Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Reformation Day! - October 31, 2013

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Don't Get Eaten! - October 30, 2013

1 Peter 5:8(New International Version)
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Imagery is very important, because it gives us a visual understanding about what is happening. Often Satan is compared to a stalking, hunting, voracious predator intent on "eating us". Satan is the lord of the earth, banished from Heaven to prowl the earth, and He is intent on upsetting God's plan for as many people as he can. He knows that we are God's most loved possession, and because of His hatred for God, he wants us take us away from being one of God's own.

Often we give him help by putting ourselves into situations where he can trip us up. He sets his trap where we shouldn't be, and he attacks us when we are most vulnerable. Another tactic he uses is to make us feel secure in what he is offering, suddenly catching us when we have let our guard down. For many this can be when we are away from home, away from the safety of boundaries that have been set for us. For others this can be when we are out on the "Serengeti" of the world, exposing ourselves to its lusts and pleasures. And for some it can be right at home, when we open ourselves to the digital world. Whatever the situation, we are cautioned to be alert, aware of our weaknesses, and sober-minded, or clear headed.

If you don't want to get eaten, be sure you are grounded in Jesus Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit, obedient to God at all times. Don't allow yourself to be "out in the open", alone and exposed to where Satan can most easily lure you. And finally, surround yourself with like-minded Christians, who can offer you protection and strength in numbers. Fix your mind on your Savior, and you will defeat the devil's plans.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baby Steps - October 29, 2013

Proverbs 20:24 (New Living Translation)
24 The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

Psalm 37:23(New International Version)
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm;

Psalm 39:4 (New Living Translation)
4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 90:12 (New International Reader's Version)
12 Teach us to realize how short our lives are. Then our hearts will become wise.

Jeremiah 10:23(New International Version)
23 I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.

I talk to a lot of people, and especially in this economy, more and more people are frustrated with the whole system. You work harder and longer, and you make less and everything costs more. You hear more and more media types and think that the whole system is rigged against the little guy, or for that matter if you are a big guy the system is against you as well!

God has wonderful news for us, especially if you believe in Him and His word. You and I don't have to worry about any of this! He has it all under control. You see with God in control, why not just go along for the ride? Did you catch that first Proverb, where it says, "why try to understand everything along the way?" I really cling to verses in the Bible like the ones above. Our time on earth is so very short that we shouldn't be concerned and frustrated with the process of living.

What is the solution? Give it all back to Him. Let God take charge of your life and He will "direct your steps". How you ask? Start out with seeking Him in prayer. Get into His word and ask Him to guide you through it, showing you what is going on. Pray for His wisdom and His understanding. And, if you do not already know about His Son Jesus, who gave it all so that you could be forgiven and be with Him forever, ask to get to know Him.

Yes, this life isn't easy and often frustrating, and yes, we feel like a baby taking our first steps much of the time, but if you ask for God to guide you, it sure will be much easier and in the end you will know your destination.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Entangled, Ensnared & Trapped - October 28, 2013

Romans 7:14-25 (The Message)
14-16I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

17-20But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (New International Version)
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As we try to live the Christian life, it is difficult to throw off those pesky "sins" that seem to haunt us. We find ourselves entangled, ensnared, trapped, by those things we thought we left behind when we gave up our old lives. These things differ for every believer; not everyone is "miraculously" freed from everything we used to be hindered by as a non-believer. Let's face one time we thought the things we did were okay. These things become a burden and hinder us from doing what we should for Christ.

When we become Christians we accept that Jesus has freed us by being the payment for sin that was required by God's law. Now that we have been rescued from them, it doesn't mean that it is easy to get away from the addictions to the sins we used to commit. All we know with our new life in Christ is that they are displeasing to the Father, and in gratitude to Him for what He has saved us from, we must try daily to shake off the bondage that we have become so accustomed to.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Praise! - October 27, 2013

Psalm 135:1-7; Psalm 135:13-18 (New Living Translation)

1 Praise the Lord!

Praise the name of the Lord!
Praise him, you who serve the Lord,
2 you who serve in the house of the Lord,
in the courts of the house of our God.

3 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
celebrate his lovely name with music.
4 For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel for his own special treasure.

5 I know the greatness of the Lord—
that our Lord is greater than any other god.
6 The Lord does whatever pleases him
throughout all heaven and earth,
and on the seas and in their depths.
7 He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
and releases the wind from his storehouses.
13 Your name, O Lord, endures forever;
your fame, O Lord, is known to every generation.
14 For the Lord will give justice to his people
and have compassion on his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands.
16 They have mouths but cannot speak,
and eyes but cannot see.
17 They have ears but cannot hear,
and noses but cannot smell.
18 And those who make idols are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.

Those who don't take the time to regularly attend a good Bible believing and teaching church are really missing out. My most enjoyable times are spent in worship, lifting hands to God in thanksgiving and praise. It is a time when I can truly get away from the world and share in the presence of the Holy Spirit with others of like mind. Let's be mindful of what we have because of Jesus Christ, and savor the good fellowship He so generously gives us.

Photo "Worship Hands" by ischutt, 1-23-2005 from stock.xchng

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Price of Privilege - October 26, 2013

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Praying It In - October 25, 2013

Psalm 145:17-19 (New Century Version)
17 Everything the Lord does is right.
He is loyal to all he has made.
18 The Lord is close to everyone who prays to him,
to all who truly pray to him.
19 He gives those who respect him what they want.
He listens when they cry, and he saves them.

For some of you, it continues to be tough. There are daily struggles due to the economy and those inevitably lead to strains at home. Many hopes and desires have been dashed, because things seem to be so tough. Plans have been delayed, and the things that may have been wished for the family have been placed on hold. Relief couldn't come soon enough.

There is hope if you believe in God, and if you have placed those hopes in Jesus Christ. Our loving God gives us directions in His word how best to use His power. As is stated above, God wants only what is right and good for you. He doesn't want to withhold a thing, but there is a pre-requisite; He wants to have a relationship with us, and that relationship, that intimacy He requires, can only be gained through prayer.

Once we establish that relationship in prayer, He will meet those things we are praying for. He will come through for you. Pray, wait and see what the Lord can do!

Photo from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Keeping It Straight - October 24, 2013

Proverbs 3:5-6(Amplified Bible)
5Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

6In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6(New Living Translation)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6(New King James Version)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

We really have a simple faith to follow. No, I didn't say it was easy, but I did say it is simple. God wants us to have a simple, childlike faith, that takes it for granted that as long as we lean on, trust, and have our confidence in Him, He will make sure it all works out for our good.

Everything we read about in the Bible is about trust and faith, that pure release of our own will and mental faculties and giving them over to God. It is a story about total surrender to Him, committing it all to Him before we do anything. He will promises to take care if the results.

No matter how you say it, that's simple, but again, it's not easy!

Photo "A Straight Path", Dr. Roy Winkelman, 5-22-2008, from Clippix ETC

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Inside Baseball - October 23, 2013

Psalm 16:8 (New International Version)
8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

I have learned that life throws you many curve balls, to use a baseball term. No matter what day it is, most of them end up with some sort of problem to deal with. As a Christian, you may have thought that life would be very idyllic. You may have thought that nothing would go wrong. Truth is our Savior promised us that we would encounter trouble, especially for following Him. What are we to do?

This verse from the Book of Psalm is a great place to start. As this verse says, I have learned to always put God first in all things. I approach each day, committing myself to God and His purposes. I try to grab onto wisdom from His word, to give me the guidance and support to make it through the day, and to overcome anything that is thrown at me. In other words, "I have set the Lord always before me".

With God on the field with you, as the lead off batter, I can be sure that I will be a winner in the game of life. Commit your day to Him and you will find yourself winning at life as well.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Giving It All - October 22, 2013

Luke 6:38 (New American Standard Bible)
38"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

Luke 6:38 (New Century Version)
38 Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you."

Mark 4:24 (New Century Version)
24 "Think carefully about what you hear. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you, but God will give you even more.

Much has been said about giving these days, but for the believer the act of giving takes on a very spiritual meaning. God is aware of everything we do, and the attitude of our hearts during the act that we are doing. He seeks for us to have a generous heart, giving of ourselves in generosity, and with that same generosity it will be returned to us by God. Don't get me wrong, I am not talking just about material possessions or money.

Our giving can take many forms. Let's say that you spend your time serving in a homeless shelter or helping with the children in Sunday School. This is a gift of your time and service. After it is done and you reflect on it, don't you receive as much if not more benefit from your act and gift of serving others?

God wants us to live in abundance. He wants us to have it all. He demonstrated that to us by giving us the greatest gift of all; His Son Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins. In light of that, abundance in living is achieved through the transformation of our hearts, where we freely give everything in thanks and gratitude to God for His unquestionable love. Freely give because of what you have been freely given.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Restoration - October 21, 2013

Psalm 51:1-12(New Living Translation)
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.

4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.

7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.

If we have spent any time walking with the Lord, there is bound to be a time when we get caught up in the world. Often this results in doing something that strains our relationship with God. For many this can be a daily occurrence when our focus is on ourselves or the world, rather than what God's will is for our lives. Next thing we know, we feel detached and apart from Him, and things just don't seem right.

Thanks to God, and not to ourselves, He is all about rescue, restoration, and renewal. He wants a close relationship with us, so when we stray, God pulls us back to Him through the Holy Spirit. If you are a Christian, you know when this happens; you "get convicted" and you desire to be right with God. Because of Jesus Christ, we can be rescued from our shortcomings, restored by forgiveness and grace as His child, and renewed into fellowship with Him. All we need to do is confess, ask for His help and He will bring us back into relationship with Him.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Be Exalted, O God! - October 20, 2013

Psalm 57:7-11(New International Version)
7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.

8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

True freedom comes from being able to cast all of your cares upon God and releasing all of your anxiety on Him. He has stepped out of Heaven to carry each and every burden, and because He has also carried each an every sin, He is worthy of all praise and exaltation. You can be sure that the One that receives your worship and praise is faithful. May He be lifted up above the Heavens, and may His glory radiate throughout the earth!

Photo from "Heart of the Matter Online", posted by Lysa Terkeurst, 1-17-09

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sustain Ability - October 19, 2013

Psalm 55:22(New International Version)
22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22(Good News Translation)
22 Leave your troubles with the Lord,
and he will defend you;
he never lets honest people be defeated.

You hear much about the word "sustainability" these days. It has become the catch-word of environmentalists. It almost borders on being a new religion of sorts, with the worshipers of the environment, trying to give the animals and plants in the world rights equal to those of human beings. Its goal is to have us co-exist with the environment in the hopes of saving it from ourselves. This is what the EPA calls is a simple principle, and this is what it says about it:

"Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment."

Not that I am not for being a good steward of the earth that God gave us, but I feel many well-intentioned people have forsaken the Creator and are worshiping the creation(Romans 1:25) instead. This is one of the outcomes of our world removing God from their cultures. In everyone, there exists a "hole" that needs to be filled(Ecclesiastes 3:11), and many people these days are wrongly filling it with other things.

God has already told us what we need to have "sustain ability", and it calls for action on our part. In many places in His word, we are told that God will care for us if we turn to Him. He desires us to depend on Him for all of our needs, and in the verse above and in the Book of Peter, we are told to cast our cares on Him and he will take care of us(1 Peter 5:7). Our obligation is to live lives worthy of that care; our calling is to be righteous, living a life that exemplifies morality and justice. In doing so, He promises that He will sustain us.

Photo from Growth Nation, "Global Growth and Sustainability", posted 12-20-10, by Doug Bruhnke

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Good Beginning - October 18, 2013

Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:26-31 (New King James Version)
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

If you are anything like I am, you have spent alot of time in your life trying to figure out this whole "God thing". I really didn't give it much of a thought when I was a kid, but when I became a little older and able to understand about right and wrong, I gave it much more thought.

I often wondered what would happen if I did wrong, and I had the false notion that He was up there waiting to pound me over the head if I got out of line. Then as I got older and really did some bad things, I became fearful that I would be taken out before I had the chance to redeem myself.

From the beginning God has us in mind. He created the world around us that would be suitable for us to live in, and then He created us in His very Image! If you read carefully, God was not a lonely being, because in the God head there was a plurality of persons; more than one personality in the One God. Our God created it all for us, and gave us the responsibility to rule over the Creation and care for it.

In the beginning, all that He made was good, including us.

Photo "Morning Light" by getwired, 2-13-11, from stock.xchng

Thursday, October 17, 2013

David's Prayer - October 17, 2013

Psalm 20(New International Version)
For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.

3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.

4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the LORD grant all your requests.

6 Now this I know:

The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

9 LORD, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!

He was a "man after God's own heart"; he made the main focus of his life to be fully devoted to God. Not that he was always obedient, and not that he didn't suffered from human failures, but in all things he was totally devoted to God. That is why there are many Psalms from David. He spent his time seeking and crying out to God, and when he was rescued by God, he would give him praise.

I call this psalm "David's Prayer", because each of the first five verses are prayers lifted up to God. These are prayers as simple and substantive today as they were over 3000 years ago when they were written. They are prayers that we can pray for ourselves or for others.

After these prayers, David tells us what he knows about God; he simply states why he has trust in God, and he compares it to those who don't do the same. He tells us that God does good things for His people, and because of this we can ask Him to hear our prayers.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gut Check - October 16, 2013

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

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

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

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

There have been times in the past when Christians were called to stand up for true Christianity and for Jesus, and there are many people in our world that are standing up for Christ and suffering much persecution. We live in a time where we will suffer persecution, and all of us need to do a "gut check" as to what we will do. The question is, when it comes time for you to take a stand, what will you do?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

True Equality - October 15, 2013

Galatians 3:28(New Century Version)
28 In Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Greek, slave and free person, male and female. You are all the same in Christ Jesus.

I really believe that the word "Equality" has been hi-jacked in our country by political agendas. The term has been used to support everything from abortion to gay marriage; at the same time the words "racism", "bigotry", and "chauvinism" have been thrown around to minimize anyone who has a different stand on these moral issues of our day. Nothing minimizes a human being more than by calling them an inflammatory name that describes them in these terms.

In addition, many have used these terms to describe anyone who would embrace the God of the Bible, who call these behaviors as being wrong. Fact is the Bible does say that doing these things is wrong; does that necessarily mean that the Bible and these people are the ones who are wrong? It seems that whenever the Bible states that a certain behavior is wrong, just because that behavior becomes acceptable in society does not mean it is right. If we are to use the Bible to dictate some behaviors such as stealing and murder, why can't we use it as a guide for other behaviors?

Then what is "True Equality"? God made it very clear what it was in this passage in the Book of Galatians in the New Testament. He made it clear that is Christ Jesus, we are all the same: red and yellow, black and white, men and women, able and disabled. All have true worth and value in Jesus. He died for everyone and redeemed everyone unto Himself by His work of salvation, and there is nothing that makes us more equal than that. Those who call themselves Christian and do not treat others as equals are not Christians.

It is time that the world understood what true Christianity is all about. Only through Jesus Christ can you truly be free and equal.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bless Able - October 14, 2013

Psalm 34:1-3(New King James Version)
1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.

3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

He alone is worthy of our praise! This needs to be our highest and best goal, because our ultimate purpose in life is to bring God glory. Whenever we do thing in the name of Christ, we magnify His name and point all those who may not know Him to Jesus Christ. Only in Jesus can we someday hope to spend eternity with God; so make it the aim of your present life is to bring Him glory in this one.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

God's Care Instructions - October 13, 2013

Psalm 37 (New International Version)
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

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.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; 13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. 15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; 17 for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever. 19 In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

20 But the wicked will perish: Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; 22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be destroyed.

23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. 26 They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. 28 For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. 29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. 31 The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death; 33 but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, 36 but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. 38 But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

Whenever you get something new, it normally comes with Care Instructions. These are meant so that what you have will work well, and if you care for it properly it will last a long time.

The word of God is His instructions for us to have a life pleasing to Him. It is alot like Care Instructions, meant for us to work well and have a long life, but of course it is more than that. It is the guidance of a loving Father, so that we will have what is best. Psalm 37 is just a portion of those step-by-step instructions that He gives us.

If you are in need, or knowledge of what to do, why not ask God? As the loving Father, He will take care of your every need, and He will deliver you.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Prioritized Focus - October 12, 2013

1 John 2:15-16(New Living Translation)
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

What is important in your life? What do you seek after? What have you set as your priorities? Our world sets us on a path from early on to go for all that "brass ring". Our entire focus in life from high school on is to have fun and get as much as we can out of life. Everything around us if geared that way. You need only look at what the media around us is pushing into our minds, to know that the goal of the world is to focus us on what we can get.

For instance, do you remember being told that you needed to get the best grades, to get into the best colleges, to get the best jobs, to get the best positions, to get into the best company, to get the most money, to wear the best clothes, to get the best car, to get into the best parties, to get the best spouse, to get the best house, to get into the best community, to get into the best city, and on and on it went. And if you were an athlete, it was even worse.

A life of humility, poverty and piety is only reserved for a priest or a zealot, yet from the verse above, can you figure out which one is from God? Not that God wants us not to enjoy our lives, and not that He does not bless us with the best in life, but what is your primary focus? That has to be the question for everyone that call on the name of Jesus Christ and desires to follow after Him. Make sure that your priority is placed where it needs to be. God will take care of the rest.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Song of Praise - October 11, 2013

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tough Love - October 10, 2013

Hebrews 12:7-11(New Living Translation)
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

During difficult times, we may not think of it as discipline, but if you are a Christian, God allows us to go through times of "Tough Love". Although it is not easy to go through, God has promised us that it is for our ultimate good. He wants to conform us to the image of Christ, and these situations are for smoothing out our rough edges.

The good news is that God does this because we are His children, and He likens it to a loving Father disciplining his child. It will not last long, and God will never leave or forsake you during the process. At the end of it our children expect a hug and comfort, and God has promised us the same thing. He has a harvest of blessing waiting for us at the end of the hardship.

Photo from Scurrilous Pamphleteer, posted 3-19-11

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Faith from the Creator's Motor - October 9, 2013

Hebrews 11:1-3(New International Version)1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Faith; it is the fundamental bedrock that someone needs to believe in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit and in all that we know if we are to be Christians. It takes faith to believe that all that is around us was created by God. It takes faith to believe that God stepped into our world and became a man, to sacrifice Himself on the cross for our immorality, disobedience, and wickedness, also known as sin.

It takes faith to believe that God actually comes to live within us in the form of the Holy Spirit, to give us guidance, knowledge and comfort to live this earthly life. It takes faith to believe that God wrote the whole story down in the Bible, through the inspiration of ordinary men, and that the words come alive, and can speak to us today.

The dictionary defines faith as, "confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing", "firm belief in something for which there is no proof or material evidence". People place their "faith" in many things, but can you concretely say that you have faith in God and His plan for salvation? I am of the opinion that it is easier to place my faith in Him, than it is to believe that everything is here by chance. Nothing times nothing still gives nothing, if I remember my math correctly.

No one can convince me that the complexity of everything around me came about by chance. We are also asked, and in fact now teach our children in public school, that a theory is a fact, but to me it takes more faith to believe that we are descendants of apes, than it does that God wondrously created it all. It's a wonder why the scientists have to keep adding billions of years to the age of things, trying to find "the missing link"!

The passage above is the introduction of a great faith chapter in the Bible, Hebrews 11. The writer gives us an overview of the Old Testament's people of faith, and gives us reason for the faith and hope that is within us as believers. He help us as readers understand that we do not have an empty faith, but one that has been built over the millennia.

To me my faith in God increases every time I see a newborn baby, just as it was when I held my own child in my arms for the first time. My faith is increased every time I see the wonders of creation in the coloration and migration of birds, and the complex wonder of the flagellum of a one-celled organism that looks like a mechanical motor(see image above). My faith is increased every time I stand in awe of the beauty of forests and mountains, and every time I see the sun set over the ocean.

To me my faith is increased every time I see a person that was lost and forsaken by the world, turn around and change their life to one of value and tremendous joy, because of the faith they placed in the one who gave me hope, Jesus. If you are having questions about what you believe and your faith, place your trust in God and in His Son, and ask Him to confirm the faith that is within you.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good and Faithful Servant - October 8, 2013

Matthew 25:23(New International Version)
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Sometimes when I meditate on what I should be writing about, I will take a phrase that comes to mind and look up the definition of the words. The phrase, "good and faithful servant" as stated in the verse above makes an impression on my mind that I should meditate on what that means.

The word "faithful" means:

1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty; a faithful worker
2. true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends
4. reliable, trusted, believed
5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy

The word "servant" means:

1. a person employed by another
2. a person in the service of another

In reading these, what comes to mind is the character and the actions necessary to serve God and others. It is the example given us by Jesus Christ, who was the living example of these definitions to those around Him. It is the attitude God has and means for us to have as we demonstrate God's love to one another.

We are to be thorough in our duty, true to our word and promises, steady in our allegiance to Christ, loyal and constant to the good news of salvation, reliable in our walk for Him, adhering to the truth of the gospel message, and a living example of our Lord to others. We are to be God's "employees" in service to Him.

What is a "faithful servant"? Yes, it is the men and woman that profess the message of salvation in Jesus Christ to the world, such as Billy Graham, and countless numbers of ministers of the gospel, Christian musicians, authors and others, but more importantly, it is the daily example of Christ of the individual that is devoted to sharing with others the love, mercy and grace of God.

It is the person that confesses their sins, and accepts the forgiveness of God, and His payment for those sins through Jesus Christ, and steps out in joy to tell others that their chains have been broken, and their burdens have been lifted, and that God's gift is available to them as well. It is you who accept Jesus as Lord, and who will walk in faith to be His enduring servant to the world around you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Big Brothers - October 8, 2013

Psalm 3(New International Version)
1 LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”

3 But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the LORD,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.

5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.

7 Arise, LORD!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

Everyone can remember a time when they were picked on at school. If you are honest, you all encountered the bullies in your lives on more that one occasion. Those days of harassment seemed like they would never end, but if you had a big brother, those days soon cam to an end. It was your big brother who stuck up for you in the face of your enemies, and many of you fondly remember how you admired your great protector who kept you safe from harm.

These days, many are constantly under attack from one thing or another. At times the difficulties seem so overwhelming that you wonder if your "enemies" will do you in. If you are a believer, many of these attacks are sent by the evil one, wanting to distract you and keep you ineffective for God. At times it seems that the harassment will never end, but thank God, He stands ready to protect you, not as your big brother, but as your loving Father. If you will let Him, He will deliver you and keep you safe and secure.

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, why not let God be your "shield"? He will sustain you no matter what comes against you. Surrender your trouble to Him, and let Him stand in place of your big brother!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's Special About Sunday? - October 6, 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!

If you haven't gone lately, why not next Sunday? Go to a church near you and give Him glory He deserves!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lighthouse of Hope - October 5, 2013

Hebrews 12:1-3 (New International Reader's Version)
1 A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us.

2 Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 He put up with attacks from sinners. So think about him. Then you won't get tired. You won't lose hope.

Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean from the spectacular Big Sur Coast, the Point Sur Light Station stands as a silent sentinel for a by-gone era. Point Sur, a National Historic Landmark, is the only complete turn-of-the-century light station open to the public in California. From 1899 until 1974, families lived and worked in the buildings atop Point Sur. Today Point Sur is a ghost town. The unique stone lighthouse still guides ships with its light, though it is now totally automated.*

There are many out there searching for a beacon in the distance that they can focus their attention onto. We all need to be guided by something; for some it is the love of this world and the pleasures it has to offer; others look to fame and fortune in their talent, or work, or career; still some look to "religion" thinking that a certain manner of behavior or works will rescue them from the difficulties they face. Unfortunately, all of these will only make a shipwreck of the person's life.

Just as the lighthouse in the photo above has led many a ship's Captain to steer away from trouble and the hazards of the California coast, Jesus Christ is the beacon that leads us to a place of hope and trust. For the lost, He is the light shining in the distance that points to safe waters. For the believer, He is the faithful point that never moves, allowing us to always have a guiding light onto which we can focus our lives. With Him there are no shipwrecks, because He not only is the light, but also the Captain of our ship of life.

If you have become lost in the sea of trouble we call life, look to the shore for the lighthouse of hope. Look to Jesus who will guide you safely into the safe waters of God's love.

Photo of Point Sur taken by me on a trip to Carmel,CA in 2007.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Facing Transitions - October 4, 2013

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wanted and Wanting - October 3, 2013

John 1:16-17 (New International Version)
16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 (New International Version)
6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (New International Version)
15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

We can't help ourselves. No matter how much we try, we can't seem to do what is right. We stretch the truth a little bit here; go a little over the speed limit there; talk about someone we dislike behind there back; linger as we stare at someone on the beach. We borrow a few things from work that we never return; decide that church can wait another Sunday as we go the lake; focus on how much money we can make day in and day out; have no problem disobeying our parents; think that we should have the car our neighbor drives; and join in as our buddies curse without a thought.

If we can see ourselves in any of the things that I have mentioned above, we will find that we have disregarded and very blatantly broken every one of the laws of God given to Moses, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). If we care anything about what happens to us after this life, there will be a day when we finally realize that we cannot keep from doing such things unless we get outside help. We don't like who we are anymore, because the Law of God acts like a mirror showing us how much we really disobey God. By then we have accumulated so much junk and carry so much bad stuff in our lives, that we one day the burden becomes too much for us to bear.

Thank God that He has a heart for lawbreakers! Thank God that His love extends beyond what we have done! Thank God that in His grace and mercy that he has given us a way out; someone to carry the burden of our wrongdoing; someone who took them upon his broken body as he hung on the cross; someone who shed His blood to cover our sins; someone who stepped out of the grave to show us the way back into the love of God. Thank God for giving us the gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our peace and our comfort.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breaking Old Habits - October 2, 2013

Romans 7:21-25 (New International Reader's Version)
21 Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 Deep inside me I find joy in God's law. 23 But I see another law working in the parts of my body. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls the parts of my body.

24 What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body?

25 I give thanks to God. He will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So in my mind I am a slave to God's law. But in my sinful nature I am a slave to the law of sin.

Romans 7:21-25 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
21So I’ve discovered this truth: Evil is present with me even when I want to do what God’s standards say is good. 22I take pleasure in God’s standards in my inner being. 23However, I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body. 24What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me from my dying body?

25I thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ rescues me! So I am obedient to God’s standards with my mind, but I am obedient to sin’s standards with my corrupt nature.

We are truly creatures of habit. There are things we have picked up as we live our lives that are with us everyday. We have all heard the term that "old habits are hard to break", and we all can count those silly things we do day in and day out, that no matter what we do, we continue to do.

This can be especially true with sin. Many of us did particular things we got into the habit of doing before we knew God, before we knew about Jesus Christ. Now as we try to live a life worthy of Jesus has done for us, those habitual sins still hang on to us. It seems that no matter what we do, we can't seem to shake them.

What is that particular sin for you? What is that habit that you can't break? Is it something that you keep secret and are ashamed and embarrassed to reveal to anyone? Don't feel alone! Paul spoke about this very thing in his letter to the Roman believers in the 1st Century. He wanted to show them that all of us are in bondage, slaves, to the very same things. We are all slaves to our sinful selves.

But we shouldn't lose hope. In Jesus Christ, because He has given Himself as a payment for ALL of our sins, we can have hope. We can defeat the shackles of sin, and live in freedom because of Jesus. All we need to do is surrender ourselves to Him. In making ourselves slaves to God, we truly become free to live a life free from those petty sins, those old habits. It takes vigilance, but the more we focus on the things of God, the less our sins hold us captive.

Do yourself a huge favor. Whatever it is that has you enslaved, turn it over to Jesus Christ; raise your shackles to Him. He will break the chains and truly make you free, and soon you will break those "old habits".

Shackles used to capture people to be sold into slavery in Africa in the 18th century. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

You Know Me - October 1, 2013

Psalm 139 (New International Version)

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

There is someone who knows us completely. He has known us since we were conceived and determined what we would do, where we would live, and when we would leave life. Before our mother's felt us move, He had knit together our intelligence and our vocation, the families we would someday have and raise, and the work we would eventually do for Him. He loved us from the moment He decided that we would be a part of His plan, and He included us as a unique part in something beautiful. He allowed us the opportunity to come to Him and express our ultimate love for Him, and He set our future destination to be with Him in heaven.

As I think upon all the years that have passed, I wonder what He has in store for me. I look forward in excitement to those I have yet to meet, and I am anxious to tell the story of Jesus Christ to those He will eventually choose for me to befriend. He has blessedly taken me through the valleys and lifted me to the mountain tops. He has given me gifts that far outweigh anything the world has ever taken from me. He has restored my soul and redeemed from the pit, and He has set my feet upon the Rock, my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

On this day as I look back over the landscape of my life, I give Him praise and all the glory and honor that He is due. He has taken me and turned me into something for His purposes, and I give thanks and look forward to the life He has in store for me.