Monday, January 31, 2011

Who has Known the Mind of God?

For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?  -Romans 11:34 (KJV) 

For about a decade people have been enjoying IPOD’s, and I finally got around to using one.  Be patient with me as I am usually a little behind on making use of the latest technology.  If left up to me, I’d still be using my old vinyl albums and 8-track tapes.  As I was using this tiny device I was struck with the amount of music it holds.  All those hundreds of songs can fit in a device you can hold in the palm of your hand.  There was a time when our old record collections would have taken up an entire room.  Now it can all be placed into the IPOD.  Yes, mankind has certainly come a long way. 

One problem with all this technology is that it’s easy to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  No matter how advanced our technology becomes we are still far beneath the mind of the Living God.  The Scripture poses the question as to who has known the mind of the Lord.  Have any of us ever read God’s mind or could our thoughts be superior to His?  Our thoughts, no matter how advanced we may think they are, remain tiny and insignificant when compared with God.  In fact, we do well to not even bother attempting to make any comparison.  By faith we look to God and seek His will and wisdom.  When we do that we are on our way to gaining the right kind of wisdom.  This is wisdom that will carry us forward into lives that are blessed and guided by the Lord.   

I seem to recall reading how that a man once built a ship and then declared his handiwork to be so magnificent that “God Himself couldn’t sink this ship.”  That boat was called “The Titanic” and you probably know how that turned out.  Let us never become so arrogant that we start believing that our knowledge is somehow greater than the knowledge of God.  The Lord has ways of reminding us that He is the one who is actually going to have the last word. 

Look to the Lord today, for He has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ that we might have salvation – the forgiveness of sin, new life, and life eternal.  Receiving Christ begins with humbling ourselves before Him.  In Jesus is life, and in Jesus is hope.   

Trust the Lord today.  Humble yourself before Him and He will lift you up.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Waiting for the Promise of God

Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”  -Genesis 15:5 (NKJV) 

For the first time in a number of days, Ada and I were able to take our evening walk last night under a clear sky.  The night was cold, but the stars were shining so brightly that it was as if you could reach out and touch them.  The nearest star to earth, other than the sun, is Proxima Centauri which is a little more than 4 light years away.  That’s a distance almost too great to get my mind around, but then I consider that countless stars in the solar system are millions of light years away.  Such distances stagger the imagination and stretch the mind’s limits of our comprehension of space.  The Bible says that Abraham of the Old Testament was becoming impatient waiting for the heir which the Lord had promised.  God told him to go outside and look up into the sky and try to count the stars, an impossible task.  That was how numerous his descendants would be. 

It’s humbling to think that the great patriarch Abraham saw the same stars that we see when he looked up into the night sky.  God used a powerful comparison to get the point across that the promised blessings would exceed Abraham’s greatest expectations.  God always does that; when He blesses us He does so in ways that take us beyond what we might have expected.  God then demonstrates that when we trust in Him that He will bring blessings into our lives that far exceed anything we might have imagined.  Why then are we so unwilling to take God at His word?  Why are we so quick to doubt that God can and will do what He has promised?  Abraham the man of faith struggled with these very issues.  Even though he struggled with doubts, through faith He experienced the fullness of God’s blessings and the promise became as reality. 

Do you feel that you are still waiting for the Lord to bring the promised blessings which come from being faithful to Him?  Do not doubt, do not give up, and never stop believing that God can and will bring about the blessings and victory He has promised.  The waiting gets tiring, I know.  But God is faithful and He always blesses us when we wait on Him. 

Stand firm, trust the Lord, and keep going forward in faith.  The promises of God will become a reality.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Power of God that Lifts us up

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.  –Psalm 34:23, 24 (KJV)

The other day I had walked to the church from the parsonage and just as I stepped from the driveway onto the parking lot I failed to see a small patch of ice.  My feet hit the ice and immediately went right out from under me.  There was no time react and believe me when I say that I came down hard on the pavement.  I laid there for a moment and my first thought was to look around to see if anyone had seen me go down.  No one was in sight so I then began wondering if I had broken anything.  I was concerned about my left wrist as it had taken the brunt of the fall, but it appeared to be all right.  I could still move it back and forth and that was a good sign.  It’s a wonder I hadn’t done myself a serious injury. 

What truly amazed me about that fall on the ice was how quickly and without warning it happened.  One moment I was strolling along thinking about all I had to do that morning, and the next moment I was on my back.  Pavement is a poor cushion for a fall.  25 degree weather doesn’t help either.  The fall came quickly and was indeed painful, but thank the Lord I was able to get right back up.  The trials of life and the difficulties we face can come about in a similar manner.  One moment we are going forward and everything seems to be fine, and then all of a sudden we are spiritually knocked off our feet.  The spiritual battles we face can come at us when we least expect them, and they can deliver a painful blow.  However, the power of God in Christ Jesus is always more powerful than any trial we will ever face, and God will help us back on our feet. 

As the Scripture says, we may fall down sometimes, but we are not utterly cast down, for the Lord holds us with His hand.  You may be facing a spiritual battle right now that has left you feeling exhausted.  Take heart and trust in the Lord, for you are in no way defeated.  Christ will lift you up and give you strength to move forward and overcome. 

Jesus has already won the victory, and we too share in the victory when we trust in Him.  He will lift us up and help us onward.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Living in Grace and Walking With God

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.  –Genesis 6:8, 9 (KJV) 

I heard a story the other day that made me smile.  A Sunday school teacher asked, “Johnny, do you think Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark?” “No,” replied Johnny. “How could he, with just two worms?” That’s incredibly insightful for a child to think in those terms.  And while we would chuckle at the thoughts of a child’s perspective on the biblical account of the flood, we realize that he was taking the Bible seriously and saw the great flood as an actual event.  According to the Word of God, the Lord saw the evil that had developed in the world and sent a flood that covered the entire earth.  The only living creatures spared were Noah and his family, along with two of every kind of animal.   

Something that gets my attention about this is the fact that Noah was singled out among all people of the earth to be spared.  As the Scripture says, “Noah found grace…”  We also take note of what the Bible says about his character: “Noah walked with God.”  As followers of Jesus Christ we have the grace of God in our lives and like Noah, we too can walk with God.  What does that mean for us in practical terms?  Walking with God means that we commune daily with the Lord, stay in His Word, seek His will, live lives of purity, reject the idols of our day, resist the temptation to do evil, love one another, and reach out to others with the gospel.  For the believer, walking with God should be as natural as the actual act of walking.  We go through each day in the confidence and assurance that the Lord is with us, walking beside us, leading us forward, taking us by the hand, and lifting us up when we need strength.   

The grace of God in Christ Jesus means that we have been forgiven and that we are in the continual process of being perfected.  I am nowhere near the perfection that I desire to be, for like you, I continue to struggle with all sorts of issues and difficulties.  As long as we remain here in this world our struggle between good and evil will continue.  However, we know that when that which is perfect is come, Jesus Christ, and we see Him face-to-face, that we will be made like Him (I Corinthians 13:10-12).   

Until that blessed day comes, let us walk with Jesus, seek His will, and experience the joy, peace, and victory that the Lord brings.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dedicated to Serving the Lord

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  -I Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) 

Many years ago I was acquainted with a fellow pastor in the community and he spoke often of his desire to leave the church in which he was presently serving.  He told me how that he had interviewed with a number of pulpit committees, but nothing ever came of the interviews and he was never considered.  I began to inquire about the kinds of questions the committees were asking and how he had answered.  He stated that a question that invariably came up involved his daily routine and personal study habits.  His response was that he rarely kept office hours at the church preferring instead to do the bulk of his studying at home in a recliner.  I gently told him that answer might be problematic.   

My colleague’s study habits sounded more like being retired than being a full-time pastor.  This apparently gave the impression to prospective pulpit committees that the pastor was not of a mind to work too hard.  Until he changed that perception he was going to have problems.  Paul the Apostle challenged the Corinthian believers to be steadfast in their work and commitment to the Lord.  They were called by God to work with great dedication, for sincere labor in God’s kingdom is never done in vain.  Let us be careful to not neglect our families in our zeal for the Lord, but rather let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us (Matthew 6:33).  When we place Christ first He will give us wisdom for setting priorities in all aspects of our lives. 

This call is for the pastor, the layperson, the volunteer, those who serve on church committees, sing in the choir, help with the children, or pray for the sick.  Wherever the Lord has called us to serve, let us serve Him with integrity and dedication.  Do not fear hard work in the kingdom of God. 

No matter who you are, you have gifts and talents that can be of tremendous service in God’s kingdom.  Serving the Lord and sharing the love of Jesus is our highest honor and privilege.   

Look to Jesus and serve Him with gladness and commitment. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hope is Found in the Lord

Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.  –Psalm 62:1, 2 (KJV) 

The recurring theme of Psalm 62 is that God is our salvation, our rock, and in Him we find strength and stability.  In a world of uncertainty, God can be our most stabilizing force.  Through faith in the Lord we find peace even in the most troubling times of life.  We need not look far to find people who are struggling their way through life grasping at anything they believe might bring peace and happiness.  False religions abound, but so also does hopelessness, anger, and apathy.  Some go as far as to adopt the mistaken idea that by casting off any and all faith in God that they will find the peace they desire.  In the end the void in their hearts is made larger, and their despair becomes greater.  Only through faith in Jesus Christ can true peace, joy, and fulfillment be found. 

David of the Old Testament understood that his only hope rested in the Living God.  He had openly rejected the idols of the world because they were (and are) nothing more than wood and stone.  David knew that when he sought the Lord that he would find strength and spiritual power to carry him forward.  This divine hope can still work in our hearts today.  Faith in Jesus Christ empowers us to rise up and go forward when we might otherwise have given up.  Despair and sorrow can take hold in peoples’ lives, but Christ has the power to break through the most hopeless condition. 

The power of this message merits frequent examination and consideration.   

“He only is my rock and my salvation” (v 2).
“He only is my rock and my salvation” (v 6). 
“In God is my salvation” (v 7). 
“God is a refuge for us” (v 8). 

Are you thinking negative and hopeless thoughts?  Have you been wondering how your problems will all be worked out?  Do not despair and do not give up.  God is our rock, our hope, and our salvation. 

Trust the Lord, for He is our hope.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Godly Legacy of Faith

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  –Psalm 116:15 (KJV) 

Last Saturday Andrea and I attended the funeral of a dear saint of God, Mary Halsell, who had passed away a few days earlier.  Her funeral was a mixture of sadness for the family and a sharing of their grief, but it was also a celebration of a life well lived.  Mrs. Halsell had lived 89 years and had devoted her life to serving the Lord and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She will be missed, but her legacy will live on.  Numerous people gave testimony to how their lives had been touched through her life and ministry.  Our experience with her was that she was always upbeat, always smiling, and always bearing witness to the grace and love of Jesus Christ.   

Consider today what sort of life you are living.  Is your life a living testimony to the grace of God?  If not it can be, for with God’s help all who place their faith in Christ can have a testimony and vibrant faith.  Romans 12:1 speaks of followers of Christ being living sacrifices to the Lord.  Through faith in Christ we become just that; we are sacrificed to the Lord Jesus, yet we live, breathe, and go about our lives sharing Jesus’ love with others.  The result is a life well lived that touches others with the gospel.  Like our friend who has gone to be with the Lord, we too can positively affect the world through our witness for Christ. 

As she had requested, Mrs. Halsell’s funeral concluded with the congregation singing, “When we all get to Heaven.” I get chills again just thinking about it.  My prayer is that we would continue such a wonderful legacy of faith.  Let your light shine for Jesus Christ, go and tell, witness in His name, reach out in love, and serve the Lord with gladness. 

We are called to be the light of Jesus in the world.  Go and tell someone about Jesus today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Overcoming the Monday Blues

Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
      And the young men shall utterly fall,
      But those who wait on the LORD
      Shall renew their strength;
      They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
      They shall run and not be weary,
      They shall walk and not faint.  –Isaiah 40:30, 31 (NKJV)

Monday is always an interesting day for pastors.  Many of us feel worn out and tired on this day, mainly because we are exhausted from having given so much of ourselves to others on Sunday.  There is an old and sort of morbid joke among pastors that says, “Never resign on a Monday.” The thinking is that no matter how bad you feel on Monday, you will probably begin to feel better as the week goes on.  A number of my fellow pastors take Monday as their day off, but I find that doesn’t work for me.  Were I to take Monday off I would probably sit around and accomplish little.  I prefer instead to get right back in the saddle, so to speak, and seek a productive day no matter how tired I feel.  If I am going to take a day off Friday usually works the best. 

Is there a day of the week in which you feel more tired and run down than others?  Many people from all walks of life and different professions can relate to the “Monday blues.”   A good and relaxing weekend was enjoyed involving time with family, and then it all comes to a screeching halt on Monday morning.  Reality sets in as we get back into the normal work week.  It’s no wonder why Monday is associated with being a difficult day for a lot of people.  Consider today that through faith in Jesus Christ we can overcome those negative feelings that creep into our lives, whether they come on Monday or any other time.  Christ empowers us to rise up and move forward in the strength that He provides. 

The Word of God promises that the Lord will provide us with strength to move forward, and having obtained that divine strength we can then soar above the dark clouds that hover around us.  As the eagle flies high and with great power, so we as followers of Christ can be lifted above our distress to spiritual victory.  God knows when we struggle and He understands that we sometimes are distressed.  Look to the Lord and claim the strength that He has promised. 

Spiritual victory and blessed strength can be claimed today in Jesus.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Holy Spirit Confirming that Jesus is the Son of God

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. -Luke 3:21, 22 (KJV)

I heard a story about how that many years ago several churches in my area received a call from someone claiming to want to give away free land to a church.  All the church had to do was pay the taxes on the land and it would be theirs to do with as they wanted.  Would you be surprised to find out that a few churches fell for this?  They paid the money and that was the end of it.  The free land didn’t exist.  What a terrible discovery that they had been cheated, duped, and taken advantage of.  God never does that to us.  In fact, the Lord does just the opposite; He confirms to us again and again that Christ is the Son of God who came into the world to redeem us from our sinful condition.  Is this a supernatural experience?  The answer is yes.  But is it plausible?  Again the answer is yes, and God will prove this to us through the power and work of the Holy Spirit.   

The voice of God spoke at Jesus' baptism identifying Jesus as the Son of God.  “This is my beloved Son.”  The Long awaited and long expected Messiah had come into the world.  As He is identified to us, we then identify with Him through the struggles of life.  Salvation in Jesus Christ is about being saved from an eternity in hell; make no mistake about that.  With Jesus as our Savior we have heaven as our home.  But salvation is also about that blessed abundant life that Jesus promised.  In Jesus Christ we can find and claim supernatural power for daily living.  Christ empowers us to stand firm, keep going, not surrender, not back down, and not give up despite all of the overwhelming problems of life.  

In Jesus there is hope; there is hope for today, tomorrow, and for the days to come.  We do not have to live in defeat, but in Jesus we can rise up and walk in victory.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Heavenly Sandpaper

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  –James 1:2, 3 (NKJV) 

Around 20 years ago a wise man of God gave to me valuable advice that I still carry with me these many years later.  This dear man and his wife, who have both since gone to be with the Lord, had invited Andrea and me to their home for a meal.  During the visit I was droning on about a problem that I was facing and I hate to admit it, but I was complaining about the unfairness of the situation.  This older and wiser brother in Christ said, “Well Dan, that sounds to me like some heavenly sandpaper.  We often have to go through these sorts of problems to grow in the grace and patience the Lord intends for us to have.”  That heavenly sandpaper illustration truly struck a chord with me.  Down through the years when I find myself in a tough situation, I think about what this wise man told me and I thank the Lord for his wisdom and perspective.
Isn’t it interesting how that we all go through difficult times and frustrating situations?  According to the Word of God, these trials can actually increase our faith and produce godly patience.  But we must be willing to trust the Lord and look to Him in the midst of the problem.  No doubt you are facing at least some difficulties in your life.  You may feel frustrated with how unfair the problem seems to be.  Consider that by trusting in Christ through it all that you can grow in your faith.  This problem, whatever it may be, can be a divine process of spiritually sanding away pride, arrogance, or anything else that might be hindering your growth as a follower of Jesus. 

The next time you find yourself feeling frustrated over a problem, remember that it may well be a little heavenly sandpaper.  Keep looking to the Lord, keep praying, and continue allowing the Lord to have His perfect will in your life.  That sandpaper can do a work that is truly miraculous and will result in a stronger and more vibrant faith.  Yes, it’s painful at times, but when it's over we will have grown in the Lord. 

Look to Jesus and He will bring us through our problems and frustrations.  He will empower us to overcome. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Lord is our Help in Times of Struggle

LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.  I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.  –Psalm 30:7, 8 (KJV) 

Stress is one of the great adversaries of the joy which we are meant to possess.  Stress can creep into our lives and rob us of peace, happiness, sleep, and appetite.  Stress can come about as the result of being overworked, overtired, burdened with problems, and being overwhelmed with daily struggles of life.  David of the Old Testament understood these problems and when he felt overwhelmed with life he resolved to seek the Lord.  In his anguish he cried out to God and put his faith in Him. 

What will we do when we feel overwhelmed and burdened?  Will we struggle along trying to resolve our problems on our own strength and power?  We can do that, but in the end we will feel more stressed out than when we began.  The one sure remedy for the problems associated with stress is to look to the Lord and practice daily faith in Him.  The Word of God challenges believers to cease from trying to cope with life on our own power, but instead look to the Lord.  God can and will empower us to find joy, peace, and hope in the midst of whatever trials we are facing.  In fact, this is what the Lord does best. 

I have no way of knowing what you are facing today that is causing you stress.  But God does know and He is able to help.  Look to the Lord, keep your faith in Christ active and real, pray without ceasing, and resolve to trust God’s power and not your own. 

The Lord is with us and He will hear us when we cry out to Him.  Look to the Lord today and find peace in Him.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Blessings of Good Memories

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you—therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith.   –I Thessalonians 3:6, 7 (NKJV)

I had been noticing lately that it was getting harder and harder to open and close my dresser drawers.  I seemed to have way too many shirts, jeans, and socks.  So the other night I set about to go through those items and get rid of the ones I don’t need.  I quickly found out the problem wasn’t too many clothing items, although I did discard a number of t-shirts and socks, but what was taking up space was a lot of other odds and ends.  Mostly, it was my collection of birthday cards, thank you notes, and anniversary cards that were causing the trouble.  Would it surprise you to find out that I almost never throw away a card given to me?  I have cards going back nearly 25 years.  All those cards were in neat stacks in the bottom of my dresser drawers. 

I began sorting through those cards and as I did was flooded with wonderful thoughts and memories of those who gave them to me.  I found numerous handmade birthday and Father’s Day cards the boys had given me when they were small children.  I found other cards that had been given to me by church members who have since gone to be with the Lord.  And I have anniversary cards that Andrea has given me that date back over two decades ago.  Each one holds a special and unique memory of a time when someone thought enough of me to let me know that I was appreciated.  That, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.

Paul the Apostle said that when Timothy brought a report of how the believers in Thessalonica were getting along that he was filled with pleasant thoughts and memories of them.  He considered their faith, love, and their remembrances of Him.  Like those cards giving me warm and comforting thoughts, so also was Paul filled with fond memories of his friends.  Let us never underestimate the power of friendships we develop within the Body of Christ.  Those are people who will stand with us during our darkest hours.  We in turn can stand with them and support them when they are going through the trials of life. 

Stop and thank the Lord for brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray that God will empower us to always love and support one another.   

“Precious memories, how they linger; how they ever flood my soul…”  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Experiencing the Grace of God Through Jesus Christ

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  –John 1:16, 17 (KJV)

The law can be harsh at times.  If you don’t believe it, just see how much the fine is the next time you run a red light or fail to stop for a stop sign.  The letter of the law demands that a fine be paid, and if that requirement is not satisfied, the authorities will take matters further and demand that you are brought before a judge.  In this age of traffic cameras and speed radars I wouldn’t expect too much sympathy. 

The Scripture shows us that the letter of the law in the Old Testament could also be harsh.  God required a blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin.  One problem, however, was that the sacrifice of an animal did not completely expunge the guilt from the sinner.  Should a person sin again, and we know that is inevitable, another sacrifice had to be made.  When Jesus Christ came into the world He became the one complete sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, paid the penalty for all the sins of those who put their faith in Him.  Through Jesus the harsh requirements of the law has been satisfied.  We can now come before God and stand in His presence having been purified and forgiven.   

The Word of God states that the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through the Lord Jesus Christ.  This wonderful grace can be experienced every day as we walk with the Lord and seek His will.  Grace is not something the follower of Christ should ever take for granted.  Neither is grace a license for sinful behavior.  Romans 6:2 asks the question, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”  Since we have died to sin and have been resurrected to new life in Christ, our desire is to serve the Lord, not our old sinful selves. 
Walking forward in the grace and power of Jesus Christ is the most liberating experience we can and will ever know.  In that walk we find spiritual strength, blessings, focus, and power for rising above our circumstances rather than living under them. 

Look to Jesus and experience the blessings of walking with Him today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Heeding Wisdom’s Call

Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice?  She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.  –Proverbs 8:1, 2 (NKJV) 

One afternoon last week Andrea and I were at the local mall where I was trying to find a jeweler to take some links off a watch she had given me for Christmas.  Apparently, today’s watch manufacturers are laboring under the delusion that all men have arms and wrists the size of tree trunks.  They have forgotten about guys like me who don’t have wrists like Hulk Hogan.  As we were leaving the mall I heard someone calling my name.  I turned around and saw a man who we had not seen in a while.  We stopped and had a visit before going home. 

As I ponder this gentleman who called me by name, I am reminded of what the Scripture says about wisdom.  Proverbs eight says that wisdom calls out to us and invites us to heed her counsel.  The words used in these verses imply a strong imploring cry.  The cry of wisdom is to leave the path of foolishness and ungodliness and take into our hearts the wisdom found in God’s Word.  God’s wisdom will lead us down a path of righteousness and blessing, but the world’s way is to reject this offer.  To turn away from the wisdom God offers is to walk down a path that leads to heartache, anguish, and eventually death.  Countless people have rejected wisdom’s cry and have plunged forward toward their own destruction.  The call of God is for us to heed the voice of wisdom and walk the path that leads to life.

Let us not grow complacent and begin to think that we have so gained wisdom that we can let our guards down.  Followers of Jesus Christ are to be daily growing in the grace, knowledge, and the wisdom of God.  Gaining godly wisdom is a lifetime journey of learning God’s ways and growing in His Word.  I may live to be 100, and yet the challenge will still lie before me to continue growing in wisdom.  The challenge is to be heeded daily.  Grow and continue growing in wisdom and the grace of God. 

Even a temporary detour from the path of wisdom can have devastating consequences.  The scope of this writing does not allow me to share all the examples I have seen of people who abandoned wisdom and in the end brought misery upon themselves.  Heed the blessed call of wisdom and continue to walk in God’s wonderful truth. 

Following Jesus in integrity leads to life and the abundance of God’s blessings.  Do you hear wisdom’s cry?  Take heed and follow God’s ways. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jesus Christ is the Answer

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. -Luke 3:15, 16 (KJV)

One of our tasks as followers of Christ is to point people to Jesus.  We are called to minister to them and lead them to the truth.  I often have conversations with people and the kinds of questions that I hear are as follows: why are we here?  What is the meaning of it all?  Where do I fit in the grand scheme of the universe?  What is the purpose of my life?  How did we all get here?  How will I make it through the problems I am facing?  How can I find happiness, peace, and joy?  What is the true way to find God?  The answer to all those questions can be answered in Jesus Christ.  He is the answer to life’s toughest, hardest, and deepest questions.  

Look to Jesus Christ and you will find what you are searching for.  Verse fifteen says that the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or not.  Look at these words: expectations and musings.  There is a lot of that going on today just as it was at the time of the Lord’s appearing.  People had an expectation that there was something more to life and they were musing in their hearts and they were contemplating what the true way might be.   Jesus Christ is that true way which people are searching for.

Will we come along those who are seeking and show them the way?  That is what we have been called by the Lord to do.  Will we take up the challenge and do as the Lord has called us to do?  Let’s not turn them away, but let’s tell them and show them that Jesus Christ is the way.  We minister to the seeking with love, grace, and compassion.  We can’t minister to them if we are too busy disliking them or judging them.  We minister to the seeking the way the Lord ministered to them – with love, grace, mercy, and compassion. 

There are people all around us who are searching for the truth.  Let's be sure to show them the truth - Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the hope of the world.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

God Cares About all our Sorrows

“Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.  –II Kings 20:3 (NKJV) 

Let me share with you something that happened yesterday while I was in the basement installing our new washer and dryer.  I was walking past my tool bench when I looked up on the peg board and saw a collar with some dog tags attached to it.  I tried not to, but I found myself taking the collar down and gently holding it in my hands.  This was the collar that had been worn by my dog, Jenny, who had died a little over two years ago.  I must have walked past my tool bench dozens of times without so much as glancing at that old collar, but I decided to take it down and relive some memories.   

With a lump gathering in my throat and tears welling in my eyes I thought about the last time Jenny had worn that collar.  She was dying from an inoperable lung tumor and her breathing was labored and she had stopped eating.  I spoke with the vet and made the arrangements.  It was a warm day for December, and I placed her in the back seat with the window partially down so she could enjoy her last ride in the car.  After arriving at the vet’s office, I gently gathered her up and carried her inside.  As I carried her into the office she went limp in my arms.  Jenny, the most loyal, faithful, and obedient dog I have ever known, was gone.  I had removed her collar just before I buried her in the woods behind the house. 

I have been blessed beyond measure, God has worked miracles in my life, and the Lord has moved in ways that that have touched me with the wonders of His grace.  But at that moment I just missed my old dog.  The tears came; I could not have stopped them anymore than I could have stopped a tidal wave.  Understand that God has given us emotions for a reason, and sometimes we have to open our hearts and release whatever feelings with which we are struggling.  King Hezekiah, a righteous and godly king, wept before the Lord in the face of a terminal illness.  But in God’s mercy the king was given another fifteen years to live.   

Isn’t it wonderful how that the Lord has given us emotions such as happiness, joy, and love?  But we also have those more somber emotions which will bring about feelings of sorrow.  Sometimes the most therapeutic course is to let the tears fall.  God understands and He is always there to comfort us in our grief and sorrow.  No problem is too big or too small for God to handle.  He cares about all the problems we face.   

Look to the Lord and find comfort in Him. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Letting the Lord Teach us Patience and Grace

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  –Colossians 3:12, 13 (NKJV) 

We might not think that putting in a new washer and dryer would consume the better part of a day, but that is what happened to me today.  A couple of weeks ago our dryer, a model I think might have come over on the Mayflower, finally died and we had to replace it.  Seeing how our washing machine was not in great shape either, we decided to go ahead and replace it as well.  Thanks to a sale at a local store we got a great deal and the new machines will hopefully last for the next 40 years or so.  Wishful thinking, I know. 

I started by cleaning out the washer / dryer side of the basement, which proved to be a bigger job than I had anticipated.  I had to take the items designated to be throw out down to the road for the trash pick-up.  This process also netted three bags of clothing items we no longer wanted, but were too good to throw away.  I took these down to the rescue mission as a donation.  The delivery of the new washer and dryer was right on time, and I then set about installing the new machines.  Quivering with anticipation, I replaced the old dryer hose, installed the 220 cord on the dryer, connected the hoses to the washer, and I was ready for business.  Or was I?  Those units had to be level, and I could not find my level anywhere.  A conversation with my son revealed that he had borrowed that item and had not returned it.  

Just as I was getting ready to go to my son’s house and retrieve my level, my other son informed me that his girlfriend needed a ride home and could we take her.  “Of course,” I sighed.  “I’d be glad to.” After dropping her off in Abingdon and stopping by my son’s house, I was ready to go home and get the new washer and dryer level.  That took a few minutes and they are ready to go.  Sadly, I was too exhausted to do any laundry. 

I am reminded all over again of the wonderful blessings of having Christ in my life who so freely provides patience and grace in all circumstances.  Without Jesus in my life I would surely be overwhelmed and frustrated when days don’t go as planned.   

The Lord understands, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.  Rejoice, for God’s plan is always best.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Separating Myths from the Truth

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.  –Ezekiel 1:28 (KJV) 

Last month when we were in Dayton, Ohio for Christmas, we were driving to New Carlisle, Ohio to visit Andrea’s family.  Our drive took us past Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  As we drove by I jokingly told our son how that all of my life I have heard the rumors that somewhere deep within that air base there are a few aliens being kept preserved in a freezer.  These alleged aliens crash landed to earth sometime back in the 1940’s or 50’s and the government has been hiding them ever since.  UFO enthusiasts love these myths and are quick to perpetuate them.  Personally, I believe this story is fantasy and foolishness. 

Many people in recent years have tried to say that the Prophet Ezekiel of the Old Testament saw some kind of alien spaceship, which was what prompted him to record his vision in Ezekiel chapter one.  Let me set the record straight on this: Ezekiel did not see a spaceship.  Ezekiel saw the power and glory of God.  The vision given to Ezekiel was the pure and wondrous magnificence of God in such brilliant clarity that the prophet did his best to describe for us what he was seeing.  Much like John the Revelator in the book of Revelation, Ezekiel was allowed to see that which human eyes are normally forbidden to behold.  God’s message to the prophet was to rise up and go to people who would not want to hear the truth.  But he was to go to them anyway and proclaim the message God had given.

Today, as followers of Jesus Christ, we too are called to share a message which many people will not want to hear.  Like the people of Ezekiel’s day, they have hardened their hearts to the truth of God’s message.  However, we are called to be faithful and continue sharing the message that Jesus Christ has come into the world and that through Him there is salvation, new life, and life eternal.  Let us never be dissuaded or discouraged from sharing the truth that Jesus Christ is the true way.   

Stand firm, trust Christ, and hold to the truth.  Myths, fantasies, legends, and tall-tales will always be around, but Jesus Christ is the pure and ultimate truth.  Jesus is the solid rock upon which we can stand.  Look to Him and keep sharing the Good News of His love. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Making Time to Daily Seek the Lord

I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.  Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. –Psalm 145:1, 2 (KJV) 

Consider for a moment what sort of routines you follow every day.  Most of us observe at least some daily habits involving work, hygiene, eating, and pursuing various interests.  We have these ways of going about our day which begins with some sort of habit.  For me, my day starts with heading for the kitchen and pouring that first cup of coffee.  A few cups later I can then begin to think and speak in complete sentences.  Not everyone can be as perky early the morning as my wife Andrea.  She can open her eyes after a good night’s sleep and be ready for an in-depth conversation.  I need a little more time than that in the morning.  Let me have my coffee and then we’ll talk. 

The point is that we all typically follow habits and routines that guide the way we go about our daily lives.  Arguably, some habits are better done away with, while others can be expanded upon.  One practice that all followers of Christ do well to build into our lives is that of daily prayer and Bible reading.  Failure to make this a part of our daily schedules is detrimental to our spiritual health.  Making time alone with God every day can empower us to walk forward in the faith which the Lord intends for us to have.   

King David of the Old Testament said that every day he would go to God in praise, adoration, and supplication.  He had resolved that he would make sure that this vital part of his daily routine was practiced each day without fail.  When we take such an attitude we will be blessed with the power of God in our lives as we face the challenges each new day brings. 

Perhaps you have to admit that you have not been spending the time in prayer and Bible reading that you should.  We serve a kind, loving, and gracious God who is willing to forgive and provide us with another chance.  Resolve today to start praying more faithfully and spending more time each day in God’s Word.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Spiritual strength and blessings in abundance are waiting.  Look to the Lord today and every day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reaching out to Those Around us

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.  –Matthew 18:4, 5 (NKJV) 

If you are affected by the snowy weather today, which is gripping the eastern half of the country, I hope you are able to stay home and remain safely inside.  As I reflect on today’s weather, I recall in years past when our sons were much younger and what would happen at our house when schools were closed due to snow.  At some point in the day a number of kids would come by and they would all go sled riding on the hill behind the church.  They would play in the snow for hours and then come back to our house to dry off and get warm.  I recall that we would have as many as a dozen kids at a time showing up here at the parsonage cold and wet from playing in the snow.  

That scenario might throw many people into confusion, but Andrea and I always welcomed all of those children into our home.  Andrea would gather their wet coats, hats, and gloves and put them in the dryer, and we would start making hot chocolate for everyone.  I have wonderful memories of these children as they sat at our table, laughing and drinking hot chocolate.  After they were warm they would put on their coats, hats, and gloves and go back outside and play some more.  We see many of those kids from time to time, and most of them are nearly grown.  I hope that they will look back fondly on those times when they came by and enjoyed those snowy days.

Jesus said that when we welcome a little child that it is just like welcoming Him.  When we reach out in Jesus’ name to those around us we are fulfilling the Lord’s command that we go and be His witnesses in the world.  We will be blessed because we are doing the Lord’s will, but we are further blessed because we are making a positive difference in the lives of others.  Anytime we show the love of Jesus we are planting seeds of the gospel in the hearts of others.  Keep planting those seeds in abundance, for the Lord will send others to water them so that a harvest of faith will then take place. 

Take time to show Jesus’  love in any way possible.  In doing so we are making a difference in peoples’ live that will count for all eternity. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Standing Firm and Following God’s Leading

So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously went up into the mountain.  And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah.  –Deuteronomy 1:43, 44 (NKJV) 

I just finished reading the book, “Trail to Wounded Knee, the Last Stand of the Plains Indians, 1860-1890,” by Herman J. Viola.  The book is filled with accounts of eye-witness testimonies of the Indians who endured numerous atrocities inflicted on them at the hands of the American government.  There were passages in the book that made me want to weep with the unfairness of it all.  One part of the book which truly got my attention was the detailed description of the famous Battle of the Little Big Horn.  This was the battle that took place in 1876 in which George Custer, leading the 7th Cavalry, found himself hopelessly outnumbered by a much larger force of Indians.  Custer’s orders had been to only locate the Indian’s camp, but he instead chose to engage them and for that he and the 7th Cavalry were slaughtered.  Custer’s arrogance and quest for glory proved to be his undoing. 

The Word of God shows us that by faith we can trust in the Lord and move forward in the victory that He brings.  But what happens when we seek our glory or we begin to think that we can fight the battles on our strength?  Like many others who took such an attitude we would meet with disaster.  God reminded His people of the time when they took it upon themselves to fight a battle which was not God’s will for them.  The results were a humiliating defeat (Numbers 14:41-45).  Let’s be certain that we are always looking to the Lord, trusting in Him, listening for His voice, and seeking Him in prayer as we fight the spiritual battles that will come our way.  

Many years ago I was acquainted with a man who was a recovering alcoholic.  In a move that was both reckless and foolish, he decided to test his will power by going into a bar to see if he could withstand the temptation to drink.  He failed miserably.  He ended up going back into treatment in worse shape than ever before.  Through faith, prayer, the Word of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord will empower us to stand firm in the midst of life’s struggles.  Along with that strength is godly wisdom for knowing when and how to engage the enemy. 

Life is filled with challenges and difficulties.  Remain in God’s Word and seek to be ever growing in faith.  The Lord will empower us to stand firm in His strength and not ours. 

Do not be afraid, for the Lord is with us.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Facing Life’s Disappointments

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.  –Psalm 30:11 (NKJV) 

Life is full of disappointments.  My wife, Andrea, gets very excited at the prospect of snow, and when the weatherman announced that on Monday we were supposed to get as much as six inches, she was giddy with anticipation.  But alas, the forecast was altered and now the prediction is for only and one to three inches.  Andrea was nearly despondent.  She does so love the snow.  I tried to console her with the gentle reminder that we live in the south, and therefore we don’t get as much snow as people who live in the north.  If it snowed several inches she would be happy, but she will have to settle for what looks like may be a much smaller amount. 

There will be times when we look forward to something, but in the end it doesn’t work out the way we had hoped.  Life has a way of not always happening the way we had planned or wanted, and we have to figure out how we will move forward despite our disappointment.  Faith in Jesus Christ helps us to find the strength to live, be happy, have peace, and be contented in whatever circumstances in which we find ourselves.  Christ empowers us to rise up and move forward during those times when we might otherwise have given up.  In Jesus there is peace and joy even in the midst of the difficulties and disappointments we face.

What sort of disappointments are you facing today?  Were there plans, dreams, aspirations, and hopes that have not materialized?  If you, you are not alone, for the Lord understands that you are struggling and hurting.  By His grace and power God can lift you up and help you to find the peace and joy available in Him.  God brought this about so strongly in David’s life that he proclaimed that God had turned his mourning into dancing.  He had taken off his sackcloth, which was a sign of grief, and had put on a glad and grateful heart.  The Lord can do the same for us. 

Do not despair, and do not look down.  Look up and trust in Christ, for He can and will make our hope live again.  As He has promised, so He will do.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Clothing Ourselves with the Lord Jesus

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.  –Romans 13:14 (KJV) 

Yesterday evening when Ada and I took our evening walk, I was amazed at just how cold it felt.  The temperature was around 17 degrees, but when the wind blew that number dropped into the single digits.  My mind works in funny ways sometimes, and those freezing temps made me think about what it might be like to climb Mount Everest.  I have never done any mountain climbing and I have no aspirations to do so (Some members of my congregation are breathing a sigh of relief right now), but I am fascinated with Mount Everest, which is the tallest mountain on planet earth.  I have done a great amount of reading on the subject and I have watched several documentaries.  One source states that to date 179 people have died trying to reach the summit.  Another source said that 120 of those who perished remain on the mountain to this day. 

I recall reading about a man who safely reached the summit of the mountain and then decided to take some pictures (All who summit can only stay a brief period before their decent).  He removed his gloves just long enough to take a few photos, less than a minute or two, but that was all it took.  The frostbite on his fingers was so severe that most of them had to later be amputated.  Such are the dangers of this mountain that attracts hundreds of climbers a year.  Anyone who climbs that mountain must be covered at all times.

The Word of God says that we as followers of Christ must put on the Lord Jesus.  This means that we spiritually clothe ourselves with Christ.  Every aspect of who we are, including our attitudes, speech, outlook, works, and talents are to be covered by the Lord.  In this way we are insulated from the attacks of the devil and anything that might throw us off track.  Failure to cover ourselves daily with Christ can have detrimental effects on our witness and our joy in Christ.  Along with this covering ourselves with Christ comes the spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) which we take up daily in order to stand against the evil that is in the world. 

My friends in Christ, be sure to put on the Lord Jesus every day.  Let us clothe ourselves with His grace, goodness, mercy, love, and compassion.  Stand firm and shine forth the light of Christ to a world that desperately needs to hear the Good News of God’s love.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Consider the Condition of your Soul

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.  –John 12:46 (KJV) 

The other night I sat down to relax for a little while and as I was flipping though some channels on the TV, a program was on that centers around the lives of Hollywood celebrities.  Apparently, a well known actress had conducted herself in a peculiar manner during an awards program (I know that’s hard to imagine).  The video clipped confirmed the odd behavior and the entertainment community was buzzing with speculation about the episode.  What caught my attention was not a celebrity acting strangely, because that happens so much that it we wonder why it would even be newsworthy.  What I noticed was the lead-in to the segment which said, “And now what the entire world is talking about…”  “The entire world?”  That seems a great overstatement of the facts.  I dare say that countless people, me included, were not talking about another celebrity’s odd behavior. 

A truth which people ought to be considering is the condition of their souls.  Countless people all over the world go about their day-today lives without giving thought to their spiritual condition.  Without Jesus Christ we wander in darkness, but Jesus is the light that overcomes the darkness of the world.  Life was never intended to be something we wander through simply for our own pleasure and our own fulfillment.  Rather, the lives we live here are to be devoted to serving the one who gave us life in the first place – the Lord God Almighty.  God has made that possible through His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Jesus is life, joy, peace, and guidance. 

What about you?  Are you standing in need of salvation?  Are you uncertain about the condition of your soul?  Through faith in Christ those issues can be resolved today and right now.  Delay no longer, but look to Jesus and find the life and eternal life He offers. 

Salvation and new life are available to all who believe.  Look to Jesus today.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Trusting in God Day by Day

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.  -Proverbs 30:7, 8 (KJV)
Perhaps you were like me and wondered what it might be like to suddenly acquire 380 million dollars.  According to the news this week, two lottery winners shared that amount making these winners instant millionaires.  But are they truly winners?  If they are like countless other lottery winners their troubles are just beginning.  The modern term for this phenomenon is known as the “curse of the lottery,” or the “Powerball curse.”  A staggering number of lottery winners have found themselves broke and / or bankrupt within a few years of winning their fortunes.  Few people have the maturity, will power, or self-discipline to properly manage such a large and sudden fortune.  They make the mistake of believing that the money is a bottomless pit of riches.  

Do you recall what Jesus said about money?  The Lord said in Matthew 6:24 that you cannot serve two masters, for you will either love the one or hate the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.  Also, I Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is the root of all evil.  That is very black and white.  If we love money and value it more than we do our relationship with Christ, it will become a curse to us, as countless people have found out.  

The Word of God provides us with a perfect attitude toward wealth, and it is that God provide for us and give us just the right balance of what we need.  Vanity means falsehood, and the prayer is that God remove and then keep from us anything false.  This would include any notions we might have about our ability to cope with life on our own strength.  When Jesus is first in our lives, we line up everything, even the wealth we might acquire, in its proper perspective.   

Look to Jesus and know that in Him there are spiritual blessings waiting in abundance.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Being Thankful for the Church, the Body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.  -I Corinthians 12:27 (NKJV) 

Once again we were blessed last night with some beautiful snow here in southwest Virginia.  It wasn’t enough to create any serious problems, and it left the region blanketed in a layer of white.  After Wednesday night prayer meeting I got home and began to change clothes and our dog, Ada, sensed right away what I was up to.  Any doubt was removed as soon as I began putting on my boots.  A few minutes later we were enjoying our evening walk, breathing in the crisp and cold air and feeling the crunch of the newly fallen snow beneath our feet.  We walked to the field behind the church where I let Ada off her leash for a while.  She ran around in the snow and thoroughly enjoyed herself.  We then made our usual walk around the perimeter of the church grounds.   

During our walk I was again amazed at the beauty of the night.  The outside lights around the church cast a soft glow that reflected off the newly fallen snow.  The night was quiet and still, and the only sounds were the traffic in the distance.  As we circled the church I had to stop and give thanks again for the Lord’s guidance in bringing me and my family to such a blessed ministry.  I am deeply thankful for the blessings we have experienced in nearly fifteen years of ministry here.  Another thought struck me as well, one that we all know, but do well to consider.  East Bristol Baptist Church belongs to God.  Truly it is the Lord’s church.  The church is not composed of brick and mortar, but is made up of the redeemed in Christ. 

My prayer is that we will be good stewards of the wonderful resources with which the Lord has blessed us.  We have talents, spiritual gifts, abilities, and a beautiful building.  Let us be faithful in putting to the best use possible all that the Lord has provided.  If you are serving in a congregation that loves the Lord, honors His Word, and believes and affirms the truth of the gospel, then you also have the same responsibility.  We are not alone and we are not separate entities, but rather we are one in Christ Jesus.  We are the body of Christ composed of believers all over the world. 

Pray that souls will be saved and lives transformed by the power of the gospel.   

Brothers and sisters in Christ, rejoice!  Jesus Christ is Lord. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jesus is the Lifeline

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.  -Psalm 34:6 (KJV)

Chinese preacher and writer Watchman Nee once told the story of how that he and a group of seminarians had one day gone swimming in a lake.  One of the men went too far out in the water and being unable to swim back to shore began to panic.  The drowning man then began to cry for help.  One of the men was an accomplished swimmer, so those on shore began urging him to swim out and save the drowning man.  However, the swimmer sat by passively and did nothing.  Meanwhile, the struggling man in the water was unable to stay afloat and was clearly drowning.  Despite the frantic pleas of the men, the swimmer sat by and continued to only watch the as the drowning man thrashed about in the water.  Finally, the man drowning man gave up his struggle and began to sink.  The swimmer then dove into the water and within a few seconds had reached the exhausted man.  He then expertly pulled the man safely to shore thus saving his life. 

Afterwards, the men asked the swimmer why he had waited so long before diving in and saving their comrade.  “He was struggling so much that had I tried to save him immediately he would have pulled us both under,” The man explained.  “I had to let him wear himself out so that he would stop struggling and let me save him.”   

We see in this powerful story a picture of what God so often does with us.  Like the drowning man, we too struggle and fight against God and His offer of salvation.  Finally, when we are exhausted and about to go under for the last time, God reaches out to us and pulls us to the safety of salvation in Jesus Christ.  Many people have to cease from their struggling and trying to save themselves before they will surrender and receive the deliverance which the Lord so freely offers.  Like a lifeline thrown to a drowning man, Jesus Christ reaches out to us in our darkest hour and lifts up onto solid ground. 

My friend, whatever you are going through, do not give up.  Stop trying to solve the problems on your own strength.  Instead, receive the salvation the Lord is offering.  Jesus Christ offers help, forgiveness, and hope of a brighter day.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).  Open your heart and receive Him today 

The troubled soul finds life, peace, happiness, and joy in Jesus.  Do not turn Him away.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

All Glory to Jesus Christ

But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.  In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever.  -Psalm 44:7, 8 (KJV) 

Have you ever been around people who seem to talk a lot about themselves and their own achievements?  Few among us enjoy listening to people brag about themselves.  The Word of God says that we do well to not draw attention to what we have done, but instead we are to speak of what God has done.  If we do any boasting at all, let it be about the great and wondrous works the Lord has brought about in our lives.  When we speak of what God has done in our lives we are then testifying to His power and grace that is working in us – not to our glory, but to God’s glory. 

Imagine if all I talked about was myself and how I had done all of these great accomplishments.  No doubt people would grow tired of being around me and sooner or later someone would probably tell me as much – and rightly so!  However, when we testify about what the Lord Jesus means to us, and how by His grace we have been saved from sin and redeemed to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), those around us are encouraged and Christ is exalted. 

Followers of Jesus Christ are challenged in God’s Word to always be looking to the Lord in whatever circumstances in which we find ourselves.  We will indeed have to walk through difficult valleys and we will face trials of all kinds.  Through all those challenges we can find the grace and power of God to bring us through in victory.  We can then boast, not of ourselves, but of the power of God in us. 

Give praise and glory to God today.  Thank Him for all the many blessings He has provided.  Testify about what Jesus has done in your life. 

To God be the glory!  

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Vital Part of the Kingdom of God

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.   -II Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) 

The snow has all melted in our area and even though some warmer weather would be nice, I always somehow miss the snow when it’s gone.  After a good snow everything always looks clean, bright, and new.  Walk out into the snow on a clear and crisp night, breath that cold air and you will be reminded that you are indeed alive.  With this reminder comes the realization that God has a plan for our lives and we are a vital part of His kingdom work.  Let us not neglect all that the Lord has in store for us to do. 

Countless people become discouraged this time of year and begin to wonder if spring and warmer weather will ever arrive.  Consider that these changing seasons have been going on since the beginning of creation and we can move forward with great assurance that they will do so once again.  Until then, move forward with a glad and grateful heart.  Stop and count the blessings that the Lord has given.  Any one of us could just as easily be lying in a hospital bed facing a serious illness.  Be thankful we have the strength to persevere and walk through our days. 

Consider also the wonder working power of the Holy Spirit in us.  We once were in a hopeless and lost condition, but through faith in Jesus Christ we have been given a new start, a new outlook, and a new lease on life.  The old lost person we once were has been replaced with a brand new creation made possible by the Lord Jesus.  Christ can take all aspects of what we once were with all of our weakness, faults, and flaws, and make us into productive and vital participants in His will.   

Rejoice and be glad today, for the Lord has a plan for your life.  He knows you and wants to lead you to the abundant life in Him.   

Trust the Lord and move forward in faith today.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Light of God in a sin Darkened World

Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.  And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  -Luke 3:2, 3 (KJV)
I want you to consider for a moment what the world was like when Jesus Christ came upon the scene.  In many ways the world was similar to today; there was political unrest, the threat of war was always present, the world was a violent and dangerous place, and people struggled to get by, cope with life, and make ends meet.  There were rich people, poor people, and a vast number of middle class folks.  Today we enjoy the benefits of modern technology, medical advances, and a more enlightened age, but one central similarity remains constant; the world needed Jesus just as much then as it does now.  The world was shrouded and entangled in the darkness of sin, much as it is today.  And into the spiritual darkness the light of God shined, and it did so in a brilliant and powerful way.  Jesus Christ came into the world and brought hope to all mankind. 

The light of God had come into the world, and with that light came the hope that life did not have to be survived, but could be lived to the fullest.  We can have strength, peace, and joy right here in the midst of our worst fears and struggles.  The light of God had come powerfully into the darkness of the world.  Jesus Christ pierced and overcame that horrible darkness.  
We still look to Him today for all the same reasons.  We too need hope, peace, joy, and direction in life.  We too need the hope that in all of our struggles there is reason to keep on going.  Jesus Christ is that reason.

Look to Jesus today, for in Him is hope, new life, peace, and joy.