Payh Blog
Jan 14, 2021

What Can Man Do To Me?

“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” – Hebrews 13:6

Four times in the larger Christmas story messengers from God have one primary recommendation to their trembling audience: do not fear!

Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father; Mary, the mother of Jesus; Joseph, betrothed to Mary; and a group of poor shepherds all are told in no uncertain terms to not be afraid. Did they have reason to be afraid? Absolutely! The true reality of the spiritual world burst upon them in a manner not at all common to anything before in their life.

Zechariah is met by an Angel of the Lord suddenly standing right in front of him, beside the altar in the Holy of Holies where he was burning incense to God. This had never happened before in his life. The Angel delivered a message of which Zechariah’s unbelieving response caused him to be rendered mute until his son’s birth months later. All a huge shock to his psyche. This Angel had certainly gotten his focused attention and brought hours of thoughtful meditation to the rest of his life.

Young Mary, when all by herself one day, is suddenly greeted by the Angel Gabriel standing right before her. The text tells us Mary was frightened exactly how you would be; it tells you simply, she was “greatly troubled!” And on top of his mysterious appearance, he delivered an earth-shaking announcement to her, changing her life for eternity.! She was still a virgin who was abruptly told she would be impregnated by the Spirit of God. She would be with child without ever knowing a man. Mary would soon be the mother of her Lord. Consider such happening to you!

Joseph, when embarrassed and destroyed by Mary’s bombshell announcement of being pregnant by someone other than him, had a timely, dramatic dream. But it was no ordinary dream and Joseph knew it. This dream presented an Angel who drove fear into his very spirit. Yet, he was warned to not be afraid. And he obeyed the message he received taking Mary honorably as his wife; nor was he anymore afraid of what other people thought.

A group of shepherds sitting beside a campfire on a Bethlehem hillside, were transfixed with fear as an Angel of the Lord stood before them and the “glory of the Lord shone around them.” Whatever shocking experience that presented their eyes and emotions, it caused their bodies to shake with “great fear.” If they had been older, they would certainly have suffered heart attacks. And then the sky above them was filled, one horizon to the other, with a massive choir of angels singing in incredibly beautiful

voices, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” You cannot even imagine such a glorious sight and sound. Maybe they will do an encore for us in heaven.

You might deflect that you are not Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, or those shepherds; so how does this really apply to you? Your Bible, however, is replete with your Lord, Himself, addressing you personally with this declaration, “Do not fear!” He says in no uncertain terms, “Do not be afraid! I am with you! I will strengthen you, help you, and uphold you.” He says with finality, “I will save you!”

This wider Christmas story solidifies the promise of the Lord to your heart. When he says these words to you through His Holy Spirit do you still really fear? Yes, you do. You fear especially the unknown. What is my “ordained day?” What will tomorrow bring? Will I or my loved ones escape pain?

This is a time for trust. If you can trust anything at all, you can trust your God! Your good Shepherd is with you. If you cannot trust in Him, I truly fear for you. When Jesus says to eschew anxiety and let tomorrow take care of itself, you can rest in the solid truth that your present and future is in God’s sure hands!

“I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless, ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness. Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still if thou abide with me.”

(4th verse of Henry Francis Lyte’s hymn, “Abide With Me,” 1847)

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Jan 07, 2021

Three Gifts, Not Necessarily Three Kings

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold wisemen (Magi) from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” – Matthew 2:1-2

These wealthy eastern visitors eventually found Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a tiny Bethlehem house, rather than a stable. This was as much as a year after His birth. Herod’s order to kill two year old boys and below was to cover the ugly margins (Herod thought at least two years of age and younger would be more than adequate) based on the time the Magi told Herod they had seen the birth-notifying-star first rise.

These Magi from the east brought three different gifts; there is nothing in Scripture of how many Magi there were. I rather think, however, that the three meaningful gifts were one combined gift from all of them. The gifts were combined as one gift to signify the fact that this toddler, Jesus, was a King, a Prophet, and a Savior/Priest. Thus gold, frankincense, and myrrh: specific gifts signifying these three offices/functions of Jesus.

No matter how many Magi there were, they combined this gift into one from all of them, consistent with who they knew this babe would be: Jesus, the Word (Prophet); Jesus, the Savior/Mediator (Priest); and Jesus, the King of Kings. These gifts speak to who Jesus is and will be.

How were these gifts used practically? To pay the expenses to live as migrants in a foreign country, Egypt. And possibly even to help establish Joseph’s carpenter shop in Nazareth, after the Holy Family left Egypt to return to Palestine. In any case, there is absolutely no evidence these gifts made them wealthy. Rather, they most likely sustained their lives in exile. Yet Scripture tells us nothing about this.

What we do know is that the Providence of God was at work providing for and protecting His Son, so that He might accomplish His primary purpose: to save His people from their sins. These Magi possibly came from the line of those who Daniel, in Persian exile, had commissioned and discipled centuries before. God’s Providence is also at work perfectly bringing all His sons and daughters to glory.

Providence, we see in this visit of the Magi whose visit was prophesied centuries before, was manifested in the history Matthew provides. As these two Gospel authors record, Jewish shepherds and Gentile wisemen were the representatives of the whole world Jesus came to save; men, women, and children of every race, tribe, language, and nation. (Revelation 5:9-10) Amazing grace at work!

“As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold; as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright; so, most gracious God, may we evermore be led to thee.”

(1st verse of William Chatterton Dix’s carol, “As with Gladness Men of Old,” 1860)

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Dec 31, 2020


“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

New Year! What is really new about it? One second it is 2020, the next, 2021. What truly changed? The biggest change, perhaps, is remembering you now date your checks 2021, not 2020 anymore!

Some people do make some New Year resolutions; allegedly “new” changes in their lives, but they quickly forget them. Yet, thinking about genuine newness in life is still a thought process worth your time, especially as the Bible addresses newness when it says surprisingly in Ecclesiastes “there is nothing new under the sun!”

Is this true? Not quite. But this is not specifically what Ecclesiastes is referring to anyway. There truly are authentically “new” people in life who were not before, as babies are born anew into the world every day. The fact of this life pattern may be common place, but these are unique babies born each day who are new to the world. They have their own DNA, and their very own fingerprints; different from all others who have ever lived.

There is very much a “same old, same old” about life in general as we experience it. However, the Bible expresses a newness of life in Paul’s epistle to the church in Corinth. He speaks of people, who become, through Christ, “new creatures.”

Paul tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). While the physical universe largely remains to your perspective the same, there are “new people” who have truly been “reborn.”

So the two new things we are certain of are new people on the earth, and, among those people, “new creatures” in Christ. The future population of the new heavens and new earth is ever growing bigger as God calls more and more of His children to Himself.

Your mission is two fold: insure by His grace that you yourself are “in Christ,” before you ever take your last breath or, instead, Jesus returns; and, second, do everything in your own power to assist others to come to Christ, and be made new in Him.

Make these the supernatural products of your chief end: which is, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. You glorify Him most by resting in the joy of your being “in Christ,” and, consequently, by dying more and more to self, and living more and more to Him. Your sanctification increases when you earnestly seek others to bring to Jesus.

As you make this your primary purpose in life, Happy New Year as you eagerly anticipate the ever closer return of your King. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

“Bring near thy great salvation, thou Lamb for sinners slain; fill up the roll of thine elect, then take thy pow’r and reign: appear, Desire of nations, thine exiles long for home; show in the heav’ns thy promised sign; thou Prince and Savior, come.”

(4th verse of Henry Alford’s hymn, “Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand Thousand,” 1867)

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Dec 24, 2020

A Backwater Event?

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:7

The birth of Jesus snuck up on the world under a cover of obscurity. It was not celebrated by world celebrities or people of renown. They, as well as literally everyone else, were just oblivious of His birth.

This was not an event trumpeted to the world as the entrance of a King would normally be. The few primary subjects in the story, apart from the mysterious Magi who came months after, were from the lowest part of society. And it all took place, not in the world’s capitals or metropolis, but in the most obscure of villages, tiny Bethlehem of Judea, a true backwater place.

Mary, for sure, nor even Joseph, would even be in little Bethlehem for this birth, were it not for the all-powerful God of the universe sovereignly managing the affairs of men, orchestrating this birth in an animal stable; a depository for manure.

God directed by His providence the workings of a very disparate crowd of folk from the most powerful in the world, a prominent Caesar, to the most insignificant, poor peasant shepherds. Still forgotten prophets of ages past had foretold this unique birth repeatedly over centuries and even pinpointed the specific place in which it happened. (Micah 5:2)

Mary was forced to travel in the most vulnerable, dangerous, and inconvenient time of her life. And then, having given birth in extreme conditions, that is, of uncleanliness, cold temperatures, and lack of minimal newborn accessories, her baby entered the world facing brutal elements.

But how did some of the world come to know anything of His birth? Lowly shepherds! It is said they spread the word abroad after their visit to the baby’s side. Months later the Magi’s search drew the peculiar attention of soon-to-be baby-murderer, King Herod, and other notables in Jerusalem.

But it was the New Testament Word of God which years later spread the news to peoples of all tribes, races, and nations down through the centuries, until all hearers and readers of the Lukan account become aware of the details of this transcendent birth.

Not the way in which your own imagination would plan it, is it? The truth of Philippians 2 comes to the fore in this birth story. He emptied Himself! He took the form of a servant! He humbled Himself! All as the supreme example of those who love Him. If you imitate Him in anything, do so in these peculiar elements of His character.

Tomorrow you celebrate this event along with fellow believers of ages past and future, in homes of every economic level, from shack to mansion; this birth of One who was born to save His people from their sins.

Can you be diverted for a few moments from all the holiday trappings to focus your thoughts and your devoted worship of the Savior upon the manner and details of His birth? There is so much more than you realize on which to focus.

God the Father directed the nature of this birth in counsel with both His Son and Spirit, to be a birth just like this for a purpose. Consider this purpose in your own heart and soul. Meditate on it, imitate it; in the same manner you think about and live your life to the glory of God. He became a servant that you might follow in His footsteps. Become a true servant to those you are permitted to touch in your life. And love them as He loves you. Merry Christmas!

“May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea; him exalting, self-abasing, this is victory.”

(Verse 4 of Kate Wilkinson’s hymn, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior,” 1925)

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Dec 17, 2020

Matthew, Luke and Christmas

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19

The Four Gospels tell us about the life of Jesus Christ. The Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, parallel most of these stories of Jesus. But we encounter something unusual in reading Matthew 2 and Luke 2. Matthew has the only account of the Magi and the slaughter of the innocents, and the other unique history is Luke 2 of the Savior’s birth, breaking a Synoptic pattern.

For, as you know, Luke alone tells of Jesus’ birth, most likely from Mary’s eyewitness account to the physician-author. And Matthew tells the history of the Magi, possibly from Joseph’s eyewitness testimony. Without Luke and Matthew we might not know of the birth of Jesus and visit of the shepherds, nor the journey and gifts of the Magi. Except, God was never going to withhold this wondrous nativity story from His children or from the world.

By the exigency of the Spirit of God these glorious accounts come to light. The wonderful result is this: we have them to treasure and hide in our hearts! Neither Mark nor John were directed by the Spirit to write this, even if they knew it. But Luke was inspired by the Spirit of God to tell one and Matthew the other. And you and I have the great joy of knowing both.

Read again Luke 2 and Matthew 2. It is truly amazing these stories do not grow old. They are never boring. Even with an abundant familiarity, I constantly see something new. They never cease to leave me in awe. This reaffirms the truth that the Word of God is a living book continuously re-revealing the living Savior.

The permanency of these renowned nativity accounts of Jesus reconfirm the protection and preservation of God’s Word by His Spirit; over many centuries of time. 3500 years, to be exact, from the beginning of the encapsulation of the Old Testament; and 2000 years from the eternal inscribing of the New to present day. All to insure that the Gospel is revealed continuously to the world right alongside the dynamic Creation, which shouts the glory of God.

Down through the thousands of years of writing scroll by scroll, copy by copy, print by print, the Spirit hovered over this process, ensuring that the accuracy and existence of the written Word survived every attack by Satan to obliterate it. Instead the Bible has been translated into nearly every world language; which is now projected to be written in all 6500 plus languages by 2025.

These two remarkable accounts are the source of nativity scenes displayed every Advent Season all over the world. If not publicly, as in atheist or non-Christian tyrannical countries, then in countless homes of believers, even in those countries where it is forbidden. Atheism, nor any other-religion, is ever an impenetrable barrier to faith, as is proven over and over.

Most, if not all, know Jesus came into this world in a Bethlehem stable, witnessed by His mother Mary, Joseph, and shepherds; and wisemen came to worship Him in a home in Bethlehem, just as Luke and Matthew attest.

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem; come and behold him born the King of angels; O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

(1st verse of Latin Hymn, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” 1751)

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Dec 10, 2020

Creation and Conscience

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, for God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things which have been made. So they are without excuse.“ – Romans 1:19-20

“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” Romans 2:14-16

Christ! The name which creates the title of the unique day, Christmas; the nativity-focused 24 hours at the end of Advent Season; the day when the Word came in the flesh from Mary’s womb. The birth of Jesus Christ stands at the center of history. Within time there is only “Before Christ” (BC) and “In the year of our Lord” (Anno Domini-AD). This virgin birth divides the entire history of man. And why wouldn’t it?

When I witnessed for Christ on the beaches of Southern California in my college years, I heard from one sun-bather after another the notorious question of unbelieving-skeptics: if Jesus Christ must be believed and received for one to receive salvation what then of all those people in history who have never even heard His name?

This is the question of every person who questions the validity and exclusiveness of Jesus Christ. If they don’t even bother to question, they simply default to complete obliviousness of the matter. But unbelieving humanity has more than enough revelation to never be oblivious.

What of this claim? Are there millions, perhaps billions who can never be saved because they are cut off by their personal “circumstances” from the name and knowledge of Jesus Christ? Does such really render God revealed in Scripture a liar and unjust Judge?

If a court of “final resort” were to hear the case of God being charged with injustice, who would be the primary witnesses to testify in His defense? Based on Romans, chapters 1 and 2, Paul proposes chiefly two: creation and conscience.

He answers every person with the question of God’s alleged injustice in this epistle. He concludes that humanity is without excuse for not acknowledging God. They live, breathe, and see in a creation which declares His glory. And the souls of all have a conscience with the Law of God imprinted on it. Some of you may exclaim that such is unprovable, but the Creator says it is so. And in the final say, so do you!

The creation in which we live shows His nature and declares “I am!” Conscience is created by the Law of God being spread on every human heart. He says, to those who deny any knowledge of God’s written Law, that their own conscience is a law they innately know; a law they, nevertheless, break repeatedly. God will one day expose the willful workings of their hearts and minds to their own consternation. Self-damnation will be manifestly fulfilled.

Creation speaks to all Who its maker is. Conscience says He wrote His Law on their hearts in making them in His own image. They are, consequently, without excuse! At the Great White Throne Judgment the truth will unavoidably be known by them. Their mouths will be silenced in offering any mitigating defense, as the awareness dawns of having repeatedly turned away while falsely denying evidence of God and His truth.

Christmas itself, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, is universally known around the globe. Eyes dulled and consciences seared recount stubborn hearts and minds to look, consider, and believe what they see and hear, whether Christmas or other celebrations of the Messiah.

Man may not believe what is also stirring in the minds of his neighbors, because he has not the omniscience to read their thought processes and emotions. But God sees all men’s hearts, and He is always holy and just with them.

This Advent Season cast your eyes into the night sky and consider the amazingly glorious heavens; look around you at the equally beautiful planet on which you live and move. It reflects the glories of the One who was before it all came to be; the very One who made you! He is without any doubt a faithful God and Savior.

“What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing: haste, haste to bring him laude, the babe, the son of Mary.”

(1st verse of Traditional English carol adapted by William Dix, “What Child Is This,” 1865)

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Dec 03, 2020

God’s Care in Extremity

“For He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” – Hebrews 13:5-6

Lions tore their bodies to pieces in the Colosseum, persecutors tortured them unto death, believers died in fierce battles of war, some lying wounded alone for hours before their last breath, others drowned in horrific situations, some, the Bible records, were sawn in two, and yet others died in agony from disease, pestilence, or violence. Some died from virus while gasping to breathe. What can you say about the extremity of God’s children taking their final breath in fearful circumstances?

As we enter Advent in a year such as 2020 we are ever reminded there are extremities in this life which terrify the souls of those who suffer in agony. The virus is an ever present fear. How do believers reconcile these circumstances with verses promising He will never leave us nor forsake us?

We know believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have suffered even unto death such horrible extremity, producing an earnest beseeching of God that they might be allowed to die comfortably in their sleep.

Is this a quandary of faith? Does Jesus speak such promises knowing some of His followers live and die under horrible extremity? Many of us who call Jesus Lord and Savior hang on the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. What does Jesus’ presence promise? Escape from pain? Or, the promise of His going through the extremity with us.

One of the problems with our earthly sight is we perceive a greater distance between this life and the next. We do not consider the split-second between this life and heaven. Therefore, we struggle to see how Jesus never forsakes His own even for a second. We understand only the extremity of this life and not so much the immediate sequel. We are not focused on our next breath in heaven because it lies in the realm of faith; yet, nevertheless, is quite real.

As I write this my daughter is undergoing an eight hour surgery to remove cancer and other potentially cancerous organs, including plastic surgery reconstruction, all at once. Serious surgery, to say the least. This was preceded by months of extremely toxic chemotherapy, loss of hair, strength, health, and comfort. It is surely the experience of the valley of the shadow of death as expressed in Psalm 23.

But even if God were to take her life in this surgery, which now is not the case, can I still say He did not leave her nor forsake her, even if her surgery had resulted in her death? Yes, I most certainly can!

Jesus sees the continuity from earth to heaven as continuous existence for those who are “in him.” His promises bridge the chasm of life here and life there. We may succumb to the valley of the shadow of death in this life, but the shadow of that valley never overcomes the sunlight of heaven or of the new heavens and new earth. You awake immediately beyond the valley, no matter how extreme, to the painless, tearless joy of celebration; and the realization that He never did leave nor forsake you.

Some will definitely experience the agony of the cross here and they have, but these believers are immediately in the presence of the Lord who never departs their side. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” His promises are true and certain altogether.

I can say this, never having yet experienced heaven, that I would far rather trust in the continuous presence of the Lord, relying by faith on His spoken promises, than to fall into the ditch of extremity alone.

“Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes; shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies: heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee: in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

(5th verse of Henry Lyte’s hymn, “Abide with Me: Fast Falls the Eventide,” 1847)

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Nov 26, 2020

Peace With God Is the Reason for Thanksgiving

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Peace is a quandary, isn’t it? Do you have it? Do you not? You want it, but is it accessible? If I get it, can I keep it?

Peace in most minds is variously the absence of war; or it is the absence of psychological/emotional war within an individual soul. It is a contented harmony among family and friends. It is the opposite of frenetic life. It is calm in the midst of storm; it is a body that is not restless; the nerves, the brain are simply “at ease.”This is what many call “peace”; the dictionary definition.

But the Bible differs in what it labels “peace.” The Bible speaks essentially about what exists between God and His creatures. If you and God are at war there is really no peace anywhere! It is only false prophets crying, “Peace, peace” when there is no peace!

Peace comes about with God in one solitary way. According to all of Scripture His Son is the sole mediator between the Father and us. Jesus says emphatically, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Peace stems from this exclusive relationship experiencing healing. And peace lasts when it is genuinely this peace. Peace which is temporary is no peace at all.

Peace and thanksgiving are inextricably linked. Scripture claims peace produces a grateful heart. Peace in the heart results in a thankful person.

Authentic, full-fledged gratitude arises out of being at peace with your Maker. Peace with Him makes it possible to thank Him in the first order and then thank all others as a natural consequence of it. Peace with God transforms you into a truly thankful person in every area of your life. You cannot help but exude gratitude toward everyone and be grateful for everything when you have genuine peace with God as your foundation.

Today on Thanksgiving you ought to take time to insure you have peace with God. True gratitude rests in this loving relationship with Him. If it isn’t right you won’t be a thankful person. If it is right you cannot keep from an effusive thanksgiving to others, and especially to God.

Thanksgiving is not as much a one day American holiday on the last Thursday of November as it is the best description of your heart, because of the peace which is yours by Jesus Christ.

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”

(1st verse of Horatio Spafford’s hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul,” 1873)

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Nov 19, 2020

What is My Life?

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

You have, I am sure, sometimes wondered, “what is the meaning of it all?” Why am I here? Why am I? These are not valid questions for anyone who believes he or she has evolved mechanically from primordial soup in a distant past; coming into existence through an evolutionary process saturated with unbridgeable evidence gaps. None of this provides answers to your life’s significance or meaning.

Do you live only for this blip of time which is your life and then you are not; and “not” forever? One day you are and another day gone? Oh, well, “C’est la vie!”

But, if there truly is a God-Creator who is responsible not only for all life but for everything which is, then these questions have great validity. You ask, did God create? Did He create me? Or do your two parents explain you? And what explains your parents and so on and on? And was your birth truly minus God’s personal involvement?

If that is the case, can you really think you have any significance among billions of humans, hundreds of millions of years of time? Are you any more significant than a single grain of sand on a massive beach? Or, contrary to such meaninglessness, do Scripture passages like Psalm 8 and Psalm 139 speak with ultimate meaning in communicating exactly who and why you are?

Your mind is by nature curious. It seeks answers to your being; ultimate questions concerning life, your own eternity, and God. What can I really know about who I am? And, specifically, how should I live since I have been given this opportunity of breath?

Your personal identity, your meaning in life, your significance is based wholly in the God who is and who has with His own intimate knowledge made you. Your being, body and soul, were formed by God in the womb with only his eyes as witness. Every single day ordained for you was personally set by God in the loving counsel of His own will. He determined this with you on His mind. Dwelling on this wonderful and provocative truth has to penetrate and focus your thinking.

He alone knows you thoroughly. Nothing is hid from His eyes about you. With all of that, He still loves you and covers your sin under the blood of His Son. Through Jesus you confidently come into your Father’s presence and know His promises are made with you as the loved recipient.

Believing this, how should you live your life? Micah the Prophet is forthright in his instruction. He says: “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God!”

Simple, but is it even possible? It is if you put the character of Jesus on as the clothing of your own heart. This is done by knowing who your Lord is as presented in His Word and by imitating Him as His grace assists you. This is a discipline of determined purpose. The very reason you get out of bed each morning.

“All that I am I owe to thee; thy wisdom, Lord, has fashioned me. I give my Maker thankful praise, whose wondrous works my soul amaze.”

(1st verse from Psalm 139:14-24, 1912 version of The Psalter)

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Nov 12, 2020

No Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

I am a combat veteran who fought in a war America lost: Vietnam. I came home by the grace of God and am living 50 years later. Very fortunately for America, her veterans, celebrated yesterday, won both World wars, as well as a host of others.

There was never a danger we would ever be consigned to speaking Vietnamese, but speaking German or Japanese were real possibilities. Were it not for America’s exceptionalism in World War II, we may have.

I am an aficionado of World War II history. I wish many more Americans of all ages were. The history is neither dry nor dusty. Not only is it riveting, but it is transformative in the lessons which can be gleaned. I am thankful for all we have been given by these valiant warriors, some who died and others who survived, even into their hundreds; as well as veterans of all the wars in which America has been engaged.

We also learn by the history and experience of war that its very nature is barely controlled chaos. Mistakes are the name of the game, overcome not only by sheer numbers and war materiel, but ultimately the sacrifice, determination, and courage of a whole generation of Americans.

They poured out their life’s blood, persevering gallantly in service in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Europe, Germany and a host of Pacific Islands so that tyranny might be crushed. And for a time, it has.

Crosses and grave markers dot those fought-over foreign lands. Many of the vets who survived have made their way back to those hallowed cemeteries to kneel near their buddies’ resting places. For those who died and for those who served we still celebrate Veterans Day in America. Some citizens may not celebrate, for they have the freedom not to, all because millions served and some of those gave the last full measure of devotion.

Jesus spoke these descriptive words two millennia ago about folk in every age. His words were spoken not to a specific time or event, but to a compelling act of love which transcends the ages. Those words speak clearly to these life-preserving souls who over the centuries willingly gave of themselves for others, even to the point of laying down their life for their friends.

Martyrs have given their lives for the greatest Friend of all, as do those who serve Him lovingly as slaves (Romans 1:1). Nor will such be forgotten, as the last book in God’s Word declares they will come to life and reign with the Lord for whom they died.

Many lovers of their neighbors through the centuries have given their life that those friends might live. Only our Mighty God knows who each is and has recorded their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

None of them served or died in obscurity, for God knows who they are as do all those populating the Courts of Heaven. Their true significance and the memorial of their love lies in the omniscient mind and heart of our eternal God.

Jesus’ death on a cross at Calvary solidifies this act of love of those who faithfully serve and gave even to the point of death. Jesus Himself freely poured out His life blood that we might live; otherwise the service and sacrifices of these veterans and all other followers of the Lamb will have come to naught. He does not forget! I hope you didn’t either, yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

“Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store. Take my self and I will be ever, only, all for thee, ever, only, all for thee.”

(6th verse of Francis Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life, And Let It Be,” 1874)

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