Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Past

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:1-4

Far to the north in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reflected on the day, and Christmas days past. The season had held no joy for him for the past three years — not because of the war, but the tragic death of his wife Fanny in the summer of 1861. She was the love of his life, and they were splendidly happy, but on July 9, 1861, while sealing a letter with paraffin, Fanny dropped the match on her summer dress, which burst into flames. Henry heard her screams and ran to her, trying to help smother the fire and burning himself severely in the process. Fanny died the next day. In December 1862, Henry noted in his journal, "A Merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more from me." He spent December 1863 helping nurse his son's wounds; Lt. Charles Appleton Longfellow, who had run away to fight for the Union, was severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, and Henry had rushed south to bring him home. The following spring, Longfellow's lifelong friend Nathaniel Hawthorne passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. These had been difficult times for the poet; but sometimes it is only through great adversity that the promise of hope makes itself felt most strongly. Longfellow began to write:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day, 
Their old familiar carols play. 
And wild and sweet the words repeat
 Of 'peace on earth, good will to men.’

I thought how as that day had come
 The belfries of all Christendom 
Had rolled along th' unbroken song
 Of 'peace on earth, good will to men.’

And in despair I bowed my head:
 "There is no peace on earth," I said, 
"For hate is strong and mocks the song”
 Of 'peace on earth, good will to men.' 

" Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; 
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, 
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
 The world revolved from night to day, 
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
 Of peace on earth, good will to men. 
The poem was put to music by Jean Baptiste Calkin in 1872, and became the familiar carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
 by James S. Robinson; Free Republic Browse
Thought:
It appeared for a time that Longfellow, in his heartache, had lost hope. Christmas was not joyful nor peaceful for him and the promise of hope had diminished. The inspiration of this Christmas song assures us that through this time of great despair he did find serenity, tranquility, and solace.  
The Civil War brought wounds to the heart and minds of the American people and they needed hope to prevail in this long journey. In his plight for peace and joy, Longfellow, penned these words that touched the heart of a war torn nation giving them hope in God. 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men. Till, ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Your Past Behind You

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Regardless of how sheltered or indulgent our past has been, all of us have had regrets with feelings of guilt. You need to deal with your past before you can understand what true freedom is in the future. The sin that is a heartache to you today sank its roots into your life yesterday. You can’t expect to break your sinful habits until you have a new beginning in your life. Satan’s tactic is to use your past to ruin your future. His weapon is using guilt feelings to discourage you. You are caught in a vicious circle of one offense leading to another and will soon find yourself in the soil of discouragement.
Can you have a new beginning? In one sense, no, since the past cannot be relived. Purity cannot be recovered; ruined health from substance abuse will have to be accepted. Some broken homes may never be pieced back together but, you can have a new life with Christ. God offers forgiveness of all your past, present, and future sins and assures you that your past need not control your future. The cycle of sin can be broken. (Isaiah 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

God’s will for you is that you be freed from all forms of guilt therefore, our Lord offers you complete freedom from a guilty conscience. The first step you need to taken is to acknowledge what it is that is making you feel guilty and deal with it immediately, putting it behind you. Second, you must accept the fact that all sin has been paid for, on the cross, in full.  There is no sin that has been committed that has not already been forgiven by Christ’s great sacrifice on Calvary. Moreover, try to heal all personal relationships, if possible. Great guilt comes upon you when you have wronged others. If others will not forgive you for what you have done, remember, God’s grace is sufficient and greater than all your sin.

Thought for today:

If God is able to forget your past, you should too.  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12) God puts our sins in the depths of the sea and remembers them no more. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19) Once your past has been forgiven, you are free from its hold. Now, you can make the choice to go forward in your life with Christ, or sink in a life of despair. Can you put Your Past Behind You?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Testing Comes from the Lord

Job 23:10; Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 26:2; Psalm 17:3
When training a horse that has never been ridden, the trainer will purposely and for the horses’ good, bring that horse into the round pen to be trained and tested. A horse that is not broken is not useable. The tests the trainer puts the horse through are to bring that horse to the point of trusting that trainer and making him useable or fit for use.
When teaching the horse to accept ridding gear, the trainer will rub the bridle on the face and neck of the horse. He will put the leather reins on his ears and let the horse feel every part of the bridle. The trainer is encouraging the horse with soft words and gentle pats that he is safe and he won’t be hurt. Sometimes, the horse will rebel and the trainer must make the horse start running around the round pen again to get his attention. The horse needs to understand that when he does not obey there are consequences for his decisions which in this case, is running around and around in the pen. When the horse gets tired the trainer stops him with his body position with one purpose, to prompt that horse to yield and come to him.
As our Lord has us in the round pen of life, He allows us to keep running, to keep looking away from Him, until we tire of that kind of life. When we finally turn to Him and He calls, “Come here,” there is a great peace and security that comes into our hearts assuring us, everything is all right. The Lord’s encouraging Words are a great blessing and when we feel safe in His strength He move us on to the next test. All the testing, the trials and the trying of our faith are what is needed to bring us to the point of brokenness where God can use us for His glory and His honor.
Thought:

The greatest aspect in training a horse is that that horse learns to trust his trainer.
The greatest aspect for a believer in his walk with Christ, is to learn to “Trust in the Lord with all...” All trials, all tests, all that He has prepared for him. Then and only then will he come forth as gold fit for the Master’s use.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Battle is in Your Mind

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Do you ever remember being afraid of the dark as a child? I can recall waking up in the middle of the night fearful that someone was in my room. My heart would pound so hard I thought it might jump right out of my chest. One night, I thought a man was standing in the doorway of my room. He appeared large and monster like. I could not yell or even move because of the fear that had gripped my heart. Then I realized, when my eyes finally adjusted to the darkness, it was only my dad’s shirt hanging on the door frame. Crippling fear comes to us in many ways and for just about any reason.
What is paralyzing fear? What do women fear most in their lives? Here is a list of a few things that women fear most:
  • Finances - We may loose our home, car, etc.
  • Children - Fear of baby development - Will our children love and serve God?
  • Life of Singleness - Will I be alone forever? I must have a husband to be happy. 
  • Divorce - Will my husband leave me for another woman?
  • Widowhood - Old age - Convalescent care - Loss of a loved one

  • Illness - Fear of suffering
  • Death - When will I die? How will I die? Will I die with dignity?

Have you ever asked yourself? “What if?”  That question could generate all kinds of fears about the future. What ifs? Are imaginations in the mind. This is why we know the mind is where the battle begins and where strongholds, images and knowledge that exalts itself above God, must be “cast down.”
Stronghold: A lie or false idea that a person believes to be true. It is so true to them that they are literally held in bondage to that thought. Picture a castle or fortress that is surrounding your mind with lies.

Imaginations: Are images made up in our mind keeping us from loving and serving God as He calls us to do.

If we want to overcome our fears, the strongholds and imaginations in our minds, we cannot think, “What if.”  Thoughts about the future are at best only guesses.  Everything is in God’s hands. The dread of the future is a thief of joy. Like our future thoughts about the “What ifs” the “If only” thoughts about our past can rob us of peace and joy in the present. There is only one thing we can do about the past and that is to forget it! Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, Philippians 3:13

To forget means to not let your past affect or control you in the present.
Thought: How do I take every thought captive? Choose to trust what the Bible says about God and ask Him to replace any fears or doubts with the truth. Life is difficult and bad things happen to good people. When we know the truth of Scripture, we can lay before God our hurts, disappointments and the challenges we face. We can choose to think about God’s ability to handle problems instead of dwelling on them. Even when we feel the pain that life brings, we can rest in His peace that passes all understanding; the peace that only He can give. 
(Philippians 4:7)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do I Love God with my Mind?

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

I consider the above verse to be one of the most important verses in the Bible. What occupies your mind and what you think means more than anything else in your life. Your thought life will determine how much you love others, where you go to church, and what you become in life. Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today. Proverbs 23:7a For as he thinketh in his heart so is he... Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

A healthy thought life--a thought life that is pleasing to God--comes out of a closer relationship with Him. Reading God’s Word daily, praying and being obedient to what His Word instructs is essential. We need to be sure our ideas about God are accurate, biblical, and true. Inaccurate and unbiblical thoughts about God can block the power of God in our life. If we are to love God with all of our mind, our thinking must be right.
When we view ourselves through the lens of God’s Word, we can replace the negative, self-defeating thoughts with truths from His Word and see His great love and worth He places upon us. Whenever you find yourself thinking of yourself as useless or worthless, as a failure, a hopeless cause or looser, remember what is TRUE about you.
Romans 8:16,17 - The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. *You are joint-heirs with Christ

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. *You are His workmanship

I Corinthians 6:20 - For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 
I Peter 1:18,19 - Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: *You are bought with a price

Thought:

The power to think biblically is the power to live biblically. Don’t waver in your faith being tossed to and fro thinking negative and unfruitful thoughts -- Think on: things true, things honest, things just, things pure, things lovely, things of good report, things virtuous and praise worthy, so that the God of peace will be with you. 

Philippians 4:8,9 - Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Is God Really Good?

Psalm 107:1-2,8-11,13-15

Because of the evils that exist in the world, the goodness of God is one of the most difficult doctrines to accept. Unless we wholeheartedly believe that, “God is good,” we will be paralyzed in our Christian growth.
Let’s look at the Garden of Eden where Eve was caused to doubt the goodness of God. (Genesis 3:4-5) Satan convinced Eve to believe that God did not have her best interests at heart--that He would hold her back from developing her full potential. Eve believed a lie.
How can God be good? If He were, He’d give me what I want. Doesn’t He know how lonely I am? If God loves me, why did He allow my parents to treat me like they did? A good God would never have allowed this to happen! If you are a worrier, you doubt God’s goodness. You will be afraid God will bring circumstances into you life that are not in your best interest.
In the garden, Satan focused on a restriction and used it to blind Eve to God’s blessing. Satan will urge you to focus on one issue, one aggravation, one restriction.  He will try to convince you that God’s way is not best for you and that he can offer you something better. If you doubt God’s goodness, you will not only resist change but you will also fear it.
If you accept the fact that God is good, you will experience two results:
  1. You will be able to surrender to Him without reservation or fear.
  2. You will have a strong desire for change, knowing God’s plan is perfect.
Thought:

Are you prepared to accept what you know to be true down deep in your heart, that God’s plan for your life is what is best for you? Affirm your belief in God’s goodness by reading the following verses: Exodus 33:19; and 34:6; Psalms 27:13; 31:19; 34:8; 65:4; 86:5; 106:1 and James 1:17. I pray you find how good God truly is in your life through the reading of His Word, the preaching of His Word, and in being obedient to His Word.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Disappointments

I Samuel 22:1-5; II Samuel 22:1-5

David, anointed King is running from King Saul’s attempts to kill him and hides himself in the cave of Adullam. His brethren and all his father’s house hear of his plight and come to the cave to join up with David. All that were distressed, in debt, and discontented, congregated in the cave with David. Would you being in the situation that David was in, discouraged and fearful for his life, want a crowd of disgruntled, frustrated, irritated, restless, annoyed, and broke people in your cave? Four hundred men take up a great deal of space and given their circumstances could be quite discouraging to have around.
What did David do when he was faced with the realization that King Saul was trying to take his life? What would you have done? Can God take the most troublesome circumstances and turn them for our good? Were the years David spent battling hardship and disappointment all in vain or did God take these trials and turn them into tremendous times of growth and preparation for what God had in store for him?
What is it that will bring you to the point of disappointment and discouragement in your life? Will you turn away from God or will you let Him embrace you with His love and boundless mercy. If you can identify the source of discouragement and not give in to the negative aspects of your situation, you will be able take the necessary steps forward to emerge from disappointment and despair.
Satan wants us to focus on the negative, those areas of weakness in our lives such as: gossip, unforgiveness, anger, feelings of bitterness and lust. We can’t think clearly when we’re focused on the lies of Satan. His lies divide our minds and cause us to blame God and others. If we continue to live in this harmful condition and eventually pass it on to others, we will suffer immense negative effects. 
How do I get out of this? How do I emerge from disappointment? 
  • Realize that God is aware of your circumstances and nothing catches Him off guard.
  • Understand that disappointment is a part of life (James 1:2-4) Testing produces endurance.
  • Recognize that disappointments can be conquered and your response is important.
  • Be hopeful because hope is contagious. (I Corinthians 10:13) “peirasmos” Greek word which means: trial with beneficial purpose and effect.

Conclusion:
Disappointment can be a breeding ground for bitterness and resentment This can be so damaging to your life if you are not diligent with your thoughts and devotion to God. You can overcome disappointment by confessing the truth of God’s Word and studying about His faithfulness, attributes, and personal promises to you. He will come to your aid, just as He did David’s.
*Extra reading Psalm 57 “Pleading for God’s Help” To the chief Musician, Al-tashchith, Michtam of Daivd, when he fled from Saul in the cave.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Weapon of Praise

II Chronicles 20:20-25

The weapon of praise is a mighty weapon that God has given to us in fighting the enemy. This is not necessarily how we would choose to fight the enemy, nor does it seem as though it would work in opposing such a hostile army in the Word of God but God chose praise to defeat the enemy nonetheless. The enemy’s army we battle against daily in our hearts and minds can be overpowered by the expressed admiration and praise directed to our God.
Jehovah God used the weapon of praise to defeat the children of Moab and the children of Ammon. Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, rose up early and went to the wilderness with his army and spoke these words to them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and ye shall be established, believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper” (II Chronicles 20:20b). To be established means to be supported by God. Why wouldn’t we want to believe in Him if He is going to support us against the enemy?
After Jehoshaphat had directed them to fast and pray (vs. 3,4) he spoke to his people and appointed singers to sing praises unto the Lord of His beauty and holiness as they marched out before the enemy. “And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten” (II Chronicles 20:22). God often makes wicked people destroy one another and that is exactly what they did. As the army of Judah came forward to see what had happened, there was a multitude of dead bodies fallen to the earth and none escaped. The weapon of praise was in action.
Thought:
Why do you think this simple weapon could work against the mighty armies of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir? Only by God can the enemy be defeated through the power of praise. We need only to obey and praise our great God to have victory over Satan. We may not be able to see our enemy fallen to the ground as the Children of God did, but the enemy will be defeated in our hearts and minds through the weapon of praise.
Note: the song the Children of God sang just before they were to go into battle against Moab, Ammon, and Mount Seir was Psalm 136, it contains nothing but praise to our God, the Lord of lords, and Great Creator, “...for his mercy endureth forever.” Psalm 136:5b

The Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, October 16, 2009

Joy Is My Strength

Philippians 4:1-9
Nehemiah 8:10
 A great deception and lie from Satan is that we cannot enjoy our lives in the midst of trials and unpleasant circumstances. If you study the life of Christ, the Apostle Paul, and others, their lives proved otherwise. They knew joy was a spiritual strength that would help them overcome their problems. According to Galatians 5:22, joy is a fruit of the Spirit--not the fruit of sadness or depression.
The lack of joy is why we sometimes give up when we should be enduring to the end. The presence of joy gives us the endurance to withstand the attacks of the Devil and to overcome the overwhelming circumstances of the trials of life. We need to enjoy life and use the gift of the fruit of the Spirit to enhance, strengthen, improve and enrich the life He has given us. “...for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b
Paul was in prison when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4. He said in the first part of Chapter Four that the Philippians were his joy and his crown. He was encouraged by their faith and steadfastness for Christ during these most difficult times. When God was giving Joshua direction for his life, He repeatedly told him to “be of good courage, and be strong.” Joshua 1:6,9  Courage and strength are a by-product of the Spirit of joy. The little word, ”be” written in these verses is a verb which means, to express  necessity, obligation and action. It takes action on our part to be joyful. The keeping of a joyful heart must be cultivated and developed as we with a conscious effort delight ourselves in a triumphant life through Christ.
Thought:
An outward evidence of inward joy is laughter and smiling. Laughter releases the stress and pressures of life and gives reassurance and relaxation to the mind.   This  is sometimes called, “a sigh of relief,” after a howling laugh. Maybe it’s time you notified your face that you are a Christian---that is something to smile about. The joy of Christ is “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I Peter 1:8 Why would you want to poison your day with thoughts that are less than joyous when you can think on the things of God to enrich the quality of life? “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

Friday, October 9, 2009

Will You?

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
When no peace has come and you’ve prayed the night through,
Will you trust Christ with what He desires for you?

When your hearts been broken by the loss of a loved one,
Will you be able to say, “Thy will be done?”


When you’ve prayed in your heart, “Lord, let this cup pass from me.”
Will you stand in His presence, unashamedly?

Will you take up His cross and His burden to bear,
When He says, “No,” and it seems so unfair?


Will you trust Christ today with His will for you,
When the door is shut and there’s no light coming through?

In the darkest of midnight and in deep despair,
Will you hold on dear child, and know that He cares?

Will you wait on the Lord, there’s no more you can do?
You’ve wept through the night, now joy comes in the morning for you.


Thought:

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. So, when life with its struggles and toils and sins, brings to us conflict of soul, God, "giveth his beloved sleep." (Psalm 127:2) We sleep in Jesus, and awake to the joy of a morning which shall not fade away -- the morning of joy.  Our sorrows, our doubts, our difficulties, overwhelmed us in the night, but as we awake to the morning Light we wonder, “Where have they all gone?” We made it through the night, we have cast our burden upon the Lord and He has given us sweet rest. His promise is sure He will support, help, encourage, give strength, provide, keep us, cheer us, and carry us through the long night of trial, His great gift to us, Christ’s sustaining power.
  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22