Monday, May 31, 2010

Remember: Memorial Day - May 31, 2010

Psalm 103:13-18 (New International Version)
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-

18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

John 15:13 (New International Version)
13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Today is Memorial Day. The day our Nation sets aside all of its squabbles, problems and issues, and remembers those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the very freedoms we enjoy as a country.

Never has there been a country so blessed by God than ours. I believe it is because those before us fought and died to hold on to God-inspired and God-given principles of freedom and liberty:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Never has any Nation tried to treat every person as Jesus Christ treated everyone, whether rich or righteous, or poor or forsaken. For men and women defended the very notion of equality and freedom. Let us pause and remember those countless numbers who defended us and continue to defend us.

Let us remember those that Jesus called out as true friends. God bless the families of the fallen and God bless and restore our Nation, America.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Prayer for Our Troops - May 30, 2010

Psalm 57 (New Century Version)
A Prayer in Troubled Times

1 Be merciful to me, God; be merciful to me
because I come to you for protection.
Let me hide under the shadow of your wings
until the trouble has passed.

2 I cry out to God Most High,
to the God who does everything for me.
3 He sends help from heaven and saves me.
He punishes those who chase me.

God sends me his love and truth.

4 Enemies, like lions, are all around me;
I must lie down among them.
Their teeth are like spears and arrows,
their tongues as sharp as swords.

5 God is supreme over the skies;
his majesty covers the earth.

6 They set a trap for me.
I am very worried.
They dug a pit in my path,
but they fell into it themselves.

7 My heart is steady, God; my heart is steady.
I will sing and praise you.
8 Wake up, my soul.
Wake up, harp and lyre!
I will wake up the dawn.

9 Lord, I will praise you among the nations;
I will sing songs of praise about you to all the nations.
10 Your great love reaches to the skies,
your truth to the clouds.

11 God, you are supreme above the skies.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

As we approach Memorial Day tomorrow, I wanted us to be aware of our fighting men and women that are in harm's way during this time. Many of us will be enjoying a day off tomorrow, relaxing or barbecuing with family and friends. Unfortunately for our soldiers in the field, there is no such relaxation or enjoyment. Many will be underfire, while others will be "at the ready".

These brave men and women that have volunteered to protect us, represent the best about our country. As has been since our founding, these brave souls will willingly sacrifice themselves, so that our freedom will remain protected. It is our obligation to honor them, pray for them, and to celebrate them when they finally come home. It is also our obligation to fight, through the responsibility of our vote and our communication to our elected officials, anything or anyone that would deminish or demean their sacrifice. It is up to us to make sure that they have a free, sovereign and peace loving Nation to come home to.

As David lifted this prayer to God, when he was being pursued by his enemies, let's lift this prayer on behalf of those who are at this moment serving in our military. May God bless them and their families, and may He protect and keep them safe, and may He bring them all safely home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More About Jesus - May 29, 2010

Colossians 1:15-17 (New International Reader's Version)
15 Christ is the exact likeness of God, who can't be seen. He is first, and he is over all of creation. 16 All things were created by him. He created everything in heaven and on earth. He created everything that can be seen and everything that can't be seen. He created kings, powers, rulers and authorities. Everything was created by him and for him. 17 Before anything was created, he was already there. He holds everything together.

Have you ever been asked to explain why you believe in Jesus Christ? Have you been put to the test by others as to who Jesus is, and whether or not he is really God? There are many cults that exist today that call that fact into question. Some call themselves Christian, yet they deny the fundamental fact that Jesus is not just a mere human but God himself. Then there are other religions that say that Jesus is nothing more than a good moral teacher, attempting to place Christianity on the same level as any other religion. So, how can you know in whom you have placed your faith?

These questions and opinions about Jesus are not a new. In fact these same controversies have been alive and well since the beginning. One of the fiercest critics and persecutors of Christians actually persued believers in the 1st Century, imprisoning and even killing some of them. He felt that Christians were perverting the Jewish faith and following after a false Jew ish Messiah that had long since died. He was so fierce in his persecution that he had gained a reputation as a zealot for the Jewich faith, and he was so relentless that the young Christian community feared him.

Yet, this high-ranking Jewish official was confronted by the living Jesus Christ, and was so changed by his conversion that he became the author responsible for much of the writing of the New Testament of the Bible. In fact he became even more zealous for the cause of Christ than he ever was for the Jewish faith. You know this man as Saul of Tarsus, who after his conversion became Paul. How was Paul so profoundly changed? It is because through his encounter with Jesus, he realized who Jesus really was. In Paul's letter to the church in Colosse, the Book of Colossians, we catch a glimpse of who Jesus Christ really is.

If you are unsure of what you believe about Jesus, be sure that you study each and every word in the passage above. It presents a characterization of Jesus Christ that is so profound, that you either believe it or you don't. You either believe tha He is God or you don't. Just be sure you know and are able to defend what you believe.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thanks for Rescue - May 28, 2010

Psalm 30:1-5;11-12 (New International Version)
1 I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

If in the face of your difficulty you have found relief in the promises of God, you need to give Him praise. No one else can rescue us when we are truly in "the pit". No one else can fill us with His Spirit and bring us inexpressable joy, which turns our "wailing into dancing". Be sure to give God the glory and the thanks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

To the Rescue - May 27, 2010

Psalm 34:1-2;15;17-19 (New Living Translation)
1 I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.

2 I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.
15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Are you burdened by the struggle you are going through? Are things in your life not going the right way? How do you overcome the weight and pressure as the world seemingly presses on you? Who will come to the rescue when you are desparate and hopeless? These are but a few of the questions that we have as we go through the fire of discouragment and difficulty.

The wonderful thing about the Book of Psalms is that they offer the reader comfort and peace when you are in the middle of the storms of life. In the verse above, David is giving praises to God because he knows that God is His rescuer. In fact he makes it known to us that God is listening when we cry to Him for help. God pulls alongside you when you are in your difficulty, to lift your spirit and give you comfort.

Jesus said it most clearly when he said the following words, 28 "Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. 30 Serving me is easy, and my load is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (New International Reader's Version)

If you are going through this situation right now, let God be your rescuer. He will be the One that will carry you through.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Refining Fire - May 26, 2010

Zechariah 13:9 (New International Version)
9 This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,'and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "

Malachi 3:2-4 (New International Version)
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.

1 Peter 1:6-9 (New International Version)
6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Life has its difficulties, hardships and challenges, and many a new Christian has fallen back into their old way of living because of life's disappointments and problems. It is far easier to cover and minimize the problems by embracing the world, but in the long run God draws back to right living those he loves.

The process that we go through as Christians is likened to a silver or gold smith, refining the precious metal, by burning off the impurities in the fire. So too we are brought through the fire of difficulties, hardships and challenges, to help to us get rid of anything that hinders our relationship with God. Through all of it though, God makes His presence known by bringing us comfort through the Holy Spirit.

If you Christian are in the midst of the refining fire, hold on to Jesus and the promises of God. Strengthen your faith through prayer, the fellowship of other believers, and worshiping the Savior of your soul. Remember too that as you journey through, God will bring you to a place of joy. All you need to do is hold on to your faith.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Overcoming Bunker Mentality - May 25, 2010

2 Timothy 2:3-7;15 (New Living Translation)
3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 5 And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. 6 And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

There are many that call themselves Christians that have developed an attitude that the Christian life is one that requires you to simply follow the rules and to be an upstanding member of a church. You might go to Sunday School and church on Sundays, maybe on Wednesdays too. You give your offering, as long as it is not too much. You may attend an occasional Bible Study, or picnic or other event.

Unfortunately many of us fall into what I call the "Bunker Mentatilty". We think as long as we are okay with God and are memebers in good standing, that is all that is required to be a good Christian. As long as we are safe and protected in the bunker nothing will happen to us, and those who are on the outside, well they need to fend for themselves.

Unlike in other parts of the world, we in the West are sold a false impression of what the Christain life is like, and many have the wrong expectations of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. As I have said before, the life of a true Christian is hard. It takes work on our part. It is a calling that holds us accountable to obedience, rules and sacrifice that few find easy to follow. The fact of the matter is that if we are to call ourselves Christians, we are responsible to everyone that is not a follower of Jesus.

When the letter to Timothy was written, the Emperor Nero had come to power in Rome and the persecution of Christians was about to become the law of the land. Paul was being held in a cold prison dungeon and was nearing the end of his life. He wrote to Timothy to not only encourage a young leader of the church in Ephesus, but to make it clear what needed to be done to be a follower approved by God.

Don't get me wrong, if you confess your sins, ask God for His forgiveness, accept the gift of the sacrificial death of Jesus for your sins, and surrender your life to the lordship of Christ, you are saved and you have eternal life. What I am saying is that as we are told to be a good worker for the Gospel. We are to become workers for furthering the good news of what God has given us, sharing with everyone we can the life-saving message we have been blessed with.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Good Company - May 24, 2010

Revelation 7:9-12 (New Century Version)
9 After the vision of these things I looked, and there was a great number of people, so many that no one could count them. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language of the earth. They were all standing before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

10 They were shouting in a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."11 All the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures. They all bowed down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,12 saying, "Amen! Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength belong to our God forever and ever. Amen!"

This is probably something that you may not think too much about, but it is something that is important that you have assurance of. I don't think any of us will want to be caught surprised on this one, because someday all of us will be counted by the company we are associated with during our lifetimes. For some, this has changed over time, especially if you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. For others, it may still be a question you have yet to answer in your heart. Unfortunately for some, it is something that is of little importance.

There is an American Gospel Hymn that highlights the answer and desire in every Christian heart. That desire is to someday be with Jesus, to be counted among "good company". As a believer we look forward to that day as is noted in these lyrics to "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In":

We are trav'ling in the footsteps
Of those who've gone before,
And we'll all be reunited,
On a new and sunlit shore.

Oh, when the saints go marching in,
Oh, when the saints go marching in,
Lord, how I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

And when the sun refuse to shine,
And when the sun refuse to shine,
Lord, how I want to be in that number,
When the sun refuse to shine.
Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call,
Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call,
Lord, how I want to be in that number,
When the trumpet sounds its call.

Some say this world of trouble
Is the only one we need,
But I'm waiting for that morning,
When the new world is revealed.

Oh When the new world is revealed,
Oh When the new world is revealed,
Lord, how I want to be in that number,
When the new world is revealed.

Oh, when the saints go marching in,
Oh, when the saints go marching in,
Lord, how I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

The above passage is one of two places in the Book of Revelation where the apostle John details seeing the great multitude in the presence of Jesus in heaven. It tells us that someday people from every tribe and nation will be before the throne, worshiping and praising God. This is the question that has to be answered in every human heart, because the answer is of eternal importance, will you be counted among that number, when the saints go marching in?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Praise! - May 23, 2010

Psalm 30 (New Century Version)
1 I will praise you, Lord, because you rescued me. You did not let my enemies laugh at me.

2 Lord, my God, I prayed to you, and you healed me.

3 You lifted me out of the grave; you spared me from going down to the place of the dead.

4 Sing praises to the Lord, you who belong to him; praise his holy name.

5 His anger lasts only a moment, but his kindness lasts for a lifetime.
Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

6 When I felt safe, I said, "I will never fear."

7 Lord, in your kindness you made my mountain safe. But when you turned away, I was frightened.

8 I called to you, Lord, and asked you to have mercy on me.

9 I said, "What good will it do if I die or if I go down to the grave? Dust cannot praise you; it cannot speak about your truth.

10 Lord, hear me and have mercy on me. Lord, help me."

11 You changed my sorrow into dancing. You took away my clothes of sadness, and clothed me in happiness.

12 I will sing to you and not be silent. Lord, my God, I will praise you forever.

A psalm of David. May you be blessed as you meditate and give thanks to God. Have a great week!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Salvation Living - May 22, 2010

2 Peter 1:3-11 (New International Version)
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When you come to belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, life takes on a whole new meaning. As new believers we are excited and have a hunger for God's word and anything that will continue your knowledge of Christian living. At the same time though, along with the joy of our new relationship with Jesus, we may find that there the more we try to do the right things, the Adversary(the Devil;Satan) will do all he can to trip us up.

You see, if your believe that there is a God, you have to believe that their is Satan. But Satan is no more than a fallen angel, created by God, that is always looking to torment those that are not following him and the ways of the world. It is his mission to lead as many as he can away from the love and grace of God as he can. Because of your new life in Christ, you may soon realize that many things you found desirable and appealing about your old life no longer are, and some of your old friends will no longer recognize you as one of them.

So how do you overcome these negative pressures and bad influences on your life? The answer is made very clear in the scripture verses from the Apostle Peter noted above. The step-by-step approach to "insulating" yourself is given starting in verse 5 where is states, "add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." What's even better is that God gives you the divine power and ability to follow through on the steps.

So if your ready to embrace "salvation living" and grow deeper and stronger in your relationship with God, follow the step-by-step instruction from Peter, and you will soon see that you will have a new perspective on what happens to you, and you will experience the joyful life of following Jesus.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Give Praise - May 21, 2010

Psalm 66:1-7;16-20 (New Living Translation)
1 Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
2 Sing about the glory of his name!
Tell the world how glorious he is.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
4 Everything on earth will worship you;
they will sing your praises,
shouting your name in glorious songs.”

5 Come and see what our God has done,
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
6 He made a dry path through the Red Sea,
and his people went across on foot.
There we rejoiced in him.
7 For by his great power he rules forever.
He watches every movement of the nations;
let no rebel rise in defiance.
16 Come and listen, all you who fear God,
and I will tell you what he did for me.
17 For I cried out to him for help,
praising him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

For many of us with children, the school year is winding down. There are awards ceremonies, graduations and other events that acknowledge the accomplishments of the school year. Let us not forget that, "Every good and perfect gift is from God. It comes down from the Father."(James 1:17a) Let us recognize that it is our God that blesses us and the efforts of our children. Let's not forget to give Him the glory He is due. In thanksgiving and praise, let's acknowledge what God has done.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No Fear! - May 20, 2010

Psalm 27:1-5 (New Century Version)
1 The Lord is my light and the one who saves me.
So why should I fear anyone?
The Lord protects my life.
So why should I be afraid?
2 Evil people may try to destroy my body.
My enemies and those who hate me attack me,
but they are overwhelmed and defeated.
3 If an army surrounds me,
I will not be afraid.
If war breaks out,
I will trust the Lord.

4 I ask only one thing from the Lord.
This is what I want:
Let me live in the Lord's house
all my life.
Let me see the Lord's beauty
and look with my own eyes at his Temple.
5 During danger he will keep me safe in his shelter.
He will hide me in his Holy Tent,
or he will keep me safe on a high mountain.

As you live in Jesus Christ, you can rest in the knowledge that God will keep you safe. Though you may not understand it, God exhorts us to have no fear. As David wrote in the Psalm, this song of praise, Go will keep you safe in His shelter and set you feet on a high mountain. Claim God's promises and have NO FEAR!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ask for Wisdom - May 19, 2010

James 1:5-8 (New International Reader's Version)
5 If any of you need wisdom, ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone. He doesn't find fault.

6 But when you ask, you must believe. You must not doubt. People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around. 7 A man like that shouldn't expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 He can't make up his mind. He can never decide what to do.

We are told many times that life is tough. Each and every day we have to face down the difficulties that "try our souls". Yesterday I commented that God tests us through the problems that we encounter to refine us and to get us in right standing with Him. Many of the trials we go through are for our own good and are meant to build us for eternity.

On the other hand, we can't forget that although God allows us to be tested, we have an adversary in this world that will do anything to trip us up. On top of that, many of us have done alot of damage to ourselves before coming to Christ, by pursuing our earthly desires and sowing seed that has caused us to "reap a bad harvest". In the face of everything that is coming after us, what are we to do? How do we ever find the relief that God promises?

First, you need to make sure that you have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ. Ask God to forgive you for the sins that you have commited against Him, and accept His gift of Jesus' death on the cross as full payment for all we have done. Acknowledge that Jesus is God in the flesh, our Savior, and Lord, and surrender the rest of your life to His service. Ask Him to replace the earthly desires that have long held you in bondage, and replace them with heavenly desires that will bring you freedom, comfort and joy.

Next, as is stated in the passage above, ask God for His wisdom. Seek His help in each and every situation. God keeps His promises, and He will freely give you the wisdom that you are seeking. God wants the best for all of those who call on His name for help. He will give you what is needed to get you through the trials of life.

Lastly,you must have faith and trust in the promises and wisdom of God. If you have asked for God's wisdom, you need to have the faith to see it through. You need to wait on the Lord's guidance and watch for how He will work through your struggle. You can't allow yourself to become impatient and fall back into the very things that brought you to this difficult place. If you trust in what God has offered, He will make sure His purposes for good are fulfilled in you.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Facing Life's Trials - May 18, 2010

James 1:2-4;12 (New International Version)
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers(and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
12Blessed is the man(or woman)who perseveres under trial, because when he(she) has stood the test, he(she) will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
( )Parenthesis mine

There have been many times in my life where the circumstances and the burdens of this life have really weighed me down. During the darkest moments in my life, I reached out to God to find relief and comfort for the difficulty that I was going through. Everytime this has occurred, as long as I sought God for shelter, the situation was resolved for the better.

When we become a Christian, this does not automatically give you immunity from the difficulties of life. In fact Jesus told his disciples just the opposite when he said,"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."John 16:33 (NIV) What we are promised by God is that He will be with us through the situation.

In fact, each and every trial we go through is a test, meant for our own good. It may not seem so while we are going through it, but God has a good purpose that will come out of every situation that a Christian goes through. We need to remember, as I have said several times about Next Worth living, everything we go through has an eternal purpose. Although sometimes we can look back and see where God helped us through a difficult circumstance, and we have been better off for it, the results of the many of the trials we will experience in life will not be realized until we have passed from this life.

If you are facing such a trial or difficulty right now, seek God in prayer. Ask Him to guide you through the situation, and He will provide you the wisdom and comfort you need to sustain you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beautiful Feet - May 17, 2010

Romans 10:14-15 (New International Reader's Version)
14 How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them? 15 And how can anyone preach without being sent? It is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"—(Isaiah 52:7)

As a Christian, the verses above from the Book of Romans present us with great questions. It asks us how will other people be able to know of the great hope we have for eternity in Jesus Christ, unless someone is there to tell them. It goes through the process that many ministries focused on missions goes through to serve their fellow man. There is a big, lost, world out there and each of us needs to do their part to not only meet the needs of the people, but to give others the life saving message of Jesus Christ.

Earlier in the year we discussed that the passion of this blog was to assist you in understanding Next Worth Living. I had commented that, "people should not be focused on their net worth in this world, but on their investment in their eternal futures, their Next Worth". I went on to state,"...because of God's intense love for us, He longs to have us with Him for eternity." "We are here to invest our lives in serving Him, making an impact for Him in the world around us." As part of learning about Next Worth living, I feel it is important that we get to know those living out their faith serving others.

In the heart of East Fort Worth, there is a ministry that exists to serve the needs of the homeless in Fort Worth. This place of service to the community offers the community they serve not only the message of Jesus, but they provide medical and dental services, breakfast and lunch for the needy, clothing for men, woman and children, unemployment services, children and youth ministry, opportunities for community service, prison ministry, and much, much more. They have found areas where they can serve in Fort Worth and have stepped out to do what is needed.

I have linked to this ministry under the "Next Worth In Action" area in this blog. Take a few minutes and take a look at what this great group is doing. If you have the desire, you may want to get in touch with these people and ask how you might help, or step out for yourself and see where you can plug into a ministry such as this.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Praise! - May 16, 2010

Psalm 67 (New International Version)

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
2 that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

3 May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.

5 May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

6 Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.

7 God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

As you prepare for a new week, take a moment to offer God praise. I pray that you might be blessed as you place your confidence and whatever you do with Him.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meeting Together - May 15, 2010

Acts 2:42-47 (New International Version)
42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Hebrews 10:25 (New International Reader's Version)
25 Let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us cheer each other up with words of hope. Let us do it all the more as you see the day coming when Christ will return.

As Christians it is important to meet together in worship, and as has been custom for the church for many hundreds of years, we set aside Sunday, the first day of the week, as our day to assemble together for fellowship and worship our Lord. It is difficult to take on the Christian "walk" alone. I would encourage you to spend time in church this weekend. God always shows up and provides "food" from His word that will uplift and encourage you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Perfect Ending! - May 14, 2010

Psalm 150 (New International Version)
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

For many it has been a busy week, full of the busy-ness of life. There has been working, and going to school , and playing sports, and music lessons, and studying, and getting-togethers, and attending meetings, and rainy days, and sunny days, and driving, and eating, and sleeping, and many more things than can be listed here. For everyone of us it has been a life filled with distractions that have taken our minds off of He who has provided it all.

As a perfect ending to this busy week and the start to the weekend, take a few minutes to give God your praise and glory for the good things He has blessed you with during this past week. Remember Him as you plan out what you will do with these next two days, and remember His purposes in your life as you move along the path He has established for you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Auto-Christianity? - May 13, 2010

John 14:26 (New International Reader's Version)
26 But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you.

1 Corinthians 12:3 (New International Version)
3Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13-14 (New International Version)
13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.

Philippians 1:4-6 (New Living Translation)
4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

What happens to us when we become followers of Jesus Christ, when we accept his sacrifice on the cross, his death to pay for our sins, and believe that he rose again, will return again? How do we find the ability to change our lives for the better and clean up our act? For that matter, how are we able to become Christians anyway?

The wonderful truth is that God from the beginning provided the way for His creation to be reconciled, eternally reunited with Him. He worked His plan by engaging mankind through the three persons of the Trinity. As the Father, He called out Abraham and the nation of Israel, to be His people through which He would demonstrate the need for God, and the Law to define how we should engage Him.

Because we could never fully keep the Law, God the Son, Jesus Christ came into the world to fulfill and take on the punishment for disobedience of the Law, and to show us God in the flesh in which we could identify. Finally, God comes to us as the Holy Spirit, who comes to live within us and bring us the knowledge of God's plan, when we accept God's provision for reconciliation. It's almost as if our lives start operating in auto-pilot, with God directing each and every aspect of life to ultimately fulfill His plans in and for us.

As a Christian believer, the great thing is that if we accept the knowledge, instruction and direction of the Holy Spirit that resides within us, God assists us in doing what we need to do to live the right way. The passages above illustrate the how we were given the Holy Spirit and how He works. These things were confirmed in my life when I first accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

The very things that I once desired and thought that I could never give up, became the very thing that I no longer wanted any part of in my life. The Bible which I found difficult to read and understand in the past, suddenly came "alive" and gave me wisdom with which I could overcome my daily problems. I no longer avoided being around church and other Christians, but I developed a hunger to share with fellow believers and others around me. My entire world-view changed to one that followed after things that were good and pleasing to the God that saved me.

What happens next? Well, we are promised that the Holy Spirit, the deposit and seal that marks us a follower of Jesus, will help us complete the journey and the plan that God has marked out for us. Have you heard the saying, "let go and let God"? That is our lives on auto-pilot. As long as we surrender our lives into the hands of the Spirit, He will make sure that we will do the right things. Not that we become perfect and never again do anything wrong, but now when we do wrong, the Spirit will convict us of our wrongdoing and guide us back into God's plan.

That is what is so amazing about being a Christian: our eternal Salvation and the ability to live life too!

Philippians 2:12-13 (New International Version)
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When God Calls - May 12, 2010

1 Samuel 3 (New International Reader's Version)
1 The boy Samuel served the Lord under the direction of Eli. In those days the Lord didn't give many messages to his people. He didn't give them many visions.

2 One night Eli was lying down in his usual place. His eyes were becoming so weak he couldn't see very well. 3 Samuel was lying down in the Lord's house. That's where the ark of God was kept. The lamp of God was still burning. 4 The Lord called out to Samuel.

Samuel answered, "Here I am." 5 He ran over to Eli. He said, "Here I am. You called out to me." But Eli said, "I didn't call you. Go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.

6 Again the Lord called out, "Samuel!" Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, "Here I am. You called out to me." "My son," Eli said, "I didn't call you. Go back and lie down."

7 Samuel didn't know the Lord yet. That's because the Lord still hadn't given him a message.

8 The Lord called out to Samuel for the third time. Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, "Here I am. You called out to me." Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down. If someone calls out to you again, say, 'Speak, Lord. I'm listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there. He called out, just as he had done the other times. He said, "Samuel! Samuel!"

Then Samuel replied, "Speak. I'm listening."

Have you had God call you? I mean really, has God ever called you? Have you ever heard His voice? Have you ever felt His presence? If you have, you know what I am asking. Many of us believe in God and Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, yet say that we don't know if we have ever heard His voice. Or have we?

In the passage above we read about an encounter that Samuel, the prophet of God during the time of Israel's first king Saul, had when he was just a boy. Samuel was dedicated to the Lord's service at birth, bacause his mother Hannah had prayed earnestly for a son, and God found favor with her and answered her prayer. When he was old enough, he was given to serve in the Temple of God, under the instruction of Eli the high priest.

I believe that today's world is much like the time of Samuel, and it is easy to relate to the verse, "In those days the Lord didn't give many messages to his people. He didn't give them many visions." Most of the time we are far to busy to hear God speak to us, and for many, because the "cares of this world" have our attention, our hearts are hardened to the impressions of the Holy Spirit of God.

So what can we learn from this passage? First of all, God's call to Samuel was in response to the prayers of his mother before he was even born. Because his mother was faithful in prayer and in fulfilling her commitment she made to give her son to the service of the Lord, God appointed Samuel to be His messenger to the people of Israel when the time was right. When you have a burden or need that you need to hear from God for, you have to create the proper conditions for God's answer by preparing the way with prayer. These prayers need to be specific to the situation and you need to patiently wait for the Lord to answer you. He will in the proper time.

Next we need to understand that Samuel was called when he was in the quiet of the temple of the Lord. Because he was right with God and in the right circumstances, he was able to hear God's call. There is no way that God will hear our prayers or we can hear His answer unless we are in right standing with God. God is perfect and holy, and He cannot work in the presence of sin or our wrongdoing. If you want God to answer a specific prayer, you need to be sure you are in the right place with Him.

We should also note that God's calling is very personal. Eli could not hear the call, although he was in the same room that Samuel was in. This tells me that the call might not have been audible, or loud enough to be heard by others. Most of the time, God will speak to us through "impressions on our hearts", meaning that He places thoughts and feelings within us that we know are from Him. When He really wants us to listen, He will make those impressions very strong.

Lastly, we need to note that just because Samuel did not know that it was God calling, God did not quit calling out to Samuel. God was persistent in His call to Samuel, and when Samuel understood and was ready to listen, God proceeded with His message to Samuel. In our lives, God sometimes has to work the same way. Oftentimes He will call us, and because we are not ready to listen, we will not understand or hear what He is trying to tell us. It has often been said that if you hear something that you believe is from God, if it is confirmed three different ways or times, then you will know it is from God.

If you are earnest in prayerfully making your specific request, if you are in the right place with God, and if you are ready to get away from the distractions of the world and listen, He will be easy to hear.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love Your "Enemies" - May 11, 2010

Luke 6:27-36 (New International Reader's Version)
27 "But here is what I tell you who hear me. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who call down curses on you. And pray for those who treat you badly.
29 "Suppose someone hits you on one cheek. Turn your other cheek to him also. Suppose someone takes your coat. Don't stop him from taking your shirt.

30 "Give to everyone who asks you. And if anyone takes what belongs to you, don't ask to get it back. 31 Do to others as you want them to do to you.

32 "Suppose you love those who love you. Should anyone praise you for that? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And suppose you do good to those who are good to you. Should anyone praise you for that? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And suppose you lend money to those who can pay you back. Should anyone praise you for that? Even a 'sinner' lends to 'sinners,' expecting them to pay everything back.

35 "But love your enemies. Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then you will receive a lot in return. And you will be sons of the Most High God. He is kind to people who are evil and are not thankful. 36 So have mercy, just as your Father has mercy.

Yesterday we talked about "true love". I stated, "true love is an ACTION word. To really love someone, you have to do something. You have to make a decision that you are going to exhibit and demonstrate a certain behavior towards someone else. You have to truly care about other people and what happens to them, like them or not."

To understand the verse in 1 John from yesterday about love as well as today's passage, you need to have an understanding about the original Greek version of the Bible that we have translated into English. In Ancient Greek, the English word "love" had four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. "Agápe" referred to a general affection or deeper sense of "true love" rather than physical attraction suggested by "eros"; philía denoted a general type of friendship love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity; and
storgē meant "affection" or natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring, always in a familial sense.*

The Ancient Greek word "agápe" is the one used in the passages from yesterday and today, and is described here and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial love, or charity. C.S. Lewis, the 20th Century Christian author, stated in his book Four Loves that "agápe" is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. Lewis recognizes this as the greatest of loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue. The chapter on the subject focuses on the need of subordinating the natural loves to the love of God, who is full of charitable love.*

We are called to excercise charitable sacrificial love to everyone, regardless of the circumstances, exhibiting the qualities of Jesus Christ. Jesus was very clear that although he did not necessarily like the behavior, character, or attitudes of those around him, he willingly went to the cross to die for the sins of all. We are called to extend a similar love, no matter how difficult. I am not saying to purposely place your self into situations just to exhibit "Christ-like love", but when we are confronted with these situations, we are to always approach it "in agápe love", in care and charity for the other person.

As Jesus said, "Suppose you love those who love you. Should anyone praise you for that? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And suppose you do good to those who are good to you. Should anyone praise you for that? Even 'sinners' do that." He calls us to be exceptional in our love, loving the "un-lovable" no matter what.

* References on subjects here noted are taken from Wikepedia.

Monday, May 10, 2010

True Love - May 10, 2010

1 John 4:7-12;19-21(New International Version)
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

What is true love? All of us have a God-given desire to be loved. This desire is deep within each one of us, and many of us spend our entire lifetimes looking for "true love". The problem is that many of us are looking for the wrong thing.

In the passage above, the apostle John makes it clear what true love is, and he uses the God-given example of "true love", Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sins. What does this example show us? It shows us that "true love" is an ACTION word. To really love someone, you have to do something. You have to make a decision that you are going to exhibit and demonstrate a certain behavior towards someone else. You have to truly care about other people and what happens to them, like them or not.

God's word speaks alot about love, and in each case it exhorts those who call themselves Christian to exhibit "true love" to others. If we do not love others, the ability to demonstrate our caring for others, as we are called to do, we may not truly have the Spirit of God living in us. Do you have a heart for loving others?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In Honor of Noble Women - May 9, 2010

Proverbs 31:1,10-31 (New Living Translation)
1 The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife(and mother)?
She is more precious than rubies.11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. 14 She is like a merchant’s ship,bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.

18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.

21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. 22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,and she laughs without fear of the future. 26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. 31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

As we wind down this weekend, and Mother's Day, lets take time to reflect on the mothers in our lives and give them the praise and honor that they are due. They do a thankless job raising children in a very difficult world, yet all of us who follow the Lord can probably thank our moms for reflecting the heart of God and the love of Jesus to us.

Personally, to my dear wife and the mother of our beautiful family, I would like to thank her for always living out the example of the Proverbs 31:10-31 woman that is shown to us in the verses above. I pray that she knows how much we all love her, and that we show her our love daily. To my mother, I would like to thank her for her love, and teaching me how to be a good son.

Let us all not only honor the mothers in our lives on this day, but throughout the year. If you are a mom, I pray that God blesses you and rewards you for the sacrifice, devotion and caring you always give us.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Championships - May 8, 2010

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (New Living Translation)
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

I just returned from the TAPPS High School Track and Field State Championships. It was amazing to see the young men and woman working so hard as they competed to win. The atheletes stood out as each one showed great character and sportsmanship during the competition.

The State Championships were the culmination of local relays, and district and regional events, where only the best in each event qualified to move-up to the next level of competition. All the hard work and best efforts for the year came down to competing in one final race in each event category, and by the end of the day there were those who received awards, but all of those who competed at the state level were winners today.

We can learn alot from the young atheletes when it comes to running the Christian race of life. Their effort took alot of daily hard work, building stamina, endurance and perseverance to help them compete. Much of this work was not very fun or pleasant, but to obtain the experience necessary to qualify and reach the state competition, they had to do the work.

The same needs to happen in our Christian lives. Being a Spirit-filled Christian, that makes an impact for Jesus in the world takes alot of hard work. It takes spending concentrated effort daily studying God's word, and building the stamina, endurance and perseverance required to be a strong disciple. It also requires us to grow, that we only gain through the experience of helping others and showing them the love and saving knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

I was most impressed that win or lose, each of these young men and woman gave it their best effort. They all ran and competed to win. We too need to run with perseverance the race that God has given us, giving it our best with the help of the Holy Spirit, and striving to win the prize of eternal life that God has set before us.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Prayer - May 7, 2010

Luke 18:1-8 (New Living Translation)
1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

In the passage above, Jesus illustrated through a parable the importance of persistent prayer. The ppoint here is that none of our prayers gets unanswered. We may not feel that way sometime, and there are times when we feel that God has abandoned us, but God does answer in the time that will benefit His children most.

There are circumstances that may hinder your prayers. If you are in sin and non-repentant, God will not listen to your prayers. Notice that I didn't say that He will not "hear" your prayers, because He is aware of everything, even your sinful state. If you will humble yourself, and ask Him for forgiveness, it will open up the line of communication.

What we pay for does have to be in His will for us. If we are frivolous in our prayers, or we are asking for things that are not within His plan for us, God will not gives us what we ask for. We need to always pray for wisdom and make sure we seek His will in our requests.

There are times when the answer you get is NO. Yes, we don't get everything we pray for, for God did not promise us everything when we came to Jesus. He did promise that he would meet all of our needs. In fact, as we mature in our Christian faith, we will ask for personal things much less frequently. If we focus on the needs of others and try to meet those needs, we will find that the very things we might have wanted we will get.

The New Testament talks alot about prayer, and this parable is just one example. Bottom line is this, we need to pray about everything all the time, because this is how we communicate with God. Jesus extended his love to us, now it is our turn to love Him back.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer - May 6, 2010

2 Chronicles 7:13-16 (New Living Translation)
13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you.

14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

The passage above was God's answer to Solomon's prayer made during the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem around the 5th century B.C. Although this was a specific answer to a specific prayer, for a specific people, there is application for us. In our time, God resides in the heart of every Christian believer, and I do believe that He is "attentive to every prayer made". Some believe that a Christian minority that prays for the Nation will have little effect on turning it around, but I believe that our concentrated prayers can "restore our land".

Today is the National Day of Prayer, and here from the official event website is a short history:

"The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations."

"The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people. The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning."

"The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, NDP chairman, reminds us: We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day of Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom, too."

"There have been 135 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving by the President of the United States (1789-2009), and the President of the United States has called for a National Day of Prayer every year since 1975."

President Obama has issued a proclamation declaring today as National Day of Prayer. In his proclamation, the President stated, “On this day, let us give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our Nation,” said Obama in the proclamation. “Let us rejoice for the blessing of freedom both to believe and to live our beliefs, and for the many other freedoms and opportunities that bring us together as one Nation.”

With the way that things are in our country, today more than ever we need to pray for our Nation, and we need to pray that God will help us to maintain the Judeo-Christian traditions we all cherish. Because of atheists and others that want our Nation to eliminate God from every facit of our national life, this observance and call to prayer is under attack. Unless we pray and seek God, and at the same time become active to fight back against these few who want to take away the religious rights of the many, our freedom to recognize God as our Creator, and the One who established our Nation, will be taken away.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Time Is It? - May 5, 2010

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New International Version)
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

A popular Vetnam era song put these words from King Solomon in the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes to music. At the time it was used to promote peace and the effort that was being made to get the United States out of the war. I am sure that when it was really a Billboard Top 40 Hit, few people knew where the lyrics really came from.

Today more than ever is a good time to reflect on these words written from the wisdom given by God, because time is something that each of us is quickly running out of.

In the earlier years of life, time seemed to pass by so very slowly, and in grade school it took forever for school to end and vacation to start.

As we got older and went off to make our mark in the world, we thought that time was something we had plenty of. It was not that important, and we wasted many days and hours on things that were of very little value.

Then when we fell in love, it seemed that time stood still, and we couldn't get enough time to be with that special someone.

In the course of time, we married and had children, only to see time rush quickly by, and before we knew it, those same children were grown and gone.

Now time has become so very precious, to get to do and be all that you have ever dreamed. Now it seems that time has become a commodity that becomes more valuable to us the older we get. We wonder, "where all did all that time go?"

Soon, time on this planet for each one of us will come to an end, and time will have come full circle, from life to death... to life again?

There is a way for us to be able to not have to worry about time, because you see with God there is no time. He promises us a time without time:

Isaiah 25:9 (New International Reader's Version)
9 At that time they will say,
"He is our God. We trusted in him, and he saved us. He is the Lord. We trusted in him. Let us be filled with joy because he saved us."

Revelation 21:1-4 (New International Version)
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Take the opportunity for "endless time" that God has provided; now is the time to give your life and your time to Him.

Romans 5:6-8 (New International Reader's Version)
6 At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people. He died for us when we had no power of our own. 7 It is unusual for anyone to die for a godly person. Maybe someone would be willing to die for a good person. 8 But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

God Speaks for Himself - May 4, 2010

Isaiah 44 (Amplified Bible)A Revelation to the Prophet Isaiah from God, 2700 years ago.

1YET NOW hear, O Jacob, My servant and Israel, whom I have chosen.
2Thus says the Lord, Who made you and formed you from the womb, Who will help you: Fear not, O Jacob, My servant, and you Jeshurun [the upright one--applied to Israel as a type of the Messiah], whom I have chosen.

3For I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants.(John 7:37-39 NIV)

4And they shall spring up among the grass like willows or poplars by the watercourses.

5One will say, I am the Lord's; and another will call himself by the name of Jacob; and another will write [even brand or tattoo] upon his hand, I am the Lord's, and surname himself by the [honorable] name of Israel.

6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last besides Me there is no God.(Revelation 22:13 NIV)
Do you realize that this is Jesus speaking through an Old Testament prophet?

Today I thought I would do something a little differently with this blog. I felt it was high time that we listened to what God has to say about Himself. Each and everyday I have tried to pass on the things that His Spirit places upon my heart, and sometimes I may not say it exactly as He would want me to. So, I am letting God let you know what He thinks. We are indeed living in exceptional times. No one can say that they have ever experienced times like these before. I really feel that we need to listen to God's word for explanations and answers for how we should handle what we are going through as a Nation and as individuals.

The verse by verse dissection and interpolation is from the Amplified Bible. They do a great job of helping us understand the meaning behind the text. I would encourage you to take a few minutes in a quite place, pray for understanding, and read and reflect on what God is saying. You will be amazed how clearly you hear His message to us today. I will take the liberty of adding my thoughts in a few places. Oh by the way, be sure to follow the bible reference links I have added and read the accompanying passages as well. This blog is a bit long, but the excercise and reading will be worth it.

7Who is like Me? Let him [stand and] proclaim it, declare it, and set [his proofs] in order before Me, since I made and established the people of antiquity. [Who has announced from of old] the things that are coming? Then let them declare yet future things.

8Fear not, nor be afraid [in the coming violent upheavals]; have I not told it to you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no [other] Rock(Matthew 16:13-20 NIRV); I know not any.

God speaks with His own authority; He alone determines and knows all things!

9All who make graven idols are confusion, chaos, and worthlessness. Their objects (idols) in which they delight do not profit them, and their own witnesses (worshipers) do not see or know, so that they are put to shame.

10Who is [such a fool as] to fashion a god or cast a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

11Behold, all his fellows shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen, [how can they make a god?] they are but men. Let them all be gathered together, let them stand forth; they shall be terrified, they shall be put to shame together.

God now is describing those today who run after the "idols" in their lives and do not seek Him.

12The ironsmith sharpens and uses a chisel and works it over the coals; he shapes [the core of the idol] with hammers and forges it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.

13The carpenter stretches out a line, he marks it out with a pencil or red ocher; he fashions [an idol] with planes and marks it out with the compasses; and he shapes it to have the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, that it may dwell in a house.

14He hews for himself cedars, and takes the holm tree and the oak and lets them grow strong for himself among the trees of the forest; he plants a fir tree or an ash, and the rain nourishes it.

15Then it becomes fuel for a man to burn; a part of it he takes and warms himself, yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. [Then out of the remainder, the leavings] he also makes a god and worships it! He [with his own hands] makes it into a graven image and falls down and worships it!

16He burns part of the wood in the fire; with part of it he [cooks and] eats flesh, he roasts meat and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire!

17And from what is left [of the log] he makes a god, his graven idol. He falls down to it, he worships it and prays to it and says, Deliver me, for you are my god!

That is just like us human beings! We fashion "idols" for ourselves of a job, or possessions, or money, or relationships, etc., without realizing that all we are and all we receive is only because of God. He has made all things and He alone determines our path.

18They do not know or understand, for their eyes God has let become besmeared so that they cannot see, and their minds as well so that they cannot understand.

19And no one considers in his mind, nor has he knowledge and understanding [enough] to say [to himself], I have burned part of this log in the fire, and also I have baked bread on its coals and have roasted meat and eaten it. And shall I make the remainder of it into an abomination [the very essence of what is disgusting, detestable, and shamefully vile in the eyes of a jealous God]? Shall I fall down and worship the stock of a tree [a block of wood without consciousness or life]?

20That kind of man feeds on ashes [and finds his satisfaction in ashes]! A deluded mind has led him astray, so that he cannot release and save himself, or ask, Is not [this thing I am holding] in my right hand a lie?

Because we fail to recognize that God has given all to us, we unwittingly take credit and assume that what we have and do is because of our own efforts, and we rely on ourselves at our own peril.

21Remember these things [earnestly], O Jacob, O Israel, for you are My servant! I formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you shall not be forgotten by Me.

22I have blotted out like a thick cloud your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

The New Living Translation says it this way,"I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Do you realize what you are reading here? Here is a prophecy about what Jesus would come to earth and do for us 700 years in the future from this writing. This is amazing stuff!

23Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, you depths of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and He glorifies Himself in Israel.

24Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He Who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, Who made all things, Who alone stretched out the heavens, Who spread out the earth by Myself [who was with Me]?--

25[I am the Lord] Who frustrates the signs and confounds the omens [upon which the false prophets' forecasts of the future are based] of the [boasting] liars and makes fools of diviners, Who turns the wise backward and makes their knowledge foolishness,(1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)

26[The Lord] Who confirms the word of His servant and performs the counsel of His messengers, Who says of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah, They shall [again] be built, and I will raise up their ruins,

27Who says to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up your rivers,

28Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd (ruler), and he shall perform all My pleasure and fulfill all My purpose--even saying of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be built, and of the temple, Your foundation shall [again] be laid.

This is another prophecy of the Jews returning to Jerusalem at some future time, and the rebuilding of the Temple. ...The words are God's closing salutation and His statement that He alone is in charge of the affairs of mankind and He will determine all things.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's Going On? - May 3, 2010

Matthew 24:10-12 (New Living Translation)
10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

Romans 1:20-21,29-32(New International Reader's Version)
20 Ever since the world was created it has been possible to see the qualities of God that are not seen. I'm talking about his eternal power and about the fact that he is God. Those things can be seen in what he has made. So people have no excuse for what they do.

21 They knew God. But they didn't honor him as God. They didn't thank him. Their thinking became worthless. Their foolish hearts became dark.
29 They are full of every kind of sin, evil and ungodliness. They want more than they need. They commit murder. They want what belongs to other people. They fight and cheat. They hate others. They say mean things about other people. 30 They tell lies about them. They hate God. They are rude and proud. They brag. They think of new ways to do evil. They don't obey their parents. 31 They are foolish. They can't be trusted. They are not loving and kind.

32 They know that God's commands are right. They know that those who do evil things should die. But they continue to do those very things. They also approve of others who do them.

My heart sank today when I saw another headline, "Lacrosse Star Jailed in College Killing". Another young woman used to date another young man; on a college campus after another night of partying; another violent and useless death. Unfortunately over the last several years, you read this over and over again, to the point that there is a headline like this almost every month. And every time a young woman or young girl ends up missing these days I can predict the outcome.

This is a very disturbing trend to me, because I am the father of a beautiful young lady, who very soon will be driving and really dating, and too very soon will be going off to college. All I can think about is what kind of a world am I sending her out to? There are teen parties, and dances, and movies, and prom, and everything else that high school teens want to do. After that there are coed dorms, and sororities, and fraternities, and football, and the club scene, and Spring Break, and the list goes on. Frankly, I am worried for my daughter and for every young woman today. I am also worried for every young man. Because we as a society have abandoned our moral compass and accountability to God.

It is amazing that the Bible is always so very clear about what is going on. Those of you reading this, that grew up when I did know that we weren't exactly angels, but we knew what was right and wrong, and we knew about being respectful to adults and each other, and being gentlemen and young ladies, and about consequences. We knew how to protect those weaker than us, and helping those less fortunate, and serving one another. Frankly, I am worried for my daughter and for every young woman today. I am also worried for every young man, because we as a society have abandoned our moral compass and our accountability to God.

Why has this happened? What's going on? Is it because progressives in our society think they have a better way than the old-fashioned biblical values of the many generations before and since our founding? Is it because our nation has decided that God has no place in public education and that modern scholars know how to teach about morals better? Is it because education about human realtionships was been taken out of the hands of mothers and fathers, and been given to teachers and health clinics?

Is it because our children have now learned that right and wrong is relative, and what's wrong for you may not necessarily be wrong for the other guy? Is it because mothers and fathers now only have to look after their own personal interests, because now they only have to be accountable to themselves? Is it because it is now "my body" and "my rights" and having it "my way"? Is it because all that is important is money, and prestige, and position, and possessions, and politics, and power?

Is it because when you talk about God, "you can't be serious,...what God"? Or, "Jesus? Who's He?" Is it because, "Church? You got to be kidding me! Why should I go to Church?" Is it because, "We have football, or soccer, or swimming, or ice skating, or basketball, or"? And "There is no such thing as heaven, or a hell, or judgment"? Or, "You worship your way and I will worship my way!"

What is my answer to all this? What should I do about my fear for my daughter? The only answer comes from Psalm 37:39-40 which I have referred to in the past:

39 The Lord saves those who do what is right. He is their place of safety when trouble comes. 40 The Lord helps them and saves them. He saves them from sinful people because they go to him for safety.

Read the entire Psalm 37 and be encouraged, then get out there and make a difference in your family, your school, the community around you, and our nation. I have called on you before to get involved, but until we do, the headlines we see above will continue. Let's take the time and mentor the next generation around us, and leave it a better place for future generations. Let's show them that God is just and expects our obedience, and that Jesus is the only answer.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why I don’t believe in Evolution,… after reading this, will you? - May 2, 2010

Job 40:15-24 (New International Version)
15 "Look at the Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox.

16 What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly!

17 His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit.

18 His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron.

19 He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword.

20 The hills bring him their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby.

21 Under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh.

22 The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him.

23 When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth.

24 Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?

I don't know what you think about the whole Evolution versus Creationism debate, but I would like to offer my opinion. Like everyone that goes to school or college, I long studied the fundamentals of the "Theory of Evolution". In college I went further and got my degree in Biology, and in graduate school I even taught the subject, which included courses that heavily promoted Evolution.

We have long heard that the debate was over and today our children are indoctrinated with the "theory" as being fact. In fact many people use this "theory" to determine everything from environmental policy to social science. Yes, the way our society is currently shaped has do to with the Theory of Evolution. How human life is valued today, whether pre-born or elderly, has been determined because people have decided that Evolution is fact and not theory.

You see, if we are descendants of a single-celled organism that arose from the primordial soup, went through billions of years of evolution, passing through a short few million year stint in the trees as an ape, and somehow became a man, without any outside force such as God, as did every other animal on the planet, why should man be worth anymore than a fish, an ape or a whale?

This devaluing of human life has given rise to wacky ideas such as eugenics,the study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans, with the aim of improving the species. Many progressive intellectuals of the early twentieth century such as, President Woodrow Wilson, scientist Linus Pauling, author H.G. Wells, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and even Adolf Hitler embraced these ideas. Today many of these ideas are leading to un-restricted abortion and even to the adoption of euthanasia for the terminally ill and elderly.

The Book of Job is generally thought to have been written in the 6th to 5th century BCE, which has been supported with fragment findings from the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered from 1947 and 1956. If this was written over 2600 years ago, how did they know about the dinosaurs, and why was it stated that “Behemoth” described was made along with us? Check any translation of the Bible in any language and the translation is the same, even in the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh.

Type "Brachiosaurus" in any search engine, and you can see artist's renderings of what has been found in the fossil record, but you will also find waht is described in the verses above. What it tells me is that what scientists have assumed existed millions of years before man, actually existed alongside man. This not only confirms my belief in the biblical accounts of Creation, but it also confirms my belief in the Bible itself. Only God would describe something 2600 years earlier in His inspired word that would only be discovered in the modern era.

Where is all this going? My word to you is this; if you are a young person, parent or grandparent, quit believing blindly in what society and the public schools have tried to promote about Evolution. After all, it is just a "theory", and no, it has not been conclusively proven. In fact more and more scientists today are beginning to question the validity of the theory itself. Instead, do some research yourself and study with an open mind both Creationism and Evolution. And while you are at it, pick up God's word and explore the marvelous things it has to offer.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Praise His Goodness - May 1, 2010

Psalm 106:1-5 (New International Version)
1 Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise? 3 Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.

4 Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them, 5 that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, tthat I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.

Every now and then you just have to say God is good. I am sure all of us are amazed sometimes how God just seems to know wht we need and he gives it to us. Too often we forget to give Him thanks, and acknowledge that He is always good to us. Even when He tells us "NO", we still need to give Him the praise and thanks He is due. Remember, God made us like Him. He seeks to have a good relationship with us. He will remember us if we remember Him. What do you need to give Him praise and thanks for today?