February 20, 2014

The winter of 2013-2014 is proving itself to be one of the snowiest on record in Northeast Ohio. Salt supplies are dangerously low and cities across the region are exploring new options to keep roads safe. Reports show that as of mid-February, Ohio used 880,000 tons of salt on the roads. Schools have used all their calamity days and the state government is considering adding days. Utility bills have skyrocketed, even after lowering the thermostats! People are weary of cold and snow.  With the harsh winter, there is one business that is very busy: snow removal.

We see huge, once-white-now-filthy mountains of snow around the edges of every parking lot. Snow removal crews don’t really remove this bothersome element; they simply try to get it out of the way so life can go on. It gets ugly. Long after the ground is bare, these dirty mountains stand as monuments to the harshness of winter.

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Snow isn’t really removed; it’s just pushed out of the way.

Psalm 103 is rich with descriptions of God’s character and work. In verse 12 we read: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The Psalmist is referring to “sin removal”. Jesus came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) If you haven’t had your sins removed by Jesus, today – right now – you have the opportunity to take that step by faith and call on Him for forgiveness. He really does remove sin! Christ followers can testify that Jesus doesn’t simply shove our sins out of the way so we can get on with life. He doesn’t pile them up and let them get ugly; they don’t remain an eyesore that stands as a monument to our foolishness, reminding us – and others – how awful our sins really were. Our sins are removed!

Where would we be without “sin removal”? Praise God today for this truth: Through faith in Jesus, our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. They are GONE!



January 13, 2012

A very dear friend of mine who is a retiree of a major airline mentioned to me not long ago that the company is reducing some of their retiree benefits. Together we lamented that she won’t be allowed “companion passes” anymore for travel, and even her own travel passes will be restructured to favor the company more and the retiree less. (BTW: She and her husband are traveling as much as they can before those benefits are cut!)

Talking about benefits reminded me of Psalm 103, where the Psalmist David wrote: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” (verses 1 and 2)

A list of some of those benefits follows: complete forgiveness; healing; redemption; a life crowned with God’s lovingkindness and tender mercy; satisfaction and renewal. The rest of the Psalm elaborates on even more of God’s benefits. As I thought about my friend’s reduced benefits, I saw a stark contrast between her plight and God’s benefits towards us. Hers will be reduced; God’s benefits will increase and continue on throughout future generations! Look what David expressed in verses 17 and 18:

But the mercy of the Lord (BENEFIT!) is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children (BENEFIT!) to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.

Isn’t it reassuring to know that His mercy is a benefit that will never be reduced? Isn’t it encouraging to remember that his righteousness is a benefit that will cover even our children and their children…and their children…and their children….? Understanding how God multiplies His benefits causes me to bless the Lord along with the Psalmist and praise Him – the Faithful Giver of abundant, everlasting, generation-to-generation benefits!

Our Lavish God

July 27, 2010

Everything God does points to the fact that He is generous. He isn’t stingy, nor does He give His blessings by drips or in measurable increments. Observing His creation affirms that He does everything in a big way. How many celestial bodies are there? We can’t count them, and man doesn’t even have the capacity to know. How many grains of sand are there in the world? There’s no way we can tally them up, but He knows; He formed each one of them. Couldn’t He have been satisfied creating just one color, one kind of bird in the sky, or one fish family in the world’s oceans? Wouldn’t it be just as good with one kind of tree to grow in all areas of the earth, or simply one special fruit for all of us to eat? NO! He created countless species of each plant and animal, for His pleasure and for our enjoyment. That is the physical proof of His generosity, and the lavish nature of our Creator God.

In the spiritual realm, God is just as generous, and we have passages in the Bible confirming His lavishness. Look at some of the evidence:

GOD POURS HIS LOVE OUT IN US! Romans 5:5: “…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

GOD POURS OUT HIS FORGIVENESS! Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.”

GOD POURS OUT HIS MERCY! Psalm 103: 8, 17: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy…[it is]from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.”

GOD POURS OUT HIS SPIRIT ON US ABUNDANTLY!  Titus 3:5,6:  “…the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior…”

GOD POURS OUT FLOOD WATERS ON THE THIRSTY! Isaiah 44:3a: “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground…”

GOD POURS HIS SPIRIT AND BLESSING ON OUR CHILDREN! Isaiah 44:3b: “I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.”

GOD POURS ABUNDANT BLESSING ON GIVERS! Malachi 3:10: “ ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…and try my now in this’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’ “

                Unfortunately, we are often blind to God’s lavish nature. Asking for little, we settle for much less than He wants to pour out on us, and we live as spiritual paupers. God is lavish; He is generous, and His “pouring out” is always abundantly beyond what we could ever imagine. Let’s not forget how generous He is as we cry out to Him today!

“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to HIM be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. AMEN.” !  Ephesians 3:20,21                                                             

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