Nov 12, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Matthew 25:31-46

“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” (Rev 20:12)

We do not like the thought of judgment. We do not like the thought of hell, but the Word of God exclaims judgment clearly. It could well go something like this:

A man stands before God. He sees Christ in the bosom of the Father. His countenance is very sad, and the man knows he has forfeited the salvation Jesus offered. He tries to cry out but his lips are sealed.

Then in a moment, the Creator speaks with a voice of thunder, authoritative and final. “Behold, I have made all things new. Heaven and earth have passed away, but my word shall never pass away. It was appointed unto men once to die (Hebrews 9:27). Now this is the judgment. This is the day I appointed to judge the world in righteousness by that man whom I have ordained to be judge of the quick and the dead (Acts 17:30-31). It was my intent that man should not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded from my mouth (Matthew 4:4). It was my realization that all men had sinned and come short of my glory. I sent my Son to die, that men would believe on him and not perish (John 3:16).

“It was my desire that whatsoever men should do in word or deed, they would do all in the name of Jesus Christ, giving thanks to me through him. I watched as he bore your sins on Calvary. I watched with joy as multitudes received him, and it was with regret that I blotted many out of the book of life. It was with sadness that I saw many reject him, and try to live in their self-will.

“Now in this, the day of revelation of my righteous judgment, I will render to every man according to his deeds (Proverbs 24:24). Whosoever is not found written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).”

Horror stabs the man’s soul like a dagger. Never before had he realized just how much he needed a Savior. The judge of heaven and earth declares, “Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life shall be cast into the lake of fire. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).”

~ James Baer ~

First published: December, 2015

To Change Your Mind

Nov 7, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Luke 15:11-32

“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt 4:17

The Old Testament story of Jonah is both powerful and unique. God told the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach truth because the people were exceedingly sinful. This city was the capital of a violent and immoral society that hated God’s people. God’s message that Jonah was to preach was short and simple. “In forty days God will destroy Nineveh.”

The Bible says the king of Nineveh got off his throne and dressed himself in sackcloth and ashes and commanded his people to do the same. He also commanded that not a human or animal should eat or drink. “Cry mightily unto God and let everyone turn from his evil way, and from violence that is in their hands,” the King said. “Who can tell if God will turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not.”

Then it says…”God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way… and God did not destroy them as He said He would.” It’s a beautiful story of repentance.

In the New Testament we also see a story of a young man who asked his father for his inheritance and left home to have a fling. After spending all his money on women and wine he found himself working for a pig farmer just to survive. As he gazed down at the husks he was feeding to the pigs he was tempted to eat them. He came to his senses and thought, “In my father’s house the hired servants live much better than this, I will go home and tell my father that I am sorry for what I did and ask to be a servant.”  

Repentance is a change of mind

The actual meaning of repentance is “a change of mind”. When the mind is changed it results in a change of lifestyle too. The story of the Ninevites and the Prodigal son is a perfect example of repentance.

How do we know if someone is truly repentant? We will see a serious commitment to turn from sin and a willingness to confess it. The person will also see sin as an abomination and abhor it. A person who is truly repentant will develop a fear of God and a fear to do evil deeds and have a longing to be holy as God is holy. Someone who repents will not merely make a mental or verbal comment about repentance, but will have a changed heart and a changed lifestyle.

Restitution is another fruit of true repentance. A person who has truly repented will do all he can to restore what he took unlawfully. If he stole a horse he will take it back to the rightful owner. If she lied to her boss she will go back and tell the truth about the matter. There is no question when a person has truly repented.

~ Harold R Troyer ~

God’s Invitation is for You

Oct 22, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Mat 11:28-30

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while…” (Mar 6:31)

There are many gracious invitations in the scriptures. Let’s look at some of them and be inspired to respond to God’s faithful calls to “Come.”

Come thou and all thy house into the ark” (Genesis 7:1-7). God did not say, “Go in” but rather, “Come.” This was a call to come to safety. God was on the inside of the ark. He was honoring Noah’s obedience in building this ark by gracing it with His presence. He was keeping His end of the promise. He will do the same for you, if you are faithful in building a home according to His plan.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). Are you weary of the fight as you battle it out in the world? This is a kind invitation to “Come to rest” on the bosom of Christ. He invites us first to learn His meekness, and in Him find rest for our souls.

Come and see” (John 1:17). It must have been a joy for Christ when Nathaniel asked the question, “Where dwellest thou?” This call to relationship must have also warmed Nathaniel’s heart. Christ repeatedly invites us to “Come and see.” Come and see my peace. Come and see my salvation. Come and see my kingdom.

Come, take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 10:21). Here is a genuine invitation to come to service and obedience. The young man in this chapter was overloaded with riches and cares. He wanted eternal life, but when Jesus told him what to do to gain salvation, the young man turned away sadly. He lost the blessing.

There are many more invitations in the scriptures to “come.” John 21:12 says, “Come to fellowship.” Matthew 25:34 says, “Come to inheritance.”

How should you come? Come as you are.

When should you come? Come now.

~ James Baer ~

Are You a Disciple?

Before you answer that question, look at what it means to be a disciple.

Being a disciple means putting the kingdom of God first in our lives. Matthew 6:33 challenges us, “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness;…” God does not approve of us putting His work second or as a spare-time filler. Though our jobs require significant amounts of time, they must be used as a platform for dispensing the Gospel message. Is doing God’s work the driving force in my life?

Being a disciple means willingly sacrificing to promote the cause of Christ. It is not natural to want to sacrifice. But when we see what Christ did on the cross it makes any sacrifice look rather insignificant. Daily reflection on the cross even motivates sacrifice. A disciple stands for truth and principles that make little sense to the world. Isaac Watts asks in a song, “Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb?” A disciple is not ashamed of what the Bible says and wants everyone to experience what he is experiencing in Christ. Are you sacrificing as a disciple of Jesus?

Being a disciple means hungering for fresh truths from God’s Word. A disciple is a “pupil” (Greek), a “learner” (Latin), and a “student” (English). To relax and be content with what we know is inexcusable. We have a great commission to fulfill and a deepening relationship with Christ to experience. Scripture says, “…desire the sincere milk of the word,…grow.” As Psalm 1 says, “…delight…in the law of the Lord;…meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree…that bringeth forth fruit…not wither…prosper.” A disciple never ends his schooling and is kept faithful by the diligent effort to grow. Every facet of life involves learning. Only the dead cease learning. The law of nature is to experience growth or to experience loss of what we have. What are you learning even now about following Christ?

Being a disciple means seeking to better model the life of Christ. Christianity gains appeal by good examples, people who live holy and changed lives. Inconsistencies and lack of power to live righteously show one has not taken the call to be a disciple seriously. Continual walking in sin even calls in question our regeneration. A true disciple will look at the examples set by his teacher such as love for enemies, turning the other cheek, showing compassion, giving words of encouragement, courage in trials, daily prayer, unselfish service, and pattern his life after Him. Are you an example for someone to follow? Do people see you as a sincere disciple of Jesus Christ?

Luke 14:33 says, “…whosoever…forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

Are you a disciple?

~~ Dale R. Eby, Adapted

Why, Lord, Why?

Oct 15, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: 2 Cor 12:7-10

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” — 2Co 12:9

Those of us who face physical challenges because of sickness or accident face the temptation to ask “why?” It can become frustrating when we cannot readily find an answer. But really, if we could find an answer, would it change our circumstances? Maybe we would not like the answer. Maybe the Lord would tell us we are just too proud and need to be humbled a little.

God has His reasons for our circumstances, we can be sure, but He seldom reveals them up front. The Apostle Paul wanted to know why God would allow hardship in his life, and he came to this conclusion about a few things: The Lord was humbling him and also wanted him to experience the sufficiency of His grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). The Lord also wanted Paul to know the perfect strength of Christ through his weakness. I have come to be satisfied with these answers.

Our responses in difficult situations are important because hardships can be God’s way of bringing us to the glories of heaven. Our prayers for the removal of our affliction may be against the will of God. There are things we will not understand until we stand before Him. God is more concerned about our faith than He is about our pleasure, so the best response we can give is, “Lord, increase my faith. Make me, but don’t break me. Help me not to flinch or rebel. Deliver me from the doubtful question, ‘Lord, don’t you see in the dark?’ Please grow my soul till you rule supreme there.”

How does the soul grow? Not all in a minute;
Now it may lose ground, and now it may win it;
Now it resolves, and again the will faileth;
Now it rejoiceth, and now it bewaileth;
Now its hopes fructify, then they are blighted;
Now it walks sullenly, now gropes benighted;
Fed by discouragements, taught by disaster,
So it goes forward, now slower, now faster,
Till all the pain is past, and failure made whole,
It is full grown, and the Lord rules the soul.

—Susan Coolidge

~ James Baer ~

Unmet Longings

Oct 08, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Col 3:1-10

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2Co 5:17) )

Do you have unmet spiritual longings? We are eternity’s children (Hebrews 13:14).

We need an expanded perspective of eternity. There is a tremendous threat that we will live out our existence here in the limited confines of a one world view. Even though our fallen nature yearns for satisfaction in this world, we find in ourselves a deeper desire as we look to regain the lost paradise of Eden. We cannot make sense of life without the eternal. We are built for eternity. “If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

There is more to life than this shadowland. Without an eternal perspective, our faith is often driven dangerously close to the edge of despair.

With gladness, I introduce you to Jesus Christ. He has provided redemption through his blood shed on the cross. His grace and redemption blow down the walls of the temporal and give us a spiritual, eternal perspective. Everything becomes new in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). Heaven opens. Will you believe it?

Eternity now becomes our first and ultimate point of reference. Our accumulations and labors are seen as resources that can influence and impact eternity. Even the tragedies of life are viewed as that which can bring eternal gain.

Oh, dear ones, are we earthbound? Will we trade temporal motivation for eternal motivation? We must. These earthly tabernacles will be dissolved.

So let us let Christ break the tyranny of temporal things, the stress and depression of sin bound hearts. This freedom will change the way you view death. Get a passion for enduring things. Are you living here in the light of there?

~~ James Baer

Jesus Cannot be Hidden

Oct 1, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Mat 5:13-16

“Ye are the light of the world.” (Mat 5:14)

There is an ageless truth in Mark 7:24. “But he could not be hid.” Jesus tried to downplay his work. After healing someone, he often asked those he healed to tell no one. But the Lord Jesus could not be hidden. Matthew Henry wrote, “A candle may be put under a basket, but the sun cannot be placed there. Christ, the Light of the world, cannot be hid.”

A personality so potent cannot be inconspicuous. Christ is ever evident in the world. The stamp of His divine character should be seen in all who carry His name. A totally surrendered life forces Christ upon the gaze of the world. In the consecrated life, Christ cannot be obscure.

Why then is he not apparent in so many nominal churches who call themselves Christian? This is because they are not living the Christ-life. The principles of kingdom separation are not taught or lived among them. They cause many to fall because of their false testimony. They have not come out of the world (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

Think upon these important questions: Does my life adorn the teachings of Jesus? Is our witness as believers showing forth His beauty? Is Christ conspicuous in our community because we live the life of Jesus among our neighbors? It must be so! John Keats wrote, “His identity presses upon me.”

We may, as humble followers, escape notice for a while, but if we intend to live out the kingdom principle of evangelism, our friends and fellow travelers should be able to say also, “His identity presses upon us.”

Christ cannot be hidden. Does my character and the sum total of my life give witness to a living Christ that will not be hidden in my town?

~ James Baer ~

How should we pray?

Sept 24, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Mat 6:5-15

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26).

I can surely identify with the Apostle Paul, when he says in Romans 8:26-27, “We know not what we should pray for as we ought.” How many times do we approach God with so much to pray for that we do not know where to begin? We are groaning about it, so it makes sense that the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings also. The thing that we can count on is that the Spirit is in unity with God and he can then make intersession for us according to God’s will.

So often we ask amiss. At best we are as Tennyson wrote in “Memoriam;” Infants crying in the night, With no language but a cry.” We can thank God for the Holy Spirit: who makes intercession knowing what we need the most. This is the secret and condition of true prayer. The Spirit takes our broken, imperfect sighs and utterances and bears them up before God, our Father.       

God responds to prayer, not because of our intelligence but because of his. He knows better what we need than we do. We have a great need to say as the disciples did, to request as they did, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We can be instructed in this holy art by the very one who invites us to it. Effectual prayer is dependent on relationship. Are we fervent in spiritual things? Only in fervency can prayer be effective.

~~ James Baer

Who Am I?

Sept 17, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Psalms 139:1-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa 139:23-24)

Some of us seem to have an identity crisis. If I were to ask you who you are, you would say, “I am Richard, or Beth, or Ben, or Sylvia.” I would answer you, “That is your name, but who are you?”

“Oh, I am a teacher,” you might respond. No, that is what you do. “I am an American.” That is where you live. “I am a Mennonite.” That is your denominational preference, but who are you?

Our understanding of who we are is vital to our assurance as a Christian. We must know who we are. Jesus said that our fruits will tell others who we are (Matthew 7: 16-20). Our manner of life will define us. It cannot be otherwise. But how important is this question “Who am I?” The ancient philosopher Cervantes said, “Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.”

Who am I? As believers in Jesus, we have a renewed sense of identity. We lost our acceptance with God in the fall of man, but that is now restored. Praise God. We now have a restored sense of belonging.   

  • I am created in God’s image. Genesis 1:66-28.
  • I am Christ’s friend. John 15:15
  • I have been justified. Romans 5:1
  • I am united with Christ through His Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17.
  • I belong to God. He has purchased me.1 Corinthians 6:20.
  • I am a member of Christ’s body. 1 Corinthians 12:27.
  • I am a saint. Ephesians 1:1.
  • I have been adopted as God’s child. Ephesians 1:5.
  • I have access to God. Ephesians 2:18.
  • I am redeemed and forgiven. Colossians 1:14.
  • I am complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10

Still having an identity crisis? I encourage you to reach out by faith to claim the riches of your inheritance. Best you do that right now.

~~ James Baer

Hath God Said?

Sept 10, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Genesis 3:1-24

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psa 14:1)

We must gladly choose the authority of God over the authority of the devil. The devil has been trying to usurp the authority of God ever since he vowed to exalt himself above God in heaven (Isaiah 14:14). In his introduction to Adam and Eve in the Garden, he raised the false possibility to Eve that he knew more than God.

This master of deceit with great success has trumpeted, “Yea hath God said?” down through the ages. Men and women continue to listen to him at great loss to their souls. Why do you choose to listen to him when it costs you so much? Oh, I know that it sounds so good; his tantalizing offers of freedom from accountability, and his teasing suggestions that no one will ever find out.

His questioning God’s divine right to us as our Creator goes on and on until we find an entire society and culture sliding rapidly into hell alongside the devil. Moral law is being thrown out of courts all over the world. Remember this: If you don’t want to do business with the devil, do not hang around his shop.

In the same whining tones, the devil questioned Eve with, “Yea hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the Garden?” he asks the same today, “Yea hath God said, ye shall not commit adultery, and have multiple partners? Yea hath God said that you shall not defile yourself by being effeminate or engaging in sodomy? Yea hath God said that ye shall not be self-serving, and ignore your neighbor’s needs? Yea hath God said that you cannot be covetous or a fornicator, idolater, thief, or drunkard and still inherit the kingdom of heaven?”

We return to the opening challenge. We must choose the authority of God. To bow before the god of this world is to choose our own delusion. God has said many things in his Word to guide us to life eternal. Will we listen and obey?

~~ James Baer

Why I Love to Write

Sept 3, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Job 19:23-29

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (Psa 45:1 NKJV)

I will not be able to meet all the readers of these emails. Although I would truly love to meet you some day. For now I will be satisfied to just share a little of my heart through this method.

I want to share briefly, “Why I love to write.”

  • I love to write because I love the Living Word—Jesus Christ.

John 1 speaks of Christ as the Word. Through his coming, the Father’s heart and mind is revealed to us. If even one person would be lead to Christ through these e-mails, that would suffice to cheer me on. I am looking forward to meeting you at the marriage supper of the Lamb. We’ll sit down together to a feast prepared by the Lord himself, the Living Word. Praise Him.

  • I love to write because I love the written Word—the Bible.

It is my staff and comfort on our journey through this shadowland. I rejoice in its exceeding great and precious promises. I love its stories and its conviction power in my own life and in the lives of others. It is a sure foundation. Oh, what a rock to build our lives on, and a rule for families and fellowships. The unchanging Word of God is our guide to heaven.

  • I love to write because I love the beauty and power of words.

I get so excited and inspired when words communicate the Truth, and when good illustrations make the Truth alive. As Parkinson’s disease gradually erodes my ability to write, I feel a sense of urgency to continue as long as possible. What fulfillment and joy I find in writing!

With an eye of faith, I see you opening these e-mails, reading the words and pondering the meaning. My desire is that God will speak to you by the scriptures that are given. That you will find peace with God, or encouragement to keep on in the faith, as you fall on your knees before Him. I look forward to meeting you at the gate of heaven. Our tears then will be because of joy. Pray for me, that even in my suffering I may contribute something of lasting value. Keep on keeping on.

~James Baer~

NOTE: Brother James wrote this three or four years ago, but I thought it would be worth re-posting it. He is no longer able to write these emails but we are still drawing from them for continued inspiration.

Follow Jesus on Foot

August 30, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Matthew 14:13-36

When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. (Mat 14:13 NKJV)

Are you okay with following Jesus on foot? Am I? Why would we follow Him on foot? Let’s explore the answers to these questions.

Wouldn’t there be better ways to follow Jesus than walking? Why not ride a mule or horse? Maybe join a caravan or ride a carriage? Jesus almost always walked wherever he went so it would seem that those who wanted to be close to Him followed His example. A horse would be a distraction to getting close to Jesus. A caravan would limit mobility. A carriage would take up space. If we want to get close to Jesus we will need to limit and avoid distractions.

The common people most often traveled and still travel with common means. The common people sought after Jesus to hear His teaching and to feel His healing touch. The rich often scorn lowly means and therefore find it harder to reach Jesus. Here is an example of one rich man who was sad that he needed to sell what he had and come follow Jesus on foot…

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:16-23)

Just because you are poor does not necessarily mean that you will want to follow Jesus or that you will be saved. No. However, the less baggage to distract us or weight us down the easier it is to follow Jesus on foot. He should know. That’s why he said…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

~ Harold Troyer ~

The Inevitable Interview

August 27, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Matt 25:31-46

“And the Lord called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” Genesis 3:9.

We can all identify with Adam. Sin has covered us with shame. Our first instinct in this condition is to escape the searching gaze of God. We turn fugitive. We run from Him and hide ourselves. Like Cain, we conceal the blood of our brother. Like Jacob, we flee from those we have deceived. Like Jonah, we are off to Tarsus, seeking to avoid a call. But God is relentless in His pursuit of us, and our futile attempts at flight turn out to be but pitiful evasions.

God will not give up on us easily. As the Psalmist so clearly outlined in Psalms 139, we may withdraw from the association of men, but we cannot withdraw from the association of God. The divine pursuer will overtake us sooner or later. In fact, He will be there when we arrive, proving His inherent right to question our motives and search us out with, “Where is your brother?” or “Have you eaten of the tree?”

We cannot evade the Divine Interview. If we postpone it today, we are sure to face it tomorrow; resist it in time, and you will experience it in eternity. Where exactly do you want this to take place? Here, where mercy is active, or over there where mercy has ceased? “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment, and some men they follow after” (1 Timothy 5:24).

I do not want to meet my sins at the judgment seat of Christ, where He searches my face with the question, “I died for you, to forgive you there on earth; why did you not respond to the mercy I offered you?”

Thank God that His goodness and mercy follows us all the days of our lives. Make an appointment for that interview today.

~ James Baer ~

Cast Your Cares on God

August 20, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-12

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30)

God wants to carry our burdens. He calls us to cast all our cares upon him, for he cares for us. 1 Peter1:7. Jesus gave a beautiful invitation in Matthew 11:28-30. Here he offers to give rest to those who labor and are heavily burdened.

Why is it so difficult to cast our burdens on him? Faith and trust want to be our friends, but we rather cling to those old friends named doubt and distrust. When care controls us, then the word of God is choked and we become unfruitful. The level of our involvement in the world is usually directly in line with the cares that it brings.

We also lose our vision and readiness for eternity when care rules our lives. Care controls when pride rules. Pride demands control and refuses to turn anything over. We then go on, bearing burdens too heavy for us.

We like to borrow trouble from tomorrow. Here is a quote from D.O. Teasely’s book entitled, Ray of Hope. “The ‘maybes’ and the ‘might have beens’: those things which will never come to pass and those things which never were, cause more troubles than realities. Retain no thought of trouble from yesterday that will dim your hope today. Borrow no gloomy vision for tomorrow, for tomorrow will have trouble enough for its own.

“It is trouble enough to be troubled when trouble comes. If your powers of anticipation are so great that you can taste the bitterness of trouble yet to come, make that power of anticipation, instead of a curse, a blessing by tasting of the sweets yet to come.”

Cast your cares on the heavenly Father.

~~ James Baer

Is This Mercy?

August 13, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Hebrews 12:1-13 and 13:5-6

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10

God is rich in mercy. His love for us insures His mercy. But God is also just. How can He be both just and merciful at the same time? The answer to that question is found in our lead verse.

Through the atonement Christ made for us sinners in His death on Calvary’s cross, the justice of God was not ignored, but rather it was satisfied.  Christ died for us.  His merciful heart was broken in death for us, so that we need not die in our sins.  Justice (righteousness) and peace have kissed each other right there on Calvary.  Will you believe it?  Faith claims the promise.

This is all so very wonderful for us.  But there is another aspect of His mercy that we must understand; this is to find mercy in trial and adversity.  I have come to understand that His mercies are also found in His chastisements.  He brings these things into our lives for our profit, that we may actually share in His holiness.  Our hardships are a part of the divine blueprint for our lives.  Someone may be incarcerated, but God shows mercy even in the midst of this to teach us His ways.  A besetting illness may be His design for our good.  Financial loss might fit into His pattern for our lives.

Sometimes I have prayed fervently for the removal of the thing that later I found out was very beneficial to me.  Lest our prayers fly right into the face of what God wants to do in us, we do well to bow our hearts to His sovereign will, rather than insist on deliverance.  In God’s mercy He withholds what we think we need so much.  He knows the truth of all the aspects of our life and others, whereas we are often blind to some aspects.

Mercy and truth join hands in our willingness to surrender to our own personal cross.  Righteousness and peace kiss each other in our willingness to pray the perfect prayer, “Not my will, but thine be done.”  This prayer never fails.

~~ James Baer

How Great Is God’s Mercy?

August 6, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Psalm 103

“O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who has set thy glory above the heavens.” Psalm 8:1

In today’s Bible reading, the psalmist glorifies God from a heart simply overflowing with blessing and praise.  Verse 11 especially contains an interesting comparison, declaring that the mercy of God is as great as the distance of the heavens above the earth.  How great is that?

Scientists have measured the distance from the earth to many bodies in the heavens.  The distance to the moon is about 240 thousand miles.  The sun is about 93 million miles from the earth.  But the sun, moon, and planets are all in our solar system.  How far is it to the heavens where the stars are?

The closest star beyond the sun is Proxima Centauri, which lies 4.22 light-years away (24.7 trillion miles).  A light-year is the distance that light travels in one year, at 186,300 miles per second.  So even the closest star in the heavens is a long way off.  So great is the mercy of God!

In 1977, scientists launched two space probes called Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.  Voyager 1 travels 37,100 miles per hour and [at the time of this writing was] over 9 billion miles away from the earth.  If we could travel at the speed of Voyager 1, how long would it take to get to Proxima Centauri?  The trip would take 75,000 years!  These astronomical distances are hard to grasp.  But so great is the mercy of our God!

Let us take time right now to thank God for His unfathomable mercy.  There is no sin so great, no deed so dark, that the mercy of God through Christ Jesus will not forgive and forget.  Verse 17 says that the mercy of God is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him.  Claim it!  And worship the Creator who is also our Savior!

~~ James Baer

Hindered Prayer

July 30, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: 1 Peter 3:1-12

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7

Are you the husband of a wife? Or the wife of a husband? Possibly you are not married, or maybe you were married and are no longer. Whatever the case, these following words reveal a little of the mind of God for marriage.  A meditation on this Scripture may be of help to all of us in our various relationships, but especially in the context of the close bond of husband and wife.  Peter relates the effectiveness of our prayers to how we treat our wives.  This should be sobering to every husband.

The message of verses 1 to 6 are expressly for wives.  Wives are called to obedience and subjection.  A wife like this can actually lead a disobedient husband to salvation.  As they see your chaste life, your spiritual adornment, the beauty of your uncorrupted heart, and your meekness and quietness, they can be compelled to be an Abraham to their Sarah.  How wonderful!

As husbands, you are called to understand your wife’s nature and personality.  You are called to honor your Sarah.  This would mean that you would respect her for who she is.  You would never by your neglect, force her into a role that she is not called to fill.  You will honor her role as a mother, tender and true to her children.  You will honor and respect her as your mate for life and never by wandering eyes or heart defraud her in any way.  You will honor the grace you share in Christ.

Any careless attitude on our part, as husbands, toward our wives, hinders our prayers.  Actions like giving her the silent treatment, ignoring her needs, retorting angrily and such like, devastate your relationship with her and bar heaven’s door.  Is this what you want?

~~ James Baer

Have You Been to the Mountain?

July 23, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Exodus 33:12 – 34:8

His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Psalm 87:1-2

God loves to meet with His people.  He loves their worship and praise.  He longs to hear their prayers and observe their growth into holiness.  He wants our worship.

In our text today, we see Moses pleading for the presence of God to go with him as he leads Israel to Canaan.  He asks for something special after God consents to go with them.  Moses asks to see God’s glory.  God invites him up to the mountain and He shows him His goodness.  Moses’ response was to fall on his face in worship.  On Mount Sinai, Moses saw the holiness of God.  Have we viewed the holiness of God from our own mountain?  Have we seen the Lord’s holiness from our own Sinai?

In Matthew 17, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John into a high mountain and there He was transfigured before them.  There they heard the voice of God commending Christ to them.  There they learned that Christ was to be heard.  It seems as though God wanted to establish Christ’s eternal authority and glory to the disciples.  Have you been to the mountain of transfiguration?  Have you there bowed before the authority of Christ?

In our lead verse, we find that the Lord loves the gates of Zion.  In Psalm 48, we find the beauty of Mount Zion depicted and we recognize the refuge that God is to His people.  Have you found refuge in the church of God; the city of God called Mount Zion?  Have you been to Mount Zion?  There in that mountain have you entered into worship with the true saints of God, and found the loving kindness of God and His righteousness?  The last verse of Psalm 48 surely sums up what we find in the mountains. “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”

~~James Baer

Denying Ourselves in the World

July 16, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Matthew 16:21-28, John 12:23-28

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. John 12: 25

The greatest principle in Scripture regarding our salvation is a negative.  If we will follow after Christ, then we must deny ourselves.  It is a walk in death to the old man, the old flesh.  Let no man talk you out of this.  When Jesus was telling His disciples about His coming suffering, death, and resurrection, Peter challenged Christ that it must not be so.  Christ reacted immediately to him, even calling him Satan.  From this we learn that all attempts to soften the truth of self-denial and death to self come from the devil.  Do not listen to those voices.  There are many such voices out there.

Christ’s life must be seen in us.  This is one of the things of God that too few men understand.  We are to follow Him to death; the death of the old man of sin in us.  Read Romans 6.  If we be dead with Christ, we shall also live with Him.  The “dying” precedes the life.

When we get these things clear in our minds, and understand how basic this is to true obedience to Christ, then we will come to truly “hate” our life in the flesh, in the world.  Our life in the world (our inclination to sin) becomes hateful to us, and to continue to love that life will ultimately cause us to lose eternal life.

Dear Reader: “What will you profit, if you shall gain the whole world, and lose your own soul, or what shall you give in exchange for your soul?”  Some buy so little in exchange for their souls: a night of illicit passion or drunkenness, a lie on the tax form, or a grudge held over many years.  Are we willing to lose so much to gain so little?

~~ James Baer

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