Category Archives: Meditations

A Picture of Strength 

In my recent post Grace Overflowing we looked at some ways to evaluate where our identity stands. In this post I would like to consider a connection I saw this morning in Acts 3. 

I quoted from the first pastoral letter to Timothy where it says, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service” – 1 Timothy 1:12. As I make my way through the Bible this year I noticed in Acts 3 this beautiful picture of what it looks like for strength to be given. Here’s the text then one observation.  The whole chapter could be quoted here but we will narrow it to see our focus:

6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. – Acts 3:6-8 

This lame beggar is a picture of our life before encountering Christ. This man had no strength in his legs. He could not walk…from birth I might add. The strength Paul gave thanks for in serving the Lord is made visible in this lame beggar. 

Let us see ourselves in this picture of strength given. Let us leap for joy and praise God that he has given us strength in Christ…in the gospel. See his glory and rejoice. 


Thinking About The Speeches of Job

This is an excerpt from my introduction to the Elihu speeches. I have been wrestling with this text for weeks. Here are some things I think I have learned.

I have been thinking and praying each week trying to figure out what these texts mean. As I pondered over the big picture yesterday, I thought again how hard the speeches were to understand. Much of the difficulty comes from the fact that the speeches were written in Hebrew poetry, but not completely. The other main reason for struggle is that people are complicated, especially when we are hurting. Job’s pain and suffering cause confusion because these things cloud his mind with darkness. He oscillates between hope and despair. We can’t remember our own discourse with people much less all that they say. Our memories fail us no matter how young and smart we may think we are. We begin our argument and find that we lack adequate resources to debate so many words. From chapter 3 to the end of 32 we have about 12,000 words exchanged. The human element is obvious. It’s not a matter of whether the writer of Job can write for us words that are comprehensible. Rather, he seems to let stand the difficulties of conversations among men. I say all of this because I want to understand what Job says. I want to understand so that I can make clear to you what Job is saying. It’s hard to apply God’s word if we don’t know what it’s saying. Yet, I think that is a point in Job (the difficulty of the speeches). Understanding this helps me. I hope it helps you. I asked this question of the text because I realized the YHWH speeches are not so hard to understand. They are written in Hebrew poetry too. So, I conclude that God is far more clear than man. And we are to see a contrast between the speeches of men and the speeches of God. I’m looking forward to walking through those next week!

Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” May this be so of us!


Here Comes Santa Claus

A Guest Post from my daughter Lydia Snider:

The radio was on and we were cleaning up the house. We turned it to a Christmas station and the song Here Comes Santa Claus was just coming on. We worked and listened and when it came to the part where it says, “Peace on earth will come to all if we just follow the light, so lets give thanks to the Lord above that Santa Claus comes tonight.” We started laughing at the way they had mixed Santa Claus and God; two things that really don’t go together.

But the mixture of these two things didn’t start in the last verse. In the very first verse, in the same line, we hear, “Hang your stockings and say your prayers cause Santa Claus comes tonight!” After listening to the song, you begin to wonder if kids are going to pray to God or Santa (the latter most likely). The Santa Claus story is almost more appealing for kids, isn’t it? Santa brings presents every year, presents that, by the time next Christmas rolls around, have long since been forgotten. Santa will love me whether I’m rich or poor (verse 3). And I don’t mean to say that gifts aren’t good and memorable, they are! But let’s talk about a better gift.

God sent us a gift greater than any Santa could bring: He sent His Son as a baby to be born in a lonely manger in a little town called Bethlehem. It’s sad that such a great God could even be compared to Santa Claus. God sent a gift that would never grow old or be forgotten, a gift that is there for us every morning (not just Christmas morning).

And so to finish, lets remember: 1) Giving gifts is a great thing to do. 2) It’s not loving or kind to say that Santa is coming because he has never come, he’s not coming this year, and he never will come. 3) The story of Saint Nicholas is a wonderful story. He was a person who cared more about others than himself. The way the world has taken this story and turned it into a lie is sad. 4) “Let’s give thanks to the Lord above because he sent his Son to us!”

Merry Christmas ~Lydia


A Malignant Melody

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out
Who’s naughty or nice (Sinatra sings “naughty AND nice” to increase the vagueness?)
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

This song is always in the mix of Christmas songs that we hear this time of the year. Many of them, even this one, I don’t run to the radio or CD player or whatever media from which it comes and turn it off. I see it as a teachable moment. Guarding my kids (and myself) from such things is not the answer. Nor is the answer letting them figure it out on their own. Assuming this has no effect on us is dangerous.

So, what is so malignant about this melody? You have to admit it’s catchy. Fun. Helpful to parents that cannot otherwise get their children to obey them any other time of the year. Who knows what shopping would be like if the parents could not remind the kids about the premise of this song– “You’re not getting anything if you are naughty.” So, is Christmas about giving a gift or a wage? Are we to earn a gift? No. And that is why this melody is malignant (among other things).

I’m assuming the first three lines of the song are phrases used by Santa Claus (and parents) to remind them to straighten up because Santa Claus is coming. I don’t like the equating of crying and pouting. They are not the same. As a parent, crying is allowed and encouraged. There is nothing wrong with crying. It’s needed and good oftentimes. Pouting is different. Pouting is trying to persuade where crying is a response to pain of some sort. Pouting is fake; crying is not.

I don’t think I have to persuade any readers of this post that Santa Claus is not coming. However, the close similarities of what we Christians often talk about is the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again. If you hold off until He comes to “straighten up” it is too late. It is absurd that Santa or Jesus are okay with kids being “nice” only in the month of December (or at least the day before Christmas for the unruly kids). How much is enough to earn the gift? Is a gift leverage? Are the days leading up to Christmas threats? Nice isn’t it?

This is just a side note: how can Santa see and know if you are awake and asleep and have to “find out if you are naughty or/and nice”? Just saying. It seems he should know that too. While we are here, I also cringe that Santa is given such attributes. Only the Triune God has such attributes and to ascribe them to another is troubling and fatal.

“So be good for goodness sake” is another spin or twist of this Christmas story. I thought we were to be good so we would have presents under the tree. I’m not being “good” for nothing. “If I am going to be good it’s going to cost you mom.” What reason do parents give five seconds after the “gift” is opened and the receiver hates it; it is not gift he asked for and throws it aside as rubbish? Being good for goodness sake will not work here or ever. That would be like saying I go to work everyday just to work; not a paycheck. I intentionally do not say thank you to my boss for my wages. They are not a gift. I earned them. Grace and job must be kept separate on this level and together on other levels. This leads to the issue.

One problem with this whole scenario is the meaning of gift. A gift is undeserved. Of course, you are welcome to celebrate Christmas however you so choose but you might want to change the vocabulary. Start calling the presents wages or earnings. That will help them not confuse things. Gifts are gifts. How one responses to a “gift” is a reflection of your love for the giver or your love of the gift. Is it really loving to give a gift only if the kid has met some undefined, ever-changing standard? No. It’s not.

The fact is no one is good. No one. If we get what we have earned that would be eternal punishment. If we receive the gift of salvation that is mercy. And that mercy comes from Someone. When God chooses to love someone for no reason that is grace. Of course, the grace that saves is the grace that transforms. This is the perfect season to describe this. Many have Christmas trees in their homes. We hang ornaments on the tree. Some even look like fruit. You could even hang a real apple on the tree and you should think it odd if someone thought that a Frazier Fur produced an apple. Everybody knows that it can’t do that. Only a real apple tree can produce an apple.

Only a grace-given, mercy-receiving, justified sinner can produce righteousness…fruit. If it comes for external show, it is not true fruit. Granted, it is hard to tell the difference sometimes. Nevertheless, we should be fruit inspectors.

Dear friend, every breath you take today is a gift. A GIFT! Gifts come from Someone and that Someone deserves thanks. How you celebrate Christmas boils down to who you love. Your perspective is different when you understand who you are and who God is. Your ideas of Christmas change when you understand the meaning of gift and love of the giver. We should be eager to give gifts this Christmas season because we have been loved and love; not for goodness sake.

~Jason


Danger Increases in the Silence

Sermon Introduction for Job 2:11-3:26:

We enter a new scene. Job is alone. Satan is gone. The children are gone. The possessions are gone. The wife is more than likely gone. The whole community, including his extended family, have abandoned him. Little kids spit at him. All that is left are memories. You can’t easily erase those. You could wish the memories to be taken like the rest but it will not work. The darkness seems to illumine the memories. The silence seems to make the voices you are hearing louder and louder. Death would be a mercy at this point. You think the immediate trauma is the hard part. Yet the shock seems to aid the sanity. The insanity comes in the wake of the days that follow…when you are alone. No wife to talk to. No children to check on. Silence.

Applications:

  • Even with people around it can be lonely and painful. Mere presence does not replace relationship and fellowship.

  • Don’t over expect on days like this day. Don’t take everything they say too seriously. Yes, Job really wished the day of his birth to be cut off. Yet, during their conversation his tone changes. This is the initial outburst of a hurting man. Wait them out. Be patient. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Conclusion:

Jude 1:24-25

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

(If you are familiar with Job, you know that he is declared blameless and he is not in the meeting or in the presence of God. Here Jude says Jesus is able to keep you from stumbling and present you to God blameless. I think it is an amazing connection to see and believe!)


God’s Slow, Steady, and Wise Hand!

One year ago today, the Lord began stirring in me a desire to move to another church. Granted, I cannot explain how this “stirring” works. This stirring is like feelings. They can’t be trusted. This stirring could or could not be from the Lord. Therefore, it must be tested. John tells us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I Jn 4:1). I think “spirit” is partly “feelings.” So, your feelings need to be tested with scripture.

The main point I want to make in this post is slowness. We live in a world that wants, whatever it is, immediately! A dear brother pointed out to me that God is content to work in decades, centuries, and long periods of time. The entire Bible begs this point. I don’t say these things as one who does not struggle with the temptation of wanting things to happen quickly. Nor am I saying that some things don’t need to happen quickly. They do. However, waiting is often not an option for us.

I have a journal entry to show how God worked “slowly” with me and all the others involved. In fact, that slowness is still part of the scenario. I see this slowness as healthy and good. May God grant me [us] patience and mercy through this transition.

Journal Entry September 20, 2013

While praying yesterday morning, I prayed part of Psalm 69 “Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink.” I began to think of moving my family to Davis Memorial. I imagined what it would look like for my family to be there. I really was encouraged by the thought. I need more evidence that I should do this. My feelings are not firm foundations. Actually, they can be “mire.” We will see how the Lord might lead and confirm.

Our first Sunday at Davis Memorial was July 9, 2014. I became convinced early on. The evidence was slow. I ran it by my wife first. It took time for her to see it, but she did. I ran it by the pastor of Davis Memorial and it took time for him to see it, but he did. In time, I hope the members of Davis Memorial will see it.

I am aware that some of the members might read this. If you do, do not feel rushed. Take as long as you need. I hope you are encouraged by this post to wait on God. Also, I hope to reveal more of the process and reason for moving in later posts. If anything, I hope you see this was not a spur of the moment decision. Also, don’t see my process and understanding of this without error. I trust that God was working things out long before and He is still at work now. To God be the glory forever and ever!


Illustration of Grace

A story told by one of our elders during members’ class. Of course, all illustrations have their limits but this is very helpful:

Pretend that someone came into my house and killed my only son. If as he was fleeing, I took a shotgun and chased him down and killed him, we would call it revenge. If, [however] I called the police and they arrested him and he was sent to prison, we would call it justice. If I went to the jail and told him I forgave him and did not hold anything against him, we would call it mercy. If I forgave him and got him out of jail and took him home and adopted him into my family and he became my son with all the privileges of sonship and full inheritance rights, we would call it grace. That is exactly what our Lord did. We killed His son and yet He forgives us and adopts us into His family with full inheritance rights. Amazing grace!

~Jason


Still Believing!

Journal Entry Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I am still believing today! I am sure I will be tomorrow and the next…not because of me but because of Christ. I need you O God my salvation again today, for my soul is sinking. I feel like letting go. But for some reason I don’t. Therefore, I say to my soul “Why are you downcast? Hope in God, for I will again praise Him.” Waiting….

 

Rise up, be our help and redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness!  


The Temptation of More

The title could lead you in multiple directions. So, I need to begin by stating what I mean by “more.” I’m sure you understand what it means to be tempted. You could think from the title that the temptation is about “more” stuff! And that is a common temptation. It is one that needs to be subdued. However, the “more” I speak of is more ministry.

I am going to quote from my journal. The date was September 2, 2013. At that time, I was a member of a church waiting for God to open a door for ministry.

I was renewed yesterday (Sept. 1, 2013) to press on today! O Lord, renew me today that I might press on tomorrow. A quote that was helpful to me: “Nobody made a greater mistake that he who did nothing because he could only do a little” (Edmund Burke). I look at my life and think I am doing nothing for Christ (wasting my life). Yet the enemy would have me believe and desire more, more, more. More, for me, has not come. Therefore, I am tempted to stop what little I do if I can’t have all that I want. O how subtle! Father help me be faithful with the small ministry. May it bear much fruit! May I be content. Grow me in grace. Forgive me for giving in to the “more” temptation. It was consuming me. Lord, if you never give me more than I have right now, I will still follow you.

May I hear from your word today!

Today is a different day. It has much more. I still your grace!

~Jason

Here is something I heard from the word that morning:

From 1 Samuel 26, we again see David patiently waiting for the throne. Though David had lost his place in Saul’s kingdom, he had not lost his place in God’s Kingdom. David was doing nothing for God while hiding from Saul. Yet, God was at work in David. He was being prepared for what was to come!


Prayer and Providence

Reading through 2 Samuel reminded me of the topic-Prayer & Providence-because there is an example clearly stated in the text. I think it would be helpful to draw your attention to this. Of course, some want the systematic theology answer. However, others are helped by narrative display. I hope you will be enriched to pray and trust that God is at work. Here are the texts:

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. (2 Samuel 15:30-34)

Of course, both Ahithophel and Hushai became Absalom’s counselors. As you can see, David asked the LORD to turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. He then asked his friend Hushai to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel with his own counsel to Absalom. However, what else is going on? Where is God in this? We get an explanation a couple of chapters later.

 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom. (2 Samuel 17:14)

Here we see what David had prayed for and sought means to achieve was also ordained by God for a purpose. You may struggle with one side of this issue or the other but here both are present. Both are true. Therefore, we should pray and trust (not completely understand) that God is at work.

Just this morning, I asked my son to do something  that involved reading. He replied, “But I can’t read.” I said to him, “That is not true. You can read. Just because you can’t read everything does not mean you cannot read. If that is so, then I cannot read.” Same goes for this argument. Just because you do not completely understand this does not mean you cannot pray or cannot believe that God ordains. See it here in His holy word and be encouraged!