Saturday, December 29, 2018

deliberately thankful

Therefore David blessed the Lord before all the assembly; and David said:
“Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
11 Yours, O Lordis the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all.
12 Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.
13 “Now therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise Your glorious name.(1 Chronicles 29:10-13)
The end of one year and the dawning of a new one is a great opportunity not necessarily to decide what we will do in the coming year, but to decide to be thankful for what others have done for us! As believers and Christ-followers, we must realize all God has supplied over the year.

Let's resolve then to be thankful . . . deliberately thankful for all He has done and continues to do!  Make a list of all God has provided and be deliberate in the coming year to consciencely thank God daily!

Friday, December 28, 2018

What are our plans?

 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
 (Genesis 9:12-15)

God resolved to never destroy the entire earth again by flood. He keeps that promise and sealed it with the rainbow! 

Noah had a fresh start. I wonder what his resolution was...what was his plan for the new earth and new life, being one of the few humans along with his sons and daughters in law? It had to be rather intimidating!

We all face a new year with many various challenges. What will we decide? What are our plans? Are determined to live out God's will or our own? 

Seek God. Make decisions. Find someone to keep us accountable. Stick to His plan no matter the circumstances!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

BIG QUESTION... BIG GOD!

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. . . .

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 
–1 John 3:7–8; 2:1–2
While no one is perfect, as John wrote, we now have an Advocate Who can keep us from sinning. While we have no EXCUSE to sin, we have HELP if we do fall!

This is GOOD NEWS indeed! Let's examine our lives: Are we EXCUSING sin or putting things and people in place to keep us from sin?

BIG QUESTION...
BIG GOD!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Will we allow Jesus in to stay?

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at  Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Familiar story...simple message: Will we allow Jesus in to stay?

This CHRISTmas, will we allow Jesus into our activities, our homes, our lives, our hearts? Like with Martha and Mary, Jesus wants to come and visit, sit with us, enjoy our company. His desire however, is to STAY! He desires that we be with Him for eternity, not simply a few hours.

Will we allow Him in this CHRISTmas . . .or chase Him away?

Merry CHRISTmas to all my students and families as this begins our CHRISTmas break. My prayer is that all of you embrace our Savior for all eternity!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

a future and a hope

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.(Jeremiah 29:11)
God has plans for each of us as He did for our Savior. Jesus humbly accepted the challenge and was obedient unto the Father . . . even to the cross! He followed the plan and gave us a future and a hope!

As for you and me, the question is will we be as obedient and follow the plan God has for each of us?

#acceptthechallenge/acceptthegift

Monday, December 17, 2018

It's that time!


For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;

That the generation to come might know them,

The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,

That they may set their hope in God,

And not forget the works of God....(Psalm 78:5-7)
We like to think that we are much wiser than the Nation of Israel. We know Jesus after all! He is our Lord and Savior! We would never reject Him. Yet don't we?

Oh, we may not scream, "Crucify Him". We may not openly deny Him as Peter once did. We may not sell Him out for a mere hundred dollars or so . . . . or would we?
 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
Teaching bible at a CHRISTian school and leading a youth ministry group can be scary!. I see and hear way to much of what happens within the home. We neglect God almost daily. We place jobs over family.  We allow the Church or school to educate biblically. We do not have family prayer or bible study. We would rather go to church on-line rather than in person! Tithing? Huh???

CHRISTmas, the celebration of Christ, is not just for December. It is a daily Season! He is our only Reason! God is yet merciful. There is still time to regroup and have a do-over. Let's rededicate back to our Lord and Savior this CHRISTmas! It's that time!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Expecting anything soon? I am!!!

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;  the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.   Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.  And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors!  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Mark 13:24-31)
Oh, the signs are here for sure! The crowds . . . the music . . . the songs . . . the parties . . .the lights .  .  . the trees .  .  . Joy to the World . . . CHRISTmas is coming!

But what about the bigger reality?

These signs are even more present and even more of a reality: wars, earthquakes, floods, violence in our cities, proliferating injustice, homosexuality, denying a faith passed down from generations . . . there is a bigger anticipation that CHRISTmas . . . Yes, Joy to the World indeed . . .CHRIST is coming!!!!

Expecting anything soon? I am!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

needs that outweigh our wants


If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11)
Man, did I need these words this morning! What about you? As folks talk about their upcoming CHRISTmas plans; trips, gifts, dinners, family get-togethers . . . do you find yourself wondering when, why, how? Making excuses not to do things?

These are not easy times for many . . . yes, even many believers! Times are tough. Folks can't always buy then things they want for family and friends. Many do not participate in work and family gatherings because they are ashamed of their personal situation.  People have health issues and the bills that result. Gifts cannot be purchased due to household needs. Families are at odds so there will be no gathering.

While we may have needs that outweigh our wants,  we have to rest upon these words . . . .
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.((Matthew 6:33)
 Let's keep our focus upon His work and His will and we can be assured God will give us what He knows we need . . .WHEN we need it! After all, it is all about the REASON, not so much the season!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Do YOU Believe?

Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. (Mark 13:6)
Be careful! It is easy to get all caught up in the hype of what is going on in society and even in our churches. DO YOU BELIEVE?
 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against [them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:15-16)
 Do YOU Believe?  Is Santa real? Well . . . There was a man, a believing man who once would secretly give to those in need, when no one was looking. He would quietly leave gold in shoes or stockings to assist poor children. The legend grew into St. Nick, Kinder  Claus, and other names. The spirit lives on today in kind souls who give to those in need and do not want the credit. Many “helpers” can be seen in malls and retail stores today, though the spirit has been lost and twisted into demanding what we “want” and a feeling of entitlement at CHRISTmas.

Do YOU believe? Is Jesus real? Well . . . YES, YES, YES!!!! However, when His-tory is not believed, we simply do not lose a spirit of “giving”, but we lose “eternal living”! A soul is lost forever!

Beware of false teaching and twisted doctrine. Beware of this carefree lifestyle of today’s world. What one believes does matter. DO YOU BELIEVE?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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!  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2)
Jesus' followers were impressed with the Temple and other massive stone structures. . . . Rightly so! Like us with our towering office buildings, stately homes, and elegant cathedrals and churches, they were impressed with the planning, the labor, the architecture and the artistry.

It takes so much to build these wonders. Yet one day they all will crumble. Famines, wars, earthquakes, floods . . . destruction is coming and has already made its presence known in some cases! Yet all the while, the Gospel is preached . . . and rejected!

 There is only one stable foundation upon which to build . . . so STAND!
 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Just so You Know

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.(Isaiah 7:14)
Years before Christ, before a Savior was greeted with "Hosanna" or even "Crucify Him!", there was a prophet who wrote nearly 1,000 years before we read of Mary! Yet it came true! God told the people, but many did not head the words then . . .
 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being [f]a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is [g]conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name [h]Jesusfor He will save His people from their sins.”22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-24)
In some time between 3 B.C. and A.D. 1, a baby was born of a rather controversial relationship between a young girl named Mary and a simple carpenter named Joseph. He lived, was hailed as a new King, but was soon to be unjustly tried and convicted of treason, beaten unmercifully, and crucified.

 Oh, but that's not the end! He was buried and sealed in a stone tomb and guarded by Roman guards. Yet on that Sunday morning, He was found gone and the tomb empty, only to appear fully alive and well to hundreds in the coming days!

Jesus is God and is our Savior . . . if we only choose to believe! Many do not then, yet others did and died for that belief!

What about you?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Who do we say He is?

And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”  But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” (Matthew 26:62-66)
Who do we say He is? . who is This Man? Is He The Son of God or a man with issues about his identity? The question is still debated today!

When Jesus replied, under "oath", the high priests refused to believe The Truth. Just as Jesus stated then He states today: "I am The Christ"! Do we doubt? Do we not believe? Who do we say He is?

Time is short . .. .

Thursday, December 6, 2018

REJOICE

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey...(Zechariah 9:9)
Five hundred years before Christ, admist the destruction and mistreatment of Zion and the Jews, the prophet told the people to "REJOICE!" Even as Jesus eventually entered the City of Jerusalem on that very donkey, He had to be holding back tears knowing the future, though there was rejoicing.

We too, today, despite the struggles and tears, must embrace the joy of the Coming Savior and still "REJOICE!" We know He is coming. We know the joy of salvation in Him today and the promise of life with Him in eternity.

Let's not get all caught up the season, but rather the Reason! REJOICE . . . and again I say, REJOICE!  (Philippians 4:4-8)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Are we simply to busy for Jesus?

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)
Jesus is waiting . . . knocking . . . calling . . . . texting . . . . left an email. Yet we have ignored all His efforts to contact us. Had we taken the time to simply answer, open, reply . . .what would life be like? Are we simply to busy for Jesus?

Not only is salvation at hand, but so is opportunity! If we would only take a minute to reply to an email, follow up on a text, anwer the phone (as my wife constantly reminds me!), or even speak to a person beyond a simple "what's up", how would life change?

In this microwave, hurry-up world, we all need to slow down a bit and take time to listen, respond, be interested, and care. Who knows what opportunities may be out there of which we do not know. Jesus may just be alerting us to something big!

A former student reminded me of a verse we all take for granted (Jeremiah 29:1) just yesterday. It still holds its promise today. God has a plan for each of us but we must be in tune to Him. Seek His will . . .open to His call . . .let Him in!!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

His terms

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.(2 Peter 3:8-9)
God loves everyone and surely wants everyone to be with Him for eternity. That's the Good News. He sent Jesus to suffer in our place to assure it.  However, it is on His terms, not ours!

Moses, Abraham, Peter, Paul, all struggled with their egos and own desires. Jacob
"wrestled" with God.(Genesis 32:22-32) Paul found himself doing things he should not do. (Romans 7:15-20) Moses was frustrated and angry. (Numbers 20:10-11)

Like those above, I too struggle with God, His will, and my decisions. Yet He still loves me, guide me, and He saves me! He patiently allows me to struggle. I am coming to accept His terms slowly.....

Lord, help me to follow You more closely and be more patient with others, as You are with me!

Monday, December 3, 2018

For all to see Christ!

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),  that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,  knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4)

In Peter's day, just ten to twenty years after Christ's resurrection and ascension, the people asked, "Where is your God?" The question is echoed within our society today. In fact, many say, "God is dead" or "There is no God!"

Truth is, He is here and ever-present right now, every day, every second! We simply have to look around and see. We have to make Him known. We believers must show Him to others!

So as we begin the CHRISTmas Season, let us make it our priority to joyfully celebrate the HOLYdays. . . . for all to see Christ!

Living our faith . . . What if?

Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a  centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,  saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, ...