10 May 2014- Mother’s Day is here again. It’s supposed to be a happy time…it’s meant to be a day to honor someone who has been a special influence in our lives. But for many of us, especially those who are not spring chickens any more, or for others who have had to part with their mother at an early age, the day can be bittersweet.
There are others for which the whole concept of motherhood brings tears to their eyes…either their own experience with their mother left them with sad memories, or some desired to be mothers and weren’t for some reason. Despite all this, the slogan for the day we hear over and over is “Happy Mother’s Day”.
In the Bible, we are told of a time when Jesus rode a donkey into town, with a crowd of untold number singing His praises. It should have been a thrilling moment…and yet…when He saw Jerusalem, He wept. We are told of a time when He was on His way to raise a friend from the grave…to show the power of GOD…a wondrous time to be sure…and yet again…when He saw the unhappiness of those around Him…he wept.
There’s an lesson for us here…and that’s the importance of Christians being sensitive to those around them. We need to make certain we don’t grow callous to the situations others find themselves in just because we are in a good place. It’s important…if there are a thousand people…there are a thousand situations…and each and every one matters, or should matter to a Christian. How can we say that we love our neighbor as ourselves if this isn’t so?
The Bible tells us in Romans 12:15 that we are to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep”. Most importantly, I believe it is essential that a Christian not do this in a hypocritical way. If you rejoice…be sincere. If you weep…be genuinely moved by the plight of another. Sometimes the greatest help we can be to someone is to just be there and reflect the love of GOD into the life of another. Sometimes GOD puts us places for a reason…let’s make sure He doesn’t have to send another to finish a task He has given us to do.
3 May 2014- We fill up our lives with stuff of all kinds. It piles up higher and higher as the years go by. Some people can never seen to throw anything away…they hang on to everything. When this get out of control, others might call them hoarders…and it can be a real problem.
Keeping items that only “might” be useful…but then again they may “never” be used is not always bad, but It’s good to do a little house cleaning every now and then. After all, we only have so much space to store our things. On the other hand, hanging on to stuff that can only cause harm is never a good idea.
I believe the same thought process applies to how we handle anger and resentment in our lives. As we get older, the incidents that can lead to bitterness and thoughts of getting even are bound to pile up, but these do nothing but suck the joy out of our life. In other words, they can only cause harm…they can never help you…and a little regular “house cleaning” is in order to get rid of them.
When people hurt us, we want revenge. I think it’s the human thing to do…but it’s not the Christian thing to do. We are all far from perfect, and because we can never see the “Big Picture” as GOD does, we are not competent to decide what the payback should be, anyway. Besides…the Bible tells us that GOD claims this right. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” (Romans 12:189; Deuteronomy 32:35).
We, on the other hand, are instructed not to return evil for evil ( Romans 12:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:9, Matthew 5:38, 39)….so if you’re hoarding ill feelings, if you’re piling up bitterness and thoughts of revenge…it’s time to do a little house cleaning. These thoughts can never do anything positive for you, they can only get between you and GOD.
26 April 2014- If you have ever walked along a wet beach after the tide had gone out and looked behind you, you would have seen a line of footprints stretching off into the distance. Yes, they definitely stand out and give you a good sense of where you’ve been…but they don’t last very long. Water starts filling them in and soon they are just depressions in the sand…and when the tide comes back in, it erases then completely.
Things are a little more permanent when walking in snow. Depending on the temperature and additional snowfall, those prints can hang around for quite a while. The footprints you leave behind in the snow leave a clear trail of where you’ve been for others to follow…maybe for days or even weeks.
And if you really wanted to leave a trail behind for a long, long time, the moon is where you need to go. I’ve read that the footprints our astronauts left there will last for thousands and thousands of years…maybe longer.
The question I have for you is this: what kind of trail do you want to leave behind? Parents think about this all the time…what will they have to leave for their children..what will their estate value be? Many people, such as politicians and sports figures, think about their legacy. They want later generations to know how great they were. But material stuff and fame sometimes don’t leave a trail much more substantial than walking along a beach. It’s washed away in no time.
By far, the greatest trail you can leave behind for your family, friends, or anybody…are the footsteps you made through life as you lead a genuine Christian life. Jeremiah 6:16 reads “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” The most lasting imprint we can leave for others to follow is the path that leads to the cross of Christ. Live so that the “old paths…the good way” are easy to find. Make your journey through this life count for something eternal! Leave a trail that never fades.
18 April 2014- When we go to visit a doctor, we like to see those diplomas hanging in the office. When we take our vehicle in for service, it’s reassuring to see those “Certified Factory -Trained Technician” certificates on the wall. But what we don’t care for so much..what can really make us edgy…is to see where our doctor was being sued for malpractice, or walk in to the service center and listen to some angry customer complain about how he had just been ripped off by incompetent repair work. We just don’t like to see the qualifications of those who we depend on questioned.
If there’s something every Christian depends on, it’s Christ coming through for us and providing that resurrection power to our bodies, fulfilling His promise of eternal life. We certainly don’t want to hear anyone tell us that He can’t pull it off. And you know something? Of all the detractors Christ had in the Bible, I don’t recall any of them questioning whether or not He worked miracles.
No, they got after Him for working on Saturday, or where His power came from, but they never denied the quality of His work. They didn’t even question His resurrection! Matthew 28:11-15 tells us the religious leaders had to bribe the soldiers to say that the disciples came and stole the body of Christ…but the way it reads tell us they knew the truth.
Without question, Jesus is the Christ…GOD’s anointed… that first Easter Sunday proved it for all time. And because of His resurrection from the dead, we all have a rock-solid guarantee of eternal life with Him in heaven. What a loving GOD we serve…what a Savior we have…Hallelujah to the blessed Lamb of GOD!
12 April 2014- Life can be hectic. There are days when we have more to do than we have hours to do them in. When this happens, a sensible person will prioritize the tasks at hand to make sure the most important ones get done. A not-so-prudent person will do what is more enjoyable or what takes the least effort and put the rest off until tomorrow…or at least some other time.
Prudent or not, I’m sure that we have all at one time or another put something off that really needed to be done, but we just didn’t get around to it. When this happens, catching up on the important matters that got missed should be on the top of our agenda for the next day…but sometimes this doesn’t happen either, and a real important task slips to yet another day. Eventually, that important task becomes a critical issue.
There’s a word for putting stuff off until bad things happen…and that word is neglect. If you neglect to keep the maintenance on your vehicles up to date…they stop working. If you neglect to keep your house painted…the wood rots. Neglecting family responsibilities causes irritation and conflict. If not addressed, a once happy home suddenly isn’t…and the damage may be hard to repair.
As bad as all this may be, the very worst neglect we can practice is neglect of GOD and His word. In Matthew 7:24-29, Jesus compared those who hear His words and obeys them to a wise man who built his house on a rock. Those who hear His words and ignore them are like a foolish man who builds on sand. In other words, neglecting GOD and His word can undermine your entire life.
Putting GOD first in our lives is non-negotiable. Not only is this essential to grow in our faith, but this will also work its way into other important areas as well. A sincere disciple will be conscious of being a good steward with the blessings and resources received from GOD. Cars and houses are kept in good repair, and families are cherished for the treasures they are.
Life teaches us all the high price of neglect. Let’s take these lessons to heart, and put GOD first every day of our lives…there is no more important task we will ever do.
29 March 2014- Sometimes the weakness of one part of a structure can go along unnoticed. The remaining parts are strong enough to keep the integrity of the building whole. But if more parts become decayed or unstable…the building may fall.
An architect usually takes great care in deciding what to incorporate before construction begins, and each piece has a purpose. If the whole is to stand, each part must be accountable to perform the task for which it was intended.
When tragedy strikes, investigators will sometimes be able to point to a specific reason…a structural flaw perhaps…or weakness that developed after a beam or a link deteriorated over time or due to an impact, fire, or earthquake. Sometimes the quality of the building materials themselves is determined to be at fault.
In the opinion of more than a few Christians today, the Church has been taking some hits. Will it continue to stand? Well…there is certainly no structural flaw in the Church…God is the Master Designer…and if the Church suffers it is due to some of its members that are not willing to be accountable for the task God intended. We each have a role to play…we each have been gifted for the edification of all.
But what about the quality of the “materials” that goes in to building the Church? Are we up to standards? Maybe we were at some point but have been weakened by too much of the world in our daily lives or too little of real spirituality (meaning prayer, Bible study, communion with your brothers and sisters in the Lord) day in and day out. Maybe we’ve never found the role that GOD intended for us to have…thus leaving a “hole” in the structure where we should be… and us just standing around serving no useful purpose somewhere else!
Romans 14:12 tells us that one day each of us will give an account of himself or herself to GOD. Try to find the “place” where you belong. I’d suggest that this is often the place where your talents are most needed or would do the most good for the Church as a whole. Be the reason that GOD’s building plan moves forward, not the “flaw” that led to problems!
22 March 2014- What’s the first impression that you get when you hear the word compromise? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Well, by itself, it’s neither actually…it depends on the situation.
Most of us like compromise when it would be to our advantage. Sometimes we may feel that we are getting a raw deal, and then compromise…entering into negotiations…gives us some hope. But if we think compromise may take away something that we have already, we’re not so crazy about it.
Compromise is necessary in relationships, whether that be between a factory and it’s workers, a democrat and a republican in Congress, or a man and a woman in their marriage. Without compromise, relationships fall apart. Nobody gets everything they want when you compromise, but everybody gets something.
To be willing to compromise helps to keep the peace, but there are times when the cost is too great. Take for instance, raising children. If a parent compromises too much on what the child can and can not do, disaster may strike and the child become a wayward child.
There’s one area in particular where compromising is like walking in a mine field…and that’s in the area of faith. Compromise can weaken and destroy faith, and it can certainly destroy a person’s witness.
Take for instance Galatians 2:11-21. Here, Paul calls Peter out for not living his faith. Peter drew back from the Gentile converts when the Judaizers showed up. He compromised his faith, showing preference for the Jews, and the Gentiles may have never looked at Peter the same way again, or the freedom they had in Christ. And what might this have done to Peter himself once he realized that he had failed his Lord….again. He knew better…and here is a compromise where everybody loses.
When you are tempted to compromise as a Christian, be certain that it is something that falls in the realm of personal choice… manners of dress, service hours, music (within limits), even how the pews are arranged…and yes I know a case where this little thing drove a member away because he was not willing to compromise. Always think first of Christ and your witness for the Savior, then think about compromising…and not the other way around.
14 March 2014- The world has really changed in the last 50 years…30 years…10 years…no…make that the last five years. Not so long ago, if you were out somewhere and made a telephone call, you really needed to talk to someone because making that call required you to hunt up a telephone booth and spend a little cash. I remember when a long distance call was a big deal and carried a sense of urgency because of the cost. It had a air of mystery about it. You could always tell it was long distance because the sound quality was not as good as a local call and it gave you a feel for the distance involved. Things aren’t like that any more.
When you go out anywhere today, most of the time…most of the people have their attention glued to a little device to communicate. They can’t even drive without it. Texting, talking, blogging….it’s an epidemic! Even standing in line at the store, people will find something to look at on their phone or someone to talk to…usually about trivial things. It seems like they just can’t be alone with their thoughts any more…and besides…surely the world is interested in every little move we make and needs to be updated.
Please don’t misunderstand. I have a “smart phone”. But so far I’ve managed to escape the “constant communication” syndrome as far as that phone is concerned. After all, being in constant contact isn’t a bad thing…in fact it’s in the Bible!
1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us that we are to pray without ceasing. If you want to be in constant contact, this is the connection that is worthwhile….the other party on this call is interested in what you’re doing…always…and is probably the only one who really is!
Now, to pray without ceasing doesn’t mean to be on your knees 24 x 7, but to be in an attitude of prayer, and if we look to see how Jesus prayed, the Bible says He frequently did this by Himself where He could be “one-on-one” with the Father.
Take time for the communication that really counts. Don’t get so caught up in being “connected” that you disconnect yourself from GOD. He’s waiting for your call…why not put His number in speed dial and use it often?
8 March 2014- Oh NO! Say it isn’t so…it’s happening to us again! We’re losing an hour! Daylight Savings Time has us firmly in its grip. Saturday we had 24 glorious hours and on Sunday we only have 23…and no matter how you look at…something’s got to go. Some will give up an hour’s sleep…some will give up breakfast and have a brunch…some will get a late start on shopping or leisure activities….and sadly enough…some will give up Sunday School or Church. It’s time to prioritize what’s important in our lives. We don’t want to miss out on the good stuff just because the clock moved ahead.
When I was younger and kept a small place in the country, Daylight Savings Time was a real grind because there seemed to always be an endless amount of stuff to do. When I got home from work…I went back to work….cleaning stalls..digging post holes for new fences…mending old fences…seeing to supplies of hay, oats, wood chips…feed for the other animals…clearing trees and brush…and on and on and on it went…often until dark.
And then in the fall, when we fell back to normal time…it was dark about the time I got home from work, so I shifted into “maintenance mode”…no new projects or any projects really…just maintain the status quo until spring. I could sit inside and talk about all the great stuff I could be doing if it wasn’t dark. But since it was dark….I was safe!
In John 9:4, Jesus said “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” That’s something we all need to pay attention to. We only have so many hours in this life…no matter what the clock says….we really haven’t lost an hour. But what we do for the Lord, we must do while we are living…because in the dark night of the grave we can do nothing.
I wonder…have we slipped into a “maintenance mode” when it comes to our faith? No new projects…doing only what we have to do? If so, this time of year is a great reminder that the sun is up… and we should also be about our Father’s business, while there is still time.
28 February 2014- ”All I want is to be happy…and I’m not”. Did you ever hear someone say this? To be happy is a good thing…but if that’s all we want out of life, we’ve set our sights far too low.
The Bible tells us of happiness, and in the overwhelming majority of the cases…GOD can be found as the basis for it. But although happiness is a good thing, I don’t believe the Bible proposes that we should seek happiness for happiness’ sake. We are, however, encouraged to seek holiness.
The blessings of Christianity are for the most part spiritual. God does not guarantee health, wealth, and prosperity to the believer in this life. In Ephesians 1:4, the Bible says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Paul goes on to write in the next verse: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: “ One could take from this verse that GOD wants us to be holy, and indeed it is spelled out for us in no uncertain terms in 1 Peter 1:16 that: “ …it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
To seek happiness is all about yourself…but to seek holiness is all about GOD. Nothing so points out the goodness and holiness of GOD than living here in this fallen world…and when you compare the difference between the good and evil all around us, the choice between heaven and hell couldn’t be any clearer.
A “happy” person…at least one who thinks they are happy… if unsaved…has to wrestle with the fact that one day they will die…no matter how wealthy, popular or comfortable a life they may lead. One day…it will all end, and they have to ponder the uncertainty in their mind as to what comes next. But those who have Christ as Savior have inherited life eternal…and they know it….and with that knowledge comes peace, joy, and contentment….and maybe even happiness in the here and now. But one thing is certain…while we may or not be “happy” in this life, this world will one day pass away…and happiness for all eternity is waiting for us in heaven.
22 February 2014- For me, it seems like what it takes to really want something is to consider buying it..deciding not to….then deciding to…then not…then to…and when I finally make up my mind to make the purchase, I set out for the store only to find out that it is no longer available. What a disaster!
We take for granted that products will be there whenever we decide we want them. The ball is completely in our court…we are in control of the situation. And it isn’t only being able to acquire something new whenever we get good and ready that we take for granted. We get complacent about many other things in our lives as well. Our health, the roof over our heads, our families and friends….things in our day-to-day existence that add so much but are valued so little..that is…until they are gone.
If we live long enough, our health will fail us…families and friends will be taken away one by one…and no matter how much we want them..our ability to enjoy them are gone. The same can be said for GOD’s offer of salvation. This is a limited time offer if there ever was one, because it expires when you you.
This winter should have brought one thing into sharp focus, and that is that the church house is always there and open…and whether or not we decide to “grace” the building with our presence is totally our decision…something we are in complete control of. Well…this just isn’t so.
Jeremiah 8:20 is one of the saddest verses in the whole Bible: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” It speaks of opportunity and promise, but both have come and gone…. and both were squandered or wasted. Please don’t let this be said of you…don’t squander or waste the opportunities you have to worship with GOD’s family or more to the point…to become part of that family. Jesus is waiting for you…don’t don’t delay your decision to “make the purchase”…either to worship or to accept Him as Lord and Savior. It may be later than you think.
18 January 2014- The quality of a building is determined by three things: the quality of the materials, the quality of the workmen’s skills who put it together, and the quality of the foundation. Poor construction always poses a danger of collapse, but given gentle weather and infrequent use, a bad building may survive for a while. But if hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, overcrowding, and probably a host of other things have taught us anything, it’s that inferior materials, inferior workmanship, or a poor foundation can spell certain doom.
It’s no different with the building of our lives. The foundation has to be sure, the life skill real, and the thoughts that fill our minds have to be pure in order for us to stand when times get hard. A life which is built on Christ as it’s foundation, which has as it’s skill set the ever growing relationship with the Savior, and the resulting sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit within us, and has the Holy Bible as the materials on which it is based will withstand the roughest torrents the world can throw at it…because this life is ultimately built in Heaven…and whatever happens here below is just a mere shadow of reality.
In Isaiah 28:16-17, GOD said “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation:” and the Apostles identified this stone for a foundation as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-6, Acts 4:8-12). Christ has to be the cornerstone of our lives, or one day our life will crumble…maybe not here, but certainly as we stand before the Great White Throne Judgement. The Holy Spirit has the skills we need to build a great life…if we will but listen to what is told to us. The Spirit has the skills and we don’t…it’s imperative that we realize this. We do not know better than GOD how to handle life. And certainly there is no better materials on which to build our life than the word of GOD.
Joshua said in Joshua 24:15 “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD “ Make sure that your house, like his, is built to stand the test of time.
11 January 2014- Did you ever have a “Fair Weather Friend”? You know…someone who is always around when times are good or you have money to spend or something they want? Maybe they hang around because they are bored and want you to entertain them. Fair Weather Friends are there when there’s something in it for them, but if there’s work to be done or they see no advantage to being with you….or worse yet…if money’s tight and you may need to borrow…why, these “friends” are no where to be seen…they vanish and are hard to find. “Fair Weather Friends” – who needs them?!
But what about those people who only seem to know you when they are desperate for help? When times are good, they have a hard time remembering your phone number or where you live. No doubt you know someone like this…people who greet you with a smile and seem overjoyed to see you…but if you don’t run into them on the street or while out shopping, you never hear from them unless they need a hand with something. I call these people “Foul Weather Friends”…and I say again….who needs them?!
When tragedy strikes, many will turn to Psalm 23 because it speaks of GOD’s comfort, deliverance, and trust. Unfortunately, when skies are blue and life is good, GOD is the farthest thing from their mind. They turn to the Almighty when they are desperate for help, but ignore Him the rest of the time. But you know something? GOD is right there beside us…always.
In John 15:14-15, Jesus called those who follow Him friends…and this you can be sure of…He is a friend in the good times and the bad. Christ is the friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Let us strive to be the same, and not just a “fair weather” or a “foul weather” friend…because those kinds of friends…who needs them?
4 January 2014- What time is it? It’s a question we hear often. Some of you may remember a television program that used to ask “Say kids…what time is it?” If you do, no doubt you’re thinking right now that it’s “Howdy Doody Time”. Well, not quite….it’s not Howdy Doody Time… but please say “Howdy Do” to “Habit Time”! It’s time to take a good hard look at our habits.
Maybe I’m referring to it being that special time of year when we make New Years resolutions…. and so it’s time to shake off some unsavory habits and put on some brand new ones. Indeed, the Bible tells us to Ephesians 4:17-25 that for those who know Jesus, it’s off with the old and on with the new…like changing out of the dirty old clothes of your former life and putting on the spotlessly white robes of Christ’s righteousness. But you know something…the Bible does not tie this to the New Year… so we shouldn’t either.
New Year resolutions attract people because the calendar draws a line in the sands of time for us. It marks the point where a change is to be made, and most of the changes that occur to people have a negative aspect. For instance, if you want to get into better shape…it implies you may be a little lazy. If you want to devote more time to prayer and Bible study…it implies that you aren’t spending enough time with GOD…and you know it.
Bad habits impede our quality of life and they also impede our Christian walk…and a bitter truth of life is that sin is, for the most part, habit forming! Little by little, sinful habits grow on us…we keep going back to the well where we got satisfaction for some thirst in our life…and before you know it…we’re hooked! We do it to ourselves! James 1:13-15 makes it clear that this is the case, and the only way to break out of sinful habits is to quit doing them…and to start doing what is right in the eyes of GOD.
So today, say “Howdy Do” to Habit Time, and not just because it’s the New Year, but because every day is a good day to change for the better, and GOD through His Holy Spirit stands ready to help us!
28 December 2013- Remember back to your school days….sitting at your desk and watching your teacher spend so much time writing and writing on those old chalk boards? Remember the sound the chalk made as it impacted with the board and was pulled across the dusty surface, every now and then making that irritating “squeak”? At some point the board would become full, or the teacher would move on to something else…pick up the eraser and erase everything in sight.
Chalk boards….well, that’s what came to my mind as I pondered the New Year. That chalk board can represent our lives…and that writing stands for all the stuff we’ve done this year. There are some activities that are destined to become history at the stroke of midnight on December 31, such as our tax situation for the year or writing “2013” as the current year…all in the past. A quick once over with the eraser, and we’re ready to start over.
There are no doubt other things many of us wish we could erase as well…mistakes we have made…promises we didn’t keep… opportunities we’ve missed. We pick up the eraser and try to wipe the board clean, but you know something? If you look hard, you can still see what was written. Unfortunately, this is how most of us deal out forgiveness, either for ourselves or for others. Oh, we say we forgive…but the transgressions are still there to us….especially if we try hard to see them, and that’s too bad. It shouldn’t be like that. If we look for flaws and faults with an unforgiving spirit, we can usually find them…especially if we’re looking to find them in others.
This sounds real depressing, but the good news is that there’s human forgiveness, and then there is GOD’s forgiveness. If you think back to your school days again, sometimes the board would get so dirty that it would be washed…and then it was clean… everything that had been written was completely gone. That’s what GOD’s forgiveness is like…a good washing of our chalk board. But when GOD washes, there’s the blood of Christ instead of water… and the towel that is needed is that of true repentance. I see the word “hypocrite” often enough in the Bible to know He isn’t interested in cleaning with anything else.
21 December 2013- “Jesus Inside”. It’s a catchy little phrase that pops up on hats and shirts, and I’ve even seen car decals with it. “Jesus Inside”. It’s a great thought! It’s an idea that puts thoughts of heaven in the minds of many. And while you wouldn’t know it based on how people act….our world is very heavenly minded.
It’s very strange….I read of a recent poll that uncovered the fact that 81% of all those asked believe in a literal heaven…and more importantly…I’m talking about a heaven where people go to live with GOD after they die…a place where departed loved ones and friends awaited them. More that half of those asked believed that they went to heaven the very second they died. What a deal!
People believe in heaven…oh happy day! But there is a problem that is very evident if you look around. The world’s a fairly evil and threatening place for so many to rightly believe they’re on their way to heaven. Those other 19% must literally be hell on earth!
Folks believe in heaven…and believe they’re going there…but some have founded their belief on a lie. Some believe they can work their way to heaven…if the good outweighs the bad, then you’re in. Others believe they’re going because they don’t want to go to hell, and still others think we’re all going because GOD is a GOD of love.
But here’s something to consider….many think that Jesus came to earth to put people into heaven…that’s wrong. Christ did not come to that manger on that first Christmas to put people into heaven… but to put heaven into people…and indeed, when we come to faith in Christ, we experience the indwelling of the Holy Ghost…a little bit of heaven…to be with us as a part of us for ever more.
Many people think they are heaven bound, but Matthew 7:21-23 tells a different story. It’s those who have “Jesus Inside”…those who have heaven in their hearts who are making the trip. If you haven’t already, why not pack your spiritual bags and get ready for the journey? It will absolutely be the trip of a lifetime! Merry CHRISTmas!
14 December 2013- When the thought of someone crosses your mind, do you find yourself making a mental statement about that person? For instance, if someone is an avid sports fan or hunter, is that what pops into your mind when you hear their name? Right or wrong, I believe that most of us will categorize someone based on what is important to them. It might be the way they dress that stands out…such as Jerry and those hats or Mary and her bright colors. Maybe it’s not clothing….maybe it’s the activities they enjoy, like Ray and his motorcycle, Steve and his TV or Pam and her garden.
Now, there’s nothing really wrong with any of this, unless the association turns out to be something unsavory or unflattering. Those kind of relationships will make you think of the person in a negative light…almost always….and others may view you in the same way, so the image you project to others is very important.
What we usually relate with a person is that thing which stands out the most in our minds about them, and I’d say what stands out is either that one thing that’s most important to them or something that is at least very near and dear to their hearts…and as a Christian, I truly believe we should strive to have that idea pop into people’s mind when they think of us. Being a Christian ought to be the way we want to be regarded, first and foremost.
With that being said, I myself have a variety of interests. I’m fond of science, of history, of people…I don’t mind watching or playing a little sports every now and then. I like agriculture. But the thing that I want to register with others first and foremost is that I am a Christian…and next, that I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:16 that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ… and if that’s the thought that someone has when they see me…that I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ… well, that wouldn’t be all that bad either.
30 November 2013- I’ve heard it said that in a pinch, any tool becomes a hammer. Yes, you can pound away with whatever you can lay your hands on, but the results are usually not the best…either for the project or the “hammer”. The right tool for the right job certainly makes the work easier, and being dressed appropriately for the task helps as well.
As Christians, we have not been saved to sit around and wait for the rapture…we’ve been given a job to do. We are to spread the word, make disciples, and serve as Christ’s ambassadors to a lost world, and if we want to do a good job, we should probably pay attention to our tools and how we’re dressed.
Ephesians 6:10-18 has some guidance on how we are to equip ourselves, and it sounds like the task at hand is more than just weeding the garden because the Bible tells us that we should prepare for battle: the belt of truth around our waist, a breastplate of righteousness, our feet protected from our walk in life by the gospel of peace, a shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit which is the word of GOD, all put together under an umbrella of continuous prayer.
To wear a breastplate of righteousness implies that one is available, but we know that the only righteousness we have in the eyes of GOD is imputed righteousness from our Lord Jesus Christ. In practical terms, I think we can get a better understanding of what is meant by the “breastplate of righteousness” by looking at another reference made by Paul to a breastplate, and this is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Here, he talks about putting on the breastplate of faith and love. Surely faith in GOD…faith in Christ, and the love of GOD and our fellow man puts us in line to be issued this breastplate of righteousness from our Heavenly Father. Having faith and love is what Christ told us to do, and by obeying Him is how we show we are true disciples.
If we are to do GOD’s work, we must have GOD’s equipment, and as 1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us, we should be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that our labor is not in vain.
22 November 2013- Faith is a great thing…but faith in the wrong things spells disaster because it will end up in emptiness and ashes. There are all sorts of things we need to have faith in, or we wouldn’t be able to live a normal life. We need to have faith that our roof won’t fall on our heads…we need to have faith that our doctors know what they are doing….that pilots know how to fly a plane….and that other drivers are competent to be behind the wheel of a vehicle. But in every one of these cases, we know that sometimes the roof does fall…our doctors do make mistakes…pilots do crash their planes…and drivers we meet coming towards us on the highway are impaired or just not paying attention.
Sometimes we put our faith in other people or our own abilities, and this is all right so long as we don’t put absolute faith in anything other than GOD. People aren’t always what we think they are, or show that they are, after all, just human beings like we are. And sometimes we overestimate our own abilities in reference to the challenges we face. Simply put…people fail. I don’t say this in a judgmental or condemning way, it’s just the truth…people fail….all people fail at something at one time or another.
As Christians we have professed our faith in Christ, and our intention to follow His example in our daily lives, but how’s that working out for you? Do you always, in all situations live a perfect life…a life like Christ? I’d say probably not. But our faith in Christ is a great faith…because it is the only place we can place our faith that will never disappoint us.
In John 10:27-30, Jesus said: ”My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” Now there’s something rock-solid to put your faith in…and this is indeed a great faith…because it is a faith that will never fail.
16 November 2013- Being in a strange place can be unsettling. Being in a strange place and being afraid can be worse. Being in a strange place and being afraid and also being alone can be terrifying. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. It may have been for just a moment, but I’m confident we’ve all experienced a time when our confidence was shaken and we felt less than adequate for the situation at hand.
To a large extent, I believe this happens because we are so accustomed to these fragile jars of clay we walk around in, and so unaccustomed to fully trusting in GOD…the kind of trust that Stephen displayed in the book of Acts…. or Paul, or Peter, or John for that matter. Their faith, their trust in GOD saw them through some frightening situations, and I think it’s because they knew they weren’t alone….ever. Right before Stephen was martyred, he looked into heaven with his spiritual eyes and saw Christ, who had gone on ahead of him, standing… and watching what was happening, and it brought him peace.
In Deuteronomy 31:1-8 we read where Moses told the people that he had come to the end of the trail. After leading the Israelites through the sea and the wilderness, after being their go-between with GOD for over 40 years…he was not going with them into the promised land…a land that had to be conquered before it could be called home. It must have shot a cold chill up their collective spine. But Moses said there was another whom they could follow, and that was Joshua.
The LORD had work for Joshua to do..and Moses tells him to be strong and courageous. He said for Joshua not to be afraid or get discouraged, because the LORD was going on ahead, and the LORD would be with him, and the LORD would not fail him or abandon him. Moses said for Joshua not to be afraid or dismayed.
Even if I haven’t been somewhere before, if someone I know has gone on ahead it seems a little less foreign. This life can put us in situations that are strange and terrifying, and I know we all feel alone when tragedy or illness strikes…but we don’t have to. Our GOD is omnipresent, and there’s no where we can go, no situation we can face that He hasn’t before. And there’s no where we can go where GOD isn’t…we are never alone. Our Lord Jesus Christ has gone on ahead…all we need to do is follow.
8 November 2013- When it comes to helping others….what motivates you? Do you spring into action because it seems like the right thing to do, or do you first stop to consider “What’s in it for me?” What if no one would ever know the good you do for someone else, even the person you help, would you still want to lend a hand?
Sometimes we render aid in order to get recognized… to have others think and hopefully say what good people we are. Sometimes we help others because it makes us feel good…what we do is as much for ourselves as anyone else. We get a sense of satisfaction that is rewarding but unfortunately, self serving.
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus said that we are not to give in such a way to draw attention to ourselves. In fact, by saying that even our own left hand shouldn’t know what our right hand is doing implies to me that our aide should be instinctive, not calculated to gain us any kind of advantage. Jesus said a reward for such behavior would be coming from GOD, but I believe the reward is not the motivator…just a bonus.
There are many times in life when most of us do something for someone else for no other reason than we love them, and know what we do will make them happy. It may even make us a little miserable to do it, but we do it anyway, out of love. Husbands and wives do this for each other….children and parents do likewise. Everybody goes out of their way to do something good for another… all out of love. And I think this is the attitude we should carry into our motivation for helping anybody. Of course, we know we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but there’s a deeper motivation at work as well.
In Isaiah 26:8 the prophet writes: “…the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. The focus here is completely on GOD, not ourselves. We remember GOD… what He has said to us, and our heart’s desire should be to glorify His name.
We should help others out of love….both for the ones we help, and most importantly, for our Heavenly Father. Any other motivation falls short of the mark for Christian living. Keep asking yourself this question as you go through life: “Am I helping to bring attention to myself…to make myself feel good perhaps…or am I helping to glorify and honor GOD?”
2 November 2013- Envy….have you ever felt it…maybe just a little? Someone gets a new car and you look out at that old rat-trap you drive and sigh. Somebody gets an award or recognition for a trifling little something or other, and your efforts go virtually unnoticed. Or maybe there’s a whole bunch of people that failed to do something, but you alone are singled out for blame. Envy….it will eat your spiritual joy whole.
All too often, we compare our situation with those around us and I think a very natural human instinct is to want to come out on top. We want the best or at least what we consider our fair share. We want others to envy us…not the other way around.
Envy has other names…jealousy, resentment, bitterness, and dare I say….covetousness. And I think in virtually every case, the source of envy has its roots in the physical world, not the spiritual.
We begrudge others their success or their possessions for things acquired in this life, not what’s coming to them at the end, and I think any time you find envy creeping into your mind, ask yourself this question: “Would I trade places with them if I could? Would I trade my family, my career, my relationships…all of it..to be them…in order to have what they have?”
There’s one relationship in particular you should remember, and that’s your relationship with Christ. If Christ is your Savior, what do you have to be envious about? People get saved one at time… salvation is an intensely personal experience, and no one can be “more saved” than you are…and I fully believe that no one is loved more by GOD than you are. New cars become old….careers end…but for the child of GOD, the relationship with Him is fresh and new every morning because we are being changed day-by-day into the very image of His Son. What else, eternally speaking, could possibly matter?
In Proverbs 23:17,18 we are told not to envy sinners but to continuously be in the fear of the LORD, for surely an end is coming and our hope will not be cut off. There will come a day when all apparent inequalities will be put right (Psalm 37:28-38). Envy has no place in the heart of a Christian, because we already have the best that could ever be, and we are one family, one body, and since GOD is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), we all stand as equals before the LORD.
26 October 2013- The end is at hand! It’s over! Well…the growing season for this year, anyway. The weather report Friday said a freeze was coming that night, and with it came the end of summer gardening. Summer 2013 is now just a memory. Sometimes we act as if be believe what we experience at the moment is all there will ever be. We know the seasons change, but when you’re picking and canning it seems to be too far in the future to really spend much time thinking about. Then there’s that first burst of cold weather and we come to realize that what we had enjoyed for a season is over.
In Acts 16:16-34, there’s a story about Paul and Silas who found themselves in jail and then there was earthquake. Suddenly the path to freedom was open. The jailer panicked but Paul reassured him none had escaped. The jailer was so moved that he wanted to know how he could be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house”, and sure enough they were all saved that night.
The jailer and his house were saved, but his house was not saved by the jailer’s conversion, other than the influence of the witness he gave to his family. Each family member had to come to Christ in the same was the jailer did. Salvation is an intensely individual and personal experience…no one can do it for you.
When the seasons change, we are reminded that life is not static, and the coming of winter reminds us that just as the warm days of summer are numbered, so are the days we have open to us to receive Christ as our Savior. Christians look forward to Christ’s return, but do you ever stop to ponder the question “What of my house?”. Are your loved ones saved? Are they prepared to meet their GOD?
The season for choice is nearing an end. Exactly when, only GOD knows. Before that day happens, we need to make sure that we do everything we can to help those around us we care about come to a saving knowledge of the Savior before the season for choice is closed forever.
19 October 2013- Why is it that every time you wash your car or truck, it rains? It isn’t true of course, but I hear people say this all the time, and I have said it myself. Sometimes, after putting the old shine on my vehicle, I cringe when I see the storm clouds gather or find out that I have to go somewhere that will more than likely get it dirty. This, I must admit, is ridiculous. A wash job, no matter how good, will not last forever. And before you know it, you’re no longer sitting high as you drive down the road, but are instead kind of slouching down in the seat…hoping that no one you know will see you drive by in such a filthy rag.
Well…it’s no different with our lives. Why does it seem that every time you get out of church…feeling all good and clean and spiritual…. why does it seem that something always happens to take that old gospel shine off of your spirit? Something breaks down and needs to be replaced, you get sick, the clerk at the store is especially rude, or maybe Ma burns the supper biscuits and there you are…having those short tempered, judgmental thoughts again…how many times does a person have to make biscuits before they learn to get it right, anyway? Sometimes before you even get settled from being back from church, you sense your halo tarnishing, and you want to slouch down so nobody you know sees how you act.
Friends, this is going to happen…over and over again. That’s a big reason why we need to keep in touch with GOD through prayer and being washed by the study of His Holy Word. This is why we need to keep going back to church. Psalm 51:1-19 is an excellent reminder of where we are every day, and what we need to set things right.
There are those who protect the shine on their vehicle by never using it…never taking it out of the garage. But what use is it to anybody? If you get out in the world, you’re going to get dirty….and out into the world is exactly where Christ sends us. No problem… just make sure to get cleaned up as often as necessary to keep that “showroom shine” on your witness.
13 October 2013- “I can’t believe the way I just got treated in there!” Did you ever have an occasion to say that? Maybe you’ve had a reason to make this statement: “Well…that’s gratitude for you! I’ve given them the shirt off of my back and what do I get in return? That’s the last time they’ll have an opportunity to kick me around!” I’d say most of us have gotten our feeling hurt at least once…and we probably didn’t like it.
No….in this case, we sure don’t like to receive but maybe we don’t mind giving every now and then. But sometimes our perceptions are at fault. Sometimes we see insults and ingratitude where they do not exist…we were just expecting more thanks than we got…and we strike back.
Well, if we can feel this way about others, do we ever stop to consider that someone else may be wringing their hands over our response to some favor or good deed? In particular, I’m thinking about our Heavenly Father…the Almighty GOD…the Creator of the Universe. Did you ever stop to consider that this is how He might respond to us? Does this sound crazy to you? It isn’t as far fetched as you may believe.
In Isaiah 1:11-20, GOD has a complaint to make about the way He was being treated. After all He had done for Israel, their ingratitude was hard to understand. It was rude. They went through the motions of worship, but it was hollow and empty… and GOD had had enough.
When we gather to worship, we have an opportunity to show our gratitude to GOD for all He does. Are we really sincere, or just going through the motions? Do we wait until we get to the church house to begin, or do we spend some time in reflection beforehand, getting our spirits right before seeking to come into His Holy Presence? Of all the the places to show our gratitude, when we come before GOD in worship should be at the top of the list. Actions speak louder than words! If you love GOD and are grateful for all He has done, it should be plain to see don’t you think?
5 October 2013- Imagine yourself in one of those huge home supply houses and you’re frantically searching up and down the 57 aisles looking for some part to fix your favorite chair. Now, you know they won’t have right replacement part you need, but you’re hoping to find something that you can use to patch it together. A little tape, some wire, a screw or two, and a new sheet thrown over it to hide the damage and no one will ever know! No wait…maybe a metal plate and some glue…but what kind?
While you’re searching, one of he employees comes up and asks if he or she can help you find something. Here’s a golden opportunity to get help form someone who very well may know hardware better than you do….but instead of telling about the chair, you ask about some product to get that chili stain out of the carpet!
If there’s ever a time to focus, it’s when someone asks if they can help us. In Mark 10:46-51, we are told about a blind man who cried out to Jesus for mercy. When Jesus asked what it was the man wanted Him to do to help, the man didn’t hesitate or veer off on to some issue like maybe needing a new pair of shoes….no he spoke right up: “Lord, that I might receive my sight.
Our prayer life should be just like that. We should have a definite objective when we approach the throne of grace in prayer…whether it be praise, or intercession, or greater spiritual discernment, or whatever drove you to your knees. There may be times when you don’t know what you need…only that you do, in fact, need. If so, say it plainly. Don’t beat around the bush…if you have a problem, address it clearly. If there’s ever a time to focus, it’s the time we spend in prayer! Remember that if you get the leak fixed, you can quit bailing out the boat!
27 September 2013- Prayer time can be a difficult time. Some look at it as a drudgery…something to get through because Christians think they are supposed to pray. Jesus talked about prayer in Matthew 6:5-15. It’s helpful to go back to this passage and review it every now and then, just to keep the meaning of prayer firmly in our mind.
The first thing to notice is that prayer is a matter between you and GOD. Prayer is not something to do to get the praises of men. Next, Jesus said we are not to use vain repetitions, and I take this to mean we are to think about what we’re praying and not just recite a memorized laundry list. Let’s face it, though…your prayers from day to day are likely to very similar because your concerns, if heart-felt, will still be with you. But just don’t rumble through to get finished…think about what you’re saying to GOD and why you’re saying it.
In verse 8 Jesus said that our Father knows what we need before we ask, and some might ponder “why pray at all”? For me, the answer is obvious. Prayer is a two-way street, or it should be. When you talk to GOD, He talks back through His Holy Spirit.
In verse 10 we see “Thy kingdom come…thy will be done”. In Heaven, this is a done deal because GOD’s will is the only thing that matters. The earth, however, is a battle zone…and when we pray for GOD’s will to be done here as it is in heaven, we are reminding ourselves that GOD’s will is to rein in every aspect of our daily lives. Does it? This is a call to action fro every Christian. GOD’s will should be the bottom line for every prayer. We might not always understand why, but GOD knows best…and He knows best all the time.
When we seek for His kingdom on earth…we pray for His will and not ours be done, and the more we seek it, the closer our thoughts come to aligning with His.
7 September 2013- It’s not uncommon to hear someone say to you “Don’t forget!”
…and it seems like there are lots of stuff “not to forget” as we go through our lives. There sure is a bunch of stuff to remember! There’s birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, obligations, grocery lists, car maintenance, passwords, your phone number and where you live… and it just seems to go on an on!
With so much going on in our day-to-day life, sometimes living seems to take up all of our time. But don’t get so busy trying to remember the little stuff, that you forget the really BIG stuff the Bible tells us to remember.
Hebrews 13:3 tells us to remember those who are in bonds and are suffering as if it were we ourselves in harm’s way….and here I think Paul was talking about those being persecuted for the faith. What a blessing we have been given, and I think we often take it for granted. Here, we are free to worship or not as we please…but in other places, to worship GOD invites death!
We are also to remember those who have lead us in the faith, who have spoken the word of GOD to us. Think about how their lives turned out and follow them in faith. Think of the long line of witnesses we have in the Bible to learn from. And why should we do this? Well, what worked for them will work for us as well, because as Hebrews 13:8 reminds us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
There’s plenty more, but here’s just one more thing to remember, and it’s something that should come to the mind of every Christian with the waking of every day. It’s a marvelous promise we all have through our Savior Jesus Christ because by the sacrifice He made on our behalf…and what we need to remember is something GOD has promised to forget! It’s found in Hebrews 8:1-13.
The promise I’m speaking of is found in verse 12: – “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Remembering to “remember” this wondrous truth every morning will put the rest of the day in perspective!
31 August 2013- There’s a task ahead, so you start going over in your mind how you should approach it. Is it for you, or for someone else? Is it essential? How much effort do you want to put in to it….a patch and a promise…or give it your best effort? It should be no surprise that the Bible has guidance to help us, and I believe the conclusion from what it has to say is that “… whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” (Colossians 3:23). We labor for Christ, so we need to apply the right effort for the right job.
There is one task that faces us that is actually a labor of love, and this is our worship of GOD. It may have many components, but it is in reality a single task…because we are to present ourselves as a “living sacrifice unto GOD” (Romans 12:1). The life we lead is our true worship we offer to GOD.
With that in mind, our worship should be molded by the concept required by Deuteronomy 17:1, which states that the sacrifices made to GOD are to be without blemish, spot, or stain..and the word used for blemish here carries the additional sense of a moral stain as well. I take this to mean that what we offer should be the best we have to give. Believe me, God knows if it isn’t! (Malachi 1:6-10).
When we work for others…when we work for ourselves, do it as unto the Lord. When we read the Bible, pray for ourselves and others, offer up praises and thanksgiving, and attend services at church, let us not look at it as checking off a box for a daily activity, but do it heartily, as unto the Lord because these are all acts of worship to GOD Almighty…and He knows the heart…you won’t fool Him.
Remember the sacrifice He made out of love for us…remember Christ and that cross at Calvary. He gave the BEST for us…let us give our best back to him in return. It is, after all, our reasonable service!
24 August 2013- Have you ever been accused of being like a bull in a china shop? Usually this carries a somewhat negative connotation…it implies that you are clumsy, off balance, lacking self-control, or maybe rough handed. Sometimes, I suppose, it could also mean that you go overboard…that you use too much force for the situation at hand, like using a sledge hammer where a simple tack hammer would do the job, and as a result, carnage and destruction result.
There are situations where being a little strong-handed is just what the doctor ordered to get your point across. Take fire raining down from heaven. GOD used this device at Sodom and Gomorrah to great effect in Genesis 19:24-25, showing the penalties of sin. In 1 Kings 18:17-40, the Bible tells us how GOD used it to illustrate the difference between Himself…. the one true GOD…and a false god of idolatry.
But sometimes, it is just too much. In Luke 9: 51-56, we read where a village of Samaritans refused to receive Jesus because He was on His way to Jerusalem. Upon seeing this, James and John said “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” Well, instead of agreeing, Jesus turned and rebuked them saying “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
In this last case, the heavy hand was the wrong approach for the situation, and by “we”, I hope James and John were referring to the group collectively…which would include Jesus, and not just to them!
When we deal with those around us….particularly the unsaved…too much of the “holier than thou” attitude can be destructive. We must remember that the lost do not understand and they are spiritually blind. Paul said that the message of the cross was foolishness to them that are perishing (1 Co 1:18). Our job as ambassadors for Christ is to help them to see the light…to understand the difference between themselves and GOD…not the difference between them and us. It’s so easy to get into a game of comparison. Let’s just make sure we get the right pair!
17 August 2013- Different day…same old problems…. Do you ever catch yourself thinking this? Well, people and problems seem to go hand-in-hand, and the Bible tells us that this is nothing new.
In Psalm 106 we certainly read of a whole host of problems for the Hebrews. The psalm starts off praising GOD. Why? Because He is good and His love is eternal, and His acts are immeasurable…and those who obey Him are truly blessed.
Despite this insight, the psalmist writes that the people were still wicked, just like their ancestors. GOD had come to their aid time and time again, and for a while, the people believed His promises and sang His praise. But it didn’t last. Before too long, GOD was out of the picture and they were back acting on their own. Instead of GOD, they preferred idols. And, instead of cleansing the land of the heathen as GOD had commanded, they embraced them…and adopted their ungodly lifestyle. In doing so, they became so defiled in GOD’s eyes that He abandoned them for a while and allowed the heathen to rule over them. But even then, when His people cried out in their distress, He showered His compassion on them once again.
Where are you today? Are you beset with problems? To be sure, we have been cautioned to expect trouble, but are your problems those that result from having to live in a sinful world, or are they caused by your rebellion against GOD..your failure to follow His precepts? The course of action you need to take in both cases is the same, and that answer is prayer. If you are oppressed by the evil that surrounds us on all sides, then pray for strength to endure. If, however…after examining the situation, you find that a rebellious heart is the primary cause of your distress, then your prayer should be one of repentance…asking for GOD’s forgiveness.
Yes, in this world we are to expect troubles. Christ told us this in John 16:33. But there is hope for the Christian, because after the bad news comes some of the most reassuring words in the Bible: “but be of good cheer;” Jesus said. “I have overcome the world.”
9 August 2013- Did you ever feel like you got stung when you stepped out in faith? Maybe you extended a helping hand and got bit in return by someone who took advantage of your generosity, or gossiped about how much more you could have done, or maybe was just downright ungrateful…not that we should ever do something just to be thanked for it. Or maybe you sacrificed in order to support a charitable cause just to find out that your effort was squandered because those operating the charity were a bunch of rascals?
Maybe you put a “GOD is my CO-PILOT” license plate on the front of your car (but I’d think a person would rather have GOD as pilot than co-pilot) just to have someone leave an editorial comment about your faith by damaging your vehicle in some way.
If things like this have ever happened to you, did it leave you feeling that you had made a mistake in choosing to step out in faith..that your faith had failed you? Did you have a moment when you actually thought that it was God Himself that failed you?
Well, if that’s what you thought, you’d be wrong in either case. The sad fact of living in a sinful world is that sometimes sinful people will cause us disappointment, but it’s never a mistake to step out in faith. Our faith is in God, not in the things we do, and isn’t that the real reason for acting on our beliefs?
If faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1), then stepping out in our faith is the evidence that it exists. As James said James 2:20 “…faith without works is dead”. We step out in faith to honor GOD and demonstrate our trust in Him…to illustrate to the world that our faith is alive and well. A saving faith will produce good works, and in order to do good works, we have to step out in faith and trust GOD to make it worthwhile….and if the only outcome of our “act of faith” is that it brought us a little closer to GOD, then it was worthwhile indeed.
3 August 2013- All of us have probably heard the expression “There’s two sides to every story”. What this usually means is that there’s more than than one way to look at a situation. Rarely do you get an unbiased, objective commentary about an event when the person telling you about it has an emotional or financial investment in what happened. The real truth between two opposing opinions is usually somewhere in the middle.
It might be unusual in our day to day life, but as Christians, we should always strive for an objective view of any situation….and by objective, I mean looking at it from GOD’s perspective. There are two ways to look at any circumstance…how it affects you, and how it affects God’s kingdom. As an example, the Apostle Paul could have been the poster boy for being unfairly treated. Assaulted, beaten, thrown into jail (Acts 16:22-23)… lied about and hauled before a king (Acts 24-25)…. shipwrecked (Acts 27)…
and despite all this, he writes in Philippians 1:12 “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel”. Everyone around him, including the soldiers that kept him prisoner, knew he was in chains because of Christ. And because of his circumstance, many Christians lost their fear of being punished for Christ’s sake.
GOD used Paul’s situation to further His kingdom, and when bad things happen to us, the way we respond screams to those around us about the value of our faith. Does our faith in GOD see us through, or does it leave us in despair? The world is watching! If our faith cannot help us overcome, if it cannot comfort and sustain us, then why should we expect others to want to embrace it for themselves?
GOD’s word tells us in 1 John 4:4 that “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”. Let’s take GOD at His word. We win because He wins. If you have doubts, skip to the back of the book and see how this story ends.
13 July 2013- Did something ever happen to you that caused you to doubt for a moment that it had really happened? Have you found yourself so amazed that you said or thought to yourself “I don’t believe it”? Have you ever asked for something, convinced in your heart of hearts that you weren’t going to get it, only to be pleasantly surprised? I’d say it’s happened to most of us at least once.
In Acts 12:1-15, the Bible tells us that King Herod was causing trouble for the Church.
He had James, the brother of John, put to the sword. He had Peter arrested during the Festival of Unleavened Bread and put in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to put him on trial in public after the festival.
While Peter was being kept in jail, the church never stopped praying to God for him…
and their prayers were answered in a supernatural way! An angel from the Lord rescued him right out of the chains and brought him safely through the soldiers, and out into the street. Peter went to the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother and knocked on the gate. Those inside were praying for his release, but when told that he was at the gate, they told the servant that she was out of her mind. So much for their faith!
I think the problem here was that their prayers were not answered in the way they expected them to be, so they failed to recognize the miracle they asked for when it came. Who would have expected Peter to just come walking up to the gate in the middle of the night?
Try to keep this in mind when you pray. Remember that our GOD does wonders (Psalm 77:14)… sometimes when we least expect it, and in amazing ways!
6 July 2013- Have you ever received the “cold shoulder” treatment from somebody? If so, perhaps it was a good friend or a family member…someone who you used to talk to on a regular basis, maybe even every day. And now, for some reason, you don’t hear from them at all unless you initiate the conversation, and even then, their attitude is one of indifference and you get the feeling that they just want to get away from you.
You know, sometimes silence can tell us more about a relationship than small talk. When the words fail to come, it probably indicates that there’s a problem…and if the flow of conversation has all but stopped, more than likely it’s a big problem.
In Amos 8:11, the Bible says: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD”. What a horrendous thought this is, and what a terrible situation to find yourself in…to call out to GOD and hear nothing but silence in return.
The book of Amos expresses GOD’s outrage against His people, who had become indifferent to justice and valued profit or people. Think of that…they got their profits all right…but lost their prophets in the process! Through Amos, we understand that true religion demands righteous behavior..and true religion is more than form and ceremony, it is seeking GOD’s will and treating others with justice.
GOD didn’t just shut off communication out of the blue. He had tried to get the people to repent but they refused to hear what He had to say. Since they wouldn’t listen, He stopped talking. If you have become aware that GOD has grown silent in your own spiritual life, perhaps it’s time to stop examine and your relationship with GOD. Maybe you already know what’s wrong, you just don’t want to do anything about it, or maybe you don’t know. In that case, seek His counsel in prayer. To go through life deprived of GOD’s company is the worst of all famines…because it is starvation of the spirit. It won’t happen unless there’s a reason, and if you understand what’s wrong, do yourself a favor and fix it!
29 June 2013- Everybody likes a bargain, and a sign advertising a “2 for 1” special is sure to get attention. But more is not always better. In the 2nd chapter of Jeremiah, the LORD’s people were having trouble staying faithful. You might think that they had sinned by dabbling in idolatry, and one sin is bad enough, but in verse 13, the Bible says: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
It’s bad enough to turn your back on GOD. It’s worse when you replace Him with something or someone else. The people had committed two sins, not just one. First, there was the sin of omission…they had forsaken GOD. Secondly, there was the sin of commission…they had replaced God with false idols. It’s difficult for someone to turn away from GOD without turning to something else because Man’s heart doesn’t seem to like a vacuum.
To turn away from GOD gets you a “2 for 1” special on sin that nobody needs. Please remember that when you squeeze GOD out of your life, you haven’t reduced the number of hours in a day, so the time you used to spend with the LORD in prayer or study is still there…you have just chosen to replace GOD with some other activity…and it’s not one sin you’ve then got to deal with…it’s two.
Don’t exchange the clean living waters of GOD’s fountain for a meager swallow from the stale waters of a worldly cistern that is all cracked and nasty. Stay refreshed with the most delicious, satisfying, and life-sustaining drink available!
22 June 2013- It’s official….Summer is here! Warm weather and things to do entice us out of doors. And as the sun sets, we begin to notice the first twinkles of light in the sky. To me, it’s a glorious time to be alive, especially when the heat of the day gives way to the refreshing air of the twilight.
When you look up at the night sky, do you ever stop to marvel at the dimensions of the heavens above you? Does it really register that every one of those tiny points of light is actually a planet, or a star, or even a galaxy even bigger than the one we are in? I have to admit that sometimes, it can make my head spin! But I don’t think I’m the first to find myself in amazement in contemplating GOD’s handiwork.
The Bible tells us that David was also quite impressed. In Psalm 8:3-4 he wrote “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” What a testimony to GOD’s love for us, that with a universe so vast and so beautiful, he cares to take notice of each and every one of us and have concern for our welfare.
If you really ponder on the Creation, you may wonder why GOD went to all the trouble to create such a vast expanse of the cosmos, most of which we here on this planet, will never, ever, even see. Well, the Bible has the answer for us. In Psalm 19:1-2 we read: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.”
The universe around us is like the town crier of old…going forth among the people announcing important news from the King’s throne for all to hear. It appears, unfortunately, that many among us have chosen not to listen. Let’s add our voices to that of the rest of GOD’s wondrous creation. Let’s raise the volume, and fill the air around us with the glorious news from the Throne of Grace…the news about Jesus Christ, the Son of GOD…and the Savior of mankind.
14 June 2013- On our currency is a motto that reads: “In GOD We Trust”. If the GOD referenced here is the GOD of the Bible, I fear this is no longer true. But if the GOD spoken of is some other god, then maybe it still is valid. Now, the statement may be valid, meaning that we, as a nation put our trust in something. Whether or not it will do us any good is another matter.
In Jeremiah 17:5-8 the Bible gives us a short poem contrasting the ways of the wicked with the ways of the righteous. In verse 5 is a warning about turning away from GOD and placing your trust in mortal things. The LORD says “Cursed be the man” that would do such a thing. At the time of the writing, it was aimed at Judah, who decided it would be better to look to the Egyptians and false gods for protection from invaders rather than trusting in Jehovah GOD. Well, it didn’t work then…and I have a suspicion that the practice of turning away from GOD and putting our trust in other things won’t work for us, either.
Verse 7 reads “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.“ Which would you rather have, a blessing or a curse? You cannot trust both GOD and something else. To have a “backup plan” displays a complete lack of confidence in GOD’s ability to bring you home safely…and our GOD is a jealous GOD. He won’t share our affection or our devotion. Money will fail you…people will fail you…even your health will fail you….but GOD is our protector for the long haul.
Watch those idols which can creep into your life! Whether it be money, contacts, or even the sweat of your brow…any “salvation” to be offered by them is short-lived. In the good times and the bad, the source of our strength should be the same. “In GOD we trust” is an excellent statement, because it’s “In GOD we CAN Trust”!
7 June 2013- When I was in school, sometimes the teacher would ask for someone to answer a question. This was fine as long as I knew the answer…or as long as the teacher was only calling on those who volunteered. But when I didn’t know the answer and students were being called on regardless of whether or not they had displayed the slightest interest in responding…it was a different story. The deal then was to avoid eye contact and make yourself as inconspicuous as possible…don’t draw any attention to yourself….and breathe a sigh of relief when some other poor victim was selected.
But sometimes our problem is not that we don’t know know the answer, but that we are unsure and lack the confidence in ourselves to proceed. In Exodus 3:1-12, GOD calls on Moses for a special task: “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Well, GOD answers him in verse 12: “Certainly I will be with thee…”. It isn’t just you Moses…we’re in this together!
A similar incident happened to Gideon. In Judges 6:1-14, he is called upon to rescue the Israelites from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said , “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. “ Gideon replied in effect “Well, if the LORD is with us, why are we in this mess? Where’s all the miracles we’ve been told about?” Imagine standing and arguing with the miracle you need to happen when it comes! GOD answers that it is he, Gideon, who will be the instrument of deliverance, but Gideon doesn’t buy it…”How can I rescue Israel?” he says. GOD replies simply… “Surely I will be with thee…”
It isn’t confidence in our ability that sees us through, but rather, it is confidence in the One who calls us. Philippians 4:13 reads: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We trust Christ for the salvation of our souls…so we ought to trust Him to see us through whatever He asks of us. After all, we aren’t in this thing alone. We have a family of faith…we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit….and we also have a most important promise: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb 13:5)
31 May 2013- We all face decisions every day. For most of us, the majority of them will be sort of mundane…what time to get up..what clothes to wear…what to have for supper. Then there are those with a little more spiritual bite…do I go to work or call in sick? Do I tell the cashier that I received too much change back or just pocket the windfall and go about my business? Do I let that fella into traffic or hit the gas to cut him off? To some, these may seem trivial as well, but let me tell you…decisions such as these can seriously affect our Christian witness, and because of that, they can have eternal consequences. Decisions, decisions, decisions! How can we be sure of the best choices to make, especially in the big decisions of life?
The first thing to consider is this: what exactly is a big decision? You may think the purchase of a house or the career field you choose qualifies…but Jesus didn’t seem to think so. No…He said in Matthew 8:20 that “… The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” He called many of the apostles out of what would be considered lucrative jobs, and asked them to go around the countryside with no visible means of support…preaching about a world to come. To Jesus…it was the decision of eternal life facing those He met that was the biggest decision of their life…and their response to the interaction with Christ made all the difference.
Think about this…out of all the interactions you have with others during the day, which ones do you remember? If you’re like me, you remember the extremes…those people who treated you well, and those who treated you poorly. With this in mind, the biggest decisions you make during the day are those which impact your witness and testimony for Christ. Take time to evaluate if what you are about to do will be pleasing to GOD, and if the action you are about to take brings shame or honor to the Savior. This is important….remember, it isn’t just you that is being impacted by what you do…or fail to do.
24 May 2013- How do you figure the amount of a tip to leave your waiter or waitress after a meal? Is it always a set percentage, or does the attitude of your server enter into the picture? To me, receiving “service with a smile” is always preferable to being treated like you were an inconvenience or a bother… but surprisingly enough, this is what I get sometimes.
Being of service is highly valued in GOD’s kingdom. In Mark 10:43-44, Jesus said that if you want to be great, you need to be the servant of all. This is not something that comes with our human nature and isn’t how people are used to thinking.
In Romans 14:17-19, the Bible speaks of the kingdom of GOD not in terms of material goods…but spiritual things such as right