The Day Before

Only a few today will be able to recount where they were and what they were doing the day of President Kennedy’s assassination. A later generation will recall the day of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Even more will vividly remember the day of the Murrah Building bombing and most recent, the moment terrorists shook America’s foundation of safety, destroying the World Trade Centers.
However, do you remember what you were doing the day before? 
Odd question, I know. Most certainly, it is not the common question. Some, I am sure, have a particular personal event cementing the day before in their minds. For most, however, it was business as usual—going to work, getting the kids to school, planning parties, attending meetings, etc.
Have you noticed that it seems only when disasters occur we automatically shift into another frame of mind? We become more aware of our surroundings, more compassionate with our neighbor, perhaps even more self-disciplined. Disasters cause us to re-establish our priorities, reminding us of our mortality and of how fallible and temporary we are. It usually lasts only as long as the media broadcasts the chaos. Then it is “business as usual” all over again. Alas, the change was only temporary.
Time, experience, and education can prepare us somewhat for our readiness and reaction to the unexpected, but what of our attentiveness and reaction to expected events? The answer to that question depends solely upon one’s belief, perception, and understanding of the anticipated event. 
How one believes determines how one responds!
Before the Great Flood, people bustled about, eating and drinking, going to work, walking the saber-tooth, catching a great pantomime, listening to “rock” music, and texting on stone tablets. They had no idea of what was coming or of what was to come. Noah tried to warn them, but they perceived him as foolish, turning their backs to the ark. The clouds came, the thunder clapped, and the Lord shut the door to the ark. Noah’s family was safe, but not so for those outside of the ark caught up in the ways of the world.
In Luke 17, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the coming kingdom of God foretold by the prophets. Jesus told them,
“Behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:21).
As usual, the Pharisees missed it. He was telling them they did not need to look for any future signs; the kingdom of God was already there, standing close enough to touch. So close and yet so far.
Jesus then turned to His disciples, who were still struggling to understand this "present kingdom” and had questions about the future. He encouraged them, however, not to chase after those claiming to “look here” or “look there.” He then proceeded in their interest telling them, 
“And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26–27).
The kingdom of God remains in our midst through the Holy Spirit. 
“And He will guide you into all truth … and He will show you things to come” (John 16:13.)
 Just as Noah and his family entered the ark by faith, we too enter The Kingdom by faith. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Those who are not born again cannot see the kingdom of God.

Our present days are indeed like the days of Noah. Let us not grow complacent in our activities. We must be about our Father’s business.
“Straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
Often, change is only temporary. Allow God to use every resource available in preparing you to remain dedicated and determined in making the necessary changes and preparations for you or your family. Utilize disaster as a means to strengthen you, forever increasing your faith.
Today is the “day before” whatever happens tomorrow.  The blessing of the “day before” is that it offers an opportunity to prepare for tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of decision.
Jesus is the Ark of our salvation, and all who enter will be saved. The Son of God is returning soon. Are you on board?
Eternal Father, we thank you for Jesus, who is our salvation and for the Holy Spirit—Your kingdom come to earth. May Your will be done in our hearts today, Lord, as You establish Your kingdom of righteousness within us. May we continually be on guard, praying at all times for strength to endure the days, while living in faith-filled expectation of our coming King. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Give Me Some Skin!

I have learned that if you listen very carefully, you can hear God speaking through the lips of your little ones. There have been numerous times when the words of my young children brought conviction upon me as I hustled through the daily routines of the busy parent. God’s Word tells us we are to have the faith of a child. I think that as adults we can learn much from our children if indeed we really listen.

One stormy evening many years ago, we were putting the children to bed. Our boys shared a room and went on to bed without incident. Our three-year- old daughter, however, was another story. She was already planning her strategy to sleep with us.

She was not exactly pleasant bed company, as she usually ended up sleeping crosswise with her feet in someone’s face. I steered her back to her room and placed her back into her own bed. We visited for a few minutes and said another prayer. Before I left, I tried to reassure her of her safety, with all of her teddy bears tucked in tightly around her, and then reminded her that Jesus was always with her too.

Pining for the inevitable last word, she looked up at me from beneath her blankets and with the saddest of eyes said,
 “But I need somebody with skin on!”

So as she climbed into our bed (yes, she won that one), I lay there beside her and thought about the depth of the words she had just spoken. I realized that too many times in ministering to others we attempt to offer a quick fix with words of consolation and promises of God’s presence.

There is a popular phrase among church leaders stating, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I have found this to be profoundly true. There are times when someone needs more than brief consolation; they need you!

And isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do?

Second Corinthians 1:34 declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, that we may be able to comfort those which are in any affliction, by the [same] comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God.”

God does not comfort us just to make us comfortable but to make us comforters!

I question the sometimes-flippant use of the adage “misery loves company.” It can be inclined to suggest the notion that misery prefers like or similar company. If that is true, then misery will always be miserable. What misery really wants is help! It wants understanding, compassion, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and acceptance. It wants to be heard, and many times, it just wants to be held!

God is calling us to put into practice with others what He has done for us. Recognize that sometimes people need more than just a pat on the back; they need true, heartfelt comfort, full of mercy and compassion. It is the beauty of the family of God living out the kingdom of God.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the times You speak to us through our little ones. Give us ears to hear and hearts to receive. Help us to comfort others with the same comfort by which we have been comforted. Teach us to be sensitive and compassionate. Teach us to be Jesus with skin on! In His precious name, amen.

Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth

Have you ever noticed that when we mess up, it is a temporary lapse of judgment, but if someone else messes up, he or she will be immediately declared a hypocrite and unfit for the kingdom?  I once heard a comment by a pastor saying, “We cannot measure Christianity by the conduct of Christians; but rather by the character of Christ!”