Friday, December 30, 2011

What is God’s Will for You This New Year?
Romans 11:33-36
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?  Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?  For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Romans 12:1-2
 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.   And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The New Year is approaching quickly and many are reminiscing over this past year with all of it’s joys and pleasures as well as some disappointments.  Some are anticipating what great things God will do in their lives in this coming year and others are fearful and apprehensive about the will of God for them. In order for Christians to know and do the Lord’s will, may I suggest reading the above Scripture connecting the two chapters. Before Paul admonishes us to submit ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, he first invites us to bring praise and honor to our Lord as true worshippers of Him.
We cannot explain God’s ways (v. 33) they are unsearchable and beyond our comprehension. We must live by faith without manipulating or scheming and trust that He will take care of everything. We as believers cannot change God’s mind (v. 34) or bargain with Him (v. 35). We cannot steal God’s glory (v. 36) or we may lose the opportunity to receive all God wants to give to us. Isaiah 42:8 says, I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
In Romans 12:2, God asks us to prove, test, or discern what the will of God is for us. We must carefully evaluate Scripture, examine ourselves and trust the inner working of the Holy Spirit of God for direction. God’s Word is an excellent guide in the everyday decisions of life. There are specific examples of the will of God given in Scripture such as, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: and 1 Peter 2:15 states, For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. It is important for us to be cautious about the decision we make because they can cause severe consequences in our lives. God can and does work in matters that seem unimportant at the time, but this is where we must trust God at His Word and walk daily in the light of Scripture. 
There is a difference between making a mistake and deliberately rebelling against God and His will. When God is not permitted to rule and reign in the life of a believer, sin is disciplined which seems extremely painful at the time. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised there by (Hebrews 12:11).
Thought: As you contemplate what the will of God is for your life this year, begin by praising and worshipping Jesus Christ for who He is and for what He has done for you. May this year be the very best year of your life as you obey and trust God in His unsearchable wisdom and knowledge to prove what is His perfect will for you in 2012.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Born a King
Luke 1:26-33
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  Matthew 1:16
As we sing the wondrous songs of Christmas, the carols declare that the baby born in a manger has come to be King of Kings. The song "Joy to the World"  says "The Lord is come, let earth receive her King."  In the song, "It came upon a Midnight Clear," we sing, "Heavens all gracious King."  "Angels We Have Heard on High" says, "Christ the Lord, the newborn King."  "Hark the Herald, Angels Sing" says, "Glory to the newborn King."  The carol, "What Child is This" says, "This is Christ the King." 
All of these songs emphasize the great reality of the birth of Christ, that He is in fact born a King.  The wise men stopped in Jerusalem which were seeking for Him  and asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" John, in the book of Revelation says He is King over all kings and Lord over all lords.  He is the greatest, the most supreme of all kings. 
The royal line that comes through to Christ is fascinating. Matthew gives us His lineage through His father, Joseph.  Luke gives us His lineage through His mother, Mary.  It is interesting to note that Mary also was a descendant from David.  She came through David's son Nathan who never reigned, but nonetheless was royal blood–––not to be confused with the prophet Nathan. It is through Mary that Jesus is the real son of David for Mary was His mother. He was born of a virgin and Joseph had no part in His birth.  Joseph planted no seed in Mary's body.  It was planted by the Holy Spirit of God.  Mary alone was the source of His human birth.  Therefore it was essential that she also be out of the line of David or He would have carried no royal blood.
Joseph's line, on the other hand is the line of the legal right to the throne which always comes through the father.  Jesus had to have a father who also was a son of David and not only a son of David but a son of David through David's son Solomon. It was through Solomon that the reigning line came. Jesus received His royal blood through Mary and the legal right to the throne from Joseph.  Even though Joseph had no part in His birth because He was born to Joseph's wife, Mary, Jesus was the son of Joseph legally and therefore bore the right to reign as King. Matthew’s genealogy comes down through Joseph because that is where the legal right to the throne comes from, the father.  Luke brings it through Mary so that we know He has not only a legal right but a real right because He bears the blood of David.
Thought: Every detail has been worked out for the world to see that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His birth was supernatural and his linage astounding. The angelic host that announced His glorious entrance into this world was spectacular and the wise men that traveled from the East to see the Christ Child brought gifts suitable for a king. May the wonder of His birth never pale in its miraculous splendor as the excitement of the Christmas season approaches. Let us remember as well as honor the Person for whom Christmas is commemorated with great exultation and rejoicing.
“Glory to the New Born King”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is There a Dark Side to Christmas?
Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Most people when they think of this time of year think only of the beauty of it, surrounded by the  lovely trees with bright lights and decorations, colorful ornaments, beautiful candles, wreaths, snow scenes, warm fire places and a heart filled with joy. Some dream of a “White Christmas” and sing the songs that convey these feelings of joy and wonder. Christmas is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but we must look at Christmas and it’s true meaning: "You shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sin" (Matthew 1:21). The real beauty of Christmas is to understand the ugliness that it cures. 
First John 3:5 says, "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."  First John 4:14, "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." Look at 1 Timothy 1:15 where Paul says, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”  Do you think that there can be a dark side of Christmas? The true heart of Christmas is this, Christ came into the world to save sinners. 
Remember the night Jesus was born. Can you picture the stable, the smells, the sounds coming from the animals? See Joseph clear a small place in the hay to lay poor Mary down to give birth to the Christ Child. What a humble place of birth and yet, chosen by God as the birth place of JESUS. The sky explodes with angels singing of His birth but to whom were they singing? Humble shepherds heard their voices proclaiming this wondrous sight and came to see the new born King, lying in a manger. We could talk about a horrible man named Herod who because he feared the loss of his control and power massacred all the baby boys 2 years and younger in that region. Christmas does have some dark aspects that are not thought about during this time of the year but they are still there.
The Bible says Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from sin. That's the reason for His coming. Sin is the dark side of Christmas. Every shattered marriage, broken friendship, argument, disagreement, evil thought, evil word, evil deed, every good deed undone, good thought unthought, good word unsaid can be attributed to sin. That is why in Joshua 7:13 it is called the accursed thing.  It is compared in Scripture to the venom of snakes, the working of witchcraft, and the stench of a grave. So, you cannot look at Christmas and celebrate only the beauty of it, you must understand that the heart of it is the repulsiveness of sin. 
Thought: Why say all of this? Why make Christmas dark? Because the ugliness of Christmas brings us to the point of its real beauty. You see, the beauty of Christmas is that Christ came into the world to...what?...save sinners. That is what makes Christmas so beautiful. Who can understand the beauty of Christmas without the ugliness?  It isn't the cards and the trees and the lights and the presents and the sleigh rides and the snow scenes and the warm fires, the beauty of Christmas is that Christ came to cure the ugliness of sin through Jesus’ birth and His death on the cross. None of the things mentioned above are wrong, and we should enjoy every aspect of Christmas but remembering the reason why the Christ Child came brings to light the joy of the unspeakable gift He so freely gave.


  Merry Christmas  

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Whole Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the
whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Since we are fighting in the spiritual world, we need special equipment to fight with both  offensively and defensively. God, through His matchless wisdom, has provided for us the “whole armor of God” and we would be foolish if we were to omit any part of it. If Satan sees any area that is not guarded by this great armor, he can gain a foot hold or finds “place” in our lives. Neither give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). In other words, don’t give the devil an opportunity to wreak havoc in your life.
The Shield of Faith ~ protects the entire body and is the faith we call, Trust in God. The continual trusting in God’s Word and promises in addition to the protection He gives from every temptation and sin, is the “shield of faith.” This is not saving faith but a living faith, a trust in the mighty power of God and the covenant God has made with us. Satan will no doubt shoot his “fiery darts” at our hearts to try to cause, hateful thoughts, wrong feelings about ourselves and others, doubts and burning desires for sin. We must by faith, quench the “fiery darts” of Satan or they will begin a burning desire to sin in disobedience to God. Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him (Proverbs 30:5).
The Helmet of Salvation ~ the helmet protects the head, a major target in true combat. Satan wants to attack the mind of a person and defeat them there first, just like he did Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan defeated Eve in her mind with a lie first and then she disobeyed and ate of the fruit that was forbidden her. The helmet is the protection God gives to every believer, a mind controlled by God. When God controls the mind, the devil cannot lead the believer astray. The mind that is protected by the Word of God and the studying of the Word of God will not be lead amiss so easily.
The Sword of the Spirit ~ a soldiers only offensive weapon. The Word of God is the only weapon that is needed to defeat Satan and is infinitely more powerful than any thing Satan can use against us. The Word of God is used offensively and defensively to resist and defend oneself against Satan’s attacks. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). A physical sword becomes dull after much use, but the Word of God is only made sharper in our lives the more we use it. The Sword of the Spirit is living and powerful. The better you know and experience the power of the Word of God, the more equipped you’ll become to detect the lies of Satan.
Thought: In these last two weeks, we have talked about putting on the “whole armor of God,”  a picture of Jesus Christ. We received the full armor of God when we trusted Christ as our Savior. We know that He is “Truth” according to (John 14:6), and He is our righteousness in (2 Corinthians 5:21), and of course, He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). The first three pieces of armor is our position in Christ that we put on at salvation. We must daily appropriate the other parts of the armor and use them as a powerful advantage against the cunning devices of our enemy. We are never without the “fiery darts” of Satan and we should never be without the “whole armor of God” to oppose and resist him with.
~ Realize Who God Is...Recognize the Enemy...Rely on God’s Provision ~

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Do You Know Your Enemy?
Revelation 12:7-11
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Sooner or later every Christian realizes that their life, as a believer, is a battlefield.  As a Christian, we face three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. By Christ’s death and resurrection, He overcame the world, the flesh and the devil and we as believer’s fight our enemy from Christ’s victory over death. Christ has already won the battle and we can walk in victory by understanding and applying the truths from the Word of God.
Knowing who our enemy is and recognizing his intentions, is essential.  He is a liar, a murderer, and appears as an angel of light. This enemy has many names: the Devil, Satan, the Dragon and the Serpent. He roams around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour and is called, the god of this world. He is the accuser of the brethren, because he accuses God’s people day and night before the throne of God. His helpers are principalities, powers, rulers, spiritual wickedness in high places and powers of darkness in this world. A spiritual battle is going on in this world and you and I are apart of this battle. When we know this, the important thing to remember is that our battle is not with human beings, but with the Devil. We are waisting our time if we are fighting with people, when we ought to be fighting against Satan.
Satan, our enemy, is strong and we need the power of God to be able to stand against him. No human being is talented enough, knowledgeable enough or powerful enough to withstand the cunning devices of Satan. His plan is to use the world, our external enemy and the flesh, our internal enemy to defeat us. We are fighting this battle in the spiritual realm and need special equipment to fight with. Knowing Christ has already conquered Satan, we have spiritual weapons God has provided us with and by faith we can fight the enemy. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).
The first three pieces of armor given in Ephesians 6:14-15, are positional pieces of armor, meaning: they are worn continuously on the battlefield. Since the world is a battlefield, we must put them on permanently. These pieces of armor are a picture of our salvation in Christ. The “Belt of Truth” is what holds us together in truth, a sincere commitment to fight the enemy without hypocrisy. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans 13:14). To stand firm against the enemy without hesitating or falling is the goal. Since Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one will come to the Father without first coming through Him (John 14:6)...there is no other way.
The “Breastplate of Righteousness” is a distinct attribute or characteristic of God and the chief protection against Satan and his wiles. As we live our lives in faithful obedience to the Lord, it is His righteousness that produces in us an effective daily righteousness which becomes the breastplate of protection. (His righteousness, not ours.) A lack of righteousness/holiness will leave a person vulnerable to the enemy, the greatest enemy of the soul.
To be “Shod with the Gospel of Peace” means: the good news, that, through Christ we as believers are at peace with God. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1). A glorious place to be is at peace with God and  knowing He is on our side, He is our confidence and support which enables us to stand firm in the battle against the enemy.
Thought: What peace and joy comes in knowing our Lord has already provided us with armor, positional armor, that is only found in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are trying to fight the battle in your own strength, you will fail. It is only through the power of God that we are able to fight against our greatest enemy, the Devil. Next week we will talk about the last three pieces of armor our Lord has given to us. Until then, walk in Truth, Holiness and in Peace with God.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

Am I Thankful?
I Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Well, Thanksgiving is over, did your gratitude last beyond your afternoon nap and football games? For many, that’s the extent of their Thanksgiving holiday. Too often and too quickly, people resort back to being ingrates after Thanksgiving Day is over. After the turkey has been eaten and the leftovers warned up for the last time, the spirit of ingratitude can begin to raise it’s ugly head. But God wills us to be thankful all the time and in all things.
In everything carries an unlimited demand. It refers to everything that occurs in your life. You are to demonstrate and express thanks for everything no matter the circumstance or trial that may come into your life. God commands you to find reasons for thanking Him always. I don’t know about you but there have been times when I have failed so miserably in this area of my life. So, if you’re saved, living for God and loving Him with all your heart, you have one thing left to do in order to follow God’s will—be thankful. It is a command. If you’re not obeying that command, you’re not following God’s will for your life. If being thankful doesn’t come easy for you, neither will finding God’s will. If you struggle with being thankful, you’ll struggle with following God’s will for your life. Here are a few reasons why God wills you to be thankful. 
The greatest act of worship you can offer to God is to be thankful to Him for all He has done for you. This is the height of worship because through gratitude, we uphold God as the ultimate source of both trial and blessing—and acknowledge our acceptance of both in humility. With a  humble heart you can say in the midst of anything, “God be praised.” That kind of attitude looks beyond the circumstance, through the tears of pain to the plan of God. Those who are thankful see the providential hand of God everywhere and say, “God, I thank You for the peaceful times as well as times of extreme heart ache—a difficult marriage, loss of a job, or severe illness—because I know You will use difficult things for my good and Your glory.”
Man’s pride fails to honor and glorify God as Creator, and in so doing he also refuses to thank Him for His gracious provisions. Ingratitude reveals a heart that is unthankful, and both sins bring about God’s judgment.  God is the source of every good thing that men possess and He is good to all, the just and unjust alike. The natural man refuses to thank God because he would have to acknowledge his obligation to worship Him for who He truly is––God Almighty, EL SHADDAI.
Thought: God’s will for you is to be thankful in all things, the ultimate expression of a grateful heart. Thanklessness can permeate throughout a church, a marriage, a family and a home and destroy it. So, cultivate a heart of gratitude and be thankful for all things in all circumstances because this is the will of God for you.  Are you thankful?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Where is Thy God? 
Despondency and Depression are Tumultuous Emotions

Psalm 42
To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.f  Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.  I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
There is a conflict that runs between our faith (spiritual realities) and sight (our human emotions). As we read Psalm 42, notice the psalmist struggling with some depression and the feeling of isolation from God. These feelings of isolation may have come from an absence of fellowship or discouragement from other believers, godly friends, or by relentless darts thrown at him by unbelievers. Whatever the cause, the feelings are real and recorded for our benefit. 
Spiritual reality says: “My soul panteth after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” Emotion says: “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” The Psalmist feels it is important to be honest with God about his doubts and struggles with a heavy out-pouring from his heart.. The writer is responding to the oceans of trials in which he seems to be drowning in and alleges that God is ultimately responsible for each turmoil.
Some have assigned David to this psalm with his heart longing for the worship he knew in Jerusalem. He has left his home, the throne on which he ruled and now is fleeing from his son, Absalom in great despair. Eating nothing because of his extreme grief and the bitter words expressed, his heart is overwhelmed. Others look at this psalm as though it were written for King Hezekiah during his debilitating and life threatening disease. Hezekiah’s illness fits the various moods and crying out of one’s innermost soul. The horror and fear of death had a grip upon his soul. 
Thought:  Have you wrestled with the emotions expressed in this psalm? Has your soul been “cast down,” within you? Are you facing challenges at this time and need to see the hand of God working in your life? Psalm 42 reveals the character of God and ways He will help you “walk by faith,” when you are downcast and depressed.
~ Seek for God, the living God. ELOHIM: The Strong Creator. (Verse 2)
~ Hope in God and again praise Him for who He is.  JEHOVAH-EL ROI: The God who sees. (Verse 5)
~ Trust in God and He will command His lovingkindness to be upon you. JEHOVAH-ROHI: The Lord My Shepherd. (Verse 8)
~ Sing, His song will be with you in the night. JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH: The Lord is There (God is always present with His people). (Verse 8)
~ Pray always, especially in darkness. JEHOVAH-SHALOM:  The Lord our Peace. (Verse 8)
~ Talk to yourself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul?”  Remind yourself, “Hope in God, He is your help!” JEHOVAH-JIREH: The Lord Will Provide. He is JEHOVAH-EL EMETH:  The Lord God of all Truth. (Verse 11)
~ Give thanks to God for His saving power and His mighty hand working in and through your life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Putting Off These Things

Dealing with Anger
Putting Off These Things
Proverbs 13:10
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
Colossians 3:8-10
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.   Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;   And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Colossians 3:12-15
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Anger and pride are mentioned in the same context in Scripture almost invariably. The Bible teaches us that fighting, arguing, and anger always stems from pride, a self-centeredness and that love and forgiveness stems from self-denial, a heart submissive to God’s authority, a righteous counterpart to anger.
Anger is contagious and is as much a learned habit as it is a natural human response. The more we are exposed to people that are characterized by anger, the more we will be influenced to react in the same way. Our children are not excluded from the power of impact anger will have upon their lives, therefore, we need to withdraw them from this destructive force before it becomes entrenched in their lives by habitual practice.
Anger has the capability of being extremely crippling both internally (physically) and externally if it is not resolved in a righteous way. God’s way in handling this is to put off sinful behavior and deliberately choose to put on the righteous counterpart, which in this case is love. The Lord directs us to confront problems directly and honestly, going to one another in love with the purpose of helping those who have caused hurt to see their offense.
Finally, we must act to solve our part of the problem and If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Overcoming anger is not accomplished overnight. Through prayer, Bible study and reliance upon the Holy Spirit, an ungodly temper can be overcome. We may have allowed anger to become a bad habit in our lives, but by practicing a godly response this can become a good habit in itself.
Thought: Anger and unforgiveness seem to travel together so, if you are still wanting people to know what someone has done against you, you probably have not fully forgiven them. Give to them the forgiveness that our Lord has given to you through the gift of grace lavished upon you. Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Maybe you need to offer  someone grace and promise to pray for them every day, ask for their forgiveness and grant them the same and tell them you will be their friend always. If through this trial you are not the friends you once were, you can still pray for them, love them and forgive them to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Here's My Heart....

Prove My Heart, O Lord
Psalms 17:3
Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Psalms 66:10-20
For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.  Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.  I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows, Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.  I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.  Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.  I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:  But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
“We, too, often forget that God lays our afflictions upon us; if we remembered this fact, we should more patiently submit to the pressure which now pains us. The time will come when, for every ounce of present burden, we shall receive a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
What purpose does God have in taking you through painful or difficult circumstances? How has God used affliction in your life to test and refine you? Is there fruit that has been brought forth, and will God continue to bring forth more fruit in your life?  The question we most frequently asked is, “Why, Lord?” Why has this happened to me or to my family? What good will come from this pain and suffering and how will I ever, “In every thing give thanks:” when I hurt so bad?
These are hard questions that fill our minds when experiencing tremendous loss, dashed hopes, and unfilled dreams. The humiliation of rejection by the ones we love, the dull ache of loneliness, or, the reality of failure that is one’s own fault. All of these and many more are the circumstances that contribute to anxiety and the emotional pain we suffer at various times in our lives. Sometimes we are even called upon to help carry the burdens of others experiencing devastating adversity in their lives––knowing when friends and loved ones hurt, we hurt along with them.
The psalmist is eager to share with others what God has done for him. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, (those that are saved) and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. Though pain and suffering has filled his life, he is willing to express gratitude for what God has done for him. He is trusting God in the midst of adversity.  The response the psalmist has towards God is that of praise for who He is and his confession of sin that God may hear his prayer. 
When we are going through difficult times in our lives, we are to praise God for His greatness, mercy and love and ask Him to search our hearts for any sin that may be there. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more (Psalm 119:18,34; 25:3,4; Job 34:32). We can praise God for the trials He has used to test us and praise Him for His promise to bring us through those trials to accomplish His purpose. 
Thought: Admit to God any sin that you have been holding on to in your heart and ask Him to give you a submissive heart towards Him. Pray for a heart that will openly receive whatever God brings into your life as you trust Him to strengthen you and give you a peace in the midst of life’s storms. When all looks hopeless, remember, Christ is still alive and we can bring any situation to Him, a place of power and authority, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27b).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spiritual Investments with Eternal Dividends

The Search for Joy
Spiritual Investments with Eternal Dividends
Philippians 4:14-23
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus.
Approximately ten years had passed since the Philippians had sent Paul a love gift to help with his needs. Being content when he had plenty and when he was deprived of enough to eat, Paul encourages the church by telling them they have done well in communicating with him in his affliction and relieving his suffering. Sometimes it is thought that servants of God are better off if they are poor and live in a lower economic level than others. This was not Paul’s philosophy because he felt that Christians should share, taking into consideration the needs of others. Paul commends the church and reminds them that when he left for Macedonia, no other church communicated with him about his needs, but them only. To avoid any thought of covetousness on Paul’s part, he says, Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account (v. 17).
Paul looked at their gifts as rich spiritual investments they were making in the lives of those he would minister to, yielding them, eternal dividends. The church gave love offerings to Paul, a spiritual sacrifice and in return, they benefited spiritually from the Lord. Paul understood that the love gift coming from Philippi was truly from the Lord of heaven and though the Philippian church met a need for Paul, God would supply all their needs out of His great riches in glory. 
Doxology
   Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen (Romans 11:36).
Good works are a spiritual sacrifice unto the Lord. Believers owe God their highest form of service and in return, they enjoy the fruit of His mercies. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable (spiritual) service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:1-2).
Thought: When the child of God is serving Christ with a whole heart and for the glory of God; His promises are sure, every need will be met. The Lord does not say He will provide all your “greeds,” but He will provide, all your needs. Remember that real joy is found in loving Christ and walking in His triumphant work of the Gospel in your life. Learning to love and serve others is your spiritual service to Him. May your search for joy be complete in Him who died for you, “that ye may stand perfect and complete (fully assured) in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12b) for you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Learning the Secret

The Search for Joy
Learning the Secret
Philippians 4:10-13
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; where in ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Paul, in this passage, is expressing his deep felt gratitude to the Philippian church and his joy over the special relationship they have shared since the founding of the church. The believers in Philippi, at one point in Paul’s ministry, were the only ones that supported him financially and now, again, they are sending him a gift of love. This letter from Paul is his “thank you” note to them explaining his contentment in Christ. There is no substitute for an intimate relationship with Christ while experiencing a heart that is transformed through the power of this bond.
Paul confirms his contentment in the Lord when he speaks of the acceptance of abounding in much or in the lowly station of poverty. The secret of his serenity could only be achieved through a personal relationship with Christ and the unfailing power of God in transforming that life. Contentment is not complacency: a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements, but an abiding peace and confidence in the One who guides and protects midst  life’s storms. 
Life need not be stated as a series of accidents, but as appointments with God.  I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye (Psalm 32:8). I can do everything that God asks me to do through Christ who gives me strength and power adequate for the demands on my life. Hudson Taylor was a great missionary to China and for many years thought that he was trusting Christ for all his needs, but somehow he had no joy. A letter from a friend opened his eyes and he began to see that it was not him, Hudson Taylor,  and  his faithfulness but it was Hudson Taylor trusting in the Faithful One. This was the turning point of his life and his work in China.
Thought:  The Lord Jesus teaches us this same lesson in John 15 on the vine and the branches. A branch is only good for bearing fruit while drawing upon the life of the Vine. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5). Realizing that all that we are and all that we may accomplish in this life is only because we are self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency alone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

God's Peace, Man's Joy

The Search for Joy
God’s Peace, Man’s Joy
Philippians 4:6-9
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  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.
Paul gives exhortation to the Philippian church encouraging them to be anxious over nothing but be diligent to faithful prayer. We as Christians are never to have anxiety over circumstances, situations, or trails in our life. Prayer brings peace into the church and undoubtedly into the hearts and minds of true believers. Fret and worry can indicate a lack of trust in the wisdom and sovereignty of God. Meditating and delighting in the Word of God will be a great remedy over worries about health, being concerned about family issues, being anxious, agonizing over monies lost or just plain stressed. Being grateful to God with an inner tranquillity and thankful attitude gives a Christian confidence that the Lord is able and willing to do what is best for His children. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). What great peace we can have in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. His peace surpasses all human intellect and insight and  “guards” our hearts and minds from fear, worry and distress. There are three words used for prayer in verse 6; the first of which is the common word, “prayer,” then the word “supplication,” meaning the act of asking for things and then the word, “requests,” referring to particular appeals or petitions. All of this of course, should be accompanied “with thanksgiving,” that the believer will receive answers to prayer by faith and through this, have “the peace of God.” This peace that comes as a result of prayer is described by Paul as a peace “which passeth all understanding.” 
Prayer is a time of adoration, worship and devotion to our Lord. Whenever we find ourselves worrying about situations in our lives, we need to get alone with God and worship Him! In the life of the Christian, there is no room for half-hearted, insincere prayer but a heart that is earnest in asking. After worshipping and asking God in prayer for the things our hearts desire, certainly, our God wants to hear that we are thankful to Him for all He has done for us and all that He will continue to do on our behalf. When Jesus healed the 10 lepers, only 1 returned to say, “Thank you” (Luke 17:11-19). Could it be said of us that we are unthankful and unappreciative of all the Lord has done for us? I pray this will never be true and that we will continually seek to worship Him with a grateful heart.
The peace of God has many by-products and one of these is that it will transform the thought-life of the Child of God. Meditating on the things that are true, honest, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy is a formula for staying away from sinful thoughts which disturb the inner peace that God has given through prayer. Paul gives exhortation and an example to the Philippian believers as he writes: “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.” Through all of Paul’s trials and testings, his many frustrations and limitations, he speaks to the people he loves to encourage them to, “do the things you have learned, received, seen and heard of me, and you will have God’s peace with you.” If Paul could experience the peace of God as a prisoner, how much more could the people of God be able to experience in freedom?
Thought: If you are walking with the Lord and living in the peace of God, then you are obeying Him and His Word. When peace is gone and life seems overwhelming––go back to the place where the decision was made to have an anxious spirit, where worry and doubt entered in and begin to worship, praise and thank the Lord for all He has done and is doing in your life. This place of quiet rest is where you will find God and the peace that will surpass all human understanding.