Thursday, March 31, 2011

You Can't Take it With You - March 31, 2011

Psalm 49:16-17 (New International Version, ©2011)
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases;17 for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.

1 Timothy 6:7 (New International Version, ©2011)
7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

You have heard it said that, "You don't see a U-Haul behind a hearse". How true that is. When we die, everything earthly thing we have will be left behind. This points to the foolishness of accumulating houses and cars, and anything else we try so hard to earn in life. The verses from the psalm above makes it clear that we shouldn't even be impressed by the worldly goods of others, because they will all be left behind as well.

Our focus needs to be on what we do of eternal value. First, we need to accept Jesus Christ and make sure of our future address. Next, we need to take advantage of every good work that God directs us to do. Then we need to live lives obedient to what God has required of us in His word. Finally, we need to make sure our life focus is on sharing with everyone around us what we ourselves have learned about eternity.

Serve God, not man and make sure that your investments are in the right place.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Important to God - March 30, 2011

Psalm 8 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.

2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

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

If you have ever wondered your importance to God, you should witness a total lunar eclipse and meditate on this chapter from the Book of Psalm.
It is one of the wonders of God's creation that is totally mesmorizing as you are witnessing it. You feel very small, yet when you read God's word, He speaks often of how you are important to Him. I took photos of one in the Winter of 2008, and we just had another this past Winter.

King David of ancient Israel spent many hours gazing into the heavens, and what he saw caused him to also wonder how God could work in his meager life, yet God chose him for a specific purpose, to do His will in his time. Now thousands of years later, David is a fact of history, and he is know for being "a man after God's own heart"(1 Samuel 13:14). David serves as an example to one blessed, yet one very human in his shortcomings; in other words he was probably like many of us.

You too are important to God; He cares for you, and He is "mindful" of you. As you get closer to being like Jesus Christ, and as you grow closer to God, He will show you what you are to do. Although you may seem very small, He has something for you to do on His behalf. Be sure you are prepared to do it.

Photo "Lunar Eclipse" by myarrito, 2-20-2008

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Thin Line - March 29, 2011

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."

We are engaged in a struggle these days with those that would choose to harm us. To many in this world, we are seen as evil while in our own eyes we see ourselves as being good. Why is that so? What has happened where once we were the force for good for many and lately it is not so?

I would submit that there has been a coarsening of our behavior towards others and their cultures, and because many hearts have grown "calloused" and the behavior that many exhibit would be foreign to the way we used to be as a country. This is in large part because of our own arrogance and pride. We no longer respect God or others.

There is a thin line between protecting the interests of our country and taking advantage of a situation for our own evil. Jesus saw this plainly in how the Jews once treated non-Jews. It was a common practice during his time to marginalize and hate those who were unlike them, but to Jesus all were God's children. He came for all and not just for the few.

I am concerned these days that because of fear, we are failing to engage people as Christ called us to. As believers we are to set the different example; we are called to make a difference. Just as many are, I get concerned about those who would choose to do us harm, but what if instead I embraced them in Christ-like love? What is we would be the country that reached out to its enemies and offered them our help and care?

Seems naive when you think about it, but the greatest example of Jesus Christ are those who choose to stop the evil by offering an example of love. I have read many stories of Christians in oppressed countries changing the behaivor of their oppressors through this Christ-like example. Why not follow that example?

We might not be called to be persecuted and oppressed, but in every area of our lives there are examples where we must embrace those who would choose to do us harm. If you are faced with such a situation, why not try following the good example of Jesus and show love to your enemies?

Photo "Afghanistan" by Yanboechat, 8-6-2007, from stock.xchng

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Succeed - March 28, 2011

Psalm 1 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

1Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. 2Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord and reflects on his teachings day and night.

3He is like a tree planted beside streams— a tree that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does.

4Wicked people are not like that. Instead, they are like husks that the wind blows away. 5That is why wicked people will not be able to stand in the judgment and sinners will not be able to stand where righteous people gather.

6The Lord knows the way of righteous people, but the way of wicked people will end.

It is hard for me to believe that more people do not embrace the promises of God. It is probably because so many resist even to read and study the word of God found in the Bible. You may ask yourself, what are they afraid of? I believe it is because they are afraid to face up to their own personal sin.

When you look in the mirror, whether you are a believer or not, and if you are in sin, it will be hard for your to be comfortable with yourself. The Bible is such a mirror. When you read and study its teachings, it will reflect the good and the bad of your life; it reveals sin, and it rewards righteousness.

If you do not do so on a regular basis, it is time you picked up a Bible and started spending time reading and studying it. You will soon find that it will bring blessings into your life through the change of your mind and spirit, and you too will succeed in everything you do.

Photo "Tree at end of Summer" by bertythul, 8-23-10, from stock.xchng

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Concert - March 27, 2011

Revelation 5:11-14 (New International Version, ©2011)

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

As I have mentioned before, I love participating in worship on Sundays. It is my favorite time of the week. There is nothing better than gathering with other believers in concert to worship and lift praises to our God and King. Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines concert as,"an agreement in design or plan:union formed by mutual communication of opinions and views".

In the March issue of Christianity Today, there is a great article about "The Wroship of Trajectory". In it they quote Johnathan Edwards, a preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans, who was widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian[1] and one of America's greatest intellectuals. The article states that in a sermon entitled,"Praise, One of Chief Employments of Heaven," Johnathan Edwards explained, "Let it be considered that the church on earth is the same society with those saints who are praising God in heaven".

The article further states that, "This means that when the church gathers for worship it engages in heavenly activity. The worshiping church does not merely imitate what goes on in heaven. It participates in heaven's worship. ...We take up a theme that was begun by others before the throne of God, adding our voices to theirs."[2]

This really caught my attention, and gave me a much greater appreciation for that time we Christians spend in corporate worship. It pointed to the real resonsibilty we have as followers of Christ that we have proper focus in our praise and worship. As was mentioned also in the article, we are joining in on the worship that is always occurring before our holy God. It is more than just our personal expression and sign of our devotion that originates from us here on earth. We are merely participants in the greater worship that comes from heaven and extends down to us.

Jesus hinted at this when he rebuked the Pharisees for criticizing his followers that began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen, He said in Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” And again its mentioned in the passage above from Revelation 5:13, that "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them" will worship and praise God.

If you enjoy worship as much as I do, you are part of a universal chorus praising our Lord and Maker, and the Lamb who is worthy of all our praises, in cocert before the throne of Heaven. If you don't enjoy worhip, or if you have yet to believe in the One who can save you from this world and bless you with eternity, someday everyone will bow their knee in worship Him who sits on the throne. Everyone worships something; make sure you focus on the right object of your worship.

[1]Stanford Encycolpedia of Philosophy,Jonathan Edwards
First published Tue Jan 15, 2002; substantive revision Thu Aug 6, 2009
[2] Christianity Today, March 2011, Page 21

Photo from the website, 2-21-2008

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Praise! - March 26, 2011

Psalm 146 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, my soul.

2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.

Photo "Praise the Lord" by Ronibro, 11-16-2006, from stock.xchng

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lasting Benefits - March 25, 2011

1 John 3:21-24 (New King James Version)
21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

For years I have heard from non-believers that they won't become Christians because there are too many do's and don'ts. Many see the "religion" of Christianity through the lens of what they have heard, not what they have learned. How many times have you heard the excuse for not believing is that the Bible is full of contradictions, and if you ask them if they have ever read it they just stare?

We do not chase after a "religion" to believe in, but a relationship to have. The next time you are confronted with this situation with a non- believer, why not share the "lasting benefits" that you have received through believing? Let them know that you follow the do's and don'ts not because you have to, but in gratitude because you want to. Share the fact that the love of God is easy to obtain; they just need to call on the name of Jesus. He will help them do the rest through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Right living assures us that God will bless us, and when we follow His commands, He lays the world before us. What else gives you anything you ask for just for believing?

Photo "Happy" by Godoflite, 7-10-2009, from stock.xchng

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Keeping Pure - March 24, 2011

2 Corinthians 7:1 (New International Reader's Version)
1 Dear friends, we have these promises from God. So let us make ourselves pure from everything that pollutes our bodies and spirits. Let us be completely holy. We want to honor God.

Alot is being written these days about the number of young people leaving the church after they leave home. The author of one such book, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . .and How to Bring Them Back,Drew Dyck said in an interview "I think there has been a lot of evidence that they are dropping religion at a greater rate than the younger adults of yesteryear," said Drew Dyck.

In his book Dyck examines the reasons for this through interviews he conducts. Reasons can be varied, from those who leave because of a negative experience, to those who rebel, and those who just get bored and drift away. There has also been other research from everyone from Focus on the Family to Pew Research that seems to concur with this significant falling away of our young people.

I am concerned for Christian youth of today, because today there is more pressure from the world around them than ever before in the past. Once they are out of our care and the safer surroundings of a church family or youth group, they are like "lambs thrown to the wolves". The god of this world will do all he can to trip up everyone of God's children he can. Many of us need only to look in the mirror to identify someone who has gone through this. So what do we do to help them from becoming another statistic?

First, our youth must know without a doubt what they believe. They need to be able to standup for it, and to defend it. As there parents, we need to know what they do believe, and if their is doubt, help to point them to someone that can help them work thorugh those doubts (Of course we need to be sure of what we believe first). They can only be strong against opposition if they do this.

Next, once they leave the home, they have to have a lifeline back to thier church and their family of believers. This may mean that your church or its youth group leaders need to be actively connecting with these youth on a regular basis, providing a resource upon which they can depend on. Nothing makes a young person more vulnerable than when they feel that they are alone.

Knowing what they will be held accountable to when they are in the world is the next step. The passage above makes it clear what God expects from them and us. There are many passages in the Bible that help support this. Find them yourself, then pass them on to your kids.

I believe many young people fall away bacause their parents have in the way they live. Many times the "empty-nest" syndrome drives once church-going parents to themselves fall into leading lifestyles that result in break up and divorce. Our bad examples forces our young adults to question their own personal faith, and many times the results are catastrophic. Get you own "house of faith" in order before you expect your kids to.

Finally, before your young person leaves home, discuss what will happen when they do go away. Be very honest and clear that what the world offers is not what they have been accustomed to. They need to know how to face things such as relationships, drinking, drugs and sex. Don't be afraid to talk about it, and yes, its okay to be honest about your past mistakes. Nothing is more important than to know that God can restore broken people, just in case they do mess up.

Photo "Water 4" by NKZS, 8-21-2008, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Frog - March 22, 2011

James 1:14-15 (New Living Translation)
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

There is a anecdote about boiling a frog that has been used to illustrate everything from business to the human situation. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.[1]

In our own lives we tend to tolerate those little sins. It might be as benign as telling you kids to tell someone on the phone that your not home, or it could be as simple as speeding and breaking other traffic laws. Have you ever gossiped about someone at work or have you told someone that you were something you weren't? Did you "borrow" your neighbor's newspaper and failed to give it back, or did you keep the extra change a clerk mistakenly gave you? The list could go one and one, covering every aspect of life.

Yes, we tolerate those little sins, white lies, casual fibs, exagerations, inerrant glances, and others. For some you might do these things so often that you forget that what you really are doing is wrong. You become so desensitized to that "little sin" that it seems to be okay. Sooner or later those little things catch up with you and soon becomes a very big thing. It's almost like your that frog in the cold water, waiting to be boiled to death.

Why do we allow this in our lives? In God's eyes, a sin is a sin. They are all equal; they all cost Jesus the same. If this seems to be touching you and these words seem to be an illustration of your behavior, it's time to stop. You can't continue to do this without consequence. You may wonder why your spiritual life feels like its of track, or that you are venturing far from God.

If this describes you, our merciful and loving God has an answer:
1Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. 2We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. 3Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up. Hebrews 12:1-3 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

[1]"Boiling Frog" from Wikepedia
Photo "Frog 2" by Emma-frost, 8-16-2007, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stay Close to the River - March 22, 2011

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (New Living Translation)
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

If you have driven along the highways and farm roads on the prairies of Texas, you will notice the treelined paths that seem to break up the rolling grassy landscape. These delineate the many rivers that flow across Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. Along these rivers are lush green stands of firs and hardwoods that receive the much needed moisture that sustains them in the dry southwest climate of our state. If they did not grow close to the river, they would quickly wither under the summer heat, and you will notice that that the trees do not grow too far from the riverbank.

Much in the same way that the trees stay close to the river for its live-giving water, properly placed trust keeps us close to the life-giving spirit of God. As we stay close to Him, we receive everything we need, and we will grow deep roots that will provide us the strength through the times of "drought" in our lives.

If you need hope and confidence to make it through this life, place your trust along side the One who will provide life-giving "water" for your soul.

John 7:38-39 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
38As Scripture says, ‘Streams of living water will flow from deep within the person who believes in me.’ ” 39Jesus said this about the Spirit, whom his believers would receive. The Spirit was not yet evident, as it would be after Jesus had been glorified.

Photo "Riverside" by RedVari, 9-17-2009, from stock.xchng

Monday, March 21, 2011

Misplaced Trust - Match 21, 2011

Jeremiah 17:5-6 (New Living Translation)

5 This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.

6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land."

There is a new "religion" of sorts that has been steadily gaining ground around us in our nation. You see it with the constant barrage against Christianity and other religions, and the attempt to wipe out every vestige of established religion. Practitioners of this "religion" use our own laws against us to assist in their efforts, and they have been winning, because those who do pratice a mainstream religion seem to be apathetic to the problem.

What I am talking about is the religion of Secular Humanism. Wikepedia defines that it,"alternatively known as Humanism, is a secular philosophy that espouses human reason, ethics, and justice, and the search for human fulfillment. It specifically rejects religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making."

In other words, it is a "religion" that trusts or has faith in the ability of human beings to determine how they should lead their lives apart from the belief in any supernatural, transcedent, being. It believes it can answer all of life's questions from the natural world and science, free of anything spiritual or sacred. And yes, if you are a believer in this, you are practicing a "religion"; the belief, faith or trust in humanity alone.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God likened those who believe this way as "stunted shrubs in the desert with no hope of a future". If you have ever been in a desert, you know what this means. In the desert, many plants flourish for but a few short days when the Winter rains bring much needed water. Although they may green up and flower, they will soon succomb to the heat and lack of moisture, shrivel up and die. When you drive through the desert in the Summer, you will definately come across many plants such as tumbleweeds, blowing across the barren land.

If we place our hope and trust in our own efforts, we may find ourselves in these same circumstances. In the beginning, it may seem like everything is great; we might be successful and having fun, doing whatever we like with our lives. Sooner or later though, when we are in an empty and troubled place, a dry and barren place, we will have nothing to turn to or depend on to help us make it through this difficult place.

We will wander about aimlessly, coming to the end of our lives without any hope of a future. Very few people that believe this way find true joy and contentment, when they come to the end of their lives. Most end up very much alone, depressed, and fearful of the unknown. Imagine only being able to count on the fact that when you die, you just decay and turn into dust? Can you believe in something, where that is all their is to life?

Photo "Wastelands" by Justino307, 4-4-2007, from stock.xchng

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Preparing for the New Week - March 20, 2011

Psalm 20 (New Living Translation)

1 In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
2 May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
3 May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.


4 May he grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers.

6 Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
and rescue him by his great power.
7 Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
8 Those nations will fall down and collapse,
but we will rise up and stand firm.

9 Give victory to our king, O Lord!
Answer our cry for help.

When David wrote his Pslams, he wrote them while in distress and trouble, and in times of joy and thanksgiving. He has a very intimate relationship with God, and these writings reveal the intimacy that He had. Here he writes concerning the confidence he has in God as the One who brings him success and avenges him from his enemies. What I think he was trying to show the reader was that he had great confidence in God to do anything for his best.

As Christians, we have the same access to God that David had. Jesus Christ has opened the way, and through the Holy Spirit we are able to know the heart of God. In turn God works through your situation to assure a positive outcome. Why not share your concerns and burdens concerning the upcoming week with God? Write them down and pray through them, commiting each one to Him. At the end of the week, look back at your notes and see what He has accomplished on your behalf.

Photo "Always Reading 2" from Mokra, 7-3-2006, from stock.xchng

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stay Safe - March 19, 2011

Psalm 91 (New International Reader's Version)

Psalm 91
The person who rests in the shadow of the Most High God
will be kept safe by the Mighty One.
2 I will say about the Lord,
"He is my place of safety.
He is like a fort to me.
He is my God. I trust in him."
3 He will certainly save you from hidden traps
and from deadly sickness.
4 He will cover you with his wings.
Under the feathers of his wings you will find safety.
He is faithful. He will keep you safe like a shield or a tower.
5 You won't have to be afraid of the terrors that come during the night.
You won't have to fear the arrows that come at you during the day.
6 You won't have to be afraid of the sickness that attacks in the darkness.
You won't have to fear the plague that destroys at noon.
7 A thousand may fall dead at your side.
Ten thousand may fall near your right hand.
But no harm will come to you.
8 You will see with your own eyes
how God punishes sinful people.
9 The Lord is the one who keeps you safe.
So let the Most High God be like a home to you.
10 Then no harm will come to you.
No terrible plague will come near your tent.
11 The Lord will command his angels
to take good care of you.
12 They will lift you up in their hands.
Then you won't trip over a stone.
13 You will walk all over lions and cobras.
You will crush mighty lions and poisonous snakes.
14 The Lord says, "I will save the one who loves me.
I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me.
15 He will call out to me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him in times of trouble.
I will save him and honor him.
16 I will give him a long and full life.
I will save him."

For all of you who are traveling today after Spring Break, may you be safe in the loving care of our Lord and Savior. God will "save" the one who loves Him and will keep "safe" the one who trusts in Him.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Opposites Attract - March 18, 2011

Romans 12:19-21 (New International Reader's Version)
19 My friends, don't try to get even. Leave room for God to show his anger. It is written, "I am the One who judges people. I will pay them back,"—(Deuteronomy 32:35) says the Lord. 20 Do just the opposite. Scripture says,
"If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
By doing those things, you will pile up burning coals on their heads." —(Proverbs 25:21,22)

21 Don't let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good.

Alot is said in the Bible about how Christians should treat others. When you give your life to Jesus Christ and determine that you will follow and serve Him, you are no longer your own. You have been bought with a price, the price of Jesus' death on the cross for your sins. The great thing is that as God's possession, He takes on the task of righting every wrong that has been done to us. He promises to take care of any evil that is done to you.

That gives us the freedom to show the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to everyone we encounter, especially those who choose to harm us. It is our reponsible to show those and all in the world the true nature and character of God. By our humble example, leaving room for God to correct anything that is done, we can help to make the good news of Christ and example for even evil people to follow.

There have been many examples of the love of Christians truning the evil hand of those who chose to harm. Leave the judgement and vengeance to God. We will be called to account for displaying the proper character of God to others.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Harmony - March 17, 2011

Romans 12:17-18 (New International Version, ©2011)
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:17-18 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
17Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble. 18As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone.

As followers of Jesus we need to seek the good in every situation, even when it seems bad. This is especially true when it comes to relationships with others. Very often in life we are thrown into difficult situations where we are hurt by others. Our normal reaction would be to strike back, but it is best to "turn the other cheek" as we have learned from Jesus.

I have mentioned before about what was inflicted upon Jesus without Him striking back. We need to do the same by never repaying what evil that has been done to us. We also need to always live in harmony with those around us, seeking the best, and living in peace. Only then can we truly be mirror images of our Savior.

Photo "Hands" by Andy205, 7-7-2005 from stock.xchng

Humility - March 16, 2011

Romans 12:16 (New International Version, ©2011)
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[willing to do menial work
] Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16 (New Living Translation)
16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

We have been given a great gift. Because we have been saved through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we are set apart for God's purposes. This doesn't mean that we gather ourselves up into "holy huddles", waiting for our Lord's return though. It doesn't mean that we associate only with other Christians. And, it doesn't mean that we turn our backs on others, because they can't measure up to the rules we have setup for ourselves and others to meet.

God has only one condition for salvation, and that is that one believes in Jesus Christ as His Son, that gave His life for our sins in our place, and stepped out of the grave to take up His rightful place as God in Heaven. May seem to be a tall order to accept such a thing, but it is quit simple if you really think about it. It is a simple thing called faith. That is all that God has asked us to have.

Unfortunately, as is always the case, man has added other "works" to add to God's gift of salvation. Many Christians have done the same, laying down rules and regulations for membership to a particular church. This is called legalism and it has no place in God's kingdom. Jesus spoke against this same problem with the Jewish leaders of his day. He called them "whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity".

In his ongoing lesson about how to live out the Chritsian life, Paul admonishes us to first live peacefully with each other, and then to not mind getting our hands dirty with normal people. Many might read this and say that he meant this to be applied within the following of believers. In my humble opinion, God would want us to humble ourselves, to be like Jesus, and to work alongside anyone that is in need of His life saving message.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Empathy - March 15, 2011

Romans 12:15 (New International Version, ©2011)
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

It's difficult to see what is happening in Japan and in the Middle East without "feeling" for those who are involved. Many in the world can be cold and calloused about such events and pay little attention to them, but as a Christian, we are to be "empathetic" to the plight of the people.

According to Wikepedia, "empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another person. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion". In other words, you have to have heart felt joy or sadness for what someone else is going through.

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you take connect with God and His love for His people. Every human being takes on new significance, and you see them ian a different way. This is what compassion is all about, seeing people as more than ordinary, seeing them as those that God loves and wants to save, as well as care for.

It's time we become more like God, and show empathy for His people, and as we feel such, we need to be motivated to take action to help.

Photo #27 from the devastation of the Japan Earthquake from BuzzFeed

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blessings vs. Curses - March 14, 2011

Romans 12:14 (New International Version, ©2011)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Now this is a tough one. In our society, getting even with someone that has wronged you is the thing to do. No one would crticize you for doing so, but in God's economy, "not returning evil with evil"(1 Peter 3:9) is the true sign of a follower of Christ. One can only imagine the torture, humiliation and rididule that Jesus went through, and picture how he didn't react in a similar way, but he asked his Father to "forgive them".

With such a great example, we need to do the same.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sharing - March 13, 2011

Romans 12:13 (New International Version, ©2011)
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

The key to receiving all the blessings from God this life has to offer is sharing. Nothing focuses your attention on the heart and Spirit of God better than when you give of yourself to others, especially others who believe in Jesus. In doing so you come very close to the nature and character of God.

If you find yourself lifeless in your faith, and just can't get it off dead center, if your interested in "going deeper" with God, then do something for someone else in the name of Jesus Christ. Give it your all, not begrudgingly or as if you had to do it, but do soemthing without pretext or precondition. You will be the one most blessed for doing so.

Photo "For Us 2" by Spiz, 4-29-2006, from stock.xchng

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Staying On Fire - March 12, 2011

Romans 12:11 (New International Reader's Version)
11 Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.

Romans 12:11 (New International Version, ©2011)
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Spiritual fire, a filling of God's Holy Spirit, the reception of Jesus promised "Comforter" is the mark of a follower of Jesus Christ. When you are "saved", surrender your life and accept the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross for your sins, and accept Him as Lord over your life, as the risen, living, Son of God, you are filled with a constant companion. He helps guide you through this Christian life, convicting you of wrong and lifting you up in times of righteousness and joy.

I believe that once you experience a true coversion, you can never lose it, but Paul encourages us to never lose our zeal for God; never get bored with serving Him. After a few years in our Christian lives, we may tire of waiting for our coming Savior, but keep in mind that it is all working out ofr His purposes. Be about His business, and He will be about yours!

Photo "Worship" by Everywhere, 12-30-2005, from stock.xchng

Friday, March 11, 2011

Life is Short - March 11, 2011

Psalm 39:4-6 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

4“Teach me, O Lord, about the end of my life.
Teach me about the number of days I have left
so that I may know how temporary my life is.

5Indeed, you have made the length of my days only a few inches.
My life span is nothing compared to yours.
Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind.


6Each person who walks around is like a shadow.
They are busy for no reason.
They accumulate riches without knowing who will get them.”

James 4:13-14 (New International Reader's Version)

13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city. We will spend a year there. We will buy and sell and make money." 14 You don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while. Then it disappears.

On a day like today, after the devastating earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami, you have to take pause and thing about how short life can be. In one moment it could all end for any of us; in one moment it will be either the best of times or too late. We only have one chance in this life to make sure that we have taken care of what comes after. Jesus gave us the way when He said He was "the truth, and the way and the life".

Take a moment and remember those whose lives were cut short. Pray for God's grace and mercy for those who perished, and His comfort for those who are left behind. We do not know this side of heaven why thses things happen, but it is all in vain if we who remain do not get the message of how short life really is. If a disaster would happen where you live and you were involved, would you be ready?

Photo "Mist on Pike's Peak" by myarrito, Summer 2009.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Examples of Love - March 10, 2011

Romans 12:9-10 (New International Reader's Version)
9 Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves.

Romans 12:9-10 (English Standard Version)
9 Let love (agape) be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection (philadelphia). Outdo one another in showing honor.

When I was young there used to be a fairly popular folk song, which was a written in 1968 by then-Catholic priest Peter R. Scholtes. They will know we are Christians by our Love was sung around many campfires at church camp to the strum of guitar, but I wonder how many of the young people understood what they were singing about, and how many then turned around and exhibited it in their lives.

In recent culture, Christians have earned a reputation, not for their love in action, but for being judgemental and legalistic. Even today society at large feels that all Christians want to impose a certain set of rules on everyone else, rather than being a loving group of believers of Jesus Christ, who want to live as His example by serving others. Although we sang alot about showing love to others, we really didn't live it out.

Paul calls us to show two examples of Christian love to others; agape, the self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love, and philadelphia, the love for brothers and sisters. He points out that we are to love each other genuinely, and treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. As Chistians, this is not always easy, but if we will try to see each other as God sees us, then it will make it much easier.

If we as followers of Christ will love each other and our fellow inhabitants of this planet in genuine love, treating them as a brother or sister, we would make a significant impact on the world around us. It is up to us to show fellow believers that the true message of Jesus and the apostles is that God loves us genuinely, and in turn we are to love those in the world the same way. Let us make it a point to change the world's opinion of Christians, from one of judges and legalists, to one of being loving, caring, followers of Christ.

Photo "Forward Together" by hotblack, 9-29-2007, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Keep it Real - March 9, 2011

Romans 12:3 (New International Reader's Version)
3 God's grace has been given to me. So here is what I say to every one of you. Don't think of yourself more highly than you should. Be reasonable when you think about yourself. Keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you.

Unfortunately, many well meaning Christians have given our faith a bum rap. Many churches tried to drum into their congregants the "do's and don'ts" of the faith, without providing the "heart" of the message, which is the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. For many young people over the past few decades, church became a boring place that you had to attend, filled with hypocrates that were in churh on Sunday's, but lived like the rest of the world every other day. To top it all off, those same people arrogantly professed the degree of their faith, and excluded those that didn't measure up to their image of a Christian.

Paul gives us warning that just because we have been saved through the mercy and grace of God, doesn't mean that we are any better than anyone else. The great thing about our faith is that God want you to "come as you are". He sets no pre-conditions, and asks only that you accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. He has provided the means of redemption for everyone, in every area of society and in every corner of the world. No one is any better than another, or excluded from the gift that He has given.

On the surface this might seem like an easy concept to accept, but if you really search your heart, do you accept every one as capable of receiving Jesus Christ, regardless of condition? How about those who hate you and do evil against you? How about people from other faiths, that are determined to bring down yours? Is their anyone in your life that you just can't forgive enough to see them saved by God? If God can save you, then everyone is open to His forgiveness and plan of redemption.

We can thank God that He has given us the degree of faith that we have. Some have more and some have less; we are all in different places when it comes to where we are with Him. But one thing is for sure, God loves all of His creation and wants all people to come to Him. It is our humble duty to realize where we are, and to use whatever measure of faith we have in His service helping others come to Jesus.

Photo "Tux" by firehawk77, 4-14-2006, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sacrificial Living - March 8, 2011

Romans 12:1 (New International Version, ©2011)
Romans 12:1 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Before I became a true Christian, meaning before I understood and accepted what I now believe about Jesus Christ, I used to think that the whole Christian thing was a bunch of "do's and don'ts". I also thought God was the "big guy upstairs" that would bash me with a hammer if I ever got out of line. I would venture to say that for most that outside the faith, that is exactly how they think. It wasn't until I really understood God's gift of sacrifice to me that I found reason to give back in gratitude to Him.

Paul, the writer of Romans, begins this chapter exhorting us to living the right way for God. We do this through understanding that how we live, now that we are followers and examples of Christ to others, really is an example of our praise and worship to God for what He has done for us. We are asked to be a "living sacrifice", a personal demonstration of our faith and obedience to God, by the manner in which we serve Him.

He then will go on to describe the practical tips for being "living sacrifices" before God and those around us. Over the next few days we will take a look at how we can daily live out our faith and study the instruction he lays out to accomplish this.

Photo "Passionate Prayer" by Kobos, 6-7-2006, from stock.xchng

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hey Jude: Give Praise! - March 7, 2011

Jude 1:24-25 (New International Reader's Version)
24 Give praise to the One who is able to keep you from falling into sin. He will bring you into his heavenly glory without any fault. He will bring you there with great joy. 25 Give praise to the only God. He is our Savior. Glory, majesty, power and authority belong to him. Give praise to him through Jesus Christ our Lord. Give praise to the One who was before all time, who now is, and who will be forever. Amen.

Finally Jude tells us, in light of persecution, heresies, and all kinds of trouble that surrounds us, to praise God. Lift up our voices, lift our hands, lift our total beings, in praise to the One who has saved us to be with Him forever. Everything we are and do needs to be in praise and worship to our God and king.

Photo "Praise Dancer 2" by Anissant,11-8-2005, from stock.xchng

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hey Jude: Be Merciful! - March 6, 2011

Jude 1:22-23 (New International Reader's Version)
22 Show mercy to those who doubt. 23 Pull others out of the fire. Save them. To others, show mercy mixed with fear. Hate even the clothes that are stained by the sins of those who wear them.

Jude 1:22 (The Message)
22-23Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.

When I was young in the faith, it was often difficult to find the answers. Although I knew that something new had happened to me, I didn't know what to do next. I also struggled to know if I had really been saved, and since changes in my life occurred slowly, I often had doubts about whether or not my conversion had been real. This often led to backsliding and delay in discovering the fantastic life God has in store for me.

I could have really used a Christian mentor that would pull alongside me and encourage me in my faith. I could have used a mentor that would help me be accountable for the things that I was and wasn't doing. It would have been great to know someone tender-hearted and merciful, that would accept me for who I was, and help me pick myself up and get back on track.

There are many around us that are new in the faith, that have doubts, or that may just be learning about this life called Christianity. There are many who need to be confronted as they make this life-change, to help them turn from the bondage that they have been living under. There are many that need to be sheilded from the pressures now put on them by Satan, as they attempt to follow Jesus and be a reflection of His image.

Do you find yourself coming into contact with people like these? Do you have a yearning to tell others of your redemption and help them know about Jesus? Do you have a burden for those who are trapped in the garbage of this world and hopelessly lost? If you do, then the Holy Spirit of God is talking to you. It is you who needs to show mercy for those God is giving you a burden for.

It is you who needs to learn from Jude's teaching and be that encouraging image of Jesus Christ.

Photo "Urban Poverty 1" from ElRincon, 10-17-2005, from stock.xchng

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hey Jude: Remain in Me! - March 5, 2011

Jude 1:21 (New International Reader's Version)
21 The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring you eternal life. As you wait for his mercy, remain in God's love.

John 15:1-8 (New Living Translation)
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

As I have said before, the Christian life is not easy. In the 1st Century, this was especially true, with persecution coming from the Jewish elite, the Romans, and pagans. At the same time within the church, many heretical doctrines and teachings were springing up to confuse especially the new believers, into accepting a faith that at times was not authentic. Only by dilligent study, and frequent help of the apostles and true believers, was the church able to grow and strenghten itself in the purity of the true message of Jesus Christ.

In Jude's teaching to those striving to strengthen and protect their walk in the faith, he encouraged Christians to "remain in God's love" while they waited for the return of Christ. I am sure Jude recollected the similar teaching of Jesus, who admonished his followers to "remain" in him. Doing so was the only way for them to grow more deeply in their faith and produce fruit.

He even likened this relationship to growing grapes in the vineyard. As believers we have been grafted into the vine, which is Jesus. By staying close to him, we will be able to produce fruit, the acts of a believer, filled with the Spirit, towards those around them. God as the gardener would provide pruning, the test of personal trial, to strengthen the believer and give them the ability to produce more fruit.

The only way we can withstand the trials and tribulations of this present life is to remain close to Jesus Christ. By remaining in Him we will be able to be the "hands and feet of Jesus" to those around us.

Photo "Grapes: in vino veritas" by Starfish75, 10-16-2005, from stock.xchng

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hey Jude: Build Up! - March 4, 2011

Jude 1:20 (New International Reader's Version)
20 Dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Let the Holy Spirit guide and help you when you pray.

Every sound and stable structure first requires a solid foundation, then each block needs to be secured one on top of the other. Each block has to be placed and secured properly, so that the structure can withstand the many forces that will come against it in the years, and decades to come.

To combat the persecution and heresy that would come against followers of Jesus Christ, Jude encouraged the believers to build themselves up in the faith. For us that means that we must first have the secure foundation of Jesus, by accepting Him as Lord and Savior, and on top of this, we need to study the word of God through studying the Bible.

By intense study, the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us build up our faith. The more we learn about the nature, character and will of God, the more solid we build upon our belief in Him. and the more easily we can defend against anything that will come against us. In addition, we need to constantly seek God through prayer, and the Spirit will show us what we need to do.

With these building blocks of faith, study and prayer, we can develop a sound and stable faith, that can withstand the forces that will come against us in the years and decades ahead.

Photo "Block Dreams(3)" by Bosela, 8-22-2007, from stock.xchng

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hey Jude! - March 3, 2011

Jude 1:17-24 (New International Reader's Version)

17 Dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said was going to happen. 18 They told you, "In the last days, some people will make fun of the truth. They will follow their own ungodly longings." 19 They are the people who separate you from one another. They do only what comes naturally. They are not led by the Holy Spirit.

20 Dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Let the Holy Spirit guide and help you when you pray. 21 The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring you eternal life. As you wait for his mercy, remain in God's love.

22 Show mercy to those who doubt. 23 Pull others out of the fire. Save them. To others, show mercy mixed with fear. Hate even the clothes that are stained by the sins of those who wear them.

24 Give praise to the One who is able to keep you from falling into sin. He will bring you into his heavenly glory without any fault. He will bring you there with great joy.

There is a little obscure book in the Bible, just before the Revelation. I bet it often gets missed when people study God's word, yet it was written by the brother of Jesus to combat heresies that doubted salvation by grace.

The first part of the letter reveiwed these heresies, but I havn't copied them here. Instead, I wanted to present the "nuggets" of wisdom about how we should conduct ourselves in the Christian walk during these very difficult times.

Take out your Bible, read and meditate on these few verses, and over the next couple of days, we will dig a little deeper into what Jude is telling us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Give Thanks! - March 2, 2011

Psalm 136 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

One of our biggest problems as a culture and as Christians is that we do not give thanks enough. Not only to we easily dismiss what others fo for us without showing the proper gratitude, but we also forget that our Creator has done and continues to do more that we will ever imagine for us.

Just the act of drawing breath should make us ever thankful for what God has done. Better yet, God has given us the opportunity to be foregiven, redeemed from the sins we have committed and continue to commit. He has done it all for us, yet we barely find the time for praise and worship on Sundays.

If we ever hope to make a significant impact for God, an impact for Jesus Christ, we need to first take on the attitude of constant thanksgiving, thanking God for each and every minute, each and every thing, that He so generously gives us. Just as we as parents, siblings, workers, and bosses enjoy receiving thanks for what we do, our Heavenly Father all the more enjoys our thanks.

Let us give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever!

Photo "Thanksgiving" by abcdz2000,12-22-2008, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Overcoming the Darkness - March 1, 2011

Matthew 13:15 (New International Version, ©2011)
15 "For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them."(Isaiah 6:9,10)

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (New Living Translation)
1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

I often wonder why it is so hard for so many people to not understand what Christ offers us. I wonder why God allowed me to finally "see the light" after living so long in darkness. I have often said, "it was as if a lightbulb went on", when I realized and understood the good news of Jesus Christ. The transformation of my life started dimly at first, kind of like those new CFM bulbs that take a while to get bright, but nonetheless it illuminated the darkness I had lived in for many years, and changed me.

For many this is a difficult concept to grasp, how God can take someone who is lost and transform him into a new person. Jesus quoted Isaiah when he was describing the hardened hearts and closed mindedness of the Jewish leaders of his day, and Paul writing to the Corinthians, described this as a "veil" from Satan that "blinded the minds of those who don’t believe".

We see this today as we see a world around us doing all it can to ridicule, disparage and remove Christianity from the daily lives of people. It is easier for many to accept ridiculous New Age concepts or religions that behave contrary to civilized society, than to accept the grace and mercy of God providing mankind with a way to be redeemed from their sin. And the world does all it can to believe in anything but Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

It took awhile before the veil was lifted and God's bright and shining light revealed to me that I could be made clean, that I could be redeemed and start over again, because of the gift of Jesus. I am thankful for it, and I try to do my part in sharing Christ's love with others. As the world looks to an uncertain and dark future, I have the knowledge of the hope that gives me certainty. That knowledge is the light of the message of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that we who call ourselves followers of Christ can shine that light of Jesus, and do our part in overcoming the darkness.

Photo "Creepy Basement Light" by Hortongrou,11-18-2005, from stock.xchng