FREE FOOD AND DRINK! Isaiah 55

Why does free food taste so good?  Scarfing down those yummy tidbit samples roaming the aisles of Costco.  After a hospital visit, I’m offered complimentary chow for a week by our insurance provider.  Really?  Freebies?  That’s for me!  After patiently (no pun intended) waiting a few days, a big box, filled with pre-packaged frozen meals, lands on our front doorstep.  Carefully tossing out the dry ice, I pop all 10 meals into our refrigerator for daily consumption.  Fortunately or not, my wife wants no part of these tasty morsels.

I scarf down one a day for a week and a half.  Until all are consumed, down to the last crumb.  How are they?  Portions are for someone without an appetite, while the taste is truly forgettable, I hope.  But still, they’re free.  And what else counts?  No comment.

Reading Isaiah 55, you’ll discover that God offers free food and drink.  Isaiah 55: 1–‘Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.’  See?  Told you so.

Water, bread (v.2), milk, and wine are all precious commodities in parched desert lands.  Would tear a huge chunk out of your meager income to provide these basics, which often are not available due to drought, war, or countless other dangers.  But now for free?  Without rationing?  What?  Must be some snake oil salesman standing in the wings.  A magician performing tricks to get money out of us with nothing to show except our emptied wallets.

But no.  Not with the Lord.  His salvation, His love is not for sale.  He graciously offers them to us for free, even though it costs Him everything when His only Son Jesus dies on the cross.  He pays it all.  All we need to do is believe and accept His gift thankfully and wholeheartedly.  All in.  No turning back.  To be His and His alone.  Good deal, huh?  Nothing better.

But have you taken Jesus into your heart?  Again, you can’t earn a relationship with God.  Can’t do enough good deeds to balance off what you’re ashamed to admit you’ve done or said.  No leveling sin’s scales, hoping beyond hope that our good outweighs the bad.  None needed.  He does it all.  He has.  Still does.  And will… for you and me.

Time to trust Him.  While there’s still time.  So grab hold of Jesus’ hand which He’s extending to you.  Good.  Then, enjoy all the blessings He wants you to have.  All of them.  Mainly He gives Himself.  Why not ponder that this week as tomorrow we begin the Advent season.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving yourself for me.   Amen.

I’M SO THANKFUL 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Happy Thanksgiving! Wherever you live in this world, some particular day is often singled out by the governing authorities as a time to be thankful. More importantly, the Bible says to do so on a regular basis. As in daily. And often during each day. Just can’t be thankful enough, can we?

Unfortunately, I have to remind myself to thank Jesus for any blessing that comes my way. And there are many. Just breath itself. My wife and family and friends along with devotional writing that the Lord wants me to do for Him, for others. I’m thankful that I’m not doing this for myself. Or for money. Or for career advancement. None of the above.

I’m thankful simply to serve God. He could use much better than the likes of me. But here I am, nevertheless. I’m so thankful.

Take time, wherever you live, to thank God for whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about using the right words or uttering some flowery speech. Be your thankful self, whom the Lord Jesus loves so much. Remember the words that St. Paul writes thousands of years ago that are as fresh as today’s news only more upbeat and encouraging–‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thess. 5: 16-18).

I’m so thankful that so far in 2022, people from 56 different countries, from every inhabited continent, have been reading these devotionals. My prayer is that what’s been written and read will be to the glory of God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ through the help of the Holy Spirit. And that you are growing in thankfulness to your Lord and Savior. Me too!

I’m so thankful that you’ve read this today. Happy Thanksgiving! Blessings always, John Fischer

DOWN PAYMENT Ephesians 1: 11-14

It takes us an inordinate amount of time to find a new-build home we’d like to buy.  Months and months of hits and misses.  What looks promising turns out to have an active railroad line almost in its backyard!  Others have dangerous slopes to navigate, mortally injuring ourselves trying to mow the lawn or weed the garden.  Even our helpful realtor seems stymied.  Nothing clicks until my wife discovers online a housing development that’s barely started.

Gloom turns to hope.  A local developer earns a decades-long sterling reputation, even willing to throw in extra freebies that we ask for (you know I’d love that!).  Of the ninety lots available, only two fit our preferred home design, which means that we have to act quickly.  No hemming and hawing.  No dragging our feet.  So off we go, driving 50 miles to our realtor with a check in hand to make the down payment.

Only need to give 2% of the total cost to lock in the purchase of our new home.  A commitment is made.  Us to them with some money.  Them to us, accepting our pittance as we promise to fork over the balance at closing in a few months.  Almost sounds too easy.  And in a way it is.  Thankfully, it works out fine and dandy!

This house-buying business reminds me of what St. Paul says in Ephesians 1.  About God the Holy Spirit, who becomes our guarantee of future blessings–‘…the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it…(Eph. 1:13-14).  The word ‘guarantee’ in the original biblical language means a down payment.  First, a lower amount is given, with the fulfillment coming later.  Similar to our 2% now with the 98% later when our home is completed and the transaction is closed.

If you think that you don’t have a full appreciation of your spiritual life now, it may be because our time on earth is the down payment.  That 2% split second.  The completed transaction comes later as the 98% ushers it in forevermore.  You know where.  And when.  So, don’t be so frustrated with yourself or others or life in general (I’m looking at myself in the mirror).  It’s about as good as it gets.  Keep your head up.  This is down payment moment.  Promises made.  Hopes given.  But later…now that’s going to be something to shout about!

Think so?  You’ll know.  All because of Jesus.  Soon enough.

For the best that’s yet to come, we thank you, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

I WONDER WHAT PLEASES HIM? Psalm 147

I can think of umpteen things that God can do to please me.  How about answering all my daily prayers?  Every single one.  And there’s a ton of them.  Or adding more days to my life despite potential cancer issues?  Or more income to overcome the larger outflows from today’s inflated cost of living?  Or more caring neighbors?  I could go on and on.  How about it, God?

Two verses in Psalm 147 grab me by the collar, wake me up, and give me pause.  All at the same time!  Psalm 147: 10-11–‘His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.’  Maybe it’s time to move away from what hits my bull’s eye and think more about what hits the spot for the Lord.  No maybe about it.

The psalmist unveils what pleases God.  It’s not in horsepower, so to speak.  Or in material possessions.  Not in Olympic champions.  Or how alluring we are.  Or how much moolah we’ve invested.  Or where we’ve traveled to.  So sorry.  Have I stepped on a few toes?  Mine included?

Again I ask, what pleases God?  It’s simple, but easily overlooked and rarely done.  The Lord takes great pleasure in those who love Him, respect and revere Him, who can’t wait to sit at the feet of Jesus for comfort and guidance, letting Him lead as we follow close behind.  Not a surfacey kind of religion.  As in going through the motions, saying certain pre-approved phrases over and over again.  Buying off God through monetary gifts.  None of the above.

Rather He loves it when we put all our eggs in His basket.  Rely on Jesus’ promises, despite what we see.  We know better than to distrust our Lord, don’t we?  So, throw your hat in His ring.  Decide not to lose hope no matter what.  I know that’s hard as nails.  I’m no perfect example.  However, haven’t met anyone else who is either.  Still, I want to be His loyal, faithful follower.  That’s what pleases God.  That’s simple, isn’t it?

To be true blue, dyed in the wool, old-fashioned devoted, despite all the stuff that life throws at us.  That’s what He wants from us.   I know that it’s easier said than done.  This is where the rubber hits the road, spiritually.  Not being fair-weather Christians.  On sunny days only.  When I can benefit, wangling and getting my way in whatever way works for me, I, and myself.  An unpleasing trinity.

No.  Au contraire.  Both feet in…for Jesus.  No turning back.  Honed in on following the leader.  Eyes firmly focused on the Bible, avoiding whims even of modernistic church and state.

Ready?  For what?  To hang in there with the One who hung on a tree to make us His own.  Who paid the price none of us ever could.  Who gave His all.  So how could we give Him anything less?  Why not please Him for a change?  Why not?

Lord Jesus, we love you and put our all in your hands.  Amen.

STEADY EDDIE? 2 Peter 3

Such a smart aleck, confident without reason, standing up on a folding ladder to spray some nasty bugs which we don’t want or need outside our home.  My wife cautions me to make sure the four legs are well-positioned and secure.  Of course, I will.  What does she think I am?  No comments, please!  You know.  You know.  One leg gets lodged off-center on a piece of cement, and another is angled poorly between some rocks, which must have come from my head.

Yes, wisenheimer, you’re right, of course!  Down I go!  Like a ton of bricks.  With ribs crashing against that unforgiving metal ladder.  The shock was instantaneous.  The pain is searing.  Things broken?  Fortunately not.  But a humungous monster bruise develops that looks more like some ugly abstract artwork.  Tenderness lasts for months with access to that ladder forbidden by you-know-who from here on out.  Steady Eddie, I’m not!

The Apostle Peter warns us that this world wants to put us off guard.  Unsteady us, spiritually.  Wobbly while placing us out on a limb–‘…take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability’ (2 Peter 3:17).

Our culture bullies believers with almost any kind of sin they can think of.  Unfortunately, we’re vulnerable to their siren songs.  Are we much different from the ungodly?  Honestly?  Being different isn’t the be-all and end-all.  How about fitting in and being liked?  That’s a horse of a different color.  Getting ahead of the Joneses?  That green-eyed jealous monster?  Who doesn’t struggle with these temptations?

So what does Peter recommend to help keep us solidly on our feet, spiritually speaking?  Read on–‘ But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory…’ (2 Peter 3:18).  It’s simple.  Keep growing.  Not my waistline or our investment portfolio.  No.  But something far more important.  Grow in Jesus.  In His grace.  In His love, kindness, and caring.  His forgiveness.  And much more.

That’s what Peter recommends.  But how?  It’s as obvious as the ample nose on my face.  In His Word.  Your Bible.  In fellowship with other believers.  Sharing Him with others.  Giving and supporting mission work, whichever ones move your heart.

All this grows our knowledge of Jesus, which is how we stand up tall and straight, secure and steady.  Actually, nothing else seems to work.  I’ve tried a few.  They don’t.  Period.

Lord Jesus, we want to be faithful forever.  In your name and for your sake.  Amen.