Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Redeemed - September 30, 2010

Psalm 71:23 (New International Version)
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.

Luke 1:67-79 (New International Version)
Zechariah's Song
67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."

If you are a Christian, do you realize what you have been given? Do you know what has been done on behalf of you and countless of others that have called on the name of Jesus Christ? We have been redeemed from the "pit" and we need to give praise to the One who has given us this "indescribable gift". Zechariah through the power of the Spirit of God, sang a song of praise for the birth of his son, and foretold the coming of the Redeemer of mankind, and gave a song of praise for what He had done.

Very soon we will be called with a shout and blast of the trumpet, and we need to be focused on telling all we know. Like John the Baptist, we need to proclaim the soon coming of our Lord Jesus for His redeemed, His bride, the church. Even those who do not believe can sense a change in the world around them. We need to prepare the hearts of all who will listen for that glorious day. Who will you talk to? A neighbor? A relative or friend?

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (New King James Version)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Wicked - September 29, 2010

Psalm 10 (New Living Translation)
1 O Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?
2 The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor.
Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others.
3 For they brag about their evil desires;
they praise the greedy and curse the Lord.

4 The wicked are too proud to seek God.
They seem to think that God is dead.
5 Yet they succeed in everything they do.
They do not see your punishment awaiting them.
They sneer at all their enemies.
6 They think, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us!
We will be free of trouble forever!”

7 Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats.
Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues.
8 They lurk in ambush in the villages,
waiting to murder innocent people.
They are always searching for helpless victims.
9 Like lions crouched in hiding,
they wait to pounce on the helpless.
Like hunters they capture the helpless
and drag them away in nets.
10 Their helpless victims are crushed;
they fall beneath the strength of the wicked.
11 The wicked think, “God isn’t watching us!
He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do!”

12 Arise, O Lord!
Punish the wicked, O God!
Do not ignore the helpless!
13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God?
They think, “God will never call us to account.”
14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause.
You take note of it and punish them.
The helpless put their trust in you.
You defend the orphans.

15 Break the arms of these wicked, evil people!
Go after them until the last one is destroyed.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever!
The godless nations will vanish from the land.
17 Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
18 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,
so mere people can no longer terrify them.

If you ever need to describe the wicked, the psalm above does a good job of it. The wicked are always in opposition to the good. Even so, they still are attractive to the world. Look out onto the landscape we call the world today. Do you realize how much things that were once considered wicked are now the accepted as normal, and if you oppose things that once were wicked, you now become the wicked yourself? The world is upside down, but that is to be expected in a world ruled by Satan. What seems as a recent event for us is one that has been repeated generation after generation.

God will eventually bring about justice because this ultimately is His world. He is patient in bringing about justice, only because He loves each and everyone of us, and He is waiting for all who are to come to Him to do so. Our responsibility is to make sure that we ened up on His side, and that we bring as many people with us as we can.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Standing In the Gap - September 28, 2010

Luke 15:13-20 (New International Version)
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

Acts 2:38-39 (New American Standard Bible)
38Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

39"For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."

Ephesians 2:13 (New American Standard Bible)
13But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

There was a time in our lives that we stood far away from God. We made the conscious decision to go our own way. We chose to jump into the "world" with both feet and indulge ourselves in everything it had to offer. In choosing our own way we exposed ourselves to the good and the bad. In doing so, we drove ourselves further and further from God, falling deeper and deeper into the "pit" of sin and trouble that we dug. We soon found ourselves in the same desparate situation as the younger son above.

The portion of the parable found above and told by Jesus is meant to tell us about the heart and attitude of God. When we read, "while he was still a long way off...", we understand how God really feels about us. He sees us when we are far from Him and a "long way off", and because of His desire that none of us would perish, He sent Jesus Christ to stand in the gap for us by dying on the cross in our place.

Jesus bridges that gap, that canyon, the chasm that we create through our sin, that separates us from the Father. With his outstretched arms he reaches out to us, and He is our ultimate Savior that draws us close to God. You might be in this very situation. You might feel like you are far away from God. This doesn't mean that you have to stay there. Like the younger son, you need to come to your senses.

No matter what you have done, your Father in heaven is waiting to "throw His arms" around you. Make that decision today and accept the gift of salvation given through Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More Than Enough - September 27, 2010

Psalm 119:57-64 (New American Standard Bible)
x Heth
57The LORD is my portion;I have promised to keep Your words.

58I sought Your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your word.

59I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. 60I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

61The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your law.

62At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances.

63I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts.

64The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O LORD; teach me Your statutes.

Philippians 4:13 (New International Version)
13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Feeling incomplete and empty? Is the world weighing you down so much that you feel like your drowning in you troubles? I think our pious priest felt that way some of the time. Here was a very religious and devout man who was constantly being hammered by the unbelieving people around him. He tried to walk in faith and always put God and His commands first, but often found himself alone and in opposition to the world.

The wisdom and solution to his troubles is found at the beginning of verse 57. He rightly states that the Lord God is his portion. God is really all He needs to make it through his difficulties. God is more than enough for him to overcome any pressures or confrontation that he might face. It is the sufficinecy he needs to weather all of the storms he will ever face. As long as he relies on the Lord, and allows God's word to inhabit his daily life, he will make it through.

Centuries later, Paul came to the same conclusion when He was writing to the church in Philippi. He also realized that he could do everything and anything through the strength given Him by God. We too can find all we need in Him. When we feel our troubles surrounding and weighing in on us, all we need to do is hand it over to God. He will meet your every need and give you everything sufficient to overcome your difficulty. Get into His word and find more than enough to make it through.

Psalm 119 is a devotional poem from a very pious priest. This is the only psalm in The Psalms written by this author. This psalm is an acrostic poem; the verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This Israelite priest sought to pass on godly instruction in his devotional study of the word of God.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

No Fear - September 26, 2010

Deuteronomy 31:6 (New International Version)
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Joshua 1:9 (New King James Version)
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 27:1 (New King James Version)
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 41:13 (New Century Version)
13 I am the Lord your God, who holds your right hand,
and I tell you, 'Don't be afraid. I will help you.'

Romans 8:31-34 (New International Version)
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

How many of us allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. It hinders us; keeps us in the shadows; stops us from doing things we need to; holds us back from becoming all that God wants us to be. For some, it may even be keeping you from the Lord, because the fear of revealing who you are and what you have done, will keep you from being accepted by God. You fear that He will reject you because of it. His salvation will not be for you
as it is for others. The fear may also have you thinking that you will have to give something up that you are not ready to.

Be of "good cheer" the Bible tells us. God is there for you. He wants to let you know that there is nothing to fear. If you surrender yourself to Him and his grace and mercy, He will help you overcome the fear. He is there to forgive and forget all that is holding you back from Him. He is there to go before you and help you complete what He has created you for. He lights the path that you should take, and He utlimatley will complete His work in you.

Your job is to turn it all over to Him. Surrender yourself to Him. Trust in Him. He is for you and no one can ever come against you! Have no fear, and rest in the knowledge of His love for you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Praise for Rescue - September 25, 2010

Psalm 9 (New Living Translation)
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
2 I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

3 My enemies retreated;
they staggered and died when you appeared.
4 For you have judged in my favor;
from your throne you have judged with fairness.
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have erased their names forever.
6 The enemy is finished, in endless ruins;
the cities you uprooted are now forgotten.

7 But the Lord reigns forever,
executing judgment from his throne.
8 He will judge the world with justice
and rule the nations with fairness.
9 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

11 Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem.
Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds.
12 For he who avenges murder cares for the helpless.
He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer.

13 Lord, have mercy on me.
See how my enemies torment me.
Snatch me back from the jaws of death.
14 Save me so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem’s gates,
so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.

15 The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others.
Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set.
16 The Lord is known for his justice.
The wicked are trapped by their own deeds.

17 The wicked will go down to the grave.
This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.
18 But the needy will not be ignored forever;
the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.

19 Arise, O Lord!
Do not let mere mortals defy you!
Judge the nations!
20 Make them tremble in fear, O Lord.
Let the nations know they are merely human.

This evening, prepare your heart by giving praise to God for rescuing you from difficult circumstances. This might be a tough week at work, or from facing a person who has wronged you, or for many reasons where He has lifted you out of trouble. Too often we just through up a simple thanks, or forget about God working things out for you altogether. We need to always remember that just because we can't see God, it doesn't mean that He is not constantly with you working out each and every circumstance for your good.

Take a few minutes, and in love for your heavenly Father, give Him thanks and praise for what He has done for you. Read this Psalm of David and meditate on each stanza, placing your difficulties and victories in place of his. Remember that God loves you with an enduring love, and that like an earthly father, He wants to hear love, thanks and praise fron His children.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How Jesus Sees It - September 24, 2010

Luke 18:9-14 (New International Version)
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Romans 14:10-13 (New Century Version)
10 So why do you judge your brothers or sisters in Christ? And why do you think you are better than they are? We will all stand before God to be judged, 11 because it is written in the Scriptures:

" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'Everyone will bow before me;
everyone will say that I am God.' " — Isaiah 45:23
12 So each of us will have to answer to God.

13 For that reason we should stop judging each other. We must make up our minds not to do anything that will make another Christian sin.

We can easily fall into that trap were we start seeing oursleves in comparison to others around us, those who are believers and those who are not. When we do, it becomes easy for us to make judgments that we shouldn't be making.

How often have we considered a person in our church that was vying for that spot we wanted in leadership, only to think that they were not as qualified as us? Or, how often do we see people from other churches and wonder "are they really saved"? And when we see someone that seems a bit too worldly, do we look at them with compassion, or do we look at them in disgust because they don't believe as we do, or behave as we do?

What we should be doing is seeing ourselves before God as we are, fallen and fallible people saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. We need to come before our God humbly and helplessly in want of His mercy. What impacts me the most about the example Jesus set for us is how he approached everything with humility. Here was God and Creator of the universe, and yet he chose to clothe himself in human flesh and spend his life as a servant to others.

If we are to call ourselves Christains, followers of Christ, we need to be sure that we clearly follow His example of the greatest and highest good, that of the humble servant. As we are told above, we will someday sit in judgement for what we have done in these earthly bodies. No, not to be judged as to whether or not we will saved, but we will be judged for what we did in humble service to Jesus. So when we see other people, we need to be sure that we see them through the eyes of Jesus. and see everyone as he does.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Occupied for Christ - September 23, 2010

Daniel 12:3 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness on the horizon. Those who lead many people to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.

Matthew 24:42-47 (New International Version)
42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

We have been talking lately about distractions, hinderances, and things that hurt your faith and walk with Jesus Christ. We also have read how faithful God is in all of this and how He directs and guides us in our efforts to overcome. But what should we be doing while we are waiting to be with our Lord?

In verse 45 of Matthew 24, Jesus uses a common analogy of his day to illustrate his expectations. Once we have accepted him, he is our master and the food he has given us to distribute is the "bread of life" that we find in his word, the Bible. This is the answer, that we need to be about "the Lord's business". We need to take what we are learning in our walk and be a good witness to others.

This means that our primary mission is to lead everyone we can to the good news, the gospel of the kingdom of God. That needs to become our number one priority, because God has given us the responsibility of the other people around us. We need to be constantly talking to them about Jesus Christ and praying for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts. We aren't expected to do the conversion, just to "give them their food at the proper time".

Someday, Jesus Christ will return to the earth for his church, those who have accepted salvation in his work on the cross. He will come back when we least expect it. Be sure you are counted among his faithful and wise servants.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RELIEF - September 22, 2010

Psalm 119:49-56 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
z Zayin
49Remember the word you gave me. Through it you gave me hope. 50This is my comfort in my misery:

Your promise gave me a new life.

51Arrogant people have mocked me with cruelty, yet I have not turned away from your teachings.

52I remembered your regulations from long ago, O Lord, and I found comfort in them.

53I am burning with anger because of wicked people, who abandon your teachings.

54Your laws have become like psalms to me in this place where I am only a foreigner.

55At night I remember your name, O Lord, and I follow your teachings. 56This has happened to me because I have obeyed your guiding principles.

Romans 15:4 (New International Reader's Version)
4 Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us strength to go on. They cheer us up and give us hope.

There are times when everything seems to come at us all at once. You know it when you forget to set the alarm and you are running late from the time you get up. Everything just weighs in on you, and no matter what you do, it all seems to go wrong. To add insult to injury, it so happens that on top of everything going wrong, it happens to be the day that those irritating people are in your face through most of it.

How do you overcome and how do you spell RELIEF in the face of this? You cling to what you know about the One who created you. You get back into the Word that He has given you and you remember all the comfort He has provided in the past. Sure the world piles its frustartions on you, especially if you are trying to follow God, but you cling to the promises that only He can give; you Remember Every Little Instruction Ever Found as you sought Him and prayed for His guidance.

Just as our humble priest who penned these words long ago, you need to let God be your comfort and your guide as you meet the world and its challenges.

Psalm 119 is a devotional poem from a very pious priest. This is the only psalm in The Psalms written by this author. This psalm is an acrostic poem; the verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This Israelite priest sought to pass on godly instruction in his devotional study of the word of God.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Unfailing; Ever Faithful - September 21, 2010

Deuteronomy 7:9 (New Living Translation)
9 Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.

Psalm 25:10 (New Living Translation)
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (New Living Translation)
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Philippians 1:6 (New Century Version)
6 God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (New Living Translation)
3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

1 John 1:9 (New International Version)
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

It is difficult for us to live as Christians, and Satan is always trying to place "roadblocks" in our effort to live a righteous life. Let's face it, life is tough and adding "trying to always do the right thing" makes it a lot tougher. No matter what we do, in our own efforts we will always be doomed to fail.

But thank God that He never tires from helping us make
it through. He is the One who first draws us to Him and He is the One who will complete the work He is doing through our lives. He remains ever faithful with His unfailing love for us, His unfailing love for you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trapped! - September 20, 2010

Romans 7:14-25 (The Message)
14-16I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

17-20But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (New International Version)
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As we try to live the Christian life, it is difficult to throw off those pesky "sins" that seem to haunt us. We find ourselves entangled, ensnared, trapped, by those things we thought we left behind when we gave up our old lives. These things differ for every believer; not everyone is "miraculously" freed from everything we used to be hindered by as a non-believer. Let's face one time we thought the things we did were okay. These things become a burden and hinder us from doing what we should for Christ.

When we become Christians we accept that Jesus has freed us by being the payment for sin that was required by God's law. Now that we have been rescued from them, it doesn't mean that it is easy to get away from the addictions to the sins we used to commit. All we know with our new life in Christ is that they are displeasing to the Father, and in gratitude to Him for what He has saved us from, we must try daily to shake off the bondage that we have become so accustomed to.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are You Distracted? - September 19, 2010

Job 1:6-7 (Amplified Bible)
6Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them.

7And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it.

Luke 22:31-32 (New King James Version)
31 And the Lord said,“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

1 Peter 5:7-9 (New Living Translation)
7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

If you ask many Christians, they would probably say that they have a pretty good handle on overcoming Satan. In fact, once they are "saved", accepting Jesus' work on the cross for salvation, many probably rarely think about the work of Satan and his fellow demons. But the fact is that Satan is alive and well, working overtime trying to defeat us. Yes, we are saved and will spend eternity with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, but it is at this time when the devil works overtime.

It really isn't important to him to focus on those who are already on his "team"; those unfortunate souls that have rejected Christ and have decided to go another way that is apart from the One true God. God loves us all intensely; we are the "jewels" of His creation, and Satan hates that. He desires for us to worship him and not God; so his entire mission is to snatch everyone away from God that he can. That is why those who are saved, true followers of Christ, are so very important to God. We become God's walking billboards, living testaments, ambassadors, witnesses to the grace and mercy only found through Jesus Christ.

As the god of this world, that is doomed to destruction at the end of time, Satan spends his time as we read about in the passages above. He is looking for those he can "sift like wheat"; "devour". He wants to keep us distracted by occupying the time we should be working on behalf of Jesus Christ and God's kingdom. How does he do that? He uses the obstacles in our lives that will slow us down and will distract us the most. They are different for each one of us, because we have all been created, and been saved for a specific purpose in God's plan.

Think about it. When you are fearful about things are you a strong witness for Christ? When you are angry with someone at work or home are you a Christ like example to others? When you worry about personal finances and money are you totally dependent on God? When you are focused on your own difficulties, do you have time for others that need to know Jesus? We fail in our responsibility to tell a dying world about the salvation found in Jesus Christ when we are occupied with the "cares" of this world.

Does this sound like your life? The solution is found in the verses below:
James 4:7-8 (New Living Translation)
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Timely Warnings - September 18, 2010

Psalm 2 (New International Version)
1 Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.

3 "Let us break their chains," they say,
"and throw off their fetters."

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.

5 Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

6 "I have installed my King
on Zion, my holy hill."

7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD :
He said to me, "You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.

8 Ask of me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear
and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Acts 4:24-27 (New Living Translation)
24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—25 you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,

‘Why were the nations so angry?
Why did they waste their time with futile plans?
26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
and against his Messiah(his Christ).’

27 “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed.

This psalm was written several hundred years before the time of Christ,and has been attributed to be a psalm of David, written when he was fleeing from his son Absolom. This psalm was also frequently quoted in the New Testament, where it applied to Christ as the great Son of David and God's Annointed.

In that sense, it serves as a type of prophecy about the coming of Jesus Christ. To me though it is more representative of the second coming of Jesus, not his first. When he first came as Messiah, it was as a suffering servant to teach and give up his life for our sins. At his second coming, he will come to gather his church to take them with him to heaven, before his judgement of the unrighteous on the earth. He will then be the conquering king.

When you carefully read this psalm, picture it in the context of the second coming of Jesus Christ. It serves as a timely warning to an arrogant world that has refused to follow God and accept His Son as Lord and Savior, take to heart the warning to take refuge in him where you will find safety and blessing. It will sheild you from the wrath that is to come.

Friday, September 17, 2010

No One Else - September 17, 2010

Acts 4:5-12 (English Standard Version)
5On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?"

8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.

11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

There was a time in my life when I thought there were many ways to get to heaven. I believed that all of the other religions were only expressions of man trying to get to know God. In basic terms as long as you were sincere in the religion you believed, you would make it to heaven. I studied all of the world's religions and looked into every means of self-actualization that I could find.

The truth is that no matter how much you might search for another way, no matter how many religions you try, no matter how many self-help books you read, nothing we do will help us find our way back to God. There are many different religious expressions in our world today, but they are all the same. They require something that we have to do to gain the favor of the "god" that the particular religion worships. They are all a delusion and a deception.

If you have not done so, you need to come to the realization that there really is only one truth; there are not mutiple ways to God. We all don't worship the same God. Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God. You need to cling to the verse above: "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

While You Wait - September 16, 2010

Jude 1:17-25 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
17Dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ told you to expect: 18“In the last times people who ridicule God will appear. They will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19These are the people who cause divisions. They are concerned about physical things, not spiritual things.

20Dear friends, use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help. 21Remain in God’s love as you look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. 22Show mercy to those who have doubts. 23Save others by snatching them from the fire of hell. Show mercy to others, even though you are afraid that you might be stained by their sinful lives.

24God can guard you so that you don’t fall and so that you can be full of joy as you stand in his glorious presence without fault. 25Before time began, now, and for eternity glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What should we do then while we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus for his people, the church? Are we to get what some call "bunker mentality"? Should we cloister ourselves within our own Christian community and wait?

The problems of our society and the world today are because people did not follow the directions found in the Bible. Unfortunately, most actually decided to not be concerned with the world, but to focus just on being a good little Christain. Fact is that Jesus did not say "wait for me", he said "go into all the world"(Matthew 28:19,Mark 16:15)

We need to be active in our society, focused on doing the work of God, by being the ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven. We are to be the image of Jesus Christ to the dying world, building and strengthening the faith of those who have doubts, and teaching those who have not heard, the life-saving message of the Savior.

It will be a difficult assignment, and we will encounter our share of criticism and ridicule. But the promise is clear, God will help and equip us through the work of the Holy Spirit, and someday He will bring us to Himself. Our job is to accept the assigment and do our part in accomplishing His work.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blessed Assurance - September 15, 2010

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

13Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don’t want you to grieve like other people who have no hope.

14We believe that Jesus died and came back to life. We also believe that, through Jesus, God will bring back those who have died. They will come back with Jesus. 15We are telling you what the Lord taught. We who are still alive when the Lord comes will not go into his kingdom ahead of those who have already died.

16The Lord will come from heaven with a command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life. 17Then, together with them, we who are still alive will be taken in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. In this way we will always be with the Lord.

18So then, comfort each other with these words!

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, your future has been set for you. You have the blessed assurance of what will happen to you. With this in mind, how come we are not telling everyone about it? Why do we feel "public opinion" of us? Why aren't we more courageous in giving others the same hope we have? Why is it easier to comply and act as if we are part of the world, rather than behave as people who will be ultimately saved from the world?

If you seriously think about it, these are difficult questions to answer. Many of us would rather maintain the "status quo" with our relationships at home, at work, in school, and in the our daily circles. We fear what others might think about us. The truth sometimes is that we fear the criticism of man rather than the wrath of an unseen God. At one time or another we all feel this way. None of us are bold about our faith all of the time, and unfortunately the very person you are talking to each and every day may be on the brink of spending their eternity without God and facing eternal torment.

That is why we have encouraging words such as Paul wrote in his letter to the Thessalonians. Many were uncertain how this whole salvation thing in Jesus worked. They feared what would become of those that died and of what might happen to them. These are the same fears many of us have, and because we still fear and are uncertain about what we hear about Jesus might be too good to be true, others might suffer for our lack of faith.

You need to be comforted and emboldened by the words above. When you place your faith in Jesus Christ to save you from your sinful life, your future is set. You will be with Christ to spend eternity one way or another. It is time that as followers of Jesus you need to shout it from the rooftops. Time to wear your faith "on your sleeve" before it is too late.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "Good Life" vs. The "Afterlife" - September 14, 2010

Proverbs 14:16 (New American Standard Bible)
16A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil,
But a fool is arrogant and careless.

Hebrews 9:27-28 (New Century Version)
27 Just as everyone must die once and then be judged, 28 so Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And he will come a second time, not to offer himself for sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (New Century Version)
9 Our only goal is to please God whether we live here or there,10 because we must all stand before Christ to be judged. Each of us will receive what we should get—good or bad—for the things we did in the earthly body.

Are you out there trying to live for yourself and getting all you can in this world? Are you focused on just living for today, and not worrying about tomorrow? Are you just interested in grabbing that "brass ring"?

That is probably the goal of most of us at sometime in our lives, especially when we are young. Being young gives us a very narrow perspective about life, and so what, old age is a long time away. We feel invincible and that we really don't have any worries until we do get older. So for now, let's just live the "good life" and have fun while we can. Why worry? We have plenty of time to worry about God and things like that.

Then as we get older, there are many of us that feel the same way as those who are young and immature. Instead of focusing on more serious things, life continues to be all about grabbing all you can get. Accumulating wealth, partying, and having as much fun as time here will allow. Why not? We work hard to make money, why not spend it? God? Who cares, we deserve the "good life"! Live like there is no tomorrow! That's what they tell us isn't it?

Truth is, life is short, and if we waste it pursuing the "good life", we will find ourselves in serious trouble. Our focus needs to be on the "afterlife"; what legacy we set up here that will count for the future, both on earth and in heaven. Everyone has been placed here on earth by God for a purpose. No matter how many may want to deny it, what we do here is very important to how we will spend eternity.

If we waste our lives on what the Bible calls "riotous (foolish,reckless)living", we will find ourselves lacking when we are before God. Make sure you are focused on the right things before God calls you to account for the life he gave you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our Defense Attorney - September 13, 2010

Job 16:19-21 (New International Version)
19 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as a man pleads for his friend.

1 John 2:1-2 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
1My dear children, I’m writing this to you so that you will not sin. Yet, if anyone does sin, we have Jesus Christ, who has God’s full approval. He speaks on our behalf when we come into the presence of the Father. 2He is the payment for our sins, and not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world.

When we find ourselves sitting in the heavenly courtroom before our judge, no one will be more important to us than our defense attorney. The prosecution, led by Lou Cifer, will do all he can to bring up every bad deed, every lie, every moral shortfall, every sin that we have ever committed in our lifetimes, in an attempt to have us pay the eternal consequence of spiritual death. We will stand before God, embarrased and hopelessly ashamed for what we have done.

But if we are followers of Jesus Christ, he will stand before the court on our behalf, in our defense as our attorney. He will appeal to his Father based on the fact that he has already paid for our offenses with his blood, when he was hung on a cross. He will remind his Father that we have chosen to accept his sacrificial payment, and we have committed our lives to follow him.

God will see us in the heavenly courtroom and see His Son standing before him as our advocate and intercessor, and our case will be dismissed with all charges dropped. Christ's rightousness will be counted on our behalf, and we will be forgiven for every sinful thing we have ever done. We have been offered a gift through the grace and mercy of God, and all we need to do is to receive it.

If you were called into the courtroom of Heaven, could you stand before God and have your case dismissed?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Praise! - September 12, 2010

Psalm 104 (New Living Translation)

1 Let all that I am praise the Lord.

O Lord my God, how great you are!
You are robed with honor and majesty.
2 You are dressed in a robe of light.
You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;
3 you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
You make the clouds your chariot;
you ride upon the wings of the wind.
4 The winds are your messengers;
flames of fire are your servants.

5 You placed the world on its foundation
so it would never be moved.
6 You clothed the earth with floods of water,
water that covered even the mountains.
7 At your command, the water fled;
at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away.
8 Mountains rose and valleys sank
to the levels you decreed.
9 Then you set a firm boundary for the seas,
so they would never again cover the earth.

10 You make springs pour water into the ravines,
so streams gush down from the mountains.
11 They provide water for all the animals,
and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds nest beside the streams
and sing among the branches of the trees.
13 You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home,
and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.
14 You cause grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth—
15 wine to make them glad,
olive oil to soothe their skin,
and bread to give them strength.
16 The trees of the Lord are well cared for—
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests,
and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.
18 High in the mountains live the wild goats,
and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.

19 You made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to set.
20 You send the darkness, and it becomes night,
when all the forest animals prowl about.
21 Then the young lions roar for their prey,
stalking the food provided by God.
22 At dawn they slink back
into their dens to rest.
23 Then people go off to their work,
where they labor until evening.

24 O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the ocean, vast and wide,
teeming with life of every kind,
both large and small.
26 See the ships sailing along,
and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea.

27 They all depend on you
to give them food as they need it.
28 When you supply it, they gather it.
You open your hand to feed them,
and they are richly satisfied.
29 But if you turn away from them, they panic.
When you take away their breath,
they die and turn again to dust.
30 When you give them your breath, life is created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the Lord continue forever!
The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!
32 The earth trembles at his glance;
the mountains smoke at his touch.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!
34 May all my thoughts be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth;
let the wicked disappear forever.

Let all that I am praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

By now we you are all settled in the rhythm of a new school year, whether with children or grandchidren, whether in grade school or college. By now we sit back and wonder how quickly the time seems to march by. Soon the holidays will be upon us for another year, and we count the coming of each new season when the air begins to chill. Before we go further into the fall, let's take time to acknowledge the One hwo has blessed us with it all. On this Sunday night, take a few minutes to meditate upon the goodness and blessings of God by reading through Psalm 104 above. With your entire being, praise the Lord.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Remember - September 11, 2010

Psalm 34:15-18 (New International Version)

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Proverbs 14:32 (New Century Version)
32 The wicked are ruined by their own evil,
but those who do right are protected even in death.

Matthew 5:4 (New International Version)
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (New International Version)
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

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."

Today marks 9 years since terrorist attackers flew airliners into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania. Although I cannot understand what would lead people to kill in the name of a religion, I will not dwell on the politics of this fanatical horror that has led to thousands upon thousands of deaths over the many centuries, and continues even today.

Today we need to remember the painful loss of our fellow citizens on that day. We remember those who willingly gave up their lives to save the countless lives of many in the rescue efforts.Today we also need to remember the sacrifices of our countrymen to extend comfort to those who have lost loved ones in the wars that have been waged as a result of this tragic event. We also remember those that have been lost from illnesses contracted in the subsequent clean up over these difficult years.

Our lives and the lives of everyone the world over have been changed since that day. An innocence has been lost and things will never be the same. In remembrance and despite the grief, we need to know that God is always constant, offering confort to those who grieve. Let us seek His comfort in the His words above. Let us hold on to the promises and hope that He offers to us. Let us look to Jesus as a precursor of what is to come. Hold on to this truth, and be encouraged. God will one day soon make all things new.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Human Achievement vs. Divine Accomplishment - September 10, 2010

Romans 3:9-25 (New Century Version)
All People Are Guilty

9 So are we Jews better than others? No! We have already said that Jews and those who are not Jews are all guilty of sin.10 As the Scriptures say:
"There is no one who always does what is right,
not even one.
11 There is no one who understands.
There is no one who looks to God for help.
12 All have turned away.
Together, everyone has become useless.
There is no one who does anything good;
there is not even one." — Psalm 14:1–3
13 "Their throats are like open graves;
they use their tongues for telling lies." — Psalm 5:9
"Their words are like snake poison." — Psalm 140:3
14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and hate." — Psalm 10:7
15 "They are always ready to kill people.
16 Everywhere they go they cause ruin and misery.
17 They don't know how to live in peace." — Isaiah 59:7–8
18 "They have no fear of God." — Psalm 36:1
19 We know that the law's commands are for those who have the law. This stops all excuses and brings the whole world under God's judgment,20 because no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin.

How God Makes People Right

21 But God has a way to make people right with him without the law, and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about.22 God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same:

23 Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard, 24 and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.

25 God sent him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus' death. This showed that God always does what is right and fair, as in the past when he was patient and did not punish people for their sins.

I was listnening to a good sermon series the other day from on of my favorite bible teachers David Jeremiah, a noted pastor and author from Shadow Mountain Community Church in the San Diego, California area. He brought an interesting truth to my attention as he was teaching. He made mention that in every other religion, redemption or salvation of the individual is dependent upon human achievement, rather than what God through Jesus Christ has already accomplished on our behalf. He made reference to the falacy that try as we might, their is no definative point when we can say that we have truly done enough to warrant the forgiveness for our sins from God.

That is so true of all of the "works based" religions existant in our world today; it has always been true, because man has always tried to earn his way back to God. All that mankind knows in his being is that he has been separated from God. Although they loudly deny it, even so-called atheists feel in their being that there is that separation. Every other faith system requires us to do something, requires Human Achievement. Doesn't it make sense that the Creator of everything would provide a way that was "idiot proof", impossible for us to mess up?

That is where Jesus Christ stepped into the world. Although he was fully divine, he walked in our shoes as fully human, and took upon himself the burden of all our sins. Not just the little ones, not the just the big ones, but all of them. It is impossible for us to even think that we could do enough prayers, indulgences, confessions, or donations. We can't kneel enough, or give enough, or recite enough, or pay enough, or sacrifice enough, or as in some circles, kill enough to earn our way to heaven. Paradise is never achieved by what man does, but by what has been given through Divine Accomplishment.

If you are seeking the way to heaven, or if you are wanting to know how to be right with God, turn your life to the one who has done it all for you. Believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and make him the Lord of your life.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Love Your Enemies - September 9, 2010

Matthew 5:43-47 (New International Reader's Version)
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor.—(Leviticus 19:18) Hate your enemy.'

44 But here is what I tell you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.

45 Then you will be sons of your Father who is in heaven. "He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don't.

46 "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Even the tax collectors do that. 47 If you greet only your own people, what more are you doing than others? Even people who are ungodly do that.

Many of you have probably heard about the controversy that has come up concerning the burning of the Quran on the 9th anniversary of 9/11 by Pastor Terry Jones, from the Dove World Outreach Center, a small Christian church in Gainesville, Florida. You probably have seen Muslims around the world protesting and burning U.S. flags, and threatening violence against our country and Americans as a whole. It seems like everyone has given some kind of comment on the matter, with most of the commentary being against the planned event.

Sad thing is that many around the world and in the more liberal circles around this country have assumed that this is standard procedure and the normal attitude of Christians. The big problem is that this stunt has further turned people off about Christians and could possibly cause a lot of harm to those who are authentic Christians. No one denies that this church has the right to burn the holy book of another faith, but I agree with many that it does not have a place in this country, and especially does not have a place in the true Christian church. This pastor is leading his congregation astray and teaching a gospel that Jesus never taught.

The verses from Matthew, which are part of the Sermon on the Mount, makes it clear what Jesus believes. He makes it clear that we are to love those who hurt or hate us. We are to love our enemies. When you look at the text in Greek, the word for love used here is "agape" love. As Ivor Oakley* defines it from the Greek, agape is love for the unworthy and the undeserving, regardless of how he treats us, the kind of love God showed in giving his Son. This love is controlled by the will, not by the emotion, therefore not to be confused with liking (matter of temperament and upbringing). Agape love involves recognizing, considering, and caring for others. Such love is very active and practical, concerned with personal relationships, not pacifism.

The best action true Christians should take is to extend real, caring, active love for Muslims and all those who may hurt or hate us. That is a radical concept that we can only do with God's help. Apart from Him, we are unable to look past any hatred we might harbor for those who bring harm to us or our loved ones, and to extend real, caring, active love to them. Imagine how attracted many would be to true Christianity if it were lived out the way that Jesus Christ taught it? True Christianity looks at everyone with an all encompassing love; it turns the struck cheek and offers the other; it forgives the deepest sin and forgives seventy times seven; it gives the cloak to the one who steals your coat; and it goes the extra mile for the one who has made you go one.

If we are to truly win others to the saving faith in Jesus Christ, we need to follow the examples that Jesus gives. Burning books and showing the same kind of hatred that others might show for us will not get us anywhere. We need to "let them know we are Christians by our love".

*(from over 40 years Ivor Oakley worked for his Lord as preacher and theology teacher in England, Ireland and Scotland. He was deeply devoted to the Lord, to His Word, and to the traditional gospel of Grace.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Light Bulb Moment - September 8, 2010

Romans 8:13-17 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
13If you live by your corrupt nature, you are going to die. But if you use your spiritual nature to put to death the evil activities of the body, you will live.

14Certainly, all who are guided by God’s Spirit are God’s children. 15You haven’t received the spirit of slaves that leads you into fear again. Instead, you have received the spirit of God’s adopted children by which we call out, “Abba! Father!”

16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

17If we are his children, we are also God’s heirs. If we share in Christ’s suffering in order to share his glory, we are heirs together with him.

Do you remember ever having that "light bulb moment"? That moment when you finally realized what salvation in Jesus Christ really meant? Many of you grew up sitting in a church or Sunday School class and heard about Christian things; about Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and the wandering Jews, David and Goliath, Jesus and the disciples.
You have heard all the stories and have a book knowledge of what it is to be a Christian, but have you really had that moment when you truly understood what it is all about?

That moment happened for me after many years of being very far from God. I had grown up in a church, but I never really understood at that time. It wasn't until I finally had been through "the pit", through the dirt and mire of life, that I understood that God loved me, and that no matter what sins I had done that Jesus Christ had died for them all; nailed them all to the cross. And then he stepped out of the grave to prove who he said he was; God in the flesh.

You don't have to go through the dirt and mire of life. You don't have to experience "the pit", because we all are imperfect and sinners in need of God's mercy and grace. All you need to do is admit your sins; admit that you need a Savior; acknowledge that you believe God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for you, and that you want to live your life for Him. Once you do, the Holy Spirit will help you to understand it all; God will help you with a life change that will give you that "light bulb moment".

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Times of Trouble - September 7, 2010

Psalm 31 (New International Version)
1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Free me from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
I trust in the LORD.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.

8 You have not handed me over to the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.

9 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and my body with grief.

10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.

11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors;
I am a dread to my friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.

12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.

13 For I hear the slander of many;
there is terror on every side;
they conspire against me
and plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."

15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from my enemies
and from those who pursue me.

16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.

17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD,
for I have cried out to you;
but let the wicked be put to shame
and lie silent in the grave.

18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
for with pride and contempt
they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

19 How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.

20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe
from accusing tongues.

21 Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed his wonderful love to me
when I was in a besieged city.

22 In my alarm I said,
"I am cut off from your sight!"
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.

23 Love the LORD, all his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful,
but the proud he pays back in full.

24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD.

When you are troubled who better to turn to than God? In the psalm of David above, he reflects on how God brought him through times of distress and anguish. I have found that if you read and pray through a pslam like this one, it helps put your situation in perspective. It helps you to know that as long as you seek God's help, He will carry you through.

Monday, September 6, 2010

In Praise of Labor Day - September 6, 2010

Colossians 3:23-24 (New International Version)
23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

According to the Department of Labor's website, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Actually, our work and our labor is very important to God, because he created us to do work. Just as Adam had a job of tending the Garden of Eden, we too will be conducting work for God throughout our eternity.

In the meantime, we need to honor God with our work. How we do our job, especially as Christians brings Him glory. It is a form of our worship to Him for what He has given us in ability and occupation. So this Labor Day while you enjoy family, barbecues, and a little rest from your labors, remember the One who has blessed you with the opportunity to "labor" and provide for our well-being. Give thanks and praise to God for His tremendous blessings.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Honoring God's Law - September 5, 2010

Psalm 119:41-48 (New International Version)

w Waw
41 May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;

42 then I will answer the one who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.

43 Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.

44 I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.

45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.

46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,

47 for I delight in your commands
because I love them.

48 I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love,
and I meditate on your decrees.

What do we hold up as honorable these days? What is important enough to give respect to? People to often let us down and things are without honor. Yes, we should honor the men and woman in our military, police and firefighters, because most sacrifice much on our behalf. Other than that, there are a few men and woman of honor, but we usually fear that they too will let us down.

The lesson to be learned from this portion of Psalm 119 is that what brings honor to all and in all is honoring the laws of God. If we obey and cherish them in everything we do, then we will be able to gain the honor and respect we so look for in others. God is the only one that can give us true honor, and the honorable character we often see displayed is because of Him.

Just as the faithful priest herein, honor God's law and give them respect and high regard in your life. Speak of them "before kings" so that you will honor God through your behavior and witness. Your love for them and what is right and godly will earn the respect of others.

Psalm 119 is a devotional poem from a very pious priest. This is the only psalm in The Psalms written by this author. This psalm is an acrostic poem; the verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This Israelite priest sought to pass on godly instruction in his devotional study of the word of God.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus - September 4, 2010

Matthew 14:22-33 (New Living Translation)
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

We are often faced with the trials and storms of life, and most of us try to make do things ourselves. We struggle against the "heavy waves" of life and our spirits take quite a pounding as we stubbornly go our own way. Usually the harder we try the more difficult the challenges become, until we find ourselves crying out for help.

The story of Jesus walking on water deomstrates a few things to us. First we see where Jesus sends his disciples ahead, while he stays behind to pray. I believe that Jesus sent them out by themselves to test them He allows a storm to come up to see what they would do. Notice that in the midst of the storm, when they see Jesus walking on the water towards them, they were slow to recognize him. In fact they looked first for an impossible explanation rather than to think that Jesus was capable of this action.

Next we see that Jesus is quick to alleviate their fear, by telling them not to be afraid. Then in a step of faith, Peter steps out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water. But instead of focusing on Jesus, Peter lets the storm around him get the better of him and he begins to sink. Jesus as the eternal Savior reaches out to help him, but he is disappointed that Peter's faith is not strong enough to believe that he could do the impossible.

We like Peter are often limited in how we overcome the difficulties of life, because we will not totally surrender to Jesus, and in deep faith know that He will help us do the impossible. We would rather try to do it on our own. My call to you is this, you need to grow your faith to the point that you are completely committed to the Savior. You need to be confident that in everything, Jesus will help you through. Most of all, we need to never give up our faith when the "wind and waves" beat down on us. Instead we need to strengthen our faith even more, and be assured that God will help us through to "calm waters".

Are you facing a storm in your life right now? Reach out to Jesus and ask him to save you. He will take you by the hand, lift you into the boat and take you to safety. Figurative as this might seem, if you truly belief you will overcome the storm.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Use It or Lose It - September 3, 2010

Matthew 25:14-30 (New International Version)
The Parable of the Talents

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

If you have spent any time in a church pew, or reading the Bible, you have probably come across this The Parable of the Talents. To many then interpretation has always been thought of as a spiritual gift or money that has been given by God. But in studying this section of Scripture, I found that it is talking about something very different.

Here again you have to go back a few verses in Matthew to find what Jesus is speaking about. He is answering the question of the disciples as to how it will be at the end, when the Kingdom of God is established. The parables are speaking of different conditions of churches and mankind that Jesus finds when he returns. Again we read that he has been gone on a very long trip, and he has left somethiing of value with his people.

What Jesus is talking about is his Word, the Scriptures, which is very important to God. He has left His Word with his servants to share with the lost world around them. As you can read from the parable, some of God's servants were given God's Word and chose to study and learn and share the it with those around them. That led to an increase of believers and a harvest of many fold. Others may not have been so deeply familiar with God's Word, yet they shared what they knew and the knowledge they had, and a harvest of believers returned to them as well. To those servants who have used what they have learned through God's Word to share with others, God gives additional responsibilities to care and increase His followers, and will reward them for building the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is the "wicked and lazy servant" that has squandered and not accepted the Word left to him and used it to increase the Kingdom of God. There will be churches and people who have been given knowledge of God through His Word, and knowledge of the message of salvation through Jesus, yet they choose to keep it hidden, and bury it in formalities, traditions, and rituals. They have kept it from the people and world around them, knowing that Jesus would someday expect an accounting. They knew and feared God, yet they chose to hide the truth of His Word and keep it to themselves. It is these people that have not taken to heart their service to God and it is they who will lose their reward.

It is for each of us to accept the responsibility of the knowledge of His Word that He gives us. Through the Holy Spirit, God reveals through the reading and study of the Word, the truth that we are to share with others. This is the truth of His salvation found in Jesus Christ. We can't just take what we read and learn from the Bible and bury it in the company of other believers. Sure it is good to have Bible study and to take time in personal study as well, but once we learn what God has given us, we need to take that next step and share it with a lost and dying world. The more we do so, the more we will receive the spirit of evangelism, and we will develop a heart for those that need to learn the life-saving message of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Be Prepared! - September 2, 2010

Matthew 25:1-13 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
A Story About Ten Bridesmaids

1“When the end comes, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten bridesmaids. They took their oil lamps and went to meet the groom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3The foolish bridesmaids took their lamps, but they didn’t take any extra oil. 4The wise bridesmaids, however, took along extra oil for their lamps. 5Since the groom was late, all the bridesmaids became drowsy and fell asleep.

6“At midnight someone shouted, ‘The groom is here! Come to meet him!’ 7Then all the bridesmaids woke up and got their lamps ready.

8“The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’

9“But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘We can’t do that. There won’t be enough for both of us. Go! Find someone to sell you some oil.’

10“While they were buying oil, the groom arrived. The bridesmaids who were ready went with him into the wedding hall, and the door was shut.

11“Later the other bridesmaids arrived and said, ‘Sir, sir, open the door for us!’

12“But he answered them, ‘I don’t even know who you are!’

13“So stay awake, because you don’t know the day or the hour.

Jesus often spoke in parables concerning everyday things to educate and prepare the listener for the future. These verses come right after he answers in length the questions concerning end time events from his disciples in Matthew 24:3 (New International Version): 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

I have spoken before that the Bridgroom in the Bible represents Jesus Christ, and the soon coming wedding feast will be for his bride, all of those who believe, when he gathers her with him in heaven for eternity. Also, the oil here mentioned represents the Holy Spirit that is available to all, and the lamps are the vessels that hold the Spirit of God and illuminate the world around them, here again the individual believer. Here the bridesmaids have been thought to be the individual person or Christian, but since a bridesmaid attends the bride, in my opinion they represent present day churches.

Now if you take all the points, in today's context I would explain the parable in this way:

There are wise and foolish churches that consist of individuals seeking God. The foolish aren't alive with the Holy Spirit, having a sense of the Spirit and the things of God in practices, doctrines and rituals, but lacking the inspiration to fill the people attending to have a Spirit-filled relationship with Christ. The wise continually focus on the Spirit of God, emphasizing relationship over ritual and constantly preparing themselves and their congregations for the Lord's coming. They know that they have to reach out and share that spirit with the world around them, bringing as many to that spirit-filled relationship with God as possible.

Since Jesus has not yet come, and in human terms he has been long in coming, all the churches have grown weary and fallen asleep to the impending return of Jesus. That is very easy to see today, since many that claim to be Christians are not thinking that Jesus will return in their lifetime, and believe that his return is merely representative, a story that will only be fulfilled after we die. To them it is more of a supernatural thing that won't happen in a literal sense. That is the problem with many churches today.

As the parable continues, Jesus does return when he is least expected. Those who had prepared and had continued building up their people with faith and in relationship with God, were ready to greet him at his coming. Not so with the foolish. "Their church membership is routine, merely going through the motions. They have enough faith that they at least show up for church services. They have beliefs and character and motivation—but not enough!"is how John W. Ritenbaugh put it in The World, the Church and Laodiceanism.In other words, they were not prepared spiritually to be ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ for his people.

Where does that leave you? If you are a believer, someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, and made him the Lord of your life, you have been given the Holy Spirit to help you grow in knowledge and in your relationship with God. You need to continually spend time focusing on growing your faith, learning and serving, and waiting in anticipation that Jesus will come back. If your are not a believer, or you are just lukewarm in your faith, it is time to get off of the fence before it is too late. Confess your sinfulness, recommit your faith, and seek the mercy and grace of God available through the work of Jesus on the cross.

As with all of my posts, what I write is my opinion and my understanding of what I study in the Bible. It is limited by the fact that I am not a theologian, and I have never had any formal univeristy study. As I have said before, I am just a fallible guy seeking to understand what God is trying to tell me through His Word, sharing my thoughts and opinions with you. I pray that I can inspire you to do your own personal study, meditation and prayer, and seek Him dilligently. God has a purpose and message for each one of us, and it is up to you to learn what that is.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ready or Not, Here He Comes! - September 1, 2010

Matthew 24:36-44 (New Living Translation)

36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into.

44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

As you go about your day, taking kids to school, going to work, and living through your normal day, do you ever wonder, will Jesus really come back? For many, nothing could be further from their minds. There are too many other things to be focused on; making money, going shopping, playing golf, having drinks with friends, things of much more importance than worrying about God. Problem is though, we have no idea when it will happen, and for some when it does it will be too late.

Some will decide that it is something they would rather ignore, but I say it is something that we all need to really pay attention to. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have to believe in his soon coming return. Sure they have been waiting since the beginning for him to come back, but these days you can feel something different is going on. So there is a real need for everyone to be ready. If you are not thinking about it, you need to be, and if you don't know what you need to do ask someone who does.

As for me, I can't wait. Words like those noted above, uttered by Jesus long ago, build up anticipation within me. I long for that day when everything will be made right again. The daily evil that goes on in this world is too horrible to even imagine. So it is better to let everyone know that a new day is waiting for them, that Jesus is the answer to all of their troubles in this life and the next. If you find yourself reading this, I would ask one question, "Are you ready?"