Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Wealth in Being Poor - June 30, 2011

James 1:9-11(New Century Version)
9 Believers who are poor should take pride that God has made them spiritually rich. 10 Those who are rich should take pride that God has shown them that they are spiritually poor.

The rich will die like a wild flower in the grass. 11 The sun rises with burning heat and dries up the plants. The flower falls off, and its beauty is gone. In the same way the rich will die while they are still taking care of business.

There is a huge place in God's heart for the poor. Many times in the New Testament, whether in the Gospels or in the following books of letters, we are confronted with the fact that those who may be poor in material wealth are usually rich in God's kingdom. In contrast, the opposite is said for those who are rich in material goods.

In the Western world, and especially in the United States, most of us have been so blessed in possessions, that our pursuit of just keeping up with each other materially has made us spiritually poor. When I read thses verses, I think that it is speaking to us. For most of us, our spiritual experience with God is relegated to a few short prayers and maybe an hour of church on Sundays.

In the Third World, believers in Christ are consummed in their desire to be close to God. I saw a great example of this on a mission trip I took to Mexico. We were visiting the poor in a shanty town of tin and cardboard homes on barren slopes and surrounded by trash. The pastor that was our guide introduced us to a poor man that was "on fire" for the Lord. The man greeted us with a beeming smile on his face.

He eagerly invited us into his ramshackle home to show us around; his little cardboard shack was decorated with bible verses and images of Jesus, and you could easily tell that the dirt floor would turn to mud whnever it rained. He pointed out his meager possessions, and then expressed to us how blessed he was to have been given such a wonderful home. In his joy, he began to sing songs of praise in a beautiful baritone voice; I can still remember his joyful songs and gracious smile to this day.

We are super wealthy as compared to this man, and yet we have a very hard time being joyful about our circumstances, and the things that we have. Each and every thing that we have has been given to us by God, yet we rarely give Him praise for doing so; we have a hard time giving Him the little praise that we do. Because of this we are spiritually very poor, and if we are not careful, our richness can lead us away from doing the things of God.

If your focus is on material pursuits, rather than on becoming a follower of Christ, it is time that you gained the wealth that can only be found in Jesus. If you are already a Christ follower, but you are so pre-occupied with worldy pursuits that you have strayed away from Him, its time you came back. There will be a day when we all will be judged for how we have done with what we have been given by God. I know that the joyful poor man in Mexico will be richly rewarded and happy on that day. Be sure that on that day you are too.

Photo from "Mighty Men Are Going to Zambia!", 9-12-2010,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sacrifice of Praise - June 29, 2011

Hebrews 13:15-16(New International Version)
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

What is our greatest reason for being here? Why has God placed us on this planet, in this country, at this time? What is the meaning of our lives? Is it the pursuit of riches or fame? Is it to live out our days and enjoy life as much as possible? What is our true mission in life?

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God has made that all possible, and His instruction for us is to tell as many people as we can about Him. From the moment of our birth, God's ultimate goal for our lives was to be a living, breathing, telling witness to the love of Jesus. It is a Divine Assignment that everyone who calls themselves a Christian is to undertake.

It brings God pleasure when He sees us living out our assignment, forsaking everything else in life to give it all up for Him. It pleases Him when we boldly take on our assignment and tell everyone we know about the love and sacrifice of Jesus. So, as long as we have breath we need to be about praising God and telling about our lives with Jesus. Anything less than that is a waste of what God has equipped and appointed us to do.

Photo from The Family International, Photo Gallery: Relief-Disaster

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

God's Patience - June 28, 2011

2 Peter 3:9(New International Version NIV)
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Yesterday we talked about how we needed to slow down the busyness of our world and learn God's patience, especially being patient about the return of Jesus Christ for His people. Our world would have us rushing towards oblivion, but our amazing Creator is patient with us. His desire is that all of mankind would be redeemed; all would turn from their sin, turn their lives around, and be restored to be with Him forever.

Few understand that this has been God's plan since the beginning. Since mankind "fell" into disobedience, God set out to provide a Way for us to be restored. That Way was through Jesus Christ. Through His death as payment for our sin, we have the opportunity to fulfill God's original plan: to live with mankind forever. He created us in love and restores us in love as well.

The fact that God is patient with us is truly a miracle. None of us deserve to be with Him, but in His patience, we gives us all the opportunity to come to Him. Someday, there will be a last person that comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus; then the end will come. Don't wear out His patience. Make sure you accept is act of love and accept Him today.

Photo by Keiko Adachi, from Know God. Know Love. No God. No Love., 8-10-2009

Monday, June 27, 2011

Patience - June 27, 2011

Psalm 37:7 (New International Version)
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.

James 5:7-8 (New International Reader's Version)
7 Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes. See how the farmer waits for the land to produce its rich crop. See how patient he is for the fall and spring rains. 8 You too must be patient. You must stand firm. The Lord will soon come back.

We live in a very busy world. Our lives are full of busyness, and most everything we do has an urgency to it. To compound things, we are in a constant state of activity and communication, receiving texts, cellphone calls, e-mails, messages, and tweets. In all the busyness and activity we rarely take a few minutes to take a breath and relax. We usually want everything done yesterday, and today is not soon enough. The world becomes a place of anxiety and stress; no wonder many suffer from burn out!

Just because we are Christians, doesn't mean that we are immune from this. Many of us get caught up in the activity of the church, and just in case we have left a few minutes in our day, we quickly fill it up with the "good" work of our faith. In fact, many pastors and leaders of the church suffer from the same burn out as the world does. Soon the life of the church is just as busy, anxious and stressful as the world.

We are in such a hurry to do everything we think that God wants done, that we also get impatient because Jesus hasn't come back yet to bring relief! In the Book of James, we are called to live a life of patience, especially in waiting for Christ's return. We are called to act as the farmer does, who waits months after his labor of planting before the rains come and his crop begins to grow. In everything we do, we need to approach it with patience, knowing that He is in control of all things.

Since we already know what is going to happen, we should live lives that reflect patience, yet eager anticipation that our Savior will soon come back for us. If your life is full of busyness, why not take the deep breath of the Holy Spirit and wait on the Lord?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Praise! - June 26, 2011

Psalm 47 (New International Version)
1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.

2 For the LORD Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.

8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.

We haven't taken a the time to lift our praises to God for awhile. Since it is Sunday, let's start this week by giving our praises to Him. It will make the week better for us. Let's give Him thanks in advance for what He will do for us. May you be blessed as you encounter Him!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nowhere to Hide - June 25, 2011

Jeremiah 23:23-24(New King James Version)
23 “ Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD,

“ And not a God afar off?

24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the LORD;

“ Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.

Jeremiah 23:23-24(GOD’S WORD Translation)
23“I am a God who is near. I am also a God who is far away,” declares the Lord.

24“No one can hide so that I can’t see him,” declares the Lord.“I fill heaven and earth!” declares the Lord.

There are many in our world, that think that they can live their lives as they'd like without any repurcussions. They constantly comment that they have plenty of time left to think about their future, and that they will think about God when they need to. You also hear them comment on their personal behavior and have the false assumption that God can't really see them, or that He isn't paying attention to them. What they say that what they do in private is their own business, and what He doesn't see won't matter in the long run.

Truth is though, God sees everything! He is omnipresent, meaning that He is everywhere at the same time. We may not see or "feel" His presence, but He is there. When Jesus Christ stepped into the world, He made this fact known when He told his disciples,“And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”(Matthew 28:20b)Once we accept Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, to guide and impart godly wisdom upon us. Once He is within us, there is no place to hide. Everything we do is under His caring eye.

Since God already knows everything about you, why not bring it out in the open? He sees your secrets, so why not turn them over to Him? Why not surrender and confess all that has you in bondage? Through Jesus Christ, you have been redeemed and He has taken your punishment upon Himself. If you still are waiting to turn your life over to Him, there will be a day that everything about your life will be layed out before God and judged. On that day, there truly will be nowhere to hide.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Mediator - June 24, 2011

1 Timothy 2:5-6(New Living Translation)
5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

In the world of business the resolution of contract disputes is a huge concern. In most contracts, in order to avoid lengthy court battles and the spending of huge attorney's fees, a provision is made that the first attempt at resolving any dispute will be through mediation. Agreeing to mediation provides protection for both parties in case a dispute arises, and it allows for the resolution of a conflict for the least amount of difficulty and cost.

Typically both parties will agree to allow a mediator, a neutral party who assists in negotiations and conflict resolution, to be the one to reconcile any dispute. In mediation, and if both have agreed to and accepted mediation as the resolution in any conflict, both parties must abide by the final decision of the mediator. The mediator's word is the final authority, and if payment is required of either party, it has to be paid.

If on the other hand, the parties fail to accept and agree to mediation in their initial contract agreement, they will subject themselves to resolving any dispute in a court of law. This may end up costing the offending party, a heavy price in the attempt to placate the injured party. It is a difficult place to be, if one has to stand on their own and suffer the consequences of any injury that may have been done. Many have had their reputations and lives ruined as a result of not agreeing to the protection of mediation.

Through God's grace, He has provided us with a Mediator to resolve our dispute with God. Our sin has separated us from God and has caused us to be in dispute, created conflict, with Him. Nothing that we do on our own can resolve the conflict, because we are a party to our dispute with God.
Jesus Christ has taken on the responsibility of mediating our conflict with our righteous God.

Our dispute, our conflict with God due to the offense of our sin, has been resolved by Christ's mediation. Through His death on the cross, the payment that is required for our sin against God has been made by the Mediator Himself! He has been given the final authority in the matter and His decision is final. Nothing can be done to alter the decision as long as we have accepted it, and agreed to Jesus Christ as our Mediator.

If you have not accepted God's offer of mediation, you will have to stand alone in God's court of judgement and suffer whatever decision is rendered. Why not accept Jesus Christ and assure that your will have a Mediator when you stand before God? Why not accept His payment in full for what you have done and will ever do as the offending party? Now is the right time for you to accept the decision and His provision as the resolution to your conflict with God.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Psalm of Praise - June 23, 2011

Psalm 33
1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Myth of the Self-made Man - June 22, 2011

Psalm 127:1-2(GOD’S WORD Translation)
1If the Lord does not build the house,
it is useless for the builders to work on it.

If the Lord does not protect a city,
it is useless for the guard to stay alert.

2It is useless to work hard for the food you eat
by getting up early and going to bed late.

The Lord gives food to those he loves while they sleep.

What does it mean to be a self-made man, or woman for that matter? Just how can anyone claim that what they have accomplished has been entirely on their own efforts? Truth is that no one "makes it to the top" without help. If it is not from God, it is because of others around the person that allowed them to be successful. No one can accomplish anything alone unless they live in a vacuum. All the statement means is that the one saying it is arrogant, full of pride, and headed for a fall. There will be a time in their lives when they will be "taken down to size".

The wisdom of this psalm from the Bible tells it like it truly is. Anything built apart from the support and blessing of God ends up as sheer folly. As the Creator of the universe, He has set everything in motion, and as we know though a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He is intimately interested in what we do. If you want to succeed in life, what better place to start than entrusting the effort to God? He is truly the One you want in your corner to guide you.

Starting a new job or business? Beginning a new project or just moving to another phase in your life, why not assure your success? Start our with turning it over to God, and letting Him help you through the "heavy lifting". Only when it is committed to Him will your plans succeed.

Photo "Heavy Lifting" from Travelpod,
Day 3: Ghermu to Tal-640m/2112 ft Ascent (4/24/10)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Desert Sanctuary - June 21, 2011

Psalm 63:1-5(New Living Translation)
1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

There are times in our lives when God seems absent from our day to day lives. You seek Him in prayer, yet it is difficult to find Him. You lift up your concerns, yet the answers don't come. You grow weary as you cry for help, only to feel more disappointment as it fails to come. You wonder what is going on? What did you do? Why hasn't He rescued you?

David had very much the same thoughts as he was fleeing from his enemies. Here was a man that it was said, "was a man after God's own heart", yet he too had many "desert" experiences. He too longed for rescue from his difficult circumstances. If you study the Psalms, you will find many times when he lifted up prayers to God, wondering why God has abandoned him, and wondering when God would free him from his troubles.

It's at these times when our faith needs to lift us up. It is our faith in the truth that we know which will sustain us. You know that God is on His throne, in His santuary, and He knows what you are going through. It is at these desert times in your life, when you need to give Him praise. You know what He has done for you in the past, and it is in that knowledge that you must give Him praise for what He has yet to do for you.

Nothing that you go through is wasted. God does have a purpose, and He has promised that He will never leave to forsake you. He will never turn away or abandon you. It is up to you to rest in the promise that He will turn your difficulties into joy. It may not be on our timetable, but our history with trusting Him should give us the confidence that it will end for our benefit in mind.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bringing Sight to the Blind - June 20, 2011

John 9:25(New International Version)
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

2 Corinthians 5:17(New King James Version NKJV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

As I have written about before, these days Christianity seems to be more and more under attack. There is continual controversy as critics try as hard as they can to discount and minimize our beliefs, in an attempt to remove it from the world's culture. Even in what you would think is a supportive magazine, Christianity Today, our faith seems to be constantly questioned and under scrutiny. Someone or some group is always trying to "shoot holes" into the Bible and the life, work and claims of Jesus Christ. Yes, we should question what we believe, but this is not about healthy theological discourse; this is about "search and destory".

There is something that every critic and every supporter of our faith in Jesus Christ is missing when it comes to the validity and truth of Christianity. To illustrate this I was prompted to look at the 9th Chapter of John in the New Testament, where Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath. After which the man was called into the temple and questioned by the religious rulers in an attempt to discount and disparage Jesus and the miracle He had just done.

The religious leaders focused more on trying to belittle Jesus in their own eyes that they failed to realize the spititual blindness they were under. They could not see the real Jesus as who He claimed to be because of their own religiousity; their exaggerated piety and religious zeal. This is no different than it is today; people are so zealous to take down anything having to do with Christianity that they fail to see and are blind to who Jesus really is. So too, many liberal theologians would rather defend their own interpretations of what they believe is the truth, than to come close to discovering the real truth.

All this to say that what those who are spiritually blind to the real Jesus fail to see are His true miracles. The religious leaders of His day could not see that Jesus actually restored sight to a lifelong blind man, and today's critics fail to see that the true miracle of Jesus is the changed heart, the change in a person's life that nothing else can accomplish. Their is nothing that can dispute this.

Only Jesus Christ can bring change to a life-long, down-and-out drunk, drug addict, thief, womanizer, etc., that is trapped in the bondage of sin. Only He can bring "sight" to those who once were "blind", and turn them into a new creation.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day - June 19, 2011

Psalm 127:3-5(New International Version)
3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.

5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

By now most of the dads are winding down their day of honor, and getting ready for a new week providing for their families. In their rush, it might be forgotten how very inportant the responsibility of being a father is. It is the closest reflection of the heart of our heavenly Father. He has blessed each one of us dads with the children we parent. Let's give Him thanks, and ask for His divine guidance as we shepherd our children that He has made us stewards of. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Godly Habits - June 18, 2011

Psalm 15(New International Version)
A psalm of David.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

Much has been said about bad habits, those things you do over and over again that are either annoying to others or destructive to you. On the other hand, you don't hear about good habits that make you a joy to be around. Maybe its because we often are looking for fault in people, but nothing is better than to encourage someone to gain good habits (and I don't mean brushing your teeth or cleaning up after yourself).

There are habits that identify a righteous man or woman, and identify them in God's equation as "blameless"; these are charcteristics that follow after the heart of God. In the psalm above, we learn what some of these are, and we are told that walking in them will bring us into God's "sacred tent", and onto His "holy mountain". Study them; teach these verses to your children and grandchildren, for in following these habits, we will gain the favor of God.

By displaying these characteristic habits, people will know that you are walking apart form the world and with God.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lightening Your Load - June 17, 2011

Psalm 68:19(New International Version)
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.

Matthew 11:28-30(New International Version)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Already the heat of this June makes us feel like it will be a long, hot, Summer. Along with that, for many people it is really tough out there, The economy is the pits, and the issues that confront our families are great. Watching the news, it feels like everything is heading downhill, and along with it, the weight we carry on our shoulders keeps getting heavier. In fact, it seems that at any moment the burdens, difficulties and struggles we are faced with will break us down.

Their is a way to lighten the heavy load we are carrying, because we have a God who is interested in giving us relief. He offers to carry our burdens daily, meaning that we don't have to carry our difficulties by ourselves. Jesus took it a step further, offering to pull alongside of us and to bear most of the weight. What faces us is easy for Him, and He wants us to find rest, internal peace, to make it all seem easier.

If you are heavily burdened and looking for help, why not turn in over to our loving God, who has carried our sins, and now offers to carry the weight of our burdens, difficulties and struggles. Just as a loving Father carries his child, our God will carry us and help us to find rest for our souls.

Photo from

Thursday, June 16, 2011

True Value - June 16, 2011

Matthew 6:25-27(New International Version)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

If you have studied the Bible or sat in a few church pews, you probably have read these verses or heard a sermon based on them. On the face of it is is very understandable; in the verses Jesus is illustrating how much God cares for those who love Him, and you were encouraged not to worry or be anxious about you life because God would take care of you. That is completely true, but I believe the real lesson to be learned is how God cares for you.

I like the picture above because it is a great photograph of how God shows His care. The verses state, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them". Truth is though that just as the person above gives a helping hand by offering food to the bird, God uses various means at His disposal to provide and care of His children, including other people. Surrounding you are various opportunities and people that God has placed in your life. This makes it possible for you to receive God's care.

Many people wrongly expect that God will act like He did in the story of the Exodus with the Israelites in the desert, where He supplied manna and quail everyday for them to live on. They were to eat only enough for the day, because all of the leftovers wouldn't last through the night. The next morning there again was manna and quail for them to gather and eat(Exodus 16).

These days I don't suspect we will receive much manna from Heaven, although God does work miraculously in some circumstances. Instead God provides us with the ability and opportunity to receive His care through the things He places in our lives. The birds still have to go around and find what God has provided for them to eat. For us too, it is our responsibility to seek out God's provision, and then work and be obedient to His direction.

If we focus on Him, we will daily find those things He places in our lives. It is up to us to utilize them for our needs, and acknowledge the One who has given it to us.

Photo from

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Can I Get a Witness? - June 15, 2011

Hebrews 12:14-15(New Century Version)
14 Try to live in peace with all people, and try to live free from sin. Anyone whose life is not holy will never see the Lord.15 Be careful that no one fails to receive God's grace and begins to cause trouble among you. A person like that can ruin many of you.

One of the saddest things about Christianity today is that many people have a bad impression about Christians. Non-believers have been soured by how many who claim the faith behave. These behaviors that turn others off fall into two groups.

The first group, although they have been saved by Jesus Christ, continue to behave as if their conversion has made no change in their lives. They still cling to the things of the world and they treat others just as they did prior to knowing Jesus. Their behavior is marked by doing the exact things thas those around them. Non-believers question why they should embrace faith in Jesus if it doesn't make a difference in their lives.

The second group have changed their lives because of their desire to please God, but they exhibit that change by excluding others. Their behavior is one of legalism, and they set a bar that new believer have to reach to become Christ followers. They further exacerbate this charachteristic by them judging others with a "holier than though" attitude. Non-believers are turned off, because they feel that all Christians do is point out their faults.

In the Book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul admonishes us to live at peace with everyone, meaning that we need to seek peace in any human interaction we have. We then need to try to live holy lives, seeking to be good witnesses of the change Jesus has made our lives. And most importantly, we need to be sure that we show the same "grace" that God showed to us in drawing us to Christ.

We all are sinners and we all deserve God's judgement. Who are we to criticize others who have not yet found Jesus Christ? Instead we need to lead lives that reflect the love of Jesus, and attract others to the faith through "right" living, love, and acceptance. Our outward witness of our inward change is the most important thing in drawing others to Christ. Make sure that your witness as a Christian is one that will win others to Jesus.

Photo from Lost Sheeo Finders' Digest

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blessed Assurance - June 14, 2011

Revelation 21:5-7(New Living Translation)
5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

There are very few sure things in life, in fact you often hear people say that the only sure things are death and taxes. Even so, many of us fall into doing many things thinking that they are sure things, only to be disappointed both in the situation and ourselves. After this has happened to us several times, because we often have short memories, we eventually become somewhat jaded and extremely pessimistic about any new opportunity.

There is a sure thing that seldom gets mentioned in that list of sure things, and that is salvation. It does carry with it conditions that have to be met. We can be sure of our salvation, our hope and promise for eternal life with God, if we accept the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus paid for all of our sins by His death on the cross, and in doing so He has given us His sure promise that we can be made right with God.

If you are looking for a sure thing, why not accept the "blessed assurance" that God offers? Why not commit your life to serving Jesus, and you will be sure that your eternity is taken care of.

Monday, June 13, 2011

In God We Trust - June 13, 2011

Psalm 20:6-9(New International Version)
6 Now this I know:
The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

9 LORD, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!

There has been much debate over the last couple of decades about whether or not we should use "In God We Trust" as our national motto, and have that motto appear on our currency and in public places. There has also been a misuse of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in the state of Connecticut, concerning their concern about a state sponsored church (i.e. The Anglican Church in England), in which he mentioned that there should be a separation of "church and state".

Somehow this statement made it into the courts and was used to twist the Supreme Court's interpretation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, and due to Judicial precedent became a practice where the courts have done all they can to discriminate against religion in the public square. Unfortunately that has been at our peril. One need only look around to what happens to generations of children who have not had the benefit of Biblical teaching to help them set a "moral compass".

Too often these children do not learn, until they are adults(and I am one), that the way of the world and the prohibition of the Bible and faith have dire consequences on the way one grows up. Parents do all they can, but once children reach the age of five, they spend a quarter of their waking hours a year in school, and maybe a total of 2 days a year in church (if they go). Then they are off to college and are immersed in the world's secular, hedonistic culture. No wonder they come home very changed from when they left, and usually they have to go down the wrong track before they finally straighten up and discover the wonderful life available in following God.

Our forefather founded this country on Judeo/Christian principles for a reason. The reason was that they knew that man was a "fallen creature" and without the constraints and discipline found in following a faith in God, man would rather pursue their own worldy way. This often leads to self-interest and pursuit of selfish gain, and ends up creating chaos within a community. Have you ever heard of the "me generation"? When the focus is on ME rather than THEE, one will usually end up causing alot of self-damage and damage to others before they come to their senses.

If you want to live a life worth living, and if you want to see you country restored to goodness, it is time that we put God back into the culture, and finally follow the admonition of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust"!

Photo by Kevin Dooley, 9-1-2007, Village of Gila Springs, Chandler, AZ, posted on flickr

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Making It a Great Week; Especially Monday! - June 12, 2011

Psalm 20:1-5(New International Version)
1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.

3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.

4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the LORD grant all your requests.

Well tomorrow is another Monday; you might call them Murphy Mondays, that dreaded day of the week when all that can go wrong mostly does. When you call around or meet different people and ask them about the day, you usually get the comments that, "It's a typical Monday!" or "I guess it's alright for a Monday!". Many of us then take it home and tell our spouses how terrible it was. Why does this one day have to be so hard?

Maybe it's because most of us just dive into our work week headlong; or it's because we enjoyed the weekend so much that any day we go back to work would be a let down. I say that the answer is much simpler than that. I believe it's a spiritual problem. The first day of the work week is tough because we have not committed it to prayer. For most of us, the only time we pray about the week is after Monday is over, when we ask God for relief. I say that attitude and priorities are all wrong!

Our first inclination each week is first to acknowlege God's hand in our lives by taking time for Him on Sunday. Next, we need to go through the work week in our minds, lifting every detail to God. If we will ask Jesus Christ to help us be more like Him and to be with us throughout the week, things will go much better, especially Mondays. If we take a Christ-like attitude to work with us and display it to all who we come in contact with us, their Mondays will be better too!

Above is a Psalm of David. The beginning verses are a great place to start. Let them be your prayer for yourself, your family and everyone you will come in contact with. Try it, and see how Mondays become the best day of the week!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our Refuge - June 11, 2011

Psalm 46 (New International Version)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

When all else fails, turn to God. He will be "our refuge" when times are stressful. He alone will bring us comfort when we are in our deepest need. Give Him praise and glory that He always has our best interest in mind, and that He alone is in control.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Forgive and Forget - June 10, 2011

Colossians 3:13(New International Reader's Version)
13 Put up with each other. Forgive the things you are holding against one another. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you.

What causes the most damage in relationships? It's unforgiveness. No matter what has happened between people, lack of forgiveness has the affect of causing the most distress that we can ever experience in our lives. Not forgiving one who has hurt and wronged you can last your entire life; it can cause problems that are physical, mental, and spiritual. Nothing is sadder than seeing someone who has been "eaten up" by unforgiveness; it is evident to all who gets to know that person.

The Christian community is not immune to this, although it probably can be much more damaging. Unforgiveness can be harmful to someone's entire Christian life, because it affects the person's walk by keeping it from being genuine. In doing this their growth in the faith is stunted; they will be living against the main premise of their own salvation. Through Jesus Christ, God completely forgives us of all of our wrongdoing, when we accept His gift of salvation. The Bible says that "He has removed our sins as far as the East is from the West"(Psalm 103:12), and that "He remembers them no more"(Isaiah 43:25). For us to forgive another any less than God has forgiven us, will cause us to lose out on our own forgiveness(Matthew 6:14-15).

For us to truly walk in the image of Christ, we need to have a heart that easily forgives. Yes, we do get hurt, but we need to always remember that if Jesus could forgive those who crucified Him, who are we to not forgive an offense to us. True Christianity is exhibited by true forgiveness. And what is forgiveness? It is forgetting that we have been wronged; exhibiting love for those who hurt us and being Christ-like in our behavior towards them. This is not easy, and it can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us.

Is there someone who so wronged you that you still can't forgive them? Surrender your unforgiveness to God, embrace that person in Christ's love, and soon you will forget what has been done to you.

32 Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:32 (New Century Version)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Right Time - June 9, 2011

2 Corinthians 6:1-2(New Living Translation)
1 As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. 2 For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”[Isaiah 49:8]

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

Many have taken for granted that their lives will take them to a "ripe old age". For many if you ask them what will happen to them when they die they will answer that they don't need to worry about it, because its a long time from now. No one believes that the present day will be their last, and we have to be thankful to the grace of God that we have not all been "vaporized" for our arrogance. It's interesting that they also often state that "life is to short", but talk to them about spiritual matters and they will simply give you the "brush off".

In addition, many Christians take their salvation for granted is well. Many believe that just because the go to church and have been baptised that they are "okay" with God. They wrongly believe that because they know a few bible stories and they are part of the Christmas and Easter crowd that their place in heaven is set. Their are also those who "religiously" go to church services week after week, and they truly believe that their membership will "open the door to heaven" for them. Are there those who are truly saved among these groups? Sure, but whether or not you are "saved" should not be taken for granted.

You need to be sure today, right now, that you are truly "saved". Salvation means that you admit to God that you have sinned against Him, broken His rules. You accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, as the One who out of His love for you, willingly died on the cross as payment for your sins that you have committed and will always commit. It is also believing that He stepped out of the grave, being resurrected three days after He died, and appeared to many witnesses to prove that He was God. And that Jesus Christ then returned to heaven and is at the right hand of the Father, where He waits for you right now. This is a free gift that you cannot earn because of your "good works". God is the One that has redeemed you, made you right with Him solely out of His love for you.

If you are unsure of your salvation, or if you have been putting off embracing the love and redemption that God is offering you, today is the day to make sure. It is the "right time" to accept Jesus Christ and make yourself right with God. You do not know what tomorrow will bring. Make sure of your eternal destiny before it is too late.

If you want to make sure of your salvation or you want to learn how to be saved, just follow the link and you will find what you need.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heart's Desire - June 8, 2011

Psalm 20:4(New International Version)
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

Is there something that you have always dreamed of doing? Is there a business you have wanted to start, or a place you wanted to be, or a ministry you have wanted to start, or an accomplishment that you always wanted to have, or a goal you wanted to meet, or something else that has driven you for most of your life? Is it something that has stayed with you year after year, that you have longed for, and especially that you have prayed for?

Maybe it hasn't been for a long time; maybe it is something God placed on your heart just recently, a vision of sorts that you can't quit thinking about. You see yourself doing it; you see yourself reaching that pinnacle, seeing yourself doing something important. It is something that you know is from God, because you have been obedient and as sought Him as much as you can. You surrendered it to Him, and asked Him to take it away if it wasn't for Him. It's a passion that drives you and you know that God would be pleased because of it.

At times doubts crept in, and questioned whether or not you were really hearing from God. You felt selfish, thinking that maybe it was only your wish, and you should feel guilty for ever dwelling on it. But then God confirms it in your spirit, and you know that the doubts were all from the one who would rather see you fail. You grow even more determined, saying that you know that God is in this. You seek His leading and know that all things are possible through Christ who gives you strength(Philippians 4:13). Your faith builds as you KNOW that it is His voice(John 10:27).

Yes, God want to give you the desires of your heart(Psalm 37:4). He wants to give you good gifts(Matthew 7:11). He does want to see His children prosper, and only in Him will your plans succeed(Proverbs 16:3). Whatever it is, God is the author of everything good and pure that you wish to do. He want to see you do good things. Trust in Him(Proverbs 3:5-6), and He will help you accomplish your dreams.

Women's Olympic Gymnastics Beam Final in Beijing:USA's silver medalist Nastia Liuki, USA's gold medalist Shawn Johnson and China's Cheng Fei show their medals during the awards ceremony for the Women's Beam Final in the apparatus finals at the National Indoor Gymnastics Stadium at the Summer Olympics in Beijing on August 19, 2008. (UPI Photo/Pat Benic)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Divine Appointments - June 7, 2011

Proverbs 16:9 (New King James Version)
9 A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

Isaiah 48:17 (New King James Version)
17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“ I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go."

If you have been walking with God for awhile you know a truth about your walk with Him. When you walk with God there are no coincidences. Everything that happens to you has a specific purpose, and every encounter you have is part of His plan. These are "divine appointments", situations that He has arranged in advance for you. So why do these things happen? What purpose do they have?

When you accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ's death on the cross for your sins, something supernatural occurred in your life. Your confession of those sins, and your surrender to God, not only cleansed you from your wrongdoing, and redeemed you for eternity, but it opened your spirit to allow the Holy Spirit to reside in you. The Spirit of God took up residence inside of you.

No this may sound a little creepy, but it is a very powerful truth. A sure test of this is what happens to you after you are "saved". Things that you once thought were "no big deal" in your life, suddenly cause you to feel guilty. In fact the more you continue the behavior the worse you feel, until you finally cry out in confession to God and again seek His forgiveness. Although you were forgiven at the time of your conversion, this continual confession keeps you walking in obedience to God.

The Spirit has a big job; it is His job to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ. In other words, He works on the inside and with things on the outside, to direct your life to become more like Jesus. That is what these "divine appointments" are all about; God places people in our lives by working through their lives, to serve His purposes and make us more like Him.

When we follow God's direction, continually seeking His guidance, and walking in obedience to where He is taking us, we will accomplish great things for Him. Not that God needs it, but in our service to Him we will live abundant and joyful lives, as we look forward to eternity with Him. Those we encounter along the way will benefit in seeing what a life in Christ is all about.

The reality of this truth should make you aware that no one that you meet is by chance; there are no coincidences. It is a divine appointment, arranged by God, for the benefit of His eternal kingdom. Make sure that everyone you meet knows that Jesus Christ set up the appointment.

Photo "Handshake",12-1-2006, from stock.xchng

Monday, June 6, 2011

Embrace His Peace - June 6, 2011

John 14:27(New International Version)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Philippians 4:6-7(New Living Translation)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

We have been searching for God's remedy for our troubles and distress over the last few days. We have been asking what we need to do in the face of the difficulties, especially when it seems that God is not doing anything about resolving it. We have been crying out asking God how long we must go through this. We ask what will break us free from our troubles and distress?

Working through our troubles is always a process, and when things are most difficult our approach to God needs to reflect that. We spoke of seeking our loving God in prayer, making sure we are walking in obedience to His word, continually having faith in the pormises He has made to us, and always remembering the times He has been faithful to us in the past.

At the end of the day we need to embrace the peace that He offers. When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He provides for us the comfort and companionship of the Holy Spirit. We need to rest in the confort and peace that the Spirit gives us, rather than fighting it in our anxiety of the moment. We need to have faith that God is in control, and He will not let us fall. We may not always like what we are going through, but at the end of our struggles, He will be there with us.

Photo from "If you live to be 100",5-27-2011, source: cosmicallybeautiful

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How Long, Lord? - June 5, 2011

Psalm 13 (New International Version)
1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

For many these days have been difficult. If it is not something financial because of the economy, then it is either some personal struggle, an illness, a passing of a loved one, or a crisis in the family. We lift up our voices in prayer, wanting to have God give us an answer, but it doesn't seem to come. What do you do when you are desparate, down and out, struggling, and wanting relief from your troubles and distress?

Remember His faithfulness. Remember what He has done for you in the past. Remember that He has never taken you through something that did not turn out better in the end. Count the times He has carried you through; write them down and pray a prayer of remembrance saying, "Lord, I remember when you brought me through ..." Lift up you current struggle to Him and ask Him to do as He has in the past. He longs to hear your prayers.

God has a reason for your trouble and distress. He will not let it be in vain. His purpose is greater than what we can see. It will all be for good. Remember Him, and how He has demonstrated His love for you.

Photo from "This Thing Called Cancer", 10-3-2010,Daynas-Journey Blogspot

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Troubleshots - June 4, 2011

Deuteronomy 7:9 (New International Reader's Version)
So I want you to realize that the Lord your God is God. He is the faithful God. He keeps his covenant for all time to come. He keeps it with those who love him and obey his commands. He shows them his love.

Hebrews 10:23 (New Century Version)
23 Let us hold firmly to the hope that we have confessed, because we can trust God to do what he promised.

The problem with troubles and distress is that they don't seem to go away as quickly as we would like. We pray and pray for His relief, yet our difficulties seem to remain. We wonder and cry out to saying, "How long must we go through this? When will you take this away?" Day after day we pray, yet we don't get an answer; at least not the aswer we want.So what should we do?

We need to keep right on praying and seeking and above all, we have to have faith in His promises. God has given us His promises, one being that He will work out everything for good if we love Him (Romans 8:28). He does want what is best for us, and if we will study His word, it will reveal just the promise you may need to resolve your issue; or you will at least find comfort as you go through your distress.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.1 Peter 5:6-7(NLT)

Photo "Oh look ,there is a rainbow!", by Nicolas Valentin, 11-11-2006,Clachan of Campsie, Scotland, GB

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trouble Shooting Too - June 3, 2011

John 14:15-17(New International Version)
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

As I commented on previously, we wait to hear that voice from Heaven tell us that God hears us and is watching out for us. We wonder, what must we do to break free from the troubles and distress of our lives? What assures us that God is listening and working with us through our situation?

If we want to always have God's favor and know that He will work everything out for us, we need to walk in obedience. We need to follow His instructions found in His word and do what He asks us to do. As Jesus said above, our obedience, keeping His commands, shows us that we love Him. Great thing is, God helps us to be obedient, because His Spirit guides us and convicts us when we do wrong.

Our love for Him, demonstrated by our obedience, guided by the Holy Spirt, will give us assurance that God will work out our troubles for us.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trouble Shooting - June 2, 2011

Isaiah 55:6(New International Reader's Version)
6 Turn to the Lord before it's too late. Call out to him while he's still ready to help you.

Philippians 4:6 (New International Version)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

As we discussed yesterday, the world is full of troubles. It seems everywhere we turn that something is causing difficulty in our lives. We long for relief from the burden that we are under, so what can we do to get it form God? What will break us free from our troubles and distress?

The first thing we need to do is to seek Him diligently in prayer. God is close to all of us, not up in Heaven sitting around and not being active in the world. Many other religions follow a god that is distant and impersonal, almost untouchable; that is why its always about what they have to do to gain favor with their god.

Our God seeks us and in turn wants us to seek Him. He wants to carry our burdens and wants our total dependence on Him. Why would Jesus step out of Heaven unless God sought to be near to us. Why would Jesus in turn give us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, when He returned to the Father? In identifying with us, He allowed us to identify with Him. Up close and personal; that is what is so wonderful about our God.

If your troubles and distress have you at the "end of your rope", lay out each and every burden before Him in prayer. Ask Him in His grace and mercy to show you His will, and to give you guidance through the storm. He will answer you; He will bring you peace and comfort through your "storm". He will make sure that what you are going through, will work out for your best.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Surviving Troubles - June 1, 2011

John 14:27 New International Version (NIV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:33 New International Version (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Are you restless in your spirit these days? Are you scared about what is happening around you? Does it seem that nothing is getting any better in your life? You read the papers, or posts online, or watch television and it seems that there are nothing but troubles in the world.

When it gets close to home, you really start to question what is going on with you and God. What did you do? Is there some hidden sin in your life that you don't know about? Is it something you should have done but didn't? All these questions flood your mind and spirit, and you ask God, "Why is this happening God? Why can't I get any relief? Things only seem to be getting worse and I don't know what to do about it."

For every believer the answers are different, and all you know is that you long for the embrace of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. You long for God to tell you the answers and let you know that everything is, and will be okay between you. He has promised you that everything will work out for good, but you want to see the "good" come much more quickly.

You wait to hear that voice from Heaven tell you that "I hear you my child, and I am watching out for you!" What can you do? What will break you free from your troubles and distress? We will look at the answers over the next few days.