Taste and See

taste and see“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8)

The words,“O taste and see that the LORD is good”, bring a flood of childhood memories. My mother often tried at mealtime to bring something different to our usually ordinary fare. She would search for new recipes that could be made with ingredients that she had available. When a new dish would appear, we would always ask, “What does it taste like?”. My father, with a twinkle in his eye, would respond, “About like owl.” That nonsensical phrase got the point across. We would laugh and then taste to see for ourselves.

To the unbeliever the words “O taste and see” are an invitation to get to know the Lord firsthand. We are asked to take a trial, an inward experiential trial, of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself, but if you taste you shall see “that the Lord is good”. You can only know the Lord personally by experience.

“O taste and see” is used here in the sense of examination, or testing by experience. The idea is that by putting trust in God and by testing the comforts of faith, one would thoroughly see or perceive the blessings of it. We would then find so much blessing that we would be led to seek His goodness altogether.

A well-known saying in my circle of acquaintances carries the same sentiment as Psalm 34:8: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. A personal relationship with the Lord comes to us when we test Him by experience, when we taste and see that the He is good. Trapp’s Commentary says, “With the mouth of your mind and with the eyes of your faith, perceive and experience the goodness of God”.

In calling us to taste and see, the psalmist indicates that we should seriously, thoroughly, and warmly consider this invitation of the Lord. This is opposed to those slight and vanishing thoughts that men usually have of divine goodness. It is not sufficient that we find Him to be a bountiful benefactor to us, but we must take delight in His goodness. We must be so convinced and persuaded of His goodness that we are encouraged even in the worst of times, to trust in Him, and cast our care upon Him.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  (Psalm 119:103)

~ Brother Roy

Caution

yellow traffic lightStreets and highways are usually marked with safety signs and traffic lights to help keep us safe. Colors range from green for ‘go’ to red for ‘stop’. The yellow signs represent ‘caution’ or ‘proceed with caution’. As in driving, when we attempt to negotiate the roadways of life, we need to be alert for signage the Lord provides that can help keep us safe.

There are many green lights in God’s word signaling ‘go’.  The word ‘go’ appears 1492 times in KJV of the Bible.  I offer but two examples:

  • Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.'”  (Psalm 122:1)

Numerous examples of red Biblical ‘stop signs’ could be offered as well. Prime examples can be found in the Exodus 20:2-17. Referred to as the Ten Commandments, eight of ten of these beneficial laws for living are stop signs. I offer two examples:

  • “You shall have no other gods before me ” (v.2)
  • “You shall not commit adultery” (v.14)

Now, I wish to direct attention to some of the Lord’s yellow ‘caution signs’:

  • “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15)
  • “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God” (Joshua 23:11)
  • “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall(1 Corinthians 10:12)

Have you noticed, as I have, motorists flying through a caution light to his or her own detriment? Others ignore the bright yellow caution signs, at times with disastrous results. Caution signs mean ‘warning – there is danger ahead’. Just because there is no STOP sign, it does not mean all ahead full! In the spiritual world, we need to slow down and assess the consequences of our actions when people, circumstances, or scripture advise caution. So many ‘train wrecks’ in life could be avoided if only we would heed the caution signs the Lord provides.

“They are blessed who hear God’s Message and carefully keep it.”  (Luke 11:28)

~ Brother Roy

Kissing a Cow

kissing a cowOne morning at our coffee group, sometimes referred to as the ‘gathering’ or the ‘Sanhedrin’, we discussed the wide variations in our personal tastes. The range of items considered was from food to cars and beyond. As discussions often do, ours eventually turned to the world of religion. When it comes to such discussions, I can still hear my father’s earthy wisdom. When he was attempting to settle this kind of argument between family members, he would say, “’It’s all a matter of taste,’ said the old man, as he kissed a cow”. It was his way of pointing out that it is usually not which thing is really better or right, but simply a matter of personal preference, a matter of taste.

So many things in life are a matter of taste, or personal choice. This devotional will focus mainly on matters of religion. Which type of service is the best? Is a traditional service more pleasing to the Lord than a contemporary service or is a blended type of service? What about music? Are the great hymns of the church more spiritual than ‘praise and worship’ choruses? Which translation of scripture is the best? Then there are the differences in methods of baptism, structure of communion, and degrees of liturgy that so often generate dissention and division.

The truth of the matter is that these and a host of other religious practices are not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of opinion or preference. To be sure, there are certain non-negotionable principles of the Christian faith. The Apostles’ Creed is one of the most succinct statements of these basic Christian beliefs:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, 
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. 
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; 
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic (Universal) Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. 
Amen.

Once we settle on the basic principles of the faith, everything else is pretty much detail. One of my favorite scriptures provides helpful advice to prevent majoring on minor issues. It is found in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. Paul provides this advice: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things,” (Philippians 4:8,9).

~ Brother Roy

Just Let Me Enjoy My Hotdog

STP 500

My heart was saddened as I was read an article on the sports page of the local newspaper. The article was reporting a deplorable situation at Baylor University, the largest Baptist University in the United States. The spotlight was on a large number of sexual assaults against female students by members of the football team. Reports of the assaults had been largely ignored and/or swept under the rug.  When the situation finally came to light, the football coach was fired and the athletic director and university president were reassigned or dismissed.

Because the football team was enjoying unprecedented success, many powerful alumni and wealthy supporters were very unhappy with the changes. The sports writer used a phrase that caught my attention. The phrase was, “Just let me enjoy my hot dog, and don’t tell me how it’s made”. The phrase directed my thoughts to a common but tragic human foible. If something is benefiting us, we aren’t particularly concerned about the details. It’s the old ‘the ends justifies the means’ approach. There is a line in a country song that echoes the idea, “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.”

At times, most people confronted with decisions are tempted to do what is pleasant or easy rather than what is right.  The tendency is to choose pleasure above the more difficult moral high road. Many people have a propensity to take advantage of the uninformed or less able in business dealings. The ‘right to life’ of the unborn often yields to convenience or expediency. Taking advantage of the fact that a certain action will never be known can also push a person to do something immoral or illegal.

Choosing the pleasant or easy way is often disastrous. The problem of choosing the easy way has been around since the earliest days of man on earth. A classic Biblical example of choosing to do the right thing rather than the easy way is Moses. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24,25, NKJV).

Let us choose God’s way. “I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me” (Psalm 119:30). We surely know,There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25, NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

A Matter of Perspective

heart perspectieDuring the Cold War Era, propaganda was the order of the day. I was told of an interesting report in a major state-controlled newspaper in Moscow. It reported a great international race that had taken place between Russia and the United States (the only two participants). Although the U.S. won, the Russian newspaper reported, “In the great race, Russia finished in second place, and the United States finished next to last.”

This story serves as ‘a case in point’ for the thoughts I want to share. Our perspective on circumstances in life will influence our attitudes and our actions. If our perception is inaccurate, it will have an adverse impact on how we live. Many lives have been ruined by a fault view of a situation, by misreading other people, or by erroneous self-assessment.

Scripture can help us gain a right perspective:

  • “For the Lord does not see as man see; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, NKJV)
  • The Apostle John speaking about Jesus said, “…He knew all men and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” (John 2:24b-25)
  • “As he (man) thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
  • The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (wicked); who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV)

James Allen, in his book ‘As a Man Thinketh’, offers this observation: “A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances. ” Allen continues by adding, “All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.” Once we realize we may not be seeing things as they really are, we must also realize the necessity of having the Lord in our lives to maintain the right perspective. Therefore, we need ‘the mind of Christ’ residing in us.

Satan attempts to distort our perspective. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). In order to maintain a correct perspective, we must have a personal relationship with the Lord. We should then study God’s word and keep fellowship with people of faith who reflect the mind of Christ.

The Apostle Paul provides this advice, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things,” (Philippians 4:8-9). 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
(
Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

~ Brother Roy

A Spiritual Boomerang

boomerangThe boomerang is a tool or weapon that is crafted to be thrown. It is typically constructed as a flat airfoil that is designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. A returning boomerang is designed to return to the thrower. It is well known as an instrument used by aboriginal Australians for hunting.

In the spiritual realm, there is a principle of reciprocating action similar to the action of a boomerang. The Apostle Paul addresses this principle in his letter to the Corinthians: But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). What we give or withhold returns to us in like manner. Jesus taught this principle: Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

The Message Translation of Proverbs 11:24 provides excellent insight into the reciprocation concept: The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” In the Book of Acts, Paul presents us with a beatitude that goes against our natural intuitions and instincts: “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).

The principle of reciprocating action, the spiritual boomerang, is the scriptural way into the Lord’s blessings. Therefore, let us be gracious to those who have offended us, liberal in sharing our physical resources, abundant in our kindness to strangers, and generous in loving our neighbors. May we be joyful in sharing our faith in Christ and always be respectful to unbelievers.

A Principle To Live By:  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you”.

~ Brother Roy

Never Pet a Porcupine

porcupineI really enjoy watching wildlife programs on television. That attraction has been fueled by the privilege I’ve had to take numerous safaris in Africa. One of the programs I recently watched featured a couple of large lion cubs. They were nearly adult in size, but their inexperience was obvious. A porcupine had waddled by attracting their attention. The porcupine was slow and much smaller than the lions. It appeared to be an easy meal at best or an interesting playmate at worst.

What a disastrous decision one of the lion cubs made in attacking the small, slow moving creature! The result was a face and paws full of barbed quills. The attack by the inexperienced cub was a fatal one. Barely able to walk and eat, the lion cub had suffered lethal wounds and eventually died.

Can you see a life lesson in this event? Sin, like the porcupine, often appears to be innocuous. The lions thought this small animal appeared harmless, perhaps good to eat or fun to bat around. Their inexperience proved devastating. Sin is always destructive, but is often viewed as little more than an interesting ‘plaything’. Many people choose, in spite of the strongest of Biblical warnings, “to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).  Many contemporary song lyrics echo a dismissive attitude toward sin. Phrases like; “it can’t be wrong if it feels so right” and “heaven is just a sin away” serve to illustrate this point.

Solomon calls to our attention the fact that it is the “little foxes’ that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15). One of Satan’s devices is to present sin as less than it is. He would have you believe you can commit small sins without any danger to your soul. Consider, however, how many ‘small’ sins such as the eating of the fruit in the garden, unauthorized fire on the altar, and the touching of the ark, have received searing judgment. Severe penalties fell upon the inexperienced and the careless perpetrators.

All too often, small sins seem to make way for greater ones. By yielding to the lesser, we give opportunity for Satan to tempt us in the greater. It is a sad thing to depart from God’s will for a small and seemingly harmless sin. It is the greatest folly to chance hell for a small transgression. For the love of one little sin, some have lost God and their souls forever. Many times small sins can more dangerous than ‘major’ ones. Great sins may startle the soul, and awaken it to repentance, but little ones breed and work secretly until they contaminate the soul.

Prayer:  Lord never let us underestimates the destructive nature of sin, even little ones. Give us the wisdom to never pet a porcupine.

~ Brother Roy