Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chosen? - February 28, 2010

2 Peter 1:3-4,10-11 (New International Reader's Version)
3 God's power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. All of that has come to us because we know the One who chose us. He chose us because of his own glory and goodness.
4 He has also given us his very great and valuable promises. He did it so you could share in his nature. He also did it so you could escape from the evil in the world. That evil is caused by sinful longings.
10 My brothers and sisters, be very sure that God has appointed you to be saved. Be sure that he has chosen you. If you do everything I have just said, you will never trip and fall. 11 You will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom that lasts forever. It is the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Life is certainly filled with uncertainty. We don't know what each day, week, month, or year will bring. Rumor has it that there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes! So we wake up each morning, not knowing whether it will be our last, and if it is, are we ready to face what happens next?

In 2Peter, in the face of false teachers and opposition, the author was writing to warn followers of Christ to be sure of what they believed. He makes it very clear in these verses that the Creator of the universe, our God, has chosen us because of His own glory and goodness. God is the one who gives us His power, through His Holy Spirit, to live a righteous and holy life.

All the good things that we are given are from Him, but we don't just inherit them because we are His children. We only receive them if we have faith in the One(Jesus Christ), who has chosen(given his life) for our sins, so that we might be reconciled (made right)with God. Our ability to have faith and live a godly life comes from God Himself.

Because God chooses us, we can be certain that we can enjoy Next Worth living in this world and the next. But it does take action on our part. The action of placing our faith in Jesus as the only one that can save us. Has God appointed you to be saved? Have you done your part?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Praiseworthy - February 27, 2010

Psalm 96 (New International Version)

1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.

5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.

6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.

9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his [a] holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns."
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;

12 let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;

13 they will sing before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his truth.

Welcome to another weekend, when we take time out to rest and do those things our busy live don't allow us to do during our busy week. In today's society, regular church attendance takes a back seat to many other activities, from kid's sports, to spending time with family and friends, to fishing and hunting, or to just watching TV. In fact, many of us spend much more time worshiping atheletes and games played with leather balls than we spend with God.

We need to remember to take time in worship and praise to our Creator, the One who alone is worthy of our praise. It is difficult to worship and praise our Lord at home by ourselves. Many people make the excuse that they don't like "organized religion", but I would challenge you that things have changed. Today's many non-denominational churches are very far from what we might have grown up with, and no longer are church services focused mainly on mundane liturgies and tired traditions.

The remembrance of some traditions are still important, but many churches are now focused more on praise and worship, and time to connect with God. Many of today's best church leaders teach us how we can apply God's truths to our daily lives, and how we can live out our relationship with Jesus through touching others around us.

If you find your life a bit empty of meaning and if you are seeking something else, try to encounter the love of Jesus through the love of His people. Take the time, pack the family in the car, and visit a good local church this Sunday.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Interact Don't React - February 26, 2010

Proverbs 15:1-3 (New Living Translation)
1 A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.

2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

3 The Lord is watching everywhere,
keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

James 1:19-20 (New International Reader's Version)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry. 20 A man's anger doesn't produce the kind of life God wants.

Aren't you tired of watching politics these days? It seems that for the last several years, all we get from our politicians is bickering back and forth, without ever resolving the issues at hand. What makes matters worse is the news media loves to spin what ever division there is, relishing in the demise of those it disagrees with. If we aren't careful, we get caught up in these same arguements.

Anger that produces harsh words is a problem that we all have to deal with from time to time. In both the Old and New Testament, God is very clear on how he would like His creation to behave with one another. In all situations we need to keep in mind that God places very high value on the person we are dealing with, whether good or bad.

With that in mind, it should guide us in how we should interact and react, when confronted with a unpleasant situation. At all times, we are to seek the good in a situation and in the person, and at least on behalf of our Maker, always deal with it in gentleness and respect.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Awe - February 25, 2010

Psalm 33 (New King James Version)
1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
3 Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

4 For the word of the LORD is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;[a]
He lays up the deep in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
9 For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

13 The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
14 From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
15 He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
22 Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.

The Sovereignty of the LORD in Creation and History. Have a good night and a blessed tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our Shepherd - February 24, 2010

Psalm 23 (Amplified Bible)A Psalm of David.
1THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
2He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.

3He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.

4Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

6Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

Life in this world is challenging. It seems that no matter what you do, there is always something that is there trying to defeat you. That is why more and more, we need to seek God for comfort and guidance. The verse above is a very familiar one to most. In the Bible, God is often depicted as a shepherd caring for his sheep. We are very fortunate that our God seeks us and desires to love us in this way.

Remember that no matter the circumstances, no matter your condition, no matter what you have done, God is there to embrace and care for you. Isn't it time you place the challenges of your life into His care?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

White as Snow - February 23, 2010

Isaiah 1:2-4,16- (New Living Translation)
2 Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says:

“The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me. 3 Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care— but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them.”

4 Oh, what a sinful nation they are — loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the Lord. They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.
16 Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. 17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. 19 If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. 20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

We have really seen alot of snow around North Texas this year. In fact it hasn't snowed so much here in over 30 years! Snow is a wonderful thing. Kids love it to get out of school and play in. And grownups? Well, it is just beautiful watching it fall. It is wonderful how it hides every scar and blemish, as it covers everthing in a blanket of clean and white.

In the Book of Isaiah, God admonishes the His people Israel through his prophet. He explains how detestable their wrong doing is, and how their "going through the holy motions" does not cover the stain of their guilt. We read about a people that have forgotten where they came from; a people that have forgotten what God has done for them. Yet in spite of their sin, God is willing to help them make things right.

We can learn much from the passages noted. Our lives continually are reflecting the scars and blemishes of the wrong things we do. Often we do not want to call sin for what it really is. Our society and the world tells us that it doesn't really matter, as long as you "don't hurt anyone else", but the evil things we do hurts the heart of God. Yet despite all of this, He is willing to provide the covering for our sin. He will make us white, clean and beautiful as fresh fallen snow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Right - February 22, 2010

Psalm 51:1-4,10-12,17 (New International Version)

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

None of us are perfect, and yes, many times we do not measure up to what God expects of us. But sometimes, we hold on to something we have done in the past that seems so bad, that the guilt and weight of it keeps us from having a close relationship with God.

The verse above came from a Psalm written by Israel's King David, when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Here was a "man after God's own heart" who was a saint, an adulterer and a murderer. Here was God's chosen king of God's chosen people at a time when he was not worthy of God's favor and mercy. In his desire to make things right with God, David pleaded to God for forgiveness and mercy.

In his plea to God, we can find steps to help us make things right. First, David asked God for mercy. He asked for God's help in cleansing him from his great sin. God provides this to us if we will accept Jesus's sacrifice on our behalf for the forgivenes of our sin. Next he asked God to restore his relationship with him. God again provides this to us by providing his Holy Spirit to comfort us and lead us to righteous living.

David finally sums things up by telling us what is acceptable to God for whatever wrong we may do, that is a humble heart that looks to Him when we fall short. Let go of what might be holding you back from a right relationship with God. Let go and give it to God.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reading is Believing - February 21, 2010

Revelation 4:1-3 (New International Reader's Version) 1 After this I looked, and there in front of me was a door standing open in heaven. I heard the voice I had heard before. It sounded like a trumpet. The voice said, "Come up here. I will show you what must happen after this."

2 At once the Holy Spirit took complete control of me. There in front of me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 The One who sat there shone like jewels. Around the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald.

Revelation 22:1-6 (New Living Translation)
1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4 And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

6 Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.”

In the Book of Revelation, after the messages of Jesus to the churches, John gets very descriptive about his visions of Heaven. We are taken into the very presence of God and the throne room of Heaven, after which we read through a long narrative about what occurs to the earth and mankind. It is interesting reading the visions of future things through the eyes of someone living almost 2000 years ago.

I am very confident that what I read must be accurate, because rarely is a person as detailed about what they are seeing unless they truly witness what they describe. Yet in today's society, what is written in the Bible is rarely taken at face value.

The more you read and study the Bible for yourself, the more you will be able to trust in the literal meaning of what you are reading. God through the Holy Spirit has a way of opening up your mind to understanding, if you have surrendered yourself to Him. You can trust that, “Everything you have heard and seen (read and studied) is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets (and brings understanding to His people), has sent his angel (and inspired authors)to tell his servants what will happen soon.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

God Knows - February 20, 2010

Psalm 139:1-6;13-16;23-24 (New International Version)
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. ...

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. ...

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Don't you just love watching a toddler play "peek-a-boo"! It is precious to watch the little one attempt to hide from whoever they are playing with by covering their eyes. Only thing is that although the child thinks they are hidden, they are really visible all the time.

We are much the same as adults. We attempt to live our lives doing whatever we want to do, whether bad or good, without thought that anyone is watching us. Truth is God knows everything we do, think, and say. He knew us when we were formed and He knows the day we will die. He has our life in His hands, and He has a plan for every day we will live.

Since God is all knowing and is fully aware of everything about us, David is right in this psalm to ask God to see what is in his heart, to know what is there, to put him to the test and to know what he is thinking. Just as David, we need to ask if there's anything in our life that God doesn't like, and to ask Him to help us live in the way that is always right. Our God is faithful, and if we ask Him with a sincere heart, He will always answer our prayer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Heavenly Places - February 19, 2010

Revelation 21:10-14;16 (New International Reader's Version)
10 Then he carried me away in a vision. The Spirit took me to a huge, high mountain. He showed me Jerusalem, the Holy City. It was coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God. It gleamed like a very valuable jewel. It was like a jasper, as clear as crystal.

12 The city had a huge, high wall with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates, one at each of them. On the gates were written the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three on the north. There were three gates on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had 12 foundations. Written on them were the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.

16 The city was laid out like a square. It was as long as it was wide. The angel measured the city with the rod. It was 1,400 miles long. It was as wide and high as it was long.

Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like? Do you wonder where you will exist when you go to heaven? The Bible tells us that those who believe and call on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will exist as "his bride" with him in the New Jerusalem. In John 14:1-4 (New King James Version) we are also told by Jesus that in his Father's house the are many dwellings or mansions, and that we will dwell with God in His glory.

In the Book of Revelation, we are given a glimpse of the New Jerusalem that will come down from heaven in all of its beauty and splendor. I have noted a few verses of its description above. In our terms, the holy city will be huge. The Bible tells us that it will be 1400 miles square and as high as it is wide. That means if you travel from Houston, Texas to Ensenada, Mexico to Vancouver,Canada to Winnepeg, Canada and back to Houston, you would travel the same distance as is the circumference around the city. Also, you would need to take a rocket into a low orbit of the earth above our atmosphere to get to 1400 miles, which is the height of the city. That would be equivalent to quadrupling the thickness of the earth's atmosphere.

In terms of volume, the New Jerusalem would consist of approximately 2,744,000,000 cubic miles or 1,756,160,000,000 cubic acres! That is alot of space and alot of room for mansions! Bottom line is that just the holy city will be plenty large enough to house every believer in God's redemptive plan for as long as mankind has and will exist. Have you placed your reservation by placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior today?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rescued - February 18, 2010

Psalm 40:1-5 (New International Version)
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

5 Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

Psalms 40:2-6 (Tanakh - The Jewish Virtual Library)
I waited patiently for HaShem; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

3 He brought me up also out of the tumultuous pit, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock, He established my goings.

4 And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our G-d; many shall see, and fear, and shall trust in HaShem.

5 Happy is the man that hath made HaShem his trust, and hath not turned unto the arrogant, nor unto such as fall away treacherously.

6 Many things hast Thou done, O HaShem my G-d, even Thy wonderful works, and Thy thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared unto Thee! If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be told.

Many are the blessings that God has given me. This psalm from David is a perfect description of that. I would encourage all of you to read these first few verses, and to read the entire Psalm 40 in your Bible. Read it, meditate on it, pray through it, and if these words describe your encounter with God, give Him thanks for it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Future Hope - February 17, 2010

Yeshayahu-Isaiah-Chapter 60:1,20( Tanakh-The Jewish Virtual Library)
1 Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of HaShem is risen upon thee.
20 Thy sun shall no more go down, Neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for HaShem shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

Revelation 21:1-7 (New International Reader's Version)
1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth were completely gone. There was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem. It was coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, "Now God makes his home with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be."

5 He who was sitting on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down. You can trust these words. They are true."

6 He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. I am the Beginning and the End. Anyone who is thirsty may drink from the spring of the water of life. It doesn't cost anything! 7 Anyone who overcomes will receive all this from me. I will be his God, and he will be my child.

Where do we really go when we die and what can we expect? What are we looking to accomplish in this life? What do we have to look forward to?
There is not much in this life that can provide us answers to these bug questions. This world and our culture would tell us to eat, drink, and be merry, because we can't count on tomorrow. It would say that you have to do all you can here, because there is nothing after this.

The very foundational instruction coming from science and our scientists, teach us and our children the world over that we evolved from carbon goo and that is exactly how we will end up. If you believe in anything the world tells you, you might as well call it quits. It surely doesn't provide any hope.

On the other hand, I love how the Bible is very clear in what it tells us about the afterlife, and I also love how no matter what version of the texts that you read, the message and context remain the same. It offers hope and promise to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

The Bible tell us that God is longing to be with His children forever. That means us. He longs to exist among us and shine the light of His glory around us and in us. He promises us no more death or mourning or crying or pain. He will make everything new. Now that is hope! That is worth looking forward to!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Reception - February 16, 2010

Revelation 19:6-9 (New International Reader's Version)
6 Then I heard the noise of a huge crowd. It sounded like the roar of rushing waters and like loud thunder. The people were Shouting, "Hallelujah! Our Lord God is the King who rules over all.

7 Let us be joyful and glad! Let us give him glory! It is time for the Lamb's wedding. His bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given to her to wear." Fine linen stands for the right things that God's people do.

9 Here is what the angel told me to write. "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" Then he added, "These are the true words of God."

Don't you just love weddings! Most of us do, but for me the best part is the reception. That's when we really get to celebrate the union of the bride and the groom, and if the bride has a father who really loves her, the guests are treated to the best of everything. The celebration will sometimes last for hours, or until everyone has had their fill of what the wedding party has served their honored guests. Everyone there has been invited, and they show their gratitude in the joy, praise and glory they give to the host and the wedding party.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the metaphor of God being a bridergroom and His people the bride was a common feature, when speaking of God's love and dealings with them. Jesus spoke of himself as the bridegroom as well, and we know from scripture that the church, the fellowship of believers, is his bride. We are also told that there will be a wedding celebrated in Heaven, when those who have been saved through the sacrificial work of Jesus, the bride, and Jesus Christ, the groom, will be united forever.

As is true in an earthly wedding, we have a heavenly Father who dearly loves the bride. He has dressed His bride in the finest of adornments called righteousness, which He has purchased with the sacrifice of His Son.
God has provided the way for all of His people to attend the reception for the wedding of the groom and his bride. He has laid out a table of plenty and waits for all to join in the celebration. Have you been blessed with an invitation?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Majesty - February 15, 2010

Psalm 8 (New International Version)
1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Over 3000 years ago, David gave praise to God, because he was in awe of the unboundless love God had for man. Even today we find it hard to realize that the Creator of the universe cares so much for us mere human beings. Take time in the busyness of life, take a few moments to yourself and give praise and thanks to God for what He has done for you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love - February 14, 2010

John 3:16-17 (New International Version)
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version)
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

As we celebrate this Valentines Day, we need to first remember the ultimate gift of love that God has given us. we need to also remember that love is a word of action; love requires that it be given before it can ever be returned. It is the greatest gift, and the surest discipline. Let's pass on what God has given us and love one another.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Claim to Fame - February 13, 2010

Revelation 1:5-8 (New International Reader's Version)5 May grace and peace come to you from Jesus Christ. What Jesus gives witness to can always be trusted. He was the first to rise from the dead. He rules over the kings of the earth. Give glory and power to the One who loves us! He has set us free from our sins by pouring out his blood for us. 6 He has made us members of his royal family. He has made us priests who serve his God and Father. Give him glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

7 Look! He is coming with the clouds! Every eye will see him. Even those who pierced him will see him. All the nations of the earth will be sad because of him. This will really happen! Amen.

8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," says the Lord God. "I am the One who is, and who was, and who will come. I am the Mighty One."

If anyone ever had any doubts as to who Jesus Christ truly is, the apostle John makes it very clear to the reader of the Book of Revelation. Unlike many other places in scripture, where the Holy Spirit led the authors to pen the words, these words are directly given to John by Jesus.

This last book of the Bible begins with Jesus's visitation to John, and John testifies to the trustworthiness of our Savior. John was witness to Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, and he explains to us that we have been given freedom from our sins, because of what Christ has done.

In placing our trust in Him, we have been given the ultimate benefit of Next Worth living, we become members of the royal family of Heaven, serving God the Father as his priests. John tells us that we need to give Jesus the praise that he deserves, and that he will return the same way he left when he ascended into Heaven.

In stating that he is the Alpha and Omega, which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Jesus states that He is God, sovereignly ruling over human history. He was there at the beginning of the creation and he will be present at the end. Our hope is not placed in just another person, but in the One who takes his rightful place in the throne room of Heaven.
It is up to us to accept the place that has been offered to us for eternity.

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Invitation - February 12, 2010

Revelation 3:20-21 (New Living Translation)

20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

Do you like being invited out for a meal? When I was growing up, going out for a meal, or being invited to someone's home for dinner was something special. As a child, I looked forward to those opportunities. During my college years, I had the chance to travel often to Europe, and I always enjoyed the times spent with relatives and friends dining and conversing for hours on end. As an adult, times such as these are still special to me,
and it remains one of my favorite things to do. Ask me out to eat and I will be right there!

In our culture and the many cultures around the world, an invitation to share a meal with someone is the ultimate gesture of hospitality. It is an opportunity for closeness and intimacy. Imagine the many intimate times you have enjoyed, sharing time with loved ones, friends and aquaintances, over a meal, and how good and memorable those times have been in your life.

These words from the Book of Revelation are an invitation from Jesus to everyone, to share time with the Savior. In this passage, Jesus is the one who initiates the relationship, because he is the one who comes to the door of our hearts and calls for us. All that we need to do is accept the invitation.

Jesus then looks to future times, and he encourages us to live life victoriously, because in doing so, we will be able to share more intimate times with him, sharing in His kingdom eternally.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rest in Him - February 11, 2010

Psalm 91 (New Living Translation)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

As we all enjoy a snowy day and evening in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, let's rest in the continued blessings of God. He is our shelter, our refuge, our rescuer and our Savior. Rest this evening in the promises He offers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blessed - February 10, 2010

Revelation 1:3 (New International Reader's Version)3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy. Blessed are those who hear it and think everything it says is important. The time when these things will come true is near.

Revelation 1:3 (Amplified Bible)3 Blessed (happy,to be envied) is the man who reads aloud [in the assemblies] the word of this prophecy; and blessed (happy,to be envied) are those who hear [it read] and who keep themselves true to the things which are written in it [heeding them and laying them to heart], for the time [for them to be fulfilled] is near.

In the introduction to the Book of Revelation, John greets us by giving us the result of studying his prophetic visions. We are told that we will be blessed, happy, even envied, because we are included in the foreknowledge of future events, in other words, we have the "inside scoop" into what will happen in the future, and everyone who hears this along with us will be blessed as well.

As we read the bible, we are shown many instances where those in God's favor are called blessed. Here is how it is defined:

blessed (for 1-2, blest, also bles′id; for 3-5, bles′id, also blest)
1.holy; sacred; consecrated (with blood in original Teutonic)
2.enjoying great happiness; blissful
3.of or in eternal bliss; a title applied to a person who has been beatified (in Catholic terms)
4.bringing comfort or joy
5.confounded; cursed: an intensive

There are many characteristics we may take on in life that will grant us the favor of God. In regards to this passage I read it this way, ...God has given me the opportunity, as one who has been consecrated to Him, by the sacrifice and blood of Jesus, His Son, to be favored by Him and worthy to receive, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, knowledge of my future and the future of the world. Best of all, I am also told when this will happen.

This same favor is available to all who have been consecrated to God. The wonderful thing is that He has given us this opportunity without my having to do a thing, but to read and pass this on to others. As we get into the Book of Revelation, take notes and list the many "blessings" we are given by God throughout this book.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What For? - February 9, 2010

Revelation 22:10-13 (New Living Translation)
10 Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”

12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

On and on we go, living out our daily lives, but what is it all for? Why should we try to do good and do good for others? Is it just because our parents taught us right from wrong, and that we should always be good? Where did they get those ideas from? Did their parents teach them the same thing, and their parents before them?

Since the visions of John the Revelator were written down, they have been a source of instruction that has been passed from generation. Unfortunately, our generation and today's society don't pay much attention to the Bible, and much less to the prophetic words of the Book of Revelation. This book has always been characterized as being scary and confusing, one that few people understand.

Jesus gave John a vision of future things, and the reason it seems confusing is because John was trying to describe what he was seeing in our near futures, through the eyes of his 1st century experience. The purpose of the book was not to scare or confuse us, but to prepare those who try to follow God and live holy lives for what the future will be like. It gives us a window into how and where we will spend eternity.

Over the next few days we will explore what the book of Revelation has to say about the goals of Next Worth living. Grab your bibles and read along as we find great words of inspiration and hope for our futures.

Revelation 1:1-3 (New International Version)
1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Right Living - February 8, 2010

Psalm 1:1-3 (New Century Version)
1 Happy are those who don't listen to the wicked, who don't go where sinners go, who don't do what evil people do.
2 They love the Lord's teachings, and they think about those teachings day and night.
3 They are strong, like a tree planted by a river. The tree produces fruit in season, and its leaves don't die. Everything they do will succeed.

Our culture has turned this world upside down, but if you still desire a good recipe for right living, this Psalm says it all. It is amazing how many of us don't learn the wisdom given here until we start turning gray, but it is never too late. Best of all, if we can pass this tidbit of wisdom to our children and the younger families around us.

The "don'ts" mentioned here cover who and what we listen to, what we involve ourselves in, and whose example we follow. This verse encourages us to avoid the wrong things in our lives and we will have richer and happier lives. The key to helping us do this is to consistently meditate on God's word. The result of this will be lives that are deeply rooted in God's wisdom, producing a plentiful crop of good things for those around us, and true success on God's terms.

As you begin a new week, decide to spend time in God's word. You will be the better for it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Worthy of Glory - February 7, 2010

Psalm 115:1 (New International Reader's Version)
1 Lord, may glory be given to you, not to us. You are loving and faithful.

Revelation 4:9-11 (New International Reader's Version)
9 The living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to the One who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever. 10 At the same time, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the One who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns in front of the throne. They say,

11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power. You are worthy because you created all things. They were created and they exist. That is the way you planned it."

It's Super Bowl Sunday, and many are getting ready to gather with family and friends to celebrate the big game. It is the most anticipated and watched televised sporting event each year. Days and days of media hype has only added to the build up of this event. Though there are many disapponted fans from the results of the NFL Football Season that has just passed, all is forgotten as sides are chosen for this single, annual festival of football, that praises and gives glory to the last two pro-football teams still standing!

I plan on reveling in the game just like many of you, and I am lining up the chips, guacamole, and chili that will be laid out on the coffee table in front of the big screen. For the next several hours I will cheer and boo and eat, all in an effort to enjoy this very special annual event.

But, am I missing something here? Do I give God this same amount of attention? Do I anticipate and discuss, prepare and setup, just as much for the King of Kings as I do for the kings of football? Do I take time out of each and every day to celebrate what He has accomplished on my behalf? Have I given Him the glory He is worthy to recieve?

Revelation 1:6 (New International Version)

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Your Helper - February 6, 2010

Psalms Chapter 121(The Tanakh - The Jewish Bible)
1 A Song of Ascents. I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: from whence shall my help come?

2 My help cometh from HaShem, who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4 Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep.

5 HaShem is thy keeper; HaShem is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7 HaShem shall keep thee from all evil; He shall keep thy soul.

8 HaShem shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and for ever.

Psalm 121 (New Living Translation)

1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

As you enjoy this evening, please rest in the knowledge that God always watches over you. He always is there to protect you. You may not physically see or feel that He is there, but inspite of any circumnstances, as long as you believe in Him, He is there for you. Rest this weekend in the confidence that God is your protector throughout eternity. Have a blessed time getting close to the Lord this Sunday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Shine Your Light - February 5, 2010

Matthew 5:14-16 (New Living Translation)14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Well its the weekend of the Super Bowl, and the weekend when many of us look forward to seeing the latest commercials that will help make the sales year for many companies. In 2010, the cost of a 30-second commercial on average is estimated to be $2.6 million, to reach out to an estimated audience of 130 million people. We will see ads from all sorts of products that include soda, beer, cars, internet sites, mobile phones, snack foods, fast-food, movies, sneakers, candy, tires...even U.S. Census Bureau(yes, your taxes are paying for this).

I am sure everyone has heard the latest scuttlebutt over an ad that is purchased by Focus on the Family, where star quarterback Tim Tebow from the University of Florida and his mother are celebrating life, and her decision to carry Tim to full term, despite medical complications and medical advice to abort her baby. This has caused quite a fury from left leaning groups which are against their Constitutional right of free-speech to present this ad. The other side would have CBS bury this ad and not air it during this huge audience, even though NO ONE outside of CBS has seen the ad!

My contention is that despite ones political views on the matter, you have to be encouraged that Tim Tebow and his mother are standing out as examples for the causes that come from the heart of God. Standing up for life in this society draws alot of grief and hatred from those who oppose this view, wrongly thinking that somehow a choice and freedom is being taken from them. In my opinion, choices need to be taken before this becomes the unfortunate choice to be made, but our society always focuses on the wrong thing, the things of this world.

Jesus encourages us to take a stand for things of God in this world, not only by our words but by our actions. Next Worth living reminds us that we are God's ambassadors to a struggling and dying world, and our example can serve to bring spiritual and physical life to many. This weekend, after you watch this ad, please take the time to write CBS and thank them for allowing it to be aired. If more believers in Christ were willing to step out, this would be a far better world to live in.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sweat the Small Stuff - February 4, 2010

Luke 16:10 (New Living Translation)10 "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities".

Have you found yourself slacking and being complacent with what you are supposed to be doing? All of us have been guilty of that from time to time. It is always easiest to leave this undone or that, or to do this halfway or that half-heartedly. And who among us has not squandered what we have earned, and wasted it on things of little value? Really now,... we are only human!

In the Book of Luke, Jesus relays a number of parables meant to demonstrate God's love for lost people, and our responsibility to the lost as believers. He also goes on to teach about our realtionship with material wealth, and how at times we might need to be shrewed in our dealings to accomplish eternal goals.

I am of the opinion that what Jesus is really trying teach us in the chapters and verses surrounding the verse noted above is that whatever God gives us in life, whether it concerns people around us, or material possessions he entrusts to us, he expects us to value and treat them as He would. It all matters to Him. Everything and everyone is significant and important, and all things have the purpose of sharing His love and grace with the world around us.

At times the assignment He gives us may seem small and insignificant, and at other times what we do for the Kingdom may carry high importance with it. Our obligation is to accept His sacred trust in all things, and to always do our best with everything we are given.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keep the Faith - February 3, 2010

Hebrews 12:1-3 (New Century Version)1 We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. 2 Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God's throne. 3 Think about Jesus' example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying.

Have you ever had those days when everything that could go wrong did? Have you ever tried to help someone out and do the right thing, only for it to become more trouble than it was worth? Have you ever tried to really seek God's direction in a difficult task or circumstance, only to come up short? We all have struggles in this life and it gets even harder if we are trying to follow Christ and do what God want us to. Many times our faith in what we believe gets tested to the point, where we are tempted to give up.

In the Book of Hebrews, the author was addressing primarily an audience of Jewish converts to Christianity. He uses the Old Testament(The Tanakh) as his foundational text, to instruct them about Christ's superiority over the old sacrificial system, which they had followed as the means to follow God. In the 11th Chapter, he carries the reader through a litany of Old Testament heroes of the Faith, that underwent tremendous persecution while looking forward to the coming Savior. He shores up their new found faith by holding up the example of their faith, and urges them to not turn back to their old ways and to those who still followed a hopeless system.

The author exhorts us to look to the One, who was the basis and reason for our faith, to help us in our struggle to complete what is ahead of us. He holds up the example of Jesus's struggle on our behalf to give us encouragement to never give up. When we are faced with the weighty things of this world, and the opposition that we face in all things, remember to look to Jesus who went ahead of us. He has been through it all, and he stands ready to help us across the finish line.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Content to Serve - February 2, 2010

Philippians 4:11-13 (New International Version)11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

How do we get in the mindset of living for Next Worth, serving God in this present time, while learning and building for our existence in eternity? How do we surrender ourselves to serve each other and one another? How do we live out this Christian lifestyle in this world that we are surrounded with?

The answer is contentment. The only way to serve God and our fellow man without regret is to be content with what we have. Paul gives us his testament to this in his 1st century letter to the church in Philipi. One of the main purposes of the letter was to encourage this church in the face of persecution. His statement shares his contentment in any situation because God had given him the strength to go through their trials.

We too can take encouragement from Paul's message. We can be content in any situation, because God will help us through it. Are you content with your present situation? Are you happy in all things with what you have been given? Until you can gain this contentment and satisfaction, it will be difficult to surrender yourself to God's will for the present and eternity.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Heart Matters - February 1, 2010

Proverbs 14:21 (Amplified Bible)21He who despises his neighbor sins [against God, his fellowman, and himself], but happy (blessed and fortunate) is he who is kind and merciful to the poor.

Matthew 25:37-40 (New King James Version)37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

What breaks your heart? Are you moved to tears when you see video of the devastation of an earthquake or catastophic storm? Are you stirred into action when you see the poor and suffering in this world? Does the thought of many millions without food and shelter move you? What is our responsibilty to those we are seeing? Do we focus on the world's needs or should we be more focused on the people around us? Where does our day to day labor for our own needs end and we start to work to make a difference in the lives of others?

Jesus spoke a number of times about the poor and the humble, and he kept the company of many that were hurting in his time. As we consider how we live lives dedicated to our Next Worth, we need to keep in mind that we need to serve those that are hurting around us. God has a heart for the poor, and as His followers, we need to have the same heart that He does. We must always keep in mind, that someday we will have to give an accounting of the opportunities He gave us, to follow after His heart.