Friday, May 31, 2013

Do We Really Believe This?


Do We Really Believe This?
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Do we really believe what we say we believe? How do we endure the hardships of life and grow and bear fruit through those hard times? Are we assured that though our physical bodies change, become incapacitated or extremely limited, our spiritual life in Christ is renewed day by day? Is there a struggle with a debilitating disease and you find yourself getting weaker in body or watching a loved one become very frail?

Paul had a victorious attitude on his suffering when he wrote; “Our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” How can we endure suffering and pain and be content with every situation life brings? Psalms 37:24b says; ...the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. Disappointments will come and despairing moments will flood our minds but God says, “He holds us with His hand.” When we have the immense privilege of knowing Christ, no matter what may come into our lives, we need not loose heart, quit or give in, for we endure and gain strength by renewing the inner man day by day.

Your troubles and trials, along with the pain and difficulties of life are contributors to your inner strength. It is in the trial of your physical life that undoubtably led you to find spiritual strength. You can and will endure not only when you hold in high regard the spiritual over the physical, but you will endure when you value the future over the present. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (I Peter 1:6-9.)

What does eternal weight of glory mean? Will we have a bigger place to live in, in heaven, or the biggest crown ever imagined? No, it means that we will have a greater capacity to praise, worship, serve and give glory to God more than ever before. The only suffering that produces this eternal weight of glory is that suffering which is for Christ’s sake and for that which honors Him. It doesn’t mean for every illness, or pain in life we suffer but the suffering which comes as a result of our Christian life, our witness, our testimony, our faithfulness and commitment to Him that gains the eternal weight of glory. Will there be reward added to that eternal weight of glory for those that suffer the hardships of life, disease, divorce, poverty, pain, loneliness, and death? Yes, with a spirit of gratitude, a spirit that exalt’s and gives glory to God in the midst of the trial.  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (I Corinthians 2:9).

The secret to endurance and overcoming the present is to look to the future not the present, to take your eyes off the current pain and look to future glory. To give yourself to the spiritual far above the physical is the pathway to patience and forbearance. Colossians 3:2, Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. This is the testimony of a life lived fully to the glory of God and consumed with the invisible and eternal presence of Christ.

Thought: Lord, help each of us to see beyond our pain, and help us to tower over the suffering of this life. May we so live that the pain that comes, or the troubles that arise, will only produce a greater weight of glory, and a passion for Christ.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Without Love, It Means Nothing


Without Love, It Means Nothing
I Corinthians 13:1-8
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Some of us will remember the old song, “What the World Needs Now is Love.” Though it is a secular tune there is some truth in the words. Love should penetrate every relationship we have, not just romantic and family relationships. Love is not confined to boyfriends and girlfriends. Love should be shown at work, the grocery store and in the classroom.

I have had to ask myself this question many times, “Am I loving?” That could be a hard question to answer. Maybe I should ask, “Am I portraying qualities of love? Am I patient? Am I kind? Trusting? These types of questions are more a matter of the heart. How do I measure myself according to these qualities of love? The Word of God says, “If I don’t have love, I am nothing.” 

Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Making the choice to love others is not only a suggestion given in 1 Corinthians 13, it is also a command given by our Lord to those who would call themselves Christians. There are words in the Greek language for various kinds of love. The Greek word aeros is associated with sexual attraction. That is the love that just takes and does not give. Then there is phileo, that’s the love of friendship, this love gives and takes. Agape is the love that just gives and gives and commits unconditionally. This kind of love never means an emotional love with tingling sensations, or sentimentalism, it is a biblical love, an act of selfless sacrifice.

The Bible never defines love it describes love. Love is an action word and love is only love when it acts. (A verb is a word used to describe an action).  Paul writes in I Corinthians 13 that we are a nothing, a zero, if we do not love above all else. He penned for us a list of attributes that paints a picture of the love of Christ found throughout the gospels. The Christians is one who loves when he is hurt, wounded, taken advantage of and never seeks revenge. This person is called long suffering or patient.

I would like to quote a story about one of my favorite presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln made a lot of friends and some enemies but one man who became an outspoken enemy was a man by the name of Edwin M. Stanton. Stanton despised Lincoln. In print he called him "a low, cunning clown." On one occasion he nicknamed him "The original Gorilla." He stated: "It was ridiculous for people to go to Africa wandering around trying to find a gorilla when they could find one easily in Springfield, Illinois." Very bitter toward Lincoln and yet, Lincoln never replied to him, never retaliated.

When it came time to choose a man for the job of Secretary of the War Department for the United States government, Lincoln chose Stanton. Somebody asked, "Why?" Lincoln replied, "Because he's the best man for the job." As the war years wore on, the biographer said this, "The night when the assassin's bullet tore at Lincoln's life, in the little room to which the President's body was taken there stood that same Stanton, looking down into the silent face of Lincoln in all its ruggedness and speaking through his tears these words, quote: 'There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen,' end quote." Robert Todd Lincoln, the assassinated president’s son, wrote that Stanton, “for more than ten days after my father’s death in Washington, called every morning on me in my room, and spent the first few minutes of his visits weeping without saying a word.” Because Abraham Lincoln was willing to forgive and trust, he gained a friend. A very dear friend and where enmity once was, a friendship blossomed. 

Stanton couldn't resist the non-retaliating spirit of the man called Lincoln. Love forgives seventy times seven when it's been wronged. Love that is long suffering endures the insults and injuries of others and kindness pays them back only with deeds of goodness, an unfeigned love.

Thought: My dear friend, when you have been mistreated, wronged, or hurt, love them that have injured you. Love those that have caused you great harm or have inflicted tremendous pain  upon you, for in doing so, you portray a picture of the love of Christ for all the world to see.  Even though you may have fed the poor, had great faith, or even given yourself to be martyred, if all is done without love, it means nothing.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Seasons of Purpose


~Seasons of Purpose ~

For every season there is a purpose  ~  Romans 8:28 (Trusting God) in your seasons of life

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. 

Are you struggling with the season of life God has purposed for you? Maybe you have asked God, “Why is this happening and what is the reason or purpose for this?”  Scripture says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  God makes it very clear in Romans 8:28, “... that all things work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to His purpose.”  

There is a battle going on inside of you for control which starts from the very beginning of your Christian life. Submitting your life to someone, namely God, sounds impossible, unthinkable and even a little far-fetched at times. If you are being stubborn and think you will not submit to anyone or anything, you are wrong, you will always be submitting to someone or something––and that can be extremely dangerous for you. 

Each one of us is in a season of life that God has prepared for us. A time or purpose in our lives that we can trust God in, whether it be a season of pain and heartache, or a season of change and growing. All have their purpose and we as Christians must trust God in His divine plan for us in the season of our life.

Psalm 42:11 says, “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.” Are you unable to trust the One who created the universe, and who set the sun, moon and stars in their place? Why are you so depressed? Why are you so upset? Choose this day to put your hope in God and don’t be afraid of the path God has chosen for you. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” Psalm 56:3.

To trust God in times of trouble is difficult and I would in no way want to say that it is not. But, knowing that He has a purpose for the times of adversity in our lives is a matter of trusting God by faith and faith is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Holy Spirit makes the Word of God come alive in our hearts and creates in us the faith that is needed to allow Him to rule not giving way to feelings of anxiety, depression, or fear. We must trust God even though we do not feel like doing so.

Has God ever lied to you or not kept His promises? Has He withheld His love from you or abandoned you? Are not His mercies new every morning and His compassions never end?  Isn’t the LORD good to those who trust in Him, to the one who seeks him?  “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. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation (deliverance) of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:22-26).

Thought: John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” watched as cancer painfully took the life of his wife over a period of many months. John recalls those days in saying: “I believe it was about two or three months before her death, when I was walking up and down the room, offering disjointed prayers from a heart torn with distress that a thought suddenly struck me, with unusual force, to this effect––The promises of God must be true; surely the Lord will help me, if I am willing to be helped! It occurred to me, that we are often led . . . [from an undue regard of our feelings], to indulge that unprofitable grief which both our duty and our peace require us to resist to the utmost of our power. I instantly said aloud, Lord, I am helpless indeed, in myself, but I hope I am willing, without reserve, that thou shouldest help me.”

John Newton chose to be helped. He chose to trust God through prayer and by reading His Word. David said in Psalm 34:4, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” It is our responsibility to choose to trust the LORD and to be dependent upon Him for all things.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What Does It Mean to Be a Grandmother?


What Does It Mean to Be a Grandmother?

    What does it mean to be a grandmother,
With its endless joy and  delights?
 Doesn’t the world  seem so much better,
 When a grandchild’s hugs are tight?

What does it mean to be a grandmother,
Are there enough words to tell?
Of the love that floods into her heart, 
The moment her grandchild is held.

What does it mean to be a grandmother,
But that her love grows from day to day.
And in her time alone with God, 
For each grandchild, by name, she prays.

What does it mean to be a grandmother?
It’s an honor, a gift from above,
Where a grandmother can invest her greatest gift,
A heart of unconditional love.

 Being a grandmother means––You’re blessed!
With never a thought of regret.
 Treasuring each moment spent with them,
At the park, baking cookies, so content.

What does it mean to be a grandmother?
It means to love them from the very start.
To remind them of God’s great love for them,
And of heaven, where they’ll  never depart.

What’s the greatest gift, Grandmother, God has given to you?
You might say, “It’s my grandchildren!” and I understand why you do.
 But the greatest gift God has given to you is His unchanging love and mercies anew, 
The gift of grace, Christ dwelling in you.

Grandmother, cherish the moments God has given to you, sharing life with each child, for your moments are few.

by Dianna Moffitt Carroll


Thought:  In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in his grandmother Lois, and then in his mother Eunice, and now in him as well. I trust you will or already have invested in the lives of your grandchildren, a sincere faith that they may see Christ, the hope of glory, in you.


Happy Mother’s Day to all Mother’s and especially to “GRANDMOTHERS”!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Influence


Influence

Matthew 5:13-16
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be alted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

President Woodrow Wilson told this story. He said, "I was in a very common place. I was sitting in a barber chair when I became aware that a personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself, to have his hair cut, and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered,  showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. Before I got through with what was being done for me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. D. L. Moody was in that chair.

I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones; they didn't know his name, but they knew that something had elevated their thoughts. I felt that I left that place as I should have left the place of worship. My admiration and esteem for Mr. Moody became very deep indeed."

Influence ~ The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. In a general sense, influence denotes power whose operation is invisible and known only by its effects, or a power whose cause and operation are unseen. God hath his influence into the very essence of all things. ~ Noah Webster

What message do you leave the world? When you pass by, what are you saying to them? Do you, as a Christian, influence the world for good? Jesus taught that you live in the world but you do not have to be a part of the world system. He declared that the world would hate you as it hated Him. Christians are to influence the world by the spreading of the Gospel of Christ in a dark and sin decaying world.

We are the light and salt of the earth whether we want to be or not. Light shines where there is darkness and salt is needed where there is decay.  The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:8, For ye were sometimes darkness, (at one time in your life, you were darkness) but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: this shows the character God expects. We can't affect the world unless we are different. Our lives and relationships and homes have to be different. We need to remember Whom we represent–––the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are image bearers and show the world the likeness of Christ as salt and light. We are the only salt the world will ever know and the only light they may ever see.

Salt speaks of influence. Salt is purity, flavor, sting (in a wound), thirst (it creates thirst), and preservation. We are to be pure, living holy lives as the world watches. We are to flavor life with the awe of God's presence in the midst of us. We are to sting and convict the sinful wound of the world. We are to create a thirst for Christ by the very way we live. We are to be a preservative, to retard the spread of its corruption. If it were not for Christians in the world, it would be far more corrupt than it is right now; we preserve it.

Salt is hidden; you don't see it, it just melts away into whatever it flavors or preserves. Salt is the influence of Christian character; it is quiet but powerful. Light is the open communication and spreading of the Gospel. There are two things we must do as salt and light; live the gospel and preach it. What an affect on society's thinking and living the power of the Gospel of Christ brings as we turn on the light so that everyone can see––– the message of salvation.

Thought: So, are you an influence to the world around you or have you lost your saltiness? My dear friend, if sin is in your life, you have no influence. You're not going to create in someone a thirst for God, because there’s nothing there to make them thirsty for what you have. God needs your influence and you are to be salt. But to be salt, you have to stay away from that which corrupts you. None of us is perfectly pure salt; we won't be until we get to glory. But, as long as we're in this life, we will have impurities and the potential for losing our saltiness. Pray for God to help you to so live the kind of life that will influence the world by preaching and living the Gospel before them! You are the salt (influence) and light (evangelist) to the world!