Thursday, April 30, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand . . . when I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139: 13-18)
As the psalmist wrote, in the economy of God, every human being's value is priceless. We . . . ALL human beings made in the image of God . . . are not commodities. No matter our race . . . no matter our age . . . no matter our gender . . . no matter our zip code or economic condition . . . no matter our religious affiliation or manner of dress . . . we all are created in the image of Almighty God and have His life breathed into us. This make us all special and worthy of respect and love!
Now, as CHRIST-followers we are called to do just that . . . love as CHRIST loved . . . unconditionally! There is no wiggle room!
Let's examine ourselves in the light of recent activities throughout our communities, throughout the Nation, throughout the world:
Whom do we choose to love?
Whom do we choose to ignore?
What right do we have to love some more than others . . . to ignore one area and pour out love and compassion upon another?
Who do we think we are?
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
. . . and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” (Nehemiah 2:5)
If you know anything about me, you now this: I love my city where I grew up, went to school, and still cheer my teams. I bleed purple and orange. Just ask my bride and children. I love Baltimore and am so very proud of our past and even today, I know I will be proud of my city when all is said and done.
But it needs re-building . . . from the inside out. With a "church on every corner", there is still hatred, regret, hostility, and a call for justice . . . even retribution. But it cannot be calm and peace without a heart change by every one of us. Words will not heal. Legislation will not heal. Only the Word of God and the action of His people will bring true change . . . a change of heart. Rhetoric is done. Preaching is through. It's time to be "Jesus with skin on" for the CHRISTian race!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
I have been to other cities and countries to help; now It's MY CITY in need. I want to go. I want to help. I want my teen age son to be a part of this and to remember this time in our life. I want to leave a legacy for him and my grandchildren that I did not sit idly by and allow Satan to destroy the hearts and minds of our youth and not so young as well. But how beyond prayer?
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
When Jesus was unjustly tried and unfairly sentenced to die by a murderous Roman police force (guards) in the public view, He returned not to seek revenge but to seek change. He instructed His followers to go out and make disciples . . . followers of Him. Yes, the followers of Christ were angry and afraid. However, with the newly found Spirit of God indwelling them, they changed the world from the inside out with the active and hands-on message of Christ: repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of God is at hand! We, the followers of Jesus Christ right here in the Baltimore/DC area, must organize and go . . .
What better message . . . what better time than this?
Monday, April 27, 2015
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
Many times we wonder why God does not do things on our schedule. I know I do! We plan. We pray. We prepare. Then it rains . . . someone falls ill . . . a job offer does not come through . . . a vehicle breaks down . . .
These are the times when we must believe in the goodness of God's heart and His plans. We must decide to accept His timing and wait until He says "Now!".
Over time and with experience in trusting God with His plans and direction, not only will we experience more joy, but we will save a lot of time and heartache as well!
This world is so strange and present day activities throughout the world can seem so unexplainable. Yet God has it all planned out. The story is unfolding . . . HIS-tory!
Who are we going to trust? Whose side are we on anyway?
Friday, April 24, 2015
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity . . . (Psalm 37:8-11)
The psalmist encourages us to wait it out! We do not need to react like everyone else. No "evil for evil" or "we must get even". There will never be any real justice on this earth. As believers, our goal is RIGHTEOUSNESS, GOD'S righteousness. Yet evil will end . . . one day. God will prevail and those who follow His ways will experience the victory!
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:5-6)
Now I can hear the grumbling and the bitterness beginning to rise:
"You don't know what I have been through!"
"You aren't me!"
"You just don't understand!"
And you are absolutely RIGHT! I have NOT been through what you have been through! I am NOT you! I do NOT understand everything everyone has gone through.
Oh, but God KNOWS! Jesus has felt the pain. He has been ridiculed . . . called out of His name . . . wrongly accused . . .unjustly tried, sentenced, and put to death!
Oh, Jesus knows ALL of our struggles. He knows ALL of our pain, sufferings, embarrassments, mistreatments, insecurities, despair, thoughts of suicide . . .
Do not mistake meekness for weakness. Meekness is biblically defined as power under control! Take a STAND, but take a GODLY stand! Remember WHOM we represent. Remember to WHOM we owe our freedom. Remember from WHOM our help comes!
This may be a different point of view from many today . . . but it's not from me, but from God!
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you;never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
At times in our lives, God may seem absent, but ultimately we know that He will never leave us. We feel so alone and unappreciated at times. We feel so left out. We see others flourishing and we are in WANT. . . but not NEED!
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. . . . No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:19-24)
As CHRIST-followers, we must be just that . . . following CHRIST and not the world!
What (Who?) are we following after today?
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
ACCOUNTABILITY . . .to God . . . to ourselves . . .and to others . . .
Along with the word SIN, this is another word often misused, ignored, or even erased from not just our society, but within our churches.
Listen to these verses . . .
Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. The spirit wants to do what is right, but the body is weak. (Matthew 26:41)
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
But do not follow foolish stories that disagree with God’s truth, but train yourself to serve God. (1 Timothy 4:7)
Share in the troubles we have like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier wants to please the enlisting officer, so no one serving in the army wastes time with everyday matters. Also an athlete who takes part in a contest must obey all the rules in order to win. (2 Timothy 2:3-5)
So what are these verses saying? Are we not our brothers' keepers? Are we not accountable to one another? Are we NOT to ignore sin, questionable lifestyle choices, character issues, and the like?
However . . .
We do not want to allow others to know our business.
We do not want to get in others' business.
We act like God doesn't already know all of our business!
We would rather simply go through life accepted and free from responsibility. Are we committed to training ourselves to make obedience to God our daily habit?
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+8%3A38-39&version=NIV
Feeling unloved? Don't we all feel this way at times? Mentally or physically fogotten? . . . abandoned? . . . misrepresented? . . . misunderstood? . . . mistaken? . . . left out in the cold?
In the midst of our most adverse circumstances, people
tend to feel that love has been withdrawn and they have been forsaken. This
feeling of abandonment is often worse than the adversity itself. Be assured, Jesus felt this many times, culminating upon the cross!
Yet in these times, if we listen closely, we hear His voice whispering in our ear: "Be assured that I never abandon any of My children, not even
When everyone else has disappeared, Jesus is with us. Seek Him. Embrace the time. What a specal time of intimate fellowship!
Monday, April 20, 2015
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:22-24)
Grandma had a hard time finding the right video game. Eventually, she sent her grandson the money for the game, since she really did not know where to find it. After months of waiting, the money came with a loving note from the grandmother . . . "I did not forget you!"
This boy believed in his gift when he could not see it. He knew his grandmother would not let him down. She would keep her promise. That is what faith in God is all about. We know Him and we know He will not fail us. We know He will keep his promises, and we live waiting for Him to give us what we need. God supplies when we need things . . . in His timing!
This simple prayer may help us all through the days and weeks ahead:
Dear Lord, Help me to believe that you are at work even when I can’t see anything happening. I know you hear me when I pray. Thank you for listening. Sometimes that is enough!
Friday, April 17, 2015
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1Thessalonians 4:16-18)https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+4%3A16-18&version=NIV
Heading into another weekend with thoughts and plans to enjoy family, friends, or maybe even just "rest"? Well, here are some encouraging words to think about as we plan . . .
Jesus just may come back . . . some time this weekend!
Are we prepared? Are we planning? Are we excited?
Let's make this our priority . . . to be expectant and ready!
Thursday, April 16, 2015
“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 than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27)
Have you ever seen a worried look upon a sparrow? Did you ever notice the image of fear upon a flower? God has a way of supplying nature with all it needs. Yet we worry about senseless things!
So let me ask you this: As you we worry, does it ever add to our sleep or increase our level of comfort? Does it give us more hair? So here is some practical advice . . .
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. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Rather than worry about things, seek the One who controls the things! Go directly to the Source!
Don't worry . . . be HOLY!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Some of the world’s most famous literature originated in, of all places, a prison cell. Ironically, it takes a stint in prison to free Paul up to see the joy of fellowship with Christ. The letter to the Ephesians gives a hint as to what the apostle Paul sees when he lets his mind wander beyond the monotony of his place of confinement. Being alone is not always so lonely!
Many times we get so busy wrapped up in ourselves and our problems that we miss the little joys of life . . . a sunrise, a child's laughter, a bird singing. We get so involved we cannot see the forest for the trees as they say!
Will it take an illness, a hospital stay, a sudden traffic scare, or worse for us to slow down and see the joy God is giving us each day? Just knowing HIM is enough!
Take a few minutes . . . think about all the good around you . . . SMILE!
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Who is El Shaddai?
Almighty God . . . the All-Sufficient One . . .Shaddai was one of the many gods in Canaanite religion, but El-Shaddai is THE ALMIGHTY GOD . . . this God is greater than any other god! He supplies all we ever need and want in life.
Like Paul, with you and me, the demands of life seem overwhelming at times. When they do, we must learn to rely not only upon our own resources, but moreso upon the promises of our Father in heaven.
God will hold our hand and walk with us and our families if we simply allow Him. Even as circumstances are difficult, trust the Father.
His grace alone will get us through!
Do you know El Shaddai?
Monday, April 13, 2015
I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed . . . I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God. . . . I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. (Isaiah 43:11-12,20-21)
What is our life mission? It is our life’s work. It’s what God created us to do on this planet. The body of our life work is our life mission. It is the effort of every day's journey. It becomes our legacy.
What is our life message? It’s what God wants to say to the world through us. It’s unique. It’s our message from God to the world.
Are we hearing from God? Are we obeying His instruction and carrying out His blueprint upon our lives?
One reason we become so frustrated is that we are doing things all wrong. We may be trying to navigate through someone else's design! What God has for each of us is unique for each of us!
To know God's plans requires us to know God. We must spend time with Him. Private time . . . personal time . . . daily time.
What are you doing with your life today? It's a great day to start with God!
Friday, April 10, 2015
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. (1 Corinthians 15:3-11)
What motivates us to get up every morning? Is it the job . . . the gym . . . family . . . or an opportunity to serve?
Scripture is clear regarding what should motivate us: Gratitude for what Jesus Christ did for us in willingly going to the cross . . .gratitude in every aspect of life. God's beloved Son, Jesus, gave His life as a sacrifice so that we could have eternal life with God. It may sound a bit strange, but we find our life in Christ's death and resurrection. God's gift to us was Jesus' sacrifice . . . a gift we did not deserve!
Charles Spurgeon said this back in the 1800's: "The most potent motive for holiness is free grace and we should be moved by gratitude to a height of dedication and purity and obedience that mere legalism can never know."
We are not our own. By God's grace we are here today and freed from sin. That alone is motivation to honor Him. Every day is a day to serve God by serving others.
What will we do today
with the opportunities we are presented?
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. (Colossians 3:18-25)
I learned a long time ago from an older gentleman at church that only what I do for Christ will last. This has stuck with me for the last twenty-three years! Whether it is family activity, work, or just general living, it is true. We do it all unto the Lord!
As I spend time with my bride . . . how I treat her reflects my devotion and respect toward the Lord. As I raise my children, I show them Christ and reflect His love. As I work at home and on the job, I turn my work into worship. This way, I start storing up credits in Heaven. I make eternal deposits in Heaven.
Whether I am cutting the lawn, hanging out at family movie night, preparing a lesson plan, or at date night with my bride, it is actually an act of worship unto my Savior.
We are not living in this world. We are living toward heaven. Only what we do for Christ . . . all we do for Christ . . . will reap eternal rewards!
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’[Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:3-12)
Author J.B. Phillips, after spending 14 years translating the New Testament, sat back and reflected on his most lasting impressions. He kept returning to the book of Acts and its portrait of an infant church. “The sick are not merely prayed about,” said Phillips. “They are healed, often suddenly and dramatically … Human nature is changed. The fresh air of Heaven blows gustily through these pages. “The early church lived dangerously, but never before has such a handful of people exerted such widespread influence … To put it shortly, the lasting excitement which follows the reading of the book is this: The thing works!”
This THING is not really a thing at all, but rather a PERSON. . . God the Holy Spirit. Jesus went back to heaven to allow His Spirit to be given to every believer. It is given to us to work, not to relax. Living on the edge ("dangerously" as Mr. Phillips mentioned above) makes lasting results in our lives and the lives around us.
How is the Holy Spirit active in your life?
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Sensible Living . . .
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. (Psalm 25:8-15)
As CHRIST-followers, we need to live with a sense of purpose . . . not simply getting by day after day. Routine living is never routine for a CHRIST-follower. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine. But consider the benefits of keeping our spiritual eyes and ears opened every day . . . throughout the day!
God is at work around us all day and every day. It's not just in the big miracles of life, but in the mundane and every day. The more we see God's footprints in our lives the more we realize how deeply involved He is in our daily lives.
Why would we NOT want God involved? Would that even make sense?
Ever wonder what it would be like if God took a break? Now that would be scary!!!!
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Think back to the day after the crucifixion. The day when everything went silent. It’s a strange day, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light.
Even in the Bible . . . outside of one detail about guards being posted to watch the tomb . . . we’re told nothing about Saturday. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened.
Even though we know the rest of the story, the followers of Christ did not back then. But my question today is this:
What are we doing with the in-between today?
We too are waiting. We too sometmes see no hope. We too sense silence, despair, defeat.
Do we not trust God at His word? Do we still doubt after all the evidence? What keeps us from living by faith . . . by facts? Why are we in hiding today?
In-between these times of Jesus' return we are to be working, anticipating, witnessing as to Who He is and what He has in store for mankind. There is NO reason for His followers today to be hiding or running scared. I don't know about you, but I hope He comes back today! If not today then tomorrow . . . or the next day! But I am not going to be found hiding out or shrinking back!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
I will be telling someone!
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. (Matthew 27:37)
Passover begins tomorrow, April 3. For those of us who aren't familiar with Jewish traditions, Passover is an eight-day festival which is celebrated from the 15th to the 22nd of the Hebrew month called Nissan. The dates on the American calendar change every year. This year Passover is Friday, April 3 (Shabbat, or Sabbath) in the evening through Saturday, April 11 after sundown.
Some intersting facts about the crucifixion . . .
Governor Pilate also wrote an inscription, and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.’
The letters were the first letters of each of the nouns in the inscription in Latin. The inscription in the Latin Vulgate reads:: “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” (INRI).
Since the inscription had been in three languages — Latin, Greek, and Hebrew — is transliterated from Hebrew to English to these words: “Y’Shua HaNatzri V’Melech HaYehudim.” Take the first letters of each of these words. It spellsd “YHVH,” the Tetragrammaton form of the name of God! YHVH and YHWH can be used interchangeably. When this technique of abbreviating is used, the title on the cross in the actual Hebraic script undeniably reveals the name of God. In English, the name is pronounced “Yahweh!”
Just like the Jews put their family name on their lamb for sacrifice at the Temple, God put His name on His Lamb for His family, which includes you and me!
Who is this Jesus? Is He YOUR Lord and King . . .YOUR Savior?
Anticipating the REALITY. . .
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Yes I am a FOOL! I am crazy abut Jesus!
We are FOOLS for Christ. But you are so wise in Christ! We are weak. But you are so strong! You are honored. But we are looked down on! (1 Corinthians 4:10)
Yet there are other FOOLS in this world and they are gaining ground . . .
FOOLISH people say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They do all kinds of horrible and evil things. No one does anything good. (Psalm 14:1)
However, we who are CHRIST-followers know better . . . at least we should . . .
My dear brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone FOOL you. Every good and perfect gift is from God. This kind of gift comes down from the Father who created the heavenly lights. These lights create shadows that move. But the Father does not change like these shadows. God chose to give us new birth through the message of truth. He wanted us to be the first harvest of his new creation. (James 1:16-18)
Beware my brothers and sisters in Christ. Listen to wisdom . . . even in the day of FOOLS!
The way of FOOLS seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice . . .(Proverbs 12:15)
Happy April FOOLS' Day . . . let's set 'em straight! Staying HOLY this WEEK and Lord willing every week!
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and G...
Let's admit . . . We as Christ followers live in challenging days! But no more challenging than in the days of the writers of the New T...
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoev...