Thursday, July 31, 2014

Your Name Posted Here - July 31, 2014

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 blantantly 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, July 30, 2014

Recipe for Happiness - July 30, 2014

Psalm 1:1-3 (New Century Version)
1 Happy are those who don't listen to the wicked, who don't go where sinners go, who don't do what evil people do.

2 They love the Lord's teachings, and they think about those teachings day and night.

3 They are strong, like a tree planted by a river. The tree produces fruit in season, and its leaves don't die. Everything they do will succeed.

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

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

As you begin a new week, decide to spend time in God's word. You will be the better for it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hope While We Wait - July 29, 2014

Ephesians 1:18(New Century Version)
18 I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people.

In this fast and furious world, we seldom take a moment to pause and remember what God has in store for us. We get so focused on our daily lives that we fail to remember that this is only a short stop on our way to eternity. This is a place for us to learn and serve, because we will all have specific things to do in Heaven. Our objective is to gain understanding of the hope that God has for us, that is the hope of a future with Him.

Give thanks to Him that He has given us the gift of salvation, and that He has loved us enough to want us with Him forever.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Healthy Fear - July 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Price for Privilege - July 27, 2014

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.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Safe and Secure - July 26, 2014

Psalm 16 (New International Reader's Version)
1 God, keep me safe. I go to you for safety.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thinking About Faith - July 25, 2014

Hebrews 11:1-3;6(New International Reader's Version)
1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see. 2 That is what the people of long ago were praised for.

3 We have faith. So we understand that everything was made when God commanded it. That's why we believe that what we see was not made out of what could be seen.
6 Without faith it isn't possible to please God. Those who come to God must believe that he exists. And they must believe that he rewards those who look to him.

What do you place your faith in? What is that one thing that motivates your life and gets you up in the morning? What moves you to do what you do and be what you should be? What is it that you believe so strongly in, that you would be willing to give up your life for it?

Thinking of faith in these terms and answering these questions about your personal faith is probably the most important thing that you need to do for yourself. If you do not answer the faith questions for yourself now, you will probably face a time in your life when these questions will have to be answered.

In the 11th Chapter of Hebrews, we read about what godly believers did by faith. We read how their faith so strongly motivated them, that they were willing to move, to give up every possession, to sacrifice those closest them, to give their very lives, for the sake of what they believed in, the promises that God had given them. If you haven't done so, take out a Bible and read this chapter of Hebrews, about those who acted by faith and were commended by God for doing so.

There is a time coming when you will be faced with the faith questions. There will be a time when you will have to stand by faith for what you believe in. You will have to reach deep into your very soul and find what or Who you have faith in. When that time comes, will you be ready to do so?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Heart Matters - July 24, 2014

Proverbs 14:21 (Amplified Bible)21He who despises his neighbor sins [against God, his fellowman, and himself], but happy (blessed and fortunate) is he who is kind and merciful to the poor.

Matthew 25:37-40 (New King James Version)37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

What breaks your heart? Are you moved to tears when you see video of the devastation of an earthquake or catastrophic storm? Are you stirred into action when you see the poor and suffering in this world? Does the thought of many millions without food and shelter move you? What is our responsibility to those we are seeing? Do we focus on the world's needs or should we be more focused on the people around us? Where does our day to day labor for our own needs end and we start to work to make a difference in the lives of others?

Jesus spoke a number of times about the poor and the humble, and he kept the company of many that were hurting in his time. As we consider how we live lives dedicated to our heavenly worth, we need to keep in mind that we need to serve those that are hurting around us. God has a heart for the poor, and as His followers, we need to have the same heart that He does. We must always keep in mind, that someday we will have to give an accounting of the opportunities He gave us, to follow after His heart.

Photo from the Blog "Dreams of Arcadia"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In His Care - July 23, 2014

Psalm 16 (New International Reader's Version)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Interact, Don't React - July 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

His Helping Hand - July 21, 2014

Isaiah 41:10(New King James Version)
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

What can you count on these days? Who can you rely on no matter what? It is really interesting how few people seem to be around when you are going through difficulty. It's as if they sense something is wrong, so they avoid you like the "plague".

Maybe they think you will ask them for something. When you need others the most, it seems that you see and hear from them the least. No wonder that when people are asked how they are doing, most will answer in the affirmative, as if nothing is ever wrong. God help the person who would break down in honesty and tell the truth.

I know that I am talking about what many of you have encountered during times of difficulty. Whether it has been a death, or unemployment, or just rough times in general, I know that many of you feel that you have been deserted by those "friends" around you. It is easy to relate to the feelings noted above. But if you are a Christ follower, you need not feel that way. God has promised us that He will be there to "hold us up with His right hand" during those times that you need help.

I believe that whenever God mentions that His help will come from His "righteous right hand", He is speaking about Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of the Father. Jesus knows what we are going through, because during His time on earth, He went through many of the same things we did. He can relate to us; He has "walked in our shoes".

There is nothing that we can encounter that He will not be sure to help you through; He is the only One that you can really count on, all of the time. He will never avoid you or ignore you. He will be there whenever you call on Him.

2 Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God's throne. Hebrews 12:2(New Century Version)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Simple and Humble Life - July 20, 2014

Proverbs 30:7-9(New International Version)
7 “Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die:

8 Keep falsehood("vanity"KJV) and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’

Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

One of my fondest memories was from my college days. Twice during that time I spent about a month traveling through Europe by myself. I wouldn't say I was "roughing" it, but I had very little in terms of money and things, and yet I had some of the best times of my life. I saw much and I learned how the world outside of the U.S. works. I met a number of great people and made relationships that have lasted over the years.

As I read these verses in Proverbs it reminds me of those times. Those times of simple living can be the best times, because you are dependent on God for most of what you have and do. You realize that because of His grace, you have just enough for today. There is much to be said about the simple life; it is a life that keeps you humble and yet can fill you with joy.

This should also be our prayer, that God doesn't give us so much that we become arrogant and turn our backs on Him, and yet too little that we sin against Him in pursuit of meeting our basic needs. We should pray that He grants us the simple and humble life, so that our focus will be on Him and not the things of the world.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Knowing How to Praise - July 19, 2014

Psalm 89:1-18 (New Century Version)
1 I will always sing about the Lord's love; I will tell of his loyalty from now on.

2 I will say, "Your love continues forever; your loyalty goes on and on like the sky."

3 You said, "I made an agreement with the man of my choice;
I made a promise to my servant David.

4 I told him, 'I will make your family continue forever.
Your kingdom will go on and on.' "


5 Lord, the heavens praise you for your miracles
and for your loyalty in the meeting of your holy ones.

6 Who in heaven is equal to the Lord?
None of the angels is like the Lord.

7 When the holy ones meet, it is God they fear.
He is more frightening than all who surround him.

8 Lord God All-Powerful, who is like you?
Lord, you are powerful and completely trustworthy.

9 You rule the mighty sea
and calm the stormy waves.

10 You crushed the sea monster Rahab;
by your power you scattered your enemies.

11 The skies and the earth belong to you.
You made the world and everything in it.

12 You created the north and the south.
Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon sing for joy at your name.

13 Your arm has great power.
Your hand is strong; your right hand is lifted up.

14 Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair.
Love and truth are in all you do.

15 Happy are the people who know how to praise you.
Lord, let them live in the light of your presence.

16 In your name they rejoice
and continually praise your goodness.

17 You are their glorious strength,
and in your kindness you honor our king.

18 Our king, our shield, belongs to the Lord,
to the Holy One of Israel.

As we learn how to overcome our difficulties by giving God glory, we need to always remember that we can never give Him too much glory. The amazing thing about this is that as we continuously focus on giving God praise and glory, and as we daily commit the problem to God, not only is it easier for us to go through, but you will notice that we conquer the situation much more quickly. As the psalmist above tells us:

15 Happy are the people who know how to praise you. Lord, let them live in the light of your presence. 16 In your name they rejoice and continually praise your goodness.

We need to develop a habit of utilizing this strategy of in everything we do, and also us it through every problem we encounter. Once we do, our lives will be more focused on serving God, and we will find our difficulties will be much less important. Our joy will show through in everything we do, and our new witness will be an attraction to others.

Photo of Sani Emmanuel: Giving glory to God!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Managing Stress - July 18, 2014

Matthew 11:28-29 (New International Reader's Version)28 "Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls.

After the long struggles of life and work each week, we look forward to a time of rest and recuperation to get over the stress of what we have just been through. Unfortunately for the burdens and struggles of the heart and soul, even vacations and the weekends off from work, rarely supply the true rest that we might be seeking.

In this passage, Jesus reaches out to everyone of us who might be weighed down by the troubles of this life and this world. As God in the flesh, he steps into our world of troubles and struggles, our bad week at the office or school, the problems we encounter at home and in our finances, and he offers to give us rest and relief. We are hard pressed to find anything else out there that offers to carry the burdens we have to bear. This is great encouragement when life "just gets us down".

Just how does he do this? He instructs us to come to him and learn from him, and he will give us rest from heavy burdens of life. In the King James translation, Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me". The illustration we are given is one of beasts of burden pulling a heavy wagon. The yoke distributes the weight across the shoulders of the beasts, making it easier to carry the load. It also keeps the animals close together and heading in the same direction.

Jesus presents us with the picture that he already is carrying our burdens and struggles, and he is asking us to carry them with him while he lightens the load and shows us the right way to go. He does not ask for anything but for us to learn by his example of gentleness and humility. He ends these words by giving us the promise that we will find rest for our souls if we do this; He offers us a way to truly manage our stress.

The important teaching that we need to learn from this passage are the actions we must take, to obtain the relief from the burdens and struggles he is promising. First we need to "come to him"(surrender our lives to him), then "become his follower" (take the step to trust in him), and finally "learn from his teaching", (live our lives out following his example). If you are burdened in your life right now, take time out to pray and accept Jesus's offer to lighten your load.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On Guard - July 17, 2014

Ephesians 6:16(Common English Bible)
16 Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Ephesians 6:16(Amplified Bible)
16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

It has really been tough for many people over the last few years, and even if it has been okay, life for others just doesn't seem like it is getting them anywhere. Obstacles seem to always come up that either sidetrack our plans, or turn things completely around. After awhile, even the strongest Christian gets weary from the battle. Even those who feel closest to God wonder, "Why is God allowing so much difficulty in my lives?". After awhile, disappointment with God sets in and we call into question if He will ever make things better.

This is the time where we as believer's in Jesus Christ need to be especially on our guard. These are the times that we are easily susceptible to leaving ourselves vulnerable to the attacks from Satan. Nothing gives the "evil one" a bigger thrill than to get us side-tracked and focused on our circumstances and disappointment. He relishes in the fact that we feel letdown by God. Unfortunately at these times we might find ourselves falling away from God, or at least not trusting Him for help in our daily struggles.

This verse is taken from the apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians, where he warned us to put on the full armor of God. One of the elements of in our armory has to be the "shield of faith". I believe that when we feel letdown and away from God, that is the time when we need to pick up that shield. That is when our faith that has been built on God's past goodness, mercy and grace to us, needs to guard us against this attack from Satan.

We need to remember that God is good; He is good all of the time. Because of Jesus Christ, and because of His love for us, He identifies with our difficulty and He wants to help us. We need to be patient and wait on the solution that He will provide.

If this sounds like the situation you are in, go to your Father in prayer. Lay your hurt, pain, difficulty and disappointment at His feet. He will give you His peace, and sooner than later you will see Him work on your behalf.

Illustration from Wisdom Life Ministries blogpost, "Taking the Sheild of Faith", 5-24-2010

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Urgent Matters - June 16, 2014

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.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Growing In Jesus - July 15, 2014

2 Peter 1:3-11 (New International Version)
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When you come to belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, life takes on a whole new meaning. As new believers we are excited and have a hunger for God's word and anything that will continue your knowledge of Christian living. At the same time though, along with the joy of our new relationship with Jesus, we may find that there the more we try to do the right things, the Adversary will do all he can to trip us up.

You see, if your believe that there is a God, you have to believe that their is Satan. But Satan is no more than a fallen angel, created by God, that is always looking to torment those that are not following him and the ways of the world. It is his mission to lead as many as he can away from the love and grace of God as he can. Because of your new life in Christ, you may soon realize that many things you found desirable and appealing about your old life no longer are, and some of your old friends will no longer recognize you as one of them.

So how do you overcome these negative pressures and bad influences on your life? The answer is made very clear in the scripture verses from the Apostle Peter noted above. The step-by-step approach to "insulating" yourself is given starting in verse 5 where is states, "add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." What's even better is that God gives you the divine power and ability to follow through on the steps.

So if your ready to grow deeper and stronger in your relationship with God, follow the step-by-step instruction from Peter, and you will soon see that you will have a new perspective on what happens to you, and you will experience the joyful life of following Jesus.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Good Beginning - July 14, 2014

Genesis 1:1;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 a lot 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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Staying Close to the River - July 13, 2014

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (New Living Translation)
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

If you have driven along the highways and farm roads on the prairies of Texas, you will notice the tree-lined paths that seem to break up the rolling grassy landscape. These delineate the many rivers that flow across Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. Along these rivers are lush green stands of firs and hardwoods that receive the much needed moisture that sustains them in the dry southwest climate of our state. If they did not grow close to the river, they would quickly wither under the summer heat, and you will notice that that the trees do not grow too far from the riverbank.

Much in the same way that the trees stay close to the river for its live-giving water, properly placed trust keeps us close to the life-giving spirit of God. As we stay close to Him, we receive everything we need, and we will grow deep roots that will provide us the strength through the times of "drought" in our lives.

If you need hope and confidence to make it through this life, place your trust along side the One who will provide life-giving "water" for your soul.

John 7:38-39 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
38As Scripture says, ‘Streams of living water will flow from deep within the person who believes in me.’ ” 39Jesus said this about the Spirit, whom his believers would receive. The Spirit was not yet evident, as it would be after Jesus had been glorified.

Photo "Riverside" by RedVari, 9-17-2009, from stock.xchng

Saturday, July 12, 2014

You Can't Hide - July 12, 2014

Jeremiah 23:23-24(New King James Version)
23 “ Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD,

“ And not a God afar off?

24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the LORD;

“ Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.

Jeremiah 23:23-24(GOD’S WORD Translation)
23“I am a God who is near. I am also a God who is far away,” declares the Lord.

24“No one can hide so that I can’t see him,” declares the Lord. "I fill heaven and earth!” declares the Lord.

There are many in our world, that think that they can live their lives as they'd like without any repercussions. They constantly comment that they have plenty of time left to think about their future, and that they will think about God when they need to. You also hear them comment on their personal behavior and have the false assumption that God can't really see them, or that He isn't paying attention to them. What they say that what they do in private is their own business, and what He doesn't see won't matter in the long run.

Truth is though, God sees everything! He is omnipresent, meaning that He is everywhere at the same time. We may not see or "feel" His presence, but He is there. When Jesus Christ stepped into the world, He made this fact known when He told his disciples, "And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”(Matthew 28:20b)Once we accept Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, to guide and impart godly wisdom upon us. Once He is within us, there is no place to hide. Everything we do is under His caring eye.

Since God already knows everything about you, why not bring it out in the open? He sees your secrets, so why not turn them over to Him? Why not surrender and confess all that has you in bondage? Through Jesus Christ, you have been redeemed and He has taken your punishment upon Himself. If you still are waiting to turn your life over to Him, there will be a day that everything about your life will be layed out before God and judged. On that day, there truly will be nowhere to hide.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blessed for Success - July 11, 2014

Psalm 1 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

1Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. 2Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord and reflects on his teachings day and night.

3He is like a tree planted beside streams— a tree that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does.

4Wicked people are not like that. Instead, they are like husks that the wind blows away. 5That is why wicked people will not be able to stand in the judgment and sinners will not be able to stand where righteous people gather.

6The Lord knows the way of righteous people, but the way of wicked people will end.

It is hard for me to believe that more people do not embrace the promises of God. It is probably because so many resist even to read and study the word of God found in the Bible. You may ask yourself, what are they afraid of? I believe it is because they are afraid to face up to their own personal sin.

When you look in the mirror, whether you are a believer or not, and if you are in sin, it will be hard for your to be comfortable with yourself. The Bible is such a mirror. When you read and study its teachings, it will reflect the good and the bad of your life; it reveals sin, and it rewards righteousness.

If you do not do so on a regular basis, it is time you picked up a Bible and started spending time reading and studying it. You will soon find that it will bring blessings into your life through the change of your mind and spirit, and you too will succeed in everything you do.

Photo "Tree at end of Summer" by bertythul, 8-23-10, from stock.xchng

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Say "NO" to Mother Nature - July 10, 2014

Amos 5:8(New International Version)
8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the LORD is his name.

Amos 5:8(New Living Translation)
8 It is the Lord who created the stars,
the Pleiades and Orion.
He turns darkness into morning
and day into night.
He draws up water from the oceans
and pours it down as rain on the land.
The Lord is his name!

One of my pet peeves is when I hear people on television, whether it is on a news program or the Weather Channel, always attribute anything having to with the natural world as being caused by Mother Nature. Wikipedia would tell you that "Mother Nature (sometimes known as Mother Earth) is a common personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother". Basically meaning that this was an extension of the pagan worship of goddesses of fertility and nature in man's ancient history. She's has not only been responsible for the weather, every movement of the earth, but in the 1970's she even pitched margarine (No wonder they found it to be worse than the real thing for your health!).

Why is it that no one can say what is the truth, that all that is happening is because of God the Creator? Have we become such a politically correct society that we can't even give God credit where credit is due, and we would rather suggest that some mythical character is responsible? I say it is time we stood up for God; it's time we recognized that everything is in His hands. Yes, even the weather, bad or good; He is ultimately responsible. And if you have been in a severe thunderstorm or tornado, it is NOT Mother Nature that your praying to!

In the year 750 B.C.(2761 years ago, and before modern science), the prophet Amos was speaking in a future vision about the Jewish people. Through Amos, God tells the people that he is going to judge Israel for its sins, and it will be a foreign nation that will enact his judgment. He spoke no more than a day, but in his statement he made a profound statement from God, where God speaks of His control of nature. When we read the verse above, it is easy to see that God takes credit for creating the two constellations mentioned, the full moon, the solar eclipse and rain storms.

Yes God controls everything, even the weather; so the next time you see your weatherman, please ask him to say the next time he is on television that God gave us this beautiful day, and we should be thanking Him for it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Don't Worry - July 9, 2014

Philippians 4:6-7(New Living Translation) 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:7 (New Living Translation)
7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Worry is one of those things that tends to plague everyone from time to time. It is something that can hinder us from moving forward in our lives and accomplishing the plans and goals that have been set before us.

Paul wrote these words to encourage the church in Phillipi, which was a Roman colony in Macedon(Modern day Greece), and it is amazing that he wrote such words while he was in prison. That is hardly the place to be and not worry, but Paul's confidence in placing his faith in Jesus Christ was so great, that he was moved to encourages the reader to do the same. This was emphasized in his letter to the Romans:

 Romans 8:38-39 (New International Reader's Version)38 I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God's love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can do that. 39 Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can do that. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God's love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.

I have come to believe that worry is a faith issue. The more we understand God's great love for us, the less we will worry about the trivial things of this world. As Paul's contemporary the apostle Peter goes on to tell us in the verse above, we need to give all our worries to God. He will take care of the rest.

This post is a re-post of one of my past blog posts. I believe it is very appropriate for today as it was when I first posted it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

He Is Patient - June 7, 2014

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

Our world would have us rushing towards oblivion, but our amazing Creator is patient with us. His desire is that all of mankind would be redeemed; all would turn from their sin, turn their lives around, and be restored to be with Him forever. Few understand that this has been God's plan since the beginning.

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

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

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

His Ways Are Higher Than Ours - July 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Falling Short - July 6, 2014

Psalm 51:1-4,10-12,17 (New International Version)

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

None of us are perfect, and yes, many times we do not measure up to what God expects of us. But sometimes, we hold on to something we have done in the past that seems so bad, that the guilt and weight of it keeps us from having a close relationship with God.

The verse above came from a Psalm written by Israel's King David, when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Here was a "man after God's own heart" who was a saint, an adulterer and a murderer. Here was God's chosen king of God's chosen people at a time when he was not worthy of God's favor and mercy. In his desire to make things right with God, David pleaded to God for forgiveness and mercy.

In his plea to God, we can find steps to help us make things right. First, David asked God for mercy. He asked for God's help in cleansing him from his great sin. God provides this to us if we will accept Jesus's sacrifice on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sin. Next he asked God to restore his relationship with him. God again provides this to us by providing his Holy Spirit to comfort us and lead us to righteous living.

David finally sums things up by telling us what is acceptable to God for whatever wrong we may do, that is a humble heart that looks to Him when we fall short. Let go of what might be holding you back from a right relationship with God. Let go and give it to God.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Standing Up for Jesus - July 5, 2014

Matthew 10:32-33 (New International Version)
32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

Matthew 10:32-33 (New Century Version)
32 "All those who stand before others and say they believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they belong to me. 33 But all who stand before others and say they do not believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they do not belong to me.

Romans 10:9-10 (New Living Translation)
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

Revelation 3:5 (New Century Version)
5 Those who win the victory will be dressed in white clothes like them. And I will not erase their names from the book of life, but I will say they belong to me before my Father and before his angels.

Are you embarrassed to be called a Christian? Do you feel uncomfortable around people at work to tell them about Jesus? Do you "wear your faith on your sleeve", meaning do the people that know you, know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you up front and personal when it comes to telling others about Him?

It is "open season" on Christians! It seems that the only people that can be bashed, insulted, despised, ridiculed and persecuted without any consequences are Christians. For many it is all a big joke that anyone believes in a guy that called himself God and died on a cross. Tell someone that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven and see how quickly you will be attacked as being offensive to others.

Yet believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior and the Lord of your life, requires that you take a stand. No one can be a closet Christian. You have to be out front about it. You need to tell everyone you know what and why you believe in Him. If you are not prepared to do so, you need to check your faith.

A time is coming when we will become more aware of the persecution our brothers and sisters in Christ face each and every day. Their hope is in the words contained in the verses above. Will you be as prepared to proudly wear the name of the One true Savior of mankind? Will you boldly tell others that you believe in Jesus?

Painting "One Nation Under God", by Jon McNaughton

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day! - July 4, 2014

Psalm 33:12(Holman Christian Standard Bible)
12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD—
the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

And so began the Declaration of Independence that was unanimously signed by 56 representatives, who were lawyers, doctors, merchants, farmers, landowners and preachers from the 13 English colonies on the North American continent on July 4, 1776. After stating their grievances they concluded the declaration in this way:

"We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Now it doesn't take any thing more than a grade school education to realize that they relied on God to help them through this dangerous endeavor, and it is very evident that they committed their course of action with their solid reliance upon "nature's God, "the Supreme Judge of the world", "Divine Providence".

They pledged themselves under God to follow a course that would create the greatest nation that ever has been founded by mankind upon the earth. It is not arrogance for us to believe such, because along with that standing in the world comes great responsibility.

If we are true believers that God is in control of all things, then we are to believe that He had a special purpose in allowing our nation to be founded, and to survive the many difficulties that we have encountered over 235 years. And because He has protected and preserved our Nation, we have to measure up to the great responsibility which He has placed upon us.

What is this responsibility that we are called to? It is first to seek and uphold Him in all we do; to commit ourselves to His work of helping our fellow man, to being good stewards over all He has given us, to render justice to those who are oppressed, to proclaim His truth to all, and to insure liberty for all who seek it.

The true happiness of the citizens of our Nation can only be guaranteed if we will commit our lives to serving God and each other. There is no room for selfish pursuits and pettiness. This "Grand Experiment" as it was called was for the benefit of all mankind, and only if we commit our endeavor to God, can we ever hope secure the freedoms that we have been granted.

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?"
- Thomas Jefferson

(Do you see any "separation of church" and state here? Wasn't it Thomas Jefferson that supposedly created the separation that exists today? I don't think so! Make sure you and those that come after you understand the God-given principles upon which we were founded.)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Character of a Nation - July 3, 2014

Proverbs 14:34(Holman Christian Standard Bible)
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."(From the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)

Tomorrow we will celebrate 238 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed, proclaiming these United States of America as a sovereign nation. Since that time, we have undergone huge growing pains and enormous struggles to maintain our union. What stood out in good times and bad was that our citizens embraced a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that knew that we were a Nation Under God.

Since George Washington, all of our Presidents have acknowledged that we are led by the Sovereign hand of God, and until recently, most leaders in our country knew that if they sought God in humility and reverence, that His guiding hand would preserve the Nation. We used to stand for and fight for what was "right", and could always be the moral compass for the world. The "Greatest Generation" was called that because as a Nation, our pursuits were noble and our causes were right, and inspired by our beliefs in God.

Unfortunately, today it is a different story. The God of the Bible has been replaced by a marshmallow, universal god, that is only called upon if it doesn't get in the way of our material goods or personal pursuits. In so many ways we have lost our way as a nation. No longer does God have a pre-eminence in the lives of our citizens, and secularists, other religions and cultures would rather dilute the influence of our God, in favor of someone of a very different character than what our founding fathers followed and embraced. The nations god has $$$ signs and exports a culture that embraces much of what is wrong in the human character.

No longer do we often call upon our God for the preservation and the strength of our nation. It is as if He has been pushed aside, to make room for worldly pursuits, pursuits on a global scale, seeking a god of wealth, ambition, power and influence. We have lost the character of our Nation, and no longer do we stand for the things of God that we once used to. No wonder our children of today rarely have knowledge and respect for the principles upon which we were founded, because over the last few years we have forsaken those principles, to our detriment.

This July 4th, we need to not only remember our founding, and the just battles that were fought to maintain our liberty, but we also must remember the truths of God upon which we were founded. We need to call on our God and Creator, Divine Providence, to once again restore the principles upon which we were founded. We need to pray for a revival in the land, and proclaim "liberty for the captives" of this fallen world.

This year, 2014, our goal needs to be to restore the character that once made us a great Nation, because it is the character of the Nation that preserves the Nation. Without the God of the Bible we will NOT survive, and we owe it to those that come after us to leave something that looks like the Nation that our forefathers founded.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Walking On Water - July 2, 2014

Matthew 14:22-33 (New Living Translation)
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

We are often faced with the trials and storms of life, and most of us try to make do things ourselves. We struggle against the "heavy waves" of life and our spirits take quite a pounding as we stubbornly go our own way. Usually the harder we try the more difficult the challenges become, until we find ourselves crying out for help.

The story of Jesus walking on water demonstrates a few things to us. First we see where Jesus sends his disciples ahead, while he stays behind to pray. I believe that Jesus sent them out by themselves to test them; He allows a storm to come up to see what they would do. Notice that in the midst of the storm, when they see Jesus walking on the water towards them, they were slow to recognize him. In fact they looked first for an impossible explanation rather than to think that Jesus was capable of this action.

Next we see that Jesus is quick to alleviate their fear, by telling them not to be afraid. Then in a step of faith, Peter steps out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water. But instead of focusing on Jesus, Peter lets the storm around him get the better of him and he begins to sink. Jesus as the eternal Savior reaches out to help him, but he is disappointed that Peter's faith is not strong enough to believe that he could do the impossible.

We like Peter are often limited in how we overcome the difficulties of life, because we will not totally surrender to Jesus, and in deep faith know that He will help us do the impossible. We would rather try to do it on our own. My call to you is this, you need to grow your faith to the point that you are completely committed to the Savior. You need to be confident that in everything, Jesus will help you through. Most of all, we need to never give up our faith when the "wind and waves" beat down on us. Instead we need to strengthen our faith even more, and be assured that God will help us through to "calm waters".

Are you facing a storm in your life right now? Reach out to Jesus and ask him to save you. He will take you by the hand, help you "walk upon the water", and lift you into the place of peace and safety. Figurative as this might seem, if you truly believe you will overcome any storm life throws against you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

No Guarantee of Tomorrow - July 1, 2014

Proverbs 27:1(New Living Translation)
1 Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.

Matthew 6:34(New International Version)
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In the busy-ness of today, we seldom really think about tomorrow. Most of us believe that we will have many of them, but we are not promised any more. We all are just one step off of a sidewalk, one set of stairs, one medical diagnosis, one crazy person, or one greasy cheese burger away from our last today.

God does not guarantee us another tomorrow; He is the One who will ultimately number our days. That is why Jesus made it a point to tell us not to be concerned about tomorrow. His message to us was that our concern was to make today the best that we could; to use whatever He has given us for His glory. He means for us to be Jesus Christ to everyone we encounter, showing them and telling them that God loves them. He expects us to wake up every morning, thank Him for a new day, and commit it to His service.