Friday, September 22, 2017

Will I Be Afraid?

Will I Be Afraid?
1 Peter 3:14  
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed, AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 

Psalm 56:4b 
I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940.  As the Nazis took control of most of Europe, Corrie ten Boom and her family began to hide Jews and refuges from the would be Holocaust. They could have assisted the Gestapo and been rewarded for their support, but instead, they chose to conceal as many Jewish people as possible. This put their family at great risk and later they paid dearly for it.

One frightful night, a night they would never forget, their home was invaded by the secret police. This would mark the beginning of many horrifying events that would take place in prison. They slept in beds filled with fleas, and ate stale bread with thin soup. They were not called by their names but by the numbers that were tattooed on their arms. Corrie’s number was 66730, an indelible mark never to be forgotten.

The night they were all taken to jail was the last night that all of them would be together in this life time. Corrie’s father died 10 days after being put in prison from pneumonia and her sister, Betsie, died 3 days before Corrie’s scheduled release. The Lord allowed Corrie to survive all the gruesome and painfully horrid circumstances surrounding her imprisonment. After spending ten long months in the forced labor camp, Ravensbrück, the day came when Corrie would be released. Some say she was let out because of a clerical error, but we know that God had a plan for Corrie’s life and her release was no mistake.

It’s easy to fear man when we do not allow God to strengthen us during times of adversity and tremendous heartache. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13 KJV).

Lord,  encourage my heart with Your compassionate grace.

Friday, September 15, 2017

In the Garden

In the Garden
Matthew 26:38 
Then saith He unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.”

Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11

When Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew He would be arrested, shamed, humiliated and put through severe testing. The Word of God makes it clear that Jesus knew all things that would happen to Him and that nothing was a surprise to Him or out of His and the Father’s control. 

This same Jesus understood fully all that His dying would entail. He knew what pain He would bear before He ever set foot in the garden. He knew of the floggings He would endure leaving Him to the point of death. He knew of the metal spikes that would pierce His body–––the most excruciating pain one could experience. That night during His prayer, every sorrow He had ever known seemed to fall upon Him. We could never comprehend the depth of Christ’s agony or the terror of divine wrath He would suffer that night.

The disciples were familiar with the Garden of Gethsemane they had gone there with Jesus before (John 18:2). On this particular night, the disciples were given instructions to, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). Jesus told them of the horrible trial they would  witness and yet, they fell asleep leaving Jesus to bear His anguish alone.

The prayer of Christ gives us a look into His heart as He suffers the supreme sacrifice and surrenders to the Father’s will. The Holy Son of God never knowing even the most insignificant sin would become sin for us. When Christ finished praying, He had the victory He had sought for during that long agonizing night . In perfect harmony with the will of His Father, Christ would shed His blood for sinful man. May we never forget what our Lord endured on our behalf.

Lord, thank You for Your supreme sacrifice in obeying the Father’s will.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why Read God's Word?

Why Read God’s Word?
You may be asking the question, “How should I read the Bible?” The answer is clear. The Word of God should not be read as a self-helps manual determining how you are to live out the perfect Christian life. The Bible provides hope through the pages of it’s narratives as well as through the timeless truths which offer grace and mercy to fallen man. It is written about OT people that are in captivity, suffering in misery and crying out in utter despair. Yet, they see and experience the faithfulness of God through extensive hardships and pain. The Apostle Paul suffered many difficulties for the advancement of the Gospel nonetheless, he proclaimed encouragement and comfort through the faithfulness of Christ. A believer, living to the will of God, rests implicitly on his Creator's faithfulness to accomplish what is set before him by faith. 

We need to see the sinful state of our existence as condemned without hope (Romans 3:11-18). Yet, God’s wonderful redeeming love is shown throughout Scripture through the timeless story of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. We are assured of His birth, His death on the cross, His miraculous resurrection and glorious ascension into heaven. The Bible is most advantageous when read through the sorrows of life. But, in spite of all the heartaches, this precious book gives hope to the hopeless, rest to the weary and peace to those struggling in the midst of life’s storm. 

The Bible is clearest when read as a weary pilgrim in need of Christ not being clouded by our own self-righteousness. If we understand who we are and who He is, we will not read the Bible to get a quick fix. Scripture should be read through the lens of the Gospel, seeing Christ’s love bestowed upon mankind in all that He accomplished on the cross. Galatians 1:3-4a says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins. . .”

Lord, may I read Your Word through the eyes of love and gratitude.

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Thy Will Be Done"

“Thy Will Be Done”
Matthew 6:9-10 KJV

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 

Our Lord instructed His disciples on prayer and gave them an example to follow not as a magical formula, but to commune with God. This prayer is short and to the point never mentioning the time of day in which to pray, how long to pray, or the position in which one is to pray. But, we are instructed to, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer usually comes from a heart that is truly committed to Christ generating thankfulness for all He has done. 

Prayer demonstrates our faith and trust in God in discerning His will for our lives. There are some who are fearful of God’s plan. The thought of surrendering to His will is overwhelming and at times even terrifying. These dear people are sure that if they were to yield to God, they would suffer painful, uncertain times in some distant and dangerous place. They can imagine themselves wasting away in solitude while being miserable in their existence. Psalm 33:11 says, “The counsel (plan) of the LORD standeth (endures, stands firm) for ever, the thoughts (intentions) of his heart to all generations.” They must understand that the plan or will of God  comes from an expression of His heart. I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” The will of God works in our lives to bring about His highest goal, glorifying Him through His unchangeable love for us. Our prayer should be that God, by His grace, would transform us making us willing and able to know and obey His will. And may we ever be mindful, that God designs His will, from His heart.

Lord, I pray “Thy will be done” in my life, to bring glory to Your dear name.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hard Question

Hard Question
Ecclesiastes 10:12 
Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious. . .

What do you do when your preadolescent child, a boy, comes to you and says, “I want to be a girl?”  With today’s culture, and the changing of traditional values, I’m sure it happens more than we would like to admit. Still, the question is how would you respond to this young boy’s statement? If you rush in too hard and approach your 10 year old with overwhelming information, it may cause them to identify more with this type of life-stye. 

As their parent, you need to calmly help them through the biblical definitions of male and female and God’s purpose and plan for them. Should you be concerned? Yes, of course, but do not over react to what your child has said. They may have just heard this expressed by someone at school,  or a friend and they’re testing the water using you as their sounding board. Ask them questions and don’t assume that they have grasped what they just repeated to you. Most likely, they don’t understand what is happening to them physically and what they are feeling emotionally. Be careful not to show a negative approach to this statement causing an adverse or damaging response. Your angry response may fuel a wrong desire and cause them to retaliate against you.

A parent needs to teach their child that sex and sexuality is positive, good and holy. The right kind of Biblical approach towards sex helps a child put things in the proper perspective. Of course, sex and the sexual desires of a young person need to be taught with the age of the child in mind. But unfortunately, most children are taught or are made to think that sex is bad. This causes them to have a negative view of what God has deemed virtuous, pure, and perfectly designed by Him. Parenting through the hard questions or declarations a child may bring to you takes wisdom that only our God can give. 

Lord, fill my words with Your grace.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Parenting Young Adults

Parenting Young Adults
Do you have children that would be considered a young adult? It is important that you, as a parent, have created a bridge from your heart to the heart of your child long before they launch out on their own. They’re getting ready to start careers, find a mate for life and some are even questioning their beliefs about the existence of God at this point. 

The attitudes young people have towards their parents are extremely important; considering they will be leaving the security and influence of their home. When following their God given desires, the remarks or statements made by you, the parent, will either encourage or discourage them in going forward. If a child is discouraged in pursuing their life long goals and ambitions, it can sway them into making wrong or sinful decisions.

What is it that a young adult needs to hear from their parents? They need to know that you are on the sideline cheering them on and not the referee throwing up flags telling them what they are doing wrong. Changes do happen during this stage of life and letting go is far more difficult then a parent thinks or wants to agree to. God works in the life of every believer and has entrusted to them desires of the heart that He has given (Psalm 37:4). Parents need to inspire their child to seek wisdom from other godly people which will help to secure their decisions towards a good and right path.

The consequence of good parenting is that your children will move out of your home and be a responsible adult spiritually, mentally and socially. We want to encourage our children to continue in their faith and rally around them to find a good church home. Hopefully, you have done all that you could to help them grow and mature in Christ while they were in the home. Now, God willing, their hearts will always be turned back to you for loving support especially during the hard times.

Lord, may I always be an encourager.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Self-Righteousness or Saving Grace

          Self-Righteousness or Saving Grace

There are times, in Scripture, when someone has come to Jesus and asked, “What do I do to obtain eternal life?” They’re asking, “What works can I do to inherit eternal life?”  No one can obtain eternal life by their own doing, it is the gift from God, not a result of works (Ephesians 2:8,9).

In Luke 18:18-30, the rich ruler came to Jesus saying, “. . . Good Master (Teacher) what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” His response, “Why do you
call me good? No one is good except God alone.” This man was not recognizing that Jesus was God, only that He was a “Good Teacher.” Jesus told him to keep the commandments. This meant that the rich ruler must keep all of the commandments perfectly. If he were to break one, he would be breaking all of them (James 2:10). He tells Jesus of his self-righteousness and declares before God Himself he has kept all the commandments from his youth. He doesn’t think that he is a sinner and in need of God’s salvation. He is moral and believes he has done all things without flaw. Despite his self-righteous bragging, he walks away in sadness not knowing true saving grace.

“Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God”
(Luke 18:26-27). We can’t save ourselves no matter what we do. It is impossible for man to be saved through himself. It’s only possible with God, who gives us eternal life through the power of the gospel.

Salvation is not for the dedicated, or those who have kept the whole Law (impossible) but for those who see themselves as dead in their trespasses and sins and then brought to life. They have believed the gospel, the finished work of Christ! The gospel is so important to teach and preach because it is the power of God that brings Jew and Gentile to Christ (Romans 1:16).

Lord, may I never be ashamed of the Gospel.