Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seeing the Light - February 28, 2013

Matthew 13:15 (New International Version, ©2011)
15 "For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them."(Isaiah 6:9,10)

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (New Living Translation)
1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

I often wonder why it is so hard for so many people to not understand what Christ offers us. I wonder why God allowed me to finally "see the light" after living so long in darkness. I have often said, "it was as if a lightbulb went on", when I realized and understood the good news of Jesus Christ. The transformation of my life started dimly at first, kind of like those CFM bulbs that take a while to get bright, but nonetheless it illuminated the darkness I had lived in for many years, and changed me.

For many this is a difficult concept to grasp, how God can take someone who is lost and transform him into a new person. Jesus quoted Isaiah when he was describing the hardened hearts and closed mindedness of the Jewish leaders of his day, and Paul writing to the Corinthians, described this as a "veil" from Satan that "blinded the minds of those who don’t believe".

We see this today as we see a world around us doing all it can to ridicule, disparage and remove Christianity from the daily lives of people. It is easier for many to accept ridiculous New Age concepts or religions that behave contrary to civilized society, than to accept the grace and mercy of God providing mankind with a way to be redeemed from their sin. And the world does all it can to believe in anything but Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

It took awhile before the veil was lifted and God's bright and shining light revealed to me that I could be made clean, that I could be redeemed and start over again, because of the gift of Jesus. I am thankful for it, and I try to do my part in sharing Christ's love with others. As the world looks to an uncertain and dark future, I have the knowledge of the hope that gives me certainty. That knowledge is the light of the message of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that we who call ourselves followers of Christ can shine that light of Jesus, and do our part in overcoming the darkness.

Photo "Creepy Basement Light" by Hortongrou,11-18-2005, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who He Is - February 27, 2013



Colossians 1:15-17 (New International Reader's Version)
15 Christ is the exact likeness of God, who can't be seen. He is first, and he is over all of creation. 16 All things were created by him. He created everything in heaven and on earth. He created everything that can be seen and everything that can't be seen. He created kings, powers, rulers and authorities. Everything was created by him and for him. 17 Before anything was created, he was already there. He holds everything together.


Have you ever been asked to explain why you believe in Jesus Christ? Have you been put to the test by others as to who Jesus is, and whether or not he is really God? There are many cults that exist today that call that fact into question. Some call themselves Christian, yet they deny the fundamental fact that Jesus is not just a mere human but God himself. Then there are other religions that say that Jesus is nothing more than a good moral teacher, attempting to place Christianity on the same level as any other religion. So, how can you know in whom you have placed your faith?

These questions and opinions about Jesus are not a new. In fact these same controversies have been alive and well since the beginning. One of the fiercest critics and persecutors of Christians actually persued believers in the 1st Century, imprisoning and even killing some of them. He felt that Christians were perverting the Jewish faith and following after a false Jew ish Messiah that had long since died. He was so fierce in his persecution that he had gained a reputation as a zealot for the Jewich faith, and he was so relentless that the young Christian community feared him.

Yet, this high-ranking Jewish official was confronted by the living Jesus Christ, and was so changed by his conversion that he became the author responsible for much of the writing of the New Testament of the Bible. In fact he became even more zealous for the cause of Christ than he ever was for the Jewish faith. You know this man as Saul of Tarsus, who after his conversion became Paul. How was Paul so profoundly changed? It is because through his encounter with Jesus, he realized who Jesus really was. In Paul's letter to the church in Colosse, the Book of Colossians, we catch a glimpse of who Jesus Christ really is.

If you are unsure of what you believe about Jesus, be sure that you study each and every word in the passage above. It presents a characterization of Jesus Christ that is so profound, that you either believe it or you don't. You either believe that He is God or you don't. Just be sure you know and are able to defend what you believe.

Photo from the movie Jesus of Nazareth, 1977

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Personal Praise - February 26, 2013

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."

Selah

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.

Selah

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.

Selah

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.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Loving Your Enemies - February 25, 2013


Matthew 5:43-47 (New International Reader's Version)
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor.—(Leviticus 19:18) Hate your enemy.' 44 But here is what I tell you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. 45 Then you will be sons of your Father who is in heaven".

"He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don't".

46 "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Even the tax collectors do that. 47 If you greet only your own people, what more are you doing than others? Even people who are ungodly do that."


We are engaged in a struggle these days with those that would choose to harm us. To many in this world, we are seen as evil while in our own eyes we see ourselves as being good. Why is that so? What has happened where once we were seen as the force for good for many, but lately it is not so?

I would submit that there has been a coarsening of our behavior towards others and their cultures, and because many hearts have grown "calloused" and the behavior that many exhibit would be foreign to the way we used to be as a country. This is in large part because of our own arrogance and pride. We no longer respect God or others.

There is a thin line between protecting the interests of our country and taking advantage of a situation for our own evil. Jesus saw this plainly in how the Jews once treated non-Jews. It was a common practice during his time to marginalize and hate those who were unlike them, but to Jesus all were God's children. He came for all and not just for the few.

I am concerned these days that because of fear, we are failing to engage people as Christ called us to. As believers we are to set the different example; we are called to make a difference. Just as many are, I get concerned about those who would choose to do us harm, but what if instead I embraced them in Christ-like love? What is we would be the country that reached out to its enemies and offered them our help and care?

Seems naive when you think about it, but the greatest example of Jesus Christ are those who choose to stop the evil by offering an example of love. I have read many stories of Christians in oppressed countries changing the behaivor of their oppressors through this Christ-like example. Why not follow that example?

We might not be called to be persecuted and oppressed, but in every area of our lives there are examples where we must embrace those who would choose to do us harm. If you are faced with such a situation, why not try following the good example of Jesus and show love to your enemies?

Photo "Afghanistan" by Yanboechat, 8-6-2007, from stock.xchng

Sunday, February 24, 2013

God's Academy Awards - February 24, 2013

2 Timothy 4:8 (New International Version, ©2010)
8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Tonight many are watching what I feel is one of the biggest festivals of self-aggrandizement and self-worship man could ever invent. Every year we watch as actors, directors, producers, and the rest of the Hollywood who's who crowd get together to enhance and exaggerate their own importance, power, and reputation.

Yes, it is the night of the Acedemy Awards, Oscar night, the night when all of Hollywood comes together to recognize each other. They give each other awards voted on by themselves, their peers. Sad thing is that millions of people in this country and around the world waste a night of their time watching this spectacle on television. It is no wonder that so many of this crowd are having so many problems in their lives.

Pesonally I am looking forward to God's Academy Awards. He has promised us that if we follow Jesus Christ and live for Him, there will be a time when we will be recognized for our efforts on of behalf of God's kingdom. Not that we should be motivated by the awards, but it is nice to know that everything we do for Him will be recognized by Him. He awards those characteristics such selflessness, sacrifice, giving, charity, long-suffering, and many other things we do for those around us in His name.

If you are thrilled by worldy accolades and awards, you really should do a personal checkup of your priorities. Instead of being mesmerized by all this false glitz and glamour, make every effort to make God's values your first priority.

Photo from www.greatoscar.com.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Mighty Fortress: He's My Confidence! - February 23, 2013

Psalm 62:9-12 (New International Reader's Version)
9 Ordinary people are only a breath. Important people are not what they seem to be. If they were weighed on a scale, they wouldn't amount to anything. Together they are only a breath.

10 Don't trust in money you have taken from others. Don't be proud of things you have stolen. Even if your riches grow, don't put your trust in them.

11 God, I have heard you say two things. One is that you, God, are strong.

12 The other is that you, Lord, are loving. I'm sure you will reward each person in keeping with what he has done.


After Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70, the Great Revolt ended-except for the surviving Zealots, who fled Jerusalem to the fortress of Masada, near the Dead Sea. There, they held out for three years. Anyone who has climbed the famous "snake path" to Masada can understand why the surrounding Roman troops had to content themselves with a siege. Masada is situated on top of an enormous, isolated rock: Anyone climbing it to attack the fortress would be an easy target. Yet the Jews, encamped in the fortress, could never feel secure; every morning, they awoke to see the Roman Tenth Legion hard at work, constructing battering rams and other weapons.

If the 960 defenders of Masada hoped that the Romans eventually would consider this last Jewish beachhead too insignificant to bother conquering, they were to be disappointed. The Romans were well aware that the Zealots at Masada were the group that had started the Great Revolt; in fact, the Zealots had been in revolt against the Romans since the year 6. More than anything else, the length and bitterness of their uprising probably account for Rome's unwillingness to let Masada and its small group of defiant Jews alone.

Once it became apparent that the Tenth Legion's battering rams and catapults would soon succeed in breaching Masada's walls, Elazar ben Yair, the Zealots’ leader, decided that all the Jewish defenders should commit suicide. Because Jewish law strictly forbids suicide, this decision sounds more shocking today than it probably did to his compatriots. There was nothing of Jonestown in the suicide pact carried out at Masada. The alternative facing the fortress’s defenders were hardly more attractive than death. Once the Romans defeated them, the men could expect to be sold off as slaves, the women as slaves and prostitutes.(1)

The Jewish defenders at Masada held out for 3 years against the Roman siege, and finally they gave up and commited mass murder-suicide rather than be conquered and enslaved by the Romans. They felt that God has abandoned them, and because of this they would take the lives of their wives and children, and then the lives of one another, until the last person ended their own life. Their story would have never been told, except that a woman and five children hid in a cistern, and told her account to the Jewish historian Josephus. Their story survives in the hearts of the Israeli right-wing governmanet as a story of fighting to the bitter end, rather than giving up.

We also are but "a breath", and at anytime we might find ourselves in a hopeless situation. Those that believe in the material world place their trust in persishable things, such as their riches and position. As the Jewish people of Masada, they sustain themselves in a false fortress of their own making and hold out as long as they can. When everything fails and they are at the brink of being overcome, they too often give up and suffer a calamitous end.

Thank God we can place our hope and trust in Him. He is our strength and our overcomer. Only in Him can we find hope in the midst of trouble. When we are faced with certain defeat, instead of giving up, we can turn to Jesus. He will be with us and take us through the storm. No longer do we have to worry about death, because in Him we have eternal life. If you are "at the end of your rope", if you see the enemy at the gates, don't give in to fear. Instead find confidence and protection in the One who is strong and loves you, and who offers to sustain you and keep you safe. Turn your heart to Jesus.

Photo "Jewish Synagogue at Masada" from Journey Back
(1)Jewish Virtual Library - Masada

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Mighty Fortress: He's My Safety! - February 22, 2013

Psalm 62:5-8 (New International Reader's Version)
5 I will find my rest in God alone.
He is the One who gives me hope.

6 He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me.
He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.

7 I depend on God to save me and to honor me.
He is my mighty rock. He is my place of safety.

8 Trust in him at all times, you people.
Tell him all of your troubles.
God is our place of safety.

Selah


The rhomboid, flat plateau of Masada measures 600 x 300 m. The casemate wall (two parallel walls with partitions dividing the space between them into rooms), is 1400 m. long and 4 m. wide. It was built along the edge of the plateau, above the steep cliffs, and it had many towers. Three narrow, winding paths led from below to fortified gates.

The water supply was guaranteed by a network of large, rock-hewn cisterns on the northwestern side of the hill. They filled during the winter with rainwater flowing in streams from the mountain on this side. Cisterns on the summit supplied the immediate needs of the residents of Masada and could be relied upon in time of siege.

To maintain interior coolness in the hot and dry climate of Masada, the many buildings of various sizes and functions had thick walls constructed of layers of hard dolomite stone, covered with plaster. The higher northern side of Masada was densely built up with structures serving as the administrative center of the fortress and included storehouses, a large bathhouse and comfortable living quarters for officials and their families.(1)

We tend to build fortresses and fortifications around ourselves, thinking that they will serve as our protection against any harm. We naively think that we don't need God, bacause we have everything under control. We find places within where we insulate ourselves from whatever might come against us, and we rely on what we have done to sustain us in times of difficulty.

But when things come against us, the hurst and difficulties bombard our personal fortifications, and when severe trouble come, our walls start crumbling; the resources we have stored to keep us going start to dwindle, and we find ourselves hopelessly desperate for a place of safety. Without it, we don't know how we can go on any further without succombing to the enemies of our souls.

Instead we should seek shelter in the mightly fortress of our God, who in His love for us seeks to protect us, if only we will call on Him for help. He alone is our rock. He is the One who saves us.

Photo from "Masada(Israel)", June 2002, by syjoho.nl

(1) Jewish Virtual Library - Masada

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Mighty Fortress: He is My Security! - February 21, 2013

Psalm 62:1-4 (New International Reader's Version)
1 I find my rest in God alone.
He is the One who saves me.

2 He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me.
He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.

3 How long will you enemies attack me?
Will all of you throw me down?
I'm like a leaning wall.
I'm like a fence that is about to fall.

4 You only want to pull me down
from my place of honor.
You take delight in telling lies.
You bless me with what you say.
But in your hearts you call down curses on me.

Selah


According to Josephus Flavius, the 1st century Jewish historian, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Herod, the master builder, “furnished this fortress as a refuge for himself.” It included a casemate wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater, barracks, palaces and an armory.

Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 AD, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-of-war.

The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress.

Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders – almost one thousand men, women and children – led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir, decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives, rather than be taken alive. The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself.(1)

The Jews had placed their faith in high places and fortifications, only to be eventually overcome by their enemies. We tend to do the same thing, placing our faith in our own works and efforts, our jobs and places of high position, only to be without security when the enemies come against us.

Photo of "Horvot Mezada, Mesada,The Stronghold" from Bibleplaces.com
(1)Jewish Virtual Library - Masada

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Smells So Good - February 20, 2013


















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

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

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Only One - February 19, 2013

















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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Wealth in Being Poor - February 18, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo from "Mighty Men Are Going to Zambia!", 9-12-2010,findyourowncalcutta.blogspot.com

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What It's All About - February 17, 2013

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


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

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

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

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


Saturday, February 16, 2013

God's Patience - February 16, 2013

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Patience - February 15, 2013

Psalm 37:7 (New International Version)
7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

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


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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Creator of Love - February 14. 2013

1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version, ©2010)

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Happy Valentine's Day from the Author and Creator of Love. We will not be able to grasp this side of Heaven "how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ". God first loved us, and in turn we are able to Love each other. Deeper yet, God has created the more intimate Love relationship that we enjoy with our spouses that is a picture of the unity of God. I pray that on this day, all will know the Love of God and extend that Love to our spouses, our families, and each other.

Photo "Hearts" by Irum, 4-5-2007, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Storm Warnings - February 13, 2013

2 Peter 3:10-12 (New King James Version)
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.[laid bare]

11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?


Have you heard that mariner's warning, "red sky in morning, sailors take warning"? It means that if the sky is red in the morning, the day will have bad weather. It's just one of the warnings that we are confronted with on a daily basis.

We have warning signs and warning labels, and warnings on our clothes. We have tornado warnings and ice-storm warnings, and warnings about all kinds of weather. We are warned about fats and warned about cholestrol, and we are warned about the fact we need to lose weight. We are warned about drugs and alcohol, and warnings about all kinds of dangerous living. It seems that everywhere we turn, there is a warning about something.

As we read the Bible, we come across warnings as well, as God tries to show us what we need to do to be right with Him. What we read in its verses either stands as a testament to right living, or a warning against one's sin. But everything we are warned about culminates in a warning about the coming of the end. In several books in both the Old and New Testaments, we are warned of a coming storm, and we are warned of one fateful day, called the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord will be a time when God judges mankind, and His judgement will be either a time of blessing or terrible curse. That time will spell the end of things as we know them, and the Bible is very vivid and clear about those events. That coming day will be a time of great distress and anguish for those who have not accepted the provision God has made for people. As we are told in 2 Peter, all the works of man will be burned up and destroyed. This will truly be a terrible day for those who don't believe in Jesus Christ as God's provision of salvation.

Warnings are everywhere in our lives, just in case we come too close to something that we are being warned about. They are there to keep us safe from harm. So too are God's warnings in His word. God has given us time to be saved from the coming destruction, and we are truly arrogant if we ignore them. Since we do not know "the day or the hour", what changes will you make in your life to make sure you take part in His way of escape?

Photo "Sunrise 6-7-09" by cempey, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fervent Fire - February 12, 2013

Romans 12:11 (New International Reader's Version)
11 Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.

Romans 12:11 (New International Version, ©2011)
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.


Spiritual fire, a filling of God's Holy Spirit, the reception of Jesus promised "Comforter" is the mark of a follower of Jesus Christ. When you are "saved", surrender your life and accept the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross for your sins, and accept Him as Lord over your life, as the risen, living, Son of God, you are filled with a constant companion. He helps guide you through this Christian life, convicting you of wrong and lifting you up in times of righteousness and joy.

I believe that once you experience a true coversion, you can never lose it, but Paul encourages us to never lose our zeal for God; never get bored with serving Him. After a few years in our Christian lives, we may tire of waiting for our coming Savior, but keep in mind that it is all working out for His purposes. Be about His business, and He will be about yours!

Photo "Worship" by Everywhere, 12-30-2005, from stock.xchng

Monday, February 11, 2013

Desert Sanctuary - February 11, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing that you go through is wasted. God does have a purpose, and He has promised that He will never leave nor forsake you. He will never turn away or abandon you. It is up to you to rest in the promise that He will turn your difficulties into joy. It may not be on your timetable, buty our history with trusting Him should give you the confidence that it will end with your benefit in mind.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Praise! - February 10, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Extreme Makeover - February 9, 2013

1 Corinthians 15:48-49 (New International Version, ©2011)
48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.


I am sure all of you have seen the television show "Extreme Makeover", about a group of TV personalities, a home building company and sponsors, tearing down and rebuilding a home for a deserving family. The stories of those chosen are always heartwarming, and by the end of the program the viewer is cheering the fact that this family has been given a new home.

You can almost compare this makeover and the many other makeover shows with what happens to our spiritual house when Jesus Christ gets a hold of it, only problem is that we are not that deserving of the makeover. Our sinful, earthly "man" self has separated us from God, and all we really deserve is to let our "house" burn down.

Thank God for His mercy and goodness, because He has offered us a "total makeover" for our spiritual house. He has given us His unmerited favor and grace and allowed us to receive something totally undeserved. The heavenly Man, Jesus Christ, died on the cross and tore down the wall of separation between man and God and rebuilt it with a bridge to the Father.

If we accept this offer of redemption, we too can find ourselves the fortunate receipient of a new house, only this one is a reflection of Jesus.

Photo "Time Moves on 4" by Eastop, 6-1-2010 from stock.xchng

Friday, February 8, 2013

All About Love - February 8, 2013

Romans 12:9-10 (New International Reader's Version)
9 Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves.

Romans 12:9-10 (English Standard Version)
9 Let love (agape) be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection (philadelphia). Outdo one another in showing honor.


When I was young there used to be a fairly popular folk song, which was a written in 1968 by then-Catholic priest Peter R. Scholtes. They will know we are Christians by our Love was sung around many campfires at church camp to the strum of guitar, but I wonder how many of the young people understood what they were singing about, and how many then turned around and exhibited it in their lives.

In recent culture, Christians have earned a reputation, not for their love in action, but for being judgemental and legalistic. Even today, our society at large feels that all Christians want to impose a certain set of rules on everyone else, rather than being a loving group of believers of Jesus Christ, who want to live as His example by serving others. Although we sang alot about showing love to others, we really didn't live it out.

Paul calls us to show two examples of Christian love to others; agape, the self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love, and philadelphia, the love for brothers and sisters. He points out that we are to love each other genuinely, and treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. As Chistians, this is not always easy, but if we will try to see each other as God sees us, then it will make it much easier.

If we, as followers of Christ, will love each other and our fellow inhabitants of this planet in genuine love, treating them as a brother or sister, we would make a significant impact on the world around us. It is up to us to show fellow believers that the true message of Jesus and the apostles is that God loves us genuinely, and in turn we are to love those in the world the same way. Let us make it a point to change the world's opinion of Christians, from one of judges and legalists, to one of being loving, caring, followers of Christ.

Photo "Forward Together" by hotblack, 9-29-2007, from stock.xchng

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Right Time - February 7, 2013

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Motion Sickness - February 6, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Blameless Habits - February 5, 2013

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

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

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

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.


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

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

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sure Things - February 4, 2013

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

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


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

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

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

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Worthy of Glory - February 3, 2013


Psalm 115:1 (New International Reader's Version)
1 Lord, may glory be given to you, not to us. You are loving and faithful.


Revelation 4:9-11 (New International Reader's Version)
9 The living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to the One who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever. 10 At the same time, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the One who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns in front of the throne. They say,

11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power. You are worthy because you created all things. They were created and they exist. That is the way you planned it."


It's Super Bowl Sunday, and many today gather with family and friends to celebrate the big game. It is the most anticipated and watched televised sporting event each year. Days and days of media hype has only added to the build up of this event. Though there are many disapponted fans from the results of the NFL Football Season that has just passed, all is forgotten as sides are chosen for this single, annual festival of football, that praises and gives glory to the last two pro-football teams still standing!

Many always plan on reveling in the game, lining up the chips, guacamole, and chili, laying them out on the coffee table in front of the big screen. For the next several hours there are cheers and boos, and lots of eating, all in an effort to enjoy this very special annual event.

But, am I missing something here? Do I give God this same amount of attention? Do I anticipate and discuss, prepare and setup, just as much for the King of Kings as I do for the kings of football? Do I take time out of each and every day to celebrate what He has accomplished on my behalf? Have I given Him the glory He is worthy to recieve?

Revelation 1:6 (New International Version)

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Loving Others - February 2, 2013

Luke 10:25-28 (New International Version, ©2010)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”


26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[Deuteronomy 6:5]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[Leviticus 19:18]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

When you look at the good fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 that reflect those who are Christians, the most important is love. Nothing is more important to God, than to have those who follow Him, reflect the love that He has has so richly given us. There is no greater love, than what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross, so that we might be saved from our sins.

In turn, Christians need to be known for their love that they give to others unconditionally. We need to be the first to step into the scene to help when others are in trouble and hurting. We need to take the lead in serving others who are less fortunate. Our compassion needs to extend to all, even those who would rather do harm to us.

Does your love reflect the love that Jesus Christ has given you? Does it extend from your being as the first priority in all of your actions? Do you love your neighbor, including the ones you don't like? Do you take the actions that show that you love others as you have been called to? If you do, you are filled with the Holy Spirit and are truly trying to live your faith reflecting Jesus.

If not, confess your shortcomings, and ask God to help you love others as you love yourself.

Photo "Indigenous People" by jonathan n, 4-4-2007, from stock.xchng

Friday, February 1, 2013

Being in Self-Control - February 1, 2013

Romans 6:1-7 (New Living Translation)
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

1 John 5:18 (New International Version, ©2010)
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.


Was there a time in your life when you were living in a lifestyle where "resistance was futile"? Have you been in a situation where it was almost unbearable to not give into temptation? I know many people trapped in the bondage of an addiction or sin where they simply can't give it up. It is an urge that is often very powerful, and the fear of giving up the addiction is sometimes stronger than the fear of death.

When you come to Jesus Christ and surrender yourself to Him, often the Holy Spirit takes away that urge and frees people from the bondage of sin, but sometimes it takes more than that. All who truly accept Christ's gift of salvation are filled with the Holy Spirit. He is our Comforter, an ever present presence that helps us on our daily walk with God. He gives us the good fruit of self-control.

Sometimes though, people are so trapped in their sin that they are resistant to gaining control over it through Jesus. They often become depressed and sometimes even disenchanted with God because their bondage doesn't leave them. Why is this? I say it is because they have not made a true decision to turn their back on the past. They hold on to it and embrace it because it seems more comfortable than the freedom of letting go.

If you truly desire the freedom gained by truly surrendering to God, and truly allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence and gifts, especially self-control, ask God for the strength to. He hears your prayers and He will answer you, but you need to first have a change of mind an allow Him to do His will with you. He will give you the self-control you need to conquer your sin, your addiction, and the bondage that has you trapped.

Photo "Praise the Lord" by ronibro, 11-16-2006 from stock.xchng