Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hey Jude: Remaining in Him - January 31, 2015

Jude 1:21 (New International Reader's Version)
21 The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring you eternal life. As you wait for his mercy, remain in God's love.

John 15:1-8 (New Living Translation)
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

As I have said before, the Christian life is not easy. In the 1st Century, this was especially true, with persecution coming from the Jewish elite, the Romans, and pagans. At the same time within the church, many heretical doctrines and teachings were springing up to confuse especially the new believers, into accepting a faith that at times was not authentic. Only by diligent study, and frequent help of the apostles and true believers, was the church able to grow and strengthen itself in the purity of the true message of Jesus Christ.

In Jude's teaching to those striving to strengthen and protect their walk in the faith, he encouraged Christians to "remain in God's love" while they waited for the return of Christ. I am sure Jude recollected the similar teaching of Jesus, who admonished his followers to "remain" in him. Doing so was the only way for them to grow more deeply in their faith and produce fruit.

He even likened this relationship to growing grapes in the vineyard. As believers we have been grafted into the vine, which is Jesus. By staying close to him, we will be able to produce fruit, the acts of a believer, filled with the Spirit, towards those around them. God as the gardener would provide pruning, the test of personal trial, to strengthen the believer and give them the ability to produce more fruit.

The only way we can withstand the trials and tribulations of this present life is to remain close to Jesus Christ. By remaining in Him we will be able to be the "hands and feet of Jesus" to those around us.

Photo "Grapes: in vino veritas" by Starfish75, 10-16-2005, from stock.xchng

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hey Jude: Building Up - January 30, 2015

Jude 1:20 (New International Reader's Version)
20 Dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Let the Holy Spirit guide and help you when you pray.

Every sound and stable structure first requires a solid foundation, then each block needs to be secured one on top of the other. Each block has to be placed and secured properly, so that the structure can withstand the many forces that will come against it in the years, and decades to come.

To combat the persecution and heresy that would come against followers of Jesus Christ, Jude encouraged the believers to build themselves up in the faith. For us that means that we must first have the secure foundation of Jesus, by accepting Him as Lord and Savior, and on top of this, we need to study the word of God through studying the Bible.

By intense study, the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us build up our faith. The more we learn about the nature, character and will of God, the more solid we build upon our belief in Him. and the more easily we can defend against anything that will come against us. In addition, we need to constantly seek God through prayer, and the Spirit will show us what we need to do.

With these building blocks of faith, study and prayer, we can develop a sound and stable faith, that can withstand the forces that will come against us in the years and decades ahead.

Photo "Block Dreams(3)" by Bosela, 8-22-2007, from stock.xchng

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hey Jude! - Janusry 29, 2015

Jude 1:17-24 (New International Reader's Version)

17 Dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said was going to happen. 18 They told you, "In the last days, some people will make fun of the truth. They will follow their own ungodly longings." 19 They are the people who separate you from one another. They do only what comes naturally. They are not led by the Holy Spirit.

20 Dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Let the Holy Spirit guide and help you when you pray. 21 The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring you eternal life. As you wait for his mercy, remain in God's love.

22 Show mercy to those who doubt. 23 Pull others out of the fire. Save them. To others, show mercy mixed with fear. Hate even the clothes that are stained by the sins of those who wear them.

24 Give praise to the One who is able to keep you from falling into sin. He will bring you into his heavenly glory without any fault. He will bring you there with great joy.

There is a little obscure book in the Bible, just before the Revelation. I bet it often gets missed when people study God's word, yet it was written by the brother of Jesus to combat heresies that doubted salvation by grace.

The first part of the letter reviewed these heresies, but I haven't copied them here. Instead, I wanted to present the "nuggets" of wisdom about how we should conduct ourselves in the Christian walk during these very difficult times.

Take out your Bible, read and meditate on these few verses, and over the next couple of days, we will dig a little deeper into what Jude is telling us.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Thin Line - January 28, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Living Water - January 27, 2015

John 7:37-39(New Living Translation)
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

When you are truly saved and know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you will certainly know it. That is when the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within you, and your joy and excitement about following Jesus will flow from you like a river of water. That is what Jesus meant in the verses above. You can't help but talk about the change He has made in your life.

Yes, there are times of difficulty and stress in our walk with Him, but there are far more times when our life in Him will flow to all that surround us. If you haven't yet, why not taste the living water today?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Can I Get a (Good) Witness? - January 26, 2015

Hebrews 12:14-15(New Century Version)
14 Try to live in peace with all people, and try to live free from sin. Anyone whose life is not holy will never see the Lord.15 Be careful that no one fails to receive God's grace and begins to cause trouble among you. A person like that can ruin many of you.

One of the saddest things about Christianity today is that many people have a bad impression about Christians. Non-believers have been soured by how many who claim the faith behave. These behaviors that turn others off fall into two groups.

The first group, although they have been saved by Jesus Christ, continue to behave as if their conversion has made no change in their lives. They still cling to the things of the world and they treat others just as they did prior to knowing Jesus. Their behavior is marked by doing the exact things as those around them. Non-believers question why they should embrace faith in Jesus if it doesn't make a difference in their lives.

The second group have changed their lives because of their desire to please God, but they exhibit that change by excluding others. Their behavior is one of legalism, and they set a bar that new believer have to reach to become Christ followers. They further exacerbate this characteristic by them judging others with a "holier than though" attitude. Non-believers are turned off, because they feel that all Christians do is point out their faults.

In the Book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul admonishes us to live at peace with everyone, meaning that we need to seek peace in any human interaction we have. We then need to try to live holy lives, seeking to be good witnesses of the change Jesus has made our lives. And most importantly, we need to be sure that we show the same "grace" that God showed to us in drawing us to Christ.

We all are sinners and we all deserve God's judgment. Who are we to criticize others who have not yet found Jesus Christ? Instead we need to lead lives that reflect the love of Jesus, and attract others to the faith through "right" living, love, and acceptance. Our outward witness of our inward change is the most important thing in drawing others to Christ. Make sure that your witness as a Christian is one that will win others to Jesus.

Photo from Lost Sheeo Finders' Digest

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Preparation - January 25, 2015

Psalm 20 (New Living Translation)

1 In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
2 May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
3 May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.

4 May he grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers.

6 Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
and rescue him by his great power.
7 Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
8 Those nations will fall down and collapse,
but we will rise up and stand firm.

9 Give victory to our king, O Lord!
Answer our cry for help.

When David wrote his Psalms, he wrote them while in distress and trouble, and in times of joy and thanksgiving. He had a very intimate relationship with God, and these writings reveal that intimacy. Here he writes concerning the confidence he has in God as the One who brings him success and the One who avenges him from his enemies. What I think he was trying to show the reader was that he had great confidence in God to do anything for his best.

As Christians, we have the same access to God that David had. Jesus Christ has opened the way, and through the Holy Spirit, we are able to know the heart of God. In turn God works through your situation to assure a positive outcome. Why not share your concerns and burdens concerning the upcoming week with God? Write them down and pray through them, committing each one to Him. At the end of the week, look back at your notes and see what He has accomplished on your behalf.

Photo "Always Reading 2" from Mokra, 7-3-2006, from stock.xchng

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Don't Despair - January 24, 2015

Psalm 73:12-28(GOD’S WORD Translation)
12Look how wicked they are!
They never have a worry.
They grow more and more wealthy.

13I’ve received no reward for keeping my life pure
and washing my hands of any blame.
14I’m plagued with problems all day long,
and every morning my punishment begins again.
15If I had said, “I will continue to talk like that,”
I would have betrayed God’s people.

16But when I tried to understand this,
it was too difficult for me.
17Only when I came into God’s holy place
did I finally understand what would happen to them.

18You put them in slippery places
and make them fall into ruin.
19They are suddenly destroyed.
They are completely swept away by terror!
20As someone gets rid of a dream when he wakes up,
so you, O Lord, get rid of the thought of them
when you wake up.

21When my heart was filled with bitterness
and my mind was seized with envy,
22I was stupid, and I did not understand.
I was like a dumb animal in your presence.

23Yet, I am always with you.
You hold on to my right hand.
24With your advice you guide me,
and in the end you will take me to glory.

25As long as I have you,
I don’t need anyone else in heaven or on earth.
26My body and mind may waste away,
but God remains the foundation of my life
and my inheritance forever.
27Without a doubt, those who are far from you will die.
You destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

28Being united with God is my highest good.
I have made the Almighty Lord my refuge
so that I may report everything that he has done.

There are many good people out there that are doing the best to follow Jesus Christ, yet it seems that they can't catch a break during these tough times. When things are tough it is hard not to get bitter. We tend to get angry with God in that bitterness, when we see those that do evil prosper. After asking God, "why me?", we wonder why He let's those who are against Him get all the breaks in this world.

If you are doing your best, trying to follow Jesus and it just hasn't gotten any easier for you, remember that God does want you to prosper. He is just working out His plan in your life. Fine gold or silver are at their finest when the impurities have been driven out. Steel is only at its strongest when it endures the hottest of temperatures. The trials you are going through have a purpose, and those who seemingly laugh at your faithfulness to God will receive their just reward.

Don't lose heart! Don't despair! He will carry you through this, and at the end of your struggle, you will see His plan and experience His joy.

Photo from "OVERCOMING THE OBSTACLES TO YOUR VISION", by Coach Dan Foster, posted 3-9-2011

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Worry - January 23, 2015

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.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

He is Higher Than Us - January 22, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Misplaced Trust - January 21, 2015

Jeremiah 17:5-6 (New Living Translation)

5 This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.

6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land."

There is a new "religion" of sorts that has been steadily gaining ground around us in our nation. You see it with the constant barrage against Christianity and other religions, and the attempt to wipe out every vestige of established religion. Practitioners of this "religion" use our own laws against us to assist in their efforts, and they have been winning, because those who do practice a mainstream religion seem to be apathetic to the problem.

What I am talking about is the religion of Secular Humanism. Wikipedia defines that it, "alternatively known as Humanism, is a secular philosophy that espouses human reason, ethics, and justice, and the search for human fulfillment. It specifically rejects religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making."

In other words, it is a "religion" that trusts or has faith in the ability of human beings to determine how they should lead their lives apart from the belief in any supernatural, transcendent, being. It believes it can answer all of life's questions from the natural world and science, free of anything spiritual or sacred. And yes, if you are a believer in this, you are practicing a "religion"; the belief, faith or trust in humanity alone.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God likened those who believe this way as "stunted shrubs in the desert with no hope of a future". If you have ever been in a desert, you know what this means. In the desert, many plants flourish for but a few short days when the Winter rains bring much needed water. Although they may green up and flower, they will soon succumb to the heat and lack of moisture, shrivel up and die. When you drive through the desert in the Summer, you will definitely come across many plants such as tumbleweeds, blowing across the barren land.

If we place our hope and trust in our own efforts, we may find ourselves in these same circumstances. In the beginning, it may seem like everything is great; we might be successful and having fun, doing whatever we like with our lives. Sooner or later though, when we are in an empty and troubled place, a dry and barren place, we will have nothing to turn to or depend on to help us make it through this difficult place.

We will wander about aimlessly, coming to the end of our lives without any hope of a future. Very few people that believe this way find true joy and contentment, when they come to the end of their lives. Most end up very much alone, depressed, and fearful of the unknown. Imagine only being able to count on the fact that when you die, you just decay and turn into dust? Can you believe in something, where that is all their is to life?

Photo "Wastelands" by Justino307, 4-4-2007, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

God is Patient - January 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

Patience - January 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rotten Fruit - January 18, 2015

Galatians 5:19-21 (New International Reader's Version)
19 What the sinful nature does is clear. It enjoys sexual sins, impure acts and wild living. 20 It worships statues of gods. It also worships evil powers. It is full of hatred and fighting. It is full of jealousy and fits of anger. It is interested only in getting ahead. It stirs up trouble. It separates people into their own little groups. 21 It wants what others have. It gets drunk and takes part in wild parties. It does many things of that kind. I warn you now as I did before. People who live like that will not receive God's kingdom.

One thing about our lives and our characters is sure, we all produce "fruit". What I mean is this, our daily acts, the things we do, reflect what is at the root of our existence, and as we go about our lives we will show what we are made of. If we grow in the things of the world, the fruit we produce will be reflective of that worldly life-style. To the world, these fruits are seemingly okay; besides, "why not do whatever you want to do as long as your not hurting anybody", but to God these are in direct opposition to Him. Living in this way shows that you would rather turn your back on Him.

Reading this list of the "sinful nature" gives us a good picture of how to live a life in total opposition to being a Christian, but even for Christians, the bad fruit can sometimes be found in the bushel basket of our lives. It is hard to always produce good fruit, but if we fully and completely surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, it will be much easier. Our aim should be to sink our roots deep into the Word of God, and allow ourselves to be governed by the Holy Spirit. If we do so, we will produce good fruit.

Photo "Adam's Apple; temptation was great" by Dimitri C from stock.xchng

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Living In Harmony - January 17, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 16, 2015

Being Humble - January 16, 2015

Romans 12:16 (New International Version, ©2011)
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position[willing to do menial work]. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16 (New Living Translation)
16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

We have been given a great gift. Because we have been saved through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we are set apart for God's purposes. This doesn't mean that we gather ourselves up into "holy huddles", waiting for our Lord's return though. It doesn't mean that we associate only with other Christians. And, it doesn't mean that we turn our backs on others, because they can't measure up to the rules we have setup for ourselves and others to meet.

God has only one condition for salvation, and that is that one believes in Jesus Christ as His Son, that gave His life for our sins in our place, and stepped out of the grave to take up His rightful place as God in Heaven. May seem to be a tall order to accept such a thing, but it is quit simple if you really think about it. It is a simple thing called faith. That is all that God has asked us to have.

Unfortunately, as is always the case, man has added other "works" to add to God's gift of salvation. Many Christians have done the same, laying down rules and regulations for membership to a particular church. This is called legalism and it has no place in God's kingdom. Jesus spoke against this same problem with the Jewish leaders of his day. He called them "whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity".

In his ongoing lesson about how to live out the Christian life, Paul admonishes us to first live peacefully with each other, and then to not mind getting our hands dirty with normal people. Many might read this and say that he meant this to be applied within the following of believers. In my humble opinion, God would want us to humble ourselves, to be like Jesus, and to work alongside anyone that is in need of His life saving message.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Perishable - January 15, 2015

Isaiah 51:6 (New International Version)
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail.

It is difficult imagining what God is like. We haven't seen Him, yet billions believe in Him. How else would all of what is around us exist? Big Bang? No, I don't think so. Chance? That means having nothing times nothing equals something. The math doesn't support that one. No one can explain our existence without God. Many deny that, and they spend a lifetime trying to prove it, but they never will. True to form, the scoffers will do anything but believe in God. Must be what they have to face up to.

God has proven Himself by what is around us. The magnificence of His creation, from the smallest of organisms to the expanse of the universe, is proof enough. Yet for the wonder of what is around us, it will all come to an end someday. Everything perishes(Now that, the scoffers do agree on). Everything dies; everything decays. With that prospect in the future of all of us, what then? Do we pass into nothingness? Many would hope so, but those with real hope in Jesus Christ know differently.

As the prophet Isaiah tells us with the words of God, everything will pass away, except God and His salvation. He provides the Way and will never fail His creation. So the next time you look into the heavens, and contemplate your existence, make sure that you have accepted God's salvation and have taken His Way. That will never pass away.

Photo from

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Key to Getting Blessed - January 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Self-Made Man Myth - January 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 12, 2015

Spiritual Fire - January 12, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sacrificial Living - January 11, 2015


1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

 Romans 12:1 (New International Version, ©2011)

Before I became a true Christian, meaning before I understood and accepted what I now believe about Jesus Christ, I used to think that the whole Christian thing was a bunch of "do's and don'ts". I also thought God was the "big guy upstairs" that would bash me with a hammer if I ever got out of line. I would venture to say that for most that outside the faith, that is exactly how they think. It wasn't until I really understood God's gift of sacrifice to me that I found reason to give back in gratitude to Him.

Paul, the writer of Romans, begins this chapter exhorting us to living the right way for God. We do this through understanding that how we live, now that we are followers and examples of Christ to others, really is an example of our praise and worship to God for what He has done for us. We are asked to be a "living sacrifice", a personal demonstration of our faith and obedience to God, by the manner in which we serve Him.

He then will go on to describe the practical tips for being "living sacrifices" before God and those around us. Over the next few days we will take a look at how we can daily live out our faith and study the instruction he lays out to accomplish this.

Photo "Passionate Prayer" by Kobos, 6-7-2006, from stock.xchng

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Loving Genuinely - January 10, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

Eyewitness Faith - January 9, 2015

16When we apostles told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we didn’t base our message on clever myths that we made up. Rather, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes.

17For example, we were eyewitnesses when he received honor and glory from God the Father and when the voice of our majestic God spoke these words to him: “This is my Son, whom I love and in whom I delight.”

18We heard that voice speak to him from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

2 Peter 1:16-18 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

How many times have you heard a skeptic say that the Bible is nothing but a bunch of fables, legends and myths? I am sure it has been plenty of times. Skeptics just love to say things like that to prove to everyone that they really don't know what they are talking about.

Rarely has someone that has truly studied the Bible say that what they studied was make believe. There is more proof for the Bible than any other text of the same age. As I have said before, there is more evidence of Jesus Christ's existence and message than there is for Julius Caesar, yet you never hear that Julius was fable, legend or myth.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, the good news is that we have eyewitness, first-hand knowledge of Jesus Christ, both as a human being and in His glory. Peter, James and John were present, all who were authors of books of the Bible, and we can have confidence that what they tell us is true. Jesus is who He said he was, and you can trust the word of those who carried on His message and as was the case for Peter and James, even gave their lives for it.

We can have confidence in our faith because eyewitnesses to all that was said about Jesus was written down and given to us. The next time you are faced with a skeptic, ask them first if they have ever read and studied the Bible, and them point them to the eyewitness account.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Overcoming Darkness - January 8, 2015

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

Matthew 13:15 (New International Version, ©2011)

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

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

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (New Living Translation)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Overcoming with Praise - January 7, 2015

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100 (New International Version)

As those who are redeemed, we must always stop to give praise to God. We need to continually have his praises on our lips, because everything we have is from Him. Who we are, and whatever we may become, are because of Him. Look around you. Look at the blessings that have been showered on you and your family. These are all because God loves you.

But, are you faced with an obstacle that seems too much to overcome? Give thanks. Is what you are going through so overwhelming, that it seems as if it will overtake you? Give thanks. At times when things are at their most difficult, and you are at your wits end, give thanks. In each and every thing and in each and every situation, give thanks.

When you give thanks to God, who has given you life and breath, you will see and experience His goodness, mercy, and peace.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Walking in the Light - January 6, 2015

12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”John 8:12(New Living Translation)

In our world many are trapped in a life of sin and death. Almost every place you turn, there is an undercurrent of evil that pervades daily life. Many times this remains hidden behind the scenes, but every so often it comes to the surface. Yes, we read and watch daily as bad things are shown happening in the media, but occasionally it boils over and is revealed in a big way. Examples of this would be 9/11 or even the riots lately in London. Those who live surrounded by evil will eventually reveal themselves out in the open.

Counter to this is exhibited daily by those who follow Jesus Christ. Because He has freed believers from sin and death, and defeated evil, they are free to "walk in the light". That means that the good thing they do can be done freely in the open, bringing God glory, and revealing to others what is available as a follower of Jesus. Life in the light of God brings joy and peace, and this fact brings "light" to every dark corner of this world.

How do we see this? It is seen in the face of those who have been surprised and abused in places all over the world, where the only real good is brought to them by the followers of Christ. It is seen in the faces of those who come in from the street, to feel the warmth and caring of those who love Jesus and are willing to give them food for their bellies and their soul. It is also seen in the persistent prayers and smiling kindness of those who bring comfort in hospitals and hospice.

No matter where you turn, the darkness of tragedy and evil can be illuminated through the love of Jesus. Be sure that His love shining in your heart is shared with all of those who come in contact with you.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Purposed For Good - January 5, 2015

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ...37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28;37-39(New King Kames Version) 

What great news for today; to know that when we chose to love God through Jesus Christ that He will work things out for our good! Yes, this is sometimes very difficult to understand, especially when things in our lives seem to go badly. Many times when we see the circumstances close up or we are right in the midst of the difficulty we find it hard to see how God is helping us through it.

Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Rome from Corinth, just after the middle of the 1st century. The purpose of Romans was to preach the "good news" of salvation in Christ and to impart to the reader a gift of encouragement and assurance in all that God has freely given them. The 8th Chapter of Romans specifically addresses the favor, benefits and protections offered through believing, and living lives led by the Spirit of God, as we have come to know as the Holy Spirit.

Just as they were for the Roman believers, these words offer us encouragement, hope and a promise that God will help us. He will be in the life's most difficult situations and work them out for our ultimate benefit. Even better is that the this text emphasizes ALL things, not just some things working together for good. If at those times in our own lives, when things seem most hopeless and depressing, we will shift our focus away from the situation and onto what God might be trying to do through it, we can find greater peace and comfort. We may not see or know the results for some time, but the outcome will give positive results.

The best promise is at the end of the highlighted verses for today. That is that no matter what the circumstance, or the situation, whether it is in this life or the next, nothing will ever separate us from God's love once we place our belief in Jesus Christ. Now that is "good news"!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Being Faithful in Little Things - January 4, 2015

Luke 16:10 (New Living Translation)10 "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities".

Have you found yourself slacking and being complacent with what you are supposed to be doing? All of us have been guilty of that from time to time. It is always easiest to leave this undone or that, or to do this halfway or that half-heartedly. And who among us has not squandered what we have earned, and wasted it on things of little value? Really now,... we are only human!

In the Book of Luke, Jesus relays a number of parables meant to demonstrate God's love for lost people, and our responsibility to the lost as believers. He also goes on to teach about our relationship with material wealth, and how at times we might need to be shrewd in our dealings to accomplish eternal goals.

I am of the opinion that what Jesus is really trying teach us in the chapters and verses surrounding the verse noted above is that whatever God gives us in life, whether it concerns people around us, or material possessions he entrusts to us, he expects us to value and treat them as He would. It all matters to Him. Everything and everyone is significant and important, and all things have the purpose of sharing His love and grace with the world around us.

At times the assignment He gives us may seem small and insignificant, and at other times what we do for the Kingdom may carry high importance with it. Our obligation is to accept His sacred trust in all things, and to always do our best with everything we are given.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Making Plans - January 3, 2015

13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-15 (New International Version)

By now many of us have made plans to go here or there this year, set goals to lose weight or accomplish this or that, planned calendar events such as vacations or weddings, committed to change jobs or find one, or set resolutions to bring about change. I am in the process of doing so and have done it in the past. In order to go anywhere in life, you need to have goals, and construct a plan on how you will accomplish them. Many fail in attaining their dreams and living a truly satisfying life, because of their failure to do so. Nothing is worse than a "ship without a rudder".

James, the brother of Jesus, was interested in vital Christianity, that results in consistent character and is lived out in serving those around us. In this passage, he encourages us to make our future plans with God in mind. As you sit down and take time to do the work of setting goals and making plans for the new year, meditate on what God might desire for your life. What can you accomplish in your life and for those around you with God's help? What are His purposes for you in 2010?

This life passes quickly by; we need to do the work of seeking God, placing Him first in our lives, and include His work in our plans. Commit yourself in the New Year to seek Him in prayer before you go on the journey.


Friday, January 2, 2015

A Future and a Hope - January 2, 2015

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11(New King James Version)

 11 I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord. “I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come. Jeremiah 29:11(New International Reader's Version)

A New Year holds much promise and is a time for renewal. It gives us all the opportunity to look back on what we have done in the past,  and it gives us the chance to start over; to set things straight. Many will use it as a time to start new diets or exercise programs; some will decide its a good time to dedicate themselves to reading more, learn something new, study the Bible, or begin a new hobby; and some will leave old relationships behind and seek new ones. And there will be those who really need this New Year to set things right with God.

The verse above from the Book of Jeremiah in the Bible, highlights the mind of our gracious and merciful God, when after many years of blatant sin, of rejecting God's ways, of worshipping pagan gods, and of willful disobedience, God chastised His people, Israel. The Kingdom of Israel had decayed and become so corrupted, that it was easily conquered by the Babylonians. As it had been prophesied many years before, the people who were blessed with the Promised Land, were now taken away as slaves, and into captivity in Babylon. Its amazing to read God's admonition to them as they were leaving the land:

4 The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He speaks to all those he forced to go from Jerusalem to Babylon. He says, “Build houses and make your homes there. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. Get married. Have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons. Give your daughters to be married. Then they too can have sons and daughters. Let there be many more of you and not fewer. Also work for the success of the city I have sent you to. Pray to the Lord for that city. If it succeeds, you too will enjoy success.” Jeremiah 29:4-7(NIRV)

The amazing God of the universe is actually encouraging His people Israel, in the face of the punishment He has give them for their sin and disobedience! And, He gives them a promise and future hope:

10 The Lord says, “You will be forced to live in Babylon for 70 years. After they are over, I will come to you. My good promise to you will come true. I will bring you back home. 11 I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord. “I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come. 12 Then you will call out to me. You will come and pray to me. And I will listen to you. 13 When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” announces the Lord. “And I will bring you back from where you were taken as prisoners. I will gather you from all the nations. I will gather you from the places where I have forced you to go,” announces the Lord. “I will bring you back to the place I sent you away from.” Jeremiah 29:10-14(NIRV)

God actually gives them the hope that He will someday restore them to the exalted place He gave them, by someday returning them to the Promised Land that He had given them. All they would need to do would be to look for Him with all their heart; to seek Him; and to be obedient to Him. God is treating the people Israel as a loving father would discipline, then restore a wayward child!

This New Year in the same manner allows us to bear all of our misdeeds, our sins, before God and seek His forgiveness and restoration. The great advantage we have in this modern age is that all mankind was restored to God, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross. Jesus carried all of our sins, past, present and future to the cross, and settle our debt of disobedience to God once and for all time. All we need to do is to ask for His forgiveness and receive His grace and mercy, by accepting Christ's payment in full.

If you have carried anything into this New Year that needs the forgiveness, grace and mercy of God, today is the time to give it all to Him. Take a few moments, get to a place were you can be alone with God, and lay it all out before Him. Jesus is waiting for you today, waiting to give you a "future and a hope". Let this be the year, 2015, where you can live in the promise of God and enjoy His peace and success.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

God Goes Before Us - January 1, 2015

Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8 (New King James Version)

During the third week in December, my family and I took a trip to Breckenridge, Colorado, to enjoy the scenery, and to get ourselves ready for Christmas by spending a little time in the snow. I was able to talk everyone to making it a road trip, and although it was a long drive from Dallas/Fort Worth to Breckenridge, the drive was well worth it.

When you are driving the back roads and highways, away from the Interstate, you get the opportunity to see the majestic views and are humbled by the beauty of God's handiwork. Any trip like that takes a little guidance to give you the routes that you must take to reach your final destination. Not all of the roads are easy, and some of the mountain roads can get steep and scary, but as long as you have a little help, you at least know that you will find your destination.

In the biblical book of Deuteronomy, we read about Moses and the people of Israel. After forty years of wandering in the desert in search of the land that God had promised to give them, they had finally come to the hills above the Jordan valley; the gateway to the Promised Land. Although the people were looking onto their new future homeland, it was the end of the journey for Moses. The verses above tell us about the word that God had given Moses to pass on to his appointed successor Joshua, who would be the one to lead the people into the land.

Today we embark on the New Year, 2015. As we enter into this new year, it is important that we approach it well equipped to face whatever comes our way. What lies ahead will bring good times and bad, joy and sadness, ease and struggle. Our future is never certain, but we can be sure that as long as we have God as our guide, we can confidently make it to the end. In these early hours and days of 2015, we need to be sure that we seek His will for our lives; for what He would have us do and accomplish, for His  kingdom and His glory. We may think that as long as we set goals and plans, we will have a successful year, but all of our planning will be left to chance, unless we make it our first priority to seek Him. He goes before us into 2015, and He promises to never leave or forsake us along the way.

Photo by Anna Zoromski, Weaver Multimedia Group