Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Ever-present Help - September 30, 2013

Psalm 46 (New International Version)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

When all else fails, turn to God. He will be "our ever-present help" when times are stressful. He alone will bring us comfort when we are in our deepest need. Give Him praise and glory that He always has our best interest in mind, and that He alone is in control.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Good Shepherd - September 28, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Into the Light - September 29, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 27, 2013

Blocking - September 27, 2013

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

It's another Friday night and fall weekend, and many of you are focused on high school, college, or professional football. In football, "blocking is a legal move occurring when one player obstructs another player's path with his body. The purpose of blocking is to prevent defensive players tackling the ball carrier, or to protect the quarterback while attempting to pass or hand-off the ball"*. At football team usually rises or falls depending on their ability to block the defensive players, keeping them from getting the quarterback or the ball-carrier.

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

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

*"Blocking" according to Wikepedia

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Watch Out! - September 26, 2013

Micah 2:1-3(New Century Version)
1 How terrible it will be for people who plan wickedness, who lie on their beds and make evil plans. When the morning light comes, they do what they planned, because they have the power to do so.

2 They want fields, so they take them; they want houses, so they take them away. They cheat people to get their houses; they rob them even of their property.

3 That is why the Lord says:

"Look, I am planning trouble against such people, and you won't be able to save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, because it will be a terrible time.

Many of us have encountered people who get their thrills from taking advantage of other people. I am sure that just talking about this brings someone's name to each one of our memories. Even today, there are many examples on a daily basis of the kind of people that are described above(It almost sounds like the government, doesn't it!). Problem is though that those who engage in that kind of activity had better watch out!

Although evil has been allowed to run amok in this world, there will always be a time of reckoning. Because of the holiness of God who created it all, justice has to be served, whether in this life or the next. If this type of behavior sounds like you, it's time you make some changes. You will be glad you did!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fortune Cookies - September 25, 2013

Psalm 128(New International Reader's Version)
1 Blessed are all those who have respect for the Lord. They live as he wants them to live.

2 Your work will give you what you need.
Blessings and good things will come to you.

3 As a vine bears a lot of fruit,
so your wife will have many children by you.
They will sit around your table
like young olive trees.

4 Only a man who has respect for the Lord
will be blessed like that.

5 May the Lord bless you from Zion.
May you enjoy the good things that come to Jerusalem
all the days of your life.

6 May you live to see your grandchildren.
May Israel enjoy peace.

Don't you just love to go and eat Chinese food with your family? Even at a young age I remember going to our favorite Chinese restaurant and eating all of the wonderful foods "family style". Everyone would share their dishes, and we learned how to eat with those funny sticks with the rubber bands on them. The best part cam at the end, when the server passed around the fortune cookies. Each one would take their turn and read their fortune out loud. Of course they never came true, but that still didn't stop the excitement and fun of the occasion.

The word of God is somewhat like a fortune cookie. Not to diminish God's word to something so frivolous, but each and every chapter and verse opens up words of wisdom and good fortune. If we will take the advice given, and do as we are told, and accept the promises offered, we will reap the blessings as they are written. Just like what's written in the fortune cookie, except these sayings do come true! So next chance you get, break open your Bible, turn to a good section of the Psalms or Proverbs and see what good fortune the Lord has in store for you.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Higher Than I - September 24, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 23, 2013

Heart Transplant - September 23, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Praise! - September 22, 2013

Psalm 147 (New Living Translation)

1 Praise the Lord!

How good to sing praises to our God!
How delightful and how fitting!
2 The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem
and bringing the exiles back to Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.
4 He counts the stars
and calls them all by name.
5 How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!
6 The Lord supports the humble,
but he brings the wicked down into the dust.

7 Sing out your thanks to the Lord;
sing praises to our God with a harp.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.
9 He gives food to the wild animals
and feeds the young ravens when they cry.
10 He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse
or in human might.
11 No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his unfailing love.

12 Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he has strengthened the bars of your gates
and blessed your children within your walls.
14 He sends peace across your nation
and satisfies your hunger with the finest wheat.
15 He sends his orders to the world—
how swiftly his word flies!
16 He sends the snow like white wool;
he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes.
17 He hurls the hail like stones.
Who can stand against his freezing cold?
18 Then, at his command, it all melts.
He sends his winds, and the ice thaws.
19 He has revealed his words to Jacob,
his decrees and regulations to Israel.
20 He has not done this for any other nation;
they do not know his regulations.

Praise the Lord!

Photo by lumix 2004, 8-10-2006 from stock.xchng

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Real Peace - September 21, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

About Prayer - September 20, 2013

Luke 18:1-8 (New Living Translation)
1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

In the passage above, Jesus illustrated through a parable the importance of persistent prayer. The point here is that none of our prayers get unanswered. We may not feel that way sometime, and there are times when we feel that God has abandoned us, but God does answer in the time that will benefit His children most.

There are circumstances that may hinder your prayers. If you are in sin and non-repentant, God will not listen to your prayers. Notice that I didn't say that He will not "hear" your prayers, because He is aware of everything, even your sinful state. If you will humble yourself, and ask Him for forgiveness, it will open up the line of communication.

What we pray for does have to be in His will for us. If we are frivolous in our prayers, or we are asking for things that are not within His plan for us, God will not gives us what we ask for. We need to always pray for His wisdom and make sure we seek His will in our requests.

There are times when the answer you get from God is NO. Yes, we don't get everything we pray for, for God did not promise us everything, when we came to belief in our salvation through Jesus. He did promise that he would meet all of our needs. In fact, as we mature in our Christian faith, we will ask for personal things much less frequently. If we focus on the needs of others and try to meet those needs, we will find that the very things we might have wanted, we will get.

The New Testament talks a lot about prayer, and this parable is just one example. Bottom line is this, we need to pray about everything all the time, because this is how we communicate with God. Jesus extended his love to us, now it is our turn to love Him back.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hidden Treasure - September 19, 2013

Proverbs 2:1-8(New Living Translation)
1 My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.

2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.

4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.

What if you were told that you would have the opportunity to discover a hidden treasure? Most everyone recalls the stories of pirates and buried treasure, and even the Indiana Jones movies that follows the treasure hunter on his quests. We may have even played pirates as children, and drew treasure maps for our friends to find something that was hidden. Treasure hunting carries with it a sense of excitement that we will have a chance to find something that will make us rich.

God has given us the opportunity to find hidden treasure. He has placed instructions and a guide of how to find this treasure in His word. Once we learn to read and understand where we are being guided, we will find riches and treasure that will be beyond measure. The wealth of what He gives is beyond worldly comparison. All we have to do is to accept His book of instruction, open it, and begin our search. Once you do, you will never be poor again, because you will receive riches for your soul.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Majesty - September 18, 2013

Psalm 8 (New International Version)
1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

These days we find it hard to realize that the Creator of the universe cares for us mere human beings. Because of this, for most of us God gets relegated to the "back seat" in most people's lives. What we all will find out sooner than later though is that the more we place Him in the background, the more we will need Him, because of what we will get ourselves into. We can't make it by ourselves, and life comes quickly crashing down around us when we live it without God.

Like it or not, God expects to have a significant place in all of our lives; He does care for each and every one of us. Why else would Jesus come to live among us and give us a way out of our sin and despair. Today, why not take time in the busyness of life, and take a few moments to yourself to give praises and thanks to God for what He has done for you? When as David you recognize the wonder and majesty of God in your life, you will soon find it a lot easier to live.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Urgent Business - September 17, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's FREE - September 16, 2013

Romans 3:22-24 (New Century Version)
22 God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: 23 Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard, 24 and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.

How much simpler can this be, but yet it is very hard for many of us to admit. Admit what? Admit that we are not perfect human beings. In fact we are far from being perfect. Minute by minute, day by day, we do things that keep us far from God. Oh, we might think that we are "good" people, but God's standard is much higher than that, and no matter how hard we may try, we really can't make it on our own.

You see, no one is really "good". We might have our moments, but we are self-centered, greedy human beings that want everything. From our earliest utterances, what came out of our mouths was the word "mine", and as we have grown up we all continue to "reach for that brass ring", stepping on whoever gets in our way to make it to the top. The world has supported our indulgences, and if we had our way, we would find ourselves knee deep in trouble. What's to be done with us?

We really can't be reminded of that enough, because each and every day, we continue to mess things up. Paul, in his letter to the Roman believers, makes it very clear, that God has freely given us the solution; He has given us a way out. A free ticket to clean ourselves up and spend eternity with Him. That ticket, that solution is trust and belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

Though many of you reading this may consider yourselves Christians, have you really surrendered yourself and claimed God's free gift of salvation through Jesus's work on the cross?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Thin Line Reprised - September 15, 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."

I first wrote this post over two and a half years ago, and today we find ourselves even deeper involved in rhetorical conflict around the world, as well in the very real war we are still involved with in Afghanistan.  A conflict in Syria or Iran seems precariously close, and the words I wrote the are just as true today. I pray that my words will be helpful to you.

We are engaged in a struggles 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 the force for good for many and 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 behavior 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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Qualities for Character - September 14, 2013

Psalm 15 (New Living Translation)
A psalm of David.

1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?

Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,

speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

3 Those who refuse to gossip

or harm their neighbors

or speak evil of their friends.

4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,

and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,

and keep their promises even when it hurts.

5 Those who lend money without charging interest,

and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.

Such people will stand firm forever.

In these verses, David asks of God, " what kind of person could worship God and be in His presence?" Here is the reflection of what God revealed to him. These are great character qualities with which to conduct our daily lives. From cover to cover this is the common theme in God's word, living good and righteous lives and treating others better than ourselves. This is right conduct and His pattern for how best to honor Him and bring Him glory.

But in the course of daily living it is not easy to always keep God's rules. I thank Him that He has provided us a way to always be right with Him; accept the truth of the gift of Jesus as the author of our forgiveness and hope. As we pattern our lives after Him, it will make it a lot easier.

Photo of the book The Quest for Character, by Charles Swindoll

Friday, September 13, 2013

Walking By Faith - September 13, 2013

2 Corinthians 5:7(New King James Version)
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Romans 8:24(New American Standard Bible)
24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?

Hebrews 11:1(New International Version)
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

These days its really difficult to know what is going on. Every day we are reminded by one thing or another that these are tough times, and it seems as if they will never end. You wonder at times if God is paying attention to your difficulty, and you wonder what you may have done wrong. Why does it have to be so hard? What can you do to overcome what your going through?

If you are a Christian, it's times like these that you can really get close to Jesus, because He has walked through some of the same things we have. What can give us confidence that things will be better is that He has gone through every type of emotion that we have. He knows how we feel.

It's at times like these that you need to understand that blessing comes from having faith, total trust, that although you cannot see what will happen, God will take care of you. Yes, you don't know how what your going through will end, but God does. He has given you His promise that He will never leave or forsake you(Hebrews 13:5), and that everything that you go through will be for your own good(Romans 8:28).

Because of His promises you can have confidence, that although you cannot see where you are going, He is leading you where you are supposed to go. He knows what you need, and He is into the details. So what should you do? Totally trust God. Seek Him continually in prayer and ask Him to help you in leaving the results to Him. It is only in total faith and trust that you can truly be at peace in all that happens around you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Easy Way - September 12, 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, September 11, 2013

Remembering the Lesson of 9/11 - September 11, 2013

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

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

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

Today as well, marks one year since four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, were killed in Benghazi, Libya, by another group of Islamic Fundamentalists. It has been a year, and we are still do not know all of the details that led to that tragedy. In addition, we are now looking to get involved in a civil war in Syria, in support of those same fundamentalists, while many Christians are being killed or forced to convert to Islam. This is going on across almost every country that has an Islamic majority.

There are many today who are doing terrible things in the name of their god and their religion. Their are also many who since those days could care less about God and want nothing to do with Him; for them they believe there is always tomorrow. In their minds they feel that what they are doing is right, but where will it lead them in the future? On both those days we remember, Satan sought to take down everyone he could; he sought to drive fear into the hearts of as many as he could. His goal is to have as many as he can follow him. And today as well, Satan is trying to do the same thing throughout the Middle East, working desperately to turn the hearts of as many as he can against the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately many are following Satan's path. But I say our God is far greater and has no equal, and His purpose is to turn the hearts of people back to Him, and to His Son. He wants us not to know that the only security we can have in this life is through the belief and lordship of Jesus Christ. As has been shown in past days, our tomorrow is not guaranteed; a single insane act can end it all for each and everyone of us. We would be well served to ask ourselves, "What will we do with Jesus Christ today, while we still have the chance to answer".

Photo "Ground Zero Cross", credits to Getty Images

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drink From the Living Water - September 10, 2013

John 4:7-14 (New International Reader's Version)
7 A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" She said this because Jews don't have anything to do with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered her, "You do not know what God's gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water."

11 "Sir," the woman said, "you don't have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

12 "Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?"

13 Jesus answered, "All who drink this water will be thirsty again. 14 But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life."

John 7:37-39 (New International Version)
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the [Holy]Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the [Holy]Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

According to sources at, "Your body is estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. Water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs."

Since water is so essential for healthy operation of the human body, we have built in mechanisms to regulate and insure that we take in enough water. All of us have experienced the primary symptom from lack of water, thirst. Once we become thirsty, we focus on nothing else but getting something to drink. Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of cold water when you are thirsty, and because we are always active and our bodies are always using up the water that we are taking in, we seemingly have an unquenchable thirst that is never satisfied.

Jesus was used this the example of our unquenchable thirst for his illustration of the spiritual condition. We are born with a thirst in need of satisfaction. This thirst is described in these verses from Solomon:
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (Amplified Bible)10I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

We are constantly looking for fulfillment in our lives, and to quench this "thirst" for something more. Many of us spend years lost in a pursuit of our own desires, only to find that the things of this world cannot satisfy. The more we pursue these things of the world, the deeper we fall into our sins, and the more desperate we are for relief. It is when we arrive at our time of deepest despair and greatest "thirst" that we realize that we cannot be satisfied on our own. We have a need for something more and our true desire is to be ultimately loved by God.

Jesus offer us the "living water", the "living water" of the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our lost condition, and brings us ultimate satisfaction by revealing to us that God loves us. It is the spring of "living water" that constantly guides us through this life, showing us God's will and purpose. It leads us into a new and eternal life with God, and quenches our thirst for fulfillment and satisfaction.

But we cannot take the cup and drink from the "living water" until we first accept God's provision for our fallen spiritual condition. Jesus came to take away our sins by dying on the cross, and he rose again to prepare a place for us in eternity. Come and drink from the "living water" and satisfy the thirst in your soul.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pollution Free! - September 9, 2013

Mark 7:5;14-23(New Living Translation)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”
14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”

17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18 “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

There has always been an argument in society about what causes are person to be bad. How does a seemingly innocent baby grow up to be good or bad? Some will say it is because of the way a person has been brought up; they state that their environment had everything to do with it. On the other side there are those who say that the person was born that way; they can't help how they are because that is just the way they are because it is in our nature.

In a sense Jesus jumped into this argument when faced with criticism from the religious leaders of the day. It was believed that all Jews should follow the tradition on ritual cleansing before they ate to make sure that they would not be affected by what they ate. Although the command by God was instituted in ancient day for health reasons, the Pharisees believed that if one did not follow the traditions and did not wash oneself that you were sinful, or bad.

Jesus made it clear that thanks to our natural man, we are born with a heart susceptible to sin already. No matter how much we try to be careful about what we take in the body, it is not what we eat, or see, or read, etc. that causes us to be a sinner, or bad. It is what is in our heart already that pollutes us; in other words everyone is born with the propensity to be sinful. Our environment or what we touch might influence us, but we are the one who decides to follow after bad or good.

That is why without Christ we stand condemned and polluted already, but the great thing about belief in Jesus Christ is that if we will accept His death on the cross to pay for our "pollution", we have the opportunity to clean up our hearts. That is when the Holy Spirit takes residence within us, and cleans us up. God then sees us as clean an pure and pollution-free as He sees His Son Jesus.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Praise! - September 8, 2013

Psalm 31 (New International Version)
1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Free me from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
I trust in the LORD.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.

8 You have not handed me over to the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.

9 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and my body with grief.

10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.

11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors;
I am a dread to my friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.

12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.

13 For I hear the slander of many;
there is terror on every side;
they conspire against me
and plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."

15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from my enemies
and from those who pursue me.

16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.

17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD,
for I have cried out to you;
but let the wicked be put to shame
and lie silent in the grave.

18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
for with pride and contempt
they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

19 How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.

20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe
from accusing tongues.

21 Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed his wonderful love to me
when I was in a besieged city.

22 In my alarm I said,
"I am cut off from your sight!"
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.

23 Love the LORD, all his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful,
but the proud he pays back in full.

24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD.

When you are troubled who better to turn to than God? In the psalm of David above, he reflects on how God brought him through times of distress and anguish. I have found that if you read and pray through a psalm like this one, it helps put your situation in perspective. It helps you to know that as long as you seek God's help, He will carry you through.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

God's Forgiveness - September 7, 2013

Micah 7:18-19 (New International Version)
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12 (New Century Version)
12 He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from west.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (New Century Version)
7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God's grace,8 which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding,9 let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ.

Romans 4:5-8 (New Century Version)
5 But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him, who makes even evil people right in his sight. Then God accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him. 6 David said the same thing. He said that people are truly blessed when God, without paying attention to their deeds, makes people right with himself.

7 "Blessed are they whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.
8 Blessed is the person whom the Lord does not consider guilty." — Psalm 32:1–2

It is good to know that we don't have to really do anything to be forgiven by God. Jesus has done the work for us through His death on the cross, paying for our debt that we owe God for our sin and wrongdoing.

Because of this, God ignores our sins and sees Christ's righteousness when He looks at us. All we have to do is to ask for God's forgiveness and trust in Jesus' who has saved us, and to acknowledge that He rose from the dead to confirm that He was who he said He was.

You can start over today by leaving it all to Him; admit you have fallen short and are a sinner, turn from your old worldly ways, and give your life to Jesus and be led by Him.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Learning Patience - September 6, 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, September 5, 2013

The Tri-Unity of God - September 5, 2013

Genesis 1:26 (New American Standard Bible)
26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Genesis 3:22 (New American Standard Bible)
22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--

Matthew 28:18-20 (New International Version)
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Now this is a hard one to wrap my head around, but it is essentially the most important doctrine that defines Christianity. Essential, because how you treat this subject determines whether you believe in truth or a heresy. Understanding this essential of Christianity determines whether or not you are following the truth that saves you, or an inerrant doctrine that condemns you. Wow! That is pretty strong, but it is so important that know the difference between truth and error when it comes to the nature of God.

What I am talking about is the doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God. For Christians this is probably a term you have heard about, and you may have a limited understanding of the concept. Since I have complete confidence in the inerrant and in fallible word of God found in the Bible, the verses I give above settles the question for me. In every translation and the original languages the contexts are the same. Our Triune God was present at Creation, and Jesus as the second person of the Trinity commanded all disciples top baptize in the names of all three persons of the Godhead.

In trying to explain how the Trinity exists, and I hope you will excuse me in noting this, but I have always used the very weak and simplistic analogy of a chicken's egg (How can you really explain the complex and inexplicable nature of our awesome God?). A chicken egg has three distinct components (actually you might divide an egg even further, but hang with me on this one), the outer covering of shell and shell membrane, the egg's white, and the egg's yolk. Each of these components are separate and essential to the egg. All co-exist together and together they are the egg.

Ben Rast with Contender Ministries puts it this way in an article he writes on the ministry's website,"We may never fully understand the nature of God until we get into heaven. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. Our finite created minds are unable to fully grasp these characteristics of God." He further states, "The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as follows: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In order to prove this doctrine we must prove the following, there is only one God, the Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons."

This doctrine is upheld in the Nicene Creed which we studied a few days ago, and you may want to take a look at the creed and study it further. I have also provided the links to study further the proofs for the Trinity. You will also find information on various cults that call themselves Christian, but do not believe in the same nature of God as we do. These include Mormonism, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witness, and what I believe is the very dangerous Oneness Pentecostalism, Jesus Only or Holiness Churches.

In fact many well-intentioned evangelical pastors today embrace Oneness pastors, which has been the criticism of T.D.Jakes, and I am concerned that many new Christians may be led astray if they do not fully understand the differences. Before embracing the teaching of any pastor or church, you need to examine their beliefs in reference to orthodox Christian theology. If you have any questions, please be sure to study the links and to send me any questions that you might have.

Bottom line is this, to be a true Christian, you need to believe that our God is a Triune God, and within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any other doctrine out there should be considered as incorrect. Photo of Adoration of the Holy Trinity, by Albrecht Durer,1511,Oil on panel,Vienna, Kunshistorisches Museum

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

God's Got Your Back - September 4, 2013

Romans 12:19-21 (New International Reader's Version)
19 My friends, don't try to get even. Leave room for God to show his anger. It is written, "I am the One who judges people. I will pay them back,"—(Deuteronomy 32:35) says the Lord. 20 Do just the opposite. Scripture says, "If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. By doing those things, you will pile up burning coals on their heads." —(Proverbs 25:21,22)

21 Don't let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good.

Much is said in the Bible about how Christians should treat others. When you give your life to Jesus Christ and determine that you will follow and serve Him, you are no longer your own. You have been bought with a price, the price of Jesus' death on the cross for your sins. The great thing is that as God's possession, He takes on the task of righting every wrong that has been done to us. He promises to take care of any evil that is done to you.

That gives us the freedom to show the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to everyone we encounter, especially those who choose to harm us. It is our responsible to show those and all in the world the true nature and character of God. By our humble example, leaving room for God to correct anything that is done, we can help to make the good news of Christ and example for even evil people to follow.

There have been many examples of the love of Christians turning the evil hand of those who chose to harm. Leave the judgment and vengeance to God. We will be called to account for displaying the proper character of God to others.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our Mediator Before God - September 3, 2013

1 Timothy 2:5-6(New Living Translation)
5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

In the world of business the resolution of contract disputes is a huge concern. In most contracts, in order to avoid lengthy court battles and the spending of huge attorney's fees, a provision is made that the first attempt at resolving any dispute will be through mediation. Agreeing to mediation provides protection for both parties in case a dispute arises, and it allows for the resolution of a conflict for the least amount of difficulty and cost.

Typically both parties will agree to allow a mediator, a neutral party who assists in negotiations and conflict resolution, to be the one to reconcile any dispute. In mediation, and if both have agreed to and accepted mediation as the resolution in any conflict, both parties must abide by the final decision of the mediator. The mediator's word is the final authority, and if payment is required of either party, it has to be paid.

If on the other hand, the parties fail to accept and agree to mediation in their initial contract agreement, they will subject themselves to resolving any dispute in a court of law. This may end up costing the offending party, a heavy price in the attempt to placate the injured party. It is a difficult place to be, if one has to stand on their own and suffer the consequences of any injury that may have been done. Many have had their reputations and lives ruined as a result of not agreeing to the protection of mediation.

Through God's grace, He has provided us with a Mediator to resolve our dispute with God. Our sin has separated us from God and has caused us to be in dispute, created conflict, with Him. Nothing that we do on our own can resolve the conflict, because we are a party to our dispute with God.
Jesus Christ has taken on the responsibility of mediating our conflict with our righteous God.

Our dispute, our conflict with God due to the offense of our sin, has been resolved by Christ's mediation. Through His death on the cross, the payment that is required for our sin against God has been made by the Mediator Himself! He has been given the final authority in the matter and His decision is final. Nothing can be done to alter the decision as long as we have accepted it, and agreed to Jesus Christ as our Mediator.

If you have not accepted God's offer of mediation, you will have to stand alone in God's court of judgment and suffer whatever decision is rendered. Why not accept Jesus Christ and assure that your will have a Mediator when you stand before God? Why not accept His payment in full for what you have done and will ever do as the offending party? Now is the right time for you to accept the decision and His provision as the resolution to your conflict with God.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Peacable Living - September 2, 2013

Romans 12:17-18 (New International Version, ©2011)
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:17-18 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
17Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble. 18As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone.

As followers of Jesus we need to seek the good in every situation, even when it seems bad. This is especially true when it comes to relationships with others. Very often in life we are thrown into difficult situations where we are hurt by others. Our normal reaction would be to strike back, but it is best to "turn the other cheek" as we have learned from Jesus.

I have mentioned before about what was inflicted upon Jesus without Him striking back. We need to do the same by never repaying what evil that has been done to us. We also need to always live in harmony with those around us, seeking the best, and living in peace. Only then can we truly be mirror images of our Savior.

Photo "Hands" by Andy205, 7-7-2005 from stock.xchng

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Instilling Long-term Purity - September 1, 2013

2 Corinthians 7:1 (New International Reader's Version)
1 Dear friends, we have these promises from God. So let us make ourselves pure from everything that pollutes our bodies and spirits. Let us be completely holy. We want to honor God.

Alot is being written these days about the number of young people leaving the church after they leave home. The author of one such book, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . .and How to Bring Them Back,Drew Dyck said in an interview "I think there has been a lot of evidence that they are dropping religion at a greater rate than the younger adults of yesteryear," said Drew Dyck.

In his book Dyck examines the reasons for this through interviews he conducts. Reasons can be varied, from those who leave because of a negative experience, to those who rebel, and those who just get bored and drift away. There has also been other research from everyone from Focus on the Family to Pew Research that seems to concur with this significant falling away of our young people.

I am concerned for Christian youth of today, because today there is more pressure from the world around them than ever before in the past. Once they are out of our care and the safer surroundings of a church family or youth group, they are like "lambs thrown to the wolves". The god of this world will do all he can to trip up everyone of God's children he can. Many of us need only to look in the mirror to identify someone who has gone through this. So what do we do to help them from becoming another statistic?

First, our youth must know without a doubt what they believe. They need to be able to standup for it, and to defend it. As there parents, we need to know what they do believe, and if their is doubt, help to point them to someone that can help them work through those doubts (Of course we need to be sure of what we believe first). They can only be strong against opposition if they do this.

Next, once they leave the home, they have to have a lifeline back to their church and their family of believers. This may mean that your church or its youth group leaders need to be actively connecting with these youth on a regular basis, providing a resource upon which they can depend on. Nothing makes a young person more vulnerable than when they feel that they are alone.

Knowing what they will be held accountable to when they are in the world is the next step. The passage above makes it clear what God expects from them and us. There are many passages in the Bible that help support this. Find them yourself, then pass them on to your kids.

I believe many young people fall away because their parents have in the way they live. Many times the "empty-nest" syndrome drives once church-going parents to themselves fall into leading lifestyles that result in break up and divorce. Our bad examples forces our young adults to question their own personal faith, and many times the results are catastrophic. Get you own "house of faith" in order before you expect your kids to.

Finally, before your young person leaves home, discuss what will happen when they do go away. Be very honest and clear that what the world offers is not what they have been accustomed to. They need to know how to face things such as relationships, drinking, drugs and sex. Don't be afraid to talk about it, and yes, its okay to be honest about your past mistakes. Nothing is more important than to know that God can restore broken people, just in case they do mess up.

Photo "Water 4" by NKZS, 8-21-2008, from stock.xchng