Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't Look Back - August 31, 2011

Philippians 3:13-14(New Living Translation)
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

All of us know people that constantly dwell in the past. No matter what happens, they are always dredging up what happened in the past as the reason for it. This is especially true if that person encounters failure; something in the past is always the cause. Instead of accepting responsibility and moving on they reamin stuck in the past and never move forward into the future.

On the other hand, there are those who look to the past and the days gone by as the good times. That is so true of society these days. Many well-meaning Christians talk alot about how it used to be rather than working to change things today. The problem with looking back in this case is that complacency sets in; that's because we think that it will never be as good as the past, so why even try to change things?

Both of these situations may be true for all of us at one time or another. There are times when we get so tired of fighting the difficulties of today, that we would rather just stay in the past and recall better days. We get ourselves stuck and the resulting complacency can really tie us down. Sooner than later we can so deep in the pit that it takes a huge effort to climb out, and without God it might be almost impossible.

We can't spend our lives looking in the rearview mirror. God wants us to forget the past, because what is done is done. That is what salvation is all about. In Jesus Christ we have the opportunity to have our past washed away in His precious bllod. No longer do we have to carry the burden of the bad that we have done, but we can look forward to the future that God has in store, a blessed future here and now, and for eternity.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Praise Amidst Failure - August 30,2011

Habakkuk 3:17-19(New Living Translation)
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

Lately I have been talking about making it through times of difficulty. I have been pointing out that God has a reason and plan for everything we go through, and I have pointed out that because of His "walking in our shoes", Jesus Christ understands what we are going through. In knowing us so intimately through the Holy Spirit, He never abandons us if we will stay close to Him.

Yes, this can bring along with it a certain amount of comfort and confidence as we go through our trial, but what do you do if no matter what you do, nothing gets better? How do you respond to God if all of your prayers remain unanswered? What do you do next to survive your calamity?

It is at that time, when all else has failed, that you surrender to God and give Him praise. In spite of all that happens to us while we are on this earth, the bottom line is that He has created us, and because of that He ultimately deserves our praise. Yes, life on this earth will not be fair, and inevitably we will feel left alone in our difficulty and pain. That doesn't mean that God does not care.

He does have the Master Plan for our life, and truth is that we may never know what the outcome will be, but He does. In those times, give it all over to Him and praise Him. In spite of your circumstance, give Him praise. Even if you lose everything, give Him praise. Know that no matter what, you still have your salvation in Jesus Christ, and that is all that matters for eternity.

When you finally surrender it all, then He can really work in your life and give you the strength to make it through.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Overcoming Bitterness - August 29, 2011

Psalm 73:12-28(GOD’S WORD Translation)
12Look how wicked they are!
They never have a worry.
They grow more and more wealthy.

13I’ve received no reward for keeping my life pure
and washing my hands of any blame.
14I’m plagued with problems all day long,
and every morning my punishment begins again.
15If I had said, “I will continue to talk like that,”
I would have betrayed God’s people.

16But when I tried to understand this,
it was too difficult for me.
17Only when I came into God’s holy place
did I finally understand what would happen to them.

18You put them in slippery places
and make them fall into ruin.
19They are suddenly destroyed.
They are completely swept away by terror!
20As someone gets rid of a dream when he wakes up,
so you, O Lord, get rid of the thought of them
when you wake up.

21When my heart was filled with bitterness
and my mind was seized with envy,
22I was stupid, and I did not understand.
I was like a dumb animal in your presence.

23Yet, I am always with you.
You hold on to my right hand.
24With your advice you guide me,
and in the end you will take me to glory.

25As long as I have you,
I don’t need anyone else in heaven or on earth.
26My body and mind may waste away,
but God remains the foundation of my life
and my inheritance forever.
27Without a doubt, those who are far from you will die.
You destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

28Being united with God is my highest good.
I have made the Almighty Lord my refuge
so that I may report everything that he has done.

There are many good people out there that are doing the best to follow Jesus Christ, yet it seems that they can't catch a break during these tough times. When things are tough it is hard not to get bitter. We tend to get angry with God in that bitterness, when we see those that do evil prosper. After asking God, "why me?", we wonder why He let's those who are against Him get all the breaks in this world.

If you are doing your best, trying to follow Jesus and it just hasn't gotten any easier for you, remember that God does want you to prosper. He is just working out His plan in your life. Fine gold or silver are at their finest when the impurities have been driven out. Steel is only at its stongest when it endures the hottest of temperatures. The trials you are going through have a purpose, and those who seemingly laugh at your faithfulness to God will receive their just reward.

Don't lose heart! He will carry you through this, and at the end of your struggle, you will see His plan and experience His joy.

Photo from "OVERCOMING THE OBSTACLES TO YOUR VISION", by Coach Dan Foster, posted 3-9-2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Never Give Up! - August 28, 2011

Galatians 6:9(New King James Version)
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9(New Century Version)
9 We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.

There are times in this life when we feel like quitting; times when the burdens and difficulties become so large that we don't think we have it in us anymore to survive. We thought that as Christians that somehow this would all be easier, that we would be insulated from the "bad" things. But we were never promised that life would be nothing but "smooth sailing", and Jesus warned us that by following Him, we would even have more trouble.
Many in this worl face constant pursecution and some even death because of their love and service for Jesus.

Everyone goes through times of trouble, and if you aren't going through it now, you will very soon in the future. The great thing about following Jesus Christ is that in the trouble, He promises to be with us. God's plan is not that we won't have trouble, but that we will be refined and stronger for it, and that infacing our difficulties, we will be better prepared when future difficulties come. And if our trouble is because of service to Him, then He will have a place for us in eternity.

Whatever you are going through right now, don't give up. God has a plan for your life, and He will help you as you go through it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sifted! - August 27, 2011

Luke 22:31-32(New Century Version)
31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to test all of you as a farmer sifts his wheat. 32 I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me."

If you are the baker in the family you are very familiar with sifting flour. Sifting is defined as "To put (flour, for example) through a sieve or other straining device in order to separate the fine from the coarse particles"*. It is a way to remove impurities from what your mixing so that whatever you are baking has the perfect texture. If you love baked goods like me, you really like the outcome of this step in the process.

Jesus used the example of sifting wheat when the disciples were gathered in the upper room just before Christ's crucifixion. He had just completed sharing the Passover meal and using it to establish His new covenant that we call "Holy Communion". The disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in God's kingdom, and Jesus was growing very weary of the argument. Even though Jesus had tried to tell them numerous times, none of them really had a clue what was about to happen.

Peter being the leader among them, and probably the one with the largest ego in the group, was about to have his ego leveled and his true character tested, and Jesus was giving this very arrogant man a warning. God was about to allow Satan to put him through his most important testing of his life, and Jesus was praying that he would withstand that test. Peter was about to under go "sifting" that would remove the coarseness and shallowness within him, and purify him in a manner that would develop him for future leadership of the new Christian church. If he made it through this testing, then he would be able to handle the opposition after the departure of Jesus Christ.

Here lately, I have often felt that I have been going through alot of sifting, and the way things are in the world, I am sure that there are many of you going through the same thing. I hate to let everyone know, but this is a time that God is developing our characters, preparing us for tougher times in the years ahead. The great thing about trials and difficulties is that after you go through enough of it, you resign yourself to not thinking that you can do it all; you learn that the only way to make it is with God's help.

If life has you being pressed through the sifter right now, make sure that you are staying close to Jesus. If you aren't, don't worry, your time will come. Remember though, Jesus will be with you to comfort you, and He will strengthen you through the process.

* Definition from the Free Online Dictionary/sift

Photo from "Mule Team on the Move", Muhlestein Family adventures and travels, posted 6-10-2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Unfailing Love - August 26, 2011

Psalm 36:5-10(New International Version)
5 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.

7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

10 Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.

There are times in our lives when nothing makes sense. You think your living your life as you should, doing the things that you should be doing, and next thing you know you are blind-sided by difficulty. It might be the loss of your job, the death of someone you love, a sudden financial crisis or a child gets into deep trouble; your first thoughts are, "why me?"; "what did I do to deserve this?". No matter what it is that has happened, and no matter what you are faced with, if you have hope in God, you can be sure that His love will help you through your trial.

God's love never fails; He will be with you to comfort you, and you can be sure that He is One in whom you can place your trust. You can take refuge in Him, and lay all of your concerns at His feet. He has already given you His grace and mercy through your salvation in Jesus Christ, so why shouldn't He be there when you need Him?

If you are in this situation right now, call out to Him, appeal to His love; cry out for His help. He will always come through for you!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do It Again! - August 25, 2011

Habakkuk 3:2(New Century Version)
2 Lord, I have heard the news about you;
I am amazed at what you have done.
Lord, do great things once again in our time;
make those things happen again in our own days.
Even when you are angry,remember to be kind.

Habakkuk 3:2(New International Reader's Version)
2 Lord, I know how famous you are.
I have great respect for you
because of your mighty acts.
Do them again for us.
Make them known in our time.
When you are angry,
please show us your tender love.

Many of us have a longing to see God work in our lifetimes. We want to see Him do mighty things and know that they are from Him. As we become weary in waiting for the bad things to end, we long for God to bring about justice and set all things right. There is so much trouble, pain and diffculty that we long for His hand to bring about relief and comfort. We want to be able to see Jesus alive and in person. We know that God has been mighty in the past, and now we want to see it for ourselves.

I believe that God is alove and well in our world today, and He is doing "mighty deeds" each and every day. Jesus is newly inhabiting lives and the Holy Spirit is changing hearts and minds. Yes, God is doing great things today in the acts of His people. Each and every good thing, every gesture that is good and decent, every act of mercy and grace, ultimately are because of Him and from Him. He shows up whenever we are in trouble, pain and difficulty, and in His love and mercy He shows us His tender love.

If you are longing to see God do great things, accept Him into your heart. Let Jesus Christ be your example, and let the His Spirit guide you each and every day. God will show up in all you do, and you can praise Him for His mighty acts and know Him today!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Short and Sweet - August 24, 2011

Psalm 117(New International Version)
1 Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.[Hebrew Hallelu Yah]

Revelation 19:6-7(New Century Version)
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great many people, like the noise of flooding water, and like the noise of loud thunder. The people were saying:
Our Lord God, the Almighty, rules.
7 Let us rejoice and be happy
and give God glory,
because the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and the Lamb's bride has made herself ready.

This is the shortest psalm of praise given to us in the Psalms, the "hymnal" of the Old Testament. Yet it is a preview of what is to come. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you will hear the celestial chorus giving glory to God as the Lamb, His Son, receives honor and praises for what He has done for us. All those who call on the name of Jesus will be greeted as His "bride", the object of His love and sacrifice. Can you imagine that you would be considered so highly?

Yes, all of us are undeserving of such great love, yet He chose to take care of us forever through His death on the cross. He chose each one of us before we were born, drew us unto Himself, so that we might one glorious day spend forever with Him. We truly serve a marvelous, gracious and merciful God, who has lifted us out of the garbage heap, cleaned us up, clothed us in white, and has claimed us as His own! I am speechless when I imagine that He would do that for me!

If you have not accepted His gift and allowed Him to clean you up, and claim you as His own, let Jesus Christ do that for you. All you need to do is call out to Him in confession and humility, and He will change your heart, your mind and turn you around. Let go of your sins and let God restore you to where He meant for you to be all along, with Him in Heaven. Praise the LORD! Hallelujah!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Voice for the Unfortunate - August 23, 2011

Proverbs 31:8-9(New Century Version)
8 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
defend the rights of all those who have nothing.

9 Speak up and judge fairly,
and defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Matthew 25:34-40(New Living Translation)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

We are certainly a spoiled and selfish country. Yes, many of us see images like these that "pull on our heart strings", and it might move a few of us to do something about it, but for the most part we see the poor and needy of the world, we look for a moment, and then move on to something else. It's no wonder that we are the most obese country in the world, and to top it off, we throw away more in a day than some eat in a year. If we are to call ourselves Christians, it is time each of us did something personally about the unfortunate in our world.

Here is a simple and easy thing to do. I cam across this website that is attached to the photo above. The founders are dedicated to feeding the poor, and just by clicking through to their website,, you can provide food to the poor. It doesn't cost a thing, and it is something you can do everyday to provide for those unfortunate people around the world.

There is no need to stop there. I have several links linked through this blog that touch millions of people around us. We need to be motivated to not only feel something for those who are starving and in need, but to also take action on behalf of those God has called us to serve. In addition, take the next step and speak up for those same people. Become a defender of the poor and needy; do as those who started Remove Hunger did and find a way to make a contribution each and every day. Become a voice for the unfortunate!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Motion Sickness - August 22, 2011

Colossians 2:20-23(New Century Version)
20 Since you died with Christ and were made free from the ruling spirits of the world, why do you act as if you still belong to this world by following rules like these:

21 "Don't handle this," "Don't taste that," "Don't even touch that thing"?

22 These rules refer to earthly things that are gone as soon as they are used. They are only human commands and teachings. 23 They seem to be wise, but they are only part of a human religion. They make people pretend not to be proud and make them punish their bodies, but they do not really control the evil desires of the sinful self.

Many people go through the motions in trying to be religious. Other than Christianity, most of the other religions require people to do something in order to gain favor with God. These "works-based" systems of faith all think that if we only will do certain things then we might make it to heaven or some equivalent. The problem with this is, "how do you know that you have done enough before you die to win God's favor?

What if you do alot of good things, but happen to do something bad on your deathbed; will you make it to heaven, or is it not enough? One religion even perverts this to make zealous followers believe if they kill themselves in the name of that religion and take those they hate with them, that they will gain salvation. How does their god, if he is supposed to be merciful, accept that suicide or the killing of others is justified? How nuts is that?

What you have here is many people "going through the motions" and claiming by doing so that they are making themselves acceptable to God. Even some so-called Christians give themselves "motion sickness" trying to do all they can to please God. What a waste of time and energy! Don't they realize that all the our God requires is the acceptance of the work that has already been done? Don't they know that Jesus Christ did the work and paid the price with His own life to make us right with God?

The only way to lead a godly, faithful life is to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Once we do, the Holy Spirit indwells us and helps us to live righteous lives. Our own efforts are futile, unless they are directed by God. He will never let His own fall(Romans 8:38-39); He alone provides us what is necessary to make it to Heaven. Nothing that we do on our own will save us. Knowing that fact, why not abondon going through the motions and accept God's plan for you?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Up Close and Personal - August 21, 2011

Psalm 42:8(New International Version)
8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:8(New International Reader's Version)
8 During the day the Lord sends his love to me.
During the night I sing about him.
I say a prayer to the God who gives me life.

Today many of us spent some time during the day, offering our songs and prayers in praise and worship to our God. It is great when you can join together with fellow believers in Jesus Christ, and in unity offer up our thanks to Him for what He has done for us. Truth is though, none of this matters unless we encounter God up close and personally. More than He enjoys the praise and worship of many people, He longs for what we alone can offer to Him. He longs for each of us to love Him, and unless our hearts are in the right place, we cannot connect with Him.

Our greatest connection to God is through our prayers to Him. This has long been difficult for me. I grew up in a traditional church where prayers were read from a hymnal, or corporately recited from the bulletin; truth is that even the Lord's Prayer became pretty mundane at that time. I found myself praying more out of habit, than praying from the heart. Once I encountered Jesus in my own Damascus Road experience, my prayers becam more personal, but I really think that I could do better.

God longs to hear from us; He wants to know how we are doing, what we need, and what we need His help with. He also wants us to lift up those things that will make a difference in other people's lives and in the world. He wants to get closer to us, and He can't unless we tune out the world and tune in to Him. I plan on making it a point to become better at seeking Him in prayer, just like my Savior Jesus did when He would go off on His own to pray. Yes, I want to be more like Him. Won't you join me?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Don't Get Eaten - August 29, 2011

1 Peter 5:8(New International Version)
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Imagery is very important, because it gives us a visual understanding about what is happening. Often Satan is compared to a stalking, hunting, voracious predator intent on "eating us". Satan is the lord of the earth, banished from Heaven to prowl the earth, and He is intent on upsetting God's plan for as many people as he can. He knows that we are God's most loved possession, and because of His hatred for God, he wants us take us away from being one of God's own.

Often we give him help by putting ourselves into situations where he can trip us up. He sets his trap where we shouldn't be, and he attacks us when we are most vulnerable. Another tactic he uses is to make us feel secure in what he is opffering, suddenly catching us when we have let our guard down. For many this can be when we are away from home, away from the safety of boundaries that have been set for us. For others this can be when we are out on the "Serengeti" of the world, exposing ourselves to its lusts and pleasures. And for some it can be right at home, when we open ourselves to the digital world. Whatever the situation, we are cautioned to be alert, aware of our weaknesses, and sober-minded, or clear headed.

If you don't want to get eaten, be sure you are grounded in Jesus Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit, obedient to God at all times. Don't allow yourself to be "out in the open", alone and exposed to where Satan can most easily lure you. And finally, surround yourself with like-minded Christians, who can offer you protection and strength in numbers. Fix your mind on your Savior, and you will defeat the devil's plans.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Praise - August 19, 2011

Psalm 111(New International Version)
1 Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God's Benefit Program - August 18, 2011

Philippians 1:21(New International Version)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Alot is made these days of the benefits that you receive when you work for an employer. Benefits are very important when making a decision on a new job, or in the retention of employees for a Company. Whether or not there is something that takes care of our medical needs now and our well-being later when we retire is usually pre-eminent in providing for our families.
If you are a Company that has great benefits, you are almost assurred that you can get and keep the best employees in the work force.

God offers us the best of benefits that we could ever imagine, because if we follow Him and accept His gift of salvation, we are guaranteed of being taken car of in this life and the next. In following Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity of demonstrating His love, mercy and grace to all those we encounter, and once we leave this planet, we are assurred of a place with Him in Heaven. Our job is to make the decision to be the best "employee" there is, and to serve Him with our entire being.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Success 101 - August 17, 2011

Proverbs 2:6-8(New International Version)
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

One of the highest goals in life is to be successful at what we do. Whether it is at work, or when participating in a sports activity, all of us want to be cosidered a winner. When that is our goal and if we work hard, then oftentimes we will accomplish it. When that success "finds you" and it is acknowledged by those around you how do you respond?

If you are walking with Jesus Christ and tuned into God's guidance and direction, He should be the One who gets the credit. We can do nothing without Him, and He is the One who has given us the opportunity and ability to be successful. He want us to be a winner, and because of that we need to be sure that He receives the praise and glory when we are.

Next time you make that big sale, score that big touchdown, or accomplish that huge goal, make sure you remember who should receive the credit. When you acknowledge Him before those around you, He will also acknowledge you and bless your efforts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Watch Out! - August 16, 2011

Micah 2:1-3(New Century Version)
1 How terrible it will be for people who plan wickedness, who lie on their beds and make evil plans. When the morning light comes, they do what they planned, because they have the power to do so.

2 They want fields, so they take them; they want houses, so they take them away. They cheat people to get their houses; they rob them even of their property.

3 That is why the Lord says:

"Look, I am planning trouble against such people, and you won't be able to save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, because it will be a terrible time.

Many of us have encountered people who get their thrills from taking advantage of other people. I am sure that just talking about this brings someone's name to each one of our memories. Even today, there are many examples on a daily basis of the kind of people that are described above(It almost sounds like the government, doesn't it!). Problem is though that those who engage in that kind of activity had better watch out!

Although evil has been allowed to run amok in this world, there will always be a time of reckoning. Because of the holiness of God who created it all, justice has to be served, whether in this life or the next. If this type of behavior sounds like you, it's time you make some changes. You will be glad you did!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Do It! - August 15, 2011

James 1:22-25(New International Reader's Version)
22 Don't just listen to the word. You fool yourselves if you do that. You must do what it says.

23 Suppose you listen to the word but don't do what it says. Then you are like a man who looks at his face in a mirror. 24 After looking at himself, he leaves. Right away he forgets what he looks like.

25 But suppose you take a good look at the perfect law that gives freedom. You keep looking at it. You don't forget what you've heard, but you do what the law says. Then you will be blessed in what you do.

These days, there are many that proclaim that they are Christians, yet they have no idea what our faith is all about. Every Sunday in many churches, congregants are exposed to the word of God in the oral reading of verses from Bible, yet many go away and forget what was said. Few spend much time "taking in" by studying it and reflecting on what God is trying to say through His word. Theirs can become a very shallow faith, and they are ill-equipped to serve God or handle what life throws at them

We need make sure that we are doing what it takes to become real doers of the word, by consistently reading and studying God's word. If you do not already have that habit, you will be amazed how much the Bible comes alive when you read it. It is a living text, breathing into you the very wisdom and knowledge of God. Each and every time you read it, something new will be revealed to you through the Holy Spirit who instructs you. The word then helps you to step out and serve those around you, instructing them in the truths of the faith.

In time, the word will be your constant companion; you will find yourself joyfully doing things that serve the message of Christ, and when you encounter life's troubles, you will recall how the Spirit has taught you to handle them. So if you don't already, get a Bible, read it, study it, meditate on it, memorize it, then take it to heart and do it. As James says in the verses above, through "just doing it" and serving others, you will be blessed by it.

Photo from,Vietnam Humanitarian Program, participating in humanitarian projects that help those still suffering from effects of war.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Prayer - August 14, 2011

Psalm 86(New International Version)
A prayer of David.

1 Hear me, LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.

5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Photo "Too Busy Not to Pray", from, posted 6-24-11

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Rock - August 13, 2011

Deuteronomy 32:4(New International Version)4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.

2 Samuel 22:47(New International Version)
47 “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

Psalm 18:2(New Living Translation)
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

Psalm 62:2(New International Version)
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

One of the best loved hymns of all time is Rock of Ages. "Traditionally, it is held that Rev. Toplady drew his inspiration from an incident in the gorge of Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills in England. Toplady, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was travelling along the gorge when he was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, he was struck by the title and scribbled down the initial lyrics on a playing card."*

When I was young I remember many funerals where I heard this hymn played, and I am sure many of you have that same memory. The hymn provided comfort to those who were grieving that their loved one would be received by their Savior and sheltered from the sting of death. It also gave hope to those who attended that they too would have that same protection from the fear of their own death, because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ crucified of Calvary's rock. In the words, we are reminded that we come to the cross empty-handed, and because of Christ's work alone, can we be saved.

God truly is a sheltering rock, under which we can receive protection from the storms of life that come upon us. We can do nothing to secure that protection, and in Christ Jesus we too can claim these words as our own:

"While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee."**

Photo "Rock of Ages" by Phil Thomson, order print from
*Details from Wikepedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Rock of Ages (Christian Hymn)
**Rock of Ages by Augustus M. Toplady

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Night Light - August 12, 2011

John 8:12(New Living Translation)
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

In our world many are trapped in a life of sin and death. Almost every place you turn, there is an undercurrent of evil that pervades daily life. Many times this remains hidden behind the scenes, but every so often it comes to the surface. Yes, we read and watch daily as bad things are shown happening in the media, but occassionally it boils over and is revealed in a big way. Examples of this would be 9/11 or even the riots lately in London. Those who live surrounded by evil will eventually reveal themselves out in the open.

Counter to this is exhibited daily by those who follow Jesus Christ. Because He has freed believers from sin and death, and defeated evil, they are free to "walk in the light". That means that the good thing they do can be done freely in the open, bringing God glory, and revealing to others what is available as a follower of Jesus. Life in the light of God brings joy and peace, and this fact brings "light" to every dark corner of this world.

How do we see this? It is seen in the face of those who have been surpressed and abused in places like Somalia, where the only real good is brought to them by the followers of Christ. It is seen in the faces of those who come in from the street, to feel the warmth and caring of those who love Jesus and are willing to give them food for thier bellies and their soul. It is also seen in the persistent prayers and smiling kindness of those who bring comfort in hospitals and hospice.

No matter where you turn, the darkness of tragedy and evil can be illuminated through the love of Jesus. Be sure that His love shining in your heart is shared with all of those who come in contact with you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Be Exalted, O God! - August 11, 2011

Psalm 57:7-11(New International Version)
7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.

8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

True freedom comes from being able to cast all of your cares upon God and releasing all of your anxiety on Him. He has stepped out of Heaven to carry each and every burden, and because He has also carried each an every sin, He is worthy of all praise and exaltation. You can be sure that the One that receives your worship and praise is faithful. May He be lifted up above the Heavens, and may His glory radiate throughout the earth!

Photo from "Heart of the Matter Online", posted by Lysa Terkeurst, 1-17-09

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sustain Ability - August 10, 2011

Psalm 55:22(New International Version)
22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22(Good News Translation)
22 Leave your troubles with the Lord,
and he will defend you;
he never lets honest people be defeated.

You hear alot about the word "sustainability" these days. It has become the catch-word of environmentalists these days. It almost borders on being a new religion of sorts, with practioners trying to give the animals and plants in the world rights equal to those of human beings. Its goal is to have us co-exist with the environment in the hopes of saving it from ourselves. This is what the EPA calls is a simple principle, and this is what it says about it:

"Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment."

Not that I am not for being a good steward of the earth that God gave us, but I feel many well-intentioned people have foresaken the Creator and are worshiping the creation(Romans 1:25) instead. This is one of the outcomes of our world removing God from their cultures. In everyone, there exists a "hole" that needs to be filled(Ecclesiastes 3:11), and many people these days are wrongly filling it with other things.

God has already told us what we need to have "sustain ability", and it calls for action on our part. In many places in His word, we are told that God will care for us if we turn to Him. He desires us to depend on Him for all of our needs, and in the verse above and in the Book of Peter, we are told to cast our cares on Him and he will take care of us(1 Peter 5:7). Our obligation is to live lives worthy of that care; our calling is to be righteous, living a life that exemplifies morality and justice. In doing so, He promises that He will sustain us.

Photo from Growth Nation, "Global Growth and Sustainability", posted 12-20-10, by Doug Bruhnke

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Significance - August 9, 2011

Luke 12:6-7(New Living Translation)
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

During times like these, it's hard for us to believe that God really cares about us. Surely there are far more important things that are happening in this world for Him to handle. From the economic situation in our country, the famines around the world, the human devistation of war, to the riots occuring around the world; why should God even give us a second thought? Why should He care about me? I deserve nothing, so why am I "valuable" to Him?

In order for us to know how personally God cares for each one of us, He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to walk in our sandles. Jesus knew what it was to deeply feel lonliness and abandonment; to face extreme difficulty and pain; to go through the trials and tribulations of life; to know the importance of having someone care and be concerned about you. Yet He made a point of telling His disciples that they had significance, and in serving Him they would be cared for. He taught them not to fear what was going on around them and the opposition that they would face, because God would care for them.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are His disciples; we are His folowers. As such, we have just as much significance as the disciples in the 1st century had. He loves each and everyone of us, and although we may not understand His methods, or where He may be leading us, He still cares for us. God wants what is best for us and He will amke sure that whatever we are going through serves that purpose.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The End? - August 8, 2011

Joel 1:15(New International Version)
15 Alas for that day!
For the day of the LORD is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty.

Psalm 20:1-5(New Century Version)
1 May the Lord answer you in times of trouble.
May the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from his Temple
and support you from Mount Zion.
3 May he remember all your offerings
and accept all your sacrifices.


4 May he give you what you want
and make all your plans succeed,
5 and we will shout for joy when you succeed,
and we will raise a flag in the name of our God.
May the Lord give you all that you ask for.

Days like today and those of the last several weeks, where our Country's economy seems to be crumbling around us, have us feeling as if the things that they have so long trusted are no longer secure. Rarely in many of our lifetimes has it seemed so bad out there. There has been very little good news since the beginning of this century. We started it out with the fears of Y2K, climaxed the new century with 9/11, mired ourselves in two almost decade long wars, faced threats of Islamic fundamentalism, and our faltering economy has brought many to their knees. Many are asking "Is this the end?"

Prophecy teachers and prognosticators have long pointed to what is going on in the world around us as the "birth pangs" of the bad things to come. They may be right; any study of the prophecies in the Bible, found in Daniel, Ezekial and Revelation, will reveal that what is happening around us has more than just a coincidental similarity to what was written down thousands of years ago. There are many things that have been prophesied that seem to be lining up right now, and if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you should be paying attention to them and preparing yourself and your family.

But the goal of Biblical prophecy was not to cause believers to dread the future and fear their outcome; it was written for us to know that the Bible is authoritative and real, and to let us know about what is to come.
It should bring us comfort to know that we place our trust in God, who has revealed Himself to us and guides us through what is happening around us.
So rather than placing your faith in the economy, stocks, your 401K or something else, place you faith in Jesus Christ who holds your "end" in His hands. Turn to the One who will save you for eternity.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Restoration - August 7, 2011

John 21:15-19(New Century Version)
15 When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17 A third time he said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" Peter said, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!"

He said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger, you tied your own belt and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will put out your hands and someone else will tie you and take you where you don't want to go." 19 (Jesus said this to show how Peter would die to give glory to God.)

Then Jesus said to Peter, "Follow me!"

Yesterday I reflected on the incident where Peter failed to stand up for Jesus and deserted Him in His darkest hour. I went further to discuss that we do that same thing every time we fail to stand up for Jesus Christ in today's world. In light of our failing to do what we should as Christians, what are we to do?

Not long after the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, Peter had another encounter with Jesus where he was asked to take a stand. With the benefit of encountering the crucifiction, Christ's resurrection, the empty tomb and His appearance to the disciples in the upper room, Peter again was confronted with where he stood with Jesus. Just as Peter denied Christ three times, Jesus asked him whether he loved Him three times. In doing so, Jesus was restoring Peter to discipleship, and at the same time He gave him instruction to "feed His sheep". Peter was called to carry the message of Jesus to all mankind.

We all win sin and we will all fall short, even after we have called on Jesus Christ to save us. We will all fail to take a stand for our faith, and for Jesus. We will all let God down at some time or another. It is by His grace though that He chooses to restore us unto Himself. Even though we constantly fail to stand up for Him, He always will take us back if we will turn back to Him. Just as Peter, He will ask us in light of our redemption, reconciliation and restoration unto Him, to pass on the message of His love and sacrifice to all we encounter.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Standing Up for Jesus - August 6, 2011

Luke 22:54-62(The Message)
54-56Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, "This man was with him!"
57He denied it, "Woman, I don't even know him."

58A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, "You're one of them."

But Peter denied it: "Man, I am not."

59About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: "He's got to have been with him! He's got 'Galilean' written all over him."

60-62Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.

In all of the Gospels in the New Testament we read about this incident, where Peter denied that he knew Jesus and was one of his followers. In the humanity of Jesus, this must have been the low point of His life, to have his friends deny and desert him. Peter was especially close to Him, and his denial must have hurt Jesus the most, even more than the betrayal of Judas. We can imagine that hurt, when a friend that you love really lets you down, but Peter not taking a stand for Him would have surely added to the humilation that Jesus Christ had to go through for our sakes.

Living in a time almost 2000 years after this incident, it is probably something that is difficult for us to comprehend. It is hard enough for us to imagine the life and death of Jesus, much less fully understand what He felt going through this situation with His friends. One thing we can understand though is when we deny Him, when we are called to take a stand for Him. All of us can recall situations where our own pride and position took priority over taking a stand for Jesus. Each of us has more than likely failed to stand up for Jesus many more times, than just the three times Peter denied Him.

How do we do this? By failing to let those around us know how much Jesus means to us; by failing to taking a stand for Christianity in the work place; by failing to take a political stand for His morality when we consider who to vote for, if we vote at all; by participating in activities that He would be hurt by watching us do them; by failing to support those who are bold enough to take a stand instead of us; by failing to demonstrate His love and compassion to everyone we meet; by not wearing our faith in Jesus Christ on our sleeve, and making sure that everyone else knows about what He can do for them. In many ways, we have denied Him and failed to stand up for Jesus.

We find ourselves in a rare place in the events of history, and we are in this time and place for reasons only truly known by God. If you call on the name of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have an obligation and a responsibility to Him. Don't let another situation pass you by; when you are called to take a stand, and I am sure you will, make sure that you do.

Friday, August 5, 2011

True Equality - August 5, 2011

Galatians 3:28(New Century Version)
28 In Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Greek, slave and free person, male and female. You are all the same in Christ Jesus.

I really believe that the word "Equality" has been hi-jacked in our country by political agendas. The term has been used to support everything from abortion to gay marriage; at the same time the words "racism", "bigotry", and "chauvenism" have been thrown around to minimize anyone who has a different stand on these moral issues of our day. Nothing minimizes a human being more than by calling them an inflamatory name that describes them in these terms.

In addition, many have used these terms to describe anyone who would embrace the God of the Bible, who call these behaviors as being wrong. Fact is the Bible does say that doing these things is wrong; does that necessarily mean that the Bible and these people are the ones who are wrong? It seems that whenever the Bible states that a certain behavior is wrong, just because that behavior becomes acceptable in society does not mean it is right. If we are to use the Bible to dictate some behaviors such as stealing and murder, why can't we use it as a guide for other behaviors?

Then what is "True Equality"? God made it very clear what it was in this passage in the Book of Galations in the New Testament. He made it clear that is Christ Jesus, we are all the same: red and yellow, black and white, men and women, able and disabled. All have true worth and value in Jesus. He died for everyone and redeemed everyone unto Himself by His work of salvation, and there is nothing that makes us more equal than that. Those who call themselves Christian and do not treat others as equals are not Christians.

It is time that the world understood what true Christianity is all about. Only through Jesus Christ can you truly be free and equal.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Honor the Lord - August 4, 2011

Psalm 29(New Living Translation)
1 Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
2 Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”

10 The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
11 The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.

There are days when very little needs to be said but to give God honor and praise for who He is and what He has done. Without Him we would not enjoy the benefits we have been blessed with. No matter your circumstance, whether good or bad, you can count on the fact that He loves you enough to die for you, so that you could be redeemed and spend eternity with Him. Give Him honor and praise; let us lift up the name of Jesus above all else. "Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness".

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beautiful People - August 3, 2011

1 Samuel 16:7(New International Version)
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Are you one who would just love to be identified with the beautiful people? Have you ever envisioned yourself taking part in the Academy Awards? Do you long for your chance to walk the red carpet under the adulation of raving fans? Are you mesmorized by seeing your favorite movie stars or favorite sports athelete? Do you fall for the opportunity to participate in events where you can be the hit of society?

We human beings really go over board with heaping praise on what is very superficial. The Academy Awards are an apporpriate illustration of this. Imagine an award ceremony where the attendees vote for their own work and themselves, then give each other awards for it? Can you think of anything as prideful? Yet thousands of people clammer for the chance to see their favorite star walking the red carpet outside of the Kodak Theater. Millions more spend hours watching television to catch a glimpse of the spectacle and hearing these people thanking each other.

In God's economy, these superficial displays are far from what He desires us to be involved in. We may be impressed by the way people look, what they do, and what they have, but God isn't. In the Book of Samuel we read about such a "red carpet" walk of sorts when the prophet Samuel visited the house of Jesse to select the next King of Israel. Jesse had seven of his sons pass before the prophet, thinking that he was looking for the strongest and "most beautiful". But Samuel made it clear that the outward appearance that impressed man did not impress God.

What is most important to God is that you are a beautiful on the inside. He seeks out the condition of the heart when He looks for beautiful people. The most lovely in God's eyes are those who serve Him and others in love, care and compassion, seeking to be obedient to His will.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trouble,Trouble! - August 2, 2011

2 Timothy 3:12(New King James Version)
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Yes, you read it right! If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you call yourself a Christian, you WILL have trouble. If you are a true believer, you are different. The life you lead should be different than the world around you. You should not mix well with others that are "in" the world; like oil doesn't mix with water. People should be looking at you funny! It takes alot of guts to stand up for Jesus.

For my generation that has been tough because we grew up in lukewarm churches; just religious enough to go to church some Sundays, but not enough to take a firm stand on issues that would have made a difference. I believe that our society is in the mess that it is in, because the church was silent as our religious freedoms were slowly taken away. Today, we don't even resemble the society that the founders of our nation envisioned, and our children and grand children are paying for it.

Thankfully, in spite of trouble, there are many young people and others that are standing up for what is right, and making a firm stand for Jesus here and throughout the world. I believe that in the future, all of us will have to stand on one side or the other. Either we will boldly stand for Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or we will join the mishmash of relativism, being just religious enough not to "make any waves".

There have been times in the past when Christians were called to stand up for true Christianity and for Jesus, and there are many people in our world that are standing up for Christ and suffering much persecution. The question is, when it comes time for you to take a stand, what will you do?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Smells So Good! - August 1, 2011

2 Corinthians 2:14-16(New International Version)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

There are few things sweeter in life than things that smell good. Whether its a pie in the oven, fresh baked bread, the fresh smell of a summer rain, or the fragrant perfume of the one we love, nothing imprints itself on our minds better than things that smell so good! I bet for all of you, whenever you smell something that is pleasing, it usually recalls a time in your past. God has truly given us a wonderful gift of the sense of smell.

Paul likens us who have accepted the good news of Jesus Christ as a pleasing aroma to others we come in contact with. Once we share what Jesus has done in our lives, it becomes a sweet scent to God as well as those we hope to win over to Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit through our lives leaves pleasant memories that help people recal the wonderful work of God.

But this is not the same for all, to those who are evil in God's eyes, the aroma that we carry with us is an irritant, which can only become pleasing once they surrender to the gift of redemption through Jesus.