Friday, December 30, 2016

God's Will for You This New Year

    God’s Will for You This New Year
                                  
                                    Ephesians 6:6
 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

This New Year has approached so quickly and some of us are most likely still reminiscent of all this past year’s pleasures, as well as it’s disappointments. A few are anticipating what great things God will do in our lives 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, they need to understand we are all admonished to give praise and honor to God as true worshippers of Christ. We are to submit ourselves to God as a living and holy sacrifice which is acceptable to God as our spiritual service to Him.

In Romans 12:2, God asks us to prove, test, or discern what the will of God is for us. If we carefully evaluate Scripture, we can see we are to examine ourselves and trust the working of the Holy Spirit in us 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, I Thessalonians 4:3,  “abstain from fornication” and 1 Peter 2:15 NASB states, “For such is the will of God, that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

It is important for us to be cautious about the decisions we make because they can cause severe consequences in our lives. God can and does work in matters that seem unimportant to us at the time, but this is where we must trust God at His Word and walk daily in the Scriptures. As you contemplate what the will of God is for your life, remember to thank Christ for all He has done for you this past year and give Him honor due His name.

Lord, may this new year be the very best year of my life as I trust You in Your unsearchable wisdom and unfathomable love for me.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Birth in Bethlehem

               The Birth in Bethlehem
                                     Matthew 2:1-11

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him..."

The little town of Bethlehem was a small village 5 or 6 miles outside the city of Jerusalem.  Wise men, magi, from the East came to worship Him who is called, “King of the Jews.” The exact number is not written but is thought to be three from the idea that there were three gifts given. It is not told how God caused the magi to know that the King of the Jews had been born, only that He gave them the sign of His star in the east.

Herod, the king, asked the wise men to search for the Child diligently and when they had found Him, bring back news so he too, could come and worship Him. Herod didn’t want to worship Jesus but wanted to kill the Child whom he thought was a potential threat to his throne.

Scripture makes it known that the magi fell down and worshipped Jesus and not Mary, giving Him treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold throughout history has always been considered the most precious of metals and a symbol of material value and wealth.  Frankincense was a costly, magnificent smelling incense, that was used only for the most special of occasions. Myrrh was a perfume, not quite so expensive as frankincense, but yet, very valuable and used with other spices in the preparation of bodies for burial, even Jesus (John 19:39).

What life changing events our God designed for the world to behold and embrace. Imagine a star moving in the heavens, guiding men from a far off country to follow this phenomenon, then falling down and worshiping the Child, while presenting Him with costly gifts fit for a King.

Lord, I am amazed  that You orchestrated such a magnificent birth.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Who's Missing Chrstmas?

            Who’s Missing Christmas?

                                          Luke 2:11
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  
 
There will be many people this year that will miss Christmas for one reason or another. You may ask, “How can this be, with all the advertising and holiday spirit going on?” Even though many are “celebrating” Christmas, they don’t know what Christmas is truly about. For us who are Christians, we too can get caught up in the magic of the moment and forget about the One who came so long ago.

Sometimes, with the hustle and bustle of Christmas we become preoccupied with all the presents, the food and other fun activities. The innkeeper in Bethlehem, said, “There’s no room for you in the inn.” Was he being unsympathetic to Mary and Joseph? No! It was just too busy, too hectic for the innkeeper to take notice of them.

The angel of the Lord came to shepherds the night Jesus was born. Out of all the many people in Bethlehem, they were chosen to hear the angel of the Lord proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  What a marvelous sight to behold! There are times when people miss out on Christmas because of religion, traditions and preoccupation with all the activities. The shepherds didn’t miss Christmas the religious Jews missed the glories of heaven proclaiming the birth of Christ.

There are many ways to miss Christmas, one of which is unbelief. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in His name, Christmas will become real to you. But, if you don’t know Christ and have never believed in who He is, you will miss out on the true meaning of what Christmas is. I urge you today to put your faith and trust in the Christ of Christmas that you may know and understand the significance of His birth.

Lord, I am trusting in You today and believing You are everything that Scripture says You are.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lessons Learned from a Godly General

       Lessons Learned from a Godly General
                                     Hebrews 13:6
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. 

One general that has captured my interest and I might add, “my heart”, is the well known, General “Stonewall” Jackson. The love He had for his country was overwhelming though he truly was distraught over the North’s impending invasion. Jackson affirmed his allegiance to the Army of the Shenandoah and vowed to fight for God and country to the bitter end. Duty did not prevent him from acknowledging and proclaiming his religious convictions and many members of his brigade were quickly indoctrinated with Jackson’s infectious faith.

In reading the life of “Stonewall” Jackson, I realized what great conviction he had in serving God with boldness and without the fear of man. Whenever possible, General Jackson held to a strict schedule of Sunday worship, as well as Wednesday prayer meetings, which he would adhered to at all costs. One of the local Fredericksburg preachers routinely led the services, which were often attended by General Robert E. Lee and his staff. Jackson loved God and lived his life in preparation of Christ’s return at any time. He felt he was just as safe on the battlefield as he was sitting in his own parlor–––knowing God was in control of his life and of his death. God’s sovereignty was certain to General Jackson especially during the great Civil War.

As I read through some excerpts of General Jackson’s life, I realized that he was an example of a man who lived his life in pursuit of virtue and godliness. The perfect picture of godly virtue and worthy of all honor is of course, the LORD JESUS CHRIST. I would not want in anyway to take away from Christ’s supreme majesty and give homage due our Lord to a mere man. A life lived out in faith, in the end, Christ will reward.

Lord, may we live boldly, without fear, loving God with all our hearts, and others as ourselves.

Friday, December 2, 2016

In the Storms of Life, Will Your Anchor Hold?

 In the Storms of Life, Will Your Anchor Hold?
                               
                                    Hebrews 6:17-20
 . . .Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and       steadfast . . .

What storms in life are you dealing with at this moment? Are you in the storm of  life-threatening health issues and nothing seems to be going the way you thought it would? Are you in the storm of a marriage relationship so rocky it could come to the point of shipwreck, divorce? Are you in the storm of overwhelming financial loss and there’s no visible hope that you will see relief  tomorrow? Has a child gone astray that you have loved and nurtured in the ways of the Lord and now they have left the faith they were rooted in? How do you find peace in these storms and know that Jesus will never let you go? How do you turn painful memories into blessings and build a solid foundation of faith and trust? How do you receive daily strength and encouragement turning every agonizing heartache into experiencing God’s secure protection? Have you asked yourself these questions and many more like them?

I want to encourage your heart with a powerful tool for surviving daily struggles and temptations in the difficulties of life. No case is too hard for God and no problem to difficult to overcome  when we hope in God and replace fear and doubt with peace (John 14:27). We must realize that a ship that is anchored will not be prevented from being hurled about or those on board from becoming sea sick. Though we may be tossed around, we are safe, for we have an anchor of the soul that is both secure and faithful. As we prepare for a ravaging storm by anchoring valuables to a solid foundation, we are to anchor our hearts in the firm foundation of the Word to help us withstand the testings and trials of life that are certain to come our way.


Lord, help us not to resent the storms of life that come or be fearful of their effects. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

God's Love, Endless and Certain

      God’s Love, Endless and Certain
 
                                        Romans 8:35
               Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

George Matheson, known for the hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” wrote this beloved hymn in the midst of great sorrow. George, as a young man was already experiencing poor eyesight and in the years to follow, would leave him totally blind. He was determined to finish his education and at the age of nineteen enrolled in the University of Glasgow. There he would study Christian ministries but unfortunately, during his graduate studies, became permanently blind. To add to his saddened plight, his fiancee was unwilling to be married to a blind man and broke off their engagement returning the ring.

George never married because of his broken heart and severe pain of total rejection. His two sisters, who loved him dearly, stood beside him learning Greek and Hebrew along with him to help with his studies for ministry. When one of the sisters came to George with the joyous news of her plans to be married, he of course was elated for her, but was reminded of his own heartache. He consoled himself with the thoughts of Christ’s love for him and was reminded, God’s love is never conditional, never withdrawn, and never uncertain. Out of this difficult experience it is said, George penned this great hymn.

                        “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

                              O love that wilt not let me go,
                              I rest my weary soul in Thee.
                              I give Thee back the life I owe,
                             That in Thine ocean depths its flow,
                             May richer, fuller be.

                             O joy that seekest me though pain,
                             I cannot close my heart to Thee.
                             I trace the rainbow through the rain,
                            And feel the promise is not vain,
                            That morn shall tearless be.



We need not fear life or death, things present or things to come, because Jesus Christ loves us and has given us the victory. Therefore, nothing in life’s path can separate us or remove us from God’s powerful  and magnificent love.

Lord, thank You for Your undeserving love.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving

                      Thanksgiving
 
                                I Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
 
Well, Thanksgiving Day is almost here! Will our gratitude last beyond the afternoon nap? Is Thanksgiving—a one-time, get-it-out-of-the-way holiday that forces us to reflect on how blessed we are? Too quickly people resort back to being ingrates and complaining about what they don’t have. God’s will for us is to be thankful all the time and in all things. If we’re a believer that loves God with all our heart, soul and mind, then follow God’s will and be thankful!

“In every thing” carries an unlimited stipulation. It refers to everything that may take place in one’s life, except of course, personal sin. No matter what struggles or trials God will direct or indirectly allow into our lives, there is always a reason for thanking Him. I Peter 1:6-9 tells us that we are to rejoice when we have been grieved by various trials. These trials test the genuineness of our faith which is more precious than gold and results in praise, glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. Even though we don’t see Him now, we do believe in Him and we will have joy that is inexpressible because the outcome of our faith is the salvation of our souls.

Gratitude should come naturally to believers for all that He has done for us. But, because of our hardness of heart, God encourages us to be thankful with commands that are essential and necessary. “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Joni Eareckson Tada, who was involved in an accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down, writes, “Giving thanks is not a matter of feeling thankful, it's a matter of obedience.” God wills our being thankful in all things because thankfulness is the ultimate expression of  love.

Lord, thank You for giving me the gift of eternal life.

Friday, November 11, 2016

When Life Hurts

                      
                     When Life Hurts
                                       Galatians 6:2
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.                                          
What does it mean to fulfill the law of Christ? Most Bible teachers say that the law of Christ is what Jesus stated in Mark 12:28-31, “. . . love the Lord your God with all your heart . . . soul . . . mind and . . . strength.’  . . . ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Are there things that you wish others knew and could understand when life brings real heart wrenching pain and your grief overpowers every dream you hold dear?  Sometimes people with good intentions say foolish and harmful things to those suffering. Words can wound an already broken heart to the point of devastation instead of giving hope and strength in an ongoing crisis.

Someone in sorrow needs for you to come along side and give them encouragement through a touch of compassion, and a tearful, tender heart (Romans 12:15). Even though the question, “How are you doing?” seems like the right thing to ask, it can seem to the wounded and distressed that they need to give a report of their actions, thoughts, or emotions. There’s not a time limit on grieving and people from all walks of life suffer differently.

Expressing an impatient attitude towards a hurting person is jarring to the senses. It can cause despondency; the loss of hope, and despair; the feeling that no favorable outcome will ever exist.  Be thoughtful in quoting Scripture such as, Romans 8:28, most likely, things are not good for them right now, nor does it seem like there will ever be anything positive come out of their circumstances.

Helping someone who is in deep sorrow to recognize the sovereignty of God in death is what they need most. Knowing that He is in absolute authority over all things brings peace and reminds them to “be still” and rest in the knowledge that God is their Refuge and Comforter, always (Psalms 46:10; 91:1,2; John 14:16).

Lord, may I fulfill the law of Christ, bearing another’s burden.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I Think on These Things

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

                    Is There An Intruder?
 Is there an intruder in your house? Has he crept in unaware?
He’ll steal your joy, your peace, your love;
And rob you of blessings from above.

Is there an intruder in your heart?
He’s not welcomed there, nor entitled to any part.
He’ll try to move in and not let go,
Once you’ve given him the slightest control.

Is there an intruder in your mind?
He’s taken up occupancy and stolen your time.
What you thought about was neither lovely nor true;
“Being anxious for nothing,” has no meaning to you.

Is there an intruder you’ve allowed to come in?
Can it be the flesh you’ve no confidence in?
“Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”
Put on the whole armor of God, so you’re ready to fight.

When that intruder tries to invade;
Seek the Lord and His purpose for which you were made.
Walk worthy of the life Christ has given you;
Bringing glory to God in all that is honest, lovely and true.

                                                   
by Dianna Moffitt Carroll

Thought:

“You’ve got stinkin, thinkin!” That’s a phrase I use to hear my husband say when I was not thinking right. My wrong thoughts produced a bad attitude in me and I knew it. A bad attitude resulted in a disregard for the things that honored God–––that’s disobedience. Habits of “right thinking” create character and character fashions a godly reputation. I needed my husband’s loving rebuke and then to reexamine what I was thinking. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5).

The things we think or the things we’re advised to think through books, media, TV, etc., can bring us to a point of resisting the mind of God. We’ll begin to believe the lies Satan has imposed upon us and accept them as truth. What we think is crucial to a Christian’s spiritual well being. Sometimes people don’t believe that “right thinking” is important in their lives. But, that’s a lie! “Right thinking,” goes beyond our opinion, it’s spiritual warfare. The mind is a battlefield that each of us approaches with some caution and then we have to face the hard situations and circumstances of the heart. If Scripture is not considered and heeded, one will give admittance to false reasoning and harmful philosophies that can destroy lives.


 "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
















Friday, October 28, 2016

Dwelling in Fear?

                    Dwelling in Fear?

                                        Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 



In light of Isaiah 41:10, Israel did not need to fear God’s judgment upon them but rather to trust in their God. For the LORD is trustworthy and His promises to restore the nation of Israel once again are true.

“My righteous right hand” refers to what is just and right and a place of honor and authority. God’s hand is faithful, one can rely on it and know that there’s security in times of trouble. Living life in fear is a hard place to be. The feelings of fear are intense whether they are real or assumed to be true. Both types of fear will have an affect on a person’s emotional, physical, and/or spiritual well being.

Fear triggers the release of adrenaline in the body which propels us to action. We’re faced with making a choice to stand up and fight, freeze, or to run away. Though some fear is good and needed especially when a bear is loose in your neighborhood and you’re instructed to stay inside until the animal is caught. Or, like an old recording of past emotions playing in your mind and wreaking all kinds of havoc. That kind of fear captures the imagination caused by a lack of faith (Mark 4:40) and is not from God (II Timothy 1:7). 

Psalm 56:3,11 says, "
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." This is an awesome testimony that the psalmist gives revealing the power in trusting God. The way to overcome fear is to put your total and complete trust in Him, even in the most difficult situations. In the darkest time of his life, Job wrote, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him . . .” (Job 13:15).

Lord, I will trust in You.




Friday, October 21, 2016

What Does It Mean to Blaspheme?

   What Does It Mean to Blaspheme?

Definition: According to Black's Law Dictionary, blasphemy is “the written or oral reproach of God, His name, attributes, or religion.”

To blaspheme was a serious offense or crime according to the law God gave to Moses. The Israelite people were to worship God, obey Him and revere His Holy name (Leviticus 24:10-16). The name of God was not just a convenient label for mankind to use, but a symbolic representation of His divine character.

Jesus spoke of a type of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which was committed by the religious leaders of His day. The situation, the Pharisees were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles, but they attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the presence of a demon (Mark 3:22-30). This was deliberate, insulting and a scornful rejection of the Holy Spirit of God. Blasphemy of this sort was unforgivable (Matthew 12:22–32).

The Pharisees, living in a unique time of history, had the Law and the Prophets, and the Holy Spirit of God to stir their hearts. They experienced the Son of God Himself before them and they watched with their own eyes the miracles He performed. There had never been anything like this in the history of the world and never has been since that time where such divine light had been granted to men. Even though they knew the truth, they denied the validity of Christ and He declared their willful defiance to be unpardonable. This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would be their final rejection and they would be guilty of an eternal sin never to be forgiven.

We can blaspheme the Holy Spirit today, but not in the same way. Jesus Christ is not on the earth but is in Heaven and seated at the right hand of God. No one can witness Jesus (in His flesh) performing miracles and attribute that power to Satan instead of the Holy Spirit. The unpardonable sin today is to live and die in unbelief.

Lord, forgive me for any reproach I have brought upon Your name.

Friday, October 14, 2016

In the Pit

                            In the Pit
                                       Psalm 40:1-3

Being in the pit is a place we have all been and even as God’s children will experience for some unknown period of time. Pits happen and they happen to everyone. There is no escaping the pit which approaches all of us. They come in all different shapes and sizes sometimes startling us with shocking news or at times, a rude awakening. I know, I am a survivor of multiple pits.

My pit began as a young girl being abused and feeling the guilt that never subsides. The pit of alcoholism dominating my home and then undergoing the imprisonment of a sibling. The heartache of young love mistreated, spousal assault and devastating divorce. Somehow the pits became more challenging with each difficult and perplexing situation, but still they came.

It didn’t matter whether I was a Christian or not. The pit was
incomprehensible and demanding my attention. Ministry has it’s own pits for sure but, trying to help others figure out their complex troubles while managing your own pit is exhausting. When the love of your life is diagnosed with cancer and you’re faced with death, the feeling of despair sweeps over you and engulfs your very soul. While suffering with terrible bouts of worry and anxiety, crippling fear continues to flood your mind.

Pits are deep, dark, confining, lonely, and down-right scary places with no known escape hatch. The Bible calls them trials, testings, tribulations and with them comes the feeling that there’s no way out. Psalm 121:1 says, “I will lift up mine eyes. . . My help cometh from the LORD . . .” The only way out of the pit is to look up, cry out and wait on God. You’re not alone in the pit. He promises He will never leave you or forsake you and gives you the confidence to know, He’s your helper in time of need (Hebrews 13:5b, 6). I have learned that I cannot only survive the pits, but I can thrive in the midst of them.

Lord, thank You for the invaluable lessons learned,  from the pit.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Woman's Response to Submission

  A Woman’s Response to Submission
 
                                  Ephesians 5:21-23
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . .

The responsibility of all believers is to submit to one another. When we submit mutually to each other, we approach all of our relationships with humility, unselfishness, self-denial, and a desire to meet the needs of the other person. It is commanded that every Christian wife is to be in subjection to her own husband. This does not mean every woman is to be submissive to every man, but that submission is an attitude which shows a loving act of obedience and a willing spirit to submit to her husband. Submission is not the husband’s to command but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer to her husband as unto the Lord–––who has given this command regardless of her husband’s personal worthiness or spiritual condition.

Do you have a husband who’s life-style is a trial to you, either because he's unsaved or he's a disobedient believer? Has your husband failed to fulfill all of your hopes and the expectations you desired in a husband? Are you struggling with his authority over you? Dear wife, all the more reason to be submissive, to demonstrate to him a respectful kind of behavior. Adorn your heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God and every husband’s dream (1 Peter 3:1-4). 


When a wife does not submit, there is deviation from the design of God causing the relationship between the husband and wife to be dysfunctional. God has designed the body to respond to the head and has designed the husband to be the head of the wife. (We are not speaking about abuse, it is another matter.) Responding to your husband as if you were responding to Christ is submission.


Lord, without reluctance, I submit as unto You.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Perspective in Pain

                   Perspective in Pain

                                   Psalm 55:4a
                      My heart is sore pained within me:

The story behind David’s heartache is found in I Samuel 13-18. Absalom, King David’s son, was overwhelmed by the pain and sorrow his half-brother, Amnon caused, when he took advantage of his sister, Tamar. In Absalom’s bitterness and grief, he plotted to kill Amnon. The sinful actions of Absalom continued to escalate into greater realms of bold defiance and revenge against his father––leading to his untimely death.

Though Ahithophel and Absalom appeared to have the upper hand in making David’s life hard, God is still in control. Things looked difficult for David, but through this troublesome time he learned to have a deeper trust in God. Trials and suffering should not drive us from God but to Him and His Word. The most valuable way we profit from adversity is in the deepening of our relationship with God. Through trouble we learn to trust in His ways, and to acquaint ourselves with the comfort of His love. David committed the matter totally to God and used his circumstances as a springboard for richer fellowship with God. That may not always be easy to do, but the benefits are eternal!

David expresses the anguish he felt in the disloyalty of a friend as he pours out his heart to the Lord. “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:  But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company” (Psalm 55:12-14). Though David is in deep despair, he communicates his confidence by saying, “cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee. David’s heart was expressing that the Lord would uphold him in all the struggles of life including great loss through betrayal.

Lord, You are my Burden Bearer, “I will trust in You” (Psalm 55:23b).

Friday, September 23, 2016

Our Substitute

                          Our Substitute

                                           Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The name Isaiah means: Salvation of the Lord. Isaiah 53 is prophecy, a vision given to Isaiah 700 years before Jesus came. There have been many visions in the Bible, but none surpass the vision God gave Isaiah depicting the cross and all that would follow.

He left His Father’s throne above, So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race.‘Tis mercy all, immense and free!  For, O my God it found out me!

The Pharisees accused Jesus of being a blasphemer claiming to be equal with God and that God killed Him for His blasphemies. Surely, He didn’t die for His own sin, for His own iniquities, or His own transgressions? It was our griefs, our sorrows, that He suffered and died for. He took our place and is our substitution for sin.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray–– I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. Amazing love, How can it be That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

     “And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?”  by Charles Wesley

We as Christians are so deeply moved by the amazing realities of this prophecy. The details revealed hundreds of years before they came to pass point to Christ and no other. We know that there is salvation in no other name but Jesus (Philippians 2:9-10). One day when we enter into eternity, there will be no more sin, for He took away the sin that belonged to us and put it on Himself.

Lord, thank You for such amazing love, that You died for me.





Friday, September 16, 2016

Consequences of Lying and Deception


     Consequences of Lying and Deception

                           Genesis 27 ~ The Beginning

Jacob’s deception and lying caused sever consequences in his life, something he would live with until his death. After Jacob deceived his aging father, he fled from the presence of his brother Esau, in fear of his life. Rebekah accepted responsibility for her wrong actions regarding Esau  and Isaac sent Jacob away to Laban’s home, Rebekah’s brother, Jacob would suffer consequences from his deception, being he would never see his mother again before her death.

Laban had two daughters; the name of the older daughter was Leah and the younger, Rachel. Jacob’s heart was definitely bent towards Rachel and he was willing to work seven years to provide a dowry to make her his wife. Unfortunately, Jacob, the deceiver, was about to be deceived himself. Local customs of the land required that the older daughter be married first and that meant Leah before Rachel. Fourteen years Jacob worked for Laban and ended up with two wives that would become jealous in childbearing competition causing tremendous sorrow.

Years later, Jacob would be deceived by his own sons when they made plans to murder their brother Joseph. They tried to cover-up their hate and envy by selling him to merchants passing by and telling their father that Joseph was dead, killed by a wild animal. The pain and heartache  that accompanied Jacob was overwhelming but God, in His divine plan, made Joseph second in command in Egypt. During this time, there was a great famine in the land of Israel, and Jacob’s sons journeyed to Egypt to buy food. They were shocked and fearful when they saw Joseph, their brother, whom they had sold into slavery, alive and in charge of the distribution of food. The sons of Jacob would have to tell their father that Joseph was alive and confess the sin they committed against him so many years ago.

What unnecessary suffering they caused their father in their lying scheme and what unnecessary grief and sorrow we cause our Father when we pursue to deceive.

Lord, forgive my deceitful, untruthful ways.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Adoption

                            Adoption
 
                                        Romans 8:15
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father!'"

When walking through the doors of a pregnancy help center, women are faced with three parenting options: to parent, to abort or adoption. Some have made up their minds before they enter the doors what the outcome of their pregnancy will be and others are looking for answers, strength to survive or a glimpse of hope. Most women, when presented with the alternative choice of adoption, make the statement, “I could never give my baby away.” They do not realize that adoption is a loving response and a positive parenting option.

Birthparents and/or birthmothers need to understand that after making their decision for adoption, they are fulfilling their parenting responsibilities by making sure their child’s needs are met before their own. This is not an uncaring mother or one who will forget about their baby, shirking their responsibility, but a compassionate decision that a mature and selfless person makes. Adoption can be a loving alternative for parents who may, for various reasons, be unable to care for their own children.

There are only three adoptions mentioned in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, I Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son or child in Old Testament Scripture (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9) but not until the New Testament, do we see the word adoption written. The foundation for adoption is not based on earthly parents adopting humans but on God adopting mankind through the heart of the Gospel.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ” (John 1:12-13). Once we believe and trust in Christ by faith we become part of the family of God.

Lord, I’m thankful I’ve been adopted into Your family.

Friday, September 2, 2016

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

                                  Matthew 18:21-22
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

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

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

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

Lord, build my home.  Amen!

Friday, August 26, 2016

My Little Children

                     My Little Children

                                          1 John 3:7       
 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 
 
The Apostle John was an eyewitness of the life of Christ and knew Him intimately. John’s letter assumes that the readers are Christians with a knowledge of the glorious gospel and are desiring a personal relationship with Him. Unfortunately, these dear people were being confronted with a philosophy of religion that was inaccurate and filled with error. This false teaching was known as Gnosticism, mostly influenced by such philosophers as Plato. Such erroneous doctrine started to infect the early church and John wanted to expose the wrong teaching by encouraging believers with the Light of truth. Gnostics saw themselves as a privileged class elevated above everyone else by their higher and deeper knowledge of God. John is displaying his heart for the early Christians by bringing them back to basic principles and lovingly assuring them of their faith. "
I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth." (I John 2:21).

At least nine times in the book of I John, the term, “little children” is used to speak to those believing the gospel of Christ. John is reassuring them that they are part of the family of God and uses loving, fatherly tones to communicate this. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:" (I John 3:1a). John is conveying complete confidence in their sincere faith bringing hope to believers by calling them  “beloved” or “my little children.” “Beloved, we are God's children now. . .” (I John 3:2). These are positive expressions of deep affection used throughout John’s epistle encouraging believers to walk in the Light as He is in the Light.  John’s book is written with tenderness and a loving desire to demonstrate true joy in fellowship with one another and with Christ.

Lord,  I am assured of being one of Your “little children.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Is Parenting Easy?

                                Is Parenting Easy?

                                         Proverbs 23:26
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

When you received the news that you were expecting your first child, your heart was most likely giddy with excitement. Your enthusiasm grew more and more with each day and a multitude of questions filled your mind. Can I be a good parent to this child that God has so graciously given me? Will I be someone my child can and will trust? How will I ever do this? God, will You please help me?

To set your mind as ease, there are no perfect parents that have ever existed or will at any time exist. If you think you must be that perfect parent, then you won’t need a perfect Savior to redeem you from your sins. As a parent, you will make plenty of mistakes in pursuing the roll of Mother or Father. You must remember that you have the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and comfort you through this life long journey.

Living the Gospel each day as you “parent,” will encourage you and strengthen your faith in Christ. The power of the Gospel is not to be set aside after salvation, but to be lived out daily before young eyes to observe and follow. The Gospel is the “good news” that you do not have to earn your salvation. The work of redemption has already been completed through the shedding of Christ’s precious blood and death on the cross. He was buried and rose again the third day ascending into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

Gospel parenting is preparing your child to believe in what Jesus has done for them and to put their faith and trust in Christ, and in Christ alone. Effective parents do not center their lives around their children, but center their children around God’s dear Son. You, as a parent, must realize that you are utterly dependent upon God for parenting and responsible to Him as a parent.

Lord, may I center my life around You.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Slavery to Freedom to Bondservant

   Slavery to Freedom to Bondservant
 
                                 I Corinthians 7:22
For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

There have been many forms of slavery written about in our history books, including the enslavement of people recorded in Scripture. The Bible does not condemn slavery altogether seeing that the Bible gives instructions on how to treat a slave or bondservant (Colossians 4:1). During Bible times, slavery was sometimes pursued to aid and assist people struggling to stay alive. They would sell themselves to provide for their families or to get out of debt.

We suffered a great Civil War here in our country because of the unfavorable practice of slavery. This harmful action was directed towards the color of a person’s skin rather than their specific need for economic assistance. Men, women and children were taken from their homes unlawfully and forced to become slaves. They were treated as inferior human beings and abused physically and mentally. Freedom from this type of slavery was costly and many family members fought against each other during this difficult time. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in this devastating war.

The Word of God does tell us that we are born in sin and therefore, slaves to sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 6:16-20). But, when we trust Christ by faith and believe in what He has done for us through His death, burial and resurrection, the Gospel, we are freed from the bondage of sin and its condemnation (Romans 8:1,2). When a person becomes a servant to Christ through regeneration, the Bible says they are then slaves, bound to serve but free to express their deep devotion to Christ. How can one not express such gratitude and overwhelming love for Him. Once slaves to sin, but now, a child of God, and heirs to Christ through Jesus Christ our Lord(Galatians 4:7).

Lord, thank You for the freedom to serve and to be Your servant.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Rich Fool

                      The Rich Fool
                                     Luke 12:13-21
“. . . And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. . . But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?   So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
 
It's important to acknowledge that all the things we have in this world come from God. What we have is for this life only and we will not be able to take it with us. Wealth creates all kinds of choices as the parable indicates. A man had more than he needed. He spent all of his time just trying to decide what to do with his crops. He was allowing the material things he had to consume his soul.

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Master, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." This man was definitely greedy and covetous. He wanted Jesus to tell his brother to give him his money. Jesus said to the whole crowd, “Be on your guard against every form of greed." How foolish it is to be greedy, self-indulgent and to horde what you have to then leave it all behind. And so is the man who lays up treasure only for himself. It's not about how much you have, but what you do with it.

In 1 Timothy 6:9 Paul said, "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction for the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil . . ."  If your desire is to make money for selfish reasons, it could cause you to wander away from your faith bringing many sorrows. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have...” (Hebrews 13:5).


Lord, may I be satisfied with all You have given to me.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Self-Righteous

                         Self-Righteous
                                           
                                          Luke 18:9-14
"And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. . ."

Pharisees were one of the most respected people in society. Everyone thought the Pharisees were very righteous men. They were typically self-righteous and legalistic, flaunting their own "good works" before others to make themselves appear superior. Jesus referred to them many times as hypocrites.

In Luke 18:9-14, the Pharisee made the wrong conclusion in his comparison between himself and the tax collector. The Pharisee was unaware of his own sins, but very aware of others’ sins. This is very characteristic of a self-righteous person. The Pharisee was depending on his works and feeling that they gained him favor with God. He made himself righteous in the sight of men, but God knew his heart.
   
Righteousness is not the result of self-righteous activities one might perform or the result of the things you don’t do. If you have that attitude it is legalism. The publican was probably the least respected member of society. He was a Jew who worked for Rome collecting taxes. He was viewed as a traitor. This man was afraid to approach God, standing at a distance, knowing that he was unworthy to come before God. He was unwilling to lift his eyes which showed his humility while beating his breast–––the outward sign of an inward pain in ones’ soul.

The parable concludes with these final words: “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” We cannot fail to learn from the publican’s confession and personal sense of sin. Here is a sinner’s cry for mercy and His great mercy is shown–––for only Jesus can save sinners.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us . . .” (Titus 3:5).

Lord, thank You for Your immense mercy upon a sinner like me.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Gift of Memory

                   The Gift of Memory

                                  Lamentations 3:21
              This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

Our memory can sometimes be servants to hopelessness and despair. When we are faced with circumstances beyond our control, our mind can think up dark and despairing predicaments from   past situations. It can be like a dark cloud hanging over us raining down unwanted thoughts. When this happens we are at times unable to, “cast down imaginations...bringing every thought into captivity” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5) KJV.

The same memory that brought Jeremiah to despair brought him life and comfort again when he, remembered 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 day. There is no need for one to live in a state of despair, for truth can transform bad memories into His divine comfort. The memory that may have brought so many dismal and gloomy things into a believer’s life can be trained to carry a wealth of hopeful thoughts and replace them with joy and peace.

Consider where we would be without Christ and how dreary our lives would be without His mercies that fail not. Jeremiah reminds us that there are mercies that continue, “they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23), to 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 stand before Him with no condemnation, having absolute peace with God.

The gift of memory can keep our hearts from complaining when the circumstances of life are not at all comfortable. When we’ve lost much but we haven’t lost our God, remember, that is when He becomes our all in all. Our sufficiency is from God in knowing He is enough and His gift of memory gives hope to sustain us through every remembrance good or bad.

Lord, may I remember that You are my hope, my expectation in troublesome times, as well as in the best of times.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Our Highest Focus

                 Our Highest Focus

                                 Ecclesiastes 12:13
 ". . . Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. "

Is there true satisfaction in the things of this world? Are some of man’s greatest and most notable achievements only efforts ending in emptiness and pride? It has been incredible what man has accomplished, yet God is rarely given the acknowledgment due His name. The theme and purpose of the book of Ecclesiastes is revealed through the reflections and experiences of just one man, King Solomon. He was the wisest man that ever lived and declared he had seen everything “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).  In his conclusion to the whole matter, Solomon, determined that man’s existence was filled with futility and hopelessness. All that he had sought after in his pursuit of the real meaning of human life was meaningless.

The apostle Paul wrote about all he had accomplished religiously before he was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus (Philippians 3:4-6). His conclusion, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Paul’s greatest desire was to: “...know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to His death;” (Philippians 3:10). 

Our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy fellowship with Him. Because of man's fall into sin, fellowship with God has been broken and man struggles to find peace and joy. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can purpose in life be discovered. To exalt God is to fear and obey Him, while keeping our hearts fixed on our future home, heaven. His purpose for our lives enables us to experience true and lasting joy–––the abundant life He desires for every believer. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Lord, may my greatest achievement  in life be to trust You and love You with all my heart.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Seeking Sinners

                      Seeking Sinners

                                         Luke 15:1-7
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners, and eats with them." And he spake this parable unto them, saying, . . .

Tax collectors of Jesus day were hated and despised by the Jews, mainly because they were usually fellow Jews working for Rome. Jesus was seen eating with “publicans,” another name for tax collectors or tax gatherers which the Pharisees and scribes complained about. Tax collectors were always under the suspicion of being extortioners (the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats) and they probably were guilty in most instances.

When Jesus was seen having dinner at a tax collector’s house named Matthew, along with other sinners, the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ choice of companions. Jesus’ response: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13). Jesus did not come to save the “good,” self-righteous people, but  He came to those who knew they were not good and who freely admitted they needed salvation. Matthew was one of those whom Jesus saved. When the Lord called Him, he left his tax collecting position and followed Christ immediately (Matthew 9:9).

Because the Pharisees were grumbling against Him, Jesus told them a parable about a lost sheep which illustrated the joy God has in one repentant sinner. He began the parable with a loving shepherd seeking out one lost sheep. It was the shepherd’s job to care for the sheep and make sure that none were lost, hurt, or killed. Jesus said, “there would be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Though there was murmuring on earth over Jesus spending time with “sinners,” in heaven, there was great jubilation among the angels and pleasure with God over one sinner that repents.

Lord, thank You for seeking out sinners and saving me.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Without Complainng

                Without Complaining

                                Philippians 2:14-16
           Do all things without murmuring or disputing, . . .

To do all things without grumbling or arguing is a command given by God, but rarely obeyed by most Christians. How often have you found yourself complaining against His gracious provisions? The word murmuring used in the King James Version of the Bible is an expression of thanklessness and disobedience to God. It is that low muffled tone of voice directed towards God or others in a negative light. Usually this is because something has happened that is irritating or disagreeable and we are not pleased by this disruption in our lives.

Paul is not all together talking about the Philippians’ murmuring against God Himself, but quarreling with one another within the church. When quarreling begins in the church, the world’s view of the church and of Christ begins to wane. Christians are to bring the light of the Gospel to those who are lost and in bondage to sin, not their complaints.

We live in a society that is unhappy and loves to whine about what they don’t have when they have so much. We are breeding a generation that is discontented because the more they have the more they want. People who criticize continually have a devastating effect on the church and their grumbling is contagious bringing anxiety and disapproval with it. Be careful about complaining, for as Christians, we are to live consistently with who we are. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1) free from complaining to be all that God wants us to be.  As God does His work in us, our part is not to murmur, complain or grumble against His working. God wants us to shine as a lamp in the night (Luke 8:16) so that we may have an extraordinary effect on the lost. The strength of the Christian life is in the truth of the Gospel on which we stand, our faith, from which we share our personal testimony of the salvation of Christ.

Lord, may I obey Your command and not complain.

Friday, June 24, 2016

No Confidence in the Flesh

                    
                 No Confidence in the Flesh


                                Philippians 3:2-11
"...rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh..."

Paul encourages the Philippians to worship God and have no confidence in their flesh. He gives a religious run down of his attributes prior to salvation and refers to himself as being a righteous man, “blameless,” which was, useless or rubbish, compared to the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ. To know Christ was not an intellectual knowledge but it was to know Him through the experience of faith, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). In trusting Christ, Paul was turning his back on Judaism and Phariseeism and then he literally, “suffered the loss of all things,” to gain Christ.

Paul desired a sincere personal intimacy and deeper knowledge of Christ. He realized the Supreme power of His resurrection, and the intense sufferings Christ had experienced. Paul was willing to suffer loss for the cause of Christ exchanging death for life while expressing and demonstrating a passion for the Gospel to those who were lost.

Are you resting in the hope of your salvation in a past event or in the power of the Gospel to convert sinners? Is your confidence in yourself because you think you are a good person? “All have sinned, and come (fall) short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23). Does your life show distinct signs of a transformed life or are you living a false or dead faith (James 2:14-26)?  I pray that you truly know Christ and are living the Christian life by faith so that others may see the light of Christ and bring glory to His name.

Lord, may I put my confidence only in You.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Suffering for His Sake

               Suffering for His Sake

                            Philippians 1:27, 29 
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;...For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Paul, in his writings, mentioned more than once the sufferings of the Philippian Christians. The honor of knowing Christ as personal Savior is a privilege, as is suffering for His sake. If we suffer for Christ’s sake, we are to consider it a gift from Him. We are to strive together for the Gospel’s sake, not strive against one another. We are to be of one spirit and one mind, standing fast against any opposition the enemy my bring (Matthew 5:11-12).

Paul encourages the people to conduct their lives as citizens of heaven. When we realize that the world around us may only see the Gospel by what they perceive or view in our lives, we need to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. The most powerful weapon against the enemy of Christ is not a stirring message or some book written about Jesus; but in the consistent life of the believer living out the Gospel by faith day after day (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

When believers stand firm for the sake of the Gospel they will suffer persecution. Paul instructed the believers to live their lives as becomes the Gospel and in the end they will receive a great reward  ( II Timothy 2:12). Paul enlightens the people that there is an enemy that wants to steal this treasure from them and cripple the spread of the Gospel; but God gives the grace needed to go through any trial and to have joy in the midst of the battle.


Lord, may I by faith live the Gospel before others.