Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Reformation Day! - October 31, 2011

2 Timothy 3:16-17(New Living Translation)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Today is Reformation Day, the birthday of the Protestant Church. On this day in 1517, Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," which came to be known as The 95 Theses. These he nailed to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany, and began the events that changed the Christian world forever.

The most important theological truth that the Reformation was the belief that Scripture alone—not human traditions or the rulings of a church—held complete authority for Christians (“sola scriptura”), and that salvation was a free gift of God that could not be earned by good deeds. The Catholic church at the time was "selling salvation" and profitting from the poor by doing so. They also made sure that the Bible remained in Latin, and the common man of the day was unable to read it for himself.

As a result of the Reformation, and the work of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Knox, the Bible was translated and printed in the language the common way, opening the way for generations and millions of people to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Price of Privilege - October 30, 2011

Romans 5:1-2(New Living Translation)
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We live in a world that boasts in its material wealth. No matter where you go on this planet, the desire is the same, the pursuit of riches. Many sacrifice everything to have it all, and to live a life of luxury. For many the urge is so strong that they will do anything for it, and there are countless examples of the price of privilege. The cost for some can mean their very lives both in the prsent and for eternity.

But by the faith and because of the grace and mercy of God, we can obtain the undeserved privilege of spending our present and our eternity in the presence and favor of God. Where as privilege in the world's terms requires work and cost on our part, because of Jesus Christ we can obtain it for free. It costs us nothing, but it cost God everything. Thank God that He loved us enough that He would pay such a great price for our benefit.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hallelujah! - October 29, 2011

Psalm 149(GOD’S WORD Translation)

Sing a new song to the Lord.
Sing his praise in the assembly of godly people.

2Let Israel find joy in their creator.
Let the people of Zion rejoice over their king.
3Let them praise his name with dancing.
Let them make music to him with tambourines and lyres,
4because the Lord takes pleasure in his people.
He crowns those who are oppressed with victory.

5Let godly people triumph in glory.
Let them sing for joy on their beds.

6Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands
7to take vengeance on the nations,
to punish the people of the world,
8to put their kings in chains
and their leaders in iron shackles,
9to carry out the judgment that is written against them.
This is an honor that belongs to all his godly ones.


Weeks seem to be flying by, and we find ourselves nearing the year end holidays. We are entering into a time of Thanksgiving and of remembering our Savior and Lord's entrance into the world. These are truly times of giving "Praise to Yah, or "hallelu eth-YHWH". In other words, a time we should "Praise the Lord" for all of His goodness to us. Let's be sure that we thoughtfully rememeber our Creator and Benefactor.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Endless Love - October 28, 2011

Ephesians 3:14-19(New Living Translation)
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

For us living in modern society, it is hard to fathom how much God really loves us. He is unseen and intangible, so our understanding of His love is based on faith; our trust in His word and the example He gave us of Himself, Jesus Christ. Love for us in human terms has only one equal, that of our love for our children. It is that relationship that we can understand the unconditional love of God.

Sure, there are times that our relationship with our children is strained, but in most cases this is a love that endures, that is endless, from birth until death. Their is little else more important to us than our children, and for most of us, we would give our very lives to for them. In fact, for most of us, our very lives revolves around our children, and anything that happens to them can affect us deeply.

How could our Creator prove to us that He deeply loved us? In the Old Testament, God's love was spoken of, but not very easily encountered. Thank God that He stepped out of Heaven, and through Jesus Christ, who walked in flesh and blood, the love of God was demonstrated in His earthly ministry, and ultimately in His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. In that single act, just as we would die for our children, God gave His life so that we could live with Him for eternity.

Now that is endless Love!...If you are longing to experience the love of God, accept the gift that He offers. Jesus Christ has paid the price for everything sinful that you have done and will do; release yourself from the bondage of those sins, and allow yourself to be embraced by His love.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Living Word - October 27, 2011

Hebrews 4:12(New International Version)
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Have you ever been "pierced" by the word of God? Have you ever read or heard a passage that cut you to the heart and guilt welled up inside of you? Have you ever heard a sermon when the pastor's message seemed to be about what you were going through at the moment? Have you ever read a Bible passage mutliple times, yet this time in seemed to come alive and answer a question you were thinking about?

All of these experiences with the word of God are how the Holy Spirit of God communicates with us. That is why it is said that the word of God is "alive and active", or "living and breathing". There is no equal to what the Bible can reveal and tell you. What is important though is that you have accepted God's gift of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Only then can it truly come alive to you.

There is no other religious text that can compare. To test this, especially if you are already a Chrsitain, just pick one up and start reading through it. Then, pick up an Bible and start reading through it. You will notice that there is a difference. The Bible speaks to you, even though it was written by many different authors, over thousands of years, almost two thousand years ago. In reading it, God's word speaks to you as if He is writing directly to you.

Thank God for His marvelous love letter to us, and that God for the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, who has made it all possible.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Good Shepherd - October 26, 2011

Isaiah 40:11(New International Version)
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

John 10:11-18(New Living Translation)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

Yes, like sheep we all can be very dumb sometimes, getting ourselves in trouble through our own stupidity. There are many times when we chose to go a different way from what the one we know we should, and when we encounter difficulty and get lost, we find ourselves "bleating" like a sheep wanting to be rescued. Once we hear the voice of the Shepherd, then we quickly find our way back into Him.

Jesus Christ made it very clear to the religious leaders of the day that the His sheep would know His voice, meaning that those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior know when He guides them, whether they be Jewish or Gentile. God calls and those who are His hear His voice, and as He promises that He will care for His sheep, even if it means laying down His life for them.

Thanks be to God that our Shepherd Jesus Christ DID lay down His life so that we would not be lost in our sins. Only the true Shepherd, the one true God would sacrifice Himself for us. No other religious system today or ever can claim that truth, for the sheep cannot save themselves. Only Jesus, God in the flesh and the true Shepherd, can claim that truth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rejoice In The Lord - October 25, 2011

Psalm 97(New International Version)
1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.

2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

3 Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.

4 His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.

5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.

7 All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols—
worship him, all you gods!

8 Zion hears and rejoices
and the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments, LORD.

9 For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.

Photo of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland, National Geographic

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blocking - October 24, 2011

Deuteronomy 31:8(New International Version)
8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I am sure that many of you are football fans, and in football, "blocking is a legal move occurring when one player obstructs another player's path with his body. The purpose of blocking is to prevent defensive players tackling the ball carrier, or to protect the quarterback while attempting to pass or hand-off the ball"*. At football team usually rises or falls depending on their ability to block the defensive players, keeping them from getting the quarterback or the ball-carrier.

This is probably a very simple illustration of what God does for those who follow Him. In this verse in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses just before his death, proclaimed to Joshua and the nation of Israel that God would go before them into the Promised Land. God had led them out of Egypt and through the desert for 40 years, and now the people were ready to follow God's lead, and the time was right to enter the land God had promised them.

To get great "blocking" from God, we need to first humble ourselves and submit to His authority. We need to also accept the gift of salvation He has given us through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Only then can He lead us, because our hearts will be ready to be obedient to Him. We need to be sure though that we don't behave like the nation of Israel and fight Him with a stubborn will. If so, we can be sure that we won't get much closer to the "goal line" that God has prepared for us.

*"Blocking" according to Wikepedia

Photo of SCSU back Adam Luckey carries the ball with blocking help from Cory Anderson-Norblom during the Wayne State game (All photos courtesy of Neil Andersen).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Heart Transplant - October 23, 2011

Luke 5:27-32;36-39(New Living Translation)
27 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
36 Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment.

37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”

It is always interesting to read about the type of people Jesus chose to be His disciples. In picking the guys who would eventually take His teachings through out the known world, He picked a bunch of un-important guys that where nothing special, and worst of all He picked a guy that was one of the most hated in the Jewish society of the day, a tax-collector. Why didn't He go to the religious leaders of the day to proclaim His message?

It is important to know that in that day, the Jewish leaders were fairly entrenched in their religious traditions, and they had elevated themselves so high above the regular people that they had become stubbornly hard-hearted to anything new in terms of God. They had shut out the spirit of God's message through His word, in favor of following the practices of men. That is what Jesus was trying to say in speaking of new wine in old wineskins. One couldn't just patch up the old wornout wineskin, the hearts of the Jewish leaders, to receive the new wine of Jesus message. New wineskins in the form the hearts of ordinary men were needed to receive the true "heart" of the message of Jesus.

The same is true today. You cannot receive the message of the truths form Jesus Christ unless you have a change of heart; a heart transplant so to speak. A cold stony heart will never warm up enough to take in God's life-saving message. Only the new, receptive heart of can receive it. It is eager for God's word, made tender through humility and contrition. Only a heart that has surrendered itself to God can ever take in His word. Jesus Christ message is meant for new wineskins, and unless you transplant your old stony one, you will deny His gift of grace and mercy.

The world needs God, but it will only see Him if it is receptive to the word and message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Only in Him can we be saved.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Joyful Noise! - October 22, 2011

Psalm 100(King James Version)
1Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

In anticipation of a day of worship and praise to our God, let us give Him all the glory, honor and praise He is due. Let us thank Jesus Christ for His wonderful gift, and may the Holy Spirit direct our praise and thanksgiving. Amen!

Photo of Alexandra Yarrito, in praise and worship at The Mix, Fellowship Church, Grapevine, 2010

Friday, October 21, 2011

Keeping It Simple - October 21, 2011

Proverbs 30:7-9(New International Version)
7 “Two things I ask of you, LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:

8 Keep falsehood("vanity"KJV) and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

One of my fondest memories was from my college days. Twice during that time I spent about a month traveling through Europe by myself. I wouldn't say I was "roughing" it, but I had very little in terms of money and things, and yet I had some of the best times of my life. I saw alot and learned how the world outside of the U.S. works. I met a number of great people and made relationships that have lasted over the years.

As I read these verses in Proverbs it reminds me of those times. Those times of simple living can be the best times, because you are dependent on God for most of what you have and do. You realize that because of His grace, you have just enough for today. There is much to be said about the simple life; it is a life that keeps you humble and yet can fill you with joy.

This should also be our prayer, that God doesn't give us so much that we become arrogant and turn our backs on Him, and yet too little that we sin against Him in pursuit of meeting our basic needs. We should pray that He grants us the simple and humble life, so that our focus will be on Him and not the things of the world.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Living Water - October 20, 2011

John 7:37-39(New Living Translation)
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

When you are truly saved and know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you will certainly know it. That is when the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within you and your joy and excitement about following Jesus will flow from you like a river of water. That is what Jesus meant in the verses above. You can't help but talk about the change He has made in your life.

Yes, there are times of difficulty and stress in our walk with Him, but there are far more times when our life in Him will flow to all that surround us. If you haven't yet, why not taste the living water today?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ye Olde Praise! - October 19, 2011

Psalm 150(King James Version)
1Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

2Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

4Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

5Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

6Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

It remains the most faithful translations of the Word of God into English of all time. One need only the lyrical and prose like structure of the text to appreciate its impact on 400 years of world history. This is the King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version of The Holy Bible, published in April 1611.

According to Wikepedia, "in January 1604, King James I of England convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England. James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy.

The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin."

"Despite royal patronage and encouragement, there was never any overt mandate to use the new translation. It was not until 1661 that the Authorized Version replaced the Bishops Bible in the Epistle and Gospel lessons of the Book of Common Prayer, and it never did replace the older translation in the Psalter.Blayney's 1769 version, with its revised spelling and punctuation, helped to change the public perception of the Authorized Version to a masterpiece of the English language.

By the 19th century, F. W. Faber could say of the translation, "It lives on the ear, like music that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells, which the convert hardly knows how he can forego."

In case you may have forgotten how it reads, I have noted Psalm 150 above for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can't Wait? - October 18, 2011

Psalm 27:14(New King James Version)
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Galatians 4:4-5(New Living Translation)
4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.

We are a very busy society, used to things happening at a fast pace. Every aspect of life around us is busy, and because of this we have become increasingly in patient with everything. Nothing can happen soon enough, and we want everything done yesterday. Because of this tendency that has ingrained itself in our lives, we have to have a solution to our problems and difficulties instantly. We can't wait for things to work themselves out; we want it fixed now!

One of the biggest lessons we need to learn from our Christian lives is "how to wait". When Adam and Eve fell, we would have expected that God would turn right around and resolve the issue. Unfortunately, if that would have happened, we might not be here today. He worked through generations and accomplished our salvation at just the right time; His time. God's timetable is not our timetable, and He will accomplish things in the time and manner that He sees fit.

I know that it is easy to be impatient during times of trouble, wanting God to take it away, but what we need to be asking is for God to teach us during this time. We need to learn to wait on the Lord, understanding that in His time He will set things right. In doing so, we will learn that our present circumstances are just temporary and that when we trust in God, He will work every situation out for our good.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Salvation 101 - October 17, 2011

Ephesians 2:1-10(New Living Translation)
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Okay, here it is. No mumbo jumbo, no colorful rhetoric, just the facts. Here in a few verses is the entirety of salvaltion; the "Cliff Notes" of what happened that saved you from eternal damnation. It is a truth that is so simple that even the illustration of it is simple. The fact is that there is nothing that mankind can do to be saved; only God could have done it for us. Then why is it so hard for people to believe?

Here we are living in a world, that would rather deny the truth of Jesus Christ than to accept a simple message and simple path to being saved from our sinful selves. Why is it easier for us to hide or deny our sin than it is to accept God's message? There are eeven faiths that call themselves "Christian" that still cannot accept the truth of the message above? They would rather teach that you can be accepted by God for stuff you do, than to accept the truth that He did it for us.

I know that there are those who read my postings that feel that I have "gone off the deep-end" sometimes, but above my post is a "Once Upon a Time..." story with a happy ending. Isn't it time you believed the message that God is trying to give you as a free gift?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Testimony of Praise - October 16, 2011

Psalm 66(New Century Version)
1 Everything on earth, shout with joy to God!
2 Sing about his glory!
Make his praise glorious!
3 Say to God, "Your works are amazing!
Because your power is great,
your enemies fall before you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you.
They sing praises to your name."


5 Come and see what God has done,
the amazing things he has done for people.
6 He turned the sea into dry land.
The people crossed the river on foot.
So let us rejoice because of what he did.
7 He rules forever with his power.
He keeps his eye on the nations,
so people should not turn against him.


8 You people, praise our God;
loudly sing his praise.
9 He protects our lives
and does not let us be defeated.
10 God, you have tested us;
you have purified us like silver.
11 You let us be trapped
and put a heavy load on us.
12 You let our enemies walk on our heads.
We went through fire and flood,
but you brought us to a place with good things.

13 I will come to your Temple with burnt offerings.
I will give you what I promised,
14 things I promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will bring you offerings of fat animals,
and I will offer sheep, bulls, and goats.


16 All of you who fear God, come and listen,
and I will tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth
and praised him with my tongue.
18 If I had known of any sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened to me.
19 But God has listened;
he has heard my prayer.
20 Praise God,
who did not ignore my prayer
or hold back his love from me.

If you were to construct a song of praise to God, what would it be? Would it be as the one above, telling what God had done for you? Would you lift up praise for what He has given you, and how He has worked in your life? Would it tell all how He has saved you from your sins, or your difficulty? Would it praise Him for the blessings you have received? What words would you sing to Him? How could others be blessed by your testimony of praise?

I know that most of us do not think of how we worship and praise the Lord. Sure, we may participate in Sunday services, and for many of us in churches with contemporary, we may be moved to lift our hands and lift praises in song, but how do we really personally praise God? Have you ever really thought how your psalm of praise would read? Would it faithfully speak about what God has placed in your heart?

Yes, many questions and to some of you they may seem redundant, but I feel it is important that we personally praise the God who has created us, sustained us, and given us everything, including salvation from our sins through Jesus Christ. Our praises are our way of showing God that we love, honor, and revere Him. He has done more than we can imagine, and He continues doing so with each breath we take.

Think about it; meditate on it. Sit down and create your own psalm, or song of worship. Write down what God has done for you and let it be your prayer and song of worship to Him.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

An Urgent Message - October 15, 2011

2 Timothy 4:2-8(GOD’S WORD Translation)
2Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach.

3A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. 4People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.

5But you must keep a clear head in everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of a missionary. Devote yourself completely to your work.

6My life is coming to an end, and it is now time for me to be poured out as a sacrifice to God.

7I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. 8The prize that shows I have God’s approval is now waiting for me. The Lord, who is a fair judge, will give me that prize on that day. He will give it not only to me but also to everyone who is eagerly waiting for him to come again.

There are so many things that we are so urgent about. If we have children and grandchildren, we are urgent about them studying hard and getting into the right schools. We want them on the best teams and involved in the right activities, all to give them the best possible opportunity when they get older. As husbands, we are urgent about working hard to provide for our families and save for retirement, and as moms nothing is good enough for out kids and the well-being of the family. These are things that we are urgent about, that "call for our immediate attention", and we have to make sure that we do not fall behind when it comes to any of these things.

It has long been on my heart that there is a far more urgent business between us and those we love. We need to be urgent about how each and everyone we know will spend eternity. The salvation of those around us doesn't get much attention, yet it is a life or death issue that needs to get our immediate attention. You do not know when the next day will be the last for ourselves or one of those we care about, yet the well-being of our loved ones has to be our primary focus.

The Apostle Paul had such urgency in his message to Timothy. As he was preparing for his soon coming death at the hand of the Roman Emperor Nero, he had a message that needed to be conveyed to the ones he loved. If we are Christians, he wanted us to "be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right" to "point out errors, warn people, and encourage them". He wanted us to be urgent about talking to our family members about Jesus Christ, conveying to each and everyone the importance of being right with God. He wanted us to be sure that we all have an answer to the question of what we believe about Jesus.

Paul knew that is time was short and he was urgent about his message; we too need to know that our lives are short, and in knowing that, we need to be sure that the urgent matter of eternity is taken care of for ourselves and others.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hope for the Weary - October 14, 2011

Micah 4:1-4(New International Version)
1 In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

2 Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

3 He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

Life has its challenges; let's face it, it is hard to live this life, and it is especially hard to be good in doing it. In fact, without the Spirit of God it is impossible. Each and every day things happen in our lives that test us, and we experience things that hurt us deeply.

We lose loved ones, we lose our jobs, we encounter difficult relationships, or rebellous children; these are the things of life, and they make us long for a better future. We grow tired in the difficulty and we cry out for relief from the hurt and the pain. We may wonder where God is in all of this.

Although at times we may want to give up, and we are so weary that we can't take it anymore, we need to look to God as our hope of something better. He sent us His Son Jesus to walk among us and to pay for our shortcomings, so that one day we could be with Him. He walked in our shoes to show us that there is something better to look forward to.

Believe me my friends, I know it is hard, and I know you can't stand anymore, but never lose your hope in the One who loves you. He has promised you a hope and a future, though for a little while you must go through difficulty in this world. Jesus Christ will set things right, and if we call on Him as Savior and Lord, we will find relief for our grief and pain.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In Praise - October 13, 2011

2 Samuel 22:31-37(New Living Translation)
31 “God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.

32 For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?

33 God is my strong fortress,
and he makes my way perfect.

34 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.

35 He trains my hands for battle;
he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

36 You have given me your shield of victory;
your help has made me great.

37 You have made a wide path for my feet
to keep them from slipping.

Photo of "Large herd of mule deer on the slopes of Cleman Mountain", by Alan Bauer

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Plea For Help - October 12, 2011

Psalm 77(New International Version)
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.

3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.

20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

When it seems that you have no place else to turn, cry out to God for help. Remember what He has done for you in the past. Remember His gift of Jesus Christ for you. His greatness can be seen in His caring for you, and every person is important to Him. Remember that He knows you, He loves you, and He wants to help you. Make your plea to the One who made you, and He will show you His mighty deeds.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rock Salt - October 11, 2011

Matthew 5:13(New International Version)
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

For many centuries salt has been one of the most important commodities in the world. It has been used for preserving foods, for currency, for balancing the blood, for adding taste to foods, and many other things. Our world and our bodies could not function without salt. In fact four-fifths of the world is covered in oceans that are full of salt; it adds to our lives in countless ways.

Jesus used this very important compound to speak of how followers of God need to be engaged in the world around them, while being different from the world. As Christians, this is the directive we need to follow, engaging others by living Christ-like lives, and making a difference in the world around them.

If we fail to be any different from those in the world, then we can no longer represent the difference that Jesus brings into people's lives. We will lose our ability to help bring effective change in people's lives that only belief in Jesus will. He is the Savior of the world, and a person's acceptance of His work on the cross as payment for personal sins chnages lives.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, don't lose your effectiveness by becoming a part of the world and diluting your witness. Instead,stand upon the Rock who is mighty to save,and be living examples of Christ.

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Control - October 10, 2011

Proverbs 19:20-21(New Century Version)
20 Listen to advice and accept correction,
and in the end you will be wise.
21 People can make all kinds of plans,
but only the Lord's plan will happen.

If for a moment you think that you are in control of your life, you are wrong. Yes, you do have a choice and a will to decide what you will do, but ultimately God has a plan and He will make sure that it happens as it should.

Sometimes this is hard to understand, especially when we face hardship or the death of someone we love, but often in His word God tells us that He will make things happen. We might as well focus on trying to do as we should, because the God will make sure we return to the plan He has for us. That is why many of us sometimes experience difficulty; if we are out of His will, He creates the way back into it.

Bottom line is this: listen to those God places in your life, and then commit your own plans to Him. Make sure that you seek Him and pray that what you plan to do is whay He desires. You will be better off for doing it His way.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

True Satisfaction - October 9, 2011

Psalm 49(New Living Translation)
1 Listen to this, all you people!
Pay attention, everyone in the world!
2 High and low,
rich and poor—listen!
3 For my words are wise,
and my thoughts are filled with insight.
4 I listen carefully to many proverbs
and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.
5 Why should I fear when trouble comes,
when enemies surround me?
6 They trust in their wealth
and boast of great riches.
7 Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death
by paying a ransom to God.
8 Redemption does not come so easily,
for no one can ever pay enough
9 to live forever
and never see the grave.

10 Those who are wise must finally die,
just like the foolish and senseless,
leaving all their wealth behind.
11 The grave is their eternal home,
where they will stay forever.
They may name their estates after themselves,
12 but their fame will not last.
They will die, just like animals.
13 This is the fate of fools,
though they are remembered as being wise.


14 Like sheep, they are led to the grave,
where death will be their shepherd.
In the morning the godly will rule over them.
Their bodies will rot in the grave,
far from their grand estates.
15 But as for me, God will redeem my life.
He will snatch me from the power of the grave.


16 So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich
and their homes become ever more splendid.
17 For when they die, they take nothing with them.
Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
18 In this life they consider themselves fortunate
and are applauded for their success.
19 But they will die like all before them
and never again see the light of day.
20 People who boast of their wealth don’t understand;
they will die, just like animals.

Do you long after the riches of this world? Are your pursuits after those things that money buys? Is your first aim in life to do all you can to obtain wealth? Do you believe that in doing those things you will have satisfaction? Has God been relegated to a small corner of your life as you pursue after these things? Do we hunger more for power, wealth and riches than for the love and satisfaction found only in God?

Many times in God's word we are warned against worldy pursuits. We are told that by doing so we can never find satisfaction and happiness. Any of us who have spent a little time on this planet knows that this is true. No matter how much we seek after the world and its riches, there is never enough and we can never be satisfied. In God's econnomy, worldly wealth is fleeting and soon fades away, but He gives us supernatural wealth in Jesus that can sustain and satisfy us for eternity.

Only by seeking God first and foremost in our lives can we ever be truly satisfied, and He tells us as long as we put Him first, He will take care of everything else we need. Only in Him can we be rescued from the world and given satisfaction that lasts.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blinded by the Light - October 8, 2011

Isaiah 26:9-13(New Century Version)
9 My soul wants to be with you at night, and my spirit wants to be with you at the dawn of every day. When your way of justice comes to the land, people of the world will learn the right way of living.

10 Evil people will not learn to do good even if you show them kindness. They will continue doing evil, even if they live in a good world; they never see the Lord's greatness.

11 Lord, you are ready to punish those people, but they do not see that. Show them your strong love for your people. Then those who are evil will be ashamed. Burn them in the fire you have prepared for your enemies.

12 Lord, all our success is because of what you have done, so give us peace.

13 Lord, our God, other masters besides you have ruled us, but we honor only you.

John 3:19(GOD’S WORD Translation)
19This is why people are condemned: The Light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil.

Have you ever been up very early in the morning, just before the sun comes up? Especially on a moonless night, it can be pitch black, and just before dawn a faint sliver of light begins to illuminate the darkness. You realize how little light is needed to begin to light up the darkness. It starts out very faintly, but as the minutes pass, the sliver soon begins to fill the sky. The sun hasn't risen yet, but the sky begins to warm up in beautiful hughes of purple and red, then orange, and soon yellows. It is a beautiful and amazing, and each day is different from the last.

So it was when Christ came into the dark world, and so too it is in many parts of the world today. The love of Christ begins ever so faintly, in the life of a believer or two, but soon it is illuminating many hearts as the light of Jesus begins to light up the dark souls of many it encounters. Even so, there will be those who choose to stay in the darkness, those who are blinded by the light, and would rather hide where it's dark. If only they allowed a little light to shine in, they would soon feel the warmth of Christ's love.

Many of us may have been in that same situation at one time in our lives, and some reading this might still be there. Although they know of the light of Jesus Christ, they choose to run away from it, and go hide where it's dark. They are so deep in the darkness of their sinful lives, that when Christ's light begins to shine, they would rather not face it. They are happier in the darkness than they are in the light. Darkness hides their true selves, and they fear what the light of day will show.

The Light of God, Jesus Christ, has come into the world. We need to embrace it and allow it to warm our souls. Otherwise we may be trapped in the darkness forever, and find out that we don't want to end up there.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Praise - October 7, 2011

Psalm 138(New International Version)
1 I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
that it surpasses your fame.
3 When I called, you answered me;
you greatly emboldened me.

4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
when they hear what you have decreed.
5 May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.

6 Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
with your right hand you save me.
8 The LORD will vindicate me;
your love, LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Hope - October 6, 2011

Isaiah 26:2-8(GOD’S WORD Translation)
2Open the gates, and let the righteous nation come in, the nation that remains faithful. 3With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you.

4Trust the Lord always, because the Lord, the Lord alone, is an everlasting rock. 5He has brought down those who live high in the towering city. He levels it. He levels it to the ground and throws it into the dust. 6Feet trample it, the feet of the oppressed,the footsteps of the poor.

7The path of the righteous is level. O Upright One, you make the road of the righteous smooth. 8Certainly, we wait with hope for you, O Lord, as we follow the path of your guiding principles. We want to remember you and your name.

When you really get down to it, there isn't much you can do for yourself in this world. Yes, we might brag that we are self-made, or that we have done this or that for ourselves, but God is the one who has made all things possible; believe it or not.

He gives everyone every opportunity to follow Him, but not everyone will do so. For those who do, He will make the way easy, though at times it may seem very rough. If we wait and place all of our hope in Him, He will lead us where we should go.

Trust in the Lord, because He, and He alone lasts forever.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Higher Than I - October 5, 2011

Isaiah 55:6-13(GOD’S WORD Translation)

6Seek the Lord while he may be found.
Call on him while he is near.
7Let wicked people abandon their ways.
Let evil people abandon their thoughts.
Let them return to the Lord,
and he will show compassion to them.
Let them return to our God,
because he will freely forgive them.

8“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and my ways are not your ways,” declares the Lord.
9“Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

10“Rain and snow come down from the sky.
They do not go back again until they water the earth.
They make it sprout and grow
so that it produces seed for farmers
and food for people to eat.

11My word, which comes from my mouth, is like the rain and snow.
It will not come back to me without results,
but it will accomplish whatever I want
and achieve whatever I send it to do.”

12You will go out with joy and be led out in peace.
The mountains and the hills
will break into songs of joy in your presence,
and all the trees will clap their hands.

13Cypress trees will grow where thornbushes grew.
Myrtle trees will grow where briars grew.
This will be a reminder of the Lord’s name
and an everlasting sign that will never be destroyed.

In so many ways I am so small as compared to God. I am so lacking that I feel that He should do more than pay attention to me. My understanding of Him is very limited, and I cringe at how impossible my life is without Him. He puts me in my place by the sheer wonder of the world He has created around me, and to think that as great as He is, His love extends to the "least of these".

Everything God does has a purpose, and every word uttered from Him will not be wasted. Ours is just to commit ourselves to His gift of Jesus and to tell all those we know about His love. What seems strange to us, that the Creator would love and care for us, is the character of He who made us. As a father tenderly cares and protects his children, so too God cares and protects us.

If you have not done so, "seek God while He may be found". By getting to know Jesus, He will reveal Himself to you, come into your life and stay with you.

Photo from "I go to the Rock", Savior's Knee Blogspot, 11-28-2010

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tomorrow? - October 4, 2011

Proverbs 27:1(New Living Translation)
1 Don’t brag about tomorrow,
since you don’t know what the day will bring.

Matthew 6:34(New International Version)
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In the busy-ness of today, we seldom really think about tomorrow. Most of us believe that we will have many of them, but we are not promised any more. We all are just one step off of a sidewalk, one set of stairs, one medical diagnosis, one crazy person, or one greasy cheese burger away from our last today.

Recently I was looking at a website that has been created for our high school class's 40th year reunion. It's been interesting looking through the updated profiles of my classmates, seeing where people are living and what they were doing. It has also been fun catching up with a few people on Facebook, and noting how many are interested in renewing a connection. It has been great recalling fun days and fun times, crazy hair and crazy clothes, and of course great music.

As much as this excercise has been fun, it has also been bittersweet. The website also has a memorial section, and it has been sad reading about those who have passed away. I pictured each one's face, and the numerous times and places that I encountered them in and out of school. No matter what relationship I had with them during those high school years, I am saddened by their passing. Some day, other classmates will be doing the same thing and my name will be on that list. I just pray that I left a little bit of Heaven behind.

God does not guarantee us another tomorrow; He is the One who will ultimately number our days. That is why Jesus made it a point to tell us not to be concerned about tomorrow. His message to us was that our concern was to make today the best that we could; to use whatever He has given us for His glory. He means for us to be Jesus Christ to everyone we encounter, showing them and telling them that God loves them. He expects us to wake up every morning, thank Him for a new day, and commit it to His service.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A "Job's Life" or "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" - October 3, 2011

Job 11:1-6(New Living Translation)
1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied to Job:
2 “Shouldn’t someone answer this torrent of words?
Is a person proved innocent just by a lot of talking?
3 Should I remain silent while you babble on?
When you mock God, shouldn’t someone make you ashamed?

4 You claim, ‘My beliefs are pure,’
and ‘I am clean in the sight of God.’

5 If only God would speak;
if only he would tell you what he thinks!
6 If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom is not a simple matter.
Listen! God is doubtless punishing you
far less than you deserve!

Talking about piling on! Once again Job's friend rebukes him, instead of being encouraging during a difficult time. To take it a step further, Zophar so believes that Job is guilty before God, that he believes that Job needs to repent for his actions. Repentance means to turn from your sinful ways and walking the way of righteousness. But this was not the reason for Job's difficulty. He had every write to complain to God for what was being done to him.

The lesson that we all can learn from this is that a true friend needs to be there to bring comfort and a listening ear, but any judgements and solutions need to be measured against the situation. Many times people suffer through no fault of their own; a true friend offers a loving touch, not a judgemental beat down. In those circumstances it is best to offer prayer and an offer of assistance. Believe me, your friend will remember when you stood with them and helped carry their burden. That is the way Jesus Christ does it, and His love will show through in your doing the same.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Washed White? - October 2, 2011

Isaiah 1:18-20(New International Version)
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the LORD.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Revelation 7:13-14(New King James Version)
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”

14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

I think all of us can identify with the meaning of these verses. All of us have felt the guilt and shame of our wrongdoing, and at times it even makes us feel dirty. How many of us had difficulty commiting to follow Jesus Christ, because we felt unworthy? How many of us were so weighed down by the dirt of our sin, that we longed to be cleaned? It is said that we have been stained with our corruption; what does it take for us to be cleaned up?

The good news is that God has provided us the way; through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, the sin that has turned us scarlet can be washed away to where we are "white as snow". Though we are stained crimson with because of our sin and disobedience, we can be made white as wool. Only through the purifying blood of Jesus can we truly be clean. Only through Jesus can we br free of the burden and weight of our sins, past, present and future.

Only with Jesus can we be washed white, holy and pure in God's sight. If you have not accepted the cleansing that God offers, won't you do that today? God wants you to "eat of the good things of the land". He wants you to share in the inheritance that He has waiting for eternity.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How to be Blessed - October 1, 2011

Psalm 1(New International Version)
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.