Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eyewitness Faith - May 31, 2011

2 Peter 1:16-18 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
16When we apostles told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we didn’t base our message on clever myths that we made up. Rather, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes.

17For example, we were eyewitnesses when he received honor and glory from God the Father and when the voice of our majestic God spoke these words to him: “This is my Son, whom I love and in whom I delight.”

18We heard that voice speak to him from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

How many times have you heard a skeptic say that the Bible is nothing but a bunch of fables, legends and myths? I am sure it has been plenty of times. Skeptics just love to say things like that to prove to everyone that they really don't know what they are talking about.

Rarely has someone that has truly studied the Bible say that what they studied was make believe. There is more proof for the Bible than any other text of the same age. As I have said before, there is more evidence of Jesus Christ's existence and message than there is for Julius Caesar, yet you never hear that Julius was fable, legend or myth.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, the good news is that we have eyewitness, first-hand knowledge of Jesus Christ, both as a human being and in His glory. Peter, James and John were present, all who were authors of books of the Bible, and we can have confidence that what they tell us is true. Jesus is who He said he was, and you can trust the word of those who carried on His message and as was the case for Peter and James, even gave their lives for it.

We can have confidence in our faith because eyewitnesses to all that was said about Jesus was written down and given to us. The next time you are faced with a skeptic, ask them first if they have ever read and studied the Bible, and them point them to the eyewitness account.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering Memorial Day - May 30, 2011

John 15:13 (New International Version)
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This day is set aside for Americans to remember and honor those who have given their lives in defense of our Nation. Many of you have loved ones that have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and liberty. We who live in the United States need to properly take the time to remember, and acknowledge this day as a memorial to those who have died.

In addition, many have come back from the wars of our Nation to suffer the results of war in the form of mental depression and post traumatic stress. Many have taken their own lives, or their lives have been cut short due to that same service to the Nation. We owe all of those in the military and the families of the lost, our thanks and remembrance of their self-less sacrifice.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Psalm for a Sunday - May 29, 2011

Psalm 75 (New International Reader's Version)
1 God, we give thanks to you.
We give thanks because your Name is near.
People talk about the wonderful things you have done.
2 You say, "I choose the appointed time to judge people.
And I judge them fairly.
3 When the earth and all of its people tremble,
I keep everything from falling to pieces.

4 To the proud I say, 'Don't brag anymore.'
To sinners I say, 'Don't show off your power.
5 Don't show it off against me.
Don't speak with your noses in the air.' "
6 No one from east or west or north or south
can act as judge.
7 God is the One who judges.
He says to one person, "You are guilty."
To another he says, "You are not guilty."
8 In the hand of the Lord is a cup.
It is full of wine mixed with spices.
It is the wine of his anger.
He pours it out. All of the evil people on earth
drink it down to the very last drop.
9 I will speak about this forever.
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.
10 God will destroy the power of all sinful people.
But he will make godly people more powerful.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Is Christianity a Religion? - May 28, 2011

1 John 4 (New International Version)
1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

There are alot of beliefs these days that masquerade as "religions". If you were to research a count of religions, you would find that there are 20 major religions and hundreds and even thousands of belief and spiritual systems called religions. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a religion can be "the service or worship of God or the supernatural; a commitment or devotion to rligious faith or observence; a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor or faith".

Many believe that Christianity is a religion, but I would beg to differ. Yes, the observance of Christianity may meet the definition of a religion as defined above, but true Christianity, the faith that Jesus Christ and His closest followers believed in is not a religion. It is a relationship, an intimate union between God and His people, that is found only in the acceptance of, and the surrender to the gift that God has provided in Jesus. God redeemed His people through the work of Jesus on the cross, and them proved that Jesus was God by raising Him from the dead, and ascending into Heaven, where He waits for us to join Him.

We can only have a relationship with God if we believe this, and when we do, the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, resides with us and gives us knowledge about God. The Spirit gives us the intimacy and comfort that is supplied by God. Sounds a bit complicated, but John makes it simple in the text above when he says, "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.

That should make it pretty easy, because any belief that denies Jesus as the Savior of the world is not from God. If you believe something else, why not give Jesus as chance? Pick up a Bible, pray for God to give you wisdom and discernment, and study about the One who did many wonderous things that had controlled the Universe; read about the One who died for your sins; and read about the One who stepped out of the tomb and into Heaven. It is a story that everyone sometime in their life will have to believe or reject. Make sure you put in the effort to make an informed decision.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Zeal for God - May 27, 2011

Revelation 3:19 (The Message)
19"The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!

Revelation 3:19 (Amplified Bible)
19Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude].

How do people know that you are a Christian? Has it changed your behavior? Do you have a Christian face and a worldly face? Do you walk your talk? Do you "run" your talk? Are you charging ahead in faith knwoing that God loves you and is in control? Are you enthusiastic about being a follower of Jesus Christ? Do you "wear your faith on your sleeve"? Is your faith contagious, spreading to all who come in contact with you? Do those most close to you reflect your behavior and faith?

You need to continually be asking yourself these questions and many more. God keeps a check on your obedience, but the best way to walk in obedience is by being continually zealous for God. The more you exhibit your faith in public, the less you will be tempted to doing wrong. As Christ's ambassador you are less likely to fall into sin, because you know that in doing so you minimize His sacrifice on the cross on your behalf.

So, the best recipe for staying straight and disciplined for God is to go all out in zeal, joy and enthusiasm, demonstrating for all those around you in whom you have placed your faith.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Loving God - May 26, 2011

2 John 1:6 (New International Version)
6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

We often talk about the greatness of God, about how mighty He is, and how He has redeemed us by His love through Jesus Christ. We learn that God is love, and that everything He does is out of love for mankind. God's love is the only reason for the Creation.

All that is around us was made for us; God in His love created everything for us to enjoy. Truth is though that we often abuse the love God shows for us. We have caused all kinds of turmoil and strife, and we have been very bad stewards of what He has made for us. So why does He continue to let us exist?

God is yearning for us to love Him back. His desire is that we will return the love he continuously shows us. You may say to yourself that you want to love God, but how do you do so? How do we show our God that we love Him back? It is through saying it? Is it through praying? Is it through our praise and worship? Yes, those are some of the things that we do to show our love, but we show God our love simply by being obedient to what He tells us to do.

Our obedience tells God that we care about what He has done and who He is. It demonstrates that Jesus Christ's sacrifice was worth it. Consider this: How do our children demonstrate their love for us? Yes, when they tell us we love to hear it, but when they do the things that we ask of them, without our telling them or nagging them about it, then they truly show us that they love us.

The same is true is of us. God loves to see our obedience, because when we do so, it demonstrates that we truly love Him back.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Creatures of the Deep Praise Him - May 25, 2011

Psalm 148:7 (New International Version)
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,...

The largest creature on the planet is the sperm whale. A full grown male whale can be up to 67 feet long, and it can dive up over 9,800 feet into depths of the ocean; that's almost 2 miles down. During the 18th century it was hunted for it's oil and blubber, and it became the source on many tales from the seafarers that hunted it. You might recall the tale from Herman Melville about Captain Ahab who had an obsession about killing a great white whale that took his leg. Published in 1851, Moby Dick went on to become a great American Novel.

Although this tale popularized this great animal, well before that the whale was a topic spoken of several times in the Bible. We read of it here in the Psalms 104:25-26:

25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

Such a magnificent creature can only bring praises to its Creator, for in all of creation's many wonders only the sperm whale can boast of being the largest in all the earth. When you wonder at the immensity of His creation, God has truly done a marvelous thing. Yet even the greatest and largest of God's creatures, does not have the opportunity to experience His love as we do. Only man in all creation can receive God's gift of love, our redemption through Jesus Christ.

With such a great love as this, shouldn't we give Him all of our praises?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Starry Hosts Praise Him - May 24, 2011

Nehemiah 9:5-6 (New International Version)
5 And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said:

“Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”

“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

It is really unfortunate that most of us live in the city, where the street and building lights around us steal the fantastic display of God's creation that can only be revealed at night. I look forward to the times when I can get away from the city and spend time gazing into the heavens. This display of the Universe shows us how awesome and mighty our God truly is.

There are other times when we can see God's might hand, such as when we admire the ocean waves beating on the California coast, or when we see and feel the awesome power of a huge thunderstorm rolling across the Texas plain, but they do not compare to the immense view of the heavens around us.

Here is another photograph from the stunning images of dark skies seen from Earth revealed in global photo competition as reported in the Daily Mail, as was featured in their online post. The competition, "Best Night-Sky Pictures 2011, was organised by The World At Night and highlights just how incredible our planet is once the sun goes down.(1)

As I have been commenting over the last few days, our God is truly worthy of our praise. I am spending alot of time posting these spectacular displays, so that we can realize how small we truly are, and how arrogant we must seem to God when we turn our backs on Him and instead go our own way. He not only created all that we see, but through Jesus Christ He makes it possible for us to be with Him someday.

We need to embrace the love He so freely offers us while we still can, and continually offer Him praise for doing so.

(1)Photo is a galactic view from planet earth: The central bulge of the galaxy - the brightest region in the Milky Way - is captured in the starry night of Australia by Alex Cherney as shown in the Daily Mail

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Heavens Praise Him - May 23, 2011

Psalm 19:1-6 (New International Version)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

I found this amazing photograph from The World At Night project, a collection of stunning photographs and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against the celestial attractions. Above is the winning photograph from the "2nd International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance 2011". As was announced in the British tabloid Daily Mail, "Stephane Vetter's 'A Starry Night in Iceland' won first prize in the Beauty of the Night Sky category. The arch of the aurora shines over Jökulsárlón, the largest glacier lake in Iceland while the Milky Way is framed by the dancing ring of the northern lights".(1)

In seeing this beautiful photograph, I was immediately reminded of the passage from the Book of Psalms noted above. Our God has created amazing things, yet of all of His creatures, it is only man that can enjoy these spectacular sights. Why is it then that so many on our planet deny God's existence, and in doing so deny the pre-eminence of man in Creation? God created these sights not only for our enjoyment, but more significantly so that we could know that we had a Creator, and in our awe of what He had created we would seek Him. In doing so we would offer Him praises for what He had done.

Does the image above convince you that God does exist? Does it cause you to be in awe of our Creator? Does it cause you to more deeply seek Him? If your answer is "yes" to these questions, be sure that you give Him your highest praise.

Photo by Stephen Vetter from www.twanight.org as featured in the (1)Daily Mail

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do you Give Him Praise? - May 22, 2011

1 Chronicles 16:1-11;31-36 (New International Version)1 They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God. 2 After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. 3 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each Israelite man and woman.

4 He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to extol, thank, and praise the LORD, the God of Israel: 5 Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.

7 That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the LORD in this manner:

8 Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
9 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
11 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing,
let them sing for joy before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior;
gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
and glory in your praise.”
36 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the LORD.”

When do you find yourself praising God? For your children and family, do you give Him praise? For the job He has given you and the opportunity to meet you financial needs, do you give Him praise? For the wonderful things around you day in and day out, do you give Him praise? For all that He continues to bless you with, do you give Him praise?

In the midst of heartache and pain, do you give Him praise? When you loose your job, do you give Him praise? When money is tight and you don't know where to turn, do you give Him praise? When you you loose a loved one, do you give Him praise? Inspite of all the hardship you might encounter, do you give Him praise?

We are to give God praise no matter the circumstances, because in praising Him no matter what, you surrender to His will for your life. You acknowledge that He is in control, and that He will work everything ultimately for your good. Through the example of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you know that God works through the best in life and the worst. He redeems you from the world, and He is always worthy of our praise.

Photo from Daily Devotional Post, 9-14-2010, praisecleveland.com

Saturday, May 21, 2011

No One Knows! - May 21, 2011

Matthew 24:36-44 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
36“No one knows when that day or hour will come. Even the angels in heaven and the Son don’t know. Only the Father knows.

37“When the Son of Man comes again, it will be exactly like the days of Noah. 38In the days before the flood, people were eating, drinking, and getting married until the day that Noah went into the ship. 39They were not aware of what was happening until the flood came and swept all of them away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes again.

40“At that time two men will be working in the field. One will be taken, and the other one will be left. 41Two women will be working at a mill. One will be taken, and the other one will be left.

42“Therefore, be alert, because you don’t know on what day your Lord will return. 43You realize that if a homeowner had known at what time of the night a thief was coming, he would have stayed awake. He would not have let the thief break into his house.

44Therefore, you, too, must be ready because the Son of Man will return when you least expect him.

Well, it was supposed to happen today. The END OF THE WORLD was to begin today with the Rapture of all Christians, then earthquakes were to begin starting from one end of the planet and progressing to the other, until the whole world would be in disarray. This would have marked the beginning of 5 months of tribulation until THE END in October. Harold Camping was sure; unfortunately he was surely wrong.

Others say that he was only a year and 7 months off, that the real END OF THE WORLD will be at the end of the Mayan calendar; December 21, 2012. There has been talk about that day for a long time. Many have been planning for a long time for 2012, in fact many of you have seen the movie by that name. But, I am afraid that those same people will be sadly disappointed.

What is bad about all of this hype about the world's end is that many people sincerely believe it, and they are so sure of those who preach it that they give them everything for the cause of telling people. Is it a wonder that Mr. Camping's church is worth millions? I am sure that he and everyone else are sincere, but if they know anything about the Bible, they would know these words of Jesus Christ, where, when asked when the end would come, He told His disciples that only God the Father knew.

Now many, who may have come to Christ in the lead up to this event, will doubt their faith and may even fall back into the world, because these events never took place. To make things worse, those who have always been non-believers are now laughing at Christians in general, because they lump us all into the same group. I am very sure that most Christians familiar with the Bible knew that the Rapture, Judgement Day, and the beginning of the END OF THE WORLD would not be today, although they all may have hoped for it.

No man will be able to predict the end. It will come "like a thief in the night", when we least expect it. So what is the message? As Jesus was clear to say, we need to be ready!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Godly and the Wicked - May 20, 2011

Psalm 37 (New Living Translation)
1 Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
2 For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

5 Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

7 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

8 Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
9 For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

10 Soon the wicked will disappear.
Though you look for them, they will be gone.
11 The lowly will possess the land
and will live in peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
13 But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.

14 The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows
to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right.
15 But their swords will stab their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

16 It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich.
17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the Lord takes care of the godly.

18 Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.
19 They will not be disgraced in hard times;
even in famine they will have more than enough.

20 But the wicked will die.
The Lord’s enemies are like flowers in a field—
they will disappear like smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and never repay,
but the godly are generous givers.
22 Those the Lord blesses will possess the land,
but those he curses will die.

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

25 Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.
26 The godly always give generous loans to others,
and their children are a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good,
and you will live in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice,
and he will never abandon the godly.

He will keep them safe forever,
but the children of the wicked will die.
29 The godly will possess the land
and will live there forever.

30 The godly offer good counsel;
they teach right from wrong.
31 They have made God’s law their own,
so they will never slip from his path.

32 The wicked wait in ambush for the godly,
looking for an excuse to kill them.
33 But the Lord will not let the wicked succeed
or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.

34 Put your hope in the Lord.
Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
You will see the wicked destroyed.

35 I have seen wicked and ruthless people
flourishing like a tree in its native soil.
36 But when I looked again, they were gone!
Though I searched for them, I could not find them!

37 Look at those who are honest and good,
for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
38 But the rebellious will be destroyed;
they have no future.

39 The Lord rescues the godly;
he is their fortress in times of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them,
rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them,
and they find shelter in him.

As I was reading through this psalm of David, I tried to find a way to abbreviate it and post only a few of the verses, but the more I read about the godly versus the ungodly, the righteous versus the wicked, the more each verse stood out as one I should post in this evening's devotion. God makes it very clear to us what He will do for those who love Him and are focused on Him, versus those who don't.

Frustration abounds with what I see is going on in the world around us these days. Sometimes things seem rather hopeless, other times things make my blood boil, and in others I wish things could just be like they used to be. We need to always be encouraged, and we must remain hopeful, because what God says is true. If we will pick the path of the godly, He will truly saves us and utlimately shelter us from everything that comes against us.

Photo "Dawn Over New Zealand" from CityPictures.org

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Perishable - May 19, 2011

Isaiah 51:6 (New International Version)
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail.

It is difficult imagining what God is like. We haven't seen Him, yet billions believe in Him. How else would all of what is around us exist? Big Bang? No, I don't think so. Chance? That means having nothing times nothing equals something. The math doesn't support that one. No one can explain our existence without God. Many deny that, and they spend a lifetime trying to prove it, but they never will. True to form, the scoffers will do anything but believe in God. Must be what they have to face up to.

God has proven Himself by what is around us. The magnificence of His creation, from the smallest of organisms to the expanse of the universe, is proof enough. Yet for the wonder of what is around us, it will all come to an end someday. Everything perishes(Now that, the scoffers do agree on). Everything dies; everything decays. With that prospect in the future of all of us, what then? Do we pass into nothingness? Many would hope so, but those with real hope in Jesus Christ know differently.

As the prophet Isaiah tells us with the words of God, everything will pass away, except God and His salvation. He provides the Way and will never fail His creation. So the next time you look into the heavens, and contemplate your existence, make sure that you have accepted God's salvation and have taken His Way. That will never pass away.

Photo from ultraorange.net

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Resistance Isn't Futile - May 18, 2011

James 4:4-8 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
4You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that love for this evil world is hatred toward God? Whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God. 5Do you think this passage means nothing? It says, “The Spirit that lives in us wants us to be his own.”

6But God shows us even more kindness[grace]. Scripture says,

“God opposes arrogant people,
but he is kind to humble people.” — Proverbs 3:34

7So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 8Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters.

I am sure that many of you, especially the guys, remember the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation, that ran from 1987 to 1994. In the show the most dreaded enemy that the crew of the Enterprise faced were the Borg. They were a race of aliens that assimilated every other species of alien; they became cybernetically enhanced humanoid drones of multiple species, that were organized as an interconnected collective(almost sounds like socialism), with the single goal of perfection. Basically, they were set on everyone becoming just like them, and as they attacked those that wouldn't submit, they would tell them that "resistance is futile".

When we try to assimilate ourselves into the ways of the world, we are behaving alot like part of the Borg collective. We try to become just like everybody else, drawn to the lure of what the world has to offer in money, power, and fame. Most of us subject ourselves and our families to this very thing, when we try to "keep up with the Joneses". Unfortunately, most of the time we end up doing things that are contrary to the ways of God, and instead find ourselves under the influence of the ways of the devil.

The courageous Star Trek crew often battled against becoming a part of the Borg collective, and many shows were dedicated to their struggle. James, the brother of Jesus, writes that our love for the world, our desire to assimilate into it, makes us enemies of God. Instead we are to be continually struggling against the ways of the world, placing ouselves under the influence and authority of God. When we continually do so, eventually our "resistance" to worldly things, through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, brings us closer to God.

The bottom line is this: your resistance will make the devil flee from you. He will no longer have the same influence, and your desires will change from worldly things to those that are pleasing to God.

Photo of the Borg found on fandomania.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Green Pastures, Still Waters - May 17, 2011

Psalm 23 (New King James Version)
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Probably one of the most popular and favorite Psalms of David is the 23rd Psalm. It carries deep meaning for many of us, and in my own life it has brought many moments of comfort. The best interpretation of these verses is our own, because for each of us it has its own meaning. If you haven't for some time, read and meditate on these words, lift your heart to God and see what how He will lead you through this time.

Photo from "Green Jeans Soggy Bottoms", posted 2-19-2010 on TruthWorths.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

The "Far Off" - May 16, 2011

Acts 2:36-40 (New International Version)
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

Ephesians 2:13 (New International Reader's Version)
13 At one time you were far away from God. But now you belong to Christ Jesus. He spilled his blood for you. That has brought you near to God.

I remember the time before I really new and accepted God's plan for me how difficult I made reading the Bible. It seemed difficult and the verse I heard had very little meaning to me. For me many of the stories in the Bible were just that, stories. Sure I knew about Adam and Eve, Moses, David and Goliath, and heard the stories about what Jesus did, but they really made very little difference in my life. The only thing I knew for sure was that somehow I would have to please God if I wanted to make it to Heaven when I died.

When I speak of my past, I am sure that I am speaking about many of you. You may have attended a church of all of your life, participated in its activities, maybe raised your whole family in the church, sat in the pew each and every Sunday, yet deep in your heart you are only going through the motions to look good. When someone asks you if you have been "born again", you may think that they are one of those "holy rollers"; a religious zealot. You say to yourself its alright for them, and "no thanks", because you are comfortable with where you are, but do you really don't understand what its all about.

Then one day something special happens in your life. God has been pulling on your heart, and you realize that you need to find out what it all means. Your tired of not knowing, and you start to seek out who this Jesus really is, and what "born again" really means. Then one day you hear a word from the preacher and it cuts through your once hardened heart, and you realize your condition. You finally realize that only what Christ has done can really make you right with God. It's as if the preacher is calling your name, and you find yourself giving it all to Jesus. It is at that moment that it all comes rushing in and it all makes sense to you for the first time.

Little did you know that you were one of those Peter was speaking about in this passage in the Book of Acts. You were one of those "far off", who would hear and receive the promise of God. It would be you that God would call and fill with the Holy Spirit, so that you finally understood that the promise of God was for the salvation of all those who call on the name of Jesus Christ as Savior. Peter through the inspiration of that same Holy Spirit, spoke of what God had set into motion through Jesus Christ the promise that would bridge across all generations.

That same revelation of God that occurred in the hearts of the Jews on that day and the same Holy Spirit that made it real for them is for you, and your children, and for all of those who will come after you. If you have not yet given yourself to Him, He knew that you would be reading this, and He knew that you would be one of the "far off". Are you ready to answer His call for you today? Are you ready for the Holy Spirit to make it all real for you?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Lord's Care Instructions - May 15, 2011

Psalm 37 (New International Version)
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; 13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. 15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; 17 for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever. 19 In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

20 But the wicked will perish: Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; 22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be destroyed.

23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. 26 They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. 28 For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. 29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. 31 The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death; 33 but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, 36 but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. 38 But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

Whenever you get something new, it normally comes with Care Instructions. These are meant so that what you have will work well, and if you care for it properly it will last a long time.

The word of God is His instructions for us to have a life pleasing to Him. It is alot like Care Instructions, meant for us to work well and have a long life, but of course it is more than that. It is the guidance of a loving Father, so that we will have what is best. Psalm 37 is just a portion of those step-by-step instructions that He gives us.

If you are in need, or knowledge of what to do, why not ask God? As the loving Father, He will take care of your every need, and He will deliver you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Mighty Fortress: He's My Confidence - May 14, 2011

Psalm 62:9-12 (New International Reader's Version)
9 Ordinary people are only a breath. Important people are not what they seem to be. If they were weighed on a scale, they wouldn't amount to anything. Together they are only a breath.

10 Don't trust in money you have taken from others. Don't be proud of things you have stolen. Even if your riches grow, don't put your trust in them.

11 God, I have heard you say two things. One is that you, God, are strong.

12 The other is that you, Lord, are loving. I'm sure you will reward each person in keeping with what he has done.

After Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70, the Great Revolt ended-except for the surviving Zealots, who fled Jerusalem to the fortress of Masada, near the Dead Sea. There, they held out for three years. Anyone who has climbed the famous "snake path" to Masada can understand why the surrounding Roman troops had to content themselves with a siege. Masada is situated on top of an enormous, isolated rock: Anyone climbing it to attack the fortress would be an easy target. Yet the Jews, encamped in the fortress, could never feel secure; every morning, they awoke to see the Roman Tenth Legion hard at work, constructing battering rams and other weapons.

If the 960 defenders of Masada hoped that the Romans eventually would consider this last Jewish beachhead too insignificant to bother conquering, they were to be disappointed. The Romans were well aware that the Zealots at Masada were the group that had started the Great Revolt; in fact, the Zealots had been in revolt against the Romans since the year 6. More than anything else, the length and bitterness of their uprising probably account for Rome's unwillingness to let Masada and its small group of defiant Jews alone.

Once it became apparent that the Tenth Legion's battering rams and catapults would soon succeed in breaching Masada's walls, Elazar ben Yair, the Zealots’ leader, decided that all the Jewish defenders should commit suicide. Because Jewish law strictly forbids suicide, this decision sounds more shocking today than it probably did to his compatriots. There was nothing of Jonestown in the suicide pact carried out at Masada. The alternative facing the fortress’s defenders were hardly more attractive than death. Once the Romans defeated them, the men could expect to be sold off as slaves, the women as slaves and prostitutes.(1)

The Jewish defenders at Masada held out for 3 years against the Roman siege, and finally they gave up and commited mass murder-suicide rather than be conquered and enslaved by the Romans. They felt that God has abandoned them, and because of this they would take the lives of their wives and children, and then the lives of one another, until the last person ended their own life. Their story would have never been told, except that a woman and five children hid in a cistern, and told her account to the Jewish historian Josephus. Their story survives in the hearts of the Israeli right-wing governmanet as a story of fighting to the bitter end, rather than giving up.

We also are but "a breath", and at anytime we might find ourselves in a hopeless situation. Those that believe in the material world place their trust in persishable things, such as their riches and position. As the Jewish people of Masada, they sustain themselves in a false fortress of their own making and hold out as long as they can. When everything fails and they are at the brink of being overcome, they too often give up and suffer a calamitous end.

Thank God we can place our hope and trust in Him. He is our strength and our overcomer. Only in Him can we find hope in the midst of trouble. When we are faced with certain defeat, instead of giving up, we can turn to Jesus. He will be with us and take us through the storm. No longer do we have to worry about death, because in Him we have eternal life. If you are "at the end of your rope", if you see the enemy at the gates, don't give in to fear. Instead find confidence and protection in the One who is strong and loves you, and who offers to sustain you and keep you safe. Turn your heart to Jesus.

Photo "Jewish Synagogue at Masada" from Journey Back
(1)Jewish Virtual Library - Masada

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Mighty Fortress: He's My Safety - May 13, 2011

Psalm 62:5-8 (New International Reader's Version)
5 I will find my rest in God alone.
He is the One who gives me hope.

6 He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me.
He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.

7 I depend on God to save me and to honor me.
He is my mighty rock. He is my place of safety.

8 Trust in him at all times, you people.
Tell him all of your troubles.
God is our place of safety.


The rhomboid, flat plateau of Masada measures 600 x 300 m. The casemate wall (two parallel walls with partitions dividing the space between them into rooms), is 1400 m. long and 4 m. wide. It was built along the edge of the plateau, above the steep cliffs, and it had many towers. Three narrow, winding paths led from below to fortified gates.

The water supply was guaranteed by a network of large, rock-hewn cisterns on the northwestern side of the hill. They filled during the winter with rainwater flowing in streams from the mountain on this side. Cisterns on the summit supplied the immediate needs of the residents of Masada and could be relied upon in time of siege.

To maintain interior coolness in the hot and dry climate of Masada, the many buildings of various sizes and functions had thick walls constructed of layers of hard dolomite stone, covered with plaster. The higher northern side of Masada was densely built up with structures serving as the administrative center of the fortress and included storehouses, a large bathhouse and comfortable living quarters for officials and their families.(1)

We tend to build fortresses and fortifications around ourselves, thinking that they will serve as our protection against any harm. We naively think that we don't need God, bacause we have everything under control. We find places within where we insulate ourselves from whatever might come against us, and we rely on what we have done to sustain us in times of difficulty.

But when things come against us, the hurst and difficulties bombard our personal fortifications, and when severe trouble come, our walls start crumbling; the resources we have stored to keep us going start to dwindle, and we find ourselves hopelessly desperate for a place of safety. Without it, we don't know how we can go on any further without succombing to the enemies of our souls.

Instead we should seek shelter in the mightly fortress of our God, who in His love for us seeks to protect us, if only we will call on Him for help.
He alone is our rock. He is the One who saves us.

Photo from "Masada(Israel)", June 2002, by syjoho.nl

(1) Jewish Virtual Library - Masada

A Mighty Fortress: He's My Security - May 12, 2011

Psalm 62:1-4 (New International Reader's Version)
1 I find my rest in God alone.
He is the One who saves me.

2 He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me.
He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.

3 How long will you enemies attack me?
Will all of you throw me down?
I'm like a leaning wall.
I'm like a fence that is about to fall.

4 You only want to pull me down
from my place of honor.
You take delight in telling lies.
You bless me with what you say.
But in your hearts you call down curses on me.


According to Josephus Flavius, the 1st century Jewish historian, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Herod, the master builder, “furnished this fortress as a refuge for himself.” It included a casemate wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater, barracks, palaces and an armory.

Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 AD, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-of-war.

The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress.

Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders – almost one thousand men, women and children – led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir, decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives, rather than be taken alive. The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself.(1)

The Jews had placed their faith in high places and fortifications, only to be eventually overcome by their enemies. We tend to do the same thing, placing our faith in our own works and efforts, our jobs and places of high position, only to be without security when the enemies come against us.

Photo of "Horvot Mezada, Mesada,The Stronghold" from Bibleplaces.com
(1)Jewish Virtual Library - Masada

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In Praise of Street Preachers - May 11, 2011

1 Peter 1:10-12 (New International Version)

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.

12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

1 Peter 1:10-12 (New Living Translation)
10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

I really have to hand it to street preachers. I believe that they are truly courageous and blessed by God. What they do is something that I surely would have a hard time doing. Imagine what it takes to stand on the street and preach the word of God to all passersby. Often they are ridiculed and have to withstand alot of abuse for presenting the message of Jesus Christ, yet day after day they return to the streets, taking Jesus literally when He commanded us to,“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation"(Mark 16:15b). In some states and cities, it is even becoming illegal for them to preach their message. Could you imagine yourslef sharing your faith in such a manner?

The Apostle Peter made a great point when he was talking about the prophets of ancient times speaking in advance about the coming Messiah, the coming of Jesus Christ. At the time they didn't know why they were saying what they were; they only knew that God had them doing it for those who would have faith in their message in the future. Paul goes on to say that even the angels wish they could have looked into these things. But in those days the prophets gave the message of God no matter what; many were imprisoned, ridiculed and even killed, all for the benefit of the people.

Today's street preachers are our "prophets" for today, except their message is not one of prophecy, but it is one of factual truth. We know how it is all going to be for those who are and are not in Jesus Christ. They are just trying to make sure that as many hear the Gospel message as is possible. They are true servants of God, and we need to do all we can to encourage their spirit and support them. The next time you come across someone sharing their faith in Jesus in public, tell them that you appreciate all that they do. Pray for them and do all you can to support their message, and their freedom to say it.

Photo "David the Street Preacher" from jchalmersblogspot, 8-10-2010 posting

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Equal Opportunity - May 10, 2011

Psalm 113 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, you his servants;
praise the name of the LORD.
2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
6 who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?

7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
8 he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.

9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.

Praise the LORD.

Luke 6:20-22 (New International Version, ©2011)
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

These days it is easy for those who are "well-off" to snub their noses at those who have very little. Our current generation has forsaken the things of God, and instead have embraced materialism. Unfortunately that is true for many Christians as well. We are just as guilty of seeking after the things of this world to build our self-worth, as those who have lost themselves seeking after worldly things. We can be just as covetous of the wealthly lifestyle of the "rich and famous" as everyone else is.

Fortunately this is not true of our God, and it was especially not true for Jesus. Our Savior spent alot of His time with the poor, both those that were poor in possessions and poor in spirit. He leveled the playing field by the promise of His great blessing. In His departure He promised the gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to bring peace and well-being to all who would be "poor" in this world. We have the comfort of knowing that if we lose everything in life, we still have the joy and peace that He is with us.

Our God is an equal opportunity God. He offers His gift of salvation to all, the rich and the poor. Truth is that although we may be rich materially, because we have placed our faith in our own efforts and riches, we will usually end up poor in Spirit. Better to be poor in the terms of this world, because in following and serving Him, He will lift us out of our poverty and exalt us before all men.

Photo by Cristie Reiter post from Nicaragua, 3-31-2008, from The World Race

Monday, May 9, 2011

When You Pray - May 9, 2011

Psalm 145:17-19 (New Century Version)
17 Everything the Lord does is right.
He is loyal to all he has made.
18 The Lord is close to everyone who prays to him,
to all who truly pray to him.
19 He gives those who respect him what they want.
He listens when they cry, and he saves them.

For many it continues to be tough. There are daily struggles due to the economy and those inevitably lead to strains at home. Many hopes and desires have been dashed, because things seem to be so tough. Plans have been delayed, and the things that may have been wished for the family have been placed on hold. Relief couldn'y come soon enough.

There is hope if you believe in God, and if you have placed those hopes in Jesus Christ. Our loving God gives us directions in His word how best to use His power. As is stated above, God wants only what is right and good for you. He doesn't want to withhold a thing, but there is a pre-requisite; He wants to have a relationship with us, and that relationship, that intamcy He requires, can only be gained through prayer.

Once we establish that relationship in prayer, He will meet those things we are praying for. He will come through for you. Pray, wait and see what the Lord can do!

Photo from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Faith of Our Mothers - May 8, 2011

2 Timothy 1:2-6 (New Living Translation)
2 I am writing to Timothy, my dear son. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

3 Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. 6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.

Many of us owe our faith in Jesus Christ to our mothers. Our moms were the first ones that nurtured us, sat with us and read us Bible stories, and encouraged us to grow our belief in God. They are the ones that led us in prayers at our bedside, and taught us to trust God with all things in our lives. They are the ones that we need to honor, and it is because of them that many of us have knowledge of our saving faith.

Paul remembered and honored for all time Timothy's grandmother and mother, who brought their faith in Jesus Christ to him. They were reponsible for helping to ignite the spark of the Holy Spirit, and fanned it into a flame.
It was their strength as Christians that influenced the life of Timothy to serve his Lord.

As we celebrate this Mother's Day, first, Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers around us; next, thank you for helping us to know Jesus. For it has been your faith that has sealed a place for your family with God in Heaven. May your lives be blessed, and may God encourage you, as you raise those whom God has entrusted you with.

Photo from Mommy Missions website,whose focus is helping Christian moms have an impact on their children’s spiritual development by being a Godly example and nurturing them as God gives us guidance in His Word.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Always Be Joyful - May 7, 2011

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New International Reader's Version) 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.

Our attitude needs to reflect that we believe that God takes care of us. It needs to show our faith that He is in control, and nothing happens that is not within His will. As Christians, we should not behave as the "lost", always anxious for the next day, but instead we need to face each new day with knowledge that God's promises will all come true. Thanks to the grace and mercy provided by Jesus Christ's gift to us, we can have confidence that "our joy will be made complete(1John 1:14)".

Thank Him for allowing you to have hope in joy, and for including you in His forever family. Thank Him for the gift of Jesus and the assurance that you will be with Him forever. Always be joyful!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Epilogue: National Day of Prayer - May 6, 2011

Psalm 85:7-13 (New International Reader's Version)
7 Lord, show us your faithful love.
Save us.

8 I will listen to what God the Lord will say.
He promises peace to his faithful people.
But they must not return to their foolish ways.

9 I know he's ready to save those who have respect for him.
Then his glory can be seen in our land.

10 God's truth and faithful love join together.
His peace and holiness kiss each other.

11 His truth springs up from the earth.
His holiness looks down from heaven.

12 The Lord will certainly give what is good.
Our land will produce its crops.

13 God's holiness leads the way in front of him.
It prepares the way for his coming.

For many, our Nation seems to be in its sunset years. Many miss how it used to be. It is often said that we have seen our better days, and unfortunately many Christians have prepared themselves for the end. I have often thought that its like a bunch of people sitting on a bus, waiting to leave, but doing nothing to fill the empty seats. In fact the door is shut and those outside don't even know to get on board.

Yes, we wait expectedly for the return of our Savior Jesus, we long to be with Him in Heaven, but God expects more from us. Giving up is not an option in God's plans. We all have a job to do; He has patiently given us more time, not to sit around waiting, but to allow each of us to do our part for His Kingdom. There is much work to still be done, and many in this country and this world still need to hear about the love of God. Many need to understand the sacrifice that Christ has made to redeem us to Himself. There is still time and there is still hope.

Our duty for this Nation and this world is for us to pray for God to save us. We need to be about seeking God to have mercy on His creation, and to allow us to be about His business. We need to be about helping God turn the hearts of those in our Nation back to Him, asking for His forgiveness and His grace. If we will be dilligent, He will hear us and "The Lord will certainly give what is good. Our land will produce its crops." He will restore us once again.

Photo from dlco4's photostream on Flickr

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Day of Prayer - May 5, 2011

Psalm 91:2 (New King James Version)
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”

2 Chronicles 7:11-16 (New International Version, ©2011)
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12 the LORD appeared to him at night and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,

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

15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

You would hardly know from the lack of attention that it received, but to day, Thursday, May 5th, was the 60th National Day of Prayer. From the events website we learn:

"The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863.

In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people.

The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning."

This year the verse from Psalm encourages us as a country to take a stand that God will be the foundation of all of our trust. Only He can be the One to handle all of the difficulties we are encountering in this day and age. If we as a country will only place our faith and trust in God, instead of the government and politicians, He will help us through.

In addition, I have noted passage from the Bible about national prayer that is familiar to many of you, that starts with verse 14, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

I would step back to verse 13, where God gives us the conditions to pray to Him, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,..." If you have looked around our country lately, you wouldn't have to extrapolate God's statement to far, to know that His hand has been withdrawn from many areas of our national lives. As a Nation, we have thrown God out of every public area that we can, and because of a few, He may be thrown out of our country altogether, as has been done in Europe. One only needs to visit a few of the very secular countries to understand what I mean.

Our God has shut up the Heavens and has taken away the rains of blessing, He has sent the locusts of economic collapse and recession to devour our finances and given us monstorus indebtedness, He has allowed our greed, willful disobedience and self-interest devour our schools and families, and left our country in "spiritual want". We are in the midst of a plague that could take us down as a Nation if we don't reverse course soon.

As you settle down at the end of your day, and as we come to the end of this National Day of Prayer, let us lift our hearts and minds in prayer, and ask our good and benevolent God to have mercy on us. We need to step up, humble ourselves to our God, and pray for His grace. Let us not only pray on this 60th National Day of Prayer, let us decide today that each and every day we will pray for God to restore our Nation, our communities, and our families.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why Us? - May 4, 2011

Psalm 144 (New Century Version)

1 Praise the Lord, my Rock,
who trains me for war,
who trains me for battle.
2 He protects me like a strong, walled city, and he loves me.
He is my defender and my Savior,
my shield and my protection.
He helps me keep my people under control.

3 Lord, why are people important to you?
Why do you even think about human beings?
4 People are like a breath;
their lives are like passing shadows.

5 Lord, tear open the sky and come down.
Touch the mountains so they will smoke.
6 Send the lightning and scatter my enemies.
Shoot your arrows and force them away.
7 Reach down from above.
Save me and rescue me out of this sea of enemies,
from these foreigners.
8 They are liars;
they are dishonest.

9 God, I will sing a new song to you;
I will play to you on the ten-stringed harp.
10 You give victory to kings.
You save your servant David from cruel swords.
11 Save me, rescue me from these foreigners.
They are liars; they are dishonest.

12 Let our sons in their youth
grow like plants.
Let our daughters be
like the decorated stones in the Temple.
13 Let our barns be filled
with crops of all kinds.
Let our sheep in the fields have
thousands and tens of thousands of lambs.
14 Let our cattle be strong.
Let no one break in.
Let there be no war,
no screams in our streets.

15 Happy are those who are like this;
happy are the people whose God is the Lord.

King David wrote many of the psalms that are given to us in the Bible. From early on in his life, he was connected to God. The psalm above was a prayer that he wrote for victory over his enemies. It could aslo be said that it was a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for what God had done in his life.

Because of his closeness to God, he was picked to become king of God's people, and he went on with God's help to take Israel to it's greatest days. It was said of him that he was "a man after God's own heart", meaning that he was so close to God in his daily life, that he sought God at all times, and his aim was to live a life fully dedicated to His service.

No he wasn't perfect, and yes, even David was tempted to sin, and he suffered from the consequences that his sin brought to his family. The important thing was that he recognized his sinfulness, confessed his wrongdoing, and sought God's forgiveness. God redeemed him, and from the lineage of David our Savior Jesus would be born.

When you think about it, you may wonder why God cares about us? Why does He give us a second thought? We are a stubborn and selfish creature that is sel-centered and ungrateful, yet our God cares for us. He loves us so much, that He stepped out of His position in Heaven, to walk among us and take upon Himself the worst that we could ever be. In doing so, He broke the bondage that sin had on mankind, and rescued for all time every man and woman that would ever live.

All we need to do is reach up, accept what He has done on our behalf, and as David did, give ourselves to His service.

Photo from "Colorado Road Trip Album" by me, 2009.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Old Habits - May 3, 2011

Romans 7:21-25 (New International Reader's Version)
21 Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 Deep inside me I find joy in God's law. 23 But I see another law working in the parts of my body. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls the parts of my body.

24 What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? 25 I give thanks to God. He will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So in my mind I am a slave to God's law. But in my sinful nature I am a slave to the law of sin.

Romans 7:21-25 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
21So I’ve discovered this truth: Evil is present with me even when I want to do what God’s standards say is good. 22I take pleasure in God’s standards in my inner being. 23However, I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body. 24What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me from my dying body?

25I thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ rescues me! So I am obedient to God’s standards with my mind, but I am obedient to sin’s standards with my corrupt nature.

We are truly creatures of habit. There are things we have picked up as we live our lives that are with us everyday. We have all heard the term that "old habits are hard to break", and we all can count those silly things we do day in and day out, that no matter what we do, we continue to do.

This can be especially true with sin. Many of us did particular things we got into the habit of doing before we knew God, before we knew about Jesus Christ. Now as we try to live a life worthy of Jesus has done for us, those habitual sins still hang on to us. It seems that no matter what we do, we can't seem to shake them.

What is that particular sin for you? What is that habit that you can't break? Is it something that you keep secret and are ashamed and embarassed to reveal to anyone? Don't feel alone! Paul spoke about this very thing in his letter to the Roman believers in the 1st Century. He wanted to show them that all of us are in bondage, slaves, to the very same things. We are all slaves to our sinful selves.

But we shouldn't lose hope. In Jesus Christ, because He has given Himself as a payment for ALL of our sins, we can have hope. We can defeat the shackles of sin, and live in freedom because of Jesus. All we need to do is surrender ourselves to Him. In making ourselves slaves to God, we truly become free to live a life free from those petty sins, those old habits. It takes vigilance, but the more we focus on the things of God, the less our sins hold us captive.

Do yourself a huge favor. Whatever it is that has you enslaved, turn it over to Jesus Christ; raise your shackles to Him. He will break the chains and truly make you free, and soon you will break those "old habits".

Shackles used to capture people to be sold into slavery in Africa in the 18th century. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Monday, May 2, 2011

Song of Praise - May 2, 2011

Isaiah 12 (New International Version, ©2011)
Songs of Praise

1 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

4 In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Paid in Full - May 1, 2011

Isaiah 44:21-23 (New Living Translation)

21 “Pay attention, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I, the Lord, made you,
and I will not forget you.

22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,

for I have paid the price to set you free.”

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth!

Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel.

I am sure that nothing seems much worse than going to jail, and then going to court to be judged and sentenced for our guilt. There has long been a story that compares what Jesus has done for us to a criminal facing a judge because of a serious offense, only to be set free from confinement because our penalty had been paid.

Christ's death on the cross is that for us. We are guilty of the sins we commit in our lives, and facing God, our holy and perfect judge, would lead to eternal seperation, eternal death, if it were not for what Jesus had done for all of mankind. Our sins demand payment, and in that one act of our perfect, unblemished, Savior, gave us the opportunity to walk free.

With God, although we are guilty, Jesus Christ has paid our penalty in full. He removes our sin "as far as the east is from the west", the Bible tells us. God remembers our iniquities, our sins, no more. We are set free from the "shackles or our sin", and we have the opportunity to live a new life; free to have a fresh start.

If you have not already done so, won't you accept what Jesus has done for you? Do so, and you will enjoy the freedom that comes from Him paying for what we have done. No longer do you need to worry about your eternal future and the payment for your guilt. It has been paid in full.