Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We fight, we fight, we fight!!!!

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
(Matthew 24:12-14)

It is not going to get any better . . . we can see that in all that going on today. It doesn't take rocket science to figure it out. Listen to the news . . . compare political candidates . . . examine the crumbling structures of basic social norms and institutions.

Jesus warns: "Take head that no one deceives you". (Matthew 24:4)

Please do not be fooled by the empty promises of man. Yes, we continue to fight for righteousness and battle for the weak. We defend the poor and stand up for biblical values. But this is a fight only God will win . . . and He will . . . in His timing! Yet we remain His soldiers.

However, we must be honest with people, even when they turn a deaf ear. Even as man grows colder and colder and evil runs rampant, we hold up the Gospel and stand upon His Truths, regardless of the consequences. We echo the words of many who have gone to battle before us: we fight, we fight, we fight!!!!

. . . and God wins . . . live victorius today!!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Just For Men . . .

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.
(Ephesians 5:25-28)

Ever sit under some great Bible teaching and think "Boy they could sure use that!" or "I can't wait to share that with_______." ? I know I have! many times we are quick to hear a word for someone else, but we find it hard to allow God's work to convict us personally. We are always more gentle when it comes to our own shortcomings! But guys, this is about you and me!

This word is just for men! Forget reading about the wives or the children guys . . . this is for us! Paul is specific in these few words of Ephesians5 and 6 to speak to wives, husbands and children. So let's pay particular attention to our part alone: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church . . .

These are challenging words indeed and humbling to the point of embarrassment . . . at least for me. We say we love our wives and would literally die for them, but Christ pleads for us to live for them as well! Just as Christ came as a sacrifice for each of us, we as the leaders of our families are to live in such a way that all that we do is for the best interests of our spouse. She is to be our focus, not "me"! All our prayers, all our plans, all our desires . . . should be to first honor our wives and be able to cover them from evil. If we can get to such a point in our walk and allow God to take care of the rest, imagine the joy we will experience!

Listen to Peter (a married man by the way):

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
(1Peter 3:7)

It is not that wives are any less a person or weaker in faith, but we as men are called to lead in every aspect of married life . . .to be accountable! This begins with our relationship to our Father! Our prayer life reflects our relationship with God and family. To better know our wives, we have to be intimate with God as well. After all, He created marriage! But on the other hand, if we are not right with our spouse, we cannot be right with God.

Men, it is time to get right. Single guys, do not even consider marriage until God is your first and primary love. Married men, it is God first! It is wife next . . . then kids. We . . . are last on the to-do list! Leave us to God. Besides, a good wife will never reject a Godly man.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Is It Clear?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God . . .this is your spiritual act of worship.
(Romans 12:1)

As many times as I read this my most challenging verse in the Bible, it always hits my heart. The least I can do for God is to give my body over to Him to use! Last I checked, my body included my mind, my heart, my eyes, my hands, my feet, my belly, my biceps . . . do you get my point?

Is it clear
whatPaul is saying here?

Paul (Saul)was such a zealot for the Jews before coming to Christ. In fact, he authorized the killing of Stephen. (Acts 8:1-3) he was determined to do away with the Christians. However, once he was convinced that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, he was even more determined that all be saved, especially the Jews! (Romans 9:3) We know how he suffered constant persecution for the sake of the Gospel.

As we enter the weekend, let's be challenged to once again offer all we are and all we do for the sake of Christ. Our prayers, our workouts, our diet, our personal relationships should all be geared to be God-honoring and sacrifical in nature.

Personally I am way too selfish . . . too worried about my agenda, my time, and my needs. I have to realize it is NOT about me, but God and others . . . all the time!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Do We Define Love?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
(1 John 3:16-18)

How do we define love? JESUS! Love is all the things we read in 1 Corinthians 13. But more than that, love is defined within a person, namely Jesus Christ. As little Christ (Christians), when people see us, do they say, there goes love? Do they define us by our love?

John tells us here that if we have the necessary things of this world (material things that sustain life)than we are to freely share them with those around us. If God so loved the world (John 3:16) than we too are to be known by our love!

John ends these few lines by saying that if we are indeed of God, than we are to put love into action. Sacrifical love should define us! If we have it, we should be willing to share it! Whateve IT is, IT has been provided to us by God . . . so if someone is in need of IT, let's share IT!

The definition of love . . . are we included in IT?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Who Knows?

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7)

The prophet has an open invitation here in the 55th chapter to all who can hear: there is freedom in the Savior! There is complete salvation in the Lord. No matter our situation, we may find rest and forgiveness in Him and Him alone. Yet there is a time when He will not be found . . . the decision must be made while we are yet living!

Who knows how long that will be? How long will we live? How long until He returns? Who knows?

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalm 32:6-7)

David expresse the joy of forgiveness in Psalm 32. As he responded to God after the devastating events with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), David expressed the relief of forgiveness, honesty before the Lord, and His comforting grace. Yet he still lets us know that time is of the essence! Sin has a way of overwhelming us and we do not know where to turn. We can get so deep and never get out . . . but for God!

God is waiting . . . but not forever. He is patient . . but there is a day when we all will held accountable! What about this day? Running out of time? Who knows when our time is up? Today is a good day to seek the Lord!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Keeping It Simple

Jesus answered, It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.
(Luke 4:8)

Jesus is keeping it simple here . . . one God, one worthy of worship, one is to be served. Only God is to receive our honor and praise. We are created to serve Him alone. Even when Jesus was tempted by Satan, he kept it very simple by referring to Scripture(Deuteronomy 6:13). God's word rules over everything else!

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
(Matthew 16:23)

We cannot allow ourselves to become a channel for Satan's message. Jesus warned Peter of this very thing. Any time we stand in the way of God's will, we are giving satan opportunity to speak and act.We must make every effort to be in His will and to be obedient! We cannot serve both the world and God's will.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
(Matthew 6:24)

God first . . . God always . . . keeping it simple!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Common Sense or God-Sense?

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.
(James 1:5)

Wisdom from God is not meant to get one out of trouble, but rather to give us keen insight to better learn from difficult circumstances. God does not share more information on how to avoid pitfalls and testings, but He provides a new and different perspective on trials we face.

God's wisdom begins with a genuine reverence for Him (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10). One must possess a steadfast confidence in Him knowing God controls all circumstances. (Hebrews 11:6) God orchestrates all activities according to His good purposes for each of us, as we trust Him.

Common sense tells us to avoid tough situations and live a trouble-free life. God-sense tells us that troubles will come (Matthew 24), yet God makes a way out. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

How can one make any sense of this world . . . KNOW and TRUST the One who is in control!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Practice What We Preach

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
(James 1:2-3)

We all love to share this verse with others when they are suffering through trials and tests in life. However, it is a hard pill to digest when we are going through! Nevertheless, it is sound advice from the brother of our Savior . . . one who knew testings!

This phrase, testing of your faith, refers to being approved, as used to examine coins for their authenticity. As our faith is tested, just as Abraham was, we become battle-ready and being able to stand! Adversities turn into opportunities as a result. We may not see it at the present time, but God is preparing us for better things.

So let's consder our own advice and that of James: hang in . . . do not quit . . . God is with us as we are struggling through the present day's adversities. Let's practice what we preach and allow God to continue to mold and shape us. He has this too!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Me Last . . . Even When It Hurts!

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 7:12)

It's hard when you have been hurt or are hurting to think about others. Some times we just want to focus on me! However, the more we focus on God and His word, the more we can begin looking outward. We come to realize that no matter what we are going through, it could be worse. As we receive God's love and care, we begin to be comforted and that in turns pours out to others in need. Even in our personal suffering, we can encourgae someone else. We realize how much we indeed are blessed and we become a blessing to others.

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
(Leviticus 19:18)

When we are hurt, it is easy to lash out. It is easy to place blame. It is quite human to withdraw and seclude ourselves. But cusing others pain will never make things better. The blame game is useless. Withdraw unto God and His word and allow others to pray with and for you. If seclusion is necesarry, bring the Bible and get alone with God.

He knows our sorrows. (Psalm 31:7) He too was hurt. He too was left alone. He too was abandoned. Yet He thought of us all as He bowed His head upon the cross. He still has you and me in mind today, even as we are going through . . .

It was me last for Jesus. It must be that way for those who are called by His name as well . . . Me last, even when it hurts!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keep Running!

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13)

I know we cannot quite understand why God has us go through things. We plead with God . . . "Not now!" . . . "Please God, I just can't handle this at this time!" . . . "God you know this is a bad time."

And yet God does know and He does care and He does provide us with all we need to keep running the race . . . with HIM by our side, even carrying us!

Most of us recall The Footprints poem: I love how it finishes.

"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you."

God has prepared each of us for the times we are facing . . . and will face. He gives us grace and power to endure. That endurance will bring its own reward as well. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Hang in there . . . keep running . . . God is with you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Attitude and Servitude

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16)

We may not say it out loud very often, but the quiet whispers and bitter mumblings can keep us from serving the Lord as we should. It can certainly taint our influence in the world. Paul warns the Philippian church to be sure that their testimony is blameless. There is enough dissention in the world . . . enough hatred and jealousy. There should not be within the church. We are to be one body, working together to serve others and bring glory to our Father. This certainly cannot happen if there any fissures within our ministries.

We need to remember that we are lights to this darkening world (Matthew 5:14)therefore we must reflect the attitude and servitude of Jesus Christ!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Freedom Is Not Free

(In Honor of Martin Luther King)

“But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:8)

God loved us while we were yet His enemies, still sinners; Christ went to the cross for us. Many people would die for a friend or a family member, but for an enemy? Now, that’s love. That sacrifice allowed man the chance for spiritual freedom: freedom from sin and eternal separation from God in an eternal hell. We have the freedom to choose to accept that gift from God or reject it, but we have the freedom to choose.

That freedom, however, came at a great cost. Christ laid aside His glory in heaven to accept the brunt of all our sin. He received the beatings, the spitting, the insults, the cross, just for you and for me. He experienced a separation from His Father so we would not have to do so. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE … it costs!

“We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down His life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians. But whoever has the world’s possessions and sees his fellow Christian in need and shuts off his compassion against him, how can the love of God reside in such a person? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.”
(1 John 3:16-18)

Jesus laid down His life … His life style for us. His life was lived on our behalf. He gave up His will for God’s will for Him and for our redemption. As I honor the life and work of Dr. King today, that’s what I take away from his sacrifice. He gave up a life of pastoring, of a husband, of a Daddy and took on the will of the people. I’m sure it was God’s will for his life as well. He became the face of civil rights for all people; rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and by the cross of Christ. No doubt, Dr. King’s family missed a lot of time he could have been at home. His church lost out on some one-on-one counseling and some dynamic Sunday preaching and Bible study. His dedication to the needs of the people came at a price: his personal time, his family time, his time with his church, and ultimately his life!

Dr. King laid down his life for everyone in need; black, white, Christians, and non-believers. Here is my question: How will you honor the legacy of Dr. King and the ultimate mandate of God upon your life as a believer? This is not so much a race issue or even a civil rights issue anymore. It’s an issue of our basic Christian life. Whom are we living for? What will be said of you and me at our going home service? Are we laying down our lives for anyone: a friend, family, fellow believers, neighbors, for God’s will?

We here in the U.S. have more than anyone, yet we complain we don’t have enough! We hoard, we invest, we save, yet we refuse to give from our need. We’ll gladly give from our excess, sure. But will we lay down our desires, give from our basic possessions, sacrifice our very lives for someone’s need, as Dr. King and so many others have done over the years? It takes a special person. It takes a person controlled by God’s Spirit and given over to His will.

What bigger need does a person have than to feel the love of Christ and to know Him personally? In honor of Dr. King, may I challenge you to lay your life down and love in deed and truth? Will you commit to give as you see a need, not as you have extra? Will you help someone you may not even like or someone who does not think highly of you? Can we live as real brothers and sisters, not known by the color of our skin but by the content of our character? Oh, that’s still a dream in many areas, isn’t it?

I thank God for Dr. King’s sacrifice and for the sacrifice of all who have laid down their lives for our freedoms. Even today, in 2012, we cannot put a time limit on the pain folks have suffered. We can however, live in such a way that honors all people and portrays empathy and genuine love and concern. It would also help if we ALL had a correct view of HIStory, not a view from only one side. Take the time to understand!

We cannot disregard race, or the discriminations and prejudices will go ignored. Most of us still have unerlying issues of prejudice to work out if are truly honest with ourselves. Ther is a glaring need to openly, honestly, and RESPECTFULLY discuss the real issues of life and realize that ONLY THROUGH CHRIST we can all be one!

Don’t get too comfortable, there is still a price to pay! For me and my family, the fight is not over until we all are one under the blood of Christ! FREEDOM ISN’T FREE! Are we willing to lay it down?

Friday, January 13, 2012

God's Intentions

So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.
(Job 34:10-12)

The much younger Elihu responds to Job and the other older gentleman with such wisdom. He has to remind them that God never does evil. He cannot do wrong! He is always faithful and just. If we are to be a people of understanding, we need to first know who God is and how He acts. God's intentions are for our good . . . David's words would fit well here:

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD (are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors?
(Psalm 19:7-12)

God has a plan for each of us. The more we understand God and the more we understand His character, the better we can go through life and its ups and downs. We cannot understand this life with our own understanding. God is pruning us, whether with correction or direction! He knows what is best for us in order to be the best for His sake.

Paul says it well in Romans:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28)

The present sufferings, disappointments, frustrations, even the successes we are going through are merely steps we go through to fulfill God's perfect will for us. Are we willing to accept the life God has for us? Do we seek God's intentions or our own? rust Him . . . He is still in control!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We Have to Take the Steps

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:1-9)

Whatever the vision, whatever the plans, whatever the challenges . . . we must take the steps necesarry to accomplish the tasks. God is looking for a few courageous folks today . . . to get out of the boat and trust Him.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
(Matthew 14:22-31)

Jesus went away from the disciples and let them alone on the water. Things got tough . . . Jesus was there but they did not quite recognize Him. Things were hazy . . . not very clear . . .

Peter needed some reassurance . . . he followed after Jesus, but lost sight of Him and began to sink below the surface . . .

BUT Jesus reached down!!!!!! Jesus REACHED DOWN . . . get that! Even as Peter began to take those little baby steps by faith, Jesus reached down to lift him up and carry him through!

Are we ready to take the steps to follow after the plan Jesus has for us? He stands ready to assist when we nmost need it!

Get out of the boat!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Than Enough!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:12-13)

Since submitting to a life of ministry in 1998, our family has lived out this very dream . . . to serve God and rely upon Him as our Source! As missionaries, God has given to us a vision . . . and we live it out by faith, because many times we literally cannot see beyond the moment with human sight! We live to carry out His plan for us day-by-day, because He just may return tomorrow! Though we plan for the future . . . that future is always in Christ. Visit our web pages when you have time: www.tsnministries.org.

Our family has a motto . . . work hard, play hard! There are times when we have been so blessed with summer vacations, weekends in the mountains, a dinner at a nice restaurant, even a car! There have been other periods when we have faced foreclosure, been in need of food, or prayed for CHRISTmas gifts for our children. Family does not always understand. Friends have misjudged us at times. Srangers look at us . . . well they look at us rather strangely at times! Yet we know God has us in the palm of His hand. To share what a friend of ours in New Orleans says . . . We have bet the farm on God!

We have decided to trust the Lord . . . we have no choice but to serve Him. (Joshua 24:15) It is awesome to join God in His work . . . in His joy . . .even in His sufferings. There is no better vocation. In reality, through all the ups and downs, we realize we have more than enough . . . we have God!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

But I'm Not Jesus!

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16)

But I'm Not Jesus! . . .How many times have we heard this? How many tmes have we actually said it? Yes, we are sinners, but because of His grace, becasue of His sacrifice, because of His Spirit dwelling within us . . . we can do it! We can be holy . . . and sin less and less!

I did not say it, Jesus did . . . listen!

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12)

Since we have the Holy Spirit within us, if we allow it complete control, we can do as Christ did . . even more Jesus said! The key to this is giving up . . . giving up control and handing over the keys to the Holy Spirit! Let Him be our guide and our strength. We can do all things . . . (Philippians 4:13)but through Christ, not through our own determination or power.

We can indeed be like Jesus. We can be holy . . .One minute at a time.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My first, my last, my everything!

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
(Psalm 62:7-8)

Is there ever a time not to trust in God? If we actually think about it, everything we have is because of God and depending upon God! So let's be real, he is the believer's everything! He is my first, my last, my everything . . .

David addresses this wisdom psalm to the choir director, Jeduthun, whose descendants actually founded a temple choir (1 Chronicles 16:41-42). It urges a quiet confidence in God concerning the enemies the people are facing. It challenges the believer that when all is said and done, God is victorious!

What are we challenged with this day? David urges us to pour out our hearts to God. No matter the challenge, he has it! As we trust Him, our faith grows and others see it as well. We can be a witness to others through our struggles, our victories, and even the small ups and downs of life. God is present and we must come to realize that He cares and He is more than able to get us through!

He is still Alpha and Omega . . . the first, the last . . . MY EVERYTHING!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A "Designer" God

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29)

With CHRISTmas a recent memory and visions of shoppers lined up to buy the newest designer shoes, handbag, or electronic equipment, I cannot help but reflect upon our designer God . . .

Jesus reminds us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that God indeed gives us all we will ever need and that in fact it is better than we could ever produce! His name is engraved in all ceation and the product is perfect. Man can do nothing but ruin the works of God . . . never improve upon them. Yet we still seek more . . . better . . . bigger. Will God ever be enough?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the the earth.
(Genesis 1:1)

God is the designer . . . better than calvin . . . more attractive than a polo . . . and more functional than an apple. God makes better stuff . . . period!

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
(Genesis 1:31)

God created the world in a mere seven days! It's still very good, even after we have done our best to destroy it. Yet we still seek a better way. We still need more things to make life better. We still want God and something else! Is being made in His image not enough?

I heard that grown men and women stood in line for hours just to get the latest sneaker. I wonder how many of them would stand in line for a Bible study or even a CHRISTmas service? Will they be in line when God stands at the register?

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 20:12-15)

What are we shopping for anyway? Whose name do we need stamped upon our lives? He is a Designer God after all!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Don't Worry . . . You Are Not Lost

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

I guess I realize that I am getting old because I am beginning to have dreams about the future and where my wife and children will be . . . I think of how they will react when I pass on . . .I wonder how long I will live . . . I even pray for a certain number of years if possible. But one thing I am sure about . . . I am not lost and neither are they! Anyone who knows Christ personally has a secure future.

Just last evening I was awakened from a dream where I was searching for my youngest son Michael. I was frantic . . . where is he? There had been some sort of disaster and people were everywhere. While I did find him in my dream, once awake I pondered the future if I was not around . . . are my children secure? . . . have I bulit into them the promises of Scripture? . . . will my wife be prepared for life without me?

Then I realized I was being selfish in a way. They all trust God in their own way. They all profess a faith in the Savior. God has them! While it was satisfying to know this, I still began to plead with God for days to be with them, to teach them, to enjoy life with them so it would make the reunion in heaven even that much more enjoyable. Though I lost sleep, I gained some peace . . .

God wants us to be at peace. As the prophet encouraged the people above, He wants us to live without fears, without despair, and without an attitude of resignation. God is not only with us now, but those who know Him will be with him for eternity! Here Zephaniah speaks of a people beyond the rivers of Ethiopia way beyond his knowledge of known territories at the time that would honor and praise God! It is encouraging to us todaythat God sees beyond our vision and plans. If we know God, despite the circumstances we can be encouraged . . . Don't worry, you are not lost! Jesus reminds us:

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10)

Jesus came to save us from this world of sin, disappointment, and despair. As we live, let us make the most of our days and influence everyone (especially family) concerning the things of God as long as we are able! The days on earth may be short, but the rewards in heaven are eternally ours!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Minimal Requirements

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8)

I am reminded this morning of a few of my most challenging verses in Scripture. God desires some minimal requirements of His children. The children of Israel, especially the leaders, had forgotten these standards. Justice, mercy, and a humble attitude are basic charateristics of worship. God gives us the strength, courage, and desire for Godly living . . . which is the basic form of worship to our God . . .how we conduct ourselves day to day!

Many of us believe that worship is what we do in church. I have come to understand that true worship is how we live each day . . . especially when our fellow church members are not around! James states this (James 1:27) and so does Paul in the following verses:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is . . .his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:1-2)

We cannot be caught up in the things of this world . . . even the surface activities of the church. God is concerned about our hearts. Our motives need to be to please and honor God and to bring Him glory. We need to put others before ourselves. This kind of character will naturally spill over into worship and cause others to seek Him as well. It is the least we can do for a God who does it all!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Run in the Proper Lane

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ . . .
(Titus 2:11-14)

Grace allows the believer to share Christ with others, rather than shun them or ignore them. Grace allows the Christ-follower to fleee from evil and live under the control of the Spirit of God, ignoring the lusts of our flesh. Grace allows us to live in anticipation of the return of our Savior rather than focusing on the negativity and depravity of the present world. Grace allows us to run in the proper lane of our lives as opposed to being tossed and pulled and pushed by every passing fancy of life.

Grace, having what we do not deserve because of the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, allows the believer tp have hope in the midst of hopelessness. It allows us to persevere to the finish line. May we all echo Paul's words one day . . .

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day . . . and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

(2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Run in the proper lane
. . . the one leading to our Savior!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Simple Resolution

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)

So many resolutions that never make it past the first few weeks of the new year. Here is a simple one for believers . . . God first! Let everything we do honor God and bring Him glory.

To do that, we need to be peculiar. (1 Peter 2:9) We need to stand out. We need to be extra-ordinary. We cannot tolerate the things of the world nor allow the world to censure us.

If we do indeed have Jesus within us then we need to reflect that light. It's not our light, but HIS. . . His will not ours . . . His applause, not man's.

A simple resolution . . . God first!

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...