Friday, April 28, 2017

Do They REALLY know you and me? BFFs . . . .

Have you ever thought that people would not really like you if they REALLY knew you? While we might have many "associates" most of us, well me anyway, do not have have many close "friends". We have co-workers, classmates, neighbors, family, and oh yeah . . . hundreds and maybe even thousands of social media "bffs"! However, how many of these so-called friends and buddies would be friendly if they REALLY knew us?
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. . . and are acquainted with all my ways. . . such knowledge is too wonderful for me . . . Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed . . . lead me in the way everlasting.(Psalm 139)
God has known each of us from before time . . .WOW!!! He knows our very thoughts from eternity. And to think; He still loves us! Know that my friend, is a BEST FRIEND FOR----EVER!!!!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Just move along . . .

Vengeance belongs to God . . .in Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus instructs us to love and "bless" those who wish us harm and even use us to their gain. It shows that we belong to Him! We can indeed be angry and upset, however we are not to sin in expressing our anger or even frustrations.
The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, So that men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely He is God who judges in the earth.”(Psalm 58:10-11)
Many times people will not understand our motives or our actions. They may not even be of God. Yet we must stay focused upon doing His work and in His way and not allow others' actions to deter us. When Jesus was rejected in Samaria along with his disciples in Luke 9:51-56, Jesus told them not to "call down fire from heaven". In fact, Jesus rebuked James and John and simply moved on to another village. Just move along . . .

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

9-1-1. . . . Are We More Prepared for Disaster?

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.(Psalm 91:1)
Many of the young people I teach were not even alive on the morning of September 11, 2001. I remember clearly being at my station at the Post Office sorting mail when I heard the news over local Christian radio that the World Trade Center in NY was smoking and then minutes later the second tower was seen being hit by a second plane. Then came the news from much closer by in VA that the apentagon had been hit by another apparent attack of a suicide plane. Finally, we heard news of a fourth plane crashing in a wooded area of PA that was headed for Congress in DC! America was under attack. Terrorists had really hit home! There was an spooky silence across the Country. Panic was building. President Bush quickly pulled the Nation together, shutting down planes and transportation systems nationwide. What would be our response? We awaited another sound . . . more news . . . another attack? Yet many across our Nation were quite calm. Psalm 9-1-1 was being repeated over and over. It was our comfort and confidence. Like never before churches were filled in the coming days and even political leaders were asking for prayer. Those who had opposed fellow believers at work actually joined us in prayer and bible study at the post office. My wife tearfully recalled her former co-workers from the Pentagon and thought of their relationships . . . who knew the Lord and who did not? Some sixteen years later, we still grieve and still wonder at times: "Will it happen again?" Are we prepared? Psalm 91:1 still comforts and still gives confidence. Those who are safe in Christ are safe for eternity . . . what can the world possibly do to harm us? (Matthew 10:28-31)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

In the Wilderness?

As the dear pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
The sons of Korah could not always "find" the Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit was not available like He is for us today. They had to seek that place! When we are down and feeling alone, we only have to stop looking around us for hope and comfort and look "within"! God the Holy Spirit is always available . . . our Comforter, our Friend . . . our God!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Walk With Me!

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10)
Reading this verse along with some rather well known words of David (Psalm 23), I am encouraged indeed. God is my Keeper. He protects me. He covers me. I am NOT alone. He IS with me 24/7 and all year through! However, if I do not force myself to have a quiet time with Him, then how will I receive this confidence daily? Even when I feel as though I am walking through the valley of death alone, this quiet time assures me I am not alone! So then, I DO NOT fear! Even those opposing me will see the evidence of God working in my life. His "grace" is sufficient!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Challenge for Those Who Know

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. (Acts 16:25-34)
Paul and Silas had been jailed and beaten and thrown into the inner prison. However, they rejoiced in God, singing, and fellow prisoners listened to them. An earthquake jolted the prison gates open and the jailer feared for his life, yet Paul offered him eternal life in the Savior. He accepted, brought them into his home, fed them and celebrated as his entire family accepted Christ's offer of salvation. It was the same message earlier when Peter would preach to those gathered for Passover and thousands would become saved.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Do we get the message? As we teach and share the message of salvation, both in formal settings and in everyday life, adults, children AND families become saved ... forgiven of sin and granted an eternal relationship with Christ! Our influence changes "families". We can make a difference for generations to come .. . for ETERNITY!!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Walking Dead or Never Ends?

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 6:5-11)
The baptism of a believer is so very important. Yes, it is a command for a believer to "repent and be baptized". (Acts 2:38) It also is a visual reminder that we have "died" to our old way of living and been "risen" to new life along with Christ our Savior! I don't know about you, but I need those visual reminders . . . those "altars" in my life to look back upon and remind myself of who I used to be and how Christ is changing me. In fact, you and I die each day to our sin as we allow the Holy Spirit control over our choices in life. Don't live as the WALKING DEAD! As Paul reminds us, we too will have a bodlily Resurrection with Christ and receive "new life" in eternity. However, that new life began when Christ rescued us from sin when we humbly asked Him to forgive us and cleanse us from ALL sin (1 John 1:9). The journey begins at the moment of our salvation and NEVER ENDS. . . .

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Can We Meet the Challenges?

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.(Romans 5:6-11)
The CHRISTian life is all about sacrifice. It is all about it not being about me or my desires. Jesus gave Himself for us while we were His enemies! Amazing . . .how a Holy God can just sacrifice for us without us even making any move to humble ourselves first! But He did! Now it's our turn. To truly be a CHRIST-follower, we MUST be like Him. Now that He has humbled Himself to sacrifice for us, we must come to Him humbly . . . pleading for mercy . . . understanding what an honor and undeserving privilege we now have to be forgiven. We must consciencely live for Him in a sacrificial lifestyle. We must put away all pride, selfishness, greed, and world views for His will and His views. In these days of political and cultural upheaval, it is a CHALLENGE to walk with God ... but we MUST!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Giving All We Have

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”(Mark 12:41-44)
Not even a penny! That's what the poor widow dropped in the basket . . .two mites was basically half a penny of our money today. Yet it was all she had and she gave it to the Church . . . for God's work to go forth. For believers today this says much. We debate over how much to tithe and whether it is even a New Testament directive. However, Paul reminds us that we give as Christ gave (2 Corinthians 8:9). Christ lowered Himself and gave His all. So how "limited" are we to be in our giving?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Simple Multiplication

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. 8 He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— 9 but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. 10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever[a] will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them.[b] Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” 12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.(Mark 6:7-13)
Two by Two . . . simple multiplication right? 2*2=4. . . . Yes, Jesus knew His math! He sent out the disciples in twos and we read that many were healed and cleansed of demons. The disciples took nothing with them but their experience with the Lord. They had their experience . . . their "testimony". There were not to worry about a change of clothes, food, or where they were going to stay. Maybe we should keep it that simple! No meetings . . . No conference calls . . .No fancy retreat or conference . . . No elaborate productions . . . No gathering with food, programs, brochures . . . no expectations or expected "numbers". . . . and on and on. Not that planning and programs are not good, but we go a bit overboard! What happened to the simple sharing of Christ with those we meet along the way? Tell them the Good News! Show them as we walk along our day.Take time to really "meet" with people! Simple conversations . . . Simple Multiplication!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

We Need the Cross!

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:13-15)
The cross was not always a symbol of Christian faith. In fact, it was a symbol of a treacherous crime. The worst of criminals were sent to the cross. In Jesus' day, no one wore the cross around their neck. Rather, they were nailed upon the cross as a symbol of shame and public humiliation. As we approach Holy Week, let's keep in mind the shame and humiliation Jesus' bore on our behalf. Our salvation is not based upon our asking for forgiveness, walking down an aisle, or being baptized into a church body. It is all wrapped up in our Savior's suffering on our behalf upon that old rugged cross! Our sin is forgiven because He bore them on that cross. Embrace the cross and our Lord Who embraced it for us!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Jehovah Jireh . . . Still!

16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still[b] hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” 21 So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”(Mark 8:16-21)
We all rely upon someone. No one is an island unto himself. Even Jesus relied upon folks . . . from His conception (Mary)through His death (Joseph's tomb) to His resurrection (God the Father), He relied upon others to assist Him and provide for Him. Here in Mark 8, Jesus is reminding His disciples how often He has provided for them. Even still, they fall back into survivial mode and wonder how they will "eat"! Had Jesus not always made sure they had enough? We can learn so much from this simple lesson. One thing for sure: God will always provide more than we could ever imagine! Trust Him!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Continuing to Embrace the Cross

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. (John 12:23-26)
Dr. Charles Stanley says "The trip to the cross is not one you take with family and friends. It's a lonely journey with just you and Jesus. He strips away everyone and everything you've depended on so that you'll learn to rely only on Him. While we're at the cross, He uncovers layer after layer of self-deception until we begin to see ourselves as He does. Soon our self-centeredness, inadequacy, and failures are laid bare. The cross is a place of brokenness, but it's necessary because there's no other way we'll ever bear fruit." I hear so much today about educational plans, career planning, retirement planning, financial prosperity, investments, stewardship, and the like . . . and it all may be good, don't get me wrong. However, I believe we are losing track of the basics of our CHRISTianity . . . THE CROSS and our SAVIOR. The only way we can truly understand the relationship required between the Savior and the sinner is to embrace the CROSS. We need to be broken from "me" and "we" and begin to see "Thee" O God and what You have done for each of us. Then, and ONLY then, will we truly be able to experience real brokenness and real success as a Christ-follower.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Embracing the Cross

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men. 34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”(Mark 8:31-38)
Peter is so much like me. We love the Lord, yet we still yearn for our own way most days. We learn the hard way. We have to be corrected often. Yet when we finally get it . . . well, we get it! Through the ups and downs of my walk with Christ, He has had to bring me in line many times. I too act on emotion a lot. However, as I learn what the Lord wants from me and finally do take up that cross, I take it up fully and carry it as far as I am able. So many take Jesus lightly. Well, He surely did not take me lightly when He bore the slander, the beatings, and the cross! I am NOT ashamed to be a Christ-follower and I have lost much since deciding to follow Him closely . . . but what I have found . . . WHOM I have found is so much more enjoyable!!!! What about you? Do you know Jesus? Have you too embraced the cross?

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...