Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blessed to be a Blessing

(Written August 29, 6:00 am following Hurricane Irene going through Maryland)

Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late . . .
(Psalm 127:1-2)

Two days after hurricane Irene visited our home (and four days after a earthquake shook the area for a few minutes), I sit here ready to go off to begin new school year as if all is well!

Spiritually speaking, all IS well indeed. Though I stayed up all night Saturday through Sunday at sunrise to ride out the hurricane making sure our basement did not flood (using a small power inverter and our truck battery connected to our pump) I realize it was God who watched over us. As the trees bent with the force winds, as the rain beat down on our home, even as the earth trembled and our home shook during the quake, it was God protecting . . . God holding back the waters from our basement . . . God keeping the trees from breaking and damaging our home!

As we looked around the neighborhood following the hurricane, we saw chunks of trees littering the street directly in front of our home. Behind our home a tree snapped and took down power lines (which is why we are still without electricity!). Our next door neighbor’s basement flooded. Then, as we began clean-up Sunday, my father-in-law told us to come and get his generator so we could have minimum power in our home! We were then able to assist our neighbors in drying out basements and keeping food fresh by sharing extension cords to and from our power supply. Blessed to be a blessing indeed!

God indeed watches over the home, the family and the individuals who trust in Him! He honors the efforts we make to keep things safe and secure, but ultimately it is God! Whether it is a vicious storm, powerful waves, whipping winds, or a thunderous quake, He has ALL power in His hand . . . even the power of a gentle and secure hand of protection!

Stay plugged in!

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8)

Initially, we experienced our first earthquake as a family on Tuesday August 23 at 1:51 pm. As if that was not enoigh to feel the power of God, the coming weekend brought more challenges as Hurricane Irene pummeled our area in Maryland and along the entire Eastern seaboard! Though we did not have to experience evacuation and suffered no real physical damage (thank God!), we did lose power at 1:00 Sunday and eventually a borrowed generator, we were able to keep the interior house dry and save the food as well. Electrical power returned today (Wednesday) at 3:00 am., but His power was evident throughout.

There is power . . .in prayer, in God's people, and because of the Holy Spirit within us. Stay plugged in!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Submit and Seek

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(James 4:7)

Submission is such a hard word for us to digest in this world. We are told to get what is rightfully ours, look out for number one, and it's a dog-eat-dog world. But this is how the world operates, not the Christ-follower!

The first thing we must do is submit to the will of God. We have to seek His will for our lives. This involves giving up what we may want and living a life of sacrifice! It is nothing short of what Christ did for us as He left the eternal security of heaven to enter this filthy world and be a sacrifice on our behalf!

In submitting to the Lord, we must spend time with Him in reading His Word, attending bible studies with other like believers, and worshipping as a corporate body (Hebrews 10:25). We need to live a disciplined life and not be given over to every new fad or bright idea!

Now for the second part of the verse: As we remain focused on things of God (Philippians 4:8), we are already resisting the devil! I realize that like Paul, there is a war going on between right and wrong within my body. (Romans 7:14-25) As we draw closer to the Lord, He in turn comes closer to us in a very personal and intimate way!(James 4:8)But we must hate the sin within us and realize how much we indeed need His Spirit to keep us. We cannot live a holy life on our own power!

We all need to realize how much we need the Holy Spirit and how much we need one another. We truly must be one. Like the prophets of old, we all need to seek after God on a personal level to see Him work in our lives. Pray for one another. Pray with one another. Be in communion with God and fellow believers. Listen as James closes out his epistle:

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
(James 5:13-20)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Opportunity

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
(Matthew 7:24-27)

Trusting the Words of the Savior are comforting and bring confidence in trials. When we are frightened and cannot seem to find answers, they bring peace knowing our eternity is secured, even though our present situation is a bit unstable. We can indeed walk by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Yesterday (August 23, 2011) the earth began to shake and the walls at the Bowie, MD CVS where my son and I were began to rattle at approximately 1:51 pm. "Earthquake!" I said as I yelled for Michael to grab my hand and walk outside the store. People had the look of panic as I tried to use my cell phone to call my wife and older children. No service! As we drove home I spotted my wife on the steps of our home, physically fine but visibly shaken!We immediatelly turned on the news and listened to reports. A 5.0 to 6.0 quake in Virginia . . . VIRGINIA!!!!!

These verses kept going through my mind both during and for quite a while after the shaking stopped . . . as we inspected the house and as we expected aftershocks:

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.


Now we hear forcasts of a possible hurricane hitting the Mid-Atlantic area this weekend. (August 27-28?) We cannot stop it . . . only be ready for it as best as we are able. This is yet another opportunity to walk through the storm. Yes there is fear, some questions, and indeed a lot of uncertainty. However, we can walk confidently in the Lord and His promise to never leave us .(Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6)God promises to go through with us, whether we are relaxing on the green grasses of success or suffering in the valley of despair. (Psalm 23:1-6)

Where was your faith yesterday at 1:51 pm on the East Coast? Where is it today? Where will it be this weekend? Another opportunity arises to choose Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you know Him here is another chance to share Him with someone who does not know Him. Let's not let another opportunity slip by . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Communion . . . It's a Lifestyle!

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)

Peter was surprised to see the fig tree Jesus' had previously cursed (Mark 11:12-14) was withering away. If you recall, He was hungry and found no fruit on the tree. It was not the season for bearing fruit. Yet for believers, there is no season for sharing the Gospel, for aiding the needy or for representing our Lord. We are to be bearing fruit all year . . . there is no time out! It is God's will for us to be his ambassadors daily, wherever and whenever we go.

So back to faith and praying . . . we just cannot pray and expect God to give us what we desire! We have all heard the saying, "God don't bless a mess"! We must be in His will (in communion) and living a life on His terms and not our own. I believe that most times, when God answers our prayer it is so others may see His grace and goodness and so we can share this with others, so He receives glory and others come to know Him for themselves. God blesses us so we may bless others . . . at least in my opinion!

The terms communion and fellowship are varying translations of the words κοινωνία, koinōnı́a, and κοινωνέω, koinōnéō, or their cognates. They designate acts of fellowship observed among the early Christians or express the unique sense of unity and fellowship of which these acts were the outward expression. Today, I believe communion needs to be a lifestyle, not simply something we do once a month or once a week.

So if we are to ask God anything, we must have a clean heart. We must be in communion with Him and those in our lives. Any discord can hinder our prayers. Prayers of a husband are a great example.(1 Peter 3:7)If we want God to forgive us, protect us, and provide for us, He expects us to do the same for our fellow man. Even in our giving, we must be in communion with God and man.(Matthew 5:23)

Love God? Love others! If we expect God to do for us, we must treat others as we want God to treat us.Communion . . . It's a lifestyle!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reconciliation . . . everyone's ministry!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Therefore . . . since we are now NEW creations, we are to reperesent Christ as ministers of reconciliation! Just as Christ came to reconcile us to God, we are to do the same . . . seek to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, so they too may be one with God.

I recognize that everyone is not gifted in evangelism, teaching, preaching, shepherding, and the like. These are specific gifts of the Spirit given to folks to serve the Body along with other spiritual gifts. Yes, we need the hands, feet, legs, etc to work as such for the Body to function well.(1 Corinthians 12:1-31) However, each of must live a life that gives witness to our salvation. People need to see Christ in us in order to see that our faith in Him is genuine.

We cannot be a light if we remain hidden and quiet. We cannot be salt if we are not shaken up a bit. We need to be visible, transparent, and active within our circles of influence! We may not be everyone's friend, yet we need to offer Christ's friendship (reconciliation) to all.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16)

We are ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Let's do our job and not mis-represent our Savior and Lord!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jesus is Still Speaking Today

"Blessed are those who are spiritually needy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them."
(Matthew 5:3)

Just as Jesus began calling His disciples to follow Him, He noticed multitudes ... crowds of people following after Him. He saw the crowds but I also get a sense that he saw their need; a need for encouragement, a need for hope, a need to hear that there was a better day ahead. Sound familiar?

Jesus is Still Speaking Today . . .

Jesus went up on the mountain so He could be seen and heard and waited for His disiples to join Him ((Matthew 5:1) You see, even His closest followers needed to be encouraged to press on. Times would be getting even more challenging as they committed to follow Christ.

The humble, the meek, those who empathize with others, those who seek after the things of God are not the most popular in this world, that is obvious. In fact, the truly humble Christian leaders are not out in the public eye, but working hard within their own congregations, serving in their neighborhoods, making late night visits to hospitals, and bending down to lend an ear to a child in need. Living out the beatitude attitude is a life of sacrifice! Great is their reward in heaven. (Matthew 5:12) Servants like this are not seeking fame and fortune, but seeking that God is recognized and honored! (Matthew 5:16)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.
(John 10:10)

The world offers many ways to riches and glory. It is a challnge even for the most grounded Christian leaders. Money is fine. Having things is ok, in fact when used properly, riches, fame, and popularity can indeed spread the Word of God to places and people you and I could never reach! They are tools for minitry I like to say. However, the love of money, the desire for fame and recognition, this is the pitfall. (1 Timothy 6:10) Our desire needs to always be to honor God and bring Him glory!

The abundant life God promises is not of this earth, but in heaven. Things on earth rust, fade, and crumble. Look at today's economy as an example; stocks crumbling, retirement plans dwindling, and homes losing value. No one can take away what we do for Christ and His promises however!(Colossians 3:23-24)

As the days get more challenging, what is our motivation? Are we seeking to do His work, or seeking security for ourselves? Who or what are we trusting in today?

Jesus is Still Speaking Today . . . are we listening?

Friday, August 19, 2011

R.S.V.P. NOW!

"The king came in to see the guests. He noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man couldn't think of anything to say. "Then the king told his servants, 'Tie up his hands and feet. Throw him outside into the darkness. Out there people will sob and grind their teeth.' "Many are invited, but few are chosen."
(Matthew 22:11-14)

Many are invited to join the Kingdom of God. The problem is that the invitation is restricted! One cannot simply show up at the door. It is not possible to get in with friends. There is no price we need to pay or a ticket we need to purchase. The price of admission was paid on the cross by Christ and the ticket is punched by the Savior when we accept Him on His terms alone!

Paul and James actually agree that our faith causes us to work for the Lord. (Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2:14-26) We are not saved from sin by what we do, but saved to do things to bring glory to God. James emphasizes this by saying faith without works is dead!

Faith in Christ saves man from sin and this faith causes man to do things he would never do without that faith . . . selfless sacrifice to honor God, not himself!

Finally, this faith is not simply a head knowledge of the Savior. Even Satan believes that Jesus is God, that he suffered on the cross, and has Risen from the dead! We must repent from our sin (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23)and have a heart conviction and public expression (lifestyle) of this faith.(Romans 10:9-10) The Savior saves man from sin . . . nothing else! The Good News is that He came to save us all! (Luke 19:10)

Salvation is indeed free for all . . . all who accept the terms of the invitation. It is also exclusive and restrictive . . . Not my rules, but the way God wants it!

In fact, the invitation is so strong, it is contained in the final few sentences of God's words to the churches and to us today . . .

The Holy Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Let those who hear say, "Come!" Anyone who is thirsty should come. Anyone who wants to take the free gift of the water of life should do so.
(Revelation 22:17)

The invitation is open to all who will accept it. However, it is a free choice. God will not force anyone to do anything they do not want to do. People choose to go to hell . . .what will you choose?

PLEASE R.S.V.P. NOW while there is yet time!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trust is a Must!

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
(Psalm 40:4)

We have all heard this before: God always answers prayers. However, at times His answer is yes, right away. Other times the answer is no! But the times when He says wait a bit is when we mostly struggle. Do we really trust God?

It is hard to struggle when we see the evil and proud winning. We may ask God why? We may ask Him when? However, the best inquiry of God is what: What is it You would have me to do in this circumstance God?


For the answer, let's hear from Paul:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

We simply need to be content! God has us . . . He knows what is best for us!

Trust is a Must!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A War Within Me!

In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.
(Isaiah 54:14)

If Christ has freed us from unrighteousness and we are declared innocent by the blood of Christ, then why do we seek the things of the world? Popularity, bigger homes, fancier cars, more prestige . . .Nothing we can do and nothing the world offers can improve our standing before Almighty God! It is by faith that we are justified: declared or made righteous in the sight of God. We have been declared righteous by the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus . . . nothing more, nothing less!(Romans 5:1-11) Perhaps this economic downturn is a blessing in disguise!

I know personally that I struggle not with my faith in Christ, but my pride and personal weaknesses. I see others obtaining things and receiving personal comforts and my natural inclination is to desire some of those same things for myself and my family. My human nature seems to never be satisfied! But in today's financial reality, I have to accept things as they are!

I agree with Paul: it is indeed a war within me. (Romans 7)I lust for things I should not have and argue with God about the things I do have! Why don't I simply rest in Him and what He has for me when He says I need it?

I am not saying this to have others look down upon me, but to let others know I am simply human and struggling like everyone else. I am learning however, to trust my Jesus more and more! We are not alone in our struggles!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hang in there . . .

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. (1Corinthians 3:18)

When disaster strikes, we tend to turn to the wise to solve our problems. If the economy takes a hit, we call upon the economists from Wall Street and the Ivy League schools. If weather poses a threat, we inquire of the meteorologists and other weather experts from the Weather Channel. If it is a medical emergency, off we go to the specialists at Childrens' Hospital or Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

All these are fine and very good sources for answers, advice, and cures, but we often do not go to the real Expert our primary Source . . . our Creator God! Who do we suppose we are nowadays anyway?

When is the last time we fasted and prayed as a Nation? When is the last time the name of JESUS was called upon in a political speech? Will we ever acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only way to the ear of God?

We have so many questions in this day yet little in the way of answers. So many theories, yet few real solutions. I like the way Jesus answered Thomas' question when he inquired of Him where He would be going:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
(John 14:6)

The fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1-3). They think technology and science can figure all that is wrong and fix it. All diseases will be healed and all wars will be over. Well, there is really good news in all of this . . . His name is Jesus and one day He will fix it all! Hang in there . . . trust in Him alone! He is coming back!

...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth . . .
(Philippians 2:10)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Living Episitles of Love

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30)

Most men will have to admit, we are nor drawn to the woman with the good personality! Men are visual! God has equipped us to appreciate the physical beauty of the women He has created. But boy, do we abuse that beauty! We think we are supposed to appreciate all the women we see . . . WRONG!!!! God has that specific woman for that one man and if just wait on the Lord . . . well . . . . Remember, guys (and ladies)Adam was not out looking for a wife, God brought her to him! He was busy working at a real job!

But back to the verse . . . though we make first contact with our eyes, it is the heart of the woman that we grow to appreciate over the years. Marriage . . . yes marriage (not living together practicing marriage)is for a lifetime. As gravity takes its toll on both men and women and our sight becomes a bit challenged, it is the heart . . . the personality of our spouse that we cherish.

Marriages reflect the relationship God has with us and we have with Him. It takes faith and sacrifice. It takes grace, forgiveness, and at times, forgetfullness. How the Christian husband and wife live life shows a desperate world the visible Christ. We become living epistles of love . . . God's love!

What a challenge the following is . . . .

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
(Ephesians 5:31-33)



Friday, August 12, 2011

Braggin' Rights

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
(Philippians 3:7-8)

If Paul (formally Saul the Pharisee) could write these words, then who are we to boast in anything we think we have accomplished? Paul had it goin' on! He was of Jewish blood, a Benjamite, a teacher of the Law, a Hebrew through and through. He was so zealous for the Law that he authorized the persecution of Christians.(Acts 8:1-3 To top it off, he was a Roman citizen as well.(Acts 22:26-29)Oh, if one could brag, it was Paul!

Paul saw the value of being justified by faith in Christ, rather than the college degree, the political position, the job title, or the general applause of men. He realized it was not the car he drove, the neighborhood he lived in, or the company of his friends. It was not that he was born into a good family, but that God accepted him into the family of God! Paul was truly born again! What made him was Who made him! His braggin' rights were in Jesus Chriist alone!

Anyone who comes to me must hate his father and mother. He must hate his wife and children. He must hate his brothers and sisters. And he must hate even his own life. Unless he does, he can't be my disciple. Anyone who doesn't carry his cross and follow me can't be my disciple
. (Luke 14:26-27)

Paul understood these words. Yet, they are difficult words for us to follow today. Jesus is not saying that we ought to hate our families. We are to love our families and honor those relationships, but not above God! Knowing the Lord and what He accomplishes through us far outweighs anyone we know or anything we can do. His blood is far more important than family blood lines!

There comes a time in every CHRISTian's life where he must decide whom to follow: family, friends, co-workers, political parties, or CHRIST. Whom will we serve this day . . . tomorrow, for the rest of our lives? Joshua's words were never more meaningful than today . . .

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, August 11, 2011

Rituals, Religion, or Relationship

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:13)

Joel is known as the prophet of religious revivial according to Dr. Charles Stanley. He stressed the need for repentance before revival! Even in this day, many are seeking to be someone or do some thing in order to be right before the Lord. The fact is we can do nothing but repent before the Lord . . . He wants our heart! No physical act or public display can ave us from sin. Consider Abraham . . .


Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
(Romans 4:9-10)

Abraham had a heart for God . . . he purposed in his heart to follow the Lord's direction, despite not knowing the future. He acted by faith way before he was circumcised! Abraham's circumcision had nothing to do with how he was justified, it was solely based upon his faith. It is the same concerning water baptism. It will not save you. Many tell me "I was baptized in . . ." SO!!!! Baptism does not save a person . . . the Savior saves! Only one's faith in Jesus Christ will save you. That faith is what credits righteousness to you by the grace of God.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

God's job is to save . . .man's job is to repent. Rituals do not forgive sin. Religion can not save anyone . . . only a relationship with the Savior works!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One Last Chance

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."
(Revelation 14:6-7)

One last chance . . . so many believe that they are not good enough for heaven or getting there is just a matter of winning a lottery! It is really very simple! However, many are in need of that one last chance! It will be too late when we all face God at His throne. The decision must be made while we are living!

In the verse above, John records the angel proclaiming the Gospel to all who dwell upon the earth. . . all peoples, all nations, all humanity! Who do we know that needs to know about Jesus? The Gospel is being proclaimed all over this world in churches, on TV, on the radio, and over the internet. Praise God that many are receiving their one last chance!

So what about you and me? I thank God folks pursued me, encouraged me, nudged me to a realtionship with the Lord. God did not give up as He equipped others to help me to see the TRUTH. There were co-workers, close friends, and others who persisted. Even those at my present church were patirnt with me, yet persistent!

I wonder how many we have let go away from our presence without sharing Christ with them? I think of a next door neighbor I failed . . . he is since divorced and moved away! Do we judge others as not worthy or one who will never come to Christ? Do we assume folks are saved because they act like it?

Today, let's take it as our last chance to share the Gospel. It also may someone's last chance to come to know the Lord. We never know when our days are up . . . or their days. Today is one last chance!

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oh No . . . What's Next?

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
(Luke 12:31-32)

Joblessness . . . foreclosure threats . . . food prices skyrocketing . . . the stock market diving into dangerous levels . . . Oh no, what's next?

Jesus warned folks many times not to fret about tomorrow. Oh, it it quite natural to plan for the future. Failing to plan is planning to fail! A savings account with a few months income is a good thing to have. It is a good thing to have a diverse portfolio of stock. A five-year plan is beneficial for young and old alike to make the most out of our time.

What Jesus is saying is to be sure our priorities are in order and that our faith is placed in the proper place . . . in Him! Our pursuit is not for more riches, but for more Jesus! If our priority is serving the Lord, the more we have the more we share with others. The more we possess, the better we can serve. The better our life becomes, the better someone else's life can be as well.

Whatever we have here on earth is simply a tool to minister to others. Our homes can be a haven for those without. Our finances can enable another to eat. Our clothing can clothe one without proper garments. Our vehicles can transport another who may have to walk. God gives to us so we may give to others. He so loved us so we can so love others!

Luke records Jesus as saying:

Get dressed for service . . .
)Luke 12:35)

We are here to serve, not worry. We are saved to serve others and bring them to experience God's love flowing from within us. Rather than say "What's next?" the question should be "Who's next?"

As a missionary serving families I have learned to ask this: Lord please have others give to You so You may give to us . . . so we may serve those You have given to us. This prayer has worked so far as He takes care of our family and our ministry to others.

Who is next for me to serve Lord . . .

Monday, August 8, 2011

Whatcha' Lookin' For?

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
(Jeremiah 33:3)

While Jeremiah was confined (imprisoned, house arrest)the Lord assured him that He indeed hears the prayers of the prophet. he still yearns to hear from His people today . . . even though it may not be the best of times. We are burdened by a poor economy. We are weakened by illness. We are shackled by the habits of sin.

At times, we feel so unworthy of the Lord and that He doesn't care about little 'ole me. While it is true that at times, we can cause the Lord to turn away from us because of our sin . . . He always cares. Even in Jeremiah's case, though it was not his sin, but the sin of the people, God still cared!

We may be struggling this day . . . as an individual, as a family, even as a nation. But God is still present. He may be awaiting our humble prayer of confession. He may be allowing a test to mature us. He may be awaiting an entire nation to repent! Nevertheless, God is ever-present and always in control!

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
(Psalm 33:12)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

Paul reiterates this to the Jews when he writes in Romans:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Romans 10:13)

It is a personal relationship that the Lord seeks from each of us. Even though families and nations can be blessed, God still requires the individual to come to Him humbly and without pretense. He wants our hearts! He wants commitment. He also wants to save our souls! It was His reason for sacrificing His life for each of us.

The Son of Man came to look for the lost and save them.
(Luke 19:10)

Eternity with God is the reward . . . the abundant life we seek, not riches here on earth. Nothing on this earth will compare, so why seek it?

Whatcha' Lookin' For?



Saturday, August 6, 2011

Who Do We Love?

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity.
(Jeremiah 29:13-14)

The prophet shared with the Hebrew captives that when they return to God . . . with the hearts . . . God would rescue them and free them from captivity.

The same is true for us today. We say we love God, yet we serve sin and all it's camoflauged enjoyment. We cannot even keep the first commandment for believers:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
(Mark 12:30)

If we love God, we keep His commandments, we love His ways, we seek to please Him! If we return to our fist love, which has to be Christ if we are CHRISTians, then He will rescue us from the slavery and bondage of sin!

So who do we love anyway??????

Friday, August 5, 2011

TRUTH . . .Without Excuse!

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
(Acts 2:17-18)

Do not read too much into this statement. God is not saying anything about new prophesies or strange visions. What I believe He is saying is that in the last days, the Gospel will be proclaimed so clearly that no one will have an excuse not to know the TRUTH!

Paul said relatively the same thing as he wrote to the Romans:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
(Romans 1:20-21)

The Message is not the problem. . . the problem is the audience! We do not want to believe what we hear as the TRUTH! If the message does not fit, we will find one that fits our lifestyle or simply justify our actions.

Some may still say that if one never hears the Gospel they are not accountable to God. This is not what God says! As paul wrote, simply observing nature reflects the awesome power of our Creator God! The Wise Men saw it in the Star. Native Americans knew this as they asked for rain and healthy crops.

But in these last days, the truth is being preached on street corners, in coffee shops, on the radio, on billboards, over satellite TV and within social networks. You and I are without excuse . . .we are and will be accountable to God!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Nobody for Christ!

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
(Luke 10:19)

The disciples were sent out to be a witness to the world . . . a world which needed signs of the Messiah . . . that He was indeed God. But as Jesus warned them, the power to heal, deliver, and free souls from the grip of satan was not their power, but the power of God within them . . . His Holy Spirit.

Why are we so fearful to go out today? Why do we fall into the trap of political correctness? Whom do we fear the most, our friends, co-workers, and political officials, or Almighty God? Are we ashamed to share the TRUTH in order to tolerate a lie? At what point does obedience to man cause us to disobey God?

The disciples ran in fear after the Lord's crucifixion, yet when He rose from the dead, they went to the place where He told them to meet Him. There again, he reassured them with these words:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(Matthew 28:18-20)

We who know the Risen Lord and have the power of the Holy Spirit alive and active within us also need to be encouraged. We have the power of God within us to witness to a dying world . . . to light up the darkness around us . . . to season a tasteless and rotten society.

Go therefore . . . there is no fear . . . it is the Spirit of God at work. It is He who invites others to come. It is He who is rejected or accepted. It is He who speaks through us!

I love this song. It is sort of a theme song for me as I struggle with acceptance and approval at times in my life:

I'm just a nobody, tryin' to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody. (Willams Bros.)

Being a nobody for Christ is pretty special!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Though Many Faces, One People

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23)

The Body of Christ . . . though many different faces, God's desire is for us to be one people! If we all spoke alike, dressed alike, and lived in a like culture, think how boring we would be as a people! The diversity brings unity in such a special way! In fact, it is a God-thing!!!

We all realize that many churches are not as diverse as they should be. Most church members resemble one another in skin color, lifestyle, economic background, and culture. While this in many cases cannot be helped, it does lend to a predictable and matter-of-fact way of worship. In fact, we begin to believe that our way of doing church (prayer, praise, worship, outreach)is the right way! It is human nature to think this way.

However, as I have been able to witness in my travels, God is so much bigger than my church. I have been challenged and extremely blessed by a culturally diverse Body of Christ over the years. I have come to realize it is ok to raise my hands in praise when I feel the desire. It is acceptable worship to have guitar, sax, piano, banjo, bongos, organ, steel drums, even a worship choir in t-shirts and no shoes! I have been to services in elaborate temples, school rooms, warehouse facilities, former bank buldings, theatres, outdoor parks, and street corners.

God is indeed for all people and in any circumstance! His desire is for us to be on one accord with the Father . . . so that He receives the glory from our lives . . . not our style or culture!

Here is a peek at what worship will be like in heaven . . .

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,and to the Lamb.”
(Revelation 7:9-10)

Our churches may not be in an environment to be blessed to experience a wide variety of culture, but we can be deliberate in our efforts to serve with those not like us and to experience God's diversity. Outreach programs, service projects, short-term missions, and mission support all allow various cultures to be shared and experienced. We must be careful however to never bring anything to our service but a servant's heart and a love for Christ and His people! I can promise you that the blessings you receive will outweigh anyting you may do for others!

Though Many Faces, One People . . . not just a slogan for one people or one nation, but for the Christian race! It is Jesus' prayer for His people. May this be our prayer as well!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Step Up Our Relationships

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:4-5)

In this day and age, many are physically sick and suffering from various illnesses and fatal diseases. In most cases, it is not through any fault of their own, but the result of a decaying world and bodies that simply cannot continue to do the things we once could do. Sin has damaged our bodies, our infrastructure, and our atmosphere!

But God knows our struggles, Jesus suffered physically and emotionally. He experienced our pains to a much greater degree that we ever will. He was cursed, falsely accused, falsely imprisoned, beaten to near death, and publically embarrassed and murdered for all to see. WHY? He had to take on the pain of sin for you and me. We now have a high priest who knows us and represents us before Almighty God the Father!

Not only do we have a heavenly representation for us, but God has established His Church to help us as well. This is why we need to belong to a local Bible-teaching church. We become accountable to that leadership and they are spiritually responsible for us as well. The local leaders are our physical representations of the Lord. Many of us know that at times we just need Jesus with skin on, a real person to cry with, laugh with, hug, or simply tell our story!

This is what James is saying below . . .

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:13-16)

Prayer is still a powerful tool. Corporate prayer is even more powerful. Imagine Satan when he sees the force of hundreds of prayer warriors calling on the name of Jesus! I can tell you from personal experience, not only is the prayer of one believer powerful, but the more who pray for me, the bolder I become for the Lord! I am encouraged knowing my pastor, my family, and fellow believers are standing boldly with me before the Lord and against the enemy. I have seen the results . . .WOW!

The writer of Hebrews warns us to not get into the habit of . . .

giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25)

As times get more challenging and illnesses wear upon our bodies, it is time to step up our relationships with one another, not recoil. Establish relationships with strong believers . . . Share your faith with those who are hurting . . .Stay in contact with the Body. This is not the time to run, but STAND!!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Motivation

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

People love these verses . . . in fact, we have them hanging on a wall in our home as a reminder to how we should treat others daily . . . even within the privacy of our own home, among family! So many outside of the Body of Christ call us hypocrites! Why is this? I would venture to say it is because they observe and experience how we treat others . . . even fellow believers. We quote verses from Scripture as the ones above, yet we live with hatred, sadness, unrest, evil deeds, lies, broken promises, abusive relationships, and no self-control. We are duped by the me-first world we live in and believe we must do it to survive . . ."It's the world we live in", we say.

How disgraceful! As if Christ is addressing us as He did in Revelation: He knows what we believe and He knows we are doing good things. However I can almost hear Him speak to me at times saying . . .

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
(Revelation 2:4)

What good are you and I if we just know Scripture or spout off all kinds of words? People today, especially children, need to experience Christ! We have to get into the lives of people and really care! Before Jesus taught, He loved, He cried, He listended, He met needs. In fact, He entered into our world!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
(Matthew 5:13-16)

Are we all dried up? Are we as good as a burned out light bulb? When we enter into a situation do we bring healing, understanding, encouragement, enlightenment . . . or more turmoil and disruption? Do we care enough to care and risk committment? Everything we do should be done to bring honor to God . . . causing others to desire to know Him better. What(or Who)is our motivation?

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! ” ...