Friday, December 30, 2016

Back to the Future . . . .

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
As we close 2016 and look forward to 2017, we can truly see where God has provided. Any anxieties, worries, and concerns were mostly for naught, as God always did His job! Maybe we can learn for the future that God has this . . .you think? So as we approach another year, let's approach it with confidence knowing God is tight here with us . . .in fact fact He has been to 2017 and back to let us know He has everything in control. Will we trust Him at His Word? Will we commit to trusting Him just a bit more? More of Jesus and less of me . . .thant will work in 2017!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Time to Tune-up!

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity . . .(Proverbs 24:16)
As we approach the end of another year, I am so glad to know my failures do not disqualify me from God's grace. Once He rescues a sinner through Christ's blood, we are forever secure in His arms! We may stumble and fall, yet through grace we rise again and again. The unsaved are not so. Sin encompasses them and they forever doomed, no matter the effort they put forth. Jesus died and rose from the grave once for all sin . . .every sin for every one who accepts His offer of salvation. No sin can keep the redeemed from a relationship with the Savior . . .NO SIN! The only thing keeping one from Christ is to not acknowledge He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet it must be done while we yet live upon this earth! Ending 2016 and beginning 2017 is a fresh start for us all, but especially for the lost. Pray for salvation for those whom we know are in need of Jesus. Use this time to restart our engines as well. It is always a good time for a tune-up! And if you are still wandering, choose THIS a day to call upon Jesus to rescue you. No one is promised tomorrow . . .or next year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It's Me Lord!

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. (Galatians 6:2-5)
The blame game . . . We all play it. We do not want to look deep into our own hearts to solve issues, but we blame others. We blame the system. We blame family. We blame society. Paul urges us here to look inward. We alll are accountable for our own actions. We all will be held accountable by God as well (Romans 14:12) We all can do a better job of taking responsibility for our actions . . .our family issues, our health, our schooling, job performances, everything!
There is no one to blame but ME!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A NEW Year Diet

Sow for yourselves righteousness;reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)
Like in the prophet's days, we too must change our daily activities, especially what we take in. We need to return to a diet off prayer, repentance, fasting, and reformation. We need to MAKE time for God as we do work, family, and daily exercise. Breaking up "fallow" ground will require acknowledging the things that are choking out our relationship with God. We must put to practice the disciplines of prayer, devotion, fasting, study, etc. We have to weed out the things keeping us from our primary relationship which is with God. Just as we plan a daily diet and exercise routine, even getting up early or staying up late to be prepared, we must do the same concerning our time with God. Are we planning our private study and worship? Are we preparing to fast? Are we exercising our faith by works of kindness and generosity! In all our planning, we must make a plan to seek God and what He wants for you and me. Without a plan, we plan to fail. We cannot afford to fail God!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Continual giving . . .

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her . . .(Ephesians 5:25)
Ok . . .CHRISTmas is over. The gift giving is completed for the most part. Now is time to kick back, enjoy a game or two, perhaps go away for a few days if you are able, even see a few movies. But while life takes a break so to say, the CHRISTian life should never take a break. Especially as husbands and fathers, we are always on the job. Many times I blow it as a husband and dad. I get selfish . . .not purposefully . . . but I just think of myself a bit too much at times. Paul instructs us here to sacrifice ourselves for our bride just as CHRIST did. My life should be for her. I need to protect her, "wash" her daily spiritually, do my best to keep her holy, respected, admired, and secure. This is my role and purpose as I serve God. This is my PRIMARY role. No ministry is more important than my marriage. So I plan on taking this seriously this year. I want my bride to expect me to be there. She should expect me to understand her. She should expect me to defend her. I want to study her and know her as I do my job and the skills I need there. If a job can offer professional development, than my wife should expect me to find ways to develop as a husband! I do not want to become stale and outdated. I do not want to become predictable. So this is my task in the coming year . . .to be a living sacrifice for my wife as well as my Savior! What about you?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Accountable...not counting.

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.(Romans 14:12)
As we account for all the gifts we have purchased and the costs incurred. ..have we considered our standing before God? What's more important?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Good News . . .Unannounced?

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.(Luke2:17-20)
If we could only celebrate CHRISTmas as the shepherds did! They were simply amazed at the event itself. They thought deeply about the situation and its meaning. They glorified God! Finally, they TOLD others . . . If we could just imitate the lowly shepherds. They had no formal education. They were not popular within society. They did not hold positions of high prominence in business, churches or political fields. Yet they reacted to the Good News in a way that honored God and brought Him glory. They were astonished. They were full of joy. They told everyone they knew about it. What a way to celebrate CHRISTmas! Be overjoyed . . .Praise God continually . . .TELL OTHERS!!! Please do not allow this Good News of the coming of Jesus Christ go unannounced . . . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Will We Be Ready?

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
CHRISTmas is coming . . .but so is CHRIST! As we prepare for the celebration of the first coming of Jesus Christ, we need to be constantly reminded to be preparing for His Second Coming! Just as in the days of Noah, people will not be prepared. Just as in the days of His birth, people will not be paying attention to God's Word or the signs. They will miss Him as people "missed" Him in days long ago! Yes, prepare for a wonderful celebration of Jesus' birth some two thousand years ago. However, think about this: What if He comes back before December 25th?
Will we be ready?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Gift Giving

But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem this early under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Jesus was indeed born to set captives free! Born under the law, Jesus was born to be our sacrifice for our sin, or breaking of the laws of God. He would become our substitutional sacrifice. He Who knew no sin would become sin for us! (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus would fulfill what man could not possibly do; live a life of purity and obedience unto God. He would be offered up for our sins once and for ALL sins! Our response therefore is to offer our lives, as poor as they might be, as a living sacrifice unto Him. (Romans 12:1-2) This CHRISTmas, our gift to the Lord and to others is a life lived for Him. As we share and give to others sacrificially, we give to our God and Savior. There is no greater gift than to lay down a life for a friend. (John 15:13) As Christ sacrificed for us, His enemies, we in turn must give back . . .to Him and to all we meet . . .yes, even those whom do not quite "like"! That next day that He "fully comes" may be today . . .lets live like it! Merry CHRISTmas and Happy HOLYdays

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sharing Gifts

For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
This is one of the familiar verses we use when leading the lost to the saving knowledge of Christ. We want the sinner to know he is just that . . .a sinner who is lost without the GIFT of Jesus' sacrifice. However, we too need to reminded of our state before an all-powerful, yet all-loving God! God entered our sin-filled world as a human baby to live among us as a GIFT to show us just how to please the Father. But not only that, He also offered Himself as a bloody sacrifice for all of man's sins as a way to bring us into a right relationship with Him . . .one that would not require the continual ritualistic sacrifice of animals. Now we offer ourselves . . .daily . . .sacrificially . ..doing His will and not our own! You see, this time of year is not simply a joyous celebration, it is also a somber reminder of what God has done for each of us to make our way to Him personally accessible. Have we truly RECEIVED His gift? What are we doing with it? Are we now sharing it with others. (Matthew 28:19-20) With every gift we exchange, are we sharing the love of Christ, encouraging others to live for Him?

Friday, December 16, 2016

CHRISTmas Past and Present

Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place that the Lord has made known to us.” So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were astonished.” (Luke 2:8-18) Imagine the spirit among the shepherds when the heard the original “GOOD NEWS!” Today….right in your hometown…the Savior is born! The sky lit up like never before! The angels sang! The shepherds ran to tell everyone they knew! Wow, what excitement. The excitement of Christmas past…...... What does Christmas present look like? Hustle, bustle, rushing here and there, working overtime to pay for things we can’t afford, and being so tired and irritable by the end of the day that we don’t even realize it’s about our Savior. Are we giving gifts just to give gifts, or to spread the love of Christ? Love came down from heaven in the form of a baby and love returned to heaven as a victorious Savior and sacrifice for our sin! And love is returning from heaven one day as a conquering and roaring lion riding upon a white horse (Revelation 19:11). So why aren’t we excited? Why aren’t we singing? Why aren’t we seeing the light? Why aren’t we telling everyone we know? HAVE WE BEEN SCROOGED? The god of this world would have us believe that we live in a hopeless world. What a lie! I have hope! Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”(1 Corinthians 13:7) We must allow love to live through us today and into Christmas future. The baby was born. The Savior completed His task on earth. The Spirit lives within every confessed believer. Question is this: Is your Christmas future assured? Is love secured? Do we rejoice with the angels and say “GLORY”…..or HAVE WE BEEN SCROOGED?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

From Darkness into a Marvelous Light

The sun gains victory over the cold of night! The pagan celebration during the coldest of winter . . .December 21-22 . . . marked the Winter Solstice and the public celebration of Sol Invictus, or the unconquered sun God of the Roman Empire and patron of the Roman soldier. Winter marked death and spring was a resurrection! It was culminated in the Saturnalia Festival with a giving of gifts , festive images, other settting free of slaves in Rome. The earth was at its darkest yet the sun was the closest it would be to the earth. . . . Sound familiar????? John the Baptist would tell of the coming Light . . .
And You child, will be called the prophet of the Highest, for You will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited< us, to give light to who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.(Luke 1:76-79)
In the darkest of days, the Son would pierce the darkness and shed Light upon all of mankind! So by the fourth century (approximately A.D. 360) the Church was celebrating the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As more came to know Christ, the pagan celebration was abandoned and the Light of the world was celebrated in His triumph over the darkness of death. Old things past away and the celebrations became "new"! We can celebrate at CHRISTmas despite the pagan past and present commercialism. The Light has indeed pierced the darkness and we must shine that Light now and every day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why do we celebrate?

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh . . . Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have past away, behold, all things have become new. (1 Corinthians 5:16-17)
As we approach CHRISTmas there are many ideas of how to celebrate, when to celebrate, and why we celebrate. No matter what we may choose to be a part of our celebration, whether we are lighting up the house, using a treee, or exchanging gifts, we must be sure to center it all upon Christ, the reason we celebrate anything at all. Old things are gone. We are new in Christ. Do not the allow the world with all its evil intentions to keep us from celebrating the JOY of our Savior. Sure, a tree may have been an idol before . I agree that a Yule log was a secular symbol. CHRISTmas celebrations replaced the winter solstice and other pagan celebrations. However, we are NEW in Christ and free to celebrate Him as we see fit and as it honors Him! So go tell it! Let your light shine! Shout glory to God in the highest! The Savior has been born and the unsaved, unsure, and unknowing need to see it and hear it! Why???? . . ..because He is SOON TO RETURN!!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Living day-by-day?

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)
As in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37, Luke 17:26), folks will be doing what they do . . .everyday life! Just look around . . .so many simply ignoring God, even taking their CHRISTian life like a walk in the park! No sacrifice . . .no real work. We cannot allow those closest to us to simply sleep walk through life. Our younger ones need to realize just how serious this promise is: Jesus IS coming back . . .sooner rather than later! Just as the Pharisees and others missed Him, many today will also. They will be "left behind". Things will be much worse however this time around. The tribulational period will be no joke! Let's get people ready . . .if nothing else but by the way we "live"!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Are We Prepared?

And John tried to prevent Him (Jesus), saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and You are coming to me?" But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for this it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, He came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened up to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."(Matthew 3:13-17)
The old issue arises again . . .must I be baptized in order to be saved? Acts 2:38 is where we hear Peter saying, "Rent and be baptized." In all my studies, I see this as meaning be baptized because you have been been saved. In Acts 3:19, Peter simply said to "Repent". Acts 10:43 is where Cornelius' family believed and received divine forgiveness. Of course, we also have the "good thief" at the cross. So we see that baptism is in response to the Lord forgiving our sins. We respond in obedience to the Lord after we have repented and received salvation. Baptism doesn't save us, the Savior saves us! Yet who knows for sure unless we make a public statement as Jesus Himself did? Is it too much to please God? So what does this have to do with CHRISTMAS? John the Baptist prepared the way for the Redeemer. As we prepare for the celebration of Christ's coming and soon "coming again", we must be prepared and challenge others as well. Are we in obedience with His Word? Have we taken our forgiveness casually? Are we doing all we are able to come in line with His teachings? Just a few questions as we anticipate the Day . . .

Friday, December 9, 2016

What is Our Response?

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He Who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. . . (Luke 1:46-49)
Mary responded to the news of the angel Gabriel with humbled praise for God. Even after a few questions, her response was one of graciousness and obedience. Her questions were inquisitive and not disrespectful or in any way negative. She was honored to serve and willing to tell everyone of the favor she had found with God, but by no means of her own! What can we learn from this? How do we respond when God allows us favor? Do we respond in a humble fashion or believe that we deserve the favor? Do we feel a desire to serve the Lord even more or sit back and bask in our good fortune? We can learn a lot from the humble young lady from Nazareth, who was believed to have been dedicated to the Lord from birth. She remained committed to the Lord throughout her life. She accepted the call of God and dutifully carried it out. What an encouragement for our young people today! As parents we should keep them focused, . . .keep them learning . . .keep them encouraged. God indeed has a plan for our youth. Would to God they remain in Him and become used by Him as well!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Somebody' s Watching Me!

Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?" ((John 3:10)
I have heard it said that we all are teachers to some degree. Especially as believers, we all know something we can share with someone else. Even if we are a ripe new believer, we know something more than one who has never trusted Christ. We all have a story to tell. But this is a real challenge for me today! As I have taught this lesson from John 3 many times, each time I am challenged to be sure I am teaching correctly, but more importantly, living correctly. As teachers, we MUST "practice what we preach!" Believe me, our students know when we are being sincere or phony when we stand before them. They know the genuine thing as opposed to a counterfeit. I have much work to do and they know it. I try to be honest with them. . .. As teachers, mentors, and role models, each of us, young and old alike, have someone looking at us as an example. Everyone seeks a role model. Kindergarteners look up to the elementary school kids. Elementary kids look to the middle school students. The middle school students are in awe of high school young ladies and gentlemen. Believe it or not, all of these students are seeking adults to observe and model as well! So,how are we doing? Even at this wonderful time of year . . .CHRISTmas . . . we need to model the proper way to celebrate the Savior in a fun, exciting, yet reverent fashion. It's a huge task we face yet we serve an even bigger God Who is standing ready to equip us all! He stands ready to judge or reward.
My brethren, let NOT many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment." (James 3:1)
. .

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Story to Share!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. (Isaiah 52:7-9)
This CHRISTmas, shout it from the mountaintops. Go and tell it! Let everyone know from the front porch to the mall parking lot . . .Our God reigns! Jesus HAS come and He is soon to come AGAIN! Please do not stay quiet. When greeted with a "Happy Holidays", respond with a gracious smile and say, "Yes, and to you a Merry CHRISTmas and Happy HOLYdays as well!!!! Please do not miss the opportunities to share the love, compassion, and grace of the Risen Savior. Redeem the times for sure! In all of our giving, let's give the love of Christ. In all of our purchases, be reminded that Jesus has purchased our redemption with His blood. In all of the singing, celebrating, and gatherings, do not allow the message of the new born King to be left at the manger!
Christ IS born . . .Christ HAS risen! Christ WILL come again!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Heart for CHRISTmas

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom , to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever . . . (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Advent means "arrival". Are our hearts prepared for His "arrival"? Though many have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior today, as in the past, many are not expecting His "arrival" today! He is here, yet HE is to to come. Look at His name . . .Wonderful . . .Counselor . . .Mighty God ...Everlasting Father . . .Prince of Peace! How many today need to feel wonderful again? How many are in need of real HEART-felt counseling? How many of our children desperately seek a relationship with a father who is there when they need him? How many today simply seek peace . . .peace of mind and peace within homes? As we prepare for CHRISTmas, let's remember Who He is and what He can still do. Share CHRIST this season!

Monday, December 5, 2016

GOD???? In the FLESH?????

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Can you imagine: God living here right among us? Well it's true. He did and He know still does! While He came in human flesh some 2,000 years ago, He still lives among us in the form of His Spirit . . .among believers world-wide.
Pastor Max Lucado says it this way: God had come near. No silk. No ivory. No hype. To think of Jesus in such a light is — well, it seems almost irreverent, doesn’t it? It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. But don’t do it. For heaven’s sake, don’t. Let Him be as human as He intended to be. Let Him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let Him in can He pull us out.
So as we enter the CHRISTmas Season, share Him. Give a bit of the Savior to the retail clerk at the mall. Share His love to the postal carrier and the trash collector. Allow the waiter to experience His grace and mercy as he or she serves us. How can we, those who claim God to be with us, let others experience Him for themselves? He became flesh to give us the opportunity to know Him eternally. Can we now give others the same opportunity . . . this CHRISTmas?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Are We Also Blind to the Truth?

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall Come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting . . . and this One shall be Peace. (Micah 5:2-5)
Nathaniel asked the question in John 1:45-46 if any good thing ever came from Nazareth, a small town of perhaps less than 500 in his day. Nazareth was an out of the way area by the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps Nathaniel and others should have been more aware of Jesus' history, rather than seeing him as a "nobody" from this small and rather unimportant little town! Are we not a lot like Nathaniel? Don't we too judge things by the appearance rather than what God could actually do? Do we not often doubt God when the things we see do not add up? Perhaps we may need to adjust our spiritual vision! Had Nathaniel and others recalled the prophetic writings and researched Jesus' history, they would have realized He was indeed out of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1). Many times the evidence is right in our midst yet we refuse to believe. Are we also "blind to the Truth? Let's be sure this CHRISTmas to be opened to His Truths and not be shy to express them clearly!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

One TRUTH....Just ONE!!!

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose HEART. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the Truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this world has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do NOT preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus our Lord, and ourselves your bond servants for Jesus' sake. . . . We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed . . .(2Corinthians 4:1-12)
What a challenge today to STAND for truth . . . GOD'S TRUTH! While there are dozens of translations to our Bible, there is still only ONE TRUTH. While there are hundreds of denominations, there is still only ONE TRUTH. There are thousands of churches in every city and county, but still only ONE TRUTH. Millions of preachers and teachers, yet still only ONE TRUTH . . . Despite the current conditions of our societies, we must still STAND and LIVE by ONE TRUTH! This is why God has us where He does at this time and in this place . . . to LIVE OUT His TRUTH and to SHARE it and MODEL it for the lost to see and experience. Please do not waiver!

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...