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Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

Abram must have enjoyed a rather comfortable life in Ur of the Chaldees. The city enjoyed a sunny, warm climate. It touted a large, modern library, and houses in Ur came equipped with indoor plumbing. Not bad for an ancient city!

But one day God revealed Himself to Abram and commanded him to leave Ur and his relatives and go to an unspecified land (Gen. 12:1). He promised a great nation would arise from Abram. He promised further to exalt and bless Abram and make him a blessing. Those who blessed Abram would be blessed, but those who cursed him would be cursed. All families of the earth would be blessed through Abram (vv. 2, 3).

So how did Abram respond to God’s command and promises? Would he leave pagan worship and obey the living and true God? Would he leave the comforts of home to follow God into an unknown future? Would he value God over relatives and friends?

What would you do in similar circumstances?

Genesis 12:4 wraps the answers into one definitive statement: “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him” Abram took far more than a big step of faith; he took a giant leap of faith.

Today is February 29, an extra day in the calendar year because 2008 is a leap year.
This may be an excellent day for a leap of faith. What has God commanded us to do? How will we respond?

Abram didn’t own a GPS device. He did have even a road map. He certainly didn’t have tourist brochures about Canaan, the land God would later show him. But He did have
God’s command and promises. That was sufficient for him, and His commands and promises ought to be sufficient for us.

Ready! Set! Leap!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Down in the Dumps?

At our mid-week Bible study last night, attendees participated in a spirited discussion about feeling down in the dumps. It seems most Christians get discouraged, and some experience depression. Depression may require significant medical attention, but discouragement usually responds well to an attitude adjustment and a lifestyle adjustment.

Elijah needed both after defeating a host of false prophets in a showdown that would decide who was the true God—Jehovah or Baal. Because he defeated and destroyed the false prophets—Queen Jezebel’s darlings—he became a marked man. Jezebel threatened to end his life within 24 hours. He reacted by running for his life. He left Israel, journeyed south through Judah, and took refuge in the wilderness, where he felt so miserable that he asked God to take away his life.

Had Elijah lost his senses? If he had really wanted to end it all, he could have saved himself an exhausting trip through two countries and into the wilderness. If he had stayed put, Jezebel would have gladly fulfilled his wish. But we don’t usually think sensibly when we feel down in the dumps.

Here’s how God restored Elijah’s drooping spirit. First, He let him rest (1 Kings 19:5). Second, He gave him some food and water (v. 6). Rest and diet are important parts of emotional recovery. Third, God gave Elijah a new revelation of His power and abiding presence (vv. 9–13). No matter how threatening a situation seems, God is in control and near to us. Fourth, God gave Elijah new assignments (vv. 14–17). We may wipe out occasionally as we serve God, but He doesn’t wipe us off His list of servants. Finally, God helped Elijah recognize he was not alone in battle against evil (v.18). Nor are we alone in battling evil. A network of fellow believers is available to support us,

We should never live down in the dumps. They aren’t even a nice place to visit. So let’s abandon discouragement and reach for His encouragement!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

All Roads in the Bible Lead to Jesus

Jesus identified Himself to the apostle John on the island of Patmos as “Alpha And Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 1:8). You don’t have to be a theology professor to know the Bible from start to finish focuses on Jesus and presents Him as the Way by whom we enter into peaceful terms with God. From the introduction of sacrificial lambs in Genesis and Exodus to the glorified sacrificial Lamb featured in Revelation, Jesus is portrayed clearly as the Savior.

I read a bumper sticker on a car driven by a woman. “All Roads Lead to the Mall,” it announced. However, I wouldn’t bank on it. Someday, that female motorist may drive down a road that doesn’t lead to a mall. On the other hand, a Christian will never travel a road through Scripture that doesn’t lead to Christ.

Someone wrote about the Bible:

“Behold the Book whose leaves display
Jesus, the Truth, the Life, the Way.
Search it with diligence and prayer.
And you will find Him there.”

May your reading of the Bible today lead you to a better knowledge of Jesus and into a closer walk with Him.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Closing the Generation Gap

A couple of weeks ago I finished writing a VBS course for adults. Regular Baptist Press will offer it as part of its VBS ’09 curriculum. Tomorrow, I will begin writing Regular Baptist Press’s VBS ‘09 course for fifth and sixth graders. I will have to downshift for this younger generation, but I am eager to crank up the writing machine.

Our granddaughter Kayla is a fifth grader. I plan to bounce some ideas off her. Also, some fifth and sixth grade kids in the church I serve will be goods research sources. I will be asking them questions and examining their homework.

I may even watch “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” However, I’m not sure the questions presented on the show accurately reflect what most kids learn in fifth grade. One thing is certain: after writing the VBS course, I will NOT look into the camera and say, ”I am not smarter than a fifth grader.”

By writing this VBS course, I want to help kids understand the Bible and apply it to daily life. Please pray for me as I begin to close the generation gap tomorrow.