Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31 . . .Be Wise . . . Be careful . . . Be Decidedly CHRISTian!

“When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire ( child sacrifice), or that useth divination, or an observer of times ( fortune-teller/palm readers) , or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits( fortune tellers and mediums) , or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. “
(Deuteronomy 18: 9-13) According to anthropologists, the true origins of Halloween go back about 2,000 years to the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which celebrated the end of the harvest season. Ancient Celts believed the day marked the beginning of winter, a time of year when ghosts returned to earth to wreak havoc on their crops and possess the living. To combat this, the Celts would don animal heads and skins as part of their interaction with the spirit world. The festival observed at this time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living.
Samhain, with its emphasis on the supernatural, was decidedly pagan. While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion's supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil.
I do not intend to make decisions for others. I would not ever try to dictate what goes on in someone else's home. Lord knows my family has enough issues to worry about! What I do desire is to have everyone to be informed and not ignorant! Satan still seeks to steal, lie, and destroy! Choose ye this day whom you will will serve . . . as for me and my house, well, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15) and do our best to honor Him whenever we have the opportunity! We definitely do to want to invite and demonic spirits into our lives! Be safe and Honor the Creator and Giver of all that is good!(James 1:17)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The "Tools" of friendship

After that, Jonathan and David became close friends. Jonathan loved David just as he loved himself. From that time on, Saul kept David with him. He didn’t let him return to his father’s home. Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him just as he loved himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David. He also gave him his military clothes. He even gave him his sword, his bow and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:1-4)
Our world is so driven by technology that many people today try to ease their loneliness through social media and on-line relationships. A computer friend can never satisfy or compare to the human fellowship that God designed for man. However, healthy friendships don't just happen. They require intentional effort. Sacrifice . . .Commitment . . .Time . . .Selflessness . . . all tools of friendship. Are these tools found in your toolbox ? Are these tools sharpened and ready for use or rusting away in your garage of past hurts and disappointments? Jonathan was willing to give David all that was for him as the King's son. He realized that David was the better man and more equipped and he also realized David was God's anointed. David in turn pledged his friendship to Jonathan and was humble and patient in his role as God's soon-to-be king. They had a life-long bond.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly,But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
Got Friends?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We CAN Change . . . Yes , We CAN!

You must no longer live like those who aren’t Jews. Their thoughts don’t have any purpose. 18 They can’t understand the truth. They are separated from the life of God. That is because they don’t know him. And they don’t know him because their hearts are stubborn. 19 They have lost all feeling for what is right. They have given themselves over to the evil pleasures of their bodies. They take part in every kind of unclean act. And they always long for more. 20 But that is not what you have learned about Christ. 21 I’m sure you heard of him. I’m sure you were taught by him. What you learned was the truth about Jesus. 22 You were taught not to live the way you used to. You must get rid of your old way of life. That’s because it is polluted by longing for things that lead you down the wrong path. 23 You were taught to be made new in your thinking. 24 You were taught to start living a new life. It is created to be truly good and holy, just as God is. 25 So each of you must get rid of your lying. Speak the truth to your neighbor. We are all parts of one body. 26 Scripture says, “When you are angry, do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. 27 Don’t give the devil a chance. (Ephesians 4:17-27)
Ponder these verses and simply ask yourself:
"Why do I keep sinning over and over again?"
Just meditate on this question throughout the day and ask God to strengthen you (and me!).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In _________ We Trust

Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses. But we trust in the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)
In what or whom do we really trust? The psalmist writes that some trust in chariots or horses . . . or armies for protection. Large armies were a sign of strength. In today's world, small groups of terrorists can bring down a nation and even cause a world to shudder. People whom we once trusted may turn their backs on us at any time.
So whom do we trust?
Whom do we trust to for comfort, support, strength, and guidance? What gives us peace in a dangerous world? How do we cope?
My answer is the exact same Lord . . . MY GOD . . . that the psalmist wrote about in Psalm 20! As for me and my house, we will trust and serve Almighty God!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sharing Faith on Social Media. .

Let wise people listen and add to what they have learned. Let those who understand what is right get guidance. What I’m teaching also helps you understand proverbs and stories. It helps you understand the sayings and riddles of those who are wise. If you really want to gain knowledge, you must begin by having respect for the Lord. But foolish people hate wisdom and training. (Proverbs 1:5-7)
One reason I love social media is to see, hear, and join in on the many conversations. I must admit, they can e interesting! So many trying to prove themselves right or prove someone else wrong. I often wonder how Jesus would handle Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like . . . I do believe He would participate, because He was a sociable person who loved conversation. I also think we would meet Him at Panera, Starbucks and the ballgames too, but that's another topic! While I love the interaction, I do not enjoy so many trying to make people believe lies and sway folks by popular opinion. This is especially true in the CHRISTian conversations. While I love a good debate, there are some things not simply are NOT debatable and other topics we could really enjoy debating without getting angry or offended. Facts are facts yet we can still share opinions and suggestions to further challenge our faith. I learn many things I previously did not know but also am strengthened in my faith by sharing in chats, tweets, and comments . . . whether I agree or disagree! I may have helped someone else along the way . . .
If any of you need wisdom, ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone. He doesn’t find fault. But when you ask, you MUST believe. You must not doubt. People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around. (James 1:5-6)
Social media is a great way to get out the TRUTH to many, but are we making ourselves look foolish too often? What do you think about social media and CHRISTian conversation?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's Not About Fitting in . . .

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)
I am not your average cookie-cutter CHRISTian. Very often, I do not fit the mold of what is expected. I can be taken wrongly at times . . . misunderstood . . . misquoted . . . mistaken. Often I feel like one of the toys on "Misfit Island" . . . "I'll never fit in . . ." But it's ok . . .
I am sure of this one thing however: God knows me and I know Him! I cannot and will not always please people!
Often times as a believer we can find ourselves walking alone even though we are walking with God. While there are indeed times we are walking in sin and really alone, be assured not everyone will agree with us or desire to partner with us when we are in God's will! I remember a man who once walked this earth who was rejected by family, falsely accused by friends and enemies alike, and even rejected by His church family. In fact, many desired to see Him dead! Yet He persevered to accomplish His Father's will in life.
But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation. You are a people who belong to God. All of this is so that you can sing his praises. He brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
We are called by God to stand out, not fit in. We are called out to be peculiar and separate from the crowd. So I am ok with who I am and God has reassured me that I belong to Him. He has a very unique and yes, unusual plan for me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cleared of All Wrong-doing!

“There is NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NLT)
This just in . . . the JUDGE has reached a decision:
The defendant has been declared "NOT GUILTY!". He has been cleared of ALL wrongdoing!
This is great news for anyone facing jail, imprisonment, or other serious consequences for breaking the law. MERCY has been granted. The defendant will not receive what is a just sentencing. But in the case of a CHRIST-follower, we not only receive mercy . . . but GRACE!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Just think about these basic facts of salvation today and praise God for it: Do not abuse the rights we have as children of God!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Be Real With Yourself

“I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” (Romans 7:22-23 NLT)
I read just yesterday that if we say we do not sin, we are liars. (1 John 1:8)I so believe that! It's a daily struggle. But I must say, it is a battle Christ is winning within me. The more I spend time in His Word and just with Him, the more I recognize the signs of temptation.I can see the sin coming around the bend at times and take steps to ward it off. I often tell young and old alike that though we may never become sinless in this wretched flesh,we can sin less and less day by day. Being real with ourselves, we can agree with God about the sin that so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1)and make a plan to avoid and conquer it! What are some practical steps to take to battle this sin nature? I am so glad you asked:
*Daily reading of His Word, listening to CHRISTian music; *devoting our time to study His Word and make practical application; *surrounding ourselves with good, honest CHRISTian comrades who are willing to fight with us; *corporate worship on a regular basis at a Bible-teaching church; *small group studies; *honest assessments of ourselves.
God will not force us to obey. Satan will be excited for us to do nothing at all. The decision is yours and mine. Are we willing to put in the work?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Man on a Mission

The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:24-28)
Many movies have been written and they portray Jesus more like a wandering vagabond than one with a purposeful agenda. He goes from town to town and speaks to anyone who will listen, picking up groups of followers along the way. Nothing is further from the truth! According to the apostle John, Jesus was a man on a mission who knew exactly what he had come to Earth to accomplish. John also states his purpose in writing very clearly: to get people to believe in Jesus the Messiah. Both the apostle John and his dear friend and Savior Jesus had God's plan on their minds. They were on a mission to accomplish what God had set forth within their hearts; to know and love and serve God!
As Christians, even young Christians, we can in fact know God's will and carry out. it takes focus, study, attention to detail, and practice . . . yes practice!
Reading the words of Jesus above we see that if we know our Shepherd than we hear His voice and follow after Him. We can only be familiar with one's voice by listening. Read His Word. Listen intently at church and to various teachings on radio,TV, in school,and from those who know more than you. Put into practice what you learn.
Once we belong to the Savior we cannot be lost. We are secure forever. These are Jesus' words, not mine! (John 10:28)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Truth or Lie?

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:6-10)
Self-defeat begins with a lie . . . a lie we have told ourselves or one we have come to believe about ourselves that someone else has spread. Maybe we’ve believed one of Satan’s lies. Our heart is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) according to Scripture. We have an amazing ability to lie to ourselves!
Let's stop it! Stop rationalizing. . . Stop minimizing our behavior. . . Stop excusing and tolerating the lies.
Let's first acknowledge that it an OXYMORON to be a CHRIST-follower and tolerate sin! We simply cannot accept sin and admit to be following after the sinless Savior. Light and darkness can't co-exist. Life and death simply do not hang out together!They are polar opposites! So today . . . maybe for the first time, let's admit that we need to do a better job of accepting the TRUTH and admitting our own lies. I don't know about you, but I want to be on speaking terms with the Creator and King of this world! I want to please Him. I want Him to say:
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!"(Matthew 25:23)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Do you know what time it is?

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Time on our watches . . . time on our tablets . . . time on our phones . . . time on the clock on the wall . . . We see time ticking away minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. Yet as consumed as we are with time, we never seem to have enough of it to do what wehave planned! Yet God has given us plenty of time to do what He has planned for us. The question is this: Do we know what His plan is for us?
We have only two options:to spend our time temporally on our own interests or invest it eternally on God's plans. Since time can never be retrieved or reversed, it's critical that we make the most of every opportunity the Lord provides.
But how do we know what God has planned? We have to ask . . . seek . . . listen. Just as we ask our boss or parents, or teachers what we have to do today, God also has an agenda to accomplish in and through us. We need to be in communication with Him daily. We may even have to write those plans down much like we do our own "to do" list. Soon enough, our list and God's list will line up together!
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14)
Do you know what time it is?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Choose today . . .

. . .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, fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . (Hebrews 12:2-3)
Focusing on the first part of verse one of Hebrews 12 we read that we have a huge throng of "witnesses" in which to fall back upon for strength and encouragement in our walk with Christ. That's encouraging! However, having a strong support system is not always enough . . . we must make some hard decisions in life in order to really follow after Jesus as he demands of us.
In order to "throw off " things that are keeping us a distance from Christ, we must "act". We may have to sever a friendship or at least back away a bit. We may have to stop certain activities; websites, social media, after-school or after-work gatherings, etc.
The verses above give us a very concise three-step plan. Sounds like a sermon, huh?
1. Throw off the sin . . . run from it . . . flee temptation and sin! 2. Run the race God has set out for us . . . stay in our line not someone else's lane . . . be yourself and be satisfied with that! 3. Stay focused on Jesus. We are to please Him and no one else. He is our focal point in life.
This is a hard lesson to accept for youth and adults alike. We like to be around friends and have "BFF's" and "FOLLOWERS". We all like to be "LIKED" and to be popular. However, the bottom line is are we on good terms with God and shaky ground with others, or vice-verse?
Joshua 24:15 keeps ringing in my ears daily . . ."But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
How 'bout you?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Parent / Child Relationships: No Regrets in Obedience!

. . .yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you . . . (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)
As parents, we are never "happy" to have to correct or discipline our children. It is very true that many times the discipline hurts us even more than the pain the children feel. However, what brings joy is seeing the child come to understand his or her wrongdoing and decide to change their behavior. It is similar to our salvation experience. We experience the glory and holiness of God and we repent and seek to live in a Godly fashion. Oh yes, there are bumps in the road when we decide to go outside of His will and see what sin we can get away with! But to repent and receive the grace of our Father brings relief to us and joy to our heavenly Dad! It is no different than when parents see their children begin to make mature decisions in life. The words of Samuel ring true today . . . To obey is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22) As the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sinful acts, we receive understanding from a holy and righteous perspective . . . God's perspective. We must decide to put away the things the world allows and accept God's guidelines and lifestyle demands. There are no regrets in obedience: whether it involves and parent and child or you and me in relationship to God.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”(1 Peter 1:14-16)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Practical Application

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
Going to Bibles study, reading the Word daily, involved in ministry, going church . . . these all all noble and Godly activities. However, if we never really apply what we are learning . . . just "hearing" things and "being places", the effort is useless.
James reminds us to be "doers of the word" (James 1:22).
Have you ever left a church service and asked, "What was it that the pastor said in his sermon?" Have you ever gone to a Christian seminar or retreat and though you took all kinds of notes, one or two days later you can't even find the tablet or notebook in which you wrote the notes? Many times, we get so caught up in "doing" that we forget the reason behind all the activities . . . to become a more effective believer and to honor God more with our lives.
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).
Satan doesn't mind if we are involved in Christian activities . . . as long as do nothing about it! Are we applying what we are learning?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Don't Worry . . . God's Got It!

“So don’t worry. Don’t say, ‘What will we eat?’ Or, ‘What will we drink?’ Or, ‘What will we wear?’ People who are ungodly run after all of those things. Your Father who is in heaven knows that you need them. “But put God’s kingdom first. Do what he wants you to do. Then all of those things will also be given to you.“So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)
God makes the best out of the worst situations. Can you think of a horrible time in your life when you thought you would never make it through another day . . .another hour . . .another minute? I am sure that if you cannot, your friends are able to remember. You panicked. You questioned everything and everyone. You worried yourself silly . . .but you made it!
We hope for what we don’t have yet. So we are patient as we wait for it. In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don’t know what we should pray for. But the Spirit himself prays for us. He prays with groans too deep for words. God, who looks into our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit. And the Spirit prays for God’s people just as God wants him to pray. We will win. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose.(Romans 8:25-28)
Bad things can and will happen to good people . . . to God's people. Yet we place our hope in His will for our lives. We trust that God knows best for us! He has overcome the world and though Him we can overcome every circumstance. Through it all we grow to serve Him and others better!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Company We Keep

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,nor stands in the way of sinners,nor sits in the seat of scoffers;but his delight is in the law of the LORD,and on his law he meditates day and night.(Psalm 1:1-2)
If we truly feared God as we should (Prov. 1:7; Isa. 66:2), these first two verses alone should to be motivation enough for us to meditate on His Word throughout the day. Yet even so, God graciously gives us practical motivation throughout His Word.
But as for these first two verses, there a couple of key words to notice. The first is "Blessed," which generally means "happy." Another way of translating it could be "Happy is the man...whose delight is in the law of the Lord.
It's not always natural to feel "happy" about meditating on the Word of God - especially day and night. It should be, mind you - to our new selves, "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:24). But to our natural selves, the selves with the remnant of that sinful nature, it is not a delight at all, but a tremendous burden. That part of us rejects the law of God at the outset.
The man whose delight is in God's Word is truly a happy man, a blessed man. And that's the other word worth mentioning in this post - delight. This Psalm 1 man, who is able to avoid being taken in by the counsel and wicked ways of unbelievers, he doesn't simply do so by tolerating the Law of God. He delights in it! It's no wonder that he is able persistently to meditate on it day and night; his delight is so great that he would rather not do anything else.
If your delight is in God's Word, then you are a happy and blessed person! You are so satisfied and content in the presence of the Almighty that you meditate on His Word day and night rather than keeping close company with those who would keep you away from our Savior.But bear in mind, if your delight is not in the Law of God, then pay urgent attention to your lifestyle. The Psalmist only gives us two options: we are either walking with sinners or delighting in the joy of our God. Which option are you choosing? (Liberty University Connections)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't be a Brain-Dead Believer!

"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." (2 Peter 1:5-6)
You started with faith, trusting God that Jesus' death on the cross was full-payment for your sin and welcoming His Spirit as full-power for your new life. However, many of us stop trying there, content to be saved, not really wanting to be changed.
But Peter said that's only the beginning of the work to be done in you with God's power.
Build on to that faith with GOODNESS, the DESIRE to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing. Keep going. An impulse for goodness without KNOWING what is truly good would be worthless. You'll need to build in KNOWLEDGE. Once you know the GOOD to do, it will take SELF-CONTROL to actually do it today. PERSEVERANCE (self-control + time) is required to keep doing the good thing tomorrow. Now we need GODLINESS to become like our Father and do the good thing all the time.
THINK: Are you building on your faith in Jesus? Are you adding in a desire to do good? Knowledge about what is absolutely good? Self-control to do good when you don't feel like it? Perseverance to keep doing good? And godliness to do it in every area of your life?
Pray: Prayer changes things. Be sincere and ask God to help you to add to your faith goodness and to that knowledge and to that self-control and to that perseverance and to that godliness.
Make a reminder to keep you focused: perhaps sticky notes with the words FAITH, GOODNESS, KNOWLEDGE, SELF-CONTROL, PERSEVERANCE, and GODLINESS written on them all around your room, office,car, or locker.
What will work for you?
*suggestions from devotions at http://planetwisdom.com/the-word-coming-soon-light

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Take Time to Plan with God

Proud eyes and a proud heart are the lamp of sinful people.But those things are evil. The plans of people who work hard succeed. You can be sure that those in a hurry will become poor. (Proverbs 21:4-5 NIrV)
Pastor Rick Warren (Saddleback Church in California)says "Having a quiet time is like many other activities you might do in life — in at least one respect. To be successful, it helps to have a plan."
1. Initially, having quiet time means just that: be quiet. Sit and just quiet down before the Lord and allow Him to put you in a frame of mind to hear from Him. 2. Then, pray. Ask God to forgive any wrongdoings, cleanse your heart and mind. Let Him know how much you love Him and seek His guidance. 3. Now, slowly read a portion of Scripture. Don't get too spiritual here. Short, sweet and effective. There are many Bible reading plans and on-line devotions to share. There are also many good guides in local Christian bookstores. I even wrote a short 30-day devotional for others to use! () 4. Then we should meditate on the Word. Meditate in this sense does not mean to empty our minds of everything as some recommend. Here we are to fill our minds with God's Word and His direction. Think about what He has spoken. 5. Now, write down what you discover. Journaling is a great way to record spiritual growth. It reminds us what God God has done and how we come to trust Him. Is time with the Creator not worth recording? It is helpful to even go back and remember from time to time.
So what is your plan today . . . tomorrow . . . next week . . . the coming year?
Is God included?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Inmates are Running the Jail

“Now I beg you to be brave. Not one of you will die. Only the ship will be destroyed." (Acts 27:22)
The inmates are running the jail! Wouldn't that be a disaster? Not in this case! Remember, all things are possible with God! When all seems lost and there is no way out, remember Paul's words here:
"But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”
This chapter gives an eyewitness account of an ocean storm, the once-in-a-decade kind of storm that survivors never forget. . . The Perfect Storm! Dense clouds blot out the sun and stars for many days and nights; the entire shipload of 276 passengers and crew goes without food for two weeks, and no one knows whether the passengers will survive to see another day. No one, that is, except the apostle Paul. he is focused upon the Captain of the ship! Luke vividly depicts the on-board frenzy: sailors lashing ropes around their groaning ship, the crew heaving precious food and supplies overboard, Roman soldiers with drawn swords preparing to slash their prisoners’ throats. In the midst of all this hysteria stands the apostle Paul, calmly predicting what will happen next.
God has promised Paul he will visit Rome; a vision has confirmed it and Paul never doubts it, even when the boat breaks in pieces around him.
Once more Paul reveals himself as a man of unshakable courage. The Roman centurion surely recognizes it: He grants Paul extraordinary privileges and protection. By the end of the storm, everyone on the ship is following the advice of the prisoner from Tarsus.
So . . . How do you normally react in a crisis? Panic? Confidence? Trusting Whom?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Passions

Those people are trying hard to win you over. But it is not for your good. They want to take you away from us. They want you to commit yourselves to them. 18 It is fine to be committed to something, if the purpose is good. And you shouldn’t be committed only when I am with you. You should always be committed. (Galatians 4:17-18)
Paul is confused as to what has happened to the people he once taught in Galatia. They supported him and followed his teachings, but now they are being pulled by others who teach a different Gospel. Paul is fearful that those who once followed him (and Christ) are now being lured to follow others. How often are we tempted to fall away from the teachings of Scripture? Are we tempted to leave sound teaching when it becomes too challenging? Do we like to be entertained . . . made to feel good . . . patted on the back all the time? Many times, the words of Scripture cut deeply. They are meant to shape us and discipline us. It is not always fun! Yet the true follower of Christ while not enjoying it, comes to cherish the times of discipline. Like an athlete in training, the benefits often come much later.
Anyone who loves to be trained loves knowledge. Anyone who hates to be corrected is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)
Paul is concerned that those who once were passionate for the Gospel and to follow after Jesus were now chasing after other teachings. What about us?
What are you passionate about?
Is it a Godly passion?
Are you acting on your passion?

Monday, October 6, 2014

A WORDly Focus

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.(Colossians 3:12-17 NIrV
How is it possible to live a REAL CHRISTian life in such a terrible, tempting, and trying world? Here in Paul's letter to the Colossians we have some practical suggestions. The first suggestion is all about others . . . as God has loved us so we must love others. Sounds simple, right? Care for one another. Show them kindness when they are in need. Be gentle with those who are hurting. Show patience and compassion with others as they are going through challenges. We never know how much someone is hurting unless we ask! Care a bit more about others than we do ourselves . . . stop being so selfish!!!! Secondly Paul reminds us to be ready to carry the load for someone. After all, if Christ can bear all of our sins, we can at least put up with an impatient co-worker, dry a little one's tears, or encourage someone who is down. A kind word, a cup of coffee, a simple high five might make someone's day! Then we can forgive . . . just as God forgives us! Oh, we love to be forgiven. The slate is wiped clean and we can start fresh . . . except when it comes to others hurting us! Let it go . . . LET IT GO!
Finally, LOVE others! Love as God loves us . . . just because! In a WORLD full of hate, deception, and evil desires, we must be focused upon God's WORD. God is LOVE. Love is the definition of a believer. Let it define you!

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! ” ...