My Place of Safety

Safety 1 I’m writing this blog from the safety of our home during the Covid-19 pandemic. The world is suddenly very different. We are on a statewide lockdown on executive order from our governor. The shelves at our local grocery store are nearly empty of many essential products, the availability of which we have heretofore taken for granted. I have even heard one report of senior citizens shoving one another trying to get the last package of toilet paper at a local store. It seems I am not the only one who can say with all sincerity that I never saw this coming.

Judging by the reactions people have had to this pandemic, there is a lot of fear in the air. To a large extent, it’s fair to say people are just following expert recommendations by wearing gloves as they shop for groceries or pump their gasoline; or when they avoid each other and keep their “social distance.” But one can also sense the fear people have. The constant barrage of information in the various media outlets certainly serves the good purpose of making us all aware of the situation and the suggested precautions we should take, but this continuous stream of coverage can also drive fear.

Is it right to have such fear? Well, I’m no expert, but to some extent I think yes, and yet to another extent, probably not. Certainly we should follow the guidelines laid out by those trained to provide such information, and we should have a healthy respect for the danger the novel coronavirus brings to ourselves and others around us. Without question, the risk that we might spread it to others, some of whom may be more at risk than ourselves, should provide plenty of motivation to alter our behaviors and habits. But do we live in fear?

For the Christian, who has placed themselves in the capable hands of the Almighty God of the universe, should we not choose faith over fear? While we should follow the recommendations made by medical professionals and obey the laws of our governments, none-the-less we also trust in a Holy God who is capable of much more than we could ever hope or imagine. As it is written in 1 John 4:18: perfect love expels all fear.

One of my favorite Bible events is when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are confronted for not following Nebuchadnezzar’s rules for worshipping the statue he made. They are facing the most powerful person on earth at the time, with the fiery furnace before them, and they do not back down. They show their complete trust in the Lord by saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.” (Daniel 3:17) They go on to say, in verse 18, that even if God doesn’t save them, they will not comply. Why are they able to have such faith? Go back and read all of 1 John 4. You will find the answer there in verses 16 & 17.

So in any and every situation, we should take prudent actions, but our faith is always in God who, through Christ Jesus, has made us his children. And with this in mind, I want to offer to you the words of Psalm 91, and I pray they encourage you and give you confidence as you walk through these uncertain times. Read through them slowly and pray over them. These promises are real, tangible and life giving!

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

I’ll also share these words from Paul, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

May you feel God’s presence and learn to lean on him more and more. And if you have not yet made the decision to trust in Jesus, may you do so now. There has never been a better time! Just tell him about your mistakes and ask him to forgive you. The Bible tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, and in Romans 10:9-10 it says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”

And if you have decided to place your faith in Jesus today, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

To Get Where I Am Going

Spiritual Growth 6 Paul wrote his letter to the church in Colossae during his first Roman imprisonment sometime in the early AD 60s. Epaphras had shared the Gospel there and helped form the church; a church made up mostly of Gentiles but also with a number of Jewish members. Certain heretical teachings had begun to influence the Colossian church, which Epaphras reported to Paul. This became the basis for Paul to write his letter, which is essentially written as a theological antidote to those errant influences.

Colossians contains one of the Bible’s fullest expressions of the supremacy and deity of Jesus Christ.  It is a short letter, only 4 chapters in its entirety, so it is easy to read it through even when time is short. Paul addresses a number of theological topics in his effort to counter the heresy the church was facing, which included Jewish legalism and early forms of Gnosticism. And while the entirety of the letter is extremely useful and edifying to us today, what stands out to me in particular is Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth. This is found in verses 1:9 thru 1:14. Let’s take a closer look:

“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:9-1:14)

We happen to be studying Colossians in my Tuesday night “Kingdom Warriors” men’s Bible study, and as we worked through Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth, some of the specific things Paul mentions really struck me. For example, in verse 9, Paul prays for “complete knowledge”. The Greek word used for knowledge (epignōsis) refers to more than just a passing knowledge, but rather asserts a deep and thorough understanding of the will of God that is fully revealed in the Word of God. Paul adds to this “spiritual wisdom and understanding” and the combination shows Paul’s desire for the church (at Colossae and our present church) to have discernment, understanding, and knowledge rooted in the Word of God and applied in our daily lives.

Paul’s prayer continues to cover three main areas stemming from our knowledge and understanding: 1) that we would produce good fruit, 2) that we would have patience and endurance, and 3) that we would be filled with joy and gratitude. The “good fruit” Paul refers to is, of course, Kingdom-based attributes such as leading people to Christ, giving praise to God, generosity, and Godly living that bears witness to whom we serve. As a Christian, I have learned that my personal goals are more satisfying and productive when they revolve around living out my faith. My number one goal is to experience the fruit of the Spirit (i.e.: Galatians 5:22-23) – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I would be certain most of you have experienced trials in your lives. It is part of human existence to face adversity and an inevitability that we will encounter difficult people and circumstances. None of us get through this life unscathed. To have patience and endurance through trials is a skill I have yet to completely master, even though faith is one of my Spiritual gifts. The Greek word for patience (makrothymia) is often rendered as “longsuffering”. So the verse speaks of enduring difficult circumstances and challenging people with a certain, steadfast attitude. It is very easy for me to personalize Paul’s prayer and seek these aspects of spiritual growth in my own life simply because it is an area of personal weakness. The need to grow in patience and steadfastness in the face of adversity is certainly ever-present for me.

The third main area of Paul’s prayer involves joy. Joy is also one of the Spiritual fruits mentioned in Galatians. The Christian has every cause to be joyful and to be thankful. Paul recounts the primary reasons in his prayer: God has enabled us to share in his inheritance, we live in his light having been rescued from darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of the Son, and our freedom and forgiveness has been purchased through the blood of Jesus. Indeed, as we increase in our knowledge and understanding, we will experience joyful living in ever increasing measures. And who does not want that?

If you have not yet made the decision to pursue relationship with the Creator of the universe, why not make today the day so you can experience joyful living to its fullest? God desires that all will be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and that includes you! Romans 10:9-11 says: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’” Start your journey with Jesus today!

If you’d like more information on a relationship with Jesus, here are two resources that can help:

Know God.org

The Roman Road

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Before You Go

Before You Go 1 Haisley Oaklynn McCormick grew up in a prestigious suburb surrounded by the well-heeled. Her parents net worth exceeded eight figures and Haisley was an only child. Her parents’ high paying jobs necessitated working long hours, leaving a less-than-the-ideal amount of time for them to focus on Haisley. They tried to make up for this deficiency with money, buying Haisley pretty much whatever she wanted. She always had the most fashionable clothes, the finest salon treatments, and she drove to school and back in her brand new Lexus SUV. Wealth and privilege was the only way of life she knew. Her biggest problem was the lingering question of why her parents gave her such a strange name; but she kind of liked the uniqueness of being the only Haisley she knew.

Patrick Thomas O’Brien was the high school’s star quarterback. He actually excelled in baseball, too, but his lifestyle didn’t leave room for two sports so he gave baseball up. The girls seemed to favor football players after all. He grew up in a middle class neighborhood. His parents both worked, out of necessity, but their income usually was just enough to pay the bills. Patrick managed to save enough money from his part time work to buy a used Chevy Silverado 4WD. It had a lot of miles and a bit of rust, but even rusty pickups carry a certain coolness factor that fit his desired bad boy image quite nicely. Known to his friends as PT and to the local police for his weekend antics, he managed to avoid suspension from high school athletics mostly because he was the best quarterback they’d had in decades.

PT’s one hundred percent Irish heritage gave him rugged good looks and a natural charm that Haisley found irresistible. She was drawn to him almost immediately and became a cheerleader mostly to be closer to him. Accustomed to getting her way, she made quick work of establishing her place as PT’s steady girlfriend. Her well-to-do parents weren’t thrilled with her love interest, but PT and Haisley had been dating for the better part of two years so they were used to it by now. Their busy work schedules made it easy not to think too much about it, but inwardly they wished someone better would come along. PT was no stranger to trouble and they felt he had a negative effect on Haisley’s behavior, too. But Haisley was pretty sure she wanted to be married to him and she had no intention of giving up on that goal.

Perry was a big oafish kind of young man. He was almost big enough to be an offensive lineman but he was the backup quarterback instead because, while he was slow and a bit clumsy at times, he could throw a football 70 yards and be on target every time. He grew up in a Christian home and his mother had once been a Gospel singer before she became a mom. Perry and PT wouldn’t normally be friends except for football. Both being quarterbacks for the same team meant they spent quite a bit of time together. PT didn’t like it when Perry brought up Jesus, which he did frequently, but this time was different. Last night PT got in some real trouble with the police and he knew he’d gone too far.

Full of regret and uncertainty, he confided his predicament to Perry. PT knew all the college scouting visits and potential scholarships were now in jeopardy. He had Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley coming, for goodness sakes, and he would surely cancel upon hearing this news. As PT poured his heart out, he noticed how Perry just listened quietly and without judgment. It was hard for PT to talk with his other friends because they had a tendency to tell him what he wanted to hear and encourage him toward the next opportunity for shenanigans. The other guys just wanted to have fun but Perry was different, and his concern was genuine, so after unloading his heart to Perry, PT heard himself say, “tell me about Jesus.” And after Perry shared the Gospel, PT became a Christian right there and then. He was still very much in trouble with the law, but the burden was now lighter, and he knew something real had happened. And for the first time in at least a couple years, he cried. Tears of sorrow and joy.

After he left his meeting with Perry and pulled himself together, he sent Haisley a text. PT wanted to tell her the trouble he was in before she found out on her own, which wouldn’t take long in this gossip-ridden town. Haisley was plenty mad when PT told his criminal tale, but she sensed some true remorse and held back her boiling anger. Her reputation would be affected by all this, too, and her parents would dislike PT even more when they found out. But she loved him, and his repentance seemed palpable, so she forgave him and held him tight. When PT concluded with the story about his meeting with Perry and how he gave his life to Jesus, Haisley really didn’t know what to think, so she just said, “That’s great.”

Now Haisley really liked singer Lewis Capaldi and she had started using part of his newest song lyric as her goodbye routine. So whenever PT was leaving her, she’d say, “Before you go, let me make your heart beat better,” and she’d give him a long kiss. It was corny, but somehow PT secretly loved this new ritual. But tonight it was especially sweet, so when Haisley smiled and gave him her corny line “before you go….” followed by a very long kiss good night, PT whispered in her ear, “my heart really is beating better now.” And he left feeling more positive than he had all day.

On his drive home, just a few miles from Haisley’s house, out on Old Town Highway, his newfound positivity was interrupted when his Chevy Silverado started making a loud banging noise from underneath. A broken u-joint. Great. He pulled over and crawled underneath the truck with his flash light to take a look. And exactly 6.4 seconds later, a drunk driver slammed into the back of PT’s disabled truck. The drunk driver and his passenger were unhurt, save for the driver’s bloody nose, but PT was killed instantly.

And just like that, a young man’s life ended. And just like PT and the people in our story, don’t we often think we have more time? But the truth is we may not have another day or even another hour. Life is fleeting, and for many, it ends suddenly and unexpectedly. The Bible tells us that we are wise to consider the brevity of life. In Psalm 39:4-5 it is written: “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” And in Psalm 90:12 it says: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

So if you have not accepted Jesus yet, please consider how quick things can change for you and take seriously Jesus’ call to repentance. “From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’” (Matthew 4:17) You may very well not have another chance and you can be certain Jesus has the solution to the sin problem: “For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” (Romans 10:4) For it is far better to go into the next life, as PT did, with Jesus than without him.

If you’d like more information on a relationship with Jesus, here are two resources that can help:

Know God.org

The Roman Road

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

2020

2020 HNY  How many times have you made a steadfast New Year’s resolution, saying to yourself, this time it’s going to stick? Perhaps you even told your friends, made a pact with a family member, or in some other way determined to assure success. Were you trying to quit smoking, lose weight, stop drinking, or maybe shop less? Maybe you wanted to spend more time with your spouse, or avoid relationships altogether. Maybe you resolved to drive closer to the speed limit? How many times has your resolution failed mere days or even hours after you made it?

Often at this time of year we find ourselves focused on what we want to change about our lives. We look in the mirror and want to change what we see or we gaze at our bank account balance and focus on changing what we spend our money on. Some of us will devote real time and energy into a new diet plan or exercise routine while others may focus on improving our relationships. Still others may decide now is the time to find a new job or make that big geographical change we’ve been dreaming of. Without a doubt, New Year’s has become the time to look forward and plan for the changes we long to make.

But what if tomorrow never comes? Mathematically speaking, the probably exists that at least some of us reading this right now may not live to see New Year’s 2021 and it is in light of that possibility that I wish to emphatically urge each of you reading this to consider the chance that you will not see tomorrow. Psalm 39:4 states: “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.”

The Bible tells us it is appointed for all to die once, and then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27) but that Jesus Christ was sacrificed to take away our sins (Hebrews 9:28) that we might have eternal life with God in heaven (John 3:16). Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant because “For the Scriptures say, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.” (Romans 14:11)

Every knee will bow; every tongue will confess. That is the reality facing each of us when we die – whether or not we choose to believe it now. The difference is this: those who believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him for their salvation will be saved. And then there is everyone else. As it is written: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12).

So with the finite nature of our earthly lives as a back drop, I want to implore each of you to consider the brevity of your mortal life on this planet, to recognize that physical death is not the end, and to challenge you with the task of accepting the free gift of salvation that is available through Jesus Christ, if you haven’t already. For the temptation, when it comes to our relationship with God, is to assume we have another day…or another hour. The fact is, we may not even have another minute. Please, please, reach out to God now, while there is still time.

And know that accepting Jesus Christ as your savior is a New Year’s resolution that will never fail!

Here are some resources that may help you:

NeedGod.com
Church Finder
Lee Strobel
Answers in Genesis

Take the time, do the research, learn for yourself the truth about God. But do it now, for tomorrow could be too late. Of course, we’re always happy to help answer your questions, too. Email us anytime at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

God bless.

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

White As Snow

Winter 3 I woke up the other day to our first, freshly fallen snow of the season. It wasn’t much, just enough to cover the roofs and the ground, but it was wonderful blanket of crisp, gleaming white. From the balcony of our 5th floor condo, it was a beautiful sight and an exciting preview of things to come. I always get excited for the change of seasons here in Minnesota but those first few snowfalls are always a special treat and, perhaps, my favorite of all.

It may be hard for those unaccustomed to living so far from the equator to grasp, but there’s nothing quite like the incomparable beauty of seeing everything covered in a bright, glowing tapestry of pure white. Especially after the beautiful fall colors have faded away and left us surrounded by a dreadful, lifeless brown and gray. For by then the days have grown short, the temperatures have dropped, and things have started to feel rather gloomy and bleak. But then one morning, we wake up to that first, freshly fallen snow and it’s like new life has been breathed into our whole environment!

And the cycle repeats itself throughout the winter months. Snow falls, bringing its refreshing newness to the land, only to fade to a brownish gray as repeated exposure to sun, wind, and dust takes its toll. And then more snow falls, once again delivering its sparkling rebirth to the landscape. My favorite snowfalls are those where the snow sticks to everything, coating the tree branches in a glistening white powder that sparkles and shimmers and brightens the day. You forget the harshness of the cold as you revel in the splendor and beauty before you.

Such is the effect of freshly fallen snow. Not everyone I know enjoys the bitter cold the way I often do, but few deny the beauty winter brings. And I think the revitalizing effect that freshly fallen snow has on the landscape is a perfect metaphor for the cleansing effect God’s grace has on our souls.

One of my very favorite verses is Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”  The colors scarlet and crimson reflect the darkness of sin, the hopelessness of guilt. Depravity and perversity pull people down and create a chasm from which we cannot escape on our own.

But Isaiah uses the white associated with snow and wool to portray the opposite of sin: forgiveness, mercy, cleanliness, new life. And he acknowledges that it is only God who can bring us from one to the other, only God can bring us from guilt to grace. And David does the same in his psalm of repentance where he asks the Lord to “purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)

It doesn’t matter how far we’ve fallen, or how deep the crevasse our human condition has cast us into, God can and will get us out.  Paul teaches us in Galatians that “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” (Galatians 1:4) And again in Galatians 3:13: “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” So we can be confident that whatever we have done, whatever darkness surrounds us, no matter the stain of our sin, God, through Jesus, can and will lift us up and wash us clean and give us new life. Just like the freshly fallen snow brings new life to the scenery around us.

But how do we avail ourselves of this? First, we must repent. We read in Matthew 4:17, “From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” This truly is the first step we take. It really means, in its most simple form, that we come to agreement with God that we truly are sinful. (And if you think you are not sinful, just ask your spouse or your parents or someone else intimately close to you and you will learn the truth!) We accept what the Bible says, that “we all have sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). Then we ask for His forgiveness and place our faith in Him.

Romans 10:9-11: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

Romans 3:22: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

Galatians 3:11: “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

1 John 1:9: “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

So, if you haven’t already, please avail yourself of God’s great and endless mercy. Let Him make you as clean as the freshly fallen snow, that you might sparkle in the newness of life that comes by faith in Christ. And if you have already made that decision, but feel you sometimes still struggle, know that just like the snow refreshes itself throughout a winter season, God will bring constant refreshing to your soul as you abide in Him.

If you are lucky enough to live where the snow falls, may you enjoy this winter season. And if you live closer to the equator, let me suggest a visit to a wintry destination soon!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.