Friday, December 28, 2012

Precious Things



Precious Things

Through this wonderful Christmas season I hope you have considered what is truly precious in your life. There are some attributes written about God in His Word that are counted as, “precious” and relationships that we, as believer’s, should deem as “precious” to bring Glory and Honor to Him who deserves the highest praise.

Psalms 49:8

(For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) No money on earth can redeem a person, nor give a ransom to God for their soul. The redemption of a man’s soul (that is, their person from the grave), is precious, and it ceaseth forever.  The attempt to redeem a soul with money must remain a failure, for death comes and wealth cannot influence him. No price could secure for any man that he should still live forever and not see corruption. No amount of money or any other protocol can save a soul from eternal death. Without first acknowledging the costly price the Lord Jesus Christ paid on the cross for sin, repenting of that sin and putting their faith and trust in Him, no man can escape the sting of death (I Corinthians 15:50-58).

Psalms 116:15

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. The Lord watches over the dying  saints beds, He smooths their pillows, sustains their hearts, and receives their souls. Those who are redeemed with His precious blood are so dear to God that even their deaths are precious to Him. If we have walked before Him in the land of the living, we need not fear to die before Him when the hour of our departure is at hand.

Psalms 126:6

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. This is a psalm of conversion which contains a song, a prayer and a promise. There must be sowing before reaping and what men sow they will reap. When a man's heart is so stirred that he weeps over the sins of others, tears of earnestness result in tears of repentance. Winners of souls are first weepers for souls. The sowing may be with sorrow, but the reaping will be with rejoicing and joy.

Psalms 139:17

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! To think the God of this universe should think upon us is a believer's joy. We should think upon God's thoughts of us with delight; and the more of them the better. The worth of His thoughts towards us are as treasured jewels to us who are so poor and needy. What joyful exuberance should fill our hearts to think God is returning love for love, thought for thought, to those of us who are so impoverished and needful.

1 Peter 2:6-7

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 

Christ is called a stone metaphorically to typify His strength and to teach his servants that He is their protection and security, the foundation on which they are built. Jesus Christ is the very foundation-stone of all our hopes and happiness. He imparts the true knowledge of God allowing access to the Father, and by Him we are made partakers of all spiritual blessings. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious. Christ may be rejected by an ungrateful world, yet He is favored of God, and precious in His significance i.e. (the quality of being worthy of attention; important). Christ is the crown and honor of a true Christian and we who believe in Him will never be ashamed but will praise and worship Him for ever."

2 Peter 1:4

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 

This precious faith is truly a gift of God, through the working of the Spirit, who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead. The preciousness of faith, as well as our obtaining it, is through the righteousness of Christ and not by works which we have done. The promised blessings of the gospel are very precious and those who receive these promises are freed from the bondage of sin. 


Thoughts: How precious is one soul to the heart of God that He would show such grace to fallen man. No price can be put upon a dying saint nor on one who is bearing precious seed while weeping for repentance over sin. What a precious treasure we possess in His innumerable thoughts towards us and for those who believe, He is a most precious gift. May we never forget our most precious things; He who is our foundation, our strength, our hope, and our security in the life to come. With all these things we know we are loved and precious in His sight.







Friday, December 21, 2012

God's Gifts


God’s Gifts
James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Where did the tradition of giving begin? It began at Creation with God! The gifts we give are imperfect, often with wrong motivation, always defective, and temporary. Good and perfect gifts only come from God, from the Father of Lights. The universe itself, as it came from God’s creative hand was good and perfect. God Himself pronounced it very good. God began with a good and perfect creation and He has maintained that standard. 

The custom of giving gifts is a worldwide practice. It finds its greatest expression at Christmas time, when the wise men in Matthew 2 and the joyful tidings of the angels in Luke 2 echo in millions of families around the world. People share the joy of giving at this time even if the “Reason for the season” is not known in that family.

Giving is a strong theme in scripture. The words “give”, “giving”, “gift”, and like words appear at least 2100 times. The very first appearance is in connection with light. God gave lights in the heavens to shine on the earth. He created the lights, He is the Father of Lights. He gave us light to enjoy His wondrous creation. When Christ was born the shepherds saw the glory shining (Luke 2:9), the wise men saw His star (Matthew 2:2), and John testified the True Light had come (John 1:9). Today the remembering of Christ’s birth is marked by an abundance of lights. Even the Jew’s festival of Hanukkah is called by them the “festival of lights.”

There are other specific gifts mentioned in Scripture. The phrase “gift of God” occurs eight times and the plural phrase “gifts of God” occurs once”.

Six New Testament Gifts of God

The Gift of Christ Shown to the Woman at the Well
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” John 4:10.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit
“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” Acts 8:18-20.

The Gift of Eternal Life Through Christ Jesus
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.

The Gift of Individual Abilities Given to Man
“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper of God, one after this manner, and another after that” 1 Corinthians 7:7. Both singleness and marriage are God’s gracious gifts.

The Gift of  Salvation
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8.

The Gift of Confidence in Love
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:6-7. The threat of Roman persecution was escalating under the leadership of Nero during this time. Our God has already given to believers all the spiritual resources they need for every trial. If man is fearful, it does not come from God. 

All of God’s gifts are good, perfect, and eternal! The plural phrase “gifts of God” stresses this wonderful truth in Romans 11:29 which says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance “or irrevocable. These six gifts will be ours to treasure for all of eternity. The last time giving is mentioned in the Bible is in Revelation 22:12 when Christ gives rewards to His faithful servants. He is the Great Giver at the beginning of time, at the end of time, and for all of eternity.

Thought: This Christmas as we share our gifts and enjoy the beautiful lights, let us remember the Father of Lights, the Great Giver of all good and perfect gifts. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16. After contemplating this great gift and the love that determined it, the only response we can have is one of praise and wonder for our Great Giver! “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15. Throughout this Christmas season think about all of the many gifts of God mentioned in His Word and those He has personally given to you. Make a list of them and praise Him for them!


*Prepared by my daughter-in-law, Jessica Moffitt. I asked Jessica if I could use this lesson for Dianna’s Diary and of course, she said, “Yes!” Thank you, Jessica, for sharing with us the fathomless giving of His matchless grace. 




Friday, December 14, 2012

The Miraculous Virgin Birth


The Miraculous Virgin Birth
Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-2:1-7

There are some amazing and spectacular births recored in the Word of God. The birth of Isaac is a marvelous story of an women nearly one hundred years old, who was laughing at the thought of being with child then miraculously conceives (Genesis 21). Elizabeth was barren, but through the power of God gave birth to John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said there had yet been no one greater (Matthew 11:11.) But no birth is any more spectacular and miraculous than the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus which surpasses all in knowing it was a divine conception.

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 (Luke 1:26-33.) 

Mary, a godly young woman who was sensitive and submissive to the Lord’s will wondered how she could conceive without knowing a man after the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would be the mother of “the Son of the Highest.”  Mary never questioned that the angel was sent from God or that what he said was true she only wondered about this miraculous conception.“How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

Joseph, being espoused to Mary, made it a binding marriage and could only be terminated by divorce. Though the betrothed couple were regarded legally as husband and wife, the physical union had not yet taken place. What a good and faithful husband Joseph was to Mary. He had every right to put her away but listened to the angel which came to him in a dream. I am sure no one ever looked at Mary and Joseph the same after they knew of her conception. Even though prophecy was being fulfilled, there were those who would never believe that Mary had done things right. True faith trusts in God even when things appear very perplexing and troublesome.

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 (Matthew 1:24,25). The word “know or knew” is a euphemism for sexual intimacy, a mild or indirect expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt. Joseph did not have a sexual relationship with his wife before the Christ Child was born which reinforces the truth of Jesus’ divine conception. The supernatural birth of Jesus is the only way to account for the life that He lived here on earth before sinful men. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means “GOD WITH US” which describes who He is and distinguishes Him above all others. 

It amazes me that our God in His immense greatness and matchless wisdom would orchestrate such a design of life changing events for the world to behold and embrace. God through His prophets had foretold hundreds of years before of the miraculous birth of Christ and “none can stay His hand” (Daniel 4:35). God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19) The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: (Isaiah 14:24). God promised that the Christ Child would come, be born, pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross, raise from the grave, and ascend into Heaven. He fulfilled every prophecy; Oh, praise His Holy name.

Thought: The virgin birth is necessary to the trustworthiness of the gospel records for if the gospel records are wrong concerning the birth of Christ, then everything they say concerning His life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension becomes questionable. Obviously Jesus’ conception by the Holy Sprit is a great mystery and to understand such things we will have to await heaven, when we will see our Lord “face to face.” Who else but our Omnipotent God could design and accomplish such a divine plan that brought the King of Glory to earth through a Virgin Birth at the appointed time, in the specified place, with the assigned people. Who else could provided for us a Savior who would take our sins, who knew no sin, upon Himself to sacrificially give to us, eternal life. Oh, what love, and for this He is to be given the highest praise!

Friday, December 7, 2012

What a Mother Taught Her Child


What a MotherTaught Her Child
Proverbs 31 
The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him (Proverbs 31:1.)

Luke 1:46-50
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.   For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.   And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Introduction: As we look at Proverbs 31 and gather some principles about what a mother, must teach her child; we must remember it is the Lord who gives clear direction and discernment to a mother concerning where to place emphasis in instructing her children. A mother must seek the Lord and follow Him closely in order to instruct her children properly.

We see in the very first verse King Lemuel repeating what his mother taught him through the next verses. She took the responsibility to teach him about very important issues of life.  It is not any one else’s (school, church, etc.) to teach your children the ways of life, it is your God-given blessing, so take the responsibility and cherish every moment. Society today will try to impress many false ideas about where your children come from or that they really aren’t special, just a lump of tissue in the womb. It is very important that you teach your child that God created them very special, and created them just for you. Teach them the truth about where they came from.

Psalm 139: 13-14 ~ For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Mary, the soon to be mother of Jesus, a young teen-aged girl, knew the God of Scripture, the God of Israel in a deep personal way. She knew His Word. She understood it. She had studied it. She had laid hold of its promises and its covenants. Those promises filled her thoughts and filled her heart. When she says in Luke 1:48, "All generations shall call me blessed," she is speaking of herself as the recipient, not the giver of blessing. She doesn't say all generations will look to me to bless them. They'll consider me blessed because of what I received.  It is the Lord to whom her soul magnifies in verse 46. It is God my Savior whom her spirit exalts in verse 47. She sings of the great things that God has done, verse 49, on her behalf. She rejoices in the great mercy God has shown her in becoming the mother of the Christ Child.

The key to understanding Mary's praise is in the expression of her great faith. It is an expression of her love for God, her worship of God, her understanding of Scripture and the promises of God.  A young woman in incredible circumstances with immense challenges and difficulties who was nevertheless pouring out worship to the God she knew and the God she believed.

In Proverbs 31, King Lemuel’s training as a child was much like Mary’s. She was an example of a model believer. Mary, only a child herself, magnifies the Lord with her pure life as one who loves God down deep in her heart and who knows the truth about God and who knows her God well. King Lemuel was taught, Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10.)  The king was being taught moral purity. Mary’s moral purity for sure played a  huge part in her being chosen as the mother of Jesus. She was taught the importance of having good character, integrity, and decency. These are key traits in a person’s life and of utmost importance. King Lemuel was taught to live a life honoring to the Lord. Proverbs 31:25 says, Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. He was taught that who you are is more important than what you are or what you possess.  A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1.)

To know Christ as Savior is by far the most important thing we could ever teach our children. We must preach and teach to them the gospel. If we do not teach this to our children, then nothing else we could possible teach them, in all of eternity, really matters. King Lemuel speaks about the Proverbs 31 woman that fears the LORD. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised ( Proverbs 31:30.)  If there is anything in life that we should be passionate about, it is the gospel. We must not only be passionate about sharing the gospel with our children, but we must be passionate about thinking about it, rejoicing in it and living the it before them.

Thought: What an example Mary was to the world.  Yes, she was to be the mother of Jesus, but still one of us, a sinner saved by grace and mercy, overwhelmed with her unworthiness, and willing to obey the Word of God in overflowing praise. Mary teaches us to praise the God of Heaven in humility and in doing so, she was lifted up and blessed beyond measure. Proverbs 31 gives practical, moral and spiritual teaching and Mary knowing Scripture, followed the teaching of Scripture––––may we follow her example. In conclusion, what should a mother teach her children? And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuternomy 6:5-7.) Teach your children to love God and then live the gospel every day before them that they may see whom Christ gave His all for, a sinner like mom.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Facing the Issues


Facing the Issues
James 1:8; 4:8
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 

Are you serious about breaking that sinful habit? Good! Since it is essential that you see your problem in view of God’s Word, let’s look at what God wants to accomplish in your life and focus on the issue that truly hinders you from being free from that sinful habit. James was quite accurate when he taught that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). Sinful habits are usually a sign or an indication of a problem of unresolved conflicts. 

What Does God Want to Accomplish?

God has a purpose in wanting to show us our inner self, our sin. We too often hold on to the smaller purposes or issues because we desire freedom from sin to avoid embarrassment, be relieved of guilt, or to save face. The most critical issue we often avoid is our rebellion against God (Psalm 51:1-12).  We want to be relieved of our guilty conscience but we don’t want to repent. Those who confess their sins, intending to repeat the same action, are not truly repentant. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19).  The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

God’s plan is to draw you beyond your repentance for sin to Himself. He wants to use your struggles to lead you into godly living. His will is not merely that you be free from sin but He wants to conform you to the image of His Son. Romans 12:1-2 says, “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.” Delivering you from a sinful habit is only one step in the process. Washing the stains from your life is the beginning of the preparation into the Spirit-filled person God wants you to be.

Biblical change is not just turning away from sin; it is turning toward righteousness. The person who lies must speak the truth (Ephesians 4:25) and the one who steals must not only stop stealing, but he needs to work and give to others (verse 28). Do not just stop sinning--start doing what is right before God. The good habits you build will replace the sinful ones. Defeating a habit also requires changes in lifestyle. We are to make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). The person who wants to stop smoking should throw away all his cigarettes and not buy any more; the person struggling with sexual sin should get rid of any suggestive materials in his possession. The person battling with substance abuse should avoid the company of those who have the same problem (I Corinthians 15:33), and avoid the places and circumstances which tempt them.

Be on guard when wrestling with a sinful habit–––there is a difference between temptation and sin. When you choose to pursue temptation it becomes sin, temptation itself isn’t. Even our Lord was tempted. When sinful thoughts enter your mind, without being invited, at that point you have not sinned. The crucial test is how will you respond to these suggestions? Will you pursue these thoughts, entertain them, and let them materialize in your mind? How many Christians think that victory over sin means that they will no longer be tempted?  Or, they think that God will change their nature so that they will no longer desire to do evil. This is wrong thinking. Temptation is not a sin: it is a call to battle. Since we will always be tempted, we need to learn to handle temptation God’s way. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13).

Thought: We are responsible for our own sin--including those sins "which so easily beset us" (Hebrews 12:1). We must take personal responsibility for our own habits and not shrink from calling them sin. If you are struggling with a sinful habit in your life, don’t try to battle it alone. You need to find some mature Christians to help you through the hard times, to check up on you and encourage you to be honest with yourself and with your failures. You must trust God and His faithfulness to give you a way of escape that you will be able to endure such times when you are tempted. Preach the Gospel to yourself daily which is–––the forgiveness of sin, and the righteousness credited to you through Jesus Christ alone.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Broken Things


Broken Things

Romans 8:28
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.

Broken homes, broken hearts, broken bodies, broken hopes and dreams, broken health, broken vows, broken lives–––do you hear the pain in these words? When we say something is broken we are suggesting there has been an accident, a calamity or grave disappointment. We must know that all these tragedies are known to God and that He brings from the broken fragments of our lives, something far better than we may see.  God knows all things from the beginning to the end and nothing surprises Him or is a calamity to Him. God has planned that every broken piece in the life of His own dear children will fit into the portrait of His eternal will.

Are you broken or being broken through financial loss, upon a bed of illness or through the loss of a loved one? God knows all about it, He would not permit it if He did not see that in the end, somewhere, it would serve a purpose for which you do not know. If you are being broken, God is working with you. We think broken things are a loss, but God turns them to His gain. In nature, broken things are cast aside, but in grace, God will never use a man until he is broken but will use the broken man for His glory.

Let’s think about Christ in 1 Corinthians 11:24  when He said, “This is my body, which is broken for you.” He left His home in glory to come to earth being fully God and fully man to be broken for us. He was despised and rejected, a friend of sinners, and went all the way to Calvary to die that we might live. Christ was broken, stripped, beaten, spit upon, bruised, mocked, and nailed to a cruel cross that we may not spend eternity in hell, suffering the pangs of the wrath of God, but that we might have eternal life in heaven with Him. This was no mere man but the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, sitting in power at the right hand throne of God who was broken for us. 

We, as Christians, need to examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word and know that the presence of broken things in our life does not necessarily mean broken without remedy with no hope of healing but broken before God as in Psalm 51:17, “a broken and a contrite heart, God, wilt not despise. Your brokenness may be the very thing that God will use in bringing about a  relationship of humility and a heart that recognizes the greatness of His grace which produces  tremendous blessing. The broken and contrite heart can be molded by God as He searches the core of your being and begins to mend or heal the pain of the broken things.

Thoughts: What’s broken in your life that you don’t think God even cares about? Has He not allowed everything in your life for His purpose and for His glory? Are you broken because of sin in your life or could it be because; this is the will of God concerning you? Take heart, dear Child of God, the Father makes no mistakes. He loves us more than we love Him and someday we shall understand what we cannot comprehend now. He is constantly working to make us who are His, ready for the day when we will praise and worship Him for all eternity. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (I Corinthians 13:12.) I am truly thankful for the “Broken Things” in my life that have caused me to examine myself that I might appreciate the inexhaustible love Christ has for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful


How Can We Not Be Thankful?
Psalm 92:1
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.


The giving of thanks is a good thing and is to be apart of our daily walk with Christ. I'm as guilty as anybody else in failing to thank God for all the things He has done for me. It seems a simple thing to do, to set a little time aside every day and just thank Him, but I forget.  I don't forget to ask Him for things I need, I only forget to thank Him for all that He has already done.

In Romans, Paul says in chapter 1 verse 8: "First, I thank my God." It is important to keep God first in our lives and first in the giving of thanks for all things. In nearly all the letters Paul has written, he expresses his gratitude to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and who are being enriched by His wonderful grace. The book of Galatians is one of the letters that Paul does not give thanks for the redeemed but rebukes them for their response to false doctrine and how quickly they deserted the truth to pursue legalism taught by false teachers. The believer’s relationship to God is so critical and Paul is exceptional in reminding Christians to be thankful   to God for all things.  Ephesians 5:20 ~ Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul encourages believers to be thankful for their salvation and the work that Christ has already begun in them. Philippians 1:6 ~ Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: and  Philippians 2:13 ~ For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Scripture teaches us that angels spend time thanking God around the throne. Revelation 4:9: "And those living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him that is seated on the throne." Later on in the book of Revelation you find the angels doing it again. In the sixteenth and seventeenth verses of the eleventh chapter, you have the 24 elders apparently joining together with the angels and giving thanks. “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” If the angels are thankful to God for who He is, should we be any less thankful than they are for His great power, His immense mercy, and His matchless grace shown to us?

Even our Lord spent time thanking God for things He had done and did so often. The Lord Jesus was thankful to the Father at the graveside of Lazarus, in John 11:41, "'Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me."  Matthew 26:26 says: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body. He took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them." There are many illustrations of giving thanks in the Bible some publicly as well as privately, but all picture a heart of true thankfulness to God for who He is and what He has done. This is fervently the pattern of the life of Christ, He thanked God openly and with great passion. It is the pattern of the angels in heaven to thank God.  The “giving of thanks” is commanded of us, therefore, we must be thankful to God for all things for we are the partakers of His rich inheritance. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in Light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:12-14.)


Thought: In Revelation chapters four-eleven, the focus is on Christ taking back what is rightfully His––the world that has been overtaken by Satan. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15.)  Are we thankful that we are apart of the redeemed church of Christ and that He will come again to set up His kingdom? What a coronation day we will never forget!  If you are a Christian, you have much to be thankful for, most importantly, knowing the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords through all eternity.

Lord, I am thankful for my wonderful husband and his love for You and for me. I am thankful for my loving children, their life long mates and for my grandchildren, whom I love so dearly. I am thankful for all my family, whether here or far away and thankful for their servant’s heart and faithfulness in serving You, day after day.

Lord, I am thankful for, You, loving me and giving me hope when I was blind and couldn’t see. I am thankful for Heaven, where I’ll share a new life with You, for all eternity.

 Lord, thank you....

Friday, November 9, 2012

Captured by Grace


I Am Captured by His Grace
Ephesians 2:3-9
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The power that raises men and women out of darkness and makes them alive in Christ is in the  power of the Gospel (by grace are ye saved.) Salvation brings spiritual life to the dead. Before we can experience the grace of God, we have to see ourselves as the sinners we really are in the sight of a Holy God. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:13-14; “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew the ugly scandal of his own past and included in his writings descriptive language expressing whom he was in Christ. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15b.)  In ( 1 Corinthians 15:9) he states, “I am the least of the apostles,” and in (Ephesians 3:8) explains, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

What is this gift of grace Paul so freely writes about? He says, it’s not of yourselves but that it is the gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. No works are involved in God’s gift of grace for good works cannot produce salvation but are the evidence of His great work done in you. In all the world, there are only two religions that can be found. The first is by faith in Christ alone and the other, by works which men have done. You know and Paul made it known that human achievement is designed for failure and leads to a dead end. You might as well build yourself a ladder to heaven if you think that you can get there by any other means then by repentance and putting your faith and trust in a righteous God. His free gift of grace is His provision for your life with Him throughout eternity.

Have you been captured by His grace? John Newton, the great song writer and preacher of the gospel, wrote these words in his song, “Amazing Grace”–––“How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.” John Newton was a poor lost sinner, a wretch, as the song describes him, before the Lord captured his heart, on a storm tossed ship. The apostle Paul, who was first known as, “Saul of Tarsus,” was transformed on the road to Damascus when a light from heaven stopped him and he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9:3-5.)  Has the Lord of Glory stopped you on your road to destruction? Have you cried out to Him, expressing your guilt of sin, calling upon Him to be merciful to you a sinner? Luke 18:13 ~ And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Can you see the apostle Paul, after all he has gone through in his life, leaning against a cold cell wall and singing to himself, Psalm 89:1? “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.”  Paul was captured by God’s wonderful saving grace. Picture John Newton’s experiences at sea, with the treacherous waves and frightening storms singing his–––Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed

                                 by John Newton


Thought: Beloved friend, the story of salvation begins at the foot of the cross, where grace covers all sin. Grace is a powerful force in the world and can save any sinner that will repent and put their faith and trust in Christ. May you begin now to partake of His wonderful grace with your whole heart and from this very moment know the Author of grace, Jesus Christ, the Rescuer of your soul.

I am thankful that I personally have been rescued from the road of destruction and been given life eternal through God’s gift of grace. I too, was lost in sin when Jesus found me, and now I am  no longer blinded by the world’s delights, for I am captured by the ultimate expression of His love, His Amazing Grace.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fearful


Why Are You So Fearful?

Mark 4:35-41
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  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 and as other times before, got into a boat to teach because the crowd was so massive they pressed Him all the way to the water's edge. The only way He could get some space between Himself and the crowd and say what He wanted to say was to get in a boat and get off the shore into the water a little bit. We could probably assume that people had brought the sick and the needy to Him and there was healing going on as well as a challenging day of teaching. Christ, being exhausted by now, was most likely going over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee just to get a bit of a rest. There were many occasions when He did that, when He tried to escape the crushing crowd.  

As there arose a fierce wind and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up, Jesus, being in the stern of the boat, was now asleep on a pillow. The disciples 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, panic is a normal human response to that kind of situation. They knew Jesus had power over demons and over disease and that He had power over the natural world as well as the supernatural world but, could He save them in this circumstance? Could He deliver them from a storm?

Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Peace, be still.' The wind died down and became perfectly calm. Jesus said to the men in the boat, 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?' They became exceedingly fearful and said to one another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? The water and the wind recognized the voice of their Creator, just as He would tell death to release Lazarus, He spoke and the wind and the waves obeyed His voice. 

The disciples were afraid during the storm and then feared exceedingly when the storm ceased. Why? The fear of a storm outside your boat is one thing but having the living God, the Creator and controller of all creation in your boat. That's enough to panic you and cause great anxiety and fear. You might ask, “What kind of a reaction is that?” It may be a reaction of someone who now understands that the Creator of this universe is in control of all living things even the wind and the waves and communicates His deity in the expression of power over any storm.

Why are we afraid of the storms of life when the Sovereign Creator of this world lives within us? How can we be fearful of any circumstance that comes into our life when Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith, dwells in our mortal bodies? There are no obstacles which our Savior’s  love and power cannot overcome. No storm to fierce, no trial to hard, no mountain to high and no heartache to deep that we need be afraid. The strong winds of fear may invade our minds but, when Christ, “The Captain of Sea” speaks, may we surrender full command of the storm in our life to the One who can calm the raging sea and bring PEACE to our troubled soul.

Thought: In the allegory, “Hind’s Feet on High Places,” Much-Afraid is hindered by her Fearing relatives and goes with the Shepherd to the High Places where “perfect love casteth out fear.” After much traveling, she reaches the shore of a great sea and the Shepherd reminders her that when ever she calls for him, he will come. He told her to believe what he said and practice it with joy. The Shepherd said to her, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me and when they are willing to obey me and follow the path of my choice, they will always be able to hear and recognize my voice.” 

Remember, it is always safe to obey, “The Master of the Sea,” even if He calls you to follow a path which looks impossible or asks you to enter a boat where the sea is unexpectedly stormy. You need not be fearful of the journey of His will because there is no fear in love, for perfect love casteth out fear (I John 4:18.)

Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Gift of Memory


The Gift of Memory

Lamentations 3:19-25
Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

There was great sorrow over Judah’s judgment because of the sin of rebellion and this caused Jeremiah to consider the grace, mercy, and compassion of God. As bleak as the situation of judgment had become, God was faithful in His lovingkindness toward Judah and according to His matchless character kept all His promises to them––––they would not be destroyed forever. Malachi 3:6 ~ For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (The book of Lamentations teaches all believers how to deal with the memories of suffering and hardship.)

Memory can sometimes be the servant of hopelessness when we are faced with things beyond our control. The mind thinks of despairing and dark predicaments of the past, present and unknown future. Sometimes memory stands like a cloud over us raining down it’s unwanted thoughts and at times we are unable to, “cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5). Memory brought Jeremiah to despair thinking of the people of Israel and their perpetual sin without repentance. Jeremiah 19:15 ~ Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words. 

The same memory that brought Jeremiah to despair brought him life and comfort again when he, in turning to the Truth of God and bowing before the throne of grace, was restored unto joy remembering where he found true hope. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; for they are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23.) There is no need for one to live in a state of despair, for truth will transform memory into an angel of comfort. The memory that may have brought so many dark and gloomy things into a believer’s life can be trained to carry a wealth of hopeful thoughts and replace them with joy.

“In John Bunyons’s allegorical book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, when Christian was locked up in Doubting Castle, memory was the club the famous giant would beat his captives with so terribly. They remembered how they had left the right road, how they had been warned not to do so, and how in rebellion, they had wandered into By-path Meadow. They remembered all their past misdeeds, their sins, their evil thoughts and evil words, and all these were like knots of wood in the club, causing sorrowful bruises and wounds in their poor suffering bodies.

However, one night, the same memory that had whipped them, helped to set them free, for it whispered something in Christians’s ear. He then cried out, ‘What a fool I am to lie in a stinking dungeon when I can walk in freedom! I have a key in my inside coat pocket, called Promise. It will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.’ So he put his hand into his coat pocket and, with much joy, he pulled out the key and thrust it into the lock and the key did open it and all the others, too. By this blessed act of memory, poor Christian and Hopeful were set free.”

Consider where we would be without Christ and how despairing our afflictions would be without His mercies that fail not. Something better truly awaits us, for Jeremiah reminds us that there are some mercies that continue, they are new every morning. Remember the pit from whence we came and thank God continuously–––singing of His compassions which delight the soul day after day. When our mind is fixed on the gospel of Christ and not on the memories stained with sin, we can with great assurance exult the blessings of the gospel while standing before God in freedom, pronounced righteous with no condemnation, having absolute peace with God.

Thought:  The gift of memory can keep your hearts from complaining when the circumstances of life are not at all comfortable. When you have lost much but you have not lost your God remember, your God becomes your all in all. If you have lost everything because of sin or situations beyond your control but you have not lost your God, then you still have all, because Christ is your ALL in all.  Your sufficiency is from God in knowing He is enough and His gift of memory gives hope to sustain you.

Quotes from “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyon and “Finding Peace in Life’s Storms” by Charles Spurgeon