Friday, September 20, 2019

"I Know Not What Awaits Me"

“I Know Not What Awaits Me”
James 4:14

News Headlines ~ Chicago Tribune ~ December 30, 1876  
Gospel Singer and Songwriter Burns to Death in Tragic Train Wreck

The railroad train, on which Mr. and Mrs. P. P. Bliss rode to their death, left Buffalo, New York, on Friday, December 29, 1876. When approaching Ashtabula, Ohio, the bridge gave way, and the train, with 160 passengers plunged into the ravine. 

It was the worst winter night of the year and as the train was creeping across the bridge, something snapped. There was confusion with the cracking of wooden beams, and then the crash of the train, into freezing water. Cries of the injured and suffering could be heard from the train below. Men, women, and children, with limbs, bruised and broken, and some pinched between heavy timbers, begged with their last breath for help.

Five minutes, after the train fell, a fire broke out. Mr. Bliss succeeded in escaping from the wreckage and soon realized his dear wife was pinned under the ironwork of the seats. Returning to the car, he bravely remained at her side attempting to release her maimed body. Other men went back after their wives and children and found them suffocating and roasting in the flames. In less than ten minutes after the catastrophe, every car in the wreck was on fire. The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. P. P, Bliss were never recovered, but his trunk reached Chicago safely.

When the trunk was opened, they found the last song that he had written, before his death. "I know not what awaits me. God kindly veils my eyes…"  The last verse of the song read: “So on I go, not knowing, I would not if I might; I'd rather walk in the dark with God Than go alone in the light; I'd rather walk by faith with him Than go alone by sight.”

God alone knows the future. Whatever may await you, when you trust Christ as your “Redeemer,” victory is given over sin and death and hell. 

Lord, I will sing of You, my Redeemer.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Abide in Me

Abide in Me
John 15: 1-6

A few tips to interpret Scripture accurately. Be careful not to take word pictures, illustrations, or parables to literal when reading them. Understand to whom the writer is directing his message and why is it relevant to them. And remember to use all Scripture to interpret Scripture context correctly. 

Do you feel like you have failed in producing fruit in your Christian life and have no idea how long, or how much fruit you are to be producing? Maybe, you’ve become a fruit inspector for God and look at other’s fruit comparing it to your effectiveness? A fruit inspector is another name for a self-righteous person or to put it in Biblical terms, a Pharisee. John 15 was written to be an encouragement and not a discouragement to the believer, and especially to the remaining disciples. 

We need to look at what the Apostle John is “not” saying in this portion of the Word of God. He does not imply that if you stop bearing fruit, you lose your salvation or if you don’t bear enough fruit, you will be cut off and burned. Jesus is making the passage clear in John 15:5 by saying: “… apart from me you can do nothing.” The Lord is not addressing laziness or immoral Christians in John 15, but directing His thoughts towards those who might be tempted to turn away from Him and trust in something or someone else. The issue here is about one’s faith in the True Vine not in how much fruit someone needs to produce. 

We can’t make this Scripture about our effort to produce fruit. The fruit of the Spirit comes from the Spirit of God which dwells in the believer. Jesus produces the fruit in us when we, by faith, trust and abide in Him. The definition for the word, abide means to completely rest, rely upon, and wholeheartedly remain in Christ depending on nothing else. Our obedience then becomes the fruit and evidence of our love displayed towards Him.

Lord, I abide in You alone.

Friday, September 6, 2019

How Do We Strengthen Our Home?

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

Matthew 18:21-22 

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

What can we do to strengthen our homes?  Does the Bible have an answer for us? Keep in mind what God calls us to do, He enables and equips us to achieve. What is most important in our families that causes relationships to be sustained for the long haul? The answer, FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness is an act of love that is undeserved and unearned. It affirms to the offender that there is no longer any anger, hatred, or a desire for vengeance necessary. The guilt has been removed and the blame is gone. This is the exact compassion that God demonstrates towards sinners. He grants to us a promise of unconditional love through His precious Gospel. Our reproach and humiliation have been removed and God’s attitude towards those who have put their faith in Him is His unfathomable favor. This is what makes a lasting relationship when there are no resentments or unresolved grievances we harbor.

In Colossians 3:13, Paul says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Unforgiveness imprisons and keeps people chained to their past. As long as they are unwilling to forgive offenders and their offenses, they are shackled to them, keeping their pain alive like an open sore. Christ is our model of forgiveness and has pardoned all our sins––the most important truth in Scripture (Colossians 2:13). He has canceled out our sin debt against a holy God and redeemed us (fulfilled the necessary payment for sin) with His blood (Colossians 1:14). How can we, who have been forgiven so much, not forgive someone? To make our homes strong, we need to release others through a heart of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32).

Lord, build my home.  Amen!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Have You Failed?

Have You Failed? 
I Samuel 15:24 KJV
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

Benjamin Franklin once stated, “How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them!” There is an example of that truth found in (I Samuel 15:3,9). Saul, the first king of Israel, had been given a divine command but he failed to obey. When he was confronted by the prophet of God, Samuel, with his disobedience, Saul refused to admit his guilt. After continued rebuke, the king finally confessed, “I have sinned,” but with his confession, he gave an excuse of empty words (I Samuel 15:24). Saul’s kingdom was ultimately destroyed because of his improper response concerning sin. It is foolish to indulge in our lust and try to make a useless attempt to conceal our guilt.

Another example of one of God’s men failing in his duty as king was David. As Israel’s King, David reflected on his guilt and afflicted state. Sleep escaped him, his energy was drained by emotional despair and he was feeling the chastisement of the Lord upon him. David’s problem was that he regarded the words of the Lord with little value and treated them lightly (II Samuel 12:9). Undoubtedly, this meant that he had an improper view of God’s Word, and of God Himself.

What is your view of God? Do you fear Him? Have you expressed your guilt before Him and repented of your sin? Have you experienced God’s grace not only in salvation but in repentance and restoration? Such great conviction and strength are given in Psalm 51 where we find David’s confession of sin and restoration of his spirit to the Lord. David could have easily thought that God had given up on him but in His great mercy and grace, God lovingly forgave him. 

Lord, I confess I am guilty before You and ask for forgiveness for my sin.

Friday, August 23, 2019

"Why Are You So Fearful?"

"Why Are You So Fearful?"

Mark 4:35-41 KJV
... And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Jesus was preaching before a large crowd but needed space between Himself, and the crowd of people surrounding Him. He stepped in a boat and pushed off into the water a little giving Himself room. Christ being exhausted by all He had done that day, went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to rest. While Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat, a fierce storm arose filling the boat with water. The disciples being afraid, awoke Him and said to Him, “Master, do You not care that we are perishing? How can you sleep when we are going through this?” They panicked. The disciples knew Jesus had power over the natural world and the supernatural world but questioned His ability to save them from the storm.

Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea saying, “Peace, be still.” The wind died down and became perfectly calm. He said to the men, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Immediately, they became exceedingly fearful and said to one another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” 

Why are we afraid of the storms of life when the Creator of this world lives in us? How can we be fearful of any circumstance when Christ, the Author, and Finisher of our faith, dwells in our mortal bodies? The strong winds of fear may invade our anxious minds but, when Christ, the Creator, and Captain of the sea speaks, may we surrender full command of the storm to the One who can calm the raging sea and bring PEACE to our troubled soul.

Lord, I surrender full command of the storm in my life to You.

Friday, August 16, 2019

What Does It Mean to Love?

What Does It Mean to Love?
John 14:15 ESV
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John, the writer of the Gospel of John, wrote the book with this one thought in mind.: “… these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31 KJV). 

The value or worth we put on someone we love gives us a connection with this person and is the foundation of our relationship. God is our Creator, Redeemer, Provider, and Friend. As a Christian, we have a personal relationship with Him and therefore, we are greatly influenced by His love for us. “We love him, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19 KJV). Jesus is teaching the disciples that no amount of obedience is the true source of love. Genuine love comes from the Father, a gift of love. For by grace you have been saved through faith…not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). 

We have believed that our obedience is the proof of our love for Christ and that our obedience will gain us the love of the Father but, unfortunately, obedience does not gain us the love of the Father. His love is a gift given to us when we believe and trust in Him as our Savior. Our obedience flows from this supernatural gift of love that God has given to us. 

I John 2:3-5 says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments…whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected…”  Receive Me, follow Me, believe in Me, love one another, trust in Me and rest in Me are some of His commands.  His commands are not burdensome, but trying to keep them perfectly is. Our focus is on our love for Christ as a truly extraordinary gift because we, as fallen people, cannot obey God perfectly.

Lord, thank You that Your commands are not burdensome.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Persecution, Is It a Blessing?

Persecution, Is It a Blessing?
2 Thessalonians 1:1-5 
“…We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring…”

As we read through the book of 2 Thessalonians, we see that there are only three chapters in the book with three main issues. The first issue mentioned was the increasing persecution of the church during the time of the Apostle Paul and others that were following Christ. The second issue was Eschatology the part of theology known as “The End Times,” or the “Day of the Lord.”  Chapter Three, speaks of vocational enthusiasm or the lack thereof. There were misconceptions about why they should continue to work if Jesus is coming back soon.

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica to encourage them to stand firm in their faith and look to God for strength during times of persecution. In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul exhorts them to continue to love one another and to grow greater in their love and dependence on each other. These mistreated people were growing in their faith. They were commending other Christians to endure persecution without wavering while bearing their oppression and abuse patiently.

How should we view persecution? We, as Christians, don’t like persecution but know that it does bring us towards maturity and that it is an honor to be considered worthy to suffer for His name. “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:41). Persecution does bring blessings and proves God’s righteous judgment that these early Christian missionaries could hope in Christ and in what He was accomplishing through them. 

Lord, persecution is a blessing.