Friday, July 29, 2011

Know Jesus . . . know Peace!

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
(Psalm 119:165)

Do we really love the Word of God? Do we cherish His Word and what it does for us? Is it a lamp for our feet and a light for our paths? (Psalm 119:105)Do we trust it, allowing it guide our understanding and rule and overule in our decision-making? Do we allow His wisdom to keep us on the straight and narrow? (Proverbs 3:5-6)

. . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

Our Lord is many things to many people, but He is Lord!The truth is the Truth. One day we all will realize it and admit it, whether we want to or not. (Philippians 2:10) I chose Him as my Lord and Savior eighteen years ago this summer. It is the best decision I will ever make! Things did not get easier . . . at times they have been more challenging . . . but GOD!

Is it hard to honor God? Many times it starts with our finances. Why not try Him? (Malachi 3:10)This economical plan we face today is surely not working! Many of us today are stressed, depressed, and in a mess emotionally. God offers wonderful counsel. I am not being flippant with these real-life issues . . . they are issues my family has faced and God has helped us through! He is a caring, loving, honest and faithful Daddy!

" . . . God,the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords . . .
(1Timothy 6:15)

God is still in control and gently asks us all to Come . . . I stand with Joshua . . . will you?

" . . . But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don't You Know?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
(Isaiah: 28-29)

Wow . . . these are tough times! it is one thing when people have a hard time making ends meet, but when the country faces severe debt issues, people really panic. Look at all the riots,national mutinies , and nation-wide uprisings across the world recently. Could this happen in the U.S.? Maybe . . .

But don't you know . . . God knew this would happen! Perhaps He is allowing it to bring us all to our knees and to re-focus on the Source of all of our resources! God has done this in the past for His people . . . but the key is repentance and a turn toward God, not man and His solutions. Though an Old Testament promise and not necessarily for us, prayer still changes things . . . God still hears from a humbled people! Have you not heard?

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronincles 7:14)

With all the solutions that all the intelligent men and women in Washington, DC have not been able to come up with, I have not heard the name of Jesus come up or even a call for a national day of prayer! I do recall previous leaders, President Lincoln comes to mind (March 30, 1863), who have done so. What are we afraid of anyway . . .

The Lord of lords and King of kings is still in control!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life or Death . . . You Decide!

But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die.
(Ezekiel 18:21)

Many folks are wandering around in life not just lost, but lost without hope. God's Word is full hope and encouragement. We simply need to read it, share it, and live it out so others may see the hope God offers!

Though we all will experience illness, disease, and eventually physical death, one need not experience spiritual death . . . eternal separation from God. Being secure in God for eternity requires a personal decison to turn from sinful ways and follow after the things of God!

We make decisions every day . . . hard ones! Which bills do I pay first . . . Is it possible for the family to go on a vacation this year . . . What is more important, longer hours, a second job, or less things and more time at home with family? The vital decisions concerning life are answered day after day, yet we ignore the eternal decision . . . do I choose life or death?

Joshua made the decision many years ago:
"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15)

We too must make the decision for ourselves. The writer of Hebrews reiterated what the psalmist wrote:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
(Hebrews 3:15, Psalm 95:7,8)

I thank God that He pursued me. I thank God others loved me enough to challenge me to decide some eighteen years ago. So what about you?

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . .
(John 1:12)

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."
(John 3:3)

There is life in Christ . . . eternal life. Life or death . . . YOU decide!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Man Up

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
(Psalm 119:9-11)

I recall my struggles with purity early on in my Christian walk. When a man is in the world, he is encouraged to "sow his wild oats" and "be a man". once he turns 18 or 21, whichever is the case. His actions are excused as being immature, inexperienced, or just being a man!

In this society, more and more women are taking care of boys; men who are still acting like immature little babies (no job, no homes,no responsibilities, no common sense). In fact, I have had heard it said that men today are simply grown up little boys in need of a momma. It seems to be true and our women seem to be accepting it!

I thought it was hopeless to live a pure life. How can a man change old habits? What will happen when all my friends think I am weird? But as God worked on me and others challenged me to honor God and my family, things have changed! But it is not me . . .it is His Word. . . His Spirit living within me. God has given me a new job, serving Him. He has given me new friends who love the Lord. He has improved my relationship with my wife and family. He makes it all make sense!

Men, let's hear from Paul. He too was once all wrapped up in the world . . . a Pharisee of Pharisees, Hebrew of Hebrews, raised in the finest schools and a fine Roman citizen (Acts 22). . . yet he became a man of God.

When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11)

Time to man up . . .

Friday, July 22, 2011

Not Quite Finished!

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:12)

As we go through things in ministry and as a family, many times folks do not quite understand why we do things or why we even bother! I would be remiss if I said it did not bother me, however I realize that what God has for us is not for everyone!

It is hard many times going through this challenge and that disappointment. It is disturbing when those closest to us misjudge us and call us out. But then I realize that it could be worse! I have a loving wife and we are doing our best to carry out God's calling the best way we can. We are still imperfect!

Thee are many times when God steps right in and does the miraculous. There are other times when folks come up and bless our socks right off. Then there are times when we struggle for a bit longer than we would choose . . . but it is all part of God's plan to perect us!

I know He is at work and it's all for our good! Paul said it best and I am bamking on these words:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
(Philippians 1:6)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stress-free Living?

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. (Psalm 102:17)
What a promise from the psalmist! God will respond to those in need. Destitute does not have to mean gravely ill, suffering from disaster, or other severe situation. It simply means that Gd will hear and respond to the one who is humbled and realizes they are nothing withut Him!

Paul realized this. David of course realized it. Even Jesus, while walking this earth, said He could do nothing withjout the Father's permission.

It is an awesome expereince to live under God's authority and submitted to His will. It is what I am striving to do daily . . . boy is it hard! Imagine how much less stress there would be if I was under the Father's will day in and day out!

Can we all make this our daily prayer?

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Challenge for Believers

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
(James 3:17)

So much wisdom being floated around these days . . . how to fix the economy, solve world tensions, cure cancer, calm down our children . . .without God, it is all simply opinion and educated guessing. Real wisdom comes from pure TRUTH (God) and does not seek fame, awards, acknowledgement, or riches. True wisdom is concerned for others and seeks peace and mercy for all concerned.

With so much education being offered to so many in tis day, we are leaving out the main ingredient of wisdom . . . the Lord. The psalmist said it best, repeating what Solomon and Isaiah had written as well:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
(Psalm 111:10)

While public education is quickly removing all forms of Godliness and any mention of the Scriptures, it is our duty and honor to keep God's Word alive, visible, and heard! We need to take every occassion to lovingly and gracefully defend His Word when confronted and speak His Word at every opportunity. It is not a crime (yet) to speak His Word, but if it was, would we?

Here is a challenge for believers . . .While it is yet time, will we boldly live in such a way that brings God's Word to light? This is great reminder from the prophet Micah:

The Lord has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must treat people fairly. You must love others faithfully. And you must be very careful to live the way your God wants you to.
(Micah 6:8)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Answered Prayers

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
(Mark 11:25)

If we expect God to act on our behalf, we have to be living on His behalf! I know we cannot be perfect, well at least I know I fall short! But God cannot bless a mess . . . we have to make the effort to live the way He expects of His children in order for Him to move in our lives.

Once we are saved, forgiven of sin, and decide to follow Christ, it is important to learn the will of God. By reading about Him, experiencing His presence, and staying in communication with Him daily, we begin to know Him better and understand what we need to do in order to please Him. Having accountable reltionships withh mature belivers is also a key.

The most important aspect of our relationship with our Father shows in how we treat others. As God is patient with us, we become more patient with others. As God gives freely to us, we begin to show grace unto others. As God has and will forgive us, we generously forgive others who hurt us.

How can we expect God to bless us if we curse others? How can we think God will give to us if we are selfish? If we are made in His image and are to be the light of this dark world, we must be open to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide us.

Anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come!
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

There is no more room for being politically correct or seeking the popularity of certain crowds. We are now pledged to the Savior and we are His ambassadors. The public and private life are now the same. To be alive in Christ is to be dead to the world.

The prayers of Jesus were that we would be one with the Father. (John 17:20)This should be our prayer as well. This is the prayer God honors . . . an intimate relationship with Him and His children! This leads to more answered prayers . . . .

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good Courage

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
(Psalm 31:7)

Though in deep distress and danger, David never seemed to neglect his soul. He knew Who His Rock was and where he needed to turn for protection and refuge. (Psalm 31:3)In fact, Jesus used David's words while on the cross, reflecting the confidence in God the Father to do His part (Luke 23:46).

Into Your hand I commit my spirit . . .
(Psalm 31:5)

David eneds the Psalm with an encouraging word both for himself and every believer:

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
(Psalm 31:24)

No matter what life throws at us, we can place our hope in the Anchor . . . Jesus Christ! Hold on . . . be of good courage . . . never give up. In His hands, we find safety, refuge, and peace!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Price for Freedom?

“My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.”
(Galatians 5:13)

What a price Christ paid for our freedom from sin! All the suffering, pain, mistreatment, embarrassment and humiliation; not to mention leaving the comforts of heaven to live in a sin-sick world and the give Himself over to such treatment…for His enemies…we sinners! Yes, he did it all for me, for you, and for anyone who will humble oneself and call on Jesus to save them from sin.

In our recent history, many people have also sacrificed much for the freedoms we celebrate and often take for granted. Countless numbers of men and women have sacrificed their bodies and lives for our freedom in wars all over the world. But it is not just the soldiers.

President Lincoln sacrificed his reputation and ultimately his life along with others in order to abolish the horror of slavery. A gentle lady by the name of Ms. Rosa Parks was tired and needed to sit down on a bus in Mobile, Alabama in 1955. Dr. Martin Luther King took up the charge for the freedoms of all citizens and eventually paid the ultimate price for those freedoms. Many lost their lives during the struggles of the late 1960’s in the cities throughout the U.S., including Senator Bobby Kennedy.

These folks did not use their freedoms to sin or the lack of freedoms to inflict harm either. They chose a gentle yet persuasive manner to bring to light the transgressions of our society and were willing to pay whatever price necessary to bring about change. They did not back down to political pressure, verbal threats, or physical harm.

We are challenged by God’s Word to stand firm and unmovable.(1 Corinthians 15:58) We are told that He will go with us through the valleys (Psalm 23:4)and just as He did with Daniel and his friends (Daniel 3:26-27), He will bring us through fiery trials and the fiercest enemies. We have no liberty to sin, run, or hide. We as believers have the freedom and boldness to stand.

Do not be afraid to get involved. do ot be afraid to be called politically incorrect, unpopular, or strange! After all, we are a called out and peculiar people. (1 Peter 2:9)

Call sin what it is . . . in love so others will come to know the Savior! Stand my brothers and sisters in the liberty of God’s grace and mercy. Stand boldly clothed in the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) Stand by faith. Stand on His promises. Stand together!

Will we pay THE PRICE FOR FREEDOM today? Yes, we can and yes, we will!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Always remember to say "Thank You" . . .

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus
.(Philemon 1:4-5)

So many have assisted us, prayed for us, prayed with us, and given to us at The Sparrows' Nest Ministries that we have to always thank God for the help we have received! I know a little about what Paul is expressing here in the first chapter of Philemon.

Our pastor and home church have supported our work since the day we revealed what God had called us to do. So many pastors, ministers, deacons, and others have taken the time to counsel us, teach us, discipline us, celebrate with us, and cry with us. Families and individuals have sacrificed their own hard-earned money to support the work. This still blows me away: how single seniors and large families (and others) feel called and then are obedient to give to help the families we serve.

I have learned so much in my 18 years as a Christian and even more since being called to serve full-time in 1999. Much has been grasped through observation and a bit more through my years of study. Here are just a few things I am so thankful for: God's faithfulness, the grace He has for me, the love of His people for me, and the example set before by so many faithful servants. So despite the challenges . . . I keep running the race!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us
. . . (Hebrews 12:1)

Always remember to say THANK YOU!

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...