Last night before I went to bed, I stood in my front yard looking up at the sky. It was a clear night. As always the stars were beautiful and awe-inspiring. Now, I have a limited knowledge of the science of the stars. I know a little bit about light years, galaxies, and solar systems. Nevertheless, I often imagine the stars I see are pinpricks in the floor of Heaven. I think of these pinpricks as a gift from God that allows me to see tiny glimpses of my home in Glory.
Later as I lay in bed, this simple phrase came into my mind “If you have everything, you have nothing and if you have nothing, you have everything.” What does that mean? As I lay on my pillow I tried to parse this thought out. But eventually sleep took over with the thought still unresolved in my head.
Today I am reminded of a truth that I learned as a result of my ministry. Serving as a pastor I was often called to minister to and pray for people approaching death. Sometimes I would go into the homes of relatively wealthy people. At other times I would go to people who lived in extreme poverty. The truth I learned is this; wealthy or poor it does not matter, death treats everyone the same way.
Life on earth is as permanent as the frost on an early autumn morning. It will soon melt away. When you were born you had nothing, when you die everything you own will immediately belong to someone else. Those who live only to gain wealth will find their wealth to be a destructive trap. The greatest thing you can gain in this world is the contentment of living a Godly life.
If you have everything this world can offer, but you don’t have Jesus, you have nothing. If in this world you have nothing, but Jesus is your Savior, you have everything. The bottom line is this, wealth and poverty are only temporary but God is eternal, and He is enough.
His name was Alan and his most outstanding attribute was that he loved his Savior. His number one vocation was sharing the gospel and his favorite conversation topic was Jesus. The best teachers are the ones who have an intimate knowledge of the subject they teach. Alan was the greatest Bible teacher I have ever known. The life he lived taught us that the Lord is our Shepherd and we need not want any more than that.
There was a man named Barnabas, he loved Jesus. His vocation was to be an encourager to his brothers in the Lord. His conversation was, “You can do this with Jesus’ help, so get up let’s go.” Barnabas never wrote any great books, but when John Mark and the Apostle Paul were discouraged, he was there to encourage them. Today we can read Mark’s Gospel and Paul’s Epistles because of the encouragement of Barnabas They learned to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear. Because Jesus was there with His rod of protection and comforting staff.
Jesus commanded us to go into the world and make disciples. Alan and Barnabas probably never consider themselves disciple-makers, but they were. Neither of them ever led a weekly discipleship group. But they both taught many to walk in paths of righteousness for the sake of the good name of Jesus.
I don’t think that Barnabas or Alan ever sought to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. They were servants. They loved God with all their hearts and they loved their neighbors as they loved themselves. Jack McVeigh called Alan a gentle fruit tree. We can read in the Bible about the fruit that Barnabas bore for God, but we will never know how many people Alan reached for Christ. But I do know this, my heart was blessed by this man who was a gentle fruit tree. His name was Alan, now he has walked by the still waters, found rest in the green pastures and will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I have often stood outside on a clear night and marveled at the beauty and scope of the night sky. I know that I cannot count the stars and yet some of the stars are not stars at all. Instead, most are entire galaxies of their own. Science tells us that there could be as many as 100 billion galaxies and each of those galaxies could have more than 100 billion stars. This boggles my mind.
I often wonder about the purpose of all these stars. Why did God create these galaxies? Mankind can never visit them, they are too far away. They can never provide us with any of life’s necessities. All we can do is look at them. They are beautiful but what is their purpose? And what is the purpose of the immensity of the universe?
Could it be that the answer to my question is as simple as this; a Great God needs a big universe to contain the love that He has for His children? Maybe the uncountable stars in the universe are there to illustrate the uncontainable mercies that He has for us. After all, His Word does tell us that “His mercies are new every morning“. And listen to this, science teaches us that even now the universe is growing and expanding in size. Wow, what manner of love the Father must have for His children.
In Ephesians 2:4-7 we read; “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Let me be bold and say it this way; God loves you so much that he gave His only Son for you and if you trust in Him you can have everlasting life. For that reason, the universe cannot contain “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
My favorite place for a morning quiet time is the back porch. Here I can see the sunrise, feel the morning breeze, and listen as the birds start their business for the day. Knowing that days have started like this for thousands of years helps me to draw close to the God of hope and glory.
As I sit and try to commune with God, my dog will pester me for attention. She stands on my left nudging my hand begging me to pet her. When I ignore her she goes around to the other side and nudges my right hand. If I continue to ignore her she comes around in front of me and plops her big ol head down on top of my Bible. When I push her back and continue to read she will lie down at my feet and wait until I decide to pay attention to her.
Why does she so persistently seek my attention? Is it because I feed her and take care of her? No. She would be loyal to me even if I did not feed her. She is persistent because she longs for my touch. Because I am her master, Her greatest joy is in the touch of my hand.
Like this dog I long for my Masters touch. While I sit on the porch and watch the sunrise I look expectantly to God. With the morning breeze He fulfills His promise as He opens His hand and satisfies my great desire with an amazing caress. The birds pay no attention to worldly affairs, as they have for thousands of years they just go about their daily business of singing to the Glory of God. So through it all, I remember this; God is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His works. And He has promised To be near to all who call upon Him. If we seek first His Kingdom He will fulfill our greatest desires with the touch of His Hand.
In the first chapter of the Bible we read the glorious story of how all things came to be. It is a marvelously simple record of God coming from nowhere, standing on nothing, and by the power of His Word, speaking everything into existence. After the creation of all things, He created one more thing. He created rest. In the day of rest, He looked around at all things and said “This is good”.
Deborah and I once spent a weekend on top of Lookout Mountain. Now this mountain is well named because from its peak you can look out and see a beautiful and majestic world. The grandeur of the river and woods remind you of God’s opinion that this world is good.
Also, from the top of Lookout Mountain, you could smell the smoke of a distant fire and hear the lonesome whistle of a faraway train. As I looked at the cities and towns, with their busy factories and highways, I knew this too was God’s plan. Because after He created all things, He turned to man and said “This is yours to have dominion over.” I believe that when God looks at the works of man He smiles and says “ This is good.”
It is good to go up a mountain sometimes. Because down here the world looks pretty messed up. Wars and rumors of wars and the wickedness of man make this world look hopelessly bad. But on the mountain, you can see the world as God sees it. He is The Great I AM. He has said, I am God and I change not. Because He does not change, His creation is still good. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and God the Father still says, “It is good.”
Hunger is a good thing. It is a gift from God that tells us when we need to replenish the food that fuels our bodies. However, you need wisdom to know how to feed your hunger. For instance some foods are almost addictive, but they contain useless calories. Meanwhile other foods may not be as tasty but they contain the nutrients your body needs.
As I have gotten older, I have learned that I must control what I eat and drink. Sometimes I like a soft drink but I have found water to be the ultimate thirst quencher. Within reason cake and candy is alright, but fruits and vegetables are always better for you. Because of His goodness God has given us taste buds so that we can enjoy food and drink. God has declared all food and drink to be good. But as with all good things, the key to healthy hunger is moderation.
Okay, now you have received advice on eating from a old guy with diabetes. But I don’t really want to talk about eating the right food. I want to talk about having a healthy hunger. Proverbs 15:14 says; “ A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while a fool feeds on trash.” I am a physical diabetic today because for years I ate trash and junk food without moderation. Most of us today are spiritual diabetics because of the unmoderated trash that we have put into our heads, hearts and spirits. God says we need to develop a healthy hunger for righteous knowledge.
Hunger is a good thing. But feed your soul wisely. Stop feeding your mind junk and trash. Become addicted to righteous knowledge and develop a healthy hunger for God’s Holiness. Do this and you will defeat the spiritual diabetes that has crippled so many Christians.
It is necessary that God should punish rebellion and apostasy. The bible says; “The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them. The north and the south, You have created them; – You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;” (Psalm 89:11-14,)
Every act of rebellion, every act of sinfulness is a direct attack on the throne room of God. For Him not to punish sin is for Him to surrender to evil. God will and has acted on this necessity. He tells us; “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’” And “For a fire is kindled in My anger, And shall burn to the lowest hell; It shall consume the earth with her increase, And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” (Deuteronomy 32: 35& 22)
WE have a great necessity, to wake up, to remember our first love, to hear with the ears that God has given us the warning that God has spoken to us in Deut. 32:28. when He says “For they are a nation void of counsel, Nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end!” (Deuteronomy 32:28-29)
There is this thing about God. He is very inconsiderate. Now I don’t say that He is unfair just that He is inconsiderate. God is right to be inconsiderate because His will and His ways are supreme. We can’t understand it but none the less it is true.
I say that God is inconsiderate because our plans, our hopes and our dreams take second place to His. He will have His way and sometimes we suffer broken hearts or bruised egos because our plans are not His plans and our ways are not His ways. We don’t understand it but we must trust Him. God is good and broken hearts or bruised egos are small things to suffer if we want to be in the center of His will.
Some people ask, “Is it safe to follow God”? And I answer “no, it’s not! This very inconsiderate God that I serve has said to His children, “Take up your cross, and follow me. The very idea of a cross speaks of danger. So, no, God is not safe, but safety is entirely overrated anyway.
I am glad that God is so inconsiderate. When God looks at me, He does not consider my unworthiness and He does not consider my sins and failures. When He looks at me, the only thing He considers is the righteous blood of Jesus that was shed to purchase my salvation. I am glad that an inconsiderate God has looked at me and said, come to me and I will give you eternal life. This I know, the eternal life that my inconsiderate God offers is greater than all my hopes and dreams.
Douglas & Deborah Huff From Down Where the Pavement Ends Emailemail@example.com
Many years ago Rich Mullins declared in a song that “ Our God Is An Awesome God”. Today I will affirm that statement. The rising sun has not cleared the trees yet but a shaft of light has broken through. Like an ambassador of the day, it paints a portion of the tree in my yard with a yellow slash. On this beautiful clear morning, I can hear the rumble of a train eight miles away and the crows are having a raucous debate. As the morning breaks and the black bird speaks, God’s Glory is revealed and I have no doubt that absolutely He is an awesome God.
The birds are delighted that morning has come and their song is inspiring. A cat is mewing about the need to be fed. My dogs wrestle with each other in the dew covered grass. Earlier I heard a doe snorting as if she was trying to clear a bad smell from her nose. Now I can hear a trio of squirrels quarreling with each other. All these sounds mixed together testify to the awesomeness of the Lord of all creation.
Ponder on this. All the songs, dances and actions of all the creatures of creation reflect the Glory of God. Look up to the sky and consider that the brilliance of the stars pale in comparison to the brightness of the Creator. Consult with the far distant galaxies and you will find that the universe moves only by the power of the Omnipotent One. From the Psalms we read; “Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.” Psalms 139:7-10
Although it may be the best one we have, I realize that the word awesome is inadequate to describe my God. His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. My feeble command of the English language cannot do Him justice. So I will borrow these words from an old hymn and say, O how marvelous O how wonderful. Indeed how awesome is Jesus Christ my Lord.