Friday, May 19, 2017

Living by Faith or In Fear?

            Living by Faith or In Fear?

                                     I Corinthians 2:5
"That your faith might not rest (stand) in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

Does fear take hold of your emotions in your day-to-day life? Do you understand that faith is not something you can produce in and of yourself?  Can you develop a faith that conquers all your fears?

Psalm 56:3, David reveals his faith with these words: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee."  Psalm 119 is filled with verses expressing the way in which David treasured God's Word: "With my whole heart I have sought thee" (v. 10); "I will meditate on your precepts" (v. 15); "I will hide your words in my heart" (v. 11). What wisdom those words speak to us today. It’s not in David we put our trust but in the power of the gospel, the finished work of Christ.

God is gracious and understanding towards our weaknesses. But, the Bible is clear that our faith does not mature and strengthen us without trials. When we face unbearable illnesses, remember that Romans 5:3 says, "Tribulation works patience." If someone turns against us, we can be comforted by the words in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us who can be against us!" Throughout life we will continue to face various trials that would cause us fear. According to His Word, God assures us that we can know a calm peace through every situation, "the peace of God, which surpasses (excels) all understanding"  which He has promised will "guard your hearts and your minds in (and through) Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

Though in Christ we are more than conquerors, (Romans 8:37), on occasion, we allow intimidating circumstances to distract us from the truth of the Word of God. When we focus on our fears, overwhelming feelings of helplessness rob us of the joy there is in Christ alone.  "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear . . ." (Psalm 118:6).

Lord, when I’m afraid, I will trust in You.

Friday, May 12, 2017

What an Outstanding Mother!

        What an Outstanding Mother!
                                         Acts 12:1-12

Mary, the mother of John Mark, was known for being a distinguished Christian woman from the city of Jerusalem. There is no record of his father, but Mark is reported to be a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). Mary’s house was known for being a popular place for Christians to gather and pray (Acts 12:12). After an angel freed the apostle Peter from Herod's prison, he went first to Mary’s house (Acts 12:6-12).

This is the only time the Bible mentions Mary, the mother of John Mark, but we can glean some inspiring insights from her life. She was a supporter of the early church and showed tremendous bravery in encouraging the work of God. Great persecution was sweeping through the church at this time and James, the brother of John, had already been martyred. Through all of this, Mary still welcomed the church into her home at great personal risk. Mary was a praying woman (mom) and raised a believing son who loved God’s work. Mark’s life reflects the faith-filled influence of his godly mother.

What does an “Outstanding women” look like in the church today? She supports the pastor and the leadership of the church, lifting them up in prayer. The outstanding woman encourages other women to stand strong for Christ and to share their faith even when others disagree. The outstanding woman is faithful in teaching and instructing her children in the things of God openly and at home. The outstanding women fights against the world’s philosophy that bombards the minds of her children. She strives to protect them from the uncertain days they live in. Children are being influenced to doubt the validity of God’s Word and to question the power Jesus has promised them in living out the abundant life. The outstanding woman is a mom that is mindful of her children’s needs and has a heart filled with unconditional love for each of them.

Lord, my continual prayer is to strive to be an exceptional mother while reflecting the gospel of Christ.

Friday, May 5, 2017

What Does Unforgiveness Look Like?

What Does Unforgiveness Look Like?

                                   Matthew 18:21-35
                     The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Are there limits or boundaries in forgiveness? What does unforgiveness look like in the life of the believer? Can a Christian continue in their unforgiving attitude and it not be sin?

Forgiveness is commanded by God and true remission must be imparted without conditions or restrictions. Christ has forgiven all transgressions against us (Psalm 103:12) and will cast every sin into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). Hebrews 8:12 says, “I will remember their sins no more” and Isaiah 43:25 declares,  “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” God’s forgiveness towards us is abundant in love and overlaid with His grace.

What does unforgivenss in the life of a believer look like? The lack of forgiveness does more damage to us than to the offender. And ”Yes,” God does know how difficult forgiving is for us to do. But, when we don't forgive, we can grow sour, bitter and even vengeful. To be sure, our actions demonstrate our faith and the degree to which we understand God’s wonderful grace. Hebrews 12:14-15 warns us to make every effort to live in peace with all men and to let no root of bitterness spring up causing trouble and contaminating many. Unforgiveness in the life of a Christian is against the directive of God and therefore, it is sin.

For reconciliation to take place, it may require some time. Trust is a very precious commodity and the moment you violate that trust, it is extremely difficult to earn it back. For instance, a woman being physically abused by her husband must separate herself from that situation and not return immediately. Yes, she should forgive her husband but not go back home to be reunited until the mistreatment/abuse is resolved. It takes time for trust to be re-established and for help to be administered to those involved.

Lord, thank You for Your undeserved forgiveness given to us.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Depression, Is It Sin?

               Depression, Is It Sin?

Is depression sin? Are there reasons for depression that we aren’t aware of and yet we believe it’s sin? Can we detour the unfortunate situations in our lives that cause depression or are they out of our control? Job suffered circumstances that overwhelmed him and physically impaired him. Was he in sin?  If someone suffers from a health issue that is debilitating and becomes depressed due to medication, are they in sin? Do we try to understand what a person is going through and with love and compassion walk with them in their path of depression and pain?

If a person that is suffering from depression is a Christian, we may find Gal 6:2 an important  Scripture to read and obey. “Bear one another's burdens . . .” The death of a loved one or illnesses that are irreversible can cause depression. Accidents leaving a person disabled can cause a person to become depressed. Some people don’t recognize their depression because they’ve blocked it out of their mind. Why? They’ve been taught for years that depression is a sin. Not all depression is caused from unconfessed sin. Most depression is from physical or emotional atrocities that have had devastating effects.

Sometimes we believe that Christians are free from all despairing situations but this is not true. We are fallen men and women and sometimes we just struggle with life. We live in sin scarred bodies and in a sin cursed world. Sometimes depression is not caused by our sinning but because of life itself. If a person has not dealt with their sin, they can suffer from depression. But, to say that all people suffering from depression are in sin is damaging. The Apostle Paul said, "we despaired of life itself" (2 Corinthians 1:8).  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Christ said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s reply, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 

Lord, may I have compassion on those who are in depression.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Trusting In The Mighty Hand of God

Trusting In The Mighty Hand Of God

                                      I Peter 5:6,7
     Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God...
         Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

On the night of May 2, 1863, General “Stonewall” Jackson was seriously wounded and his left arm was amputated the following day. Through perilous times, General Jackson, never lost hope in the Lord, the Shepherd and Guardian of his soul (I Peter 1:3-5). What is there to fear when in the mighty hand of God we are comforted, protected and given direction. Jackson was quoted as saying, “My religious belief teaches me that I’m just as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bed. The Lord has already appointed the day of my death so I need not worry about that. I live my life and prepare myself so I will always be ready to meet my Lord, when death does overtake me.”

The Lord encourages us as His children, to cast all our anxieties, fears, and doubts upon Him.  God does not want us to sink under the load of needless cares and fears. The Lover of our soul is watching over us and cares about every detail of our life. Resist the temptation to distrust the One who has made heaven and earth and holds you in the palm of His hand. Trust God's mighty hand to guide, direct and lift you up during times of doubt and personal conflict.

As we cast all our worries on the Lord and prepare ourselves for battle, let us never forget who our enemy is. Satan’s purpose on this earth is to blind, discourage, and destroy God’s people. Satan tries to undermine the character of God and wants us to doubt Him, His Word, and His magnificent power. Casting all our anxieties upon Christ will help us to resist doubt, as well as other temptations. Resisting Satan is a conscience effort of obedience, trusting God and refusing to give in to fear.

Lord, may I humble myself under Your mighty hand and cast all my fears upon You.

Friday, April 14, 2017

What Does Faith Alone Mean?

       What Does Faith Alone Mean?
                                    Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Do you believe that you are saved by grace alone, through faith alone and not by something you have done? Is it through Christ that you have salvation or is it by your works of righteousness  that you possess eternal life? These are questions that should provoke you to search for Truth in the Word of God.

Have you been taught that God has already done His part now the rest is up to you? Is individual salvation or exaltation earned through man’s compliance with the laws of God? Are you convinced that the grace of God coupled with gospel obedience is salvation? My dear friend, no one can keep God’s commands fully or perfectly, no matter how good their intentions are. What a heavy load you must bear in order to appear spiritually well. This is an unreasonable demand put upon you and therefore causes you to live your life in guilt, never feeling quite good enough. This is a shame because salvation is freely given by grace (the initiative or plan of God) through faith and not of yourself.

Because everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), all of us deserve His wrath and punishment. But, God in His infinite grace and mercy has provided a way that His wrath can be appeased and we can be reconciled to Him. That way is through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ. He paid the price for our sins through His death on the cross. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. God’s saving grace is His gift to us. He is the ultimate example of One willing to suffer in obedience to God.  Jesus said, “It is finished” on the cross, the greatest act of love perfectly completed.

Lord, thank You for so great a salvation.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Are We Loving One Another?

           Are We Loving One Another?
                                       I John 3:23
And this is his commandment, That we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he gave us commandment.

What do you do when someone comes to you and says, “I’m worried, I’m afraid, I’m hurting or I’m depressed?”  Do you have to personally experience their specific pain or suffering to be able to listen or care for them? Do you think that the only people that can help those in distress are pastors, elders or professional therapists?

The Bible makes our response clear towards a brother or sister in need, “. . . love one another earnestly from a pure heart. . .” (1 Peter 1:22,23). The love indicated here by Peter is the love of choice and to meet the needs of another with a fervent, unfeigned love. The definition of fervent is: having or displaying a passionate intensity and unfeigned means: genuine; sincere. We don’t need to have all the answers to be able to come along side someone and love them through their sorrow. We need to love them where they are and know that God commands us to do so in Scripture. John 13:34; 15:12,17; Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 John 4:7 are Christ’s command to us to “love one another.” Our responsibility is not to “fix” the person who’s suffering but to love them as Christ has loved us.

Love is portrayed by concern, compassion, sympathy, and affection. Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is patient, kind, and never ending.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. The theme that resonates throughout the entire Bible is the love that God has for His own, an unconditional love. This sincere and genuine love motivates one to share Christ with those that are lost and care for those that are hurting and hopeless.

Lord, may my heart be caring, my actions be kind and my desired purpose be in loving others to the glory of God.