Friday, May 31, 2013

Learning Patience - May 31, 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, May 30, 2013

Our Hope - May 30, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Self-Made Myth - May 29, 2013

Psalm 127:1-2(GOD’S WORD Translation)
1If the Lord does not build the house,
it is useless for the builders to work on it.

If the Lord does not protect a city,
it is useless for the guard to stay alert.

2It is useless to work hard for the food you eat
by getting up early and going to bed late.

The Lord gives food to those he loves while they sleep.

What does it mean to be a self-made man, or woman for that matter? Just how can anyone claim that what they have accomplished has been entirely on their own efforts? Truth is that no one "makes it to the top" without help. If it is not from God, it is because of others around the person that allowed them to be successful. No one can accomplish anything alone unless they live in a vacuum. All the statement means is that the one saying it is arrogant, full of pride, and headed for a fall. There will be a time in their lives when they will be "taken down to size".

The wisdom of this psalm from the Bible tells it like it truly is. Anything built apart from the support and blessing of God ends up as sheer folly. As the Creator of the universe, He has set everything in motion, and as we know though a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He is intimately interested in what we do. If you want to succeed in life, what better place to start than entrusting the effort to God? He is truly the One you want in your corner to guide you.

Starting a new job or business? Beginning a new project or just moving to another phase in your life, why not assure your success? Start our with turning it over to God, and letting Him help you through the "heavy lifting". Only when it is committed to Him will your plans succeed.

Photo "Heavy Lifting" from Travelpod,
Day 3: Ghermu to Tal-640m/2112 ft Ascent (4/24/10)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Have No Fear - May 28, 2013

Psalm 27:1-5 (New Century Version)
1 The Lord is my light and the one who saves me.
So why should I fear anyone?
The Lord protects my life.
So why should I be afraid?

2 Evil people may try to destroy my body.
My enemies and those who hate me attack me,
but they are overwhelmed and defeated.

3 If an army surrounds me,
I will not be afraid.
If war breaks out,
I will trust the Lord.

4 I ask only one thing from the Lord.
This is what I want:
Let me live in the Lord's house
all my life.

Let me see the Lord's beauty
and look with my own eyes at his Temple.

5 During danger he will keep me safe in his shelter.
He will hide me in his Holy Tent,
or he will keep me safe on a high mountain.

As you live in Jesus Christ, you can rest in the knowledge that God will keep you safe. Though you may not understand it, God exhorts us to have no fear. As David wrote in the Psalm, this song of praise, Go will keep you safe in His shelter and set you feet on a high mountain. Claim God's promises and HAVE NO FEAR!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Honoring Memorial Day - May 27, 2013

John 15:13 (New International Version)
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

For many of us the true meaning and depth of someone giving their life on our behalf is too hard to comprehend. Only those who have lost a loved one in the service to this country can understand the true sacrifice given. Most of those who have died in our nation's wars have done so willingly, through enlistment or as a volunteer. They were willing to step up to defend the Nation, their homes, and their families.

Two millennia ago another stepped up to voluntarily give their life on our behalf. He was willing to go be crucified on a Roman cross, so that the penalty for all sins, past, present and future would be paid in full. Jesus Christ should be given the thanks, respect and honor He is due, and accept His gift to us. We need to come to Him with grateful hearts and never forget His sacrifice.

As we reflect on this day, we need to never forget the sacrifice that all those who have given up their lives have made for us. We need to not forget to give them the respect and honor that they are due, and we need to be the caretakers of those that they have left behind. They and their families have truly followed the path of Christ in what they have given to us to secure our freedom.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Praise! - May 26, 2013

Psalm 98 (New International Version)

1 Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.

2 The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

3 He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;

5 make music to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,

6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn—
shout for joy before the LORD, the King.

7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.

8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;

9 let them sing before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

As you have enjoy a beautiful weekend and as you prepare for your new week, let us be mindful of God who has given us everything. Let us pause to give Him glory and praise. Enjoy the Memorial Day Holiday!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Share Drive - May 25, 2013

Romans 12:13 (New International Version, ©2011)
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

The key to receiving all the blessings from God this life has to offer is sharing. Nothing focuses your attention on the heart and Spirit of God better than when you give of yourself to others, especially others who believe in Jesus. In doing so you come very close to the nature and character of God.

If you find yourself lifeless in your faith, and just can't get it off dead center, if your interested in "going deeper" with God, then do something for someone else in the name of Jesus Christ. Give it your all, not begrudgingly or as if you had to do it, but do something without pretext or precondition. You will be the one most blessed for doing so.

Photo "For Us 2" by Spiz, 4-29-2006, from stock.xchng

Friday, May 24, 2013

How To Be Content - May 24, 2013

Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 (New International Version)
7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
"For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?"
This too is meaningless—a miserable business!

1 Timothy 6:6-9 (New International Version)
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

What are we spending our lives doing? ...From our earliest days we have been focused on the pursuit of money and success in our lives. I am sure that we all can still hear the drone of teachers and counselors saying that we needed to stay in school to get a good education, without which we would not be able to get a good job and make alot of money.

Then as we got older and ventured out into the working world, we found that our very success in life was measured by the amount of money we were making. Anything good in life took money and for us to have anything, we would have to depend on ourselves and work hard for it. Every day we headed into work to provide a living for ourselves and chased that elusive dream of someday having it all.

If we got married and had a few children, the focus didn't change, only now we had multiple mouths to feed, college educations to fund, and weddings to plan for. These were just speedbumps in a life that was headed in a direction seeking ultimate contentment. Someday we were going to make it! Someday we would have it all!

For some of us, we may just be starting out our lives, wanting to break free from the restraints of home, and reaching for all that we can get out of life. Our teachers and parents may be telling us, "Stay in school and get a good education, because you want to get a good job and make alot of money!" I am not saying that this is wrong, but we may be falling into that very same trap that has burdened people for generations.

I say the world has this whole thing all wrong. I say that what we pursue in life has been corrupted by a world seeking after the wrong things. Whether it is the lament of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes or the admonitions from Paul in his letters to Timothy, God's word tries to point us in the right direction. If we will take the time to study it's advice about what is important in life, we will live much better in this life. The Bible seeks to make us aware of this fact:

We are created by God to seek His will in our lives and to express our love for Him in all we do. His desire is that we are to be content, because he promises to give us everything we really need. He wants for us to always strive to be our best. If we will just surrender our worldly will to Him, and seek after His will for our lives and how we might serve Him, He will give us the contentment we are striving for. We really can have it all!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Appointed by God - May 23, 2013

2 Peter 1:3-4,10-11 (New International Reader's Version)
3 God's power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. All of that has come to us because we know the One who chose us. He chose us because of his own glory and goodness.

4 He has also given us his very great and valuable promises. He did it so you could share in his nature. He also did it so you could escape from the evil in the world. That evil is caused by sinful longings.
10 My brothers and sisters, be very sure that God has appointed you to be saved. Be sure that he has chosen you. If you do everything I have just said, you will never trip and fall. 11 You will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom that lasts forever. It is the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Life is certainly filled with uncertainty. We don't know what each day, week, month, or year will bring. Rumor has it that there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes! So we wake up each morning, not knowing whether it will be our last, and if it is, are we ready to face what happens next?

In 2Peter, in the face of false teachers and opposition, the author was writing to warn followers of Christ to be sure of what they believed. He makes it very clear in these verses that the Creator of the universe, our God, has chosen us because of His own glory and goodness. God is the one who gives us His power, through His Holy Spirit, to live a righteous and holy life.

All the good things that we are given are from Him, but we don't just inherit them because we are His children. We only receive them if we have faith in the One(Jesus Christ), who has chosen(given his life) for our sins, so that we might be reconciled (made right)with God. Our ability to have faith and live a godly life comes from God Himself.

Because God chooses us, we can be certain that we can enjoy living in this world and the next. But it does take action on our part. The action of placing our faith in Jesus as the only one that can save us. Has God appointed you to be saved? Have you done your part?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

God's Amazing Grace - May 22, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of John Newton from the movie Amazing Grace, 2006

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pit Stops - May 21, 2013

Psalm 119:65-72 (New International Version)
T Teth
65 Do good to your servant
according to your word, O LORD.

66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I believe in your commands.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.

68 You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.

69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.

70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.

71 It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.

72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Psalm 40:2 (New International Reader's Version)
2 I was sliding down into the pit of death, and he pulled me out. He brought me up out of the mud and dirt. He set my feet on a rock. He gave me a firm place to stand on.

As I read this portion of Psalm 119, written by this pious priest long ago, his humanity really shows itself, as he lifts his prayer to God. He reminds me that I too was "afflicted" and "I went astray". I was on a path to destruction and death. It reminded me of my "pit stops" in life.

Those were times that I was really a long way from God, and because of it I went through a lot of trouble and turmoil in my life. These days I look upon those difficulties, those times in the "pit" as time well spent. It was in these "pit stops" in my life that I realized my condition and I looked for something better. It was in these times that I cried out to God for help, and He rescued me from my terrible situation. It was there that I discovered the amazing grace found only in Jesus.

It is interesting to me that I now look at those terrible experiences as blessings, because they pointed me to Jesus Christ. Without him I would have never found forgiveness and restoration; I would have never discovered the life that God has made available by sending me a Savior. Without the bad things in my life, I would never have realized the good and wonderful things of life; I would never have had the blessings of a lovely wife, children, family, and a secure future knowing that God has much more in store for me.

If you are reading this and you feel like your life has left you in the "pit" of hurt and despair; if you feel like there is no way out of your terrible situation, that you are trapped and do not know what to do; call on the name of Jesus. Ask God to forgive you and admit that you can't do it on your own. Give your hurt and pain, the "mud and dirt" that is your life, and surrender it all to Him. He will pull you out, clean you up, plant His Word in your heart, and set your feet on a "firm place to stand", the Rock that is Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life is Short - May 20, 2013

Psalm 39:4-6 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

4“Teach me, O Lord, about the end of my life.
Teach me about the number of days I have left
so that I may know how temporary my life is.

5Indeed, you have made the length of my days only a few inches.
My life span is nothing compared to yours.
Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind.


6Each person who walks around is like a shadow.
They are busy for no reason.
They accumulate riches without knowing who will get them.”

James 4:13-14 (New International Reader's Version)

13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city. We will spend a year there. We will buy and sell and make money." 14 You don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while. Then it disappears.

On a day like today, after the devastating tornado in Moore, OK, you have to take pause and thing about how short life can be. In one moment it could all end for any of us; in one moment it will be either the best of times or too late. We only have one chance in this life to make sure that we have taken care of what comes after. Jesus gave us the way when He said He was "the truth, and the way and the life".

Take a moment and remember those whose lives were cut short. Pray for God's grace and mercy for those who perished, and His comfort for those who are left behind. We do not know this side of heaven why these things happen, but it is all in vain if we who remain do not get the message of how short life really is. If a disaster would happen where you live and you were involved, would you be ready?

Photo "Mist on Pike's Peak" by myarrito, Summer 2009.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Praise! - May 19, 2013

Psalm 136 (New International Version)

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

As you prepare for a new work or school week, give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. Give thanks for His love and His blessings, and thank Him for what He has done for you.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Please and Thank You - May 18, 2013

Hebrews 12:28-29 (New International Reader's Version)
28 We are receiving a kingdom that can't be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder. 29 Our "God is like a fire that burns everything up."—(Deuteronomy 4:24)

Hebrews 12:28-29 (The Message)
28-29Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He's actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

When we were growing up we learned to say please and thank you whenever we wanted or were given something. It was probably one of the very first gestures we learned, and it is something we passed on to our own children. These days, although saying please and thank you may have fallen out of favor for some, it is still a gesture that is very much appreciated and is seen as being the proper way of treating one another. As a parent, we love it when our children learn to always say please and thank you whenever the situation warrants it.

How much more is it important for our God to be asked and thanked in the proper way. I think we often forget that God has personality and feelings in the same way we do. We need to remember the reality that He has created us after His own image. God is all about proper relationship, as can be seen by how the Father relates to the Son, who in turn relates to the Holy Spirit, who relates back to the Father, and they all relate to one another. It is a difficult idea and relationship for us to fathom, but if we closely study the Word that He has given us, we can clearly see the relationship of the Godhead.

Our God loves to hear us ask Him for anything and thank Him for everything. We need to have a relationship with God that is as real as a parent relates to a child; a relationship that understands that He wants to relate to us. Just as an earthly parent, He enjoys our asking for things as much as He enjoys giving us good things. Let us never forget our source of everything and remember to always thank Him for all that He does for us.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What's Love Got to Do With It? - May 17, 2013

1 John 4:7-12;19-21(New International Version)
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

What's love got to do with following Christ? All of us have a God-given desire to be loved. This desire is deep within each one of us, and many of us spend our entire lifetimes looking for "true love". The problem is that many of us are looking for the wrong thing.

In the passage above, the apostle John makes it clear what true love is, and he uses the God-given example of true love, Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sins. What does this example show us? It shows us that true love is an ACTION word. To really love someone, you have to do something. You have to make a decision that you are going to exhibit and demonstrate a certain behavior towards someone else. You have to truly care about other people and what happens to them, like them or not.

God's word speaks a lot about love, and in each case it exhorts those who call themselves Christian to exhibit true love to others. If we do not love others, the ability to demonstrate our caring for others, as we are called to do, we may not truly have the Spirit of God living in us. Do you have a heart for loving others?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to be Happy - May 16, 2013

Psalm 1:1-3 (New Century Version)
1 Happy are those who don't listen to the wicked, who don't go where sinners go, who don't do what evil people do.
2 They love the Lord's teachings, and they think about those teachings day and night.
3 They are strong, like a tree planted by a river. The tree produces fruit in season, and its leaves don't die. Everything they do will succeed.

Our culture has turned this world upside down, but if you still desire a good recipe for being happy, this Psalm says it all. It is amazing how many of us don't learn the wisdom given here until we start turning gray, but it is never too late. Best of all, if we can pass this tidbit of wisdom to our children and the younger families around us.

The "don'ts" mentioned here cover who and what we listen to, what we involve ourselves in, and whose example we follow. This verse encourages us to avoid the wrong things in our lives and we will have richer and happier lives. The key to helping us do this is to consistently meditate on God's word. The result of this will be lives that are deeply rooted in God's wisdom, producing a plentiful crop of good things for those around us, and true success on God's terms.

As you finish this week and prepare for the weekend, decide to spend time in God's word. You will be the better for it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Bedtime Prayer - May 15, 2013

Psalm 16(New Century Version)

1 Protect me, God,
because I trust in you.
2 I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord.
Every good thing I have comes from you."
3 As for the godly people in the world,
they are the wonderful ones I enjoy.
4 But those who turn to idols
will have much pain.
I will not offer blood to those idols
or even speak their names.

5 No, the Lord is all I need.
He takes care of me.
6 My share in life has been pleasant;
my part has been beautiful.

7 I praise the Lord because he advises me.
Even at night, I feel his leading.
8 I keep the Lord before me always.
Because he is close by my side,
I will not be hurt.
9 So I rejoice and am glad.
Even my body has hope,
10 because you will not leave me in the grave.
You will not let your holy one rot.
11 You will teach me how to live a holy life.
Being with you will fill me with joy;
at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.

Remember when you were little and your mom or dad used to tuck you in and say your prayers with you? Remember how it was (or maybe is) to tuck in your own children and pray with them? Do you remember what you prayed for? Do you still say your prayers right before you go to sleep?

It is at times like these, just before we go to sleep when we trust God the most. Think about this; we are getting ready to fall asleep and leave all that happens in the waking world around us to God. Whatever happens, He is the One left in charge. He is our only sentry, that will protect us from all that happens. Imagine that; rarely do we ever trust Him more!

The psalm above makes for a good bedtime prayer. Tonight, right before you are ready to fall asleep, pull out your Bible and read slowly through this psalm. Break out each verse and each idea, and lift them to God. He will protect you this night; He will lead you and make sure that you do not get hurt. Take pleasure in knowing that He will watch over you.

Picture from Diane's Peaceful Hush, "A Mother's Bedtime Prayer"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Kingdon of Heaven: Are You Ready? - May 14, 2013

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. Everything 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. Everything has been told so that you will believe. The rest is up to you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven: A Rich Man's Folly - May 13, 2013

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.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Honoring Mothers - May 12, 2013

Proverbs 31:1,10-31 (New Living Translation)
1 The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife(and mother)? She is more precious than rubies.11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. 14 She is like a merchant’s ship,bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.

18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.

21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. 22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. 26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. 31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

As we wind down this weekend, and Mother's Day, lets take time to reflect on the mothers in our lives and give them the praise and honor that they are due. They do a thankless job raising children in a very difficult world, yet all of us who follow the Lord can probably thank our moms for reflecting the heart of God and the love of Jesus to us.

Personally, I am blessed to have a wife that is the mother of our beautiful family, and this year we added the blessing of our newest grandson, Gabriel.  I would like to thank my wife for always living out the example of the Proverbs 31:10-31 woman that is shown to us in the verses above, and I want to especially thank her for being that example to our beautiful daughters. I pray that she knows how much we all love her, and that we show her our love daily. To my own mother, I would like to thank her for her love, and teaching me how to be a good son.

Let us all not only honor the mothers in our lives on this day, but throughout the year. If you are a mom, I pray that God blesses you and rewards you for the sacrifice, devotion and caring you always give us.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven: Faith as a Mustard Seed - May 11, 2013

Matthew 13:31-32 (New International Version)
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Jesus spoke in many parables, instructing people in terms of what they could understand. He often used familiar circumstances and objects from their daily lives, so that those who were meant to understand his teaching could do so. On the surface these parables seem to be just simple stories, but when if you meditate on them and seek God's wisdom in them, they take on a much bigger meaning.

The parable of the mustard seed is one such parable. Jesus used the tiniest of seeds in his time to illustrate many concepts in his teaching. In my opinion, Jesus uses the mustard seed to illustrate what was to happen to the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus brought with him. We understand that the kingdom he is talking about is the reign of Christ in the hearts of mankind, and the belief and obedience we have in faith in him.

The Kingdom of Heaven started in the smallest of towns in a remote corner of the world, as a baby in the manager. God planted his Son in the world to live among us and proclaim the message of the Kingdom of Heaven. His message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on our behalf took root, grew and spread throughout the world, and those who took hold and believed the message were able to find rest and comfort in the shelter of his love, mercy and grace.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven: A True Disciple - May 10, 2013

Matthew 7:21-23 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants.

22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ 23Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you evil people.’

This portion of Matthew is one of those that can strike fear into every believer. Who hasn't read this passage and asked, "Lord, do you mean me?" If you look back starting with verse 15, you will notice that Jesus was warning about false prophets, those who claim to speak about and for Jesus, but they are far from him. There are many different cults and faiths that claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, but they believe in a very different Jesus than a true Christian does.

Here though, Jesus is talking about those within the church. They act and talk like they follow Jesus, but in their hearts they are far from him. They have a far different agenda than sharing the life-saving good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They do not call on Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord of their life. They haven't called on the name of Jesus to redeem them from their sin. In gratitude they have not made it their purpose in life to please Him, and tell all they know about Jesus as best as they can, or work for his purposes.

If you even are asking this question, you have already passed God's test. All of us who love and call on our Savior Jesus know that we fall short and that we are undeserving of God's mercy and grace, and knowing so is what is most important in determining whether or not you are a true disciple. It is because we know of our inadequacy and need for Him that we can know that we are chosen by Him. Jesus reaches out to all of us, who will realize our very dependence, to call us his children.

We feel his presence when we are moved in worship and praise, or we are touched by the injustice, hurt and pain around us. We know we are his, when we long for his return and we hope and wait for his loving embrace. Are you a true disciple? Do you long for the Kingdom of Heaven? If you do, then in your heart you already know the answer.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven : True Equality - May 9, 2013

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 choosing 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.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Is THE END Near? - May 8, 2013

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

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


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

Days like we are now experiencing, when the moral fiber and what we once knew as our Country, seems to be crumbling around us, have us feeling as if the things that we have so long trusted are no longer secure. Rarely in our lifetimes has it seemed so bad out there.

There has been very little good news since the beginning of this century. We started it out with the fears of Y2K, climaxed the new century with 9/11, mired ourselves in two almost decade long wars, face threats of Islamic fundamentalism, the events in the Middle East, the assault on unborn life, the eradication of God from our society, the battle for biblical marriage, and our faltering economy, have brought many to their knees asking "Is this the end?"

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

The goal of Biblical prophecy was not to cause believers to dread the future and fear their outcome; it was written for us to know that the Bible is authoritative and real, and to let us know about what is to come. It should bring us comfort to know that we place our trust in God, who has revealed Himself to us and guides us through what is happening around us.

Rather than placing your faith in politicians, the economy, stocks, your 401K or something else, place you faith in Jesus Christ who holds your "end" in His hands. Turn to the One who will save you for eternity.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Just The Facts - May 7, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 6, 2013

There Can Be Only One - May 6, 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 a lot 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.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Rituals - May 5, 2013

Romans 5:6-8 (New International Reader's Version)
6 At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people. He died for us when we had no power of our own. 7 It is unusual for anyone to die for a godly person. Maybe someone would be willing to die for a good person.

8 But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Job 33:27-29 (New International Reader's Version)
27 Then the person comes to others and says, 'I sinned. I made what was wrong appear to be right. But I wasn't punished as I should have been.

28 God set me free. He kept me from going down into the grave("pit" in the NKJV). So I'll live to enjoy the light that leads to life.' 29 "God does all of those things to people. In fact, he does them again and again.

What are Sunday's all about? Hey its the weekend! This is our time to relax and enjoy the fruit of our weekly labor. Why all this fuss about getting up, getting dressed up and driving to a building, just to sing songs and listen to people reading from the world's best selling book? Why take the time to hear some guy standing above us all, trying to lecture us on what we should and shouldn't do? Does it actually do anything for us? Does it just make us feel good?

I am sure that everyone of us have either felt or thought this way sometime in our lives. For me, it was when I was an intellectual super star; you know, when I was in college. Unfortunately I listened to this message in my head much too long. It took some serious life changing moments to get me to listen to a much different message.

This is what Paul is hinting at in this chapter of Romans. Jesus, at the right time in our dismal lives, reveals himself to us. For each person, this occurs at different times. For some, it may be when we are children and we lead a life of meaning and purpose, giving glory to God in the process. For others, it may have be in church camp, when we hear a convicting message and take that step of faith. Unfortunately for many, it has to be when we are at our lowest, in our deepest "pit" as we read in these verses of Job.

This is the real meaning of our "rituals" on Sunday: Jesus offers us a way out. A way to climb out of the muddy, sticky pit that we have gotten ourselves into with our sin and disobedience. He gives us the opportunity to make ourselves clean again, and to make our lives new and whole again. He restores a right relationship between us and God, and because he died, taking on our deserved punishment onto himself, we can be forgiven for all the bad that we have done.

No wonder we gather on this very special day! No wonder we sing hymns and praises of joy for being redeemed! No wonder we listen for every hopeful and joyful word from a God and Father who extremely loves us! No wonder we want to learn how we can live godly and righteous lives in thanks for what Jesus has done! Why not make it a habit each Sunday to go to a church near you, and give Him the glory for what He does in your life?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Troubleshooting - May 4, 2013

Deuteronomy 7:9 (New International Reader's Version)
So I want you to realize that the Lord your God is God. He is the faithful God. He keeps his covenant for all time to come. He keeps it with those who love him and obey his commands. He shows them his love.

Hebrews 10:23 (New Century Version)
23 Let us hold firmly to the hope that we have confessed, because we can trust God to do what he promised.

The problem with troubles and distress is that they don't seem to go away as quickly as we would like. We pray and pray for His relief, yet our difficulties seem to remain. We wonder and cry out to saying, "How long must we go through this? When will you take this away?" Day after day we pray, yet we don't get an answer; at least not the answer we want. What should we do?

We need to keep right on praying and seeking and above all, we have to have faith in His promises. God has given us His promises, one being that He will work out everything for good if we love Him (Romans 8:28). He wants what is best for us, and if we will study His word, it will reveal the promise you may need to resolve your issue; or you will at least find comfort as you go through your distress.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.1 Peter 5:6-7(NLT)

Photo "Oh look ,there is a rainbow!", by Nicolas Valentin, 11-11-2006,Clachan of Campsie, Scotland, GB

Friday, May 3, 2013

God's Good Will - May 3, 2013

Philippians 2:12-13 (New International Version, ©2010)
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Philippians 2:12-13 (The Message)
12-13What I'm getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I'm separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

So, what is God's will? It is a question I know I will be searching for the rest of my life. God has led me to this point in my life. He chose the time and place, the occupation and circumstances, my past and my future. Everything that is "me" is under His control. His will is what I will prayerfully pursue forever. He has gifted me with a seat at His table, a place of rest at His feet. It took a long, round about way to get me here, but now I am here.

I have tried to answer what is meant by God's will, but I believe only each person can discover and answer that question. None of us is the same, and His will for each of us is different. What ties us together is our pursuit to find His will for each one of us, to pursue it, and in the end to be found acceptable for doing so. I would want nothing else but to have served at God's good pleasure, and like Paul the apostle before me, be acknowledged as a good and faithful servant.

Then again, since God is ultimately in control, He will help me complete the assignment He has laid out for me! Comforting isn't it? In the end, if we call on Him to be our Lord and Savior, He will make sure we do what He wants us to do! He will help us to do His good and perfect will.

Photo "Bible Reading" by ProLife, 9-2-2004, from stock.xchng

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Your Free Will Decision - May 2, 2013

Ezekiel 18:32; Ezekiel 33:11 (New International Version, ©2010)
18:32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

Matthew 18:14 (New King James Version)
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 (New International Reader's Version)
3 That is good. It pleases God our Savior. 4 He wants everyone to be saved. He wants them to come to know the truth.

I have often wondered and about the billions of people on this planet that are "lost". By lost I mean that they either don't know or have rejected that the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. Many in this world would dispute that, but fact is that once you have studied the Bible, and every other religious text, only Jesus claimed to be the full representation and only way to God.

Once I fully grasp what He was offering, what Jesus did on the cross in sacrificing himself for our sins, became very clear to me. The more I studied the Bible and the Old Testament sacrificial system, the more I read how God's people would wander from Him despite His provision and love, the more it became obvious that mankind needed a permanent solution to his sinfulness and waywardness.

God, through His love, grace, mercy and sovereign will, determined that He would have to be the One to redeem His people. Just like a good parent would rather take the punishment or pain inflicted on their children, God decided that He needed to take it upon Himself to resolve man's problem of sin by taking on the just punishment that sin would require. No other religious teaching has God doing the work to bring man to Himself. The sole requirement is for us to freely believe and accept it.

If you are still not a Christian, God has given you the "free will" to choose His way of rescue. He has known you from the beginning and He knows when your life will end. For all of us, our time on this earth is short. He will not let you or anyone get away from His holiness and justice. Someday we will all have to reconcile our account with Him. Better to do it in this life, by accepting His free gift of salvation, than have to stand judgment in the after life.

If you were called to stand before Him without Jesus Christ, would your good outweigh your bad on the scales of justice? When the gavel comes down at your judgment, where you will spend eternity?

2 Peter 3:9 (New Century Version)
9 The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives.

Photo "Hammer to Fall" by gmarcelo, 12-4-2006, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

God's Pre-Dermined Will - May 1, 2013

Ephesians 1:4-6 (New International Version, ©2010)
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Ephesians 1:4-6 (The Message)
3-6How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Have you ever thought about why you are here? I am sure you have, because we all have. Many of us spend our entire lives wandering around fairly aimlessly, without a clue of what we are destined for. I would venture to say that, although many of us know what we would like to do in life and work and other things, we really don't know what tomorrow will bring us. We don't even know if we will have a tomorrow, and for some, that can be pretty scary.

Do you realize that when you woke up this morning and headed off to work or school, when you had lunch or a break, or when you drove home to see your family, that it was all part of God's plan? Seems pretty incredible doesn't it, but nothing that you do, or that happens to you is a surprise to God. He knew your beginning and He absolutely knows when this all will end for you. Personally, I wouldn't want that kind of knowledge, but for our all-knowing God, it is all part of His plan.

What's so amazing about all of this is that before the earth and everything in it was created, God knew you! He made you and knew when you would be conceived (Psalm 139:13-16;Jeremiah 1:5). He knew when you would be born, and first walk, and go to school, when you would rebel and turn away, and when you would come back to Him. He pre-determined, because He wanted to, that you would exist today! He purposed in His heart to create you, to rescue you from the world of sin and all of your junk, and to lift you up by His grace to be redeemed by Him.

If you know that you are a Christian, you need to continually praise Him for allowing you to be "in His will", and for rescuing you to serve Him.

Photo "Determination" by thadz,11-10-2006 from stock.xchng