Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Now That's Confidence

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)

John reiterates this theme throughout his gospel . . . believe and live! It is a not simply a acknowledgement that Jesus is the Messiah. It is not just knowing that He is who He says He is. It is a heart-felt dedication . . . a deep commitment. . . an assurance that Jesus is Lord and Savior! If this is so, then one will have eternal life in Him and a hope for the future.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
(Romans 8:24)

Paul agrees with John: Hope for the believer is an assurance, not a guess or a pipe dream. As with all the "I Am" statements of Christ in the Gospel of John, we trust that Jesus is our basic need for life, our food, our light, our shelter, our guide, our connection, and our hope for the future!

Knowing Him personally gives us stength and confidence to carry on throughout difficult days and months, sometimes years. Knowing Christ makes the difference between giving up and going forward. It's the reason we get up to face a new day. Even though we know we face unknown struggles and unforseen circumstances, we trust that the Lord knows already and will be there with us.

Even when we face death, we know we have life . . . now that's confidence!

Do you believe?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For . . .

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.
(1 Samuel 12:24)

Be careful what you ask for . . . either by petition or by lifestyle. The Lord may just allow us to have our desires. God loves to grant our prayers. He wants to bless us. Yet at times, we get so persisitent concerning the things we want and what we think is best and God just allows us to have them . . . with the obvious consequences!

Many times it is a lifestyle contrary to His will. Other times it may simply be something or someone we desire that is not best for us. In this case in 1 Samuel, the people wanted a king other than God, so God said ok, I'll let you have a king, but you better remember my ways! Well, they did not and we all know the result (with King Saul). We are much better off accepting God's will over our own every time!

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart
.(Psalm 37:4)

Yes God wants to see us happy, but in His will. He wants to care for His children in ways He knows is best. However, we can get very selfish and boastful. We get caught up in me and my life. Rather, let us consider James' advice here:

“If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
(James 4:15)

God's ways are always best for each of us. As we serve Him He will supply all we'll ever need!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not Done Yet!

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14)

We all have a past! We all have said and done things we regret. Even apologies may not have made things right. But as Paul says here, we have to move on. We cannot dwell on the things we have done or the things people think about us. We have to move on and know what God thinks about us and what he has planned. He is not done yet!

God is at work in every believer and many times it is our own past that keeps us from believing God and His plans for our future. We have a hard time letting go. Our memories haunt us. People from our past remind us of what we used to be and what we used to do. "Know way God can use me" we think.

Yet if David could say:
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us,
(Psalm 103:12)then we too can have the confidence to press on in this life and heavenward.

We may not experience the pleasures in this life from our labor. Knowing we are working for the Lord and His purposes may have to be enough. However, in light of those heavenly rewards, we keep moving forward and not looking back. We are not seeking the praise of people. We are not trying to convince them that we have changed. Our actions will reveal that! We work to honor the Lord and let the rest be up to Him!

He's not done yet!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Up Early and Anticipating the Prize

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
(Matthew 6:21)

Getting prepared . . . mapping out strategies . . . up early , perhaps not even sleeping . . . willing to wait in long lines . . . anticipating the prize . . .of Black Friday!

I am not saying it is anything wrong with saving some money . . . in fact it is good stewardship! But really!?!? Some reaaly do take way beyond reality. Ok, so you saved the cash to get the specific gifts that those specific people can really use at some really ridunculous prices. I get that.

A big screen TV for $200.00 . . . kids clothing for $5.00 . . . tools at dollar store prices . . . appliances and even cars and trucks at half-price. However, we all have seen the shoppers who simply push their way in line, buying the first (or last) item that no one really needs just to say they (or their child) will have it! Many are also using every last bit of credit to do so . . . many times opening up a line of credit at the store! Now we have to hit the brakes!


How many of us plan out our worship this way? How many anticipate the day that Christ returns with such passion? How many of us will spend our savings on missions rather than the newest i-phone? I'm just sayin' . . . .

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:31-33)

There are some big decisions to make this year for most families as it is for ours. Let us ponder this thought on this Black Friday:

What is really the best deal out there?

Welcome to the CHRISTmas Season!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What About the Family?

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
(Ephesians 4:1-6)

Like Paul, we are locked in with Christ. But it is not by chains that keep us in bondage, but bonds that free us from sin and the restrictions of this world! However, now that we have experienced such freedom from such a gracious God, we need to live it out so the world can see.

There is no room for sectarian spirits . . . attitudes that divide the family of believers and cause division from church to church. We are to make every effort to maintain and even improve our unity! In the early church, public baptism identified one as a Christian. In this day, our public expression of love, grace, and unity needs to be seen and felt by those who come into contact with family members.

Listen to Jesus' words . . .

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)

I love my family! I am fortunate to also have biological family members who belong to God's family. In the brief eighteen years of my service for Christ, I have been blown away by the love, care, and support from my immediate family . . . my home church. When I have been rejected by blood, those who are under the BLOOD have been there for me. When family have not understood, those in God's family have been able to encourage and support me. I have come to understand what one Body means. I have come to cherish real family.

Though I still love, miss, and pray for the family God birthed me into, I cherish so much the family He has made available to me in the Church . . . my home church and the many I have met in mission travels. These family members have filled in the gaps and voids I have experienced over the years as I have faced loneliness, separation, character assaults, changes in careers, relationships, and other issues.

Yet most of all, I am thankful for my bride and children (and grandchildren)that God has allowed to me. His love and grace is reflected in their love for me. He has shown me myself many times in my marriage, my treatment of my children, and other family endeavors.

God has blessed me indeed . . . despite the things I do not have, I have so much!
I am learning to be content, whether full or in need. I know God has my best interest in mind and that He is still working things out. I have to trust Him and where He has me . . . in one Body and under the rule of one Lord!

I thank my God and my family for all I have this Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not Much to be Thankful About?

Folks may say there's not much to be thankful about these days . . . well look around!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story . . .
(Psalm 107:1-2)

We have been quiet for too long! We, yes we who know the Lord have to shout out the goodness of God, despite what the world is going through. We know the God who saves, delivers, and provides abundantly!

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.
(Psalm 107: 21-22)

When things are not as good as we want them to be, in these times we can fall into the trap of complaining. It's easy to get get caught up in why this is wrong, that does not make sense, or why he or she is doing something. Read the papers . . . search internet highlights . . . watch the news. There is always room for complaint, whining, or crticism.

Yet NOW is the time to stand up and go against the crowd!

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.
(Psalm 107:31-32)

At times it is easy to give praise. Other times it is a sacrifice to give praise. If we use the Latin oblatio we think of sacrifice as an offering unto the Lord. An oblate is one dedicated to the Lord, devoted to serve Him.

We can always offer God our gratitude, appreciation, and our love. He did not have to do it . . . not for me!

Still think there's not much to be thankful about these days?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Made Well . . .

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27)

No one can change without the Holy Spirit! Many students have asked me recently how do we know someone is saved? My reply is simple . . .
only God really knows
. He has to do the surgery on our hearts Himself.

Living up to man's requirements does not get one into heaven. While it is good to follow our spiritual mentors and lead a good life, doing all the good things expected of a believer, even that does not translate into forgiveness of sin and eternal life with our Lord. It requires cutting, trimming, and even some removal.

One must be made well . . . transformed, from the inside out. Only God can perform the necessary spiritual surgery that changes the heart from stone to flesh.

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
(John 3:6-7)

Having recently been through some minor surgery to repair damage done over years of sports and weight training, I better understand the process. Only the doctor could see the damage. I looked pretty good on the outside, but I felt the pain. Even on an x-ray, I could not make out the fragmented bone spurs on my shoulder, but the doctor knew. He had to go inside my flesh and grind away debris from years of activity.

It is similar with our spiritual heart. From the human perspective, we may appear holy, clean, and pure. We do the right things: church attendance, bible study, ministry events, giving . . .but God knows the motives and the real committment level! And we feel the pain deep inside . . .

While I still feel the pain of the surgeon's tools, I too want to feel the presence of God's hand upon my heart. I want His correction . . . His cutting and pruning . . . and His healing! May we all be made well by the Surgeon's hand and experience His total forgiveness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Cross . . . No Crown

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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
((Hebrews 12:1-2)

The previous chapter in Hebrews describes the many who went before the author and endured so much for the rewards faith in Christ offers. Even today, I can look around me and realize so many God has put into my life to instruct, admonish, and encourage me. I have witnessed their faith, their perseverance, and the peace they experience as they continue in their sacrifice to serve God.

And so I run. . . No matter the circumstance I cannot quit: on family, on relationships, on my job, on God. Nothing is too hard for God. I have read it sure, but I have seen it. I have seen my wife, my pastor, my co-workers, others God has put into my life endure hardship for the Lord. I have experienced it for myself time and time again.

. . .but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:31)

Let's focus on the finish line . . . No cross, no crown!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Values

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10)

Brotherly love ... I do not believe that description is properly understood today. Family affection is not what it was in the past. Loving someone like a brother . . . what does that really mean today?

Remember when your could fight your own brother, but no one else could? Remember when blood was thicker that water? Nowadays, many families do not even get together for birthdays and holidays anymore. But it should not be that way in the Body!

We who name the name of Christ should have a kindly affection toward one another . . . a love that cause others on the outside to be jealous and desire it for themselves. We should be known by our love and self-sacrifice toward one another.

Paul lays it out clearly . . .

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death . . .even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:3-8)

If our Lord and Savior could step down from heaven's glory to serve us, we can (out of love) put our own selfish ambitions aside to honor Him and those around us. As Jesus gave Himself for us, God was glorified and His will accomplished. As we esteem others, we lift up Christ and he can work through us. As we assess ourselves, we see others in a better light. As we do things through God's perspective, we see ourselves in such need that we serve others above our own desires.

I need you . . . you need me . . . we all are part of God's B-O-D-Y! Oh how I pray for the strengthening of family values . . . beginning first in the family of God!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guidelines for Young (and Old) Folks

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
(2 Timothy 2:22)

Practically speaking, how can a young person possibley stay pure and morally grounded in these days? Paul gives some really sound advice to a young Timothy above. God always gives us a choice. Here it is very simply: flee evil and run after (pursue) righteousness. Stop running after all the things everyone else is trying to attain and focus on the plans God has for you. This requires decisions and dedication.

Listen to this psalm of wisdom . . .

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
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. Praise be to you, LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
(Psalm 119:9-16)

One has to know His Word in order to live it out. There are things that must be avoided in order to follow God and His guidelines. Foolish things of the world (idle time, wasted time, laziness, too much time doing nothing )and taking unwise paths on a whim, just to be one of the guys can snuff out a life. Days must be planned out with wisdom. Young people have such a future, but it cannot be attained by following others' designs for their lives! God has a perfect plan and to discover it it takes time with God and His people, not the world and its ways. It takes heart . . . all of the heart . . .dedication. Just as an athlete or musician spends hours a day perfecting his craft, one must be dedicated to spend time with God. One must pursue virtue in this day . . . it is not offered nor preferred everywhere!

Here is another clear outline from another familiar wisdom psalm . . .

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
(Psalm 1:1-2)

The one who spends time with the things of God is happy . . . successful . . . and fulfilled. It is a fact: We become the company we keep! It is a choice we make daily.

Very simple guidelines for young (and old) folks today.

God is still God!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Good Things About Our Youth

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4)

We hear so many negative things about our kids today . . . they do this thing and will not do that thing. They aren't like we were. These kids today are __________ (fill in the blank).

May I offer some suggested fill-ins?

The kids today are gifted.

The youth of today are full of promise.

The young people today have God's attention.

The teens of today are begging for our support . . .

The children today are no different than we were when we were young!

Our kids today do need one thing . . . Godly men and women to lead them! Kids do what they see being done. They still follow leaders!

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.
(Proverbs 20:7)

How can we possibly be the kind of father, mother, or role model for so many of our youth? Well, it starts with just one or two. Obviously if we have children, we need to be there for them. NO EXCUSES! If we lean upon God, He will give us all we need to be a Godly example and guide for out kids. But we have to first commit to God ourselves.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19)

Finally, we who are willing need to pray that God will lead the kids to us or lead us to them. One would be surprised how God can answer that prayer . . . Boy, do my wife and I have some stories to tell!

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
(Psalm 68:5-6)

God is able . . . are we willing? The good thing about our youth is that there is still time. God has all the time in the world . . .Do we have the time to spare? Time to give of ourselves . . . time to share God's love . . . time to offer the Gift to overcome this world?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Deceiving Our Youth Today.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Writing on a Saturday is not my norm, but I am burdened for out youth this weekend. All my years of coaching, mentoring, and teaching, I have never been more afraid for our young people. While it is true that things will only get worse in this world, there is still God!

Knowing the Lord as I do now, that should be comforting. Being able to share His words with so many young people (our own and those God has given to us over the years), my desire is that they not simply trust me, but trust GOD! However, I am witnessing different results and it hurts deeply ...

The verse above from the prophet Jeremiah is not simply an Old Testament promise. It is not only repeated, but enhanced through our Savior. However, the enemy (Satan) is doing a great job of deceiving our youth today.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
(John 10:10)

Jesus is not promising riches, fame, or earthly success, but Satan is dangling just that before our kids. Instant gratification, blind from consequences, applause . . . applause . . . applause! Have it all now . . . live for today . . . there will be time for all that church stuff later . . . All this for what?

If I could just convince the young people that God is true. Satan still lies better than anyone. Please stop thinking you can wait . . .Our youth's future is NOW!

A young Daniel trusted God and even the king knew it! (Daniel 6:16) Jude knew it. (Jude 24) After all Paul went through, he too realized the promises of God!(1 Corinthians 15:57) If we expect the kids to follow, we who know the Lord have to set the example. We cannot give up. Like the Good Shepherd, we shall seek even just one.(Luke 19:10)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33)

Pray . . . pray . . . for our young folks, but do not stop there . . . we have to stay engaged. God did not quit on me and I will not give up on up youth!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Not My Money

The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty.
(Haggai 2:8)

This is one of the first Bible verses I was asked to memorize way back in 1993. It is when I first began to understand that it is really not about me! I guess God was setting me up for the future . . .

It's my money and I want in NOW!

What a familiar and humerous phrase, yet so real in this world. We all get really selfish with what we believe is ours!

When I begin to think of all the wasted effort I have put into working for me . . . it gets me dizzy! My plans . . . my future . . . my money!

As I am growing as a believer, I am coming to the realization that nothing is really mine! Not unlike Solomon . . . I am believing that pretty much all things in this world are worthless, except what we do for Christ!

The prophet goes on to say this:

The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."
(Haggai 2:9)

If we can just grasp this one message . . . It's all about God and His plans . . . we will have peace (satisfaction). Things will begin to make sense. The future . . . our legacy will be better than what we knew and experienced.

It's not my money . . . it's not my plans . . . it's all about God and His plans for us to prosper according to His will. The sooner we realize that . . . the better for all of us . . . especially those under our influence!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Can Man Possibly Do?

I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
(Isaiah 51:12-13)

In Isaiah 51, the Lord calls the people of Israel to be conforted in Him, to trust in Him just as they did when He led them out of Egypt. He reminds them of all He has done to relieve them of man's wrath and oppression. There is salvation to come!

Of all God has done for you and me, not even to mention our promised eternal life with Him, when we really ponder it, what can man possibly do? C'mon, really think about this now . . . .

We have been forgiven of sin . . . freed from the bondage of this world . . . promised by the Creator to be taken to His home forever one day . . . and we fear man?

Oh I know the pressures of the economy, our children's college education, and our grandchildren's quality of life. However, if we trust in the promises of God, live a life visibly leaning on Him, and truly walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7)then again I ask, "What can man possibly do?"

The writer of Hebrews was not blowing smoke when he wrote:

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

If more believers lived such a life, what would the watching world see? What would our children and grandchildren observe? As we ponder the future, let's look back over the years and remember the God who has conforted us, protected us, and provided for us. As Isaiah posed the question to the Israelites, may I put it to us today?

And where is the fury of the oppressor?
(Isaiah 51:13)

God is still God!!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bruised in Battle . . . yet Better for It!

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5)

The Lord is indeed victorious. The battle over sin and death has been won! However, he was severely bruised in the battle, yet we are better for it!

Not much in life comes without struggle, yet we even as BELIEVERS, like the easy way out. Human nature tells us to take the easy road. God challenges us to be bold and courageuous however.

Do you recall . . .even the Yellow Brick Road had struggles for Dorothy before she made it home! But along the way, she realized the value of family and the simple things we take for granted, like wisdom, courage, and love. What if she had turned back?

I was raised to be the one who spoke his mind. I have learned not to back down from challenges. I learned it from my mom, sports, my wife and (since becoming saved) from my pastor and others in the faith who who have been battle-tested can be trusted! It is not always the popular or the option thing however.

Jesus took on the fight for our souls and won. He wants us to go to battle as well. Like Jacob, sometimes we have to face the world, other believers . . . sometimes even God! It's ok to have differences among ourselves. It is even ok to struggle with God. . . .if it is done with respect, dignity, and with a desired outcome to become better! Recall Jacob's fight . . .
But Jacob replied, "I won't let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will not be Jacob anymore. Instead, it will be Israel. You have struggled with God and with men. And you have won."

Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you want to know my name?" Then he blessed Jacob there. So Jacob named the place Peniel. He said, "I saw God face to face. But I'm still alive!" The sun rose above Jacob as he passed by Peniel. He was limping because of his hip
. (Genesis 32:26-31)

Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life. It reminded him of his struggle with God sure. It also reminded him of his personal relationship with God. I am sure it gave him confidence later.

As we struggle, do not be afraid to get a few bruises . . . face some conflicts . . . even lose a few along the way . . . to the glory of God! We will all be better for it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Eternal Wealth

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
(Proverbs 3:13-14)

Biblical values are dwindling today . . . that is obvious. With all the schools, all the knowledge, all the discoveries, nothing beats wisdom! Knowing information is nothing unless one can apply it and receive benefits from it. It is one thing to be smart . . . quite another to be wise and virtuous!

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but wisdom does not stop there. We must continue to seek out His truths and His experiences. Having so much knowledge and not knowing the Lord is worthless. What is the value of knowing things but not having any lasting impact. If one does not know God, than we are here today and gone tomorrow . . . life and knowledge becomes meaningless! However, if we know the Lord and refuse to grow in wisdom and virtue, that too does not make much sense.

God has so much to offer the believer. There are so many riches to grasp from God. faith is only the beginning . . .

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
(2 Peter 1:5-9)

Happy . . . blessed is the one who seeks wisdom, finds it, and continues to grow closer to God. It brings eternal wealth!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Repent . . . Repent . . . and be saved!

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)

It is a simple message preached throughout the Bible, but not very popular today . . . REPENT and live! Jonah shared it relunctantly with those in Ninevah and an entire city turned around.(Jonah 3:1-10)Peter preached to the crowds (Acts 2:38) and thousands were saved! Many know of God today . . . even joyfully attend church, bible studies, and ministry activity. Folks by the thousands attend various congregations and support ministries worldwide. But how many have truly repented and been regenerated?

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)

God promises to wipe away all guilt from all sin if we truly repent . . . admit our sinful condition and turn away from sin. Now this does not mean we will never sin again . . . but that is possible with the power of the Holy Spirit! I am still on the road of trusting God with my life, but more and more each day I realize how much I need Him. I truly am no good without Christ!

True forgiveness comes only through true repentance! Salvation is through Christ alone. Nothing we do aside from pleading the blood of Christ will suffice.

It is time to put a halt to the good times preaching and begin to seek the true word of God. Oh I thank God for the ones God has given to me since first hearing the Truth. I thank God for a wife who holds me to His Word. I thank God for His Spirit which keeps me humble. I am still far from perfect and in need of His grace, but thank God I realize it more than ever!

Sorry is not enough. There has to be a change! Repent . . . Repent . . . and be saved!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Screaming Out His Glory!

The heavens declare the glory of God;the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
(Psalm 19:1-6)

Take the time today to observe what David saw. Hear what nature is saying! No words, yet wondeful praise coming from what the Creator has set before us. Nature screams out the glory of God each morning with every sunrise and every evening as the sun rest upon the horizon.

What more shall we say . . . we who are made in His image . . . to our Creator God? Will we allow our very souls to magnify the Lord as Mary once did?

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
(Luke 1:46-47)

When is the last time we reflected the glory of God in our simple living? In our everyday 24/7 walking and breathing, how do we proclaim God's works? When is the last time we were caught screaming out His glory?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peace in a Person

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
(Matthew 6:25)

This world is not like it used to be! I can remember a bit from my childhood . . . sports, school, family . . . but never worrying about food, crime, the future. Oh, there were days when I wanted my special food and did not get it. There were rare times of riots and threats of danger. I would overhear my dad talking about a car repair now and then. There were neighborhood fights . . . over football, baseball and other games!

But it does not compare to this day: this is a day of trusting God! Who else can possibly understand this economy . . . this job market . . . this world's troubles like God? World markets going bankrupt . . .unemployment and under-employment . . . folks working out of their skill level and working 2-3 jobs . . .threats of war, violence, and crime even the least threatening neighborhoods.

Who can we trust? Where can we move to for security? Where can our chldren go for safety? Like never before, we can trust the words of the apostle Paul.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Are you facing health issues, a shaky housing situation, too many bills at the end of the month? In every situation, take it to God . . .trust Him and do as He directs . . .and leave it with Him. He has the answers! You will find peace in a person . . . JESUS CHRIST!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Value in Discipline

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
(Proverbs 3:11-12)

As a father of four and now a grandfather of five, I see the value in discipline. I really love my kids! I was not always right when I acted, but I acted in love! I do not want my children to fall into the same traps that were set for me!

The best thing we can do as parents is to raise our children with a working knowledge of God's Word so they KNOW the TRUTH and when left all alone in this world, they also can feel HIS presence. We have to let our children know that we are only given one life to live and we must be accountable to the Lord. We as parents are God's representatives to our children and unfortunately, we do not always do such a good job!

However, we have an oportunity to share the grace He gives each of us with our children! Admit our faults . . . apologize . . . change course if need be . . . but be real and be honest! Discipline is not always punishment, but always a guide and a teacher. If we do not discipline our children, we show a lack of love.

Just as God disciplines those whom He loves, we too have a responsibiility before God to be directly involved in our children's lives. Pursue them . . . especially in their teen years. Do not stand in the background. Even today, I am seeking my dad's respect and approval that I never received as a child. However, I have learned to seek after God's approval even more! Can we teach our children to seek after God . . . to please Him? When the world fails our children (and it will)there is ALWAYS the FATHER!

On a day when people regret decisions and even attempt to pray for those already dead and gone, we need to realize today is the day to be proactive. Today we need to make decisions to share the love (discipline)of God with our children and all young people, before it is too late! Tomorrow is too late!

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...