Monday, February 29, 2016

Worldly Fools - February 29, 2016

Proverbs 1:7(New American Standard Bible)
7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10(Amplified Bible)
10The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

Job 28:28(New International Version)
28 And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

Revelation 14:7(New International Version)
7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

There are many out there in the world that refuse to "bow the knee" to Jesus Christ. They pursue the lusts of the world and arrogantly snub anything having to do with Christianity. They have disdain for anyone that has a relationship with Jesus, and they would rather ridicule others than to admit their own sinfulness.

This is especially true for young adults that have gone through the brainwashing of today's colleges and are now establishing themselves in their careers and lives. They may have even had introductions to church and "religion", thinking that is what Christianity was all about. These days they would rather have nothing to do with it. They are having too much fun partying and living the "good life", and they have no need for God.

There will come a time in everyone's life when they will have to face up to their sinfulness, because in a 100 years from now, everyone reading this will probably be dead. Believe it or not, we don't end up as nothing but dirt once we die, as the world would hope we would believe. We are eternal creatures and one day everyone will stand before God to be judged for what they have done in this life.

If you believe that your judged by your good outweighing your bad, just exactly when have you done enough to tip the scale in your favor? If you believe that your better than rapists and murderers and that God will take that into account, how do you know He will? Some believe that being an ostrich and sticking their heads in the sand will make it all go away are in for a real surprise. And others that may feel that by being "religious and spiritual" will gain God's favor have to know when they have done enough.

All of these things may seem right, but in the end they lead to destruction. We can never do enough to gain God's favor and forgiveness, because just a single act of disobedience condemns us forever. Only by accepting His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ can we ever be redeemed. Doesn't sound politically correct, but it is the truth. The sooner the foolish in this world figure that out, the better off they will be.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lighting Up the Darkness - February 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Satisfaction - February 27, 2016

 
Psalm 49(New Living Translation)
1 Listen to this, all you people!
Pay attention, everyone in the world!
2 High and low,
rich and poor—listen!
3 For my words are wise,
and my thoughts are filled with insight.
4 I listen carefully to many proverbs
and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.
5 Why should I fear when trouble comes,
when enemies surround me?
6 They trust in their wealth
and boast of great riches.
7 Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death
by paying a ransom to God.
8 Redemption does not come so easily,
for no one can ever pay enough
9 to live forever
and never see the grave.

10 Those who are wise must finally die,
just like the foolish and senseless,
leaving all their wealth behind.
11 The grave is their eternal home,
where they will stay forever.
They may name their estates after themselves,
12 but their fame will not last.
They will die, just like animals.
13 This is the fate of fools,
though they are remembered as being wise.

Interlude

14 Like sheep, they are led to the grave,
where death will be their shepherd.
In the morning the godly will rule over them.
Their bodies will rot in the grave,
far from their grand estates.
15 But as for me, God will redeem my life.
He will snatch me from the power of the grave.

Interlude

16 So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich
and their homes become ever more splendid.
17 For when they die, they take nothing with them.
Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
18 In this life they consider themselves fortunate
and are applauded for their success.
19 But they will die like all before them
and never again see the light of day.
20 People who boast of their wealth don’t understand;
they will die, just like animals.

Do you long after the riches of this world? Are your pursuits after those things that money buys? Is your first aim in life to do all you can to obtain wealth? Do you believe that in doing those things you will have satisfaction? Has God been relegated to a small corner of your life as you pursue after these things? Do we hunger more for power, wealth and riches than for the love and satisfaction found only in God?

Many times in God's word we are warned against worldly pursuits. We are told that by doing so we can never find satisfaction and happiness. Any of us who have spent a little time on this planet knows that this is true. No matter how much we seek after the world and its riches, there is never enough and we can never be satisfied. In God's economy, worldly wealth is fleeting and soon fades away, but He gives us supernatural wealth in Jesus that can sustain and satisfy us for eternity.

Only by seeking God first and foremost in our lives can we ever be truly satisfied, and He tells us as long as we put Him first, He will take care of everything else we need. Only in Him can we be rescued from the world and given satisfaction that lasts.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Praise - February 26, 2016

Psalm 138(New International Version)
1 I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
that it surpasses your fame.
3 When I called, you answered me;
you greatly emboldened me.

4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
when they hear what you have decreed.
5 May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.

6 Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
with your right hand you save me.
8 The LORD will vindicate me;
your love, LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Misplaced Trust - February 25, 2016

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Empathy - February 24, 2016


Romans 12:15 (New International Version, ©2011)
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.


It's difficult to see the results of the past earthquakes in Japan, the annual tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma and surrounding states, or the current slaughter of innocents in the Middle East without "feeling" for those who are involved. Many in the world can be cold and calloused about such events and pay little attention to them, but as a Christian, we are to be "empathetic" to the plight of the people.

According to Wikepedia, "empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another person. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion". In other words, you have to have heart felt joy or sadness for what someone else is going through.

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you take connect with God and His love for His people. Every human being takes on new significance, and you see them ian a different way. This is what compassion is all about, seeing people as more than ordinary, seeing them as those that God loves and wants to save, as well as care for.

It's time we become more like God, and show empathy for His people, and as we feel such, we need to be motivated to take action to help.

Photo #27 from the devastation of the Japan Earthquake from BuzzFeed

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Harmony - February 23, 2016


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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Humility - February 22, 2016

 
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.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Good Fruit: Love - February 21, 2016

Luke 10:25-28 (New International Version, ©2010)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[Deuteronomy 6:5]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[Leviticus 19:18]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

When you look at the good fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 that reflect those who are Christians, the most important is love. Nothing is more important to God, than to have those who follow Him, reflect the love that He has so richly given us. There is no greater love, than what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross, so that we might be saved from our sins.

In turn, Christians need to be known for their love that they give to others unconditionally. We need to be the first to step into the scene to help when other are in trouble and hurting. We need to take the lead in serving others who are less fortunate. Our compassion needs to extend to all, even those who would rather harm us.

Does your love reflect the love that Jesus Christ has given you? Does it extend from your being as the first priority in all of your actions? Do you love your neighbor, including the ones you don't like? Do you take the actions that show that you love others as you have been called to? If you do, you are filled with the Holy Spirit and are truly trying to live your faith reflecting Jesus.

If not, you need to do a gut check, confess your shortcomings, and ask God to help you love others as you love yourself.

Photo "Indigenous People" by jonathan n, 4-4-2007, from stock.xchng

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Good Fruit: Self-Control - February 20, 2016

Romans 6:1-7 (New Living Translation)
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

1 John 5:18 (New International Version, ©2010)
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.


Was there a time in your life when you were living in a lifestyle where "resistance was futile"? Have you been in a situation where it was almost unbearable to not give into temptation? I know many people trapped in the bondage of an addiction or sin where they simply can't give it up. It is an urge that is often very powerful, and the fear of giving up the addiction is sometimes stronger than the fear of death.

When you come to Jesus Christ and surrender yourself to Him, often the Holy Spirit takes away that urge and frees people from the bondage of sin, but sometimes it takes more than that. All who truly accept Christ's gift of salvation are filled with the Holy Spirit. He is our Comforter, our ever present presence that helps us on our daily walk with God. He gives us the good fruit of self-control.

Sometimes though, people are so trapped in their sin that they are resistant to gaining control over it through Jesus. They often become depressed and sometimes even disenchanted with God because their bondage doesn't leave them. Why is this? I say it is because they have not made a true decision to turn their back on the past. They hold on to it and embrace it because it seems more comfortable than the freedom of letting go.

If you truly desire the freedom gained by truly surrendering to God, and truly allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence and gifts, especially self-control, ask God for the strength to. He hears your prayers and He will answer you, but you need to first have a change of mind an allow Him to do His will with you. He will give you the self-control you need to conquer your sin, your addiction, and the bondage that has you trapped.

Photo "Praise the Lord" by ronibro, 11-16-2006 from stock.xchng

Friday, February 19, 2016

Good Fruit: Gentleness - February 19, 2016

 
Matthew 18:1-5 (New International Version, ©2010)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.


It is interesting these days that when religions are compared, they are all are given a moral equivalence in today's society. Unfortunately, those opinions stem from the fact that many so-called followers of Christ were very far from Him. Many remember atrocities that were carried out in His name and have associated that behavior with all Christians. If you have really walked with our Lord for very long, you know that those opinions are false. Whenever you hear someone associating those things with Christians, you probably think to yourself that true followers of Jesus are far from those things.

Fact is that Jesus Christ made it very clear how we should approach the kingdom of God, with a contrite and gentle heart. He likened the attitude that we should have with the attitude of little children; gentle of spirit and character, yet wide open with possibilities, and eager to embrace the simple truth of God's love message to His people. True believers filled with the Holy Spirit exhibit the good fruit of gentleness in all things, especially those of Christ. This is true in how we treat those around us, and how we deal even with those who would chose to harm us.

The true Christians will bear all and approach all with the spirit and fruit of gentleness; in doing so, they will reflect the strength of God and will win many to Jesus Christ.

Photo "Bunny Girl" by familylife, 9-9-2007, from stock.xchng

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Good Fruit: Goodness - February 18, 2016

 
Luke 6:45 (New International Version, ©2010)
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

3 John 1:11 (New International Version, ©2010)
11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.


It is something that we are taught from the time we can understand our parents. After learning about the word "no", the first real rule we hear taught to us is to be "good". No one is naturally good no matter how hard we may try, and the older we get the harder it is. Jesus even made commented to one who called him good, 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone." (Luke 18-19)Being good is not something we are able to be on our own.

Thank God that when He gave us the Holy Spirit to inhabit our lives, He gave us the ability to produce fruit, and goodness is one of those. But being good is more than reigning in our own behavior. It goes much deeper than that. Goodness is best shown when in the purity of heart we "do good" to all those we come across. We cannot be good without God, and we cannot do good without God.

Be good and exercise goodness to all, and you will truly reflect the goodness of God, who above all us was good to us.

Photo "Helping Hand" from je1196,10-19-2004 from stock.xchng

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Good Fruit: Faithfulness - February 17, 2016

 
1 Corinthians 15:58 (New International Version, ©2010)
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.


Are you stong in your convictions? Do you stick with what you believe when you are under pressure to give it up? Do you continue to do things for God when there seems to be no earthly benefit? Are you obedient to following God's rules when no one is looking, or are do you stand up for Jesus Christ when everyone is looking?

As I have said many times, our Christian walk is not easy. It calls us to doing things and not doing things that seem bizarre to those in our society and the world. If we follow Jesus as we should, we will stand out, and we will encounter difficulty. Jesus said, 11"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me."(Matthew 5:11)If we are a true follower of Jesus Christ and the things of God, we will experience persecution.

On our own efforts, we probably cannot stand up to that kind of testing. Many have fallen away from the Christian faith when they were subjected to all kinds of pressure, whether it is social or physical. Then how are true Christians able to endure? It is because the Holy Spirit indwells the believer which shows up in the good fruit of faithfulness.

If you are having difficulty because you stand out for Jesus and people make fun of you or give you a hard time, great! You are being faithful, steadfast, and you will be blessed by God. Stand up for Jesus and He will stand up for you, both in this life and the next.


Photo "Gospel Reading" by abcdz2000, 3-3-2008,from stock.xchng

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Good Fruit: Kindness - February 16, 2016


Colossians 3:12-13 (New International Version, ©2010)
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 (New International Version, ©2010)
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


What has become of people treating one another with kindness? Daily you hear stories of bullying, abuse, jealousy, anger, treachery, cruelty and down right meanness that goes on around us all. The perpetrators are young and old, of all ethnic group, back ground and upbringing. The only common denominator is that there is a vicious attempt of hurting another, and this extends to other creatures as much as it is with people.

And hanging around fellow Christians doesn't mean that one is immune from being treated in this way. There are many of the same attempts to hurt people in churches and among Christians as there are in the world. What is at the root of this? Why do we behave this way? The answer is that if God is at the root of the good fruit of kindness, Satan is at the root of meanness.

If you are called by Jesus Christ and are ruled by the Holy Spirit, you are to be about demonstrating kindness to all people and all things. Your obligation to God is to treat every part of His creation with the kindness and love He has extended to you. It doesn't stop there; you need to be about being an advocate and defender of that same kindness in all that surrounds you.

That means teaching your children and young people as well as the adults around you how to treat one another. Never allow someone to be unkind to you without rebuking them in love. Let them know that to treat others with cruelty and meanness is never acceptable, and at the same time extend the hand of reconciliation, peace and kindness. Now here is a good fruit of the Holy Spirit that the world needs a lot more of.

Photo from Nursing Home Article from 5-2-2009

Monday, February 15, 2016

Good Fruit: Patience - February 15, 2016

 
Ephesians 4:2-3 (New International Version, ©2010)
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:2-3 (King James Version)
2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


The Christian work requires much patience, forbearance and longsuffering. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the focus of your life is no longer on you. It is one where the needs of everyone else needs to come before ourselves. Because of this, you might find out that you will receive much abuse and persecution. But you need to always be able to bear it, whether it is given by those who hate and despise you, or by fellow believers.

Our example is Jesus Christ, who took the abuse of those around him and the weight of our sins, and bore them on the cross. We need to identify with Him and know that our good fruit of patience will reap a crown of eternal life with God.

Photo "Winter" by just4you, 3-1-2006 from stock.xchng

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Author of Love - February 14, 2016

1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version, ©2010)

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Happy Valentine's Day from the Author and Creator of Love. We will not be able to grasp this side of Heaven "how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ". God first loved us, and in turn we are able to Love each other. Deeper yet, God has created the more intimate Love relationship that we enjoy with our spouses that is a picture of the unity of God. I pray that on this day, all will know the Love of God and extend that Love to our spouses, our families, and each other.

Photo "Hearts" by Irum, 4-5-2007, from stock.xchng

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Good Fruit: Peace - February 13, 2016


Psalm 119:165 (New International Version, ©2010)165 Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

John 14:27 (New International Version, ©2010)27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:33 (New International Version, ©2010) 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

James 3:17-18 (New International Version, ©2010)
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.


A true sign of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit of God, and following after Jesus is peace. The good fruit of peace means that you are calm and confident in the Lord, and you seek to be free from quarrels and disagreement. Your life reflects the desire to live harmoniously with all. You do not stir up strife for the sake of your own purposes, and you "bend over backwards" to restore peace in any situation that might be difficult.

Bottom line is that you see everyone as God's children and every situation as one in which you can bless others for the sake of Jesus Christ. Jesus brought us peace in our souls by restoring our place with God; in turn we need to pass on the peace that we have been given to those around us.

Photo "Sunrays" by MajaFoto, 11-25-2009 from stock.xchng

Friday, February 12, 2016

Good Fruit: Joy - February 12, 2016

James 1:2-4 (New Living Translation)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.


When times get rough, do you remain confident in the ability of God to get you through it? Or do you worry and become anxious and wonder what God is doing to you? These two reactions are probably very common for believers in Jesus and non-believers. All of us have become concerned and worried when times get difficult, but the true test of whether you have surrendered yourself fully to God is in the fruit we produce.

When we study the fruit of the Spirit exhibited by a Christian as found in Galatians 5:22-23, we find that our lives become a reflection of our new life in Christ. The next good fruit mentioned in these verses is joy. What is joy? It is a calm in the eye of the storm. It is that excitement that you know that God is doing something good in your life. It might not be pleasant at the time, but you have that quiet confidence that everything will work out for good. It is a promise that God has made to us and we need not be concerned because God keeps His promises.

I am learning to be controlled by spiritual joy, to not give up and focus rather on what God wants me to learn in the difficult situation. I know that Jesus Christ is alongside me, helping me with my burdens in life. It gives me that calm and confidence to work through my problems. Not that I don't become anxious, because I do at times, but I know the end of my life's story. I know that tomorrow will be a better day.

Photo "Summer Joy" by porah, 5-1-2008, from stock.xchng

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Good Fruit - February 11, 2016

Galatians 5:22-25 (New International Version, ©2010)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.


Since the "fruit" that is produced from living as part of the world is readily seen as living against God, how can you tell those who are walking and living under the guidance of God? What are the actions and characteristics that a Christian that is influenced through the Holy Spirit exhibit? How do you know that you are truly walking with God?

Just as this 5th chapter of Galatians clearly points out the "fruit" produced by those against God, it describes the "fruit of the Spirit". If we are the children of God, and if we are truly Christians, our lives will reflect these good characteristics of Christ. Not that we are perfect, and not that we don't show some of the characteristics of the world from time to time, but if we are truly saved through Jesus Christ, our lives will be governed by Jesus and exhibit these spiritual fruits.

Over the next few days, I will dig deeper into this basket of good fruit, and look into how we might best exhibit each of these as we live out our lives for God.

Photo "Green Apples" by Robby M, 12-7-2009 from stock.xchng

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rotten Fruit - February 10, 2016

 
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

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Our Refuge - February 9, 2016

Psalm 46 (New International Version)

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, February 8, 2016

He Reigns! - February 8, 2016

Psalm 93(New International Version)
1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

3 The seas have lifted up, LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

4 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.

5 Your statutes, LORD, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.


No matter what you believe or what religion you practice, there is but one truth. All faiths cannot be true, because they don't all agree. Each has a different concept of who God is, so how can they all be equal? How can they ALL be true? It doesn't make logical sense. Their can only be one truth of who God is, and only one person claimed that truth.

Only Jesus Christ said that He was God(John 10:30,13:13), and that when we saw Him we saw the Father(John 14:9-10). Only He claimed to be at the beginning of all things(John 1:1,8:58). Only Jesus said that He was the truth and the way to eternal life(John 14:6). He is either a nut, a liar or God in the flesh. There is no doubt about the historical Jesus Christ. There is more documentary proof for Him than there is for the life of Julius Caesar.

If you are reading this and you don't believe in Him, there will be a specific day and time when you will be called to account for your stand(Romans 14:12,2Corinthians 5:10). The Bible tells us that Jesus was the final revelation of God(Hebrews 1:1-3), and as such we will either surrender to Him now or in the next life when it is too late(Philippians 2:9-11).

Know this our God reigns, and Jesus reigns in Him and with Him. Welcome the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God, and surrender yourself to Him. Check out the verses above for yourself; seek Him in prayer and He will reveal the truth to you. You need only see, read and hear what is going on in the world around you to know that something significant is happening. Now more than ever, you need to make a decision, and the one you make will determine your eternal destiny.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Praise! - February 7, 2016

Psalm 92 (New International Version, ©2010)

1 It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

4 For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
5 How great are your works, LORD,
how profound your thoughts!
6 Senseless people do not know,
fools do not understand,
7 that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.

8 But you, LORD, are forever exalted.

9 For surely your enemies, LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn[b] like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Photo "Playing Harp" by Gerrit, 10-27-2005 from stock.xchng

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Longing for Heaven - February 6, 2016

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 (New Living Translation)
2 I[Greek-I know a man in Christ who] was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. 3 Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know 4 that I was caught up[Greek-But I know such a man,that he was caught up.] to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.
...
Philippians 1:21-24 (New King James Version)
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

As I go through this life, there are many times when I find myself longing for Heaven. I look forward to being in the presence of God, taking in all that He has prepared for me. I imagine what it will be like, and for me, nothing fits my imagination than a mountain scene. I imagine God's throne high atop a mountain surrounded by unspeakable beauty, and the whole place filled bright with His light. Some may think that I have gone "overboard", but I am comfortable and secure in knowing that He has great things in store for me beyond this life, and I am longing to be in Heaven with Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul had much the same thoughts because of an encounter he had when he was taken up into heaven. He encountered things indescribable in human terms and unspeakable for ordinary man, because of its holiness. I am sure his zeal for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel, was in part due to his many experiences with God and the living Christ. Later in life he too longed to be with Christ in heaven, and as he was nearing the end of his life, he tried to share as much as he could before his departure.

You too can live with the same longing and assurance that I have. You too can long for Heaven. All you need is to fully and totally surrender yourself to God. He has already made it possible for you; He reaches out to you and offers the hope and redemption He has already prepared for you, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus has stepped out of the grave to show you the way. Are you ready to follow Him?

Photo "Singing Pass, looking east. Whistler,BC" from weblo.com

Friday, February 5, 2016

Do you Give Him Praise? - February 5, 2016

1 Chronicles 16:1-11;31-36 (New International Version)1 They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God. 2 After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. 3 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each Israelite man and woman.

4 He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to extol, thank, and praise the LORD, the God of Israel: 5 Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.

7 That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the LORD in this manner:

8 Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
9 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
11 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
...
31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing,
let them sing for joy before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior;
gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
and glory in your praise.”
36 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the LORD.”

When do you find yourself praising God? For your children and family, do you give Him praise? For the job He has given you and the opportunity to meet you financial needs, do you give Him praise? For the wonderful things around you day in and day out, do you give Him praise? For all that He continues to bless you with, do you give Him praise?

In the midst of heartache and pain, do you give Him praise? When you loose your job, do you give Him praise? When money is tight and you don't know where to turn, do you give Him praise? When you lose a loved one, do you give Him praise? In spite of all the hardship you might encounter, do you give Him praise?

We are to give God praise no matter the circumstances, because in praising Him no matter what, you surrender to His will for your life. You acknowledge that He is in control, and that He will work everything ultimately for your good. Through the example of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you know that God works through the best in life and the worst. He redeems you from the world, and He is always worthy of our praise.

Photo from Daily Devotional Post, 9-14-2010, praisecleveland.com

Thursday, February 4, 2016

There Is Only One - February 4, 2016


Isaiah 66:2(New Living Translation)
2 My hands have made both heaven and earth;
they and everything in them are mine.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,
who tremble at my word.

In this day and age we have much that occupies our time. From the time we awake to the time we go to sleep, there are much that takes up our attention. I would bet that with all the time we spend on other things, we find ourselves worshipping many other things than the One who created us. For many of us, once we start our day God doesn't get a second thought. It is almost as if the "stuff" of our lives takes the place of God.

But this is not how it should be. For us to live a truly fulfilled and blessed life, God has to be our first priority. That is the main reason Jesus Christ walked among us. He was God incarnate; God in the flesh. He is one that identifies with everything we are and in turn relates to all we will do. He desires intimacy with us, and that has to be more than an occasional thought day or night and maybe an hour on Sunday.

Tomorrow when you wake up, decide that you are going to do things differently. Tell God that from now one, He will be your constant companion. Include Him in every thought and question during your day, and consult Him in every question that comes to your mind. At the end of the day, thank Him for being your constant companion.

There can only be one God in our lives, and if we will humbly come to Him and include Him, He will give us blessings beyond measure. Try it, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Embracing His Peace - February 3, 2016

 
John 14:27(New International Version)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

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.


We have been searching for God's remedy for our troubles and distress over the last few days. We have been asking what we need to do in the face of the difficulties, especially when it seems that God is not doing anything about resolving it. We have been crying out asking God how long we must go through this. We ask what will break us free from our troubles and distress?

Working through our troubles is always a process, and when things are most difficult our approach to God needs to reflect that. We spoke of seeking our loving God in prayer, making sure we are walking in obedience to His word, continually having faith in the promises He has made to us, and always remembering the times He has been faithful to us in the past.

At the end of the day we need to embrace the peace that He offers. When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He provides for us the comfort and companionship of the Holy Spirit. We need to rest in the comfort and peace that the Spirit gives us, rather than fighting it in our anxiety of the moment. We need to have faith that God is in control, and He will not let us fall. We may not always like what we are going through, but at the end of our struggles, He will be there with us.

Photo from "If you live to be 100",5-27-2011, source: cosmicallybeautiful

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How Long Lord? - February 2, 2016

Psalm 13 (New International Version)
1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.


For many these days have been difficult. If it is not something financial because of the economy, then it is either some personal struggle, an illness, a passing of a loved one, or a crisis in the family. We lift up our voices in prayer, wanting to have God give us an answer, but it doesn't seem to come. What do you do when you are desperate, down and out, struggling, and wanting relief from your troubles and distress?

Remember His faithfulness. Remember what He has done for you in the past. Remember that He has never taken you through something that did not turn out better in the end. Count the times He has carried you through; write them down and pray a prayer of remembrance saying, "Lord, I remember when you brought me through ..." Lift up you current struggle to Him and ask Him to do as He has in the past. He longs to hear your prayers.

God has a reason for your trouble and distress. He will not let it be in vain. His purpose is greater than what we can see. It will all be for good. Remember Him, and how He has demonstrated His love for you.

Photo from "This Thing Called Cancer", 10-3-2010,Daynas-Journey Blogspot

Monday, February 1, 2016

Daily Dependence - February 1, 2016

Luke 11:2-3 (New International Reader's Version)
2 Jesus said to them, "When you pray, this is what you should say.

"Father, may your name be honored. May your kingdom come.

3 Give us each day our daily bread."

When you get up in the morning, what are your first thoughts? Do you thank God for giving you another day here in earth? Do you ask Him to bless the day? Do you ask Him to guide you throughout the day, and to protect your family? Asking for your "daily bread" is probably way down on the list of firsts to pray for in the morning, yet to Jesus, as recorded here in the New Testament book of Luke, this request comes first after praising the Father's holiness and praying for the coming kingdom of God.

I believe that the point that Jesus was trying to make to His disciples is that their first focus of prayer after worship should be one of total dependence. This simple statement says much. It proclaims that they are dependent on God to provide them everything. It is a statement of surrender. For us it might be, "God please make sure that there is food on our table". It acknowledges your daily dependence on Him for everything we have and everything we do.

In the Western world, we are fairly independent. From an early age, we think that what we obtain comes from our own efforts. We forget that God was the One who gave us life and the ability to achieve and attain whatever we have. This is true for all of us. Rarely do we recognize that He gives us all things. Rarely are we totally dependent on God for all of our material needs. Spiritual maybe, but not for how we "make a living" and provide for our families. This is probably more true for men than women, but when was the last time you thanked God for your haircut or manicure?

Usually the only time we truly depend on God for the material is when we lose our job in some way. Then, and sometimes only then, do we lift up prayers to heaven and plea for His deliverance from that situation. I want to get like Paul, who while being chained to Roman guards in prison could still say this:

12 "I know what it's like not to have what I need. I also know what it's like to have more than I need. I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough. 13 I can do everything by the power of Christ. He gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

I would pray that all of us would be totally dependent on God for everything. I pray that we don't have to learn the lesson the hard way by having to do without. I pray that we would all acknowledge where all that we have comes from, and I pray that we may pass this knowledge of our daily dependence on God, to those who come after us.

About the photo: In 1918 in the town of Bovey, Minnesota Eric Enstorm took a photo of Charles Wilden sitting at a small table in prayer. As soon as the negative was developed, Enstrom was sure he had something special... a picture that seemed to say, This man doesn't have much of earthly goods, but he has more than most people because he has a thankful heart. Today Enstrom's picture GRACE, is known and loved throughout the world. Also known as Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread and as The Old Man Praying At The Dinner Table. ...Information and art can be obtained from wholesaleart.org