Friday, September 30, 2011

Be free to shine

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Many do not accept Christ because they are not ready or want to experience life first. "Wait until later" they say . . . It is one thing they do not understand: Life in Christ is not prison, but freedom from prison . . . the prison of sin, guilt, and shame!

Christ frees us from the power of sin. He frees us from the pressures of sin. He frees us from the pain caused by sin . . . by us and to others.

There is freedom in Christ to know we are redeemed and now have the power to choose to do right. No longer does the past haunt us nor the future taunt us. We have a sincere hope (promise)of life with God for eternity.

Darkness is swallowed up in light and we can now walk boldly into the areas of life we once feared. We can say no to people, places, and situations that hurt us and yes to the things that are indeed good and positive for our lives. The believer is ruled by the King of the world rather than the prince of darkness.

Paul reminds us to now walk as children of light if we are indeed God's children. (Ephesians 5:8) Be bold . . . light up the world . . . or at least your little section anyway! Be free to shine!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What do our kids believe?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9)

What Do Our Kids Really Believe?

A teen/young adult’s life is full of change . . . They question the world . . . faith . . . everything!

yet we all have questions: What are any of us really sure of anyway?

Try making a physical list . . . the sun will rise, the ocean waves will continue to go in and out, God is still God! What else?

What are we unsure of? Will I marry . . . will I graduate . . . will I keep my job . . . will I have children . . . Does God care?

What do we actually control . . . What does God control . . . or need to have control of in our lives?

Does it scare you know a lot of things are out of our control . . . having doubt?

It is OK to have doubts . . .Even John the Baptist had doubts! (Luke 7:18-19)

So how can we be sure . . . how can we trust God?

Read Philippians 4:8-9 again . . .

How can we be sure . . . how can we replace doubt with faith . . .we work at it!!!!

Taking a line from a former NBA player . . . We are talking about PRACTICE!

EXCHANGE OLD HABITS FOR NEW ONES . . . PRACTICE!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Only Way

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9)

What Peter is NOT saying is that eventually everyone will get to heaven . . . if that were the case than why would Jesus go through all the pain, suffering, and sacrifice? That would be so inconsistent with the rest of the Bible! God's Word is still true and all of His decrees will stand!

Peter is reiterating however that it is God's desire that no one is lost. This is why Christ went through it all . . . even if just for one!

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
(Luke 19:10)

God is giving everyone time to repent. Like in Ninevah (Jonah 3:10), God gives everyone the chance to turn from their evil lifestyles and decision-making before His judgment. The challenge for us is that we do not know when our time on earth is up, so we must decide now rather than later! No one is promised tomorrow and the decision must be made while we are yet living! It is too late once we are facing Him!

Yes God is patient, but He is also true to His word. We must acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior if we want eternity on His terms! It's the only way! (John 14:6)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Healing Process

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
(Matthew 26:36-38)

Gethsemane . . . meaning oil press . . . east of Jerusalem on the Mt. of Olives . . . where olives were crushed and ground . . . where Jesus' heart would be crushed and broken for each one of us!

Yet just as the healing properties are olive oil are known, Jesus began His healing process for each of us!

Nothing we face today can compare even to the beginning of Jesus' suffering for us. Even as Christ suffered, his friends and committed disciples could not stick with Him . . . they fell asleep. They were there, but not involved . . . not able to help! As we suffer we may feel all alone even though folks are with us. However, God is there . . . He will never leave us! We may not see Him, but He is not sleeping! But like our Savior . . . we need to cry out to Him . . . let Him know our pain! (Matthew 26:39-44)

As the Lord encourages us, let us remember to be there for those in need . . . not to sleep on their pain but to remain with them through their suffering.

Gethsemene comes for everyone at some point in life. This valley is usually the beginning of the healing process. It is rock bottom! One can only go up. Are we willing to admit our needs to God and accept His healing in our lives? Even more so are we willing to be a part of the healing process for others?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Battleground of the Heart

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.
(Hosea 10:12)

It is never too late to return to the Lord . . . to His promises, to His truths . . . to His commandments and requirements . . . as long as we are still living on this side of glory. The more we delay, the closer we do get to being too late however!

Israel was living in a deceitful and hypocritical manner. (Hosea 9:2) God is about to judge them. Once again they are offered a chance to repent and be restored. Much like the farmer, at times the ground of our hearts and souls needs to be broken up and replanted. We need to do some plowing, tilling, and reseeding. We need to prepare for the coming rain!

Weeds of greed . . . hard hearts, and withered lives need pruning and encouragement. The grace and mercy offered by our God needs to be lived out in how we treat others. Loyalty to the Lord needs to be shown in our lifestyle. Repentance needs to take place! God's promises can be restored and His blessings can once again rain down upon us.

Winning the battleground of the heart is vital to our relationship with Christ. What does the soil of your heart look like today? (Matthew 13:18-23)

Today is the day to begin working on the garden soil!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Because HE Lives . . .

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
(Revelation 1:7)

Daniel wrote of this event (Daniel 7:13) and Matthew too recalled it. (Matthew 24:30) Jesus IS returning and sooner rather than later! No one will be able to hide from Him and everyone will know it's Him. It will be a sad day indeed for those who doubted! Israel especially will mourn knowing they had missed the message when he first arrived! (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34-37)

It does not have to be such a sad day however, In fact, today can be the day you make a decision to not simply realize that Jesus is Lord and Savior, but to invite Him to be your Lord and Savior!

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

With so much going on around us and so many financial, political, social and world challenges facing us all, I cannot understand how anyone cannot see it clearly! I just could not face another day without knowing Jesus has me covered and is with me through it all. Even when the bills are more than the money and the to-do list has more hours than the day contains, I can trust that Jesus is with me! I can indeed face tomorrow!

Because HE lives . . .because Jesus lives inside of me and reigns from heaven above . . . and will come again for me and all who believe . . . I can live despite and above the circumstances!

I urge you all . . . take a deep look inside and decide today what is real and what is make believe . . . what is a lie and WHO is the TRUTH . . . As for me and my house . . . well we have ourminds (and hearts ) made up.

We will serve the LORD!!!! (Joshua 24:15)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Consistent teaching

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
(1John 4:1)

Many today are teaching and promoting error in their churches and as they preach. Whether it is to keep those who folow them or simply to not offend anyone, many today entertain only a portion of God's truths. There is only one truth and it comes from the Holy Spirit, not false sprits. After all there can be money made in preaching today. With all the turmoil, people want to feel good! It is easy to be led astray!

Paul also referenced this topic in addressing the order within church services. (1 Corinthians 14:32) Not everybody has something good to say or the words of God to speak! God is not about confusion and His words are clear and consistent. The true man of God speaks "thus saith the Lord" not this is what I say. So how do we know the difference?

First we have to know the Lord for ourselves. The bible cannot be understood without the spirit of God guiding us. To test the spirits on must know the Spirit! We must read the Word for ourselves and know the basic truths of the bible so we can discern false teaching from consistent biblical teaching. Consitent teaching from God's Word builds confidence in knowing His will and His desires. God has not changed over the years . . . but man has gotten worse! Satan is still dangling the carrot stick out there to spread lies and ruin lives! When you find a good, biblically-based church home cherish it and support that pastor and the vision God has given to him.

Beware beloved . . . trust God and God alone!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do YOU Believe?

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

Martha beleived the Messiah would come one day. She believed there would a resurrection when the dead would come to a new life. (John 6:35-40) Jesus let her know that HE was indeed the resurrecton. He is the life for all those who believe.

Matha responded, Yes, Lord, I believe that YOU are the Christ! (John: 11:27) Jesus went on to raise her brother Lazarus from the grave.

Of course this points to the power CHrist has over life and death. He alone is the way to eternal life. There is no other substitute . . no other sacrifice . . . no other way!

One day each of us will come before the throne of Almighty God . . . all the dead . . . great and small . . . saved and unsaved . . . and we will judged according to our works. (Revelation 20:11-15)

Where will you stand? Is your name written in the Book of Life or will hell be your eternal destination? NOW is the time to decide as Martha once did . . . while you are living! Do YOU believe?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Live out LOUD . . . despite the circumstances!

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
(Psalm 145:17-18)

Righteous and loving . . . what wonderful characterisitics of our Daddy! Don't we pray that as parents and teachers we can be both righteous and loving!

God always has perfect judgment. He never blows it when dealing with us, His children. He always has the right amount of discipline to metthe circumstance.

Yet God always knows when to give grace . . . when to grant forgiveness which leads us to repentance. He knows just how to get us to see ourselves for who we are and how much we need His hand of guidance along the way.

God both preserves and destroys without tearing down our character or blowing up our egos. He knows just when and how to do what!

God is full of compassion and slow to anger (Psalm 145:8), answering those who cry out to Him (Psalm 145:19).

But how can we experience all God is, unless we give Him all we are?

If we can call to mind an infant crying out to his parents in the middle of the night or a child experiencing a terrible nighmare, we can envision this kind of cry. . . not afraid or ashamed to cry out!

If we can just hear the shouts of "TOUCHDOWN!" after a score or a rowdy "YES!" after a walk-off homerun, we can picture the praise God desires from our lips. No embarrassment in acting ridiculously happy.

To experience all God is and has for us, we have to live out loud, despite the circumstances! Let people know Who we know . . . so we all can get to know Him better and be more like HIM!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Family First

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
(Hebrews 3:12-13)

Refusing to trust in the Word of God is a dangerous and deadly sin . . . and it is rampant in today's culture. It is not simply an issue in society, but in the church! Even here in Hebrews, the author is addressing believers . . . brothers who have been warned not to turn away from the living God!

It is so important for us to encourage one another and be there for each other in stressful times. These days bring many challenges for everyone, especialy those of us who call Jesus our Lord and Savior. There are so many easy temptations to choose other options rather than depend upon the Lord, seek Godly advice and pray with and for one another. The Church Body is a viable resource for help . . . as long as we are connected! I like how the Amplified Bible puts David's words:

BEHOLD, HOW good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
(Psalm 133:1)

This is not the day to run from the Church and fellow believers. It is the day to embrace the fellowship . . . the koinonia (intimate communion)of the family of God! Family first . . . there is help at home!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Power of His Word

The centurion replied, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
(Matthew 8:8)

The centurians were officers in charge of one hundred soldiers. They were looked upon favorably in the New Testament writings. This centurion clearly understands authority. He understands how the word of one in authority can make things happen. (Matthew 8:9) He realized that Jesus did not have to go to his home to heal the paralyzed servant there. He was humbled under His authority. Jesus' words would be enough. All Jesus had to was speak and the servant would be healed!

If we only had that kind of faith. If we only allowed Jesus' authority to rule over us in such a way. If we only realized the power of His word! If we were so humble as this centurion!

As Jesus was about to return to heaven He gave His followers (and us as well) some final words . . .

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
(Matthew 28:18) If we would only believe and use that power today, I wonder how our lives would change? There is power in the name of Jesus!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Set Like Flint

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
(Isaiah 50:7)

The prophet lets the people know that his only real help is the Lord. Though things look bleak for the nation and for Isaiah, he realizeds that one day, he will be honored by God.

Things may be at their lowest for us . . . as individuals, as a family, even as a nation, yet we can look to God for assurance that one day it will all work out! One day God will say "Well done". (Matthew 25:21-23)

Setting his face like flint implies that the prophet will be determined to face his opposition without fear . . . even knowing the opposition poses a real threat and they are an imposing foe. In fact, this is fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 9:51) when He begins His journey back to Jerusale (by way of Samaria) to be handed over for His ultimate sacrifice.

Are we set like flint and determined to follow God's plans for us . . . despite the costs?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Travel Light

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus is letting the Jews know that all the heavy burdens the Jewish leaders were placing upon them could be relieved by following Him. The religious ceremonies, unfair taxes, circumcision laws, (Acts 15:10) and other ridiculous practices (Matthew 23:4) all were done away with as folks accepted the Messiah.

The yoke Jesus offers is a partnership with Him . . . He will carry the burdens with us and for us as we labor for Him. He will pull the lion's share of the load when we are weak. We can lean on Him and allow Christ to do the work as we trust Him and surrender to Him. On the most burdensome days, when we look back we see one set of footprints . . . HIS!

The burden man puts upon us is heavy! It weighs us down as we attempt to please people who can never be happy. We are constantly dragged down by folks who just will not stop seeking more . . . pushing for better . . . needing bigger! This world and all its institutions and organizations cannot possibly do what God promises the believer. True peace and satisfaction can only come when one is in Christ!

Come to Jesus . . .but leave the baggage behind. Travel light!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today is the Day

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."
(Malachi 4:5-6)

The Lord IS coming back . . . that is for certain. However, God is continually giving us chances to repent . . . to turn from our wicked ways and accept Him as Lord and Savior. Here in the final book of the Old Testament He lets us know that He will send His messenger before He returns. Some believe this was John the Baptist, while others belive this may have been when Elijah appeared with Moses at the Transfiguration (Matthew 16:28-17:8). Others believe it will be an Elijah-like figure to appear at the end times.

The bottom line is this: before one dies or before Christ returns, whichever comes first, one must acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and repent of their sin. If we do not turn from our sinful ways, there is a curse awaiting. We are doomed to eternal hell without the blood of Christ!

Don't wait . . . today is the day to call on the Lord and compel others to do the same!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It Will Be OK!

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

How is it possible to be an effective CHRISTian in such a world in which we live? Paul gives a few basic yet life-changing instructions.

No matter the circunmstance we find ourselves in, we must mantain our joy. Not joy in what we are going through, but joy in the fact that the Lord is right there with us. We are not alone!

We must stay in constant communication with our Father as Jesus did when He walked this earth. Speaking with the One in control and praying with fellow believers of the same mind keeps us in communion with God and our believing family. Private and corporate prayer are essential to keep the believer encouraged, confident, and connected. Reading Scriptures daily is also a source of hearing God's words to us each day.

Finally we must realize it could always be worse! Be thankful for what we have and where God has us. After all, we have a home in heaven and something far better than anything this world could ever give to us. Thank God daily for His grace, mercy, and promise of eternal life with Him! This world is temporary!

God has us just where He wants us to be. He has us and the entire world in His hands and it will be ok!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CEO or Servant

. . . .so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
(John 13:4-5)

Jesus rose from the Passover meal and began to wash the feet of the dsciples . . . even the one who would betray Him later! Jesus . . . God in the flesh was about to demonstrate the mark of a true leader . . . a true follower of Himself. To follow Christ, we all must desire to serve others, even those we know have plans to put a monkey wrench into our best plans!

Most of us desire the best for ourselves and others. There is nothing wrong with that. It is how we go about getting there that makes the real impact. Jesus came to serve (Matthew 20:28). He showed by example, here at the meal and later as the ultimate sacrifice for you and me at the cross. It is how we succeed that matters most.

Are willing to sacrifice our reputation to show others real success? Are we willing to get our hands dirty . . . to stoop lower that we desire . . . to help the least of our brothers and sisters? (Matthew 25:40)

CEO or servant . . . one in the same in Jesus' eyes!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

THE SOURCE

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
(James 1:2-6)

With so many sources for knowledge and information in this day, we often forget THE Source! Knowing, respecting, and living for Christ isthe foundation of any knowledge at all. (Proverbs 1:7) What good does it do to have all knowledge and not know God? What real good can come from that?

So many of us today claim to know the Lord and have a personal relationship with Him yet we still rely more upon the world for all the answers . . . politics, business, the universities. James is clear: if we have questions . . . if we lack information, GOD should be our first source of information!

Why do we first go to others for answers to this world when we know the CREATOR of this world personally? Sometimes we Christians can be so ridiculous! Let's change this today!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Apha and Omega Professor

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14)

As one given the challenge to mentor and guide youth, I realize daily my shortcomings and failures. I realize the youth of today may actually know more than I do in many subject areas. However, that does not keep me from growing and learning from them!

Knowledge alone does not make one successful. Heck, I just finished my Masters' work myself at 51 and am realizing there is yet more to learn! We can never stop learning, especially if we are in a teaching / discipleship role! Wisdom that reaches our youth can only come from God! It does not come in a how-to book or a five-step plan. I comes from spending time in His Word and making the proper application to our lives and the lives of those we are given to mentor.

As we parents, teachers, mentors, and other role models face another academic year, may we first commit to coninual learning from God, the Apha and Omega Professor!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Whom do you choose to believe?

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
(Numbers 23:19)

Isn't is good to know and trust a God that keeps His word? It is both a comforting and somewhat traumatic fact however!

Consider God's promses . . .

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
(Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9)

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
(Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21)

These are such comforting promises . . . knowing our God loves us, forgives us, and keeps us from eternal hell . . . if we choose!

But consider these words . . .

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:11-15)

And this warning . . .

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me,though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger,‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
(Hebrews 3:7-15; Psalm 95:7-11)

Not so comforting . . . it is to the believer! We cannot pick and choose the promises of God we accept or dismiss. He does not lie. He is a promise keeper! The decision to respond is up to the individual. Whom do you choose to believe?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stand Up in the Crowd!

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
(John 7:37-38)

A few days into the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus stood up and began to teach the crowds. Of course, they doubted Him and accused Him of being a phony with no authority to teach. The accusations continued and the high priests attempted to have Him arrested.

As he spoke the words aboove, some believed, others doubted, and many would have Him arrested. However, the Temple guards could not . . . would not arrest Jesus. The high priests were obviously upset, yet Nicodemus, one of the priest, spoke up (the same Nicodemus from (John 3:3).

“Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
(John 7:51)

Nicodemus showed up in hiding in John 3, but stood up in John 7. He eventually became a Christ follower despite his peers' unbelief. Today, believers need to stand up in the crowd and not back down to the pressure! We need to stand for what we believe . . . in Whom we believe!

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! ” ...