Friday, September 30, 2011

True Knowledge - September 30, 2011

Philippians 1:9-10(GOD’S WORD Translation)
9I pray that your love will keep on growing because of your knowledge and insight. 10That way you will be able to determine what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

When you become a Christian, because of the Holy Spirit that resides within you, nothing is quite the same. You really look at the world differently, and as you spend time with God and read through His word in the Bible, you gain a very different insight. What once was dear to you in the world is no longer so, and what once seemed foolish is now very important. The world's knowledge is shallow and superficial, but the knowledge of God will bring you true wisdom that will last eternally.

Moses had the privilege of meeting with God on Mount Sinai where he gained the knowledge of how man should live. We too can have a montaintop experience with God if we will just surrender oursleves to Jesus Christ. In Him is all the knowledge of what God has prepared for us, and once we accept Him as Lord and Savior, it is ours to gain. If you have not given it all to Jesus, let today be the day that you gain true knowledge; the true knowledge of God.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 29, 2011

Job 8:1-7; Job 8:20-22 (The Message)
1-7 Bildad from Shuhah was next to speak:
"How can you keep on talking like this?
You're talking nonsense, and noisy nonsense at that.
Does God mess up?

Does God Almighty ever get things backward?
It's plain that your children sinned against him—
otherwise, why would God have punished them?

Here's what you must do—and don't put it off any longer:
Get down on your knees before God Almighty.

If you're as innocent and upright as you say,
it's not too late—he'll come running;
he'll set everything right again, reestablish your fortunes.
Even though you're not much right now,
you'll end up better than ever.
20-22 "There's no way that God will reject a good person,
and there is no way he'll help a bad one.
God will let you laugh again;
you'll raise the roof with shouts of joy,
With your enemies thoroughly discredited,
their house of cards collapsed."

To add to Job's grief, another friend speaks up and begins accusing Job of being "self-righteous", mainly that God would not do something to his family if they wouldn't have sinned. Once again someone that is supposed to be a friend chides and accuses Job without just cause. It's like rubbing salt in his wounds, accusing a man that had been known for walking with God of being disrespectful towards Him.

It is interesting that when you read this account of Job that you recognize that alot of this same "talk" often occurs around us. I would bet that all of us can identify a person or two in our lives, that behave similarly to Job's friends. Little hurts worse than to have our friends heap us with accusations and criticism when we are down. You can probably hear the words of those people in Bildad's cutting statement,"Here's what you must do—and don't put it off any longer: Get down on your knees before God Almighty."

What I take from this is that there is only One that you can depend on during times like these, and that is God.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 28, 2011

Job 4:1-8,17;5:17(New Living Translation)
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied to Job:
2 “Will you be patient and let me say a word?
For who could keep from speaking out?

3 “In the past you have encouraged many people;
you have strengthened those who were weak.
4 Your words have supported those who were falling;
you encouraged those with shaky knees.
5 But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.
You are terrified when it touches you.
6 Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?
Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?

7 “Stop and think! Do the innocent die?
When have the upright been destroyed?
8 My experience shows that those who plant trouble
and cultivate evil will harvest the same
17 ‘Can a mortal be innocent before God?
Can anyone be pure before the Creator?’
Job 5:17

17 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God!
Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.

If things couldn't get much worse for Job, along came his friends. At first they were quite and sat with him for seven days while he grieved, but after he began complaining and hoped for death, then they really showed their "true colors". In this passage we read the first of comments from his friend Eliphaz, and in them we read an accusation that is all to familiar when a Christian goes through difficulty.

The notion here is that one is guilty before he can be proven innocent. Eliphaz was making the point that in God's world(as the Old Testament writers saw it), "righteousness leads to blessing, but wickedness results in punishment"*. Therefore Job must have done something bad to have received such warth from God, and by the looks of it it was really bad. Does that sound familiar? How often when you are going through difficult times do the people closest to you wonder what you may have done wrong?

Unfortunately this has been a prevailing opinion in many Christian households, and many Christian churches in the past and today as well. If you have been around church circles for any time, you know what I am talking about. Truth is though, that just because a follower of Christ is having a difficult time doesn't mean that they are hiding a secret sin. As we have learned from the Book of Job, sometimes the innocent are tested and have trouble for reasons only known by God.

As we read further, we will see how Job's friends begin to "pile on", making Job's situation much worse. There is nothing more discouraging while you are having a hard time, than to have your friends think it is all your own fault. Stick with me as we see how God ultimately helps Job through this.

(*)Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms, By Daniel J. Estes

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 27, 2011

Job 3:1-4;20-26 (New Living Translation)
1 At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth.
2 He said:
3 “Let the day of my birth be erased,
and the night I was conceived.
4 Let that day be turned to darkness.
Let it be lost even to God on high,
and let no light shine on it.
20 “Oh, why give light to those in misery,
and life to those who are bitter?
21 They long for death, and it won’t come.
They search for death more eagerly than for hidden treasure.
22 They’re filled with joy when they finally die,
and rejoice when they find the grave.
23 Why is life given to those with no future,
those God has surrounded with difficulties?
24 I cannot eat for sighing;
my groans pour out like water.
25 What I always feared has happened to me.
What I dreaded has come true.
26 I have no peace, no quietness.
I have no rest; only trouble comes.”

Job finds himself accompanied by his three best friends, and for a week they could not speak. I suspect that Job was consummed by his grief and pain and really couldn't speak, but when he does, his message is one of woe. You can almost hear him wailing as you read through his words. Can you imagine his heartfelt grief over the loss of his children and everything he once had? Can you imagine the pain he was suffering from his body covered in boils that could only be relieved by scratching his sores with broken pieces of pottery?

There are times when we find ourselves in the same utter dispair and desparation; times when we are so depressed about our circumstances, that all we feel is hopelessness. This is a time that all of us can relate to, because all of us have been there at one time or another. If we haven't been through such a time, there will be a time like this sometime in our lives. To really get a sense of the state of Job, imagine his situation; imagine the pitiful circumstances he was surrounded by.

You may be in this situation right now. This might be describing your life and what you are going through. Now might be the time you are in your Job experience. How do you overcome this? What can you do? As you read further through Job, you will read how others will try to help and give words of advice, but only with God can Job truly recover. Stay with me as we read further about a "Job's Life".

Canvas of Job, Leon Bonnat(1833-1922),Musee Bonnat, Bayonne, France

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Praise for Who He Is - September 26, 2011

Psalm 65(New International Version)
1 Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
2 You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
4 Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
6 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 25, 2011

Job 2:11-13(New Living Translation)

11 When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.

12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

The telephone rings, and its a friend on the other line. Their voice is very serious, as they relay that another good friend has suffered a heavy loss. The two of you call another and decide that the best course of action is to hop into the SUV and travel the 2 hours to see how you can help in this time of distress. How would you react when you hear of a dear friend that has encountered difficulty? Do you imagine yourself responding as Job's three friends did?

We are often called to comfort those who are hurting. I think it was commendable that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar sat with Job and said nothing for a week; I am sure that just their presence showed Job that at least he was loved by his friends. We too need to learn a lesson form these guys, because many times the best course of action is to be there to listen.
Often our silence can encourage another better than trying to solve a problem or handout advice.

Is there someone you can bring comfort to, that could use you just being there? Remember that in some circumstances your silence can be more encouraging than anything else you could do. In those moments, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and the witness of His love and grace.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 24, 2011

Job 2:7-10(New Living Translation)

7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.

8 Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”

10 But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.

Have you ever gone through difficulties, only to have those closest to you offer you the least amount of encouragement. No one knows when you personally go through problems better than you; only you know what affect it has on your innermost being. That is why it is so important that you know your relationship with Jesus Christ. He identifies with each of us on a very personal level, and He longs to have us come closer to Him when we experience difficulty.

I am sure that Job's wife was having her own struggles, because she too was a participant in Job's trials. She too lost everything, including her children, and she probably held Job somewhat responsible for what they both were experiencing. I am sure that her first response was to be angry with God, and her anger spilled over in her response to her husband's situation. At that moment she wanted nothing but her husband to be angry with her, and to have nothing to do with the God he followed.

You have to really appreciate Job's reaction, because although he was at his worst, his character before God was at its best. We too need to learn that in our deepest trouble, God is the only One who can help us through, and like Job we have to understand that His will for us is the ultimate authority, if we are to follow Him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

In Defense of Zion - September 23, 2011

Psalm 129(New International Reader's Version)

1 Here is what Israel should say:

Many times my enemies have beaten me down ever since I was a young nation.

2 Many times my enemies have beaten me down ever since I was a young nation, but they haven't won the battle.

3 They have made deep wounds in my back. It looks like a field a farmer has plowed.

4 The Lord does what is right. Sinners had tied me up with ropes. But the Lord has set me free.

5 May all those who hate Zion be driven back in shame.

6 May they be like grass that grows on the roof of a house. It dries up before it can grow.

7 There isn't enough of it to fill a person's hand. There isn't enough to tie up and carry away.

8 May no one who passes by say to those who hate Zion, "May the blessing of the Lord be on you. We bless you in the name of the Lord."

As things go from bad to worse in Israel, I thought I would take a break from Job today. In the U.N. the Palestinians are calling for their own seperate state; I for one believe that that would be the beginiing of the end for Israel, rather than a new Palestinian state. The truth is that this issue has been kept alive by those who hate the Jews for decades, and they are their true goal is the destruction of Israel. You need only look at the the seal for their U.N. Mission to realize their actual intent. It does not include two states, but one country of Palestine.

Many would say, good for them because Isreal has occupied them for years. But this issue has been co-opted by the media for as long as I can remember. Many of the seeds of the modern-day conflict were planted in this area of the Middle East by the British before and after they defeated Turkey in World War I; and it is important for everyone to study this issue on the British Mandate for Palestine before siding with either party in this conflict. The truth is that Israel has been under attack by its Arab neighbors since the U.N. declared it a nation in 1947, and the lands they now "occupy" are a result of the wars they fought against Arab attacks in the 1967 War, the Six Day War, and in the 1972 War, the Yom Kippur War.

Telling Israel just to give it back to those who attacked them is like telling the United States to give California and the Southwestern U.S. back to Mexico; I am sure we would do that. It is also like having the British give Northern Ireland back to the Ireland. Only Israel has been hounded for decades to yield to those who wish to destory it, and for some reason the world relishes in doing so. God long ago knew that this tiny piece of land would be a source of trouble, and He mentioned it many times throughout His word. Our responsibilty as Christians is to first know the facts about the History of Israel, and then to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

As we mark this situation, that has eerie parallels to what is written in Bible prophecy, let us pray that God in His divine wisdom will bring peace to this part of the world.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 22, 2011

Job 2:3-7 (New Living Translation)
3 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.”

4 Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. 5 But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

6 “All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.” 7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.

Losing those around us is one thing, but how would we react if we "lost our health"? How would we reaact to God if He allowed us to be stricken with a debilitating illness? I am sure that this is very close to home for many Christians, because many who love God suffer daily as their lives waste away. When you read Job, you wonder how God could so callously allow such a righteous man suffer so for the mere sake of proving Satan wrong. How could God play with people in that way?

In reading this I was struck by a couple of things. First, it is Satan who brings disease and trouble into our world. He is the originator of all that is evil and bad( it's a wonder that so many people unwittingly serve his side by turning their backs on God). Second, God permits the righteous to suffer at the hands of evil. That is a real eye-opener for some people; how could a loving God in His permissive will allow evil to happen to good people?

My belief is that the story of Job shows us that God is ulitmately the steward of our lives, and even though the go through tests and trials, they are meant to strengthen us in our faith. God desires ultimate good for us and eternal intimacy with all of us, but we go through a process to get there. The Book of Job is one of the oldest in the Bible, and as you chronologically go through its narrative, you experience God's working through His relationship with mankind, eventually restoring His communion with us in Jesus Christ.

Sickness and ill health our very difficult for us to go through, but God has a purpose for everything we go through. Our responsibility is to seek Him and to stay close to Him, reflecting the love of Jesus as we go through our trial. Many do this, and they are a testament to all of us. There is nothing that brings Him glory more than when we identify with Christ in our suffering and we maintain the joy He gives us. He will see us through our circumstance, and at the end He will bless us for it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 21, 2011

Job 1:13-22 (New Living Translation)
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 21 He said,

“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.

Praise the name of the Lord!”

22 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

Can you believe this story? Can you imagine for yourself Job's reaction to this horrific news? Imagine if you went to work one day, and a friend came by your office to tell you that you had lost everything, your home, your possessions and your children, how would you react? Would you react in the same way? Could you react in the same way?

I am hard pressed to think that anyone would be able to, yet we are called to put God ahead of everything; He is to be first in our lives. How many of us really do that? The Ten Commandments tell us that we are to have no other gods before Him(Exodus 20:3), and Jesus carries it further saying,"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"(Matthew 10:37), yet how can we do that?

The key to Job's reaction and the key to how we put God ahead of everything lies in the realization that God is control of everything. As Job stated, "the Lord has given me everything I had". He is the source of our life and the source of every breath we take. He has blessed us with our possessions, and He has blessed us with the family that we have. If He should choose to take it all away, we have to have the confidence, no the faith, in Him to know that His ultimate plans for us are greater.

For some of you that have experienced the loss of a child, or loved one, this is hard to take, yet as a Christian you know far better than us that God does heal and restore. Job's was so close to God that He knew that God had a purpose in what He was doing. Yes, this is a hard lesson, but it is one that all of us must learn. Sometimes God loves us so much that He takes away everything He has given us, but we must stay faithful in knowing that He has better blessings for us in the future.

Illustration of "Job" from

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 20, 2011

Job 1:6-12(New Living Translation)
6 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.

7 “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

9 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

What are we to think of this story? When we bacame Christians, many of us thought that life with Jesus Christ would be close to perfect! From then on little if anything would go wrong! Here is the truth: as long as we are lost and a servant within the world, Satan doesn't pay attention to you. Why should he? He already has you. That is why it seems that things around us are becoming more and more corrupt everyday. The world sinks deeper and deeper into sin, and those caught in it can't see what is happening.

If you are truly a follower of Jesus Christ, you are trying to live a righteous life, and you are serving God, you will be noticed. There is nothing more attractive to Satan than a believer "sold-out" to Christ. If you are, you are messing with his territory and he will notice you. That is why once you become a Christian you have to be "all in", because if you are just going through the motions, your true self will soon show up. God does not want those who are lukewarm about their faith. A luke warm witness will not go the distance in convincing anyone to live for Jesus.

Now for a bit of a warning: living for Jesus Christ makes you a target for the enemy. He will throw everything he can at you to get you to give up on God. As for God, He wants you to be sure that you are in for the long haul, because your final destination is not what the world offers. Your final destination has to be focused on being with Him. You may be wondering why God allowed Job to be tested; you will wonder why God is testing you and allowing difficulty in your life. He wants to be sure that you arrive at your final eternal destination, and only in testing can your faith and determination in Him grow.

Photo of the painting, Satan Before the Lord by Corrado Giaquinto, c. 1750

Monday, September 19, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - September 19, 2011

Job 1:1-5(New Living Translation)
1 There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters. 3 He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.

4 Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. 5 When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.

It all began as, "There once was a man named Job". So begins every life, an so begins the life of a righteous person. He was a good man; so good that he even sought to seek God's forgiveness for any sin's that his children may have committed. He spent each and every day, seeking God and living a life that was pleasing to God.

We all start life and if we pursue right living, and if we are authetic Christians, we try to live a life like Job's. Our goal as the faithful needs to be to live that way. Although Jesus Christ has already paid for all of our sins, past, present and future, our aim in life needs to be a life of righteousness. That is how we thank God for what He has done for us.

But what we will soon see, as we take a look at a "Job's Life", even though we may lead a life pleasing to God, that doesn't necessarily make us immune from the attacks of the enemy, and the troubles that surely come our way. Over the next several posts, we will look at the parallels of Job and what many good Christians are going through these days. We will try to study and learn the lessons that Job had to learn in all of this. We will look at "Why bad things happen to good people".

If you have never read the Book of Job, take out your Bible and get started. It is one of the oldest books, having been originally written over 4000 years ago, yet it's wisdom is timeless. Let's take a look, and I pray that God's truths will be revealed to you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surrender to He Who Reigns - September 18, 2011

Psalm 93(New International Version)
1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

3 The seas have lifted up, LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

4 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.

5 Your statutes, LORD, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.

No matter what you believe or what religion you practice, there is but one truth. All faiths cannot be true, because they don't all agree. Each has a different concept of who God is, so how can they all be equal? How can they ALL be true? It doesn't make logical sense. Their can only be one truth of who God is, and only one person claimed that truth.

Only Jesus Christ said that He was God(John 10:30,13:13), and that when we saw Him we saw the Father(John 14:9-10). Only He claimed to be at the beginning of all things(John 1:1,8:58). Only Jesus said that He was the truth and the way to eternal life(John 14:6). He is either a nut, a liar or God in the flesh. There is no doubt about the historical Jesus Christ. There is more documentary proof for Him than there is for the life of Julius Caesar.

If you are reading this and you don't believe in Him, there will be a specific day and time when you will be called to account for your stand(Romans 14:12,2Corinthians 5:10). The Bible tells us that Jesus was the final revelation of God(Hebrews 1:1-3), and as such we will either surrender to Him now or in the next life when it is too late(Philippians 2:9-11).

Know this our God reigns, and Jesus reigns in Him and with Him. Welcome the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God, and surrender yourself to Him. Check out the verses above for yourself; seek Him in prayer and He will reveal the truth to you. You need only see, read and hear what is going on in the world around you to know that something significant is happening. Now more than ever, you need to make a decision, and the one you make will determine your eternal destiny.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Seeking God - September 17, 2011

Psalm 63:1-8(GOD’S WORD Translation)
1 O God, you are my God. At dawn I search for you.
My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you
in a dry, parched land where there is no water.

2So I look for you in the holy place
to see your power and your glory.
3My lips will praise you
because your mercy is better than life itself.
4So I will thank you as long as I live.
I will lift up my hands to pray in your name.

5You satisfy my soul with the richest foods.
My mouth will sing your praise with joyful lips.
6As I lie on my bed, I remember you.
Through the long hours of the night, I think about you.

7You have been my help.
In the shadow of your wings, I sing joyfully.
8My soul clings to you.
Your right hand supports me.

We are all creatures that require intimacy. We need to have a closeness with others, and deep in our spirit we need intimacy with God. Every heart has a lonely vacuum that has to be filled, and if we don't fill it with God, we try and fill it with the emptiness that the world offers. Sooner or later we are empty again and on the hunt for a refill from the things of this world. Only with an intimate relationship through Jesus Christ can we ever hope to be completely and forever filled.

Jesus took on human flesh to be able to identify with us and to have a reltionship; He longs for intimacy with us. As David sought closeness with God in the psalm above, so too we must seek a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reality TV - September 16, 2011

1 John 1:8-10(New Century Version)
8 If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.

10 If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and we do not accept God's teaching.

The hot thing on television these days and over the last few years has been reality shows. No matter what channel your on, there is some kind of programming highlighting the craziness of famous people, housewives, college students, treasure hunters, old rock stars, very dumb people, cooks, decorators, matchmakers and more. One of the latest you really have to see; it is a show on Animal Planet called "Hillbilly Handfishing"(you can't make this stuff up!)It seems that everyone is wanting to watch somebody else's reality.

Maybe it is because we would rather watch someone else's life than look at our own. For many of us, if we took a real look in the mirror, it wouldn't be very pretty. No matter what our religious affiliation or lack thereof, deep in each and every heart, we know that we have let God down and are hopelessly trapped in our sins. Even atheists know this; they are just afraid to admit it. For them it is better to ignore the reality of their wrongdoing; it is not easy to admit the reality of each and every human being, that we are all sinners.

The good news is that Jesus Christ has already taken care of all of it! He has already satisfied God's requirement of payment for our sins. Our Holy and just God demanded punishment, and through Jesus, He took it upon Himself to take care of it for us. All that is required is that we acknowledge that truth, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and turn away from our sinfulness to serve Him. I know, easier said than done; but if you haven't done so, it will be easier that you think.

Jesus is reaching out to you; He wants to clean you up and help you. Surrender your heart, confess your sin and admit that you need His help. He will never turn you away.

Photo from "Hillbilly Hand Fishing", featured on Animal Planet

Thursday, September 15, 2011

There Is Only One - September 15, 2011

Isaiah 66:2(New Living Translation)
2 My hands have made both heaven and earth;
they and everything in them are mine.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,
who tremble at my word.

In this day and age we have alot of things that occupy our time. From the time we awake to the time we go to sleep, there are much that takes up our attention. I would bet that with all the time we spend on other things, we find ourselves worshipping many other things than the One who created us. For many of us, once we start our day God doesn't get a second thought. It is almost as if the "stuff" of our lives takes the place of God.

But this is not how it should be. For us to live a truly fulfilled and blessed life, God has to be our first priority. That is the main reason Jesus Christ walked among us. He was God incarnate; God in the flesh. He is one that identifies with everything we are and in turn relates to all we will do. He desires intimacy with us, and that has to be more than an occasional thought day or night and maybe an hour on Sunday.

Tomorrow when you wake up, decide that you are going to do things differently. Tell God that from now one, He will be your constant companion. Include Him in every thought and question during your day, and consult Him in every question that comes to your mind. At the end of the day, thank Him for being your constant companion.

There can only be one God in our lives, and if we will humbly come to Him and include Him, He will give us blessings beyond measure. Try it, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hear My Plea - September 14, 2011

Psalm 17(New Living Translation)
A prayer of David.
1 O Lord, hear my plea for justice.
Listen to my cry for help.
Pay attention to my prayer,
for it comes from honest lips.
2 Declare me innocent,
for you see those who do right.
3 You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.
You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong.
I am determined not to sin in what I say.
4 I have followed your commands,
which keep me from following cruel and evil people.
5 My steps have stayed on your path;
I have not wavered from following you.

6 I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
7 Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
By your mighty power you rescue
those who seek refuge from their enemies.
8 Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
9 Protect me from wicked people who attack me,
from murderous enemies who surround me.
10 They are without pity.
Listen to their boasting!
11 They track me down and surround me,
watching for the chance to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart—
like young lions hiding in ambush.

13 Arise, O Lord!
Stand against them, and bring them to their knees!
Rescue me from the wicked with your sword!
14 By the power of your hand, O Lord,
destroy those who look to this world for their reward.
But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones.
May their children have plenty,
leaving an inheritance for their descendants.
15 Because I am righteous, I will see you.
When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.

When you feel down and out and at the end of your rope, surrender your problems to God and He will bring you relief. Our Bible is rich with the pleas of God's people for His help. When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we have someone who intimately cares for us and who knows our needs. He has gone through what we have and far worse, and He understands when we cry out. He will stand up when we are down, and at the end of our troubles, God will be there with us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Deaf, Dumb and Blind - September 13, 2011

2 Corinthians 4:4(English Standard Version)
4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

We live in a culture and a world today that has been blinded to the truth of God, and especially of Jesus Christ. There are many out there that refuse to hear the truth, that will not speak the name of Jesus if they can help it, and that cannot see how Jesus works though the lives of those who know Him. No matter how rational and sound your arguements for the truth, they are determined to refuse to hear, speak or see it.

The apostle Paul had much the same problem with people of his day. As the good news of Jesus Christ was bringing many to this new faith, there were many that refused to hear, speak or see in much the same way as is done. The reason for this is that the god of this world, Satan, blinds those that are lost to the truths of God. Many would rather believe lies than to admit their sin and yield to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately we all know people that we encounter in our lives that have this problem.

What should we do? Our job is to continue to be witnesses to what God has done in our lives. We need to take the time to listen to their questions and doubts and hear why they believe as they do. We should then speak the truth in love, relaying our testimony of how Jesus has worked in our lives. Finally we need to not be blinded to those around us who are perishing; we need to see each and every person as one who is loved passionately by God, no matter how difficult they may be.

Everyone needs to know about Jesus Christ and what He has done for them; everyone needs to be given the opportunity to be saved as we have been. It is our responsibilty that they are shown the "light of the gospel".

Monday, September 12, 2011

Total Praise! - September 12, 2011

Psalm 150(New International Version)
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Remebered - September 11, 2011

Proverbs 14:12(New King James Version)
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

John 10:10(New King James Version)
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Today marks a decade, 10 years, since that terrible day on a beautiful September morning when Islamic Fundamentalists horrifically destroyed thousands of lives and changed the world forever. Many would choose to forget the fact that this was a "religiously" motivated act. For the perpetrators, it was their ultimate desire to sacrifice themselves in service to their god, and they felt they were right in doing so.

In our church service today, these verses were brought up in Ed Young's very stirring service, and it is amazing how well they fit into what I have been blogging about recently. Ed asked those in the congregation where we were this 9/11, what we have done since that terrible day. He got us to think about where we are when it came to our relationship with Jesus Christ. This verse in Proverbs was especially poignant to me, and very appropriate to what is going on with mankind even today.

As in those days, there are many today who are doing terrible things in the name of their god and their religion. Then their are many who since those days could care less about God and want nothing to do with Him; for them they believe there is always tomorrow. In their minds they feel that what they are doing is right, but where will it lead them in the future? On that day 10 years ago, Satan sought to take down everyone he could; he sought to drive fear into the hearts of as many as he could. His goal is to have as many as he can follow him.

Unfortunately many have followed his path. But I say God is far greater, and His purpose is to turn the hearts of the people back to Him. He wants us not to know that the only security we can have in this life is through Jesus Christ. As was shown by that day, our tomorrow is not guaranteed; a single insane act can end it all for each and everyone of us. We would be well served to ask ourselves, what we will do with Jesus Christ today, while we still have the chance to answer.

Photo "Ground Zero Cross", credits to Getty Images

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Worldly Fools - September 10, 2011

Proverbs 1:7(New American Standard Bible)
7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10(Amplified Bible)
10The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

Job 28:28(New International Version)
28 And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

Revelation 14:7(New International Version)
7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

There are many out there in the world that refuse to "bow the knee" to Jesus Christ. They pursue the lusts of the world and arrogantly snub anything having to do with Christianity. They have disdain for anyone that has a relationship with Jesus, and they would rather ridicule others than to admit their own sinfulness.

This is especially true for young adults that have gone through the brainwashing of today's colleges and are now establishing themselves in their careers and lives. They may have even had introductions to church and "religion", thinking that is what Christianity was all about. These days they would rather have nothing to do with it. They are having too much fun partying and living the "good life", and they have no need for God.

There will come a time in everyone's life when they will have to face up to their sinfulness, because in a 100 years from now, everyone reading this will probably be dead. Believe it or not, we don't end up as nothing but dirt once we die, as the world would hope we would believe. We are eternal creatures and one day everyone will stand before God to be judged for what they have done in this life.

If you believe that your judged by your good outweighing your bad, just exactly when have you done enough to tip the scale in your favor? If you believe that your better than rapists and murderers and that God will take that into account, how do you know He will? Some believe that being an ostrich and sticking their heads in the sand will make it all go away are in for a real surprise. And others that may feel that by being "religious and spiritual" will gain God's favor have to know when they have done enough.

All of these things may seem right, but in the end they lead to destruction. We can never do enough to gain God's favor and forgiveness, because just a single act of disobedience condemns us forever. Only by accepting His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ can we ever be redeemed. Doesn't sound politically correct, but it is the truth. The sooner the foolish in this world figure that out, the better off they will be.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Amazing Grace - September 9, 2011

1 Timothy 1:14-16(New Living Translation)
14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.

16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

One of my favorite hymns (and it turns out my favorite movies) is "Amazing Grace". The words of this hymn were penned by John Newton July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807), who was an English sailor and later in his life, Anglican clergyman. His story is one of conversion, repentance, and how a relationship with Jesus Christ made a significant impact on his life, that took him from being a sailor and Captain of a slave ship to being a minister, hymn writer and abolitionist. Published in 1779, it is "amazing" that even in secular venues, the hymn has received widespread acceptance. The words point to how through Jesus our once wretched state can be transformed by embracing God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness; it is the story of redemption.

I can really identify with both Paul, as he writes of his salvation in Christ, as well as John Newton. I too can claim the mantel of once "being even the worst of sinners", because I too was brought from the depths of my worldly and sinful self to a life worth living in Jesus Christ. Not that I am perfect, but I have a far clearer understanding of where I was and where I am going. God "grabbed a hold of me", and I will never be the same. Yes, I do have struggles like everybody else, and I do feel overwhelmed and defeated at times, but knowing that the Creator of the Universe guides my steps and has secured my eternal future gives me confidence that every day will be better than the one before.

I know that there are some out there that read my blog, that do not have a true knowledge of Jesus Christ. There are also those that may be cynical about so-called "religion", that probably think I have "gone off the deep end". My word to you all is get to know the real thing; get to know who Jesus Christ really is. Not the sterilized, wimpy version that is ridiculed by the world and the media of our day, but the real man's man who was not afraid to stand up to the evil in His day. Who willingly was ridiculed, beaten, abused, and then carried His means of execution to the place where He was put to death, all for our sakes. Who later stepped out of the tomb in which He was laid, walked among the living for over 40 days, and later returned to Heaven where He is today. Really check it out for yourself; you don't have a right to ridicule Him until you have.

Yes, Jesus does SAVE, and to me that is "Amazing Grace"!

Photo of John Newton from the movie Amazing Grace, 2006

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bedtime Psalm - September 8, 2011

Psalm 4(New International Version)
1 Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

2 How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

3 Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.

4 Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. 5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the LORD.

6 Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us.

7 Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound.

8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

For many of us its bedtime, and as we settle down to sleep we need to settle our minds. The stresses of the day have a tendency to keep us thinking as we try to sleep, and if we are going through difficulty, sleep becomes a real commodity. So what are we to do? Leave everything to God by presenting it to Him in prayer. If you do so, you can sleep peacefully because God will keep you in His care.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Who Is Mother Nature? - September 7, 2011

Amos 5:8(New International Version)
8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the LORD is his name.

Amos 5:8(New Living Translation)
8 It is the Lord who created the stars,
the Pleiades and Orion.
He turns darkness into morning
and day into night.
He draws up water from the oceans
and pours it down as rain on the land.
The Lord is his name!

One of my pet pieves is when I hear people on television, whether it is on a news program or the Weather Channel, always attribute anything having to with the natural world as being caused by Mother Nature. Wikepedia would tell you that "Mother Nature (sometimes known as Mother Earth) is a common personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother". Basically meaning that this was an extension of the pagan worship of godesses of fertility and nature in man's ancient history. She's has not only been responsible for the weather, but in the 1970's she even pitched margarine(No wonder they found it to be worse than the real thing for your health!).

Why is it that no one can say what is the truth, that all that is happening is because of God the Creator? Have we become such a politically correct society that we can't even give God credit where credit is due, and we would rather suggest that some mythical character is responsible? I say it is time we stood up for God; it's time we recognized that everything is in His hands. Yes, even the weather, bad or good; He is utlimately responsible. And if you have been in a severe thunderstorm or tornando, it is NOT Mother Nature that your praying to!

In the year 750 B.C.(2761 years ago, and before modern science), the prophet Amos was speaking in a future vision about the Jewish people. Through Amos, God tells the people that he is going to judge Israel for its sins, and it will be a foreign nation that will enact his judgment. He spoke no more than a day, but in his statement he made a profound statement from God, where God speaks of His control of nature. When we read the verse above, it is easy to see that God takes credit for creating the two constellations mentioned, the full moon, the solar eclipse and rain storms.

Yes God controls everthing, even the weather; so the next time you see your weatherman, please ask him to say the next time he is on television that God gave us this beautiful day, and we should be thanking Him for it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Soaring Over Life's Difficulties - September 6, 2011

Isaiah 40:28-31(GOD’S WORD Translation)
28Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
The eternal God, the Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth,
doesn’t grow tired or become weary.
His understanding is beyond reach.

29He gives strength to those who grow tired
and increases the strength of those who are weak.
30Even young people grow tired and become weary,
and young men will stumble and fall.

31Yet, the strength of those who wait
with hope in the Lord will be renewed.
They will soar on wings like eagles.
They will run and won’t become weary.
They will walk and won’t grow tired.

Watch an eagle in flight as it soars upon the thermals and it looks effortless. The eagle just soars and glides and rarely flaps its wings except to lift itself onto another thermal. It can do this for long periods of time without growing tired. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

The prophet Isaiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, likened walking with the Lord as "soaring on wings like eagles". When we choose to follow Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of our lives, our living in this present age can become somewhat effortless as well. Not that we do not encounter difficulty, but God gives us the strength to rise above our circumstances.

We need to place our hope in the Lord in all that we do, and wait on Him to take care of all our difficulties. When we do, we will obtain the endurance to weather whatever we are confronted with, and truly "soar like an eagle".

Monday, September 5, 2011

Enduring Labor - September 5, 2011

John 6:27(New King James Version)
27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

John 6:27(New International Version)
27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Today many people throughout the country celebrated Labor Day, a day set aside to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers. This day was originally set aside to commemorate organized labor in our country, and first became a federal holiday in 1894. I applaud our recognition of the work that men and women have done to make us a more prosperous counrty, and what they have done to make the American workplace one of the safest in the world.

While it is good to recognize this holiday, we need to always remember that it was God who first created us to work, and made it a part of the human condition. It was He that commanded that "9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God."(Exodus 20:9-10a), meaning that our work was to be a blessing, but in turn we were to remember God as the provider of that work.

Jesus took it one step further, recognizing the work we do to provide for ourselves, but He set it aside as secondary and fleeting for the greater work we were to do, that is to tell other about the saving grace and mercy of Christ. Our true efforts at work need to always have God in mind, but at the same time be performed as a witness to His goodness. Our examples at work are to be such that others will recognize that we are different. Our witness is to bring glory to God in all we do, and to draw others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Praise! - September 4, 2011

Psalm 105:1-4(New International Version)
1 Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
4 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

As this first Sunday in September, 2011 nears its end, let us not forget in the quite of the night to give Him praise. Many times I awake at night and offer up prayers to God, and then fall back to sleep, sure that no matter what we are protected. He watches over our household, and we place our total trust in His care. If you do not have that quiet assurance, be sure that you "seek His face, always" and you can have confidence that He will hear your prayers.

Take a few moments and give Him your praise right now!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Singing God's Praises - September 3, 2011

Psalm 108:1-5(New Living Translation)
1 My heart is confident in you, O God;
no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!

2 Wake up, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.

3 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
I will sing your praises among the nations.

4 For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
May your glory shine over all the earth.

This is the time of each week to sing God's praises. God's desire is that we set aside a day for praise and worship, and for most Christians this has been Sunday, or in some circles Saturday. Why praise Him? He created us all and in our day-to-day lives we can quickly lose sight of Who is the real source of everything we are and have. Let us take the time to give Him praise, and to especially give praise to Jesus for the indiscribable gift He has given us. May the Holy Spirit bring to your mind God's countless benefits that He has blessed you with.

Photo from "The Year of Living Thankfully", posted 3-3-2008, from As For Me and My Haus

Friday, September 2, 2011

His Peace - September 2, 2011

John 14:27(New King James Version)
27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27(New Living Translation)
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

One would think that with everything going on these days that it would be almost be impossible not to get stressed out. There are many people that are un-employed, that were recently laid off, that are stretched out financially, that suffer from an illness, that have trouble in their relationships, etc. There are many things that are leading to sleepless nights and days of hopelessness. But that shouldn't be!

Not that the "stuff" of life shouldn't be stressful, but in Jesus Christ, we are not to look at the troubles in life in such stressful and desparate terms. I know it is hard to understand while you are in the middle of it, but God does love and care for you. He doesn't want you to spend each and every day worrying about the next. That is not how He planned for us to live.

Jesus was among His disciples in the Upper Room just before His crucifixion when He said these word. Knowing what was in front of HIm and in store for the friends He loved, He sought to calm their anxious hearts by giving them the gift of His peace. The peace He gives is the truth that as long as we are a disciple of Jesus Christ, not matter what happens to us, He will be with us, and He will take care of us throughout eternity.

Hard to belive, but the peace that Jesus leaves us is that our salvation in Him trumps anything in this world. One day we will die; that is a fact that we can't escape, but in Jesus though we die in the body, we will live forever with Him in soul and spirit.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Silver Linings - September 1, 2011

2 Corinthians 1:3-5(New International Version)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

We have been talking alot about going through tough times in my postings. The way things are in the world these days, it seems that there are many people out there that are going through some kind of trouble. Almost on a daily basis I hear about difficulties, whether it's a job layoff or illness, or financial distress, many people out there are going through a something. Following Jesus we aren't immune to be difficulties, they come into our lives as well.

What is important for us to learn is what we do with what we are going through; the lessons that we learn while going through trouble. Many times the trouble and difficulty we go through as a Christ follower are for a purpose. God takes us through "stuff" to demonstrate His mercy, grace and power in our circumstances. He is in our deepest valleys with us, and when we climb out we have a story to tell of His goodness. He identifies with us through Christ's sufferings, and we can be assured that He will be there if we stay close to Jesus.

What we need to remember is that every difficulty we will go through will have a "silver lining". God will bring us through it; it is up to us to help others that are going through what we have just been through, and to share the comfort that a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring. We all are surrounded by friends and others that are having problems. Be sure that you are there to help.