WHAT IF THIS YEAR WAS YOUR LAST? (Part Two) …


Jeremiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the LORD.'” NASB

In the last devotional we began consideration of this thought and question. In our discussion, we noted that the Life of Jesus on Earth was abbreviated.  We took note of how the awareness of that brevity and our own mortality could and should inspire us. It should help us to remain focused on the objective and purpose for our lives.  Today it is our desire to progress further and consider another reality regarding the end of our days on earth as individuals.

THERE MUST BE A FULL AUDIT SOMEWHERE, SOME TIME.

I find that truth very prominent in the message of Jesus to those whom He spoke.  He spoke of a day of honor and award. He spoke of that day of final reporting and receiving a final report card when we stand before God.  I want you to consider several things.

Everybody will stand before God. It does not matter who you are or how much you have accomplished in this life everybody will die and everybody will stand before God.  God alone will determine the grade we receive for our life here on earth.  You cannot earn your way into heaven, but you can be slothful and disobedient and keep you out. 

The Bible informs us that all the hidden things will be revealed.  Those things you thought you had successfully hidden from everyone will be exposed before Him.  Every evasion, every defection from honor, every postponement and procrastination will be revealed.  Every quibbling with conviction, every hidden act of dishonesty, every theft, every misused influence will be revealed.  What we are will be revealed. We will all be seen and known as we truly are not what we pretend to be.  It is not what others think we are that will be revealed but what and who we really are.  Our hearts will be on display!  The question is, “Are we living in a manner that welcomes examination?”

WE MUST ALL COME TO TERMS WITH THE REALITY OF OUR BREVITY.

We are commissioned and empowered to make our lives count for something.  Each of us has an assignment or assignments and God never assigns something that He does not also equip and prepare us for.  We have a Mission and a Commission!

I have said to groups of men, “Men, you should always live as though this year and this day was the last you will have on earth.”  If we lived that way, we would be more committed to shaping our character and the character of our children in a godly manner. 

I talked to a businessman about caring for his family and he said, “I have over a million dollars in insurance.”  I allowed him to speak of his financial provisions for his family and the said, “Sir, you have plenty of insurance, but have you given then plenty of assurance?”  Our children are our legacy and we need to leave them a heritage of godliness and train them in the right way so that they can train their offspring rightly.  We cannot leave it to the government, the teachers, the Sunday School teachers, the pastors, or anyone else, we have a responsibility.

I suggest that because this year might be our last, we should “Look Back.”  No, I am not suggesting that we put our hand to the spiritual plow and look back at the old way longingly, but reflectively.  The past is the past and we cannot change it.  The spilled milk cannot be put back in the bottle and the water that has run under the bridge cannot be reclaimed.  But we must never forget that we can utilize every experience to make us better rather than bitter and learn from our experiences, successes, and failures.

I remember a story I was told years ago that resonated powerfully with me.  In the early days of settling the West in America, there was an old immigrant farmer that gave shelter to a man and his nephew who were passing through.  During the night the uncle and nephew had a sharp disagreement.  The nephew packed up and returned to his former home. 

The next day the old man who had given them shelter went to the police and reported that the nephew had killed the uncle and take his money belt that contained thousands of dollars.  The nephew as caught and convicted.  The immigrant farmer sold his land and move to another state.  After 30 years the old farmer returned to the town and confessed that the nephew was innocent and that he had killed the uncle and taken the money.  The burden of guilt had become more than he could bear.  He confessed before the police and judge and died in jail a few days later.

Some are struggling under the heavy load of the baggage of things that should have been confessed long ago and restitution made.  For some, the two-minute warning has sounded and the sand in the hourglass almost emptied to the bottom.  You need to Look Back!

Those things we intended to straighten our need to be addressed.  What a blessed event is the homegoing of one who is prepared!  Blessed is the man or woman that can look back over their lives and say as did Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 – “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 

Sadly, some are not ready, and their yesterdays, continually return to torment them with unsettled hearts.  Now is the time!  Today is the day of salvation!  Jesus is waiting to welcome each of us when we come to Him!  If you knew that this year was your last what would you do about your relationship with God?

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

WHAT IF THIS YEAR WAS YOUR LAST?


Jeremiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the LORD.'” NASB

The sand-fly is born at daylight and dies at dark and that is a long life for that little bug.  Man lives 70, 80, 90 or more years and they are too short for a creature made in the image of God.  Life, as Job declared, “is of few days and filled with difficulty.”  That is an understatement!

I am told that the average person spends their lifetime learning one art, one trade or profession.  Everything else is postponed.  Occasionally there will arise a Leonardo da Vinci or a Michelangelo who masters architecture, sculpture, painting, music, civil engineering, all in one lifetime, but those are rare. 

In the world of literature Samuel Taylor Coleridge was unique and at his death left 100 manuscripts carefully outlined and with big promise but not one of them complete.  Lord Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, was a leader in his generation in philanthropy. He worked for coal miners, chimney sweeps, orphans, and castaways.  Yet, at the time of his death, he lamented that he had only begun his work and reforms.

There is much to do and so little time to do it.  The goal or objective is to do something that abides, something that outlives us!  We can visit the museums and find bird tracks fixed in the sandstone artifacts.  They left an impression that is lasting.  We can visit the old Warwick Castle in England and find dented helmets, broken shields, nicked swords, all used by King Alfred’s men.  These remain though the men that used them have long since returned to dust.

We can go into the Egyptian room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and find mummies that are yellow and dry.  They would crumble at the touch of a finger and beside them are seeds of wheat that ripened over 3,000 years ago.  Wherever you go and whatever you see brings to light to the reality that man, at his best, is temporary in his existence on earth.  Therefore, I suggest that we consider our mortality and ask ourselves the question, “What if this year was my last, what will my legacy be?”

THE LIFE OF JESUS ON EARTH WAS ABBREVIATED.

I see evidence in the Bible that the consciousness of that reality inspired and motivated Jesus to work as no other had.  Every day was under the pressure expressed in John 9:4, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” 

Jesus kept no office hours, nor did he limit Himself to a 40-hour workweek.  While others slept, He prepared for the next day often spending entire nights in prayer!  He knew that to fulfill His mission and purpose He must be about His Father’s business and finish the work to redeem us.  He had a short time to achieve His purpose and never lost sight of the objective.  Thank God!

If we live with an awareness of the brevity of time on earth, I believe it will make every day and every moment more precious.  I realize that some might find that morbid but if we do not view this life as the end but preparation for eternity, we can view our brevity with a view of victory, not morbidity.  I have learned that remembering that my time is limited enables me to prioritize without remorse and become a better manager or redeemer of time.  It prevents me from drifting aimlessly and living a helter-skelter life.

Can you envision anyone walking up to an airline ticket counter and telling the person behind the desk that they wanted a ticket and when they asked, ‘where to’ that person responded with “Oh, it doesn’t matter any city will do?”  Sadly, multiplied thousands if not millions live that way.  They drift from beach to casino, jetting from Broadway to Paris, or drift from party to party.  Their biggest problem in life is how to kill time.

It is purpose that turns a mob into a regiment.  It is thought and motive that organizes sound into a song.  It is a blueprint that makes a pile of bricks a building.  I do not want to reach the end of my life and stand before God trying to explain why I drifted aimlessly through life without direction and purpose.  Life is too short to allow it to be unorganized and aimless.  You have a mission, a commission, a purpose, and God has given the power to fulfill your dreams. 

I want to address this a bit more so we will pause and pick this up in the next devotional.  Until then, may the LORD watch over you and keep you as you go through your day in Him. 

Have a fantastic day!

THANKSGIVING IS FOR THANKS GIVING.


Long before Halloween had come in the Fall

Christmas decorations filled every mall.

We no longer celebrate one Holiday at a time

And to me, that seems like a moral crime.

The commercial side seems to overrule

And we the citizens are expected to play the fool.

No one seems to care anymore at all

That Thanksgiving is also in the Fall.

I plea to all who enjoy Life and Living

To remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

It Is for the bountiful life and gift of love

Sent to us from God above!

But Thanksgiving seems to be a thing long forgotten

In a land where we are all spoiled rotten.

We take for granted our very lives

Not to mention, parents, children, husbands, and wives.

Therefore, I plea to all who enjoy Life and Living

Remember, Thanksgiving is for Thanks Giving!

© Roy Beaird – 1995

A SANCTIFIED TONGUE…


Proverbs 10:11 – “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”  NASB

We are all aware of the biblical admonitions about taming the tongue and the dangers and damage done by an unruly tongue.  We know, from the Bible and life that an uncontrolled tongue can do incredible damage and harm.  It brings defeat because of its negativity.  It robs of spiritual blessing because of its fruit.  It is a deterrent to biblical faith.  The tongue, though small, is incredibly powerful in what it can accomplish and is compared to the rudder of a ship determining its direction.

I suggest there are two types of tongues worthy of our consideration.  The Unruly Tongue (Evil and Sinful).  The Tamed Tongue (Sanctified). We won’t deal exhaustively or extensively with these but use them as a catalyst to help us gain an understanding of how to have a Sanctified Tongue.

THE WORDS WE SPEAK AFFECT OUR FAITH.

There is power in words.  Some have pressed that beyond reasonable limits but to ignore or deny the power of words would be foolish.  There are two types of words that have a definitive impact on our faith.  Negative Words that fuel the carnal are those filled with fear, doubt, confusion, gossip, and harshness.  Positive words that inspire faith include words of praise toward God, reflection on heaven, victorious, and quotations of the Bible.

If the words coming out of our mouths are negative, they indicate and feed a diminished faith and strengthen the carnal man in his rejection of God and biblical principles and precepts.  If we speak positive words, they strengthen our confidence and trust in God and express the condition of the heart that is Trusting, Hopeful, and Surrendered to the Almighty Creator of all Things – Jehovah God!

THE WORDS WE SPEAK ARE A PRODUCT OF OUR THINKING.

We find in Luke 6:45, a clear explanation of that truth, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”  The heart is the mainspring of the soul and we find in Proverbs 23:7 – “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

We say words and take actions that grow out of our thoughts.  Proverbs 4:23 informs us and encourages us to, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”   Jesus said in Matthew 15:11 – “Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”   Therefore, we understand that what we think about and how we think is expressed in our words.

OUR WORDS HAVE POWER.

I am reminded of the words of Job in his response to his ‘friends’ who were demonstrating that they were, in truth, ‘physicians of no value.’  In Job 6:25, “How forceful are right words!” 

The powerful declaration of our LORD in Mark 11:22-24 instructs us of the power of our words and thoughts. He said, “Have faith in God. 23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. 24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.”

Spiritual Words inspire faith and encourage as is seen in Ephesians 5:19 and spiritual thinking inspires spiritual and faith-filled words as reflected in Philippians 4:8. Words, believed, founded upon the Word of God, produce right action and help us progress in Him.

It is important that we cultivate our thoughts and direct them toward spiritual things in God and let our words be words of victory rooted in the Promises of God.  Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:13, “Hold fast the form of sound words.”  Refuse to be negative!  Jesus is the answer and He is our Hope.  The Promises of God are sure, and He never fails to keep His word.

A Sanctified Tongue wins souls and leads people to Christ.  A Sanctified Tongue makes peace (Proverbs 15:1). A Sanctified Tongue inspires faith, comforts, and encourages.  True Christlikeness is manifested in our words as well as in our walk.  Therefore, my prayer is, “LORD help me to develop a Sanctified Tongue.”

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN GOD’S PRESENCE – (Conclusion).


Text:  Psalm 15 & Psalm 24

The matter of ‘Permanent Residence in God’s Presence’ has been our focus for several devotionals.  I want to talk about ABIDING in His Presence using some illustrations and examples today.

In Leviticus 26:11-12, we read, “Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. 12 ‘I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”  We see the idea of God dwelling with us in 2 Corinthians 6:16 – “…I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 

God not only wants to be our Savior, Healer, Baptizer, Deliverer, and Provider, and soon coming King, He also wants to have Continuous Fellowship and an Abiding Relationship with us.  He desires to dwell in us, walk among us, and commune with us daily and continuously!

I heard about a minister whose mother, a widow of several years, called and said, “Son, I’m getting married and we want to come to visit on our honeymoon.”  Preparation was made for her visit and the excitement was high.  At the same time, his daughter, who was away at college called and said, “Dad, I have some problems and I want to come home and work them out.”  He welcomed her too.

During the time together, they visited some points of interest and shared their love for one another.  The visit was a blessing to everyone.  The mother said, “It’s time for us to leave, but we will always remember this visit and would like to visit again and again.”  His daughter said, “I want to move in and stay.” 

One wanted to visit from time to time and the other wants to move in permanently.  I don’t want occasional glimpses of God’s Glory, I want to establish Permanent Residence in His Presence. 

God gives us brief touches and tastes of His Glory to prepare us for this abiding relationship.  Until we have a foretaste, we will never develop a taste for it.  Israel’s journey in the wilderness is an example.  It was only after numerous critical events and experiences where they witnessed God’s supernatural interventions based solely on God’s Grace, not their faith or piousness, that they wanted more.  It was then that God’s voice came from Mount Sinai: “Welcome home children, I am the LORD who brought you out and I want to have fellowship with you, a continual abiding relationship.”  (My paraphrase).

Every crisis experience and every encounter has been bringing us to the place where we can have that ABIDING Relationship and Fellowship with God!  Think back to the Levitical System. The only way out of your sin was to take one of our own animals and bring it to the priest.  We would then place our hands on the animal’s head and confess our sins before the priest.  We would then watch him slit the jugular vein on the animal so that the life could spurt out before our eyes and flow into a basin to be sprinkled upon us and poured on the altar.  We would watch the death that was rightfully ours and that life that belonged to that animal was sprinkled on us.  It was traumatic and an incredibly visual illustration!

This was not as easy as praying some token prayer, writing a check for a contribution, or joining the church.  No, No!  We were involved.  What they did had to be done continuously until Jesus came.  Now, we have a continuous experience in Jesus, and we need decisive experiences and brief flashes of heaven to inspire us.  Until we have seen and tasted it, we will not seek it or Him!

God does not want us to live in memories of past experiences.  He does not want us to have done something in our lives in the past.  He wants to be doing something right now!  I must ask, “Can we afford to be satisfied and content with ascending from time to time and then reverting back to like we were before we experienced His presence?”  David’s contention was, NO!  His desire and mine are to go beyond occasionally ascending into His Presence to abiding there.  My cry is, “LORD, I want to ABIDE in Your tabernacle and presence.”

God bless you as you enjoy this day and press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God! 

Have a Great Day!

PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN GOD’S PRESENCE – (Part Three)


Text:  Psalm 15 & Psalm 24

Who can ascend into the Hill or Presence of the LORD?  The clear answer is the one who has applied God’s means of Grace and has met Him at the altar and laver.  The one that has committed their lives to Him completely.  That one is ready for a taste of God’s Glory and Presence.

I am Hungry!  I am Thirsty!  I want more than momentary flashes of God’s Glory and Presence, I want His fullness in my life!  David expressed it beautifully in Psalms 42:1-2 – “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?”  Jesus echoed it in Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

There must be a cry of release from the heart and the development of a longing for God that only God can fill.  That is a release and relief that can only be found in the Presence of the saving, healing, filling, delivering, baptizing, living, and loving LORD! Sadly, too often we come momentarily into His Presence and then drift away.  But that momentary ascension creates something inside that revolutionizes our lives.  We are no longer satisfied with the ‘status quo’, we want more of God!  That flash of His Glory and Presence and never be forgotten and the yearning never dies.  We either crave more of Him or we run from Him!

Tragically, we sometimes ascend into His Presence and then after a time, we drift back into what is perceived as normalcy.  Remember the disciples who were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and the Presence of God?  Then they came down to the demonic son they could not relieve of his oppression.  Jesus could, but they had drifted from His Presence. 

It’s like a roller coaster.  We are effortless lifted into His Presence by the Holy Spirit and come into places of spiritual splendor that are beyond our imagination.  Places we have never been before, but then we begin our downward descent back to what we deem to be normalcy.  We will repeat the cycle over and over unless we learn to press in or reject Him completely.  I pray that the latter never be a part of your mindset.

MANY HAVE ASKED: “Is This All That God Has for Us?”

Is it God’s ultimate plan and desire for us to come into His Presence for momentary flashes of His Glory then topple back to a norm far below?  I say NO!  Ten Thousand Times No!  God desires and has made available an intimate and abiding relationship and fellowship with Him.  We can have the Atmosphere of Heaven and the Culture of the Kingdom in our lives NOW!

God desires to walk and talk with us as He did with Adam.  He wants us to walk in His presence daily, as did Enoch.  He wants to communicate with us as He did with Moses.  He wants to abide with us as He did with Abraham. 

God wants us to learn to ASCEND out of ourselves and into Him.  Over 160 times the Bible declares that we are IN CHRIST.  Not simply touched by Him, stood before Him, seen Him, experienced Him, or encountered Him but IN HIM!

I want to speak to this one more time and will pause here and address ABIDING in Him in the next devotional.  My prayer is that the LORD will bless your walk and make your day a prosperous and profitable day.

God bless you as you enjoy this day in Jesus!

PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN GOD’S PRESENCE – (Part Two)…


Text:  Psalm 15 & Psalm 24

We mentioned in the last devotional my personal quest and desire for more of God and my desire to have permanent residence in His presence in the here and now.  Is that unreasonable?  Is that biblical?  Is that something that can be seen in the biblical reference?  If the answers to those questions are yes, then I want it.

It is my convicting that God cannot be boxed up or boxed in.  He is God!  He is Sovereign!  He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent!  People from all walks of life have come into His Presence.  Some were seekers as David, and others were contenders with God as Jacob.  Yet, each of them was allowed to ‘stand’, although sometimes briefly, in the Presence of God.  Therefore, entering His Presence is a reality that is verifiable biblically.

The Psalmist saw the problem and expressed it with a cry from his soul. Entering the presence of God was his passion and pursuit. He asked: “Who shall ASCEND into the hill of the LORD?”  The answer: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully.”  Therefore, we see that it requires some actions and attitudes on our part.  We must be clean in our actions, motives, attitudes, and there must be an inward cleansing through His Grace.

Those appear to be minimum qualifications for a person in a crisis situation to enter into God’s Presence.  That person is a candidate to enter into the Presence of the LORD and experience His Glory!  That means it is possible!

I believe it is valuable to our consideration to consider a Jewish Ritual something every Jew would have understood.  In David’s day the priest had to be cleansed by blood at the Brazen Altar and by water at the laver before he could enter the Holy Place.  This is a type of both inward and outward cleansing.  The inner cleansing is represented by the blood and was cleansing of the guilt of sin.  The outer cleaning was represented by the water for cleansing from their walk and service.  He had to be cleansed inwardly and outwardly before he could enter the Holy Place for a veiled encounter with Jehovah God.

Hebrews 10:22 – “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” 

This speaks to us today.  What they did was a picture of Grace at work.  The blood was sprinkled for them and the washing of water was done by them.  Grace!  In Ephesians 2:8-9 we read,” For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” 

God’s grace sought us, bought us, and brought us to His Cross were we the defiant, degenerate, and defiled could be cleansed.  In 1 Timothy 1:14 we are told, “and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”  In verse 16 of that chapter, Paul tells of his own experience and God’s infinite grace.

It is well to remember that Saul of Tarsus was a religious zealot bent on destroying this new move of God.  But Grace arrested him, and he saw the light and was totally transformed by Grace!  When Grace comes and we receive it we become candidates for an encounter with God.  We are ready to ASCEND into His Presence. 

Therefore, Grace must not only be seen but applied!  God cannot and will not have communion and fellowship with the defiled saint, but He can and will cleanse the defiled. That brings us to the obvious question: “Who Can Ascend?”  I will pause and attempt to give a limited answer to that question in the next devotional. 

Until then may the Grace of God guard you, guide you, and keep you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!