A Legend Went Home Last Month

Ray was introduced to me by Jim.

Jim was recently widowed. I knew him and his deceased wife from the adult fellowship I attend. He’s in his seventies.

Ray met Jim in another adult fellowship Jim had moved to try to move on from his loss. Ray was a diminutive gentle man in his nineties.

When the three of us went out to lunch together we spanned quite a few years…50’s, 70’s, and 90’s.

The common bond of Jesus drew us to Stonebriar Community Church. The fact we were all without our wives pulled us that much closer.

Jim faded from the scene as he struggled to fit in. I still see him from time to time.

Ray and I often sat next to each other during the second service. He would give me updates about the airplane he was building. I guess a little old guy needs something to pass the time of day with. He completed that project last fall.

Another mutual friend informed me Ray was in the hospital a couple of months ago. He recovered fine from that.

Since I’m volunteering with the toddlers during second service I hadn’t seen Ray in a while. The mutual friend told me last Sunday Ray went home to be with his Lord the previous week.

Two of his daughters were with him as he slipped into Glory. Ray opened his eyes wide right at the end. One of his daughters asked him what he was seeing. His arms lifted off the bed before his body went limp for the last time.

Ray was being escorted Home at last. I have no doubt he heard Jesus tell him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” the next second of his existence.

Ray served his Lord well as a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators. He was one of those gifted linguists that learned a native tribe’s language by living with them. Then he would develop an alphabet so he could invent a written language for these folks.

From there Ray translated the Bible into this new written word. Ray did this TWICE IN FORTY YEARS.

That’s when he became a legend in my mind.

The second time Ray had to buy a boat because that was the only way they could access the island those people lived on. Indonesia is like that.

With a lack of modern entertainment Ray could be found fixing something. That would endear him to the native folks. Eight children proved there were other means of entertainment that didn’t require modern conveniences.

Ray likely met some of the people who were introduced to Jesus from his work. I’m sure more will follow.

My writing might surpass Ray’s quantity of saved souls someday. Maybe not. That’s not really important.

God doesn’t keep score on such matters. He gives each of as an assignment to carry out.

Ray did the best he could to fulfill his mission. I must now give it my best, too…and so must you.

You probably won’t travel outside of the country you’re in now. I might not either. We don’t have to to be effective for God’s kingdom.

Do your best to touch the folks you come in contact with. Your neighbors may not see another Jesus in their lifetime.

They do know you’re a follower of Jesus Christ…don’t they?

If not then begin there. Live different from your culture if it doesn’t adhere to Jesus’s teachings. Don’t jamb Jesus down their throats. That isn’t very effective.

Show them the peace Jesus offers during your trials. They’ll come to you wanting to know your secret. I’ll give you a hint…Jesus shouldn’t be your secret. He needs to be made known for everyone who asks.

Sometimes translating the Bible doesn’t require a written language. Living it out is often more of a challenge, but that’s our assignment, my friend.

Let’s pray for each other to be better examples of Jesus.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

SENIORS’ SUMMARY

Ten months ago we started an amazing weekly journey of senior citizens in the Bible. Let’s take a few minutes to see what we saw about them.

We found not one, but two, aged couples who became first-time parents: Abraham and Sarah from the Old Testament, and Zacharias and Elizabeth in the New Testament. I sure hope God was gracious enough to not give them colicky babies. God obviously had great plans for these two boys: Isaac and John the Baptizer.

Jacob/Israel definitely knew how to twist a blessing in its time. First to his advantage, then in Joseph’s sons’ blessings. God was in it both times.

Israel’s reunion with Joseph in Egypt was one for the memory bank. The family secret held by ten brothers was broken before Dad’s life ended.

Joseph displayed God’s grace so beautifully when his brothers’ guilt resurfaced after their father died. Just goes to show how long a grudge doesn’t need to be carried.

His faith showed when he made his brothers swear to take his bones back “home” before he died. Moses made sure that promise was kept.

Moses was surprised to be called back into the game after being sidelined for 40 years. That 80-year-old still had many years ahead of him for God’s work.

Joshua led the nation well as they entered the land promised to Abraham many generations previously.

Caleb stepped up in his mid-80’s to claim the best of the land to kick out those punk giants who lived in what would later become the nation’s capital.

Eli, after failing to pass God’s truths down to his sons, was given a second chance with Samuel given to him by a grieving woman.

Samuel would be responsible for setting up the first two kings of God’s struggling nation. He lived to see Saul’s failure, but not David’s success.

David needed to be pushed into action in his late life. First to choose a spot for the temple, then to declare Solomon as his successor.

Daniel’s devotion to God couldn’t be altered even with the threat of death.

Simeon and Anna’s faith was rewarded by a simple glimpse of the Messiah as an infant. It was enough for them.

Nicodemus’ questions led to a firm commitment of Jesus’ Messiah-ship  when he helped bury our Lord’s corpse.

Three Apostles’ final letters revealed a deep love for those they shepherded into God’s kingdom. I hope we carry that tradition onward.

****

I have a few observations to give as we close this time of respecting our elders.

  • The word retirement never shows up in scripture. I couldn’t find anybody who was told to save up for a life of leisure near the end of their life. On the contrary, many people were surprised to be called into action when they thought they were past their prime and of no use to anybody.
  • David was the only king of Judah or Israel who did anything of significance in his later life. Most of them died before reaching an age to be qualified as a senior citizen. This was during a time when old age was considered a sign of God’s blessing on a person, especially a good leader.
  • God gave many people a second chance in their later life, even when they didn’t deserve it. Most of them took full advantage of that chance to make a significant difference through the one they mentored into the next generation.
  • The negligence of some leaders to pass God’s commandments down held grave consequences for those who followed. Once the tribes scattered out to their section of land Joshua never brought them together to do as Moses told him so they would remember God’s laws. Solomon’s failure can be traced to David’s failure.
  • Finishing strong for God is a rare occurrence. Too few held God’s heart and laws to the end of their life. Those who did are still held in the highest respect, as they should be. Joseph, Moses and Daniel are the old Testament examples. The apostles who had the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power are a few more.

So, what do we do with what we’ve seen?

To use a sailing metaphor: make a course adjustment to avoid any impending disaster.

You may have neglected your children on the altar of work/career as they matured into adulthood. Perhaps they’ve chosen lives that displease God. Love them with all you’ve got. Maybe they’ll see the change in you and make their own course adjustment. If not, find another young life to invest yourself into.  It’s never too late to do the right thing. Future generations depend on us to help them avoid disaster.

If you gave Jesus control of your life later in life then give Him your all. He wrote the Bible and preserved it so well so we can read it as His love letter to His children. Hold it with that much importance in your life. Use it as your guidebook to live by. It won’t steer you wrong.

Develop an accountability group to hold you true to God’s laws. It’s too easy to slip into sin when you think nobody is watching you. So, make sure you have others watching you as you promise to do for them. It’s the best way I know of to finish strong for God.

Pass on the life lessons you’ve learned in printed words. Blogging is a good way to record what you want to say to others. Tell them what you wish someone had told you. Record what you learn as you read the Bible. If you’re uncomfortable with computers then write a journal in pencil or pen. Your legacy may be preserved in marvelous ways for others to benefit from.

As long as you have breath in your lungs God has a purpose for you to be alive. If you find yourself so bed-ridden you can’t do any of the other suggestions I’ve offered you can still pray. A conscious thought is all it takes to carry on a conversation with God.

Finish strong for God even if all you can do is think.

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I’ll see you later.   Wade

A LONELY REVELATION

The gavel fell hard and loud. “You shall live out your life in isolation on the island of Patmos. A ration of food will be delivered to you as needed. No visitors may come to you. Are there any requests for more?”

John swallowed as he looked in the judge’s eyes. “Only one, your honor. May I have an allocation of parchment, ink and quills?”

The judge stroked is beard a few times. “I don’t see any harm in letting you send letters out, but you may not receive letters in return. Is that clear?”

John nodded. “Yes, that’s fine with me.”

The judge raised the gavel. “Very well, writing supplies will be included with your food. Case closed.”

John jerked as the gavel fell one last time.

****

John paced the perimeter of Patmos for the umpteenth time. His mind relived those precious times with Jesus. The lessons, the miracles, the changed lives sometimes felt like they occurred yesterday, not a lifetime ago.

He prayed again for the apostolic ability to walk on water as Peter did so he could be with the churches who needed his guidance.

A seagull screamed overhead.

John looked up. “Why, Father? Why am I here alone when others need me so badly? First I cared for Mary while the others advanced Your message. Now she’s gone as are they. It’s only me of Your followers.”

He looked at the stack of parchment protected from the weather. “What am I to write? I don’t know what the churches are up to. I haven’t felt compelled to write anything. Why am I still here? Use me or take me Home. Please!”

A heaviness fell over John as he approached the rock he used for a bed. He laid down and drifted quickly off into a dream.

He cringed at the sound behind him. Was it a trumpet? No, a voice spoke to him.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.”

John’s heart skipped a beat. That could only be Jesus.

“Write what you see and send it to the seven churches in Asia: To Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

John spun around and noticed seven lampstands. In the midst of them stood the glorified Jesus. How do you put that into words? Seven stars were in Jesus’ right hand.

John laid prostrate at Jesus’ feet. A hand grasped his left shoulder and raised him back to his feet.

“Don’t be afraid, John. I am the First and the Last. I was dead, yet I live and will forever. Write what you’ve seen, what is now and what you will yet see. The seven stars are the seven angels of the churches in Asia. The lampstands are the churches you are to write to.

“To the church in Ephesus tell them they’ve left their first love…”

Of course You know these people better than I do. That’s exactly what’s happened to them. Why couldn’t I see that before?

****

The last book of our modern Bible is known as The Revelation of Jesus Christ according to the first few words in it. Who better to write that book than the last person alive who spent personal time with Jesus Christ when he walked on this earth?

How do you prepare any person for such an important undertaking? If You’re God you place him in isolation.

We aren’t told how long John spent on Patmos before he was given this divine revelation, nor are we told how long he lived after he wrote what he saw. We’re merely grateful he obeyed this calling to him.

John would have written the gospel account that bears his name, and the three letters to churches he led, previous to this endeavor. So, we know he could write, so did he.

His main challenge would be putting in words what he saw in the spiritual realm; i.e. the glorified Jesus, whom He’d seen on the Mount of Transfiguration; and 21st century objects with a 1st century experience and vocabulary. Now you know why there’s such a shroud of mystery attached to the book.

God often gives someone a time of solitude before He uses them in a mighty way.

Joseph was placed in a foreign country with a foreign language, then a prison for many years before he became the 2nd-in-command of Egypt.

Moses was sent to the back side of a desert for 40 years before he was called to lead God’s people to the Promised Land.

David was driven into exile by a madman Saul for several years before he took the throne of Israel to its mightiest point of power.

Even Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness to fast after His baptism and before His earthly ministry with the disciples began.

So, if you feel like your life is stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for your next assignment, enjoy this time of rest. God may tap you for service anytime, my friend.

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“But, I’m way too old to be of any use to anybody. I can’t even walk anymore.” You claim.

I have a question for you. Can you type? If so go to WordPress.com a start blog. It’s pretty easy to do and it’s free.

Write out your life experiences and how God showed up when you least expected Him to. Or, give advice you wish you’d heard before you knew it.

Consider that your mission field. You may not get many followers, but you may impact one person who’ll go out a changed person by what they read on your meager offering.

Perhaps someone will set your posts into a book after you’re called Home and it will become a best-seller reaching thousands for Christ.

With God anything is possible. But, He can’t use what you take to heaven with you.

John simply did as he was told in his time of isolation.

Because he did we have a refined hope of what to expect in the future.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

A REMINDER

“But, I’ve never dictated a letter before.”

Peter turned toward his friend. “That’s okay. All you have to do is keep some notes about what I say. It may come across as being in your own words. That’s quite all right. I want to get this message out to as many people as possible. I don’t have much time left. Compose it and spread it to as many churches as you can. Can you do that for me? Please.”

“Yes. Yes, of course. You’re right. There’s not much time. I’ll do whatever I can for you.”

Peter waited for his friend to set up some parchment and ink on the table before he began.

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who’ve received the same precious faith by righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you…

“I’m compelled to remind you of your sufficiency in Christ through God’s provision. Live out your faith in increasing measure. I must put off this tent, soon. So, I’m writing this for you to have something to remember these truths by after I’m gone. We haven’t devised clever stories about Jesus to trap you. No, we witnessed His glory on the mountain, even hearing the words of God: ‘This is My Son, in Him I am well pleased.’

“The prophets of old back us up on what we declare. Nothing we say is of man’s knowledge. The Holy Spirit guides us along to write what God wants. False prophets have come to twist the truths of God to their advantage. They lead some astray simply to have their own following. I did not choose this way of life. Jesus chose me for this. I merely lived out His plan for me.

“Some claim the resurrection has already come. Others say nothing will ever change, each day is as the day before. They  purposely forget about Noah’s actions in the flood that destroyed the world. These men are like empty stream beds, or clouds that produce no rain. Their ruin is waiting them.

“Remember this one thing, my friends: with the Lord a day is as a thousands years, and a thousand years are like a day. He delays judgement so as many as possible will receive Him. The day of the Lord will come as a thief. The elements will burn up. This earth will disappear to make room for a new heaven and new earth. Jesus’ kingdom will be established in God’s time.

“So, how are you to live? Live lives pleasing to God just as Paul writes in his letters. Some of what he says is difficult. Others twist it for their own reasons just like they do all scripture. Be leery of them so you don’t fall into their destruction. But grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. To Him be glory for all eternity. Amen.”

The door to the house opened as a guard walked in. Peter looked at his family, then at the soldier.

The soldier waved his arm in an arch toward him. “You are all commanded to follow me now.”

Peter’s wife fell into his chest and sobbed.

Peter’s hand competed with those of his children as they rubbed her back for comfort. “I don’t understand this, but it’s God will. Let’s go home.”

She pushed back, wiped the tears from her eyes and nodded. Peter followed his family out the door.

****

Tradition tells us Peter witnessed his wife, and the children still  living with them, being executed before he was crucified. His convictions were so strong about how Jesus ruled in his life that he demanded he be crucified upside-down. He wasn’t worthy to die as his Savior did.

His convictions were also so strong he composed the letter we now call 2 Peter before his demise occurred. He wanted people to know he didn’t lie to them, but others would. His legacy in ink holds some true gems.

We get a glimpse of God’s eternal point of view in the phrase: “with the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day.” A timeless truth told in a timely manner.

2 Peter is his last words to us who follow Jesus. This is what would be his legacy. His legacy is full of warnings to us today. False teachers still abound. Holding true to scripture is as important now as it was then.

The end of the world as we know it is much closer than it was when Peter had this letter composed. Strive to study God’s word as He wrote it. Don’t make it say what you want it to say just to please your whims.

No, it’s not all easy reading. Some of the truths I’d rather not deal with. I’d much rather tell people they’ll be blessed if they follow a set of plans found in the Bible. But, the first test that comes their way will destroy their faith and make them question their salvation.

I need to repeat what Jesus said, “When troubles come…”, and so do you. Because this world isn’t the place we’ll find complete happiness and fulfillment. Heaven is that place of ultimate peace and tranquility. Never forget that.

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Each day will hold enough trouble of its own. Sometimes it feels like they hold too many troubles for us to deal with. That’s when we need to lean on Jesus for strength.

That’s what life on this world is all about. Our tests are designed to improve our faith, not erode it.

We must acknowledge our inability to do it on our own efforts. Jesus is supposed to be our source of hope.

Let’s not fight that. Let’s cling to that with all we have.

If you’ve come to the end of your rope and tied a knot to hang on longer, let go and fall into the peace-filled hands of Jesus.

He’ll never let you go. Never

I’ll see you later.   Wade

THE LAST LETTER

Paul waited for Luke’s eyes to open from his nap. He raised a hand to wipe a tear from his eye.

Luke stirred and opened his eyes. “You really need to learned how to rattle those chains quieter, Paul.”

“Do we have any parchment and ink? I need you to compose a letter for me.”

Luke sat up. “Of course, if you make it on the short side we still have enough for a note. Let me get them for you.”

Paul watched Luke set up at the table.

Luke counted the sheets they had. “Is this going to a church or a person?”

“Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ. To Timothy, my son.”

Luke raised his eyebrows as he wrote. “You better make every word count. We don’t have that much parchment.”

Paul leaned forward. “I fully intend to, Doc.”

Luke dipped the quill. “This ink’s good. I’ll write small.”

“I remember you in my prayers night and day. I’m impressed with your faith. I know it was passed down from your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice. Stir up the God-given gift you received by the laying on of my hands. Be sure to pass along the truth of the gospel to capable men.

“Be ready to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake. Impostors will come in to deceive many who’ll love to hear what they long to hear. Remain true to the truth of God I passed on to you.”

Luke continued to keep pace with Paul’s heart cry. He reached the last sheet. “Time to bring this to a close. Paul.”

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Be watchful in everything, suffer afflictions, be an evangelist, complete your ministry. I am being poured out as a drink offering. I’m finishing the race, my fight is over. I’ve kept the faith. I’ll receive the crown of righteousness, as will all who love His appearing.

“Try to come before winter with the parchments and my cloak I left with Carpus in Troas. The Lord Jesus Christ be with you, my son. Amen.”

Luke tipped the ink well to finish the last word. “We had just enough of everything we needed to complete this task.”

The door to the room burst open. A squad of soldiers filed in. “The Emperor wishes to see you.”

Paul stood.

Luke’s knees wouldn’t obey him. He looked at his friend. “I’ll see this is delivered personally.”

Paul nodded. “Thank you, Doc.” He strode to the door. “Take me home, boys.”

A soldier grunted. “I don’t know where he thinks he’s going. He’s had his last meal.”

Luke watched Paul walk out. “He knows that. He meant what he said.”

****

If you knew this was the last hour you had to breathe air in this atmosphere what would you do?

Would you make a phone call? Perhaps an email you’ve been putting off needs your attention. Maybe you merely need to walk over and say the words, “I’m sorry.” Followed by a hug.

The letter we know as 2 Timothy was the Apostle Paul’s response to that question. We’re all the richer because he didn’t put off writing that note.

Paul poured a lot of himself into Timothy’s life to the point of calling him “son.” In return Timothy loved Paul to the point of being in tears when they parted ways.

Have you done that with a younger person?

If you have children I pray your answer is in the positive. God’s gifts are given to us for many reasons. Pouring our love and affection into them is one of the main ones. Living in close proximity should make it easy to hand down your values and the reasons you do what you do.

They may rebel and do their own thing despite your best efforts. Paul had many others who left him when things looked grim in his life. Perhaps that’s one reason he was drawn to ask for Timothy’s presence near the end.

You’re responsible to do your part. You can’t control how others live their life.

Here’s a suggestion for you. Live your life like the country song says: live like you was dying. Because you are.

None of us knows when we’ll take our last breath. We don’t know if the next time we enter the road to get to work if someone else’s mistake will cost us our life. So, live like you’ll never see your loved ones again.

Let them know you love them. Don’t leave them guessing. Say the words: “I love you.”

They may not return the sentiment, but they’ll know how you feel. Leave that taste in their mouth when they think of you.

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Paul gave Timothy a list of people for him to avoid, and some to include. One name stands out to me.

Paul requested Mark accompany him to Rome because, “he is useful to me for ministry.”

John Mark and Paul had a history that was shaky at one point. It was so bad that Paul refused to include Mark on one of his trips since Mark deserted him at a critical moment.

The two men obviously came back in contact with each other and made amends. Paul’s second chance wasn’t wasted. The composer of the second gospel account made the most of the opportunity.

If some time has passed since you were hurt by someone, and there are signs of a change, give them another opportunity to prove themselves to you. The pay-off will likely benefit both of you.

Practice the words “I’m sorry,” and “Let’s start over,” so the next time you see that person they flow from your heart.

Life’s too short to be on a list of people to avoid.

Do your best to be someone requested as one who is useful.

You never know when it will be your last chance to have a second chance.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

A PROPER BURIAL

“Are you sure He’s dead?”

“A soldier pierced His side. He never flinched. The spirit has left Him. Yes, He’s dead.”

“What do we do now? We can’t leave Him there. Tomorrow’s Sabbath.”

Joseph looked around. His glance landed on the tomb he just had completed. “I’ll see if Pilate will give me permission to bury Him in my tomb. I’ll bring linen back with me.”

Nicodemus nodded. “I’ll get the myrrh and aloe. We must move quick. The sun is low.”

Joseph stared at the young men with him. “Don’t let Jesus out of your sight. If the soldiers take Him down before I get back tell them I’m off to see Pilate. Pray the LORD’s favor.”

Nicodemus turned to the young men with him. He grabbed the sleeve of the closest one. “Stay with Joseph. Carry the linen back for him” He pushed him off, then looked at the others. “Follow me. There are things to buy while there’s still time.”

****

When Nicodemus returned he found Jesus’ body still on the cross. His thoughts worked through the task at hand. “With the arms pulled out at the shoulders we should be able to take them to His sides if rigor mortise has set in.”

He glanced over at those still witnessing the event. Mary, Jesus’ mother, buried her face in John’s shoulder and sobbed deeply.

John caught Nic’s attention. “Do you need my help?”

Nicodemus shook his head. “No. There’s no need for you to become unclean, too. We have enough help to do this. You’re assignment is heavy enough.”

The centurion approached the soldiers standing nearby. “Take the body of Jesus down. These men will dispose of it.”

Nicodemus’ anger rose in his thoughts. “He’s not refuse. He’s the Messiah…I don’t know why He’s dead.”

Joseph showed up with the linens. “Clear this area for us. Lay enough strips down so He doesn’t touch the ground.”

The crew worked in silence as they meticulously prepared the body for burial as quickly as possible. The shadows were long when they finished.

Joseph stood. “Lift Him carefully. Follow me.”

Nicodemus walked next to Joseph. “Are you sure about this?”

Joseph stared ahead and kept marching. “I only thought I was having that tomb made for me. Whatever I have belongs to my Savior. I can get another one made.”

After the body was laid on the slab the men fought the stone across the opening. A glance at the western horizon displayed only half the sun.

Joseph walked away. “There’s nothing more we can do now. Everybody go home.”

****

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The burial of Jesus was one of those events. Joseph of Arimathea was stationed at the foot of the cross for a divine reason.

He’d just completed a tomb for himself and his family. At least that was his original aspiration for that undertaking.

Tombs in Israel were reserved for the wealthy in that time. Graves were for the poor peasants. A man with means could have a cave hewn out of the rocky hillsides to place his dead body in after he was done with it. More slabs would be carved in there for other family members.

Matthew tells us this was Joseph’s tomb. So, in a literal sense Jesus took his place in death.

Luke and John point out that this tomb had never been used. A totally clean, in every sense of the term, environment was the place of Jesus’ body after He was done with it.

A new day began at sundown in that time. So Sabbath was near when Jesus died. The men needed to move with haste to accomplish this grim task before the law forbid any work being done. There would be no time for any ceremony.

John and the women witnessed at a distance as the preparations were completed.

It was important to all of them that Jesus be buried according to the customs established. It was urgent they do so rapidly. Only time for the essentials was prudent.

Let me stop and ask you an important question. Is there something in your life that you’d be willing to give God if He asked for it?

You may have to make a quick decision like Joseph did. Or, you’ll probably have time to think about it.

The ironic thing is the more likely you are to want to hold onto it, the more likely God will require it from you.

I don’t know what that thing is for you. It’s different for each of us. It may be your life savings you’ve squirreled away for retirement. Or, a marriage partner who walks out on you, or is diagnosed terminally. A wayward child may be your personal possession God wants you to let go of.

We all need to come to the place where we recognize God’s sovereignty over everything. Our plans may need to give way to His ways. Only a personal relationship developed on deep trust can take that step of faith.

I pray you come to that point before the test comes. It will still be difficult to let your burden go into God’s divine hands, but your soul will be able to sleep at night when you do so willingly.

Everything is working together for your good, to become like Jesus, and God’s glory, to establish His kingdom. The question before us now is. Are you going to be a willing participant, or not?

Nicodemus hid in the dark of night to visit Jesus early in His ministry. He boldly became part of the team to bury Jesus at the end of it. His personal relationship obviously deepened in time.

I pray yours does, too. So does God. That’s why He gave us His only Son’s life.

He knew there’d be no other way for us to return to Him.

He gave us His all. Are you willing to reciprocate?

I’ll see you later.   Wade

AN ELDER SEEKER

“Do you really want to see Him this much?”

Nicodemus wrapped his outer cloak over his shoulders. “I need to speak to Jesus face-to-face in order to see if He’s the One we’re to wait for. The Council can’t agree on doing this officially, so I must go at night. Even though it feels like I’m breaking the law somehow.”

“Are you sure He’ll speak with you?”

Nicodemus nodded as he strode to the door. “One of His followers, John, has made arrangements for me to convene tonight. I’ll let you know what I learn when I get back.”

“Godspeed, my friend.”

He looked both ways after closing the door. The streets were empty. Though a life-long resident of Jerusalem the way seemed unfamiliar in the dark. John met him outside the city gate and led him to his encounter.

Jesus greeted him with a hug.

Nicodemus stepped back. “Rabbi, we recognize You as One sent by God because of the miracles You do. Only God can do what You do.”

Jesus placed a hand on his shoulder. “I tell you plainly, to see the kingdom of God one must be born again.”

Nicodemus hoped for a light so he could search Jesus’ eyes. “How can an old man be born a second time? There’s no way for me to re-enter my mother’s womb and experience birth again.”

Jesus sat on a stone and motioned for His guest to sit on an adjacent one. “You are thinking of a physical birth. That must come first, but a spiritual birth must follow. One is visual while the other is of another world. The wind is an entity you can’t see, yet you know it because of its effects. The same holds true here as well.”

Nicodemus sat forward and tipped his head. “Help me understand this.”

Jesus sat up straight. “You’re a Pharisee, a teacher of Israel, yet you don’t understand this. I’m telling you of earthly things to help you know this. How can I make you accept my witness if you’re blind to what I say? I have come to the world from heaven for you. As Moses raised the serpent up in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up, too. Those who look upon Him will be saved. Those who don’t are condemned already. I have come as a light to this dark place to show the light. But, men love to wallow in the darkness to hide their intentions. A lover of truth will come to the light so God will smile on him.”

****

God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son, whoever believes Him will live forever.

Do you believe Jesus?

Are His words still a riddle to you?

His words will remain a riddle until you do accept Him for who He says He is. Yeah, I know, that sounds like a riddle, too. Trust me, this step of faith is required for you to make sense of any of this.

As one of Israel’s Pharisees Nicodemus had a firm grasp of what we call the Old Testament portion of the Bible. He’d spent his life studying the nuances of the laws. The prophets’ messages were scrutinized for their meanings as well. Psalms were sung on a regular basis.

Yet, Jesus’ words remained a riddle to him. Nic was stuck on the literal aspects of Jesus’ message to the detriment of his belief. He couldn’t see past what he’d experienced to step into the unknown.

[Tweet “Faith is believing what we can’t see, but trusting it to be real.”]

Faith is believing what we can’t see, but trusting it to be real.

Jesus even pulled a story from the life of the beloved Moses to make His point to Nic. The time Moses lifted up a bronze serpent became His object lesson. Nicodemus would recall this one quickly. We find it in Numbers 21:4-9.

People were dying from snake bites after they complained to God about this never-ending journey. Moses was told to make a replica of the snakes and lift it up for people to see. People who’d been bitten would live if they merely looked at Moses’ “snake”.

At least two things would have jumped out in Nic’s mind:

1. Moses said a greater prophet than him would one day appear. Nicodemus’ goal was to see if Jesus was that Prophet. Jesus did His best to tell him “Yes, I am that man.”

2. When Jesus claimed He’d be lifted up as well to save people Nic would have prophetic proof when the crucifixion occurred. We’ll see how Nicodemus responded by the time of that event in due time.

I’d like to tell you Nicodemus walked away from that nighttime encounter a changed man. But, I’d only be guessing since the Bible doesn’t tell us that.

I’m not concerned about Nicodemus at this point, his life is over. I’m concerned about you. Have you been made new by Jesus’ words, yet? Or, do you still prefer to walk in darkness?

Jesus claimed to be a light come down from heaven to shine God’s love to all who believe. My goal is to reflect His light to you so you see His truth and love poured out for you.

You have a choice to make, my friend. Will you accept Jesus at His word and follow Him into the light?

Or will you continue to stumble in the dark because it’s so familiar to you?

I don’t know how much clearer I can make it to you. I pray God’s Spirit clears the confusion up in your mind today.

We know Nicodemus had a few years to sort things out in his life. We don’t know how much time you have for this decision.

Once you cross that threshold of death your eternal destiny is secured.

Heaven is known as a place with no shadows.

Hell is a place of utter darkness.

That’s the ultimate riddle for everybody to respond to.

Choose to walk in God’s light and my closing is for you.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Faithfulness Rewarded

Simeon awoke with a smile on his face. “In my calculations it’s been forty days since the angels appeared to the shepherds near Bethlehem. Are You coming today, my Lord?”

A peace filled his soul as he dressed and ate breakfast. “Yes, today I shall see my redeemer face-to-face.”

He left his cane by the door when he exited and marched to the temple. The smile never left his countenance. He scanned the people mulling around the outer courtyard. The young couples held his attention the longest. Nothing in him stirred from looking at them so he entered the outer court of women.

The confusion today seemed higher than normal, but Simeon kept searching the throngs. He almost felt a tap on his shoulder, so he spun around. His gaze landed on the couple carrying a baby and a cage with two doves. “I’m here.” He knew only he could hear that voice.

Simeon was glad the young man seemed transfixed on the architecture of the temple. He didn’t want to lose them in this crowd. The girl was reaching up stroking the soft beard when Simeon arrived.

Without introduction Simeon lifted the child from the mother’s arm.

Joseph stepped in his direction. “Simeon?”

A tear landed on the blanket. “I can now die in peace since I have seen the redemption of Israel with my eyes. You shall be a light to the Gentiles, little One.”

Simeon lightly stroked the child’s cheek. The infant suckled as He slept.

The old man looked at the couple. “This One will cause many in Israel to rise and fall, He’ll be spoken against and will reveal many heart-motives.”

He gazed into the mother’s eyes and lowered his eyebrows. “A sword will pierce your soul.”

A thin old woman approached the gathering. “Is that Him, Simeon?”

Simeon stepped up to her and slipped the child in her arms. “Yes, Anna. The Savior has arrived. Do you want to hold Him?”

Anna took a half-step back. “No, I might drop…”

She shook as Jesus was placed in her embrace. “He’s so perfect.”

Joseph chuckled. “Yes, He literally is.”

Her tear fell on His cheek. Jesus fussed, but never awoke.

“I’m sorry, my Lord. The last thing I want to do is make You upset.”

Anna gave Jesus back to Mary. Then she grabbed the sleeve of a man walking by. “He’s here! The Lord is here today. Salvation has come to us.”

The man glanced at Mary. “I’m sorry, we’re in a hurry. We have a store to run. We must make our sacrifices quickly.”

Anna did her best to introduce Jesus to as many as would believe her. Some approached the family. Others waved in their direction. Many tried their best to avoid the crazy old lady.

*****

Don’t you just love God all the more when He chooses to hold up two used-up old people in the Christmas story?

Neither Simeon nor Anna were born into the priestly tribe. Yet, both of them spent their time in the temple.

Simeon, we’re told, was filled with the Holy Spirit when that was out-of-the-ordinary. Anna was called a prophetess. I’d say they were upstanding citizens in God’s eyes.

God gave them the spotlight when they acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah in His infancy. That’s what made them so unusual.

The sad part of this is the fact that two centuries after this event it’s still out of the norm to acknowledge who Jesus is.

Even after Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, healed many diseases and raised people from the dead, most folks won’t believe what Anna insisted is true.

The most amazing feature of Jesus is the fact He raised himself from the dead. Yeah, let that soak into your psyche.

Sadly most people don’t think about that occurrence much, if at all. I guess that’s what separates those of us empowered by the Holy Spirit now and those who aren’t.

“So, if Jesus already came to earth as the Messiah is there anything left for us to look forward to?”

I’m glad you asked. Because the answer is a resounding “YES.”

We haven’t seen the last of Jesus on this earth. Not by a long-shot.

The first time Jesus came to us He came in humility as a baby to offer himself as the sacrifice we needed to bridge the gap created by sin. That gap is in our relationship with God.

If you want a personal relationship with the creator of the universe you must acknowledge your lack of ability to reach God on your own efforts. The perfectly holy God can’t commune with imperfect people.

That’s why God came down as one of us, Jesus. The man, Jesus, never sinned when He lived with us. That’s what made Him the only sacrifice acceptable to God to mediate between God and us.

For those of us who accept Jesus’ death as the substitutionary death we deserved to die, and believe His resurrection from the dead proves His power over our greatest enemy, we’re given an adoption into God’s personal family.

We can now take advantage of God’s Holy Spirit in us to help us overcome sin’s control over us. Our new life’s purpose is to become more like Jesus in everything we do.

You may also see some of us straining an ear to hear a trumpet blast. If you catch us glancing at the eastern sky its because we’re anticipating Jesus coming back to establish the kingdom He’ll rule on earth.

Before that happens many of us are yearning for Jesus to take us home suddenly so we’ll avoid the cataclysm that’ll occur before that time.

You see, Simeon and Anna aren’t the last people to look for Jesus to come to them. I’m looking, too.

I hope you join me in this effort.

Look me up when we get to heaven. Don’t worry about running out of time once we get there.

We’ll have all eternity to be introduced.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

A DELAYED BLESSING

Elizabeth set the ingredients out for her special unleavened bread. Zacharias would be home soon. She knew how much he loved her fresh bread. The 23rd Psalm hummed from her mouth.

A hand on each side startled her. Flour went everywhere, including her hair.

She spun around and found her husband smiling from ear-to-ear. She noticed a sack and a scroll on the table.

Zacharias stepped back, pointed at her then at himself. He folded his arms with his palms facing upward and rocked side-to-side. The smile in his eyes was one Elizabeth recognized from the past.

She slapped his arm. “You scared me to death, old man. What ‘s got into you? You’re usually talking non-stop about what happened at the temple while you were on duty. How old was that juice they served? I think it was beginning to work.”

He walked to the table and returned with a mandrake.

She smiled. “That’s what I like about being married to a priest. You guys get the first-fruits of everything. I was just in the market and I couldn’t find any of these.”

He raised the fruit to her mouth and winked.

Her teeth broke the surface and splashed juice down her chin. Her thoughts immediately returned to the years they ate these to try to conceive. A twinge of heart-ache broke her again.

His finger wiped the nectar from her chin before he took a bite. Once they finished that piece he dusted flour from her hair before he led her by the hand to the bed.

Elizabeth spent the next five months wondering why she ever envied other women who complained about morning-sickness.

****

After five months she couldn’t put off going to the market. Zac just couldn’t seem to be able to communicate what she needed.

Her women friends stared at her as she approached. A gust of wind blew her clothes against her belly. The news spread quicker than a wildfire.

****

A month later Elizabeth was preparing lunch when the door opened. She looked over her shoulder to see Zac tapping the scroll again and staring at the corner of the room.

“Aunt Elizabeth…”

The voice of Mary sent the fetus in her womb for a loop. Not a mere twitch of restlessness, either. No, this was sheer joy. Elizabeth spun around and faced her niece. She didn’t know where the sudden awareness came from, but her mouth spoke her heart.

“Who am I that the mother of my Lord should grace me with her presence? Blessed are you for believing the word spoken to you and blessed is He in your womb. My own child danced at the sound of your voice.”

Mary rushed to her and they shared a special embrace that would extend through the next three months.

****

I’m sure Elizabeth didn’t know the course her life would take. Who does? I’m sure she wouldn’t want to trade that moment of commonality with Mary for a dozen children.

The stigma she carried around like a plague her entire life vanished in that second. Those two women carried the two most anticipated boys in human history.

I’m confident she was convinced her time of usefulness was long gone. We can only guess how many times she cried herself to sleep when she imagined a crib in the corner of the room.

But then God stepped in and changed her whole experience. Her wait was over. Her son would go on to become the one who would prepare hearts for the Messiah.

What regrets are you carrying around on your shoulders? What breaks your heart whenever you think about it?

Give it to God. He stays awake all night already. He longs to carry that burden for you. But, you have to bring it to Him and set it at the foot of His throne.

Then, expect a surprise. He may not bring about the outcome you expect. It will likely be better.

I think Elizabeth was extremely content with her own pregnancy. Then, Mary comes along with the One who was greater than her own fetus.

The three months those two women shared had to be the most precious for each of them.

God has a way of breaking our limited anticipations in His time, especially when we have to wait for an answer.

I have a feeling Elizabeth mentored Mary in countless ways, while Mary advised Elizabeth in prenatal care from her experiences with her own mother carrying Mary’s younger siblings. These are merely a writer’s ponderings, but why wouldn’t God grant a double blessing this way?

I hope you’ve established a community of peers around you. Make sure they’re heading the same God-honoring direction you long to go. No friends are better than the wrong friends.

Make the effort to seek out others you hope to emulate and those you hope to guide.

If you’re younger look for someone who’ll guide you in your decisions. You’d be surprised how many elder women would love to share their experiences with someone. You’ll never know if you never ask.

Older women should seek out a promising younger woman to lead. Many would love to be coached in their life. You’ll never connect if you don’t get to know them.

These same principals apply to men as well.

You may be brushed aside by someone who’s too busy. Perhaps they’re in a stage of life where they don’t have extra time to help another out. Maybe they’re in the process of learning the priority of importance.

Do your best to keep enough margin in your life to be able to help others out. Not everything is about making money. Impacting people is more long-lasting. One-on-one seems to have the strongest impact.

The choice is yours. You can go through life concentrating on meeting your own desires and goals. Or, you can help others along their road of life.

It’s been my experience as a truck driver that the best people share the road.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

AN INITIAL DOUBT

Zacharias strained to see the lots as they were cast to see who would be chosen to present the incense offering in the temple. It was a long time since he’d been in the mix this far along. Others started chanting his name to try to get the lots to cast in his favor. He knew he’d influenced many in his years as a priest. Now he blushed.

The final cast brought a cheer and many slaps on the back to the elder statesman. Preparations commenced for the ceremonial offering. The rope attached to his ankle brought a chill up his spine. A stark reminder of the times he’d pulled others out from behind the heavy curtain that separated men from God.

The shaking in his hands stopped, surprisingly, when he walked behind the veil. The pounding in his chest remained. “Please don’t give out now.”

The many years of training others on this protocol brought about a smooth end to this sacred ritual.

One more look at the altar brought a thought to mind. “This has been a climax for my priestly life. The only thing that could have come close would have been holding my own son in my arms.”

The sudden appearance of an angel sent Zacharias to the floor. His foot came within an inch of touching the base of the altar. The rope pulled up next to him. His attention was fixed on the angel’s calm, yet commanding, voice.

“Don’t be afraid, Zacharias, God has heard your prayer. Elizabeth will conceive a son to you. You are to name him John. He will bring many back to God and prepare their hearts for the kingdom.”

Zacharias trembled as he stood. “But, we’re too old for children. How can I know this for sure?”

The angel’s eyes widened. “I am Gabriel. God, Himself, told me to give you this message. You shall be mute until John is born.”

Zacharias raised his hand to protest, but his voice was silent. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he fell to his knees alone.

He replayed the scene in his mind. He realized Gabriel was talking about a prophesied forerunner for the Messiah. A smile found his face as he recalled the angel’s last words, “…until John is born.”

“It’s not too late for me. John will still be born to fulfill his mission. My mission is to help conceive him. God isn’t through with me, yet.” The thoughts raised the old man to his feet and sent him out to face the crowd that awaited him. He couldn’t wait for his duty time at the temple to end so he could break the news to Elizabeth.

****

If you don’t find hope in Zacharias’ story go back and read it again.

We find a priest who was devout in his treatment of God, yet remained childless.

We aren’t told whether he’d ever been selected by lot to ever enter the Holy of Holies in the temple before this time. If not he must have been convinced God had forgotten him completely by now.

We have a man near the end of his life wondering if he still had anything to contribute. With no legacy of a son who would remember him or what he did?

Then, in a matter of minutes, God stepped in with the most remarkable set of events to make the most amazing announcement of all time.

This over-the-hill, down-and-out priest was going to be used to begin the advent of God coming to us in our form.

The four hundred year silence of God to His chosen people was officially ended by an angelic visit to a common priest.

If you know God as well as I do it doesn’t surprise you in the least to see Him use someone whose life looks the least likely to be used in the manner God chooses to use.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope and comfort. This shy kid who grew up on a small farm on the edge of nowhere may still be used for something great by our awesome God. He can use you, too.

This Webster’s definition of great may be quite different from God’s definition of great, for me and for you.

My writing and speaking may reach thousands for the kingdom. Then again, it may just reach one who will reach the thousands, perhaps millions, for God.

The results are up to God. The work is up to us.

Do the thing God has given you today. Do it to the best of your ability for His glory. If you don’t have time to finish it today work on it when you can until the job is complete on your end.

It may be a simple thing for you. Perhaps a phone call you keep putting off, or an email you need to send. God has plans for your efforts, but it won’t get accomplished until you do your part.

Zacharias’ call was to enjoy intercourse with his wife. That’s all God told him to do to accomplish His will for him. That simple act set off a course of events that changed the world.

You’ll never know the repercussions of your action until you complete it.

That action may take time to complete. My writing friends will attest to the fact a book takes a long time to finish. I have one I’ve been laboring on for over five years now. I’m nearing the end of edits before I send it off to a publisher to see if they’re interested in taking it the next step in its journey. Its a labor of love, but a hard chore at times.

Sometimes I have to squeeze time into my workday in a truck to work on it. Sometimes it sits for days without anything being done because of time constraints. I trust it’s all in God’s timing as I do my part.

Then, the results are up to God.

I’ll see you later.   Wade