Monday, December 31, 2007

12 31 07 Happy RE-NEWED Year!

“Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV)


God’s love is so amazing! Each and every day, if we imagine what might be if not for His mercy……if not for His hand in our lives... Honestly, where would we be without God? No one in there right mind can say there is no God and that He is not directly involved in this world! Indeed, that person is a fool!!! I shudder to think how evil things will be when He withdraws His presence. Yet we still take Him for granted. Year after year we make resolutions to follow Him closer, obey Him more often, and talk of Him to more people. We fail our God, yet He is there waiting every morning: but for how long? Will we accept His plans today?

“And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you’.”
(Joshua 3:7 NKJV)


God promises to be with us the day we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. He indwells our very soul and seals us to Himself. Yet we still attempt to move and breathe under our own power; our own plans; our own protection. What could we have accomplished had we simply followed the plans of God? What if we had just obeyed His calling? What if would have simply said “yes” instead of “later”? How different would our life be if we lived under His direction and guidance rather than our intuition? Will we give Him the position of Lord?

“I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.”
(Hebrews 13:5 NET)


God promises to never leave those who are His children. No one can take us out of His hand. Yet we can leave His presence. We can journey into dark and dangerous alleys. We can choose to follow our lust rather than the lover of our soul! Will we abandon our God and Savior or accept His protection?

It’s a choice every day, but especially at the first day of every New Year. Will we make a decision to accept our DADDY’s plans, His position in our life, and His protection? The decision is ours: just another New Year or a RENEWED Year?

HAPPY RE-NEWED YEAR EVERYONE!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

12 27 07 He Gave First…..

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
(For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though
for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.)
But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:6-8)


So what did we get for CHRISTmas? What did we give? Did we get what we asked for? Did we get what we really needed? Did we get the things we never dreamed we would receive? Or did we get what we deserved? Did we give gifts to please others? Did we give to impress? Did we give to meet a real need? Did we give just to give?

God’s Word says that the wages of our sin is death, yet God granted us eternal life with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:23) His Word also says that we ALL have sinned (and continue to sin I might add!) and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) So if we ALL are sinners; if we still sin; if we are earning death through our sin; we (ALL) face a dilemma! But God…….

GOD so loved the world (ALL of US) that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for our SIN (John 3:16), that none of us should perish (eternal death and separation from God). So here is the situation:

A sinner is an enemy of the holy and righteous God. That’s ALL of US! However, Christ died for our sin that we could be made holy and perfect in the sight of God the Father. We have the opportunity to be God’s friend! Christ was the perfect blood sacrifice for ALL our sin. The real decision is will we receive the gift…will we accept the gift…will we do what is required of us…EACH of us on an individual basis? God’s gift is not without cost, though it is free to us! It costs Jesus pain, suffering, and temporary separation from God the Father. Yet He bore it all and overcame the grave for our salvation. Will EACH of us believe in the Son of God as our Lord and Savior and repent of our sin? It’s a personal decision and a personal relationship. Only you and Godme and God know for sure! The evidence is in how we live. If ANYONE believes in His heart that Christ is the perfect (sinless), incarnate (in the flesh) Son of God, that He died on the cross for their sin, and rose from the grave and makes that confession with his words (true repentance), than he is saved from the wages of sin (eternal death and separation from God). ALL will experience a physical death, but the unbeliever will die a spiritual death as well (eternal separation from God). It’s a decision we ALL must make for ourselves…before we die physically!

Who would die for an enemy? Who do we know that would even die for a friend or family member in this world? Many say it, but who would really do it? I have heard of many who would kill for anything, but to die?

So how many of us already have what we really need this CHRISTmas? If not, we get what we deserve…the wages of sin! Those of us who believe have already received way beyond what we could ever imagine…an eternal relationship with the God of Creation through Jesus Christ! Don’t others deserve a chance to know Him too? Our gift to others is to now share the gift Christ offered to us; a relationship with Him. It’s what we give and why we give; because HE GAVE FIRST!

Friday, December 21, 2007

12 21 07 Have We Been Scrooged?

Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place that the Lord has made known to us.” So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were astonished.” (Luke 2:8-18)


Imagine the spirit among the shepherds when the heard the original “GOOD NEWS!” Today….right in your hometown…the Savior is born! The sky lit up like never before! The angels sang! The shepherds ran to tell everyone they knew! Wow, what excitement. The excitement of Christmas past…......

What does Christmas present look like? Hustle, bustle, rushing here and there, working overtime to pay for things we can’t afford, and being so tired and irritable by the end of the day that we don’t even realize it’s about our Savior. Are we giving gifts just to give gifts, or to spread the love of Christ? Love came down from heaven in the form of a baby and love returned to heaven as a victorious Savior and sacrifice for our sin! And love is returning from heaven one day as a conquering and roaring lion riding upon a white horse (Revelation 19:11). So why aren’t we excited? Why aren’t we singing? Why aren’t we seeing the light? Why aren’t we telling everyone we know? HAVE WE BEEN SCROOGED?

The god of this world would have us believe that we live in a hopeless world. What a lie! I have hope!

Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”(1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

We must allow love to live through us today and into Christmas future. The baby was born. The Savior completed His task on earth. The Spirit lives within every confessed believer. Question is this: Is your Christmas future assured? Is love secured? Do we rejoice with the angels and say “GLORY”…..or HAVE WE BEEN SCROOGED?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

12 21 07 The Baby

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born will be holy; h e will be called the Son of God.
And look, your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month! For nothing will be impossible with God.”
So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.”
(Luke 1:26-38)

There is a darker side of Christmas most of us choose to ignore, unless we are experiencing it. Perfect homecomings are rarely reality; even in the best of homes. Many Christmas memories are full of tension and strife, not tinsel and bows. Illnesses, deaths, parents and children at odds, bad choices, wrong turns, break-ups and make-ups…all part of this world we struggle through. Not unlike the unwed pregnant teen and her husband to be, two thousand and some years ago. Imagine the struggles; not only for Joseph and Mary, but their families as well. If only we would reply: “I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.”

Christ
mas is reminder that the one we love the most is far away – perhaps never coming back – or the relative we love the least will be placing his hands somewhere they shouldn’t be. I suspect there are far more people who hurt at Christmas than we would initially imagine. They find misery in mistletoe. For those tired of the hollow hope and the false fantasies of Christmas, the Good News is that God is with us.

Trust the baby born in smelly, unsanitary, heartbreaking conditions.
Trust the baby, who did not stay in the manger, but grew to be a man facing difficult choices.
Trust the baby in the manger, whose circumstances led him from a poor beginning to a violent execution.
Trust the baby who promises a hope-filled Christmas – Bring him the ashes of your life and he’ll give you beauty; bring him the mourning in your life, and he’ll give you joy.


Why trust the baby? The baby Jesus grew to become the suffering sacrifice for our sin, our despair, and our loneliness. The baby Jesus became our Risen Savior, overcoming death, sin, and the hell we deserve as sinners. The baby Jesus rose up from the grave to heaven and sent His Spirit in return to seal us (believers) for the Day He returns as the Victorious King. He’ll bring all who believe in Him (this one-time baby Jesus), now held securely in His arms, and welcome us home!

What a celebration believers will have one day! Until then, we go through some rather bitter and trying holidays, especially Christmas. We are saddened at times for sure, but Christ understands it all and knows our pain as well as our joy. We must take the bitter with the sweet, as the old-timers say. Joy to the world; even you and me. The Lord HAS come and WILL come again! Joy indeed comes in the morning. Maybe not quite this Christmas morning, but one fine morning when He comes! It’s worth the wait. The baby is now the King!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

12 18 07 Do You Hear What I Hear?

“Fools say to themselves, “There is no God."They sin and commit evil deeds; of them does what is right. The LORD looks down from heaven at the human race,to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God."
(Psalm 14:1-2)


Eleven months out of the year all we hear is “remove that Scripture from the wall”; “you are not allowed say that”; “no prayers allowed”; “your Bible can’t be on your desk”; “you can’t play that music out loud”; and other various comments. Most people sit idly by and graciously go along with the program, politically correct, squashing God and squashing His Word.

But now it is December. People are celebrating the holidays, winter festivals, and sounds of the season! But wait…….

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Are you hearing what people are singing? Better yet, are they hearing? The same people who want to remove prayer from the public and God from the dollar bill are singing “O Come O Come Immanuel” and “Joy to the World, the Savior’s Born”! The same co-workers who asked you to turn your Gospel music down are now singing, “Silent Night” and “Little Drummer Boy”. Are these merely cute songs of the season or an opening to be led to know Christ personally?

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Oh, how foolish we can be, even as believers. We are missing such a great opportunity to share the Gospel, even if it’s in a song. What will happen? Will they turn off the CHRISTmas music? Will they take down the decorations? Will they ban gift–giving? So what if they do! We need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to share Christ before it too late. CHRISTmas has already come. Easter (Resurrection Day) has already come. JESUS is coming back to claim what is His, but we must claim Him to be our own first! Let’s not be foolish. People are being misled. However, wise men and wise women, boys and girls, still seek Him!

“Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow!”
(Galatians 6:7 New Living Translation)


DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Monday, December 17, 2007

12 17 07 Eager to do Good

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people.
It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live
self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope
in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness
and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good.”
(Titus 2:11-14)


God appeared to many in times past: Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. He became flesh and dwelt among the Apostles and those in His day. He even appeared o many after His resurrection; more than five-hundred individuals, including the greatest theologian of the New Testament, Paul (Saul). He promises to return, for the final glorious appearing, the believers’ hope. For this reason we are (or should be) EAGER TO DO GOOD, for no other reason than to honor our Father and so others may see our good works and in return, honor our Father as well. Today, 2007, people need to see good works and for the right reason!

Most people are EAGER TO DO GOOD at CHRISTmas time, but for what reason? Is it to receive a gift in return, to make others feel guilty, or for future favors? The main reason for our giving of gifts should be to reflect the Lord’s giving to us in the person of Christ Jesus and the freedom we now have because “He gave Himself”! We give because He gave and still gives! As we give, we share the reason and share His love. In this way, God appears to those we touch by our words and actions. As it has been said, we may be the only Gospel people may ever see or hear!

So this is CHRISTmas:

What have we done? Why are we doing it? Why do we stop after December? What can we do to change it?

Christ gave Himself for us to be set free to live for Him, apart from the restrictions of the world, to be EAGER TO DO GOOD by His grace. Paul challenges us to be living sacrifices, not conformed to the world, by transformed by the Spirit of the living God and His Word. This is a 24/7 life, not a one month, one week, or one day effort. CHRISTmas day is a celebration of Jesus’ birth. Each day we live is an opportunity to celebrate His life and the life we have in Him.

Let’s be EAGER TO DO GOOD!

Friday, December 14, 2007

12 14 07 Eternal Implications

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 1:1-2)


I am struck an intense feeling of wonder each time I read of the visit of the “wise men” and their response to the birth of Christ; as well as the lack of response of people of Jerusalem. The magi diligently searched for the one “born King of the Jews” to worship Him with precious gifts. Herod the Great also seeks eagerly to find the child, but to kill Him! Most residents of Jerusalem however, are apparently unwilling to travel just five miles Bethlehem to witness the promised Messiah, their promised King!

As we approach the Christmas Season, what is our response to the Coming Savior? The situation is so similar isn’t it? Here we are, awaiting the (second) coming of the Messiah King. Will our response be like that of the magi, or Herod, or like the people of Jerusalem?

Will we go out of our way, searching, anticipating, preparing to worship and receive our King? Will we deny that He is our King, even participate in destroying the Message He brings; allowing prayer to be silenced, words to be erased, and books of His witness to be destroyed? Will we simply be too busy to even notice, just too apathetic and busy to care? Our response has ETERNAL IMPLICATIONS!

Our living turns our attention to the condition of our own hearts as we await the return of Messiah to the earth. It tells if we really believe the prophecy of the Bible and it also reflects our belief to those around us. If we really believe the Bible is true, should we not be living as if it is, day to day? This CHRISTmas Season could very well have ETERNAL IMPLICATIONS, for us and those we meet. This CHRISTmas Season may be one of the few times we can outwardly and comfortably express our true beliefs as we sing, speak, and decorate for the Coming King.

How far will we really go…..how far have we really come?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

12 13 07 Continuing Prayer

“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer
and to show them that they must never give up.”
(Luke 18:1 NLT Bible)


As I was challenged in my church’s Bible study to examine my prayer life, I was very intrigued with Luke’s writings in both his Gospel and the Book of Acts. As both my ministers at church pointed out and here as you read from bible.org, both books are to be read and understood in relation to one another. The Gospel deals with the life of Christ and Acts deals with the life of the early church. Prayer is indeed a major factor in that life! I like to call it CONTINUING PRAYER! Luke called it “constant prayer” in writing to us to “always pray” (pantote in Greek; at all times).

Paul would say “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Whatever words we use to describe our conversation with the Lord, one thing we see is that it must be consistent and ongoing, rather than sporadic.

Read these remarks from bible.org concerning the passage from Luke 18:1-14:

Take note that in our text the Lord Jesus is teaching His disciples two lessons in contrast. The first lesson, that of perseverance in prayer, is taught by contrasting God, the righteous Judge who will speedily bring justice to the earth, with the unrighteous judge who reluctantly and only under duress gives the persistent widow the vindication and justice for which she petitioned. In the second paragraph, Jesus taught the attitude which is prerequisite for all prayer—humility. Thus, we see the smug self-righteousness of the Pharisees contrasted with the repentant contrition of the tax-collector. The underlying spirit of both is revealed by their prayers.
In this text we can learn much about ourselves from our prayer life. We will also find that Jesus has much to teach us about the kind of prayer befitting the saint who awaits the coming kingdom. We should consider carefully these words spoken by our Lord and recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by Luke for our instruction and edification so that we may live in a way that is pleasing to Him, by His grace.


“But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?" (Luke 18:8 the Message Bible)

My pastor further challenged me personally and our church as to the amount of prayer that is going up from our church. I further questioned myself as to how much sincere prayer was going from my home…from my heart! What is Jesus seeing now when He looks down upon us? What will He find when He returns? We need to be REAL Christians today; 24/7, seven days a week, every day of the month, and twelve months a year, for the rest of our lives!!!! It really is no time to play!

We have to begin somewhere! It begins with scheduling our prayers and evolves into CONTINUING IN PRAYER! We begin to get comfortable speaking with God, listening to Him, and responding to Him. We look forward to the next conversation and stay alert for a new message from Him. We start desiring to please Him more and more. Sounds like a REAL relationship, doesn’t it? Pray for me and I’ll pray for you, as we all are CONTINUING IN PRAYER with our Father!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12 12 07 What an Opportunity



“Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. For each one will carry his own load.
Now the one who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with the one who teaches it. Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith. “
(Galatians 6:1-10 NET Bible)


A friend of a former NFL star quarterback), appearing on ESPN, said he told the quarterback (I’m paraphrasing), “If Jesus is your Lord, and you really believe in him, and you’ve asked him for forgiveness, then you are forgiven. He’s fully forgiven you.” But then this well-intentioned and supportive friend went on to say that, if the former quarterback continues walking in righteousness, God also will return all the things taken away from the athlete – his NFL career, his million-dollar contracts, his star-quality – God would return it all to him two-fold. That would be a comforting and encouraging thought for anyone in the middle of a mess, particularly one as monumental and public as Vick’s current circumstances, but it’s not a biblical thought. In other words, God will forgive you for what you have done, but he most likely won’t remove the consequences of your actions.1

Christmas presents a wonderful opportunity to present the gift of forgiveness to many in our lives. People become a little more sentimental, bit more soft and fuzzy, and a shade more vulnerable than at other times of the year. Everyone is exposed the words of Christ and the Bible in the various traditional Christmas carols we hear over the air waves on the radio, in the malls, and at the various Christmas (sorry, Winter)celebrations. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY we have indeed, if we remain biblical in our expression of the Gospel and don’t fall for the politically correct gospel!

Many want forgiveness, but we don’t want to accept the consequences of our sin and the hurt we have caused. You see, God promises to forgive a repentant heart and remove the penalty of sin (spiritual death; eternal separation from God), but He does not guarantee to remove the pain, the suffering, and the consequences of our actions. He might, out of His grace and mercy, but it’s not guaranteed. We can never promise someone that God will restore all we once had or could have had if we had only followed His direction and obeyed His Words.

Sometimes we only get one chance at some things. As God forgives us, our desire should be simply to serve Him however He will allow us to serve. It is a privilege to serve the King and people. It is in our doing good that we honor Him and show others the Spirit of Christ alive within us. We need not be in the spotlight to honor God.

Personally, I pray that I will never make a fool of my Lord. If all I get to do is scrub the toilets in the church bathrooms, then I want to do it to honor God. I want that toilet to be the cleanest and freshest toilet on this earth! WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! If He, by His grace, gives me an opportunity to share His love and forgiveness with someone, then I want to do so in a way that brings Him glory and honor. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY!

We simply need to take every advantage we have to do good to all people, wherever we are in our relationship with the Lord. Are we in a position of public influence? Use every opportunity to show Christ! Are we serving in a quiet, unassuming position, with no fame or fortune? We too must use every opportunity to show Christ! God sees it all. He knows where we are and what we can do. We cannot grow weary in doing good, especially sharing the GOOD News of God’s love, the accurate and biblical version! WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY this Christmas Season!


1 Walker, Jon, http://www.purposedrivenlife.com, 12/11/2007, PurposeDrivenLife.com, Lake Forest, CA

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12 11 07 The Gift That Keeps on Giving


“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you. And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.
(Philippians 2:17-18)


God had a plan to redeem mankind since the first sin. In Genesis, even as the Lord covered the sin of Adam and Eve, He revealed His plan for our salvation. Genesis 3:15 is the first mention of the promise of a Redeemer to one day crush the power of Satan and sin. Jesus is THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING; but only as we share that gift with others.

Paul gave his life as a sacrifice to those he served. He suffered through much in the way of physical pain, imprisonment, illness, and threats for the sake of those who would hear the Gospel and believe in the Savior. He had a passion for people and for their understanding of the Gospel. He was continually pouring himself out, day-by-day, giving all he could for the sake of Christ. He would gladly offer himself up in place of another, if it meant their eternal life. If only we be so bold, so dedicated to the cause of Christ! Paul would also call for us to be “living sacrifices” the living and breathing Gospel for the world to see.

Jesus is THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING, but do we do our part to continually share that gift? What does the person who has it all really need? He or she needs Christ more than any thing! People need relationships more than gold and silver. Even we who know the Lord need one another for encouragement, for accountability, and for strength to continue on day-by-day. As we share Christ in our daily routine of life, even in the special sacrifices we make for one another, we continue to give THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING.

What gifts are we giving to one another? What gifts are we giving Christ? Let’s rejoice with one another and with our Savior as we commit to allow Him to pour Himself into us and then pour that Spirit out to others. What better gift to give at CHRISTmas time?

Monday, December 10, 2007

12 10 07 The Process of Giving

As we approach the CHRISTmas Season of 2007 (or as it is approaching us) I wanted to share this word from New Life Ministries devotional with you. I pray it resonates upon your heart as it did mine, concerning THE PROCESS OF GIVING. It all begins with God, but where does it go from there?

“… Christmas is not an event. Like so much in life, it’s a process. After all, what’s so special about Christmas if Jesus’ perfect life, his death and resurrection didn’t follow? Don’t think you’re going through things no one has ever faced before. You can believe that God will see you through anything if you persevere and stay connected to Him. You’ll go through fiery trials of your own, and as someone once said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!” God is faithful. He’ll have the last word, and it will be good!
Another process of life is that of growing in your faith to where you become a cheerful giver. It’s an obedient thing to give back to God. And God wants a cheerful spirit. Look at what the apostle, Paul, wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

'Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.'

The real question is, are you grateful to God and are you giving back to Him?”1


When you give, you make possible the process of healing for someone else; like the woman who recently wrote to us concerning her son, who was the first child to receive help from TSN Ministries:

“From the first moment, he was with family. And that sense of family and that love never wavered. We consider ourselves blessed to be among and proud of our “redefined” family. I came home from prison and am now Executive Director of a statewide criminal justice advocacy organization and a national spokesperson on criminal justice issues. My son (name withheld) has recently turned 20 and he is a remarkable young man. He amazes me daily, challenges me often and I love him dearly. Without the love, support and sense of family that came into our lives through the Carroll’s (TSN Ministries), the road we have traveled on would be very different indeed. Family is not just the blood that runs through ones veins – it is of the heart. Where unconditional and unselfish love lives – it lives with the Carroll’s (TSN Ministries).”



As of December 2007, we have helped more than 1,788 individuals through the outreach ministries of The Sparrows’ Nest Ministries, Inc. Seventeen (17) children ages new-born to sixteen (16) have lived within our home over the past eight years. Please consider a year-end gift to TSN Ministries today, as we are preparing to assist at least 7-8 families (more than 20 children) with food, gifts, and clothing for the Christmas Holyday Season. Your cheerful gift is a way of giving back to the Lord, as we at TSN Ministries not only deliver the physical gifts, but also the message of the Savior to come as we share His love with the families.


1 Arterburn, Steve, The Process of Christmas, December 2007, Copyright 2007 New Life Ministries.

Friday, December 7, 2007

12 07 07 Mind Our P’s

“Jesus replied, “Your brother will come back to life again.” Martha said, “I know that he will come back to life again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:23-26)


Death could not hold Christ and it cannot stand between Him and we who believe. Our hope, our faith in an eternal life with Him beyond the grave, is found in His promise to us and His power over sin and death makes the promise sure. If you believe Jesus was merely a good man, a great teacher, and a wonderful counselor and friend, then you’ll find no real comfort when faced with death and sorrow. However, for those who believe that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God who came into to the world to save sinners from eternal death, the Resurrection and the Life; we have no fear even when staring death and sorrow directly in its face! We, who trust in His person, are assured of His presence and trust in His promises!

“I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
(Hebrews 13:5-6)


When living day to day, even in the midst of the worst trials, we must live out our faith and the promises of Jesus. Our testimony is only as good as our actions during our tests! Do we trust? Do we believe? Will we stay anchored in His words? We have to MIND OUR P’S: the promises, the power, the presence and the person of Jesus Christ! It takes off all the pressures of the world!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

12 06 07 Just One Word

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

How can we live out the Christian life for others to see and experience?

These verses are vital to understanding the realm in which “walking in the Spirit” (verse 16) is to take place. Paul is not discussing spirituality in a vacuum, but in a very practical context. JUST ONE WORD or one simple sentence actually, from Paul. (originally from Jesus’ mouth in Matthew 22:39) Our freedom from the law does not give us freedom to act as we choose for our own enjoyment, but to treat everyone the way we treat ourselves.

When given a choice, we are to serve others. When faced with a decision to make, we must think of how it will affect others. When blessed with talents, abilities, and resources, we are to use them in such a way to assist others and make things better for everyone involved, not just ourselves. We do not live in a bubble. The Christian life is one of vital relationships and intimate fellowship. Just as Jesus personally entered this world and personally enters the heart of every believer, we are to be personally involved with those around us.

LOVE is a verb and it is personal! LOVE is also the person of Jesus Christ and it must represent the Christian! We are to be known by our LOVE……JUST ONE WORD!

Here is a question to ponder for today: “What word describes me, in others’ opinion?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

12 05 07 Waiting is not Wasting (VIII)

Let’s get Excited!


“Then you will recognize that I am the LORD;
those who wait patiently for me are not put to shame.”
(Isaiah 49:23 NET)


How long is too long to wait for God to act? How do we know we’ve waited long enough? When things seem to be their worst, we still need to trust that God will provide and His will is best for us. We should never step out of His will just to be comfortable, no matter how tempting it may be, yet we all seem to do it at times. If we would only wait a little longer…trust a little more…

“I am ready to vindicate,
I am ready to deliver; I will establish justice among the nations.
The coastlands wait patiently for me;
they wait in anticipation for the revelation of my power.” (Isaiah 51:5)


God desires to make everything right again. He is ready to come and claim His people and restore the joy, the beauty, the peace and tranquility. It’s just not time yet. There are still things to be accomplished. People still need to hear the good news. As we wait, even the earth waits for the restoration of what God first created! WAITING IS NOT WASTING; in fact it can be rather exciting just thinking about the future!

“For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility – not willingly but because of God who subjected it – in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance.
(Romans 8:18-25)


So we who have the hope, the assurance of His coming, should not focus so much on the suffering and pain we go through here at the present time, but compare it to the joy to come and see the excitement in it all. As we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”, let’s mean it and anticipate it’s coming! We can see the signs plain as we see the clouds before a thunderstorm. Wars, famines, murders, contrary lifestyles, natural disasters; as much as we deny the Bible playing out before our very eyes, Christ is coming back…..sooner rather than later! Why dwell on this world? LET’S GET EXCITED about the future!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

12 04 07 Waiting is not Wasting
(IV)


There is Strength… and there is Godly Strength?

“LORD, be merciful to us! We wait for you. Give us strength each morning! Deliver us when distress comes.”
(Isaiah 33:2 NET)


We come across some strong individuals today. Many single parents come to mind; working long, hard hours, caring for their children, and always finding time to help others as well. We know of many who have come from challenging backgrounds, yet have overcome despite circumstances. Many have fought and won the battle against cancer. But nothing…nothing beats the STRENGTH we receive from the Lord to follow His ways despite what the world throws at us. Living for His glory is a challenge, but one He gives us STRENGTH to do each morning! THERE IS STRENGTH… AND THERE IS GODLY STRENGTH!

“But those who wait for the LORD’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 NET)

By waiting (Hebrew qawah, pronounced kah-vah) the prophet means a longing for the fulfillment of the promise by faith, but it is a longing or looking for that is characterized by confident expectation. Waiting requires patience; but it is never indifferent. There is always a restlessness, an eagerness, a looking for something, an inner vigil. To hope for something is active. The term describes the essence of a confident, expectant faith. The Israelites, who believed the promises of the LORD, were ready to step out when God began to move. They believed the release was coming; they waited for it. They knew it would happen; they just did not know exactly when. Their confidence would grow as they went because their way back to Judah would be the fulfillment of the promised hope.
Believers living now at the end of the age in the expectation of the coming of the Lord need the same kind of confidence. To hope for the coming of the LORD does not imply that there is a chance it might not happen; rather, it implies an active faith in the truth of His coming. It will happen; they are expecting it soon. Those who wait for the LORD will not be entangled by this life, but will be focused on the spiritual preparation for His appearance. They live out their faith in the light of that hope; they will find their strength renewed for life’s difficulties along the way.1


His STRENGTH allows us to stare adversity in the face and trust Him. His STRENGTH allows us to face challenges day-by-day and do things His way. His STRENGTH allows us to get up when others would rather give up. His STRENGTH causes others to ask “why?”, “how?”, and “who?” When we WAIT upon His strength we not only please our DADDY, others see Him at work in us and want to know Him as well.

THERE IS STRENGTH… AND THERE IS GODLY STRENGTH!


1 Ross, Allen , Th.D., Ph.D., A Message of Comfort to God’s People, Copyright 2007. bible.org

Monday, December 3, 2007

12 03 07 Waiting is not Wasting (VI)

It’s Not About Me!

“Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O LORD, we have waited for You;
The desire of our soul is for Your name And for the remembrance of You.”
(Isaiah 26:8 NKJV)


The Hebrew people went through so much, yet Isaiah reminds them to wait…keep their trust in the coming Savior, the God Who has been faithful.


And what a mercy it is, that there should ever be in us "the desire" of a living soul; that though the righteous dealings of God are painful and severe, running contrary to everything nature loves; yet that with all these, there should be dropped into the heart that mercy, love, and grace, which draw forth the desire of the soul toward the Name of God. This is expressed in the words that follow, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night!"

We know that everything in God’s will for us is not always pleasant. His plan for us is to bring Him glory and to experience His abundant life for us. As we live day to day, the question lingers: is our heart’s desire for His name……for His glory?


“‘He must increase, but I must decrease’.”
(John 3:30 NKJV)



John the Baptist realized this. His role was to prepare a people for the coming Savior. When he was sure Jesus was the One, he backed off and his job was complete. Now, John had to be sure his followers would now follow the One he told them was to come.

We all have a role in the kingdom work of Christ’s church. Some are equipped to do all the planning and preparation. Others are outfitted to be in the spotlight, up front and center. Most of us are somewhere in between the two, but everyone is essential to God’s work. He wants us all to participate!

The key is, in all we do, whatever we do, IT’S NOT ABUT ME, but that the Father receives the glory from any good work I do! Let’s face it; just about everyone waits (dreams) for that one moment in the spotlight, even in their work for the Lord. It’s human nature and we all still have that. So if and when the Lord gives us that moment, as brief as it may be, let’s makes sure it’s Jesus shining forth, not us. WAITING IS NOT WASTING, as long as the waiting is not about me, but about Jesus!

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...