him … But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-10 in part)

Although unsure, Job still clung to his weakened faith. If we had faced the same situation, would we have clung to our faith? Or would we have asked God, “How can You do this to me, Lord? I’m a good person. Aren’t You a God of love? Where are You, Lord? I can’t hear You. Where’s the justice?”

Like Job, sometimes we struggle with doubt during trials. Our questions and complaints may become such an internal roar we can’t hear God’s voice. We can unstop our ears from the noisy din of suffering and anguish by choosing in faith, however, weak, to submit to God’s sovereignty. His plans are good, though during life’s storms we can’t always see them completed. We can only trust.

Lord, keep our internal ears free from the noise of our complaints, doubts, and anguish that come from life’s storms. We want and need to hear Your clear voice through Your Word and Spirit. in Jesus’ name, amen.