Friday, August 31, 2012

In Praise of Non-Conformity - August 31, 2012

Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

All of our lives we strive to be like other people and to be liked by other people. Especially as teens, we were very sensitive to being like everybody else. We would copy people's clothes and the hair, the way they did things or how they acted. We did everything we could to be acceptable to those around us. As we become adults, nothing much changes, because we want to be accepted by the world!

In God's economy, what drives His opinion of us is what we do with what unique gifts and talents He has given us. He doesn't want us to copy everybody else; He wants us to take what He has given us and do something in service to Him, which is going and making disciples. What we need to do is to understand and know our gifts and talents, then seek God in finding His purpose for what He has given us.

As long as we reflect the world's purposes, our image of what God wants is blurred and we can't distinguish what is what. When we begin to reflect God in our lives, by being obedient to what He tells us to do in His word, then it is much easier to see His direction for our lives. He begins to open up opportunities in the very thing He has made us to do. Then it is our obligation to go out and do it.

Bottom line is this: Don't try and copy what the world places in front of us(don't get trapped into seeking to be like those in the world). Instead follow what we are told in the Bible pleases God, and seek to use our God given abilities to be more like His example for us, Jesus Christ. In doing so, we will know and do His will for our lives.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Getting Clean For God - August 30, 2012

Isaiah 1:16-17 (New Century Version)
16"Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean.
Stop doing the evil things I see you do.
Stop doing wrong.

17 Learn to do good. Seek justice.
Punish those who hurt others.
Help the orphans.
Stand up for the rights of widows."

In the Old Testament of the Bible, we often read how the Israelites did "detestable" things. Although they were God's chosen people, they often fell into the sinful lifestyle of the peoples they were surrounded by. In order to make themselves right with God, He would often admonished them in Scripture. He hoped that they would return to Him and follow His agenda for them, by changing their ways and seeking after the ways of God.

We too often neglect the desires of God and seek after our own way of doing things. If you have lived for anytime on this earth, you know that taking God's path is usually not your first priority, but His will is that we too will seek after Him and follow His ways. But for us, God has taken it a step further, by washing us in the blood of Jesus Christ, and making it possible through the power of the Holy Spirit to follow after Him.

Out of thanks for His mercy and grace, we need to prepare ourselves to do the things that come close to God's heart. We need to first accept the washing He offers us, and then extend His justice and mercy to the world around us. In this new year, we need to make sure that we are following His agenda rather than our own.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Choosing the Right Path - August 29, 2012

Psalm 25:12-13 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
12Who, then, is this person that fears the Lord? He is the one whom the Lord will teach which path to choose. 13He will enjoy good things in life, and his descendants will inherit the land.

There are times in life when we are faced with a transition, a "fork in the road". It may be because of a job loss, or a divorce, or the death of a family member or good friend, or it may be because we have found ourselves at a dead-end. No matter the reason, all of us will come to a place where we will have to choose a different direction to go; a transition that we will have to go through.

I have known this first hand. There comes a time when one thing ends and it is time to choose another. We're faced with trepidation, uncertainty and fear, and we do not want to make the wrong decision for ourselves, or in my case, for the family. It can almost be debilitating. We can become "frozen" in our tracks, not knowing what to do. And in the end, we resign ourselves that we have to go through the transition; the change; down a different path.

When faced with this situation, what do you do? If we are believers, we can thank God that He is there to help us. We can be glad that He never changes and He will "never leave us or forsake us". God has our best interest at heart, and He will not lead us to down the wrong path. The journey might not be the smoothest, but in the end, we know that He has decided our destination. He will make sure that we will get there in one piece. Now that is a promise that you can hold on to!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our God Reigns! - August 28, 2012

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.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Reminder of Heaven - August 27, 2012

Colossians 3:1-4 (New Living Translation)
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I love going outdoors after a Spring thunderstorm, when the sun is just peering from behind the darkened clouds. The air is slightly cooled and smells of a an indescribable freshness. The most beautiful thing that you usually see is a rainbow. It reminds me of these verses in Genesis, when God was speaking to Noah:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." Genesis 9:12-13(NIV)

A rainbow in the sky reminds us that God is there, watching over us. There is nothing within the control of man that can ever duplicate the majesty of this display. It lets us know that God's power in the Universe is far greater than we can imagine, and it is a reminder that someday, if we have accepted His gift of redemption through Jesus Christ, we can be with Him.

If you are a committed believer in Christ, you are no longer a child of the world. Since you have been bought for a price, through the precious blood of Jesus, you should no longer be focused on the things of the world. Instead your focus needs to be on the things of heaven. Yes, the cares of the world and the opposition of the evil one distract us from what we should be thinking about, but if you will dilligently focus, the Holy Spirit will help you overcome this.

Why should we do this? Someday, everything will be revealed when Jesus Christ returns for those He loves. When He does, we will be able to reap the benefits of the commitments and sacrifices we have made for Him by focusing and following His commands. If you look around the world today, we really have nothing to lose, and eveything to gain. If you have not done so, make this year the one that you surrender everything to Him.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

True Christianity: The Wonderful Gift - August 26, 2012

John 3:16-17 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
16God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. 17God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world.

Colossians 2:14-15 (New Century Version)
14 He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.15 God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority. With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.

Over the last few days we have looked into what true Christianity is all about. We have discussed the fact that there has been alot of misinformation about the "do's and don'ts", the rules, regulations and traditions or other so-called requirements that some churches say are necessary to be saved. We see how this misinformation has confused the non-believing world around us and even confused those who have embraced the Christian faith, and how it has created a burden that keeps people away from Jesus Christ.

God has freely given us the way back to Him, by giving us His Son to act as substituting sacrifice as payment for our sins. He has lifted the barrier between mankind and God through His gracious gift on our behalf. Nothing defines True Christianity better than John 3:16 - 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

So where does that leave us? What should we do so that those who are perishing around us can hear and learn about this wonderful gift? How can people really get to know about our Savior Jesus? Our responsibility is best spelled out below:

9-10But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9-10(The Message)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

True Christianity: The Real Thing - August 25, 2012

Isaiah 53:5 (New Century Version)
5 But he was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to Him, and we are healed because of his wounds.

Ephesians 2:1-9 (New International Reader's Version)
1 You were living in your sins and lawless ways. But in fact you were dead. 2 You used to live as sinners when you followed the ways of this world. You served the one who rules over the spiritual forces of evil. He is the spirit who is now at work in those who don't obey God. 3 At one time we all lived among them. We tried to satisfy what our sinful nature wanted to do. We followed its longings and thoughts. God was angry with us and everyone else because of the kind of people we were.

4 But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. 5 So he gave us new life because of what Christ has done. He gave us life even when we were dead in sin. God's grace has saved you.

6 God raised us up with Christ. He has seated us with him in his heavenly kingdom because we belong to Christ Jesus. 7 He has done it to show the riches of his grace for all time to come. His grace can't be compared with anything else. He has shown it by being kind to us because of what Christ Jesus has done.

8 God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift. 9 It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.

Colossians 2:13-14 (New Living Translation)
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.

What is true Christianity? Here it is: True Christianity is acknowledging that we have sinned against God who created us, believing that He provided us with a way to be reconciled (re-establish a close relationship) with Him. He sent His Son Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to live a perfect life in "our shoes", and teach us what God expected from us.

He then surrendered himself to evil men to be sacrificed, by his death on the cross, as payment for all the sins that we, and everyone committed and would commit forever. He went even further by coming back to life after three days, to prove that he was God as he said he was, and he is waiting for us to be re-united with him for eternity in heaven. All anyone has to do to be saved from eternal separation from God, spiritual death is believe this.

What is so offensive about that message? Is it the fact that to be a true Christian that you would have to acknowledge that your are a sinner, that you have alienated yourself from God by being disobedient to Him, and that you have chosen to go your own way? Is it because that if you admit that there is a God, and that there is a Jesus, and that you would have to face up to the fact that someday you will stand before Him to be judged? Is it because you would rather say "no thanks" to Jesus and say, "I will make it to heaven on my own efforts"? Is there any other faith, any other religion that has a better way to be welcomed by God?

This is how I see it: Nothing else, no other faith, nothing I can do on my own can save me. Nothing else gives me the assurance that "I will be saved when I die." All I need to do is accept God's FREE gift. In turn I try to live a life obedient and pleasing to Him, as a way to thank Him for making it so simple, so easy, to be with Him when I die.

Photo from The Passion of the Christ, 2004

This is a reposting of a series I did about what it really means to be a Christian. If you are not quite sure what being Christian means, why not read the posts over the next few days and find out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

True Christianity: For Weak Minded Fools? - August 24, 2012

1 Corinthians 1:18 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
18The message about the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (New International Version)
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

In our society and the world we live in today, fundamental Christianity is seen as foolishness. We are told that it is for people with weak minds and old-fashion ideas. It is something that those who are hostile to Christian thought find repulsive. In our public institutions Chritianity has become a "dirty" word, and it has been labled as a religion of bigotry and intolerance.

Over the last several decades, because the Christian message has been so distorted and undefended by liberal theologens, it has been turned into something to fear and avoid. If you embrace the faith and try to live your life as a faithful witness, you are seen as a "crackpot" or as someone to be marginalized.

In our country today every other religion is tolerated and overtly protected, but there is little room for anything that might be identified with being Christian. Even our President chooses to cover up any symbols of Christ if they are found in certain venues is which he is speaking(On multiple occassions he purposely edits any references to "the Creator" when he invokes the Declaration of Independence; but I digress).

Is the message of Jesus Christ so powerful that it causes men to want to get rid of it however they can? Are they so threatened by the "mirror" of the Bible and the gospel that they choose to elliminate it from everything?What is it about true Christianity that makes it so misunderstood?

Painting: StaƄczyk during a Ball at the Court of Queen Bona after the Loss of Smolensk, by Jan Mateyko, 1862

This is a reposting of a series I did about what it really means to be a Christian. If you are not quite sure what being Christian means, why not read the posts over the next few days and find out.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

True Christianity: How Did We Fall So Far? - August 23, 2012

Romans 7:18-20 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
18I know that nothing good lives in me; that is, nothing good lives in my corrupt nature. Although I have the desire to do what is right, I don’t do it. 19I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do. 20Now, when I do what I don’t want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it. Sin that lives in me is doing it.

Romans 7:24 (New Living Translation)
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

How did we get so far off track? How did the false notion get started that you had to be good, go to church, and follow certain rules, regulations and traditions to be made right with God? No wonder so many people are turned off by Christianity! Even though I was raised in a denominational, mainline church, I had no clue what being a Christian was all about.

I did learn all the stories in Sunday School and I knew about what happened at Christmas and Easter. I even was Confirmed into the church, that marked my membership in right standing and firmly establishing me as a Christian. Sad thing is though that it didn't really make me a Christian. I had no clue what I it really meant. It made no real change in my lifestyle, and over the years I found myself caught up in the world and all it had to offer.

That has probably been the story for most of us; going through some rite of passage as children or teenagers, but mostly going through the motions of being a Christians rather than understanding the Spirit of being a Christian. Because of this, the world gets caught up into thinking that Christians have to do certain rituals and procedures to become followers. They find it very unappealing and boring, or they see that it makes no real change in the lives of the people. They see Christians as being just as miserable and lost as they are.

This is a reposting of a series I did about what it really means to be a Christian. If you are not quite sure what being Christian means, why not read the posts over the next few days and find out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Healthy, Fear of God - August 22, 2012

Psalm 119:73-80 (New International Version)
y Yodh
73 Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.

74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.

75 I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.

77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.

78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.

79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.

80 May my heart be blameless toward your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame.

Healthy fear of God is a good thing for you. Realizing that their is a Supreme Being that could end it all for you in any moment, gives you a healthy appreciation for Him. The best earthly pattern for this is a loving Father. As children you know your Dad loves you and you love and respect your Dad, but you also know, usually from experience, that if you disobey him, you will suffer the consequences. That doesn't mean that the love is no longer there, it just means that you know that not matter what he will love you, but you will get "correction" if you deserve it.

Our priest appeals to those who "fear" God to look to him and his example of how to follow God. He points out that the word of God is the guidance that is needed to have a healthy understanding and respect for God. God loves us, and He has given us His word for us to learn about Hid nature. We are fortunate that God is not a vengeful God, seeking justice for wrongdoing, no matter what. If so, we would all have perished long ago.

Our God has compassion and mercy for those who love, respect, and "fear" Him. He not only wants us to know that we need to be obedient to Him and follow His ways, but He also hopes that we will see examples of His love in those who follow Him and call on Him. We can be assured that our fear of Him will translate into our salvation, because in His love He has provided everything for our good.

Psalm 119 is a devotional poem from a very pious priest. This is the only psalm in The Psalms written by this author. This psalm is an acrostic poem; the verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This Israelite priest sought to pass on godly instruction in his devotional study of the word of God.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

True Christianity: The Problem - August 21, 2012

Colossians 2:6-10,16-19 (New International Version)
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

People today have a false sense of what it means to be a Christian. Because it has been vastly distorted by our culture, media, education system, etc., most people alive have no real understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Sad thing is that even many of our mainline churches do not correctly teach what it takes to be a Christian, and yes, even the largest churches in the world are often misguided in what they teach their parishoners about what it really means to be a Christian.

That is primarily why, although we were founded as a nation based of principles from the God of the Bible, we have been taken over by political and spiritual forces that are trying to eliminate Christian thought from our nation today. We are being forced into a secular humanist society that is embracing the ways of man rather than following the guidance of God.

The root of the problem is this: many alive today have been taught error in their individual denominations about our faith. I know that most of us grew up thinking that being a Christian required us to follow a bunch of rules and regulations, "do's and dont's". Nothing can be further from the truth. You will read what I mean if you take a few minutes and study these verses from Paul's letter to the Colossians.

Tomorrow, we will study further on this very important subject.

Painting Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount, by Gustave Dore, 1832-1883

This is a reposting of a series I did about what it really means to be a Christian. If you are not quite sure what being Christian means, why not read the posts over the next few days and find out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Safely In God's Care - August 20, 2012

Psalm 16 (New International Reader's Version)

1 God, keep me safe. I go to you for safety.

2 I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord. Without you, I don't have anything that is good."

3 God's people who live in our land are glorious. I take great delight in them.

4 Those who run after other gods will have nothing but trouble. I will not pour out offerings of blood to those gods. My lips will not speak their names.

5 Lord, everything you have given me is good. You have made my life secure.

6 I am very pleased with what you have given me. I am very happy with what I've received from you.

7 I will praise the Lord. He gives me good advice. Even at night my heart teaches me.

8 I know that the Lord is always with me. He is at my right hand. I will always be secure.

9 So my heart is glad. Joy is on my tongue. My body also will be secure.

10 You will not leave me in the grave. You will not let your faithful one rot away.

11 You always show me the path that leads to life. You will fill me with joy when I am with you. You will give me endless pleasures at your right hand.

In these verses, David meditates on his relationship with God. He rests in the knowledge that God cares and will always care for him. The picture is one of a close and intimate friend that brings safety, good things, joy, and guidance. You may have enjoyed this same type of closeness with a dear friend or parent.

Take a few minutes to think and meditate on these words; reflect on the picture it gives you in your mind. Seek comfort and rest in the Lord. As you settle down to another night of sleep, you can feel safe and secure in the loving arms of your Savior Jesus.

Photo of Zeke Clanton, from Juana Clanton's blog: Sweet Bedtime Prayers, April 13, 2011

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Interact, Don't React - August 19, 2012

Proverbs 15:1-3 (New Living Translation)
1 A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.

2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

3 The Lord is watching everywhere,
keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

James 1:19-20 (New International Reader's Version)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry. 20 A man's anger doesn't produce the kind of life God wants.

Aren't you tired of watching politics these days? It seems that for the last several years, all we get from our politicians is bickering back and forth, without ever resolving the issues at hand. What makes matters worse is the news media loves to spin what ever division there is, relishing in the demise of those it disagrees with. If we aren't careful, we get caught up in these same arguements.

Anger that produces harsh words is a problem that we all have to deal with from time to time. In both the Old and New Testament, God is very clear on how he would like His creation to behave with one another. In all situations we need to keep in mind that God places very high value on the person we are dealing with, whether good or bad.

With that in mind, it should guide us in how we should interact and react, when confronted with a unpleasant situation. At all times, we are to seek the good in a situation and in the person, and at least on behalf of our Maker, always deal with it in gentleness and respect.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Praise! - August 18, 2012

Psalm 91(New Living Translation)
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: Are You Ready? - August 17, 2012

Matthew 25:1-13 (New Living Translation)

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

The Kingdom of Heaven is upon us! God has been working through human history for the last 2000 years to let us know that the kingdom in Jesus Christ is among us, and to tell us that He is gathering us all together for His final kingdom that we will enjoy in heaven. Everthing we hear concerning Jesus has been kept alive these many centuries so that we might know that he is the only way back to God. This is the good news of the kingdom, that Jesus Christ has sacrificed himself for our benefit so that we might be reconciled to God, and Jesus is among us and awaiting our arrival.

You are being offered the time to be ready for His coming. You have been given through the grace and mercy of God the way back to Him. There is no denying the fact of Jesus. It is up to us to get ready. Will you keep watch and be ready to enter into the Kingdom of God? Will you be welcomed in when the bridegroom comes? It is up to you. He is offering you the "keys to the Kingdom of Heaven". Will you accept them? The answer is up to you. Everthing has been told so that you will believe. The rest is up to you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: The Wedding Reception - August 16, 2012

Matthew 22:1-14 (New Living Translation)
1Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Long ago God stepped out of heaven and attempted to re-connect with man. He did this through His chosen people, the Jews. His people were often called "the apple of His eye". These were the people that God cherished and tried to prepare to receive His Son. He gave them kings, and they fell into the worship of idols and became like the people of the world around them. He sent them prophets to warn them, and they killed the prophets. He tried in every way to bring them back to Himself, but they rejected Him at every turn. Finally He brought them Jesus.

The parable above illustrates God's experience with the Jewish people, and because of their rejection of His Son, God has made a way for us to come to Him. It is only by the acceptance of His Son Jesus, and his work of our behalf on the cross. It does not matter what we have done, how good or bad we have been, as long as we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are part of God's wedding reception for His Son's bride the church. But, we need to be sure that we are clothed in the right wedding clothes, the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: Not Playing Favorites - August 15, 2012

Matthew 20:1-16 (New International Reader's Version)
1 "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who owned land. He went out early in the morning to hire people to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to give them the usual pay for a day's work. Then he sent them into his vineyard.

3 "About nine o'clock in the morning he went out again. He saw others standing in the market place doing nothing. 4 He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard. I'll pay you what is right.' 5 So they went.

"He went out again about noon and at three o'clock and did the same thing. 6 About five o'clock he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'

7 " 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered.

"He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'

8 "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard spoke to the person who was in charge of the workers. He said, 'Call the workers and give them their pay. Begin with the last ones I hired. Then go on to the first ones.'

9 "The workers who were hired about five o'clock came. Each received the usual day's pay. 10 So when those who were hired first came, they expected to receive more. But each of them also received the usual day's pay.

11 "When they received it, they began to complain about the owner. 12 'These people who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said. 'You have paid them the same as us. We have done most of the work and have been in the hot sun all day.'

13 "The owner answered one of them. 'Friend,' he said, 'I'm being fair to you. Didn't you agree to work for the usual day's pay? 14 Take your money and go. I want to give the ones I hired last the same pay I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Do you feel cheated because I gave so freely to the others?'

16 "So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last."

Our world is all about power, position and prestige. We are all brought up with the saying that "It's not what you know, but who you know!" Many of us had the uncomfortable experience of chosing teams, and wondering if we would get picked. Others have had the experience of being passed over for a promotion at work or school because someone was more favored than you. Even in our families, many of us had the experience of a parent favoring one child over another. Because of some of these things, many of us may feel very inadequate at times, and at other times we spend our entire lives competing to stay on top, or working to get ahead.

What a difference there is in the Kingdom of Heaven! In God's economy, there are no favorites; there is no working your way to the top. You can work all of your life for the Lord, or you can be a brand new believer, a new Christian, and when it comes to His gift of salvation, we are all equal. Everyone will receive the same reward of eternal life, and spending eternity with our God in heaven. Jesus wanted to make this very clear to all who read his words. God has the right to make the decision because everyone and everything is His.

Just as in the parable, there will be those who feel they deserve more, but we are fortunate that despite our sins, God accepts us no matter what. We don't want it any other way. The world would tell us that you have to be better than someone else, or work harder, or accumulate more good deeds over your bad, but not so with God. Jesus is available and free to all. He has made the payment on our behalf.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: The Folly of Being Rich - August 14, 2012

Matthew 19:16-24 (New International Reader's Version)
16 A man came up to Jesus. He asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?"

17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter the kingdom, obey the commandments."

18 "Which ones?" the man asked.

Jesus said, " 'Do not commit murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false witness. 19 Honor your father and mother.'—(Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20) And 'love your neighbor as you love yourself.' "—(Leviticus 19:18)

20 "I have obeyed all those commandments," the young man said. "What else do I need to do?"

21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad. He was very rich.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "What I'm about to tell you is true. It is hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But it is even harder for the rich to enter God's kingdom."

We in the West are both very blessed and at the same time very unfortunate, when it comes to following Jesus Christ. It is great that our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and that we can practice our faith with very little grief or opposition. But it is also true, that because of the very freedom and wealth that we have, and the fact that we are blessed materially, that it is difficult for people as a whole to understand their need for the life-saving message of Jesus.

Doing right and wrong is fairly easy, because our foundation has for the most part dictated a certain moral code that has been embraced by society, and as long as relativists are held at bay, our country operates fairly and with civility. Because of all this, most people live in harmony and have little need for a God, much less a Savior. Although we are rich, we are extremely poor; we are rich in freedom and possessions, but we are poor spiritually.

That is what Jesus was talking about in these verses. It is difficult for those who have the wealth that we do to give it all up for the sake of God. It is not until we realize our extreme spiritual poverty that we realize our need for the Father and the salvation found in His Son. Once again this is a heart issue, more that it is a money issue. In our very rich country, even those without much money can have the same spiritual poverty that those who have much.

We need to pray for Americans to wake up and realize how poor they really are. We need to make everyone aware that they need to make the things of God a priority before it is too late. What do I mean? Well, in countries where the people are either extremely poor materially, or they are heavily persecuted when it comes to their faith, especially Christian faith, the things of God and His church is thriving. People cling to the hope that the Gospel message gives them, and they have a hunger to "feed on His Word" and learn of Him more.

We need to pray the we will realize our need for Jesus, before we are driven to our knees and have to realize our need the hard way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: Your Kingdom Come - August 13, 2012

Matthew 6:9-13 (New International Version)
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
for yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.

One of the things I look forward to the most, and I trust what most Christians look forward to is the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God's Kingdom. If you do any study of the Bible, you will find that not only is God's Kingdom within the hearts of His people, but there will be a literal Kingdom of God called the "Millenial Kingdom" here on earth prior to eternity in heaven. There will be an earthly kingdom over which Christ will reign with believers for a thousand years(Revelation 20:1-6).

When Jesus was with his disciples and the crowd that had gathered for what would be called the "Sermon on the Mount", he not only taught them about what the kingdom of God was like, but he also gave them an example of how they should pray. It is interesting that second to giving God praise declaring His holiness, Jesus instructs them to pray for the establishment of God's kingdom here on earth. He wanted them to realize that the kingdom would only come through prayer and acceptance of his message.

For us too, we need to be about the work of "praying in the kingdom". Not only is it important to tell others about the good news, and help them gain the reign of Christ in their lives, but we need to be sure that we are constantly seeking God an looking forward to HIs ultimate reign here on earth. I don't know about you, but from the news I read on a daily, if not minute-by-minute basis, our world is in need of the reign of righteousness and justice only God can bring about.

I am constantly moved by the cruelty and babarity that mankind inflicts on one another, and the horrific crimes that are commited against women and the weak among us. I am especially saddened by the acts that are perpetrated upon innocent children here in the U.S. and around the world. I say "Come quickly Lord Jesus", and I long for the coming Kingdom of God to this earth. So I would encourage you to daily pray for the coming of Christ, and join me in sharing the good news in the meantime.

Image from The Pilgrim Log: July 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: Fulfilling God's Law - August 12, 2012

Matthew 5:17-20 (New International Version)
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

As human beings, when we are faced with having to follow a set of rules or regulations, we have the tendency to follow that set of rules and regulations as close to the letter of them as possible. For example, when we are given a speed limit, most of us will stay as close to that limit even though we might cheat a few miles over. Sad things is that even one mile over is stil disobeying the law. Rarely would someone go a few miles slower, just to make sure they do not break the law. The problem is a "heart" issue, we see the law as something we have to do, but we follow it out of compulsion, rather than out of obedience and willingness to please the lawgiver. The same is true with every aspect of our lives.

When Jesus came speaking about the Kingdom of God, which would be his reign in the lives of the people and their obedience to his reign in our hearts, he wanted to make it clear that he was not trying to displace Judaism and replace it with a new religion. If you read the passage above, you might think that Jesus set a bar that is too high to meet when he says, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven". What did he mean by this? The Pharisees and teachers of the law were supposed to be the most righteous people of the day.

If you read further, Jesus would go on to speak about many issues that surrounded the Law(which were the Ten Commandments and other laws found in the Old Testament). What he was saying was that the intent of the heart determines whether or not you broke the law that God had given man. For example, later in Matthew 5 he likens anger(or hate) of your brother or sister to murder or looking on someone with lust to committing adultery.
The Pharisees and teachers were using the law against the people for their own interests, but yet in their hearts they were disobedient to it, through their treatment of others. God judges intentions of the heart just as much as He judges the actual commitment of the act itself.

The kingdom Jesus brings is one of the heart, and our intentions are what will be judged by God in all matters of behavior and obedience to His laws. First of all Jesus Christ points us to a law that we will never be able to fully obey, but at the same time he frees us from God's judgement when we place our faith and trust in him, as the one who has already paid for our disobedience to God and His law. We can only be righteous enough, have "surpassing righteousness", by allowing Jesus to reign in our hearts as our Savior and King.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Praise! - August 11, 2012

Psalm 145 (New International Version)
A psalm of praise. Of David.

1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.

9 The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, LORD;
your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
14 The LORD upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.

On this beautiful Saturday evening, let us join David and give praise to our Lord and maker. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise, and we should remember His goodness in thanksgiving and worship. As we begin a new week tomorrow, let our praises of Him be on our lips in everything we do. May we give Him the glory for the marevelous things He will help us accomplish.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: First Things First - August 10, 2012

Matthew 6:31-34 (New King James Version)
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

As Jesus set about teaching the people about the Kingdom of Heaven, He knew that many that followed Him would be troubled by the everyday problems of life. He made it very clear what the concerns and the priorities should be. We should first focus of the things of God, the Kingdom of God.

You see, God's kingdom is the rule and reign of Christ in our lives, and we who have been saved by Him, need to live like it. We can no longer be focused on the world and its priorities, but we need to be doing the work that God would have us do. If we do so, we are given a promise. God will take care of the rest.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: Heaven Bound Character - August 8, 2012

Psalm 15 (New International Version)
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;

3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;

4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;

5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

Long before Jesus walked the earth teaching all who would listen about the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven, David in communion with God wrote about the character of those who seek to be heaven bound; those who would choose to dwell with God. It has always been clear how those who trust in God should behave, but with the help of the Holy Spirit of God, we can live in such away that pleases God in thanksgiving for our salvation.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: The How to be Attitudes - August 8, 2012

Matthew 5:1-12 (New Living Translation)
1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,for they will be satisfied.

7 God blesses those who are merciful,for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace,for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

When we make the decision to be part of God's Kingdom, there are certain behaviors, characteristics, and attitudes that He blesses. His hope is for all of us to approach the world with our hearts and hands wide open. He is looking for people to be in His Kingdom that have the "right stuff". We are to realize our utter need before Him and as life's struggles and problems weigh in on us, He will be the rewarder of those who seek Him.

Jesus set out to help those around him understand who God really was. He was not an unapproachable Creator, that looked upon mankind to purely administer His justice, but He was also intricately involved in all that people would go through. Ultimately He would make the supreme gesture of love, mercy and blessing, by allowing the Son, Jesus, to be crucified on a wooden cross as payment for our sins.

In thanksgiving, we need to take on the right attitude, and be examples of God's goodness and mercy. We need to truly be His subjects and be ambassadors for the King.

This post is from a series of posts I did some time ago; I believe it's message is as timely today as when I first posted it. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven: The Proclamation - August 7, 2012

Mark 1:14-15 (New International Version)
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Matthew 4:17 (Young's Literal Translation)
17From that time began Jesus to proclaim and to say, `Reform ye, for come nigh hath the reign of the heavens.'

What would people do to have heaven on earth? What amount of money would they pay? What length would they go to have a taste of heaven? Mankind has tried for ages to have "utopia" in this world, an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system, an attempt to create an ideal society where everyone lives in harmony.

The Jews of Jesus time felt that if the Messiah came and conquered all of their oppressors, they would have their utopian Kingdom of God. The Romans of the day felt that as long as they subjugated all of the inhabitants of the known world and created the perfect Republic, wherein the "beauties of society" reigned as Plato had written about, they would have the perfect world.

If you look at different translations, you will notice that the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God, can be translated as the "reign of the heavens" or "kingdom of the skies". Jesus entered the world in human form to tell the inhabitants that they could live under the authority, grace and mercy of God. He was there to point them back to God and His divine love.

He was there to show them how to be reconciled to God and to proclaim God's kingdom here on earth as well as eternally in heaven. He was there to truly establish the perfected kingdom and restore God's perfect creation.

This post is from a series of posts I did some time ago; I believe it's message is as timely today as when I first posted it. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

His Ways are Higher - August 6, 2012

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Generosity - August 6, 2012

Proverbs 11:24-26 (New Living Translation)
24 Give freely and become more wealthy;
be stingy and lose everything.

25 The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

26 People curse those who hoard their grain,
but they bless the one who sells in time of need.

Proverbs 11:24-25 (New Century Version)
24 Some people give much but get back even more.
Others don't give what they should and end up poor.

25 Whoever gives to others will get richer;
those who help others will themselves be helped.

Proverbs 22:9 (New International Version)
9 A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (New International Reader's Version)
6 Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot. 7 You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn't give if you don't want to. You shouldn't give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. In all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. 9 It is written,

"They have spread their gifts around to poor people.
Their good works continue forever." —(Psalm 112:9)

10 God supplies seed to the planter. He supplies bread for food. God will also supply and increase the amount of your seed. He will increase the results of your good works. 11 You will be made rich in every way. Then you can always give freely. We will take your many gifts to the people who need them. And they will give thanks to God.

Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? God has created a wonderful circle of generosity: He gives to us, so that we can give to others, and in turn He continues to bless us, so that we can further bless others...and on it goes.

We serve a very generous God, and He constantly gives to us freely. Our lives, relationships, work, income, joy, music, everything we have has been generously given to us by Him. He has even given His only Son,Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins, and give us the opportunity to be eternally with Him. And Jesus, gives us the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in our hearts, and instructs us how we are to be generous to others around us.

The wonderful thing about having a generous heart is this principle, the more generous we are with what God has given us, the more generously He blesses us to be a blessing to the world around us. But we need to be sure that we adhere to the key to this principle of generosity, which is our attitude in giving. We are never to give just to receive, but we must be directed in love to freely give as generously as we can in thanks and gratitude to God.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Praise! - August 4, 2012

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

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

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

Friday, August 3, 2012

You Will Have Trouble! - August 3, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Better Than Fresh Baked Bread! - August 2, 2012

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

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

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

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

Paul likens us who have accepted the good news of Jesus Christ as a pleasing aroma to others we come in contact with. Once we share what Jesus has done in our lives, it becomes a sweet scent to God as well as those we hope to win over to Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit through our lives leaves pleasant memories that help people recal1 the wonderful works of God.

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why the World Hates Chik Fil A - August 1, 2012

John 15:18-19(New International Version)
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

In a move of support, hundreds of thousands,if not millions of people at at their local Chik Fil A restaurant today. Because the CEO of the company commented on his support for traditional marriage, many liberal politicians tried to censor the restaurant and voice their goal to ban the company from operating in their city. They stated that Chik Fil A did not represent their city's "values".

How far we have fallen, when cities in this Nation state that the views of Christians, in support of the God ordained institution of marriage between a man and a woman, cannot be heard without their being persecuted. Yes, persecuted; it is persecution when Christian businesses are singled out for harassment, boycott and community banishment. Why is this happening?

Jesus made it very clear when He was preparing His disciples for what lay ahead for them. The same holds true for anyone who truly loves and is obedient to God, and in the coming years, we too will experience the hatred of the world. What can we do?

First of all, we need to stand up in support of those who are not afraid to speak up, as many did today for Chik Fil A. Next, we need to speak up at the ballot box by supporting candidates that support traditional marriage and the things of God. Yes, this election is about the economy, but it is much more about whether or not we will be able to have a Nation that supports biblical values as our founders did.

Finally, do not lose heart. God is in control and He will not forsake His people. Pray without ceasing that He will have grace and mercy on our Nation, and that He will bring restoration and revival throughout the land. And while your at it, be sure to eat alot of chicken!

Photo by Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2012,Laguna Niguel, CA